All About Glass

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The Glastenbury Glass Factory Company

All About Glass

Presented here is a report of the excavation of the Glastenbury Glass Factory Company site in conjunction with the documentary evidence on the production and operations of this factory. This excavation, prompted by the imminent eradication of the site by the relocation of Connecticut Route 2 the old Hartford-New London Turnpike, was undertaken by Old Sturbridge Village early in 1962.1

Before undertaking the excavation, extensive research was done into the history of the factory in order to determine from documents as much as possible about the time of operation, the probable size of the glasshouse, the range of its products, and the history of the site itself.

The earliest reference known at present to this small glasshouse, whose chief products were bottles and some bottle glass by-products typical of this nineteenth century period and area, is a deed dated Glastenbury, May 15, 1816, by which Ebenezer Goodale of that town “for the consideration of $30.00” conveyed to "George Rich of East Hartford and George Hunt, Thomas Hollister, Hubbard Hollister, Ebenezer Goodale, Jr., Amasa Hollister, William House, Halsey Buck, Alpheus Hollister, in Glastenbury owners of Glass Factory in Glastenbury and known by the name and Firm of the Glastenbury Glass Factory Co. ... one certain piece of Land lying in said Glastenbury containing about one acre and one quarter Bounded East on the Hartford and New London Turnpike Road South and West on my own land and North on Land of Lucretia Buck with buildings thereon standing and all appurtenances there unto belonging Reserving to myself the proportionable part of the above described property according to the number of shares which I have Subscribed in said Factory ...”2

Judging from the wording of this deed, “with buildings thereon standing and all appurtances there unto belonging ...,” and references in subsequent deeds, the factory was evidently ready to begin glassmaking operations at the time this first deed was executed, although no evidence has yet been found prior to the date of the deed regarding the actual erection of the glasshouse and store or of other preparations, such as procuring workmen and materials.3

This enterprise, like most early New England glasshouses, was established by a group of local entrepreneurs, none of whom seems to have had any practical knowledge of, or experience in, glassmaking. Most, according to a tax list of 1816, were men of some substance, and some were among the leaders of the community and held various public offices at one time or another.4 Probably all—like most rural New Englanders of this period—derived a substantial part of their livelihoods from farming, while some few were engaged in other enterprises as well.

Ebenezer Goodale owned a farm and several other lots of land in Glastenbury and, like his son, Ebenezer Jr., who was agent for the glass company in its first two years, participated in land speculation in other areas, an activity then popular for anyone with capital to invest. The younger Ebenezer also owned a sixth interest in a nearby sawmill from 1814 to 1816 and was a state tax collector in 1819. George Hunt, who died on January 6, 1818, leaving as part of his estate “one share in the Glastenbury Glass Factory Company” (at an unstipulated value), was in the lumbering business and may also have operated a general store.5 Thomas Hollister, a captain in the local militia, sometime town assessor and holder of other local offices had been a guardian of one of the other members of the original partnership, Halsey Buck, who subsequently inherited lands to the north of the glass factory.

The factory was situated alongside the Hartford-New London Turnpike, in the eastern part of Glastenbury, about twelve miles southeast of the capital city of Hartford, and about four miles from the Connecticut River. This was a fairly advantageous location, with access to the coastal trade and New York City by water and to Hartford and New London via the turnpike. “The distance from market” was set forth by a later historian as a factor in the eventual failure of the enterprise; but in the light of present-day knowledge this conclusion is unwarranted. This same historian cites two other problems commonly shared by most small glasshouses of the day: “the difficulty of procuring good materials, but more particularly of good workmen.”6

We do not know where the raw materials or the workmen came from. None of the many deeds involving the glass factory and individual members of the company give any indication of extensive holdings of timberland as a source of fuel. Perhaps some of the glass blowers were lured away from either Pitkins' or John Mather's glassworks, both already established in East Hartford only a few miles from each other and within ten miles of the Glastonbury Factory. Some glass blowers may also have come from Europe.

In any event, the Glastonbury blowers used the same techniques as were used at the Pitkin and Mather factories; no wonder, then, that the products of this factory are closely related to those long attributed to the Pitkin works. Indeed, those pieces so attributed according to the general location in which they were founded without any specific, reliable family history, should now be reconsidered.

The Glastonbury Glass Factory Company began operations at a very inauspicious time, a year after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812. British manufacturers, subsidized by the crown, were dumping tons of merchandise in Eastern ports below domestic prices in an effort to regain markets lost during the war. A year later the depression of 1817 severely curtailed trade and forced many firms into bankruptcy.

The company partnership underwent numerous changes during its existence. On January 7, 1817, George Rich of East Hartford sold his rights in the factory to Ebenezer Goodale, Jr., for $400, a sale that included not only Rich's share of "all the Goods, Stock and property" then on hand, but “likewise all the profits that has arisen from said Factory from the commencement of the same until the 7th day of Jan. 1817.”7 In October 1817, Ebenezer Goodale, Sr., apparently in financial straits, was forced to mortgage most of his property.8 Among that subsequently sold to satisfy his creditors was one of his four shares in the glass factory, which was conveyed to Alpheus Goodrich of Wethersfield to satisfy a note of Goodale's for $75.71 and interest.9 According to this deed one share represented a twenty-sixth part of the enterprise. Goodale's three remaining shares in the factory, together with three-quarters of an acre of land bound on the east by the glassworks site, were returned to him in May 818 after the claims of his creditors had been satisfied.10 At the end of the year he mortgaged one of his remaining shares to the other partners.11 In this deed Thomas Hollister is listed as agent for the company. A year later, on December 28, 1819, the younger Goodale transferred his interest in the company to Samuel F. Jones of the neighboring town of Marlborough, for $1200, the transferal subject to the condition that this deed would be null and void if notes amounting to $440 should be paid within a stipulated time.12 This Goodale seems not to have done. After February 1821 he, along with his father and Hubbard Hollister, was no longer listed in connection with the company's affairs.13

The ranks of the partners were further thinned, in 1821, when Alpheus Hollister, who had moved to Salem, Pennsylvania, sold his two and two-tenths shares in the factory to Amasa Hollister, who had migrated to New York State and had subsequently moved to Salem.14

Also dwindling, evidently, were the company's assets. The Grand Levy For 1826, a Glastenbury “Town Tax made on List 1825,” levied on all town residents a tax of three cents on the dollar, which was to include the highway tax.15 The glass factory's tax was $0.27 on an assessed evaluation of $9.00. This implies that the factory was still operating, although on a reduced scale. By comparison, its three remaining resident owners were assessed as follows: Halsey Buck, $1.62 tax on $54.00 assessment; William House, $1.31 on $43.80; Thomas Hollister, $5.35 on $178.36. Jared Higgins of Glastenbury, to whom these three men, along with their only other partner at this time, Samuel F. Jones of Marlborough, sold out on January 15, 1827, was taxed $0.80 on an evaluation of $26.64.16

Whether Higgins actually operated the glass factory is not certain, but it remained in his sole possession until March 29,1833, when he sold to Henry Hollister of Glastenbury “... one piece of land situated in said Glastenbury containing about one half acre ... with a Glass factory and Store standing on the same ... ,” for $300.17 This was the same amount of land, bounded in the same manner, that Higgins had acquired from the previous owners; three-quarters of an acre less than original tract of land on which the factory was located. Probably no glass was produced after 1833, though the only statement so far found is the Reverend Alonzo Chapin’s note in 1853 that "the enterprise had to be abandoned some thirty years since."18 This would place the termination date as early as 1823, which is contradicted by other evidence. Chapin also states that “The Buildings and apparatus were subsequently used for a time in the manufacture of cobalt, but this enterprise also failing to pay, was also soon abandoned.”19 All these circumstances, considered in light of the scant evidence available, seem to point to the end of glassmaking here in January 1827, when the property was sold to Jared Higgins. It is possible, however, that operation continued until 1833 when Higgins sold out to Hollister. The next recorded transfer of the land occupied by the glass factory occurred on April 18, 1843, when John H. Hollister sold it to David Q. Curtis.20 No mention is made in this deed of either the glass factory or store.

Half a dozen letters to Ebenezer Goodale, Jr., while he was agent for the company in its earliest years, and records of several court actions shed some light upon the factory's production. Glass shards found in the archaeological excavation and the thirteen pieces of glass now located as owned, or formerly owned, by descendants of the Goodales serve to extend this knowledge. Each piece of information corroborates the others to give an accurate picture of the limited kinds of glass containers made at the Glastenbury glass works.

The earliest document known concerning the factory's production is the note:

$100. Glastenbury 13th Nov. 1816. Ninety days after date we jointly and individually promise to pay Ebenezer Goodale, Jr., Agent for the Glastenbury Glass Factory Co. one hundred dollars for Value Received with interest from date.

Although it does not refer specifically to the purchase of glass, and although the company store, like other glass company stores, sold other merchandise as well, there is little doubt that the note was in payment for the purchase of bottles. The now rare Jared Spencer/Manchester Conn pictorial flask indicates that Jared Spencer was in the market for bottles. What kind of bottles Spencer may have purchased is not known. Court records reveal that Jared Spencer dealt with three other glass factories in Connecticut — the Willington Glass Factory Company, John Mather, and Stebbins & Chamberlain, proprietors of the glassworks at Coventry — all of whom at various times brought suits against him for non-payment of notes.22 Indeed it would seem that Jared was something of a "deadbeat," for his name appears frequently in other suits brought to court for non-payment of promissory notes.

Since the Jared Spencer flask is attributed to the Pitkin works primarily upon the basis of locality, there was some possibility that excavation of the Glastenbury factory's site might reveal fragments indicating it was made there. However, not one piece of glass from a pictorial flask was uncovered; nor was any evidence found that blown-three-mold wares were produced there.

On March 24, 1817, John Cunningham of New York City wrote to Ebenezer Goodale, Jr.:

Sir having been informed that you carry on the glass Blowing business, and as I Shall want glass to a Considerable Amount if I can be Suited in quality and prices, the glass I shall want first is the Hungary Gile Bottles of a greenish colour if you Do not Know them by that name I can send yon one for a Sample if you will inform me what the price will be and how many you think will go to the Pound I then can give you an Order. -I also Wish to know at what time I mite be sure of Having them Delivered Here.23

The description “Hungary Gile Bottles of a greenish colour” probably refers to the thin, light, free-blown bottles known to collectors today as chestnut or ludlow bottles, large enough to hold a gill of liquid — in this instance Hungary water, a cologne then popular.

Further information about the company's products and same of their bottle prices comes from the account of Asaph Trumbull of Hartford24 who, on Nov. 29, 1817, purchased:

4 2/12 Dozen Gln Bottles @ 18 $12.50 (.25 ea.)
8 5/12 Dozen Half Glns Bottles @ 9/ 12.63 (.12 1/2 ea.)
14 2/12 Dozen Quarts Bottles @ 5/ 11.81 (.07 ea.)
16 5/12 Dozen pints Bottles @ 3/6 9.59 (.049 ea.)
16 Dozen Half pts Bottles @ 3/ 8.00 (.0417 ea.)
2 8/12 Dozen Gln Bottles @ 18/ 8.00 (.25 ea.)
6 9/12 Dozen half Gln Bottles @ 9/ 10.12 (.12 1/2 ea.)
13 6/12 Dozen quarts Bottles @ 5/ 11.25 (.07 ea.)
16 6/12 Dozen pints Bottles @ 3/6 9.63 (.049 ea.)
11 Dozen half pints Bottles @ 3 5.50 (.0417 ea.)
at 10 percent discount on Six Month credit     9.90  

Here, too, it is difficult to know the specific type of bottles ordered; probably they were the common, free-blown ones of light olive-green or olive-amber bottle glass. Thousands of fragments of such bottles were excavated, more by far than any other type. In addition to the usual chestnut-shaped form, the company also made bottles of this glass with a circular cross section and gently sloping shoulder, resembling decanter forms of the period.

Excepting the possible occurrence of a sudden market change, the prices of the Glastenbury factory's products were perhaps not in line with those of competitors, if the following letter, dated New York City December 26, 1817, may be accepted at face value:

Mr. Eben. Goodale Jr.
Sir, I have your letter and Inv. of Glass bottles under date of 15th inst. Please inform me soon as convenient whether I am authorized to dispose of the Bottles according to my discretion or whether I am to consider myself as limited by the Invoice prices, as I am confident they will not bring what they are Invoiced at, but if confided to my discretion I shall of course do the best in my power for your Interest in the sale of them
Your friend & Servant
W.m H. Imlay25

This note reveals the fact that the company shipped its wares to New York City, and that Imlay was acting as its independent agent. Not all sales made in the New York area were through such an agent. The following letter from Peter and George Lorillard, dated Oct. 15, 1818, clearly indicates that Ebenezer Goodale, Jr., traveled some distance in search of business for the company:

When you was in New York in September we gave you a Pound Bottle as A Pattern and Requested you to make for us About 500 if the Price would not Exceed 9 cents, on A Reconsadaration we have Concluded not to have Aney Pound Bottles - therefore you should not make Aney for us - but you May Send us 10 Flacksead Casks fild with the half Pound Bottles, Made the Same as the one I Gave you you will Remember the Price I offered you was 50 Cents Per dz —, to be Delivered to us in New York Free of Expence with A Deduction of 10 Per Cent from the Bill — You will be Particular and have New Flacksead Casks Made and we will Pay you 60 cents for Each of them.
Peter and George Lorillard
You will Please to Rite us if you can send them Next Month26

The pound and half pound bottles referred to are undoubtedly snuff bottles. Many fragments of these were found at the excavated site. That Ebenezer Jr. tried to keep the Lorillards as customers is evidenced by their succinct response of December 18, 1819:

We have received yours of 30 ult, at present we have more Snuff Bottles on hand then will last us A Twelve Month therefore we should not want Aney.
Peter and George Lorillard27

The letter is also a comment on business conditions of the times.

Not all the company's business was so far distant as New York City. On January 2, 1818, Benjamin Dart from Windsor, Connecticut, asked Goodale to “send me yard and 1/4 of that cloth which I bought of [you ] last June” and "10 Doz qt bottles 9 Doz pt Bottles 10 Doz half [pt] Bottles and a doz or to of ink stands and a few snuff Bottles pleas.”28 Of particular interest is Dart's order for inkstands. These were undoubtedly pattern-molded in both swirled and swirled-vertical Pitkin-type, finely-ribbed patterns. Numerous fragments typical of the lower portions of these kinds of inkstands and the top of one of them were excavated on the site of the factory.

Among other local customers were Roderick Phelps of Marlborough, Henry Peters of Chatham, Thomas Spencer, Jr., and Fred Spencer of East Hartford, and Neil H. Porter of Marlborough, since between 1817 and 1824 the glass company brought suit against each of them to collect promissory notes, with varying degrees of success.29 There was, unfortunately, no supplementary material filed with any of these court cases listing the accounts of the defendants, as we have from Asaph Trumbull. The case against Porter indicates that the glass company was still active in March 1824, but no further court cases involving the factory appear after this date.

Archaeological Evidence

Before excavating began the site was photographed from all sides in December 1961 when the trees were bare and aerial photographs were made the following spring.

The careful preliminary study of the site and of documentary material confirmed the belief that the company's property lay between the two stone walls, visible in the aerial photograph and sketch of the site, running roughly east-west from the highway. Base lines were laid out and two selected areas staked out in five-foot squares on April 18, 1962. The location of the base lines was determined as a matter of convenience and their axes arbitrarily denoted north-south, east-west, though they were not actually so. Thus all compass references in this text are related to these arbitrary designations, rather than true north.

The first group of squares was laid out in the southeast quadrant in the garden just to the east of the shed. This building was erected about forty-five years ago by Mr. Perry Slater, brother of the occupants of the house on the property. He recalled that he had built it partly on the foundations of an earlier small building (torn down by him) used at one time by the Town of Glastonbury as the “Poor Farm.” The house shown in the sketch and aerial view was built in 1908, partly on the foundation of an eighteenth-century salt box house that had burned in 1907. One of these two buildings, it was thought, had been the store referred to in the early deeds; the present barn, which seems to date from about 1830-1840, may have been built upon foundations of the glass factory itself. It was because of this belief, bolstered by the fact that numerous shards of glass continually turned up in the garden, that the first group of squares was laid out in this place, and here digging first began. The second area staked out and dug was in the northwest quadrant to the rear of the barn, where some evidence of a possible foundation wall had been detected during preliminary examination of the site. Later squares were staked out to the northeast. These were the three main areas in which carefully controlled digging was done. Fourteen test trenches, in other areas of the site, were also dug.

Excavation began on April 28 and continued through June 1 on a seven-day week basis, with a force of four to five paid laborers plus volunteer help from the local archaeological society and other interested persons. From June 2 to June 11 the dig was continued sporadically with the aid of volunteers.

The decision to begin excavation in the garden area was fortunate, for results were encouraging from the first. Large quantities of rubble glass, slag, dozens of pieces of glassmakers' pots, as well as quantities of shards of various types of bottles were found here. The finding of such quantities of pot, coupled with the tremendous amounts of rubble glass and many intermingled configurations of burnt and glass-glazed brick and stones, led at first to the belief that this may have been the site of the factory and furnace. All these groups of brick and stones were carefully left in situ until adjacent areas had been excavated. The theory, only tentatively held, was later definitely disproved.

Subsequent study and examination of the five or six cartons of pot shards recovered proved both valuable and enlightening. Fortunately it has been possible to reassemble about seventy-five per cent of one pot from shards found mostly in squares S2/E2 and S2/E3 to the east of the shed. We know little about glassmakers' pots; perhaps the most surprising aspect of this one - if it is representative of those used in small, bottle glasshouses - is its small size. It is roughly circular in cross section but uneven, varying in its top diameter from 15 1/8" (38.5 cm) to 17" (43.2. cm), with an average diameter at its base of 15 1/8" (38.5 cm), and is 15 1/2" (39.5 cm) to 15 3/4" (40.0 cm) high. The pot is crudely formed and rises rapidly from a thick side wall at the bottom to a wall of from only one-quarter to one-half an inch thick at some parts of the rim. One section of the rim, considerably lower than the rest, gives evidence of having been worn away, thus suggesting this was the side of the pot from which the glass blower gathered his metal. The crack that ended the pot's usefulness is also clearly visible. Of considerable interest is the fact that both the interior and the exterior sides and the entire edge of the rim are fairly uniformly glazed with a thin layer of glass. This uniformity of the exterior glaze naturally suggests that it was purposely applied. The reason for this is not apparent, though it has been suggested that it may be the result of volatilization. The color and color-effects on both interior and exterior are varied and in some areas striking.

Numerous fragments of other pots have been partially reassembled, but with less successful results. The approximately fifty per cent remaining of the rim of one pot indicates it was originally fifteen to sixteen inches in diameter, and likely the same size and capacity as the pot described and illustrated, thus confirming, to a degree, at least, this size pot as one of the common sizes in use in this factory. Three sections of reassembled fragments that appear to be from the base of another pot indicate that it had an outside diameter of twenty-four inches. Its height is indeterminable, but this base dimension definitely indicates the use of pots of a considerably larger size than the pot described above. Also, the base of one partially reassembled pot measures only six and one-half inches outside diameter. Perhaps this was for experimental melts. The capacity of one of these pots has been determined to have been approximately one-hundred and ten pounds.

The glass shards found in this area are from chestnut bottles of different sizes, predominately the smaller ones; black glass spirits bottles of apparent quart capacity; Pitkin-type flasks and inkwells, or inkstands as these were called in the early 1800s; and snuff bottles. The Pitkin-type glass included closely ribbed pieces swirled both to the left and the right and fragments with a combination of swirled and vertical ribbing. Several of the latter pieces were from the necks of pocket flasks and evidenced the use of the German half-post method to reinforce the body of the flask, as is typical in the production of “Pitkin” flasks.

All the fragments excavated in the area east of the shed were found lying no more than an average of eight to twelve inches below the surface; in the area covered by turf, shards were frequently intermingled with the roots of the grass just three or four inches below the surface. Since this depth was largely topsoil, the digging was fairly easy - as digging goes - once the turf had been removed.

Other artifacts found included several pieces of clay pipe stems, an eighteenth or early nineteenth century H-hinge, a wrought iron barrel hoop, and, from square S1/E4, a small silver Spanish real dated 1797.

As digging in this area proceeded to the east a large bowl-like pit was excavated in adjoining squares S3/E6, S2/E7, S2/E6, and S3/E7. This pit was excavated to a maximum depth of fifty-seven inches before sterile soil was reached. Apparently the pit, which may once have served some other purpose, had become a dumping area for general refuse, In addition to considerable quantities of rubble glass, slag, pot and glass shards, the pit contained bricks and brick-bats, fragments of charcoal, and various intermixtures of top and sub-soils, wood ashes, and hundreds of clam shells. Of much greater interest were fragments of a gin bottle, found at a depth of 24" to 26" along the north side of square S2/E7, which are illustrated (Fig. 17) reassembled next to a gin bottle owned by a descendant of Ebenezer Goodale. Shards representing bottles of the types discussed above were also in fairly abundant evidence here, as was a considerable variety of broken china wares: several Staffordshire blue edged, or pearl-ware plates, soup plates, and a platter; a plain pearl-ware washbowl and two chamber pots of the same material; a mocha-ware slop bowl; and two fragments of sponge decorated mocha-ware. All of these pieces date from 1800 to about 1830. Several other Staffordshire plates with the printed transfer designs popular in the 1830s and fragments of two or more Staffordshire cups that may have been made as late as 1840 were also found here, as well as pieces of a colorless glass blown three-mold castor bottle.

The soil in this pit was fill; evidently it had served as a refuse pit, probably at the time the glass factory ceased operations. This conclusion also supports the opinion derived from further examination of the area between the pit and the shed that shards and slag had been deposited here by the leveling of refuse from the factory after it had gone out of business.

Part of the crew of laborers then set to work excavating what seemed, and subsequently proved, to be wall foundations in the rear of the barn. One foundation extended in a westerly direction as a possible continuation of the south foundation wall of the barn. At square N1/W21 these foundation stones joined another foundation wall which extended in a northerly direction toward the western end of the six- or seven-foot-high stone wall stretching from the northwest corner of the north foundation barn wall. The barn faces Route 2 and was set on a front and two side foundation walls built into the slope of the land that falls gently away to a lower level at the rear.

The sloping land adjacent to the side of the south barn foundation was undisturbed, natural land. The earth abutting the north foundation consisted of thirty to thirty-seven inches of fill which included glass shards, rubble glass, and some pieces of pot and slag. The area immediately in front of the barn was fill to a depth of about two feet. This amount of fill coincided with the height of a row of large, rough-hewn granite stones supporting the sills of the barn on the front and two sides. Had these large stones been added to older foundation walls, as seems likely to have been the case when the barn was erected, this fill would have been required to raise the roadway in front to reach the floor of the barn. The excavation did not, unfortunately, reveal the exact location of the glass factory building or its furnaces, the chief disappointment of the project. Results of the digging done in the area of the barn plus the circumstances just discussed, however, point tentatively to the following conclusions: 1) The barn was erected after the close of glassmaking operations on at least part of the factory foundation; 2) Part of the earth underneath the barn had been cleaned out and dumped along the outside north foundation of the barn and former factory building; 3) The west wall and part of the south wall of the old factory were razed to provide for a barnyard to the rear of the barn.

There is some indication that the original lass factory building, if this theory is correct, was a “two-level” structure, suggesting the possibility of a glass furnace fueled from a lower level. But unless or until other evidence appears, this theory is still just a possibility.

The third area in which major archaeological excavation was conducted was in the northeast quadrant near the stone wall and highway bounding the property there. This area was selected for excavation for two reasons: First, the contour of the land, which was in the form of a swale paralleling, more or less, the north wall and extending from the highway through the wall near the rear of the property, which was somewhat marshy in the area close to the wall, and through the whole of which a small stream had once intermittently flowed; Second, fairly numerous surface finds of pot shards and slag suggested the possibility of an early dumping ground.

Excavation of this area proved fruitful in terms of the artifacts found. It also proved that the swale was indeed a former stream bed the marshy nature of which was a natural invitation to dumping during the period of factory operation. Excavation here ranged in general from a depth of twelve inches to thirty-six inches. Among the northernmost squares in this area the shards were below the first foot of soil, indicating a later accumulation of both subsoil and topsoil after the initial dumping of the shards.

In addition to quantities of pot shards and great quantities of slag, rubble glass, and some glass-glazed stones and bricks, the area yielded numerous significant shards of glass representing all the types of products previously mentioned: snuff bottles, inkstands, gin bottles, Pitkin-type flasks, heavy, black glass bottles, and thin-walled chestnut bottles. The fragments indicated many larger-size chestnut bottles, and shards from heavy, black glass bottles were more numerous here.

As work progressed it became increasingly evident that, with limitations of both time and funds, it would be impossible to excavate enough of the property by means of the accepted archaeological methods thus far employed to feel confident of having explored all likely areas of the site. We therefore decided, with considerable reluctance but in view of cold reality, to employ a mechanical aid to dig test trenches in selected areas. On May 22, 1962, a small back-hoe was engaged and the first seven of fourteen trenches were dug under the close supervision of Dr. Johnson, Edward R. Gilbert, and the author. With the exception of two of the trenches, all were twenty-four inches wide and of depths varying from seventeen to sixty-one inches.

Two trenches, to the north of the barn, showed fill soil adjacent to the barn thirty to thirty-seven inches deep, with considerable quantities of intermingled slag, rubble glass, charcoal, and glass shards, especially in one stratum in trench E sixteen to twenty-one inches below the present surface. The original top soil, which was thirty-seven inches below the surface, and the subsoil below were sterile for the length of both these trenches.

The pattern of trenches B and E was repeated in reverse in trench G at the front of the barn. No shards appeared in the top 20” of fill, but numerous pieces of glass, slag, etc., were found in the six- to eight-inch layer of original topsoil below this fill. This stratum terminated at the corner of the barn, the rest of the trench beyond being sterile.

Trench or pit J consisted entirely of fill and included numerous artifacts of the late nineteenth century and some charred wood. This finding is accounted for by the burning of the old salt box in 1907 and the erection of the present house on part of its foundations. Trench L, to the rear of the shed, contained fill to a depth of 24-28” in which, again, some late nineteenth century artifacts were found. The soil below this level, to a depth of 44”, was sterile.

Of the balance of the test trenches all were sterile with the exception of N. As this trench was dug through N35/W2, entering the south side of the swale that passed through this area, the fill encountered contained a limited number of significant glass shards along with slag, rubble glass, stone, and brick. The balance of the trench was sterile. The soil removed from squares N34/W2 through N36/W2 was carefully screened. Several additional significant glass shards were recovered from squares N34/W2 and N35/W2. The balance of these squares was excavated to a depth averaging twenty-four inches, along with adjacent squares to the east and northwest. Little material pertaining to the glasshouse was found.

Thus the mechanically-dug trenches served a worthwhile purpose in quickly exploring broadly separated areas with largely negative results. Further careful archaeological excavation in most of those areas was unwarranted. These trenches also answered questions about certain areas which otherwise would have remained forever unanswered. This, it must be acknowledged, is the sole justification for the use of such methods.

Excavation in the roadway leading to the barn and beneath the house itself was not possible. But even with these exceptions, the archaeological excavation covered to a large degree the site of the glassworks operations. The chief disappointment of the dig, as indicated above, was in not locating the remains of the factory foundations and furnace, or determining precisely where the store was located. Nevertheless enough types of glass shards were unearthed so that, in combination with the documentary references to types of glass produced and the specimens known to have been made there and now owned by descendants of the factory's owners, it is possible to draw several conclusions about the type of wares produced: 1) The factory, during the period it is believed to have operated (1816-ca. 1827), produced free-blown chestnut and similar bottles of various sizes from a gill to at ]east one gallon capacity, and undoubtedly larger; 2) Pitkin-type flasks both with swirled and in combination with vertical ribbing; 3) Pitkin-type inkstands; 4) heavy, black glass bottles; 5) snuff bottles; 6) and probably the square, tapered gin bottles; 7) and some limited quantities of green glass tablewares.

Though the Glastenbury Glass Factory Company's production was no doubt limited, the results of this research point to the need for a reconsideration of previous attributions to the Pitkin factory made primarily because that factory for a long time was the best-known in this area. These results also underline the importance of the contribution which can be made to the history of American glass by professionally directed archaeological excavations.

Kenneth M. Wilson
This article was published in the Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 5 (1963), 116–132.

1. Dr. Erwin Johnson, Archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Rhode Island, was consultant for the project, which was carried out under his direction and guidance by the author, John O. Curtis and Edward R. Gilbert, members of the Village's curatorial staff. The Connecticut State Highway Department granted permission to conduct the dig and to retain all shards and artifacts found. The author wishes to express his gratitude for considerable assistance rendered in connection with this article and project to:

The Connecticut State Highway Department, and in particular Mr. Howard S. Ives, State Highway Commissioner, and Mr. Leslie D. Wilson; Mr. Whitney L. Brooks, Chairman, Connecticut Historical Commission; Mrs. Josie Lavalette and Miss Mabel Slater, occupants and former owners of the property, and their brother, Mr. Perry Slater, for their cooperation and assistance during the course of the project; and the following members of the staff of Old Sturbridge Village: Mr. John O. Curtis, Miss Catherine Fennelly, Col Edward H. Gilbert, Miss Pauline Hefner. The sketch was prepared by Col. Gilbert and all photographs made by Mr. James C. Ward, Old Sturbridge Village Staff Photographer.

2. Glastenbury, Connecticut, Deeds, XVII, p. 506, Microfilm, Connecticut State Library. The spelling of Glastenbury was changed to Glastonbury in the second half of the 19th century.

3. Ibid., p. 364; also XVIII, p. 402.

4. From multiple documentary sources of the period, including court actions, newspaper accounts, and town records.

5. Inventory of the estate of George Hunt, Glastenbury, January 19, 1818, Hartford Probate District, Connecticut State Library. Also, Account Book of George Hunt, 1802-24, Historical Society of Glastonbury.

6. Rev. Alonzo B. Chapin, D.D., Glastenbury for Two Hundred Years, Hartford, 1853, p. 125.

7. Glastenbury, Connecticut, Deeds, XVIII, p. 402.

8. Ibid., p. 253; also XIX, p. 283.

9. Ibid., XVIII, p. 411.

10. Ibid., XIX, p. 283.

11. Ibid., XIX, p. 36.

12. Ibid., XIX, p. 112.

13. Based on study of court records and deeds relating to the Company.

14. Glastonbury, Connecticut, Deeds, XVII p. 460.

15. Glastenbury Grand Levy For 1826, p. 1, 36, 5, 28, 37. Connecticut State Library.

16. Glastonbury, Connecticut, Deeds, XXII, p. 568.

17. Ibid., XXIV, p. 94.

18. Chapin, op. cit. p. 125.

19. Ibid.

20. Glastonbury, Connecticut, Deeds, XXVII, p. 215.

21. Goodale Letters, The Connecticut Historical Society. The author wishes to express his thanks to this Society, and in particular to Mr. Thompson Harlow and Miss Francis Hoxie, for help rendered in the search for material used in this paper.

22. Connecticut Court Files, Hartford County Court, case No. 92, August term, 1817, Connecticut State Library. The file includes Jared and Nelson Spencer's note, Nov. 13, 1816, to the Glastenbury Glass Factory for $100.00.

23. Goodale Letters.

24. Connecticut Court Files, Hartford County Court, case No. 66, August term, 1821. Promissory note and account of Asaph Trumbull with the Glastenbury Glass Factory Company, Dr., Nov. 29, 1817.

25. Goodale Letters,

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

29. Connecticut Court Files, Hartford County Court, case No. 73, December term 1817; case No. 291, March term 1821; case No. 167, March term 1823; case No. 178a, March term 1824. The author wishes to express his gratitude to the Connecticut State Library for the use of its facilities and especially to Miss Frances Davenport and Mr. Wesley G. Dennen for their help during the course of research related to this project.

Published on July 15, 2013