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Historic Bytes

A fair rich in history

The Colebrook Fair is a good example of how something small can have a great impact. Our fair certainly must rank as one of the smallest in the state, but it has been held dear to not only our citizens, but also a sizeable number from surrounding communities for seventy years.

Colebrook Center in 1811

Historic Bytes

I have been documenting the Colebrook Land Records from the Proprietor’ Book, earliest date: 1720, through volume 6, latest date: 1819, for the better part of this past winter season, 2011-2012. The reason for choosing these particular volumes was because a recent grant was made available to make readable the earliest volumes, which, as anyone who does research knows, is not the easiest thing to do. The entries are all made by the various town clerks, some of whom had notoriously poor penmanship, and were even worse spellers.

History of 666 Colebrook Road

Historic Bytes

Some of the older houses in town have the dates they were supposedly constructed prominently displayed, usually over the front door. The vast majority have dates that have proven to be accurate, though it seems to be human nature to embellish one’s property, either to enhance its value or as a topic of conversation.

The historic Leonard’s Grain Mill had its share of stories

Historic Bytes

Very little remains of Leonard’s Grain Mill on North Main Street. Even the few oldtimers who were familiar with it would be hard pressed to point out exactly where it once stood. The mill ceased operations about 1950 and was taken down after the 1955 flood. The old wooden dam remained for a few more years, but today all that can be seen of it is a straight line of stones across Still River.

Ownership of land dating back to pre-Colonial times

Historic Bytes

We are constantly getting out the old ledgers and town documents as questions come in asking about genealogy, marriages or land ownership, and as a result come across interesting, and sometimes funny items that probably would have gone unseen.

Witchcraft and hauntings connected to Colebrook

Historic Bytes

The witchcraft outbreak in colonial New England was not entirely centered on Salem, Mass. The colony of New Haven was also involved with what was referred to as “the great excitement.” Most of these incidents took place in the early 1660s. The following is an excerpt from “Connecticut Historical Collections” by John Warner Barber, 1836:

The Beach Family, Caleb and Joel

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If you look at an outline of the town of Winchester, you will notice that someone has taken a bite out of the southwest corner and given it to the adjacent Town of Torrington. This came about because of the impossibility of building a road from the main portion of Winchester to that isolated corner down in Hall Meadow.

My biggest pet peeve is misinformation

Historic Bytes

Regular readers will know that I occasionally have a rant about some item that gets into print that has absolutely no legs to stand on. The most recent concerned a piece of property on Route 182 in Norfolk that the real estate agent handling the transaction alleged to have been the resting place one warm afternoon around 1763 of British Gen. John Burgoyne and his staff, when in fact Burgoyne never stepped foot on the North American continent until 1777.

Development and use of flax in Colebrook

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Flax is known by the Latin name linum usitatissimum, from which come our words “linen,” “linseed oil” and “linoleum.”

Flax seed was historically sewn as early in the springtime as the ground would permit; as soon as the frost left it, in other words. The seed was distributed rather densely so that the plants would be forced to grow straight upward to get enough sunlight, rather than to put out branches, which was not desirable. When ready for harvesting, the plants would be about two feet high.

Household recipes my mother swore by

Historic Bytes

As a result of last week’s article about baking at the turn of the 20th century, my editor has asked if perhaps there were some recipes from that time period that might be in my mother’s list of favorites.

A little background might be in order here: Grace Crosby (my mother) was born in 1901 and began cooking, as did many girls growing up in that era, at a very young age under the tutelage of her mother, aunts and grandmother. It soon became apparent that she had an unusual ability both in cooking and baking.