The town of Sharon, CT was incorporated in 1739, and its history goes back even earlier, through the story of the region’s Native American population. This provides us with the benefit of a rich and storied past. It’s our hope that by browsing through our curated collection of histories and artifacts you will learn, discover, and be brought closer to Sharon’s unique culture.

If you are interested in learning more about specific topics and themes in Sharon’s long history, begin with the mini-histories listed here or explore any of our topics in more depth by clicking on one of the links below.

If you have any questions about what you read here or would like to have one of our professionals or volunteers explain more, contact us or arrange a visit.

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History Topics

The Gillette Brothers, Henry Martin and Edward Franklin, were from Canaan, Conn. The fact that Hiram Weed had married their sister, Abigail, probably influenced their coming to Sharon.

Tradition has it that Henry M. Gillette and Hiram Weed were partners in the furniture business, somewhere in Calkinstown. It is known however, that Elisha Knight and Henry M. Gillette were together in the Calkinstown store, in 1859, under the firm name of Knight and Gillette. It is not shown how long the partnership had existed, but it is known that it did not last long after that date, for soon after that time, Elisha Knight left Sharon, to reside in Danbury.

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There is no manufacturing done in Sharon today; though within the memory of people yet living, there were several factories of considerable importance in the town.

A generation earlier there were many others, but events which could not be controlled, have wiped them out so completely, that only history and tradition remain to tell us they ever existed.

In the earlier days, everything necessary for the wants of the people was made in the town. Little manufacturing plants were scattered over the hills and in the valleys in nearly every part of the township. None of them were very large, and many of them were very small, but they supplied the wants of the people more completely, perhaps, than do the luxuries and conveniences that are now brought us from the outside, and which we have come to look upon as necessities.

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In 1740 Joseph Skinner began producing iron at a newly completed forge located near a dam standing just south of Mudge Pond (later the site of Benedict’s Mill). Three years later he sold the forge, tools, and stock or ore to Jonathan and Samuel Dunham of Sharon, Thomas North of Wethersfield, and Jonathan Fairbanks of Middletown. Jonathan Pratt was also an early partner. Two decades later the Hutchinson brothers constructed a forge on the east slope of Sharon Mountain, near present Smith Hill Road. Samuel Hutchinson was from Lebanon and served as a magistrate in Sharon. John Gray from Scotland, Connecticut, operated yet another forge off Tanner Road. Ore was mined on Silver Mountain and Buck Mountain in Ellsworth and Skiff Mountain on the Sharon/Kent border.

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King and Mills appear to have been partners in a large number of land transfers, but there is no record of them having been partners in the mercantile business. As Col. King had been acting as merchant for the Government, it is natural to suppose he took up the same line of business upon coming to Sharon. So as far as the store is concerned we may leave Mr. Mills out; in fact he left Sharon for soon after, he is called Eli Mills, of Amenia, N.Y.

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African-Americans were among the first to settle in Sharon, predominantly as slaves. Peter Pratt, Sharon’s discredited first minister, mortgaged his slave Pegg to two men from Dutchess County, New York on May 25, 1748 to settle debts. In Hartford’s Connecticut Courant newspaper on November 10, 1766, one Simeon Smith of Sharon advertised a farm for sale, adding at the bottom, “A likely Negro Man, well skill’d in Farming, and the Pot-Ash Business, to be sold by said Smith.” The anonymous man demonstrates that slaves were valuable skilled workers, in this case in the manufacture of soap, glass, and other products from wood ashes.

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The first people to traverse the area to become Sharon were the nomadic Paleo-Indians and the Archaic Period Indians, who came into the area following the retreat of the glaciers. Well before the arrival of Dutch or English settlers, a substantial community of Native Americans occupied portions of modern Sharon. Their principal village stood on the eastern edge of Indian Pond, where they had cleared considerable acreage. Others resided in the valley of Ten Mile River (Webatuck Creek) and on a hillside overlooking Mudge Pond (now Silver Lake Shores). An age-old Indian trail connected Wechquadnach (Indian Pond) with Scaticook (Kent). Workmen constructing the Hotchkiss Brothers factory in Sharon Valley in the mid-nineteenth century uncovered an Indian burial site there.

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For many years past the citizens of the Town of Sharon have felt that something should be done toward the erection of a suitable monument to commemorate and perpetuate the memory of the noble deeds and sacrifices made in the late war of the Rebellion by those of her citizens who laid down their lives for their country’s cause.

No decided step toward such an end was taken until the year 1885, when Miss Emily O. Wheeler of New York city presented to some of our interested citizens the plans and design for the beautiful piece of workmanship which now stands at the head of our village street.

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Following the War of 1812, Greek Revival Architecture became the predominant expression of the newly established government in the United States. The new constitution with its democratic government was based on Greek literature. The nation’s founders also wished to express this new democratic spirit through architecture of impressive simplicity and practicality. The first public buildings of this period were built in Philadelphia and New York using the Greek Temple format with strong foundation, impressive colonnades, wide heavy frieze, heavy cornice and pedimented gables. Where British Colonial architecture had predominated, the trend now was to follow the strong elements of Greek architecture.

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Historic Houses & Places

Another great way to explore Sharon’s history is by learning about its unique geography and buildings.

Our research breaks the town up into 6 main historic areas including Ellsworth, Amenia Union, Sharon Valley, Caulkinstown, the Main Street and Sharon Green, and West Woods. Explore the unique heritages of each of these areas of Sharon by visiting the Historic Houses & Places page linked to below.

Staff and volunteers of the Sharon Historical Society have also compiled a list of the original 53 Sharon home lots, their owners, and other pertinent information including dates of purchase and surveyors records for you to browse.

In addition to this, on the Historic Houses & Places page, you will find information on the historic farms of Sharon.

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Genealogy

Another one of our focuses at the Sharon Historical Society is providing you with resources to explore Sharon’s history through genealogical research. We have compiled lists of former Sharon residents, basic military records, cemetery records, downloadable content, online resources and more.

While our volunteers and staff support and encourage the work of genealogists from across the United States and beyond, our on-site genealogical collections are very basic. If you are just beginning your research, we will be delighted to help you pull together initial information, including the general history of Sharon, early settlers, original Home Lots, etc. However, we are not equipped to deal with more in-depth inquiries.

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Books

Further enhance your research with the latest books on Sharon history, including a wide range of publications by local authors and illustrators.

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