Oral History Cover Sheet
Tape #:108 A-C
Place of interview: Lion’s Head
Date of Interview: December 3, 2001
Summary of Talk:Immediate family, early education, ski jumps, Mt. Riga, state border fire, Indian
Mountain School, Hotchkiss, Yale, Marine Corps WWII, banker in NYC Salisbury, psychologist, children, Donald Judson Warner, early Tichnor roots, Maple Shade Inn, White Hart Inn, Harrisons, Hubbards, McCabes, Wells, Scoville cousins, early Scoville, Church family, Scoville car wheel business, Hunter family, Rand family, and iron ore beds.
Property of the Oral History Project: the Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Ct. 06068
This is Marion Haeberle interviewing Jonathan Warner at his home in Lion’s Head. It’s December 3, 2001. Jonathan, your full name is?
JW: Jonathan Warner, Jonathan Scoville Warner. I was named after my great uncle Jonathan Scoville.
MH: So you have connections in two families.
JW: Two families and I think both of my great grandfathers were born in Salisbury which astounds me.
MH: Your roots go way back, then.
JW:Yeah, they stayed around.
MH:When were you born?
JW:I was born May 29, 1924.
MH: You were born here?
JW:Actually my mother had lived a lot of her early life in New York with her mother, in New York
City, so I was born there at some high-end hospital. My grandmother was living down there in New York, and my mother was there; at that point the medical facilities here were not too much. So actually I was born down there.
MH: Who were your parents?
JW:Well, my father was Donald Judson Warner, who was born here. He was a Salisbury native, born
in 1895. I forget the exact date right now, June 21, or July 21, 1895. My mother was Lois Church Scoville. I think she was born in either Buffalo, New York, or New York City in April, 1895. They were both born in the same year.
MH: Your parents lived in the house that was Bushnell…
JW:Bushnell Tavern, right across the street from the library. (35 Main St.)
MH: Your siblings were?
JW:I had an older brother Donald who was born May 13, 1921, and a sister Lois who was born May
28, 1922. She was 2 years older than I was. I have a younger sister Frances who was born on October 14, 1926, so she is 2 ‘A years younger. Lois and Donald are both deceased, and my sister Frances now lives out in Minneapolis and doesn’t get back here very often.
MH: So how long then did you live here in Salisbury?
DW: Well, I grew up here. I was just born in New York, and came back here probably at some young age. That year my parents, now having 3 children, decided to add on to the old Bushnell Tavern. They
added a wing in the back. I think they were living at the time while the wing was being built in what was called the “Grey Cottage”, which is on the road up to Hamlet Hill on the right side. At that time it was the last house before the end of the road. The end of the road was the brick house where the Rand family lived, and the “Grey Cottage” was the next one down the hill.
MH: That s Prospect Hill Road, isn’t it»
JW: Yeah, it’s Hamlet Hill Farm, Prospect Hill Road. Yep. I think I may have lived there the first few months, and after that I lived down on Main Street of Salisbury.
MH: So your childhood was spent here in Salisbury. Did you go to private school or public school?
JW: The first school I remember, well not sure I really remember, was Mrs. Stuart, who had a school down on Salmon Kill Road, as they call it now. You know where those village associations are, the Visiting Nurses and stuff (Day Care, Family Services #30 Salmon Kill Road). Then there’s Dark Hollow road which goes off to the right after that. The next corner on the left was where Mrs. Stuart lived. She had a little school, sort of a kindergarten, I guess. I remember going there, but I don’t remember much about it; that must have been when I was pretty young. Then there was a Mrs. Tracy, whose husband Jack Tracy was a math teacher at Hotchkiss. Mrs. Tracy had a school in that big old yellow brick building (Bissell Hall, now torn down Ed.) facing the tennis courts. It used to be the only entrance to the campus. In that building she rented a couple of rooms from the school, and had an elementary school there. That’s where I went from first grade through… I started school when I was 5, and I was there until age 10. Then I went to Indian Mountain School. My schooling of various kinds was there. I had a lovely time at Mrs. Tracy’s school; there were a lot of naughty little boys there.
MH: It wasn’t just a boys’ school?
JW:No, it was just a little day school.
JW:Coed, I don’t think more than a dozen or so 15 maybe, some of them brother and sister. John
Martin was a great friend of mine. His family is an old family around here, somehow hooked in with the Belchers. His mother was a widow; I don’t know when his father died sometime. Mrs. Gretchen Martin later married Carly Fleischman and lived in the brick house up on Well Hill Road on the left hand side. It is now pretty well hidden behind trees; it had a lovely view looking north across the valley. John and I were great friends; I remember we were terrible there at school. We got into all sorts of mischief. That brick house was the first major house on the top of the hill on the left after you leave the Catholic Church. John had an older sister Nancy; they were both a lot of fun. Then when I was 10 I went to Indian Mountain School which was a weird school in a way. It is in the same location; at that point it was just a boarding school with only boys. It was run by a man named Francis Behn Riggs, whose brother was a psychiatrist, Austin Riggs, who ran the psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Mass, the Austin Riggs
Center which is quite famous as a psychiatric treatment center. Francis Behn Riggs was really quite a character; he was about 6 feet 4. He wore knickers all the time, and he was sort of baldish with fuzzy brown hair. He looked sort of like a gorilla with long arms that hung down. He was the Headmaster, and he had a daughter named Lorna, whom the boys all called “Forlorna”. He had a son named Austin who went to school there. The school ran much better when Mr. Riggs went to Florida for the winter, as he began to do. He was trying to run it on somewhat of a model of a British boarding school. He believed in physical discipline for the boys, including strapping with a belt for misbehavior. Yet he was an ardent pacifist; at that point he used to go to New York to march in some sort of a pacifist parade. They all wore green or something. This must have been back in the early mid 1930’s. Then Louis Schutte came up from Cornwall. I think he had been on the faculty of the Cornwall School Academy; he was a temporary headmaster. Indian Mountain School was fun. John Martin went there too and some other boys too. I met George Emory from Sharon; I think he still has a sister Adelaide living in Sharon.
MH: She passed away.
JW:Did she? George’s father was an insurance executive in New York. I remember still a lot of
names, but not too many local ones. There used to be an underpass on the railroad leading to Hotchkiss; the old railroad line came in just off route 44 where Indian Mountain Road went under it there and then went down the hill. I remember one year that railroad underpass filled up with snow, and they had to get, in those days they didn’t have bulldozers and things, they pretty much had to dig the whole thing out. Meanwhile the cars drove around; they cleared a space around the underpass.
MH: That’s interesting.
JW:Going back a little, I’m going to leap around. One of the things that we got into was skiing at a
very young age. I don’t know how this occurred, but my father got to know John Satre of a Norwegian family. John had been a Norwegian Olympic skier. He moved to Salisbury and then his whole family moved to Salisbury; his mother and his 2 sisters Charlotte and Ingrid, and Ottar, Svere, and Magnus. I started skiing at about the age of 4 or 5, and there was a little hill across from us that went up along the graveyard, just above the graveyard and came down to that strip of lawn that goes down to the town hall. We had a little jump there that we made out of piling up snow. We packed it down to make a jump. We could jump maybe 10 feet or something like that. At a very early age we did that. You had a toe strap and a rubber band. The rubber band was just a cut out of a piece of inner tube, and it went under the toe of the boot or galoshes where they came through the toe strap and then around the heel. We started there. I don’t remember this from direct memory, but I think the first ski jumping competition or event in Salisbury was held out back of our house. The Wochocastinook Brook at one point had a much wider flood plain or creek bed; it had been gouged out. There was a fairly steep bank on the other side of the brook from our house. A hill behind that went up to a meadow where there was a little cabin in the field. They figured it out so the jumpers could start on the top of the cabin, slide down off the cabin roof, then go down through a little ways across a field and through a little patch of
woods, and then to this jump at the edge of this steep lower incline. That‘s where they had the first jump. As they came off the jump, they came down this steep incline and then there was a little flat stretch where they could stop. That was a very rudimentary kind of jump.
MH: How long did they continue to do it there?
JW:I have no idea. I was very young at the time. Then they began doing it down at the present
location (Satre Hill Ed.) That was some land that had belonged to my grandfather, Judge Donald T. Warner. He had been a lawyer here for a lot of years, and like a lot of lawyers, he had ended up with scraps and bits of real estate; he had probably taken them in payment for bills, or he knew something was going to come on the market. Anyhow he had a lot of odds and ends of land. Back in the early days of this town, a lot of people owned land; they had wood lots for chopping firewood. He owned that land from all the way from (#30) Salmon Kill Road where the visiting nurses are, that meadow which is sort of indirectly back of his house up on Main Street (#84); then he owned across the brook a place they call Indian Cave which is really sort of a shelter under the rocks on the hillside. He owned down beyond that down to…there were an old road down through there. There was a bridge at the bottom of that meadow; if you went out back from the town, headed east there was a bridge. If you went across the bridge over Moore Brook and turn right, you can follow the thing that went along the base of the hill there all the way down to Salmon Kill Road where the Ingersolls, Colin & Marie Ingersoll. Colin Ingersoll was a civil engineer and Marie was a relation of ours. Everybody is related around here. I think she was a Harrison; I don’t know how the Harrisons are related to me, but they were. We used to walk down there; we used to love to walk. On a Sunday afternoon my parents loved to take a walk; they would grab all of us kids, we’d take off and go walking down there for a Sunday afternoon walk. In 1929 we were walking down there in May one day, and as we were walking back, we looked across the valley, we could see smoke coming off Mt. Riga. It was a terribly dry May, and there was a forest fire. I remember my father getting very excited. He disappeared for a few days; great excitement the fire and stuff; he’d dress up in his old clothes and go up on the mountain to fight the fire. In those days they didn’t have bulldozers, and they would cut fire brakes if they could, and they would set back fires. That was a terrible fire; it was started by a steam locomotive over on the Harlem Division of the New York Central. It came right up over the mountain and came all the way down and hit route 41, the Undermountain Road. (See also F. Zacchea tape #58 and Beebe sisters Tape # 27 about this fire Ed.)
MH: Did it involve your property up there because you had property up there?
JW: Yeah, it did. You have to realize that property had been clear cut several times to provide charcoal for the iron furnaces. You talk about the clear cutting out West; around here it was just horrible. They would clear cut to make charcoal pits. My grandfather Donald Judson Warner had gotten involved with that. He had a little piece of land up there; I think he had a little fishing camp that he owned himself individually, a little piece of about 5 acres or something with a cabin on it. This land had
all been forest land owned by different iron companies; the Millerton Iron Company was the last owner, but it went broke. My grandfather and a couple of other people bought up the land after the iron companies went broke; that land was practically worthless, all scrub oak. Forest land like that was a dime a dozen because all the furnaces had gone broke, the demand for charcoal disappeared, but they cut off all the trees anyhow. They (his grandfather and other men) picked up about something over 4,000 acres of ledgey mountain top. That was a terrible fire, though.
MH: Yes, it came up in another interview with a family who lived up in the Lincoln City area (Beebe sister tape #27). One of the women mentioned it in her interview.
JW: Of course, Julia Pettee used to live up there on Selleck Hill, and her grandfather or something had been the last iron master there. She was a very old lady. My father didn’t think she was too reliable on some of her history, but he was pretty critical.
MH: Tell me about yourself when you finished at Indian Mountain School.
JW: Well, one of the things I was going to say that one of the things I loved to do was ski, and we had a little ski jump there. Indian Mountain School sort of fell apart I think because of Mr. Riggs’ personality, although that is just my reconstructing. John Martin and I along with other people got pulled out so we didn’t go back for our senior year, or our 8th grade year. I was sent for one year to a school called the Harvey School which was down at the traffic circle in Hawthorne, New York. It was run by a guy named Carter whose brother lived up here in Taconic. I got sent there for a year and I hated that. I didn’t know anybody so that was sort of a lost year. Then I came back and went to Hotchkiss School where my father had gone. My father must have been in one of the early classes because he graduated from college in 1906.
MH: When you went to Hotchkiss, were you a day student?
JW:No I was not a day student. Probably my mother was very glad to get rid of us. She sent my
brother to St. Paul’s School; he went off to boarding school earlier than I. My sisters both went down and lived with their grandmother in New York City and went to the Brearley School which was a good girl’s day school. They spent the winters down there with their grandmother. My mother and father would have nobody at home. Hotchkiss was sort of by default; I didn’t really have much choice in the matter. My uncle John McChesney taught there then, and he was married to my mother’s sister Molly Scoville. That was part of the reason. Hotchkiss was a good school; it’s so different from now. The big old main building with yellow brick (Bissell Hall) with sort of creaky wood floors and Greek statuary or busts along the side of the corridors; it was very plain and simple, not very fancy. Academically it was very good, and I learned a lot.
MH: Do you remember who the Headmaster was?
JW: Oh yes. George Van Santvoord was the Headmaster then. I got to know him slightly even as a young person. My uncle John used to keep horses up there at the stables up at the school on the left
before you get to the garages. I would go riding with them (Van Santvoord and McChesney) occasionally.
MH: After Hotchkiss did you stay here are go off to school?
JW:I went to Yale like all good Connecticut boys. Hotchkiss was the prep school for Yale. I thought
vaguely of going to Harvard at one point but it was sort of overwhelming when 80% of your classmates are going there. All my friends were going. I got there in the fall of 1941 just before the war started. I had a very confused college life; I was in something called a V-12 program which was not an officer candidate program, but a way of getting kids signed up early with the idea you stay in college. They would let you graduate and then you would go into the service, and go to OCS. I ended up for some crazy reason (in the Marines). I met one of my friends one day in the spring of 1942 and he said, “I’m going over to check out the Marine Corps recruiter here for the Navy B-12 program. I’m going over to check it out. Do you want to come?” Well, I had nothing else to do that afternoon in the spring so I went over there with him and talked to the guy. We both decided to sign up. He flunked out because of bad ears or something, but I got signed up very unknowingly with the Marine Corps. At that point I knew nothing about the Marine Corps.; I thought they served on ships. I didn’t really know their WWI history of some terrible trench fighting in France.
MH: You stayed in the Marine Corps then?
JW:I ended getting through college in 3.5 years, then going into active duty in the Marines in the
spring of 1944. Then I went to Paris Island, then OCS down in Camp Lejeune, went out to the island of Guam where I was in training for the invasion of Japan. The war ended for which I was very thankful. I spent a couple of months in China later. I think we were in China as a token force to discourage the Communists from taking over around Peking. It wasn’t a huge force. It was funny because I ran into a Lakeville boy when I was out there; Hugh O’Neil was a classmate of mine from Hotchkiss. Hugh had ended up with “Stars & Stripes” newspaper in the Army as a sergeant. He came up to Timpsin where we were. Jim Robeson my old college roommate from Toledo was there, too. Hugh took us out for dinner one night, and he could speak Chinese so we had a gorgeous Chinese feast.
MH: What did you do after the service? You mentioned before something about a psychologist.
JW:Well, that will take a while. After the war I got married almost immediately to Millicent Kellogg
whose family had lived here. I had known her since before the war, and we got sort of engaged during the war. We got married immediately. I remember getting off the train in Millerton when I first got home; she met me and said, “Well we can get married either June 1st or June 15th.” This was about the 15th of May. I said June 15th. Then I had to go and do some things to get myself discharged. I had a temporary appointment as a 2 lieutenant, so to get me out of the service; they had to revoke the temporary appointment which meant I was a 1st lieutenant. Then I reverted to an enlisted rank as platoon sergeant which was just a technicality. Then they had to discharge me, whereas if I had been an
officer, they could have slid me into the reserve automatically. Then they said, “Do you want to join the reserve?” “I guess so.” When I looked at the form, they had spelled my name wrong. “Can you correct it?” “No, it has to go back to Washington to be corrected.” You know how the services are. They sent me back the thing, but I had had a few weeks to think about it and decided that I didn’t want to be in the Marine Corps Reserves. I didn’t go to Korea.
I got married and had a whole bunch of kids. I first worked in New York City at the New York Trust Company in the trust department. I wanted to learn about investments. I worked there and we had a couple of kids. We moved up to Pittsfield where I worked in a bank up there for 3 or 4 years. That seemed to be a dead end, and I was a restless soul, so I came back down to Salisbury. I went to work with Charlie Wonder who was a retired Army Colonel who lived in Salisbury across from where my grandfather had lived. Charlie was from Pittsburgh who had been in the investment council business out there. He opened up a little office which allowed him the tax benefits. We never developed a lot of business; that was discouraging. The main reason I joined him was to be involved with the investments if the business took off. Then I ran a brokerage office in Lakeville for a few years; I rented some space from Bill Herrick of Herrick Travel Service. It is still there under some name. I rented about half of that building which Charlie Wonder had rented. I guess what I did was rented a tiny office in Al Borden’s building; I just had a single person office. I was it; I didn’t even have a secretary. I did everything myself. I worked for a brokerage firm for some guy who had been a connection of mine at Yale. That firm went broke, and I got connected up with a Hartford brokerage firm. I worked as a stock broker in Lakeville for a total of about 10 years until about 1971 or ’72. I got pretty sick of it then and things were changing in the brokerage business. They were cutting commissions; the firm I worked for in Hartford was an old firm that had started in 1870, but they sold out to an aggressive New York firm. I knew they wouldn’t want a tiny little office like the one I had. I quit, and it felt like playing Monopoly anyhow after a while.
Then I had a relative die who left me some money which was very nice. I put some of it aside for my kids’ education to finish them up. I had 5 daughters by that time. I went back to school at teacher’s college in New York and got a degree in psychology. It must have been 1977 when I got it so I must have been 53. I worked for one year in a state hospital out on Long island, Central Islip which had been a gigantic hospital.
MH; Yes, I know.
JW:At one point it had 25,000 patients. When I was there it was down to 3 or 4; they were
discharging people like crazy. They had new medication. When I finished the internship, I got a job up in Hartford. I stayed in the Hartford area from 1979 to 1991 or so. I practiced psychology up there, mainly out of Canton. I had an office there, an independent practice. I would come up to Salisbury quite a bit; I had a camp on Mt. Riga because my grandfather had ended up with 14 acres. Somehow I got permission from a lot of elderly aunts and uncles to build a cabin on part of it. My brother Donald had my father’s cabin which my father had had from about 1941 or ’42.I had a cabin which was nice and the kids went up there. There were all sorts of cousins up there, Wellses and McCabes.
MH: All related?
JW:All related. My grandmother was Harriet Electra Wells; she was a cousin of Harry Wells. He
died a few years ago at the age of 102 in Brewster (NY). They were first cousins. Harry’s children were my father’s second cousins so they were about my age, but they were second cousins once removed because we were different generations. Everybody called everybody cousin. They’d walk into my house. I remember Alfred Wells was a very polite fellow; he’d walk in and say, “How are you Cousin Lois?” to my mother “and Cousin Don” to my father. He was very old fashioned.
MH: Could you say something about your family?
JW: Well, I did move back here. After retiring more or less in 1991, I went out to Oregon for about 6 years, thinking that I would retire to Eugene, a lovely town. My kids thought it was too far away so I moved back here in 1998.
MH: Your daughters are probably close enough?
JW: One is in Boston, one in New York, one in Philadelphia, one in Chapel Hill and one in Missouri, but they like to come back here because they grew up here. They like the cabin up on the lake; they have cousins there, too.
MH:You father was a Warner, and his father was Judge Warner who…
JW:My father was Donald Judson and his father was Donald Tichnor Warner, who at that point was
when I knew him was a Superior Court Judge with a long white beard. He always gave me peppermints. He died in 1929; he got pneumonia or something in Washington and died at a very ripe age. Somewhere I heard this story; it may be apocryphal, he never shaved. He went to Trinity College as a young man in 1869 just after the end of the Civil War. He wouldn’t shave and he got into all kinds of trouble there at Trinity because the fashion at the time was to be clean shaven. I remember this long white beard.
I have some letters that my brother got transcribed which the family wrote him while he was in college. Most of the letters would be from his father, but he got this one letter from his sister Grace that said,” Pa’s got boils, and he isn’t feeling very good, but generally he’s pretty happy as long as he’s got his chair by the fireplace and a barrel of cider in the cellar.”
MH: You say the Warners have been here for a long time?
JW:I think right after the Revolution. There is a genealogy in the library; I think Andrew Warner was
the original ancestor. He came to the Hartford area in 1600’s and he wandering around and died in Belchertown, Mass.
MH: The Warner who was the Judge was your grandfather?
JW:My grandfather. His father was also a Donald Warner. It went Donald Judson, who was my great
grandfather, Donald Tichnor who was my grandfather; Donald Judson was my father, and Donald
Tichnor was my brother. My brother said when he retired there had been 140 years when somebody named Donald Warner had practiced law in the area…
MH: Now this grandfather was the one who started the property (buy-up) on Mt. Riga?
JW:No, I think it may have been my great grandfather. They bought it before my great grandfather
MH:Now you say your mother was a Scoville?
JW: Just to speak about my father’s family a little bit more. My great grandmother was Lois Camp Tichnor Ball. There was a Ball family that had a farm up on Undermountain Road. The Ball Farm had an old house in there; it used to belong to a guy named Gillette. My father used to tell me it was probably the oldest dwelling in Salisbury. The Ball family lived there and Lois Camp Tichnor Ball was of that family. Her family was quite big, and she had been adopted by her uncle Benajah Tichnor. There were a couple of brothers Luther Tichnor practiced in Sharon and I think Caleb Ticknor was also a doctor. Benajah got to be a doctor; he got to be a Navy surgeon. He went on a tremendous trip in 1820’s by sailboat in the Navy all the way around to the China Sea. After the War of 1812 the US government was taking a position that they were not going to be shut out of anywhere by the British. So that is how we are related to the Ticknors.
MH: That name comes up in your family a great deal.
JW:There’s a Luther Ticknor, a Benajah Tichnor and Caleb Tichnor.
MH: And this was on your father’s side.
JW:My great grandmother was niece and ward of Benajah Tichnor. This guy Benajah kept diaries of
his trip. There is a book that was published by the University of Michigan Press about 10 years ago called “The Voyage of the Peacock” which was the name of the ship that he was on. I had a call from a guy out in Michigan where Benejah had lived. His old homestead out there is a cobblestone farm in Ann Arbor which is apparently sort of an historical place like the Holley House in Lakeville.
MH: He had heard of you through a connection in the family?
MH: You were speaking earlier of the business area and the horse sheds. Wasn’t there quite a large business Tri State or something?
JW: That was after. Then there was the Maple Shade Inn which is now the Ragamont. It was run by somebody who had a ward named Donald Kelsey. It was an active inn. Then there was the White Hart up the street which was continually in and out of trouble. It went bankrupt several times, I think. My
father was involved in it for one brief period, between bankruptcies. Henry Ford bought it when his kids were at Hotchkiss. The only way to do things was to have your own inn. He had a fellow named Boucher a Swiss fellow who ran it; he ran a good inn. As soon as his kids graduated Henry Ford got rid of it; I think it was Edsel Ford who owned it; it was Edsel’s kids who were…It was an active business. Abe Martin had a garage up by where the Ambulance Corps, is now; that was Abe Martin’s garage and he was First Selectman. Then there was Ward Finkle had a garage on the other road on Rt. 44 back of the White Hart, that little building. So things were pretty busy, but it was dying after WWI when the iron business finally closed.
Talking of relatives George Coffing Warner lived across from my grandfather in a white house behind a hedge which is now for sale. He was a club footed man, and he wore a straight boot. They weren’t very close to us, sort of a cousin thing. No feuds or anything, but…
MH: Your grandfather lived in the house where the front of the house faces south (84 Main Street, Salisbury).
JW: Yeah, it used to have a beautiful garden facing down that south slope.
Then there is another relative we had down there, going toward Lakeville; it was Cousin Harrison. God know how I’m related to the Harrisons, but there was Hat who was a widow. She had a daughter Harriet, a maiden lady. Cousin Hat treated her just like a servant, as people used to do. Spinster ladies would wait on their mothers hand and foot. Poor Cousin Harriet had a hair lip which made it difficult to speak. They lived about opposite Salisbury Central School on the corner of Lakeview Avenue (Prospect Street. Ed.) directly across from the school.
Over in Cornwall there was Cousin John Hubbard, I can remember being dragged into some place and someone would say. “Oh he’s a cousin.” My mother would say, “I’ve got to call on John Hubbard.”
On the Warner side there were the Harrisons, and Charlie Warner. The other were sort of out of town; the Wellses, my grandmother Warner was a Wells, Harriet Electra, the Wells family was pretty much down around Brewster and Litchfield. The Wells had a bank in Brewster. They came up here because of Mt. Riga. The McCabes were connected through the Wellses. Polly Wells married a McCabe. (See Frank McCabe tape #26)
My mother was a Scoville. I think the first one who came here was Samuel. I remember somebody had a genealogy of the Scoville family. (See John Fisher tape #50). This was a branch that was originally Scovell. People were not that fancy with spelling. They had come over early, but they weren’t related to the Brass Company Waterbury Scovilles. They had come up here from Lebanon, PA area after the Revolution because of the iron business.
MH: Didn’t one the earliest of the Scovilles have the farmhouse that is now the Undermountain Inn?
JW: Yes, they used to call those things ore beds. There was a Scoville ore bed out back. The original Scoville family homestead was up there, and they had a small iron mine in there. The Scoville family, when they moved here, were involved with the iron business with their own ore bed. The Scovilles were also somehow connected to the Church family; one of the Churches was a Chief Justice of the State of Connecticut. Some of the Churches lived up in Gt. Barrington and were involved with Monument Mills which was a textile company that went broke in the 1920’s.
MH: They must have bought a lot of property. Didn’t they own almost all of the area?
JW:Originally they had the farm and the ore bed up on Undermountain Road period. My
grandfather, Nathaniel Church Scoville, and my great uncle Jonathan Scoville, after one got some college at Wesleyan and the other went to Harvard, went into the iron business. For a while they operated an iron furnace over in Dogtown. I love that name! I got this information from Malcolm Rudd.
MH: Where was Dogtown?
JW:It doesn’t go by that name anymore. If you take Rt. 63 going to Litchfield, there is a road which
comes in from Falls Village to join Rt.63, then the road goes up Music Mountain, then you turn left, within that next ‘A mile is Dogtown. That iron furnace was owned by Church and Scoville. Samuel Scoville was the father of Nathaniel and Jonathan. I am not too sure of the Scoville genealogy, but one of the Scovilles married a Church so I think the Church could have been a father-in-law or cousin.
Well for some reason, and I would love to know why, the two young men went out to Buffalo and went into the car-wheel business out there just before the Civil War. There was an active car-wheel business in Amesville, and it was one of the big activities in Falls Village (NO, Amesville is part of Salisbury, not Falls Village Ed.) where the railroad came in here. This was a time of immense expansion of the railroad industry; car-wheels were an essential part, but not terribly expensive part, but they have to be good and made of the right material to be tough. Salisbury iron was naturally good for that; I heard from probably Ed Kirby that Salisbury iron ore had enough manganese to make it tough and very high grade ore. These two men Jonathan and Nathaniel were in it at the very beginning in Buffalo. My great uncle Jonathan was Mayor of Buffalo in about 1890 something shortly before he died. Then they had the wisdom to sell the whole car-wheel business, including the branch in Toronto, to the Pullman Company. Then they moved to New York City like most of the neauvou riche at the turn of the century; they had a house in midtown and lived there.
Well, what they did was, before my Grandfather Scoville and his brother moved back, they bought a lot of land from the Landon family. There was a Landon furnace up there near where Grassland Farm is now. They bought a lot of land which the Landon family had owned in Taconic- Chapinville area. I have seen letters between my grandfather Scoville and my grandfather Warner about legal stuff. The Landon furnace is on some of the maps of iron furnaces. It was even a school district there-Taconic School District. There was a depression and the iron business had its ups and downs.
That purchase made the Scovilles the big landowners in Taconic; they built a Methodist chapel up there which was in that little triangle where the Post office is. (It was built in 1833.Ed.)
MH: The sign for that chapel is in the History Room at the library.
JW: Then they built a very large house behind a big stone wall right on the corner there of grey stone in the 1890’s era. (Stone House, Robert Scoville Ed.) Then across the road it had a carriage house. They had greenhouses. The gatekeeper’s cottage was on the other road that goes over toward Beaver Dam Road. (See also Fisher tape #50, Smith #105) They would spend their summers up there, and their winters in New York, being social. That house burned to the ground I think during WWI. (It burned in 1917 Ed.) By then my grandfather and my great uncle were long dead by then.
My grandmother was left with 6 kids, 4 girls and 2 boys who were pretty well grown. She rented a house further down on Taconic Road (#16 Ed.) down near Rt. 44. The house as you turn onto Taconic Road is the first house on the left which is on a little rise above the road. It was simple cottage; when my grandmother lived there it had a wood burning furnace, and it wasn’t insulated. It was a summer home with a well. She bought it from Mrs. Hunter; her first marriage was to a Bostonian named Christopher Temple Emmet. By him she had 3 girls: Ellen Emmet, Rosina Emmet, and Leslie Emmet. Her second marriage was to Mr. Hunter and had one son, Grenville Hunter. (See tape #72 Penny Grant. Ed.) She came back to this country from Paris and eventually moved back to Salisbury where she raised these girls. (An aside about Henry James and how he would visit Mrs. Hunter when he came to the US at her house on Taconic Road.) Ellen Emmet, or Bay as the family called her, was an independent thinker who did not fit into English society so the family returned to Salisbury. Bay had a painting studio on the property out back of the main house. She married a man called William Blanchard Rand, who was a historian himself. Mrs. Hunter sold that house to my grandmother which she used as a summer home. Then Mrs. Hunter bought a home in Salisbury, a white colonial which originally stood at the edge of the railroad track. This house again has a little studio out back of it. (56 East Main Street. Ed.) Mrs. Hunter’s daughters were all very talented; this picture of my father was done by Bay Rand; it’s a pastel and really a magnificent pastel.
MH: She was very famous.
JW: She made big money in the 1930’s; for those days she made 7 or 8 thousand a year. I love the connection of Mr. Henry James coming here to see Mrs. Hunter in Salisbury.
MH: Was there a Rand who was a lawyer?
JW: Yeah, that was Jake. William Blanchard Rand and Ellen Emmet had three sons: Bill, Christopher and John (Jake). John was the youngest and became a lawyer who practiced here fairly recently. They owned a house called “Hamlet Hill Farm” which was at the top of Prospect Mountain Road. At that time there were a lot of little roads, wagon roads. From up there you could take one road down to the Housatonic and another road to Amesville. William B. Rand was the Master of the Foxhounds at the Old
Chatham Hunt. He was a blustery man; he was my godfather. He and my father were great drinking buddies. Bay Rand was a great friend of my mother, although she was somewhat older than my mother. They were very close.
MH: Your mother’s father was…
JW:He was Nathaniel Scoville. He’s the one who died and left 4 daughters and 2 sons: Grace, Edith,
Mary Francis known as Molly, who married john McChesney and Lois, my mother was the youngest in the family. The sons were Robert and Herbert. Later on Robert was active in the real estate market in New York City, but I have a feeling he didn’t do very well. The Depression really caught him; the real estate market really crashed in New York. He took the old homestead, the house in Taconic which had burned down, and he rebuilt it. He had one daughter Margo who I think lives in Florida now. Herbert built another house up there (Hill House Ed.) on Beaver Dam Road. It has a lovely view up the valley to the North. Herbert married Orlena Zabriski from an old Brooklyn family. There is also the Fisher family.
MH: How are they connected? (See John Fisher tape #50)
JW:He’s John Falconer Fisher; I think his grandmother was a Scoville. She was maybe a sister of
these guys, Nathaniel and Jonathan. So he was tied in that way; he is a cousin of ours.
MH:Yes, he said he was connected when I did his interview a few years ago.
JW:He had a sister Caroline who married Dr. Sam Cadman who was a famous preacher. They had a
house; they still own some property, on Indian Mountain Road. Caroline was a few years older than I and Sam just died, I think. Right down at the bottom of the hill near the corner where the blinker light is (Jet of Rt. 112 and Indian Mt. Rd.) was the old Warner homestead. My grandfather talks about going over there. His uncle lived there and had a farm there at that corner of the lake (Long Pond Ed.). Apparently he had a little iron pit there, and in the off season he’d dig a little ore. Of course there is Deep Lake Farm; the lake is an ore pit, and Chatfield Hills is part of that…
JW: Not slag, but overburden. John Rudd was telling me something about the Ore Hill one. There are miles of tunnels down there; someone, I am not sure who, was hired as a young engineer to go in and map them. It was just horrendous.
MH: That’s a little dangerous.
JW: They found one place when they really looked at it where they were digging ore was right under some pond so if they had dug a little bit too far, it would have… They tried in the early ’40’s during WWII to pump out the ore bed at Ore Hill so they could get iron. They couldn’t get pumps that could pump fast enough so they gave it up.
MH: We have many nice little ponds around here, were they ore beds?
JW: There was the Davis Ore Bed right up next to Salisbury Central School. That had a nice pond on it.
MH: That’s very interesting. Thank you for all the information you have given me about your family. I appreciate it.
JW:I don’t know where I learned it all.