Greetings from a very soggy Easton! Periods of heavy rain brought a little relief to the drought we have been in most of the year. The ponds are higher now and the brooks are running a little faster than they have since springtime.
Today I am sharing a photo from the Belcher album that has ties to one of the earliest businesses in Easton: the former Perry / Drake foundry in Furnace Village. Furnace Village received its name from the iron business developed there around Old Pond (c. 1750) and later New Pond (c. 1825). The Perry family began casting grey iron at the Old Pond site around 1750, and in 1837 the Belcher family established a malleable iron foundry operation across Foundry Street. The busy village that once had such an identity with iron production for so many years now struggles to retain any memory of its iron producing past.
The photo presented here is taken across Foundry Street and looks right at the spillway in the Old Pond dam. The low earthen dam with the clay core provided the necessary water power for a burgeoning iron industry. It looks like the water was running pretty high when this picture was taken. At first glance, it appears that there is a fence along the top of the dam. A closer look at the structure reveals that it is a walk way, elevated above the dam, leading to the building at the extreme right of the photo. That old mill building is part of the former grey iron foundry (this is the original foundry, not associated with the later malleable iron foundry across the road). It may date back to the time the Perry's owned the works and produced cannonballs and small cannons for the Continental Army. The building is on an 1825 map with other buildings associated with the foundry. An 1855 map identifies it as a carpenter shop adjacent to the foundry. The 1895 map also shows the building associated with the foundry, now operated by the Drake family, and finally, the building is shown on a 1934 map. By that time the old foundry was gone, and the malleable iron foundry was using any extant buildings for storage. By the time I was growing up in Furnace Village, the building was gone.
Just behind that building you can see the roof and chimney of the old "Block" that provided housing for foundry workers for many years, and in the center of the photo, in the distance, is the Albery Hayward house, 60 Poquanticut Avenue. At one time this area was clear of many of the old forests and one could look across Old Pond almost to Beaver Dam Road. Today the trees have grown and that view can no longer be seen.
Next week I'll be finishing up the Belcher album, as most of the photos have now been published. I hope this will serve as a gentle reminder not to throw old photos away! Thanks to someone's foresight in keeping this album, we have a record of a past that would otherwise be forgotten.