Clarissa Elwell Nevius
Clarissa was born August 1, 1877 in Danbury, CT. She was the oldest child of Miles H. and Lydia Elwell. Her family lived in the Pembroke District of Danbury where her father had a farm of 200 acres and kept 20 – 30 cows and ran a well patronized milk route in Danbury. Her siblings were brothers; Clason, Wilbur, Lewis, Miles Jr, Waite, Arthur and baby sister Amy.
While her father was not particularly interested in politics, he was very interested in the events of the times and was a believer in the principles and policy of the Republican Party. As Clarissa’s biography continues it is interesting to see how her father’s beliefs will be an important part of her adult life.
At the age of twenty Clarissa married George M.Nevius on Thanksgiving Day 1897. (We will write about George in another column.) They had one daughter, Bessie.
Clarissa was an active member of the New Fairfield Congregational Church, was a charter member of the New Fairfield Company A Women’s Auxiliary, and was Assistant Town Clerk for 48 years and Chairman of the New Fairfield Republican Town Committee.
When Clarissa was 43 years old in 1920 women were given the right to vote and three years later she was elected the first woman Republican elected to the Connecticut General Assembly. She represented New Fairfield from 1923 to 1953.
She held many committee chairman-ships and worked for the establishment of the Squantz Pond State Park.
Clarissa and George were known as “Mr. and Mrs. New Fairfield” and both were very active in community affairs. Their home was located on the corner of Route 37 and Saw Mill Hill Road. For many years they would close up their New Fairfield home and spend the winter in the Martha Apartments on Main Street in Danbury. In those years the Martha Apartments were new and lovely and were considered a prestigious place to reside. So sad to see the condition of them now.
Clarissa died on March 18, 1962 at the age of 85 years. It seems safe to say that she was way ahead of her time.