The first grist-mill built in the town was put up by James, William and John O’Brian about the year 1792. It was located west of South Mountain, upon the brook which still bears the builders’ name.
This mill was a small affair, and was in use but a short time, though it was very valuable to the early settlers, until a more pretentious structure was built at New Haven Mills. Subsequently, in 1805, a grist-mill was built at Bristol village by Enos Soper, and which did service until September, 1849, when it was destroyed by fire. Henry and Enos Soper and Uriah Arnold next erected a stone mill in the eastern part of the village. Soon after the first gristmill was built, Amos Scott put up a saw-mill in the western part of the town, on New Haven River.
At an early day the attention of the inhabitants was directed towards the practicability of manufacturing their own iron, from the ore afforded in the township. This idea was carried out, and in 1791 Amos Scott, Captain Gurdon Munsill and Cyprian and Amos Eastman built a forge near where Scott erected the first saw-mill. This enterprise, though continued but a comparatively short time, proved of great importance, not only to Bristol but to neighboring towns.
Subsequently there were six other forges erected, as follows: The second, by Amos and Ebenezer Scott, near where the old John Dunshee trip-hammer shop stood. The iron made here soon began to find its way to Troy, N. Y., in payment for goods. The third, built by Joshua Franklin, jr., Henry Franklin, John Arnold and Nehemiah Hobert, in 1802, was located on the north side of the river, in what is now Bristol village. This forge did a good business for many years, manufacturing bar iron. In June, 1809, it was burned, rebuilt, and again burned in 1816, rebuilt, and destroyed by fire again in 1823, when it was rebuilt, to be finally destroyed by the great freshet of 1830. The fourth forge was built in 1832 by Thurston and James Chase, Nathaniel Drake and George C. Dayfoot, on Baldwin Creek. It was allowed to go to ruin many years since. The fifth was located on the north side of the river, just east of the village, and as late as about 1855 was operated by Winter H. Holley. The sixth, located on the north side of Baldwin Creek, was built by Oliver W. Burnham, and had a brief existence. The seventh and last was built by Luman Munson, Bennet B. Dean and D. R. Gaige, near the old John Dunshee triphammer shop. The business was discontinued between 1850 and 1860.
Soon after the year 1800 Elisha Fuller purchased of James Hair a site in Bristol village and erected thereon buildings for carrying on the business of cloth dressing. Subsequently machinery for carding wool was added, and the business was conducted by different parties down to 1830, when the great freshet swept everything off, and the mill was not rebuilt.