July 12, 1852

Furnace

July 12th Monday  Mary & Hannah both washed and I

was about house most of the forenoon 

Have cut the sleeves & skirt to my borage

dress and cut a waist for Susan

Carried my work into Olivers and stopt

some time  Edwin & Augusta rode to the

furnace & carried my pot to Mr Harveys to

get some butter but it was not ready for me

When Edwin and Augusta Gilmore “rode to the furnace,” they probably went south to an area of Easton known as Furnace Village or Easton Furnace. This was one of the oldest areas in town, its early homes today recognized as a National Historic District. First settled around 1715, it was a site for industry in a landscape that was otherwise quite agrarian. Using Mulberry Brook to turn its wheel, a sawmill was established there well before the American Revolution. Later industries included a tannery and a blast furnace for ironmaking, the latter giving the area its name. Historian Edmund Hands notes, “Once Easton Furnace possessed the highest degree of industrialization in town, but that industry never grew large enough to transform Furnace Village the way the Shovel Shop created the urbanized landscape of North Easton.”*

Back in the urbanized landscape to the north of Furnace Village, Evelina’s servants, Hannah Murphy and a woman named Mary, were doing the weekly laundry. Evelina was choring, sewing and waiting for Edwin and Augusta to return with some butter, which they were unable to do.  In the fields around North Easton, Old Oliver and his men were cutting hay. The agrarian life still held sway despite mills, foundries and factories.

*Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, 1995, p. 105

3 thoughts on “July 12, 1852

  1. Yesterday, we just happened to drive past the impressive stone-works, which, I assume, serve(d) as the retaining wall for the old furnace mill-pond. They run parallel and fairly close to Rt 106 for a hundred yards or more.

  2. I grew up in good old Furnace Village. The area is in the northwest section of town, and is neat to Mansfield and Norton. There were two foundries running in 1852. One, the Drake foundry, had been producing grey iron since 1750. Old Pond and New Pond were built to power this operation by damming the Beaver Brook and Poquanticut Brook. They join together just below both dams creating Mulberry Brook.
    Across the street, in 1837, Daniel Belcher and others began a malleable iron foundry that ran until a few years ago. I remember well the old smokestack with a bright flame atop, burning off gasses.
    At one time the Ameses had a part ownership in another factory nearby that did machining, and probably provided the shop that did secondary work on the castings. I believe that some of the castings were parts for various machines in the plant as opposed to parts for shovels.
    Frank

    • Thank you, Frank, for your knowledgeable description of Furnace Village. For some reason I thought it was more in the geographic center of town, but clearly you know better. And I think you may have driven me there when we took a tour of town a few years ago. It’s fun to learn about it.

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