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Looking for Redding Real Estate?

William Pitt Real Estate- Agent Ginny Beasley
470 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Office Phone: 203-438-9531

Agent Phn: 203-482-4938

Ginny Beasley

History of Georgetown, Connecticut  

The interest in Georgetown's history has grown. I have been adding more and more to the Georgetown history section so keep checking back for updates.

In 1999 I was blessed to receive a booklet of articles by Wilbur F. Thompson, from Irene Baldwin. Wilbur F. Thompson was a historian that those that live or have lived in Georgetown owe a great deal of gratitude to. Without his writings much of Georgetown's rich history would be lost forever. Thompson's writings inspired and fascinated me to such an extent that I have spent the past 10 years researching, recording and promoting the history of Georgetown.

Included on this Georgetown History Homepage is the history of Georgetown as I have come to know it, there is still much more to discover, but as I'm sure you'll soon find...there's much more to Georgetown than you've ever imagined. Be sure to check out the "Topics of Interest" in the left navigation menu as well. Enjoy.

Enjoy the History of Georgetown 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 bcolley@colleyweb.com or phone me at 860-364-7475.

Photos- 2008 G&B School Reunion

Article and Maps- History of Main Street, Georgetown

New Online Presentation- History of Gilbert & Bennett (part one)
New Online Presentation- History of Gilbert & Bennett (part two)

Georgetown History- from Wilbur F. Thompson articles in the Irene Baldwin collection, additional information, maps and photos provided by Brent M. Colley.

On the east bank of the Norwalk River, about 150 feet south of the house once owned by Mrs. Harriet Bates, later the Peckhams (Across the street from 140 Old Mill Road) there is an old boundary marker that according to local legend was the intersecting point of the north and west boundary lines of Norwalk and Fairfield. We have yet to locate the land records to confirm this.

What is confirmed is that in 1707-08, when the Town of Ridgefield was surveyed, it was found that the east and south lines of Ridgefield met at this rock with west and north boundaries of Fairfield and Norwalk (Wilton).

There was some dispute between Ridgefield and Norwalk (Wilton) about this boundary line location and as a result, some years later the Ridgefield/Wilton town boundaries were moved one mile farther north. The corner of Mountain Rd. and Peaceable St. is now the boundary between Wilton, Redding and Ridgefield.

At the present day, this rock lies on the boundary lines of Redding, Wilton and Weston. On the rock there are three deeply cut letters: on the east side F for Fairfield(later Weston); on the south side N for Norwalk(later Wilton); on the west side R, for Redding. *The date of these cuts are still being researched, but it is believed that they were made after 1767.

Let us read what the old record has to say about the rock- "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."

Clark's Map of 1856 showing where boundaries meet and W. Bates homestead
location (center, mid-graphic). In addition shows homes and business along
Old Mill Road and Georgetown.

The first settlers appeared in Georgetown between 1721 and 1756 building along the high ridge of land then known as Barnham's or Burnham's Ridge, later known as the Hog's Ridge. 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. This was during 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 located on Old Mill Road in the Norwalk River 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 o'clock line. They were of different widths, but were narrow 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. Some of these lots were settled on by the original owners - others were settled on by persons who bought the land of the first owners.

The long lots we are interested in are those that comprised the land now known as "The Village of Georgetown" located within the towns of Redding, Weston and Wilton. These were the Osborn long lot, Applegate long lot, and the Drake long lot. These lots traveled up from the Norwalk River and through the Boston District to Redding Glen which was known then as Nobb's Crook. The Boston District was an area that included the following present day roads: Mountain Road stopping just before Seventy Acres Road, Peaceable Street, Umpawaug Road stopping just before Topstone Road, Route 107 starting just about where the Nazzaro Bros. driveway is today and extending all the way to Glen Hill Road, all the roads along Rt. 107 in this stretch were included too: Beeholm Road, Farview Farms, Goodsell Road, Little Boston Road, Dorethy Road, Wayside Lane, Half of Dayton Road, Lee Lane.

The first long lot in what is now the village of Georgetown was known as the Osborn long lot granted to Richard Osborn for military service in the Pequot Indian War. This was bounded on the west and northwest by the then Norwalk, now Wilton line and came to the boundary rock in the Norwalk River. This section is in the Weston part of Georgetown. 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. Later members of the Osborn family built here, giving it the name of Osborntown.

In 1721 Robert Rumsey of Fairfield bought of John Applegate a large tract of land known as the Applegate long lots. In 1724 he willed this land to his three sons, Benjamin, Isaac, and Robert. Benjamin and Isaac were actual settlers on this tract, and the former's estate was inventoried and distributed in 1744. Isaac built on the hill in front of where the Aaron Osborn house once stood. The location of the Aaron Osborn house was approximately where the Nazzaro's property is today which would make the house that Isaac built the first documented building on the tract of land we know as Meadow Ridge. Benjamin settled near the present location the Georgetown Package Store.

Meadow Ridge ( Gilbert Farm location)

"After a year and a half of this struggling, worrying, begging, scraping along without friends or funds, meeting one discouragement after another, brighter days dawned. We received the second dividend from our stock and the state finding us still existing, returned the inheritance tax, and we were able to draw a long breath, pay up our debts, and dream of putting the farm in such shape that we would cease to be ridiculed by the neighbors and to have to apologize for everything we had, and everything we did. We could make a start towards fixing things so there would be a little income, with a view to making the place self-supporting."
Read about Gilbert Farm

Proof of Rumsey's settlement there came in 1856 when Samuel Main was building his house in that location, he started to dig a well. Uncle Timothy Wakeman asked Mr. Main what he was doing. On being told, Uncle Timothy took an iron bar, and striking it through the sod found a stone slab that read: "This 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.

Above the Rumseys other settlers built their homes. The Perrys, Mallorys, Morgans, Hulls, Lees, Darlings, Coleys, Bradleys, and later the Sherwoods, Battersons and Parsons all settled along this ridge which follows Rt. 107 from Georgetown toward Umpawaug Road and is known as the Boston District.

Proof of early settlement comes from Congregational Church records in Redding:

In 1729 the Congregational Church of Redding parish was organized, 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 records of the Redding Congregational Church - of marriages, births and deaths - contain 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.

The first settlement of the Drake lot, in that part of Georgetown in the town of then Norwalk, now Wilton was made many years later than that of the other sections. The reason being early settlers thought the lowlands were unhealthy and always chose the high ground first for building their homes. This section contains most of the present day village surrounding the Gilbert & Bennett Factory. Most of the land in this section was owned by John Belden, Solomon Wood and Ezekial Wood. In 1756 Noah St. John the 1st bought of Solomon 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 later 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.

Later 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.

The sections of Georgetown back then were Osborntown, Honey Hill, Burr's Hill, St. John's Corners, Sugar Hollow and Jack Street. Story has it that Georgetown was named about this time after a Mister George Abbott. George Abbott was a popular grist miller whose mill and forge was located on the river where Gilbert and Bennett's Red Mill later was built and was the site of Connery Brothers' coal and lumber yard for a time early this past century. Records state that the grist mill was erected in 1764:

In 1764 George Abbott, formerly of Salem, Westchester 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 that too. 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.

Abbott lived in a house that stood south of where the Waterman Bates house stood on Old Mill Road. His wife (called Aunt Lucy) kept a tavern or half-way house for the teamsters which was located on the Danbury and Norwalk turnpike (Old Mill Road).

* Another "local legend" has Georgetown named for King George of England due to the number of Tories or Loyalists (18 families) living in Georgetown prior to the War of the Revolution. Several St. John's for example would leave the area after the Revolution.

**Yet another "local legend" has a Blacksmith named "George" as the namesake.

Philip Keeler of Ridgefield succeeded George Abbott as Georgetown's miller. The next owner of the mill was Stephen Perry, an ancestor of the late Nathan Perry (Perry's Market). He rebuilt the dam and mill; it was then known as Perry's Mill. Later Joseph Goodsell the 1st ran the mill. He was the father of Joseph B. Goodsell the 2nd, who lived on Goodsell's Hill and whose name appears on the 1867 Beer's Map of Redding.

*On the west side of the Norwalk 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 diameter and four feet in depth; it is shaped like a round-bottomed pot. 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.


Baptist Church
The 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 Congregational 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." Follow link to read more.

The Methodist Episcopal 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 worship. Follow link to read more.

Georgetown Bible Church, dates back to the early part of the nineteenth century when it began as the Methodist Protestant Society. In 1820, a Reverend William Stillwell organized another Methodist 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. This group was the forerunner of the Edwin Gilbert Memorial Congregational Church in Georgetown and later the Georgetown Bible Church. Follow link to read more.

Sacred Heart Church. With the completion of the Norwalk & Danbury R. R., Catholics began to move in and settle about the halfway mark known as Georgetown. 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 1870's, the number of Catholics had increased considerably, so the use of Bennett's Hall was secured for services. Follow link to read more.

Covenant (Swedish) Congregational Church. This church, located on the old Weston Road now known as Covenant Lane in Georgetown, was founded in March 1889 by Swedish immigrants. The building was erected in 1891 with a parsonage on Maple Street. In March of 1964, they celebrated their 75th anniversary. Follow link to read more.

Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Bethlehem Lutheran Congregation in Georgetown came into existence as a result of the deep longing in the hearts of the Lutherans in Georgetown at the turn of the century. In fact, pastors from the Seamen's Mission in Brooklyn, N.Y. had made visits to Georgetown as early as 1900. In the year 1907, local leaders had made contact with Pastor Torsten M. Hohenthal of the Seamen's Mission to visit Georgetown to administer communion to Mr. John Peterson. Follow link to read more.

The History of Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. 1818-2001

The Gilbert and Bennett Company can and should be credited with the growth and late settlement of Georgetown. G&B was the heart of Georgetown, creating & cultivating a community of industrious, religious-minded families, proud of their locality and willing to work together for the benefit their town and its people.

Gilbert and Bennett began with products made from woven hair. Due to the nature of their business tanneries and slaughter houses had an abundance of hair leftover which was simply discarded at the end of the day. At that time, families made their own meal, sifting it from the bran through sieves made of horsehair. Benjamin Gilbert, perceiving a market, abandoned his tanner business and embarked in the manufacture of these horsehair sieves in 1818.

His place of business was the basement of his house and his employees were his wife and daughters who wove the hair while he shaved wooden hoops to form the rims of his sieves. The horsehair sieve market not proving as large as he had anticipated, Mr. Gilbert increased his business by adding the manufacture of curled hair, used for cushions, mattresses, and furniture. The family moved from Weston to Georgetown, after purchasing the William Wakeman farm in 1824.

Gilbert invented and put into operation the first machinery ever used in picking hair in 1826. The hair picker separated matted and tangled hair and made them suitable for stuffing mattresses, as well as the cushions for carriages. As a result of this innovation the business grew and a short time later he leased a small part of an old sawmill, moving the business out of his house and into a separate building at last. This first building came to be known as the Red Shop and was later purchased by the company in 1830.

Sturges Bennett was admitted into partnership in 1828, forming the firm of Gilbert & Bennett. Two years later Sturges would marry Charlotte, oldest daughter of Benjamin Gilbert. He bought of his father-in-law, land south of the shop and built the house he lived in for nearly fifty years, later owned by Eli G. Bennett.

In 1832 Benjamin's eldest son, William J. Gilbert was taken into the firm, forming Gilbert & Bennett & Company. William, was the salesmen who started out with great wagons loaded with goods, going through Connecticut, New York State, and as far West as the "Western Reserve of Ohio" selling the goods and coming back on the home trip stopping at the tanneries and slaughter houses, collecting the horse, cattle and hogs' hair to be made up into the finished product at the Red Shop. William traveled for the company a remarkable period of 50 years.

Sturges Bennett, Horsehair Sieve, William J. Gilbert

The Red Shop stood on the corner of Rt. 57 and Old Mill Road. As the business grew improvements were made to the shop for efficiency: a three-story addition was built, A mill dam was built across the brook, and a small pond was formed about 100 feet long and 60 feet wide. This supply pond, or reservoir, was and still is located on what is now Sasqua Trail, off Covenant Lane. On the north side of the pond was the road to Weston, lined with rows of willow trees. On 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; there were 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 2nd floor was the hair picking 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.

After 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 horsehair was picked out, kept separate from the bundles and woven to form the bottoms for the haircloth flour and gravy sieves. The hair was woven on small frames called looms, into squares a little larger than the sieves they were to cover. Women of the village did this weaving. 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,).

In making the sieves, thin wooden rims were cut from whitewood planks sawed from logs at Timothy Wakeman's saw mill that stood north of where the upper Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co.'s plant now stands, they were then smoothed by hand, steamed, 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.

The men who worked in the curled hair and sieve industry at the Red Shop were Benjamin Gilbert and his sons William J And Edwin; Edmund O. Hurlbutt, 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.

In 1834 the Gilbert & Bennett Co. found that the growing business needed more power than the little millpond furnished and bought the mill site of Winslow and Booth on the Norwalk River. Winslow and Booth ran a comb factory there making combs from cattle horns and tortoise shells in the 1820's.

Note: Prior to Winslow and Booth, the mill site was owned by David Coley, an ironworker; he built a dam and shop, installed a wooden watershed, a furnace for smelting iron ore, 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 lived, 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.

G&B rebuilt the milldam and built the shop long afterward known as the Red Mill. The mill had two stories and a basement. The first floor was used for the curled hair industry using power. In the basement the sieve rims were steamed, bent into shape, and later other work was done there as well. A wooden water wheel was built to furnish power for the mill.

All this time, the weaving processes were being accomplished by hand, and the material used was horsehair. Horsehair was at best, unsatisfactory-which caused the company to ask itself: "why couldn't some other material, more durable, more efficient, be substituted?" And not stopping at merely thinking it, they purchased some fine wire and began to experiment. The commercial weaving of wire by hand was impractical and machinery for such a purpose being unheard of, they improvised and borrowed a neighbor's carpet loom and so the first wire cloth came into being.

With the weaving of wire cloth, the process of making of cheese and meat safes commenced. Aaron Osborn did this work, assisted by his brother, Eli Osborn. Aaron Osborn created these cheese safes for nearly fifty years. With the introduction of hard coal for fuel, the coal ash sifter or coal riddle was created. Samuel Bennett, Henry Williams and others worked at this branch. Later ox muzzles made from wire were introduced. Most of the men who worked in the Red Mill at this time had worked in the Old Red Shop doing the same kind of work.

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 millpond, also rights to the reservoir on the hill. 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.

In 1836, 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, William Perry, Moses Hubbell and his wife Betsy, and probably others. William Perry wove a fine wire cloth, called strainer cloth, used for straining milk and other liquids.

At the Red Shop James Byington, Aaron Jelliff, Henry Olmstead and his brother William, Lorenzo Jones, Thomas Pryor, George Gould, Anton Stommell, George Hubbell, and Granville Perry also wove wire cloth. As the business grew, Anson B. Hull was hired as Bookkeeper.

The office was on the first floor of the shop; in connection with bookkeeping, 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.

In 1840 Edmund O. Hurlbutt was admitted into the firm - he too married a daughter of Benjamin Gilbert, Mary. He bought land from his father-in-law and built the home long known as the Hurlbutt place located south of the Red Shop on Old Mill Road.

In 1844 Edwin Gilbert became a member of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. He, his brother William J. Gilbert and Edmond Hurlbutt, were the company's salesmen. Their selling methods being to load Conestoga wagons and deliver through the country as sales were made. Even without the help of the telegraph or railroad transportation, the sale of Gilbert & Bennett goods spread throughout the South and as far West as the Western reserve of Ohio.

In 1847, Benjamin Gilbert, the founder of the business, died after an illness of several years that had incapacitated him from active business. Timothy Wakeman's sawmill, with the mill rights and land was purchased in 1848. The sawmill was updated for making sieve frames forming the nucleus of the upper factories. Because of Gilbert and Bennett's rather isolated location, it derived its power not from steam (powered by coal) but from water turbines. Water pressure became a constant with the purchase and control of Great Pond, a reservoir located 5.27 miles northwest of the mill on the Norwalk River at the Ridgefield-Redding town line in that same year. A Quote from 1893 on the Great Pond Dam: "This dam is said to be one of the very best constructed pieces of work of the kind in New England."

The business at the time was still based on sieves and curled hair. Additional space could not go to waste, so in the year 1850, the manufacture of glue was added to further expand the company. The existing glue manufacturing process was studied by the company and found to have several disadvantages. They found that because glue was being dried on cotton netting some of it adhered to the fabric, this was a waste and led to higher costs. Another disadvantage was that the glue itself would contain bits of cotton, which interfered with its adhesive quality. They resolved these problems by manufacturing wire netting upon which the glue would be dried. When the glue dried, it could be separated from the wire netting with little difficulty, and as a result revolutionized the glue-drying process across America.

In 1852 a store was opened by the firm in New York City, in which George H. Brown began his connection with the company in 1859. He was manager for many years and a director from 1894 up to the time of his retirement in 1903.

In 1853 David H. Miller of New York City entered the employ of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. as bookkeeper in New York City. A short time later he would come to work at the Georgetown factory. He brought in fresh ideas and new ways of working which greatly increased the efficiency of the company. The Rapid growth of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. continued with Edwin Gilbert as salesman and Charles Olmstead running one of the freight wagons. With the building of the D. & N. R. R. in 1852, 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 carting materials between the factory and the depot. Edmund O. Hurlbutt withdrew from the firm in 1860.

With the building of new factories the various branches of the industry were moved out of 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 of the Red Shop. The business grew until the whole floor was occupied, and a large amount of business was done. In the year 1861, the Civil War broke out. A number of Gilbert & Bennett men answered the call to colors-among them David H. Miller, who won honors and the title of Major during the Rebellion, and was destined to, in later life, head the company. As a result of the Civil War Gilbert and Bennett's southern sieve and carriage cushion markets had been shut off. There was a large amount of woven wire on hand as a result but an inventive employee changed that quickly when he decided to give the sieve wire a coat of protective paint and offer it for sale as a window screen. These proved to be a vast improvement over cheesecloth, which had previously been used for this purpose and due to the popularity of the invention, shifted the mill's capacity to the manufacture of these insect window screens. The metal screen industry was born.

*The invention has been called "the most humane contribution the 19th century made to the presenvation of sanity and good temper."

Following the Civil War, Connecticut property ownership restrictions were adjusted and more and more immigrant workers began to make their way to Georgetown. It is not know why but many Swedish immigrants chose the Gilbert and Bennett Company for employment. It is likely that Swedish immigrants were drawn to the Protestant ideals of the factory's management and the skills of the Swedes met the needs of the factory at a very important time in it's history. The Weston side of Georgetown soon became know as Swedetown and the Swedish Church, although altered into a home still stands today. Old Mill/Bunker Hill was the choice of the Polish immigrants, The Italians settled in Branchville, The Main Street/School Street/Church Street section housed English, Irish and French.

To the company, immigrants were good, inexpensive labor.  To the immigrants, the factory and mills were convenient (within walking distance and rail lines) and the growing village of Georgetown provided all they required in this new world.

A wire mill was built on the lower factory property in 1863 to provide "facilities for drawing iron wire." Prior to this, Gilbert and Bennett had purchased iron wire from a mill in Worcester, Massachusetts. Distribution was becoming more accessible, rail and water shipping and transportation facilities were rapidly extending their scope and the telegraph was shortening the distance between manufacturer and purchaser. The industry was changing too as wholesalers were tightening the link between making goods and selling them. So, expanding as rapidly as their needs justified, Gilbert & Bennett & Co. added new buildings and equipment in 1865 installing the first power machinery ever used in the United States for making galvanized wire poultry netting on power twisters. Thus the tradition of innovation continued as Gilbert & Bennett became the first in the country to manufacture and market galvanized wire cloth. This soon replaced the plain iron wire cloth, which until that time had been carried in stock by all hardware dealers. For many years they manufactured all the poultry netting made in the United States. This was not a large amount at the time, for the manufacturing was but a small part of the transaction as their customers had to be educated on its use. Gilbert & Bennett with perfect confidence in their goods continued to push them and the limited field at the time expanded to cover every part of the United States.

[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.]

In 1869 Sturges Bennett who now owned the property had the Old Red Shop torn down and built in its place the store known for many years as Connery's store (This business was sold to Michael Connery in 1882.). The timbers of the Old Red Shop were bought by Anton Stommell, who used them in building his house on the street running east from the Weston road, which is now Highland Avenue.

While 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. This building was later lost in a fire.

A fire destroyed the upper plant on Sunday May 11, 1874. Just at the sun rising, the cry of "fire" startled the village, and the latest, most complete and most valuable of the factory buildings was found to be on fire. There was no fire apparatus with which to fight the flames, and the company's officials and the throngs of men, women and children that quickly gathered could do nothing but look on while building after building with its intricate and costly machinery was reduced to ashes. In an hour and twenty minutes the buildings were destroyed.

Damage amounted to $200,000 for which the mill had $40,000 of insurance. The decisions that were made in rebuilding the properties insured Gilbert and Bennett's success for generations to come. One of those decisions was to lobby the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad to run a line into the mill. The Danbury and Norwalk Railroad traveled through Georgetown as early as 1852, but it was during the 1874 reconstruction that the railroad was convinced to run a spur line into the mill property. The track that came into the mill, branched off from the railway just before the Georgetown Train Station where Miller Hall stood, two team tracks split to the left, one lead to the back of Georgetown Station and the other extended further to the road. The main track split in two, where it joining again in the factory. In addition to Miller's Hall, two small sheds also stood, one of which was a coal shed. The spur lines enabled the company to ship and receive material more efficiently, and reduce the manpower required in the process.

Another successful decision was the incorporation of the company. Gilbert and Bennett was reorganized as a joint stock company on May 30, 1874 and the machinery that adorned the new buildings was the newest and best available. The mill was opened and operating within the year. The officers of the corporation were: Sturges Bennett, President William W. Beers, Treasurer David H. Miller, Secretary The above officers, with Edwin Gilbert and William J. Gilbert, comprised the board of directors. William W. Beers was later made president of the company, serving in that capacity from 1876 until his death in 1879.

* The company was incorporated 19 days after the fire!!

The newly incorporated company went into the field with a vigor, which within a few years multiplied their sales and output many times over. About this time Bessemer steel replaced the iron wire of earlier days. The increased facilities of the wire mills enabled the company to handle and draw the steel and all such wire used in their manufacture. Bronze, copper, and brass wire were drawn for use in their goods as well.

In 1875 a corporate office was constructed on the upper factory property. The corporate headquarters building was a novelty in construction- the framework inside and out is stapled wire cloth (called wire lathing) in place of the usual wood lathing and sheathing. On the outside is laid cement made to imitate stone and on the inside is the usual plaster. They noted- "this style of construction is not only a novelty but a perfect success" in their "Wire Wonders" publication of 1893. *An interesting side note to this building location is that when the Gilbert & Bennett Co bought of Timothy Wakeman his sawmill, with the mill rights and land in 1848, they also bought the old Baptist church, remodeling it into a dwelling. In 1875, the old church was torn down to make room for new buildings. Historian Wilbur F. Thompson assisted in the remodeling. Thompson notes that: some of the timbers were found to be shattered by the explosion of 1838. In the old Baptist church record we find the following statements regarding the explosion: "Nov. 26, 1838, the Rev. Nathaniel Colver lectured in our meeting house on slavery (against it), and was disturbed by unruly persons: Nov. 27, 1838, another lecture, disturbed as before; Nov. 28, 1838, our meeting house blown up but not entirely destroyed. The Old Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. office stood on the site of the old church, and great factory buildings cover the old church lot.

Corporate Headquarters mentioned above. 1875

William J. Gilbert would serve as President from 1880 until his death in 1884. A member of the company for 52 years. His brother, Edwin, was elected as President in 1884.

In 1885, a Chicago store was opened which would carry the first complete stock of galvanized wire cloth ever carried in that city. By 1887, the wire industry had finally come of age and the increase of business taxed their factory capacities to the point that the glue and curled hair departments had to be sold off (sold to J.P. Gage Manufacturing Co of New York). From that point forward, the factory was devoted to wire fabrics exclusively. In that same year the company seeing the possibilities of the western field, opened a plant in Chicago, the starting point of the second group of Gilbert & Bennett factories.

On May 10, 1889 the Old Red Mill was destroyed by fire and a new mill was built in its place*. The Old Red Mill had been used since 1834 by the company. Operations at mill had expanded over the years to include the manufacturing of woven wire cloth, cheese and meat safes, ash sifters, coal screens, and ox muzzles. Tinning and galvanizing also took place here. In a separate building the company made coal hods from 1857 to 1864. The Hod Shop was sold to Connery Bros. in 1913. The Red Mill was being used strictly for the drawing of fine wire, tinning and galvanizing wire in its later years.

Note: The new mill mentioned has not been found in any documents or photographs. In discussing the Old Red Mill location with Grover Foote, who lived on Old Mill Road from 1930 to 1950, he mentioned, "There used to be a tall chimney standing near the dam. I watched them knock it down about 1941/1942." If the Mill was in fact rebuilt, it was lost to fire again at some point before the 1940's.

In 1891 a factory was built in Chicago, but was later sold when a plant was purchased from Henry E. Southwell (formerly Chicago Wire and Spring, co.) in Wireton/Blue Island, Illinois for $80,000. This plant grew into a large and flourishing institution supplying the needs of thousands of western wire users. The Wireton/Blue Island factories were as near duplications of the ideal conditions of the Georgetown mills as was commercially possible. Balloon flytraps, mouse and animal traps, and flowerpot stands are added to the production line.

Gilbert & Bennett celebrated its first 75 years at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, in which the company was an exhibitor. The company supplied 3 miles of woven fencing, which enclosed the fair's railroad platforms, and about 8 acres of netting, which hung under the fair buildings' glass ceiling to prevent shattered glass from falling on people. At this World Fair the company exhibited: Gold, Silver, Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Galvanized and "Pearl Wire Cloth, Galvanized Netting, Wire Fencing, Gates, Ornamental Wire Work, G&B's system of Fireproofing, Stable fixtures, Screens, Home Furnishing Wire Goods, and a sample of the 1st netting made by power machinery and exposed to the open air for 25 years.

300 were employed by G&B- 175 at the Georgetown mills (representing 20% of the wire industry workers in Connecticut), 75 at the Chicago factory and the remainder belonging to the selling and clerical force in 1893. By 1906, the company had grown to employ 600 workers.

The growing company attracted many immigrants and Georgetown quickly developed into quite a diverse community. Italian, Polish and Scandinavian neighborhoods were established-in this time period the Polish occupied the company owned housing on Bunker Hill near the lower factory, the Swedish neighborhood was located in the Weston section, the Italian immigrants settled in the Branchville section of Ridgefield. The Irish were spread out all over Georgetown in no set neighborhood.

To serve the needs of these people there were quite a few small markets in the area. Connery's and Perry's market were two of the earliest and most popular. Connery's began in 1882 when Michael Connery bought the general store for $240. The price included everything but the dry goods part of the store, which was purchased several years later. Connery's would serve the Georgetown community until 1973.

Connery's Store at or a little before the turn of the 19th century

Other markets of note: A&P, Georgetown Market & Liquor store, Herbert Kearn's Store, Tankus' Clothing store, Sabillia's market & liquor store, Hammelscamp's meat market, Perry had another meat market over by Kearn's store too.

At the turn of the century Georgetown came to be known as Georgetown Village. According to an article "Jim Driscoll Recalls Redding's Yesterdays" by Bernard Frazer in the Redding Times, March 27, 1958, in 1908 "there were forty street lights in Georgetown, five times as many as there are now. And they were put there without any expense to the taxpayers. Every night there was no moonlight, a lamplighter would go around and light them, not only in the center of town but on the surrounding roads." These lights "were given by the Georgetown Village Improvement Association. We used to raise money for the Improvement Association by putting on plays in Miller's Hall (formerly Union Hall, re-named after Louis P. Miller, the factory superintendent and owner of most of the land from Smith Road to Route 7). That was located a couple of hundred yards south of the present Georgetown railroad station and was reached by a footbridge starting opposite Connery's store. The plays were put on by the Georgetown Dramatic Society and the time I'm talking about was from 1903 to about 1910 or 1912. We'd put on a popular drama two or three times a year, and we'd take the show on the road, too. We used to go to the Cannondale Grange for a couple of nights, and to the Ridgefield Town House." "One of the things we started besides the Dramatic Society was a circulating library on Smith Street. Thirty or forty of us would buy a book and put them all together in one place and exchange them." Miller's Hall wasn't only used for plays, there were "movies every Wednesday and Saturday, the whist clubs which held parties at various times and the Saturday night dances. There also were the community picnics on summer Sunday afternoons at Life Magazine's Camp Association property in Ridgefield, near Branchville, the place that is now the site of Hidden Valley, the New York Herald Tribune's fresh air camp. Another activity was a once-in-a-while visit to the famous local hermit who lived in a cabin near Cooper Station, a stop on the New Haven railroad between Branchville and Ridgefield."

In 1906, Edwin Gilbert, son of the founder, died at his vacation home in Crescent City, Florida on February 28th. As a salesman, director, treasurer, and president of the company, he served the company for 62 years. His estate was valued at over one-half million dollars, half of which he left to the community.

He left a substantial endowment to the Church, an equal amount to the state Home Missionary Society, and the same amount, the income of which is used for the relief of those who may need it in the place, regardless of church affiliations. He also left one-third as much to the Congregational Church of Wilton, to the Congregational Church of Redding, to the Swedish Congregational Church of Georgetown, to the Methodist Episcopal Church of Georgetown, to the Catholic Church of Georgetown.

He willed the 300+ acre Gilbert Farm and $60,000 in company stock to the Connecticut Agricultural College for use as a farm for the instruction of practical agriculture.

He also left a good endowment to the Fresh Air Farm, later known as Life's Farm founded in the 1890's by John Mitchell (of Life Magazine Fame). Rev. Ursinus O. Mohr, a former pastor of the church and his wife, for most of the time since 1899 were in charge of Fresh Air/Life's Farm which gave a two week outing to about 1200 poor city children every summer.

Major David H. Miller became President with the passing of Edwin Gilbert. He joined G&B in 1853 working his way from bookkeeper to director and secretary in 1874, then becoming Secretary and Vice-President in 1880. He held the position of President-Treasurer from 1906 until his death in 1915. He served the company 62 years.

Under Major Miller's leadership new buildings were erected on the upper factory property- the new fine wire building and the Georgetown post office were built in 1908. The post office building was leased to the post office in the early 1920's. This building was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on December 15, 1947. Stevan Dohanos was the artist.

It is interesting enough to note that during this time period the elite of Georgetown, almost exclusively people associated with the company, lived in the midst of their workers. As mentioned, ethnic neighborhoods did exist, but employees were encouraged to occupy, or build houses next to the mansions of the managers and officers. And while it would be expected that the workers would live near the factory it was most unusual to find upper-class houses in the same location.

Major Miller's son Samuel J. Miller was the next President. He had joined the firm in 1869 as an office boy, and became superintendent, secretary, general manager, director, and vice-president. He served as president until his death in 1936. He was with the company a total of 67 years!

The Miller Era was in full swing at G&B. The officers were Charles J. Miller- VP, William H. Hunter-Treasurer, D. Henry Miller-Secretary, David H. Miller-Director, and Louis P. Miller-Superintendent.

The company erected a school building for the community in 1915 and deeded it to School District #10. The fine up-to-date building was a model for every school building committee to follow, and was a fitting memorial to those who had the best interests of Georgetown at heart. After a lapse of 100 years, the children of Georgetown and Boston districts attended the same school as Georgetown residents who did not live in the "Wilton section" could apply for and be granted permission to attend. In the 1960's this school was operated by the Wilton School Board, school district #10 was discontinued in 1964. The development of New Street accompanied the building of the school by Gilbert & Bennett in 1916.

New G&B School, Old Schoolhouse on the hill behind it.

Only two houses clearly predate the school in this area. They are located on New Street extension and are identical houses of the Folk House style, built in 1913.

In 1918 with most of its employees overseas fighting in WW1, the company manufactured 5,000 pounds of wire cloth a day for trench lining, as well as poultry netting for camouflage and screen cloth for gas masks.

Gilbert and Bennett installed one of the state's first group life insurance plans for workers employed three months of longer in 1919. The insurer was the Connecticut General Life Insurance, Co.

Following World War I the company laid out Portland Avenue in the Redding section of Georgetown on land it owned overlooking the millpond. The street contains a number of duplexes constructed by Gilbert & Bennett after World War II and rented to employees. Interspersed among them are four earlier gable to street house built between 1860 and 1880, also owned by the company that probably served as tenement houses for employees. The 20th century houses in this area utilize two basic plans: square and rectangular. Variety was added by varying the roof treatments of the rectangular houses. The Colonial Revival style duplexes concentrated in the Center of Portland Avenue were built as rental housing between 1920 and 1925. It is not known whether this housing, which seems to be a level suitable for middle management, was rented by this group, or by unskilled workers. The development continued to be used as rental property until December 1947, at which time Gilbert & Bennett sold the entire group of houses. Many of the grantees at this time had Swedish-American surnames.

Rare view of the G&B Buildings and Portland Avenue in the 1920's.

In 1922 the company encouraged its employees to purchase property offering mortgages with interest rates of only 4% per annum after the employee has bought a building lot with his own money. Many employees accepted the offer.

The company's business suffered severely after the market crash of 1929. Not only were sales extremely low, but more competitors were after what little business was available. The directors decided that modernization of buildings and equipment was essential to compete profitably on the established product line and to develop new products to beat out competitors.

In 1930, recognizing the need to control River Water Pollution, G&B installed one of the first industrial liquid water disposal systems in Connecticut.

D. Henry Miller III became the President of the company in 1936. The son of Samuel J. Miller, he joined the company in 1904, was appointed secretary in 1915, and director in 1932. D. Henry passed over his uncle Charles J. Miller whose credentials were seemingly more deserving of the Presidency. Charles J. was the brother of Samuel J.; he joined the firm in 1882, became a director and Western manager in 1904, and had served as first vice-president since 1915. He was chairman until his death in 1953. He served the company for an amazing 71 years!

In 1939 the company purchased a fabric welder for producing the first galv-after-light grade welded mesh. This machine ran at double the speed of any welder then in existence. Products from this welder had great success, particularly "Perma Gard", the cage material for fur ranchers and poultry producers, crab pots, machinery guards, wire partitions and fencing.

In 1941 the company developed another first, special plastic-coated wire cloth to reinforce the brake linings in cars. This unique design allowed lining manufacturers to run their lining machines at higher speeds and it greatly reduced their scrap loss. As a result G&B earned a major share of the brake lining market. The company also supplied men and materials to the war effort. Very shortly after "Pearl Harbor" production was on a 100% War Priority basis. G&B became the first supplier of camouflage netting. At one time about 125 women were garnishing olive drab cloth to "straight-line" chicken wire. Besides camouflage netting, G&B manufactured hex netting mats for beach landings like Normandy, tow targets for air gunnery training, and galvanized wire for signal corps assault wire and armoring electric cable.

Gilbert & Bennett wove a special mesh of nickel wire for the Manhattan Project, which developed the Atomic Bomb in 1944.

On February 24, 1946, the Georgetown Fire Company was struck a disastrous blow, when the Fire House and all of our apparatus and equipment were destroyed by fire. The Georgetown Volunteer Fire Company was organized in May of 1928 by a group of men who realized the need for fire protection in the community. The first Fire House was a converted horse barn that was given to the Volunteers by the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co., and the fire fighting apparatus consisted of a Chevrolet Chemical Truck and a Peter Pirsh Pumper. In 1939 the Company acquired a second hand Sayer-Scoville ambulance. By obtaining this ambulance it became among the first volunteer fire companies to provide ambulance service in this area. This ambulance served the community until 1941 when the need was seen for the purchasing of a new Buick ambulance. This disaster of 1946 created the immediate need of not only a new firehouse but equipment and apparatus as well. Through the efforts of the members and the generosity of the people, the Fire Company was, within a few months, able to purchase an Army surplus fire truck. By October of 1946, a new Seagrave pumper was delivered and in July of 1947 a new Buick Ambulance was delivered and on August 4, 1947 the Company held its first meeting in the new firehouse.

At the factory in 1947 two new continuous fabric-galvanizing installations were completed for galvanizing hardware cloth, poultry netting and welding fabrics. The following year the electronically controlled Strand Galvanizing Dept. was completed reducing a 3-step process to 1.

1949 brought high-speed reverse twisters 10 times faster than the old style twisters.

The company modernized its Blue Island plant in the 1950's and updated its other installations with equipment and products.

The public beach at Great Pond was created in 1953 under the stewardship of the late Francis Martin. He raised money and formed the Great Pond Holding Corporation, which got a long-term lease on the property from Gilbert & Bennett and purchased other land around the pond.

D. Henry Miller, died in 1954. The Miller Era had ended however the son-in-law of David H. Miller II., John H. Mulliken was appointed President. Mulliken in 1937 became a director and joined the firm in 1941 as the treasurer. He was in charge of the company's modernization program and in 1947 was appointed Vice President and Secretary.

For 137 years the Norwalk River served the company well, until Saturday night October 15, 1955. During the preceding 36 hours, almost 13 inches (12.58 to be exact) of rain had fallen on the 12 square mile water shed above the millpond. As the water gathered in the valley, it formed a tremendous force that washed out bridges, roads, dams, and rushed through the plant- knocking out windows, doors, tossing freight cars, covering machinery, boilers and stock to a depth of 9 to 10 feet.

The Flood of 1955 caused almost $1 million worth of damage to the mill. Despite the destruction, the employees and local contractors joined together for a huge clean up effort and the company reopened two months later.

*John Mulliken recalled in 1959 that: "It took us 137 years to get together a little over $800,000 in Government Bonds and they went out the window in less than an hour when the flood hit us."

Despite the Floods devastation the company still produced 2.6 million miles of wire in 1955...an amount that would reach 104 times around the world.

Following the flood plans by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources called for several control dams upstream to try and prevent future flood disasters.

In 1956 a new 42,000 sq. foot warehouse was completed. This warehouse was expanded by an additional 44,000 sq. feet in 1961, 14,000 sq. feet in 1962, and 12,000 sq. feet in 1963. Business was good!

In 1957 G&B introduced its popular self-centering reinforcing mesh, Center-Rite. This welded mesh was the first made with a two-way crimp, which centers itself in the concrete forms used in manufacturing burial vaults, and septic tanks.

Triple Pack Hex netting was another first, introduced by G&B in 1958. This proved to be a tremendous boon to hardware dealers to fit the majority of the demands from their customers for less than full rolls of poultry netting. Any length of 25, 50, or 75 feet could be served from one 75-foot roll. In the same year G&B was investigating plastic coatings to prolong the life of their galvanized wire fabrics and approve their appearance.

G&B made arrangements with Coatings Engineering Corp. of South Natick, Mass. to install pilot equipment for the experimental plastic coating of wire mesh. The sought after extra life and attractive appearance was accomplished and in 1962 Coating Engineering was welcomed into the G&B family as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Ben Billinger was elected President in 1963. Billinger joined the firm in 1944, was appointed Sales manger in 1948, became director in 1953, and Vice President of Sales in 1954. John H. Mulliken became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.

May 28, 1964 a dinner was held at Luigi's honoring employees with 35 or more years of continuous service. Eric Ericson (35 years), Joe Ellis (35), Eric Swenson (37), Chris Larson (35) Bottom Row- Gus Forsberg (41), Len Taylor (50), Sue Olmstead (46), Joe Therrien (35) Gold wrists were present to all. The heart of Gilbert and Bennett was its employees! They had a great deal of pride and loyalty to the company and community. A quality that is sorely missed in American business today.

In 1965 the Clarifier System controlling Water Pollution is enlarged for a second time in ten years to take care of increased production. Approximately 400,000 gallons of water a day are treated at the plant before being returned to the river. 250 tons of lime per year is used to neutralize the wastewaters.

In 1968, G&B celebrated its 150th anniversary. Company products are being used in cages, screens, antennas, acoustical tile lining, splints, greenhouses, outdoor furniture, radar/radio reflectors, radar telescopes, filter elements in jet engines, and flight cages in the Washington National and San Diego Zoos. A new building was completed in this year to expand the fabric welding department, since the first welding machine was received in 1941, seven more have been added. Modernization has progressed vigorously since 1941; the company having invested more than $10 million dollars in new buildings and equipment through 1967 is the largest supplier of light grades of Welded Mesh.

By 1974 the company has grown to include wire plants in Blue Island, Ill., Toccoa, Ga., and Dunbar, Va., and wood fencing plants in Scotland Neck, NC., and Carney, Mich. Around this time John H. Mulliken's son Alfred was appointed President. Alfred who had been more involved in the Blue Island plant than the Georgetown plant would serve a short tenor as President. In 1975, union labor strikes caused violent encounters between union workers and "scab" workers in Georgetown. The company had begun to step away from its tradition as owners and employees were no longer "on the same page".

Note: Alfred's presidency and company information from 1974 into the 1980's is still being researched. At the time of this writing I have not had access to documentation on this time period. Bertil Rosendahl, an employee of G&B for 43 years, has been a great help in providing information to me and it is my intention to further research this era in the near future. James M. Knott, Sr. noted that in 1978, the President of G&B was Caleb Taft. I will post an updated history on the web site as soon as it becomes available.

The business side of the company began to step away from its tradition as the company entered the 1980's. They were purchased in 1985 by JGH Acquisisions. Paul Goslin was the "G" in JGH. There was "Kuwaiti" money involved although the details are fuzzy, it does seem that they were pretty involved financially though. The company was split into two companies- Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co. and Gilbert & Bennett Limited Partnership.

Note: The new venture was said to be financed with Kuwaiti money in an article by Susan Elan of the Fairfield County Advocate in 1990. Also, James M. Knott noted in an email to me: "...Six years later(1984), having far outsold G&B in the lobster industry, I attempted a hostile takeover of G&B. Fortunately, I was outbid by the Kuwait people." (Again I will need to review more information on the sale of 1985 to confirm this).

In 1986, odor and emissions problems caused by the wire-coating operation shutdown the plant for more than two months. Local residents had been complaining of nausea, headaches, and nose, throat and eye irritation.

In 1987, the Gilbert and Bennett buildings are added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Georgetown Historic District contains 144 buildings and sites, and the G&B factory as well as homes, schools and churches are included in the district. In this same year the company spends over $200,000 on an after-burner system to correct the odor and emission problems of 1986.

The company announces plans to move out of Georgetown in the near future. Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company in January of 1988 announces plans to convert its 51-acre wire mill property into a village of homes, shops and offices. Reaction to the redevelopment plan by the local community is reserved but generally favorable, with many favoring the proposed elderly and affordable housing and some concerned about the impact of the development and the increased traffic.

In 1989, the company announces all manufacturing operations will be transferred to Toccoa and other plants citing an increasing financial burden as the reason for ending 171 years of G&B in Georgetown. Georgetown will remain as the company's headquarters for administrative and sales operations. In May, the company began to lay off the 150 employees at the Georgetown plant in stages according to production. The layoffs and gradual transportation of equipment would continue for two months with the last employee let go on August 1st.

In July, the EPA fined the company $587,114 for alleged violations of hazardous waste management laws, EPA Regional Administrator Julia Belaga called the fine one of the largest administrative penalties assessed to date in New England for violation of hazardous waste management laws. The EPA's complaint alleged that the company stored and disposed of hazardous waste without the required federal permit.

Georgetown, Connecticut: G&B Factory to the left, waste fields to the right.

The investors sold the plant and property in Georgetown to the G&B Limited partnership in 1989.

The town is star struck as Gilbert and Bennett's wire mill was used in November of 1990 for the filming of some scenes for the Hollywood movie Other People's Money, starring Danny DeVito and Gregory Peck. Many residents line up outside the factory for a chance to be an "extra" in the movie.

Problems that would lead to the company's bankruptcy started in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 Iraq destroyed all of the Kuwaiti's documents including the G&B deed and mortage info, and all money was frozen- the investors were broke!

On November 5, 1998 the company now operating out of Toccoa, Georgia, officially received Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As a result of the bankruptcy retired employees, many having served over 40 years with the company, are informed the company has terminated its self-insured medical insurance plan. The battle over these insurance policies still continues today (April 2003).

The End: I'm often asked: Why did Gilbert and Bennett leave Georgetown? The best way I can put it is that the nature of business in America changed in the 1970's and 80's. With Merger and Acquisitions becoming very popular across the country in this time period, the focus of businesses owners switched from employees and innovative products to profits and losses. Wire manufacturing was a high volume, low profit business. Just to give you an idea of what I mean by that- in 1955 the company produced 2.6 million miles of wire and only turned a profit of $250,000. Wire manufacturing was competitive too. Before 1955, 35% of the company's business came from foreign markets, by 1960 no business came from foreign markets. G&B was once known for it's loyalty to its employees which cultivated a long history of loyal employees, 35 to 50 years of service was the norm, however, with operations in 5 different locations, and new management that no longer lived and prayed next to its employees...they were simply debits on a spreadsheet. They took a hard look at each location and decided that Georgetown was a financial burden. Pollution at the Georgetown plant was a huge problem and I'm sure the wages were much higher than the other plants.

Today, the factory redevelopment plan is underway, North Main St. is now closed and factory buildings of little-to-no historic significance being removed. The new Gilbert-Miller Park was dedicated on June 11, 2006 for all to enjoy now and in the future. By compiling this history it is my hope that others will better understand what Gilbert & Bennett meant to the community of Georgetown and join the fight to save it. By embracing the redevelopment project, we all will be able to enjoy the buildings that remain and allow the history of this great company to live on. The historic significance of Georgetown and Gilbert & Bennett is far too rich to let these properties melt into the landscape.

The Road to Bankruptcy:

Problems that would begin the company's march to bankruptcy started in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. According to legend a group of Kuwaiti investors held a large financial interest in the Manufacturing Company at this time period. When Iraq invaded Kuwait they destroyed all of the Kuwaiti's documents including the G&B deed and mortgage information. Bank accounts were also frozen- the Kuwaiti investors were broke!

Gilbert and Bennett was in dire straits by 1992 and needing a means of generating more revenue they decided to focus on their steel fencing operations. Gilbert and Bennett had entered the steel fencing market in the late 1960s, by purchasing Utility Products which was a major lawn and garden wire fence producer at the time.

[Note: Utility Products produced the first lawn and garden steel fence post in 1955. A company named Steel City began producing similar lawn and garden steel fence posts in 1959, and became their main competition.]

Gilbert & Bennett grew the lawn and garden fence post markets from a regional to a national business by persuading hardware wholesalers who sold lightweight fencing for play yards, dog runs and small animal/garden protection to supply lightweight lawn and garden steel fence posts to their regional retailers as well. The first orders were minimal, but gradual acceptance continued for several years.

As lightweight lawn and garden wire fencing gained wider acceptance, so did lawn and garden steel fence posts.

Steel City, once Utility Products competition, had remained in the picture and continued to gain market share on Gilbert and Bennett. By 1985, Steel City sales of lawn and garden steel fence posts had grown to $3.8 million. The consumer found their lightweight lawn and garden steel fence posts with easy-to-bend holding clips simple to use, and it became the preferred post of the residential customer. The homeowner clearly preferred the user friendly lawn and garden steel fence posts.

[Note: This is some of what I've found on how China took over the G&B wire markets. Initially I was told that Home Depot was responsible for G&B's downfall by taking G&B's specs to China but...now I know G&B was experimenting with producing wire in China as early as 1992. View photos of G&B in China. I'm still digging for further information.]

In 1992, Gilbert & Bennett, decided to take some lawn and garden fencing and fence post tooling machines to China. Their hope was to undercut Steel City's growing market and increase their own profit margins. The equipment Gilbert & Bennett brought to China was located in Huang-Hua City, in the Hebei province.

The equipment was sent without controllers so the burners either ran cold or burning hot...no happy medium, which lead to the delivery and quality problems the would experience for 2 years. Despite the long hours and frustrating delays, the Chinese workers were very excited and happy to be working with the American equipment and American workers.

After 2 years of problems, Gilbert & Bennett then tried to recall their tooling, only to be rebuffed. The Chinese then became a formidable competitor, taking major accounts from Gilbert & Bennett and Steel City. Their decision to undercut the competition by producing materials in China proved to be a disastrous mistake. Gilbert & Bennett, a $60 million company, was forced into bankruptcy.

On November 5, 1998 the company now operating out of Toccoa, Georgia, officially received Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As a result of the bankruptcy retired employees, many having served over 40 years with the company, are informed the company has terminated its self-insured medical insurance plan. The battle over these insurance policies still continues today.

In the liquidation sale of the company, Gilbert & Bennett looms and other machinery were purchased and sent to China- ouch!

[Note: According to Steel City statements, they first started seeing the Chinese lawn and garden steel fence posts in the U.S. market around 1992 or 1993. The Chinese import volumes increased as their prices decreased. Today, companies like Steel City are facing financial ruin and the end of their lawn and garden steel fence post production.]

On January 12, 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated a preliminary assessment/site investigation, which included sampling of the lagoons, waste piles, and surface soils. During this investigation, EPA documented the presence of high levels of lead and zinc contamination throughout the site.

The Gilbert and Bennett Company transferred it's Great Pond rights to the Town of Ridgefield in 1999 for the whopping fee of $1 in the great Gilbert and Bennett family tradition of giving back to the community. Great Pond reportedly holds 200 million gallons of some of the purest lake water in Connecticut. Its total watershed is about 175 acres and it measures 41.2 feet at its deepest point. The estimated purchase price of the property was $300,000. Development rights were valued at $110,000.

Between 9/22/00 and 9/19/01 nearly 3,000 cubic yards of sludge were excavated from within the lagoons and then stabilized with limekiln dust to reduce leaching of lead to groundwater. Approximately 10,000 cubic yards of aboveground soils and sludge also contained elevated levels of lead, but did not require stabilization. All stabilized material was then graded and an interim earthen cap was constructed to prevent direct human contact with contaminated soils and further reduce negative impact to groundwater. The town of Redding has committed to mowing the cap at least once per year.

Today, the factory redevelopment plan is underway, North Main St. is now closed and factory buildings of little-to-no historic significance are being removed. The new Gilbert-Miller Park was dedicated on June 11, 2006 for all to enjoy now and in the future. By compiling this history it is my hope that others will better understand what Gilbert & Bennett meant to the community of Georgetown and join the fight to keep its history alive. By embracing the redevelopment project, we all will be able to enjoy the buildings that remain and allow the history of this great company and the community it developed to live on.

View this history in pictures.

The History of Schools in Georgetown

The first school the children of the early settlers 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 stood in what is now Redding Glen. Which is roughly near the intersection of Route 53 and Route 107, where the Roadhouse is today. 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. It was a small log structure with rude seats made of slabs and a stone fireplace. The district comprised what is now Diamond Hill, the Boston District and that part of George-town in the town of Redding. The other schools in Redding at this time were called the Lonetown(Redding Center) and the Ridge(East Redding) district schools.

In 1767 the town of Redding was organized and in 1768 was divided into school districts. Boston District No. 5 served the children from the section now known as Georgetown in Redding. The schoolhouse was located on Route 107, between Umpawaug Road and Little Boston Road. It was for many years a famous school. Elias Bennett, later known as Post 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.

In the 1850's a second schoolhouse was built on or near the site of the first schoolhouse. It was a great improvement on the first school, where the seats had no backs, a wide board fastened to the wall on three sides of the room formed the desks, and an open fireplace to heated the room in winter. The new school was equip with desks, 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 Wilbur F. Thompson, the historian, was a pupil in the Boston school and noted: 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.

Following are the names of the teachers in the Boston District 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.

In 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 - Eddie 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.

The ancestors of many who have lived in Georgetown attended school here, as it was the nearest one in the neighborhood. The sale of the Boston district schoolhouse to M. Connery of Georgetown formed the closing chapter in the history of a school that had had an existence of over 150 years. On December 6, 1920 this property was sold to Michael Connery and on March 15, 1921, he sold it to James Driscoll, who used the site to build a home. Parts of the old schoolhouse were used in the construction of the garage.

The first school built in The Village of 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 here.

A second schoolhouse, School House No. 2, was built in 1818 and 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 which was 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.

The third schoolhouse, School House No. 3, stood in the hollow in back of Wilkie Batterson's blacksmith shop on the road to Nod, which today it is the area at the junction of Routes 7 and 107. 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.

A new site was purchased 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, later owned by William Lockwood *(now the Pfhal house) and is part of the house today. The new school house, 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 for desks.

Among the teachers who taught in School House No. 4 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 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.

The School House No. 4 was enlarged many times to accommodate the growing school population. Many persons of years past had pleasant memories of the old school house, surrounded by its fine grove of trees. And many friendships that began there lasted through the long years that passed since they were boys and girls attending school. But the old school house on the hill outlived its day and generation, and School House No. 5 was built by Gilbert and Bennett to take its place in 1915.

The Gilbert and Bennett School, was built through the generosity of the factory owners, was a model school for the community. It contained eight separate classrooms, an auditorium, kitchen, and cafeteria, a principal's office and rooms equipped for manual training and domestic science. Built on one level for safety reasons, each room had its own exit door. There were neat inside bathrooms and a spacious playground.

*Employees also have to be credited for agreeing to postpone wage increases and bonuses to help finance the school.

The fine up-to-date building was a model for every school building committee to follow, and was a fitting memorial to those who had the best interests of Georgetown at heart. And there again, after a lapse of 100 years, the children of Georgetown and Boston districts attended the same school as Georgetown residents who did not live in the Wilton section could apply for and be granted permission to attend.

As the children came from three different towns, administration posed a problem until the General Assembly in 1919 created School District 10 to embrace parts of Weston, Wilton and Redding.

Miss Ina E. Driscoll came as its teaching principal in 1926 and remained for 31 years (she taught Math). Enrollment ran about 250 pupils. Several residents today fondly remem-ber their schooldays and the kindness of Miss Driscoll whose caring influence extended into their very homes. 1,000 people attended her retirement party in 1957.

She became known as the "Mayor of Georgetown" to adults in the community during the depression helping families with food, shelter, clothing all confidencially. She was known as "Old Hawkeye" to the students. A portrait of her by long time resident Roland Mattson hung in the Auditorium, so "Old Hawkeye" kept watch over the students even after her retirement.

In 1927 there were 116 Redding children at the school, total enrollment from 3 towns was 300.. The other 3 schools in Redding totaled only 100. Girls out numbered the boys in Gtown at that time with 68 girls and 48 boys.

By 1936 enrollment was down to 149.

School was at times referred to as having a "chicken wire curriculum" for it's affilliation with G&B. Instead of paying for participation in the National PTA association they used the money they saved to purchase a motion picture camera to film students and events.

One longstanding school custom required that each girl in the graduating class design and sew her graduation dress. This white dress would later be worn at confirmation time.

Another tradition was the annual Swedish smorgasbord of home-cooked foods, a fund-raising affair to provide special extras for the school.

1958 was the first year without a graduation class. Because there were only 6 grades with the completion of Redding Elementery.

Because of the nearby railroad station, most of the "G&B" graduates went on to further education at Norwalk High School, or to trade and technical courses in Danbury.

The low building with its Spanish tile roof and pretty playground was later sold to the Landmark Academy, a private school.

In the 1960's this school was operated by the Wilton School Board, school district number 10 was discontinued in 1964.

A trust fund established in 1906 by Edwin Gilbert, son of the mill founder, has now been re-activated to benefit children who reside in the former School District 10.

The Connecticut Agricultural College owned a farm in Georgetown?

'Connecticut Agricultural College: A History' by Walter Stemmons (1931) mentions Edwin Gilbert's donation to the college on page 120:

"The first important bequest to come to the institution was contained in the will of Edwin Gilbert of Georgetown. The following, from the New Haven Register of May 6, 1906, under a Storrs dateline, is representative of the first reports of this gift:

Edwin Gilbert of Georgetown, this state, who died in Crescent City, Florida, February 28, had been much interested in the work of the Connecticut Agricultural College, (Now UCONN) and under the terms of his will the college will receive a bequest of $60,000.00 besides Mr. Gilbert's large farm with its stock and buildings."

*The above information was compiled and forwarded by Ms. Betsy Pittman of the Thomas Dodd Research Center. The $60,000.00 was actually 1,200 shares of G&B Capital Stock worth $60,000.00. The college could only use the dividends of these shares... they could not sell the stock.

The Full History of the Gilbert Farm. Revised by Brent M. Colley 2005
*The information below was revised with the help of an rare copy of The Connecticut Farmer from 1910 which was forwarded by Mr. Paul Scribner of Georgetown...I can't thank him enough.

In 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 stood. The location of the Aaron Osborn house was across the street from the present driveway of the Meadow Ridge Facility which would make the house that Isaac built the first documented building on this tract of land.

A complete and verifiable list of property owners from 1724 to 1800 is not available but it is known that Thaddeus Perry settled in this area and by way of marriage Elias Bennett (he married Mary, the daughter of Thaddeus Perry), received land on this ridge in the early 1800's thanks to the writings of his descendant Wilbur F. Thompson. Sturges Bennett, Eli's son, inherited the land (now known as Goodsell's Hill) and employed Ezra Brown to work his farm there. It was originally thought that Edwin Gilbert received the farm from Bennett when Sturges passed away in 1876 (the reason being Bennett was a brother-in-law and partner at G&B). However, recent discoveries have uncovered the truth. The Gilbert Farm was actually three farms Edwin Gilbert purchased between 1894 & 1895. In addition to the Bennett farm of 90 acres which Gilbert purchased from Edward Schultz, two other adjoining farms were also purchased: Hog Ridge Farm (50 acres) and John Hohman's Farm (216 acres). The three farms along with additional property acquired later were consolidated in 1903 to total the 365 acres willed to the Connecticut Agricultural College in 1906.

The story of how Gilbert Farm came to be

At the age of 80 when he had relinquished some of the active duties of his successful business, and had more time to read and think, he became interested in Connecticut agriculture. He thought about the agricultural conditions of his boyhood days, when the hills of Weston and Redding were covered with cattle growing into beef. Connecticut had grow into a manufacturing state, and the population to be fed had multiplied many times over. Yet the Connecticut farmer did not prosper, instead he purchased his beef like everyone else - from the butcher. Beef was shipped to Connecticut thousands of miles from the west by railroad. With western farmers complaining freight costs were higher than what they received for their beef and Connecticut farmers complaining about the high cost of beef. Gilbert found this to be all wrong. "Hundreds and hundreds of acres of good grazing land lying idle in Connecticut and we are paying the railroad companies for the meat we eat. Why not use these pastures, raise grass and corn on these hills and produce the best beef at the market's door?"

He corresponded with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the experiment stations, studied their reports and decided 'I will do it. I will show the farmers of southwestern Connecticut how to raise beef as good as can be bought in any market.' He bought three cheap farms on Hog Ridge, built barns that would accommodate one hundred head of cattle, and two large silos. He started a herd of Hereford cattle and encouraged a force of 30 men to improve the farm. Arthur J. Pierpont visited him in 1895 and Gilbert remarked: "Mr. Pierpont, there's lots of money in farming, but so far, I have found that it has been all on the left-hand side of the ledger."

Edwin Gilbert became very enthusiastic over is cattle, swine and crops. Having learned of the Connecticut Agricultural College he sent for the president and trustees to visit him. He realized that he was an old man that had undertaken a grand project and was anxious to ensure the work he had started would continue after his death, he asked the trustees if they would accept his farm, with stock and tools, and maintain it as a practical farm to help the local farmers.

The trustees replied that they were interested in agricultural education and would do the best they could with whatever was placed in their hands, but could not divide the Storrs institution or teaching force, nor use state or government funds at Gilbert's Farm seeing those funds were appropriated for use at Storrs.

When Edwin Gilbert passed away in February 1906, The Gilbert Farm and property was willed to the Connecticut Agricultural College (The Connecticut Agriculture College would later become UCONN). Under the terms of his will the college received 1,200 shares of G&B Stock in addition to Mr. Gilbert's large 365 acre farm with all its *stock and buildings. *There were about 70 head of cattle, 40 pigs and five caretakers.

The Gilbert Will provided that the property could not be sold but must be maintained as a farm for instruction in practical agriculture...The company stock was off limits too: ".... I do further give to said college 1200 shares of the capital stock of The Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Co. Said stock not to be sold and the income (stock dividends) thereof devoted to the care of the real estate herein devised, and instruction in the science of farming as taught by said college, and especially the raising of and caring for livestock."

A committee of trustees composed of G.S. Palmer, L.J. Storrs and A. J. Pierpont undertook to organize the farm along the lines contemplated by Mr. Gilbert. According to Arthur J. Pierpont this was not a decision made overnight:

"...There was great consternation among the trustees. Can we legally accept the gift? Just what did Mr. Gilbert intend us to do? Are we to run an agricultural school here under the direction of the agricultural college at Storrs? Are we able to carry out Mr. Gilbert's desire? Will we not make a failure of it and be severely criticized for having accepted it? Situated diagonally across the state from the college how can it be under the same management? In traveling from one place to the other, one must pass through six counties, out of the eight in the state. The trustees held meeting after meeting debating what to do, but some stuck to the fact that it was given to us in good faith and the only thing that we could do was to accept it and do our best to carry out Mr. Gilbert's will as we understood it. Therefore the gift was formally accepted April 23, 1906 to be maintained as a farm and department of the Connecticut Agricultural College."

Mr. Pierpont explains the difficulties they experienced early on, the progress made and the plans for the future of the farm in a Connecticut Dairymen's Association field meeting speech at the farm on September 2, 1910:

"There were about 70 head of cattle, 40 pigs and five caretakers, without a bit of hay or grain, not any income from the farm and not a dollar did the college have that could be used here. That was the first proposition we had to face. Here was a state farm, that the papers had portrayed as a model farm, neighbors expecting to see an agricultural school loom up, watching our teams, cattle and crops, criticizing every movement as "the way the agricultural college does things." College authorities were supposed to be superhuman, infallible, running a state farm for demonstration purposes yet as poverty stricken as any young farmer ever started in business."

"We began selling off pigs, steers, oxen, cows, a few at a time so as to pay the men, and feed the remaining animals, and as the income thus received was used up, we had to let the men go one at a time until only the foreman remained...then he resigned." Whenever we bought , the price was held high because the state was rich. Whenever we had to sell the price offered was low, because it was the state and could afford to sell cheap."

"After disposing of everything but the registered Herefords and the cows that looked like good milkers, we borrowed a separator and began selling cream to Mr. Hawxhurst in Norwalk, thinking of all of the improvements we could make from the profits on the cream. It reached him sour a few times and he decided he did not like College Cream, and when he hears of the Connecticut Agricultural College today, I presume it suggests to him sour cream."

"We were living in anticipation of the August dividend we were to receive. It came. The administrators took part to reimburse them for the expense of maintaining the farm from Mr. Gilbert's death until accepted by the trustees, and the state treasurer took most of the rest as an inheritance tax. Of the 20 prize steers, which Mr. Gilbert had purchased the fall before, at $50.00 a piece, fed and cared for all winter, we sold for $50.00 a piece in the Spring, eight were found badly affected with tuberculosis, so we had our whole herd tested and 15 more responded. We have tested twice a year since and now have a clean herd that we are proud of. After the test we had cows enough to produce about 20 quarts of milk daily."

"It was reported that the people of Georgetown were bothered to get enough milk, so Mr. A.B. Clark, a graduate of the college who lived here by himself one winter, and was farm superintendent, dairyman, herdsman, cook, and all the other titles, and I, started out and canvassed the town, asking every housekeeper if she was getting milk enough. Some gave us the cold shoulder, some said they would want an extra quart on Thanksgiving Day, and a few families that other milkmen for reasons other than their own did not furnish were glad of a chance to trade with us. The following morning Mr. Clark started out with a mule and an antique sidebar wagon and sold twelve quarts. We were very careful the first day not to ask anyone to trade with us if they were being supplied elsewhere, and from that day to this we have never solicited a customer, and have not lost four dollars in milk bills in four years. With the rapid growth in the population of Georgetown, they now demand of us nearly 200 quarts a day. The rest is shipped to a nearby city where it finds a market at 12 cents a quart."

"A petition was sent to legislature by jealous milkmen and their friends, to prohibit us from selling milk, but the consumers in Georgetown, having children depending on pure milk, sent in such a strong counter petition that the original petition was never presented."

Brighter days dawned

"After a year and a half of this struggling, worrying, begging, scraping along without friends or funds, meeting one discouragement after another, brighter days dawned. We received the second dividend from our stock and the state finding us still existing, returned the inheritance tax, and we were able to draw a long breath, pay up our debts, and dream of putting the farm in such shape that we would cease to be ridiculed by the neighbors and to have to apologize for everything we had, and everything we did. We could make a start towards fixing things so there would be a little income, with a view to making the place self-supporting."

"Our greatest annoyance was procuring water for the stock. We had three sources: the bucket that hung on a rickety curb over the well at the house, carrying in a pail from a spring below the barn or pumping by hand from the pond. That pump would require 24 hours running to supply the water we use at the present. A little money and work gave us a never failing supply of the best of spring water flowing through the house, barn, and dairy, and the wind does all the work and we have all the wind left that we need for other purposes."

"We purchased a few good dairy cows, raised a registered bull calf from the college herd, have saved our best calves and grown up the present herd."

"Mr. L.C. Root (milk inspector from Stamford) objected to our keeping pigs under the cows so we cleaned up the pig pens and used them for sanitary milk rooms. You will notice in all of our improvements the absence of show, we have endeavored to do things right, with as little labor and expense as possible."

"The Gilbert Farm at Georgetown, Connecticut is a department of The Connecticut Agricultural College of Storrs, Connecticut. We wish to make this farm a practical farm; a place to demonstrate the science of agriculture as taught by the various departments of the Connecticut Agricultural College; an exponent of new agricultural truths, learned at the experiment stations and taught by the agricultural colleges; a place where new up-to-date methods advised by the stations, where trained scientists are constantly studying to help the farmers, may be tried out and reduced to practical working methods. I am not telling you what the farm is, but what we hope to make it. A place where the farmers in this corner of the state, which is a considerable distance from the college or either of the experiment stations, can bring milk to be tested for fat, bacteria, acid, puss, ptomaine, etc... Learn about separators, feeding formulas, tuberculin tests, common ailments of stock, seeding mixtures, fertilizer mixtures, spraying methods and effects, sheep industry, forestry treatment of pasture lands, etc..."

"The college at Storrs has trained experts teaching nearly every branch of agriculture that is useful in Connecticut. We wish to build up this farm not according to my ideas or those of Superintendent Cook's or those of any other one or two men but by the ideas and advise of the various professors at Storrs. Prof. Garrigus selected and purchased the sheep; Profs. Beach and Trueman have advised in remodeling the stable and dairy plant; Profs. Stocking and Esten gave us the secret of producing clean milk, which milk has brought renown to Gilbert Farm at three milk exhibits of the Dairymen's association held at Hartford. Last winter it was the only milk exhibited scoring 98, and the two previous years had far less bacteria than any other exhibit. Dr. Lehnert testing the herd and showing us how to eradicate tuberculosis. Prof. Wheeler surveyed the farm and laid out the ice pond and road."

"We do not intend to enlarge the dairy plant further. We developed that first, because the farm was nearer ready for dairying than for any other branch of farming, and we hoped by that means to bring about some income. This year (1910) we are building a road to the village that will not exceed a 6 and a half percent grade, so as to make the farm more accessible, and a shed for wagons and tools. Then if we continue to receive dividends from our stock we will be ready to take up beef, pork, poultry, orcharding, forestry, etc... under the direction of the various departments of the agricultural college."

"Of how great value this farm becomes to the agricultural interests of Fairfield County depends entirely on how much you demand of it and how much you demand of it and how much you avail yourselves of its resources. Mr. Gilbert gave liberally. The custodians of the funds he left have caused them to bear much fruit. The college authorities are anxious and willing to do all in their power to help. The farm is now self-supporting, and whatever dividend we receive will be devoted to permanent improvements and endeavors to help the agriculture of the state, especially this community. Making money is not the object of this farm, but we wish to do things right. Visit us often, criticize us freely, listen to our explanations before condemning us. You may learn more from our failures than our successes, and let us pull together for the promotion of agriculture, and be proud of our calling."

"The management of the Gilbert Farm, has arranged for a series of meetings. These will be held on the first Friday of each month at the farm and will be a continuous object lesson of the possibility and practicability of the appliance of up-to-date, progressive methods and equipment. At each meeting one of the professors from the Agricultural College will be present to talk on his specialty, and to demonstrate what has been done in that specialty at the farm. The next meeting will be held on Friday, December 1, and H.L. Garrigus of the college will talk on horses and sheep. A representative of the DuPont Powder Company will also give a demonstration in the use of dynamite on the farm in removing rocks and stumps, digging ditches and sub-soiling.

- Arthur J. Pierpont of Waterbury on September 2, 1910.

Pierpont was one of the leading Dairymen in the state of Connecticut and trustee of the Agricultural College.

[*It is believed that the farm was in operation by the Agricultural college up until 1916.

It's noted that: "The college continued to operate the farm under the terms of Mr. Gilbert's Will but the farm school idea was abandoned at the outbreak of the war and was never revived. Unfortunately the approaching war turned attention to other channels."

It has also been noted: "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 in the 1920's to dissolve the trust."

In all honesty the truth at this point is not known. Further information on the farm's abandonment by the Connecticut Agricultural College will be posted should it ever surface.]

Bigalo and Robie pick up the torch

Following the farm's abandonment by the school, Edward Bigalo worked the farm until 1925, it was in that year Wesley Robie of Wilridge Road, revived the farm and sold dairy products to local residents. "I did most everything, milking, feeding, and various other things," said Mr. Robie, and he was usually up at 4:30 in the morning. He ran the farm until 1946.

Raynor Moves in... Lindbergh Flies in?

The land was sold in 1946 to Wetz & Zerweck Corporation of New York, who later agreed to rent the farmhouse to Harold Raynor. Mr. Raynor first saw his house from the air in 1948. He thought "It was a terrific place to land his small plane." As an aerial photographer, he used the meadow as an airfield and his home for his business of photogrammetry, the skill of applying measurements to photography. Occasionally, small planes would land in Mr. Raynor's field, in an emergency or simply his pilot friends dropping in for a visit. He claimed that on May 9, 1962 Charles Lindbergh landed there because of a mechanical problem. [*This "legend" now has an answer thanks to the research of Grady Jensen...he actually landed on Picketts Ridge in West Redding.]

The total area of the property was 255 acres, 87 in Weston and 168 in Redding. In 1967, 125 acres of the Redding land were zoned for industry.

The Commercial Landowners Take Over

The next land transfer was in 1973 from Welt & Zerweck to the Las Olas North Company whose principal partner was John R. Bartlett, who was the developer of the adjacent Fairview Farms. Barwil, Ltd. Was added to the list of owners in 1974.

Dimes, Edwin K. Trustee of Westport bought the property in 1978 . The property was transferred to Georgetown Properties in 1982 for the construction of Glendinning's corporate headquarters and development of five other lots for corporations to rent. Georgetown Properites had broken ground in 1980 so they were likely affiliated with the Trust company in some capacity. Mr. Raynor continued to live at his home despite the construction on the property and was there until the 1980's.

In 1984 Perkin Elmer Corp. bought the property for the construction of its headquarters and we all know who the current land owners are ...Meadow Ridge has a beautiful facility on the farm land today.

Pictures of the Farm are here.

Post Offices of Georgetown

Four-hundred Georgetown residents in May, 1984 signed a petition protesting the realignment of mail service in the area. The Postal Service had announced that it would close the Georgetown Post Office and Georgetowners would receive mail service from post offices in the municipalities in which they lived. Eventually, the Postal Service went for another idea: build a new Georgetown Post Office and offer post office box service.

This is the 5th location of the Post Office in Georgetown: Boston Corners (1810), Old Mill Rd.(1852), North Main St.(1920), Old Mill Rd.(1957), Portland Ave.(1984)

Postmasters from 1810 to 1844 at Boston Corners (Umpawaug Rd./Peaceable St./Rt. 107):

William Comstock December 29, 1810
Thomas B. Fanton June 20, 1818
William Comstock May 12, 1821
Joseph Darling August 1, 1823 to May 30, 1844 (Darling's Tavern)

1976 was the first scare for Georgetown Residents regarding their mail service. The Post Office Department did a survey out of their Stamford office asking about potential changes such as closing the Georgetown Post Office. The result was NO! All of the people in Redding did not want to see Post Office changes, they wanted their own post offices to stay the same, but they all wanted to see Post Office changes "somewhere else". *Not in my backyard is nothing new.

Prior to an official Post Office, Redding and Georgetown were serviced by Post Riders. Post Riders were real rural deliverymen, performing all the services of today's post offices and then some on horseback! Turney Foote was the oldest known Post Rider currently on record, his route was purchased by Elias Bennett (Sturges Bennett's Father. Sturges was the Bennett in Gilbert and Bennett). Elias Bennett was born on Christmas Day 1778, which happens to be the same year General Putnam's troops wintered in Redding. Elias taught at the Little Boston School from 1800 to 1812 and married a Perry girl prior to obtaining Turney Foote's route. He served as the post rider for 33 years, retiring in 1845. He made weekly trip to Bridgeport as the Bridgeport Farmer was the most popular paper of his customers (400 of 800 customers subscribing to it). Many have asked about the History of Redding logo: who is the man on the horse? is the common question, Elias Bennett is the answer. Post riders were amazing individuals, imagine picking up, sorting and delivering mail, newspapers and many other things to 800 homes, in multiple towns, on horseback, in rain, in snow, in hot, in cold, in all sorts of weather...not to mention keeping track of it all once you got home!!

Markets and Businesses

Connery's Store, Michael Connery purchased business from G&B in 1882 for $240...he wanted a $25 raise from G&B to run the store (it was originally the company store for G&B employees) but when his request was tunred down he opted to purchased the store. Harold Connery took over for his father and ran the store until 1967 when he sold it to Ed Conklin and Erwin Samuelson. Ed and Erwin remained owners until 1973. It housed several businesses until the present time, including Sloper Real Estate, and now is back in the hands of the Connery Family as Curves for Women.

This building location has much significance to Georgetown's history in that it is the location of Gilbert and Bennett's Old Red Shop, the first building G&B would operate out of as a business partnership. The original Old Red Shop building was torn down by Sturges Bennett in 1869.

Perry's Meat/Fish Market, Nathan Perry, Walter Perry, Axel Carlson, owners over course of its history; Clinton Bennett worked there. The building is still on Main St. just altered so that the doors and windows that used to be on the end of the building facing Main Street are now on the side of the building facing Rt. 57/Old Mill Rd. Currently it the Redding Pilot office which does not appear to be original Perry's Market building given the dimensions of the building currently, this building, however, does match the building that was in use as Perry's Market in the 1950's. Fish came in on Thursdays and if it hadn't sold by Saturday night it was taken out to the community and given to the less-fortunate.

Kearn's Store, Herbert Kearns, known as "Bert". Store established approx. 1906. The Store had a make shift Barbershop on the 2nd floor run by Charlie Samuelson on Saturdays and holidays…mostly Swedish clients. Kearn's was a classic country store where you could get just about anything.

The first location was up by the Post Office today, then it moved down to current Rt. 107 path, in mid-1955 building was moved 30' to 40' (location of veterinarians office) to make way for Rt. 107 construction. Kearn's was nearly bankrupted by the flood of '55. Bert died soon after of heart failure and his wife and son continued to run the store.

Back when Bert was a bachelor he drove a Stutz Bear-Cat which was a hot rod car of the era. Herbert Kearns was adopted by Smith family of Brookside Rd. which explains how he moved from 2nd house in from Rt. 107 at #23 Brookside to #9 Brookside, the former residence of the Smith family...it also explains the first location of his store at the corner of Portland and Brookside.

Sabilia's Groceries, Fruits & Vegetables, Ice Cream & Candy, Joe Sabilia and "Mamma Joe", the Peanut Lady, proprietors. Joe ran the fruits and vegetables, Ice Cream and Candy store and Mamma Joe used old orange crates to roast peanuts over. She roasted them right on the side of the road. Then she put them in small paper bags and walked (sometimes rode on horseback) the roads of Branchville, Georgetown, Redding selling them. She followed different routes selling these snacks. She was, as it were, the walking forerunner to the Good Humor Truck, given her popularity with the children and the distances she traveled…as far as Ridgefield, Wilton and Redding Ridge. The peanut business was profitable and about once a week she would travel to the savings bank to make a deposit. Like many women of that period, especially Italians, she wore about 6 layers of skirts with pockets in each. In the bank she pulled up about 4 layers of skirts, found the money and savings booklet, made the deposit and then buried the booklet back in her layers. Sabillia's also ran a Liquor Store which they sold to Dan Levkoff in 1959 (currently Georgetown Liquors, Joe Levkoff, proprietor).

Georgetown Market. The Georgetown Market was established in 1922 by Guiseppe Bonsignore. Guiseppe Bonsignore arrived here from Sicily in 1905, young and eager for the American way of life. With him was his wife, Guiseppina, and his infant son, Nino, the first of their five children. Lived on Peaceable St. worked a laborer/caretaker early on. *Sicily was where Ancona's and Caraluzzi's came from too.

In their store, Guiseppe and Guiseppina sold everything. Aside from the usual drygoods and foodstuffs, they dealt also in pots and pans, hardware, clothing, and boots. As soon as they were big enough to see over the counters, their sons: Jap and Mondo were helping at the store. This early exposure to marketing gave the boys practical knowledge and some vivid memories.

Jap laughingly recalled the widely varied array of merchandise in the tiny store: "Big stacks of kettles set around oil cans on the floor. It wasn't unusual for my father to stick a stiff pair of rolled overalls in a bag along with potatoes. Or a fur cap in with the onions."

In 1928, the store moved to its Main St. location. Jap and Mondo took over the business after their father's retirement in 1939. Under their friendly proprietorship, the market has continued to grow and prosper. They later enlarged to include the adjacent G&B Liquor Store (now Lombardi's Pizza, though the original Liquor store was where the Ice Cream Shop is today).

Jap was tall, dark-haired, and always pleasant. In his own quiet way, he was a human dynamo, and seemed to thrive on hard work, The busier he was, the happier he appeared.

Like Jap, Mondo was tall and dark, but of stockier figure and more outgoing in nature. His animated personality pervaded the store, as did his booming voice. A conversation with Mondo was half the fun of a visit to the market.

Flood Stories: The most serious setback the market ever experienced was the flood in October of 1955. The Bonsignores lost everything, quite literally. Not only were all the foods spoiled through submersion, but all the machinery, such as refrigerators and meat grinders, were ruined beyond repair (water was eight inches from the ceiling of the store). The final blow was discovered the next day. Inadvertently, all the week's receipts had been left in the store, and were carried away on the flood tide.

But the Bonsignores proved themselves heroes that storm stricken night. Jap received a call late at night, telling him that the flood was rising and he'd better get down to the market immediately. *Mondo lived on Highland Ave at the time and was likely more aware of the situation. He waded down Route 53 and met Mondo at the store. At that point, the floor of the market was under water.

A young family (Hansons) lived in the apartment above the store. Realizing that they would need help in getting out, Jap and Mondo made their wet way over to the Georgetown Fire Department to get a rowboat. Forty minutes later (currents were so strong it took 40 minutes to cross Rt. 107!!! Think about how short a distance it is from the Firehouse to the Market), when they arrived back in the boat, the water was eight inches from the ceiling of the store.

With the boat, they were able to rescue the stranded father, mother, little boy, and six-week-old infant from the upstairs apartment. Mondo spent the remainder of the wild wet night sleeping on a billiard table in Georgetown. Jap rowed home, up Redding Road. He found his wife, exhausted with worry and waiting, sitting holt up right, fast asleep with her head against the cold windowpane. When asked if he could remember any other serious obstacles the market had encountered, Mondo laughed and said, "No, not unless you want to count the floor-pacing during the depression!"

A&P Market, Gustav Johnson, proprietor. Route 107 construction led to removal of this building and business. It was located just east of the Georgetown Bible Church on the path of Rt. 107. Georgetown known more as "a village not a town" prior to the coming of the Rt. 107. The construction bridging Rt. 7 with Redding in a more direct route. Before this time Georgetown's Main St. was the main route to Redding…then known as Rt. 53.

Other Businesses

Nick Santenella's Barber Shop, Don Sansevieri's Barber Shop (Don's sons are Fran/Fred. Barbershop had a pool room and 2 pool tables), Sanfilipo also had Barber Shop on Main St. at one time. J.C. Driscoll's Real Estate, Steve's Bakery, Local Shoemaker Patsy LoPresti, Georgetown Electric (sullivan), William Henry Colley's Blacksmith shop. Billy Darragh's Calso Gas Station, Wallace Williams' Jewelry Store with Western Union on 2nd floor. Harold McCarty's Garage (Unger Professional Bldg. side), Robert Knight TV repair shop, Hammelscamp Meat Market (later moved up to Pocahanas Rd/Rt. 58), Tankus' Clothing Store, Stocking's Dry Goods, Georgetown Liquor, Mama Rosa's, Connery's Hardware, Building Supplies and Lumber (later DeLuca Bros. and Sloper Lumber), Sam n' Skip's Variety (news and lunch counter, Sam and Vera Bell).

Use of Horse and Wagons: Sam Harco used to come to Georgetown on horse and wagon from Wilton to pick up groceries at Bonsie's Georgetown Market, afterward he'd walk over to Fogarty's and his horse "Tom" would pick him up there later. They said the only thing Tom didn't do was help him into the cart.

Many Market/Serviceman of the day used horse and wagons even into the auto-era due to the horses knowledge of the routes and the convenience of being able to walk from house to house without having to get in and out of a truck…the horse knew where to go and would follow the deliveryman without much instruction. Orders would be taken from homeowners in the PM and delivered to homeowners in the AM.

Services Serving Georgetown from Other Towns

Many Market/Servicemen came to Gtown from surrounding towns, which makes the number of stores in Gtown even more amazing. Ice Men- Goetjen and Monroe; Monaghan- sold fish; Aidrean Carbonie delivered fresh bakery goods late at night/early in the morning; Locally Connery's delivered coal with "table horses"; Meeken picked up laundry; Gus Churchill delivered dairy products.

The Bars of Georgetown. Fogarty's, Benny's, Georgetown Saloon.

Forgarty's Georgetown Restaurant had a long, mirror backed bar that greeted you almost immediately as you entered the bar room. It was more or less a half rectangle in appearance. The bar room itself wasn't all that wide as the wall that separated the bar from the seating area only offered a space about 2-3 feet from the bar stools to pass thru if you were heading to the back of the bar. It was popular with the G&B workers, though a bar crowd heavy in Swedes and light in Irishmen or heavy in Irishmen and light in Swedes resulted in some tension.

After Jack Forgarty, Danny Crowley ran the Georgetown Restaurant in the 1970's-80's. Later became Georgetown Chowder House. Serafino Docimo owner/operator.

Benny's Restaurant. Benny Allegrazzie found the 3rd time to be a charm. After 2 initial attempts at Bar/Restaurants in Branchville and on Route 7, Benny came to Main St. Georgetown. According to my grandfather, Benny's Restaurant attracted a different bar crowd than Forgarty's, it was reported to be a tad on the wild side. Benny's bar was on the left hand side (current seating area of the Saloon), a very plain bar set-up originally. My grandfather also noted that Benny's wife was the boss…she would come out from the kitchen with a broom cocked and ready if anything got too out of hand. The Carlson's who lived on Highland Ave. reported a bullet piercing their home that came from Benny's…it wasn't a shoot-out just someone who got over excited and fired off a round while "whooping it up". Benny's son John recalled a motorcycle being driven into the bar room one night.

Guilino and Tony DeLuca later owned and operated a business here, though the timeframe and name is not available at the moment. They remodeled the bar and restaurant areas (pre-saloon timeframe) and kept the bar open on the left hand side while he built the bar room on the right hand side placing it where we find it today. Once the new bar was completed, the old bar was closed/removed which opened that area for restaurant seating.

* Benny's daughter Claudia also ran Sweets Shop here and Unger's first dentist office was once here too. Up top, "Rocco" ran a pizza restaurant. He had a wood oven and produced very good pizza.

In 1978 the Georgetown Saloon was established, Adam Lubarsky, Tom ("T") Kolkoski, and Stephen Alward owner/operators (almost positive Steve was the Chef). They had great timing and foresight in bringing a country-western bar scene to Georgetown three years before "Urban Cowboy" starring John Travolta resulted in Country becoming "the in-thing" across the U.S. Even today walking thru the swinging doors of the Saloon is like crossing the border into Texas!

Many lived above the saloon building in the apartments…Percy St. John was one of the most colorful characters to call the building home. He had many home remedies, and a recipe for a long life that included not drinking, not smoking and going to bed every night at 10 pm, which must have been difficult living above a country-western themed bar…he did live into his 90's though.

Movies in Georgetown

Rachel, Rachel (1968); Other People's Money (1991); Reckless (1995).

1967 Flashback: 'Jest of God' (Rachel, Rachel) is on Location in Georgeotwn's Business Area, August 23, 1967, Wilton Bulletin:

The film makers have been all over Georgetown, putting kids in trees, tacking signs on the funeral home (Bouton's), and cleaning up the Bonner Playhouse cellar. Until this week they worked mostly at night, when traffic was slight and younger children should have been in bed. Kayos Productions has spent two weeks at Bouton's and will get to the Playhouse next week, after which it will depart.

But this Monday morning they came out into braod daylight, setting up in the middle of the business district. They blocked Main St. off with big orange trucks and set up dolly tracks for the camera along the south sidewalk, past Tony's Cafe, an unrented store front, and Sam n' Skip's.

"Bus Depot" signs went up on the eaves and on a utility pole; later a John Wayne movie poster was tacked on the Ark Lodge across the street; suddenly Main Street was "on location".

The crowds that swelled and diminished throughtout Monday & Tuesday were now and then herded gently away.

Several short scenes are being made at the spot, all in sequence in which the lead, Joanne Woodward, gets hit by a Jeep and is taken off in an ambulance. A cluster of about 15 spectators, apparently incapable of boredom, patiently followed the stretcher as it was carried back and forth to the ambulance about 10 to 15 times for one shot in front of Sam n' Skip's Variety, a new news and lunch counter recently opened on Main St.

Rachel, Rachel is a 1968 film which tells the story of a repressed school teacher, living with her mother, who suddenly gets a man in her life.

It stars Joanne Woodward, James Olson, Kate Harrington, Estelle Parsons, Donald Moffat, Terry Kiser, Bernard Barrow and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

The movie was adapted by Stewart Stern from the novel A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence. It was directed by Paul Newman (Woodward's husband).

About A Jest of God: In this celebrated novel, Margaret Laurence writes with grace, power, and deep compassion about Rachel Cameron, a woman struggling to come to terms with love, with death, with herself and her world. Trapped in a milieu of deceit and pettiness – her own and that of others – Rachel longs for love, and contact with another human being who shares her rebellious spirit. Through her summer affair with Nick Kazlik, a schoolmate from earlier years, she learns at last to reach out to another person and to make herself vulnerable. A Jest of God won the Governor General’s Award for 1966 and was released as the successful film, Rachel, Rachel. The novel stands as a poignant and singularly enduring work by one of the world’s most distinguished authors.

Mark Twain's Daughter Goes to Georgetown for Chicken Feed

Having grown up listening to stories about Mark Twain and the library it was quite a treat to find this diary entry from his daughter Jean:

"Here is what I did yesterday. Got up at ten minutes of seven, breakfast at 7:20; changed clothes and leave for the post office at 8:00. Return 9:05. Exchange a few words with my father while giving him his newspaper, quick look at the letters of which I read two; change clothes and leave for Georgetown where I went to buy several kinds of "feed" for my chickens. Return to farm around 11:30...." (Source: Mark Twain: God's Fool, page 245)

Her farm was known as "Jean's Farm" and the store she was going to in Georgetown was likely Connery's Store.

New Article and Maps- History of Main Street, Georgetown

New Online Presentation- History of Gilbert & Bennett (part one)
New Online Presentation- History of Gilbert & Bennett (part two)

For further information on Georgetown be sure to check out Audio clips of Harry Colley, Art Moore and Bertil Rosendahl:

Audio 1- Softball in Georgetown
Audio 2- Art Moore discusses Mr. Prunes
Audio 3- Bertil Rosendahl discusses G&B Post Office, Train Station and Buildings
Audio 4- Georgetown housing and the good will of former Selectman Harold Samuelson.
Audio 5- My Grandfather discussing his family's first house on Peaceable Street and Art Moore discusses Warrup's Rock
Audio 6- Stage Coach and Indian Trails through Little Boston and Georgetown
Audio 7- Bertil Rosendahl on Boy Scouts in Georgetown.
Audio 8- Boy Scouts in Georgetown continued.
Audio 9- Georgetown Village and the community spirit it once held.

Articles relating to Georgetown, Connecticut from the Redding Remembered Oral History Project:

Little Boston
Percy St. John's "Home Remedies"

The Peanut Lady

And the Wilbur F. Thompson page which includes:

The Old Silver Mine
The Old Red Mill
The Georgetown Post Office
The Old Mulberry Trees
The Old Turnpike through Georgetown
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

Help me expand the site. Donate to the History of Redding.

Thanks 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.


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