Sheffield Island Lighthouse


Fifty-two-acre Sheffield Island has a colorful history. The largest of the sixteen Norwalk Islands, it has had many previous names: Winnipauk, Little Longe, Longe, White’s, Smith’s, Norwalk, and Home – with the names usually changing to reflect the owner at the time.

The earliest written historical record involving the island dates from 1690, when a Norwalk Indian chief named Winnipauk deeded the island to Reverend Thomas Hanford, Norwalk’s first minister. After Hanford died in 1693, the paper trail grows cold for a few years, although there is evidence that in 1702 the island and the islands around it all became community property.



In 1804, Captain Robert Sheffield, a Revolutionary War veteran, purchased what became known as Sheffield and Tavern Islands. Sheffield married Temperance Doty, a Mayflower descendant , and they had a daughter, also named Temperance, who married Gershom Smith, a widower with one son. Smith moved to the island, and the couple eventually had a total of twelve children.

In 1826, agents of the U.S. Treasury Department (which was in charge of lighthouses at that time), after surveying various sites in the Norwalk Islands, decided that the western end of Sheffield Island was the most suitable spot for a light to mark Norwalk Harbor. By the middle of the next year, a thirty-foot-tall stone tower had been constructed. Eight people applied for the keeper position...


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