by Irene Baldwin
On the banks of the Norwalk River, straddling the boundaries of Weston, Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding, Connecticut, is the community of Georgetown (see Map III.) The greatest portion of Georgetown is in Redding, and the smallest in Ridgefield. There are no fixed boundaries, for Georgetown owns no land. The Post Office operates within boundaries it has set for mail deliveries, the voting district has one set of boundaries, the telephone exchange another, and, until recently dissolved, School District No. 10 had another. The population, which, cannot be counted accurately because of the fuzzy boundaries, is estimated at about 1,800,1 all fiercely loyal, sometimes to the point of chauvinism.
The business center today, which contains several food markets and liquor stores, a dry goods and a drug store, dry cleaners, real estate offices and several other small sales and service businesses, in addition to the wire factory, is located in Redding. Georgetown has its own fire department, bank (a branch of the Ridgefield office of the Fairfield County Trust Company,) Post Office, railroad station, telephone exchange, and school. It has five churches. The Methodist and Catholic Churches face each other across Church Street, yet the former is in Wilton, the latter in Redding. The school, which had been operated originally by the adjoining towns under District No. 10, is located a few feet over the line in Wilton.
Other communities in Connecticut which have the same status, or lack of it, are Southport (legally in Fairfield,) Rowayton (part of Norwalk,) Noroton (Darien,) Saugatuck and. Greens Farms (Westport,) Cos Cob, Riverside and Old Greenwich (Greenwich.)2 The inhabitants of all these communities tend to resist the inference that they live in the encompassing towns. Georgetown’s plight is the most painful, however, for it is the only one which has its ‘heart’ broken into four pieces. Feelings run high, and can sometimes result in some amusing situations. There was some bitterness when Redding decided to get out of School District No. 10 and sell her interest to Wilton. I heard one Redding-Georgetown resident indignantly state that he didn’t see why “they” (Redding) should get $77,000 for “our” school.
The village is a typical New England community in many ways, but it lacks a town hall. It is a community of interests with no political status, no government of its own. At least two attempts have been made to incorporate Georgetown as a separate town. In 1934, a new pastor of the Catholic Church, Father Kenney, found, as he became familiar with the parish, that there were many who felt it would be to Georgetown’s interest to separate from Redding. He and Frank Hawks (a former World War I flying ace,) and Paul Conncry, a Norwalk lawyer (a native of Georgetown,) did considerable work on the project, but found the difficulties involved insurmountable for them at that time. In 1951, a State Senator from Wilton, Tage Pearson, took the matter up again, but had. to abandon it when his inquiries and investigations convinced him the cause was hopeless.
The development of Georgetown is closely tied to the development of the Gilbert & Bennett wire factory (see Map IV), whose early history is reported at length in the chapter “The Old Red Shop.” Many years ago, the area was dotted with small mills and foundries on every stream and river. By 1872, Redding had a population of 1,758. It was a busy, self-sufficient community. Its small factories and mills were family affairs, which disappeared with the advent of steam and decrease in the need for water power. People left Redding to go to the growing industrial centers such as Bridgeport anl Norwalk. By 1922 the population was 1,756. Eighteen years later, it was 1,758 (exactly what it had been in 1872.)
So, as the other small businesses disappeared, the Gilbert & Bennett wire factory grew. It formed a nucleus for the population in the southwest corner of Redding, and is located in Georgetown.
THE OLD RED SHOP BY THE TOLL GATE IN GEORGETOWN
by Wilbur F. Thompson
Eighty-five years ago [1835, or thereabouts] Georgetown was a quiet little village of 35 houses and about 160 people. A few years before, Benjamin Gilbert moved into the village and bought the William Wakeman farm. Most of this land lay between the road to Weston and the Danbury and Norwalk turnpike3; from the corner where Connery Bros. store now stands, south to Honey Hill woods, comprising the land afterwards owned by Sturges Bennett, Edmund O. Hurlbutt, and the Gilbert & Bennet Co. The homestead was on the west side of the road and many years after was known as the Benjamin Gilbert place. It is still occupied as a dwelling. Before coming to Georgetown, Mr. Gilbert, who was a tanner by trade, started the industry of making curled hair and haircloth sieves. He continued this business after moving to Georgetown, being assisted by his family and later by Sturges Bennettwho was admitted into partnership in 1828, forming the firm of Gilbert & Bennett (51 years later he was president of the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co.) Part of the work was done at this time in the basement of the Gilbert home. In 1830 Sturges Bennett married Charlotte, oldest daughter of Benjamin Gilbert.
About this time the shop was built where Connery Bros. store now stands and later, as the business grew, a three-story addition was built on. A mill dam had been built across the brook (the rear part of Connery Bros. store stands on what was part of the old mill dam.) A small pond was formed about 100 feet long and 60 feet wide. On the north side of the pond was the road to Weston, along the roadside was a row of willow trees. The supply pond, or reservoir, was on the hill south of where the Swedish Church now stands.
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; also platforms for drying the hair. Later this work was done in the rear of the shop. The first story of the shop was used for sieve making, and the second for the curled hair business. On the floor was a hairpicking machine and two hair rope twisters. The power was furnished by a wooden overshot water wheel (this was outside the shop on the north side.) The water was carried in a wooden flume from the pond onto the top of the wheel. The gate in the reservoir was opened every morning and shut down at night.
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 horse hair was picked and kept separate and woven into bottoms for the hair cloth flour and gravy sieves. This was woven on small frames called looms, into squares a little larger than the sieves they were to cover. This weaving was done by women (at their homes) of the village. First by the women in the families of the firm, and later by Mrs. Polly Canfield, Mrs. Ezra Brown, Mrs. Sherman Bennett, Mrs. Matthew Bennett and her daughters (one daughter, Mrs. Waterman Bates, was one of the last ones to weave haircloth in Georgetown,) and others.
In making the sieves, the thin wooden rims were sawed from whitewood plank (the planks were sawed from logs at Timothy Wakeman’s saw mill that stood north of where the upper Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co.’s plant now stands,) then smoothed by hand, steamed and bent into shape and nailed; the hair cloth bottom was then put on and held in place by a narrow hoop or rim, which was fastened on by nailing. The edges of the haircloth were then bound around the sieves with waxed thread. This work was done by women at their homes - it was called binding sieves. Mrs. Aaron Bennett, Mrs. Samuel Main, Mrs. Aaron Osborn, Mrs. Samuel Canfield, Mrs. Burr Bennett, Mrs. Orace Smith and others did this work.
The men who worked to the curled hair and sieve industry at different periods in the Red Shop were Benjamin Gilbert and his sons William J. and. Edwin; Edmund O. 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, and others.
The salesmen were Edmund O. Hurlbutt and William J. Gilbert, who started out with great wagons loaded with goods, going through Connecticut and New York State, 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. Years ago, the many carriage factories used large quantities of curled hair in the backs and cushions of seats.
In the year 1832, William J. Gilbert was taken into the firm, forming the Gilbert & Bennett Co. (48 years later, he was president of the Gilbert & Bennett Co.) About this time, Sturges Bennett bought of his father-in-law, land south of the shop and built the house he lived in for nearly fifty years [see map 4] now owned by Eli G. Bennett.
In 1834 it was found that the growing business needed more power than the little mill pond furnished. So a mill site was bought on the Norwalk River and a shop was built, known later as the Red Mill, and that part of the industry using power was moved into it. On Oct. 15, 1835, Benjamin Gilbert deeded to Sturges Bennett and William J. Gilbert each a one-third interest in the Red Shop, the land (1/4 of an acre) with the mill pond, also rights in the reservoir on the hill. Near the Red Shop on this land was a small two-story building used by Uncle David Nichols as a wagon shop4 (part of this building was used by the Gilbert and Bennetts before the Red Shop was built.) The price paid was $l33 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, with the introduction of the weaving of wire cloth for sieves and other uses, it was found the light cloth and carpet looms in the village were not heavy enough for wire weaving. A few looms were built and set up on the third floor of the Red Shop. Among those who wove wire cloth at this time were Isaac C. Perry, George Perry, Moses Hubbell and his wife Betsy, William Perry, and probably others. William Perry wove a fine wire cloth, called strainer cloth, used for straining milk and other liquids. Later George Perry built a shop south of his home [see map II] now owned by John Hohman, and wove for the Gilbert & Bennett Co. Isaac Perry’s son-in-law also built a shop for weaving; it stood on the corner where Frederick Foster’s house now stands. (Moses Hubbell married Betsy Perry).
Years later James Byington, Aaron Jelliff, Henry Olmstead and his brother William, Lorenzo Jones, Thomas Pryor, George Gould, Anton Stommell, George Hubbell, and Granville Perry wove wire cloth in the old Red Shop. As the business grew, Anson B. Hull was hired as Bookkeeper. The office was on the first floor of the shop; in connection with book-keeping, he ran a small store. He was with the company for many years. Later he moved to Danbury, where he was freight agent for the D. & N. R.R., until his death.
In 1840 Edmund O. Hurlbutt was admitted into the firm - he married Mary, daughter of Benjamin Gilbert. He bought land of his father-in-law and built the home he lived in for many years, known as the Hurlbutt place.5 He withdrew from the firm in 1860.
In 1844 Edwin Gilbert became a member of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. (40 years later he became president of the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co.)
In 1847, Benjamin Gilbert, the founder of the business, died. In 1853 David H. Miller of New York City entered the employ of the Gilbert & Bennett Co. as bookkeeper. He brought in new ideas and ways of working and the business of the company was greatly increased. (Fifty-three years later he became president of the Gilbert & Bennet Mfg. Co., and held that position at the time of his death in 1915.)
With the building of other factories, one by one, the various branches of the industry were moved from the old Red Shop, until only the wire weaving was left. In 1861, Eli G. Bennett opened a dry-goods and grocery store on the first floor. The business grew until the whole floor was occupied, and a large business was done. Here many young men received their first business training.
In 1869 Sturges Bennett (now owning the property) had the old Red Shop torn down and built the store now standing on its site [see Map 4.] The timbers of the old shop were bought by Anton Stommell, who used them in building his house on the street running east from the Weston road.6 Later he sold it to Elijah Gregory.
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. It was burned some years ago.
Uncle David Nichols, who ran the little wagon shop, lived on the west side of the street opposite the shop. (This house was years later bought by Charles Osborn, father of Clarence Osborn of Georgetown.) With his good wife, Aunt Sally, he looked. like a Quaker with his broad-brimmed hat and long coat. He was everybody’s friend, but the boys did annoy him sometimes. North of the Nichols home was the toll gate across the road, and Uncle David collected tolls. This was a heavy timber gate that blocked the highway. After the tolls were paid, the gate was opened and the team passed through. Near the gate was a milestone erected in 1787 by the orders of Benjamin Franklin, who was Postmaster General at this time. This was the post road from New York City to Hartford. There is one of these milestones still standing near Miss Sarah Coley’s home [G. Coley on Map II] on the road north of Georgetownand another on South Street, Danbury.
Fifty or more years ago the reservoir on the hill was a favorite place in the winter for the boys and girls of those days who enjoyed skating. Later Mr. Edward Hurlbutt,7 who now owned it and the surrounding land, stocked it with fish.
Just before the Civil War Sturges Bennett, who owned a large farm on the hog ridge (a high ridge of land east of the village,) employed Ezra Brown to work the farm. Part of the farm equipment was a yoke of oxen and a heavy cart. Uncle Ezra was very proud of this team. In driving, he would march 100 feet ahead of the oxen and then march back again. One night some of the young men of the village, Sam and John Main, Alonzo Morgan, James Byington, the Albin boys and others, took the cart to pieces, hoisted it up into one of the willow trees by the Red Shop pond, put it together with the tongue in the air. Next morning Uncle Ezra came over from Osborntown to begin his day’s work. Missing his cart, he called Boss Bennett, who, coming up and seeing the cart in the tree and some of the boys standing around, winked at Uncle Ezra and said in his quiet way, “Boys, I guess you had better take that cart down.” They knew he meant business and got to work. It was harder work to take it down before an audience of fifty people, than it had been to put it up the night before. Not long after, most of these young men were at the front fighting for our country.
The above is a very concise history of the very interesting commencement of the large wire manufacturing company in Georgetown. The names and. dates given will be cherished by those who are still alive and. remember many of the families who lived in this settlement, and gained a good livelihood from this industry. There are relationships mentioned which will help the genealogist who will compile genealogies of these different families in years to come. - Editor8
(2,902) THE OLD RED MILL - GEORGETOWN
On the banks of the Norwalk River from its source in Ridgefield to Norwalk are many abandoned mill sites. Fifty-five or sixty years ago (about 1850) there were sixteen busy shops and mills along this stream. Now there are four or five; one of which, belonging to the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. plant, stands on the site of the Old Red Mill, the subject of this article (see Map IV.) This mill site (near the long railroad bridge)9 has been occupied almost continuously for manufacturing purposes for over 118 years.
Some years after the War of the Revolution closed, David Coley of Kettle Creek, Fairfield (now Weston) moved to Georgetown. He bought of Isaac Rumsey part of the Applegate long lots and built a home in Boston district. Miss Sarah Coley of Georgetown, who is ninety years old, told me that eighty years ago, David Coley lived in the house later owned by Hezekiah Osborn, the father of Hezekiah Osborn of Cannondale. This house is near Boston corners.
David Coley was an iron worker; he bought a mill site on the Norwalk River; built a dam and shop, put in a wooden water shed, a furnace for smelting iron ore and a trip hammer, and commenced business. Some of the ore was brought from Roxbury and Brookfield and some was taken from the ledge east of where Jessie Burr Fillow now lives, on the road from Branchville to Boston district. (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. Fifty years ago some of these pots and kettles were in use - they had legs to stand on in the old fashioned fire places.
This industry gave work to quite a number of men and continued for many years. In the later years of the industry, Moses Jennings (grandfather of Miss Jane Canfield of Georgetown) worked in the iron works - he had charge of smelting the ore. Benjamin Lobdell worked here (he was a great uncle of Clarence Osborn of Georgetown) and many others, whose names are now forgotten. Later David Coley gave up the business and the shop was vacant. Later it was burned. The head of the iron trip hammer lay by the side of the road; it weighed over 500 pounds. It was sold, I think, to the iron works at Valley Forge, Weston.
In 1821 Winslow and Booth came to Georgetown and started a comb factory on the old iron works site, erecting a small shop. Mr. Booth lived in the house that Mrs. Waterman Bates years afterward owned. This business continued for some time and gave employment to quite a number of people. The cheaper grades of combs were made of cattle horns. The horns were scraped thin, split and pressed flat, and the blanks for combs were cut out and the teeth cut in. The finer grades of women’s side and back combs were made of tortoise shell. Later the firm gave up the business and moved away.
In 1834 the Gilbert & Bennet Co. bought the mill site, rebuilt the mill dam and built the shop long afterward known as the Red Mill. A wooden water wheel was built to furnish power. The mill was two stories and a basement. The first floor was used for the curled hair industry using power. In the basement the sieve rims were steamed, bent into shape, and later other work was done there.
With the weaving of wire cloth, the making of cheese and meat safes was commenced. Aaron Osborn did this work, assisted by his brother, Eli Osborn. (Aaron Osborn worked on cheese safes for nearly fifty years.) With the introduction of hard coal for fuel, the coal ash sifter or coal riddle was made. Samuel Bennett, Henry Williams and others worked at this branch. Later ox muzzles were made from wire. Most of the men who worked in the Red Mill had worked in the Old Red Shop to the same kind of work.
In the winter of 1840, it was found thrt the wooden shaft to the water wheel was worn and had to be replaced. William Bennett, William Morgan (later known as Captain Morgan) and Orace Smith went down into the Honey Hill woods to cut a tree from which to hew a new shaft for the wheel. While cutting down this tree, a limb broke and struck Mr. Smith and killed him. (Mr. Orace Smith was the father of Mrs. Jonathan Betts and lived in the house that Mr. Betts long afterward owned.10) Years later the old wooden wheel was replaced by an iron one, and the old wooden shaft lay by the roadside for many years (as late as 1865.)
Years passed on and the stone factory was built and the curled hair industry was moved there. Among those who worked at this branch at this time were William, Charles and George Albin. Among those who worked at the sieve industry were William and Brewer Gilbert, William B. Hurlbutt and Lewis Hurlbutt. With the rapid growth of the Gilbert & Bennett Co., Edwin Gilbert went out as salesman and Charles Olmstead ran one of the freight wagons. With the building of the D. & N. R. R., the freight wagons were taken off one after another and the railroad did all the carrying of goods. One of these old freight wagons was used as late as 1864 in carting between the factory and the depot.
In the sixties the sieve making and other branches were moved into other shops and the Old Red Mill was used for drawing fine wire and later for tinning and galvanizing wire. In 1889 the Old Mill was burned, and the mill now standing on its site was built.
Wilbur F. Thompson - Danbury, Connecticut
(2,908) THE OLD RED MILL - GEORGETOWN. - continued.
In the fifties, Aaron Jelliff (who had worked for the Gilbert & Bennett Co.) built a shop for wire work on the Weston road11 in Osborntown (a part of Georgetown.) The motive power used in this shop was a one-man-power tread mill. This tread mill wheel was on the outside of the shop (south side.) It was about twelve feet in diameter and six feet wide. It was built with treads to step on. The weight of the person inside the wheel stepping on the treads turned it and furnished the power to run a saw and other small machines. The wheel was operated by Abraham Dreamer, a veteran of the Mexican war. It was a great treat to the boys of fifty or mere years ago to see Uncle Abe walking in this wheel, never reaching the top. Years later Mr. Jelliff’s sons, Aaron and Charles, were in the wire business, Aaron in New Canaan and Charles in Southport.12
On the top of the hill in front of the Waterman Bates place can be seen an old ditch running back from the brow of the hill to the old reservoir. This was dug by the Gilbert & Bennett Co. to bring the water from the reservoir to the Red Mill to wash cattle and horse hair, but it was never finished.
Wilbur F. Thompson - Danbury, Connecticut
(2,965) THE OLD GRIST MILL - GEORGETOWN, CONN.
by Wilbur F. Thompson
From the early settlement of our state until about 60 or 70 years ago, the people living in our rural communities were, to a great extent, independent of the outside world; the farms and little shops and mills producing almost everything used in the homes of their day. The first mill to be built in the early days was the Grist Mill, then the saw mill, blacksmith shop, woolen mill, tannery and cider mill. Georgetown was no exception to the general rule, and along its streams and highways are found evidences of many little home industries that flourished, long years ago (and some at a late date.) It is probable that the first corn and grain raised in Georgetown was ground in the home-made mortArs of wood or stone, with a pestle, or in the old Indian stone samp mortars which can be found in the rocks in many places.
The first Grist Mill where the early settlers of Georgetown had their corn and rye ground stood on the west bank of the Saugatuck River, a short distance north of where Ferd Gorham’s house now stands near the foot of Nobb’s Crook Hill.13 (This was about 1730). The miller’s name was Jabez Burr. Many years later a wind grist mill was built in what was called Dumping Hole, or Hill14 (now in Cannondale School District,) about two miles southeast of Georgetown. The first grist mill in what is now the village of Georgetown was probably built and run by George Abbott. If there was one before this, the name of the owner is not known.
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 it. The mill was on the only road between Danbury and Norwalk and did a great business; people from miles around brought their grain to be ground, or logs to be sawed up into lumber.
Abbott ran the mills for many years. He lived in a house that stood south of where the Waterman Bates house now stands [down Old Mill Road.] His wife (called Aunt Lucy) kept a tavern or half-way house for the teamsters on the Danbury and Norwalk turnpike.
The next owner of the mill was Stephen Perry, an ancestor of the late Nathan Perry. He rebuilt the dam and mill; it was then known as Perry’s Mill. Later Joseph Goodsell 1st. ran the mill. He was the father of Joseph B. Goodsell 2nd., who lived. on Goodsell’s Hill, 30 or more years ago.
The next owner was Ephraim B. Godfrey, who lived in a house south of the mill. This house was moved to the east side of the highway 50 years ago. He was called Uncle Eph and the hill west of the mill was called Uncle Eph’s mountain. He married Mary, daughter of Timothy Wakeman 1st., and had two sons and a daughter. One son, Wakeman Godfrey, was in business with him and lived in the house long after owned by Henry Olmstead. He was called “Wake” Godfrey! One of his daughters, Mary Ann, married Burr Betts of Norwalk.
The other son, Silliman, built and lived in the house long after owned by Dr. Lloyd Seeley. Silliman had a store south of the house. (This house is now owned by Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co.) The store was burned and in 1851 or ‘52 he built the building long known as the depot building. He had a store in the north end; the railroad depot was in the south end. On the second floor was a large hall known as Godfrey’s Hall. This was used for various purposes. (This will be spoken of in a later article.) The old depot building burned down several years ago.
Ephriam Godfrey’s daughter Mary married Matthew Gregory of Georgetown. Godfrey & Son ran the grist and saw mill for many years and did a large business. In 1853 or ‘54 Ephraim Godfrey died. His son then continued the business. About this time a new grist mill was started in the old woolen mill lower down the river and the Godfrey Mills did not have much to do, and later the mills were closed. Some time after, Edwin Gilbert bought the property, rebuilt the mill dam and mill, enlarging it, fitting it up for other manufacturing; for a while, Betts & Northrop had a carpenter shop there. Blood’s patent flour sifter and other wire goods were made there at that time. Later the Gilbert & Bennett Co. owned it and changed it into a wire mill, and it was used for that line of work until it was burned some years ago.
On the third floor of this mill was set up and run (in 1869 and ‘70) the first machine in this country for making wire netting and fencing. [According to another source, it was in 1865 that Gilbert & Bennett & Co. installed the first power machinery for making wire poultry netting. For years it was exclusive manufacturer of this innovation. The salesmen worked for a good many years trying to educate the trade to its use. “You never can replace wooden lath for poultry enclosures,” was a common remark.]15
On the west side of the river in the ledge of rocks below the mill dam is what is probably one of the oldest grist mills in the state. It is a circular hole in the rock about two feet in diametcr and four feet in depth; it is shaped like a round-bottomed pot. There are two more on the banks of the Saugatuck River in the rocks east of what was the Daniel Hull house in Weston. These holes are called pot-holes and were worn or made by the action of water ages ago. The Indians of long ago used them for grinding the Indian corn raised in the valleys; with a stone pestle the corn was soon reduced to a coarse meal called samp. The early settlers called them samp mortars. The use of stone pestles for years in these samp mortars made them deeper and larger.
On the east bank of the river a short distance below the mill dam, there was 65 years ago, a spring of water called the oil spring. The oil was found on the surface of the water. When the D. & N. R. R. was built, this was covered by the stone from above. Near here Chambers first started to dig for coal. In the railroad cut nearby the rocks in the summer show a white coating of alum. This is on the east side of the railroad.
The old mill is a memory of the past with the Abbotts, Perrys, Goodsells and Godfreys. But Nature’s work still remains, and old Mount Ephriam still overlooks the valley as it did 232 years ago, when the original eight settlers passed up the valley, following the Indian trail through swamp and forest to found the new settlement of Danbury. Or 139 years ago when the minutemen hurried past on their way to Danbury to guard military stores there. Or 54 years ago, when the boys in blue left Georgetown to go to the front to fight for freedom.