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Revising History

Tom Pieragostini is challenging Trumbull's published histories and likes to shoot colonial rifles.

Tom Pieragostini can recite Trumbull pre-history with authority and shoot a 1764 land pattern musket.

As the town's unofficial historian, he is a lifetime member of the and has spent hundreds of hours poring through the town's history before it was a town.

He lives in the home he was raised in, the Ephraim Hawley house, built in 1683 on Nichols Avenue. When he's not there, he is filming or helping make historical films for cable access or shooting his musket with the Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps., founded in 1888.

"Trumbull is unique," Pieragostini says, surrounded by colonial maps and the town's two history books on his dining room table. "[History books  say] nothing happened here. But it did."

Published town histories begin at 1690 with the start of Abraham Nichols Farm. But, according to Pieragostini, "There were dozens of farmers here by 1690."

It wasn't called Trumbull at the time, he concedes, but it is still part of town history.

He applauds the town celebrating the birthday of its namesake, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, whom George Washington called "Brother Jonathan." The Lancraft Corps. even played at the late governor's 300th birthday ceremony in October 2010 in front of .

But more should be done to commemorate town history, he said. In 2013, he wants to celebrate  "Jubilee Day," first held in 1783 in then-North Stratford to celebrate the end of the Revolutionary War.

He hasn't published any history books, but is turning to more modern methods: Wikipedia. He said he has built up Trumbull's entries in Wikipedia, the online database that can be user-edited.

He is also spreading the word about the celebrities who flocked to the Pine Brook Country Club near Pinewood Lake in the summers of the early- to mid-20th century. It became the Pinewood Lake Association in 1944.

"There are 15 references to about this place but there's no book about Pine Brook," he said.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Pine Brook, about 30 stars of stage, screen and song and famous songwriters summered at the resort.

His latest project is a cable access show.

"I start shooting my regularly scheduled show on local history for Charter Community Access called 'CT-Stories,'" he said. "My first guest is Newtown's Town Historian Dan Cruson and my second will be Cathryn Prince, the author from Weston."

Pieragostini's love of history started with his parents, when they bought the Hawley House. "My parents loved old houses," said the 49-year-old.

Then, in college, he started researching to correct historical inaccuracies: first, defending the status of his family home as the oldest in town.

In college he also joined the 19th Special Forces Group, one of two National Guard groups of the U.S. Army Army Special Forces. He was also a regular hunter and his father worked at the Winchester rifle company. He also became a paratrooper.

All of his interests in life led him to join the North Haven-based Fife and Drum Corps. three years ago, which has been keeping him busy. In that time, he has risen to treasurer, business manager and recruiter.

"It's the oldest corps. in existence," he said.

"I'll be doing three St. Patrick's Day parades," Pieragostini added. "Donald Trump wants us to do his 4th of July party."

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