Monday, April 2, 2018

CHS Briefs April , 2018

Please also check the Cavendish VT Facebook page for photo albums of various CHS activities.

It is with sadness that we start the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) news “Briefs” with the reporting of the passing of Joyce Tiemann and Willis A. Spaulding.

Joyce Tiemann grew up on what today is called Brook Rd. From 1973-1986 she was an administrative secretary to the director of nursing at Springfield Hospital, after which she assisted and volunteered at what is now the Cavendish Fletcher Community Library in Proctorsville. Several years ago, Joyce gave CHS permission to serialize her father’s book, Coming toVermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann All 28 chapters appear on-line along with various aspects of Cavendish history that relates to Tiemann’s chapters. Read Tiemann’s obituary.

Willis A. Spaulding was born in Proctorsville and served aboard a submarine, the U.S.S Spikefish in the Pacific theatre in World War II. With his passing, there are no longer any WWII veterans, whose names appear on the Cavendish War Memorial, alive. Two WWII vets still live in town Jim Hasson and Seymour Leven, both of whom came from other parts of the country. Read Spaulding’s obituary

Ethel Roosevelt Derby
Cavendish Women You Should Know: In honor of March being Women’s History Month, CHS ran a five part series entitled Cavendish Women You Should Know Learn more about these and other amazing women at the links below:

Ignat Solzhenitsyn receiving Proclamation
Solzhenitsyn’s 100th Birthday Year: On March 21, CHS and representatives from the town, joined Ignat Solzhenitsyn and his family in Montpelier where Ignat was presented with a proclamation by the Vermont General Assembly commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Russian author, historian, and former Cavendish resident Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.

Irish Knot made by the students
Carmine Guica Young Historians: St. Patrick's Day is a great way to teach students about the Irish in Vermont. Lunchtime at Cavendish Town Elementary School on March 16 (the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day) included a taste of Ireland-Irish Stew and Soda Bread. Thank you to the Tings and Moonlite Meadows Farm for donating their grass fed beef for the stew. The Soda Bread is a recipe from Brenda Gregory's mom, who was from County Cork, Ireland. Thank you to Penny Trick for volunteering. Check out the photo album of the workshops that took place at the school that day.

Museum & Stone Church: Both buildings seem to have weathered the winter, but we will be doing roof checks first thing this spring. In addition, work will begin as soon as possible to replace the door of the Museum with the doors whose installation was held up at the last minute by the Fire Marshall. We also plan to repair and repaint the stairs and banisters.
Carmine Guica Young Historians: Hard to believe that we are already thinking about the end of the school year but there is a lot being planned before summer vacation begins. Events include:
• A 3rd grade trip to the Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire
• A series of 6th grade activities relating to Memorial Day-cemetery and grave stone cleaning and flag placement on veterans’ graves as well as making poppies
• Archeology field trip for 6th grade
• May day activities for 5th grade, including preparing plants for the CHS annual plant sale

Opening of Solzhenitsyn Exhibit: CHS has been working with the Vermont Historical Society and the Solzhenitsyn family in preparing for a special exhibit at the VHS Museum at 109 State Street Pavilion Building (next to the State House) in Montpelier. The exhibit opens on May 19 and focuses on Solzhenitsyn’s life in Cavendish. Various people from Cavendish will be attending the opening. If you would like to carpool, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

Annual Plant Sale: CHS’s annual plant sale takes place on Saturday June 30. Transplanting starts in mid May.

If you can help with any of the following, please contact CHS; 802-226-7807 or PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142

• Do you have plants you would like to donate to the annual plant sale? Do you need help digging them up? We can provide pots, soil and even some manpower.

• Painters, scrappers and repairers: As soon as the weather permits, we need volunteers willing to do some basic carpentry to repair the banisters of the Museum. We will also need painters for the steps and banister.

• CHS is looking for new board members as well as volunteers who can help with various activities.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cavendish Women You Should Know: Mary Mattison van Schaik

Mary Mattison van Schaik was born in Trenton, NJ in 1909. One of four children, her father was a lawyer. Graduating from Smith College in 1931 summa cum laude, the friendships and connections she made there would play a significant role throughout her life.

Mary's Wedding Portrait
After graduation she became a speechwriter and researcher for presidential candidate Al Smith. However it was through her job as observer at the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland that she would meet Henri van Schaik in 1934. They were married in 1935 and in 1936 he would win a silver medal at the Summer Olympics as part of the Dutch show jumping team.

During WWII, Mary lived in occupied Holland raising six children. These were not easy times. In 1957, she gave a glimpse of what it must have been like living in Holland during the occupation.

Following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against the communist government, Life Magazine suggested a food drop to help those who were starving. Living in Cavendish by that point, Mary wrote a “Letter to the editor” stating, Our family with six young children benefited from the British and American food-drops in German-occupied Holland in April 1945. The food saved lives. The act boosted morale. Operation Manna and Operation Chowhound were humanitarian food drops carried out to relieve a famine in German-occupied Holland undertaken by Allied bomber crews during the finals days of WWII.

Shortly after WWII, while Mary was still living in Holland, she was asked to contribute to the 75th Anniversary Fund of Smith College. Since it wasn’t possible to send cash, she sent bulbs to classmates and asked them to sell them, with the proceeds going to Smith. The idea worked and an exporting business was born.

With the changes in government in Holland, the van Schaiks decided there was more of a future for them in America and they moved in 1953. However, prior to their arrival, Mary had already begun to use her Smith contacts in order to arrange for her oldest child to attend private high school in the US. Interestingly, none of the children were taught English. As one of her son’s noted, she never thought she would raise her children anywhere but Holland.

Education was a top priority for Mary and so each of her children, again through her Smith contacts, would be given the opportunity to attend private high schools.

Settling in the old Wilcox estate on the corner of Tarbell Hill and Chambers Rd, in Cavendish, Mary continued her bulb business. Her husband would start a riding school across the street and became quite well known for training dressage riders. While they would eventually divorce, they lived across the street from one another as friends until Henri’s death in 1991.

Mary among her tulips at her home on Chambers & Tarbell Hill
Featured in the spring 1979 edition of Vermont Life, Mary was well known for her love of gardening and her bulb sale catalogue. At the time of the Vermont Life article, Mary was sending out over 5,000 catalogues of her bulbs. With the help of a group of Cavendish and Reading women, orders would be filled and sent all over the United States and Canada. Check out MaryMattison van Schaik Imported Dutch Bulbs, Vermont 1971-1993

Mary’s love of bulbs and Smith College culminated in her writing The Gardens and Arboretum of Smith College in 1971. Famed Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead created the Smith campus layout with numerous gardens and open spaces.

The relationship between Mary and Smith College was a mutual one. In 1997, a tulip garden was dedicated at Smith College’s Capen Garden as a tribute to Mary Mattison van Schaik ’31, an ardent supporter of the Garden. She was a frequent visitor to the greenhouses and played a significant role in helping to beautify the Smith campus.Below is a video of the tulip garden in the spring of 2016.

Mary died in 1994 and is buried in the Cavendish Center Rd Cemetery. Fortunately, her children, Eric, Rolf, Pieter and Stein are still very much a part of the Cavendish community.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cavendish Women You Should Know-N.Solzhenitsyn & Svetlov

Natalia Solzhenitsyn
Yekaternia Svetlova
This week we recognize a mother and a daughter. However, either woman is remarkable in her own right. Natalia Solzhenitsyn, the wife of the Nobel Prize author and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and her mother Yekaternia Svetlova, lived in Cavendish from 1976 until their return to Russia in 1994.

Together these women worked behind the scenes, at times putting their own lives in jeopardy while living in Soviet era Russia. When Solzhenitsyn was stripped of his Russian citizenship and sent into exile, the same fate was handed down to Natalia and Mrs. Svetlova. However, in the short interim between when Solzhenitsyn was deported and their own exile, they worked at break neck speed to not only smuggle Solzhenitsyn’s writings and research to him in the West, but to also destroy materials that could endanger the lives of others.

When they arrived in Switzerland, neither woman spoke German, and two years after that, when they made their home in Cavendish, neither spoke English. However, while Natalia studied English and became quite proficient, her mother never did. Yet, she managed to do the shopping and other daily chores, and for many was the face of the Solzhenitsyn family.

Mrs. Svetlova died in 2008. Natalia lives in Russia and is the president of the Solzhenitsyn Foundation and editor of an edition of 30-volumes of her husband’s collected works. She also serves on the jury of the Solzhenitsyn Prize, awarded annually to recognize writers living in Russia and writing in Russian.

Prior to their leaving Cavendish in 1994, mother and daughter, along with two of Natalia’s sons, participated in an oral history project. While the full text and pictures of this conversation will be available at the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) museum this summer, excerpts are included below.

Natalia Solzhenitsyn: When Natalia met Solzhenitsyn, she was a mathematician working on her doctorate at the University of Moscow. She had been previously married and had a young son, Dmitri.

With a love of literature, Natalia secretly read forbidden writers. Eventually she would become a “soldier for the samizdat,” which involved the typing and distribution of literature banned by the state. As one activist described it, "Samizdat: I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself. It was through samizdat that Natalia would meet her future husband.

In the New Yorker article by David Remnick, Aug. 6, 2001, he described her life as follows, While Solzhenitsyn wrote, often staying in his study for days at a time, she ran the household, raised their three sons (a son from her previous marriage, Dmitri, died in 1994), carried out research, typed and retyped manuscripts, edited a series of volumes on Russian history, administered a fund for camp veterans using the proceeds from “The Gulag Archipelago,” organized the family archives, and planned their move home. In Vermont, Natalia was Solzhenitsyn’s liaison with the world; she retains that function here, dealing with publishers, reporters, readers, harassers.

Why Cavendish Vermont: My husband initially had wanted to settle in Canada, and we traveled all over Canada in 1975. In Canada we had taken the train, but in America, starting from California we took a car. We drove all the way from California back to the east coast. Happily for the whole family I was able to convince my husband, and he became convinced himself, that although Canada is a most beautiful country, it is somewhat like a pillow. It is a little too boring, and it is too far removed both geographically and in terms of culture. So together we decided that the best place for us to settle would be New England, particularly northern New England.

Criteria for the House: “It should be quiet, that it oughtn’t to be to easy to find us, that there would be some water nearby, which there is. That it just wouldn’t be too close to other people, so it wasn’t standing in a row of houses. All the other conditions would apply to almost any place in Vermont, because there were things like: four seasons, clearly defined, snow. In general, one has to say that the nature here is quite similar, not so much to the area around Moscow, but to southern Urals. In any case, when we arrived here and my husband first saw this place, he loved it at first sight, and he has loved it since.”

1982 Cavendish, VT
Life in Vermont:First of all, we worked always. And this is in no way a good quote, or an exaggeration. This is really a fact. Literally when we were not working, we were eating or sleeping.

As far as whatever time there was for recreation right there, we would swim and play tennis. ..But, of course, we spent a lot of time together doing other things. ..We’ve always lived very intensively together.

My husband, my mother and myself, we worked together always. But in addition to that as soon as children became somewhat grown, and this happened very early, we were able to include them in our work, through many different facets and ways. For example, very early on, we were able to ask them and to show them how to do certain elementary research in encyclopedias and books, and so on, find necessary quotes and such. We had and still have a very large library with all the necessary reference materials. Because, after all, we are quite far from Boston or New York, where such material would be more readily accessible. And so we were able to use child labor, as little researchers. We taught them all very early how to type. This was half play and half work. And no matter how many children we might have had, we still would never have enough to do all the typing that was necessary.”

“We spent much time talking about what is going on in the world. Usually at mealtime, you know, in order to save time. We always attempted to involve the children in everything that was interesting to us and important to us. We never felt that they were too young to understand. ..The earlier one can involve the children, children in general, in what is important to the parents, the better able they are to assimilate that and understand. And, of course, the children also would share with us their impressions from school and from their friends.

We taught the children. We taught them Russian language, Russian literature, history, geography, world history and later mathematics and algebra. We taught them first of all because it was crucial that their Russian would be proper, properly learned, and would be their first language, and that it would be a well learned, rich language for them. And in fact they were able to learn to read, and read very complicated books, much earlier than they read it in English.

Yermolai started reading Russian when he was five years old, and Ignat at three and a half, because he could not possibly allow that Yermolai should be able to do something that he could not. Yermolia was taught how to read, Ignat was not, because he was too young, so, he taught himself. Incorrectly.....Stefan learned at five. This was also done in the family way, because every day I would spend time with them, and so would my husband, and also my mother. But one has to admit that we never were able or indeed wanted to take a vacation and go somewhere as a family, as most families do. That simply never happened. We never had time for something like that.”

“We went to concerts quite a lot and because we usually couldn’t have the time to go very far, we usually went to concerts in Vermont. And one has to say that in the south Vermont there is a very strong musical center around Brattleboro, because Rudolf Serkin had lived there for so many years. We have very close connections with the Brattleboro Music Center and the whole area. And of course, I am sorry to say that isn’t Vermont, but we have again a very close contact with Hanover, New Hampshire. “

Thoughts on Life in the West: For us, as for our children, life in the West has been a very rich experience. In particular life in Vermont and in New England, where, what might be called archaic methods of self-government, but what are in reality really wonderful ways that grassroots democracy works. Being able to see how this works and how decisions are brought to life, and its actions. We feel this is an extremely valuable experience. It was not new to us.

This type of self-government, of strong local government had existed in Russia in nineteenth century, and it was called “zemstvo.” And it seems to us that it is a very healthy thing, and my husband feels that the hope for Russia’s future is very strongly connected to this type of life and this type of local self-government.

But you see, it is one thing to know this as an abstraction, as a part of Russia’s history, for example, and quite another to see how it actually happens, for example in New England.

We were not able to attend the town meeting here often, but we knew exactly what was going on, because we had friends with whom we talked about it, we gossiped about it, if you like, but we knew what items are on the ballot, what is being voted for, what is being discussed, why certain motions have faltered and why others have gone through, so although we were not personally involved, other than paying taxes of course, yet we were quite interested in what was going on, and we knew what was happening here.

This part of our experience is extremely valuable for us and we are taking it back with us to Russia. It has been very important for us to confirm our belief that it is impossible to have a true citizen without having private property.

A person respects himself when he is responsible for his own life, for his work, for his family, for his property. When he is not waiting that somebody from the top will tell him to do something this way or another way, when he is making decisions on his own, or a local community makes a decision on its own for its goals. Once again, this is very valuable and we take the memory of this back with us to Russian.

And finally, we are also taking with us the memory of how this is a very beautiful and simple land.

On Being a Wife, Mother and Exiled: Simply I just do whatever is required of me. And, of course, a lot is required. We have been here pretty much alone, in a sense, although, once again, we have very cordial relationships with Vermonters, but they have not been involved in our work. Our work is connected integrally with the Russian language, with the Russian history and so on.

So it is clear that one must help one’s husband as much as possible and I’ve done that. It is also clear that when one is exiled from one’s country and in one day everything from your past is cut off, your friends, your life, your property, and language, then from that moment on one feels, perhaps mistakenly, one feels that one’s children have been punished, that they have been deprived of everything. And then a mother, as I imagine, any mother, because of her nature, becomes a “mama bear,” becomes a lioness, who must protect. And this gives one great strength, the feeling that one must replace for one’s children everything they might have lost. To replace their lost environment, to fill the home with the sounds of the language of which they were deprived. Because, of course, at home one could even turn on the radio and hear one’s own language, but here no. To create for them

We must say that we, the adults, felt here for many years very lonely. And I have though that perhaps my children feel the same way. So I did all I could do to prevent them from feeling this loneliness. And it is interesting that literally until the last year or so, I always thought that my children had somehow an unhappy or unbalanced childhood. Because they were deprived of what would have been their normal development in Russia. And I was absolutely ecstatic during the last year, when by pure accident I happened to talk about this with two of my children Stephan and Ignat. I just mentioned it, in passing, and suddenly I got a startled reply back: “Do you think that we had an unhappy childhood? No, not at all. We had an incredibly happy childhood.” It is impossible as a mother to reap a higher reward. Because I did try very hard and as it happens it did work.

So you see, to sum up, when one finds himself in an extreme situation of one sort or another, and clearly our exile put us into such a position for many years to come, then simply one no longer has a choice one simply must overcome the situation and do everything one can do to make some semblance of a normal life. And if there is a secret to it, when one is thrown into the water, one must swim.

Yekaternia Svetlova: For many Cavendish residents the Solzhenitsyn brothers and “Mrs. Svetlova,” were the face of the Solzhenitsyn family. Mrs. Svetlova could be seen daily picking up the mail, going to the post office, driving her grandsons to and from school, or shopping at local stores. Even though she spoke only Russian, her smile did the talking for her. The postmaster at that time, Sophie Snarski, spoke Polish and some Russian. Sophie described how they communicated, “I’d try Russian, then she’d try Polish, and when all else failed, we drew pictures.”

An aeronautical engineer in Russia, Mrs. Svetlova lost her job for being the grandmother of Solzhenitsyn’s child. Considered a formidable intellect in her own right, she had excellent organizational skills. Like the rest of the family, she helped with the publication of her son-in-laws books.

Compared to Switzerland, where we only lived for two years and four months, Americans, and Vermonters in particular could understand you very easily in any language. So if I ever spoke to anyone, let’s say in the store, in Russian, my grandchildren would always ask me,” Why are talking to them in Russian? They don’t understand’ And I would say, ‘You see they are doing exactly what I am asking them to do.’ ..I had relations with all kinds of people, all over the place, especially in the same grocery store, down at Grand Union in Ludlow, at Singleton’s, all the tellers at the bank. They always wave to me, they call me by name when I come in, and although my vocabulary may be all of ten words or so, may be a little more, I always seem to be able to get across what I want to say, it is always a joy to do. No one ever gets irritated at all. So, I feel really comfortable here. Very much at home.”

In Cavendish, Mrs. Svetlova not only handled various household chores, but she also helped in preparing her son-in-law’s books for print by painstakingly turning English letters into Cyrillic script. Her eye for detail would prove to have a very important application when a bank robbery happened in Ludlow. I arrived at the Vermont National Bank in Ludlow almost at closing time. So I come in at about 4:30 in the day. I came up to the first teller window, I wanted to cash a check, so I giver her the check and turn around and at the window next to her is a tall blond man in a hat, kind of a cowboy hat, and in his hand was a gun. We were the only customers in the bank. I looked at the tellers, saw their pale, stunned faces. Perhaps because it was the end of the work day, most of the money had been stored away already. So they what they had in any case, in a little bag, and gave it to him. He took it and left. So I came up to the door, behind him, I opened the door, and looked where was going. In any case, I cashed my check. ..Actually a person had come up at that point and she showed the person, that is where he went. So, later on I was asked to describe him to the police, which I also did, so I was able to be of some help. And I was a hero there for at least a full year.”  Within the family, while a good story, they weren’t surprised by Mrs. Svetlova’s actions. As her daughter noted “We always knew that she was a hero.”

Many people that visit the CHS Museum ask if Solzhenitsyn was happy in Cavendish. It is through the efforts of Natalia and Mrs. Svetlova, that he was able to make the following comments upon his leaving Cavendish. Purely for my work, the eighteen years in Vermont have been the happiest of my life. Simply put, over eighteen years I have not had one creative drought. Seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, without holidays or vacations, I worked, and that’s all there is to it. Such conditions, from this point of view, in terms of books and writing and just day-to-day life, I had never had before and will never have again. This was the richest period of my creative work. The New Yorker Feb. 14, 1994, The Exile Returns David Remnick

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cavendish Women You Should Know: Ethel Roosevelt Derby

Ethel after moving into the White House
Born at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, NY, Ethel was the youngest daughter and fourth child of President Theodore Roosevelt. Seven years younger than her half sister Alice, she had two older [Theodore (Ted) and Kermit]  and two younger  [Archibald (Archie) and Quentin] brothers. She was not quite 10 when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901 and her family took up residence in the White House. She would live there for seven years, having her “Coming Out Party” from Pennsylvania Ave at 17.

Unlike her more flamboyant and attention seeking older sister Alice, Ethel preferred not to be the center of attention. None the less she was a  “take charge” person from childhood, While her brothers would refer to her as “bossy,” her father once remarked: "she had a way of doing everything and managing everybody." In some aspects, this would be a lifetime role she assumed within her family.

In spite of her age, Ethel often filled in for her mother at the White House, be it care for her siblings, ordering meals or assigning tasks to the staff. In his Letters to My Children, President Roosevelt makes note of Ethel’s role within the family.

1904 to Kermit, Mother went off for three days to New York and Mame and Quentin took instant advantage of her absence to fall sick. Quentin's sickness was surely due to a riot in candy and ice-cream with chocolate sauce. He was a very sad bunny next morning and spent a couple of days in bed. Ethel, as always, was as good as gold both to him and to Archie, and largely relieved me of my duties as vice-mother.
Ethel is on the far right standing behind her mother.
 I few months later he writes to Ethel, I think you are a little trump and I love your letter, and the way you take care of the children and keep down the expenses and cook bread and are just your own blessed busy cunning self.

 A day later he sends a “Picture Letter” to Darling Ethel:
Here goes for the picture letter! [These are letter that he illustrates.]
Ethel administers necessary discipline to Archie and Quentin.

Ethel gives sick Yagenka a bottle of medicine.

Father playing tennis with Mr. Cooley. (Father's shape and spectacles are reproduced with photographic fidelity; also notice Mr. Cooley's smile.)

Leo chases a squirrel, which fortunately he can't catch.

A nice policeman feeding a squirrel with bread; I fed two with bread this afternoon.

There! My invention has given out. Mother and Aunt Emily have been on a picnic down the river with General Crozier; we have been sitting on the portico in the moonlight. Sister is very good. Your loving father.

In 1906, the President letters are addressed to Blessed Ethel or Darling Ethel, and on June 24, he has a question for her, Has the lordly Ted turned up yet? Is his loving sister able, unassisted, to reduce the size of his head, or does she need any assistance from her male parent? Your affectionate father, The Tyrant.

The President wrote to his children as equals and felt he could confide in Ethel, who was about 14 when he wrote to her while she was at Sagamore Hill. He said of a party of boys that Quentin had at the White House: "They played hard, and it made me realize how old I had grown and how very busy I had been the last few years to find that they had grown so that I was not needed in the play. Do you recollect how we all of us used to play hide and go seek in the White House, and have obstacle races down the hall when you brought in your friends?"

Cavendish was Ethel’s summer home as an adult. She would tell stories at the Library about what it was like growing up in the White House. Phyllis Bont related two of the stories Ethel told. Prior to state dinners, Ethel and her siblings would hide under the tables, easily concealed by the floor length table cloths. Once the women were seated, the women would slip off their shoes and the Roosevelt children would get to work mixing them up. Another time, the children placed a donkey in an elevator and pressed the button so when the elevator arrived at his designated floor, a snooty statesman they didn’t care for would be greeted by the donkey.

Ethel and Dick Derby
Married to Dr. Richard Derby in 1913, Ethel would volunteer with him in WWI as a nurse at the American Ambulance Hospital, leaving behind their baby with her parents at Sagamore Hill. While the four sons of Theodore Roosevelt are credited for joining the army long before the US entered World War I, it was actually Ethel who enlisted first in 1914. It is also where she began her close and lifelong association with the American Red Cross.

Ethel’s nursing background was instrumental in her abilities to help her family heal from numerous tragedies. Her brother Quentin, a pilot, was killed in WWI in 1918. Six months later her father would die. In 1922, her oldest son died of blood poisoning at eight years of age. The trauma of losing a child plunged Dick Derby into a deep depression that lasted for several years. It would fall to Ethel to maintain the household, the finances and the rest of the family.

Out of her four brothers, three would die at war-Quentin in WWI and Ted and Kermit during WWII. Ted died of a heart attack several days after D Day, where he lead troops Sadly Kermit took his own life while serving in Alaska.  

By 1928, with her husband doing much better and working at the Glen Cove Hospital, Ethel began what turned into six decades of volunteering with the Oyster Bay Red Cross. She played a major role in preserving Sagamore Hill, her father's estate at Oyster Bay and having it placed on the National Trust for Historical Preservation. She was a member of the board of directors of the Museum of Natural History in New York. Like her first cousin Eleanor, whom she was thought to resemble, she was concerned with civil rights. However, her focus was local first. In Oyster Bay, where she thought blacks were being discriminated against, Ethel formed a committee to bring low income housing to the community.
When asked to pose for her portrait, she opted for her Red Cross uniform

She gave the seconding speech for the nomination of Richard Nixon at the Republican National Convention in 1960. Her last visit to the White House was in 1977 when she visited the Carters.

"If there was any local activity of any kind, she either started it or was in it," said Leonard Hall, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a congressman whose district was made up of part of Nassau County. "'No' was not in her vocabulary."

Ethel was certainly involved in Cavendish activities, when she was in town.  Phyllis Bont describes how Ethel was one of the first people to stop by and welcome them to Cavendish, when they moved here in 1957, when Dr. Gene Bont became the physician for the Black River Health Center . Ethel brought wine, bread and “something else” Phyllis recalled. It’s very possible that the third item was salt and she would have recited the lines from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” -bread so you never know hunger, salt that you may always have flavor and wine for joy and prosperity.  Phyllis had no idea who she was, and thought she was a farmer’s wife. However, it wouldn’t be long before she understood who Ethel was.

Mary Davis, the realtor, invited Phyllis to come and play bridge with a number of other women in town. Ethel showed up and announced that while she didn’t play bridge, she wanted the women to know there was a new clinic -the Black River Health Center. The doctors were excellent and she suggested that the women change doctors immediately. Phyllis was mortified and said the bridge playing was tense at best. She noted that while that may have worked in Oyster Bay in didn’t work in a small rural Vermont town, where people felt a loyalty to their physician and weren’t about to change regardless of who the new provider was or who told them to make such a change.

Over the years, Ethel was to give Phyllis a copy of her father’s book, “Letters to My Children.” In the winter, Ethel would host a sledding party, inviting people to enjoy the amazing hill on their property off the South Reading Rd. Ethel helped to found the Cavendish Historical Society, served on the board and even donated to the first exhibit held at the Museum.

• Roosevelt-Derby-Williams Papers 1863-1977 Papers concerning three generations of the Theodore Roosevelt family. Chiefly contains correspondence, of Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, her daughter, Ethel Roosevelt Derby, and Ethel's daughter, Edith Roosevelt Derby Williams. Includes sizable correspondence of Emily Tyler Carow, Theodore Roosevelt, Quentin Roosevelt, and Richard Derby, as well, and numerous photographs.