Gregory family donates 19th century road cart

Members of the Gregory family with the road cart are, from left, Eliza Gregory, Julian Gregory, Margaret Gregory, Julian Gregory.
Members of the Gregory family with the road cart are, from left, Eliza Gregory, Julian Gregory, Margaret Gregory, Julian Gregory.

A fire-engine red c. 1885 road cart with racing stripes has made its way from the Gregory barn on Belden Hill Road, to Bird-in-Hand, Pa., for restoration, ending its journey at the Wilton Historical Society museum complex on Danbury Road. The road cart was the Lamborghini of its day, and was given by Margaret Gregory in honor of her husband, the late Julian A. Gregory.

“This gift is the most important collection piece accessioned for the society’s permanent collection in the past decade” said Executive Director Leslie Nolan. “The road cart’s ties to the illustrious Gregory family make its Wilton connection and educational value of the history of transportation in a small New England town invaluable.”

According to the restoration specialist, Double E Carriages of Bird-in-Hand, “Road carts were designed to be a lightweight, economical, means of transportation, usually for one or two passengers.  This cart has the somewhat unusual seat suspension, where the seat is mounted on wooden bars that pivot in the center with the front ends supported by leaf springs, to give a smoother ride for the passengers. This suspension is similar to the carts manufactured by the Coldwater Road Cart Co. and was also patented by them.”

A life-long friend of the Gregory family who wishes to remain anonymous, arranged for the restoration work.

The Gregory family’s roots go back to Wilton’s very beginning. Jachin Gregory II moved to Wilton from Norwalk in 1718, and was a signer of the 1726 petition to make Wilton Parish a separate entity from Norwalk. The family home at 169 Belden Hill Road was built in 1740 by Matthew Gregory, and the family still lives there, 277.

Julian A. Gregory Sr. was a founding member of the Wilton Historical Society in 1938, and elected its first president. His son, Julian A. Gregory, established the prominent law firm of Gregory and Adams in 1964. The Gregory family has been a pillar of the society.  Their support and many contributions of important artifacts have helped preserve Wilton’s history for future generations.

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