Reminiscences of Danielson
By Arthur Wheaton Logee (Written about 1954)
One of my earliest remembrances of Danielson is the big fire in my grandfather's Cracker Bakery that stood at the corner of Main and Hutchins Streets, the site of the present Crystal Water Company's headquarters. My mother held me in her arms at the window while I was a mere infant, as we watched the source of the family income go up in smoke. The fire supposedly started from friction in the mixing and cutting machinery, or the high boiler.
Crackers were sold all over eastern Connecticut by salesmen who drove spans of horses drawing big covered carts filled with barrels of freshly baked crackers.
When this shop was rebuilt as a bread and pastry shop, one of the salesmen was Charles B. Green who travelled over these same routes. Mr. Green is well and resides at the Masonic Home in Wallingford.
The new Killingly Memorial School stands on land across Hutchins Street from the aforementioned. It was part of the estate of Mr. Hutchins, one of the earliest settlers in the Danielson area. His house built by Deacon Stearns of Mansfield was moved by a Deacon Burgess west on Hutchins Street and is now owned and lived in by Mrs. Ruth Arnold. A two-roomed school occupied part of the area, this was moved to the next lot on Hutchins Street and converted into a two-apartment house. My father attended this school.
Later the grounds were beautifully landscaped to surround a palatial residence of Dr. Graves. The place was sold later to Timothy Hopkins. After his passing and the death of his wife, it was taken over as the Kingswood Inn. This name was not a part of the area of Brooklyn and Pomfret then known as the Kingswood area. The town bought the property with a view to its use as the site of the present school.
The old Sparks house recently torn down from the site of the A & P supermarket [now the Library] was the home of my ancestors. This was the fifth or sixth house built in what is now the Danielson area, so we are told. Their farm went way through to the river from between Winter and Hutchins Street. The old family burying ground still remains on Hutchins Street. We are the last of the family to own any of the original farm land and occupy the home on the "old family acres" on a section through from one street to the other.
An early scene comes to mind, that of the yellow Stage Coach driven by Henry Stone. This vehicle carried passengers and the mail from here to Scituate, Rhode Island, where the mail was taken by another coach to Providence.
Rothwell's Hall, recently referred to as being where the present Fire Station is, was the building near the west end of Academy Street and used for two generations as Bacon's Furniture Store. The old Spiritualist's Hall was on the upper floor of the present large apartment building on the south side of Oak Street. At one time there was a group of Spiritualists who held religious meetings there regularly. This building is now converted into apartments, having changed ownership several times.
I can recall the Jacobs Co. functioning in what is now known as the Bradford block on Center Street before that company moved to the present headquarters on School Street.
Slipper making in spacious quarters and in homes was quite a source of income to many in Danielson. These slippers were of cloth, satin or kid, some cloth-topped shoes were made. A large three-story shop was on Mechanics Street. As I remember it, two floors only were used for the making of slippers. The third floor was used as a practice hall for the Cadet Band. Women as well as men sewed on slippers in their homes. Women and children earned their spending money by sewing on the buttons. Some women sewed the buttonholes. A number of shops are still standing: the Blackmar Shop now at the Dyson place on the corner of Winter and Spring Streets, the Dean Shop on Cottage Street next to the railroad tracks, and a number of others were used as was also Spiritualists' Hall.
Furnace Street was the site of a foundry, hence its name. It stood where the Coal and Lumber Yards are now.
I remember Deacon Chollar's wearing a heavy shawl and a high hat.
Neighbor Johnson, who lived opposite the park where Mr. Bessette runs an Inn now, is remembered wearing a high hat and carrying a basket on his arm every time that he went out. Many the poor family in town who otherwise would have gone hungry received many a donation from that basket. His daughter, Florence, "Tot," became one of New England's keenest diamond brokers.
Roy Tillinghast who developed TNT during World War I lived on Academy Street in the residence now owned by Harry Back, Jr.
At one time the borough's western boundary extended to Day Street. What is now called Quebec Village was then divided as the Upper and the Lower Villages. The Lower Village was populated predominately by the Canadian French. In the early days the Upper Village was predominately Irish.
People of many nationalities were attracted to this area by the good wages offered in factories, good farm land, and other opportunities. The earliest families settling here were of English and Scottish descent, in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the 19th century the Irish settled as newcomers, later buying farms of their own. Many served in the Civil War. The Canadian French came to this area to live and work in the mills. Only a few at the time were English-speaking. Later the Polish people came as freedom loving citizens and soon owned their own homes. The Greek people came and soon organized small businesses of their own. They founded their Orthodox Church in a short time.
After European wars of the twentieth century many German people moved to this area of Connecticut. People from the Nordic countries were soon in business and owned their own homes. Today the population has been increased by immigrants from Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. Lastly, the Israelites have come, most as refugees to a new home.
People from thirty-five to forty countries were counted in a survey. Many descendants of these people fill positions of importance in the community, as professional people, doctors, nurses, teachers, musicians, artists, lawyers, politicians, business people, and leaders, all contributing their best to the welfare of the community and mankind.