Oral History cover sheet
Interviewee: Agatha Dakin
Place of Interview: 16 Sugar Hill, Amesville, Ct.
Date:Oct. 17, 1990
Summary of Talk:Description of center of Amesville, the houses and their inhabitants on River
Road, Falls Mountains Road, Sugar Hill Road, and Puddlers Lane: milk and meat deliver, good neighbors, flood conditions of 1955.
Property of the oral History Project
The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury Ct. 06068
This is Wednesday, October 17, 1990, a beautiful sunny day. I am sitting with Agatha Dakin, Mrs. M. Edward Dakin, at her home on Sugar Hill in Amesville. Agatha is going to tell us about Amesville.
AD:All I can tell you about Amesville is from the time that I moved here in 1939. So really I consider
myself an old timer, but not nearly as old as a few of the people that are left. I will start by mentioning that we don’t know exactly where the boundaries of Amesville are; where Amesville starts and where Amesville finishes. I asked Lila Nash some time ago where the boundaries were, and she didn’t know. If Lila doesn’t know, nobody knows!
We’ll start with what appears to be the center of Amesville, or to have been the center of Amesville, by the bridge. There’s a tavern, a large tavern, at the foot of Falls Mountain Road which runs almost parallel to Sugar Hill Road. Next to the tavern was a big country store. When I first walked into it, it was the residence of Miss May Lambett, a retired teacher from the city. She had not done a great deal to the house; in fact she had left the walls bare as they were when it was a store. One could see where the shelves had been. Beyond that we go toward Brinton Hill. There are several houses around there, but I have no idea who has lived in them. I am sure the whole area has changed because there has been a great deal of turnover of real estate. At the foot of Brinton Hill we enter the wooded part which goes toward Trinity Church and the race track.
Working back from the center, the bridge, there is a road that goes up to Falls Mountain. That road is closed part way up the hill. There are several houses on it, but originally the road went over and ended at the beginning of Farnam Road. I believe the Miner house is at the end of that road. I have never walked it, but I have walked a good many of the woodsy paths near there. Then we turn up to the left towards Sugar Hill.
Sugar Hill is off the main road, River Road; it twists and turns to the top of Sugar Hill. I believe it was named Sugar Hill because there were so many maple trees that I am sure people made a great deal of syrup. In fact I have done it myself. At the top of the hill where it ends, that is where the road ends, you go into the woods, and if you walk far enough, you’ll come out at Barack Matiff, which is where the Rand place is. I have never walked all the way over that hill. It is layered with fallen trees, and as a matter of fact, years ago, before the road was paved, Mr. McChesney used to ride horseback over the hill. He often stopped and chatted with me. He told me that Sugar Hill Road was formerly called Christian Street. He thought it was very appropriate because it ended in paradise; that lovely area is paradise. Coming down the hill we approach the old house that belonged to a gentleman named Fred Howde. He was a great botanist; he was really well known in this area because he had such a beautiful garden and such extreme knowledge of plants. Then across the road from him lives Mrs. Redman, a pretty little woman, who was tending a handicapped husband who sat on the porch. As Mrs. Redman went down the hill every day that it was cold, very cold, and every day that it was very hot we’d hear her tramping down the road. She had to get liver for her cats; she had numerous cats. Then we come to the home of C. V. Ball who was a very fine artist and actually painted many posters during the First World War along with a James Montgomery flag and Howard Chandler Christie. They were friends; he lived in New York, but he lived in Amesville for many, many years. He had his studio across the street which is now occupied by a family. Then below that is the home of Harry Strong who became executive
secretary to Governor Baldwin (?). His daughter is Mrs. Rourke who is running on the same ticket with Mr. Weicker. Eunice played with my children, and they used to squabble together. Eunice grew up to be a very bright person. In fact she went to Connecticut Law School, and was there at the time when my sons were there. They renewed old acquaintances. Below that we come to the home of Harrison Enno, who was a very fine artist, illustrator, and designer of textiles. Harry and Marion were wonderful people and lived there for many years although they had not originated there. I don’t know who owned the house before they lived there. Down below there was the old Bates home, and that was inhabited by their daughter. Old Shadrack Bates was the patriarch.
MB: What a name!
AD:I never knew him, and I never knew his wife, but I knew his children. They owned a great deal of
property in the woods, a great deal of woodland. They all settled right around our area of Sugar Hill.
From Sugar Hill leading to the left as you go down the hill is what’s known as Puddlers Lane.
Now the puddlers were the men who worked at the forge where the wheels were manufactured for the railroad tracks. There are six houses on that road all occupied now by outsiders. The houses have been fixed up, and they are just little houses of no particular design. (They are Greek Revival cottages Ed.)Still there were many interesting people, interesting in that they were Amesvillians.
When I first came here, we were very busy fixing up our house (16 Sugar Hill Ed.) because it was a shell of a house. It had been owned by Miss Jacobi, Miss Minnie Jacobi, who was the district school teacher. She taught for forty years in the district school which is on the River Road, but it has been abandoned. The year before we moved here, that is in 1938, it must have been abandoned because they decided to bus the children over to the Salisbury Central School and the Grove School. Miss Jacobi taught in the district schoolhouse as I said. The district school house was sold at auction during the war. The town decided to abandon the school house, and it was sold at auction for $500.
MB: Oh goodness.
AD: That is at the foot of Sugar Hill, a part of Amesville, actually it is not Sugar Hill it is the River Road. If you turn to the left on the River Road, you will come to a house on the left rather large in height where Mr. Rockwood lived. Mr. Rockwood was our milkman for some years. He delivered milk to us right to the door at 10 cents a quart. He had the most interesting assortment of milk products. He was a very nice man. We also had the advantage of having a peddler of meat, a meat peddler from Fred Bates Meat Store in West Cornwall (?). He would come around once a week and we would buy our meat from him. But most of it we bought from Hamzy’s store which was across the river in Falls Village. Mr. Hamzy had a general store; everything from pots and pans to pork roasts. One of his boys would come up every morning, every Wednesday morning, in his blue truck and take the order, and deliver the order Wednesday afternoon.
MB: Oh how lovely!
AD: The house that was at the, what seems to be the end of Amesville, I don’t say it is the end because I don’t know, nobody seems to know but Pen Lewis had lived, had been in the service. He was a naval officer, and when he was retired from the service, he decided that he wanted to have a farm and raise cattle. He did so; he had a very charming wife and three very charming children. The children went to school in Salisbury Central. Pen Lewis was a very kind, thoughtful, considerate man. One year, I think it was about 1950 (1955?), we had a very bad storm which weakened the buttresses of the bridge. They decided to close the bridge.
MB: Oh boy.
AD:The bridge was closed for six months. We had no means of getting out to other places, and we
couldn’t get milk. The children needed milk. So Pen who had cows and had no way of getting rid of the milk delivered it around to all the neighbors in Amesville.
MD: Oh how nice. What a nice thing to do.
AD:We were hemmed in completely, and there was a little boy whose parents were renting our
house at the time. We were away and they were renting the house. The child was taken ill on New Year’s Eve with a very serious case of pneumonia I believe. The men had been at a party and they got together and carried the little boy across the hill to the top of Brinton Hill where they were met by someone who took the child to the hospital.
MD:So there was no way to go down the River Road?
AD:No, the River Road was cut right off at the foot of Brinton Hill.
MD: Oh gracious.
AD:In fact once when we were flooded, my husband and I walked down that road and you couldn’t,
it was all mud and water. We were barefoot. On the other side we watched the road separate, the other side.
MD: You were really pioneers out here. Thank you Agatha for a very interesting interview. You have told a great deal about Amesville that people are going to be awfully glad to have. We’ll sign off now and my thanks again. This is Mary Bodell who conducted the interview.