Since its inception in 1705, Newtown has been an agricultural community at heart. Small, self-sufficient, subsistence farms grew but not substantially enough to overcome competition from the South and Midwest. Men like Ezra Johnson continued to farm until the beginning of the 20th century; others turned to dairy farming, like Israel Nezvesky, or to wholesale nursery operations, like Charles Newman, or to viniculture, like Morgan McLaughlin. Industry made contributions to Newtown’s economic landscape in the 19th century through the efforts of William Cole of the New York Belting and Packing Company and Samuel Curtis of Curtis Packaging. James Brunot, developer of Scrabble, and William Upham, inventor of the tea bag, continued to innovate and form Newtown’s unique culture. Community commitment thrives today through people like Laurie McCollum, who continues her grandfather’s tradition as manager of Lorenzo’s Restaurant, and Diane Wardenburg, who carries on Ginny Lathrop’s legacy by guiding the Lathrop School of Dance to serve a new generation of aspiring dancers.
Author Bio: After retiring from a 40-year teaching career, Daniel Cruson is indulging his passion for local history by writing about towns in central Fairfield County. Images featured are from the Newtown Historical Society, The Newtown Bee, and his own collection. Cruson also authored Newtown, Newtown: 1900-1960, and Redding and Easton.
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