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A Look at Some of Deep River, Connecticut's Most Famous Residents

Deep River, CT, is a small town in Middlesex County with about 4,600 people. It's part of the Tri-Town area, including Chester and Essex, and the three communities share schools and public transportation.

Deep River has a tremendous amount of history, as the community was part of the original Saybrook Colony and officially joined Connecticut in 1644. In fact, Deep River was called Saybrook until 1947, when it changed to its current name to avoid confusion with Old Saybrook.

Because of this long history, it stands to reason that some well-known individuals have made their homes in Deep River over the years, although the list isn't as long as you might expect from such an old town.

Here's a look at four of the best-known people in the history of Deep River, Connecticut.

Gretchen Mol


Although Deep River has an impressive history, we'll start with a modern celebrity from the town.

Gretchen Mol, known for her role as Gillian Darmody in the television series Boardwalk Empire, was born in the community and lived there throughout her childhood.

Mol is also remembered for her appearances in films like Rounders, The Notorious Bettie Page, 3:10 to Yuma, and Manchester by the Sea. She had a modeling and stage acting career before getting involved in the film and television industry, too.

If you ask anyone today, Gretchen Mol is probably Deep River's most famous resident, but some historical inhabitants are also worth mentioning.

Alpheus S. Williams

Back in 1810, Alpheus S. Williams was born in Deep River, Connecticut. Williams would go on to graduate with a law degree from Yale in 1831 before establishing himself in the frontier town of Detroit, Michigan, in 1836.

Williams then became the probate judge of Wayne County, Michigan, president of the Bank of St. Clair, the postmaster of Detroit, and the owner of the Detroit Advertiser newspaper.

In 1847, Williams was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 1st Michigan Infantry and later became president of Michigan's military board.

However, Williams' true claim to fame arrived in 1861 during the Civil War, as he commanded various divisions of the Union Army throughout the conflict. In fact, Williams had an essential role in defending some vital positions during the Battle of Gettysburg. However, many of his contributions weren't recognized at the time because he wasn't a West Point graduate and didn't promote himself in the media.

Williams was eventually elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and he ultimately died inside the U.S. Capitol after suffering a stroke.

Mysterious Dave Mather

You've probably heard of notorious gunfighters like Billy the Kid and Jesse James and lawmen like Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok, but what about Deep River's own Mysterious Dave Mather?

Mather was born in present-day Deep River in 1851 before heading to the American West in the 1870s. There are stories of him appearing in Dodge City, Kansas, in 1872, and it's even rumored that he partnered with Wyatt Earp when selling some counterfeit gold bars in Mobeetie, Texas, in 1878.

Mather was involved in numerous conflicts in the Old West, including the gunfight at Close & Patterson's Variety Hall in East Las Vegas in 1880 and various shootouts in Dodge City.

No one knows what happened to Mysterious Dave Mather because he disappeared off the face of the Earth in the late 1880s. He was facing numerous charges in Dodge City and Texas at the time and was incredibly well-known, but there are rumors that he escaped to Canada and joined the RCMP. 

No matter his fate, the story of Mysterious Dave Mather is an interesting one that got its start in Deep River, Connecticut.

Elizabeth Jarvis Colt

You might not recognize the name Elizabeth Jarvis Colt, but her story is worth learning.

Elizabeth was the wife of Samuel Colt, founder of Colt's Manufacturing Company. Colt's Manufacturing Company is responsible for creating various firearms, most notably the Colt .45, and started in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1855.

Elizabeth Colt met Samuel in 1851 and married him in 1856. They had four children and lived at the historic Armsmear compound in Hartford.

Elizabeth rose to fame, however, following the death of her husband in 1862. She inherited a controlling interest in Colt's Manufacturing Company at that time. Rather than selling the business, she continued running it as president for the next three years and kept her controlling interest until 1902.

Elizabeth had numerous other projects on the go throughout her life, including serving as president of the Union for Home Work, which provided daycare for working mothers, and president of the Hartford Soldiers Aid Society. In 1869, she organized Connecticut's first Suffragette convention and was given the name The First Lady of Hartford as a result.

Elizabeth Jarvis Colt was a pioneer in the feminist movement in Connecticut, and it all began when she was born in Deep River in 1826.

Getting to Know the Community

Deep River is a tranquil place to live and a wonderful place to raise a family. It has a distinct downtown area with some businesses and other sections with large properties, significant tree cover, and plenty of privacy.

As you can tell by these stories, the town also has a tremendous amount of history that you're sure to begin uncovering once you buy a home in Deep River, Connecticut.

Published September 3, 2021 in Did You Know?