We Make it Happen!


nearby Limerock Racetrack









Facts of Interest

Year Town Incorporated: 1739
Form of Government: Board of Selectmen
Geographic Location; NW Tip of Region
Geographic Area; 59.6 mi²
Current Population: Est. 2,968 (2000 Census)
Median Household Income: $45,418
Nearest city with pop. 50,000+: Danbury, CT (22.2 miles , pop. 74,848).
State Lands: Kent Falls State Park; Lake Waramaug State Park; Macedonia Brook State Park; Wyantenock State Forest
Federal Lands:
Sharon History


SHARON, Connecticut

This is a village of rural loveliness which attracts many summer boarders. The Street, 200 feet [actually 12 rods] wide and two miles long, is bordered by grand old elms forming a natural arbor. The Soldiers' Monument with a stone cannon, and a stone clock tower are the modern features of the village. The Governor John Cotton Smith House, a fine specimen of Georgian architecture, is still perfectly preserved. The fine old George King brick house (1800) is at the head of the street. The C. C. Tiffany house (1757) is perhaps the oldest in the town. The old Pardee brick house (1782) stands by the Stone Bridge. The Prindle house is a spacious gambrel roof dwelling on Gay St. near the charming lakelet which furnishes a natural reservoir for the village water supply. The picturesque old Gay House has the builder's initials "M. G. 1765" on a stone in the gable.

In the early days Sharon was a place of busy and varied industries. Iron was manufactured here as early as 1743, and continued an important industry up to fifty years ago. During the Civil War munitions were made here, and it was then in the shops of the Hotchkiss Company in this village that the Hotchkiss explosive shell for rifled guns was invented, which led to the expansion of the company and its removal to Bridgeport.

To the north of the village is Mudge Pond, or Crystal Lake, and beyond, Indian Mountain (1200 ft). At the western foot of the mountain, on the [New York] State line, lies Indian Pond, now called Wequagnock Lake. On the edge of this lake was an Indian village where the Moravians early established a mission that did great work among the Indians. To the Moravians it was known as " Gnadensee," the Lake of Grace.

From Sharon the route runs northward past Lake Wononpakook and Lake Wononskopomuc, the latter an Indian word meaning "sparkling water." Between the lakes, as the road forks right, is situated the widely known Hotchkiss School, for boys, an important feeder to Yale. On the right, half a mile from Lakeville, is the residence of Hon. Wm. Travers Jerome, formerly District Attorney of New York City.


Sharon Did Build a Better Mousetrap!

On display in the Children's Hands On Room at the Historical Society are two curious wood-and-wire blocks. One is a triangle, with a hole in one side, the other is oblong with three holes on one side. Both are made of bass wood and have complex wire gadgets on top. They are beautiful examples of the once famous Sharon Valley Mousetraps.

Invented in Sharon by Joseph Bostwick, and produced by the Jewett Manufacturing Company in the mid 1800s, the oddly shaped traps were turned out in such quantity that Sharon Valley became known as the "Mouse Trap Headquarters of the Western World"! One of the reasons for Jewett's success was that the actual production of the traps was done by countless Sharon area residents, at home, as piece work. The rough bass wood lumber was cut into blocks of triangular, oblong, square or hexagonal shape, then stained, and holes were bored into the side of the block and out through the bottom with a complex augur-and-bit machine. The number of holes ranged from one on the triangular trap to six on the hexagonal one. Wire trapping mechanisms were threaded through smaller holes on top of the block. The traps were later baited from the bottom. The mouse stuck its head in the hole, tripping the wire, which snapped down and caught the pest by the neck. Mice and rats were a terrible nuisance in the days when most people had horses and other livestock that depended on large stores of grain.

Lawrence Van Alstyne described the industry in Manufacturing in Sharon, an article he wrote for the Poconnuck Historical Society in 1912. "The shaping of the traps from the rough lumber gave employment to many hands, many of them boys and some of them girls, for the work required nimble fingers rather than bodily strength. It also made quantities of chips which were carted away for use as bedding for horses and cattle. It was a common sight to see people carrying away great sacks full of traps and wires to be put together at their homes during the long winter evenings. It was a source of income to many that was greatly missed after the burning of the mouse trap shop."

Our mousetraps were given to the Historical Society by Mrs. Robert Scribner in 1996. Other mousetraps recently loaned to the Historical Society by Tom Casey came from his mother's childhood home in theValley. Dell Middlebrook Casey grew up in the house previously owned by the Hotchkiss family. She said that her parents had kept some of the house the way the Hotchkiss family had left it, and that the mousetraps were among the Hotchkiss possessions. Hotchkiss Brothers did manufacture rat traps, and it is possible that the company was also involved in mouse trap production.

So, the next time someone asks you where you live, you can proudly reply (the former) "Mouse Trap Headquarters

Seymour Smith and Hotchkiss Sons
Saw Sets

Seymour Smith was born in Springfield, Vermont in 1815 and died in 1904 at 90.

In 1850 after being superintendent of the woolen mills in Rodgersonville, Mass, Seymour Smith moved to Worcester, Mass and formed the company of Smith & Buxton with Daniel Buxton. In 1856 the company moved to Sharon, CT and began to manufacture tools and hardware.

Not long after, Buxton left the company and Smith continued under his own name. The business operated in a section of the Hotchkiss Sons' manufacturing plant and did contract work for them. Along with the contract work Smith also manufactured his own products which Hotchkiss acted as the sales agents for. This explains why the saw sets made before the formation of Seymour Smith & Son are called "Hotchkiss pattern" and why the 1859 Patent is sold as "Hotchkiss' Mill, Circular and Cross Cut Saw Sets" as shown in the sales literature. Although Smith was making this saw set, Hotchkiss Son's were selling it for him.
This was Smith's first saw set patent, patented on Oct 4, 1859 for an adjustable wrest type which looks like a monkey wrench. Interestingly the patent lists a Hotchkiss as a witness with the first two initials that look like G A. The samples that I have seen only have the Smith patent number marked on them.

In 1866 Smith moved the operation to Oakville, CT and continued manufacturing tools and hardware in the empty Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine building. Here he patented his second saw set, a hammer type, on Mar. 7, 1876. The design is similar to the "Hotchkiss pattern" shown to the left. The main difference between the two is the threaded bottom, which the Smith patent has and the Hotchkiss does not. Earlier versions of the Hotchkiss have a large circular body and small adjustable depth stops
The company purchased the assets of the Connecticut Shear Company after it moved to Oakville. Ultimately all other manufactured items would be fazed out except for the line of cutters and pruners.

Seymour Smith & Son was formed when Seymour Smith took his son William as a partner in 1884.

The Smith Patent shown above has S. Smith & Son stamped on it, which means it was made after 1884. In 1912 the company's name was changed to Seymour Smith & Son, Inc. formed by William H. Smith and his sons George and William R.

Seymour Smith & Son continued operation in the location they relocated to in 1866 until 1985, when it was purchased by Vermont American and the plant shut down. Manufacturing was moved to Somerset, PA and in 2000 Robert Bosch became the owner.

Information on the company was supplied by the Seymour Smith & Son division of the Gilmour Company.
























Sharon is a town located in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the northwest corner of the state. It is bounded on the north by Salisbury, on the east by the Housatonic River, on the south by Kent, and on the west by Dutchess County, New York.

Sharon Town Hall
41 |
P.O. Box
Sharon , CT
860. | Fax 860.
Office hours vary by department



Lefferts Studios

Sharon, Connecticut USA
(860) 364-7415



Audubon Miles Wildlife Sanctuary

99 West Cornwall Road
Sharon, CT 06069
consisting of the Sharon Audubon Center and Emily Winthrop Miles Wildlife Sanctuary, has been connecting people with nature for over forty years. Creating life-changing experiences that enable community members and their families to appreciate, understand and protect the natural world is at the very core of our mission.
Sharon Audubon Center
325 Cornwall Bridge Road
Sharon, CT 06069

Ellsworth Hill Orchard & Berry Farm
461 Cornwall Bridge Rd, Route 4 Sharon, CT 06069




One year after Sharon's 1739 incorporation as a town, Joseph Skinner constructed the town's first bloomery forge adjacent to the brook running from Mudge Pond to the Valley. Producing about four hundred pounds of iron per day, Skinner's Forge, quickly followed by Joel Harvey's gristmill, initiated a period of industry and manufacturing that would continue in Sharon Valley for nearly 160 years.
With iron very much needed for tools, plows, hardware and innumerable other items, iron works were constructed in other parts of town. In 1750 Gray's Forge was put into production north east of Tanner Road, another by the Hutchinson brothers near West Cornwall in 1760, and still another in the late eighteenth century east of Ellsworth along Guinea Brook.


It was no accident that Sharon Valley became an early center for industry. Blessed by sources of water power from the Valley Brook and Webutuck Creek, carbonate rock for lime, wood to make charcoal fuel and ore from several nearby sources, manufacturing increased rapidly. By 1814, the first lime kiln was in action and in 1822 Leman Bradley sold his blast furnace at Great Falls on the Housatonic River in eastern Salisbury and purchased Sharon property along the Webutuck. There, just north of the present bridge, Bradley had his blast furnace constructed and put into blast in 1825.

With the daily furnace production of iron then measured at several tons instead of hundreds of pounds from the forge, industrial Sharon Valley grew quickly. An extraordinary entrepreneur was added to the population when Asahel A. Hotchkiss arrived in Sharon Valley with his family from Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1829. Already a vibrant center of activity, Sharon's industries were destined to experience significant growth over the decades to follow.

Using iron from the local blast furnace, the Asahel Hotchkiss & Sons Company produced a substantial variety of home, farm and other utilitarian items. The population of Sharon's little village in the valley grew quickly as the Jewett Manufacturing Company, Noyes Malleable Iron Works and others were added to the list of industrial employers. In the period when rodents were a major menace, Joseph Bostwick's mouse trap works reached a manufacturing level of 80,000 traps per year. At peak, the Hotchkiss company alone provided work for 100 men, women and girls. By the late 1850s Andrew Hotchkiss had invented the exploding cannon shell which would become a major factor for Union success in the Civil War.

In 1854 the furnace was converted to a hot and cold blast type. After rebuilding the furnace in 1863, ironmaster Horace Landon produced only hot blast iron. The hot blast reduced the amount of charcoal necessary and the time needed to produce pig iron from iron ore. As a result of the 1863 rebuilding, the stone furnace stack measured thirty-feet square at the base and stood thirty-four feet high.

In 1868 the Landon Iron Co. leased the blast furnace to Frederick Miles of Salisbury for a period of two years. In 1870, basically the same lease was extended to John Adam Beckley (builder of the Beckley Furnace - East Canaan #2; 1847-1919) of North Canaan. Then, in 1873, the Barnum and Richardson Company (BRC) purchased the works from Horace Landon and formed the Sharon Valley Iron Company. Worker's homes were built and an office building constructed on Sharon Valley Road, east of the furnace (today the Valley Tavern.) In the same period Chauncey Morehouse constructed a new lime kiln near the New York State border.

Near the end of the century with the iron market in decline, the Barnum and Richardson Company began closing their subsidiaries when the Cornwall Bridge Iron Company furnace was taken out of blast in 1892. [The BRC Millerton Furnace had been destroyed by fire in 1883 and never rebuilt.] In 1898, the BRC purchased the Sharon Valley Iron Company outright and closed the operation. Iron making was finished in Sharon Valley.

With the manufacture of iron no longer in the Valley, families gradually left town to find employment in other industrial areas. Over time the population of Sharon, which had fluctuated between 2,615 and 2,580 from 1840 to 1880, dropped to 1,880 inhabitants by 1910 and 1,585 in 1920. Not until the 1980 census would Sharon show a population over 2,600.

At the furnace site the buildings and equipment were sold by the BRC to a Millerton contractor in 1903. Then in 1912, conceivably because the thirty-four foot high stack was considered an attractive nuisance and dangerous to climbers, the structure was torn down to the hearth level. According to local stories, some of the large stack rocks were used in constructing abutments for an early twentieth century replacement bridge across the Webutuck Creek. These rocks were later removed and stored by the town highway crew upon the 1999 rebuilding of the bridge. Recently, several of the stored rocks were used to construct the retaining wall along the east side of the restored Sharon Valley Lime Kiln. Even in history, what goes around comes around.

As in the case of many abandoned nineteenth century industrial sites, the iron works site eventually became a repository for refuse. By the late 1940s and beyond the 1950s, the site served as the town dump. Many times during the period the fire whistle sounded and the cry went out, "the Valley dump is on fire." These fires seemed to occur most frequently on Saturday nights and drew substantial gatherings. Perhaps a bit of local entertainment before network television invaded our region.

Although all of the blast furnaces in the Salisbury Iron District from 1762 through 1923 operated under essentially the same principal, each one exhibited its own idiosyncrasies in both structure and methodology. Once the results of the archaeological field study of the Valley furnace site have been reviewed, we hope to know more about this very important feature of Sharon's fascinating history.

The Sharon Historical Society expresses thanks to the furnace site owners, the experts who traveled here from many miles, Scott Heth and Audubon Sharon, and the enthusiastic assistants who manned the shovels and tossed the bricks. We are particularly grateful for the joining of efforts of the historical society and Audubon center in another attempt to preserve the history of Sharon.

We must be reminded that the remains of the Sharon Valley Iron Company lie on private grounds. Please respect that privacy and do not enter the site without permission or through a permitted guided tour.

.. by Ed Kirby