It’s obligatory to stop on the Blood Brook bridge while on a Hopson Loop walk.
Top and look over the bridge. You are gazing at the Paleozoic era. These are the oldest exposed rocks in this area, formed 570 – 225 million years ago. these rocks probably originated 6 miles deep in the earth’s crust.
The earliest reference to Blood Brook appears in this 1796 map. Below is a crop from the map.
Some historians have suggested that Blood Brook was named after the Blood family. After examining the census, the first Blood family to appear in Norwich is in 1810. They have been here ever since, living all over town.
Another suggestion is that Blood Brook got its name from the presence of copper in the soil which caused it to look red at certain times of the year.
The presence of tanneries with the runoff of dyes might have turned the brook red. But, the two tanneries on the Brook came in the 1830s. There was definitely industrial waste in Blood Brook with all the mills along its banks. Below is a photograph of the grist mill, which was located further downstream.
Could the name actually be derived from an older history? One oral history suggests that it was named for a “bloody massacre” that once took place, but there is no record of a local massacre in any written records. There are many oral historical accounts of massacres and bloody rivers in Abenaki and other Native peoples’ oral traditions in the northeast. Perhaps this is a piece of an oral tradition from the days of first settlement or even from more ancient times. Native Americans lived (and still live) throughout this region. In fact, a 3rd-grade student recently found a spear point while exploring the brook.
The final answer? We just don’t know for sure, and its a good reminder that oral traditions are important additions to the written record.