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Irinda Colton (1803-1870)

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

This History Note introduces us to an 1820's shopkeeper, Irinda Colton, of Longmeadow. She operated her own shop on State Street in Springfield. Love coming across stories of entrepreneurial women like Irinda from so long ago!

Irinda Colton was born in Longmeadow in 1803 to Ebenezer and Phebe Barton Colton, one of 12 children. As an 11-year-old girl, she completed the sampler pictured below (notice her name and age at the bottom).

She became a milliner, or hat maker, and opened a shop in Springfield on State Street "opposite the Armory" with Hannah Booth in 1827. Her shop advertised "Millinery, of the most approved taste and fashion, Among which are,

"Leghorns, black and white,

Sattins, different colors,

Florences do,

Sarsenets do,

Gro de Naps do,

French and Lisse Crapes do,

Fancy, Barage and Cashmere Hdkfs,

Swiss and Mull Muslins,

Brown Cambrick,

Work'd Caps, Capes and Collars,

Thread, Bobbinet and Thule Laces,

Ribbons, a variety,

Hair Puffs and Ringlets,

Head Flowers and Wreaths,

Ostrich Plumes, Gimps, Cords, &c."

Imagine how fashionable the ladies of the area would look with these options!

When she died in Wilbraham in 1870 of typhoid fever, she left an inventory of goods from her business.

Contributed by Betsy McKee, Board Member, Longmeadow Historical Society

Originally published July 23, 2020

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