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North Branford & Northford

North Branford

North Branford was named “All-America City” in 1971.

North Branford did not begin its existence as a separate Connecticut town. It was originally a part of Branford, which is a large shoreline town. Branford, originally known as Brentford, named after a town in England, was settled and established in 1644.  It wasn’t until 1831 that North Branford incorporated as an independent town. It should be noted that another village nearby, known as Northford, is now considered part of North Branford. Due to this connection, there exists an overlap on the area’s historical information.

North Branford’s earlier population was small in size with less than 1,000 residents. History shows that this New Haven County town, like most inland towns in Connecticut, was agrarian in nature. The land was primarily suited for specific crops like fruit bearing trees,like apples and cherries, rather than fields of grain, such as corn, wheat or rye. Saw and grist mills also dotted the landscape due to the heavily wooded land and multiple water sources like the Farm River.

In the 1600’s the area was called “Totoket,” inhabited by the Mattabesech, a small tribe of Algonquian speaking people. The chief of the tribe, Montowese went to the British settlers and sold this land for the equivalent of 12 British coats.

Within North Branford’s borders is the Totoket Mountain, part of the Metacomet Ridge. The Metacomet Ridge, with its mountains consisting of fault rock, extends from Connecticut’s Long Island Sound all the way to the Vermont border. In the 1920s a man made lake was built to make a reservoir. Lake Gaillard makes up over 20% of the town’s land. Operated by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (SCCRWA), this lake is not open to the public. To protect this resource the SCCRWA, bought land around the lake, including most of Totoket Mountain. The SCCWRA allows nature enthusiasts to enjoy two hiking trails on the mountain. The first is Big Gulph; and the second is Sugarloaf Hills. The SCC

RWA now owns almost 35% of the town’s land to protect this major reservoir which services the towns of North Branford, Branford, East Haven, North Haven and a part of New Haven. On the Totoket Mountain’s southwest side is the Tilcon Stone Quarry serviced by the Branford Steam Railroad. This industrial railroad has been carrying the quarry’s stone since 1903.


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Weeping Mulberry

In the 1830’s there was a thriving silk industry in North Branford. Some citizens cultivated mulberry trees to support silk worms.

During the Industrial Revolution some residents forged ahead with new manufacturing methods. The Malby Fowler family is an example.  In the 1830s, Fowler owned a successful button making shop in town. His six sons were highly inventive and created a number of machines that were used to make many items – screws, perforated tin, horseshoe nails, and even the common pin to name a few.  And since the town had a silk industry, they even made a machine for embossing silk. In fact some townsmen grew mulberry trees for the silkworms.

A number of industries existed in the North Branford area during the early and mid-1800s, i.e. a paper mill that provided ammunition wrappers during the Civil War to even a company owned by E. Chapman Maltby that made coconut shell spoons, buttons and even dippers for water buckets.  Initially the coconut meat was discarded. Maltby created a device to separate the shell by shredding the coconut meat. This invention won first prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Fair and made North Branford the home of shredded coconut. By the end of the 1800s, industry started to move away when railroad tracks were laid in nearby Clintonville instead of in North Branford. Yet one industry endured and that was the business of greeting cards, notably Christmas cards and post cards. The Stevens Brothers in the 1870s, created a very popular line of highly ornamental Victorian cards. Their success made North Branford the Christmas card center of the world.

By the early 1900s, the population dropped below 1,000 and the residents primarily returned to their original agricultural roots. However, better days came to the area once again after WWII and many people sought homes in the town. By 1970 the population was close to 11,000; and currently is closer to 14,600. Most came to North Branford because of its affordability, the high quality of life, good schools, major highways for easy commutes, and the many offerings around the region. For instance, the Connecticut shoreline with its beautiful beaches is only a few miles away. In 1971 North Branford was awarded the “All American City Award” by the National Civic League. Each year only 10 US communities earn this coveted award by meeting community wide challenges and achieving uncommon positive results.

Colonel William Douglas

Colonel William Douglas, East Indies Trade magnate and Revolutionary War hero.

One historical person of note from North Branford’s Northford section was William Douglas. He “retired” here at age, after making a West Indies trade fortune.  The Continental Congress sent an urgent appeal asking the Connecticut Assembly for a militia to stop the impending British attack on New York. Due to his prior illustrious and successful military career beginning at age 16, he, was given the rank of Colonel of the Connecticut 5th Battalion. His regiment was known as the “Leather Caps.” His men wore leather hats made by local Connecticut tanneries. The regiment was sent with five other battalions to defend Manhattan. Following the Battle of White Plains, NY, Douglas’ health deteriorated. He returned home and died on May 28, 1777. He is buried at the Northford Old Cemetery.

There are a couple of historic points of interest in and around the town. While not open to the public, since it is a private residence, one can see the Howd-Linsley house built around 1700 by John Linsley. This is the oldest house in North Branford. Originally a saltbox in design, renovations and expansions occurred over the years. However, it does showcase the early 18th Century Colonial style home. Those interested in seeing many homes built before the American Civil War can visit the Northford Center Historic District (Northford Center). It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other area buildings include the Reynolds Beers House which is now a museum and learning center on local history run by the Totoket Historical Society; the Gordon S. Miller Farm Museum which showcases farming implements from the 1700s thru the early 1900s; the Little White Gas Station, a hexagonal 1920s gas station; and the Little Red Schoolhouse built in 1805.

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Daniels Coal Truck - 1920's

The Daniels family began delivering coal in the 1920’s.

Daniels Energy has been the dependable heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) comfort resource for many homes, businesses and local government facilities serving towns like North Branford, CT for well over 90 years. In fact, we are proud to say that we are one of the oldest and most established HVAC companies in the state of Connecticut. There are many reasons why we’ve been around this long and they are all about the trust our customers have in us. We have a reputation for reliable, courteous and ethical customer service – whether on the phone, via email or in person. Our employees treat our customers like family members, friends and neighbors.  Our service technicians are fully trained and state certified to sell, install and service all makes of oil, propane, natural gas and electrical heating and air conditioning systems.  Daniels Energy technicians are also certified to handle oil to natural gas installations and conversions safely and efficiently too.  In addition, we offer affordable and competitive plans for oil and propane heating services including dependable delivery, tailored to fit all budgets. And finally, our maintenance agreements assure you that your air conditioning or heating systems will function when needed in winter or summer.

Our many Shoreline communities, like North Branford, continue to grow; and home and business comfort needs continue to change. Daniels Energy, with the latest in HVAC technology, will continue to meet these needs. Today trust Daniels Energy.  Let Daniels do it for you – like we’ve done since 1926.

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Daniels Energy: CT License S1-385517 HOD#19 / Daniels Propane. LLC: CT License S1-302857 HOD #846


8 High Street, P.O. Box 32, Portland, CT 06480 • 24 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT 06409

Middletown: 860-342-3778
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Daniels Energy: CT License S1-385517 HOD#19 / Daniels Propane. LLC: CT License S1-302857 HOD #846