William Columbus Ferril.

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drifts. Not only good judgment from appearances but familiarity with the
locality is needed in effectively placing these windbreaks. Currents of air
sweep through hollows as well as over hilltops, and they may be obstructed or
diverted often at quite a distance from where they produce trouble.

In view of these facts, the United States government should do much
more than they have yet done in protecting the national domain from spoila-
tion and waste, enforcing laws for the protection of timber lands, not only for
the timber itself but for those other purposes of national prosperity which
they furnish.

The state of New York is setting a noble example by her reserves in the
Adirondack Forests. Connecticut in her laws acknowledges these truths but
has little power to control matters. We must use our influence with the geft-
eral government to do for the whole country what is necessary and proper,
and by a general dift'usion of knowledge on these subjects prevent these great
outrages upon posterity.

The sanitary effects of a pine forest around a residence is well known, but
little regarded. Memorial Trees, or those that become such, having been
planted by some ancestor or some noted person in past time, and now alone
remain as testimonials of their kind foresight, are worthy of our care and
study. May the memory of the tree planters be ever green with us, who enjoy
the fruits of their labors. ]May the aroma of their good deeds perfume our
souls, as our senses are refreshed by the odor of bursting bud and blossom and
waving foliage, and as we recline in their shade in summer and seek their
shelter in winter and recall with affection the planters and remember them
with gratitude, let us also remember God the Creator of all things good, and
who has made it our privilege, as well as duty to be co-workers with him in
adorning our heritage.

"Be aye sticking in a tree Jock. It'll be growing while ye' re .sleeping."



Whitney Avenue, leading- north from New Haven, is adorned with
elegant residences throughout the two mile limit to the Hamden line.
Thence it continues in unbroken characteristic elegance of country homes,
due north the entire length of the town. The New Haven Street Railway
Company have lately extended their road eight miles through this thorough-
fare and now the electric car, with " Whitney Avenue " gilded on its crest, is
making its frequent run to Mt. Carmel.

Historically, Hamden obtained its charter in 1786, previous to that date
being a portion of New Haven. The parish of Mt. Carmel received a colonial
charter in 1757, and became the earliest settled portion of the town. The area
of the township is about twenty-two square miles with a population of four
thousand. Manufacturing gives employment to a large portion of the in-
habitants. In the belt bordering New Haven, market gardening is a large
interest of recent years so that land now valued at several hundred dollars an
acre, would a few years ago not have brought ten dollars an acre.

The first settlers, who had the pick of selection, must have chosen high
ground, rendered dry and salubrious, and oiTering artistic views of rare beautj'.
We find such entrancing scenes overlooking valleys now filled by smoke stacks
of factories and the nearby houses of the operatives.

A little research may reveal the belongings of a former homestead. A
decayed apple tree putting forth a few blooms, a lilac bush or a pear tree, per-

mmr mtflii,,ia7'^sfBUS^




haps the cellar is not all obliterated— certainly the stone walls remain, showing
where once were highways, often on exact compass lines due north by
south or east by west, with fields well defined. Here is woodland and forest
growthof value, a soil generous and fertile and often not much encumbered by
stone, highways all laid out with enduring fence, and fields ready to clear and

Formerly two chartered turnpike roads and one canal entered New Haven
through the town of Hamden. At the present time three lines of electric roads
and two steam roads have their terminals in this town or pass through it in
reaching the city.

The Cheshire turnpike company received a charter in 1800. Much dissatis-
faction was afterward expressed by the residents who were forced to pay a

toll for what before had been a free road. The toll-gate was placed a short dis-
tance north of the Mt. Carmel church and south of what was then known as
"The Steps," the latter being a stair-like formation in the trap rock, which
the building of the turnpike and later, the canal, obliterated.

In 1822 the Farmington Canal Companj' was chartered and work com-
menced in 1825. The site of the canal in the town of Hamden was in close
proximity to the turnpike road. The former was abandoned in 1849 by
substituting a steam road contiguous to the tow-path. The turnpike company
became disintegrated by the building of the railroad, which for several miles
in Hamden occupied a portion of the traveled road. So much danger was in-
curred to passing teams that the town took action with the railroad company to





have the steam road-bed removed to the west far from all public highways,
with no grade crossings. By a singular coincidence the same ground once oc-
cupied by the steam road-bed and abandoned for that purpose during a period
of twelve years has now become the road-bed of the electric tramway. Thus
we have in close proximity, the remains of the former canal, steam railroad,
the electric road and the highway ; also at " The Steps," Mill River defiles
through a narrow gorge of trap rock at the base of Carmel, in close contact
with these different lines of travel. The turnpike companies released their
charters in favor of the town about 1855, leaving the roads free for public
travel. The townsmen have availed themselves of the statute providing state
aid in stone road building, and there are now several miles of macadam roads
in the town. In the southwest section of the town, known as Hamden Plains,
Robert Dickerman and a few others gave three thousand dollars to build a
macadam pavement on Circular Avenue for the benefit of the farmers and
gardeners in that section. Wherever such a highway is well made an im-
mediate increase in land value is apparent.

Foremost among those who have added to the welfare of the town of
Hamden, Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton-gin will ever be remem-
bered. He purchased in 1798, the site of Todd's grist mill, two miles from
New Haven and established there the first factory in America for the making
of fire-arms, thus founding Whitney ville. The first dam was built here by the
town of New Haven before 1686. The present one was erected by the New
Haven Water Company in i860 and now stands thirty-four feet and eleven
inches high, forming a reservoir that affords a daily amount the year round of
120,000,000 gallons. This was the first of what is now a series of reservoirs
built on different streams, that supplies New Haven with water. By the
erection of the dam at Whitneyville by the Water Company three mill sites
above it were submerged.



The second dam in Hamden appears to have been erected on the same
stream in Mt. Carmel and used for a grist mill. Not far below this site a dam
was built to run a mill for fulling cloth, which passed from existence]niorethan
sevent)' years ago. No record appears when these dams were erected. The
first site is now utilized by the Mt. Carmel Axle Works. Between this dam
and the one at Whitney ville is a dam running the silk factory of Hermon Clarke;
the next south runs the brass and iron foundry of Walter Woodruff & Sons,
the next dam works the Beers Grist Mill and below this a dam furnishes water
power for the New Haven Web Company in Centerville. One more dam at
Augerville gives power for the manufacture of augers and bits. Each of these
manufacturing sites gives employment for operatives whose homes form a
continuous village through nearly the entire length of the town. The largest
number of employees in any one establishment is at the Web Company in

Much of the wealth created by the manufactures in Hamden has gone out
from the place to its non-resident proprietors. The Mt. Carmel Axle works is
a notable example of this, which commenced business here in 1842 under the
control of Henry Ives, who later became a resident of New Haven, where his
successors in the business still live. The Candee Rubber Company, one of the
first, if not the first concern in the country to make rubber goods, was first es-
tablished in Centerville, this town, where the very large profits made in a few
years, enabled the company to build the extensive factories in New Haven
where the business is still conducted. Very little money by way of permanent
investment made by the Rubber Company remained in Hamden. The New
Haven Web Company, which now occupies the original site of the Candee
Rubber Company, have in its manager and superintendent, residents of
the town, who have built handsome residences in Centerville. Some portions





of the profits remain in the way of extensive factories and numerous homes for
the emplo^-ees. Electric street lights and half a mile of excellent macadam
road in Centerville are some of the features of improvement emanating from
the Web Company.

The town hall at Centerville is a creditable structure of brick and stone
designed by Prof. William P. Blake of Hamden, and was erected by the town
in 1888.

Prominent in Centerville, in the decade previous to 1S60, was the famous




" Rectory School," organized and conducted by the Rev. C. N. Everest, being
one of the first institutions of learning to adopt military training in the educa-
tional system. The school often numbered eighty cadets and was well known
and popular throughout the United States. A school is still continued in the
same buildings by William C. Raymond.

James Ives was a notable example of a successful inventor and manufac-
turer, who spent his fortune as accumulated, in his native pari.shof Mt. Carmel.

His works still remain in evidence of his executive ability and are of per-
manent utility in Mt. Carmel. The institution known as the Mt. Carmel
Childrens' Home, for the care of Protestant children of this state, is beautiful
in its situation and surroundings. It remains as at the decease of Mr. Ives,
which previous to that was his family residence. The building before being


converted into a residence by Mr. Ives was built and christened "The Young
Ladies' Female seminary," under the care of Miss Elizabeth Dickerman and her
sisters. A few boys were admitted and I well remember the gifted teacher in
my first introduction there into the higher branches of English literature.
The " Principal " with her two sisters figure as the heroines in the book of
"The Sisters," by Rev. J. P. Warren, D. D., at one time pastor of the Mt. Car-
mel church.

The oldest house now standing, and still one of the best preserved, in the
town of Hamden, is situated next the Mt. Carmel church. It was built by the
Rev. Nathaniel Sherman, during his pastorate, which extended from 1769 to
1772. Tradition has it that he was the whole three years in building it, andhad
to leave it almost as soon as finished. It was quite a mansion for those days and
the lumber, brick, nails, etc., were all brought from Boston.


.Ml. CAK.MK.l. children's HOMK.

Haven, who has compiled after many years research,
expense, the genealogical history of the Dickerman
Dickerman, who became president of the New York
a successful business man of New York ;
and Capt. Ezra Day Dickerman who served
his country in the civil war and died from
wounds there incurred.

Sterling Bradley, a life-long resident of
Hamden, became the sole proprietor of the
Cheshire turnpike during the latter part of
the time when toll was collected. His stal-
wart form was a familiar figure, usually
accompanied by a team of unusually fine
oxen. At one period his home became the
country tavern that furnished refreshment
to the throngs of people that traveled over
his road. The distance of thirteenfmiles
from New Haven to Cheshire was traveled
by the mail and passenger coaches in those
days in one relay of horses, and this section
then enjoyed the reputation it has since

The old home-
stead, formerly the
home of Deacon
Ezra Dickerman,
is still standing
where now hourly
pass the trolley
cars with their
numerous throngs
of seekers for busi-
ness or pleasure.
From there have
gone out a family,
many of whom
have become con-
spicious in their
various spheres in
the world's work.
Among these were
the "sisters" be-
fore referred to ;
the Rev. George
Sherwood Dicker-
man, D. D., an emi-
nent divine of New
Haven ; Edward
D w i g h t Dicker-
man, also of New
and published at his own
family ; Watson Bradley
Stock Exchange and was



maintained, of being the best and pleasantest drive for the entire distance of
any road in the whole country. The fine Bradley farm still remains an heir-
loom in the family, and such was the permanent character of his work that
fence walls of stone
and cast iron posts
with chestnut rails
remain as he built
them, fifty years ago.
No man in a com-
munity becomes a
sharer with the
people in their joys
and sorrows like the
village doctor, and
Hamden has been
fortunate in having
the uninterrupted
•service of almost fifty
years of Dr. Edwin D.
Swift. He was born
in Sharon, this state,
in 1825, passed his boyhood in Cornwall, graduated at the New York Uni-
versity in March, 1849, and settled in Hamden in May of the same year. I
well remember an early call of introduction he made to my father's family,
where his practice has been a continued success in relieving pain and distress.
May he still have many years in which to extend relief to suffering humanity.

Charles Brockett, whose brick
mansion still stands as he built it, was
the earliest in the manufacture of
steel carriage springs. His father's
old homestead still stands on the
a competence from the excellence of his


■opposite corner of the original turn-
pike highway, where he vigorously
conducted the cooperage business in
making casks for the West India
trade. Charles Brockett early acquired

PR. EI>\M.N 1'. 3W1ET.



carriage springs, which always bore the highest certificate of quality. As
early as 1858 the town sought his guidance as manager of town business,
which position he held through four terms of continued service during the
troublous time of the civil war. He skillfully avoided litigation in the extreme-
ly difficult adjustment of new road construction when the New Haven Water
Company appropriated much of the town's highways in, and adjacent to,
Whitney ville. James J. Webb and the writer were members of the board of
selectmen during the two years of Charles Brockett's administration, and well
do I remember the different phases of public life that often occurred in deal-
ing with contractors and the management of public and private interests.

The highway in its changed situation now stands a perpetual reminder of
the great benefit to travel, which formerly passed where is now the bed of the
lake, and which in its old layout was much of the course on swampy land, and
often perilious with deep mud.

The Rev. Austin Putnam was pastor of the church in Whitney ville during
fifty consecutive years and endeared himself in the hearts of his people. The
following extracts are taken from his Historical Discourse preached July 9,
1876, and published more fully in the History of Hamden. "The present
pastor was installed on the 31st day of October, 1838. The church at that time
was small and feeble. It consisted of about seventy-five members. The growth
of the church during thelast forty-eight years has not been rapid, but it has
been steady and healthy. W^e have given to other churches many more than
they have given to us. W^here, for instance, are the Fords and the Gilberts
and the Bassetts, once so numerous and so strong among us ? They are near-
ly all gone. In their removal from the world the church sustained a great,
and as it seemed at the time, an irreparable loss. But God, who is ever mind-





ful of his people has been pleased to raise up others to take their

places And we shall die but the church will live. For the source

of life is not in man but in God. During this period of our history our house
of worship was rebuilt at an expense of about ten thousand dollars. We have
a commodious, pleasant and attractive house of worship, and we owe no man
anything but love. Our expenses have been comparatively small but they
have always been promptly met. The pastor has always been satisfied with
his salary, and whenever his people have changed it as they have done several
times, they have
always made it
more instead of
less, and this they
have done entirely
of their own free
will without any
solicitation or sug-
gestion from him.
And he has never
had to ask or wait
for his money."

Rev. Joseph
Brewster, for near-
ly thirty years rec-
tor of Christ
Church New Hav-
en, began his resi-
dence in Hamden
in 1865. "Edge ki;sidenck of j.




Hill " as he named
his little farm is
beautifully situated
on the hills to the
east of the old " Ives
Station " where i s
now the Mt. Carmel
post-ofhce. Mr.
Brewster was never
so happy as when
planning to increase
the beauty of his
grounds. Before a
tree was planted he
would view the place
from every side, and
again after consid-
ering the effect from every point of view, he would cut a tree here or trim a
branch there, and open up some unexpected vista. In this beatiful spot he
sought respite from his parish work. Resigning the rectorship of Chri.st
Church in i88i, he was rector of Grace Church in Centerville for two year^,
and again in 1892-4 he had charge of this little church.

Mr. Brewster was not identified with Hamden so closely as his long
residence would warrant, as his duties took him away and he had many inter-
ests elsewhere. He died in Brooklyn Nov. 20, 1895, where he was then rector
of St. Michael's Church.

All of Mr. Brewster's four sons graduated at Yale College. Subsequently
one of them became a member of the bar while three followed their father's

\vi;i;b I'l.Ari:.




footsteps in entering the Episcopal ministry, Right Rev. Chauncey B. Brewster
present Bishop-Coadjuter of Connecticut, Rev. Benjamin Brewster of
Colorado Springs and Rev. William J. Brewster of Northford, Conn.

Pre-eminent among the many elegant homes which adorn Whitney Avenue
in Hamden is the home of James H. Webb descended to him from his father,
James J. Webb, who distinguished himself by his untiring zeal to promote and
improve the agriculture
of his native state. Born
in Litchfield county, he
spent many years in life v
"on the plains " and in
New Mexico. His anec-
dotes of personal travel
there while engaged in
the mercantile business
in Santa Fe would fill a
volume of very interesting

narrative. Having amass-
ed a considerable fortune
by his indomitable perse-
verance, he bought the
present Webb farm which
had formerly been owned
by planters of the West
Indies, who made this
their summer home. I
well remember the place as the home of the families of the Van den Heuvel's
and the Walters, who were the owners of rich sugar estates and sent their
sweets to the New Haven market, in return shipping horses, mules, casks,
hoops and staves. The hickory poles of Hamden formerly found an excel-
lent market in supplying the planters' demand. Kiln-dried corn meal was
also a large product exported from a mill at Mt. Carmel.

Under Mr. Webb's efficient management the farm became a garden in

' I\ Y MIOI.





productiveness. Becoming interested in all means to increase fertility, com-
mercial fertlizers were broug-ht into use, and to insure uniform quality and to
protect farmers from fraud in their purchases, he saw the great benefit science
might give and became the prime mover in promoting the Agricultural Ex-
periment Station at New Haven. Mr. Webb's zeal and labor in this el?ort
were untiring and overcame many difficulties, and after the station under its
efficient Director and assistants became a potent factor, the venders of inferior
fertilizers disappeared from the market. Mr. Webb as president of the New
Haven County Agricultural Societ}-, president of the New Haven Farmer's
Club and member of the State Board of Agriculture, also as State Senator,

became well known near by
and abroad, and left as an
enduring monument to his
labor, the mansion and ex-
tensive barns and large
farm, which extends both
sides of Whitney Avenue to
Mill River on the west and
the Ridge Road on the east.
The place may be known as
the Webb farm for many

Prof. William P. Blake,

editor of the " Histor}' of

I'.NTAi.N coTTAcr.. ^\\

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 40 of 46)