Monday, December 1, 2014

Celebrating a Russian Christmas in Cavendish

As part of understanding the heritage of the many countries that Cavendish residents have come from, this holiday season the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) is celebrating Russia.

While many will immediately think of Cavendish’s connection with the famous Russian writer and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who lived in our town for 18 of the 20 he was in exile, the first Russians came to our area in the early 1900s.

While an influx of Russian Jews settled in Burlington, Vermont in the late 1800s because of religious persecution, economic opportunity is what brought Russian immigrants to Claremont, Springfield and Cavendish. In Claremont, they came from the provinces of Minsk, Wilensk, and Grodnensk, which were between Moscow and Warsaw near the Polish border. Since the Gays went to Eastern Europe to recruit workers for their Cavendish mill, it is expected that many of Cavendish’s Russian immigrants came from similar areas.

Former Cavendish postmaster Sophie Snarski’s family was an example of what were known as  “chain immigrants”- they came to the area because relatives who settled here told them to come because there was work. Sophie described her family as being from a part of Eastern Europe that “sometimes we were Polish and sometimes we were Russian.” Learning Polish from her parents, she also picked up quite a bit of Russian. “It wasn’t very good Russian,” she would add.

While Cavendish does not have a Russian Orthodox Church, Springfield and Claremont both started congregations in the early 1900s, which continue today.  

Peter the Great
Soviet era tree ornament
Not only do customs and traditions very throughout Russia, but significant alterations where made during the Soviet era. 

Thanks to the influence of the Tsar Peter the Great and his travels to Europe,  Christmas was celebrated in Russia on December 25, complete with Christmas trees, gifts and even St. Nicholas. After the 1917 Revolution, along with other religious holidays, Christmas was banned. While the religious aspects of the holiday would not reappear again until 1992 with the fall of communism, in the 1930s, Stalin thought it would create a more stable society by having rituals and traditions.

Father Frost and Snow Maiden
Reinstating many of the folk customs, the focus was on New Years not Christmas. Instead of Santa Claus or St. Nicholas, Ded Moroz, Father Frost, who is often accompanied by his granddaughter and helper Snegurochka, Snow Maiden, brings the presents on New Years Eve. The tree, complete with decorations, lights and stars, is also reserved for New Years. 

The Christmas season begins November 28 and goes until January 6. All dates are given according to the Old Style calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church, which is 13 days later than the secular calendar. The official Christmas and New Years holiday in Russia lasts from Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve) to January 10 but some Russians are now observing Christmas on December 25.  Learn more by watching the two part series How to Celebrate Russian Christmas. 

Many of those who came to Cavendish, were from villages, where it would have been customary to place a sheaf of the year’s grain crop and decorate it with ribbons. If you notice the swags on the Museum and Cavendish Stone Church, you’ll see that these traditions continue. Instead of wheat, it’s likely that many of our Russian immigrants would have used flax, once grown in Cavendish, as well as other items found in nature-birch and pinecones.

On December 22, CHS will be holding a series of workshops for the students of the Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) where the students will engage in a “hands on activity,” as well as sample Russian Christmas goodies, as follows:
K: Matryohska doll ornaments
1st & 2nd Grade Gzhel style pottery Christmas cards (stenciling)
3rd Grade snowflake chains and ballerinas
4th Grade  Pointed star in one snip decorated in Russian patterns
5th Grade Christmas trees that can also be a gift container or an ornament
6th Grade Star ornament made with twigs

A very special note of thanks to Svetlana Phillips, who now lives in Cavendish, but who grew up in the Ukraine during the Soviet era and like many had parents that were both Russian and Ukrainian. Svetlana has shared many of her stories, recipes and materials to help CHS organize this event.

If you are interested in helping with a workshop, please contact or call 802-226-7807.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Candles for the Museum

The lights are on at the Cavendish Stone Church. The Cavendish Historical Society is looking for battery powered candles to put in the Museum window as well. If you have some you'd like to donate, e-mail or call 802-226-7807.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Twenty Mile Stream School by Mary Adams Fulhum

Memories of Mrs. Mary Adams Fullum, widow of Wallace Sullivan Fullum of Twenty-Mile Stream Cavendish.
Mary was born in Cavendish 9 April 1836, daughter of Proctor and Mary (Baldwin) Adams. (see Families of Cavendish, Vol. 1, and Vol 3). 

"A Few Reminiscences of School District Number Five, Twenty-Mile Stream, in Cavendish"
by Mary Adams Fulhum, Bellows Falls, Vermont.  Written in 1910.

                  Sometime in the last years of the 17th century, my maternal grandfather, Thomas Baldwin,became an inhabitant of the Twenty-Mile Stream School District, bringing his bride and their very few belongings by ox team from Massachusetts, to the historic Captain John Coffeen Place, leaving my grandmother there while he prepared a home for them.  It was a little log cabin in the northwest corner of the district and the northwest corner of the town as well.  In those early years his milling had to be done by carrying bags of grain on his back and later on horseback to Chester, I think. 

                  There were born to them nine children—six boys and three girls.  My mother next to the youngest of the children, commenced her schooling in a room in the home of Mr. James Smith, now [1920] the home of the Willis Spaulding family.  Between the terms of school she helped about the household duties.  She learned to spin both flax and wool and also to weave them into cloth which later was colored and made into garments for all members of the household by a seamstress hired by the family for the purpose.  The boots and shoes of the family were manufactured by a traveling cobbler or shoemaker who made a business of going from house to house, plying his trade or "whipping the cat" as it was then called.  After a while several industries had started up in the immediate neighborhood. There was a carding machine for forming the wool into rolls, ready for the spinning wheels which had previously been done by hand cards.  Then a starch factory was put in operation by Esquire William Smith where people could dispose of their surplus potatoes to be made into starch. In the meantime the people had built themselves a schoolhouse near the center of the district, that being the old one that was torn down in 1861. 

                  About the year 1820 my paternal grandfather, Salathiel Adams Sr., located in the south end of the district on the place known I think, as the Shurtleff Tavern, and in which he also entertained travelers.  It stood on the rise of ground directly across the road from where Mr. Walton Green's barn now stands.  After awhile his two sons Salathiel Jr. and Proctor Adams, joined him and built themselves homes—one on each side of him.  Salathiel Adams Jr. built where Walton Green now lives and Proctor where John Dix lives.  The brothers made an industry of hop raising, each one having a house for curing or drying them.  They also had a mill for cider making a little farther up the stream.  Proctor gave up his interest in both of these enterprises after a few years and so they were continued by Salathiel. Salathiel also had and operated a mill across the stream for sawing lumber.  The cider mill was washed away in the freshet of 1869, but the sawmill is now standing.  

                  Seventy years ago, the little burg at the south end of the district afforded quite a number of different vocations. Salathiel Adams was a carpenter and a joiner and conducted both cider and saw mills.  Salathiel Adams Sr. was a cooper.  Proctor Adams was a shoemaker.  Stillman Marsh was the blacksmith and Zenas Clark was the tanner.

                  The school operated in an orderly fashion.  Each family in the district sent its quota of scholars to the square roofed schoolhouse and most of them were a good large quota at that. The schoolroom had two rows of seats around its outer edge and between 40 and 50 lads and lassies took their allotted places upon them.  At night when the oldest were lined up for the last spelling, they reached fully across two sides of the schoolroom.  There was usually held two terms of school of three months each in each year.  Each district had the ruling of their own affairs. They held yearly meetings and appointed a Clerk, Treasurer, Prudential Committee and Tax Collector, to conduct the affairs for the year.  The laws of the State of Vermont required each district to maintain a certain number of weeks of school at their own expense.  When they complied with that, they could draw from the Town a certain amount of State money which the State provided each Town for that purpose.  There came a time when several of the districts in our town failed to comply with the requirements of the State, thereby losing their portion of public money.  The surplus money was then distributed amongst those that had conformed to the law—the Wheeler School being one of them.  It enabled the people to maintain the two terms of four months each for two or three years, but by that time, the delinquents had got their eyes opened to the situation and returned to their proper way.

                  Three generations of my family have conned the rudiments of their education within the walls of the two schoolrooms.  My mother, myself and my children.  My first teacher was Sally Hall, a daughter of Captain James Wharrol Hall, then living just outside the district's limits in the town of Reading.  For over half a century, this Cavendish District was my home.  May God's Blessings rest upon it." 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Workshop: Nov. 1

Día de los Muertos, Día de los Difuntos or Día de Muert

As part of the Cavendish Historical Society's Hands on History and Honoring Our Heritage programs, the annual Dia de los muertos workshop will be held on Nov. 1 (Saturday) from 3-5 pm at Gethsemane Church Parish Hall, off of Depot Street in Proctorsville. Activities including decorating sugar skulls, making Papel Picado (paper cuts), paper flowers and more. This is a free event but donations are appreciated to help with expenses. 

An ancient Aztec celebration in memory of deceased ancestors, Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 (All Saints' Day) and November 2 (All Souls' Day). The holiday is especially popular in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, it is also celebrated in other parts of South America and in communities with strong Latino roots.

Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead joyfully, and though it occurs at the same time as Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Souls Day, the traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life. The belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.

The origins of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous peoples of the area, such as the Aztec, Maya, P'urhépecha, Nahua, and Totonac. Rituals celebrating the lives of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations for at least the last 3000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern Catrina.

Beliefs and customs

Plans for the festival are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the period of October 31 and November 2, families usually clean and decorate the graves. Most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas, or offerings, which often include orange marigold called Flor de Muerto, or zempoalxochitl, Nahuatl for "twenty-flower.” Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or little angels), and bottles of tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas (altars) are also put in homes. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives.

Altars are decorated with cempazúchil flowers, images of saints, candles, traditional foods and things that once belonged to the deceased to honor and please the spirits. What the spirits consume is steam from the food. They do not digest it physically; they extract the goodness from what is provided. After the spirits leave, the living visit each other in their homes and exchange the prepared food. Images of favorite saints are frequently placed on the altar to elicit special divine protection for loved ones. A towel, soap and mirror are also seen on the altars for the spirits to freshen up before feasting on their favorite foods.

In some cases chairs are placed for the spirits to sit and rest. In the state of Veracruz the Totonac's an indigenous group suspend a wooden board from the ceiling used for the altar. They also suspend local fruits such as bananas, jicamas, limes, oranges, and mandarins from the ceiling. Traditionally these altars are decorated with green tepejilote leaves that are fashioned in the style of suns, stars, and pineapples. The Totonac's also embroider skirts, blouses, napkins, and tablecloths because it is believed that the spirits use these clothes to carry away their food.

The colors of the various items on the altar have the following meaning:
Purple: signifies pain, suffering, grief, and mourning.
Pink: celebration
White: purity and hope
Orange: sun
Red: the blood of life
Yellow: cempazuchitl are marigolds that symbolize death. Petals are used to make a trail so that the spirits can see the path to their altars.

"Calaveras" – short poems mocking epitaphs of friends, sometimes with things they used to do in life originated in the 18th-19th century, after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future.”

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (calavera), which is represented in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for "skeleton"), and foods such as sugar skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto (or "bread of the dead"), a sweet egg bread made in various shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal and often vary from town to town. Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos opens its doors to visitors in exchange for 'veladoras' (small wax candles) to show respect for the recently dead. In return, the visitors receive tamales and 'atole'. This is only done by the owners of the house where somebody in the household has died in the previous year. In some parts of the country, children in costumes roam the streets, asking passersby for a calaverita, a small gift of money; they don't knock on people's doors.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Scribble II-Fall 2014

Upcoming Fall Activities

Even though the museum is closed, the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) is very active. Not only is the Young Historians program at Cavendish Town Elementary School in full swing,  we also have several community activities coming up:

November 1 (Saturday): Annual Dia de los Muertos Workshop:  Half way between fall and winter solstice, many cultures believe this is a time when those who have died return to visit the living. Our focus is on the South American customs, particularly Mexico. The workshop will take place from 3-5 at Gethsemane Episcopal Church, off of Depot Street, Parish Hall. Workshop activities will include: Sand painting, skull cookie decorating; sugar skull decorating (they're made of plaster); papel picado (Mexican paper cut banners); paper flowers; and creation of a community altar. This is a free event but donations are appreciated.

November 8 (Saturday): Fall dinner and sale, 5:30-7 at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. Menu includes Pork Roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegan option for main dish, green beans, butternut squash, applesauce, homemade biscuits, dessert (crisps, pies and ice cream) Gluten free options. Books and other items including “crickets” wooden benches from the Cavendish Stone Church will be on sale. The cost is $10 for Adults, $5 for children under 12 and free for children under 6.

For more information about these events, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

A Yankee Lifestyle for Today

The hardscrabble life of the early settlers to Cavendish and other parts of New England required that they “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Yankee thrift was key to survival.

The founding Cavendish families-Coffeens, Duttons and Proctors- had to live within their means as credit cards, mass produced goods, and even “labor saving devices” were unknown. Fortunately, they were not continually bombarded, in all directions with advertisements and other strategies to make them want to spend money.

 If we could channel John and Suzanna Coffeen, or the other “first couples of Cavendish” these are suggestions they might have as to how we can adopt their guiding principles of thrift:

Differentiating between Needs and Wants: Ask yourself the following questions before making purchases:
• Is it essential for my health and well-being? Food, housing, clothing, medications and means of mobility are essential. Within that are elements that separate a need from a want. Things like sodas, snack foods, luxury clothes and cars are not essential. Nuts versus cake for food, water over soda, are examples of choices that meet the need in an affordable and healthy manner.
• Do you measure your self worth by what you have versus who you are? Do you want something because someone else has it or is it something you need?

Adopt the Buyerarchy: Reflect what you collect; Use what you have; Borrow what you need; Swap; Make it yourself; Try a thrift store and Buy only when you’ve tried the other options, and then when it’s on sale. Use cash, versus a credit card, as you’ll spend less and are smarter in your selection.

Develop social capital: Volunteerism was key then and it continues to this day. Activities, such as a barn raising or a sewing bee, were opportunities for people to socialize, check in on their neighbors and get something done. Basically, if you want to make sure someone is going to be there when you need the help, be there for others.

Downsize Possessions: What brings us joy and contentment is our connections with one another not the pile of stuff in the closet. The more stuff you own, the more it owns you.

-       • Significantly reduce or eliminate TV:  By not watching TV, you reduce exposure to advertisements, reduce energy bill, and have more time to do other things, like take a course at the local adult learning center on basic home repair. If you don’t want to give up TV, consider switching to video streaming which generally doesn’t have ads and is considerably cheaper than a cable bill.
-       • Use the library: Don’t buy what you can borrow. Libraries aren’t just for books, as you can borrow videos, books on tape and use computers to check e-mail. 
-       • Board games last longer than video games and you can play them when the power is out.
-       • Take advantage of local opportunities and enjoy nature
-      •  Entertain at Home: All of the first families owned inns/taverns, so they definitely entertained at home.

Do it Yourself: Not only does it save money, but it gives you the sense of a job well done.

Spend Time with Those Who Share Similar Values: If your closest friends prefer to spend their time shopping and maxing out their credit card, chances are your going to feel it’s the “norm” to do likewise. We are very influenced by the company we keep so if you want to keep your costs under control, socialize more with friends and family who feel the same way.

For more tips on thrifty living, check out the Cavendish Connects Yankee Thrift Pinterest Board.

Are You a Good Ancestor?
The famous polio vaccine pioneer Dr. Jonas Salk’s asked the question, “Are we being good ancestors?” which is interpreted to mean how one’s actions shape the likelihood that future generations enjoy a healthy society and environment. Because we’re a historical society, and the most frequent request we receive is for information about ancestors, we want to suggest that being a good ancestor also includes developing a strong family narrative and sharing it.

Research has shown that those who know their family’s history do better when they face challenges. This is particularly helpful for children who know the ups and downs of their family’s history. Yes, we owned a profitable business and various members served on important boards and in government, but there were also adversities-house fire, divorce, Aunt was arrested etc. This helps people understand they belong to something bigger and that they can persevere.

Interestingly, knowing “the story” isn’t just limited to families, it also has been found to be helpful for schools, organizations, businesses and even towns. During Irene, one of the most frequent questions we received was how did the people in 1927 deal with the aftermath of the flood?

Fortunately, there was a great deal written and documented, and this was made available at the shelter and at the Museum. Soon there was a buzz about town. People were pulling together getting things done and remarking, “just like they did in 1927.” Less than two months after the flood, Cavendish celebrated its 250th anniversary. More than one person commented about the importance of showing future generations, that if we could pull it together to honor our town, they too can manage the crises they face.

So what you can do to create your family’s story for future generations:
• If your family already has a tradition for recording family lore, keep it going.

• Use the “Do You Know Scale” (Bruce Feiler “The Secrets of Happy Families”) as a guide for what to document:
1. Do you know how your parents met?
2. Do you know where your mother grew up?
3. Do you know where your father grew up?
4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
6. Do you know where your parents were married?
7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?
8. Do you know the source of your name?
9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
20. Do you know about a relative whose face "froze" in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

• Seek out family memories and stories from your relatives

•  Organize materials that be easy for your family to access. This can include: scrapbook, website, photo album (be sure to label all photographs), video, digital record, book etc.

• Share the story. Anytime is a good time for storytelling. Whether it’s sitting around the table after Thanksgiving dinner or when driving your child or grandchildren to an activity. The day after Thanksgiving is the National Day of Listening. StoryCorps started this holiday in 2008 and suggests taking an hour to record an interview with a loved one.

The Pinterest site Researching Your Cavendish Roots has other links to help you with this project. 

There is one last thing you can do, donate to CHS (see form on the last page) in order that we can continue to be the keeper of Cavendish’s stories and history.

Carmine Guica Autobiography is Back in Print

If you missed out on purchasing Carmine’s autobiography about life in Cavendish, WWII and the early days of  the Cavendish Historical Society, we’re happy to let you know it’s back in print. The cost is $15 plus $5 for shipping and handling. Checks should be made payable to CHS and mailed to PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.

                                                Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Bruce McEnaney
Kem Phillips
Gail Woods

Margo Caulfield Coordinator

Proctorsville Mill. Check out the Cavendish, VT Facebook page for pictures of Cavendish past and present. 

If you have not joined the Cavendish Historical Society, need to renew your membership, and/or would like to be a volunteer, please complete the form below and sending a check, payable to CHS, to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. All contributions are tax deductible.

Name: _______________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________

Phone Number: _____________________    E-Mail: ____________________________
Membership Level
__ Individual Member $10  ___ Senior Member 65+ $5  ___ Sustaining Member $500
__ Household Member $15  ___ Contributing Member $250                            

___ I would be interested in serving, as a volunteer .I would be interested in serving on the following committee(s):__ Program Planning          __ Fundraising    __ Building (Museum)
__Archives                       _ Budget           ­­–– Cemetery    __ Hands on History

Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes                   __ Educational Programs           __Publications
__ Archaeological Activities               _ Museum & Archival             __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund                             __  Williams Fund                            __ Hands on History
__ Other (please specify)                   __ Cemetery Restoration