HISTORY OF KENT, CT.
Submitted by Fran Johnson
Birdsey G. Pratt was born in Macedonia and lived on a farm a good part of his life and is well acquainted with Macedonia and all the surrounding country. The traveler, not acquainted with the past, who journeys through this region, now quiet and unambitious in appearance, the abiding place of farmers, little dreams that it was once a busy manufacturing center. Mr. Pratt, who can remember when Macedonia was an important place, feels sad when he thinks of the glory that is no more.
Macedonia lies west and northwest of the village of Kent and is separated from it by a long elevation called Pismire Hill, followed toward the northern part of the valley by Pond mountain, leading west from which is a third hill, known as Stone's Ledges. The valley is a beautiful spot, like that described by Whittier in his poem of Barbara Feietchie:
The Macedonia Brook, a stream of considerable size and force, runs through the center of the valley.
The old Gilbert place, once the home of the brothers, John, Allen and Henry Gilbert, all of whom are dead, is now the home of F.H. Gilbert, a son of Allen. The brothers were shoemakers and conducted a large tanney which stood a little north of their house near the present residence of John Duncan. On the opposite side of the road was a cemetery. At present it is a plowed field, all efforts to preserve its graves and to maintain its sacred character having been abandoned.
Near by is the house once the home of Dwight Chamberlain, a relative of President Dwight of Yale college. Here is the Macedonia wagon shop, established in 1847, where a thriving business was conducted by the brothers, Norman, Allen and Linus Winegar.
The water of a stream flowing north of the shop turned the bi overshot wheel, the power moving a saw, and felloes and other wood pieces needed in the construction of carriages were sawed out. The father of the brothers was Beecher Winegar, who had a little wagon shop where a pump stands in the yard of the house just north of the old wagon shop. A short distance from here is the commodious and pleasant residence of Deacon L. W. Stone and near by is the school house, from which a remarkably fine view of the southern portion of the valley can be obtained, showing a long stretch of beautiful meadows and Cobble and Algo mountains beyond them.
Near where the old road turns northward from an easterly course, is the only dam left on the Macedonia Brook. Here was the site of the large puddling works, which were run by the Kent Iron Company. Probably twenty-five men were employed in the puddling operations alone, not to speak of the many teamsters and other workmen connected with them. All kinds of wrought iron work, such as crow-bars, wagon tires, etc., were made and sent in great quantities to Poughkeepsie, New Haven and Bridgeport.
The overseer of the work was Eber S. Peters, who also conducted near by the saw mill which is now successfully managed by his son, J. H. Peters. He lives in a handsome stone house nearly opposite his mill. In the third building he keeps a store.
The Kent Iron company established the Macedonia store in a large old fashioned building. Later the proprietors were Charles Edwards and Squire Rufus Fuller. In the manufacturing days this building, where now a private family dwells in seclusion, was a lively place and did a big business, being a center where the people from miles around gathered. In front of the store were scales and a platform for weighing big loads of coal, iron and other things. Teams were constantly arriving and departing and there was a great bustle.
In the neighboring stream is an old dam still in good condition. Here a cider mill stood. The owner was Zachariah Winegar, who lived in a large brick house which stands opposite the site of a defunct grist mill, the latter being a little north of the cider mill. Edward Schermerhorn conducted the grist mill. The brick house is two stories high, and was considered the finest house in the region at the time it was built. After Zachariah, his son, Anson Winegar owned the house, and it is at present the homes of Mrs. Frances Barnum, a daughter of Anson.
The next place of interest is Forge Hill, where what was called the "second forge" stood. At the foot of this hill on the east is the entrance to a road which crosses a bridge and leads to Fuller mountains. At the second forge were stamping works where shot iron was stamped out of the cinder, from the furnace.
At the blast furnace were made thousands of tons of pig iron and hundreds of bushels of charcoal were burned to make the tion. The ore was hauled from South Kent, Amenia and Salisbury; all told, hundreds of people were employed to keep the furnace running. The charcoal was made on the mountains near by. Limestone used in the furnace was all hauled from the east side of the Housatonic river, as there was none on the west side of Kent. Near the furnace were large coal houses and a blacksmith shop. Trees and shrubs cover the ground, and the traveler sees scarcely anything to remind him that he is passing a place where an extensive business was done forty years ago. The chief reminder of the iron industry is the dark color of the highway, noticeable all the way between the first and second forges. The ground is still speke with the cinders that emanted from the forges.
Copied from "History of Kent, Connecticut" by Francis Atwater 1897
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