Happy New Year! The Carpenter Gothic house at 216 Saybrook Road in Higganum was built around 1855 by Norman Smith (1831-1895), a farmer. In 1854 he had married Mary Clark Willard of Brattleboro, Vermont. Their son, George Norman Smith, inherited the house but resided in Hartford.
Elijah Sherman (1754-1844) was born in Stratford, (or perhaps New Milford?). As related in a biography of his son, Rev. Charles Sherman, who became a Methodist minister [Vol. VII of Annals of the American Methodist Pulpit (1861), by William B. Sprague]:
Elijah Sherman, removed in early life from New Milford, his native place, to Woodbury, where he lived till January, 1844, when he died in his ninetieth year. He was a man of vigorous mind and excellent character, and was several times a member of the State Legislature. He commenced the Christian life at the age of forty, and was ever after an active and devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
He had earlier been a member of the Episcopal Church but, as described in The Town and People (1900), edited by Julia Minor Strong:
At what exact date is not positively known, but previous to 1812, Elijah Sherman, Sr., known as “Father Sherman,” became dissatisfied with the Episcopal Church, joined the Methodist denomination, and became very active and zealous in advancing its interests. In 1812 he was appointed the first regular “Class Leader,” the several ministers who had officiated here, having previously fulfilled that office. His home was the house now owned by the Methodist Society, and used as its parsonage. The exact date of its erection is lost, but the ancient grain bins and “smoke house” in the garret, attest to its great age, and it is probable that it was built previous to 1800. After his appointment as “Class Leader,” if not before, his “long kitchen” became the place for all the meetings of the Methodists, and was so used until the erection of the first Church, in 1824, on the site of the present edifice. Even after the church was built, the class and social meetings were still held at Mr. Sherman’s home, until the building of the present church, in 1840.
Elijah Sherman is further described in William Cothren’s History of Ancient Woodbury (1854):
The temperament of Mr. Sherman was humble, earnest, and eminently conscientious; firm in his adhesion to what he deemed to be the line of duty. He could not adopt Calvihistic opinions, then ardently pressed upon the public mind, in all the Congregational pulpits. Swayed by an enthusiastic spiritualism, his sympathies were with those humble heralds of the cross, so efficiently blessed in the morn of Methodism. For twenty years, with some few companions, himself an elder, the worshipers in this faith, assembled in his own house. His religious experiences gave him new developments in Christian duty. Chastened by the death of several children, his faith and zeal and knowledge grew deeper, more ardent and expanded. He became an eminent example of Christian excellence. Under that humble roof, from subdued and pure hearts, prayers gushed forth, not surpassed in pathos and piety by a Massillon or a Bourdaloue. Souls now looking to the great judgment seat with confidence and holy hope, recall with devout gratitude his ardent aspirations in that lowly temple. Had he received the advantages of early education and training, with the compass and melody of his voice, he would probably have made an eloquent and powerful preacher. He lived to see the erection of a Methodist church on his own homestead, and a numerous and devout company of believers worshiping there. He was gathered to his fathers at the advanced age of ninety, in the month of January, 1844.
The Methodist Church sold the house in 1937 and it has since been a private residence.
The Town Hall of Branford, built in 1857, has been attributed to the architect Henry Austin of New Haven. It has a columned front portico that was added in the early twentieth century. The building was renovated in 1869 and had a rear addition constructed in 1968. The building is located at 1019 Main Street.
On the death of John Slater, May 27, 1843, his sons John F. and William S. inherited his interest in the mills at Hopeville and Jewett City, Conn., and at Slatersville, R. I., and they formed a partnership under the name of J. & W. Slater, adjusting their affairs so as to be equal partners. In March, 1845, this firm sold their Hopeville property, and in 1849 bought the interest of Samuel Slater’s heirs in the mill at Slatersville. In 1853, after the lease of this last-mentioned property to A. D. and M. B. Lockwood had expired, William S. Slater took the management of the Slatersville mill, and John F. Slater that of the Jewett City mill. The partnership of the brothers continued until Jan. 1, 1873, when it was dissolved, each taking the mill of which he had been the manager.
John F. Slater was also a principle investor in what would become the Ponemah Mills in Taftville. According to the “Walking Guide to Historic Broadway & Union Street,” the house at 274 Broadway in Norwich was built c. 1870 and in the late nineteenth century was the home of his son, William A. Slater (1857-1919). The book Norwich in the Gilded Age: The Rose City’s Millionaires’ Triangle (2014) by Patricia F. Staley, explains that the house at 274 Broadway was the home (by 1876) of Marianna Lanman Hubbard Slater (1824-1889), who married John F. Slater in 1844. (presumably she lived in the house with her husband). That book indicates that her son, William A. Slater, lived [at some point] in the Slater mansion, a now demolished house at 228 Broadway. William Slater founded the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich in honor of his father. In the 1950s, the house at 274 Broadway became the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Norwich.
The Parish House of Christ Episcopal Church in Roxbury was built around 1835 as the Old Center Schoolhouse. Roxbury Center School closed in 1942 and the building was sold to Christ Church. An addition was constructed in 1958 and the Parish House (located at 4 Wellers Bridge Road) was thoroughly renovated in the 1990s.
An Episcopal parish, believed to be the oldest in Litchfield County, was organized in Roxbury in 1740. The first Episcopal church building in Roxbury was built soon after (certainly by 1763 and perhaps as early as the 1740s). That church, which does not survive today, was located on “Old Roxbury Road” near the junction with “Lower Country Road.” The current church building, at 4 Weller’s Bridge Road, was erected in 1807. It took the name Christ Church in 1841. Its current Carpenter Gothic style dates to 1861, when the structure was rotated from its original eastward facing position to face south and was completely renovated.
In 1879 Rockwell Keeney established the Somersville Manufacturing Company, a textile mill located in Somersville, a village in the town of Somers. The company specialized in heavy woolen cloth, with which it supplied the military during both World Wars. The mill prospered, first under Rockwell Keeney and his sons and then under his grandsons, until the 1960s when rising labor costs and the effect of the Clean Water eventually led to the company’s closure in 1969. Ralph Denison Keeney (1882-1960), Rockwell’s grandson, served as president of the company from 1927 to 1960. In 1912 a Colonial Revival house was built for Ralph Keeney at 87 Main Street in Somersville. Its columned front porch was enclosed when the house was later converted for use by commercial tenants.