Gypsies

Gypsies are not usually associated with Connecticut history.  However, an article in the Winsted Citizen from 1947 reported that in the late 1800’s gypsies did visit the region on a routine basis.  There was a large horse market in Hartford that was operated by the gypsy ‘King’.  During the winter, the gypsies went south.  During the summer, there was apparently an encampment on the upper reaches of the Greenwoods Pond on the line between Barkhamsted and New Hartford.  Here the men would trade horses while the women would peddle lace, fabric, baskets, and jewelry.  The gypsies travelled in covered and open wagons, pulled by horses and usually with several spare horses in tow.

“The gypsy men wandered far afield, sold, and traded horses. The women cooked over open fires, sang and laughed as they maintained a kind of family life with the big covered wagons as homes. Pleasant afternoons certain of the women would emerge. Dressed in bright colors, full flowing skirts with contrasting blouses, many necklaces and bracelets, big ear rings, black shining hair parted in the middle, their bright bold eyes flashed warily as they kept a look-out for possible customers. They carried baskets and laces over their arms and went door to door selling their wares  and soliciting business in fortune telling.”

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Gypsies

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  2. Ruth Lambert Speed

    The large horse market that you speak of was started originally in New Haven by my great grandfather “Prince” Thomas Williams. He later bought the old Farmers Hotel in East Hartford where he operated the livery and horse sale stable. After his death in 1895, the business passed into the hands of his three sons, Richard, Noah and Belcher Williams. The business was burned out twice in 1900 and again in 1902. The family re-built the business and carried on in a few different locations in the area until the age of the automobile gradually forced closing of the horse business.

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