Glastonbury - set off from Wethersfield 1692. Incorporated 1693. - Ricker, 9.
Glastonbury is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States, founded in 1693. The population was 34,427 at the 2010 census. The town was named after Glastonbury in Somerset, England. Glastonbury is located on the banks of the Connecticut River, southeast of Hartford. The town center is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census-designated place (CDP).
In 1636, thirty families were settled in Pyaug, a tract of land belonging to Wethersfield on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River, bought from the Native American chief Sowheag for of trading cloth. In 1672, Wethersfield and Hartford were granted permission by the General Court to extend the boundary line of Pyaug to the east. By 1690, residents of Pyaug had gained permission from Wethersfield to become a separate town and, in 1693, the town of Glassenbury was created.
The ties have not been completely broken: the oldest continuously operating ferry in the United States still runs between South Glastonbury and Rocky Hill, also then part of Wethersfield, as it did as far back as 1655. One result of being split off from Wethersfield was that the town was built along a main road, rather than around the large green that anchors most New England towns. After part of New London Turnpike was realigned to eliminate the rotary in the middle of town during the mid-20th century, a small green was established there.
During the American Revolutionary War, several homes were used to hold classes from Yale University. Noah Webster was a student in these classes; later he taught at one of Glastonbury's one-room schoolhouses.
Glastonbury freed its slaves in the 1780s, sixty years before Connecticut formally abolished slavery. The town organized its first library in 1803. It organized the first hospital shortly after the Revolution to combat and treat smallpox. By the end of the Revolution, there were ten schools, formed one by one during the 18th century.
During the American Revolution, George Stocking's gunpowder factory operated in the town. In 1785 the town residents renamed Glassenbury to Glastenbury. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Glastenbury was a shipbuilding town. Located on the Connecticut River, it had reliable waterpower and nearby hardwood forests of oak. Sawmills, charcoal kilns, and foundries developed around the shipyards to process timber and other goods for their needs.
As shipbuilding was ending, the early industrial beginning continued. The J.B. Williams Soap Factory started in 1840 in James B. Williams' drugstore in Manchester, where he experimented with chemical formulas for shaving soap. When he had produced a formula that satisfied him, he moved his business to Glastonbury. Two years later, he was joined by his brother, William Stuart Williams. They formed what is believed to be the first commercial soap manufacturing business in the world. Although shaving soap was their first product, they also made ink and shoe blacking. Products made by the J.B. Williams Company included Williams 'Lectric Shave and Aqua Velva. Over time, J.B. Williams expanded to Montreal (around 1922), England, and Argentina. When the business was sold in 1957, ten former employees organized Glastonbury Toiletries and continued operation into the 1970s. J. B. Williams Park, on Neipsic Road, is named for James B. Williams.
Remaining parts of the industrial complex have been adapted for use as the Soap Factory Condominiums. Another portion was occupied by the Glastonbury Board of Education office.
In 1870 the name of the town was changed from Glastenbury to Glastonbury, with a spelling to match Glastonbury, England. During the World Wars, Glastonbury factories supplied leather and woolen goods to the military of Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, and the United States. In addition, Glastonbury has been a center for feldspar mills, cotton mills, paper mills, and silver plate factories. It also had an airplane building industry.
J.H. Hale Orchards began operations in 1866 in Glastonbury. John Howard Hale became known as the Peach King for developing a peach that could withstand New England winters and was disease resistant, as well as for the large, national scale of his operations. He also had land in Georgia and was the first Glastonbury industry to establish a branch outside the state. A marketing pioneer, Hale shipped peaches to markets all over the country. The orchard that started with in 1866 grew to more than by 1900.
John Hale never went beyond grade school, but he initiated the founding of Storrs Agricultural College, now the University of Connecticut. He helped to organize the Glastonbury Grange and the State Grange. His home, at the intersection of Main Street and Route 17, has been adapted in the 20th century for use first as a restaurant and, more recently, for business offices.
Henry Saglio began a pioneering effort to breed a white chicken, because black pinfeathers were difficult to pluck from a bird headed for the dinner table. In 1948, the Saglio Brothers formed Arbor Acres and produced a broiler chicken that A&P Food Stores awarded the title "Chicken of Tomorrow". By 1958 Arbor Acres was selling globally. Today the brand is owned by Aviagen. In 1977, Henry Saglio was inducted into the Poultry Hall of Fame.
Glastonbury was also a major grower of broad leaf tobacco. This agricultural tradition is carried on by the orchards and berry farms on its hills.