Transcript of a taped interview.
Narrator: Faith Campbell
Tape#: 86 A & B
Date: January 15, 1992
Place of interview: Mrs. Campbell’s home, Noble Horizons,
Interviewer: Robert Steck
Mrs. Campbell has been a resident of the town of Salisbury since the 1960’s. She has been active in many community and literary activities during these more than thirty years. She and her husband resided in Amesville during most of this time and her interview contains much information about this community. She speaks of the physical characteristics of Amesville, its history, and many of the people who resided there.
Property of the Oral History Project.
Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library.
RS: This is Bob Steck interviewing Faith Campbell for the Oral History Project at her home in Noble Horizons. What is your full name?
FC: I am Faith Stanton Campbell and I was born in Wisconsin, I migrated east.
RS: What part of the state?
FC: I lived at the very head of Lake Superior in a city that was at that time between twenty-five and thirty thousand, called Superior. It was an industrial place. It had lots of shipbuilding during World War I. It was a place from which grain was shipped from the Dakotas, and coal was brought up from Pennsylvania and New York, so that there was shipping all the time while the lake was open. Very cold, like today.
RS: What brought you east?
FC: I came east to Smith College, which was a family college. All my cousins had gone there, too. I went home for about three years after college and then came ·back and got a job in New York. That was during the depression. I was very lucky. Of course, it didn’t pay much but it was enough so I could stay.
RS: What was your field?
FC: The job I wanted, I finally got and that was in the editorial department of Vogue Magazine. And I had worked as affiliate at the local newspaper and had written a shopping column that was really patterned on Vogue’s style. And I’d also wrote for several stores, writing their ads. You could say that I had my own advertising agency there. Finally I realized if I were going to go ahead at all, I had better get back east where there was more work of the kind I wanted. One of my jobs was on the Junior League magazine in the editorial department.
RS: When were you introduced into this area?
FC: My mother’s family had been Connecticut people, so I knew the area around New Haven very well. My second husband, David Campbell, had gon~ to Yale and his family had lived in the Harwinton area for a while. We both decided that when he retired, and when I retired, we would like to come to Connecticut, especially this area, because we had been up for weekends at Lenox and we decided that this was the best place. Dave, having been a banker all his life, got all of the annual reports. He looked them over and decided that the town of Salisbury was the best one of any in the Northwest corner. So this is where we looked for a house. Our first house was on Dugway, I’ll say Dug Way the old name of it, right near the bridge that went across to the power plant and Falls Village. We were in the! Falls Village postal area and in the Canaan telephone area. But we paid our taxes in the town of Salisbury.
RS: Was it called Amesville at that time?
FC: Amesville was the name of that area.
RS: What year was this?
FC: We bought the house in the fall of ’62 and came up weekends and vacations, and moved in – took it as our residence – in 1964. The house we had was one that had been built in 1857, and had been built as a store and was one of the Greek revival buildings.
RS: Did you say Greek revival?
FC: Yes. Huge white with pillars that went up to the roof and an upstairs porch as well as the downstairs front porch.
RS: Is that house still standing?
FC: That house we sold to John Mahoney.
RS: Oh, that house.
FC: Then John sold it to another Williams family, college family, Byron and Edith Scott, and they live there now. Everybody has loved that house, has improved it, so that it is in good condition and ought to go on forever.
RS: So, you were a resident of Canaan, for how long?
FC: We were reSidents of the town of Salisbury ever since we moved.
RS: But you paid your taxes ….
FC: We paid our taxes in Salisbury but we were in the Canaan telephone directory, 824, and .we were in the Falls Village postal district. So lots of people thought we were not Salisburians.
RS: You said you bought the house in ’62 and in ’64 you came up permanently, what were you involved in when you came up here?
FC: Well, Dave and I had been living in my little house in Katonah, New York, in Westchester County. He had commuted to New York from there, but his own house had been in Dobbs Ferry. We sold that and then, I rented mine for a few years.
RS: Were you involved with the town in any way when you came up in ’64?
FC: When we first came up, the Falls Village/Canaan Historical Society was just getting underway and we were both very interested in the local history. So we were on the board of that Historical Society. David volunteered to be treasurer of the D. M. Hunt Memorial Library. He remained in that position for at least eleven years, which was a wonderful service he did for them. Being a banker, instead of saying, “hoard your money”, he said, “spend it, improve the library, buy what you need, put down carpeting, etc.” So that started the library off on its expansion.
RS: It certainly is a nice ….
FC: It’s a beautiful library, yes.
RS: Is that when you became involved in doing that little booklet you did on the Revolution?
FC: If you’re talking about a small book called, Chronicles of Old Canaan ….
RS:That’s the one.
FC: The articles in it were written by Marie Collins Graham, who had lived in the area a long time. They had been published in The Lure of the Litchfield Hills magazine and the Historical Society decided that they would like to have it all put together as a book. I edited it and did the maps for it. The pictures came from the illustrations to her articles in The Lure. The Lure editor was very cooperative in letting us use anything we wanted to for the book.
RS: Who was Marie Collins?
FC: Marie Collins Graham was the wife of Bob Graham. She had been a teacher at the high school. I think she taught domestic science.
RS: At the Regional High School?
FC: Yes. I believe she came from Collinsville, so her name was one of the old family names from that part of Connecticut.
For the Historical Society I also did a lot of pUblicity. They were having very good programs every month. It was very active and this was before the Salisbury Association really decided to be active and before the Holley Williams House was given to the Salisbury Association. But, as soon as the Holley Williams House began to be used as a local museum, that was in ’72, ’73, I could hardly wait to get my finger in there and learn something about that wonderful house and the family. I was very fortunate. Miss Marie Bourdon who was very active in the Salisbury Association, asked me if I would be ccrchairman of exhibits with John Wedda. So John and I did a couple of early exhibits and tried to fix up exhibit places in the house that would be appropriate and attractive. Then John, for various reasons, one of them being that he just couldnt get the backing of the Association to spend any money on the type of exhibit areas that we needed, decided he would resign. He was very busy with his own things, anyway, so the exhibit program fell on me.
As soon as we had emptied the attic, or inventoried the attic that was over the new part of the house, the part with the Greek portico in the front, then we began to have exhibits of some of the things we had found. The first exhibit we had, we called a Hatorama.
RS: A Hatorama?
FC: There were so many old hats up in the attic. And then everybody wanted to loan old hats of theirs. I was able to borrow hats from aU over Salisbury, some from the town of Cornwall, some from the town of Canaan. The house was filled with hats, and we put them on wig models, these plastic heads. We put them on radiators and on tables and on everything else.
RS: How far back did the hats date?
FC: The hats would date as far back as anybody had hats.
RS: The Revolutionary War?
FC: We had one that was about the time of the Revolutionary War and had probably been worn and owned by Luther Holley who was the man who first had that property. There was a tricom, and his great, great, great grandson, John Rudd, tried the hat on and it fit him exactly. He said, “This must be Luther’s hat. We have the same shaped heads.” Then we had hats from the Civil War, and from various periods, men’s hats as well as ladies’ hats.
RS: Do you know what happened to those hats?
FC: Well, we returned the ones we borrowed. The ones that belonged in the house or had been given to us, we kept and they’re still there. Once in a while they appear on some of the various mannequins that I made for the Exhibits Committee
RS: What other exhibits did you have?
FC: Well, one of the best ones followed the Hatorama and it was of clothes that Miss Margaret Williams and her mother had bought while on various trips. They’d made a trip to France and England in 1928 and some of the lingerie that they had brought back still had common pins and little tiny store markers, how many francs this cost and how many francs that cost, because after they got back with these things underpinnings for clothes suddenly changed styles. A lot of these lovely things had never been worn. We had bills of sale on everything they had bought. At that time what is now the exhibits room, which is the old parlor in the old part of the house. At that time we had been given many old store counters. The Whitbecks were redoing their pharmacy and so Jhey gave us two, maybe three, big glass counters with sliding doors. Somebody else gave us another one. So we had them in the living room, we had them in the exhibits room, and could put aU sorts of things in there for people to look at.
One of the things we did, was to have two exhibits each summer and then we had a party to open the exhibit. Then, of course, people would come and they would tell about how excited they were about what was happening. More and more clothes and treasures, etc, poured in. So the first two years the collection of the Holley Williams house was really built up by people who had lovely things from all of Salisbury and wanted to give them and wanted to have them where they could be displayed. These were things that had been in their attiCS.
RS: What were your impressions of Salisbury? What was it like in the sixties?
FC: In the sixties, Salisbury was just heavenly. It was the way Westchester County had been fifty years before. One of the remarkable things about the town of Salisbury and the feeling people have for it, is that although more and more people have come in and more and more houses have been built on the country roads, it still has the same feeling of being a country village, not a commuting town, ‘though lots of people are ,commuting up here just for weekends. It still keeps its original character.
RS: In the sixties, were there any of the inns on Main Street, next to the Holley House, in that area, still in existence? They were there earlier. But in the time you were there.
FC: The Farnam Tavern.
RS: The Farnam Tavern?
FC: Yes. Perhaps I’m advocating this a little bit because I know when I brought my son up-to the camp on Indian Lake in the fifties, we used to come over and eat at the Famam’ Tavern. I think probably about the time in the seventies that the Holley Williams House was given to the Salisbury Association, the Farnam Tavern was being remade as apartments.
RS: So, your first visit to this area was actually in the fifties, when you brought your son up.
FC: Yes. Right.
RS: Now, what other impressions can you give me of the sixties?
FC: Well, the sixties. Many people were oriented toward Tanglewood and then there was also wonderful summer theater in Sharon and there was also the concert series at Music Mountain. So, it was a place that was really interesting, culturally. There were so many different things to hear or to see. I believe that at about the same time in the seventies the library began having art shows. Perhaps they had had them before, but I wasn’t aware of it.
RS: Yes. I remember when we came up in ’68 the art shows were there.
FC: Yes, we had several art shows at the D. M. Hunt Library in Falls Village, too, to which people from Salisbury came because they knew the artists who were featured in those shows. One of the things that was such fun about moving up here – we started going to Trinity Church right away. That’s down at the foot of Dugway down in Ume Rock. It’s exactly two miles from our front door to the church. Two of the people who went to Trinity Church from the Amesville area were Harry and Marion Crimino. He was a very well-known artist. He had done war posters for World War I. He also was a wood carver. He made the most beautiful illustrations for various books, from wood that he imported from Turkey, from a special holly tree there that gave a wonderful texture to the wood blocks that he made. They had lived for quite a long while in Amesville on Sugar Hill and they were good friends of Bedelia Falls and her husband C.D. Falls, whom I never met because he had died a few years before.
RS: Was he an artist?
FC: He was an artist too, and he had brought Harry Timino up there. So, there was almost an artist’s colony up on Sugar Hill Road. Because we got to know Bedelia and Harry and Marion Timino, we very soon leamed some of the old legends and gossip of the area. Marion wrote a book that was going to be called, Lau1tlter on Sugar Hill, and she gave it to a publisher and somehow or other e manuscnpt got lost, so now there are about ten of us who are trying to revive our memories of those old stories. Some of them are people who have lived there even in the ’20s. I’ve been taking down notes on what they say so that eventually there will be a new book, Laughter on Sugar Hill and the story of Amesville.
RS: Do you have an example in mind that you can tell us of one of the legends?
FC: Yes. One of the legends is when the power plant first came in, around 1912.There were so many empty houses that had been used by the railroad and the earlier Ames Ironworks people. Of course, when the business left Amesville, houses were left vacant as people moved to Torrington and other parts trying to find work. The power plant destroyed a lot of the houses. The cellar holes are still there. A lot of people have done archaeological exploration on their own and found interesting things that were left in the old basements. They’ve also done archaeological exploration where the old Ames Ironworks and the railroad yards were. They found some very interesting wrought iron things that were made by the Ames Ironworks.
RS: Where was the Ames Ironworks?
FC: The Ames Ironworks was on the millpond above the falls, above the Great Falls. At the time the Ames Ironworks started in 1832, there were two sets of falls. There was the Little Falls which was two hundred yards upstream from the Great Falls. That was the falls that supplied the water power to the Ames Ironworks and to various other manufacturing centers around there. There had been a paper mill on the Salisbury side, and on the Canaan side, on what was called Canaan Falls, there had been ironworks, a’iumber mill, a grist mill and a sawing mill. So that was really a big industrial center, all around the millpond.
RS: Did you ever hear that the area around Amesville and Lime Rock was referred to as the Chicago of the east?
FC: No, I never heard that. They probably thought it was going to be. It was a very busy place. It had its own schoolhouse.
RS: Where was the schoolhouse?
FC: That’s the building where Joanna Beallives now. It is an A-line building just below the high falls. A little brook called the … no, I can’t remember the name. It’s a brook that comes down off Falls Mountain and through Landon’s Ravine. Her house is just to the north of that brook and it’s stained a dark red now. It has a double roof. The schoolhouse roof was covered over by somebody who wanted to enlarge the building and built the A-line window and put a second roof on top of the other.
To go back to one of the stories about the power plant coming in. The power plant not only dynamited or otherwise wrecked a lot of the houses where workers had lived at the Ames Ironworks and for the, railroad, but they dynamited the Little Falls to enlarge the millpond. They built up the height of the Great Falls and moved it back a little bit so that it looks Quite different now than it must have looked then. Well, the people who had stayed on in Amesville were just really hanging on by their fingernails. They had very little to do, ‘though there was a farm that produced milk and a lot of people worked there in the dairy. They helped deliver the milk. Bob Graham was one of them. That farm was up the road, up Housatonic River Road, north of Amesville. That would be north, going toward route 44. In fact, I think there were two or three big farms in that area.
RS: There’s one big one still there, of course, kind of a gentleman’s …..
FC: Stillwater, oh yes. .
RS: So all the industry went and the farm was?
FC: The agriculture kept on going. There had even been a bank in Amesville … But one thing I ought to correct. Amesville was the original Falls Village. Canaan Falls was on the Canaan side of the river. Falls Village was on the Salisbury side. When the railroad came in and the spur line was built over to the Ames Works in Falls Village, the railroad put the depot sign, the depot name, Falls Village, over in Canaan. So then people who lived in the Original Falls Village, although there was a post office there called Falls Village and a post office in the new area across the river called Falls Village, gradually Amesville became the name of the settlement on the west side of the Housatonic River.
RS: Can you place where the post office and depot were on the Salisbury side?
FC: There was no depot on the Salisbury side.
RS: Oh, that’s right.
FC: Jhe post office was near where the old schoolhouse is.
RS: What happened to the people? They just moved out?
FC: They had to. There was no work, so the bank closed. It was the Salisbury Savings Bank, a branch of the one here, an early, early branch.
RS: Was there a grocery store there, a common store?
FC: The house that was built in 1857, that we bought in 1962, was the grocery store and it was almost like a supermarket, because downstairs there were the groceries in the big living room. When we first bought the house we could still see the .marks in the plaster where the shelves had been. Upstairs there was a milliner and in the room next to the garage, into which the garage opened, there was a tinsmith. He also had a little bridge that went across Brandon’s Brook that had to be torn down because kids were playing in it and it wasn’t safe for anybody to romp around on. That lasted until almost the seventies.
RS: Now, was that a grocery store just before you moved in or had it already ….
FC: It hadn’t been a grocery store for some time. When everybody moved out, then something as big as the grocery store was no longer needed. It became the property of the Falls Village Savings Bank. They rented parts of it to various families and one of the families who had it in the twenties was the Blake family. Ida Blake, who was a fixture in the community, a wonderful woman, had lived in it when she was a little girl. The bank didn’t do mudl to fix it up. The roof leaked and squirrels got in and rolled the black walnuts around and were still doing it when we moved in. The Temples (Paul Temple had been a master at Hotchkiss) bought that house and lived in it and did a great deal to fix it up. But the person who had fixed it up most had been Mary Lambert, who had lived on Staten Island. Her sister had come up and they had begun buying property that had-all gone to the bank. They bought the whole comer for something like $2000 with the house that had been the old Ensign Tavern, 1744 Tavern,(it’s got the date on it) and the house that we lived in and some other houses on the property.
And so, Mary Lambert took the house that we lived in which was just falling apart. Her sister, Mrs. Groff, took the other one and fixed it up. But both of the houses were said to have homeless people living in them and that one man who was living in one of the houses found thar it was mudl safer to move down to the basement because the first floor boards were so rotten they were going to cave in if he continued living on the ground floor.
Well, to go back to the power plant. Because so many people were just eking out a living in the Amesville area, the power plant would not supply electricity to them, although they were supplying electricity everywhere. Finally, it happened that the manager of the plant/went on a vacation and the man who took his place decided, “This is the time to let the power go to the people who want it, even if they’re deadbeats. We’re supposed to supply them with electricity.” So the wires were strung up and everybody had lights to turn on by the time the manager got back. The people paid their bills and he didn’t turn off the power on them.
One of the old houses that had been left by the power plant was just afthe foot of Sugar Hill. Only the cellar hole is there now, and I think that’s all filled in. But it was said to have the best well anywhere in the area. The woman who lived there took in laundry from allover the town of Salisbury because the water was so good and their laundry was so clean.
RS: Just to place Sugar Hill – is Sugar Hill the road that goes up toward where the Shappels … ? Chapello
FC: No, that’s Falls Mountain Road.
RS: So that’s Falls Mountain Road. So, Sugar Hill …
FC: So, right by the bridge, directly uphill from the bridge is now called Falls Mountain Road. It was called Peck’s Hill Road when the Pecks owned the ‘744 Ensign Tavern and ran it as a hotel. So, their name was on the road for a long time and the road went all the way through to Farnam Road. It was the eastern end of Farnam Road.
RS: It went all the way through?
FC: Yes, and you can still walk it.
RS: Oh, that’s interesting. I’ll have to try that again.
FC: Yes, you’ll go by a private house, but you can get through.
RS: Yes, well, I think the last house on that is owned by a professor from New York University.
FC: Bill Blackwell.
RS: Yes. So, there’s a path beyond that.
FC: Yes, and you can go on beyond there. It’s not traveled as much now as it was.
RS: So, Sugar Hill is the one …
FC: Sugar Hill is further along, towards 44.
RS: So that’s the one that goes to 44.
FC: Yes, and Sugar Hill goes up from the falls area and goes up to the top and then its extension is now the Appalachian Trail. But there were two ways that you could go on Sugar Hill from the falls area. One was over toward Hamlet Hill and down there by the Salisbury Garden Center. Also, there was another one that forked left, went past the Butterley Farm and came out just about where the ski jump is. That was really the old shortcut to Salisbury and connected with the river road so that people who were visiting the area could go from Salisbury center up over the hill that quick way and then get to the falls area where the manufacturing was. Timothy Dwight was one of the people who did that. He visited here twice and they printed a description of the Great Falls that is quoted so often.
RS: What changes come to your mind in relation to this whole area in the time you’ve lived here?
FC: Well, I think that two of the biggest things are the moving of the Berkshire Line Railroad and, of course, of the Harlem division in Millerton. You used to be able to take a train from either station – Falls Village or Millerton – and get into New York in a couple of hours, do what you wanted during the good part of the day and get back here in time for dinner. It was really wonderful.
Another big change is the building up of the village of Canaan with supermarkets. That, of course, made a tremendous difference in the town of North Canaan and it also made a tremendous difference in the shopping in Falls Village. When we moved to Falls Village, there was not only a railroad center, two banks (the Savings Bank and the National Iron Bank). But there was a fabric store, and there were two grocery stores, complete with cheese, green groceries, canned goods … It was really delightful. You didn’t have to go far for anything.
RS: You did your shopping then in Falls Village?
FC: Yes, but also came over to Salisbury, to Shagroy.
RS: Did you use any of the areas in Lime Rock? Were they in existence at that time?
FC: No, at that time all the stores that had been in Ume Rock were closed and had all become dwellings. So, I never saw Ume Rock when it had a shopping center there.
RS: What else comes to your mind that you might add? If anything? Any other people you haven’t spoken about?
FC: Well, if course, Salisbury center has attracted many people, like the ,Blagdens and Harrison Salisbury and his wife. And up around the Taconic area … 1 can’t remember the name of it, but before the Taconic Learning Center – what was is called?
RS: Oh, the Institute of World Affairs.
FC: That was very, very important and brought people from all over the world as students and a lot of them have had an influence in world affairs since they’ve grown up. One of the interesting things to me about Salisbury and Amesville and Falls Village was that it’s so easy to get from here down to New Haven, and you can really see why this originally was part of New Haven colony. You get parts of the old Post Road as you’re traveling down, but it’s so easy to get down there to the things that are happening around Yale and in New Haven itself. That was one of the attractions for us.
RS: The college still is an easy ride and around Yale you can still park.
FC: If you know where.
RS: Yes, you have to find out. But even the parking lots are convenient to the theater.
Let me see. There was something else I wanted. Oh, are there any people that you know around the Amesville area, particularly, who might be interviewed by us? We don’t have much information on that.
FC: Oh, I would say Agatha Dakin, because the Dakins moved here in the twenties.
RS: Does she have a sister?
FC: No, she’s Mrs. Edward Dakin. Ed died several years ago and she lives there and her son, Timothy, has an office in the house and he lives there too. She has wonderful stories. It was at her house that we had the first get-together of people from the area, trying to remember things about old Amesville and old Falls Village. Then, there are the Mortensons, Mart Mortonson, who lived in Lime Rock but has a summer house on one of the Twin Lakes.
RS: Where might I see him?
FC: On Main Street, and he is just a fund of information and would be very good to have come. He was a builder, so he had a lot to do with the rebuilding of Stillwater Farm when the original house caught fire and burned down. Somebody else who knows a lot about the area is Ed Fales.
RS: He is an artist.
FC: He is an artist and also a writer. He now is concentrating more on his painting than he is on his writing. But he’s lived there a long time and he had the old Borden milk factory. That’s his house and studio.
RS: All right. Is there anything else that comes to mind?
FC: Well, one of the people who was so very helpful, one of the families, was the Sabin family. They lived on Falls Mountain Road, just north of our second house and they were very, very helpful because both sides of their family went back for generations. Their daughter lives on Ume Rock Road. Somebody else is Mrs. Beaujohn who lives toward Route 44, from the Stillwater farm. She has a lot to say.
FC: I wish I could think of the family whose name begins with B. He’s in the lumber business .
RS: I know who you mean.
End of Side A
This side is a dialogue between Mrs. Campbell and Mr. Steck comparing and relating their experiences in Spain. Mrs. Campbell was there in the 1930’s and saw the beginnings of the Spanish Civil War. Mr. Steck was an American volunteer in that war. It is not transcribed because it does not relate to Salisbury.