Sunday, September 26, 2010

Iron refining begins on the Blackberry River in East Canaan, Connecticut

Although the Forbes family was the moving force in creating an iron industry along the Blackberry River in East Canaan and Norfolk they weren’t the ones who began refining iron along the Blackberry River. The credit for that was Richard Seymour who built a bloomery on the south bank of the Blackberry in East Canaan during 1736. Seymour’s operation attracted the attention of John Forbes, a blacksmith, who came from Simsbury, Connecticut to work at Seymour’s Forge. In turn he attracted his son Samuel Forbes who moved from Simsbury to first live in Sheffield, Massachusetts to join his father at Seymour’s forge in 1743. Samuel Forbes later became famous as an early industrialist, and was the iron master that cast the cannon during the Revolution for George Washington.

Although they were making iron from iron ore in East Canaan over two and a half centuries ago Mother Nature beat them to the punch by several hundred million years by producing native iron in the area. This is one of the few places where native iron exists on the face of the earth. The only other locality in the western hemisphere where it is found is in Greenland.

The Forbes family originally came from Taunton, Massachusetts an early iron center in the eastern part of the state where iron had been produced from bog iron in the early part of the 1600s. John Forbes had worked there in his youth and following the dictum, Go West young man, he did eventually finding himself in East Canaan. In 1746 he built his own forge alongside the Blackberry and by 1751 had bought half interest in Seymour’s forge.

By 1759, his son Samuel built his own forge on the Blackberry the second one that was located in East Canaan. By 1760 Samuel and his brother Elisha owned a one-eighth interest in the Iron Mine at Ore Hill in Salisbury, Connecticut. That marked the beginning of Salisbury Iron gaining a worldwide reputation.

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