HISTORY OF KENT, CT.
Submitted by Fran Johnson
The village of South Kent is a small place, only four houses in the center and two houses in the suburbs, so to speak. But it represents a lot of enterprise; for it is here that Fred H. Chase has demonstrated the large possibilities of the country store when it is situated in a favorable spot and run at a minimum of expense.
Mr. Chase is now South Kent's leading business man, and he is well entitled to the honor. One dozen years ago he bought of William Geer the small and ancient grocery store of this place. Geer had run the store a year only. His predecessor was Edwards Dakins, who made a snug sum of money from the business, after he bought it of a man named Segar. It was an old stand, but it remained for Chase to make it a noteworthy establishment.
He had $600 in cash and $2,100 borrowed money when he took possession of the small grocery, and to-day he is a well-to-do citizen, even a rich one for a small country place. Close to the railroad station stands his store and dwelling house, a good sized and good looking structure. South is a feed store, it being the remodeled building formerly occupied by the small grocery, and north of the main store is Mr. Chase's latest building, a structure 100 feet long, 30 feet wide and 22 feet high.
It is fitted up in modern style with tanks of cool water for the reception of the milk cans, and a churn run by steam power. The second floor contains a room for cheese making and a large space for storage and grinding of grain, the mill for grinding being run by the steam engine on the first floor. At the east end of the building is an apartment for the ice needed in the creamery, capacity for storage being 600 tons, ice being obtained from Hatch's pond a short distance from the station.
The four houses in the immediate vicinity of the station are those of Walter Page, VanNess Case, Miss Emiline Fanton and John Burkhardt. All are farmers and Mr. Page runs a distillery and cider mill. Miss Fanton although eighty-two years old, is alert and businesslike, a fine specimen of the old fashioned American housewife. Her farm is managed by a competent man, but she has general oversight.
Another thing worthy of mention is the railroad station, about the size of an umbrella, which is ably managed by Store-keeper Chase, who waves a red flag for trains to stop, but has no tickets to sell. Then there is a little ancient history of particular interest. There have been six hotels in the place, usually one at a time, which were frequented in days before the railroad when cattle drovers were thick on the roads.
The former name of the village was Pigtail Corners or Hopson Corners, the name Pigtail, according to tradition, being adopted because one neighbor got angry at another neighbor and cut off the tail of his enemy's pig.
Following the Bulls Bridge road westward, one passes the John Straight farm now owned by Mr. John Judd. It is one of the largest and best farms in the town of Kent. Adjoining this farm are the premises of Miss Helen Straight, a most competent woman farmer.
Ascending Turkey Hill, one comes to the house of Robert Boyd. Mr. Boyd is a good farmer, his buildings and well cultivated acres showing the care and enterprise of the thorough manager. From the summit of Turkey Hill, so called because wild turkeys in old times used to alight on it in great numbers during their expeditions, a fine view can be had of the valley through which flows the Housatonic river and of the noble Scatacook range beyond. At the foot of the hill is the fine home of William Newton, a well-to-do farmer. After turning north into the road leading over Spooner Hill one passes the home of Nathaniel Dwy, also those of Charles L. Spooner and Simeon Griffin. At this point one can look down into a shelving valley, where enclosed on three sides by picturesque hills lies the beautiful little Leonard Pond. East of the pond is Leonard Mountain, north of it Cobble Mountain and west of it an elevation of Spooner Hill.
Where the road turns eastward to join the main road from South Kent to Kent, is the old John Spooner place. John Spooner was a noted cattle dealer in his day. A little south of the junction of the roads is the farm of Mott Darling, a thrifty tiller of the soil, and a little north of the junction is the house of another farmer, Jerome Leonard.
Up the main road from South Kent a short distance is the house of John Orton, nearly opposite Leonard Pond. On returning to South Kent via the main road one passes the houses of Seth Monroe and Leonard Unson, who lives on the borders of Hatch Pond. A little south of Mr. Unson's house is the abode and shop of Ephraim Merrit, blacksmith and general repairer of the region.
Near by is the school house, a small red structure, humble enough but celebrated now as the place where a rising young business man obtained all his book education. The young man referred to is young John Burkhardt of South Kent village. Mr. Burkhardt is now traveling salesman for a large New York firm and his employers consider him the best drummer in the New England states.
About ten years ago there was a curious landslide from the hill east of Hatch Pond. Tons of earth suddenly left a high bed and made a double quick run over a stretch of meadow, across the railroad track into the lake. The thundering noise came in the midst of the night and aroused the inhabitants, terrifying them mightily. Hatch Pond is about a mile long and is celebrated resort of fishermen from New Milford, Danbury and other places.
Copied from "History of Kent, Connecticut" by Francis Atwater 1897
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