Rufus Fuller & The South Kent Ore Bed

Around 1818, Samuel Gilbert of Warren gave a quit-claim to his share in a certain forge to Eber Peters, which had been bought by Lysander Curtis when it was known as Pratts Forge. Gilbert had several attachments against him, evidently due to his varied interests.

The mill was operated by Eber, Sr., and later by his sons Eber, Jr., John, and Manley. Eber, Jr. moved to the Macedonia section of Kent in 1830, continuing in the iron business. After the father died, John occupied his father’s house on the east bank of the Shepaug in Litchfield, and Manley lived on the west bank, in Warren.

New Preston – Waramaug, Romaug, Raumaug

Edward Cogswell built this mill around 1745, as records show sale of one half an iron works, located on the Aspetuck River, in New Milford North Purchase (south of Lake Waramaug) to Matthew Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts on October 24, 1747.

In 1791, Reuben Booth, “being highest bidder at Publick Vendue,” sale of the Hitchcock estate, acquired one quarter of an iron works called Romaug’s Iron Works on the Aspetuck River in New Milford North Purchase.

Owners in 1834 were David Whittlesey, Joseph Bennit, Benoni E. Beardsley, Erastus Lovenridge, and Daniel Beeman, Jr., of Warren. It was then known as Waramaug Iron Works.

Also noted without any details was the Wolcott Iron Works of Litchfield.

All of these forges used South Kent ore, and many of the names of the individuals mentioned appear in the records of Rufus Fuller.

THE ARRIVAL OF RUFUS FULLER

Rufus Fuller came to Kent in May of 1816 to be in charge as clerk of the tavern, store, boarding house and ore sales – all part of the Ore Bed business.

The site of the buildings was on the west side of Geer Mountain Road opposite the start of Ore Hill Road. Old time residents remember the Boarding House as a large stone building with the roof gone, two stories high, with good sized rooms and a fireplace in each room. The 1875 Litchfield Atlas shows three small buildings close together near the road on land owned by the Kent Ore Bed company.

Rufus was provided a Company house, known as the manager’s house, probably the Olson house (1988), as two ledgers were found in its attic and it is known that Jabez Beardsley lived there when he succeeded Rufus. The Boarding House stood below it, close to the road on land now owned by Wendy and Jack Murphy (1988). Behind the Boarding House, also on their land stood a small building. Judging by the shards of pottery and china and other artifacts found there, this must have housed the store and tavern. (According to local history, there is also a ghost on the premises last seen in 1975.)

Rufus came from Plymouth, Connecticut where he had run a tavern. His brother Alpheus had come to Kent in 1803 from Dover, New York where the Fullers had been known as “iron men.” Alpheus had bought one third of the Carter Forge located on the outlet of Hatch Pond on what is now the Harold Bilby property (1988). There was a puddling works on the site which refined bar iron into wrought iron for the making of tools and utensils. It had been in operation under several previous owners. Jabez Beardsley, a native of South Kent, also bought a third of the Carter Forge and became a long time partner of Alpheus.
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