Emily C. (Emily Carrie) Hawley.

Historical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield online

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the Iron Works for years, their plant being where
J. T. Bateman's shop is now. At the present time
Louis Coville is proprietor of a steam saw mill on
Huckleberry Hill, and Charles Pinckney at Brook-
field Center.

. Iron Works Street

The present village street at the Iron Works is quite
thickly settled, and is laid out on the west side of Still
River ; here are the pleasant homes of Mrs. Junius F.
Smith, Arthur S. Mansfield, Nile Hendrickson (the two
latter were for some years the homes of the Ira and

88 Historical Sketch

Frederick Keeler families. On the opposite corners are
the residences of E. Roswell and William J. Beehler,
former homes of the Burr and Bennett families. The
residences on the west side of the street belong - to
Major Greene, B. T. Jackson, Clarence Vroman,
Emily C. Hawley; the east side of the street includes
the homes of V. E. Patch, James and John Bateman,
Miss Cotton, Mrs. Knight, Peter Dixon, and the
O'Donnell home.

The Charles Taber home is south of the former
Baptist Church, and on the Danbury road is the More-
house place, formerly owned by Lewis Osborne.

The substantial stone-arch bridge over the Still
River was erected in 1880, the builder being C. S.
Pendleton of New London. Harvey Roe was our first
selectman at that time.

North of the village street are the homes of John
Wetmore, Asa Hoyt, the John Warren Homestead,
and Supple residence.

The beautiful farm lands lying southwest of Lanes-
ville, and extending to the Iron Works, were known
in early times as the "South Farms," and the families
of John Noble and brother, and Capt. John Warner
and brother were the first settlers there.

There was a Methodist meeting house on Gallows
Hill, near the cemetery, built about 1825 ; it was re-
moved some years since, and was about two miles

Brookfield 89

north of the Iron Works village ; services were held
there for twenty years, when they were discontinued.
A schoolhouse also stood in the same neighborhood.


The boundary line between Brookfield and New
Milford passes through the Gallows Hill Cemetery, a
portion of which lies within the town of Brookfield;
this ground was sequestered in 1734, and for many
years it was the place of burial for the inhabitants at
Iron Works and vicinity, being about two miles above
the village. Laurel Hill was set aside later.


" A region of repose it seems,
Remote among the wooded hills !"

— Longfellow.


It is a quaint old spot like many another New Eng-
land village, shut away from the noise and bustle of
the outside world. It is a place of running brooks,
and woods, and meadows, with delightful views of the
hills and valleys around about.

The village is located on a hill about midway be-
tween Brookfield Iron Works and Brookfield Junction.
The village street is somewhat winding and undulat-
ing; it is well shaded by fine old trees. At the north
end of the street the double row of elms forms a
beautiful parkway.

The first settlers came here one hundred and seventy-
five years ago or more, but of their early struggles we
know but little. In 1743 they were sufficiently
numerous to desire a church and schools. The New-
town turnpike was laid out to this place, and it was a
post settlement called Newbury.

It will be of interest to the citizens here to-day to
revive the old memories concerning the life here so
far as we can.

Brookfield Center 91

Colonel Isaac Hawley, born in 1756, was one of
the most prominent citizens of Newbury-Brookfield
during the early years. He owned some eight or nine
hundred acres of land here, and in 1807 built at his
own expense the first bridge over the Housatonic River
at Southville, where he also owned property and a
mill. Colonel Hawley was an enterprising man. He
died in 1839, being eighty-three years of age. His
daughter was the wife of Charles Sherman, Esq., who
lived in the Obtuse District.

Well-preserved portraits in oil of Colonel Hawley
and his wife are the property of Mrs. Eli Stevens of

Colonel Hawley built the residence now owned and
occupied by Hiram D. Hawley, Esq., at Brookfield
Center, and the John A. Peck homestead.

Squire Amos Wheeler was another of Newbury's
important citizens, and "ruled this place" for some
years. At a lawful meeting of the inhabitants he was
appointed their agent to present the "memorial" for
town privileges to the General Assembly in 1788, and
to secure the act of incorporation, which duty he dis-

Amos Wheeler also induced the town to change the
Obtuse highway, by which it was laid out on the
north side of the Isaac Lockwood place and joined the
village street by the side of the Bungalow ; previous to

92 Historical Sketch

this the Obtuse Road passed to the south of the old
Lockwood residence, and following the orchard
reached the village street through the garden of Miss
Sarah Fairchild. This old road was in reality con-
structed along the ancient division line between New
Milford and Newtown, which was at this point.


Preserve Smith, Esq., was proprietor of a public
house, which stood where Mrs. Eliza G. Peck's resi-
dence now is. It was a large, rambling house, with a
ballroom on the second floor, the scene of many festive
occasions in past days. The two brothers of Preserve
Smith were Bryant Smith, a lawyer, and Azor Smith,
a bachelor who lived north of the Episcopal rectory,
near the "bird rock."

Squire Daniel Hawley also kept a tavern near the
site of Prof. H. W. Greene's residence, and after his
death his widow continued the business ; but the day
of country taverns is no more, and at the present time
Brookfield Center is without a public house.

Village Stores

At the corner of Main Street and Obtuse Road
(now the property of Hiram D. Hawley) stood for
many years a building which was erected for store

Brookfield Center 93

purposes. Colbe Chamberlain, Esq., kept a country
store here. His successor was Esquire Cooke, who
employed as clerks Hanford N. Lockwood and Wil-
liam H. Peck. Mr. Cook later was a merchant in

Benjamin Starr occupied this building for a cabi-
net shop for some years, many specimens of his work
being still in evidence in this town.

On the opposite side of the street stood for years the
little red store occupied by Daniel Johnson for about
fifty years. Mr. Johnson also conducted a tailoring
business in this store ; he lived in the old house nearby,
and died in 1864. He was a native of Newtown.

The first floor in Masonic Hall was likewise a store.
Booth Peck, Esq., kept this store; he was succeeded
by Cornwall & Northrop, and that firm by Peck &

The store erected just north of the town hall was
operated by Capt. Sidney Hawley & Elmer B.
Northrop; later by Henry L. Peck, who was mer-
chant here about thirty years. Upon his death Henry
S. Peck, his son, continued the business and became a
leading citizen of the town, a prominent church mem-
ber, and filled positions of trust elsewhere.

In 1866 the store of Daniel Johnson was replaced
by a new building, in which Judge Benjamin
Griffen, his grandson by marriage, conducted a gen-

94 Historical Sketch

eral store until 1904. This building was remodeled
for residence purpose in 1906.

In 1867 Henry S. Peck erected a substantial store
on the west side of the village street, it being on the
site of the Preserve Smith property. The second
floor of the building was furnished for public meetings
and was so used for various gatherings for many
years through the generosity of Mr. Peck and family.
Alfred Somers entered into partnership with Mr.
Peck in 1867 under the firm name of Peck & Somers,
which existed for over thirty years. The firm of Peck
& Co. succeeded about 1901, Robert W. Greene being
the business manager of the company and Robert
Badeau clerk. In 1906 William F. Pinckney pur-
chased the business ; his clerks are Robert Badeau and
Frank Wildman.

Post Office

In 1869 the Brookfield Center office was established
by the government. Postmaster Alfred Somers has
been in charge to the present time.

To-day the village embraces two churches, one gen-
eral store and post office, a town hall, a public school,
a boarding school, and from forty-five to fifty dwelling

Between the Congregational and Episcopal churches
are some six or seven residences. Mrs. Haight occu-


Brookfield Center 95

pies the home of her grandfather, Henry L. Peck,
Esq. Hiram D. Hawley and family occupy the Ben-
jamin Starr homestead, a well-preserved house built
probably a century ago. The residences of Mrs. Ben-
jamin Griff en and her son, Henry W. Griff en, are
opposite. North of the village store is the substantial
residence built by Henry S. Peck and now occupied by
his wife and daughter; also the Congregational par-
sonage and the Hiram Fairchild Homestead, now
occupied by Miss Sarah L. Fairchild, and the house
occupied by William Pinckney.

"The Bungalow." It would make interesting his-
tory if we could record all the persons who have lived
in this ancient house, which is doubtless one hundred
and fifty years old. I can mention only the following :
Amos Wheeler, Esq., who resided in this house in
1788; Anthony Beers, in 1814; Daniel Holley occupied
the house soon after, and had a hat shop on the green
opposite; Daniel Brush and his son, Homer Brush,
owned the place for many years; George Jones and
family came to it by inheritance, and a sale of the
property was made to E. H. Houseman of Danbury
some few years ago. This building contains many
curios and relics, the property of Mr. Houseman.

North of the Bungalow are the residences of
H. Allen Smith, Esq., Mrs. John W. Sagendorf, who
occupies the Dr. William's home, and the Curtis school

96 Historical Sketch

buildings, embracing a large dormitory, stone gym-
nasium and other buildings.

A little east of the main street is the former resi-
dence of Isaac Lockwood, Esq., now owned by Ben-
jamin Rippy, our mail carrier for about thirteen years.
Isaac Lockwood, Sr., who served in the Revolutionary
War, purchased the old homestead in 1785; he also
purchased land of the Rev. Thomas Brooks. His son,
Isaac Lockwood, Esq., built the present Lockwood
place, and reared a large family of sons. One of his
sons, Henry Lockwood, held a responsible position
with James H. Prentice of Brooklyn. Harmon B.
Lockwood, Esq., is the only representative of this
family living in this town. After engaging in busi-
ness in several places he returned to his native town.
Mr. Lockwood is a director in the Union Savings
Bank, Danbury; takes an interest in the affairs of the
day, and spends his winters in the South.

In May, 1907, that portion of the ancient turnpike
lying between the Episcopal Church and the former
residence of Bryant Smith was closed by vote of the
town, and a new highway established north of the
residence of Mr. Frederick S. Curtis, connecting the
turnpike with the east highway. Mr. Curtis built the
new road at his own expense, receiving from the town
the land formerly occupied by the closed highway for
his own private use.

Brookfield Center 97

On the "Hill" are the homes of Mrs. Esther M.
Hawley, Mrs. Julia W. Skidmore, Stanley B. Terrill,
the Philo Merwin homestead, now occupied by his
daughters, Mrs. Kellogg and Miss Julia B. Merwin,
the old-fashioned residence owned by Lucius S. Haw-
ley, and further north the Episcopal rectory and the
residence of Mrs. Georgiana Williams.

A little further north is the summer cottage of Prof.
L. W. Sprague of New York, preacher and lecturer,
who contributes much to the intellectual life of the
community during his summer vacation.

Frederick Johnson is the owner of the Hawley
Sherman farm on the lower road, and also owns the
Nearing property.

South of the Congregational Church is the Elmer
H. Northrop residence, which has sheltered several
generations. Mrs. Cornwall and E. H. Northrop have
been lifelong residents here. Elmer H. Northrop, Esq.,
has held various town offices; namely, first selectman,
justice of the peace, grand juror, assessor, highway
surveyor, the "safety road" at the Junction being con-
structed while he was selectman. Mr. Northrop wit-
nessed the laying of the first rails on the Housatonic
Railroad in 1840. He served as delegate to the Con-
stitutional Convention. Mr. Northrop was born here
October 24, 1828. Also south of the Congregational
Church are the residences of John A. Peck, Deacon

98 Historical Sketch

Alfred Somers, Mrs. Henry Lake, and the Charles
Hawley homestead, now the summer residence of
Sidney E. Hawley, the sheriff of Fairfield County.
The group of buildings constituting the Greene Sum-
mer School of Music is located close by ; one of these
buildings on the west side of the street, known as the
"Back-log," was once the home of Sherman Foote,
Esq., also more recently occupied by the Reuben
Bailey family. The residence of the late Homer
Keeler is just south of this place, and is now the home
of Seth F. Keeler, Esq., his son.

Below the village street are the homes of Frank and
Charles Pinckney, the latter occupying the Capt.
Sidney Hawley place. A "pound" was set up just
south of this spot many years ago, and probably served
its purpose, when stray or trespassing cattle had to be
dealt with.

The home of Frederick Gustafson, once the resi-
dence of Timothy Mansfield and family, is just be-
low this spot ; also the homes of Robert Badau and
John Lee. Frank Keeler and Elof Gustafson live
near the brook ; these places were both once owned by
Beman Fairchild, Esq., one of the wealthiest farmers
in this vicinity.

Dwight Camp, Esq., lives on the hill in the house
once occupied by Amos Peck, and A. G. Anderson is

Brookfield Center 99

the owner of the Peck farm and home. A hat shop
once stood nearby, owned by Daniel Holley, Esq.

Close by the turnpike is the old South Cemetery,
sequestered about the year 1800, and now but seldom
used for interments, the Central Cemetery being the
ground in general use for burial purposes by families
at the Center. The narrow road running west leads
to Sunset Hill, where the extensive view is of the val-
ley, with its winding river, its meadows, and wooded
western slopes.



Whisconier Hill

Is one of the finest elevations in this town, approach-
ing it from the north a row of maple trees once shaded
the highway on the left; years ago there were forty-
three of these trees set at regular intervals by some
lover of forestry, but they are all gone now. The
Bridgeport turnpike runs from north to south over
Whisconier Hill and is a broad level roadway. Had
the early fathers made selection of this spot for the
village street, we can readily see how beautiful the
environment would have been, the western outlook
being especially far-reaching, the morning sun reveal-
ing the gray towers of the castle on mountain-end,
"Tarrywile," "Hill-top Farm," and for half a century
the spire of the Old First Church (which stood two
hundred feet high) until it disappeared May 6, 1907.
Whisconier Hill is a place of pleasant houses. The
substantial modern residence of Thomas Halpin, Esq.,
erected a few years since, is one of the most attractive
standing in the midst of the well-kept acres of his
large farm. A line of stately Lombard poplars of
great beauty stood just south of this place years ago,
but like all trees of this species they disappeared.

The Hills 101

Opposite the schoolhouse the old-fashioned residence
on the corner has long been the home of Patrick Col-
lins, Esq., who has here lived his industrious life, and
reared an honorable family. Mr. James Lee occupies
the attractive home south of the school, with its fine
shade trees, broad lawn, and delightful view; this
place is the remodeled home of the Anson Smith
family. The large residence on the left, below this
point, is the home of Mr. Almon H. Taylor, and was
built by his father, Thomas Taylor, Esq., the last resi-
dence of importance on Whisconier Hill, on this side
of the Newtown line, is also the property of Almon H.
Taylor, it having been the home of his grandfather,
Abel S. The ancestral home of John Hawley is still
occupied by members of his family ; namely, Frank K.
Hawley and family, and Mrs. Clarence Keeler and
family. An account of the Bible school conducted here
is mentioned elsewhere. It should be mentioned that
all members of this family have decided musical ability,
inherited from at least three generations of ancestors.
One of the earliest pianos manufactured is to be seen
in this home, and belonged to the grandmother of Mr.
Frank K. Hawley.

The Edson N. Hawley residence is south of the
"John Hawley Home." Mr. Hawley was warden in
the Episcopal Church at Brookfield for a long period of
years, and secretary of the public school board for the

102 Historical Sketch

last ten years or more ; has also been a prominent mem-
ber of the Grange. Mr. Clarence Hawley, his son,
lives here, and is engaged in agriculture.

The Edwin Smith homestead is now occupied by his
daughter, Miss Lucy Smith. The old house in the
same yard was the home of Alva Smith, Esq., for
many years; both father and son were engaged in the
saddle and harness business, the shop standing just
opposite their homes being the scene of their labors.
Capt. Joseph Smith also lived here.

Jabez Hurd, Esq., kept a tavern on Whisconier Hill ;
the Patrick Collins place is designated as the site.

On the next hill, westward, is the former home of
the Andrews family, Howard Andrews, Esq., being the
only representative of the family. Mr. Andrews is a
prominent member of the Connecticut Grange and
now resides in Cornwall, Conn.

Judge William B. Roe erected his home on the site of
his father and grandfather's residence, and is our
judge of probate at the present time.

The J. Wesley Wells residence is very pleasantly
located, and was once the Andrews homestead; the
outlook over Stony Hill is fine.

Obtuse Hill

This section of our town, lying east of the Center,
has the highest altitude within our borders. Ascend-

The Hills 103

ing the first hills, are the residences of the late Cyrenus
Peck and Charles Peck, also the home of one of our
oldest inhabitants, Daniel Higgins, Esq. From the
next hill a general view of our village street may be
had, outlined against the sky; here is the well-kept
home of Frederick Elsenboss, once the home of Uriah
Hayes. Some rods further east is the summit of the
Obtuse Hills, where one may look northward over a
splendid vista of distant mountains, the lights and
shades of the passing day either revealing in bold out-
lines or softening the far-away hills ; there is probably
no finer view in Fairfield County than this.

Passing the residence of Charles Stuart, Esq., on the
right hand, once the home of the Jackson family, the
Four Corners are reached. The residence of Charles
Williams stands on the site of the Alonzo Beers home-
stead ; opposite is the Wolcott Northrop place, occupied
by Thomas Petitt; here also is the Lake homestead,
owned by Eugene Lake, and the house so long the
home of Clark Jackson, Esq., and the village school-

Some little distance south the attractive residence
of Frederick H. Beers is located, once the home of
Horace Beers, Esq. Mr. Beers is a graduate of
Trinity College, class of 1889, and the senior warden
of the Episcopal Church ; his large farm, "Beers-ford,"
is one of the best in this town.

104 Historical Sketch

The Babbitt house is owned by Mr. Beers, and the
Amos Camp place by Mr. Wilmont. Mr. William
Parker occupies the Starr Skidmore home, and a few
rods south the Rufus Skidmore homestead and the
Edwin Terrill homestead are now owned by John H.
Peck and John S. Peck, respectively. Thomas Bristol's
residence is just below. The road leading from Four
Corners to Southville and the Housatonic River claims
a few dwellings ; namely, those of Robert Smith, Esq.,
an attractive home, and the Gilbert, Roswell, and
Petitt places.

The northern part of Obtuse was once the home of
the John Stuart family, and of several families long
since removed. John Thornhill, Esq., our first select-
man, lives here in the home of his father, Samuel

Daniel Murphy occupies the Frank Keeler place.

Longmeadow Hill

As the name indicates, this is a stretch of meadow
land, with glimpses to the east of the wooded slopes
within which the Housatonic flows. The highway is
broad and straight for a mile or more.

Longmeadow Hill is included in the "Still River
Neck." The Still River Neck is the ancient name
given to all that elevated ridge lying between the Still

The Hills 105

River and the Housatonic River; it includes Long-
meadow Hill, Pumpkin Hill, and Prospect Hill, also
the ridge east of the Iron Works village.

The families living in the Longmeadow District in
days gone by have almost entirely disappeared — the
Warners, Baldwins, Fosters, Bristols, Dunnings, Haw-
leys, Benedicts, Taylors, Shermans, Hamlins, Somers,
Ruggles, Merwins, Starrs ; descendants of these fami-
lies are to be found in other places.

Many men, who became very successful in after life,
went out from this section of the town. The families
were large, and the sons early saw the necessity for
starting out in life for themselves.

In 1819 a stone industry was conducted on Long-
meadow by James and Stanley Smith, sons of Lyman
Smith, at the spot where Edward Starr's home now
is ; hearthstones, and monuments were cut and lettered
and a considerable business done here. A saw mill
was located at Hop Brook, and there were fishing
rights along the Housatonic River. The farms here
are productive. A small school still stands on the rocks
by the Hamlin residence, but very few are the chil-
dren as compared with that great company which in
other years gathered there for their elemental training.

Among those now living on Longmeadow may be
mentioned the families of William Hamlin, Edward
Starr, Charles Bennett, Henry Wildman, Onda Ocif,

106 Historical Sketch

John Lee, Frank Drapeau, and others. Ezra Somers
is the oldest resident at this times.

The Iron Works Hill

This fine ridge was a part of the "Still River Neck,"
so called. Here are the farms of Henry T. and Percy
Hawley, the farm of John Gereg, the Lake homestead,
now occupied by Mrs. Gorham, the daughter. The
Harry Ruggles homestead is occupied by the family
of Albert Thiede. In this house an esteemed former
citizen once lived, Robert A. Beers, now of New Haven,
whose interest in the people of Brookfield is always a
pleasant memory. Mr. Beers was born in Buffalo in
1825. His parents went in 1818 to Wisconsin as
pioneers, but in 1823 came to Buffalo, where several of
their children were born. His father, Anthony Beers,
died in 1835, and his mother removed to Brookfield,
her former home, in 1835.

Following this ridge south, where it approaches the
Brookfield Center line, is the attractive residence of
William Geddes, Esq., long the home of the Levi and
Frederick Jones family, and next door is the fine sum-
mer home of Stephen Osborne of Bridgeport, once the
home of the Benjamin and Emmon Hawley families.

The Curtis Morris place on the lower Iron Works
Hill is now the attractive home of John McMahon.

The Hills 107

The James Barrett home is opposite. The Orson Tay-
lor home is toward the village.

Over the railroad is located a little settlement about
the Catholic Church. Here is the home of William
O'Hayer and William O'Donnell, and others.

Still River Farms and Huckleberry Hill

From the Junction Hill may be seen several large
farms : namely, the farm of the late David Northrop,
now owned by his daughters, Miss Julia Northrop and
Mrs. Esther Andrews, and managed by William
Blackman; the Worden farm, once owned by Garry
Northrop, a brother of David Northrop; the Daniel
Joyce farm, lying on both sides of the river, one
of the largest and most productive in the town;
the Frederick S. Frisbie farm, with its well-
appointed buildings, once the home of George Peck,
Esq. ; the Henry L. Foote farm, just south of this
property. Mr. Foote for some years was engaged in
business in New York City and returned here some
time since. A little distance north is the former home
of Judge Samuel Sherman and his sisters, once a
prominent family in this town. Mr. Sherman was
educated at Trinity College for the law. On the west
side of Still River, on Huckleberry Hill, is the Levi J.
Sturdevant place, with its extensive buildings, and the

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Online LibraryEmily C. (Emily Carrie) HawleyHistorical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield → online text (page 5 of 8)