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Early Names for Branchville:

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1 Early Names for Branchville:
Wheer Cock “Native American Name” obviously Anglicized. Weyaquock or something along those lines is more Native American. Copp’s Corner John Copp surveyed the Land in Ridgefield “The land was high and rocky, but the soil was fertile and there were more than sixty miles of streams that could serve future mills.” Copp’s Corner is the intersection of Mountain Rd. and Peaceable St. Ridgefield Station/Beers Station From it was the only station in Ridgefield. Sherman Beers sold Land to RR for $600, William W. Beers, Postmaster until 1879.

2 Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton Boundary Marker. Located at
corner of Peaceable St. and Mountain Rd.

3 Branchville Pre-Railroad
Not Much to Report




7 Why was Branchville less traveled? Norwalk to Danbury Turnpike
The Main Route to Danbury at this time came up Old Mill Road. Most Businesses/Mills are along Old Mill Road heading into Georgetown.

8 Great Pond Florida Hill 1811 Map Main Roads Branchville Old Mill Rd.

9 1856 No Businesses On Sugar Hollow Cabinet Shop Blacksmith Plenty of
Business on Old Mill Rd.

10 Sugar Hollow to Branchville
Sugar Hollow Highway created around 1818 to ease traffic on Danbury to Norwalk Turnpike. This was not successful until the railroad arrived. Later referred to as The Old Route 7, a.k.a. “State Road”

11 Portland Ave. Route 7 Sugar Hollow Rd.

12 Old State Highway

13 Horton’s Ice Cream Shop. At the corner of Sugar Hollow & Route 7.
Building still stands today.

14 Danbury to Norwalk RR completed 1852
The Danbury to Norwalk Railroad began construction in the autumn months of 1850, the task was to convert 23 miles of rugged landscape along the Norwalk River into an iron trail that could not exceed a 1% grade…via human labor. There was not any specialized equipment, hardy souls and hand tools would be the only tools employed in the railroad's construction. Newly immigrated, enduring prejudices, and in need of work, the Irish were the hardy souls that manned the pick axes and accomplished the arduous task in an astonishingly short timeframe. With the completion of the Danbury to Norwalk Railroad in the spring of 1852, its workers were faced with two options: take up work on another stretch of rail-line or settle where they were and find new work. Thus, the area around Branchville & Georgetown became home - or at least a jumping-off place - for many Irish immigrants in search of a home.


16 Railroad Workers Pay- 1851 Name Days Wages Board Take-Home Pay
John McCauliff 21.75 $21.75 $0.00 Thomas Corcey 19.75 $14.81 $8.70 $6.11 Timothy Sullivan 19.25 $14.44 $10.00 $4.44 Andrew Sullivan 22.00 $16.50 $6.50 John Brody 9.75 $6.17 $7.50 -$1.58

17 Beers Family major landowners
in Branchville & Ridgefield: From 1789 to 1814 Anthony Beers Acquired acres. Future Generations enjoy the benefits. Branchville station is the lowest point in Ridgefield at 342’. Seeing Sherman Beers sold land To RR company the Station is referred to as Beers or Ridgefield Station for 18 yrs. Branchville name given by RR Company in reference to Branch Line to Ridgefield built William Woolsey Beers- Station Agent/Postmaster until 1879

18 After RR Arrives Stores and Businesses Quickly find their way to Branchville. Map circa 1856 Branchville then Ridgefield or Beer’s Station

19 The Mining Town Branchville Becomes a Mining Town: First Granite, then Mica, then “Oh MY!” World Wide Fame.

20 P.W. Bates owned Ridgefield Granite
Works and deeds show the Bates name on or close to Mountain Rd. until William Haaker also was given the right to Quarry granite in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. Branchville Art Gallery Location


22 Single-Jacking

23 Double-Jacking

24 Mining Scar or feather mark. These
can be found throughout the Scott Preserve/Rock Lot off Peaceable St. and Mountain Rd.

25 House on Peaceable St. view facing north. An mid-1800 map notes
Iron Ore being mined on Peaceable Street.

26 1856

27 Peaceable Street at the turn of the century.
House shown still stands today (barely). A caretaker house for 33 Peaceable St. Anne Parrish Titzell

28 The World Famous Branchville Mine
Some Redding Residents call themselves Reddingites… Very few know it actually means: “hydrated phosphate of manganese and iron” Reddingite was one of the 8 unique minerals discovered at the Branchville mine.

29 Reddingite

30 Branchville Mine

31 Branchville Mine Abijaha N. Fillow Branchville Art Gallery Location

32 Pine Mountain Road Branchville Station Mountain Road

33 Branchville Mine Timeline
First Excavation by Abijaha N. Fillow approx Mined for Mica but ceased in the spring of 1878 because he thought the mica was of inferior quality. George Brush and Edward Dana of Yale University become so enthused by the new minerals Fillow uncovers that they engage Fillow to resume excavations with Yale Funds. Nine new minerals were discovered. Mineral types: pegmatite, and quartz, feldspar, mica, spodumene, beryl and columbite. Eight unique to Branchville location. Brush and Dana get famous, Fillow gets rich. In 1926: 31 minerals excavated by Frank Schairer. Schairer, in addition to being a well known Mineralogist, was a key contributor to the stellite-lined machine gun barrel project.

34 George Brush Edward Dana

35 YPM = Yale University’s Peabody Museum

36 Branchville Mine Timeline, cont.
From September 1943 to November 1944, Fred and Joseph Burrone and Carlo Rusconi, all of North Branford, Connecticut, operated the mine for mica Sandy Ridge Mica and Mining Company, Inc., th Street N. W., Washington, D. C., worked the mine in November and December Minor mining projects would continue until 1954. Sheet Mica was important in WWII because it was used to insulate electrical equipment…Spark Plugs, Radio Apparatus, Fuse Boxes, Heating Devices and Telephones. Michael DeLuca attempted to open the mine again in but ran into zoning problems. Monaplastics, Inc. landowners

37 research work on "The Minerals of Connecticut." He collected the data
J. Frank Schairer located 31 different minerals in It was part of his research work on "The Minerals of Connecticut." He collected the data while he was at Yale. Schairer helped organize the Yale Mineralogical Society and was elected its first president on October 5, 1923.

38 Branchville Mine 2006

39 Branchline to Ridgefield completed 1870
Prior to Branchline passengers driven to Ridgefield by Horse and Buggy. Branchline the result of increased demand for both passenger & freight service to Ridgefield. Following completion 3 trips a day were made to/from Ridgefield…15 minutes each way. Almost immediately “Branchville” name applied to village. Branchline is now hiking/biking trail starting at CL&P lines below Hickory Lane off Florida Road.


41 Route 7 Looking North Toward Route 102
Building to the left is currently Pete’s Mane Concern. Branchline RR Crossing can be seen in the distance. By this time Rt. 7 improvements had closed Branchline to passenger service in Freight continued until The line was never electrified.


43 Ridgefield Station 1875 Grass yard shown later replaced with gravel. Station is Ridgefield Supply warehouse in the present day.

44 Ready to head off to the country estate

45 Dangerous Return Trip to Main Line
There was no turn-around in Ridgefield. Trains traveling up to Ridgefield would have to return to Branchville in Reverse. This was dangerous seeing Ridgefield is 700’ above sea-level, Branchville is 342’ above sea-level.

46 Branchline from Branchville to Ridgefield

47 1905 Accident Ivy Hill. Conductor William Horan Killed.



50 “The snow is up to my knees this morning and still coming.
I had a fierce time getting to the station.”

51 Water Tower


53 Double semaphore is a train order signal,
one for each direction Gruman’s Ice Tools

54 Post Office & Store Elisabeth Mead operated a general store and post office in Branchville. It was said to have been reached via a bridge. She sold Santanella Baked Goods.





59 Comical story relayed by Jack Sanders…Branchvillers tried
to pull a "switch-a-roo" on Ridgefield. Signs were created and posted re-naming Branchville as Ridgefield and the actual town of Ridgefield as "West Ridgefield" This did not go over big and lasted a very short time. Perhaps this explains why West Branchville Rd. was applied to the eastern most section of Ridgefield. Pay back.

60 Quartz & Feldspar Mining
1880 Union Porcelain Works of Greenpoint, New York, leased the Branchville Mine property and operate it for feldspar and quartz until at least Feldspar is used in making porcelain. Soon after (1891) The Bridgeport Wood Finishing Company of New Milford, Connecticut, operated for quartz and feldspar until approx BWFC also leased mining land to other companies during this time period.

61 Key Products: Wheeler’s Wood Filler, Breining’s Oil Stain &
Lithogen Silicate Paint.


63 Ancona’s Market

64 Silex = trade name for finely ground quartz
Viewpoint from Route 7 looking toward Ridgefield. Branchville Oil/Motorcycle location Silex = trade name for finely ground quartz


66 Viewpoint: looking back toward Route 7

67 Main line Water tower



70 View from Branchville School Playing Fields




74 Double Jacking Method



77 Fine Powdered Quartz & Feldspar
The BWFC first baked, then crushed and ground Quartz and Feldspar into a fine powder with large Quartz wheel stones. Of the crusher Willis DeForest recalled “ I can still hear the pounding noise, Hour after hour, of that crusher.” The powdered material was then sifted through sieves, some produced locally by Richard Bennet. Over time they found silk sieves worked the best (they were more durable). Next the product was barreled and shipped via railroad to their processing Plants. Where “Cooper’s Tavern” (Bank 59, Amici’s) stood there was once a cooperage that supplied barrels for this purpose (in addition to local wine). Top quality (flour sized) quartz became wood filler and paint, low-to-mid quality (sand sized) feldspar was used as poultry grit. High quality feldspar was used in ceramics and soap. Many mill employees died as a result of the ever-present dust. 90% of the employees were said to be Italians.



80 1882 Addition to Danbury/Norwalk Railroad. This leads to profitable
Wilson Point on Long Island Sound Shipped Trains To Long Island 1882 Addition to Danbury/Norwalk Railroad. This leads to profitable Agreements with other RR’s & is a great benefit to businesses on the line. Ice, Eggs/ Milk, Wire, Granite, Feldspar, Quartz all products that can now reach NYC ports from Branchville & Georgetown.

81 RR’s 1893

82 Railroad Success = Community Growth
Branchville, fueled by the success of the RR & Mining Industry, attracts Italian Immigrants, Summer Residents, Service Related Businesses.



85 DeBenigno’s Branchville General Store Doubled
National Historic Register DeBenigno’s Branchville General Store Doubled as a Boarding House for Italian Immigrants


87 Joseph Ancona’s 1930. Arrived in 1912 from Sicily.
Cooperage Joseph Ancona’s Arrived in 1912 from Sicily.


89 Porch Enclosed


91 Walter Little’s General Store. West Branchville Rd.


93 The Italian American Citizens Political Club of Ridgefield, June 29, 1913

94 Where Could Immigrants Find Work?
Bridgeport Wood Finishing Company Country Estates Deland & Gilbert Soap Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill Gruman Ice Tools Mead Stone Tools Monarch Mining Co. Railroad Ridgefield Water lines Ridgefield Sewage lines Service industry In addition to these “day jobs” many Italian immigrants were able to create a second income via wine and hard cider. A number of home based Taverns or “drinking rooms” proved successful and quite popular in the area.

95 Cooking Porchetta- Frank Santini, James Costanzi, Enrico Frulla
and Bruno Franceschini

96 Clearing the land for Branchville playground and ball field.
Branchville Civic Association. Joe Ancona, Jr & Sr, Ray Platt, Frank D’Addario, Rick & Gene Ridolfi Chevy.

97 Memorial Day parade from Georgetown to
Branchville Cemetery was once an annual event. G&B School, North Main, speech at 3 trees (memorials to WWI), Route 7, Route 102, Florida Road, Flowers on Graves. Some would walk back to Methodist Chapel, Kearns’ would give out Ice Cream to kids that walked back from Miller Sisters: Beth and Kate.

98 Anna Giovanna, Anne, Giuseppe and Anthony Del Biondo

99 Adolfo, Silvestro and Nazzareno Lavatori

100 Saint Mary’s in Ridgefield.
Sacred Heart Church convenient to Branchville residents. A good number attended Saint Mary’s in Ridgefield. Note the church, G&B, William J. Gilbert house, Gilbert Farm (former owned by Sturges Bennett)


102 Branchville District School. Closed June 1939


104 Life’s Fresh Air Camp John Ames Mitchell of Life Magazine opened the camp in 1899. He originally raised $800 to send 266 under privileged city kids from NYC to Branchville. Located where Branchville School is today. Later Hidden Valley, the New York Herald Tribune’s Fresh Air Camp. A version of the camp still exists to this day in other parts of the country…in Redding New Pond Farm runs a similar program each summer.






110 John Ames Mitchell’s West Lane Estate

111 Life’s Fresh Air Camp location of Branchville Elementary School
The Branchville School opened in 1969 on lower Florida Road, and remained in use until Declining enrollment led to the school’s closing. The Board of Education occupied the school until 1994 when increasing enrollments resulted in voters agreeing to re-open the school.

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