While Putnam village, in a certain sense absorbs and dominates the town, the outlying portions have yet a distinct character and life. of their own. Two miles east of the busy village old Killingly hill reposes in serene tranquility. Transformed in name to Putnam Heights, with new elements and new inhabitants, this ancient village still retains its primitive characteristics. Business has long since flown to the valley. Its one church maintains but intermittent service . its one school is scantily attended, and modern institutions fail to gain a footing, yet this very repose and fixedness, as contrasted with the rush and tumult of everyday life, have a peculiar charm, and the wearied denizens of ” the tired city’s mart ” welcome this place of refuge. A number of families, more or less associated with the hill, have permanent summer homes here. Mr. T. J. Thurber, formerly of New York, continues through the year. The recent discovery of a spring of delicious water, with its appropriation of the beautiful Indian name of this section, may prove an additional attraction. Aspinock spring and the old hill, with its pure air and wide outlook, merit a lamer constituency. ” Beautiful for situation,” commanding one of the finest views in the county, with its well-established church and common, Killingly hill was long a leading business and social center, especially noted for its popular taverns and largely-frequented trainings. Probably the hill reached its acme of fame and prosperity soon after the arrival of the cotton factory, when proprietors and operatives from Pomfret factory, Howe’s factory and “The Stone Chapel ” sought spiritual and secular privileges at its meeting house and store. The store kept by those enterprising merchants, Ely & Torrey, exceeded anything in eastern Connecticut. Thurber’s tailor shop was almost equally celebrated, supplying young men far and near with wedding and “freedom ” suits, and fashionable long surtouts. The private class or school of “Priest Atkins ” was another peculiar institution of Killingly hill, filling the place of the present State -Normal school, in fitting young men and women to become thorough and successful teachers. “Choice spirits ” on the hill forwarded the organization of the first missionary and Bible societies of Windham county, one hundred and twenty-two ladies in North Killingly and Thompson organizing as a ” Female Tract Society ” in 1816, while spirits of a very different order were lavishly dispensed from Warren’s tavern-the headquarters of mirth and conviviality. A large circle of relatives and friends enjoyed the delightful hospitalities of justice Sampson Howe’s genial household, and a still wider constituency bowed in meek submission before the dictum and prescriptions of Doctor Grosvenor..
The old ” Moffats Mills,” at East Putnam, established in time immemorial by an early Killingly family, is still represented. A second grist mill was built on the same site by James Cady. In 1860 Calvin and William Randall bought a privilege on the same Bowditch brook, and built a small -mill for the manufacture of cotton yarn. The whole establishment and privileges were purchased by G. A. Hawkins and Augustus Houghton in 1865. They doubled the capacity of the mill, put up new buildings and made many improvements. C. J. Alton succeeded Mr. Hawkins in ownership. Houghton * Alton have sold their interest to Norwich owners, who as the ” East Putnam Yarn Company ” employ about twenty-five hands, and manufacture 3,500 pounds of cotton yarn weekly. Pleasant residences and a neat little Free Will Baptist church are to be found there. Mr. Houghton sided generously in repairing this edifice and maintaining stated worship. Its pastor, Mrs. Fenner, has done much valuable missionary work in the vicinity. The Cady mills, at the Four Corners and near the state line, have been maintained, with intervals of suspension, for many years. This eastern part of Putnam, formerly traversed twice a day by the convenient Providence stage coach, has been left behind and thrown backward by the all conquering railroad, while the valley west of the town has been built up by the same arbitrary power. Many new houses and families appear in the old Gary district. Population year by year stretches farther southward. The old families are mostly gone. Mr. Ezra Dresser still occupies one of the old Dresser homesteads, the other is improved as the town farm. The name of Gary, once so familiar, is transferred to westward towns, where it bears an honorable record. Judge Gary, of Chicago, descends from the old Pomfret family. The Holmes’s, Sawyers, Gilberts are mostly gone. Even the Perrin family, so associated with the valley, is no longer represented. The old Perrin house has also passed away.
Source: History of Windham County, Connecticut, Bayles, Richard M.; New York: W.W. Preston, 1889Home » Windham County » History of Putnam Heights, Connecticut