Simsbury Free Library Quarterly

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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Memories of the Ketchins of Tariffville #3

Volume 18 Issues 3 & 4, Fall & Winter 2011

Part 3: Ensign, Bickford & Company Buildings and More

The second installment of this series, based on the memoirs of William Mansfield Ketchin, told of A. J. Ketchin & Son’s monument business and its diversification into stone bridge construction and stone home building. On the personal side, William Ketchin told of the February 9, 1892, sledding accident that paralyzed his brother, Archie, below the twelfth vertebra. Indirectly, Archie’s misfortune led to young Will’s finding the love of his life.

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Memories of the Ketchins of Tariffville #2

Volume 18 Issues 1 & 2, Spring & Summer 2011

Part 2: The Early Years of A. J. Ketchin & Son

In Part 1, excerpts from William Mansfield Ketchin’s memoirs told the Ketchin family history from their arrival from Paisley, Scotland, in 1821 to their eventual founding of stone masonry and monument businesses in the Tariffville section of Simsbury, Connecticut. The article ended with a confrontation between young Will and his eighth grade teacher at the Tariffville Grammar School. At the end of the winter term Will left the school and worked in his father’s marble shop until the beginning of the next school year, when his family enrolled him in the Simsbury Academy run by Rev. John Bunyan McLean.

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