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New Library Display Connects The Dots Between 19th Century Laborer And Longtime Sandy Hook Factory

Published: November 3, 2017

Through the acquisition of two sets of documents, Newtown Historical Society has been able, for the first time, to piece together the life of a 19th Century laborer known as Martin Kelly and his connection to what is now the Curtis Packaging Company of Sandy Hook.

The documents and Mr Kelly’s story are the subject of an exhibit now on view in the first floor showcase (near the elevators) at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street. The collection will remain on view through November 30. It can be seen any time the library is open: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 8 pm; Fridays, 11 am to 5 pm; Saturdays, 9:30 am to 5 pm; and Sundays, noon to 5 pm.

Grant Ossendryver, the curator of the exhibit and historic society secretary, and Town Historian Dan Cruson spent more than 200 hours putting Mr Kelly’s story together. The two men used an acquisition containing Newtown Annual reports and miscellaneous documents, and the business records of The Curtis and Son Corporation to piece together the economics and working hours of Mr Kelly.

A carton containing letters, booklets. Newtown Annual reports, and miscellaneous documents was originally given to Booth Library. It was then on to the historical society.

The exhibit includes a ledger from what is now Curtis Packaging that corresponds to Mr Kelly’s employee account book from the company store.

“What triggered this exhibit was that incredible find, Mr Kelly’s pocket ledger from the company store,” said Mr Ossendryver.” It tells us what he bought and when, down to a quart of milk.”

Mr Kelly raised four children in Sandy Hook, Mary, Louise, Kathryn and John. It is not known if any of his descendants still live in the area.


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