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You know where your ancestors worked… How do you find out what they did there?


My dog introduces me to the most interesting people. We were on our Christmas Day walk in Wadsworth Falls State Park and met someone exploring what he explained to me was the remains a textile factory. It sent me home wondering how to find out more. I have and wanted to explain how you could do the same – if you happen to know of ruins on a site where your ancestor lived or worked.

I started by researching Wadsworth Falls State Park. There’s a nice write up on which mentions that the Falls ran through the cotton mill of the Falls Manufacturing Company. Bingo, I had a name. I also knew that the park has belonged to the state of Connecticut since 1942, which meant that the Manufacturing Company had gone out of business earlier.

A Google search for the name provided a link to a local history on . A History of Middlefield and Long Hill explains more. According to the book, the building on the site was actually owned by Russell Manufacturing. It was five stories high and produced at minimum, 4000 lbs of “twisted yarn” each week. The book suggests that there was an earlier building on the site; it burned; and when it was rebuilt, the owners could no longer afford to operate it without help.

What happened between 1874 and 1942? Based on internet research, I can’t tell. But I’ve got some ideas I could take to a local library to continue my research. My suggestions: start with what the site is now and try to determine how long that has been around, then continue backwards using local histories available on or Google Books. Once you get stuck, it’s time to reach out the local historical society.


2 thoughts on “You know where your ancestors worked… How do you find out what they did there?”

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