17 - Recitation: There None Shall be Missing - Miss Emma A. Kee1er
18 - Dialogue: A Mother’s Lament and the Child’s Reply - Misses Cornelia A. Main and Isadore Osborn
19 - Recitation: The Widow of Nain, Miss Augusta A. Lobdell
20 - Singing: Zion’s Pilgrim - by the schools
21 - Recitation: The Flag of our Union - Master C. Lester Bennett
22 - Chorus: The Dear Old. Flag - by the Young Ladies’ Chorus
23 - Dialogue: The Rainbow
Red — Miss Ettie N. Bennett
Green - Miss Mary Godfrey
Orange - Miss Carrie Jelliff
Yellow - Miss Huldah Main
Blue - Miss Della Olmstead
Indigo - Miss Helen L. Keeler
Violet - Miss Nettie Main
24 - Recitation: A Dream - Miss Frances Jelliff
25 - Song: What is Home Without a Mother? - Misses Addie Hurlbutt and Etta N. Bennett
26 - Recitation: Sun, Moon and Stars - Merwin B. Keeler
27 - Dialogue: John Hasty and Peter Quiet - Masters Edmond. S. Osborn and. Willie H. Osborn
28 - Solo: Christmas Tree - Miss Cornelia Main
29 - Distribution of Gifts
30 - Closing Chorus: Merry Christmas - by the schools
Exercises commence at 6 and 1/2 o’clock. Admission, 10 cents.
The Christmas entertainment was a great success, and was remembered for many years. Fifty-five years have come and gone since that memorable Christmas Eve. Many of those who were present have passed away. Those who are still living (residents of Georgetown, Wilton, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, Bridgeport and Danbury) may take pleasure in looking over the old program again, bringing back memories of the past.
The Methodist Protestant Church (Miller’s Hall) later became the Congregational Church of Georgetown. In 1862 the Rev. N. A. Rude was pastor.
WILBUR F. THOMPSON
Dec. 24, 1917 Danbury, Connecticut
THE OLD TORY HOUSE, GEORGETOWN
by Wilbur F. Thompson
One hundred and forty-five years ago our country was in the midst of a great war, fighting for freedom from England’s tyranny. In our state every effort was being made by patriots to aid in the fight for liberty. From the town of Redding, 133 men served in the American army during the war. Following are the names of many from the section now known as Georgetown and Boston district in Redding who were in the American Army: Seth Andrews, Jonathan Andrews, Joel Barlow, Samuel Barlow, Ezra Bates, Justus Bates, Jeremiah Batterson, Daniel Bennett, John Byington, Gershorn Coley, James Coley, Nathan Coley, Timothy Foster, Captain John Gray, Ezra Hall, Zalmon Hall, John Mallory, Daniel Mallory, Joel Merchant, John Merchant, Joseph Morgan, David Osborn, Abraham Parsons, Daniel Parsons, Timothy Parsons, George Perry, Isaac Perry, Isaac Platt, Ezekial Wain, Ezekia1 Sanford, Jeremiah Rumsey, Thomas Sherwood., Thomas Warrups (the noted Indian Scout.)
Joel Barlow was prominent in national affairs. From l779 to 1783 he was chaplain in the American Army. In 1795 President Washington appointed. him consul to Algiers. In 1811 President Madison appointed him Minister to France. He died in Poland Dec. 26, 1812. The Barlow home was in Boston district. It was near to where the Bradley Hill house now stands.25
There were many who were not in sympathy with the American cause, but gave aid and allegiance to England. They were called Loyalists or Tories. Redding in the early years of the war was a hotbed of Toryism, and scattered through the town were many families who gave aid to British spies and plotters against the young republic. As a rule the Loyalists were persons of wealth and culture. Many were leaders in the communities where they lived. At the outbreak of the war, a Loyalist Association was formed in Redding, pledging allegiance to King George and Great Britain, drawing up a set of resolutions to that effect. Of the signers, 73 in number, 42 were freeholders (taxpayers) in the town. The names of these sympathizers and Loyalists were published by the Committee of Safety. Many were imprisoned and fined.
Following are the names of those who lived in what is now Georgetown and Boston district in Redding who were known to be Loyalists: Nathaniel Barlow , Shubael Bennett, Stephen Betts, Ezekial Hill, James Gray [two Grays - senior and junior,] Enos Leo, John Lee, William Lee, Seth Hull, Ephraim Meeker, John Mallory, Jonathan Mallory, Timothy Platt, Nehemiah St. John, Amos Morgan, Eleazer Olmstead and. others.
In 1758 James Morgan bought land and built a house that stood where the Hiram St. John house now stands in Georgetown. Enos and John Lee, who lived in the Boston district, were arrested, sentenced and confined with others for giving aid to the enemy. On Feb. 10, 1777, the two Lees were permitted to return home after giving bonds for their good behavior. The estates of many were confiscated and sold, the owners being in the service of the enemy. Many Tories were fined for refusing to perform military duty. The encampment of a brigade of American soldiers in Redding [Putnam Park] had a quieting effect on the Tory element in Redding and Newtown, and whatever aid was given to British spies was done secretly. In some Tory homes were hiding places for spies and plunder. One of these houses is still standing in Georgetown. If its walls could speak, they could tell strange and exciting stories of the stirring days of long ago. On March 10, 1756, Solomon Wood of Norwalk sold to Noah St. John 1st, of Ridgefield, 50 acres of land lying in the section now known as Georgetown. He built a log house and moved his family from Ridgefield.
In 1760 he built a house for his son Nehemiah, who had married Ruth Wheeler. They were living in this house when the War of the Revolution broke out. Tradition states that the St. Johns, with the exception of’ Nehemiah, were loyal to the American cause. His wife Ruth was a Tory and aided the British, hiding spies and Tories in her home. On the north side of the house a small addition had been built on - called in those days a leanto or linty. Under this room was a shallow cellar, the cellar bottom being about five feet from the floor of the room above. This was separate from the main cellar and was entered through a secret opening in the cellar wall. It was in this hiding place that spies and Tories found refuge when on their way to British headquarters. It was by this method the British were kept posted on the plans of the American army. On the day the British landed at Compo to march on Danbury, Ruth St. John said t~oher neighbors, “The British are going to burn the military stores in Danbury and you rebels will catch it now.” Many of her neighbors’ husbands were in Danbury guarding the military supplies stored there, and fought in the Battle of Ridgefield.
After the close of the war, many Tories were driven into exile, some settling on lands given them by the British government in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Many families are living there today having good old Redding names. After the close of the war, Nehemiah St. John traded his house and farm in Georgetown for a farm in Vermont, moving there - the owner of the Vermont farm moving into the St. John place. The new owner’s name was Matthew Gregory 1st. In this house Matthew Gregory 2nd, was born in 1791, and lived there until his death in 1881. He had three children; Minot, Charles and Mary Eliza.
The entrance to the old “Tory hole” was closed by Matthew Gregory in 1845. The house was long years ago known as the “Old Tory House” and the secret cellar was called the “Old Tory Hole.” The mothers of long ago would say to their children, “If you don’t mind, the Tories will get you.” And the children of many years age, on their way to school, would be very quiet in passing by the old house, thinking the Tories would come out and get them. The writer was one of the school children.
The Patriots, Loyalists and Tories have long since departed, but the “Old Tory House” still remains, a well-preserved relic of old Colonial days. And the “Old Tory Hole” is still under the linty.
Noah St. John’s daughter, Abigail, married Isaac Rumsey; their son, Jeremiah, was in the American army in the War of the Revolution. The Rumseys were the first settlers of Georgetown. In 1721 Robert Rumsey of Fairfield bought of John Applegate a large tract of land in the section now known as Georgetown. It was known as the “Applegate Long Lots.” In 1724 he willed it to his three sons, Robert, Benjamin, and Isaac, who built homes on the tract. One house stood near where the Nathan Perry house now stands. Another was on the hill in front of where the Aaron Osborn house now stands. The third house
was a short distance from where the Gilbert Agricultural Farm now stands.
Justus Bates, who served in the war, was father of Walker Bates, who lived in Boston district. Joseph Morgan was the grandfather of William Morgan (known as Captain Morgan) who lived in Georgetown some years ago. Ezra Hull was the father of Aaron B. Hull, who was well known to the older residents of Georgetown. Ezekiel H. Sanford for many years kept the tavern in Boston district in the house now owned by E. A. Pinckney.
Thomas Warrups, a noted Indian scout under General Putnam, lived under the great overhanging rock one mile north of Georgetown. This great rock has at the base a grotto or recess large enough to shelter several people. It has long been known as “Warrups Rock.” Warrups’ grandfather, Chickens Warrups, was the original owner of what is now the town of Redding.
There are many pre-Revolutionary houses in Georgetown and vicinity. The oldest one is on the south side of the highway, opposite Connery’s coal yard. It is not known when it was built; 75 years ago it was said to be over 100 years old. In 1820, it was the home of Benjamin Gilbert, one of the founders of the Gilbert & Bennett Co.
Fifty-five years ago there were old people living in Georgetown who were born during or shortly after the War of the Revolution, and many of the incidents recorded in this article were told by them to their children. The articles on ‘Old Georgetown” are written from notes made for many years of sayings of old people - of historical facts and traditions handed down from generation to generation - and in this form may be preserved for future generations.
THE OLD BOUNDARY ROCK, GEORGETOWN
There are three rocks of historic interest in Georgetown.
“Warrups Rock” - where the Indian chieftain Warrups had a wigwam over 200 years ago, and many years later his grandson Tom Warrups, the famous scout under General Putnam, had a shelter until removed to the Schaticoke Indian Reservation above New Milford. This rock is on the west side of the old road from Boston Corners to Branchville.
“Celebration Rock” - this rock or ledge is on the top of the hill east of the Waterman Bates place now owned by Mrs. Harriet Bates. After the close of the Revolutionary War the people living in the section now known as Georgetown held a meeting on the hill to celebrate the 4th of July. Having no cannon, holes were drilled in the rock, loaded with powder, and fired as salutes in honor of the great event. It was at this gathering that the village of Georgetown received thc name. Prior to this meeting the valley and hillsides had many names: Osborntown, Honeyhill, St. Johns Corner, Sugar Hollow, Burrs Hill, Jack Street, etc. It was voted to name the hamlet Georgetown in honor of the local miller, whose name was George Abbott. Many years later Matthew Bennett who lived in the house now owned by his daughtcr, Mrs. Harriet Bates, cleaned out the holes in the rock, and fired salutes on the 4th of July.
“Boundary Rock’ - this rock is on the east bank of the Norwalk River, about 150 feet south of the house now owned by Mrs. Harriet Bates. When the town of Fairfield was surveyed in 1645 this rock was the intersecting point of the north and west boundary lines, and later the lines between Fairfield and Norwalk met on this rock. In 1707, when the Town of Ridgefield was surveyed, it was found that the east and south lines met at this rock with those of Fairfield and Norwalk. On the rock are deeply cut three letters: on the east side F for Fairfield; on the south side N for Norwalk; on the west side R, for Ridgefield.
There was some dispute between Ridgefield and Norwalk about this boundary. Some years later it was moved one mile farther north, where it is now the bound between Wilton and Ridgefield. The boundary lines of Redding, Wilton and Weston now intersected on the rock. Let us read what the old record has to say about it - “Ye surveyors find that ye east and south boundary lines meet on a rock on ye banks of the Norwalk River, 20 rods north of ye Danbury Cart Path fording place. Ye bounds of Norwalk and Fairfield meet on said rock.”
This fording or crossing place of Old Indian Trail or Cart Path is under the long railroad bridge. The trail led up from tidewater into the Housatonic Valley. It was used by Indians living inland in their migrations to the salt water to collect and also the connecting link between the Indians who lived on the shores of the sound and those farther north. This custom was kept up for many years after the state was thickly settled. Years ago, old persons would tell of Indians passing through Georgetown from the Indian Reservation above New Milford to Calf Pasture beach. On returning the squaws and horses would be loaded down with strings of dried clams and other sea food. After the settlement of Danbury the old trail between Norwalk and Danbury was widened into a cart path, and for many years was the only roadway between the two places. Fifty years ago there were old people living in Georgetown who could follow the course or route of the Old Trail from Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, along the east side of the Norwalk River into Wilton, through Pimpewaug, into Georgetown, crossing the Norwalk River where the long railroad bridge now crosses it, up over the hill near where the Matthew Gregory house now stands, crossing the river again near the upper railroad bridge, crossing up into the mountain east of Branchville, passing near Umpawaug Pond.
Above Umpawaug Pond the trail divided, one branch going over Long Ridge and the other passing west of Simpaug Pond. It was over this branch of the trail the eight families from Norwalk passed in 1684 to found the new settlement of Danbury. Along the main trail were many branches or side trails running east and west. One of these was the trail passing Warrups Rock.
It is interesting to note that the route of the “Old Indian Trail,” the “Cart Path,” the “Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike,” and the “Iron Trail” (D.& N. R. R.) are in close proximity to the Boundary Rock and run parellel with each other for several hundred feet to the south. The Boundary Rock is now covered with earth washed down from the highway.
WILBUR F. THOMPSON
The Georgetown Post Office
by Irene Baldwin
No story of Georgetown would be complete without a history of its Postal Service, nor would it be complete without specific mention of the crossroads known at various times as “Little Boston Corners,” “The Corners,” “Gregory’s,” “Sanford’s,” and “Darling’s Corners.” Since Redding’s first Post Office was located at this busy spot, their stories must be told, together.
In 1795 the “Norwalk and Danbury Turnpike Company was formed to repair the Danbury - Norwalk road which ran through Redding. It was the only road of consequence in the area and soon became the Post Road. About two miles north of Georgetown center at the junction of Umpawaug Road (then the turnpike) and Peaceable Street (then Whiskey Lane) and Goodsell Hill, there was a way station for the weary travelers. It was a busy crossroads and a cheerful place. Here was Darling’s Tavern (site now owned by M. T. MacDonald) where it is said drivers of 10,000 vehicles a year traveling this highway paused to refresh themselves, their passengers and their horses. The tavern was, of course, a clearing house for all the news of the day.
Many other structures also were located in this Little Boston center. The town’s first school stood where Mrs. James Driscoll now lives. The Michael Connery house (now Malloy) at that time housed Billy Comstock, who conducted a hat factory - the first in Redding - later operated by his son Androw, then by the Shelton Brothers and later by N. H. Lindly. There was also a general store, and a ring cider mill operated by Daniel Mallory who used oxen and. horses for power. A short distance down Peaceable Street, Mallory ran a distillery wherc he converted hard cider into apple jack - hence the name Whiskey Lane.
Turney Foot the Post Rider, and later Elias Bennett, carried in the newspapers and performed other small errands, so the place did not lack for news and informaticn of events in other sections.
The residents, however, felt a real need for a Post Office and eventually, on December 22, 1810, Rcdding’s first Post Office was established with Billy Comstock as Postmaster, keeping office in his house. Five years later, May 8, 1815, another Post Office was established at Redding Center. It was officially “Reading Town House” and William Sanford was Postmaster. This was a more central location for all of Redding. It was planned to drop the Little Boston office when the new one opened., but the road to the new one was so poor that it actually operated as a sort of substation of the Little Boston Post Office. Billy Comstock sent mail to the center Post Office once a week. This was to have been a temporary expedient, but the arrangement lasted nearly thirty years.
Eventually, the road must have been repaired, for the records show that the Little Boston Post Office was discontinued April 29, 1844. Its Postmasters and the dates of their appointments are as follows: William Comstock Dec. 29, 1810; Thomas Fanton June 20, 1818; Billy Comstock (reappointed) May 12, 1821; Joseph Darling (also Tavern keeper) Aug. 1, 1823. The last mentioned had a 1ong tenure - until May 30, 1844.
Eight years later, on May 11, 1852, the Georgetown Post Office was established. Here follows a list of the Postmasters’ names and dates of appointment: Silliman Godfrey May 11, 1852; Lloyd Seeley Aug. 27, 1853; Samuel Perry Aug. 26, 1862; James Corcoran April 20, 1864; George W. Banks Jan. 22, 1892; Thomas E. Flood Feb. 17, 1894; Charles Hubert Taylor Feb. 15, 1898; George F. Hammill May 20, 1913; William E. Hazen Jan. 21, 1922; F. Ragnar Bergfors, June 20, 1930; Julius H. Berglund May 23, 1935; Julius W. Johnson Nov. 1, 1937.
(4009) THE OLD TURNPIKE through Georgetown
by Wilbur F. Thompson, of Danbury.
For many years after the first settlement of our state, the roadways connecting the towns were very poor. Many were mere “bridle paths,” others were Indian Trails widened into “Cart Paths.” One of these was the Indian Trail leading up from the Sound, at what is now known as Calf Pasture Beach, through the section now known as Georgetown, into what is now the city of Danbury. It was over this trail that the eight families left Norwalk in 1684, to found the new town of Danbury. And for many years this trail, widened into a cart path, was the only connecting link between the two places. When the section now known as the town of Ridgefield was purchased from the Indians in 1707, the south and east boundary lines intersected on a rock on the bank of the Norwalk River. The record states that “Thc south and east boundary lines meet on the rock on the banks of the Norwalk River 20 rods north of the Danbury and Norwalk Cart Path fording place,” showing that it was a cart path at that date. This rock is about 175 feet south of the Waterman Bates house (now owned by Mrs. Harriet Bates) in Georgetown. On the rock are deeply cut three letters: F. for Fairfield, N. for Norwalk, R. for Ridgefield. The boundary lines of these towns intersected on this rock. The boundary line between Norwalk and Ridgefield was disputed by Norwalk and years later was moved one mile north, where it remains the boundary between Ridgefield and Wilton. The old rock is now the intersecting bound of the towns of Wilton, Redding and. Weston. Anyone measuring 20 rods south along the river will find that the old “Fording Place” is under the long railroad bridge (south section).
A the town of Danbury grew, the need of a better means of communication became apparent. A survey was made and a new highway was opened up. Passing on the east side of Simpaug Pond (Bethel,) up over the Umpawaug Hill, Redding, through what is now Boston district and Georgetown, and on to Norwalk. The right of way was six rods wide. It was known as the great road from Danbury to Norwalk. In 1723 Nathan Gold (Gould) and Peter Burr of the town of Fairfield sold to Samuel Couch and Thomas Nash, of the same town, one hundred acres of land in the Parish of Redd.ing, town of Fairfield, “said land lyeing on both sides of the great road, that leads from Norwalke to Danbury,” showing that the road was in use at that date. In 1792 the town of Redding voted to reduce the width of the Danbury and Norwalk road, in Redding, to four rods.
Near where the house long owned by Aaron Osborn now stands (in Georgetown) a road branched out from the Danbury and Norwalk road, passing up over the hill [today the Blueberry Hill area] back of where the Perry houses now stand, coming out into what was known as Osborntown. It was called the Danbury and “Saugatuck” Turnpike and connected Danbury with Saugatuck (Westport.) Fifty years ago the old roadway over the hill could be traced by deep ruts worn in the rocky roadbed by the heavy cart wheels that had passed over it for many years. The first store in Georgetown stood near where the old road branched off from the Danbury and Norwalk road. The store was kept by a man named Burr, and the long hill south on the highway was called Burr’s Hill.
On the “Hog Ridge” east of this point, one of the houses built by the Rumseys (in 1735) stood. Some of the old apple trees planted at that date are still living. [It is not known if this is so today.] Farther south on the Danbury and Norwalk road, near where the house long owncd by Henry Olmstead now stands, the road. ran up over the hill through the woods, coming out on the flat below, where the Glenburgh Mills, now no mor, stand. In 1795, a company was incorporated for the purpose of “making and keeping in repair the great road from Danbury to Norwalk - from Simpaug Brook, Bethel, to Belden’s Bridge, Norwalk (now in Wilton) and to erect gates and collect tolls for the maintenance of the same.” Toll gates were erected at intervals along the road. One was north of where Connery’s store now stands in Georgetown.
The General Assembly in October, 1795 granted the petition of Eliphalet Lockwood of Norwalk and Timothy Taylor of Danbury to repair the Danbury-Norwalk road which ran through Redding. The Assembly set up a corporation to run the turnpike and collect tolls. In December this “Norwalk and. Danbury Turnpike Company’ met at the home of Ezekiel Sanford in Redding, “on said road,” to set up the necessary rules and regulations so that they could act as a corporation.
The General Assembly authorized the proprietors to collect the following tolls:
Every travelling or pleasure 4-wheeled carriage 25 cents
Every chaise chair or sulky 12 cents
Every loaded cart or sled 8 cents
Empty cart or sled. 4 cents
Loaded waggon 6 cents 2 mills
Empty waggon 3 cents
Horses, cattle and mules in droves, each 2 cents
Pleasure, travelling or loaded sleys, each 6 cents 2 mills
Empty sleys 3 cents
Each man and horse 4 cents
Each sheep and hog 1 cent
The Assembly further provided. that the following should he exempt from payment:
Persons travelling on the Lord’s Day and other public days to attend public worship.
Persons travelling to attend Society or Town and Freeman’s meetings and Funerals, and
Farmers in the neighborhood of said Turnpike passing through the same to attend their farming business...
[The company lost its privilege of collecting tolls, probably because of financial problems, in 1802. It received permission to renew collections when the road was repaired.]
A few years later than 1795 a meeting of the stockholders of the Danbury and Norwalk Turnpike was called, to meet at the tavern of Benjamin Gregory, Redding, Boston district (now owned by E. A. Pinckney) for the purpose of petitioning the General Assembly “to grant the company power to extend the Turnpike from Belden’s Bridge to the Great Bridge, at the head of Norwalk Harbor.” The petition was not granted.
This Turnpike was part of the Post Road from New York to Hartford, and during the War of 1812, the stage coaches from New York to Hartford ran over this route. On South Street, Danbury, there is an old milestone bearing the date of 1787, “68 miles to New York, 67 miles to Hartford.” 85 years ago the Turnpike was a busy thoroughfare, great canvas-topped “goods” or freight wagons were continually passing north or south loaded with freight. Going north to Bethel and Danbury, loaded with fur, feather, dry and wet goods, cattle horns and tortoise shell for comb-making, etc. Going south with the finished product of the shops: hats, boots, combs and general produce, to be shipped from the docks at Norwalk and Westport. The freight rate was $5 per ton from Danbury to Norwalk and Westport docks. The driver’s seat in the freight wagons was broad and roomy, accommodating three or four passengers, and was always filled. On the Turnpike could be seen slow-moving ox carts loaded with farmers’ produce. Horse-back riding was the principal method of travel and many horsemen passed up and down the old Turnpike, women riding on side saddle or pillion. The Danbury and Norwalk stage coach made daily trips; the fare from Danbury to Norwalk was $1 and from Georgetown was 50 cents. The stage left Danbury at 2 A.M. (morning) and arrived in Norwalk in time for the passengers to take the steamboat for New York the same morning.
For many years Boston Corners, Georgetown [see Map II] (then called Darling’s Corners) was the place where the horses were changed and fresh horses put on. The first Post Office in Redding was in Boston district in the house now owned by Michael Connery [today - T. Malloy] and the house now owned by E. A. Pinckncy [today - M. T. MacDonald] was known as Darling’s Tavern. A stage coach ran from Redding to meet the Danbury and Norwalk stage. Later the horses were changed in Georgetown at Godfrey’s store. This store was near the house (now owned by the G. & B. Mfg. Co.) long known as the Dr. Seely house and the horses were kept in the barn that stood north of the house (then owned by Silliman Godfrey.) John Collins (father of Mrs. Azor Hull of Danbury) lived. in the Godfrey house and was a stage coach driver. Arthur Hull and A. Whitlock were drivers. The horses were reshod at the Blacksmith Shop of Silas Hull, which stood. on the east side of the road, near the Old Red Mill. The stage coach line was owned for many years by Hiram Barnes. He ran two fourhorse coaches and carried many passengers. After the Danbury and Norwalk R.R. was built in 1852, the traffic on the old Turnpike grew smaller. The great freight wagons and stage coaches were taken off and many who had travelled. on horseback took the railway cars. Miss Sarah Coley [b. Dec. 9, 1827, d. July 1928] is probably the only person now living on the old Turnpike who remembers the old stage coach of 80 or 85 years ago. She is living in the house [now owned by D. Mecozzi] she was born in 92 years ago, in Georgetown.
Wilbur F. Thompson, Nov. 9,1920