Quinnipiac River Mill

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[Notes from a talk with Harold Rose, January 9, 1989 at North Haven Historical Society; note taker unknown.]

Harold Rose (b. 1908), a resident of Wallingford, donated pictures to the North Haven Historical Society of the Toelles Road area, and particularly of the mill complex that was at the crossing.

The mill complex is a long series of wooden building on the northwest side of the Quinnipiac River. The Toelles Road Bridge has apparently been relocated and the mill complex straddled the Wallingford-North Haven line. The pictures show a dam and a race which Rose says powered a horizontal wheel contained in the wheelhouse visible in front of the mill. The pictures (late 19th century) suggest that the mill is not being maintained, but both Rose and Ira Munson say that a grist mill (corn) was still functioning in the location as late as 1908.

At the end of the 19th century, the buildings were used for other manufacturing purposes: The Hotchkiss Brothers made bolts, and ‘bug machines’ or dusters were also manufactured in these buildings. R. Wallace Co. (now of Wallingford) was originally in these buildings.

The mill buildings were taken down around 1910 and the dam was covered during the construction of the Wilbur Cross parkway (after 1945). The course of the Quinnipiac River was moved east during the construction of the parkway so the entire scene is very hard to reconstruct.

In one photo of the mill, one can see behind it on the hill a railing marking the path of Toelles Road, several barns, a haystack pole, and two houses. One of the houses (gable end to the picture) is the house still standing at 2119 Hartford Turnpike. The barn complexes seem to belong with this house (as did some of the others across the road torn down in 1928). The relationship of the mill to the houses shows how much the land has been re-contoured and supports the assertion that the mill straddled the town line.

The other house belonged to Rose’s grandparents, Charles Rose and Mary Arthur. This house was bought out and torn down when the parkway right of way was acquired. (Late 1930’s?)

There was apparently once still another house on the corner of Toelles Road and Hartford Turnpike (not visible in any photo) which was torn down in 1905. Rose ‘helped’ his grandfather excavate the foundation of this house.

Harold Rose’s mother was a Doolittle. Her parents, Marcus Doolittle and Armeret Brockett, lived on Mt. Carmel Avenue (in the green and white house (1187) first west of King’s Highway). There they ran a cider mill and a sawmill with an up-and-down saw. Another Doolittle house is still standing over the Wallingford line. The white house on the west side of the road (“foundation built into the hill”) is also a Doolittle house. The entire area was sometimes called Doolittle Village.

The house at 2099 was called Moulthrop house.

Toelles Road had a variety of other names. It seems to have been called Bone Mill Road because there was a bone mill (rendering) plant run by the Monohan family on the Wallingford side of the road, about where Cherry Street would emerge. There are some scales visible in this location? Phil Monahan (father) ran the mill while Owen (his son) picked up the dead animals.

At one time there was a path connecting Cherry Street to Broadway through the sand plains. There was a house on the south side of Toelles Road in this vicinity that was occupied by Joe Pisley.)

The Toelles Road crossing was formerly known as Morse Crossing, for the Morse homestead which stood on the northwest corner of the intersection. This house was burned “by sparks from a passing steam engine.” A photo of the crossing taken from Colony Road was also given to the Society and shows a colonial cape with a front overhand and a chimney on each end.