It started out as faint curiosity about an ancestor’s name on a plaque in the old city hall, but Clifton E. Weed’s interest in his family history grew into a 40-year “labor of love,” culminating in his writing of a hefty two-volume genealogy which he recently donated to both the Main Library and the Weed Memorial & Hollander Branch.
“I was always interested in history, so I thought, ‘Why not work on a personal history?’ ” Weed said. “For the last five years, it was a concerted effort, but I’ve been working on it on and off for 40 years.”
It was Jonas Weed, who arrived to the New World in 1630 and made his way to the burgeoning settlement of Stamford 12 years later, that first sparked Clifton’s interest, and after his uncle took him to an old burial ground, he started researching his family in earnest.
“I started at The Ferguson Library, as a matter of fact,” said Clifton, who is a sergeant in the Stamford Police Department.
Sifting through countless documents in the Library’s genealogy room, Clifton uncovered bits of family history that piqued his interest even more, and lead him to areas outside of Stamford in his quest to get the full story. The Weed family has its roots in Stamford, but subsequent generations have spread out -- some all the way to California, Clifton said.
Jonas Weed, Clifton learned, was a farmer who arrived in the New World with John Winthrop. In 1636, he became one of the first settlers of Wethersfield and in 1642, he made his way to Stamford.
"He was a farmer, which is kind of humbling, but the fact that I had an ancestor who was a pioneer and founded two communities, it makes me kind of proud," Clifton said. "It's a heritage that's nice to pass on to my family."
Clifton also learned about darker moments in the family's history. In the times following the Revolutionary War, Clifton learned of an ancestor named Samuel, a very good artists who put his talents to use as a counterfeiter during the tough economic times following the war. Samuel was caught and then harshly punished in the prisons of early America, Clifton said.
More than just a genealogy of a single family, Clifton’s work is also the story of a nation. He said anyone interested in the early history of the city of Stamford, or the country as a whole, will find the history of the Weed family of interest.
“It’s the story of the making of America,” Clifton said.