Generally speaking, these clusters of community developed where there was activity – mills and manufacturing. This meant water power. Stores opened, churches, grange halls and meeting houses were built, and people settled in these communities, surrounded by farmers working the land around these settlements.
Prosper, formerly named English’s Mills, was so name because of the prosperous nature of that community The mill was located at the junction of Austin Road and Rt. 12 on Prosper Brook, sometimes called Barnard Brook. Mr. English employed a large mill crew, the Prosper school educated its children, and farmers along Barnard Brook did well. It was a stop on the way to Barnard, on the Woodstock-Royalton turnpike.
West Woodstock, which at one point had its own store and post office, was anchored by Daniels Machine Company, a large manufacturing facility which sat on the site of the current Woodstock Farmers' Market. There was a dam here on the river, and a mill pond to generate water power for the factory. Remnants of the canal can still be seen south of the iron bridge. It was also an important road intersection as a road connected West Woodstock to Prosper. In addition, it was on the road to Bridgewater, another prosperous mill town.
South Woodstock, once called the South Parish, operates like a separate town. With its own schools, academy, stores, tavern, hotels and manufacturing mills along the Kedron Brook, it was self sufficient. It has its own post office, still. It was on the Springfield to Woodstock Turnpike. Farming on Fletcher Hill and Long Hill, especially during the sheep craze, was very successful.
Taftsville was anchored by the large iron manufacturing facility on the river, operated by the Taft Family. It made scythe blades, stoves and iron implements. There were also mills on Happy Valley Brook, and a brick yard there. Here were stores, a church, and in the late 1800s, a railway station. The valley straddling Happy Valley Brook also had a successful farming community.