We are organizing our exhibition on the Flood of 1955, while we have a number of letters and memoirs in our archive; we would love to have more stories. Although we are looking primarily for New Hartford history, if you lived in the general area, the stories would be just as valuable. The Flood was a regional event that changed the landscape of the entire state.
If you want to write us your memories, or the memories of your family; you can email us or send us snail mail at New Hartford Historical Society, P.O. Box 41, 537 Main St, New Hartford Ct, 06057.
If you are in the area and wouldn’t mind being interviewed about the Flood, or about other history, we will be working on setting up interviews with people. We will want to videotape them for the historical society and for posterity! Please contact us.
Local history is always your stories and your contributions, we welcome them all.
Ice fishing in New Hartford is popular on West Hill Pond in January and February, a century ago ice fishing also occurred on the Farmington and Nepaug Rivers as well as on Greenwoods Pond, which was the dammed section of the Farmington above the town. The rivers were more favorable to ice fishing a century ago because of the number of low power dams that slowed the flow rate considerably; although the rivers still freeze up today, the ice is thinner and rougher.
Tunking required shallow, clear water and abundant slow moving fish. A large hole was cut in the ice and the spiked bar lowered to rest on the bottom of the river. The fish were driven up river by beaters pounding on the ice. Assuming they were swimming slowly enough, as the fish crossed the bar, the people would rapidly raise the bar, spearing the fish. It was not, apparently, a very successful method. It was commonly attempted on shallow river waters where the current slowed the movement of the fish. It is likely that it was used on the Nepaug River and sections of the Farmington below Pine Meadow.
Typing (tipping) is the classic form of ice fishing using bait and a bobber dropped through a hole, with a flag that would be raised if the fish took the hook. It was a very successful form of fishing at West Hill Pond and Greenwoods Pond.
West Hill Pond was always a good fishing spot and still is today. Greenwoods Pond, of course, has returned to its state as a river and still has excellent fishing, but of a different type: trout rather than lake fish. Today, the shallows of the Farmington at Pine Meadow are also ideal for fish and are a favorite spot for trout, but a century ago this was not the case. Pine Meadow was a fishing spot where the art of fishing was happily practiced, but generally without fish involved. It is likely that the combination of the village’s sewers, the outflow from the Greenwoods turbines, and the weir for the Chapin factory made the river inhospitable for fish in the early twentieth century. Today this section of the Farmington boasts some excellent fishing and extremely clean water, some of the best in Connecticut, despite having ever more people on and using the river.
If any one is interested: check out the Personal Recollections page of our website and the sub-page ‘Plain Tales’
We always appreciate donations of material and we like it even more when we can share it with you!
From Sarah Jones’s inimitable ‘Sketches’ an anecdote about John Cotton Smith, one of the founders of the Greenwoods Textile Mills in the 1850’s:
“He was eminently the friend of the poor, and a promoter of law and good order in the town. And yet, he was not a man to be easily imposed upon, as the following anecdote will illustrate. An employee of the mill, thinking to perpetrate a fine joke on his employer on one occasion, rang the bell for dismissing the hands five minutes ahead of time. Mr. Smith said nothing, and the weeks ran on until the next pay day, when instructions were issued to send the self appointed bell-ringer to headquarters for settlement of his accounts, where he was shown a paper with the loss to the company of five minutes time for each hand carefully figured thereon, and informed that it amounted to something over the quarter’s wages then due. After that it was not considered a wise thing to attempt a joke on ‘Capt. John’ as he was familiarly called not from any military rank, but because he was a born leader of men.”
From Sketches of the People and Places of New Hartford in the Past and Present; Sarah Lucia Jones, 1883
Reprints for sale from the New Hartford Historical Society, 537 Main Street, New Hartford, Ct. Open 7-9pm Wednesdays.
Ever wondered about the stately brick houses that dot the New Hartford landscape? Who built them, why, and when?
Come find out about a remarkable chapter in New Hartford’s architectural, industrial, and social history on January 22nd, 2015 at 7pm at the New Hartford Town Hall. David Krimmel, retired town historian, will relate his findings on all of the brick houses of the town. Mr. Krimmel’s knowledge of the early history of New Hartford, who owned what and when, is unrivaled.
Open to the public, donations gratefully accepted.
A few interesting things have come through the door in the past few months:
The Hitchcock Chair Dog from the 2005 Dog Dazes of New Hartford; the artist was Lori Sokolik Pagano and the sponsor was the Hitchcock Chair Company. Dog Dazes was a fundraiser using the popular format of painted fiberglass animals, in this case dogs. The dogs were painted by local artists and auctioned off, with the proceeds going to several local non-profits. The bench, with the life-size gun-dog or pointer standing on it, is in black and gold stencils that recall the Hitchcock chair patterns once made in Barkhamsted and New Hartford. The bench is, naturally, a Hitchcock bench. This item, and a poster showing all the other dogs that were created for the event, are currently on loan from Chris Jones.
Chris Jones has also loaned an 1859 topographic map of Litchfield County published by Clark’s of Philadelphia. The map is just about six feet tall and remarkably detailed for the era.
A birdhouse made of scrap fret board wood and various hardwoods. This simple birdhouse was made Leon Whipple, a former carpenter at Ovation Guitars in New Hartford. When Ovation closed in the summer of 2014, he was allowed to take some scrap wood; with it he constructed a variety of bird houses. The birdhouse was donated by Terry and Lou Moscaritolo, owners of Wild Birds Unlimited, Avon.
We have also had a number of photographs and newspaper clippings come in. As always, we are on the lookout for more information from any time period!
I (the anonymous author of this quondam blog :) ) would like to thank Ginny and Bob Worrest, Pat and Tammy Casey, and Barbara LaMere, for all their wonderful work in making our wine tasting fundraiser a success once more! Along with all of our local sponsors, without local business where would we be?
I would also encourage people to help us with our next project: 2015 will be the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Flood which changed the face of Northwestern Connecticut permanently. If you, or a relative, have any recollections, artifacts, or anything at all relating to the Flood, we would love to know about it! We are quite happy to make copies of original documents if need be. Digital, paper, or other submissions would be much appreciated!
Thank you all for your support and interest.