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Bethel brings to life the people, places, industries, and institutions of this independent town from the 1860s through the 1950s through vintage photographs.
Separated from Danbury in 1855, Bethel was settled as early as 1700. Studies of the town's unique and colorful past have been somewhat neglected until recently, however, as many assumed that existing histories of Danbury were all that was needed to document the area's beginnings. With Bethel, town historian Patrick Wild brings to life the people, places, industries, and institutions of the independent town from the 1860s through the 1950s for the first time through a remarkable series of vintage photographs. The hat-making industry was critical to the Bethel economy, and the arrival of the Danbury-Norwalk Railroad in 1852 allowed commerce in this field to blossom. Hatting remained Bethel's primary enterprise until the end of the 1960s, and the town is often associated with this successful venture. Bethel is also known as the birthplace of an American legend, the great showman P. T. Barnum. The fountain that Barnum donated to his hometown is showcased in this work in a series of outstanding photographs taken before the tragic destruction of the landmark in 1923. Patrick Wild is a member of the Bethel Historical