Born in Norwich in 1717, Jedediah Elderkin graduated from Yale and studied law. He settled with his family in Windham in 1745. Elderkin and his next door neighbor and friend, Eliphalet Dyer, were the leading lawyers at the time in eastern Connecticut. Elderkin served many terms in the General Assembly and as Justice of the Peace. He was also a large landowner and manufacturer, notable as a pioneer of silk production in Connecticut. With the coming of the Revolutionary War, Elderkin became a member of the Governor’s Council of Safety and was commissioned as Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. A close associate of Governor John Trumbull, he undertook many difficult missions, including the conversion of a foundry in Salisbury into a cannon works and the building of a gunowder mill at Willimantic. Elderkin‘s last public service, before his death in 1793, was to attend the state convention which ratified the Constitution of the United States. His house in Windham, at 11 North Road, was built circa 1710. It has several eighteenth and nineteenth century additions.
Col. Eliphalet Dyer (1721-1807) was one of Connecticut’s notable figures from the period of the Revolutionary War. Born in Windham, he graduated from Yale in 1740 and in 1746 became a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace. Dyer was a founder and leader of the Susquehannah Company, which focused on settling the Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania. During the French and Indian War, Dyer was a Lt. Colonel in the militia as part of the expedition to capture Fort Crown Point from the French in 1755 and then, as a Colonel in 1758, he led a regiment in support of Amherst’s and Wolfe’s operations in Canada. Dyer served in the Connecticut legislature from 1742 to 1784 and in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783 (except for 1776 and 1779). Appointed to the Council of Safety in 1775, Dyer served until it was disbanded in 1783. Dyer’s daughter Amelia was married to Joseph Trumbull, who also served in the Continental Congress. A justice of Connecticut’s superior court, Eliphalet Dyer was Chief Justice from 1789 until 1793, when he retired to Windham. His home there was a colonial house (17 North Road) built circa 1705-1715.
Having already resided in the house at 122 Windham Street in Willimantic, Wilton E. Little (1859-1903) and his wife Edith Clark Little (1862-1935), sold the house and moved to a new home they built in 1896 at 333 Prospect Street. Little had risen up through the ranks at the W.G. & A.R. Morrison Company.
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Willimantic began in 1916. A two-story at 226 Valley St was converted to a house of worship and rectory for its first pastor, Rev Joseph Kurila. Fr Joseph lived on the top floor with his family while the bottom floor was converted into a chapel. On November 3, 1948, the Holy Trinity Community purchased a parcel of land on the corner of Valley Street and Mansfield Avenue on which to build a permanent church. The foundation was poured in 1950, but due to financial limitations the church was not completed and consecrated until 1958. Church membership experienced a decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but has grown again since 2000 with the active support of the UConn Orthodox Christian Fellowship.
The Josephine Bingham House, at 22 North Road in Windham Center, is an Italianate T-shaped residence with a gable roof. Built in 1860, it was the residence of Miss Josephine Waldo Bingham (born 1846), who lived with her father, Waldo Bingham, and her step-mother, Elizabeth H. Bingham and continued to reside in the house after their deaths. She furnished wallpaper to St. Paul’s Church in 1888 and was an alternate Lady Manager of Connecticut for the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893.
Built circa 1820, the Justin Swift House is a brick Federal-style residence at 9 North Road in Windham. Justin Swift (1793-1884) is described in the first volume of the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (1903):
Justin Swift, son of William, was born in Lebanon, Conn., Nov. 3, 1793, and married Lucy, daughter of John and Sally Lathrop. Mrs. Swift was born June 8, 1799, and died Sept. 20, 1876. To Justin and Lucy Swift came children as follows: Abby, born Jan. 22, 1821, died Sept. 14, 1835; William was born March 16. 1823; Sarah, born April 26, 1830, died Sept. 1, 1835; Julia A., born May 21, 1832, resides in Windham. and is the efficient librarian of the Windham Library. At the age of twenty-two years Justin Swift came to Windham. When a mere boy he engaged in merchandising, as a clerk, and later for himself, carrying on a general store in Windham for many years. For a period of five or six years he was interested with others in the manufacture of boots in Windham, but this venture was not successful. For a short time, also, he was interested in cottonmaking at Willimantic, and purchased the old paper mill property at North Windham, put in cottonmaking machinery, and carried it on very successfully until 1862, when he disposed of the property to the Merricks. This property was twice destroyed by fire, the first time by the torch of an incendiary, and second by lightning. Through life Justin Swift was an active, energetic man. In politics he was first a Federalist, then a Whig, finally a Republican, and he was a factor in the public life of the town. Twice he served as Representative, elected in a strong Democratic town, on the Whig ticket, after holding all of the local offices, including those of selectman, assessor, member of the board of relief, etc. For many years he was judge of probate, remaining in office until disqualified by the age limit, seventy years. In belief he adhered to the Christian religion, and he was one of the leading men of his day. His death occurred in Windham, Oct. 17, 1884.
The house at 183 Prospect Street in Willimantic was built around 1887 to be the home of Arthur I. Bill, editor and publisher of the Willimantic Journal. He also had a printing plant on lower Church Street in Willimantic, having started the Hall & Bill Printing Company in 1884.