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!
Our one, and only, fundraiser for the year: September 12th, 2014 from 6 to 9pm at Ski Sundown. Our wine tasting is not only an excellent way to taste a wide variety of wines and beers; but it is a great dinner. We will have a number of dishes from various local restaurants: Pizza to Lobster Macaroni to Thai!
$25 at the door, hope to see you there! Come support local history!
As a gardener, descriptions of old gardens always catch my eye:
Here in Sarah Jones’ book is the description of a house and garden in the West Hill area built by one John Blakesly in 1842:
“Mr. Blakesly was an industrious, honest man, and although he had but an acre and a half of land, he always found enough to do upon it, and his place, for neatness and high culture, could not be excelled in Litchfield County. It was by many considered a treat to look his little place over, so nicely was everything kept. He raised celery, garden vegetables and some tobacco, and from his own exclusive production made very good cigars.”
Tobacco was a cash crop and luxury item for many farmers in the area. One of the largest tobacco farms in the region was the Case Farm in Barkhamsted Hollow. Commercial production of tobacco was a primary focus on several other farms on the Farmington River above Satan’s Kingdom. It was an ideal export crop, for it stored well, was easily transported, and even small amounts could always be sold in Hartford for cash. Most people relied on barter for goods and services, but cash was always welcome. And, as the above passage suggests, many farmers grew tobacco for their own personal use.
The burial permits for the town of New Hartford from 1893 to 1975 are available on our website, look at ‘Archives>Burial Records’. In addition to being an excellent source for genealogical information, these records are a fascinating glimpse into daily life. They record the lives, and the tragedies, of the people of the town. We can see through these permits how life has changed: diseases and accidents that were once common place have become rare, while unheard of accidents have become common. The records are sometimes sobering: children dying of appendicitis or cholera, virtually unheard of in our modern world, men in the prime of their life dying from accidents that today would be survivable. They are also reminders that some people lived long lives, dying in their 80’s, even a few in their 90’s.
On Page 7 of the burial and transit records though, we come to the first real indication of the modern world: 2nd Lieut. Henry C. Smith died on December 22, 1918 in an airplane (aeroplane was the spelling then) accident in France. The first car accident victim in New Hartford’s records was a child, Albert Pompa, age 11, in 1927.
The starkness of the burial records makes them almost more poignant. Who were these people, summed up in such a few short sentences?
On June 11th, alternative date of June 25, New Hartford’s Town Historian, David Krimmel, will present his research on the town’s brick houses which built in the early 1800’s. The meeting will take place at 7pm in the New Hartford Town Hall.
Prior to this presentation, at 6:30 pm at the same location, we will be holding a special meeting to vote on the new bylaws for the society. These will be passed out to all attending this meeting. All members in good standing will be eligible to vote on the bylaws.
Starting on Monday, May 19th, the New Hartford Historical Society will be open from 10 am to noon on the first and third Mondays of the month, in addition to our regular hours from 7-9 pm on Wednesdays and 10-12 on some Saturdays.
Feel free to stop in!
Historical Societies are dependent on the good faith of the citizens of the town. It has been said that history has been written by the victors. A more correct statement might be that history is written by those who value their culture.
The New Hartford Historical Society needs more members if it is to survive. I write this looking at a number of file cabinets, shelves, and ranks of boxes: the archives of the society, encompassing well over a century of information, photos, recollections, letters, the memories of hundreds of people. Without members, the memories will be consigned to the dark recesses of some location somewhere. Should New Hartford be an orphan, without an history, or a proud child of its ancestors? New Hartford embodies all the great strands of New England history, whether of tragedy or joy. Shall these events, these people, these dreams be forgotten? From Floods to Fires, the canvas of the great racing yachts, the guitars of great artists, the working man, the farmers, the authors, the actors, the thousands of lives? Shall we consign them to oblivion?
Membership in the New Hartford Historical Society:
Greystone Circle: $100+
Please make checks payable to New Hartford Historical Society and mail NHHS, P.O. Box 41, New Hartford, CT 06057 or stop by and see us, Wednesday nights between 7 and 9pm.
From a 1946 newspaper:
‘More and more matters of interest are coming to light relative to the old New Hartford Bicycle or Club (eds. note, I know of only Two clippings connected to them, more information would be lovely) We have just learned that at the town meeting held in October, 1898, the town made an appropriation of $100 for a cycle track or path leading from Satan’s Kingdom to the Barkhamsted town line, the wheelmen themselves giving $75 towards the project. This cycle path was evidently on the easterly side of the Farmington River, up along the ‘Niggertown Road’ (eds. note, the Farmington River Tpke) and perhaps was advocated for the express purpose of seeing the bicyclists and other wheel men safely through that region known as Satan’s Kingdom. We can find no record of the cycle path, as such, having been constructed, though the road was improved.”
An interesting story, this would have been one of the earliest bike paths to have been built. Its exact purpose seems a little unclear, since that section of road is actually above Satan’s Kingdom. And, at the time of the purposed route, the only flat ground in the Kingdom was already occupied with several rail tracks and a road. It may have been designed more to route the bikers along a more scenic and quieter path through Pine Meadow and North Village, since that is the section of river actually under discussion.
The invoice includes: 2 boxes, 2 bundles of spokes, one coffin box (so presumably no body included…), a turkey, buckwheat, catsup?, and two pigs. One may note that the two pigs cost almost as much as the rest of the loads put together. Somehow, this does not surprise me, but does suggest that the pigs were alive and unhappy!
It is easy to overlook St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Hartford. It sits up and off of Holcomb Hill, so none of the major routes go past it.
The church has an interesting history. It was originally built in Pleasant Valley, Barkhamsted. However, in 1862, the Baptist Church in New Hartford’s North Village purchased the building. It was floated down the Farmington River in pieces and rebuilt in its current location. This is perhaps less ridiculous than it sounds, because at that time the Greenwoods Pond Dam backed the Farmington River up nearly into Pleasant Valley. Because of this, it was less a matter of floating it down a river and more a matter of floating it down a long narrow pond. Nonetheless it must have been a remarkable sight. It also is a clear indication of the value placed on a well constructed building and on pre-cut timber.
As mentioned, the building is somewhat off the beaten path. However, at the time, it was thought that the East River road would be extended along that route. Or at least might be extended along it. Today, the section between Pleasant Valley is essentially an abandoned jeep track. Route 44, the Greenwoods Turnpike, won out over the East River Road and its business factions. The road was built on the west side of the river, and the church was not on that side.
Circa 1907, the Lutheran Church bought the building from the Baptists, and it has remained as a Lutheran Church to this day.