The hardworking business owners and workers of Glastonbury
Our timeline begins in the 1600s and goes to the 1980s. It contains many facts about INDUSTRIES IN GLASTONBURY including the first sawmill in 1667. Click here to read the entire list.
HISTORY OF THE SLOCOMB SITE
by Brian Chiffer
Dr. Chiffer, a life-time Glastonbury resident, has written a series of articles about the manufacturing enterprises conducted along the banks of Glastonbury’s Roaring Brook. This article is about what happened at one site on Roaring Brook, a site recently purchased by the Town of Glastonbury.
Just upstream from where Matson Hill Road crosses Roaring Brook is the former J. T. Slocomb Company plant--a site with a long commercial history.
According to the records, the first business at this location dates back to 1769, when John Hodge was granted a permit to build a grist mill here. About 60 years later, the prominent New England families of Amos Dean of Glastonbury and Sprowell Dean of Great Barrington, Massachusetts purchased the property with water privileges and erected a mill and dam to manufacture woolen goods.
It was from the Deans that the mill and the surrounding area got its name. It is said that one night while the woolen mill was being constructed one of the Deans came home and his wife asked him what he was going to name his mill. “I don’t know,” replied Dean, “but we’ll hope well on the mill, whatever we call it.” From that reply, two words were put together and the area has been known as “Hopewell” ever since.
The Deans made a good living manufacturing all wool satinets until 1848 when they sold their interest in the business to Martin and Horatio Hollister who operated a fulling and carding mill further downstream near the site of the present Tryon Street bridge. The Hollisters continued the manufacturing here, calling it Naog Manufacturing, and improved the quality of the wool fabric that was being made. READ MORE
JAMES KILLAM, THE PLANE MAKER
by Edward C. Swift
Note: Mr. Swift, a professional engineer, enjoys woodworking and collecting antiques. These interests led him to study the Killam family, particularly James Killam, who was a successful Glastonbury maker of wooden planes during the early days of the Republic.
The first European settlers in New England brought axes and saws to use in constructing their earliest buildings. They also brought with them an appreciation for artistic elements, and some knew how to create ornamental woodwork. With an ample supply of wood in New England, it was not long before decorative elements were being incorporated into locally-made houses, furniture, ships, and tools.
Wooden planes were a key tool used in finishing woodwork. A wooden plane can be thought of as a specialized metal knife mounted in an exact position in a block or body. Today these bodies are made of metal, but until the mid-nineteenth century, they were usually made of wood.
With a plane that holds a straight metal blade, a craftsmen can create a smooth finish by passing the tool over a rough wooden surface with the blade set to shave off thin strips of the surface (wood shavings). This leaves a surface that is smoother and more regular than a wood finish created with a saw, broadax, adz, or handheld knife.