Extracted from
History of the towns of New Milford and Bridgewater, Connecticut, 1803-1882
Samuel Orcutt
Hartford, Conn.: Press of the Case, Lockwood and Brainard Co., 1882

Transcribed by Richard Clarke

pages 372-386

SOME account of the settlement of William Gaylord at this place, is given on page 63 of this book. He was the first white settler in this locality, and the place is named after this family name. When Mr. Gaylord first made his home here, in 1725, he had no neighbors but the Indians within five miles, and probably none nearer than New Milford settlement. There was no house yet built at Boardman's Bridge, and probably none west of West Aspetuck River. As near as can be ascertained he came from Woodbury with his wife and three children in the spring of 1713, for he was here and appointed to office in the town meeting in December of that year, his home being then on the corner lot, where Doctor Charles Taylor now resides, the house standing further south or east than Doctor Taylor's present dwelling. In March, 1723, he sold this home to Thomas Canfield of Milford, and probably made his home that spring at the Straits, now known as Gaylordsville, and here he located land for himself as fast as he could sell the pieces which he had located elsewhere, until he owned several hundred acres, and was one of the most influential and wealthy men in the town. He died in 1753, aged 73 years.

Gaylordsville is in the northwest corner of the town of New Milford, on the Housatonic River, where the valley is about a mile wide but is shut in on every side by abrupt, high hills. On the south is the high rocky hill covered with woods, which is the northern extremity of the Straits Mountain, at the foot of which is a small elevation called Cedar Hill and on the west of the village is West Hill. At the northwest is Ten Mile Hill or Cat Rocks, covered with woods, lying east and west, parallel with Ten Mile river which is on the north of it, and east of this bill is Pickett Rocks, and still further east is Bulls Mountain, and at the northeast is Kent Mountain. All of these are in full view from nearly any point in the valley. On the east is Long Mountain, and at the north end of it is a small cone-shaped elevation called Pine Hill, rising between Mud Pond and Hatch Pond.

Through the central part of this valley runs the Housatonic River, coming in from the north between Ten Mile Hill and Pickett Rocks, a narrow valley, and passing out at the Straits, where the opening between the mountains is only a few rods wide. From the southwest, through a narrow opening between the hills comes the stream called in several deeds Deep Brook, but the Indian name, with due length and dignity, is said to be Naromiyocknowhusunkataukshunk, which name has been discussed and spelled, and handed down from the first Gaylord to the present. At the northern part of the village the Wimmisink (spelled in the deed Whemisink, and Whomesage) brook enters the Housatonic river. At the northeast, from Kent flows the Womenshenuck river, a small stream, on which was built by a New York company, a very large dam, which has never resulted in any profit, except a convenient although dan- gerous path from the village to the railroad station. Such is a brief outline of this locality, which was once a lake of considerable depth and several miles in extent.

While dwelling on names it is a pleasure to record the following which were written on a slip of paper by Daniel H. Gaylord, 50 or 70 years ago, and for the last few years it has been preserved by a young lady so carefully that her name deserves to be mentioned, although it is without her consent, Miss Jeanette L. Gaylord. Five of these names have been nowhere seen by the author of this book except on this paper. The spelling is retained as written on the paper, and the explanations on the same are included in the quotations.

"Pauquiack: Cedar Hill."
"Sawsucsuck: B. W.', What names B. W. stand for is not apparent, but this is the name of a brook entering the Housatonic from the west, a little distance north of the mouth of Ten Mill river.
"Quoneteak: Little Falls." These are the falls about a mile below New Milford village.
"Quanuctniak: Long Mountain," on the east side of the Housatonic, in New Milford.
"Tohoquekonak: N. Faifl." What these initials may represent is not known, but they may mean New Fairfield, or some locality in it.
"Metompequasuc: Cat Rocks."
"Whemenesa or Whemenuck: Plain." The meaning is given as the "Red Plum plain." This is, probably, the plain at Gaylordsville and corresponds to Whemisink brook. These names had not been obtained when the Indian History was completed.

William Gaylord, who was ensign in the first military company in New Milford, and this title was used to his name until his decease in 1753' settled on the west side of the Housatonic a little distance north from the old home of Ebenezer Gaylord where Mr. George Gaylord now resides. His dwelling was placed near the orchard of the Indian Siacus and probably near his wigwam, where he lived and died. Several of his Sons were settled on the main road south of him, where some of their Descendants still reside.

Tradition reports that some kind of a store was kept in early times in a private house, and this was most probably the first house in the place, and perhaps the next one on the same site or near it, which was also, no doubt, a tavern for the accommodation of travelers, for such Ens. William Gaylord kept while residing in New Milford village, and it is said that the first Gaylord families made a business in trading with the Indians for furs as well as other articles.

Dea. Nathan Gaylord, eldest son of Ens. William Gaylord, settled on a farm on the West Aspetuck, probably at his marriage in '73', if not before, for it was customary in those days for a young man to work on his farm several years before marriage. He may never have lived in Gaylordsville.

Aaron Gaylord, second son of Ens. William, settled a little way south of his father's dwelling house, where his descendants continued to dwell until recently.

Ebenezer Gaylord, son of Aaron, kept a tavern during Revolutionary times, where now Mr. George Gaylord resides, which was the gathering place for the minute-men, or the militia, who watched the Tories who came over frequently into that region from New York State. Ebenezer Gaylord's wife, then a young woman, being in the dooryard, was shot at from the woods on the hill west by the Tories, the ball passing over her head, but at the sound of which she dropped to the ground as if killed, and lay there until she thought it safe to go to the house

Dea. Benjamin in Gaylord, son of Ens. William Gaylord, married in 1745, and settled near his brother Aaron. He was elected Deacon in the Congregational Church in 1763, and served in that office until his decease in 1792, at the age of 71 years. He was one of the vigilant committee in the Revolution, and was a very thorough going, persevering member of the Congregational Church. Led by him in the latter part of his life, many loads of people came from his vicinity to the village to the meeting on Sunday, and stayed through the two services and rode home in the winter, there having been no fire in the church. Within the memory of people now living, there was a time when a considerable part of the Congregational congregation came from the Gaylord neighborhood a distance of seven miles, as regularly as the Sundays came. The early ministers down to Mr. Rood, held week day services regularly at Gaylordsville.


18. Ens. William Gaylord came from Windsor in 1712, and became a very successful and influential citizen. His house stood on the corner lot on Main street and Elm, where Doctor Charles Taylor now resides, and was kept a number of years as a hotel, called in those days an "Ordinary," and afterwards a tavern. Mr. Gaylord had what the older people called a "faculty" to buy land and pay for it, piece after piece, which was located in nearly all parts of the town. This continued until about 1725, when he conceived the idea of emigration, and sold nearly everything he had except his farm on the West Aspetuck, on which he had settled his son Nathan, and pitched his tent or log-house above the straits in the beautiful locality now called Gaylordsville, where he took a new start in buying land, and kept at it until he seemed fairly in the way to rival Minister Boardman in that matter. Besides owning all Gaylordsville, he, with Capt. Stephen Noble, owned 350. acres in Wetaug, now Salisbury, and sold it at a good price. He held also a part of the Fairweather purchase on the east side of the Housatonic; and what more can only be known by reading the history of Gay- lordsville. He was not a speculator in land, but bought "to keep," although sometimes he sold a little. He was a busy man, of immense energy and physical endurance, so much so that it almost makes one faint to think of his "drive-ahead powers," buying land, trading land (after he removed),.but every time ad- ding a patch above the straits on the Housatonic. A State House was wanted at Hartford. He took twenty pounds of the stock, and the General Assembly gave him 100 acres of land at Wetaug. He was a steady, upright, honorable man, but how he did reach out for land! And he obtained it, too,-he did not buy rocks, but the genuine black dirt that made the wheat grow most charmingly. Among other pieces of land he purchased, was that whereon stood the only Indian orchard of apple trees which stood in the valley of the Housatonic, so far as we have heard, except the one at New Milford.

Ezekiel Payne, whose descendants still remain in the community, settled here about 1755. The first school district on the east side of the river seems to have been formed by the following: Dec. i6, 1771. "Voted that there shall be a district for a school beginning at the northwest corner of New Milford North Purchase, thence east by Kent line to the south end of Sherman Boardman's farm, thence southward by the foot of Long Mountain to the south end of Gaylord's field on the east side of the river, thence by the river to the first mentioned corner, and known by the name of Paynes district."

In December, 1794, the Ecclesiastical Society voted that "the society committee be directed to abate the society taxes against William Payne, Aaron Payne, Samuel Payne, Ezekiel Payne, Ephraim Payne, Benjamin Benson, Benjamin Benson, Jr., Ambrose Benson, and Hubbell Payne, who although they have no legal certificates, have convinced this society that they ordinarily attend public worship with Elder Hopkins in Paulings town, they paying the collectors all cost up to this time." Such are the outlines of the history of this locality up to the year t800, with the exception of the establishment of the burying-place, which was arranged according to the following record:

"January 18, 1737-8. Then laid out one acre and eight rods of land for a burying-place to accommodate our farmers that do or may live near the northwest corner of New Milford township; . . . . it is laid out on the south side of the first small brook south of Aaron Gaylord's dwelling house on the west side of the highway or country road on a round hill near said small brook. Laid out by us Stephen Noble and William Gaylord."

Peter Gaylord built a store building and established a store in it, at the east end of the Gaylordsville bridge, where the store furthest north now stands, and continued in business many years, and afterwards Mr. John Gaylord, his son, conducted the same some years, and following him was the firm of Gaylord and Underhill, and then Charles R. Stone, who is the occupant at the present time.

Another store is now open a little way south of the former, on the corner of the street. The following are the persons who have at different times during many years conducted the business there. The first were Horace Marsh and Warner Marsh; following them were Giddings and Barlow; then Bradley B. Barlow alone; then Alanson and William Canfield; after them Platt and Gaylord ; then Morris Barlow, and after him Jonathan Giddings then John Gaylord; and following were Pike and Couch then Frederick and Edward Starr, and finally Mr. Alexander H. Barlow, who commenced in 1859, and still continues it.

Sylvanus Merwin built a store building on the west side of the river not far from the bridge, and established a store in it on the 1st clay of September, 1827. After continuing it until 1835, he opened a hotel in connection with it and conducted both until 1843, when he rented this property and removed to the railroad station where he had erected buildings, beginning them in 1841, while the road was being constructed, for the purpose of keeping a hotel and a victualling station for travelers on the road. Passengers on both trains dined at his house from 1843 to 1877, he having a contract with the railroad requiring them to stop each train for this purpose. The dining part is now discontinued, but the hotel is continued. This station is about half a mile from the meeting house on the west side of the river.

Post-Masters at Gaylordsville.

Peter Gaylord, appointed May 3, 1826.
Sylvanus Merwin, appointed Dec. 8, 1838
Sylvanus Merwin, re-appointed June 27, 1840, and the name of the office changed to Ousatonic.
Peter Gaylord, appointed June 30, 1841.
Peter Gaylord, appointed July 2, 1841, and the name of the office changed to Gaylord's Bridge.
John Gaylord, appointed Feb. 9,1842.
Sylvanus Merwin, appointed June 18, 1853, and the name of the office changed to Merwinsville.
John Gaylord, appointed June 6, i86i, and the name of the office changed to Gaylordsville.
Sylvanus Merwin, appointed April 22, 1867.
Alexander H. Barlow, appointed April 26, 1869.

The office now known as South Kent, formerly Bulls Bridge, was originally known as Ousatonic, and after the name was changed to Bulls Bridge, the name Ousatonic was given the Gaylordsville office for a short time.

Mr. William Roberts having learned the clothier's trade at Danbury, went to Gaylordsville in 1819, built a dam across the Housatonic river, built a grist-mill on the east side of the river and clothiers works-that is, carding and cloth-dressing works, on the west side of the river. He afterward added the machinery and prosecuted the work of manufacturing satinets. He continued to conduct these interests with success a little more than thirty years, when he sold the whole property to a New York company, who proposed to add the work of a marble-quarry, a little distance up the river. For this purpose they built a long dam across the Womenshenuck River. Soon after, in 1852, there came a great flood, so that the water in the Housatonic river rose 23 feet; which carried away the clothing works against the bridge across the river, and swept that away, and landed the cloth mill upright in a meadow some distance down the river. This was the end of the manufacturing enterprises at that place.

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Gaylordsville.

Methodist preaching had been occasional at this place for some years, until in the autumn of 1824, when an unusual religious interest occurred, and a church was organized by the Rev. C. Silliman, with the following members:

Benjamin B. Soule, Laura Hendrix,
Homer Wailer, Polly Pine,
Martha Wailer, Clarissa Judd,
Peter Gaylord, Sally Judd,
Elizabeth Gaylord, William Terry,
Truman Gaylord, James A. Hungerford,
John Gaylord, 1~atty Hungerford,
Spencer Ward, Rufus Burman,
Patty Ward, David Jones.
Herman Stone,

The house of worship was erected in 1826.
The following is a list of the pastors appointed to this charge by the M. E. Conference: Revs. John Reynolds, William Juett, Fitch Reed, Samuel Cochran, Uriah Fisher, Aaron S. Hill, Francis Donoly, J. 0. Worth, Charles Stearns, Alonzo Schick, William H. Barnes, David Nash, D. T. Littlewood, John H. Gaylord, Frank Lockwood, G. S. Gilbert, Samuel Weeks, Benjamin Bedford, William Ross, Frederick Brown, Seth W. Scofield, Alexander McAlister, Joseph Henson, B. M. Genung, Uriah Simons, William A. Dalton, B. F. Eldson, Robert Kay.

The present officers are : Trustees, Charles Pomeroy, Clinton H. Pomeroy, James Pine, John Flynn, A. H. Barlow; Stewards, John Gaylord, S. C. Ferris, John Flynn, C. H. Pomeroy, N. J. Buckingham, Sherman Benedict, H. 0. Ward, John T. Underhill, Ezra Barnum.

The membership of the church numbers eighty-eight. Originally this charge was a part of the Amenia Circuit. When the New York East Conference was formed by a division of the then New York Conference, Gaylordsville fell into the New York East Conference, but a few years ago it was changed to the New York Conference with which it is still connected.

The Institute.

Some years since a building was erected nearly across the way from the M. E. Church, which has been called the Institute; and in which lectures and other public meetings have been held. Lately, for a time the Baptist people have held meetings in it.

There was a Baptist Church organized in this place about the year 1830.

Gaylordsville has become quite a market place for tobacco, there being shipped annually from 1,500 to 2,000 cases, at a value of about one million of dollars. Mr. Martin L. Hungerford is the largest shipper of this article.

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