Simsbury Free Library Quarterly

A Research Trip to England #2

Volume 19 Issue 4, Winter 2012-13

Part 2: The Trip and Back at Home

The trip itself began on an auspicious note. The volcano in Iceland erupted about the time we were boarding our plane in Newark, but our flight was released to many cheers after waiting on the tarmac for twohours. When we landed in Bristol, the airport closed behind us.

On the first four days, Jon and Elaine Ayres and several of their friends introduced us to the sights and pubs of Somerset, Devon, and Dorset. It was lambing season, and the patchwork fields were filled with youngsters that actually gamboled. We learned the thrill of meeting lorries on narrow roads between towering hedgerows. We hiked along the southern coast cliffs by the English Channel. We had local beer and learned to play skittles. We went to a car boot sale and wandered around an old manor house. Elaine served a cream tea.

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A Research Trip to England #1

Volume 19 Issue 3, Fall 2012

Part 1: It Pays to Overplan

When I dropped down into Street View at Google Maps to scout out a place to park at a remote country churchyard in Lincolnshire, I realized I just might be overplanning my spring 2010 trip to England with my husband, Harvey.

But I did it anyway. I had been dreaming of this research trip since the mid -1980s, when Aunt Jean gave me a few names, dates, and places for her and my mother’s maternal ancestors. With three counties to cover, I wanted to make the most efficient use of our limited time there.

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Memories of the Ketchins of Tariffville #5

Volume 19 Issue 2, Summer 2012

Part 5: The Ketchins’ Tobacco Business

With their construction business growing, Andrew and William Ketchin had an increasing need for workmen. In his memoirs, William explained, “Here is where I got interested in tobacco as a business.” He wrote this brief account of his cigar tobacco ventures:

The firm of A. J. K. & Son [was] doing a special class of stone building. They called it “Rock Faced Hammer dressed” and no matter how good a stone mason was, it took about a season to break him in to the firm’s method of stone building. As soon as fingers got cold in November, masons left for the city to pick up any inside job where they could keep warm. In the spring they scattered, compelling the firm to school new men. So my father and I conceived the idea of buying enough tobacco from the neighboring farmers to keep some of the best men through the winter season, assorting and packing tobacco. This arrangement was carried out successfully.

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Memories of the Ketchins of Tariffville #4

Volume 19 Issue 1, Spring 2012

Part 4: The Stone Construction Business Prospers

In Part 3 in this series, William Ketchin ‘8 memoirs told about the first stone buildings that A. J Ketchin & Son built for Ensign, Bickford & Company in Simsbury and Avon and the quarries from which stone was taken. The memoirs also shed light on the construction of several buildings at Westminster School; the Joseph R. Ensign house, now a branch of Webster Bank; and an addition to the Wilcox mansion, now the Vincent Funeral Home. Ensign, Bickford & Company was the Ketchins, major source of work, but they took on many other building projects in Simsbury, large and small.

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