in this Georgetown Early Businesses History section is information
I have gathered from articles by Wilbur F. Thompson. I have
recently added in information on the markets of Georgetown.
More information will be added as I find it.
let me know if there are more areas you'd like me to explore
or if you have further information. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Stores & Markets
Restaurants & Bars
growing Gilbert & Bennett company attracted many immigrants
and Georgetown quickly developed into quite a diverse community.
English, Irish, Italian, Polish and Scandinavian (Swedish
and Finnish) 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 and on Portland Ave., the Italian immigrants
settled in the Branchville section of Ridgefield. The English,
Irish, German and French-Canadiens were spread out all over
Georgetown in no set neighborhood.
serve the needs of these people there were quite a few small
markets in the area. Connery's, Kearns and Perry's markets
were three of the earliest and most popular.
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.
Ed Conklin and Erwin Samuelson would run the store from 1967-1973.
Location is on Old Mill Rd. where Curve's for Women
General Merchandise Store was established in 1906. Herbert
"Bert" Kearns was the proprietor until his death
shortly after the Flood of 1955. His wife and son ran the
store following his death. Kearns Store had three locations:
the first up where the Georgetown Post Office building is
today on Portland Ave., the second was on the path of Route
107 today, the store was moved 30' to 40' in 1955 to make
way for the new Route 107, over to where the Veterinarian's
office is today across from the Georgetown Bible Church.
Meat & Fish Market was owned and operated over the course
of it's history by Nathan Perry, Walter Perry, and Axel Carlson...in
that order. It was located where the Redding Pilot Building
is today on the corner of Rt. 57/Old Mill Rd. and Main St.
Clinton Bennett was an employee there as well. Perry's operated
from approx. 1900 (or a little earlier) to the 1950-60's.
Fish came in on Thursday and if it was not sold by Saturday
night it was taken out to the community and distributed to
the less-fortunate. Perry's reportedly had another market
over by Kearn's store too.
markets of note: A&P(Gustav Johnson, location next to Georgetown
Bible Church on path of Rt. 107 today, removed to make way
for Rt. 107 in 1955), Georgetown
Market (1922-1980's.) The Georgetown Market was established
in 1922 by Guiseppe Bonsignore (Guiseppe Bonsignore arrived
here from Sicily in 1905) Mondo and Jap took over in 1939
and added G&B Liquors in the late 1950's, Tankus's Clothing
store, Joe Sabillia's market & liquor store, Hammelscamp's
meat market, Perry reported to have another market over by
Kearn's store too.
'n Skip's Variety (Sam and Vera Bell) was on Main Street in
LoPresti ran a shoe repair business on Main St. in the 1930-40's.
Patsy's Shoe Repair was the name. He later worked for a New
York City Shoe Manufacturing Company and then at the Gilbert
& Bennett Factory.
Sabilia had a liquor store on Main St. approximately where
the barbershop is today. Sabilia sold that business to Dan
Levkoff in 1959. Dan had some great marketing slogans, such
as "Dan Sez...it takes a lot of beer to paint a house!"
and "Dan Sez...On Valentine's Day, get something for
yourself....Candy's Dandy but Liquor's Quicker!" Joe
Levkoff still runs Georgetown Liquors in their new building
behind Georgetown Auto Body. Bonsignore's ran a liquor store
next to their old building (now an Ice Cream Shop) and later
moved across the street to where Lombardi's is today.
Street has long been home to Georgetown's Restaurants and
Bars. The most popular and best known Restaurant/Bar is the
Georgetown Saloon. The Georgetown Saloon was established in
1978 by Adam Lebarsky, Tom "T" Kolkoski and Steve
Alward. They had great vision and foresight in bringing a
country-western bar to Georgetown as "Urban Cowboy"
starring John Travolta would hit the big-screen three years
later causing Country to be the "in-thing" across
the United States. Passing thru the swinging doors of the
Saloon is like crossing the border into Texas, even today!
the Saloon was established the building was home to Benny's
Italian Restaurant and Bar in the late 1940's to early 1950's.
Benny Allegrazzie found the third time to be a charm...after
two attempts in Branchville and on Route 7, he came to Georgetown
and found success. According to my grandfather (Harry Colley),
Benny's attracted a different bar crowd than Forgarty's which
was across the street. It was reported to be a bit on the
"wild side". Benny's bar was on the left hand side
of the restaurant (current seating area of the saloon) and
a very plain bar set-up in the opinion of my grandfather.
He also noted that Benny's wife was the boss...she would come
out of 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, so I guess it was a rather "wild"
bar scene down there.
Benny, either Tony DeLuca or Guiliano DeLuca (or both) remodeled
the restaurant placing the bar room on the right hand side
where we find it today. The original bar, of course, was kept
open while the remodeling took place and once it was completed
the old bar was removed and the area became restaurant seating.
was the first Pizza Restaurant (that I'm aware of) on Main
St. It was run by a man named Rocco and he had a wood-fueled
oven that produced "very good pizza" in my grandfather's
lived above the Saloon building in 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 long life
that included: not drinking, not smoking, drinking lots of
milk and going to bed at 10pm every night, which must have
been difficult living above a country-western bar...he did
live well into his 90's though.
businesses operating out of the Saloon Building were: Claudia's
Sweet Shop. Claudia was Benny's daughter. Unger's Dentist
office was here too before the new professional/commercial
buildings were built behind the Firehouse.
Georgetown Restaurant was across and a bit north of the Saloon
on Main St. Forgarty's long, miror backed bar 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 restaurant seating area only offered about 2-3 feet from
the bar stools to pass thru as you were heading to the back
of the bar. It was popular with the G&B employees, though
a bar crowd heavy in Swedes and light in Irishmen or heavy
in Irishmen and light in Swedes resulted in some tension.
My grandfather says it was a great place to enjoy a beer and
shoot the breeze.
Crowley owned the Georgetown Restaurant in the late 1970's.
Serafino Docimo ran the Georgetown Chowder House here in the
building was lost to fire in the 1990's.
Allegro's was once Mama Rosa's. Mama Rosa is Rose DeLuca.
This was great place to gather and enjoy Italian food in the
1970's and 80's.
the early settlement of our state until about 1840's and 50's,
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. It is probable that the first corn and grain
raised in Georgetown was ground in the home-made mortars of
wood or stone, with a pestle, or in the old Indian stone samp
mortars which can be found in the rocks in many places.
first Grist Mill where the early settlers of Georgetown had
their corn and rye ground stood on the west bank of the Saugatuck
River in the Hull District of Redding, a short distance north
of where Ferdinand Gorham's house stood in 1916 near the foot
of Nobb's Crook Hill(Redding Glen). This was in about 1730
and the miller's name was Jabez Burr.
years later a wind powered grist mill was built in what was
called Dumping Hole, or Dumping Hill, about two miles southeast
of Georgetown. This area was probably also known as Dumpling
Hill located near Wampum Hill and now in Cannondale School
Dis-trict of Wilton.
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, Westchest-er Co., Province
of New York, bought of Ebenezer Slawson, of Norwalk, a mill
privilege on the Norwalk River for the purpose of erecting
a grist mill. The mill was built and he commenced to grind
corn and grain. There is a tradition that John Belden had
built a saw mill on or near the same site, and Abbott bought
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
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 tav-ern or half-way house for the teamsters which was
located on the Danbury and Norwalk turnpike.
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 and whose name appears on the 1867 Beer's
Map of Redding. 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 in the 1860's. 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 the
1st , and had two sons and a daugh-ter. One son, Wakeman Godfrey,
was in business with him and lived in the house long after
owned by Henry Olmstead. He was called "Wake" Godfrey! One
of his daughters, Mary Ann, married Burr Betts of Norwalk.
other son, Silliman, built and lived in the house long after
owned by Dr. Lloyd Seeley on Old Mill Road. This house was
later owned by Gilbert & Bennett Mfg. Co. Silliman had a store
south of the house. 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. The old depot building
burned down in the early 1900's.
Godfrey's daughter Mary married Matthew Gregory of Georgetown.
Godfrey & Son ran the grist and saw mill for many years and
did a large business. In 1853 or '54 Ephraim Godfrey died.
His son then continued the business. About this time a new
grist mill was started in the old woolen mill lower down the
river and the Godfrey Mills did not have much to do, and later
the mills were closed. Some time after, Edwin Gilbert bought
the property, rebuilt the mill dam and mill, enlarging it,
fitting it up for other manufacturing; for a while, Betts
& Northrop had a car-penter shop there. Blood's patent flour
sifter and other wire goods were made there at this time.
Later the Gilbert & Bennett Co. purchased it and changed it
into a wire mill, the third floor of this mill was set up
and ran the second machine in this country for making wire
netting and fencing in 1869 and '70. In 1865 Gilbert & Bennett
& Co. had installed the first power machinery for making wire
poultry netting. It was used for that line of work until it
burned down around the early 1900's.
"new grist mill" mentioned above that put the Godfrey Mills
out of business was located in the Stone Mill John Taylor
had built in the early 1840's. Dr. N. Perry, of Ridgefield,
bought the mill and fitting it up for a grist mill and to
grind spices, called it the Glenburg Chemical Works. He wanted
to change the name of Georgetown to Glenburg, but did not
succeed. His son, Samuel Perry, had charge of the mill for
many years. The famous remedies so well known in the late
1800's were made here - composition powders for colds, magnesia
powders for indigestion, the No. 9, a pain killer, demulcent,
compounds for coughs, and many others. Spices were ground
and all kinds of extracts were made and sold. The country
stores all kept the Perry remedies, spices and extracts.
the death of Samuel Perry, the mill was sold to William J.
Gilbert. He leased it to different parties who ran it as a
grist mill. After the death of Samuel Perry, the formulas
for the Perry remedies came into the possession of his brother-in-law,
Eli Osborn, who made them for many years, at his home in Georgetown.
The mill was later owned by Samuel J. Miller.
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.
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 in
1684, when the original eight settlers passed up the valley,
following the Indian trail through swamp and forest to found
the new settlement of Danbury.
of the most important products of the farms of long ago were
wool and flax. In the summer days flocks of sheep were feeding
on the hillsides and waving fields of blue-flowered flax could
be seen on almost every farm.
was not harvested the same as grain or hay, but was pulled
up by the roots and stacked. Later in the season it was put
through a process of sweating or rotting to separate the fibre
from the woody part of the stalk. It was then crackled to
break the wood or straw of the flax. This was done by beating
it with wooden mallets. After this, it was hetcheled or hackled;
this was done by drawing the stalks of flax over sharp pointed
iron teeth thickly set in a block of wood. This separated
the fiber from the woody or straw portion of the flax. The
fiber, after hetcheling, was called tow or lint; this was
cleaned and spun into linen yarn or thread, and woven on the
hand looms into different kinds of linen cloth, and then bleached.
wool was worked up in a different way. After being sheared
from the sheep, it was washed and cleaned. Then it was carded
into a light fleecy mass (like the cotton batting of today.)
The hand cards were pieces of leather or thin wood thickly
set with fine wire points which caught and separated the fiber
of the wool. Sometimes the wool was bowed the same as hatters'
fur was in the olden times. This was done with a large bow
strung with catgut; pulling the string caused it to vibrate
in the wool, separating it the same as in carding.
carding, the wool was formed into rolls, from which it was
spun into woolen yarn or warp and then woven into woolen cloth
of many kinds, and blankets. A cloth for dresses and skirts
was woven, called linsey-woolsey. It had a lin-en warp and
woolen filling; a heavier cloth made of the same materials
was called fustian.
washing, the cloth was dyed, fulled. and finished.; oftentimes
the warp and filling were dyed before weaving. For many years
all this work was done by hand on the farms where the wool
and flax were raised. Later little shops and mills were built
along the stream where the wool and flax were prepared. for
weaving and where the home-made cloth was fulled and finished.
first mill where the early settlers of Georgetown and Boston
district took their wool to be cleaned and carded stood on
the east bank of the Saugatuck River, near Nobb's Crook. In
1746 Abram Fairchild and wife (Sarah Scribner) of Norwalk,
moved to what is now Boston district, not far from Nobb's
Crook. He built a small mill on the east bank of the river
for cleaning and carding wool, and fulling and finishing cloth.
He ran this mill for many years and raised a large family.
Six of his sons were in the Amer-ican army in the war of the
Revolution at the same time.
he sold the mill to Moses Fox, who lived nearby. Fox was in
business for some years. In 1803 he sold the mill to Joel
Foster, who lived a short dis-tance north of the mill. Foster
was in business until 1812, when the firm of Comstock, Foster
& Co. was formed, and a new mill was built a short distance
below the old mill. This firm did a large business in weaving
woolen goods of all kinds.
Foster bought the inter-ests of the other partners and continued
the business until 1843 or '44 when the mills were burned.
Isaac Perry, who later lived in Georgetown, worked in the
Comstock & Foster Mills. He was an expert weaver as were other
members of his family. A son, George Perry, made a specialty
of weaving fine woolen blankets or coverlids, which met with
a ready sale at $15 a pair.
Old Stone Mill a short distance below Georgetown, on the Norwalk
River was built around the 1840's, by John Taylor of Wilton.
It was called Tay-lor's Woolen Mills or Satinet Factory. He
built a dam a short dis-tance above and a canal to convey
the water to the mill. He also built the house near the mill
and lived there many years. His wife was Miss Hannah Varian,
of New York City; one of their children was drowned in the
canal. Levi Taylor, father of John Taylor, many years before
the mill was built had a store in Georgetown, a little way
below the Old Red Mill.
Williams, who lived a short distance below the mill, had charge
of the dyeing, carding and spinning department; his wife was
one of the weavers. A man named Glover also worked there.
He afterward ran the mills known as Glover's Woolen Mill at
Sanford's Station in West Redding.
Taylor was in business many years, and after he retired, a
Welshman named Evans, from Derby, continued the business.
After this, Blackman Bros., from New Milford, ran it for a
the early 1900's, there could be seen along the highways and
in the thickets of Georgetown and vicinity many specimens
of the white mulberry tree. Ask any old resident what these
trees were used for, and they would answer 'to feed silk worms."
These trees represented all that was left of an industry that
flour-ished in the rural communities of our state 75 or more
years ago. It was called "sericulture," or the rearing of
silk worms. It was first introduced into New England by French
colonists, some of whom settled in New Rochelle.
1783, the General Assembly of our state offered bounties and
rewards for the rearing of silk worms. and many were engaged
in the industry. In 1838 there was a revival in seri-culture,
causing a great demand for the Mulberry tree, which could
not be supplied. Trees of one year's growth were sold for
$1 each. Georgetown, in common with other rural sections,
had the silk worm craze, and hundreds of trees were set out.
The industry gave employment to many women and children. The
children gathered the leaves of the mulberry tree, and. the
women took care of the silk worms.
rearing houses or feeding sheds where the worms were fed had
to be well-lighted and ventilated, and kept at an even temperature.
The eggs (called graine) of the silk worm were hatched out
by artificial heat. After hatching, the worms were placed
in shallow trays, which slid, into frames, one over anoth-er.
The bottoms of the trays were coarse muslin, which gave required
ventilation. The trays were filled with chopped mulberry leaves
for the worms to feed on. They were great eaters and grew
rapidly. Tradition says that when the worms were feeding,
the noise could be heard 20 feet or more away from the feeding
feeding a number of days, the silk worm matured and ceased
eating. At this time, small branches and twigs of trees were
placed near the trays, the worms crawling up into them, commenced
to spin their cocoon, always finishing them in three or four
days. The cocoons, which were a light yellow color, were collected.
Some of the best were saved to furnish eggs for the next season's
silk worms. The others were pricked to kill the pupa and prevent
further growth. These were placed in hot water to loosen the
gum on the surface. The silk was unwound onto reels or swifts
and formed into hanks or skeins. It was then spun into thread
or warp and woven into silk fabrics on the hand looms of the
Olmsteads, Perrys, Bennetts, Battersons, Osborns, Wakemans,
the many feeding sheds, there were two large ones. One was
owned by Silas Olmstead, in Chicken Street; the other by Matthew
Gregory, in Georgetown.
years ago there were many families who had carefully laid
away silk dresses, waist coats, neckerchiefs, etc., which
had been woven on the hand looms in Georgetown and vicin-ity,
from silk that had been unwound from cocoons that had been
spun by worms, fed on the leaves of the old Mulberry trees.
1842 there was a blacksmith shop in Boston district, Redding,
owned by Elias Andrews. In those days there was no mineral
coal used in the rural sections. Every blacksmith had a charcoal
pit for making coal. One day a man came into the shop and
told Andrews he could get a black stone that would make a
hotter fire than charcoal. He was told to get some. He went
into what is known as Seventy Acres and returned with a bag
of black stone. It was placed on the forge - it burned with
an intense heat. He would never tell where he found it, and
many have looked for it but never have found it.
1848, a coal miner named Chambers, from Carbondale, Pennsylvania,
came to Georgetown to visit friends. He heard the story of
the lost coal mine and tried to find it, but was not successful.
In his search he noticed that the formations of rock in many
places was the same as in coal regions. He started to dig
in many places up the valley into Boston district. At last
he found what he thought to be good indications of coal, and
commenced to dig in earnest. He hired local help, paying them
$1.00 per day from sunrise to sunset. The shaft or tunnel
was cut through solid rock about six feet in diameter running
back on the level under the hill. It is said that he found
small veins of coal but was looking for a large vein.
weeks of hard work the tunnel was dug under the hill about
50 feet. One Satur-day night some of the young men who worked
for Chambers in the mine drove down to Norwalk and secured
some large lumps of coal. This they placed in the back end
of the mine and covered with rock. The first stroke of the
pick in the morning uncovered the coal. Chambers was happy,
thc long sought-for coal was found. He soon found that he
had been fooled. This disappointment, with the lack of funds,
put an end to his mining. It is possible if he had kept on
he would have found coal enough to pay him to mine it.
old mine is about 250 feet south of the house long owned by
Aaron Osborn which was located just up from Brookside Road
on the left of Rt. 107 and was on his land. It was long known
as "Chamber's Coal mine." In the 1870's Aaron Osborn used
the old coal mine in the summer as a cooler for milk, eggs,
butter, etc. The water, icy cold, dripping from the roof and
sides of the mine drained off into the Boston brook that flowed
by the entrance of the mine. Thc entrance to this old mine
was closed by the debris that has fallen from the hill above.
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