We know, of course, that the Talcott family is associated with Talcottville and its mills. This article provides some background on the family and the contributions they made to Vernon, with a focus on those who helped shape the Tankerhoosen Valley.
The Talcott family in America is descended from JOHN TALCOTT, who came from England to Boston with others of Thomas Hooker's family, who founded Hartford in 1636. One of his descendants, JOSEPH TALCOTT, was chosen governor of Connecticut in 1725 and held that office for 17 years.
Members of the family contributed to the early history of Connecticut in many areas. Prominent Vernon family members included the SAMUEL, BENJAMIN, BENJAMIN, JR. line who owned and farmed a large parcel of land near today's Vernon Circle and into South Windsor. RALPH TALCOTT (1795-1847) in 1821 was one of the builders of the first textile mill in what is now Rockville. His brother PHINEAS TALCOTT (1793-1863) became president of Rockville's American Mill, served as our state representative and state senator, was president of the Rockville Railroad Company and the Savings Bank of Rockville. He was also a Probate Judge and donated Talcott Park to the city. GEORGE TALCOTT (1827-1917?) was a Justice of the Peace trying police cases, as well as director and president of the First National Bank. The Talcott's were already involved in every aspect of the growing community - mills, railroad, banking, law, church and schools - at the time the family became involved in what would become Talcottville.
The Talcott Brothers
Talcottville developed primarily between 1802 and 1913 with two periods of intense development. The first, between 1835 and 1840, followed purchase of the mill site and its environs by Nathaniel O. Kellogg; the second, between 1854 and 1870, followed purchase of the mill village by the Talcott brothers, CHARLES DENISON (right photo) and HORACE WELLS TALCOTT (left photo).
Horace first went to work in the mill in 1854 when the factory village was named Kelloggville. Charles began his career as a school teacher, but gave that up to join his brother. When Nathaniel Kellogg died in 1854, the management of the factory was entrusted by his executors to the Talcott brothers. In 1856 the Talcott's purchased the mill and changed the name of the village to Talcottville.
In expanding the mills and the village the Talcott's followed David Huphrey's model of an enlightened manufacturing village. (See separate article "Talcottville As A Company Town.") They acquired adjacent farms, built housing for themselves, workers and other family members. Their identical Italianate homes set on the east side of Main Street overlooking the mill and the Tankerhoosen Pond. They also built and donated the church, school, library, community building and the Mount Hope Cemetery. The family continued to expanded their holdings between 1856 and 1918.
The upper mill that was built in 1834 was demolished by the freshet of 1869, and the lower mill was burned in the same year. Thereupon the two water privileges were consolidated and the current mill erected. The product was principally satinets up to 1875, when a change was made to union cassimeres. In 1907 a grade of fine woolens was added to the line.
In 1882, H. G. TALCOTT became general manager, and M. H. TALCOTT became associate manager. Following the deaths of the older Talcotts, the mill was managed by C. DENISON TALCOTT, who joined the company in 1903 and his cousin JOHN G. TALCOTT, a descendant of founder Horace W. Talcott, who began in 1895. The business prospered until the depression of 1929. C. Denison sold his interest in the 1940's to JOHN G. TALCOTT, JR. They were finally sold to Nodevac in 1950.
The Talcott family continues to have a presence in the village named after their family and continue to contribute to the community. The family owns parcels along the Rail-To-Trail pathways and on Elm Hill.
JOHN TALCOTT, JR. (1908-2013) was born in 1908 in Talcottville. He learned the family business from the ground up, working in the woolen mills as a weaver before going into management. He left the business when the mills moved south just before World War II and joined the U.S. Army, serving in the Transportation Corps. He served on the Vernon school board and was a deputy fire chief before moving to Massachusetts in the 1960s. See article and photo.
JOHN TALCOTT III continues the family tradition today living on Elm Hill in Talcottville.
In December 2010 the family donated the Talcottville Gorge parcel to the Northern Connecticut Land Trust, to preserve this important part of the Tankerhoosen Valley for all to use and enjoy. See article.
Adapted from the Nomination Document to the National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., 1988. S. Artis Abbott, consultant, and Robert B. Hurd, architect, Vernon Historical Society and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Talcottville Historic District, Vernon CT. Learn more from this document available online.
Photos from "Vernon-Rockville in the Twentieth Century" by S. Ardis Abbott and Jean A . Luddy, 2002, Images of America
"Vernon and Historic Rockville" by S. Ardis Abbott and Jean A . Luddy, 1998, Images of America. Most of this book is online.
"A Century Of Vernon, CT 1808-1908" - Prepared and published for Vernon's Centennial. Published under the auspices of a special historical committee. Summary of history written by C. Denison Talcott, Rockville, CT Press of T. F. Rady & Co., 1911
"Talcott Pedigree in England and America from 1665 to 1876" - Book scanned and available online for more information on the Talcott family.