Warner, Donald T.

Interviewer: Bob Steck
Place of Interview: his home
Date of Interview:
File No: 44 A-D Cycle:
Summary: Scoville, Warner families, Salisbury 1920-1930, Mt. Riga, Bushnell Tavern

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript


RS: This is Robert Steck interviewing Donald Warner
Your full name?
DW: My full name is Donald T. Warner.
RS: The ‘T’ stands for?
DW: The ‘T’ stands for Ticknor.
RS: Would you spell that for me, please?
DW: T-i-c-k-n-o-r.
RS: And when and where were you born, Mr. Warner?
DW: I was born on May 13, 1921, in New York City. But, subsequently, as a small baby, 1 grew up in Salisbury, Connecticut.
RS: Do you remember how many months or years old you were when you came here with your folks?
DW: I don’t remember. I was just a few months old, I’m sure.
RS: Now, how far back does your family go in Salisbury?
DW: Both sides of my family, my father’s family and my mother’s family, which was the Scoville family, go back a long ways in Salisbury. Perhaps I ought to take my father’s family first.
My great, great grandfather was the first person from whom I’m lineally descended who lived in this area. He was a farmer who had a large farm, probably you would say in the southwest comer of Lakeville Lake [Lake Wononscopomuc, ed.| near the Indian Mountain School road and the Interlaken Road. His name was Harvey Deforest Warner. He was not born here. I think he was born in Danbury in 1769 and died here in 1859. One of his children was Donald Judson Warner, my great-grandfather, who was born in 1819 and died in 1904. He was a lawyer and he was also into politics, got his degree, was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, I think. His office was in the little red office building, which is next to the Congregational Church in Salisbury. He lived in Salisbury in a house which has been completely rebuilt but is next to Dr. and Mrs. F.E. Smith’s house on Main Street in Salisbury.
My grandfather was born in Salisbury in 1850 and lived until 1929 and he was a lawyer also, much more prominently involved in Connecticut politics. He was State’s Attorney for a longer period, 1 think, than anyone else, from around the turn of the century until 1917. He was at one time in a close race to be nominated for Governor of Connecticut. After being State’s Attorney, he was appointed a judge in the Superior Court and served there until retirement age and then was a referee in the Superior Court, dying in 1929.
My father was born in Salisbury in 1885 and he died in 1956. He also was a lawyer. Both he and my grandfather used that same office building. My grandfather’s partner, subsequently my father’s partner, was a man named Howard F. Manden. My father was Secretary of State for the state of Connecticut, 1921-1923. I was born in New York and then came to Salisbury as a small baby.
Now, to go to my mother’s side quickly. They, too, were long-time residents and the Scoville family owned a lot of land in the Taconic- Chapinville area of Salisbury. The Undermountain Inn was the Scoville homestead, where Jonathan Scoville lived and where, I believe, Jonathan Scoville, being my great-great grandfather and my great grandfather Samuel Church Scoville also lived there. Descendants of the Scoville family have lived there until about 1950.
My grandfather and great-uncle were Nathaniel C. Scoville and Jonathan Scoville. I think they were brought up as very young boys and young men in this area, but they moved to Buffalo and they got in the forging business.
Jonathan and Nathaniel C. Scoville made most of the railroad wheels for the country in the 1860s and ‘70s. My great uncle, Jonathan Scoville, never married, was a good friend of Grover Cleaveland’s, succeeded him as mayor of Buffalo – he was a Democrat – and later was a Congressman from Buffalo. But the Scovilles had built [I’m not sure whether it was before these two gentlemen died] the Scoville house up in Taconic. They died around 1895, within a couple of years of each other. Jonathan Scoville’s will was the one that provided most of the money for the Scoville Memorial Library. One of their sons, Robert Scoville, was instrumental in rebuilding the Town Hall, [as it was until last summer] around 1914. They also ran a very large farm operation up in Taconic called Grassland Farms, and did own a lot of land.
My great, great uncle was Samuel Church and the Church homestead is down on the Housatonic River, owned now by somebody named Herndon, I believe. It’s the big farm and large place on the Housatonic River at the foot of Smith Hill. Samuel Church was one of the early graduates of the Tapping Reeve Law School in Litchfield. He delivered the centennial address in 1841, I guess, when Salisbury was one hundred years old. He was a lawyer and was Chief Justice of the State of Connecticut.
I think that more or less covers the family background, but I am really a native. When I hear about other natives, I don’t know whether 1 like being one or not. But I am a native.
RS: You mentioned that there was a Harvey Warner, I believe.
DW: Harvey DeForest
RS: Who came from Danbury. Was he the first of the Warners to be in Salisbury?
DW: Yes, as far as I know.
RS: And in terms of the Scovilles, were they here before 1769?
DW: I think that Jonathan Scoville, the father of Samuel Church Scoville, who was my great-grandfather…. There were Scovilles living in that place where the Undermountain Inn is. That was the homestead there, on the Undermountain Road. Certainly they were there around 1800, at any rate.
RS: I see. Do you happen to know where the Scovilles and Warners came from?
DW: Well, I am a direct descendent of Andrew Warner who came from England. That branch of the family settled in the Connecticut River valley, I think near Haddam, Massachusetts in the Connecticut River valley. The Scovilles, a very prolific family in this part of the world, and also in Ohio, when the people moved from Connecticut to Ohio. And the name is spelled differently, sometimes without the double ‘le’, like Scovil Manufacturing in Waterbury.
RS: Just a single L’?
DW: Yes.
RS: S-C-O-V-l-L.
DW: Yes. The manufacturing company that the Secretary of Commerce, Baldwin, was the head. That’s the same family, but very distant relations to me, I suppose. And also there are some in Cornwall, around Hartford. They originally were French. Maybe with a little stopover in England, but I think that’s French. Someplace in Normandy or something, 1 believe.
RS: Do you know the reasons they came to this country?
DW: I haven’t the faintest idea. They didn’t come first class, I’m sure.
RS: Were they Mayflower people, or subsequent to that?
DW: Oh. No- subsequent to that, although not too much.
RS: Were there any participants in the Revolutionary War?
DW: Oh, yes, I believe so, but going back behind Harvey Deforest I don’t have the direct descendent list, starting with Andrew Warner. There was a John Warner and Noahdiah and I think another John. There were some who fought in the…
RS: With the American side?
DW: Yes. They weren’t rich enough to be Tories.
RS: OK. One of the areas that I recently have been exploring is the Shay’s Rebellion, which was in this area. Any of your family on either side of that issue?
DW: I don’t know. That was around 1794?
RS: It ended about 1794.
DW: And that was around Great Barrington?
RS: Well, it was strong in Great Barrington, but some of it did take place in Salisbury and more in Sharon.
DW: I don’t know. I knew it was around here, but I don’t know about that. Maybe they kept it very quiet if it was.
RS: You mentioned that there was a genealogical book on your family.
DW: Oh, yes. I don’t know if the library has it. I have a copy of it and probably the library has one, The Descendants of Andrew Warner.
RS The Descendants of Andrew Warner. Published when?
DW: Oh, around 1915, I think.
RS: Do you know off-hand who published it?
DW: No.
DW: There is a Scoville genealogy, too, the Scoville family, I think, but it’s not easy to follow in that one as it is in the Warner one, at least for our branch of the family.
RS: Now, your family then, was in the area here during such times as, let’s say, the Civil War. To your knowledge was there any participation in that issue or in the abolitionist issue?
DW: Well, my grandfather would have been too young. I guess by the time the Civil War came along my great-grandfather was already in his forties. They were not. I had other relatives on my father’s side who were, but not, not that I know of. No.
RS: OK. Another big area in our history was the Spanish American War. Was there any?
DW: No, I don’t think any. There again, I had cousins on my father’s side – or one in particular, who fought in the Spanish American War, but 1 don’t know. As far as I know, none.
RS: Did you know your great-great-grandfather? Was he still living?
DW: The only one I knew…. They all had quite a bit of longevity. The only grandfather I knew of the two was Judge Warner and he died when I was about eight years old. I remember him, but…
RS: Do you remember any stories about him?
DW: Well, I remember he used to walk from his office to his house, which is
where Buckley and Buckley have their antiques in Salisbury. (84 Main St. Salisbury Ed.)That was his home and had been his and my great-grandfather’s home, I think, too, but mainly my grandfather’s. He always had peppermint candies in his pocket. If we waylaid him on the footpath, just a little footpath going down, he would hand out peppermints.
I remember him up on Mt. Riga. He had a lot to do with the putting together of Mt. Riga Corporation.
I remember my grandmother. We went there as little children on Friday and they always had fish on Friday. She made very good fishcakes, which
nobody eats nowadays. They get them out of a can. But these were very good.
RS:  Home made
DW: Yes, homemade ones which were out of sight. My other grandfather died in the 1890’s. He was born, I think, in 1831 and my grandmother was much, much younger. He died around 1890 or so, but she didn’t die until 1944. So she was a young widow.
RS: So you knew her.
DW: Oh, yes, I knew her.
RS: What was she like?
DW: Well, she was, even though it was 1944, she was more or less the typical Victorian widow. She only wore black, mauve, lavender or white and that was it. 1 guess she was sort of in mourning all the time, although 1 never remember her talking about her husband.
RS: How big a family were you a part of – immediate family?
DW: My own?
RS: Yes.
DW: I have two sisters and a brother. All of them are living.
RS: In the area here?
DW: No.
RS: What did your father do? I think you did mention it.
DW: He was a lawyer.
RS: Yes. And what was he like?
DW: Well, he was here in Salisbury all his life. He was a graduate of Yale, Yale Law School. He never really left the area except to be Secretary of State. There’s sort of a curious story somebody told me who has long been dead. I shouldn’t be telling this about my father. There was a mistake. They put him on the ballot to be Secretary of State and they really meant to put my grandfather on.
RS: Ha, ha. Did he win?
DW: Yes, he did. That’s what I heard, but I don’t swear to that.
RS: Your mother was of the Scoville family?
DW: She was a Scoville. She was the youngest child of Frances and Nathaniel Church Scoville.
RS: You mentioned one of the schools that you attended. Could you give me an idea of your….
DW: Well, when I was very small, I went to the Salisbury grade school, which was a very minor-type school near the White Hart Inn.
RS: Was that a one-room schoolhouse? No, I guess you were beyond that.
DW: Oh, yeah, I’m not that old.
RS: Right.
DW: Well, let’s see. I went as a day student, I think, maybe boarding part of the time, to Indian Mountain School which was then in existence. From there 1 went away to school. I went away to college and then 1 was in the service.
RS: What college?
DW: 1 went to Yale.
RS: Oh, yes, you were in Yale. Were you in service in the Second World War?
DW: Yes.
RS: What part of the service?
DW: I was in the army and 1 was in Combat Amphibious Engineers. Then, after the war, I went to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Law School.
RS: Oh, yes. You graduated from Law School there?
DW: Yes, excellent law school.
RS: Now, tell me, what was it like, growing up here in Salisbury?
DW: Well, there are very few people that are around here now that I knew and ran around with and fought with and played with, that still live in the area. But 1 suppose my real recollection goes back to the late twenties and in the thirties. Some of that time 1 was away at school. But for one thing, there was very little traffic on the road, not many big trucks. The road wasn’t as wide. The bridge outside of my family’s house, which is the one on the comer, right opposite the library, with the fence around it, was quite small. There wasn’t any Shagroy. There was a Kimberley’s Market which was where the sporting goods store is. That’s all been rebuilt. There was a post office. The postmaster was Mr. Stone and Mrs. Stone. The drugstore and a couple of other little stores. It was a very quiet village.
RS: Were the Whitbecks in the drug store at that time?
DW: Yes, yes. Sam Whitbeck was there then. You just didn’t see a lot of traffic. Another thing was that…. At least when you’re a little boy, it was rather spooky if you were out in the village. There were no street lights. I don’t think they were put in until the forties, after the war. In other words, there weren’t street lights going down the street. There was a sidewalk, there was a station behind the library and the trains came. They were coming more and more infrequently. There was a train master named Ashman. I can remember very well going on a train to Canaan and even hopping on, on notice, going to Lakeville and Millerton. But, unlike when my father was alive, when there were really a lot of trains, a lot of train service, that was beginning to die out. As soon as World War II was over, it really — after World War II. Even in the thirties there was not as much as there used to be. Because there was no place…. I mean, where were they going particularly. There was a movie theater.
RS: In Salisbury?
DW: No, in Lakeville.
RS: Where was it located?
DW: It was located near where the Public Health Nursing is, where there’s a little On the Run coffee shop. That burned down. That was still here when we were first married, though, I think. It burned down and was never rebuilt. Going to the movies was a big deal. We used to walk down the railroad track and go to the movies, sometimes on Saturday afternoons if we were Avery little. We had a very simple existence. There was none of this….
Very few people had started buying properties and coming here from elsewhere.
RS: Well, when did that start?
DW: I think it started to a certain extent Some people who were friends of my parents did come from away and bought places in the late twenties and thirties, but it was on a very small scale compared to now. And I don’t think it started much until about 1950. It began to get going. Of course, it picked up momentum. But it was very, very stagnant and very level for a long period of time.
RS: Were there many after-school activities for children, or were you pretty isolated?
DW: No, you entertained yourselves.
RS: Doing what?
DW: I don’t know. Fishing in the brook, etc. And even when I went away to school, there was very little of that.
RS: Let’s say in your teens, when you were growing up…. Now, today in the teens, teenagers seem to be lost pretty much in the community.
DW: Well, I don’t think we even thought about that particularly. Nobody was worrying about it. We didn’t think about it. We may have been lost in the
community but we didn’t know it. People weren’t concerned with that particularly. Well, Millerton, for example, even up until 1950 or so, there were five trains a day to New York City. Back in the thirties there were probably more. You’d go over to Millerton and get on a parlor car to New York, probably for two bucks, a buck fifty, or something like that.
RS: Not today.
DW: People went. That’s how they went to New York. You didn’t drive to New York. I really don’t remember much before the war, driving to New York. I guess I did.
RS: In the 1930s was the Depression. Was that evidenced in any way in the community here?
DW: I would say compared with other parts of the country, relatively less. In the first place, because there weren’t any big industries around. In the second place, if people did work in a place like Torrington, brass companies were still zooming along in the Depression, pretty much. So, I don’t think it was so noticeable here, although I can remember saying to my family, hearing about friends losing jobs and all that. But I don’t remember seeing anything like breadlines and such things in this area. They never had it that all good, so it wasn’t that all bad.
RS: Well, what about the events that began to take place, let’s say in the middle thirties, like Ethiopia, Spain, Hitler, Mussolini. Were people aware of them?
DW: Even though we were in the sticks, it’s my feeling, probably because of the schools, Hotchkiss and Salisbury Schools, quite a few people who were college graduates, I think there was quite a bit of awareness of the Spanish Civil War which you, I know, know a lot about having been connected with it. I don’t really remember too much about Ethiopia, Mussolini was a bad guy. But when the war actually broke out, the real world war, in September of 1939, there was a big pro-Britain thing and Bundles for Britain and canning tomatoes for Britain, and children when the bombing really started, although I wasn’t here that much then, but children coming here.
RS: From Britain?
DW: Some, I think, yes. This was not an isolationist community, I don’t think, although I wasn’t, being young, I wasn’t that much
RS: Would you say that people at the time we’re talking about…. Was there a relationship to the background out of which people had come whose families had been part of the American Revolution, part of the Abolitionist, Civil War.? Was there much of a relationship to these ideas?
DW: No, I don’t think so. Much more in Hartford where the famous preacher, Harriet Beecher Stowe [sic] preached. I don’t think around here there was much that I know of. I never heard it discussed.
RS: Did Mark Twain rub off?
DW: Oh, well, everyone knew he came from Hartford and all that, right? It was a pretty simple life.
RS: The ethnic composition when you were growing up in the area??
DW: Well, there were almost no blacks at all. There was a family named Gordon, lived down the street from where we did. It was a tiny little tenant house, a house that belonged to my uncle at that time. I think they were the only blacks that I remember. There was somebody in Ore Hill named Cesar or something like that but very few.
Now there were some… Well, of course, there were some descendants of Dutch, but that goes back very far. There was not much. For example, there were not many Italians here, but yet there were lots in Canaan and
Lime Rock. Well, Lime Rock was so dead and moribund by then. The whole things, all the houses, when Barnum Richardson went out of business, they were just empty houses. There wasn’t anything in Lime Rock until a man named Alfred Stone came along. He was a real estate broker and he gradually managed to sell it. But Lime Rock was….
RS: Oh, so by the time you were around Lime Rock had already passed.
DW: Oh, yeah, it was past.
RS: Because 1 had interviewed a couple of people here who had told me about the Italians and Poles that predominated.
DW: In Lime Rock?
RS: In Lime Rock. But that was at the time of…. They worked in the mines, 1 guess.
DW: Oh well, yes. No doubt that’s true but I didn’t…. Like the charcoal burners around here and in Sharon and a lot of them around in Salisbury. They came from France, burned charcoal in the Ardennes. But when I was young there weren’t any then.
RS: I have interviewed a Mrs. Fowlkes, who spoke with some affection and respect for a Warner family. That was not your family.
DW: I don’t know.
RS: She lives in Lime Rock.
DW: Bertha Fowlkes?
RS: I ‘m not sure of her first name. I’ll look it up. But she had come back with one of the Warner families from Florida and she….That is, her mother…. That must have been another branch of the family.
DW: Well, it could have been a relative.
RS: Now, what kind of comparisons come to the top of your head in terms of today?
DW: Well, today everything is, without naming names, one real estate office in particular and maybe some other ones, not quite as much, have changed the face of the area pretty much with developments and lots and second houses and young, rich yuppies buying houses at very high, astronomical prices. It’s changed a lot. I can remember when I was first practicing law, talking to another lawyer who said, “My God, Donald, I’ve had two closings in the past week and they were both over $100,000.” That was in the fifties, I guess, or in the late fifties. So the changes have been quite slow, but then really started picking up about ten years ago. A lot of people think we are going to be Wilton, Jr or Weston, Jr or something.
RS: It does look like that.
DW: I guess so. I think that’s the most obvious change. The other thing is that it’s getting to be very difficult to get people to serve on various things around here. For example – I’ve had a lot to do both as a trustee, officer and lawyer for the Sharon Hospital. It’s very difficult to get many people who are interested to serve on things like this. I know, in our little library here, the Hotchkiss Library in Sharon, it’s hard to get people.
RS: People are not as civic-minded?
DW: Well, they just don’t have the time. The one who come up for the weekends, they’re not going to do it. They rush to their high temple at Shagroy, pick up their delicious groceries and delis and then go home with their friends who spend the weekend. Then roar back to New York on Sunday night.
RS: Were the town hall meetings well attended when you were…
DW: Oh, yes. But I didn’t go to town hall meetings when I was a kid.
RS: I was thinking when you got back here.
DW: Well, 1 really wasn’t here that much. You see, 1 went to law school, but when 1 came back…l first practiced in Litchfield , before opening an office, a branch office, in Sharon. But, yes, town hall meetings were quite well attended. A lot of people went to see the fight or to get the entertainment. I don’t know about Salisbury. There were zoning meetings there, pretty well attended. The fire sparked a lot of latent interest.
RS: That’s very, very true.
DW: I imagine they were pretty hot and heavy when 1 was a kid, but I wouldn’t know for sure.
RS: What’s your estimation of what the future is going to be here?
DW: I think it’s going to be an adjunct of Fairfield County. I don’t see how they can stop it.
RS: It already has lost some of its…
DW: Well, I think there’s so much less farmland and you can’t blame the fanners. The state can’t go around protecting every farm. Prices are just out of sight. Maybe there will be a burst in the bubble, I don’t know.
RS: I had a children’s camp up in, near Ware, Massachusetts, right near Springfield. 1 banked in Palmer, Massachusetts. There was a banker who was a little older than I am now and 1 was somewhat younger. So to me he was old. I wouldn’t say that today.
DW: Old.
RS: He said to me, “Bob, I want you to remember one thing for the rest of your life. Whatever goes up has to come down.”
DW: Well, that may be true but I also feel….When I said it’s hard to get people to be on various boards, non-governmental, I think it’s hard, at least I think it’s not easy in Sharon, probably not too easy in Salisbury and surrounding towns, to get people who are willing to serve on zoning boards, serve on the school board. It’s not as easy and they don’t want to do it. I suppose the ultimate breaking down from what the olden days were like, might be….Because of costs there might be some sort of a consolidation of the towns, at least insofar as sharing of road equipment, sharing in various things because I don’t think these small towns can maybe eventually continue do it. There may have to be something along that line, I don’t know. But that would be forced by financial considerations and economic considerations, I think.
RS: As a former educator, I would be very interested in your estimation of education in the area, as compared to your own growing up.
DW: Well, I don’t know, except in Sharon. We had five children and except for one, all of them went to the Sharon Center School through the sixth or seventh grade. It had its ups and downs. I really don’t know now. I think the high school education under the current principal is definitely on the upswing and it’s going to be better. I think the area is definitely going to accept that, whether they liked it or not in the very beginning. But Jack Mahoney’s….
RS: A good man.
DW: An excellent man and I think that is much better. The prep schools around here, I really don’t know that much about although 1 am a trustee of Salisbury School and we do have a lot of local people and nearly all of them are on scholarship.
RS: On scholarship?
DW; Well, not one hundred percent, but they’re all getting some sort of scholarship. I think we have about thirty out of a school population of two hundred forty or fifty.
RS: Very good.
DW: Hotchkiss does the same. Except for the Salisbury School I’m not very close to what’s going on. I think the high school is better.
RS: Oh, definitely. I agree with you about Jack Mahoney, he’s a good man.
DW: Oh, yes. We’re lucky to have him.
RS: 1 do think so. Now, is there anything you can think of at all that you would like to add? That was a very comprehensive picture.
DW: I don’t even live in Salisbury.
RS: Well, you grew up there, sure.
DW: That’s right. There aren’t really many other families like that.
RS: Yes, extensive.
DW: My uncle lived here for years – now dead. Philip Warner, he had a knife handle factory. The family background is
RS: Oh, without question.
DW: Although those in my generation…. I have one first cousin who lives in Lakeville and a first cousin once removed who lives in Salisbury. Most of them don’t live here.
RS: Ginger Gilman?
DW: Yes, she is my first cousin. I think the reason is, unless you were a doctor or a lawyer and you decided you wanted to,- or a few other things – decided you really wanted to stay and live this kind of life, there really isn’t anything for them to do and that’s why they all took off. Although some friends of mine wish they could come back but they say they can’t afford to buy. “My God,” they say, “We can’t afford to buy.”
RS: How about your children? Will they look forward to settling here?
DW: Oh, I don’t think any of them will. None of them. There’s one in Vermont and one in Boston and one in Montana, one in Washington, DC. No, I don’t think so. It’s too bad, but life has changed, that’s all.
RS: So, is there anything I haven’t asked you that I should have?
DW: Let’s see, whether I beat my wife. I don’t. I don’t think I do.
RS: Of course not.
DW: I can’t think of anything, Bob.
RS: OK. Let’s cover Mt Riga.
DW: Just briefly. I should have said something about Mt. Riga, which is a corporation, incorporated in 1922 as a land-holding company, a profit landholding company, not non-profit. This is a very unusual vehicle in those days. That was done in the main by my grandfather and father. But my grandfather and great-grandfather were instrumental, with two other families, in buying up for tax liens, etc. all that land which was around five thousand acres. It has been preserved the way, pretty much the way it has been for more than one hundred years. Currently we have about one hundred thirty stockholders. They’re all over the place. We intend to keep it the way it is. There’s no electricity. We maintain a lot of the roads up there, and of course there are beaches and campsites where people can go. The whole history of Mt. Riga is very interesting because this was the best iron ore, one of the best iron ore places in the world, others being in Sweden and in northern Michigan.
So, it was a humming place in the late 18th century and early 19th century, until about 1830 or so. There’s a lot of history about this in the Scoville Library. The irony of it all was that a Lakeville individual, Alexander Holley, went to Brown, was a metallurgical engineer. He died about 1890. He brought back the Bessemer process from England, I believe, and once the Bessemer process was used – he got a patent for it – you could make much better iron from much less pure sources. It has to do with the heat. It just killed the industry here. He was Governor Holley’s son and grew up
in Lakeville. a very distinguished man. There have been books written about him. That killed the industry which had helped make his family so prominent. They were in the iron ore industry. Of course, indirectly the Scoville family was too.
That’s how they got into the railroad wheel deal. A lot of cannon balls were made in the Revolution, the links in the chain that went across the Hudson to keep the British frigates out around Nyack, New York, and the anchor of the Constitution – all were supposedly forged here.
Then they had the furnace, one of the big ones. It was on Mt. Riga and there used to be just a haze of smog and smoke. They burned everything. That’s when there was a village up on Mt. Riga. It was quite thriving and around the Civil War time that went out. Everybody abandoned the property. That’s how the property was bought up by my great-grandfather, with the help of his friends. There was a big open pit on Ore Hill, which was very big. I think they tried to revive it and open it a little bit in World War I but it wasn’t profitable. So the whole industry collapsed in this northwestern part of Connecticut. So Salisbury does have that.
RS: about a place in New Jersey.
DW: I don’t know about that. I never heard of that. No.
RS: Then there’s another myth that 1 remember running across while I was teaching at Housatonic but only the descendants of the people. But that evidently isn’t so since your family bought that after the Civil War, right?
DW: In the late eighties and nineties.
RS: Oh, in the late eighties and nineties. Now, there are a limited number of residents up there, right?
DW: Well, now there are no year-round residents at all.
RS: Oh, there are no year-round residents. Do you have to be a member of the corporation to have land up there?
DW: No, no, no one can buy land. Except for a very, very small, three very, very small enclaves of land, all is owned by the corporation. That’s why the place really hasn’t changed.
RS: If a person who has a home up there wants to sell it, they sell it to the corporation, then.
DW: I didn’t know we were going to get into this. But, briefly, except for a few camp sites – three or four spots where the land is privately owned – and this is very miniscule compared to the total acreage – any other camps that are owned up there by somebody, they are on lease-holds that belong to the corporation. If they were to sell, they wouldn’t be selling the land, they’d just sell the building.
RS: I see.
DW: That’s the way it’s set up.
RS: Where did the name Riga come from?
DW: That I don’t know, Bob. Some people say it came from Latvia.
RS: That’s what I’ve heard, yes.
DW: But I don’t know. In the shrouds of time, I don’t know. I do know that the charcoal burners had a real tough time up there. As I understand it, you would go out, maybe with your dog. You were the charcoal burner and you would have this pit. You would be there wrapped in a blanket maybe for a month with some slight provisions or something and you would have
to keep the green wood fire burning. If it went out, they might throw you into the fire. You had to keep it burning. There are remnants of pits around that you can see and cellars that are now pretty much all collapsed. People have taken the stones away. But they had a tough life.
RS: What ethnic grouping would they be in?
DW: I think some of them – at least here in Sharon – there were people named Gobillot, Roy, Chevalier.
RS: All French.
DW: French, who came from the Ardennes. Now, I’m not so sure about it over there, although there are families. The Brazee family goes back a long way, although I don’t think they were French, although possibly. There hadn’t been any real big charcoal burning like this in New England until this got under way, so people had to come from elsewhere to show how it was done.
RS: Is there any relationship between some of the people who are called Raggies on Mt. Riga?
DW: Those are the people who used to work on Mt. Riga, supposedly. They were called Raggies. I consider myself a Raggie, as a matter of fact, and I think it’s really an honor to be a Raggie. There are all types of Raggies, but anyway, that has gone on for decades.
RS: You don’t know the origin of it or anything?
DW: No, I suppose it had something to do with people who worked on Mt. Riga at one point, so they were called Raggies and they led a pretty independent existence. Some were squatters, I’m sure.
RS: WeLl, I want to thank you very much.
RS: Donald Warner, continuing, on January 13, 1987.
DW: OK, Bob  let’s talk about the Bushnell Tavern. You’ve read something about it in the Lakeville Journal recently. I do know something about it because that house is where I grew up and lived after I was very young, about two years old, until I went away to service in World War II. My family bought the place, I think, around 1921. They had the tavern moved back around one hundred and twenty feet, perhaps forty yards from where it was which was right up by the road. There were two large conifer pine trees in front of it. One of them was demolished, I believe, in the 1938 very bad hurricane and was taken down. And I, of course, don’t remember it when it was in that situation but my family had E.E. Raynesford who was about the only contractor in the area do the work.
RS: You had E.D?
DW: E.E. Raynesford. His son was Bill Raynesford who was also a contractor who I do remember and did know. He was our State Representative at one point in Hartford. So the tavern was moved back and placed where the house sits. About three years later a wing was built which faces on Factory Street, the street going towards Mt. Riga. Substantially that’s the way the house is now and was since about 1925. There was no picket fence around the property when it was bought by my family. There was a stable in the back and my father used to ride a horse. The name of the horse was Senior, and a barn and etcetera.
I was glad to have this sort of put to rest in the Lakeville Journal by Dwight Cowles and Lila Nash with assistance from me, I guess. Before the
tavern was moved back, or the house was moved back, the town Christmas tree was in one of the big tall spruces and there were Christmas carols sung there. I’m told. Lila Nash remembered this, on Christmas Eve and the whole village would gather in front of these trees. 1 do have a photo of that which is now over in the Scoville Library where it is going to be re-photographed as part of their historic exhibits, old Salisbury…
Now, Factory Street….
RS: Just before we leave the house. Now, who did your family buy it from?
DW: You’d really have to look that up in the land records. 1 don’t recall right
now. It’s very easy to check that out, I do not think it was the Bushnell. It was known as the Bushnell Tavern. It’s in the land records.
RS: It was not a tavern?
DW: I am not certain about that. It’s always been known as the Bushnell Tavern. I don’t think it was a tavern in 1920.
RS: The surrounding area, was it very much like it is now with the Town Hall there, the Congregational Church, the library?
DW: Oh, yes. The library across the street, the Scoville Library was there. The Congregational Church, the Town Hall were all there and the little red office that my grandfather and father practiced law in was there and the white building which is the circuit court building was there at that time. So, yes, it’s basically pretty much the same.
RS: And now going up Factory Street…
DW: Well, Factory Street was called Factory Street because… My grandfather had various business interests aside from being a lawyer. There were two factories on the street. I may be wrong but I believe they made knife handles, wooden knife handles. One was located up the stream called Salmon Kill, I think, maybe coming down from Mt. Riga, near where Karl Stoecker’s house is. That burned down. And the other one is, was located about five or six hundred yards up the street very near where… There’s a little pond there where Marion Roy and Babs McLain have a house on that pond. There’s a pond then the road splits, one going up to Lion’s Head and the other one going up to Mt. Riga. Both of them burned. I believe one burned in the twenties. I don’t remember that, but the other one burned, I believe, in the early thirties. After my grandfather was no longer very active in this business, my uncle, Philip Warner, at one point had something to do with it. Then they had people who were the managers of the factories. Most of the little houses which are now all gussied up and bringing big prices were really houses for people who worked in the factories, in the small frame houses. You wouldn’t know it looking at them now. So it was called Factory Street in those days.
RS: Do you happen to know why the factories settled in that area ?
DW: Well, because of water, water power coming down from the brook, South Pond on Mt. Riga. That was the logical place to have them. I haven’t any idea how many people worked in the factories, or much about it. I’m sure David Brazee would know some people.
RS: Was that functioning when you were…?
DW: One of the factories was, the other one had already burned. You can’t even see where the…. The upper one burned first. I don’t even know whether you can ascertain where the foundations were.
RS: Who were the people that worked in the factories?
DW: I really don’t know. I think there was a man named Farwell, there were Farwells around here, would be the superintendent who worked in the factory. Now, do you want to hear something about Mt. Riga?
RS: Yes. Could I, on Mt. Riga, just start with asking about some of the stories that I’ve heard? One story is that the first people that settled on Mt. Riga were the Hessian deserters with prostitutes that had been brought over when they were fighting with George Hl. (Mr. Steck may be thinking of the Jackson Whites who settled in a remote part of New Jersey. —ed.)
DW: I don’t know. I never really heard that story.
RS: You didn’t.
DW: No, 1 didn’t. 1 think, of course, Mt Riga has these two ponds. There’s quite a drop in the stream coming down, and there was a forge which has been reconstructed up there, which was reconstructed to a large degree due to the efforts of Frank McCabe, a cousin of mine, he’s now dead. He was then very interested in that and that is where the pigs, the pig iron, were forged in bars.
RS: The one on the left there?
DW: It’s on the left. There’s a plaque there and the ironmaster was a man named Pettee who lived in the ironmaster’s house which is on the right where the road starts to go to Mt. Washington.
RS: Is that house still there?
DW: Yes. It’s one of the oldest houses in the town. Well, you probably have a lot of taping on this. There was a fairly big town there.
RS: You say there was a big town up on the hill?
DW: Fairly big, fairly big, yes.
RS: Did they have stores up there?
DW: Yes. A schoolhouse, stores. That’s where all the charcoal cutting was done, the charcoal, the trees were cut for charcoal and they had charcoal pits. There’s quite a bit of evidence that there was a great deal of charcoal made there for the forge and there was haze over that area for a great deal of time when the fires were burning. The charcoal burners were never allowed to let their fires go out. And from around 1770 or so, this was a big business until things simmered down around 1840 or 50.
RS: Before the Civil War?
DW: I think by then the Bessemer process was coming out, brought by Alexander Holley. And the area subsided as far as having the best iron ore for making iron.
RS: Do you have any knowledge of what ethnic groups worked in that area?
DW: I’ve always heard that the charcoal burners were, in the main, people who came here to this general area, that would mean, Falls Village, Cornwall, Sharon, from the Ardennes and there are quite a few names of families. To name a few – in Salisbury, Bonhotel; in Sharon there are names like Gobillot, Chevalier, Euvard, several others. They were not, I was told, not French Canadian. They were French from the Ardennes who were brought over here because that’s where they had a lot of charcoal burning and these people knew how to do it. I may be wrong.
RS: But that’s what you….
DW: That’s what I heard. I don’t think I made it up.
RS: No, that doesn’t sound…
DW: And there are more, there are more from that background and the general area who have not left yet. I’m a little more familiar with some of these names in Sharon than I am Salisbury, Lakeville.
RS: Where does the name Mt Riga… Is it Mt Riga or Reega? Which is it?
DW: It’s Mt Riga. I haven’t any idea. I once gave an interview, which was
supposedly going to be done in a New England magazine, where the man interviewing me said and I agree with him, that people talk about Raggies and Mt Riga. Well, there are two aspects to that. One in geographical
location is very map-less and very vague. For example, you come from Sharon toward Lakeville up near the beautiful sight, the crest of the hill before you get to Hotchkiss School, you see the range and that is generally known as Mt. Riga. But it isn’t all Mt. Riga. It could be other things. And then Raggie is used in an odd way. There are people today who worked in Mt. Riga, there are people who go to Mt. Riga, there are people… For example, Lila Nash was working in the Lakeville Journal and Dwight Cowles said, “A couple of Raggies telling another Raggie what to do.” So it’s more a state of mind. It’s not as far as persons are concerned and also geographically it’s not that…. There is no real Mt. Riga. It is generally an area, generally a state of mind as the people in the area. There are some very harsh… Some of them are vaguely related. People that came in lately. People that camp up there and they call themselves Raggies. They may work in New York, in an advertising firm or the State Department, something like that. And yet families like the Morey family which was very prolific, the Duntz family and other families, they are known as Raggies, too. So you can’t really pinpoint it. I don’t know how this article is going to work out. The man who’s writing it… It should be rather interesting.
RS: Where does … What’s the relation between Mt. Riga and Mt. Washington?
DW Well, Mt. Riga is really the series of little hills they call Mt. Riga but there are hills and low mountains across the upper lakes – three of them. They used to be called Ahab, Lion and Monument. Now they’ve got other names. There’s Bear Mountain, there’s Mt. Riga. All generally Mt. Riga. It’s really the end of the Taconic Range. I guess the really ragtag end of the Taconic Range is Indian Mt. which comes down into Sharon. That is really the end of it. That is…that runs toward Mt. Washington which up in Hillsdale, New York and Egremont, New York. (Massachusetts, Ed.)
RS: When you go up to Mt. Riga and then you go across that road…
DW: You come to Mt. Everett and Washington, Mt. Washington, is the name of
the little town. But Everett is the little last peninsula of the Taconic Range, I think. I believe it is.
RS: There’s one other story that I’ve picked up or heard that after the Civil War the properties there was auctioned and the families which bought that are still the proprietors of that and no one can buy property there unless they are part of that group.
DW: Well, my grandfather, my great-grandfather Donald Judson Warner, who was a judge and my grandfather, Donald T. Warner, along with a few other families bought up this property for taxes. A tax sale, I guess, because everybody had left and the main holdings were pretty much in place by around 1899. That’s also in the main records and was incorporated, a landholding corporation in 1922,1 think. It’s very unusual. Other lawyers and people I know say it’s very unusual to have that type of land-holding in those days. It was almost unheard of and so it is a corporation but not a non-profit corporation. It is a corporation and the stock holders are in the main descendants of the original families, not entirely, but in the main the original families control the corporation. But there are quite a few stock holders, I’d say over a hundred, and we have a corporate set-up, directors, president and all that.
RS: But there aren’t a hundred homes up there?
DW: No, no. The stock holders, there are some who live in California, some who live in Kansas City. Some of them don’t come very much. Hardly at all. They don’t come at all. No, there aren’t. They are not called homes. They are called camps even though they are hardly a camp. Some of them
may be. Mine was a camp. It really is and we really do protect the northern and western regions of Salisbury
RS: Now, when you were growing up did you spend a lot of time up there?
DW: Spent quite a bit of time up there, with my cousins. We spent a week or
more there. We didn’t go down off the mountain very much, I’m afraid. Yes, and over the years 1 and my children like it. We pretty much like the set-up.
RS: I often go canoeing up there.
DW: When you consider going about fifteen miles as the crow flies to the top of Monument Mt. [interviewer is mistaken – this is Mt. Frissell – Ed.) where the Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts states all come together… It’s only about fifteen or sixteen miles by air to the Taconic Parkway and you might as well be up near Mt.Katahdin way up in the Adirondacks.
RS: One of the few primeval places I have seen.
DW: In southern New England it really is, yes. Now, do you want to go on to something else? How about baseball games?
RS: Oh, absolutely.
DW: One thing that used to be a big deal when I was a very little boy and continued when I got older, when I wasn’t here. There was a great deal of interest in town baseball teams. Salisbury had a team, Lakeville and Pine Plains, Canaan, Millerton. The Parsons brothers, Richie and Don Parsons, were the batteries for Salisbury and Lakeville had theirs. What was amazing was, when we’d have these games on Sunday afternoon and I’m talking about I guess the thirties, there’d be three or four hundred people there and they took it very seriously and there was a big deal in the Lakeville Journal…. They had a regular… They had a league and some were very good players and it was the town team. I believe although I don’t remember seeing, there also was town football although I don’t really remember it. But in Lakeville it was down near where Community Service is, where there’s now a sports field there. In Salisbury it was sort of behind where, across the railroad tracks on the way to what used to be known as Indian Cave. It’s behind, well the big shopping center, not Shagroy, but that other…
RS: LaBonne was behind it and then the auto shop.
DW: Yes, behind there, that’s where the ball field was. This was a very serious thing. They’d play right up until the end of September, something like that. Sundays, not every Sunday there. They’d be traveling around. The rivalry between Salisbury and Lakeville was very strong and there was gradually some infiltration of people connected to the preparatory schools. Hop Rudd played and Ed — from Hotchkiss and others. This was a big, big deal. I can’t even imagine it today. Nobody would bother to go. They couldn’t even field a team.
And as far as Mt. Riga…To get back to Mt. Riga, we used to have softball games around Labor Day usually. There was the Mountain Lions, the people from Mt. Riga, the Raggies and a few other wingers and the people from down in the valley would field a team on Labor Day. But baseball games were quite the thing. Let’s see, what else.
RS: Did you have soccer?
DW: No. Not around here. It really didn’t come until after World War II, I don’t think. Then I don’t think it ever was done as town soccer, that I know of.
RS: What about the town and gown situation? I saw that movie recently. Was there much cooperation?
DW: You mean because of the schools?
RS: The private schools….
DW: Well, I don’t know. I didn’t go here to Salisbury or Hotchkiss School. I think when George Van Santvoord became headmaster at Hotchkiss, a very forward looking man. He became head there in 1926, I think. He encouraged some of the masters at Hotchkiss to get more involved. 1 don’t know about Salisbury School whether that was the case. George Van Santvoord himself was quite involved 1 believe in democratic town meetings and politics. People like George Milmine were involved in the Board of Finance and stuff like that. I don’t know if there was much of anything. The students were pretty restricted. They didn’t get off campus. Big deal to come down once a week, maybe, to the Jigger shop….
RS: What was the Jigger shop?
DW: Well, you could get ice cream or candy, or Doc Leverty’s drug store. Things like that.
RS: Was that where the drug store is presently?
DW: No.
RS: Where was that?
DW: Well, this must have been taped by other people. Leverty’s was there until the fifties. It was across where the Salisbury Bank used to be. Where it’s now Wagner McNeil and Walt Shannon. That’s where Leverty’s was and ;
The Jigger shop was where the pizza-place is, I think, in Lakeville. (Now the Black  Rabbit Ed.)
RS:   I never heard of the Jigger shop.
DW: There wasn’t much. They were sequestered pretty much on campus. Not the way it is today. I’m sure. 1 went for a couple of years as a student to Indian Mt. School and they were all boarders. Except when I was a semi-boarder. I went home weekends. But the road…. This is the interesting thing about this… Of course, Indian Mt. School didn’t have any…just about thirty-five or forty boarders. Didn’t have much effect on the town at all. But the road was not paved going off from Millerton Rd on to Indian Mt. School Rd. I can remember my father bringing me to where the paved road… where the dirt road going past Indian Mountain begins, that would lead up to the paved road going to Millerton. He’d let me off and I’d have my little something that I was carrying, probably not carrying anything much. It was all dirt, deep ruts. You know, not paved at all. I haven’t the faintest idea when that was paved. But it was really a dirt road, very rutty and very muddy. I would think it was pretty damn far to walk. But that’s the way the roads were then.
That’s another interesting thing. Obviously, a lot of the roads, town roads, that are now paved, were not paved.
RS: And you’re speaking about the twenties, early thirties?
DW: No, early thirties. I think they began to start doing some paving when the WPA and stuff like that came in. No, there were many dirt roads except for the real main roads, they were dirt. I used to ride horseback up at Hamlet Hill farm which belonged to the Rand family —-taught the kids to ride.
But we sometimes went, when we were very young, ten, eleven, sometimes with grown-ups or other kids. I don’t know. Maybe ten people. I’d ride as far as Cream Hill in Cornwall.
RS: Long!
DW: Yes, long. Or up Mt. Riga and back. Or over to Bartholomew’s Cobble. We had no trouble riding. Then you could go through fields. People would let you go through the field. But there were dirt roads as you go along. There wasn’t any paving of roads then.
RS: That was the WPA that….
DW: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know. I have no idea, but I think in the thirties that they began doing that.
RS: Could we go back to Mt. Riga for a moment? Where were the stores? You mentioned…
DW: I don’t know. Yes. there was a schoolhouse. Yes, it’s on the left hand side going up towards the old cemetery there. And, let’s see, I think that the schoolhouse is what burned down a couple of years ago. It belonged to the McCabe family, Howard Barlow. But there were… I don’t know how many people lived there but there was quite a settlement.
RS: That’s interesting.
DW: What about politics in the various towns?
RS: Most interesting. Sure.
DW: Well, this is more from what I heard. But it was not strictly the little village of Salisbury and Lakeville. My uncle, Robert Scoville, was State Senator. He was the one that helped build the town hall that burned down, and the Scoville Library. Then my father was Secretary of State. W. B. Rand was a representative. All these people, sort of like the English system, I guess. They were sort of the squires who went to the legislature. But eventually, around the nineteen twenties, I guess, Abe Martin became… 1 don’t know whether he was their henchman or became the boss. But anyway he was…He had a garage in Lakeville where Herrick Travel is and he was First Selectman and the boss. 1 guess he paid attention to what these other people told him. It was very simple and there were so few voters [indistinct]. Mortimer Dowd, Jack Dowd’s father, was a representative. He was a lawyer and Speaker of the House. Jack Bell J. Mortimer Dowd known as [???] he was Speaker of the House. He was representative for a long time. Then Raynsford came along. It was a pretty cut and dried thing. It was all arranged by a few people.
RS:   The control…
DW: Well, there weren’t too many people that they…
RS: What did they represent in terms of the political spectrum?
DW: Well, very Republican after the turn of the century, very Republican.
RS: And yet Salisbury had a history in the Revolutionary War and…
 DW: I’m going to stop and try to think of something else.
RS: Oh, by all means.
DW: Well, I can’t tell you much more because of my own recollections a lot of it is what was told me. Certainly by World War II and before then I really wasn’t here that much.
RS: In terms of cultural pursuits. The Sharon Playhouse came along later but what was there while you were growing up here?
DW: Well, they used to put on…. Well, there was the movie theatre in Lakeville, the Stuart Theatre. People went to the movies. And there were afternoon movies, on Saturday and I’m not sure, Wednesday. Sometimes we would walk down the railroad track to Lakeville and go to the movies. And then there was a movie in Canaan and I guess Millerton.
RS: There was one in Lime Rock.
DW: Movies?
RS: Yes.
DW: I don’t remember that. There would be… There were plays that were put on in the town hall in Salisbury. An amateur group would put on a play.
RS: Community people?
DW: Yes. They would put on a play. And that was in the thirties. There was that sort of stuff that went on. This was sparked by people, a lot of it, not all of it, by people who were connected with Hotchkiss School and Salisbury School. But I don’t really know about further cultural…
RS: Any lectures or book reviews.
DW: Oh I don’t really know, I think there were concerts and things like that at Hotchkiss School. I guess the public, some came to it. I don’t think there was any great effort in those days to get the townspeople to come to it. I don’t think so. I would say, intellectually, there wasn’t any more or any less than any other small town in the United States, 1 guess.
RS: Do you remember any significant problems bad or good, the Reilly murder thing.
DW: That’s all so modem.
RS: 1 mean, before that.
DW: Well, I’ll tell you. Near our house, behind, let’s see, behind the Salisbury package store and what used to be the market there, the Country Store, sort of going up the hill there’s a little road. There’s a little brick house there which was the lock-up. I don’t think I remember anybody being locked up there, but there was a town character, named J.B. Holder, who lived in that lock-up and that was his home. A one room brick…. I don’t think there was any bathroom. Maybe there was an outhouse. I remember that. J.B. Holder lived there and he was very old and very eccentric.
The other thing I do remember in the early thirties when I was really young then. When the Depression first came there were quite a few tramps. My grandfather and grandmother always fed the tramps. They would come to the door and they would know, hoboes and tramps, they would know that this was a place they could get a meal. I think they let them sleep down in the bam. That was the — .where Don Buckley has his antiques (84 Main St. Salisbury Ed.)… That was my grandfather’s place. I can remember them coming to our house. They’d come to the kitchen door and they would get something to eat and maybe, perhaps do a little work for fifty cents.
RS: These were just vagrants, they were people passing through?
DW: They weren’t locals. They were people. They were needy. I do remember that.
RS: You don’t recall any kind of cases, let’s say arson cases.
DW: No.
RS: So that life was quiet.
DW: No arson cases that I know of. Nobody told me about them anyway.
There was a garage which was Dufour’s which was on the comer where you turn from the main road going towards Sharon instead of going towards Millerton, there was a garage there. And Heaton Barnett, a variety store, there was Western Union. These were all there in the fifties, the early fifties. There was a garage near the White Hart Inn, I think it was called Benjamin’s. I think it was his last name.
RS: Is that where the firehouse is?
DW: No, it’s where the Salisbury Ambulance is.
RS: The Salisbury Ambulance, right.
DW: Not too many other. Barber shops…. More than they have nowadays.
You can’t get your hair cut.
RS: You mean there was a barber shop in Salisbury?
DW: I remember two in Lakeville. Three in Lakeville. I guess none in Salisbury that I remember. And the White Hart Inn, and there was the Maple Shade, which was where the Ragamont is now.
RS: The Maple Shade. Was that a restaurant?
DW: No, an inn. And Interlaken and the Wake Robin. Then there was another inn right at the top of the hill, sort of out of Lakeville, going up on the right hand side. It was called the Gateway. There was an inn there. There were a lot of inns. Some were just summer time.
RS: Now, during your boyhood, were there many people that came from the city? Was it kind of a resort town at that time?
DW: Not really a resort at all. But they would come and stay for three or four days and rock on the piazza. It wasn’t really a resort. They were on their way to Vermont. But there were inns.
RS: Just a word or so, if you could, about this recent gas pipe thing. I know that you were involved according to the Lakeville Journal.
DW: Well, I’m not really… This thing would be very bad for Litchfield County if it goes through. But then we have to have cheap gas, and they have proved that we have to have cheap gas in the nineties or something like that. I’m not very much involved.
RS: Oh, you’re not.
DW: I was involved in the pump storage thing sixteen or seventeen years ago.
RS: Has it now been what – sixteen, seventeen years ago?
DW: Well, this is all very recent. Canaan Mountain was going to have a very
huge pump storage plant, like Storm King. A huge effort but the voters just stopped that.
RS: Well, is there anything else that you…
[Conversation re: other possible interviewees]
DW: As I was saying, growing up around here there were almost no blacks. There was a family that lived down from my family’s house near Wayside– in a little house. It’s still there. Some people named Gordon who lived there. There was someone named Lizzie. She may have been Mrs. Fowlkes and I remember Mrs. Fowlkes made cookies and things like that. But practically none.
RS: Not even as maids or servants?
DW: Well, I don’t know. I never…. No, I don’t think so. I really don’t. There just were practically none. That goes for the surrounding towns too. Another curious thing is, at least in Salisbury, Lakeville and Sharon and I guess, the surrounding areas there were, say, prior to World War II, as far as I can recall, almost none, practically, no Jewish people, people of the Jewish faith. There was just weren’t. They, some of them, began to come in to Millerton and became merchants, and in Canaan. In Sharon there was a big settlement. People bought farms who were Jewish. I think this was back in World War I.
RS: Farmers?
DW: Yes. But generally speaking there were very, very few. So it was really pretty much the stores, the few little stores businesses were run by Yankees mainly.
RS: You mentioned Jewish farmers which is….
DW: Well, I don’t know. They were some… A group came around….
RS: You don’t know what happened to them?
DW: Well, some of them are still around here There are some around here now, still, descendants of those. But, really, it was ethnically pretty Yankee.
RS: That would also mean certainly that there were no Hispanics.
DW: Oh, no, none at all.
RS: So, we could think in terms of Dutch, English.
DW: Yes.
RS: Now what about the Italians?
DW: Well, as long as 1 can remember, for some reason there were a big influx of Italians who settled in Canaan. And all these families, the descendants of them, are still in Canaan – Segalla, Gondolfo, DeProdoccini. There are
many. Yes, there were a lot. Some came and others would come. But we’re talking mainly about the history of Salisbury.
RS: Lime Rock had a lot of Italians.
DW: Yes, they did. They worked for Barnum Richardson.
RS: That’s right.
DW: That would be about the only ethnic group.
RS: When the Italians – this group in Lime Rock – were working, was there much mixing between Salisbury and Lime Rock at that time?
DW: I don’t really know.
RS: You don’t recall that?
DW: No. Lime Rock became a ghost village when Barnum Richardson went down the flue. That was all bought up by Alfred Stone. They bought it all up practically. Bought up all those new houses. I think around when the Crash came.
RS: Around that time.
DW: Those houses like Factory Street now are very expensive houses. They are just small frame houses. Buy ’em a dime a dozen.
RS: We have one. Was there anything else?
DW: Everybody has a really, at least a lot of people, have really different uncles and I had one named I. Kent Fulton. His name was Irving Kent Fulton. But he called himself I. Kent Fulton. K-e-n-t Fulton. Married to my paternal aunt, Beth Fulton. He came from Waterbury. There’s a Fulton Park there. He was a descendent of Robert Fulton. He graduated from Yale around 1904 or 06, married my aunt and then really settled up here. He was a man of means but he was a silent partner of a brokerage firm in Hartford. At one time he owned an incredible amount of real estate in Salisbury as well as a big place down in Guilford. And then…
End of Side C
Side D
DW: the house next to the Scoville Library which he lived in about one month or two months out of the year in winter which is where Doctor F. E. Smith lives now, next to the brook, on the left hand side of the library. He also owned the one that Calvin Klein used to own which has 1772 on the chimney.
RS: Where is that?
DW: Why, that’s right on the main street of Salisbury. One of the oldest houses. I suppose there’s some gold coins and dead soldiers buried inside. He also owned where Nort Miner lives down in Lime Rock. He also owned a place on Lakeville Lake, sort of a cottage there, and he bought a big farm on Undermountain Road, which people like Jack Fisher probably know about which is about a mile north of the White Hart on the left hand side.
And beginning around 1930, he decided to build a golf course, eighteen holes. One of the most beautiful golf courses. Nobody had to pay to play there. They were invited to play and he was very odd. If you didn’t play enough, at least four or five times a year, you wouldn’t be invited. Where young Mike, P. Mitchell Ford lives up there, been added on to, that was the caddy house. His house which was built up on top of the hill is where a guy named Brown lives now. It’s a big brick house, way up the hill. This is eighteen holes, wooded, not an easy course. They used to have a tournament there, Labor Day and Fourth of July. When I was about fourteen, Donald Kelton, who used to live here, and myself, I think we
were the youngest ones allowed to play on the course. He built this at the height of the Depression. It was his own special WPA project. It must have cost a fortune in those days. As I understand it, what happened to him was – he and his wife, my aunt, were about to take off to go around the world, or something like that. This was in the summer of 1929 and his brokerage firm, in Hartford, whose name I don’t recall. It doesn’t make any difference. It’s probably out of existence now, although I did meet a man when I was first practicing law who knew him. They said, I think: If you are smart, you got a lot of dough. I’d sell out, cash it all in. You’re going away. They didn’t have the ability to get back right away.’ And he did. He cashed out and he was smart enough that he didn’t buy in.
About two years later when the market was supposedly coming back and instead went down even further into the real depression, so he took a lot of this money and built this course. It was gorgeous, two water holes, I remember one that was about 550 yards in all where you walked across a lawn, bridge, trestle, wooden bridge across a big ravine. I heard, although I didn’t see him, that in the 30s, around 1938 or 9, somebody got Gene Sarazen to come up. He was a top golfer and he lived down in Brookfield. He came up and played a round among the people here. He thought that the course wasn’t very long. It wasn’t very long about 6500 yards. Not long by pro standards. He did not break 70. He didn’t come very close to it, the first time he played. I think it was in the 70s.
The war came. Kent Fulton’s son was in the Air Corps. He wasn’t here. He was married and lived out in California. Kent died in Germany in 1944. When I came back from the service, I remember, I do know this on my own, there were a group of people who had gone to Hotchkiss, since dead, and some others who went to my aunt and said, “Why don’t you let us bring the course back?” They couldn’t have the man power to keep it up during the war. She didn’t want to do that and so that was the end of that. That was some golf course and he had a beautiful, that was given him by his friends and golfing buddies, silver bowl, huge punch bowl engraved with all the holes and mountains. Especially engraved at Tiffany’s or someplace like that.
RS: That’s at Tiffany’s?
DW: No, engraved. I mean especially done. I don’t know where the hell that bowl is now. I coveted that. When we were first married, my aunt hadn’t died then, we borrowed the bowl a couple times for punch. It was big. You could put a block of ice in it anda lot of punch. But somehow it was melted down, or something happened. I don’t know where it is. It was one of a kind thing that was presented to him by his friends.
RS: Let’s just fix where that was physically.
DW: Where it is, is about a mile north of the White Hart on the Undermountain Road on the left hand side. You can still see the remnants… The caddy house is where Mike Ford now lives. The main house up on top of the hill about a half a mile from the road or more is where the Fultons lived when they were here, lived part of the time anyway. That was built at the same time in the early thirties. Brown and his wife. Some of it’s been sold off.
RS: You got any more gems like that? {Probably referring to an object at hand.}
 DW: Well, no. I assumed that people… Hob Nob was the name of it.
RS: Hob Nob.
DW: I still have some golf tees from Hob Nob some place. Not wooden. They were nice little…I wouldn’t say ivory but firm white, very nice. You don’t get them now.