on this Georgetown History page are articles by Wilbur F.
Thompson, a historian that those who live or have lived in
Georgetown owe a great deal of gratitude to. In addition to
the Thompson articles are articles that my Grandfather and
I have put together: Baseball, Roadways.
to Lynne M. Barrelle you can now download all of Wilbur's
articles here. You can also download
the complete history of G&B here.
the articles, the "topics of interest" section and
please return for future updates of Georgetown and it's history.
Please let me know if there are more areas you'd like me to
explore or if you have further information. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone me at 860-364-7475.
About The Georgetown History Project
Links to topics on this page:
Baseball (Brent & Harry
Roadways (Brent & Harry Colley)
The Old Silver Mine (Thompson
from here on down)
The Old Red Mill
The Georgetown Post
The Old Mulberry
The Old Turnpike
The Old Red Shop by the Toll Gate
The Old Grist Mill
The Old Stone Mill
The Old Woolen Mills
The Old Coal Mine
The First Settlement of Georgetown
and the Schools Attended
The Old Boston District School
The History of Georgetown Churches
The Old Churches of Georgetown
The Old Pipe Organ
Christmas in Old Georgetown
The Old Tory House
The Old Boundary Rock
The Iron Trail Through Georgetown
The Old Post Rider
Georgetown in Civil War Times
was a big deal in Georgetown between 1920 and 1940 and they
played often. There was a field on the current Nazzaro's property
to the right of Route 107 just before town. As you make that
turn on 107 heading into Georgetown(100-150 yards before the
new Meadow Ridge driveway) look to your right and you will
see a field, it was know then as Perry's field, this is where
they often played against themselves and other towns. Their
practice field was on Smith Road, it was small and broken
windows were common. The other field was just over the line
in Wilton just off Old Mill Road or Route 7, it is still there
and is maintained by the Georgetown Lions Club. Back then
it was built and maintained by the players, they spent many
weekends in the spring time cleaning it up.
then there was an organization known as the Georgetown Athletic
Association. They played against Redding, Bethel, Ridgefield,
Norwalk, New Canaan, Newtown, Long Hill and at times traveled
as far as Wingdale, NY to play a team from the mental facility
there. Younger players would watch and shag fly balls at ballgames
until they built up the skills to play. Harold Castle, Paul
Connery and Harold Connery are players my grandfather recalls
watching in his youth.
was fierce and it was common for the teams to hire "ringers"
from the semi-pro teams in the region (mainly Bridgeport).
My grandfather recalls a few Sunday games when the Ridgefield
team hired pitchers from the Eastern League for $75 a game.
Grandpa also confessed that Georgetown was no different and
three players he can recall: Lipstack, Shea, and Marino (a
catcher, pitcher and shortstop) were paid $10-25 a game to
play for them.
we are accustom to traveling between Georgetown and Route
7 by traveling Route 107 and crossing the bridge between Smith
St. and Route 57. This bridge was not erected until 1953 and
it was around that time that School Street hillside was leveled
off. Before the bridge was erected, a double house and two
small single houses stood about where Route 57 and 107 meet
and there was a four foot retaining wall across what is now
57 about where the parking lot for Deluca's Kitchen starts.
The A&P Grocery Store stood on what is now 107, between the
Georgetown Bible Church and the building that was once Georgetown
Market. The flood of October 15-16, 1955 was a disaster that
turned out to be a blessing, as the opportunities Tage Pearson
and Dave Weir (both members of the Georgetown Community Association)
spoke of and the steps taken by the Georgetown Lions Club
to better Georgetown became a reality and modernization was
made possible as part of the repair work.
Georgetown in 1951. You'll notice the Rt. 107 bridge does
not exist and the main route goes through Main St. Another
interesting side-note is both Redding Rd. and Weston Rd. are
labeled Rt. 53 on this map. Redding Rd. would be renamed Rt.
107 and Weston Rd. Rt. 57 after the completion of the bridge.
1953, what we know as Route 107 from Redding went straight
to Main Street through what is now the Georgetown Package
Store parking lot. The southern section of Main Street led
to Route 57 and Old Mill Road (which was the Old Turnpike
to Norwalk). Route 57 was a bit different too, as it wove
around what is now Covenant Road, crossed over to what is
now Old Rt. 57 and then on to Weston as it does today. Highland
Avenue, Pine Avenue and Maple Avenue were referred to as "Swedetown"
due to the amount of Swedish immigrants that settled there.
Jim Connery had a beautiful house(that was later torn down)
on the corner of Highland and Route 57 that my grandfather
still recalls as well as the house next to it that burned
down. Highland Avenue didn't extend as far as it does today,
only up to about where a new access road for the Meadow Ridge
retirement community is. It was on that corner that a milkman
by the name of Osborn lived that was blinded by a gunshot
to the face he suffered on his route.
Photo from Main St. Area Looking West in about 1946. Shows
what the area in front of the Georgetown Bible Church used
to look like before Rt. 107 came thru...lots of trees, a dirt
path, the A&P Market and the old G&B Galvanizing Building.
The A&P and Galvanizing Building were both removed to
make way for the new roadway in 1953-54.
Mill Road was the main road to Wilton and Norwalk. Early on
it served as the stagecoach road and the first Post Office
in Georgetown which still stands today was located on the
left as you travel toward Wilton past the two long barns that
used Connery's to store their lime and concrete. Old Mill
Road was important because a large majority of the wire mill
was located there. The mill we see today came later, in the
mid-to-late1800's the mill had nine buildings, two wire factories
and a sieve factory off Old Mill Road. There was also a Railroad
Depot across from the Post Office and Doctor L. Seeley's office.
Off of Old Mill Road was the Polish community on Bunker Hill.
back to North Main Street, if upon entering Georgetown from
Redding you were to take a right toward the Georgetown Bible
Church and the wire mill, you could stay right and head up
Portland Avenue or continue straight on North Main St.
of Portland Avenue in 1867 (under the "OWN"
in the word Georgetown) shows this road was originally a dirt
road extending only to a G&B building. Portland Avenue from
the information available began expanding with the factory
from 1867 into the turn of the century as more workers came
and required housing. Gilbert & Bennett records show houses
on this street built by the factory from 1870 to 1925.
straight would take you on North Main Street over the Norwalk
River and past the factory which in 1867 housed the Saw Mill,
Glue Factory and Sieve Factory. Today this road is closed
due to the factory redevelopment. It used to cross over rail
tracks at the old employee entrance to the factory.
rail tracks branched off from the main rail-line just before
the old Georgetown Train Station, two team tracks split to
the left, one led to the back of Georgetown Station and one
extended further to the road. The main spur track split to
the right, joining again in the factory. In addition to Miller's
Hall which was located behind the old parking lot, two small
sheds also stood, one of them was a coal shed.]
the rail tracks/employees entrance on the left is the Post
Office building built by Gilbert and Bennett in 1906. Up the
hill on the right was the former company's cafeteria, and
two superintendent houses. Before the large mill went up more
houses stood there, in 1867 occupied by G. Albin, C. Albin,
E. Gilbert, Mrs. Berry, B. Bennett (in that order up to the
tracks), D.H. Miller on the right past the tracks and H. St.
John straight ahead at the stop sign.
Street existed and extended to Route 7 and what is now 107.
West Church Street was there as well accessing Route 7 and
housing mill workers. Traveling Church Street in the opposite
direction to 107, imagine a hill to your right that my grandfather
explained was leveled off as Georgetown modernized. The hill,
School Street, was a winter favorite for sledding and it took
steel nerves to master the sharp left-hand turn down Church
St. The original Gilbert and Bennett school sat atop this
hill on the right. The school burnt down in the 1927 or 28.
The school we see today was built in 1915 on New Street. South
Church Street, now a dead end, once extended across the railroad
tracks, followed the river, crossed it and connected with
Old Mill Road at the Redding/Weston line. Smith Street, where
my grandfather grew up, was originally supposed to extend
through what is now Pryor/Hubbard Hall to North Main Street.
This never happened and it remained a dead end street. Before
the Route 107 bridge was built, the road extended to South
Church Street and down to Old Mill Road.
Old Silver Mine by Wilbur F. Thompson
between Georgetown and Cannondale, a short distance east of
the old Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike (Route 7), a great ledge
of rock stands out from the hillside facing the west. Along
the face of this ledge can be seen particles of load ore in
small veins. This was wellknown to the early settlers of Georgetown
and Pimpewaug (Cannondale). They broke out the rock containing
the ore, crushed and smelted it in a primitive way, extracted
the lead, and molded it into bullets.
years later an Englishman who had worked in the mines of Cornwall,
England, found that there was silver with the lead in the
ore. Several persons became interested, and a stock company
was formed to get out the ore. The land the mineral was found
on was owned by Alexander Ressequie, of Norwalk (what is now
the town of Wilton was to that period part of the town of
Norwalk). It was about 40 acres in extent, and bounded on
the north by lands of John Belden, east of the lands of Ezekiel
Wood, south of the lands of Ezekiel Wood and Solomon Wood's
heirs, and west by the Danbury and Norwalk highway.
lease of the land was given by the owner, Alexander Ressequie,
to run 100 years from May 17, 1765. It was very comprehensive;
it gave permission to dig pits, trenches, sink shafts and
tunnels; to take out copper, tin, lead, or any other minerals
found on the property; to build retorts, smelting houses for
the reduction of the ore; to use the timber, stone, sand or
any other substance found on the premises. The following are
the names of the stockholdrs: Samuel Betts, Nathan Hubbell,
Matthew Mead, James Olmstead, Jr., Silas Olmstead, Jessie
Ogden, Joseph Rockwell, Matthew Merwin, all of Norwalk, and
Mather Fountain of the town of Bedford, Province of New York,
Alexander Ressequie, and his heirs and assigns were to receive
one-eighth of all ore and bullion taken from the land.
was commenced at the base of the ledge and continued until
a large vein of ore was found. A shaft was sunk and ore taken
out. Work was done by English miners. There was no way of
separating the silver from the lead at that time in this country.
So the ore was sent to England for reduction into bullion.
There are many traditions about the working of the mine; one
is that it was worked until the War of the Revolution, when
the miners, who were English, went back to England. Another
is that the mine was operated until a large amount of ore
was taken out and the manager went down to Norwalk to see
that the ore was loaded onto the ship, and did not come back.
This left the stockholders minus. It is said the mine was
worked for the lead during the War of the Revolution and this
seems probable, as lead was very scarce at that time and everything
that could be melted was run into bullets, including pewter
plates, teapots, and even the statue of King George that stood
in Bowling Green, New York City, parts of which were found
in Wilton years ago. (Note: the statue of of King George was
smashed to pieces by Revolutionaries-pieces were taken, melted
down and made into bullets).
the war was over, some of the English miners who had worked
in the mine when it was first opened, came back and began
operations again. (The land was now owned by Azor Belden).
They put up a small building and a furnace for smelting the
ore. After working for some time, they left taking with them
a large quantity of silver and five barrels of ore. Years
past on, the timbers and windlass at the mouth of the mouth
of the shaft fell and made it unsafe for the cattle and sheep
grazing near by and Azor Belden had the mine filled up even
with the surface. Fifty or more years ago, there were many
stories told of the old mine. The older people who had known
of the working of the mine were gone, but the stories had
ben handed down to their children and grandchildren. One of
the traditions was that the mine shaft was over 160 feet in
depth and tunnels ran back from it under the ledge. During
the Civil War when silver coin was but a memory of the past,
and the circulating medium was shin plasters and postage stamps,
the boys from Georgetown school would go down to the mine
and break out from the ledge what they thought to be pieces
of silver ore, proudly boasting of the silver they owned.
Aaron Lee (who ran the Glenburg Mills for Samuel Perry) took
some of the ore, smelted it over a blacksmith's fire and got
enough lead to mold into bullets.
the summer of 1875, Mr. Tiffany of New York City, came to
Georgetown (He was a connection of Tiffany Bros., Jewelers).
He boarded with Edmond O. Hurlbutt and heard the story of
the old mine and became interested (The land of the mine now
belonged to Mr. Hurlbutt). Mr. Tiffany had had investments
in silver mines in Nevada. He went down to the mine with Wesley
Barrett of Georgetown, and had him blast out some ore from
the face of the ledge, sending it to New York, to have is
assayed. It was found to contain silver and lead. He thought
it would be a paying proposition to reopen the mine; it was
easy to find where the old mine shaft was, as the ground was
always wet there. After obtaining permission from Mr. Hurlbutt,
he commenced operations.
Barrett had charge of the work. After a windlass was erected
and a hand pump set up, several men were employed. After three
weeks of hard work the shaft was cleared of stones and water,
and the bottom reached by splicing long ladders together.
It was a great curiosity to hundreds of people who visited
the spot. All the stories of the mine were retold. In the
bottom of the shaft were found broken drills, miner's hammers,
picks, parts of ore buckets, bones of some animal that had
fallen in before the shaft was filled up, and pieces of oak
timber; the arsneic in the water had turned the wood a dark
green color. Samuel Main took some of the oak and had some
canes made of it, giving them to his friends. The mine shaft
was found to be six or eight feet in diameter and 75 or 80
feet deep. About ten feet down, the shaft, a lateral or tunnel
was found, about six feet in diameter running back under the
ledge; this probably was opened up when the mine was first
worked, following a vein of ore. It was about 20 feet in depth.
Mr. Tiffany had some sample taken from the bottom and sides
of the shaft and had it assayed. It was found to be rich in
silver. He made plans to work the mine.
looking over the record, it was found the old lease had run
out in 1865, and that the mine reverted back to the heirs
of the original owners. Finding that the expense of searching
out the heirs and obtaining a lease would be too great, he
gave up the idea of working the mine. There was a tradition
that silver had been found farther north on the same ridge
of land that the old mine was on. Mr. Tiffany sent for an
expert miner to look for the silver bearing rock along this
ridge. Mr. Chollar, a miner of fifty years' experience, came
to Georgetown. He was an Englishman 80 years old (but looked
15 years younger). He was the discoverer of the famous Chollar
lode in Nevada (40 years ago; this was a rich silver mine).
Chollar followed the ridge north through Georgetown and Boston
district. He found indications of silver in various places,
but not rich enough to warrant the expense of opening up a
mine, so the project was abandoned.
heard Mr. Chollar tell many interesting stories of his life
as a miner, one incident he related was about the old silver
mine. He said that when he was a young man he overheard two
very old men talking about a mine they had worked many years
before. It was about 50 miles from New York, and the ore was
taken out and shipped from Norwalk and sent to England for
reduction. The two old miners had worked in the mine before
and after the War of the Revolution. Mr. Chollar had forgotten
about the incident when Mr. Tiffany sent for him to look over
the old mine, and search for the mineral bearing lode father
north. He recalled what the old miners had told him 60 years
before about the old mine. The mine shaft is now filled with
water. Some time it may be reopened and worked again.
Georgetown Post Office by Wilbur F. Thompson
story of Georgetown would be complete without a history of
its Postal Service, nor would it be complete without specific
mention of the crossroads known at various times as "Little
Boston Corners", "The Corners", "Gregory's",
"Sanford's" and "Darling's Corners." Since
Redding's first Post Office was located at this busy spot,
their stories must be told together.
1795 the "Norwalk and Danbury Turnpike Company"
was formed to repair the Danbury-Norwalk road which ran through
Redding. It was the only road of consequence in the area and
soon became the Post Road. About two miles north of Georgetown
center at the junction of Umpawaug Road (then the turnpike)
and Peaceable Street (then Whiskey Lane) and Goodsell Hill,
there was a way station for the weary travelers. It was a
busy crossroads and a cheerful place. Here was Darling's Tavern
where it is said drivers of 10,000 vehicles a year traveling
this highway paused to refresh themselves, their passengers
and their horses. The tavern was, of course, a clearing house
of all the news of the day.
other structures also were located in this Little Boston center.
The town's first school stood where Mrs. James Driscoll now
lives. The Michael Connery house at that time housed Billy
Comstock, who conducted a hat factory-the first in Redding-
later operated by is son, Andrew, then by the Sheldon Brothers
and later N.H. Lindly. There was also a general store, and
a ring cider mill operated by Daniel Malllory who used oxen
and horses for power. A short distance down Peaceable Street,
Mallory ran a distillery where he converted hard cider into
apple jack-hence the name Whiskey Lane.
Foot, the Post Rider, and later Elias Bennett, carried in
the newspapers and performed other small errands, so the place
did not lack for news and information of events in other sections.
residents, however, felt a real need for a Post Office, and
eventually, on December 22, 1810, Redding's first Post Office
was established with Billy Comstock as Postmaster, keeping
office in his house. Five years later, May 8, 1815, another
Post Office was established at Redding Center. It was officially
"Reading Townhouse" and William Sanford was Postmaster.
This was a more central location for all of Redding. It was
planned to drop the Little Boston Post Office when the new
one opened, but the road to the new one was so poor that it
actually operated as a sort of sub-station of the Little Boston
Post Office. Billy Comstock sent mail to the center Post Office
once a week. This was to have a temporary expedient, but the
arrangement lasted nearly thirty years.
the road must have been repaired, for the records show that
the Little Boston Post Office was discontinued April 29, 1844.
Its Postmasters and the dates of their appointments are as
follows: William Comstock, Dec. 29, 1810; Thomas Fanton, June
20, 1818; Billy Comstock (re-appointed), May 12, 1821; Joseph
Darling (also Tavern Keeper), Aug. 1, 1823. The last mentioned
has a long tenure-until May 30, 1844.
years later, on May 11, 1852, the Georgetown Post Office was
established. Here follows a list of the Postmasters' names
and dates of appointment: Silliman Godfrey, May 11, 1852;
Lloyd Seeley, Aug. 27, 1853; Samuel Perry, Aug. 26, 1862;
James Corcoran, April 20,
1864; George W. Banks, Jan. 22, 1892; Thomas E. Flood, Feb.
17, 1894; Charles Hubert Taylor, Feb. 15, 1898; George F.
Hammill, May 20, 1913; William E. Hazen, Jan. 21, 1922; F.
Ragnar Bergfors, June 20, 1930; Julius H. Berglund, May 23,
1935; Julius W. Johnson, Nov. 1, 1937; Edward T. Moore, July
Old Red Mill by Wilbur F. Thompson
the banks of the Norwalk River from its source in Ridgefield
to Norwalk are many abandoned mill sites. Fifty-five or sixty
years-ago (about 1850) there were sixteen busy shops and mills
along this stream. Now there are four or five, one of which
belonging to the Gilbert and Bennett Mfg. Co. plant, and stands
on the site of the Old Red Mill, the subject of this article.
mill site (near the long railroad bridge) has been occupied
almost continuously for manufacturing purposes for over 118
years. Some years after the War of the Revolution closed,
David Coley of Kettle Creek, Fairfield (now Weston) moved
to Georgetown. He bought of Isaac Rumsey part of the Applegate
long lots and built a home in Boston district. Miss Sarah
Coley of Georgetown, who is nearly ninety years old, told
me (W.F.T.) that eighty years ago, David Coley lived in the
house later owned by Hezediah Osborn, the father of Hezediah
Osborn of Cannondale. This house is near Boston corners. David
Coley has an iron worker; he bought a mill site on the Norwalk
River; built a dam and shop, put in a wooden water wheel shed,
a furnace for smelting iron ore and a trip hammer, and commenced
business. Some of the ore was brought from Roxbury and Brookfield
and some was taken from the ledge east of where Jessie Burr
Fillow now lives, on the road from Branchville to Boston district
(Peaceable Street) *There is a tradition that there was an
iron furnace near this ledge before the War of the Revolution.
The limestone used in smelting the ore came from Umpawaug
Hill. Many kinds of iron goods were made, ploughshare points,
shovels and irons, cranes, pots and kettles, and ovens.
years ago some of these pots and kettles were in use-they
had legs to stand on in the old fashioned fire places. This
industry gave work to quite a number of men and continued
for many years. In the later years of the industry, Moses
Jennings (grandfather of Miss Jane Canfield of Georgetown)
worked in the iron works-he had charge of smelting the ore.
Benjamin Lobdell worked here (he was the great uncle of Clarence
Osborn of Georgetown) and many others, whose names are now
forgotten. Later David Coley gave up the business and the
shop was vacant. Later it was burned.
head of the iron trip hammer lay by the side of the road;
it weighed over 500 pounds. It was sold, I think, to the iron
work at Valley Forge, Weston. In 1824, Winslow and Booth came
to Georgetown and started a comb factory on the old iron works
site, erecting a small shop. Mr. Booth lived in the house
that Mrs. Waterman Bates years afterward owned. This business
continued for some time and gave employment to quite a number
of people. The cheaper grades of combs were made of cattle
horns. The horns were scraped thin, split and pressed flat,
and the blands for combs were cut out and the teeth cut in.
The finer grades of women's side and back combs were made
of tortoise shell. Later the firm gave up the business and
1834 the Gilbert & Bennett, Co. bought the mill site,
rebuilt the mill dam and built the shop long afterward known
as the Red Mill. A wooden water wheel was built to furnish
power. The mill was two stories and a basement. The first
floor was used for the carded hair industry using power. In
the basement the sieve rims were steamed, bent into shape
and later, other work was done there. With the weaving of
wire cloth, the making of cheese and meat safes was commenced.
Aaron Osborn did this work, assisted by his brother, Eli Osborn.
*Aaron Osborn worked on cheese safes for nearly fifty years.
With the introduction of hard coal for fuel, the coal ash
sifter or coal riddle was made. Samuel Bennett, Henry Williams
and others worked at this branch. Later ox muzzles were made
from wire. Most of the men who worked in the Red Mill had
worked in the old Red Mill Shop to the same kind of work.
the winter of 1840, it was found that the wooden shaft to
the water wheel was worn and had to be replaced. William Bennett,
William Morgan and Orace Smith went down into the Honey Hill
woods to cut a tree from which to hew a new shaft for the
wheel. While cutting down the tree, a limb broke and struck
Mr. Smith, killing him. *Mr. Orace Smith was the father of
Mrs. Jonathan Betts and lived in the house that Mrs. Betts
long afterward owned. Years later the old wooden wheel was
replaced by an iron one, and the old wooden shaft lay by the
roadside for many years (as late as 1865).
past on and the stone factory was built and the curled hair
industry was moved there. Among those that worked at this
branch at this time were William, Charles, and George Albin.
Among those that worked in the sieve industry were William
and Brewer Gilbert, William B. Hurlbutt and Lewis Hurlbutt.
With the rapid growth of the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg., Co.,
Edwin Gilbert went out as a salesman and Charles Olmstead
ran one of the freight wagons. With the building of the D&NRR,
the freight wagons were taken off one after another and the
railroad did all the carrying of goods. One of these old freight
wagons was used as late as 1864 in carting between the factory
and the depot. In the the 1860's the sieve making and other
branches were moved into other shops and the old Red Mill
was used for drawing fine wire and later for tinning and galvanizing
on its site was built.
the 1850's, Aaron Jelliff, built a shop for wire work on the
Weston Road in Osborntown. The motive power used in this shop
was a one man power tread mill. This tread mill wheel was
on the outside of the shop(south side). It was about twelve
feet in diameter and six feet wide. It was built with treads
to step on. The weight of the person inside the wheel stepping
on the treads turned it and furnished the power to run a saw
and other small machines. The wheel was operated by Abraham
Dreamer, a veteran of the Mexican War. It was a great treat
to the boys of fifty or more years ago to see Uncle Abe walking
in this wheel, never reaching the top. Years later, Mr. Jelliff's
sons, Aaron and Charles, were in the wire business, Aaron
in New Canaan and Charles in Southport. On the top of the
hill in front of the Waterman Bates place can be seen an old
ditch running back from the brow of the hill to the old reservoir.
This was dug by the Gilbert & Bennett Co. to bring the
water from the reservoir to the Red Mill to wash cattle and
horse hair, but it was never finished.
OLD RED SHOP BY THE TOLL GATE IN GEORGETOWN
by Wilbur F. Thompson
years ago [1835, or thereabouts] Georgetown was a quiet little
village of 35 houses and about 160 people. A few years before,
Benjamin Gilbert moved into the village and bought the William
Wakeman farm. Most of this land lay between the road to Weston
and the Danbury and Norwalk turnpike ; from the corner where
Connery Bros. store now stands, south to Honey Hill woods,
comprising the land after-wards owned by Sturges Bennett,
Edmund O. Hurlbutt, and the Gilbert & Bennet Co. The homestead
was on the west side of the road and many years after was
known as the Benjamin Gilbert place. It is still occ-upied
as a dwelling.
coming to Georgetown, Mr. Gilbert, who was a tanner by trade,
started the industry of making curled hair and haircloth sieves.
He continued this business after moving to Georgetown, being
assisted by his family and later by Sturges Bennett who was
admitted into partnership in 1828, forming the firm of Gilbert
& Bennett (51 years later he was president of the Gilbert
& Bennett Manufacturing Co.) Part of the work was done at
this time in the basement of the Gilbert home. In 1830 Sturges
Bennett married Charlotte, oldest daughter of Benjamin Gilbert.
this time the shop was built where Connery Bros. store now
stands and later, as the business grew, a three-story addition
was built on. A mill dam had been built across the brook (the
rear part of Connery Bros. store stands on what was part of
the old mill dam.) A small pond was formed about 100 feet
long and 60 feet wide. On the north side of the pond was the
road to Weston, along the roadside was a row of willow trees.
The supply pond, or reservoir, was on the hill south of where
the Swedish Church now stands.
the north shore of the reservoir were vats for cleaning, washing
and sorting the hog, horse and cattle hair used in the curled
hair industry; also platforms for drying the hair. Later this
work was done in the rear of the shop. The first story of
the shop was used for sieve making, and the second for the
curled hair business. On the floor was a hairpicking machine
and two hair rope twisters. The power was furnished by a wooden
overshot water wheel (this was outside the shop on the north
side.) The water was carried in a wooden flume from the pond
onto the top of the wheel. The gate in the reservoir was opened
every morning and shut down at night.
the horse and cattle hair was cleaned it was twisted into
ropes, then boiled to set the curl. After drying, it was wound
into hanks or bundles, and sold in this form or picked out
by hand ready for use in cushions, etc. The longer horse hair
was picked and kept separate and woven into bottoms for the
hair cloth flour and gravy sieves. This was woven on small
frames called looms, into squares a little larger than the
sieves they were to cover. This weaving was done by women
(at their homes) of the village. First by the women in the
families of the firm, and later by Mrs. Polly Canfield, Mrs.
Ezra Brown, Mrs. Sherman Bennett, Mrs. Matthew Bennett and
her daughters (one daughter, Mrs. Waterman Bates, was one
of the last ones to weave haircloth in Georgetown,) and others.
making the sieves, the thin wooden rims were sawed from whitewood
plank (the planks were sawed from logs at Timothy Wakeman's
saw mill that stood north of where the upper Gilbert & Bennett
Mfg. Co.'s plant now stands,) then smoothed by hand, steamed
and bent into shape and nailed; the hair cloth bottom was
then put on and held in place by a narrow hoop or rim, which
was fastened on by nailing. The edges of the haircloth were
then bound around the sieves with waxed thread. This work
was done by women at their homes - it was called binding sieves.
Mrs. Aaron Bennett, Mrs. Samuel Main, Mrs. Aaron Osborn, Mrs.
Samuel Canfield, Mrs. Burr Bennett, Mrs. Orace Smith and others
did this work.
men who worked to the curled hair and sieve industry at different
periods in the Red Shop were Benjamin Gilbert and his sons
William J. and. Edwin; Edmund O. Hurl-butt, John F. Hurlbutt,
William B. Hurlbutt, Aaron Bennett, Sturges Bennett, Isaac
Weed (Mr. Weed married Angeline, daughter of Benjamin Gilbert,
and built the house opposite the Sturges Bennett place,) Samuel
Main, Aaron Osborn, and others.
salesmen were Edmund O. Hurlbutt and William J. Gilbert, who
started out with great wagons loaded with goods, going through
Connecticut and New York State, sell-ing the goods and coming
back on the home trip stopping at the tanner-ies and slaughter
houses, collecting the horse, cattle and hogs' hair to be
made up into the finished product at the Red Shop. Years ago,
the many carriage factories used large quantities of curled
hair in the backs and cushions of seats.
the year 1832, William J. Gil-bert was taken into the firm,
forming the Gilbert & Bennett Co. (48 years later, he was
president of the Gilbert & Bennett Co.) About this time, Sturges
Bennett bought of his father-in-law, land south of the shop
and built the house he lived in for nearly fifty years [see
map 4] now owned by Eli G. Bennett.
1834 it was found that the growing business needed more power
than the little mill pond furnished. So a mill site was bought
on the Norwalk River and a shop was built, known later as
the Red Mill, and that part of the industry using power was
moved into it. On Oct. 15, 1835, Benjamin Gilbert deeded to
Sturges Bennett and William J. Gilbert each a one-third interest
in the Red Shop, the land (1/4 of an acre) with the mill pond,
also rights in the reservoir on the hill. Near the Red Shop
on this land was a small two-story building used by Uncle
David Nichols as a wagon shop (part of this building was used
by the Gilbert and Bennetts be-fore the Red Shop was built.)
The price paid was $133 for each third. The land was bounded
on the north, east and west by the highways, on the south
by Sturges Bennett's home lot.
1836, with the introduction of the weaving of wire cloth for
sieves and other uses, it was found the light cloth and carpet
looms in the village were not heavy enough for wire weaving.
A few looms were built and set up on the third floor of the
Red Shop. Among those who wove wire cloth at this time were
Isaac C. Perry, George Perry, Moses Hubbell and his wife Betsy,
William Perry, and probably others. William Perry wove a fine
wire cloth, called strainer cloth, used for straining milk
and other liquids. Later George Perry built a shop south of
his home [see map II] now owned by John Hohman, and wove for
the Gilbert & Bennett Co. Isaac Perry's son-in-law also built
a shop for weaving; it stood on the corner where Frederick
Fos-ter's house now stands. (Moses Hubbell married Betsy Perry).
later James Byington, Aaron Jelliff, Henry Olmstead and his
brother William, Lorenzo Jones, Thomas Pryor, George Gould,
Anton Stommell, George Hubbell, and Granville Perry wove wire
cloth in the old Red Shop. As the business grew, Anson B.
Hull was hired as Bookkeeper. The office was on the first
floor of the shop; in connection with book-keeping, he ran
a small store. He was with the company for many years. Later
he moved to Danbury, where he was freight agent for the D.
& N. R.R., until his death.
1840 Edmund O. Hurlbutt was admitted into the firm - he married
Mary, daughter of Benjamin Gilbert. He bought land of his
father-in-law and built the home he lived in for many years,
known as the Hurlbutt place. He withdrew from the firm in
1844 Edwin Gilbert became a member of the Gilbert & Bennett
Co. (40 years later he became president of the Gilbert & Bennett
1847, Benjamin Gilbert, the founder of the business, died.
In 1853 David H. Miller of New York City entered the employ
of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. as bookkeeper. He brought in
new ideas and ways of working and the business of the company
was greatly increased. (Fifty-three years later he became
president of the Gilbert & Bennet Mfg. Co., and held that
position at the time of his death in 1915.)
the building of other factories, one by one, the various branches
of the indus-try were moved from the old Red Shop, until only
the wire weaving was left. In 1861, Eli G. Bennett opened
a dry-goods and grocery store on the first floor. The business
grew until the whole floor was occupied, and a large business
was done. Here many young men received their first business
1869 Sturges Bennett (now owning the property) had the old
Red Shop torn down and built the store now standing on its
site [see Map 4.] The timbers of the old shop were bought
by Anton Stommell, who used them in building his house on
the street running east from the Weston road. Later he sold
it to Elijah Gregory.
the store was being built, Eli G. Bennett carried on the business
in the old wagon shop next door. The grocery store on the
first floor and the dry goods on the second. This building
was later sold to Charles Osborn who moved it farther north
and used it for a meat market. The second floor was used by
the Masons for a lodge room. It was burned some years ago.
David Nichols, who ran the little wagon shop, lived on the
west side of the street opposite the shop. (This house was
years later bought by Charles Osborn, father of Clarence Osborn
of Georgetown.) With his good wife, Aunt Sally, he looked.
like a Quaker with his broad-brimmed hat and long coat. He
was everybody's friend, but the boys did annoy him sometimes.
North of the Nichols home was the toll gate across the road,
and Uncle David collected tolls. This was a heavy timber gate
that blocked the highway. After the tolls were paid, the gate
was opened and the team passed through. Near the gate was
a milestone erected in 1787 by the orders of Benjamin Franklin,
who was Postmaster General at this time. This was the post
road from New York City to Hartford. There is one of these
milestones still standing near Miss Sarah Coley's home [G.
Coley on Map II] on the road north of Georgetown and another
on South Street, Danbury.
reads: "12 Ms (miles) To= Nw (Norwalk) 1786"
or more years ago the reservoir on the hill was a favorite
place in the winter for the boys and girls of those days who
enjoyed skating. Later Mr. Edward Hurlbutt, who now owned
it and the surrounding land, stocked it with fish.
before the Civil War Sturges Bennett, who owned a large farm
on the hog ridge (a high ridge of land east of the vill-age,)
employed Ezra Brown to work the farm. Part of the farm equip-ment
was a yoke of oxen and a heavy cart. Uncle Ezra was very proud
of this team. In driving, he would march 100 feet ahead of
the oxen and then march back again. One night some of the
young men of the village, Sam and John Main, Alonzo Morgan,
James Byington, the Albin boys and others, took the cart to
pieces, hoisted it up into one of the willow trees by the
Red Shop pond, put it together with the tongue in the air.
Next morning Uncle Ezra came over from Osborntown to begin
his day's work. Missing his cart, he called Boss Bennett,
who, coming up and seeing the cart in the tree and some of
the boys standing ar-ound, winked at Uncle Ezra and said in
his quiet way, "Boys, I guess you had better take that cart
down." They knew he meant business and got to work. It was
harder work to take it down before an audience of fifty people,
than it had been to put it up the night before. Not long after,
most of these young men were at the front fighting for our
OLD GRIST MILL - GEORGETOWN, CONN.
by Wilbur F. Thompson
the early settlement of our state until about 60 or 70 years
ago, the people living in our rural communities were, to a
great extent, independent of the outside world; the farms
and little shops and mills producing almost everything used
in the homes of their day. The first mill to be built in the
early days was the Grist Mill, then the saw mill, blacksmith
shop, woolen mill, tannery and cider mill. Georgetown was
no exception to the general rule, and along its streams and
highways are found evidences of many little home industries
that flourished, long years ago (and some at a late date.)
It is probable that the first corn and grain raised in Georgetown
was ground in the home-made mortArs of wood or stone, with
a pestle, or in the old Indian stone samp mortars which can
be found in the rocks in many places.
first Grist Mill where the early settlers of Georgetown had
their corn and rye ground stood on the west bank of the Saugatuck
River, a short distance north of where Ferd Gorham's house
now stands near the foot of Nobb's Crook Hill. (This was about
1730). The miller's name was Jabez Burr. Many years later
a wind grist mill was built in what was called Dumping Hole,
or Hill (now in Cannondale School Dis-trict,) about two miles
southeast of Georgetown. The first grist mill in what is now
the village of Georgetown was probably built and run by George
Abbott. If there was one before this, the name of the owner
is not known.
1764 George Abbott, formerly of Salem, Westchest-er Co., Province
of New York, bought of Ebenezer Slawson, of Norwalk, a mill
privilege on the Norwalk River for the purpose of erecting
a grist mill. The mill was built and he commenced to grind
corn and grain. There is a tradition that John Belden had
built a saw mill on or near the same site, and Abbott bought
it. The mill was on the only road between Danbury and Norwalk
and did a great business; people from miles around brought
their grain to be ground, or logs to be sawed up into lumber.
ran the mills for many years. He lived in a house that stood
south of where the Waterman Bates house now stands [down Old
Mill Road.] His wife (called Aunt Lucy) kept a tav-ern or
half-way house for the teamsters on the Danbury and Norwalk
next owner of the mill was Stephen Perry, an ancestor of the
late Nathan Perry. He rebuilt the dam and mill; it was then
known as Perry's Mill. Later Joseph Goodsell 1st. ran the
mill. He was the father of Joseph B. Goodsell 2nd., who lived.
on Goodsell's Hill, 30 or more years ago.
next owner was Ephraim B. Godfrey, who lived in a house south
of the mill. This house was moved to the east side of the
highway 50 years ago. He was called Uncle Eph and the hill
west of the mill was called Uncle Eph's mountain. He married
Mary, daughter of Timothy Wakeman 1st., and had two sons and
a daugh-ter. One son, Wakeman Godfrey, was in business with
him and lived in the house long after owned by Henry Olmstead.
He was called "Wake" Godfrey! One of his daughters, Mary Ann,
married Burr Betts of Nor-walk.
other son, Silliman, built and lived in the house long after
owned by Dr. Lloyd Seeley. Silliman had a store south of the
house. (This house is now owned by Gilbert & Bennett Mfg.
Co.) The store was burned and in 1851 or '52 he built the
building long known as the depot building. He had a store
in the north end; the railroad depot was in the south end.
On the second floor was a large hall known as Godfrey's Hall.
This was used for various purposes. (This will be spoken of
in a later article.) The old depot building burned down several
Godfrey's daughter Mary married Matthew Gregory of Georgetown.
Godfrey & Son ran the grist and saw mill for many years and
did a large business. In 1853 or '54 Ephraim Godfrey died.
His son then continued the business. About this time a new
grist mill was started in the old woolen mill lower down the
river and the Godfrey Mills did not have much to do, and later
the mills were closed. Some time after, Edwin Gilbert bought
the property, rebuilt the mill dam and mill, enlarging it,
fitting it up for other manufacturing; for a while, Betts
& Northrop had a car-penter shop there. Blood's patent flour
sifter and other wire goods were made there at that time.
Later the Gilbert & Bennett Co. owned it and changed it into
a wire mill, and it was used for that line of work until it
was burned some years ago.
the third floor of this mill was set up and run (in 1869 and
'70) the first machine in this country for making wire netting
and fencing. [According to another source, it was in 1865
that Gilbert & Bennett & Co. installed the first power machinery
for making wire poultry netting. For years it was exclusive
manufacturer of this innovation. The salesmen worked for a
good many years trying to educate the trade to its use. "You
never can replace wooden lath for poultry enclosures," was
a common remark.]
the west side of the river in the ledge of rocks below the
mill dam is what is probably one of the oldest grist mills
in the state. It is a circular hole in the rock about two
feet in diametcr and four feet in depth; it is shaped like
a round-bottomed pot. There are two more on the banks of the
Saugatuck River in the rocks east of what was the Daniel Hull
house in Weston. These holes are called pot-holes and were
worn or made by the action of water ages ago. The Indians
of long ago used them for grinding the Indian corn raised
in the valleys; with a stone pestle the corn was soon reduced
to a coarse meal called samp. The early settlers called them
samp mortars. The use of stone pestles for years in these
samp mortars made them deeper and larger.
the east bank of the river a short distance below the mill
dam, there was 65 years ago, a spring of water called the
oil spring. The oil was found on the surface of the water.
When the D. & N. R. R. was built, this was covered by the
stone from above. Near here Chambers first started to dig
for coal. In the railroad cut nearby the rocks in the summer
show a white coating of alum. This is on the east side of
old mill is a memory of the past with the Abbotts, Perrys,
Goodsells and Godfreys. But Nature's work still remains, and
old Mount Ephriam still overlooks the valley as it did 232
years ago, when the original eight settlers passed up the
valley, following the Indian trail through swamp and forest
to found the new settlement of Danbury. Or 139 years ago when
the minutemen hurried past on their way to Danbury to guard
military stores there. Or 54 years ago, when the boys in blue
left Georgetown to go to the front to fight for freedom.
OLD STONE MILL AT GEORGETOWN by Wilbur F. Thompson
persons riding on the D. & N. R. R. have seen and admired
the old stone mill a short distance below Georgetown, but
very few know who built the mill or what it has been used
for. It was built over seventy years ago, by John Taylor of
Wilton. It was called Tay-lor's Woolen Mills or Satinet Factory.
He built a dam a short dis-tance above and a canal to convey
the water to the mill. He also built the house near the mill
and lived there many years. His wife was Miss Hannah Varian,
of New York City; one of their children was drowned in the
canal. (Levi Taylor, father of John Taylor, many years before
the mill was built had a store in Georgetown, a little way
below the old Red Mill.)
in those days kept sheep and brought the wool to the mill
to sell or to have dyed and woven into cloth. Broadcloth,
flannels, etc., homespun, and a cloth called satinet (part
cotton) were woven here. Henry Williams, who lived a short
distance below the mill, had charge of the dyeing, carding
and spinning department; his wife was one of the weavers.
A man named Glover worked there. He afterward ran the mills
known as Glover's Woolen Mill at Sanford's Station.
Taylor was in business many years, and after he retired, a
Welshman named Evans, from Derby, continued the business.
After this, Blackman Bros., from New Milford, ran it for a
short time. Later Dr. N. Perry, of Ridgefield, bought it;
and fitting it up for a grist mill and to grind spices, called
it the Glenburg Chemical Works. He wanted to change the name
of Georgetown to Glenburg, but did not succeed. His son, Samuel
Perry, had charge of the mill for many years. The famous remedies
so well known forty or fifty years ago were made here - composition
powders for colds, magnesia powders for indigestion, the No.
9, a pain kilber, demulcient, compounds for coughs, and many
others. Spices were ground and all kinds of extracts were
made and sold. The country stores all kept the Perry remedies,
spices and extracts.
the death of Samuel Perry, the mill was sold to William J.
Gilbert. He leased it to different parties who ran it as a
grist mill. It is now owned by Samuel J. Miller. [Today it
is no more.] After the death of Samuel Perry, the formulas
for the Perry remedies came into the possession of his bro-ther-in-law,
Eli Osborn, who made them for many years, at his home in Georgetown.
Old Woolen Mills of Georgetown - by Wilbur F. Thompson
of the most important products of the farms of long ago were
wool and flax. In the summer days flocks of sheep were feeding
on the hillsides and waving fields of blue-flowered flax could
be seen on almost every farm.
was not harvested the same as grain or hay, but was pulled
up by the roots and stacked. Later in the season it was put
through a process of sweating or rotting to separate the fibre
from the woody part of the stalk. It was then crackled to
break the wood or straw of the flax. This was done by beating
it with wooden mallets. After this, it was hetcheled or hackled;
this was done by drawing the stalks of flax over sharp pointed
iron teeth thickly set in a block of wood. This separated
the fibre from the woody or straw portion of the flax. The
fibre, after hetcheling, was called tow or lint; this was
cleaned and spun into linen yarn or thread, and woven on the
hand looms into different kinds of linen cloth, and then bleached.
wool was worked up in a different way. After being sheared
from the sheep, it was washed and cleaned. Then it was carded
into a light fleecy mass (like the cotton batting of today.)
The hand cards were pieces of leather or thin wood thickly
set with fine wire points which caught and separated the fibre
of the wool. Sometimes the wool was bowed the same as hatters'
fur was in the olden times. This was done with a large how
strung with catgut; pulling the string caused it to vibrate
in the wool, separating it the same as in carding.
carding, the wool was formed into rolls, from which it was
spun into woolen yarn or warp and then woven into woolen cloth
of many kinds, and blankets. A cloth for dresses and skirts
was woven, called linsey-woolsey. It had a lin-en warp and
woolen filling; a heavier cloth made of the same materials
was called fustian. After washing, the cloth was dyed, fulled.
and fin-ished.; oftentimes the warp and filling were dyed
before weaving. For many years all this work was done by hand
on the farms where the wool and flax were raised. Later little
shops and mills were built along the stream where the wool
and flax were prepared. for weaving and where the home-made
cloth was fulled and finished.
first mill where the early settlers of Georgetown and Boston
district took their wool to be cleaned and carded stood on
the east bank of the Saugatuck River, near Nobb's Crook. In
1746 Abram Fairchild and wife (Sarah Scribner) of Norwalk,
moved to what is now Boston district, not far from Nobb's
Crook. He built a small mill on the east bank of the river
for cleaning and carding wool, and fulling and finishing cloth.
He ran this mill for many years and raised a large family.
Six of his sons were in the Amer-ican army in the war of the
Revolution at the same time.
he sold the mill to Moses Fox, who lived nearby. Fox was in
business for some years. In 1803 he sold the mill to Joel
Foster, who lived a short dis-tance north of the mill. Foster
was in business until 1812, when the firm of Comstock, Foster
& Co. was formed, and a new mill was built a short distance
below the old mill. This firm did a large business in weaving
woolen goods of all kinds.
Foster bought the inter-ests of the other partners and continued
the business until 1843 or '44 when the mills were burned.
The remains of the old foundations of the mill could be seen
some years ago on the east side of the river. Isaac Perry,
who later lived in Georgetown, worked in the Comstock & Foster
Mills. He was an expert weaver as were other members of his
family. A son, George Perry, made a specialty of weaving fine
woolen blankets or coverlids, which met with a ready sale
at $15 a pair. Many of these were woven in Georgetown years
OLD COAL MINE, GEORGETOWN - By Wilbur F. Thompson
these days of high prices for coal and other necessities of
life, what a boon it would be if coal could. be found and
mined in our state. In almost every town there are traditions
of minaral wealth beneath the surface. And in many places
excavations, shafts and tunnels show that thousands of dollars
have been spent in the endeavor to find the minerals supposed
to be hidden in the earth.
all the search for minerals very little has been said about
coal. 80 years ago there was a blacksmith shop in Boston district,
Redding, owned by Elias Andrews. In those days there was no
mineral coal used in the rural sections. Every blacksmith
had a charcoal pit for making coal. One day a man came into
the shop and told Andrews he could get a black stone that
would make a hotter fire than charcoal. He was told to get
some. He went into what is known as Seventy Acres (a great
tract of woods on the west of Boston district) and returned
with a bag of black stone. It was placed on the forge - it
burned with an intense heat. He would never tell where he
found it, and. many have looked for it but never have found
1848, a coal miner named Chambers, from Carbondale, Pennsylvania,
came to Georgetown to visit friends. He heard the story of
the lost coal mine and tried to find it, but was not successful.
In his search he noticed that the formations of rock in many
places was the same as in coal regions. He started to dig
in many places up the valley into Boston district. At last
he found what he thought to be good indications of coal, and
commenced to dig in earnest. He hired local help, paying them
$1.00 per day from sunrise to sunset. The shaft or tunnel
was cut through solid rock about six feet in diameter running
back on the level under the hill. It is said that he found
small veins of coal but was looking for a large vein.
weeks of hard work the tunnel was dug under the hill about
50 feet. One Satur-day night some of the young men who worked
for Chambers in the mine drove down to Norwalk and secured
some large lumps of coal. This they placed in the back end
of the mine and covered with rock. The first stroke of the
pick in the morning uncovered the coal. Chambers was happy,
thc long sought-for coal was found. He soon found that he
had been fooled. This disappointment, with the lack of funds,
put an end to his mining. It is possible if he had kept on
he would have found coal enough to pay him to mine it.
old mine is about 250 feet south of the house long owned by
Aaron Osborn (now owned by Mrs. Leroy Sturges) and was on
his land. It was long known as "Chamber's Coal mine." Fifty
years ago Aaron Osborn used the old coal mine in the summer
as a cooler for milk, eggs, butter, etc. The water, icy cold,
dripping from the roof and sides of the mine drained off into
the Boston brook that flowed by the entrance of the mine.
The writer, with many other boys of 50 years ago, had many
a drink of ice cold milk, that had been put in the old mine
entrance to the mine has been closed for many years by the
debris that has fallen from the hill above. Wilbur F. Thompson,
Danbury, March 10, 1922.
First Settlement of Georgetown and the Schools its Children
by Wilbur F. Thompson
first settlement of what is now the busy growinc burg of Georgetown
was made 190 or more years ago [in about 1726] along the high
ridge of land then known as Barnham's Ridge (now the Hog Ridge.)
This ridge of land extends from the Norwalk (now Wilton) line
to Nobb's Crook. [This ridge follows the line of Route 107
from Georgetown to Redding Glen] with all the land in what
is now the village of Georgetown in the towns of Redding and
Weston. It was the time of the first settlement in the northern
part of the town of Fairfield. The old north boundary line
of Fairfield was on or near where the highways now run from
Redding Ridge to Redding Center and from there west to the
Ridgefield line about two and one-half miles above the boundary
rock in the Norwalk River now in Georgetown. The upper half
of the town of Fairfield was surveyed into what was known
as the Fairfield long lots. These lots were surveyed or laid
out on what was known as the eleven oclock line. They were
of different widths, but were nar-row when compared with their
depth, which was eight or ten miles. They were owned. by the
early settlers of Fairfield near the tidewater, or were granted
to persons for services rendered the colony or town in civil
or military life; and were known by the names of the owners.
What was known as the Osborn long lot was granted to Richard
Osborn (an ancestor of William E. Osborn of Westport) for
military service in the Pequot Indian War. The long lots we
are interested in are those that comprised the land now in
the village of Georgetown in the towns of Redding and. Weston
and also what is the Boston district in Redding. Some of these
lots were settled on by the original owners - others were
settled on by persons who bought of the first owners.
first long lot in what is now the village of Georgetown in
the south was known as the Osborn long lot. This was bounded
on the west and northwest by the Norwalk (now Wilton) line
and came to the boundary rock in the Norwalk River. The next
lot was known as the Applegate long lot, the next the Drake
long lot, and so on up through Boston district to Nobb's Crook.
The Osborn, Applegate and. Drake lots comprised a large part
of what is now Georgetown and Boston district.
1721 Robert Rumsey of Fairfield bought of John Applegate a
large tract of land known as the Applegate long lots. In 1724
he willed it to his three sons Robert, Benjamin, and. Isaac,
who built homes on the tract. Isaac built on the hill in front
of where the Aaron Osborn house [see Map II] now stands (Isaac
married Abigail, daughter of Noah St. John the first.)
Rumsey built near where the home of Mrs. Nathan Perry now
stands. Sixty years ago [about 1856] when Samuel Main was
building the house Mrs. Nathan Perry now owns, he started
to dig a well. Uncle Timothy Wakeman (who owned the house
later owned by Edson Smith) asked Mr. Main what he was doing.
On being told, Uncle Timothy took an iron bar, striking through
the sod, and found a stone slab saying there is the old Rumsey
well dug in 1726. Mr. Main uncovered and cleaned. out the
well and used it as long as he lived in Georgetown.
the Rum-seys other settlers built. The Perrys, Mallorys, Morgans,
Hulls, Lees, Darlings, Coleys, Bradleys, settled along this
ridge, and later the Sherwoods, Battersons and Parsons.
part of Georgetown in the town of Weston was settled about
the same time, or later. It has been said that Richard Osborn
built on the Osborn long lot at an early date but this has
not been proven. The first settler we have record of who built
on this section was William Osborn, who built a log house
in 1734 on or near where the Gregory Osborn house now stands.
(This house is now owned by William E. Osborn of Westport,
a direct descendant of Richard Osborn, the first owner of
the land.) Later members of the Osborn family built here,
giving it the name of Osborntown. This sec-tion is in the
Weston part of Georgetown.
first settlement of that part of Georgetown in the town of
Norwalk (now Wilton) was made many years later than that of
the other sections, Burnham's Ridge, etc. The early settlers
always chose the high ground first for building their homes,
thinking the lowlands unhealthy. Most of the land in this
section was owned by John Belden, Solomon Wood and Ezekial
Wood. In 1756 Noah St. John 1st bought of Solo-mon Wood fifty
acres of land, and built a home. His son Nehemiah St. John
also built on this land. Nehemiah built the Matthew Gregory
place today owned by Arthur Clark. The St. John farm remained
in the family for many years and was later owned by the Rev.
Samuel St. John.
the Taylors, Olmsteads, Gregorys, Morgans and other families
settled. In 1756 Solomon Wood sold the remainder of his land
north of the St. John farm to James Morgan of Redding, who
built a house on or near the site of the house built and long
owned by Hiram St. John. In 1764, George Abbot came to what
is now the village of Georgetown and built a grist mill and
was a prominent man in the community for many years.
after the close of the War of the Revolu-tion, the people
living on the hillsides and. along the valley of the Norwalk
River held a Fourth of July celebration on the top of the
hill in front of where the Waterman Bates house now stands
[the first house on the river below Connery Bros. office]
and having no cannon to fire a salute, bored a hole in the
ledge of rocks on the hillside, loaded it with powder and
fired the salutes in honor of the day. For many years after
it was used for the same purpose, by Matthew Ben-nett, who
this time the localities around the valley were called by
different names: Osborntown, Honeyhill, Burr's Hill, St. John's
corners, Sugar Hollow, Jack Street, etc. At this Fourth of
July celebration, it was voted to give these localities one
name. Someone suggested Georgetown after George Abbott, the
popular miller. It was put to vote and Georgetown became the
name of the hamlet. That is how the hustling town of today
got its name.
first school the children of the early settlers of what is
now the village of Georgetown attended stood on the west bank
of the Saugatuck River at the foot of Nobb's Crook hill a
short distance north of where Ferdinand Gorham's house [this
is now Redding Glen] now stands. It was one of three schools
established by the parish of Redding, town of Fairfield, in
1737, and was known as the West Redding district school. (The
other two were called the Redding Center and the East Redding
schools.) It was a small log structure with rude seats made
of slabs and a stone fireplace. The district comprised what
is now Diamond Hill and Boston districts and. that part of
George-town in the town of Redding.
1767 the parish of Redding became the town of Redding. In
1768 the town was divided into school districts. Boston district
No. 5 included that part of Georgetown now in the town of
Redding. The school house stood near where the present school
house stands in Boston district [the James Driscoll Sr. house.]
In the early days of the last century this was a famous school.
The an-cestors of many who have lived in Georgetown attended
school here, as it was the nearest one in the neighborhood.
Among the teachers at this time were Elias Bennett, Nathaniel
Perry, Walter Bates (who later had a large select school,)
William Bennett, Gershom Banks and others.
first school in Georgetown was started about 1800; the school
house stood near where Walter Perry's house now stands. Not
much is known about this school; it was a small building and
some of the teachers who had taught in the Boston school taught
House No. 2 [built in 1818] stood on the south end of William
Wakeman' s home lot. This also was a small building; it is
not known how long school was held here. In 1824 William Wakeman
sold his farm to Benjamin Gilbert and bought the Matthew Bennett
place on the road to Weston, years later owned by Jonathan
Betts [across from the Swedish Church.] Mr. Wakeman moved
the little school house up the hill and attached it to the
rear of his new house for a kitchen.
House No. 3 stood in the hollow [today it is the area at the
junction of Routes 7 and 107] back of Wilkie Batterson's blacksmith
shop on the road to Nod [see Map IV.] At this time or later
the present school district of Georgetown was formed, taking
in what is known as Chicken Street, which at that time was
a thickly settled section. This schoolhouse was used until
the winter of 1850, when it was burned.
new site was bought on what is now known as School Hill and
the er-ection of a new school was commenced. Until the completion
of the new building the school sessions were held in Taylor's
hat shop, which stood at the top of what was known as Aunt
Sal Taylor's hill, on the road to Nod. This shop was later
moved and attached to the Taylor home, now owned by William
Lockwood [now the Pfhal house] and is part of the house today.
The new school house No. 4 was up-to-date, hav-ing seats and
desks. Something new for Georgetown, the old school houses
having benches for seats and a board fastened around the wall
the teachers who taught in the new school were Peter Fayerweather,
George Godfrey, Lyman Keeler, Charles Sherwood, Miss Sturges
(daughter of Charles Sturges,) Miss Margaret Moore, Luzon
Jelliff and many others later than 1876. Among the scholars
who att-ended school here in the early sixties from 1860-1864
were Francis, Eugene, Aaron, Frank G. and. Lydia Albin; Lester,
Ezra P. and William R. Bennett; Frederick Brown; Medora and
Allie Batterson; Will, James and John Corcoran; Francis de
Garmo and sister George; Charles and John Gould; Mary, George,
Eva, Will, Lester, Lucius and Luther Godfrey; Frank and Mary
Elwell; Emma and Addie Hurlbutt; Rosalie, Will, Gilson and.
little Sid Jennings; Charles, Carrie, John, Francis and. Ida
Jelliff; Augusta, Rebecca and Ben Lobdell; Addie, Alida and
Joe Lockwood; Ida and Will Lee; Samuel J. and Mary Miller;
Huldah, Eli G. and Nettie Main; Ed, Julia and Annie Mills;
David, William E., Edmund, Isadora, George, Nettie and William
H. Osborn; Charles and Dell Olmstead; El-lza Prior; Jennie
Luick; Alice, Lizzie, Ida, Stell and Eddie St. John; Wilbur
F. and Herbert Thompson; Frank, Mary and Dan Welsh; Henry
Willams; Charlie Wells, and others whose names are forgotten.
old school house on the hill has been enlarged many times
to accomodate the growing school population. Many persons
of mature years have pleasant memories of the old school house,
surrounded. by its fine grove of trees. And many friendships
begun there have lasted through the long years that have passed
since we were boys and girls attending school.
the old school house on the hill has outlived its day and
generation, and School House No. 5 has taken its place. This
fine up-to-date building is a model for every school building
committee to follow, and is a fitting memorial to those who
have the best interests of Georgetown at heart. And here again,
after a lapse of 100 years, the children of Georgetown and
Boston districts attend the same school.
is a far cry from the little log school house on the banks
of the Saugatuck River (and the rude little school houses
of later days) to the beautiful building that is the school
house of the children of Georgetown and vicinity. They and
the coming generations of children will appreciate (with the
parents) the facilit-ies afforded for a better education.
F. THOMPSON October 20, 1916
OLD BOSTON DISTRICT SCHOOL, REDDING
by Wilbur F. Thompson
a hill in Old New England Stands a schoolhouse old and gray,
The Schoolhouse of my boyhood. Many years have passed away.
sale of the Boston district schoolhouse to M. Connery of Georgetown
forms the closing chapter in the history of a school that
had had an existence of over 150 years.
1767 the town of Redding was organized and in 1768 was divided
into school districts. Boston district No. 5 took in the section
now known as Georgetown in Redding. The schoolhouse stood
on the site of the building recently sold. It was for many
years a famous school. Elias Bennett, later known as Pest
Rider Bennett, was teacher from 1800 to 1815. Nathaniel Perry,
Walter Bates, Aaron B. Hull, Gershom Banks, Oliver Dudley
and William Bennett taught in the old schoolhouse later.
the '50's the present schoolhouse was built. It was a great
improvement on the old school, where the seats had no backs,
and a wide board fastened to the wall on three sides of the
room formed the desks, with an open fireplace to heat the
room in winter. In the new school were desks, and seats with
backs, and a box stove standing in the center of the room
to heat the school in winter. In the winter of 1864 the writer
was a pupil in the Boston school. The ages of the pupils ranged.
from six to twenty years. Many were men and women grown. Teachers
in those days had to be men of muscle as well as of brains.
David L. Rowland of Weston was teacher for the fall and winter
term of l864.
those days the teachers boarded with the parents of the children
who attended school -it was called "boarding around the district."
The schools were not free schools as they are today, and the
burden was heavy on many par-ents who had large families.
Following are names of the pupils who attended the winter
term of 1864, giving the father's name also: Orrin Adams'
children - Leroy, Imogene, Julia; William Albin's children
- Frank, Lydia, Warson, Albert; Burr Bennett's children -
William, Polly, Mary, Elmer; Gershom Banks' children - George,
Jane, Will; Zalmon Fil-low's child - Effie; Aaron Fillow's
child - Fred; Joseph Goodsell's child - George B.; William
Gorham's child - Ferdinand; Richard Higgins' children - Richard,
John and Ellen; Moses Hill's children - Gcrshom, Deborah,
Ebenezer, Mary, Samantha; Bradley Hill's children - Arthur
B. and Albert; Burr Hill's children - Helen, Celia, Nathaniel;
Edmund Lee's children - John, Margaret, Thornton and Jessie;
Henry Lee's child - Frank; Ashur Marchant's children - Joel
and Arthur; Aaron Olmstead's children - Hawley, Sarah, Samuel,
Eva; Granville Perry's children - Georganna, Eva, Timothy;
Parson's grandchild - Hattie; John Rady's children - John,
James and Ellen; Peter Smith's children - Ed.die and Ruth;
Dimon Sturges' children - Oscar and Ida; Edward Thomp-son's
children - Wilbur F. and Herbert B.; Francis Welch's children
- Mary and Daniel.
years have passed by and many of the pupils of the old school
term of 1864 and '65 are dead, and few of those alive are
living in the old district. But their descendants are scattered
all over this state. The children in Boston district, Redding,
are now pupils in the Gilbert & Bennett School, Georgetown.
Following are the names of the teachers in the Boston listrict
school from 1864 to 1872: winter terms; David L. Rowland,
Seth Platt Bates, John Belden Hurlbutt, Ambrose Platt, Arthur
B. Hill; summer terms, Sarah Hill and Emma Olmstead.
and hollow are its doorsteps, Worn and thin its ancient sill,
By the many feet that entered In the schoolhouse on the hill.
F. THOMPSON February 22, 1922 Danbury, Connecticut
Historical Sketches of the Churches in Georgetown Today
by Irene Baldwin
continuing with Wilbur Thompson's article "The Old Pipe Organ,"
it is appropriate to introduce some historical sketches of
the churches which exist in Georgetown today. His anecdotes
about the Methodist Church will be more meaningful if the
reader has some background.
Methodist Church of Georgetown
The first circuit organized in New England. by Jesse Lee was
called the "Fairfield Circuit." It included roughly the area
from Norwalk, east to Stratford and Milford, then north and
west to Danbury and. Redding, and south again to Norwalk.
The Georgetown class was formed in 1790. For many years this
group met at various homes, for it had no regular place of
1830, a small plain building was erected, and served for nearly
thirty years as the Society increased in numbers. However,
on March 15, 1857, it was voted, and pledges were made, to
build a new house of worship. This building now stands, and
with some alterations, houses the church today. By 1861, the
Georgetown Charge had increased in prestige with its new church,
and was taken out of the circuit and put in the New York East
church has been called the Methodist Episcopal, and it is
to this group that Wilbur Thompson's articles about the Old
Pipe Organ and the Christmas Service relate. In 1820, a Reverend
William Stillwell organized another Meth-odist group in Georgetown.
This followed a small schism in the New York Conference. This
group adopted the name Methodist Protestant when it met in
convention in 1829. Information about these Methodists is
available in Todd's History of Redding, Connecticut. This
group was the forerunner of the present Congregational Church
present Methodist Church has a fine record and history to
be proud of. Its membership today is ministered to by the
Rev. Mr. Worley, who followed Rev. Marsland. The membership
is active and contributes their full quota for World Service
and Benevolence, as well as the Home for the Aged in Danbury.
Bible Church (formerly Gilbert Memorial Church)
This lovely stone church facing the Gilbert & Bennett office
building, was donated to the Georgetown Congregational Church
by Edwin Gilbert. The cornerstone was laid October 1901, and
it was formally dedicated. the following year.
1867, when the name Congregational was adopted, this group
had been the Methodist Protestant Meeting. Started in 1820
as a separatist group from the Methodist Episcopal Church
in Georgetown, this congregation grew and joined the Society
of Wilton Circuit in 1839. In its early years it shared a
meeting house with the Baptists and a Mission Sunday School
of the Wilton Congregational Church, which was organized in
Georgetown in 1826.
early church property was crossed by the Danbury & Norwalk
R. R. The group sold the Railroad a right of way for $150
in 1851. In 1867 the members voted to change their denominational
preference to Congregational. In July 1944 they withdrew from
the Fairfield County Congregational Association and Ministerial
Society. The church used the name "Gilbert Memorial Church"
until April 7, 1965, when it was changed to the "Georgetown
Bible Church." At the present time, it is administered by
the Rev. Mr. Seely.
With the completion of the Norwalk & Danbury R. R., Catholics
began to move in and settle about the halfway mark known as
Georgetoen. The spiritual needs of these families were taken
care of by priests from both St. Mary's Church, Norwalk, and
St. Peter's Church, Danbury. Holy Mass was celebrated in private
homes both in Georgetown and Branchville. By the late seventies,
the number of Catholics had increased considerably, so the
use of Bennett's Hall, located over the now Conn-ery Brotherss
store, was secured for servlces. The Rev. Thaddeus P. Walsh
was appointed first pastor of Georgetown, with Ridgefield
and Redding Ridge as missions. He took up his residence in
Georgetown in 1880. The Catholics of Georgetown had already
made plans for a church and the present grounds were purchased
and transferred to Father Walsh shortly after his coming.
He immediately began the erection of a church which was soon
completed. It was solemnly dedicated in the late sum-mer of
the same year by the Most Rev. Lawrence S. McMahon, under
the protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A special train
was run from Danbury on that occasion to accommodate all who
wanted to take part in the ceremony.
Walsh later moved his residence from Georgetown to Ridgefield,
but continued to minister to the needs of the Catholics of
Gecrgetown until his death in 1886. He was buried from Sacred
Heart Church, Georgetown.
Rev. Patrick Byrne succeeded Father Walsh; for the next six
years he was pastor of both Georgetown and. Ridgofield Cath-die
Churches. Father Byrne was in turn succeeded by the Rev. Joseph
O'Keefe, who labored in spite of ill health till the coming
of the Rev. Richard E. Shortell, May 13, 1893.
the direction of Father Shortell, the original church building
was greatly enlarged, the interior relocorated, the marble
altar, the marble sanctuary and a new organ installed, making
it one of the best mission churches in the diocese. Father
Shortell continued as pastor of Sacred Heart Church until
his death Oct. 4, 1934.
Dec. 1, 1934, the Rev. Walter F. Kenny came to Georgetown
as resident pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, which was new separated
from Ridgefield. He immediately began the building of a rectory,
and the fill-ing and grading of the parish grounds. As the
property is about an acre and three-quarters in extent, it
proved quite a task. Most of the labor was voluntary and completed
on a pay-as-you-go basis.
that time, the parish has continued to grow and has prospered
not only materially but spiritually. In Nov. of 1951, Msgr.
Joseph Cleary arrived. He has seen a great growth spurt and
the church is now "bursting at the seams." He is well-loved
by all his parishion-ers, and is very much a part of the community
life of Georgetown.
This church, located on the old Weston Road in Georgetown,
was founded in March 1889 by Swedish immigrants. The building
was erected in 1891 with a parsonage on Map1e Street. In March
of 1964, they celebrated their 75th anniversary. One charter
member, Mrs. Gustaf Wahlquist, still survives. She is about
97 years old and lives near the church on Old Weston Road.
The church has its roots in the Lutheran State Church of Sweden
and the great spiritual awakening in Sweden in the 19th century.
The members use the Congregatonal name because they were assisted
in getting started by the American Congregational Church.
The church is associated with the Evangelical Covenant Church,
with headquarters in Chicago, and with the East Coast Conference
of Covenant Churches, with headquarters in Worcester, Mass.
was a wave of emigration to America from Sweden during the
1880s. "America Fever" almost threatened to depopulate Sweden.
Many of these emigrants were added to the population of Georgetown
and their culture considerably enriched the community life
church was the agency by which the immigrant was best able
to preserve his identity, and in a few years the Swedes, working
through their churches and with the help of friendly neighbors,
had established schools, colleges, Old Folks' Homes, Orphanages
and hos-pitals in their new land.
Georgetown the Lutheran community soon grew large enough to
support another church, and the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran
Church was formed.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
As early as 1900 pastors from the Seamen's Mission in Brook-lyn,
N. Y. were visiting Georgetown, and by January 1908, a Seamen's
Mission Society was formed to gather Lutherans in Georgetowm
for religious services and mission work. The group rented
space in Mrs. Edda Peterson's house for meetings. Within a
few months they decided to organize a Lutheran congregation
and affiliate with the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church.
On July 7, 1908, the Bethlehem Evangel-ical Lutheran Church
in Georgetown was born.
has been a source of pride to Lutherans, and one the community
must share, that so much good will existed that when the sub-scription
drive started for a building, non-members contributed so generously
that the building could be completed and dedicated before
the end of the year. It was dedicated on Sunday, Nov. 29,
then, the congregation and building have grown, and both are
in excellent condition today. In.1958 the church celebrated
its Golden Jubilee, and at that time received a letter from
one of its former pastors, now residing in Ahus, Sweden. Samuel
Swensen said in his letter, "...I...a very young and inexperienced
pastor some 43 years ago...remember most vividly and with
great gratitude how willing and steadfastly the pioneers co-operated
with me, striving for the maintenance and upbuilding of Lutheran
faith within the boundaries set by the Swedish language and
church tradition from the old country. I alse recall my impression
from my visit some years ago of how that spirit still lingered..."
of the clergy who assisted through the years were from Upsala
College, and warm ties exist between the Georgetown church
and that college. At the present time, the congregation expects
a new pastor soon, having lost Rev. Mr. Elmer L. Olsen last
year. He had served since Oct. 3, 1955 and seen the membership
grow, as did the building under his faithful leadership.
OLD CHURCHES OF GEORGETOWN by Wilbur F. Thompson
first settlers of our state were members of the Congrega-tional
Church, and for many years there were no churches of other
be-liefs. Proof of this is to be found in the history of every
town in the state. As the years passed on, settlers of other
religious denominations came into the state and organized
their own churches. What is now the town of Redding was settled
in 1712 by members of the Con-gregational Church in Fairfield.
It was known as the Parish of Redding, Town of Fairfield.
1729 the Congregational Church of Redding parish was org-anized,
and in 1730 the first church built. The first settlers of
what is now the village of Georgetown were members of the
Redding church. The record of the Redding Congregational Church
- of marriages, births and deaths - shows the names of well-known
families who settled in what is now the village of Georgetown
- Batterson, Bennett, Banks, Byington, Bates, Coley, Darling,
Gray, Godfrey, Hull, Hill, Lee, Meeker, Morgan, Mallory, Osborn,
Olmstead, St. John, Rumsey - showing they were members or
attendants of the Redding church.
first church organization in what is now the village of Georgetown
was known as the Baptist society in Redding. The exact date
of its formation is not known. In the records of the Conregational
Church in Redding is found this entry: "Dec. 9, 1785, Deacon
John Lee gives certificates to Michael Wood, John Couch, Micah
Starr, Jabez Wakeman, to the Baptist Church in Redding." The
older records of the Baptist Church have been lost, and only
those dating from 1833 to 1849 are in existence and in possession
of the Baptist Church of Danbury, and form very interesting
reading. In them we find that on Jan. 28, 1833, a society
meeting was held at the home of Timothy Wakeman; voted to
adjourn to our meeting house," showing that the Baptist Church
in Georgetown had been built long before that late. The church
record gives the names of members from 1833 to 1849: "Male
members - Elias Andrews, Perry Andrews, William B. Beers,
Sherman Beers, Harry Beers, Elezer Beers, Jonathan Betts,
Mathew Bennett, Steven Buttery, Riley Buttery, George Grumman,
Stephen Jones, Lorenzo Jones, Nathan Jones, Lewis Lobdell,
Jasper Olmstead, Walter Olmstead, Sanford Olmstead, David
Rowland, Edward Sherwood, Timothy Wakeman, Levi Wakeman, William
Wakeman; Female members - Mary Andrews, Eunice Bennett, Mary
Bennett, Mary Beers, Delia Beers, Ann Beers, Rebecca Beers,
Felecia Buttery, Betsy Coley, Sarah Coley, Eunice Coley, Eliza
Dykman, Polly Edmunds, Esther Edmunds, Susan Godfrey, Anna
Hawley, Anna Hull, Ruth Hull, Abigail Hodges, Mirinda Jelliff,
Mary Jones, Mirah Jones, Ruth Morehouse, Esther Olmstead,
Caroline Olmstead, Harriet Olmstead, Ellen Parsons, Mabel
Rowland, Ellen Wakeman, Sarah Wakeman, Pelina Wakeman."
many years it was a strong society, having the only church
edifice in the village. Following are the names of the pastors:
1833, Elder S. Ambler was in charge; in 1834, Elder Steven
Bray; in 1838, Rev. William Bower; in 1841, Rev. John Noyes;
in 1843, Rev. George B. Crocker; in 1844, Rev. David Pease.
The salary paid was $150 a year. From 1845 to 1849 there was
no settled pastor. The Bap-tist church was for many years
the only meeting place the villagers had, anl in it lectures
on temperance and anti-slavery were given. At this period
many in the north were in favor of slavery and the pro--slavery
and anti-slavery factions had many a debate. Georgetown was
strongly anti-slavery and it is a historical fact that the
first anti--slavery socicty in Connecticut was started in
Georgetown in Oct. 1838. Dr. Erasmus Hudson and Rev. Nathaniel
Colver were appointed by the Anti-Slavery Society of Connecticut
to lecture on slavery.
Nov. 16, 1838, a call was issued for an anti-slavery con-vention
to be held in the Baptist Church in Gccrgtown. On Nov. 26,
1838 Messrs. Colver and Hulson addressed the meeting. But
the opposi-tion was so strong the meeting was adjourned until
Nov. 27th. That evening the enemies of the movement broke
up the meeting, and on the 28th of November the Baptist Church
was blown up with gunpowder. A keg of gunpowder was placed
under the pulpit. [So we see, church bombings are not new
to our generation.]
Dec. 4, 1838, the Georgetown Anti-Slavery Society was formed.
President, Eben Hill; Secretary, William Wakeman; Treasurer,
John C. St. John. Among those who were members of this Society
were Sturges Bennett, Aaron Bennett, William Bennett, Sauruch
Bennctt, Jon-athan Betts, Alonzo Byington, Edwin Burchard,
Walter Bates, Ezra Brown, Charles Cole, Benjamin Gilbert,
William Gilbert, Matthew Gregory, Bradley Hill, Edmund Hurlbutt,
John B. Hurlbutt, Aaron Jelliff, William Jelliff, Aaron Osborn,
Gregory Osborn, Timothy Parsons, William Wakeman, Timothy
Wakeman, and many others who years later became Republicans
and voted for Abraham Lincoln.
the old church record we find the following statements: "Nov.
26, 1838, the Rev. Nathaniel Colver lectured in our meeting
house on slavery, and was disturbed by unruly persons: Nov.
27, 1836, another lecture, disturbed as before; Nov. 28, 1838,
our meeting house blown up but not entirely destroyed; Nov.
30, 1838, plan to collect money to repair our meeting house;
Dec. 8, 1838, Society meeting held at the house of Brother
Timothy Wakeman; Deacon Elezer Beers was appointed to ferret
out and prosecute any and all those who have been engaged
in blowing up and damaging our meeting house."
census statistics of the United States show that slavery had
dwindled in Connecticut at this time (1838). In 1790 there
were 2,764 slaves in Connecticut, in 1840 there were 17, and
by 1850 none.]
record does not show that anyone was found out and pros-ecuted..
There is a tradition that the blowing up of the church was
done by some of its members who opposed the anti-slavery movement.
In the thirties, the Methodist Episcopal and the Methodist
Protestant societies built churches, and many who had been
members and attendants of the Baptist church joined the other
churches. This was a death blow to the old church. In the
church record we find that on Sept. 11, 1847, "Church meeting
was called and it was voted to disband, members free to join
any church without certificates." A committee was appointed
to hold meetings and Elias Androws, William Wakeman and William
S. Clmstead were the committee.
Nov. 6, 1848, a church meeting was called and the old Baptist
Church was reorganized, with the following male members: Elias
Andrews, Perry Andrews, Elezer Beers, Wi1liam B. Beers, Sherman
Beers, Harry Beers, Sanford Olmstead, Nathan Jones, Timothy
Wakeman, William Wakeman, Edward Sherwood; Brother Gardner
was asked to preach once a month for $50 per year.
Oct. 11, 1849, a society meeting was held and the officers
for the coming year were appointed: Clerk, Sherman Beers;
Treasurer, W. S. Olmstead; Collecter, Perry Andrews; Trustees,
Elezer Beers, Timothy Wakeman, William B. Beers." This is
the last entry in the old record as the church was disbanded
old church was a one-story edifice, clapboarded and un-painted;
it was lighted by six windows glazed with 6x8 glass. There
were two entrances on the east end of the building. The singers
sat on a raised platform in the rear of the pulpit. In the
evening services the room was lighted with candles and on
the pulpit was a whale oil lamp. The church was heated in
winter by a Franklin box stove stand-ing in the center of
the room. New members who were received into the church were
immersed in Timothy Wakeman's mill pond, which was a short
distance from the church. The only person now living who was
a member of the old Baptist church in 1840 is Miss Sarah Coley,
b. 1828, who lives in the old Coley homestead on the Danbury
1848, a select school for young ladies was held in the old
church. The school was taught by Miss Celestine Chambers.
Her father came from Carbondale, Penn., to dig for coal in
Georgetown. He was not successful. After opening up what was
long known as the "Old Coal Mine" he returned to Carbondale.
Among the pupils of the school were: Mary Bennett, Lucy Bennett,
Adele Bassett, Eliza Gilbert, Mary A. Godfrey, Josephine Godfrey,
Mary E. Taylor, Jane Taylor, Mary E. Scribner, Evelyn Weed,
Isabelle Weed, and others. The tuition fee was 25 cents per
1849 the Gilbert & Bennett Co., intending to build a fac-tory,
bought of Timothy Wakeman his sawmill, with the mill rights
and land, building a large factory. They also bought the old
church, re-modeling it into a dwelling. In 1875, the old church
was torn down to make room for new buildings. The writer of
this article assisted in the work. Some of the timbers were
found to be shattered by the explosion of 1838.
old Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. office stands on the site of
the old church, and great factory buildings cover the old
church lot. The busy hum of machinery is now heard in place
of the hymns and prayers of the villagers of long years ago.
Many descend-ants of the members of the Old Baptist Church
live in Norwalk, Wilton, Weston, Redding and Georgetown, and
may be interested in the story of the old church. The story
of the other two churches in Old George-town will be told
F. THOMPSON, March 1, 1923, Danbury, Connecticut
Old Pipe Organ of Georgetown
by Wilbur F. Thompson
the choir gallery of the Methodist Church, Georgetown, there
is a quaint old pipe organ. Its mahogany case is scratched
and marred. Its gilded frontal pipes have lost their lustre.
Its solid ivory keys, worn by the touch of many players' fingers,
are silent. This old organ standing silent and alone awaiting
the "touch of a van-ished hand" has a history which may be
of interest to many readers of The Hour.
of a century ago [about l840] Georgetown was a quiet little
hamlet of some 200 persons, all of whom were descended from
the 'old stock" who settled our state. The coming of anyone
from outside our state was an unusual occurrence. And when
it was known that Daniel Wakeman had sold his homestead to
a Scotchman named Alexander McDougall, there was great curiosity
to know what the "furriner" looked like. The Daniel Wakeman
house stood (and is still standing) on the west side of the
Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike, at the top of the long hill
that was known as Burr's Hill. (It is the hill north of the
home of Mrs. Nathan Perry.) In due time the household goods
of the McDougalls arrived, brought from New York to Norwalk
by boat and from Norwalk to the new home by teams. On one
of the loads of goods was a great piece of furni-ture carefully
boxed. The villagers thought it was a "highboy."
goods were soon unloaded and Alexander McDougall and wife
were settled in their new home. Soon after persons passing
the house heard strains of sweet music, the like of which
was never heard in Georgetown before. Then it became known
that the great box contained a pipe organ, a new kind of instrument.
The only instruments of music in the village at that time
were fifes, drums, and fiddles. Edwin Gilbert and John 0.
St. John each had a bass viol, which they played in the Methodist
was a fine organist, and on pleasant summer evenings the passers-by
stopped to listen as he played old.Scotch airs - "Scots Whom
Bruce Had Often Led," "Annie Laurie," "Come O'er the Heather,"
etc. Later the sing-ers of the village were invited to the
McDougall home to have a "sing." This was the first musicale
ever held in Georgetown, but not the last, for the village
has always been noted for its good singers. Follow-ing are
the names of many of the singers among the residents at that
time: Sturges Bennett and wife Charlotte, Aaron Bennett and
wife Mary, known as the "sweet singer" (the writer's grandparents,)
Samuel Main and wife Marriette, John Taylor and wife Hannah,
Aaron Lockwood, Joseph Lockwood, James Lobdell, Eiwin Gilbert,
John 0. St. John, Hiram St. John, Aaron Jelliff,Sr., Silas
Hull, Orrin Jennings, Wil-liam and George Nichols, William
and James Cargill, Sarah Morgan, Eliza Hull, Polly Osborn,
Harriet Nichols, Sally Ann Nichols, Mary Gregory (married
Aaron Osborn.) One who remembers back 75 years says that when
the singers met at the McDougall home, the roadway and dooryard
were filled with eager listeners.
passed on and the old organist sold the homestead to Aaron
Osborn and built a home on the mountain east of the Ridgefield
Station (Branchville) where he lived in the early sixties.
His widow, wishing to dispose of the old org-an, asked a friend,
John Fay-erweather, to find a buyer. It was sold to Sherman
Fitch of Wilton, who placed it in his home.
years ago [1860-1865] very few of the churches had muscial
instruments, depending altogether on vocal music in the church
services. The Methodist Church, Georgetown, had a good choir
led by James Lobdell until he went to the front in 1862 with
the 23rd Regiment. John Fay-erwcather was the next leader.
In those days the leader with a "pitch pipe" or "tuning fork"
would give the key saying "Do, me, sol, la - sing." This was
called "raising the pitch of key." The singers did not always
get the key.
members of the choir at this time were Charles Albin, William
Bennett and wife Caroline, Aaron H. Davis and wife Lucy, Cornelia
Beers, Mary Thompson, Bertha Bennett, Hattie Bennett, Rosalie
Jennings, Mary Esther Jennings, Charles Jennings Sr., John
Fayerweather, Stanley Mead, John Mead, Lewis Mead, Lottie
Moore, Loie Fuller, Julia Fuller, Medora Batterson, Francis
Jelliff. About this time a small melodian belonging to Bertha
Bennett was placed in the choir gallery to "help out the singing."
Miss Bennett was the musician. There was strong opposition
to instrumental music by some of the older members of the
church and the pastor had hard. work to still the troubled
1864, Ephraim Fitch asked John Fayerweather to sell the organ
for him he had bought of Widow McDougall. Fayerweather, thinking
it would be a good chance for the Methodists to secure an
organ, spoke to members of the choir, who favored buying it.
As there was still strong opposition to instrumental music
by some of the church members, it was not thought best for
the church society to buy the organ, but to let individual
mem-bers secure it. The price to be paid was $190. This amount
was divided into five and ten dollar shares, which were taken
by members and friends of the church. That is the way the
organ was bought.
H. Davis, Charles Albin, Lewis Northrop, Jonathan Betts, Stanley
Mead (the only one living) with one of the Gilbert & Bennett
Co.'s teams, brought the organ from Wilton to the church doors
and prepared to unload. it. Two members of the church (who
had opposed instrumental music) with arms extended stood in
the church doors, saying "that music box shall not come in
H. Davis had. the organ taken to his house where it remained
for some time. The Rev. George L. Fuller, who was pastor at
this time, called a church meeting, and it was voted to place
the organ in the church, which was done; some of the members
who had opposed it before, now voting in favor.
was soon found out that the organ was a great help in public
worship and the choir became one of the best in the conference.
Following are the names of the musicians who played the old
organ: Loie Fuller, daughter of Rev. George L. Fuller; Bertha
Bennett, Lottie Moore, Hattie W. Bennett, John Fayerweather,
Ezra P. Bennett, Dora G. Albin, William R. Bennett, Frederick
Foster, Edith Davis Foster.
1896, a larger organ was bought and placed in the chancel
of the church, which is still in use. This is the story of
the "old organ,"150 years old, that has stood in the choir
gallery of the Methodist Church over 54 years. Of those who
listened to its sweet, mellow tones 75 years ago, when "Uncle
McDougall" played the music of the homeland he loved so well,
only four are living. And of the choir of twenty voices, who
in 1864 sang accompanied by the organ, only six are left.
F. THOMPSON, Sept. 16, 1918, Danbury, Connecticut
IN OLD GEORGETOWN, 1862
by Wilbur F. Thompson
years ago, our country was in the midst of a great war, not
with foreign nations, as we are today, but with people of
our own blood and kindred. From homes all over the Northland.,
men had gone forth to battle for freedom. Georgetown (with
other commun-ities of our State) was learning of the hardships
of war. In 1861, many men of the village had enlisted and
gone to the front, and on Nov. 14, 1862, Co. E, 23rd Regiment,
had been mustered into service and was on its way to the south
with the Regiment.
fall and early winter were days of anxious waiting and. suspense.
The 25th of Novem-ber had not been a day of Thanksgiving,
for in many homes the chair at the head of the table had been
vacant. This fact, with the scarcity of money and the high
cost of living, made the outlook for a merry Christmas very
had been the custom of the two churches of the village, Methodist
Episcopal and Methodist Protestant, to hold Christmas services
for the Sunday Schools connected with the churches. Some of
the members of the churches thought it would be well to dis-pense
with the Christmas services, while others did not want to
give up the time-honored custom. It was voted to hold a union
service for the children, in the Methodist Episcopal church.
Great preparations were made. The woods were searched for
ground pine and other ever-greens, to trim the church. A great
spruce tree was placed. in one corner of the church, and a
platform built out over the pulpit rail. The young people
and children were rehearsed in the parts they were to take
in the great event of the year.
the evening of Dec. 24, the church was crowded with children
and friends. The Christmas tree was brilliantly lit up with
many candles and loaded with Christmas pres-ents, cornucopias
filled with candy, bags of popcorn, nuts and raisins. After
prayer by the Rev. Samuel Keeler, pastor of the Methodist
Epis-copal Church, the exercises of the evening commenced.
Let us look over the old program and see if there are any
names of those we knew long years ago on it.
Entertainment By The Georgetown Sunday Schools In the M. E.
Church Dec. 24th, 1862 -Programme - Part First
2 - Singing: We Come with Songs to Greet You - By the Schools
3 - Address: The Advent of Christ - Master C. Lester Bennett
4 - Chorus - When the Day with Rosy Light - By the Schools
5 - Dialogue: Dress and. Devotion - Misses Sarah Jane Quick,
Malvina B. Osborn, Rosalie N. Jennings.
6 - Solo and Chorus: Miss Alice St. John and the Young Ladies'
7 - Dialogue: Joseph and. His Brethren Characters: Joseph
- Oscar Davey Ruben - Ezra P. Bennett Simeon - Charles Jelliff
Levi - C. Lester Bennett Judah - Edmund S. Osborn Issachar
- George W. Webb Zebulon - Eli G. Main Dan - Charles Lewis
Napthali - Wilbur Jennings Gad - George Godfrey Ashur - Charles
Gedney Potipher - LeRoy Adams Attendants -Willie E. Csborn,
Willie R. Bennett, Willie H. Osborn
8 - Song: Monitor and. Merrimac - Sidney A. Jennings, The
9 - Dialogue: Cold Water and Fire Water - Masters C. Lester
Bennett and Charles Jelliff
10 - Song: The Blue Birds' Temperance Song - Misses Nettie
Main and Alice Batterson
11 - Recitation: A Child's Thoughts on God - Miss Allie Batterson
12 - Song: I Want to Be an Angel - by the infant classes
13 - Recitation: The Rose - Miss Susie Webb
14 - Recitation: The Hope of our Country, Master Charles Nichols
15 - Recitation: The Child's Lament fr his Mother -Master
Willie R. Bennett
16 - Recitation: A Visit from St. Nicholas - Master Clarence
17 - Recitation: There None Shall be Missing - Miss Emma A.
18 - Dialogue: A Mother's Lament and the Child's Reply - Misses
Cornelia A. Main and Isadore Osborn
19 - Recitation: The Widow of Nain, Miss Augusta A. Lobdell
20 - Singing: Zion's Pilgrim - by the schools
21 - Recitation: The Flag of our Union - Master C. Lester
22 - Chorus: The Dear Old. Flag - by the Young Ladies' Chorus
23 - Dialogue: The Rainbow Red - Miss Ettie N. Bennett Green
- Miss Mary Godfrey Orange - Miss Carrie Jelliff Yellow -
Miss Huldah Main Blue - Miss Della Olmstead Indigo - Miss
Helen L. Keeler Violet - Miss Nettie Main
24 - Recitation: A Dream - Miss Frances Jelliff
25 - Song: What is Home Without a Mother? - Misses Addie Hurlbutt
and Etta N. Bennett
26 - Recitation: Sun, Moon and Stars - Merwin B. Keeler
27 - Dialogue: John Hasty and Peter Quiet - Masters Edmond.
S. Osborn and. Willie H. Osborn
28 - Solo: Christmas Tree - Miss Cornelia Main
29 - Distribution of Gifts
30 - Closing Chorus: Merry Christmas - by the schools
commence at 6 and 1/2 o'clock. Admission, 10 cents.
Christmas entertainment was a great success, and was re-membered
for many years. Fifty-five years have come and gone since
that memorable Christmas Eve. Many of those who were present
have passed away. Those who are still living (residents of
Georgetown, Wilton, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, Bridgeport
and Danbury) may take pleasure in looking over the old program
again, bringing back memories of the past.
Methodist Protestant Church (Miller's Hall) later became the
Congregational Church of Georgetown. In 1862 the Rev. N. A.
Rude was pastor.
F. THOMPSON Dec. 24, 1917 Danbury, Connecticut
OLD TORY HOUSE, GEORGETOWN
by Wilbur F. Thompson
hundred and forty-five years ago our country was in the midst
of a great war, fighting for freedom from England's tyranny.
In our state every effort was being made by patriots to aid
in the fight for liberty. From the town of Redding, 133 men
served in the American army during the war. Following are
the names of many from the section now known as Georgetown
and Boston district in Redding who were in the American Army:
Seth Andrews, Jonathan Andrews, Joel Barlow, Samuel Barlow,
Ezra Bates, Justus Bates, Jeremiah Batt-erson, Daniel Bennett,
John Byington, Gershorn Coley, James Coley, Nathan Coley,
Timothy Foster, Captain John Gray, Ezra Hall, Zalmon Hall,
John Mallory, Daniel Mallory, Joel Merchant, John Merchant,
Joseph Morgan, David Osborn, Abraham Parsons, Daniel Parsons,
Timothy Parsons, George Perry, Isaac Perry, Isaac Platt, Ezekial
Wain, Ezekia1 Sanford, Jeremiah Rumsey, Thomas Sherwood.,
Thomas Warrups (the noted Indian Scout.)
Barlow was prominent in national affairs. From l779 to 1783
he was chaplain in the American Army. In 1795 President Washington
appointed. him consul to Algiers. In 1811 President Madison
appointed him Minister to France. He died in Poland Dec. 26,
1812. The Barlow home was in Boston district. It was near
to where the Bradley Hill house now stands.
were many who were not in sympathy with the American cause,
but gave aid and allegiance to England. They were called Loy-alists
or Tories. Redding in the early years of the war was a hotbed
of Toryism, and scattered through the town were many families
who gave aid to British spies and plotters against the young
republic. As a rule the Loyalists were persons of wealth and
culture. Many were leaders in the communities where they lived.
At the outbreak of the war, a Loyalist Association was formed
in Redding, pledging alleg-iance to King George and Great
Britain, drawing up a set of resolu-tions to that effect.
Of the signers, 73 in number, 42 were freeholders (taxpayers)
in the town. The names of these sympathizers and Loyalists
were published by the Committee of Safety. Many were imp-risoned
are the names of those who lived in what is now Georgetown
and Boston district in Redding who were known to be Loyal-ists:
Nathaniel Barlow , Shubael Bennett, Stephen Betts, Ezekial
Hill, James Gray [two Grays - senior and junior,] Enos Leo,
John Lee, William Lee, Seth Hull, Ephraim Meeker, John Mallory,
Jonathan Mallory, Timothy Platt, Nehemiah St. John, Amos Morgan,
Eleazer Olmstead and. others. In 1758 James Morgan bought
land and built a house that stood where the Hiram St. John
house now stands in Georgetown. Enos and John Lee, who lived
in the Boston districtwere arrested, sentenced and confined
with others for giving aid to the enemy. On Feb. 10, 1777,
the two Lees were permitted to return home after giving bonds
for their good behavior. The estates of many were confiscated
and sold, the owners being in the service of the enemy. Many
Tories were fined for refusing to perform military duty. The
encampment of a brigade of American soldiers in Redding [Putnam
Park] had a quieting effect on the Tory element in Redding
and Newtown, and whatever aid was given to British spies was
done secretly. In some Tory homes were hiding places for spies
and plunder. One of these houses is still standing in Georgetown.
If its walls could speak, they could tell strange and exciting
stories of the stirring days of long ago. On March 10, 1756,
Solomon Wood of Norwalk sold to Noah St. John 1st, of Ridgefield,
50 acres of land lying in the section now known as George-town.
He built a log house and moved his family from Ridgefield.
1760 he built a house for his son Nehemiah, who had married
Ruth Wheeler. They were living in this house when the War
of the Rev-olution broke out. Tradition states that the St.
Johns, with the exception of' Nehemiah, were loyal to the
American cause. His wife Ruth was a Tory and aided the British,
hiding spies and Tories in her home. On the north side of
the house a small addition had been built on - called in those
days a leanto or linty. Under this room was a shallow cellar,
the cellar bottom being about five feet from the floor of
the room above. This was separate from the main cellar and
was entered through a secret opening in the cellar wall. It
was in this hiding place that spies and Tories found refuge
when on their way to British headquarters. It was by this
method the British were kept posted on the plans of the American
army. On the day the British landed at Compo to march on Danbury,
Ruth St. John said t~oher neigh-bors, "The British are going
to burn the military stores in Danbury and you rebels will
catch it now." Many of her neighbors' husbands were in Danbury
guarding the military supplies stored there, and fought in
the Battle of Ridgefield.
the close of the war, many Tories were driven into ex-ile,
some settling on lands given them by the British government
in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Many families are living
there today having good old Redding names. After the close
of the war, Nehemiah St. John traded his house and farm in
Georgetown for a farm in Vermont, moving there - the owner
of the Vermont farm moving into the St. John place. The new
owner's name was Matthew Gregory 1st. In this house Matthew
Gregory 2nd, was born in 1791, and lived there until his death
in 1881. He had three children; Minot, Charles and Mary Eliza.
entrance to the old "Tory hole" was closed by Matthew Gregory
in 1845. The house was long years ago known as the "Old Tory
House" and the secret cellar was called the "Old Tory Hole."
The mothers of long ago would say to their children, "If you
don't mind, the Tories will get you." And the children of
many years age, on their way to school, would be very quiet
in passing by the old house, thinking the Tories would come
out and get them. The writer was one of the school child-ren.
Patriots, Loyalists and Tories have long since departed, but
the "Old Tory House" still remains, a well-preserved relic
of old Colonial days. And the "Old Tory Hole" is still under
St. John's daughter, Abigail, married Isaac Rumsey; their
son, Jeremiah, was in the American army in the War of the
Revo-lution. The Rumseys were the first settlers of Georgetown.
In 1721 Robert Rumsey of Fairfield bought of John Applegate
a large tract of land in the section now known as Georgetown.
It was known as the "Applegate Long Lots." In 1724 he willed
it to his three sons, Robert, Benjamin, and Isaac, who built
homes on the tract. One house stood near where the Nathan
Perry house now stands. Another was on the hill in front of
where the Aaron Osborn house now stands. The third house was
a short distance from where the Gilbert Agricultural Farm
Bates, who served in the war, was father of Walker Bates,
who lived in Boston district. Joseph Morgan was the grandfather
of William Morgan (known as Captain Morgan) who lived in Georgetown
some years ago. Ezra Hull was the father of Aaron B. Hull,
who was well known to the older residents of Georgetown. Ezekiel
H. Sanford for many years kept the tavern in Boston district
in the house now owned by E. A. Pinckney.
Warrups, a noted Indian scout under General Putnam, lived
under the great overhanging rock one mile north of Georgetown.
This great rock has at the base a grotto or recess large enough
to shelter several people. It has long been known as "Warrups
Rock." Warrups' grandfather, Chickens Warrups, was the original
owner of what is now the town of Redding.
are many pre-Revolutionary houses in Georgetown and vicinity.
The oldest one is on the south side of the highway, opposite
Connery's coal yard. It is not known when it was built; 75
years ago it was said to be over 100 years old. In 1820, it
was the home of Benjamin Gilbert, one of the founders of the
Gilbert & Bennett Co.
years ago there were old people living in George-town who
were born during or shortly after the War of the Revolution,
and many of the incidents recorded in this article were told
by them to their children. The articles on 'Old Georgetown"
are written from notes made for many years of sayings of old
people - of historical facts and traditions handed down from
generation to generation - and in this form may be preserved
for future generations.
OLD BOUNDARY ROCK, GEORGETOWN
are three rocks of historic interest in Georgetown. "Warrups
Rock" - where the Indian chieftain Warrups had a wigwam over
200 years ago, and many years later his grandson Tom Warrups,
the famous scout under General Putnam, had a shelter until
removed to the Schaticoke Indian Reservation above New Milford.
This rock is on the west side of the old road from Boston
Corners to Branchville.
Rock" - this rock or ledge is on the top of the hill east
of the Waterman Bates place now owned by Mrs. Harriet Bates.
After the close of the Revolutionary War the people living
in the section now known as Georgetown held a meeting on the
hill to celebrate the 4th of July. Having no cannon, holes
were drilled in the rock, loaded with powder, and fired as
salutes in honor of the great event. It was at this gathering
that the village of Georgetown received thc name. Prior to
this meeting the valley and hillsides had many names: Osborntown,
Honeyhill, St. Johns Corner, Sugar Hollow, Burrs Hill, Jack
Street, etc. It was voted to name the hamlet Georgetown in
honor of the local miller, whose name was George Abbott. Many
years later Matthew Bennett who lived in the house now owned
by his daughtcr, Mrs. Harriet Bates, cleaned out the holes
in the rock, and fired salutes on the 4th of July.
Rock' - this rock is on the east bank of the Norwalk River,
about 150 feet south of the house now owned by Mrs. Harriet
Bates. When the town of Fairfield was surveyed in 1645 this
rock was the intersecting point of the north and west boundary
lines, and later the lines between Fairfield and Norwalk met
on this rock. In 1707, when the Town of Ridgefield was surveyed,
it was found that the east and south lines met at this rock
with those of Fairfield and Norwalk. On the rock are deeply
cut three letters: on the east side F for Fairfield; on the
south side N for Norwalk; on the west side R, for Ridgefield.
was some dispute between Ridgefield and Norwalk about this
boundary. Some years later it was moved one mile farther north,
where it is now the bound between Wilton and Ridgefield. The
boundary lines of Redding, Wilton and Weston now intersected
on the rock. Let us read what the old record has to say about
it - "Ye surveyors find that ye east and south boundary lines
meet on a rock on ye banks of the Norwalk River, 20 rods north
of ye Danbury Cart Path fording place. Ye bounds of Norwalk
and Fairfield meet on said rock."
fording or crossing place of Old Indian Trail or Cart Path
is under the long railroad bridge. The trail led up from tidewater
into the Housatonic Valley. It was used by Indians living
inland in their migrations to the salt water to collect and
also the connecting link between the Indians who lived on
the shores of the sound and those farther north. This custom
was kept up for many years after the state was thickly settled.
Years ago, old persons would tell of Indians passing through
Georgetown from the Indian Reservation above New Milford to
Calf Pas-ture beach. On returning the squaws and horses would
be loaded down with strings of dried clams and other sea food.
After the settlement of Danbury the old trail between Norwalk
and Danbury was widened into a cart path, and for many years
was the only roadway between the two places. Fifty years ago
there were old people living in Georgetown who could follow
the course or route of the Old Trail from Calf Pasture Beach,
Norwalk, along the east side of the Norwalk River into Wilton,
through Pimpewaug, into Georgetown, crossing the Norwalk River
where the long railroad bridge now crosses it, up over the
hill near where the Matthew Gregory house now stands, crossing
the river again near the upper railroad bridge, crossing up
into the mountain east of Branchville, passing near Umpawaug
Umpawaug Pond the trail divided, one branch going over Long
Ridge and the other passing west of Simpaug Pond. It was over
this branch of the trail the eight families from Norwalk passed
in 1684 to found the new settlement of Danbury. Along the
main trail were many branches or side trails running east
and west. One of these was the trail passing Warrups Rock.
is interesting to note that the route of the "Old Indian Trail,"
the "Cart Path," the "Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike," and the
"Iron Trail" (D.& N. R. R.) are in close proximity to the
Boundary Rock and run parellel with each other for several
hundred feet to the south. The Boundary Rock is now covered
with earth washed down from the highway.
F. THOMPSON Danbury, Connecticut
IRON TRAIL THROUGH GEORGETOWN
two preceding articles in this column, the story was told
of the methods of communication in the early days between
Danbury and Norwalk. First the "Old Indian Trail," [unfortunately,
this article has not been located] over which the eight families
from Norwalk traveled. in 1684 into the wilderness to found
the new settlement of Danbury. This trail, widened into a
cart path, was for many years the only traveled way between
the two towns. Later the "old Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike"
was opened up, passing through Bethel, down over the Umpawaug
hills, through what is now the village of Georgetown, through
Pimpewaug (Cannondale) to Norwalk. Many years later another
road was opened up. This was known as the "Sugar Hollow Turnpike,"
starting at Belden's Bridge, Norwalk (now in Wilton) on the
west side of the Norwalk River, up through Georgetown and
the Sugar Hollow Valley, along the course of the river, through
the town of Ridgefield, into the western side of Danbury.
This is now [Route 7] the state road from Danbury to Norwalk.
the towns grew and the intervening section be-came thickly
settled, the "Old Turnpike" became a congested thorough-fare.
The writer's grandfather, Aaron Bennett, b. 1810, said, in
his boyhood days (1818) there was an unending procession of
great canvas-topped freight wagons, stage coaches, slow-moving
ox carts. Travelers on horseback and on "Shanks Mares" (pedestrians)
passing both ways night and day. At about this date the Sugar
Hollow Turnpike was opened up.
the demand for a better means of transportation began to make
itself felt. In 1825 a survey was made for a canal from Danbury
to tidewater at Westport. From Danbury, through Bethel to
the Sauga-tuck River in Redding, following the course of the
stream [through Weston] to tidewater. This project was given
up when it was found that Danbury was 350 feet above sea level.
In 1835 there were two surveys made for a railroad from Danbury
to Tidewater. One followed the old canal survey to West-port.
The other survey was along the line of the present D. & N.
R. R. In 1835 it was found that over 8,000 tons of freight
was carried in freight wagons at $5 per ton, and 10,000 passengers
were carried by stage coaches to and from Danbury. The fare
was 75 cents to Norwalk and 1,000 passengers from the section
between Danbury and Norwalk, fare charged was 50 cents. This
was the traffic to and from Danbury for the year 1834. The
first estimate was for a horse railway, between the rails
there was to be a plank roadway or horse path. But nothing
was done until 1850, when the contract was let to Beard, Church
& Co. to build and equip a steam railroad. John Beard was
a resident of Danbury. These contractors sublet sections of
the work to other firms. The section between what is now Cannondale
and Topstone was known as the Georgetown section. The first
work done in this section was in the deep rock cut known as
"Couches Cut" between Branchville and Topstone. Cannon & Fields
was one of the firms who had a con-tract to do the grading
on the Georgetown section; Charles Cannon of Wilton and Frank
Fields of Croton Fall, N. Y. Fields had finished a contract
on the Harlem R. R. and came equipped to do the work. The
surveyors for the Georgetown section were Aaron B. Whitlock
of Croton Falls, N. Y., and Jcbediah I. Wanzer of Pawling,
N. Y. They were assisted by a young man, John W. Bacon, who
later became superintendent of the D. & N. R. R. They boarded
with Aaron Bennett, who lived in the old house still standing,
east of Connery's coal yard in Georgetown. The boarding house
for the men employed on the section stood north of the Methodist
Protestant Church (now Miller's Hall) [gone now.]
are names of some of the men employed on the section; Foreman,
Austin Walbridge, who later was engineer on the road for many
years; Blacksmith, Turney Stevens; Bridgebuilders, William
Bedient, Steven Bedient, John Campbell; Stone Workers, William
Avaunt, Waterman Bates, Alexander McDougal, Harden Knapp.
Knapp was foreman of the stone gang. The Norwalk end of the
road was finished first, and a train ran over that section
carrying rails and supplies as far as the road was built.
The engineer was George Tucker.
on the road progressed and, on March 1, 1852, the first train
from Norwalk to Danbury went through. George Tucker was engineer
and Harvey Smith conductor. Above Redding Station the ties
and rails were placed on frozen ground. The equipment of the
new road was three engines, four first-class and two second-class
passenger cars, eight box and sixteen platforms cars, and
three hand cars. Two trains were run each way daily after
the road was completed.
first station agent in Georgetown was Silliman Godfrey, who
was also Postmaster. The next agent was Dr. Lloyd Seeley,
later Burr Bennett, and for many years James
Corcoran. The old Railway station was burned many years
ago. It was a two-story building. In the first story was the
Railway Station, Post Office and store kept by Silliman Godfrey.
On the second floor was a large hall used for various purposes.
In 1853 it was the lodge room of Fraternal Division, No. 79,
Sons of Temperance. In the later f ifties, it was occupied
by Fanton's shirt factory. In 1862 it was the Armory of Co.
E, 23rd Regiment, Connecticut Voluntecrs, who were mus-tered
into service in the Fall of 1862. Later it was used by the
Gilbert & Bennett Co. for a sieve shop.
those who were employed in building the Georgetown section
of the D. & N. R. R. there were many who settled in that vicinity.
William Avaunt, Waterman Bates, John Bates, George Gould,
Thomas Granville, Richard Higgins, Patrick Maloney, Larry
Fox, Alexander McDougal, Thomas Pryor, John Rady, Billy Spain,
George Tilly, Frank Welch, Charles Vaughn, Michael Vaughn
and others. Edson Smith ran a stage coach from Ridgefield
sta-tion (Branchville) to Ridgefield. Later he was for many
years conduc-tor of the D. & N. Rail Road.
"Old Indian Trail," "The Old Danbury Turnpike," and "The Iron
Trail" tell of the progress in the methods of transportation
between Danbury and Norwalk. And now the state road is the
up-to-date method for quickness and dispatch, and is taking
care of the ever-increasing traffic.
OLD POST RIDER by Wilbur F. Thompson
ago, long before the advent of railways, and other modes of
quick communication, when most of the wheeled vehicles were
ox carts, and many of the roads were cart paths, the Post
Rider was a man of importance in our rural communities, keeping
them in touch with the larger towns of our State, traveling
on horseback, with saddle bags well filled and often with
one or two pack horses loaded with the smaller products of
the farms - butter, cheese, honey, beeswax, home-spun woolen
and linen cloth, yarn, flax, wool, etc., taking them to the
larger towns - selling them, bringing back dyestuffs, calicos,
needles, pins and other articles used in the rural homes of
that day. Delivering the weekly newspaper and letters. The
few post offices were in the larger towns, and the Post Rider
carried and posted the few letters sent on those early days.
People in those days did not have as much to write about as
Bennett 2nd, the subject of this sketch, was born in Fairfield,
Dec. 25, 1778. His parents, Elias and Anna (Crossman) Bennnett,
were descendants of the early settlers of Fairfield. His father,
a soldier in the War of the Revolution, was in the Battle
of Ridgefield and later in thc siege of N. Y. City.
Elias attended the schools of his day, fitting himself to
become a teacher. The first school he taught was the Cross
Highway School, Fairfield, now in the town of Westport. After
teaching there he went to Georgetown and in 1800 commenced
to teach in the Boston district school. While teaching there
he married Mary, the daughter of Thaddeus Perry, who lived
on the road south of what is now called Goodsell's Hill. Soon
after, he built a home west of the Perry house. Here his five
sons were born: Sturges (who years later was one of the founders
of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. of Georgetown,) Aaron, Burr,
William, and Samuel, and a daughter, Mary. He taught the Boston
school for twelve years. While teaching there, his health
failed. In looking around for some other employment, he learned
that Turney Foot, Post Rider, who supplied the people with
the weekly newspapers, wanted to sell out his route. He purchased
it, and in 1812 entered on his duties as Post Rider.
war between Great Britain and this country created a great
demand for the weekly paper, and the Post Rider's arrival
was looked forward to with great interest. For over 33 years,
he supplied the people of Redding, Weston, Georgetown and
parts of Westport and Wilton with the weekly paper. Through
heat and cold, rain and snow, he went over his route fifty
miles every week, until his business grew so that his sons
had to help him - one after another as they grew old enough,
took part of his route until all of his sons had grown to
manhood and had chosen other occupations, and old age compelled
him to give up the business. The most popular paper in the
early days of his post riding was the Bridgeport Farmer, published
by Stiles Nichols. Next, the Norwalk Gazette, published by
Nichols & Price, and the Bridgeport Ad-vertiscr, published
by Hezekiah Ripley, and later the Bridgeport Stand-ard. Of
the 800 patrons he supplied with the weekly paper, over 400
took the Bridgeport Farmer. In looking over an old account
book of the Post Rider, I find entries of many articles he
furnished his cus-tomers. One charge to Joel Foster, who had
a woolen mill at Nobbs Crook, Boston district in 1820, is
for 3 pounds Guatemala indigo, 2 pounds Bengal indigo, 5 pounds
oil vitrol and 5 pounds madder, and many other charges of
the same nature, showing that he must have done quite a commission
also find that the people of those good old days did not pay
their bills any better than we do today. In one bill made
out (but not sent) to a prominent resident of Wilton 85 years
ago, for two years and one quarter of Norwalk Gazettes, he
adds "Sir - Please send me what you owe me. I have a broken
leg and need the money." When he gave up the business he had
over $2,OOO on his books that people owed him. This was never
collected. He often carried large sums of money and articles
of value, always delivering to the owners in safety.
doubt some of the residents of Georgetown and Weston remember
the Post Rider known to many as Post Bennett. He was an upright
Christian, but a man of few words. Years ago the Methodists
held meetings at the homes of the Church members. These were
called class meetings and everyone attending was expected.
to speak. One night the meeting was held at the home of Sturges
Bennett. The old Post Rider was there, the leader asking those
present to give their testimony, turned to him and said "Brother
Bennett, can you tell us what the Lord has done for you?"
He arose to his feet and said "I do not want to be quizzed."
Thus closed the meeting.
hundred. years ago there was in almost every house a loom
for weaving cloth. The women of the homes wove the woolen
and linen cloth used in those days. One day Post Bennett brought
home from Bridgeport a quantity of what he called cotton yarn.
He asked his wife if she could put a warp of it on her loom
and weave him cloth for shirts. She wove the cloth and made
it up into shirts and other articles of clothing. This was
the first cotton cloth ever woven in this state.
Perry family were all weavers - the first wire cloth made
in this country was woven in Isaac Perry's shop (he was a
brother-in-law of Post Bennett,) for Gilbert & Bennet Co.
in 1836, on a cloth loom. Isaac Perry and his son George were
both weavers. The shop stood back of his house now owned by
Louis Miller [see Map II.] This was the beginning of the great
wire cloth industry of the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. of Georgetown.
the year 1816, known as the year without a summer, the Post
Rider wore his great coat all summer. The Perry and Bennett
homes stood on the south slope of what was known as Zion's
Hill, now known as Goodsell's Hill. Their land was originally
part of the Drake and Applegatc long lots. It is now part
of the Gilbert Agricultural School Farm.
1906 Edwin Gilbert, a Georgetown philanthropist-industrialist,
left to Storrs College (forerunner of University of Connecticut)
his spacious farm lands of more than three hundred acres on
the top of the hill overlooking the town (the eastern part
of Georgetown). With it, he also left all his live stock,
farm implements and tools. His will provided that this agricultural
experimental station should be maintained and supported from
the shares of capital stock of the Gilbert & Bennett Co.,
which he headed at the time of his death. Unfortunately, the
distance from Storrs made the operation of the farm by the
college impractical, and it was only operated as a school
of instruction for a short time. The trustees of Storrs, Connecticut
College, and University of Connecticut, successively, have
found the property to be a white elephant on their hands.
Steps were eventually taken to dissolve the trust. Today the
state farm property is still intact, although the buildings
have fallen into disrepair. I. Baldwin, 1965]
This is now the site of The Meadow Ridge Health Care Facilities.
B. Colley 2002]
of this was a great tract of woodland now known as the Den
Woods. 100 years ago this was a wild. section of country.
Wild animals roamed through these woods. An Indian Trail or
path ran through the woods, coming out onto what is now Godfrey
Street, Weston. The Indians of long ago used this trail to
go to Compo for seafood, and later it was used by the early
settlcrs in that section. Post Rider Bennett often used this
trail to go to Westport. One morning as he was riding through
the woods, he felt something drop on the horse's back. Looking
around he saw it was a panther (in olden times called a painter.)
The horse gave a sudden start and the animal dropped off and
slunk back into the woods.
old Post Rider lived to see the stage coach and post riding
replaced by railways. He lived to see his sons grow to manhood,
honored and respected. He saw the infant industry of the Gilbert
& Bennett Co., of which his son Sturges, was one of the founders,
outgrow the little Red Shop by the toll gate, the Red Mill
by the riverside and the large stone factory built in 1850,
the site of which is now covered by the great buildings of
the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. Living through three of his
country's wars and well into the fourth, he passed away at
the home of his son, Sturges Bennett, in 1863, 85 years old.
He was laid away to rest in the old cemetery on Umpawaug Hill,
which overlooks the hills and valleys he travelled over so
incidents in this art-icle were related by my mother, who
is a granddaughter of Elias Bennett, the Post Rider. She remembers
how he looked as he rode by on his white horse with well-filled.
saddle bags, leaving the weekly paper along his route.
F. THOMPSON, Danbury, Connecticut
CT., IN THE CIVIL WAR TIMES
by Wilbur F. Thompson
purpose of this article is to let the younger generations
know what part the people of Georgetown and vicinity (in 1861)
had in the Great Civil War of long ago, on the Battle Front
and at Home. Very few are living who took part in the war,
and before many years elapse, none will be left to tell the
story. By "vicinity" we mean Zion's Hill (Cannondale) and
Nod in Wilton, Upper Parish in Weston, Boston and Diamond
Hill in Redding, Ridgefield station (Branchville) in Ridgefield.
Lincoln campaign in the fall of 1860 had been an exciting
one for the residents of Georgetown and vicinity. A company
of 65 men had been formed, called the Lincoln Guards, or "Wide
Awakes." The uniform was a blue glazed military cape and cap.
The equipment was a swing torch for burning oil. The company
was drilled by David H. Miller, a veteran of a famous New
York regiment. The drill room was the hall over the old railroad
station. The officers were: Captain, David H. Miller; 1st
Lieutenant, Samuel Perry; 2nd. Lieutenant, John W. Mead; orderly
sergeant, John N. Main. The company had a fine drum corps.
The members were Samuel Bennett, Charles Jennings, Lewis Bed-ient,
Morris ("Moss") Jennings, Direll Chapman. In the torchlight
parades in Norwalk, Danbury and other places, the fine marching
and evolutions of the Georgetown company was noticeable. The
campaign wound up with a grand torchlight parade in Georgetown.
The houses were all brightly illuminated (with candles) and
a great bonfire of tar barrels was built on the hill south
of the Methodist church.
the election of Lincoln, the community settled back into its
usual quiet. In the spring of 1861, with the firing on and
capture of Fort Sumpter, all was excitement again, and with
Lincoln's first call for troops, several of Georgetown's young
men enlisted. The first man to enlist was Andrew Nichols.
He was a carpenter and learned the trade and worked with St.
John Brothers. On the 19th of April, 1861, he enlisted in
the Wooster Guards of Danbury and went to the front with the
First Connecticut Regiment. He re-enlisted and served through
the war; was killed in the battle of Dury's Bluff, May 15,
1864. He was engaged to be married to one of Georgetown's
Couch and A. Byington went out with the First Conn. in 1861.
On May 23, 1861, George W. Gould, Hiram Cobleigh, Eli Lobdell,
Lewis Bedient and John N. Main went to the front with the
Third Conn. Regiment. On Sept. 12, 1861, Edward Lahey enlisted
in the Eighth Connecticut, with Charles M. Platt (Boston District.)
On Nov. 12, 1861, George Lover enlisted. in the 12th Connecticut
Regiment. In 1862 a large number of men from Georgetown and
vicinity enlisted in the 17th Connecticut Regiment. Leroy
G. Osborn (son of Aaron,) was visiting in Ohio and enlisted
in the 67th Ohio Regiment. Charles H. Albin enlisted in the
12th Connecticut Regiment and William F. Scribner in the 13th.
Those who served in the 17th Connecticut were Char-les A.
Jennings, Waterman Bates, Francis Strong, Morris Jennings,
David Bartram, George U. Banks, William Avaunt, Sylvester
Albin, Augustus Pelham, Henry Albin, Silas Hull, Oscar Byington.
Among those who enlisted in other regiments at later periods
were Burr Mills, Nathan Perry, Eugene Parkerton, Henry Brown,
Wesley Banks, Thomas Bedient, Sylvester Barrett. . . Early
in 1862, a company was formed in Georgetown, known as the
"Home Guards," for service in the state. The drill room and
armory was in the hall over the old railroad station. Feb.
4th, 1862, a meeting was held to elect officers for the new
company, known as Co. E, 8th Regiment, Home Guards. Following
is the roster of the company: Captain, David H. Miller; 1st
Lieutenant, Hiram St. John, 2nd. Lieutenant, George M. Godfrey;
sergeants, John N. Main, James
Corcoran, Lewis Northrop, David S. Bartram, Aaron O. Scribner;
corporals, William D. Gilbert, Aaron H. Davis, Alonzo Dickson,
Jeremiah Miller, Edward Thompson, Seth P. Bates, George U.
Gould, Albert D. Sturges; privates, John W. Mead, Moses Comstock,
James Lobdell, James F. Jellif f, Joseph Lockwood, Hezekiah
B. Osborn, Henry Parsons, William H. Canfield., Henry Lee,
Edward Banks, Minot Partrick, Charles A. Jenn-ings, Edwin
Gilbert, David E. Smith, Hiram Cobliegh, Samuel Main, An-ton
Stommel, George L. Dann, Charles Olmstead., Charles Albin,
Fred D. Chapman, Henry Hohman, William B. Smith, Wi1liam E.
Brothwell, Azariah C. Meeker, Charles S. Gregory, Charles
D. Meeker, Charles H. Downs, William Coley, Lorenzo Jones,
Henry F. Burr, Obadiah Coleman, Charles H. Canfield, John
L. Godfrey, Sylvester Albin. Some of these men had been in
the service in 1861 and were looked on as veterans. The youngest
men in the company were Hezekiah B. Osborn (18,) John W. Mead
(19.) The oldest men were Hiram St. John (40,) Charles Olmstead
(40,) Jonathan Betts (40,) Edward Thompson (42,) James Corcoran
(40,) William Coley (40.) The company drilled until August
8, 1862, when Lincoln called for 300,000 men to serve 9 months.
The Georgetown company volunteered and was accepted. The company
was recruited up to 108 men, and reported for duty at Camp
Terry, New Haven. Some members were rejected on account of
disability. Those passing examination were mustered in as
Co. E, 23rd. Regiment, Conn. Volunteers, in Sept-ember, 1862.
At this time, Captain David. H. Miller was appointed maj-or
of the 23rd. Regiment, and Lieut. George M. Godfrey was elected
Cap-tain of Co. E. Some of the members of Co. E had. enlisted
in the 17th Regiment. As many of the families of those going
into service were left in straitened circumstances, town meetings
were held in Wilton, Weston and Redding, to vote bounties
to men who had enlisted. On Aug. 23, 1862, a town meeting
was called in Redding. The following voters from Georgetown
were present: Edwin Gilbert, Sturges Bennett, Matthew Gregory,
Edmund Hurlbutt, Eli G. Bennett, David H. Miller, Samuel Main
Sr., Samuel Main Jr., John N. Main, William J. Gilbert, John
O. St. John, William B. Smith, Burr Bennett, George and Charles
Albin, George Coley, George Perry, Granville Perry and others.
It was voted to pay a bounty of $100 to members of Co. E who
lived in the town of Redding, and to those who enlisted later.
There was much opposition, one prominent resident of Redding
(Lemuel Sanford) remarking that "There wasn't one of the men
that would ever smell gunpowder." He was mistaken, as they
were all at the front.
August 23, 1862, a call was issued for a town meeting to be
held in Wilton. Among those who signed the call were: George
M. Godfrey, Aaron Bennett, Aaron H. Davis, George I. Hubbell,
Wilkie Batterson, Charles Olmstead, Henry Olmstead, George
I. Batterson, Azor Batterson, Elijah Parkerton, James Corcoran,
Aaron Lee, Eli B. Godfrey, Andrew Partrick, George G. Nichols,
John Olmstead, Edwin Burchard, Lewis Hurlbutt, living in Georgetown
and vicinity. It was voted to pay a bounty of $100 to all
members of Co. E living in the town of Wilton.
town meeting was held in Weston on or near the same date,
for the same purpose. Those living in Georgetown who voted
in Weston were: Edward Thompson, Jonathan Betts, William Albin,
Lewis Northrop, Samuel Osborn, Gregory Osborn, Ezra Brown,
Aaron Jelliff Sr., Aaron Jelliff Jr., Henry Hohman, Albert
Lockwood, Edward Lahey. None of the men mentioned who voted
in the three towns at that time, are living today.
are the names and ages of those who were in the 23rd Regiment,
from Georgetown and vicinity: Major D. H. Miller, 31; Captain
George M. Godfrey, 36; 1st Lieut. Hiram St. John, 40; 2nd
Lieut. John N. Main, 21; 1st Sergt. Lewis Northrop, 28; Sergts.
Seth P. Bates, 29; Aaron O. Scribner, 23; William D. Gilbert,
23; Aaron H. Davis, 28; Corporals Jerry R. Miller, 27; George
W. Gould, 33; Albert D. Sturges, 21; Azariah E. Meeker, 24;
Joseph R. Lockwood, 33; Hezekiah B. Osborn, 18; Charles E.
Downs, 22; Elijah Betts, 22; Musicians Fred-erick Chapman,
22; Samuel A. Main, 23; Wagoner Henry H. Lee, 24; Pri-vates
Andrew G. Armstrong, 22; Charles Albin, 34; William Allington,
18; Elias S. Andrews, 38; Edward Banks, 40; Henry W. Bates,
34; Chas. H. Bates, 28; Smith Bates, 29; Frederick Beers,
28; William P. Beers, 19; Rufus Beers, 32; William Beers,
39; Jonathan Betts, 40; Lemuel B. Benedict, 21; Peter W. Birdsall,
20; William E. Brothwell, 30; Daniel Brown, 26; William E.
Brown, 18; Henry F. Burr, 38; Marcus V. Burr, 36; Aaron Burr,
18; William H. Canfield, 21; Ammi Carter, 24; Isaac Chak,
24; Hiram Cobleigh, 28; William Coley, 40; George H. Cole,
20; Moses Comstock, 24; George L. Dann, 26; Levi Dann, 22;
James O'Donnell, 28: Benedict Eastwood., 25; William H. Fanton,
22; Charles A. Field, 21; Enoch Gilbert, 32; John L. Godfrey,
21; Samuel Gray, 26; Theodore Ham-ilton, 20; Henry Hohman,
30; James F. Jelliff, 31; George Jennings, 30; Lorenzo Jones,
35; James Lobdell, 37; Albert Lockwood, 39; CharIes Lockwood,
26; Charles D. Meeker, 20; Charles S. Meeker, 35; John M.
Mead, 19; Charles Olmstead, 40; Elihu Osborn, 23; John Osborn,
21; William H. Perry, 22; Henry Parsons, 37; Henry B. Platt,
22; Sanford Platt, 20; Henry A. Raymond, 29; James Ryder,
20; Rufus K. Rowland, 18; John N. Seeley, 34; David E. Smith,
29; William B. Smith, 39; George E. Smith, 19; Anton Stommel,
33; Jacob St. John, 28; Isaac Thorp, l9; Albert N. Whitlock,
19; Augustus Winkler, 38.
these men, 43 were married and 44 unmarried. (After the rejection
of some for disability and the enlistment of some into other
regiments, the com-pany numbered 86 men): Andrew Armstrong,
William Allington, Elias Andrews, Elijah Betts, Henry W. Bates,
Charles H. Bates, Smith Bates, Fred Beers, Rufus Beers, Wm.
Beers, William P. Beers, Lemuel Benedict, Peter Birdsall,
Dan. Brown, Wm. Brown, Henry F. Burr, Martin Burr, Aaron Burr,
Ammi Carter, Isaac Chase, Levi Dann, James O'Donnell, Ben-edict
Eastwood, Wm. H. Fanton, Charles A. Field, Enoch H. Gilbert,
Samuel Gray, Theodore Hamilton, George Jennings, Charles Lockwood,
Elihu Osborn, John Osborn, Henry A. Raymond, Henry Platt,
Sanford Platt, Rufus K. Rowland, John Seely, George E. Smith,
Jacob St. John, Isaac Thorpe, Albert Whitlook, Agustus Winkler.
the 86 men who passed examination, 26 were from the town of
Wilton, 36 from Redding, 20 from Weston, 2 from Ridgefield,
1 from Danbury and 1 from Norwalk. The oc-cupations of the
men were: farmers, 50; carpenters, 12; shoemakers, 5; Hatters,
2; wire weavers, 3; hair workers, 3; masons, 2; carriage mak-ers,
2; painters, 2; teachers, 2; mechanics, 2; blacksmiths, 1
(H. B. Osborn).
regiment remained at Camp Terry until Nov., 1862, when they
were ordered. to Camp Buckingham, Centreville, Long Island.
On Nov. 14th, 1862, the regiment was mustered into the U.
S. Service, and on Nov. 30th, Companies B, C, D, E, F, G,
J and K sailed on the steam-er "Che Kiang" for New Orleans.
After a tempestuous voyage, arrived in safety.
A, H, and I remained. in New York under the command. of Major
David H. Miller, until Dec. 30, when they sailed on the steam-er
"Planter," which was wrecked on the Bahama Islands, Jan. 14,
1863. All on board. were saved, and later the three companies
joined their comrades in New Orleans.
members of Co. E and some of those who had enlisted in other
companies had been members of the old "Wide-Awake' company
in the Lincoln campaign of 1860. Many of these men be-came
officers in different commands.
those who enlisted in diff-erent regiments in addition to
those whose names have been given, there were Cyrus Gilbert
(father of Ex-Mayor Gilbert of Danbury,) Henry Sup-ple, Andrew
Couch, Benjamin Banks, John Lockwood, Burr Lockwood, John
DeForest, William Nichols, Charles O. Morgan, Edmund Godfrey.
These names, with others that have been given, comprise most
if not all of those who enlisted from Georgetown and the outlying
districts. Company E was distinctively a home company, as
every member but two lived in the section mentioned. The taking
of 100 or more men from a popu1ation of not over 1,000 people
did not leave many men of military ago behind.
the soldiers on the battle front for a while, it will be inter-esting
to learn what the folks at home were doing in those trying
1861 the women of Georgetown and vicinity organized what was
known as the Soldiers' Relief and Aid Society of Georgetown.
It was a branch of the Norwalk Society and was the means of
helping many soldiers at the front and needy families at home
during the war. Mrs. Edwin Gilbert was president; Miss Hattie
W. Bennett, secretary; Miss Annah St. John, treas-urer. The
Society met in the hall over Burr Bennett's store (years later
the home of Cyrus Thomas) to plan and do work.
almost every women could knit in those days, this was an important
feature of the work done, and hundreds of pairs of woolen
socks, comforters, shirts, etc., were knit and sent to the
boys at the front. Grandmother Olmstead of Nod, when in her
100th year, knit a pair of heavy woolen socks for General
Winfield Scott. Mrs. Edwin Gilbert went to New York and presented
them to the old general, receiving his thanks for the gift.
few names are given of those living in Georgetown (in 1862)
who were on various committees: Mrs. Edwin Gilbert, Mrs. Sturges
Ben-nett, Mrs. Samuel Main Sr., Mrs. David H. Miller, Mrs.
Jane Berry, Mrs. William B. Smith, Mrs. Burr Bennett, Mrs.
Hiram St. John, Mrs. John O. St. John, Miss Annah St. John,
Mrs. George Hubbell, Mrs. Greg-ory Osborn, Mrs. Aaron Osborn,
Mrs. Aaron H. Davis, Mrs. Edward Thomp-son, Mrs. Aaron Bennett,
Mrs. Jonathan Betts, Mrs. Lewis Northrop, Mrs. James Lobdell,
Miss Sarah Coley, Mrs. George Albin, Mrs. Charles Albin, and.
of the young women were active in the work: Emma Hurlbutt,
Mary Jane Griffiths, Alice St. John, Ida St. John, Dell Olmstead,
Medora Batterson, Malvina Osborn, Mary Godfrey, Augusta Lobdell,
Jennie Quick (Mrs. D. H. Van Hoosear,) Cornelia Main, Huldah
Main, Rosalia Jennings, Ruth Jennings, Frances Jelliff, Adele
Bennett, Hattie Bennett, Bertha Bennett, Jane Canfield, and
1862 the boys of Georgetown formed a company of Home Guards.
The captain was Will Corcoran. The wooden guns were made by
Aaron Osborn, and the bayonets were made out of sheet-iron
by James Corcoran.
of the first flags raised in Georgetown after the fall of
Fort Sumpter floated from a pole in Samuel Main's front yard
(now owned by Mrs. Nathan Perry.) The flag was home-made,
the handiwork of Mrs. Kate Main and Mrs. Mary Thompson. As
material was scarce and high, a calico dress was used to make
the red stripes and a sheet the white ones. The blue field
was dyed with indigo, and the stars sewed on one side. It
attracted a great deal of attention, and was stolen some weeks
the 29th or 30th of August, 1862, a large flag was raised
on the bell tower of the stone factory of the Gilbert & Bennett
Co. This building had a flat roof, with a railing around it.
Here the people assembled to take part in the ceremony. As
Company E had gone to New Haven, there were very few men present.
Dr. Lloyd Seeley made the add-ress and there was speaking
by Edwin Gilbert, Sturges Bennett and Sam-uel Main Sr. Prayer
was offered by the Rev. Samuel Keeler, Pastor of the Methodist
Church. Charles Jennings of the 17th Regiment, who was home
on a furlough, played patriotic airs on his accordian. Sidney
Jennings, the "Infant Drummer Boy," was present with his snare
drum. The flag floated over the old stone factory for many
years and wass taken care of by Mrs. Sturges Bennett. (A previous
statement corrected - Andrew B. Nichols, the first man to
enlist from Georgetown, married a resident of Weston.)
the arrival of the 23rd regiment in New Orleans, it was under
the command of General Banks and divided into battalions,
guarding railroads, levees and supplies. Companies B of Danbury
and E of Georgetown were sent to Camp Weitzel, La Fourche
Crossing, an important point. While there, Captain George
M. Godfrey was taken sick and died. April 23, 1863. Lieutenant
Lewis Northrop was appointed Captain of Co. E. Learning that
the rebel forces were approaching Camp Weitzel, Major D. H.
Miller sent for reinforcements. On June 20 the camp was attacked
by the rebels, under General Dick Taylor. A sharp engagement
ensued and the rebels were defeated. Several of our men were
wounded and Captain Frederick Starr of Co. B was killed. Hiram
Cobleigh of Co. E was wounded. George Smith, a drummer boy
in Co. B, killed a rebel officer with a stick of wood. This
was witnessed by many of the Company E men.
formed at this time between the men of Companies E and B have
lasted throughout the many years that have elapsed since the
Civil War. The engagement was called the Battle of La Fourche
Crossing. While Co. E was at Camp Weitzel, Aaron O. Scribner,
a member of the company, was taken sick and died. The 23rd
Regiment was in several skirmishes and on July 20 was ordered
to New Orleans, and on Aug. 7 started for home going by steamer
up the Mississippi River to Cairo, Ill., arriving in New Haven
Aug. 28, 1863, having been away from home one year.
Regiment was mustered out Sept. 1, 1863. Great preparations
had been made to welcome the Georgetown, Danbury and Bethel
companies home at the Redding camp meeting grounds. Long tables
were loaded with good things to eat, but few of the soldiers
were there to enjoy them. Bai-ley's History of Danbury states
that "only a few of the soldiers were present, as most of
them were at New Haven waiting to get their pay and discharge
papers, until late in the afternoon of that day." Char-les
Albin was the only member of Co. E present. But the good things
intended for the soldiers were all eaten by those who had
"never smelled gunpowder."
train from New Haven carrying the soldiers did not get into
South Norwalk until late that evening, and the train going
to Danbury ran off the track below Norwalk Bridge. No one
was hurt, but the soldiers were tired and hungry and many
were sick. Major D. H. Miller sent to Danbury for another
engine, and treated the men to hot coffee and sandwiches.
Elias Osborn, of Co. B, Danbury, telling of the incident,
says that the hot coffee put new life into the men, and they
got busy and lifted the cars back onto the track. They never
forgot the Major with his hot coffee and sandwiches. An engine
was sent down from Danbury by Engineer E. Craig (now living
in Danbury) and they left Norwa1k about daylight next morning.
There were many anxious people in Georgetown that night waiting
for their loved ones to come home. Early in the morning the
engine whistle sounded in the cut below Georgetown station,
and. everyone was waiting for the train to get in.
who are still living who saw the soldiers on the train that
morning will never forget the sight - bearded, ragged and
bronzed men, some shaking with fever and ague, others weak
from sickness. The company formed and marched up the street
past the old armory. Captain Lewis Northrop was in command.
Wives were march-ing with husbands; sons and daughters were
carrying fathers' knapsacks and muskets. At the head of the
company marched two great negroes, George Washington and Ed
Lewis (who had come from the south with the soldiers,) loaded
down with knapsacks and muskets of men who were too weak to
carry them. This was the home-coming of Company E.
of the men were sick for a long time with fever and ague or
dysentery, while others seemed to be in the best of health
and spirits. One man (Henry Parsons,) would never sleep in
a bed after he got home, preferring the floor.
not all of those who went to the front returned home to their
families. Following are the names of those who were killed
or died from wounds or sickness, wounded, or captured: Charles
H. Wells (lived with Elijah Parkerton,) Co. I, l2th Regiment,
wounded, died Feb. 23, 1862; William F. Scribner, Co. H, 13th
Regiment, wounded, died. Feb. 23, 1862; Andrew Couch, Co.
G, 17th Regiment, killed, May 2, 1863; William Avaunt, died
April 23, 1863; Captain George N. Godfrey, Co. E, 23rd. Regiment,
died April 23, 1863; Aaron O. Scribner, Co. E, 23rd Reg-iment,
died June 12, 1863; Frederick Sturges, Co. B, 13th Regiment,
died Dec. 12, 1863; Andrew B. Nichols, Co. D, 7th Regiment,
killed May 6, 1864; Wesley Banks, Co. E, 14th Regiment, wounded,
died Feb. 12th, 1864; Sylvester Barrett, 2nd. Regiment, Artillery,
died July 22, 1864.
Charles A. Jennings, Co. G, 17th Regiment, wounded May 2,
1863; Hirarm Cobleigh, Co. E, 23rd Regiment, wounded June
20, 1863; Nathan Perry, 2nd Regiment, Artillery, wounded June
Charles A. Jennings, Co. G, 17th Regiment, May 2, 1863; David
Bartram, Co. G, 17th Regiment, July 3, 1863; Henry Albin,
Co. H, 17th Regi-ment, Aug. 10, 1864; Sylvester Albin, Co.
H, 17th Regiment, Aug. 10, 1864.
names of men who lived in Georgetown and. vicinity and enlisted:
Frederick Sturges, William Edgar Albin, Elisha Parkerton,
the boys of fifty years ago would listen to the stories told
by the returned soldiers. Waterman Bates, a sharp-shooter
in the Battle of Gettysburg, was the favorite of the boys.
He would say: "The Cappen said, 'Boys, don't fire until you
see the whites of their eyes.' And then we let the Johnny
Rebs have it." Or listening to the stories of the voyage of
the steamship "Che Kiang" where men prayed who never prayed
before - never expecting to see land again. And many other
interesting incidents. Peace was declared and Georgetown and
vicinity settled back into the usual quiet life.
1875 a wave of patriotism again swept over the community.
The young men of the village, learning that the Connecticut
National Guard were going to the Philadelphia Exposition in
1876, were seized with a desire to fight for their country,
and enlisted in (Captain Gilbert's) Co. A, 4th Regiment. The
following enlisted: Lester Bennett, Ezra P. Bennett, William
R. Bennett, Abram Cole, William E. Godfrey, Gilson W. Jennings,
John Kearns, Theodore Flood, Samuel J. Miller, William H.
Osborn, William E. Osborn, Henry Taylor, Wilbur F. Thompson.
The enlistment was for five years. As it was quite a task
to go to Bethel every week to drill, permission was ob-tained
to have a squad drill in Georgetown twice a month. Bennett's
Hall was hired and Major D. H. Miller put the boys through
the manuel of arms, marching, etc., and soon they were as
well drilled as the other members of the company. On Sept.
1st, 1876, the boys went to the Exposition, staying ten days,
enjoying every minute, and returned home without the loss
of a man.
days, with the annual encamp-ments, were always remembered
by the Georgetown boys. In 1877 John Hohman, Aaron Lockwood,
and William Phillips enlisted in the company.
1879, the veterans of Co. E invited the 23rd Regiment to hold
its ann-ual reunion in Georgetown. The invitation was accepted.
Great prep-arations were made to receive the veterans. A great
tent was secured and. erected on the lot where the Catholic
Church now stands. Long tables were built and. stoves set
up. The ladies of Georgetown, Wil-ton, Weston and Redding
cooked and baked the good. things (for the vet-erans to eat)
with which the tables in the great tent were loaded on Sept.
11, 1879, the day of the reunion. The houses and other build-ings
were finely decorated with flags and bunting, and everyone
wait-ed the coming of the veterans. Co. A, 4th Regiment, 66
men, Captain Frederick Cole, acted as escort and the Bethel
Cornet Band furnished music.
the arrival of the veterans, the procession was formed and
marched to the Methodist Church. Charles Jennings of Georgetown
was Marshal. The business meeting and speaking was in the
Methodist Church, Captain James H. Jenkins presiding. The
officers of the reg-iment present were Colonel Charles E.
Holmes, Major David. H. Miller, Adjutant Samuel Gregory and
Captains of the companies. Number of men present: Co. A, 1;
Co. B, 28; Co. C, 3; Co. D, 9; Co. E, 47; Co. F, 3; Co. G,
10; Co. H, 0; Co. I, 1; Co. K, 17; total, 119 men. Deaths
during the year in Co. E were James Lobdell and Elijah Betts
(who was killed. on the steamer "Adelphi.")
the meeting the veterans ad-journed to the tent, and partook
of the fine repast awaiting them. There were about 2,000 persons
on the grounds, and over 1,500 persons were served with a
great success of the reunion was due to the untiring energy
and hard work of Major D. H. Miller and the members of Co.
E, assisted by everyone in Georgetown and vicinity. The Bethel
Cornet Band gave a fine concert and the boys of Co. A, 4th
Regiment, showed the veterans some fine marching, firing by
platoon, etc. Among the invited guests were Stephen Olmstead,
of Redding, a veteran of the war of 1812, and Abram Dreamer,
a veteran of the Mex-ican war. The day passed with no accident
to mar it, and the reunion was long remembered by those who
few of the veter-ans of 1863 are left. Four of those who were
in the Georgetown squad in 1876 are dead. Some of the Georgetown
boys of 1917 may wear Uncle Sam's uniform before long.
War Weapons and Collectables
Old Mulberry Trees of Georgetown by Wilbur F. Thompson
few years ago, there could be seen along the highways and
in the thickets of Georgetown and vicinity, many specimens
of the White Mulberry tree (Morus Alba). Ask any old resident
what these trees were used for, and they would answer "to
feed silk worms". These trees represented all that was
left of an industry that flourished in the rural communities
of our state 75 or more years ago. It was called "sericulture",
or the rearing of silk worms. It was first introduced into
New England by French, the colonists, some of whom settled
in New Rochelle.
1783, the General Assembly of our state offered bounties and
rewards for the rearing of silk worms. And many were engaged
in the industry. In 1838 there was a revival in sericulture,
causing a great demand for the Mulberry tree, which could
not be supplied. Trees of one year's growth were sold for
$1 each. Georgetown, in common with other rural sections,
had the silk worm craze, and hundreds of trees were set out,
(some of these are still living*WFT note). The industry gave
employment to many women and children. The children gathered
the leaves of the Mulberry tree, and the women took care of
the silk worms. The rearing houses or feeding sheds where
the worms were fed, had to be well-lighted and ventilated,
and kept at an even temperature. The eggs (called grains)
of the silk worm were hatched out by artificial heat. After
hatching, the worms were placed in shallow trays, which slid
into frames, one over another. The bottoms of the trays were
coarse muslin, which gave required ventilation. The trays
were filled with chopped Mulberry leaves for the worms to
feed on. They were great eaters and grew rapidly. Persons
who can remember back 70 years, say that when the worms were
feeding, the noise could be heard 20 feet or more away from
the feeding sheds.
feeding a number of days, the silk worms matured and ceased
eating. At this time, small branches and twigs of trees were
placed near the trays, the worms crawling up into them, commenced
to spin their cocoon, always finishing them in three or four
days. The cocoons, which were a light yellow color, were collected.
Some of the best were saved to furnish eggs for the next season's
silk worms. The others were pricked to kill the pupa and prevent
further growth. These were placed in hot water to loosen the
gum on the surface. The silk was unwound onto reels or swifts
and formed into hanks or skeins. It was then spun into thread
or warp and woven into silk fabrics on the hand looms of the
Olmsteads, Perrys, Bennetts, Battersons, Osborns, Wakemans,
Etc...Years ago, there were many families who had carefully
laid away silk dresses, waist coats, neckerchiefs, which had
been woven on the hand looms of Georgetown and vicinity, from
silk that had been unwound from cocoons that had been spun
by worms, fed on the leaves of the old Mulberry trees. Of
the many feeding sheds, there were two large ones. One was
owned by Silas Olmstead, in Chicken Street; the other by Matthew
Gregory, in Georgetown.
by Irene Baldwin:
a species of improved and mammoth-leafed Mulberry. There were
propagated from cuttings which brought such fabulous prices,
bearing much larger leaves than the common mulberry. Wilton
had the craze and enthusiasts in the enterprise claimed this
new departure would produce fabric so cheaply that even farmers
would wear silk clothes instead of linens, because of it was
Some took on this as a business of raising trees for the cuttings.
The Betts family plowed up nice fields and planted these with
cuttings and trees for their leaves to feed their worms with
and fitted up south, warm, sunny rooms for the worm culture.
When the craze faded out, these planted lands had grown full
trees and then trouble began to remove them, for they had
taken such strong hold, great force was needed to pull them
out. The writer has one of these trees growing on one of these
fields by the fence side, now, bearing nice Mulberries.
Some lost fortunes in the enterprise.
As Mr. Thompson says, the cocoons were placed in hot water,
which loosened the gum and were stirred with a stick which
would catch the end to reel the silk off.
Old Turnpike through Georgetown by Wilbur
many years after the first settlement of our state, the roadways
connecting the towns were very poor. Many were mere "bridle
paths", others were Indian Trails widened into "Cart
Paths". One of these was the Indian Trail leading up
from the Sound, at what is now known as Calf Pasture Beach,
through the section now known as Georgetown, into what is
now the city of Danbury. It was over this trail that eight
families left Norwalk in 1684, to found the new town of Danbury.
And for many years this trail, widened into a cart path, was
the only connecting link between the two places. When the
section known as the town of Ridgefield was purchased from
the Indians in 1707, the south and east boundary lines intersected
on a rock on the bank of the Norwalk River. The record states
that "The south and east boundary lines meet on the rock
on the banks of the Norwalk River 20 rods, north of the Danbury
and Norwalk Cart Path fording place", showing that it
was a cart path at that date. This rock is about 175 ft. south
of the Waterman Bates house in Georgetown. On the rock are
deeply cut three letters: F for Fairfield, N for Norwalk,
and R for Ridgefield. The boundary lines of these towns intersected
on this rock. The boundary line between Norwalk and Ridgefield
was disputed by Norwalk and years later, was moved one mile
north, where it remains the boundary between Ridgefield and
Wilton. The old rock is now the intersection boundary of the
towns of Wilton, Redding and Weston. Anyone measuring 20 rods
south along the river will find that the old "Fording
Place" is under the long railroad bridge (south
the town of Danbury grew, the need of a better means of communication
became apparent. A survey was made and a new highway was opened
up. Passing on the east side of Simpaug Pond (Bethel), up
over the Umpawaug Hill (Redding), through what is now Boston
district and Georgetown, and on to Norwalk. The right of way
was six rods wide. It was known as the great road from Danbury
to Norwalk. In 1723 Nathan Gold (Gould) and Peter Burr of
the town of Fairfield sold to Samuel Couch, and Thomas Nash,
of the same town, one hundred acres of land in the parish
of Redding, town of Fairfield, "said land lying on both
sides of the great road, that leads from Norwalk to Danbury",
showing that the road was in use at that date. In 1792 the
town of Redding voted to reduce the width of road in Redding
to four rods.
where the house long owned by Aaron Osborn now stands (in
Georgetown) a road branched out from the Danbury and Norwalk
road, passing up over the hill (Today Blueberry Hill area)
in back of where the Perry's houses now stand, coming out
into what was known as Germantown. It was called the Danbury
and Saugatuck Turnpike and connected Danbury with Saugatuck
(Westport). Fifty years ago the old roadway over the hill
could be traced by deep ruts worn in the rocky roadbed by
the heavy cart wheels that had passed over it many years.
The first store in Georgetown stood near where the old road
branched off from the Danbury and Norwalk road. The store
was kept by a man named Burr, and the long hill south of the
highway was called Burr's Hill. On the "Hog Ridge"
east of this point, one of the houses built by the Rumseys
(in 1735) stood. Some of the old apple trees planted at that
date are still living. Farther south on the Danbury and Norwalk
road, near where the house long owned by Henry Olmstead now
stands, the road ran up over the hill through the woods, coming
out on the flat below, where the Glenburgh Mills now no longer
1795, a company was incorporated for the purpose of "making
and keeping in repair the great road from Danbury to Norwalk-from
Simpaug brook(Bethel) to Belden's bridge (Norwalk-now Wilton),
and to erect gates and collect tolls for the maintenance of
the same". Toll gates were erected at intervals along
the road. One was north of where Connery's store now stands
in Georgetown (Old Mill Road and Rt. 57).
General Assembly in October, 1795 granted the petition of
Eliphalet Lockwood of Norwalk and Timothy Taylor of Danbury
to repair the Danbury-Norwalk road which ran through Redding.
The Assembly set up a corporation to run the turnpike and
collect tolls. In December this "Norwalk and Danbury
Turnpike Company" met at the home of Ezekiel Sanford
in Redding, "on said road", to set up the necessary
rules and regulation so that they could act as a corporation.
General Assembly authorized the proprietors to collect the
travelling or pleasure 4-wheeled carriage=25 Cents 0 Mills
Every Chaise chair or sulky=12 Cents 0 Mills
Every leaded cart or sled=8 Cents 0 Mills
Empty cart or sled=4 Cents 0 Mills
Loaded wagon=6 Cents 2 Mills
Empty wagon=3 Cents 0 Mills
Horses, cattle, and mules in droves, each=2 Cents 0 Mills
Pleasure travelling or loaded sleighs, each=6 Cents 0 Mills
Empty sleighs=3 Cents 0 Mills
Each man and horse=4 Cents 0 Mills
Each sheep and hog=1 Cent 0 Mills
Assembly further provided that the following should be exempt
travelling on the Lord's Day and other public days to attend
Persons travelling to attend Society or Town and Freeman's
meetings and Funerals
Farmers in the neighborhood of said Turnpike passing through
the same to attend their farming business..."
company lost its privilege of collecting tolls, probably because
of financial problems, in 1802. It received permission to
renew collections when the road was repaired.] *Labaree,
L.W., C. The public records of the state of Connecticut-May
few years later than 1795 a meeting of the stockholders of
the Danbury-Norwalk Turnpike was called to meet at the tavern
of Benjamin Gregory, Redding, Boston District for the purpose
of petitioning the General Assembly "to grant the company
power to extend the Turnpike from Belden's Bridge to the Great
Bridge, at the head of Norwalk Harbor". The petition
was not granted.
turnpike was part of the Post Road from New York to Hartford,
and during the War of 1812, the stage coaches from New York
to Hartford ran over this route. On South Street in Danbury,
there is an old milestone bearing the date of 1787, "67
miles to New York, 67 miles to Hartford"; 85 years old
the Turnpike was a busy throughfare, great canvas-topped "goods"
or freight wagons, were continually passing north or south
loaded with freight. Going north to Bethel and Danbury, loaded
with fur, feather, dry and wet goods, cattle horns and tortoise
shell for comb-making, etc. Going south with the finished
product of the shops: hats, boots, combs, and general produce,
to be shipped from the docks at Norwalk and Westport. The
freight rate was $5 per ton from Danbury to Norwalk and Westport
docks. The driver's seat in the freight wagons was broad and
roomy, accommodating three or four passengers, and was always
filled. On the Turnpike could be seen slow moving ox carts
loaded with farmer's produce. Horse-back riding was the principal
method of travel and many horsemen passed up and down the
old Turnpike, women riding on side saddle or pillion.
Danbury and Norwalk stage coach made daily trips; the fare
from Danbury to Norwalk was $1 and from Georgetown was 50
cents. The stage left Danbury at 2 a.m. and arrived in Norwalk
in time for the passengers to take the steamboat for New York
the same morning. For many years, Boston Corners, Georgetown
(then called Darling's Corners) was the place where the horses
were changed and fresh horses put on. The first Post Office
in Redding was in Boston district in the house now owned by
Michael Connery (in 1920 owned by T. Malloy) and the house
owned by E.A. Pinckney (in 1920 owned by M.T. McDonald) was
known as Darling's Tavern. A stage coach ran from Redding
to meet the Danbury and Norwalk stage. Later the horses were
changed in Georgetown at Godfrey's store. This store was near
the house (in 1920 owned by Gilbert & Bennett Mfg., Co.)
long known as Dr. Seeley house(Old Mill Road) and the horses
were kept in the barn that stood north of the house (then
owned by Stillman Godfrey). John Collins (father of Mrs. Azor
Hull of Danbury) lived in the Godfrey house and was a stage
coach driver. Arthur Hull and A. Whitlock were also drivers.
The horses were reshod at the Blacksmith Shop of Silas Hull,
which stood on the east side of the road, near Old Red Mill.
The stage coach line was owned for many years by Hiram Barnes.
He ran two four horse coaches and carried many passengers.
the Danbury and Norwalk R.R. was built in 1852, the traffic
on the old Turnpike grew smaller. The great freight wagons
and stage coaches were taken off and many who travelled on
horseback took the railway cars. Miss Sarah Coley born Dec.
9, 1827, is probably the only person now living (1920) who
remembers the old stage coach of 80 or 85 years ago. She is
living (1920) in the house now owned by D. Mecozzi.
Wilbur F. Thompson
Fiske Thompson was born on August 3, 1854 in Brooklyn, New
York. He spent part of his boyhood in Calanna, Wisconsin,
where his father worked as a blacksmith, often working for
the Indians. The family then moved to Georgetown where Wilbur
grew up with the rest of the Georgetown children. Georgetown
was in a way, home to the family, because his mother, Mary
Bennett, was born here. Edward Thompson, his father, was born
he got older Wilbur worked for the Gilbert and Bennett Wire
Mill and later moved to Danbury, where he worked as a carpenter
for Sunderland Builders until retirement.
his free time Wilbur was a first-rate historian who wrote
about the History of Georgetown in a manner that makes history
fun and exciting. He often states that in many cases the information
he offers is based on word of mouth stories told from one
generation to the next and it is evident that this methodology
is effective (he got me hooked after I read my first article).
F. Thompson died in Danbury on February 9, 1934 at the age
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