Ella Christianson, a Century of Living

by Phil Johnson

Drive east on state route 66 from Middletown on the north bank of the Connecticut River about six miles, turn right on 151 at Colbalt, continue two-plus miles to Haddam Neck Road, bear right, drive past Haddam Neck Covenant Church, and the Leydens and the Mulligan places on the right. When Haddam Neck Road turns right and heads down to Rock Landing on the Connecticut, bear left (basically straight ahead) on Quarry Hill Road. You are riding along as lovely a stone wall-lined New England country road as you have ever seen. If you continue a few miles you will discover that your further progress east is blocked by the Salmon River on its way into the Connecticut. You can move around on the roads of Haddam Neck that run through woods and past farms and down to the river. If you want to leave, you must return along Haddam Neck Road back to where you entered. You cannot pass through Haddam Neck. However, once there you may never want to leave anyway.

Ella Christianson is a witness to this after spending most of a century in Haddam Neck. Ella’s home is on the north side of Quarry Hill Road. She grew up in the family farm house next door where her nephew, Bob Johnson, has made the old barn one of the finest wood working shops in all Connecticut.

Ray Mulligan of Haddam Neck interviewed Ella in preparation for celebrating her 95th birthday. Ray used the interview as material for a tribute to Ella on that occasion. We rely here on Ray’s tribute and material from Ella’s daughter, Janet Johnson. Sandy and I lived on Quarry Hill Road a couple of places beyond the Christensons and thus were neighbors of in the 70s when Ella was relatively young.

After teaching in the Bronx for a few years, Ella and her husband, Carl, moved into their home on Quarry Hill Road where they raised four outstanding children, hosted visiting missionaries, prospective pastors, and guests from far and wide. Carl was eager for theological debate and Ella used her lively interests and education for, among other things, the Christian education program at Haddam Neck Covenant.

A century has passed since Ella was born in Haddam Neck. She continues to live in her own home and to manage her life quite well. One can hardly imagine the depth of her experience and her knowledge of the land she lives on and the community which eagerly honors her. As Glen Wiberg, another former pastor, wrote in tribute: “So, we salute you, Ella, and sound the trumpet on this 100th birthday…”

From a distance we join the many who gathered at Haddam Neck Covenant to honor and bless Ella Christianson who, as her daughter, Janet Johnson, points out, has been a Covenanter for a century. Three cheers and more for Ella!