A Heritage River Community Growing on Strong Foundations
About our community
Griswold is a community dotted with rivers and lakes, and contains many beautiful hills and small mountains. The two rivers that flow through the town are the Pachaug and the Quinebaug.
The Borough of Jewett City is situated at the junction of the two rivers. From the hills which border it, the Griswold basin presents delightful landscapes. There are points from the roads across Stone Hill where the north end of the valley to Jewett City spreads out in lovely vistas.
From the top of the hill on Norman Road, the view is not limited to Griswold but takes in farms and bits of villages in a number of adjoining towns. Geologically Griswold is very interesting and has been studied for years by geologists from all over New England.
There are no natural ponds in Griswold. The larger part of its surface is drained by the Pachaug River. The distance from the source of the Pachaug to its mouth in a straight line does not much exceed 9 miles, yet it winds with such surprising curves, and so tortuous is its natural course through the swamps and mud flats between the hills, that the waters from its source travel is 44 miles before they reach the mouth.
The Quinebaug flows through three ranges of hills. Stone Hill in the northeast corner of town is 580 feet above sea level; while on the south the summits of Rixtown and Bay Mountains stand 500 and 560 feet above sea level respectively. The sides of these hills, at least at the 200 foot level, show unmistakable signs of the long continued swirl and flow of water proving that Griswold basin at a distant period belonged not merely to the valley but to the bed of the once grand Quinebaug.
Evidence of glacial activity abound. Not only is the soil strewn with glacial boulders, some of which are remarkable; but proof is found in the deposits of till, peculiar shaped hills, the pit-like kettle holes, the beds of clay, the underlying hard pan and the polished surface of the ledges. On Pachaug Pond, our largest body of water, is located a state boat launch, a marina and a campground.
Griswold is also home to Pachaug and Hopeville State Forests. At Hopeville State Park, you'll find a campground, beach and boat launch. In both Pachaug State Forest and Hopeville State Park, visitors enjoy hiking trails that wind through lovely meadows, along scenic brooks, over wooden bridges and deep into the cool, welcoming woods.
Two rivers flow through Griswold, the Pachaug River (an Indian name meaning “turning point” and the Quinebaug River (meaning “long pond”). Nestled between beautiful hills and small mountains, most of the town’s intensive development has occurred on the level land along the Pachaug River and at the confluence of the Pachaug and Quinebaug Rivers in Jewett City, the central business district of the Town of Griswold. These streams were capable of producing waterpower that has attracted agriculture, trade and industry.
Originally a part of the Pequot, the Mohegan came from the upper Hudson River Valley in New York near Lake Champlain. Sometime around 1500, both tribes left this area and moved to the Thames River Valley in southeastern Connecticut. The Mohegan called their homeland Moheganeak and occupied portions of the Thames Valley, of what was called Pachaug the area that is now Griswold.
The title to the lands of Griswold were held by 2 rival claimants, the Colony of Connecticut and the Mohegan Indians, the original owners of the soil. Although the Colony in 1640 obtained a conveyance from Uncas of all the lands in Connecticut belonging to his tribe, except their planting grounds, the title continued in dispute so that usually whenever a farm was granted in the Mohegan country by the General Court it was considered safe and wise to also obtain a grant from the Mohegan Chief. The actual sum received by the Indians for the land within the limits of Griswold was 35 pounds sterling, exclusive of the 5 yards of cloth and a few pair of stockings paid by the Colony to Uncas for all the land in 1640.
Settlers from Norwich, Stonington and southern Preston began to establish themselves in the northern part of what is now Griswold. One of the earliest settlers was Samuel Leonard who settled on the Pachaug River around 1669. In 1686, the inhabitants of Preston- Griswold petitioned the legislature of the Connecticut colony for incorporation. They purchased the land from Owaneco, son of Chief Uncas, for fifty pounds in four payments. The boundary lines were vague and this led to many boundary disputes in later years By 1715, the population had so increased that there was demand of some form of self-government. Preston Was then divided into two sections; the South Society and the North Society. The North Society would later become the Town of Griswold.
In 1686, the inhabitants of Preston-Griswold petitioned the legislature of the Connecticut colony for incorporation. They purchased the land from Owaneco, son of Chief Uncas, for fifty pounds in four payments. The boundary lines were vague and this led to many boundary disputes in later years. Settlers from Norwich, Stonington and southern Preston began to establish themselves in the northern part of what is now Griswold. One of the earliest settlers was Samuel Leonard who settled on the Pachaug River around 1669.
The first meetinghouse and church was built in 1720 in Pachaug on the site of the present Pachaug Congregational Church, and was known as the North Society Meetinghouse. A portion of northeast Norwich was annexed to North Society Church in 1762, since this church in Pachaug was closer for them to attend than their church in Norwich. In 1767, a large church was built on this site. This portion, including what is now Jewett City, was annexed to the town of Preston in 1786. Around 1720, the population was 250 residents. Forty years later, it had increased to over 1000 residents. The leading industry was agriculture with a few saw mills, corn mills, and fulling mills (textiles to make cloth bulkier by being dampened and beaten). An iron works seems to have been the first manufactory within the bounds of Jewett City. In 1815 the North Society petitioned the State General Assembly to incorporate into a town. The first highway was laid out in 1691 and followed what is today the road from Preston City to Pachaug, across the river, left at the Pachaug Cemetery toward the White Schoolhouse and then to the northeast corner of Griswold.
Griswold's first town meeting was held on the last Tuesday in November in 1815. Mr. Andrew Huntington was named to be the moderator. At this meeting, the first board of selectmen was chosen for a, then, one year term. the first board consisted of Captain Nathan Geer, Captain Thaddeus Cook, Mr. Elias Brewster, Mr. Nathan Belcher and Mr. James Braman. It was voted on that the selectmen "shall have a room, firewood, candles and stationary furnished and paid for by the town for all compensation for their ordinary service": The population of Griswold in 1815 was about 1,400 residents.
Jewett City was first known as Pachaug City, and then was renamed to honor Eliezer Jewett, who began a settlement there in 1771 where he erected a saw mill, grist mill, fulling mill, clothiers shop with press and dye-kettle, and the first irrigation plant. He also conducted a tavern. What is now Main Street was laid out in 1768 at which time the first bridge was built across the Quinebaug River. In 1787, North Society petitioned the state legislature to divide Preston into two towns. No further action was taken until 1815 when the town was finally divided and the North section was named Griswold, after Roger Griswold, the Federalist Governor of Connecticut. It was the last town to be incorporated under the old constitution of Connecticut.
The first town meeting was held in November of 1815, the last Tuesday in November. Andrew Huntington was named to be the moderator. At this meeting, the first board of selectmen was chosen, then a one year term. The first board consisted of Captain Nathan Geer, Captain Thaddeus Cook, Mr. Elias Brewster, Mr. Nathan Belcher and Mr. James Braman. It was voted on that the selectmen "shall have a room, firewood, candles and stationary furnished and paid for by the town for all compensation for their ordinary service": The population of Griswold in 1815 was about 1,400 residents.
Tool Inventor Isaac Glasko, a man of mixed Native American and African American heritage, purchased land in 1806 and established a blacksmith shop in what is now the center of Glasgo. His blacksmith shop was constructed near the intersection of Route 165 and Route 201. He harnessed waterpower to a trip hammer which is a mechanical hammer that sped the manufacture of farming and carpentry tools. When the whaling industry was at its height, Glasko specialized in whaling implements, for which he held several patents. His harpoons, lances, spades, and mining knives were well known in ports of New England.
Glasko was a highly respected craftsman and his work had an excellent reputation up and down the east coast. Isaac's daughter, Eliza Glasko attended Prudence Crandall's academy for young ladies in Canterbury from 1833-34. His house still stands, although it has been considerably altered. Isaac Glasko final resting place with his s wife are in a quiet burying ground near the center of the village that now bears his name now known as Glasgo.
Originally a part of the Pequot, the Mohegans came from the upper Hudson River Valley in New York near Lake Champlain. Sometime around 1500, both tribes left this area and moved to the Thames River Valley in southeastern Connecticut. The Mohegan called their homeland Moheganeak and occupied portions of the Thames Valley, of what was called Pachaug the area that is now Griswold.
Jewett City's post office was established on July 4, 1804. John Johnson was the first postmaster. Around 1804 a woolen mill was established in Jewett City. This mill changed hands may times and later manufactured cotton and wool. In 1815, agriculture still continued to be the leading industry with flax grown and cultivated especially in the land now covered by Pachaug Pond. Sheep were kept in large numbers.
In 1809, the manufacture of cotton was begun in Jewett City near the site of the old town hall. This was later enlarged into the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company and a new mill was built at the mouth of the Pachaug River. This was purchased by John and Samuel Slater in 1823. Around 1840, many residents planted mulberry trees for the raising of silkworms, and there was a small boom in raw silk for a number of years. A new mill was built on this site in 1845 and named Ashland after Henry Clay’s estate in Kentucky.
Other cotton mills built and operated were the Hope Factory, which gave Hopeville its name; the Tucker Mill near the Voluntown town line; the Tadpole Mill near Tadpole Pond; Bromley Mill on Billings Brook; Dorrville Mill on the road between Hopeville and Jewett City; and the Doane Mill near Voluntown that has given Doanville Pond its name.
The first bank was incorporated in 1831, and was named the Jewett City bank. The Jewett City Fire Engine Company was incorporated in1832 and held its first meeting in the home of John Johnson. The Norwich and Worcester Railroad Company completed the railroad tracks in 1840.
In 1881, through the munificence of Daniel T. Coit, a public library was established and endowed in Pachaug. The nucleus of the library consisted of a choice collection of most carefully selected regular purchase of new books, and magazines, was made by an endowment of $3,000, the interest of which is used these purposes. The Library, well patronized and appreciated, no longer exists but at one time was a great source of instruction and enjoyment to a wide circle of patrons.
Provisions for the care of the library and for the regular purchase of new books, and magazines, was made by an endowment of $3,000, the interest of which is used for these purposes. The Library, well patronized and appreciated, no longer exists but at one time was a great source of instruction and enjoyment to a wide circle of patrons.
Borough of Jewett City
Jewett City, named after the industrialist Eleizer Jewett, was settled around 1771, when Eliezer constructed the first sawmill and gristmill wheel, harnessing the water power of the Pachaug River. The village then consisted of a few residences, including the log house of the Jewett family.
Until about 1790, the main industry continued to be agriculture, until John Wilson, from Massachusetts, began to operate a “fulling mill” (a mill that produces homemade flannels for clothing).
In 1804, John Schofield set a carding machine into operation preparing wool for spinning and weaving on hand looms found in houses throughout the village. In 1814, the Fanning Manufacturing Company was formed, later becoming the Ashland Cotton Company.
In 1920, John Wilson’s mill was sold to two men from Norwich, G. W. Trumbull and John Breed. In1827 the mill was destroyed by fire and was never rebuilt. The property was taken over by John F. and William Slater. By 1873, William Slater had constructed what was to become the largest mill in town, containing 250 to 350 looms. The Ashland Cotton Company was second in size, with up to 330 looms in operation.
In the late 1870s several other manufacturing concerns became a part of the growing community, including Bromley Brothers, manufacturers of spectacles, producing 15,000 pairs of spectacles a year. There also were two carriage and wagon shops. Other businesses included a blacksmith shop, a livery stable, two company stores, and several shops.
In 1893 Moses Pierce organized the Aspinook Corporation. Also, in that same year, the Jewett City Textile Novelty Company was formed. The growth of the town increased steadily over the years, with several industries in full operation, including the Aspinook Mill, the Ashland Cotton Company, and the Plastic Wire and Cable Company.
However, by the mid-1960s the textile industry had faded out of existence. Attempts were made to develop new industries using existing structures, including a shoe factory at the Ashland Cotton Company and Wyre Wynd at the Aspinook Mill. As with many other manufacturing buildings, Aspinook Mill’s fire in 1969 destroyed most of the factory. Slater Mill sustained fire damage to a large portion of its mill complex in 1993, and Ashland Mill was completely consumed by fire in 1995.