In 1784 Hartford was incorporated as a city. Not long afterwards, in early 1785, its citizens decided on an official seal to represent the new civic body. Hartford's voters agreed that the best graphic symbol for their home would consist of the
Connecticut River, represented by the figure of an Old Man, crown'd with Rushes, seated against a Rock, holding an Urn with a Stream flowing from it—At his feet a net & fish peculiar to the River, lying by it, with Barrels and Bales—over his head an Oak growing out of a Cleft in the Rock—Round the whole these words Sigillum Civitatis Hartfordiensis. 1The citizens of Hartford thus selected an old man amidst plenty for their official public seal—an image that remained in use until 1852.