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The Early Businesses & Manufacturers of Redding, CT
From Charles Burr Todd's "History of Redding"

In 1793, under State law, as specific tax was laid on the various trades and professions, and from the grand list of that year we may gather accurate knowledge of the number of tradesman, artisans, and professional men in the town of Redding, Connecticut at the time. The following table is prepared from this list:

Tax Attorneys:
Thaddeus Benedict $60.00, S. Sam Smith $50.00

Thomas Davies $10.00, Thomas Peck $10.00

James Rogers $25.00, Benj. Sanford & Co. $25.00, Stephen Betts & Co. $25.00, William Heron $25.00, Ezekiel Jackson & Co. $25.00, Abijah Parsons $25.00

Justus Whitlow $5.00, Joel Bylington $5.00

Elisha Bradley $5.00

Joel Gray $5.00

Stephen Grey $5.00

Eli Lyon $5.00, Stephen Lyon $5.00, Daniel Perry $5.00

Aaron Barlow $5.00, Thaddeus Abbott $5.00, Enoch Merchant $5.00

Chauncey Merchant $5.00

Edward Starr $5.00

Tanners & Shoemakers:
Asabel Salmon $5.00

Stephen Betts $15.00, Ezekiel Sanford $15.00, Ezekiel Jackson $15.00, Abel Burr $15.00

Ephraim Wheeler $3.00, Stephen Burr & Daniel Perry $6.00, Seth Meeker & Co. $4.00, Crawford & Sanford $5.00

Stephen & John Fairchild $4.00, Oliver Sanford $4.00, Barlow & Sanford $6.00, Enos & Seth Wheeler $4.00

Oliver Sanford $10.00

From 1793 to 1850 the town made a very credible advance in manufactured goods.

Did you know Grape Vine Cultivation was patented in Georgetown (1868) by George Perry?

View patents issued in Redding and Georgetown at this website: http://www.cslib.org/patent.asp Enter "Redding" or "Georgetown" as the town to bring up the list of patents for each. The rest of the form can be left blank.

Iron Smelting
The iron smelting works of Oliver Sanford in Sanfordtown were one of its earliest and most prominent industries. Ore was brought from Brookfield and Roxbury in great wagons and smelted at the mills, and after smelting was conveyed in the same manner to Westport or Norwalk, and shipped to various points. This enterprise was the pioneer of its kind in America, and proved quite profitable to its projector. The works were entirely destroyed in the great freshet (flood) of 1805, and never afterward rebuilt, the business being removed to Valley Forge.

Fulling-mills were early erected, the first, probably, by Abraham Fairchild about 1742, near Nobb’s Crook, on the Saugatuck River. The first woolen-mill was erected in 1812, near the site of the old fulling-mill, by Comstock, Foster & Co. It did a prosperous business through the war and for some years afterward. It was later bought by Mr. Joel Foster, one of the members of the factory in 1843, or 1844.

Carriages began to be built in Sanfordtown as early as 1800, and the business soon became one of the leading industries of the town. Ephraim Sanford built the first carriage factory in the rear of the house on the corner now owned by Mr. George Treadwell. He was succeeded in 1820 by his two sons David and Enoch A. Sanford. David Sanford died in 1834, and the business was continued by Enoch A. Sanford, the surviving partner. A few years after, Daniel Sanford was admitted a partner, and the firm entered largely into the Southern trade. In this they proved unfortunate, and failed. Subsequently Mr. E.A. Sanford formed a partnership with Charles Duncomb, and later with G.A. Sanford, by whom the business was conducted with varying success. In its palmiest days this firm did a large business, employing from twenty-five to thirty men, and maintaining a depot for their goods in New York. Mr. Aaron Bartram built a carriage factory in 1840, and in company with Mr. Eben Wilson did large business for term of years. Mr. Bradley Sanford began the manufacture of carriage axles in Sanfordtown in 1833, and continued it until 1838, when he was succeeded by Mr. G.A. Sanford.

Hat making:
Hat making was at one time a prominent industry in Redding. To Mr. Billy Comstock is due the credit of erecting the first hat manufactory, which stood near his house in the Boston District. Mr. Daniel Gould had a large hat shop in Lonetown, and later Mr. Jesse Banks carried on the business somewhat extensively in Sanfordtown. He employed at one time twenty-five to thirty men, and supplied the Southern and West India market. Mr. Milo Lee also carried on the business for a number of years, first with Mr. Banks, and afterward in a factory near his house.

Bricks were made at one time by Mr. Alanson Lyon, on Redding Ridge; and in the same district a large shirt manufactory was once in successful operation, under the management of Mr. Curtis Fanton, and his son, Henry Fanton.

Brass Articles:
In 1856 the Redding Manufacturing Company was organized in Sanfordtown for the manufacture of pins, and other small articles of brass. The large building in Sanfordtown still known as the pin factory was built by this company; for a time its prospects for a successful career were excellent, but owing to some mismanagement on the part of the directors, it soon proved a failure.

The Hill Limekiln in Lonetown is perhaps the oldest lime-burning establishment in the State. It was probably opened at an early day by Colonel John Read, who was the owner of the tract of land in which the quarry is situated. In 1810 it came into the possession of John R. Hill, a grandson of Colonel Read, who conducted an extensive business and acquired a fortune. Mr. Hill retired in 1823, and was succeeded at different period by his sons: Aaron S. Hill, Moses Hill, William Hill, and John L. Hill. These gentlemen conducted the business with the same energy and success that had characterized their father's management. Since Mr. John L. Hill's retirement, the business has been conducted, successively, by Messrs. Ames & Osborne, Barnes, Smith, and Philo Wood.

Agricultural tools:
In 1842 Squire James Sanford built a foundry on the Aspetuck River in the Foundry district, and entered largely into the manufacture of agricultural implements. He had before invented an improved hay-cutting machine, in which the cutting was done by revolving cylinders furnished with knives, which he manufactured here, and which had an extensive sale throughout the country. This foundry is almost the only one of the old-time industries of Redding that remains in successful operation to this day.

Button factory:
The Aspetuck River, dashing through a gorge in this district, furnishes abundant water-power this the skill and energy of the Sanford brothers has utilized in the manufacture of buttons. Their three button factories have a capacity of between three and four hundred gross of buttons per day, employ twenty-eight hands, and have made this districts one of the busiest and most prosperous localities in the town.

Gilbert & Bennett:
The pleasant village of Georgetown, in the western part of Redding, owes its existence largely to the establishment in its midst of the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Company's works. This firm is largely engaged in the manufacture of sieves, iron wire, wire cloth, galvanized wire netting, ash sieves, and cheese and meat safes. They have a warehouse in New York, and at present employ a force of one hundred men. Until 1877 they were also engaged in the manufacture of glue and curled hair, but at that time this part of their business was purchased by the J.P. Gage Manufacturing Company, of New York, who still continue the business, having added to it the manufacture of sand paper.

The origin of the Gilbert & Bennett Manf. Co. dates from the year 1818, when Benjamin Gilbert commenced the manufacture of sieves and curled hair. Afterward, his sons, Sturges Bennett, and E.O. Hurlbut formed in co-partnership under the name of Gilbert, Bennett & Co., for the manufacture of the above named articles, including glue. In 1874 a fire destroyed the main factory, together with a large amount of manufactured stock and machinery, causing a loss of over $100,000.00

After the fire the concern was incorporated under the name of the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co., with Sturges Bennett as president, David H. Miller, secretary, and W.W. Beers as treasurer. The work before the fire employed a force of 125 men, and its manufactured products amounted to $500,000.00 annually.

The full history of Gilbert and Bennett.

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