Ridgefield Shirt Factory was founded in the 1840s by George Hunt and was at first located in the Big Shop, but later moved across the street to a building on what’s now an empty lot, and then to Catoonah Street on the site of the current Ridgefield Fire Department headquarters. “Colored shirts were a specialty of the factory, which employed as many as sixty persons at one time,” said Silvio Bedini. “The chief market was New York City.” The operation was run for many years by D. Smith Sholes and Henry Smith. Most employees were women who worked from their homes. Sholes and Smith would provide women with packages of shirt “components” and the women would sew them together in their spare time. The final product was prepared for sale and packaged at the factory. The New York Times reported in 1860 that there were 1,100 home-working women in the area, sewing for Ridgefield Shirt. It closed around 1893, probably because of competition from large-scale, mechanized operations.
Jack Sanders, Who Was Who in Ridgefield, and Silvio Bedini, Ridgefield in Review.