Brazee, Paul & Edward B.

Interviewer: Bill Morrill
Place of Interview: Mr. Ed Brazee’s home
Date of Interview:
File No: 116 C&D Cycle:
Summary: Factory St. Ball furnace, Clark Hill Farm, Selleck/Erickson Farm, Mt. Riga 1937-1943, Mt. Riga roads, Mt. Riga fire 1928/29

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript




CONVERSATION WITH ED BRAZEE, at his home in Salisbury, March 25,1987.

Present were: Ed Brazee, Paul Brazee, and questioner Bill Morrill.

Q. Ed, when were you born?

EB. 1913. Do you know the little red house that is down at the comer [house now painted blue that overhangs the brook just below the red mill]? Right across from that, we had a house in there.

Q. Then you have lived in this area all your life.

EB. Oh, yes.

Q. What was your connection with Mt. Riga?

EB. I worked up there … about fifty years up there. More than that really.

Q. Mostly with Frank McCabe?

EB. Forty-five years of that was with Frank McCabe.

Q. The McCabes bought the land [north end Bunker Hill Road] during the war? EB. Spalding and Ambrose (McCabe) bought it first. Frank was still in the service; Frank was over across. He come back and got in on it.

Look at photos and maps of Factory Street:

Q. Did you know William Clark? (had farm at north end of Bunker Hill Road) EB. I didn’t know him. My father knew him. I knew Hen Clark and Bill Clark. One had the Erickson’s farm (Henry) and one (William) had the farm at the end. That went way across the Mt. Riga road too. They had a big piece of property up there. It went down across the brook there, where the old bridge was; there used to be a bridge where they went across and across the road (Mt. Riga Road) by that old pine ledge [west side of Mt. Riga Road]. They were known as the Clark lots. Q. Were they wood lots?

EB. No, there was cleared land, cleared lots; hay lots. Not too bad a slope.

Q. Did your father live here as well?

EB. He was born in Hammertown. He worked at the gristmill all his life.

Q. That was in operation until when?

EB. I just remember the flour so maybe sixty-five years ago. I can just remember making flour there.

Q. Roughly 1920.

EB. Yes, something like that.

Q. Did they do anything there after 1920?

EB. Yes, they ground grain and stuff like that. Feed. Horse feed. But not flour. They ground the grain with the big stones.

Q. The Kastendiecks still have some tools in the mill.

EB. A hammer yes. They make little creases [in the stones] about that far apart. [Somewhat unintelligible discussion of working of the mill stones]: if was


too close together, about one turn, a screw driver. Just about set Then they had a long went from here out to my car out there, ox- shaped, with a fine doth [a filter]. The flour would come out first, then the flour middlings; they had four or five names for the stuff that come out. The bran was the last thing.

Q. It sorted it? By weight?

EB. It sorted as they got bigger. Dropped out as it got coarser.

I haven’t been in there since they fixed it over.

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There was a trap door that was used to bring the grain up in wagons. They had the grain chutes where it went down. There was a big bend down near the bottom, there was. An elevator brought it upstairs and it ended up there. A little hoist. It had wooden gears. Every once in a while they would dry out and fly. Q. Did they have a turbine in the back or a water wheel?

EB. A turbine. There probably was a water wheel originally. I remember when they put the new one in, new tube down through there, from the dam. Used to have to go down and clean that out once in a while. I never thought much of that. Q. That was the first mill in town, I think, about 1730s.

EB. The mill at Dexter’s down there, that was a water wheel; I’m not sure but I think it was an overshot water wheel. [The Dexter cider mill; downstream of gristmill – Fink house].

Q. When was that last in operation?

EB. Before I was born. My father worked there when he was a young guy. He was probably 17 or 18 when he worked there.

Q. That looks like a very old house.

EB. That was the original building for the cider mill. The cider mill was underneath it. The little house just upstream belonged to the cider mill too. [House hanging over stream, formerly painted red, now blue].

Q. The other houses? Were they mainly associated with the knife factory? EB. Yes, I think so. The knife factory started just around the comer. There used to be a big building there.

Q. Just below Babs McLane’s house and the pond?

EB. Yes. The pond supplied water-power for the knife factory.

Q. Later it expanded?

EB. It burnt out, about sixty years ago (roughly 1925). I was about twelve, give or take three or four years.

Q. They had a turbine?

EB. They had a turbine there too.

Q. So far we have mentioned the cider mill, the gristmill, the knife factory. What was the name of the knife factory?

EB. Salisbury Cutlery Handle Company.

Q. What other business do you remember there?

EB. The bicycle shop, [house by the bridge to Selleck Hill]. There were other buildings there; right across from the dam there was a big bam. This company (knife factory) after they burned out, they moved over there.

EB. They made bicycles. My mother, she was up there on the mountain, used to walk down there to work. She’d walk down the Middle Road. Come down Selleck Hill. Go to work in the morning.

Q. Was that steep hillside toward Selleck Hill open at one time?

EB. At one time, yes. Selleck had a farm up there. There were two farms up there; was another farm up further.

Q. Is the remains of a turbine in little bam on that site.

EB. Yes, up in there just a little ways.

Q. So that is a fourth one that was water powered. Others?

EB. There must have been one up above there, above where Riga Lane goes across. There used to be a pond up there. Someone said that was a tannery. Whether it was or not, I don’t know.

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Q. Look at Beers’ Atlas 1874. Showing Washinee St. Lists H. Whitbeck, [just above where Selleck Hill Road goes off]. What do you think that was?

EB. I thought it was Bam Whitbeck’s ancestors. They had a house there [formerly Swing; now Keith]. The buildings just below it [Salisbury Artisans], they took that over for the Salisbury Knife Handle Company [sifter the fire].

Q. The other houses along that section of Factory Street?

EB. These were tenant houses for the knife handle factory.

The white house (Babs McLane) was Bill Watson’s house, he was the boss. Bill Jones lived over here. There was another one in between there (pointing to map), in front of my mailbox, that burned down. Then there’s Burttees, where Paul (Brazee) lives. Then Hen Schallot; and there is one beyond One across the road from Paul’s; that burned down. Then up where Casey lives, that used to be a company house. Then the red one at the top of the hill that was a company house [???].

Q. Must have been quite a big operation?

EB. That was quite an operation down there at one time. They used to cut that red wood with a cross-cut.

Q. Water powered?

EB. No. (He laughs). By hand. Take one of them big redwood logs, about that big around, it took a day or a day and a half to cut it in two. To get it so they could handle it. Finally that got one of the circular saws.

Q. Twentieth century shops review.

EB. The bicycle shop had gone out by then, by the early 1900s. Then they had a sawmill in there afterwards. Made barrel staves and stuff like that. There was one big long building that went from the edge of the pond all the way to Selleck Hill Road. The road ran between the house [Stoecker, now Kaufmann] and the stream, along the pond and come out by the house above the dam.

Q. There was nothing below Selleck Hill?

EB. No. Ed Williams lived there. He ran a livery there. That included the big house at the comer [Bushnell Tavern]. When Don Warner got it, he put on a lot to it.

Q. That building had been moved back from Main Street too (Ed did not know that). What do you remember about that house?

EB. I remember when Ed Williams had it, but I was small.

Q. Was it an inn at that time?

EB. I couldn’t tell you if it was or not. I remember he used to take people up on the mountain; he had a livery there. There were just fields on the other side, above the cemetery (behind Town Hall).

Q. Look at the map again, section from Bushnell Tavern, toward Selleck Hill.

Do you recognize the name Hollister?

EB. Yes, Hollister. They were on the Selleck Hill Road more.

Q. Another name on the map: N. L. Dexter.

EB. That was the cider mill.

Q. Past that was C. Hollister.

EB. That must have been the little red house. Does it show a gristmill on there? Maybe Hollister had that way back.

Q. Did Dexter ever own the grist mill?

EB. No. It was Selleck. There was somebody before that. But I don’t know the name.

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Q. Across from the gristmill (what Ed calls Dexter house), the name looks like M.E. Clark.

So even in the 20th century, you remember there were four factories.

Going further along toward Mt. Riga. What do you remember up that way?

EB. There was just that one thing up there. Did you say there was a woolen mill someplace up there?

Q. Another map shows a woolen mill. You don’t remember activity above there? EB. Those dams were all washed out.

Q. What about the big dam that is just below the lake (on Mt. Riga)?

EB. I think they all went out about the same time. In a big freshet. Way back. My father would just remember that, I guess.

Q. The furnace on Mt. Riga. There was nothing in operation when you were a child?

EB. No. There was just a farmer up there then. There were two farmers. George Ostrander near the public beach up there. And the fellow who lived in what they call the farm house, Lawson, across from Frank McCabe’s place up there.

Q. Was anyone living in the “Iron Master’s House” up there?

EB. Griggs was living there when I was a boy.

Most of the houses were abandoned. We didn’t go in the houses. They more or less had them already as summer camps.

Q. What was the land up there like? Was it still cleared?

EB. It was going back. Every year it went back some.

We moved up in 1937 in what was called “the farm house” across from Frank’s (McCabe). Collins’ camp now.

Q. And you took care of the place?

EB. Cut some wood out. Cut the ice. Each one had his own icehouse. Nine or ten icehouses.

Q. Did they bring ice down to town from there?

EB. No, except one or two winters they did. It didn’t freeze up down here, so they come up there and got some.

Q. How were the winters in comparison to now?

EB. (He laughs.) They were a little rougher. I’d say we had some nice winters though. The first winter we were up there, we didn’t have any trouble at all. I’d go to Mount Washington and Bear Mountain to cut wood all winter long.

Q. How did you get around? Motor vehicles?

EB. When we could, but not very often. I had one big horse. Moved a lot of wood with that. The snow was too deep. So, we walked down.

Q. Did you have to come down to town for supplies?

EB. Oh, yeah. I walked down pretty near every day. When the snow got too deep I couldn’t do nothing, I’d walk down nearly every day. It used to take me about forty minutes to walk up the road on snowshoes. didn’t meet somebody. I never did though. Once in a while you’d see somebody, but not very often. They didn’t ski much in them days. Nowadays, it wouldn’t be a bad place to live up there. You got all these vehicles now.

Q. Some people have tried it? Didn’t Christopher Rand live up there?

EB. He spent some time over at what they call “squatter’s rights” over on Bear Mountain, on Sage’s Ravine over there.

Q. Was that in summer time?

EB. When it got real cold, he

Edward Brazee, March 25,1987

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Q. Do think it is colder up there than here at your house?

EB. The temperature doesn’t go as low as a rule. There is wind. But it don’t feel as cold up there. But, I take that back, sometimes that wind feels pretty cold. That wind-chill factor up there.

Q. Clark Hill Road (Bunker Hill). Do you remember the two farms that were there?

EB. Yeah. It was a dairy farm [Henry Clark farm]. He didn’t own that land on the left-hand side (west) going up. That belonged to Selleck. Selleck sold it to Erickson.

Q. That was an active dairy farm even in the early 20th century?

EB. Very early.

Q. Good crop land?

EB. Not too bad cropland up there. I don’t how they really made a living. Sold milk, a beef cow once in a while.

Burt Clark (son of William Clark) he had a lot of sheep up there, raised a lot of sheep back where you are (end of Bunker Hill Road).

Q. Did you know William Clark?

EB. He had already died. He got killed down here by a horse at a fair. The horse ran away and.

Q. His son continued to farm then?

EB. Then they sold it off. People named Jones lived there for a while.

Q. Was the house in the same spot (former Spalding & Elise McCabe)?

EB. Yes, in that same spot. People named Tom Bumetty and his family moved up there. They rebuilt it. They cut ties and stuff on that whole side of the mountain. They had quite a few horses.

Q. Asks whether were open fields at end of Bunker Hill Road.

EB. Those hillsides were all open. Some was pasture. Some was cropland. There is a flat spot toward the mountain brook on the left side of the trail to Lion’s Head [“Martha McCabe’s lot”, 3 acres]. My father cradled oats or wheat there. I was telling Mr. McCabe about it one day, that if I wanted to do a house that was where I would want to build it. Three or four days later he bought it from Mt. Riga Corporation. (He laughs). Don Warner got the knife handle company and got into all that stuff up in there on the mountain too. When someone got old and didn’t have money to pay taxes and things. These people had money to buy.

That7s the only way they got that land up on the mountain. People couldn’t afford the taxes and move off. They were hard up and sell for whatever they could get. Q. One of the Warners sold off the tenant houses?

EB. Phil Warner. When they were going out of business.

Q. You went up to live on the mountain in 1937. How long did you stay?

EB. Through 1943.

Q. Did you end up in the war?

EB. That7s what I came off for. I didn’t get in the war though.

Q. About location of early road at top of Bunker Hill Road. Other buildings? Referring to a map.

EB. There was a big bam (behind Elsie McCabe/Vail). An icehouse. (Refers to dispute about line between Elise McCabe and Mt. Riga.) Q. Question about the large rock in field on west side of road.

EB. We used to raise hell and play on it a lot. I found an arrowhead on a sheep path. I saw one of those devil’s lanterns up there on night; it spooked me a little

Edward Brazee, March 25,1987Page 5



bit. Some kind of gas that forms over water, over swampy land. (Will o’ the wisp phenomenon; seen near what was a pond where trail to Lion’s Head crosses the brook). I was up there and see this light down in the woods and


stood there and waited and walked back and forth a little bit and all of a

sudden top of a bunker . I started to wonder, Jesus, what the hell are they running like that for? back and forth and all of a sudden back they come down again, about the same thing.

Q. What kind of a light did it look like?

EB. It looked like a flashlight or a bright candle or something like that, about that big around. I didn’t stick around long. (He laughs). When I got home I told my father about it. And he said I saw one once down in the swamp down there on the mountain road.

Q. Iron pits along the ridge?

EB. The Scoville ore pits are the closest. There are charcoal pits.

Q. Were any of the charcoal pits working when you were a boy?

EB. No, they had given that up.

[Talk about charcoal pits on very steep ground, east side of Lion’s Head; and deer bedding down on them and hunting deer.]

EB. [Talks about working along old wood road past Morrill north to AT]. I brought down that road with a pair of horses. I found one last year up by the watering trough. I don’t know how in the heck I ever went down there.

Q. Refer to map. Extension of Brinsmaids Lane. Toward Harvey line.

EB. That goes out quite a long way, past your (Morrill) pond. There used to be another lot a half mile beyond your place where the wood road forks to go up Lion’s Head and the other fork goes toward Kiefer’s. When I was a kid that was open, (on east side of Lion’s Head).

Q. Regarding Harvey map showing “stones by side of a high peak.”

EB. Does not know of any markers. Might not have paid any attention to them. Might be one of those things where they had a ninety-nine-year lease.

End of Side One.

Beginning Side Two.

Q. What do you remember about the lane that comes from the Haystack tower (CATV, removed 2003) down across the brook and up the hill (now the blue trail to Lion’s Head)? Was that just a farm road to access the land on side of Lion’s Head?

EB. Yes. It was just a farm road. There was another way in there from Polly’s (McCabe) house (now Noyes), that went down and across the bridge and then up over to the other Clark lots, across the Mt. Riga Road.

Q. About old wood road (now driveway to Morrill).

EB. That was a town road at one time, went down through to Undermountain Road. Not too many years ago, I drove a car out through there. Frank had an old jeep. Could drive to where Judge Hill Eves there (Scoville Ore Bed Road).

Q. When do you think that road was open?

EB. I don’t know. Could drive through in the early 1960s. When Paul was in the service They went through there with a skidder (word unclear) after logs. They tore it all up.

Q. Were they running sheep up there?

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EB. The Clarks had sheep up there, on the side hill. Those were plowed fields on both sides of your road.

Q. About big rock on wood road just past Morrill house where there was a gate. EB. There was a riding gate. Don Warner (Sr.) used to ride horses down to the Scoville Ore Bed and up around through. The gate had a long handle on it. You could stay in your saddle, open the gate up.

Q. That was Don Warner’s father (Donald J. Warner), not Don Warner from Sharon?

EB. No, (with a laugh) he couldn’t ride a horse.

A lot of people would ride through there. The Miners had their riding stuff over there. From Lime Rock and Hotchkiss road.

Q. Did you ever see any Indian sign up on The Mountain (Mt. Riga)?

EB. No. There’s an Indian cemetery up there. Supposed to be. Do you know where Brewer’s camp is? On the first lake (lower lake). Just beyond that. There used to be a monument there, but somebody knocked most of it down. There are a lot of little stones stick up just about that high in there. We could drive up sometime.

Q. About jeep trail into Brace Mtn. off Mt. Riga Road, and branch jeep trail off it, where there is a pile of stones – a sort of monument.

EB. There is another one. You know where Bingham Pond is? You go beyond that a little ways there is a cleared spot out in there pretty close to the road, just a little ways beyond Bingham Pond, on the same side.

On the opposite side of the road, there is a rock chair, big thing about that high. About from here to Erickson’s driveway (quarter mile) farther in off Mt. Riga Road.

Q. About old road parallel to Mt. Washington Road on the east side of Bald Peak? EB. That goes to Bear Mountain. They used to drive that with horse and wagons. That road (now obstructed) past your house (Morrills) goes all the way up around toward tennis court on Mt. Riga. Then down (south) to old dam, the washed-out dam (by Mt. Riga Road). Or you could take it going north to Bear Mountain. It was an old charcoal road that was all filled up.

Q. More on the marker by Bingham Pond, (look at map).

EB. Yes. Sucker Brook. There is a little ridge right up here.

Speaks to Paul: Is that where it was, Paul, that marker up there by Don Borden’s? Paul Brazee. There is a marker I ran into near the ledges here that looks like a big chair.

EB. Yes. That’s what I mean.

Paul: I wouldn’t say it was that far in. I hunted for it the last few years and I could never find it again. I had found it walking down through, right a clearing, had no trouble walking up to it.

Q. Asks about another marker he saw near jeep trail to Brace.

Paul. There was a big farm up in there. There is a house place there, an apple tree, and a couple of lilac bushes. The reason I spotted it the first time was the lilac bushes.

EB. There is another house place there beside the jeep trail .

Paul. The markers might be property boundaries ’cause there’s an old map or an old deed, I can’t remember what it was, struck me funny, one of the boundary markers was a birch tree in the middle of a brook and another one was a bent nail in a pile of stones.

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EB. I was talking to somebody who said that was where the Connecticut line run through to Ohio, up there some place.

Q. About the 1714 survey. The monument they mention would be in line with the one WFM found north of the jeep trail to Brace.

Paul. Patterson Rock; it would be right up in here some place (on map). The one I come across looked like a big chair. Right by the ledges between Binzen’s and Patterson Rock on ledges. I was hunting when I found it. I said I wonder why they built that there. It had a hole in the seat, looked like a potty chair.

EB. (Regarding rock monument WFM found.) The old-time charcoal fellows were up there. On the east end of the lower lake that was all cleared land; there were houses all up through there. Then there was Ball’s place up on Ball peak, that was a big place. They owned right up through to “baby rock.” (show that on the map, just south of Bingham Pond on die west side of the road). Looks like two babies hugging each other. There’s a beach near toward where Ostrander lived. Polly got thrown one side the bam to the other up there. There was another fellow sleeping up there. Asked if he was sleeping in the bam. He said sure. (unintelligible story of incident on Mt. Riga). Something he didn’t understand: I was probably ten or twelve, something like that. My father had a horse, my uncle had a horse. We’re doing some fishing up. Got up there. My uncle said, my horse won’t stand outdoors, he’s got to be put in the bam. My father left his outside, unharnessed him, put the harness on the wagon, put the other harness in the bam. Came back just after dark to go home and my uncle’s horse’s mane and tail was a tied in little knots, the harness is all tangled up. the harness. Get the hell out of here.

Talk about end of session. We have been going for an hour and a half or so.

Continue talking and looking at a map.

Paul: House place way up by Bingham. A plateau sticks out. I said that would be a wonderful place for a house. Went a little bit further, there was an indentation. This map (1958) still has the same error in it; bugs me every time. Shows a stream coming out of Bingham in wrong place; (points to map). It comes out right through here.

Q. Was there any kind of a dam on Bingham? Paul: No.

EB. At one time they were going to drain the pond to get the peat out of it. Q. When?

EB. When I was a boy.

Q. Question about the fire.

EB. It was in 1928,1929. Came all the way down the mountain, right down to your house (where Morrill house is now). We were up here on the hill (near jeep trail to Brace Mtn), down to Chinny’s, he was a caretaker up there on the mountain, about ten or twelve or us. We could see the smoke coming up over the mountain. We could see the fire break over the top of Brace Mountain and we got in the cars (coming east) and when we got up here they met us at the road. We couldn’t do nothing. The fire was going up the hill toward Brace Mountain. It jumped across the road over toward the right-hand side of the road (east side). We come down and fought it at Bingham Pond. Then about twelve o’clock at night, Phil Warner, and ten or twelve of us, came down near your place and walked up to the top of the mountain (by AT). We didn’t have anything to fight it with; I don’t know why we walked up there. The fire was going north then. We said there is nothing to do here tonight. It burnt north two days. Turned around and went back down to Undermountain Road, right over Lion’s Head, Bald Peak. Was more laurel then. A lot of laurel died out. The trees are getting bigger now and choking out the laurel.

Paul: points to map. In this section through here, there was six to eight-foot laurel. There was no way you got off the edge of the road.

End of session.


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