Radical changes altered the face of commercial production in the 19th Century, touching areas as disparate as the highlands of Scotland and the valleys of Wilton. Driven by the steam engine and other technological innovations, entrepreneurs consolidated and expedited the production of agricultural and commercial goods, giving rise to the Industrial Revolution.
Wilton was no stranger to these changes. In 1860, shirt makers and shoemakers outnumbered farmers and day laborers, and mills and small factories dotted the landscape. The Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill sprang to life in the quiet Georgetown area, and no fewer than three shirt factories existed in Wilton itself. (The “shirt factory” was basically a large room with a cutting board and some sewing machines.)