Scovil Hoe History

Posted in History

hezscovil111William Scovil, born in 1706, was one of the original settlers of Candlewood Hill in Higganum, Ct. His grandson Hezekiah, son of Joseph, was born in 1788. Hezekiah learned the trade of a blacksmith and set up shop on Candlewood Hill Brook across from his house making hammers and agricultural tools. He apprenticed with Eli Whitney and learned the art of welding gun barrels and then won the contract with the government to supply gun barrels during the War of 1812. His business continued until his death in 1849.

Two of Hezekiah's sons, Daniel, born in 1815 and Hezekiah Jr. born in 1820, were both trained by their father in the metalworking trade. Daniel travelled through the south observing the methods and tools used by the slaves in the cultivation of cotton. Upon his return, he convinced his brother Hezekiah who had left the family business and was working as a bank teller in Middletown, to go into partnership to develop and market the "planter's hoe."

Daniel's hoe was unique, a clever adaptation of the methods used for making such cutting tools as the blades for planes. Cutting tools were forge-welded with harder steel overlaid on a softer iron base, so he reversed the process and created the "self sharpening hoe." The softer edge would wear away, constantly exposing the harder steel core.

In 1844, the D. & H. Scovil Co. began and prospered for over 60 years. The Scovil's were leaders of industry in Higganum and were masters at the difficulties of mass production, labor relations and marketing. By the 1850's , a flood of immigrants arrived and supplied the mills with plenty of workers. The Scovils even supplied them with housing in the area.

In 1844, the first mill building and office were built located off Brainard Hill Rd on Candlewood Hill Brook. A dam and canal system were erected to harness the water for power. The resulting pond behind the dam was called Upper Pond and was a large elbow shaped body of water.

Within a couple of years, the Scovils were ready to expand operations, so just a little ways downstream they built Mill No. 2.

Business was booming and with the influx of immigrants, the Scovils soon built Mill No. 3 and Mill No. 4 downstream of the first two. By this time, the brothers landholdings amounted to nearly 500 acres. They had hired a well known engineer to design the elaborate system of dams, canals and sluice gates to control the flow of water to power all the mills which helped mechanize the production of their products.

Higganum was a thriving manufacturing town by this time. The Higganum Manufacturing Co. located downstream of the Scovil Mills in the center of town employed 150 men at it's height. It too used waterpower that was provided by a large dam and resevoir that George Clark, one of the owners, designed and built. The name was changed to Clark Cutaway Harrow in 1891 and they were known to have 400 sizes and types of plows, two thirds of which were sold outside of the United States.

Scovil Hoe History. Gallery