We have been spending some time near Hartford, Connecticut, learning Farmington cemetery Ancient Farmington cemetery more about our ancestors and becoming familiar with the Connecticut State Library, one of the friendliest and most well-organized genealogical libraries we have known. We also took time to do some sightseeing.

We have taken two scenic drives recommended by a reliable guide book: the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways. One drive was along the Lower Connecticut River Valley and one into the Litchfield Hills in the northwest part of the state; we have also walked through a couple of cemeteries, even though the graves we seek are so old that the inscriptions are no longer legible. The many flags can be seen in just about all of the cemeteries; they are graves of soldiers of long-ago wars. The Old Opera House Goodspeed Opera House

In East Haddam, at Goodrich Crossing, we photographed the gorgeous old Opera House next to the bridge across the Connecticut.

Later we toured William Gillette's mansion on the Seventh Sister hill in Hadlyme, Connecticut. It was idiosyncratic, built of stone, with many rooms, and he hired an excellent local carpenter who made custom hinges and doors and windows and the like quite nicely. Gillette married a fellow actor who sadly died quite young from a perforated appendix. Heartbroken, he never remarried, but eventually devoted himself to designing and building this stone house.

Gillette was a stage actor and dramatist who made many millions Gillette Stone House William Gillette's castle portraying Sherlock Holmes (he adopted the curved pipe and the deerstalker hat, to name just two props). He even had a small railroad on his estate but that, alas, has been moved away. We remember a hidden door just above the main entrance where he would mysteriously and theatrically appear to welcome house guests!

The following day we drove into the Litchfield hills ("the foothills of the Berkshires"), in the northwestern corner of the state. Even though it was a cloudy day, the scenery was spectacular, as it has been wherever we go, with steep hillsides and beautiful mixed forests. Our guidebook tells us that this part of New England was an early mill town, here specializing in brass. By the mid 19th century the forests had been almost destroyed by over-lumbering to produce charcoal for the factory A covered bridge Old covered bridgefurnaces, but now they are returning to their former beauty.

We found many lovely churches each with its tall spire, and houses of different styles and colors and sizes, some with labels indicating they were built over 200 years ago. We saw the buildings of the first law school in the country, which trained Aaron Burr and Samuel Calhoun.

Then north on highway U.S. 7 to West Cornwall where we looked at an 1866 covered bridge, and further north to Norfolk where we saw a beautiful, beautiful fountain designed by St. Gaudens.

Oh, and we noticed there are fewer full-size pickup trucks in Connecticut, except for actual working contractors. Our GMC Sierra from Texas (nicknamed "Jose") is feeling big and proud.