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About Glastonbury Connecticut:
Glastonbury is the wealthiest town east of the Connecticut River (in terms of household income) in the state of Connecticut. Many estates are perched on hills with views of the Hartford skyline. Glastonbury has experienced continuous rapid growth since the 1950s, and was on the edge of Hartford's urban sprawl until the mid-1990s. By mid-1990s, growth moved beyond Glastonbury as the open land became sparse and the municipality began buying back land. Currently, most of the development are subdivisions of large homes on relatively small lots, and existing property has experienced a significant growth in real-estate values as the state of Connecticut began constructing a green belt, increasing the land shortage for metro Hartford.
There are 6 elementary schools in Glastonbury: Naubuc School, Hopewell School, Hebron Avenue School, Eastbury School, Buttonball School, and Nayaug School. All have about 600 students. There are 2 middle schools in Glastonbury. Gideon Welles School has about 750 students for the 6th grade, and Smith Middle School has about 1500 7th and 8th grade students.
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 12 yards (11 m) of trading cloth. In 1672, Wethersfield and Hartford were granted permission by the General Court to extend the boundary line of Pyaug 5 miles (8 km) to the East. By 1690, residents of Pyaug had gained permission from Wethersfield to become a separate town and, in 1693, Glastonbury came into existence. 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 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 Revolution, Glastonbury was home to George Stocking?s gunpowder factory. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Glastonbury was a shipbuilding town, located between the Connecticut River, oak forests, and reliable waterpower. The shipyards? needs were filled by sawmills, charcoal kilns, and foundries.
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 1970?s. Remaining parts of the complex are currently the Soap Factory Condominiums and the Glastonbury Board of Education office.
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 home to feldspar mills, cotton mills, paper mills, a maker of silver plate, and a builder of airplanes, to name a few.
Also an agricultural town, J.H. Hale Orchards began in Glastonbury. John Howard Hale was known as the Peach King. He developed a peach that could withstand New England winters and was disease resistant. He also had land in Georgia and was the first Glastonbury industry to establish a branch outside the state. He was a marketing pioneer, shipping peaches all over the country. The orchard that started with one acre in 1866 grew to more than 1,200 acres (5 km?) by 1900.
John Hale never went beyond grade school, but he was responsible for Storrs Agricultural College, now UConn. He helped organize Glastonbury Grange and the State Grange. His home, at the intersection of Main Street and Route 17, was once used as a restaurant and is currently offices.
In 1948, the Saglio Brothers formed Arbor Acres and produced a chicken that A&P Food Stores awarded the title ?Chicken of Tomorrow?. Glastonbury was also a major grower of broad leaf tobacco. Her agricultural tradition is carried on by the orchards and berry farms in her hills.
Glastonbury has been progressive, freeing her slaves in the 1780?s, sixty years before slavery became illegal in the State of Connecticut. Her first library was founded in 1803. Her first hospital was formed shortly after the Revolution to combat and treat small pox. By the end of the Revolution, there were ten schools, formed one by one during the 1700?s.
During the Revolutionary War, several homes embraced classes from Yale University. Noah Webster was both a student in these classes, and taught classes in one of Glastonbury?s one-room schoolhouses.
Other famous people who hail from Glastonbury are the Smith Sisters, staunch abolitionists and supporters of the Women's Suffrage Movement, Thomas Welles, Governor of Connecticut in 1658 and 1659, and Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy under Abraham Lincoln.
(With the exception of a minor addition, this history is derived from text provided by the Historical Society of Glastonbury)
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