Brighton of a century ago hummed with activity – a general store, post office, stage stop and stable, blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, cattle scales, corn cannery, shoemaker shop, black Methodist church, white Episcopal church, a black school and white school, and a population of perhaps 150 persons (larger at the time than Bethesda or Olney). Every day the stage from Laurel stopped at the store with mail and passengers and turned around for the return trip.
Many residents were blacks whose forebears had been slaves on area farms and whose descendants still own homes – Hills, Awkards, Davises, Greens, Neugents, Powells, and Wrights. Near the intersection of today’s Gold Mine Road and New Hampshire Avenue were meadows where black athletes played Negro League Baseball and held week-long summer religious gatherings. Among white families were the numerous Browns (farmers and storekeepers), Peirces, Hartshornes, Leas, Iddings, Gartrells, Hollands, and, Hottels.
Increased mobility saw Brighton’s commerce siphon off to Ashton and more distant entrepots. More change came with completion of Brighton Dam and Brighton Road and the severing of the old Patuxent crossing on Green Bridge Road, on the Walter F. Wilson farm. With Brighton Dam Road, rural Brighton became a busy crossroad that now boasts a traffic light.
However, then came a train of disasters – the Civil War strangled the flow of southern cotton, an 1868 flood swept away houses, and the end came in the 1889 deluge that also caused the Johnstown flood. Richard H. Lansdale, a grandson of Thomas and a future miller, recalled walking as a child away from the wrecked town with a pillow under one arm and a chicken under the other. Today, Triadelphia’s foundations slumber beneath the reservoir that bears its name.