Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ANNUAL PHINEAS GAGE WALK & TALK: DR. HARLOW


There are probably few readers in our area that aren’t aware of Phineas Gage, the railroad foreman, who on September 13, 1848, had a tamping rod pass through his head as a result of a blasting accident, and lived for 12 more years. What people may know less about is Dr. John Martyn Harlow, the Cavendish, VT physician who treated him and followed his recovery, thereby documenting the first case of traumatic brain injury in the medical literature.

Harlow’s training in antiphlogistic therapy (preventing or relieving inflammation) was important to Gage survival. But what happened to him when he left Cavendish in 1857?   Was he really the “obscure country doctor,” as he referred to himself? 
Dr. John M. Harlow

Learn more about Dr. Harlow at the Cavendish Historical Society’s annual Phineas Gage Walk  & Talk, which takes place on Sept. 13 at the CHS Museum, Route 131 in Cavendish, VT. The program begins at 2 pm at the Museum. The walk includes the location of the accident, Dr. Harlow’s home/surgery, and the boarding house where Gage was taken after his injury.


This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 802-226-7807 or margoc@tds.net

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chapter 25/ Barn Restoration



Windy Hill Barn

 Following Chapter 25 are photographs of the renovation of the Windy Hill barn that took place earlier this summer. For the prelude and links to all of the chapters go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann. 

The early part of January 1937 was made unpleasant first by a long rain and then ice. Going to the barn I slipped and fell and smashed the lan­tern. I didn’t dare let the cows out and so had to carry them water, Dinah, especially, being in "a delicate condition" was heavy and clumsy and we expected her to drop her calf any day, We fortunately got by this period without mishap and kept busy for the next six weeks with nothing happening of special note.

At town meeting in March I was "chosen" as a trustee of the Town Library, a very nominal office in those days but it gave me my first inside look at town affairs. Actually there were two branch libraries (as neither village would countenance having the town library in the other) the one in Proctorsville, tho small being the more active. In fact the one in Cavendish was moribund and had almost no use, Supposedly ye town clerk was also librarian but she had little time to give to it and there was no money to hire someone else so the books were in a room in her buil­ding. The status quo had existed for some time and the other trustees (we were five) were reluctant to stir up trouble and the situation was impossible to change. However, I remained in office only half of the five-year term as the result of as even more impossible state of affairs in Proctorsville. This branch was left a small sum of money, and the trustees representing that village thought it a fine opportunity to acquire something more impressive than their one room next to the Post Office. No one could quarrel with that; but when they came up with a plan to buy "the old opera house" which was a great ark of a building, I objected strenuously. There was quite a row culminating in a meet­ing of the village to vote on the plan. As the vote was favorable, and also some hard feelings were involved, I resigned. I felt very unhappy about this, even when later on my judgment was vindicated. The newly acquired building was impossible to maintain and had to be given up at some loss, and the library went into cramped rented quarters over the fire-house.

There were other town affairs in which I was interested. Anyone speaking up at Town Meeting inevitably called attention to himself; while plenty of people could talk very few would. So by venturing to question the ex­isting practice of hiring the town's trucks, which seemed to me a most uneconomical way to operate, I became a marked man,- the more so when the voters agreed it might be a good idea to purchase a truck as an ex­periment. I don't know how this might have turned out if, in 1938, I had not been elected an auditor, which put me in a position to keep compar­ative records of costs of running the trucks. One of my fellow auditors (there were three, on this board - which could have used twice the num­ber) was of like mind, and fortunately the road commissioner was very willing to work with us. By the end of a year's operation it was shown conclusively that the town could save money by owning its road equip­ment. So from then on this policy was followed. Of course it was not achieved peacefully and I was pretty unpopular in some quarters, but there could be no question of the benefit to the town.

The people must have been satisfied, as early in 1940 some of the neigh­bors called to ask me to run for selectman. In those days there always was enough competition for office to make things lively, and I consented with reluctance, feeling that I would have little chance against local men who were better known. So when the day came, I was surprised to re­ceive a majority vote; and thus my education in town affairs continued. This was a vary interesting period. The Depression was really hurting, and various means to assist people who were hardest up (nobody was fluent) were in operation thru town, state, and federal agencies. I remember well cooperating with the Overseer of the Poor, who certainly had an almost impossible and thankless job, one phase being the periodic issuance of food stuffs supplied by the government. Also, because of my interest in roads, I found myself in charge of the WPA crew, or rather, of the projects they were working on. It was during the summer of 1940 that we constructed the first strip of hard-surface highway from the edge of Cavendish village northeast all of a mile to Whitesville (a few houses at a road intersection.)

But this is getting way ahead of myself. Town affairs could be spared only a limited time (paying a very limited wage) and I fitted them into my schedule as best I could, sometimes at considerable inconvenience. Returning to 1937: by April the roads had dried out pretty well but were badly washed and cut up and had been very hastily repaired if at all, so that I made some very unkind remarks about the road crew when going down Langworthy Hill [now known as Wiley Hill] to the village several dozen eggs were jounc­ed of the seat with dire results. That was on a weekly trip for my bookkeeping stint, when 1 expected also to shop and then pick up grain at the freight yards.

Sugaring was about over, and we enjoyed the annual sugar-on-snow party with one of the neighbors. Then it was a wet spring, which held up out­door work, but we managed to get the garden in between showers, and also set out more raspberry bushes. After this we had to devote time first, to coning with a bad infestation of tent caterpillars, which spread from the wild cherry growth to the apple trees (another reason to keep the walls free of growth) and required tedious and messy work burning them out; and next it was essential to spray the apples which were load­ed with tiny fruit (they should have been done twice before this, first in the dormant stage and then after the blossom petals had fallen.) And finally, probably because of the bad weather, the calf got sick and re­quired nursing. After she recovered I sold her and bought a better one.

The saying is that "a cold wet May fills the barns with hay" and so it proved. Aided by a heat wave and dry weather in mid-summer, the crop was so good that in July I again had it mowed "on shares" and there was ample; in fact the. Barn could not have taken it all. This conserved my own time for other things, and the weather was grand for outdoor work. But it was altogether too dry for the garden, which suffered severely; we carried some water from the brook but of course the latter was low. A brief downpour about the first of August was most welcome. Then we were again short on water until late in October when there were two heavy rains, the first since June. Altho the deluge stripped the trees of their last bright leaves everyone was thankful to go into winter with full springs.

Besides the gardens, my summer was devoted to making improvements around the place. I was relieved of considerable of the wood chore as I was able to hire a couple of men to work up into cordwood a number of old maple trees over near the road which was our eastern boundary: they were "going" and would otherwise have boon lost as they were bigger than I could have handled. I made use of this "saved" time by continuing clear­ing along the walls of the big mowing. A machine never gets close enough to do a really good job, as it is too easy to snag the end of the cutter bar. So wild growth encroaches fast unless during or immediately after haying, the edges are kept "picked" clean with a scythe. Evidently this had not been done for years so now a scythe was inadequate. I had to use heavy clippers and sometimes a saw or axe and, like co many jobs of rel­ative unimportance, it was slow work. When the children could occasionally help it was pleasant to have their company, and they all were good work­ers. As a number of trees wore involved it also provided some cordwood.

After a while 1 had to drop the clearing when I received a shipment of barbed wire, and begin stringing it on posts I had previously put in. around the edge of the pasture. This was designed to keep the animals out of the woods, a -practice advocated by the government, which provided e subsidy to defray actual out-of-pocket cost. It prevented the cows from browsing on or trampling down new growth and hence theoretically resulted in eventual improvement of the woodland. It also restricted the pasture area, which did not please the cows. I was dubious as to what had been gained by a lot of hard work, but at least it was easier to find them.

Our youngest cow dropped a heifer calf and this one was named Shirley, I suspect after a movie celebrity. But Bobby (the mother) did not have a very good bag which was disappointing for, like all farmers, I wanted to reach the point where I could share milk and was commencing to wonder if we ever would.

So spring merged into summer and summer into fall, without our quite knowing where the time went, But we were able to get fall work done un­usually early,- all garden .produce in, storm windows hung, some manure spread, and the fencing project carried well along. In fact by early November I had completed 134 rods of three-wire fence.

This year when we moved the kitchen range into the house it was placed in the space it was to occupy as long as we had to cook with it, that is, until the power came thru after the war when we were able to have an electric stove. We put it in the corner of the long back room next to the partition with the dining-room, and passed the pipe thru a metal thimble in the wall and thence into the pipe outlet in the dining-room chimney above the fireplace. Isabel always disliked this but it was the best arrangement I could make, At least it had good light from the north window, which then was one of the only two windows in the room, the other at the living-room end looking out back; this presently would belong to the bathroom. Now it gave light for the "dry" sink against the back wall. As previously mentioned, there was no outside door. So the immediate set up was far from ideal, but at least it was convenient to the dining-room. It also left the whole of the "old" kitchen free for use as our living-room. Nor was I sorry to no longer have to move both the range and the water out to the shed-room every spring and back again in the fall. We no longer had the bother of carrying in wood, as I had modified the range to take a double-chimney oil burner, which I had been lured into buying by an attractive catalog. It was no mean undertaking, but I was beginning to feel I could do almost anything. When adjusted, it worked fine; Isabel found she could keep a more even heat than with wood, and also by leaving it "on" overnight the kitchen was warm in the morning, Of course it increased our oil consumption, I had to refill the oil-tank daily from the barrel in the shed room, but this was less of a chore and far cleaner than carrying wood, And it saved wood!

A good outside interest for me was the American Legion. I joined the Post in Proctorsville and generally attended the monthly evening meetings. At that time a great deal was made of the special commemorative holidays. It was considered a duty to always decorate soldiers’ graves just before Memorial Day, A number of old cemeteries are scattered about the town, and a few individual burials such as one a mile above our house close to the old Crown Point military highway. Flag placing was assigned as was most convenient for members of the Post, and helping with this gave me quite a time searching out-of-the-way locations. Then on the day itself there was a parade behind a good hired band, and ceremonies were hold alternate years in the two village schools. As my father had been a Union veteran I was brought up in the tradition and was happy to help carry it on.

The Legion this year held a special ceremony the evening of what I still think of as Armistice Day, 11 November, with a tableau and singing and the awarding of prizes to school children who were winners in an essay contest sponsored by the Post. Events in Europe were beginning to make an impression here, undoubtedly stirring the memories of veterans of what was then the World War, Whatever the reason, activities increased,
Our piano was proving its worth, Not only was Ann getting on well with her lessons, but Isabel enjoyed playing. I had almost forgotten the long ago times at her home when family and various friends used to gather around the same old Chickering, which I now have to play and sing. [Chickering and Sons was an American Piano manufacturer. Founded in 1823, Chickering pianos were made until 1983, and were known for producing award-winning instruments of superb quality and design.] It was very pleasant.

Having discovered that by shopping in Rutland we more than saved the cost of gas and  also found greater variety to choose from, we drove there more frequently when we could spare the time. Even under good conditions the gravel roads with their sharp curves and steep grades were not too easy for Lizzy, and if we made the trip (33 miles) in an hour and a half we were doing well. But it was nice to have a little change, and we took the children when we could,

There also was an amusing puppet show at Fletcher Farm, and the usual 4-11 round-up at Windsor. So the year would have ended on a happy note had not Isabel become ill, requiring an operation, which was performed at the hospital in Burlington in mid-December. She was not able to be about for Christmas, so I made up a bed for her in the window embrasure of the living-room where we usually had the tree, and put up the tree in the dining-room where she could see it thru the open doors. For me it was a period of very great worry.

Pete Newton checking out the flooring
Windy Hill Barn Renovation: This summer, the current owners of Windy Hill had the barn restored, which figured so prominently in Tiemann's Memoirs. Thanks to Mary Anne Butler, below are pictures she took during the renovation.  
Amos Newton one of the restorers

Barn floor
Side view of barn
Nailing the door in place.
Door Raising with Pete and Amos.
Pete Newton unloading lumber for the barn 













Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chapter 24: Tiemann Memoirs/ Fletcher Farms


 Following Chapter 24 is a brief history of Fletcher Farms.  For the prelude and links to all of the chapters go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

In the course of marketing the dressed cocks I called on a man who wanted help with his office-work, and as I was qualified the contact resulted in employment for a half to a full day weekly for the next several years. The modest pay was a great help in buying groceries, which I did upon leaving work, thus avoiding a special trip to the village. While it cut into the time I had formerly given to writing, it was more productive,

For some reason the haying dragged out that year, and was not finished until the end of August. Probably it was a summer when I had to spend a couple of weeks in training at Fort Ethan Allen in order to retain my active Reserve Commission; but this was something in which I was keenly interested and so did not begrudge the time when it could possibly be arranged. I even managed to keep on with a military correspondence course in order to secure more credits. I'm sure most people of that time considered it a rather idiotic but harmless hobby, but it gave me satisfaction and a needed change,- and later on paid off handsomely, I think to the Country as well as to myself.- Anyway, the haying finally got done and/then there was the usual multitude of cleanup jobs. Isabel, after putting up the usual garden crops, found some nice peaches in the market and filled many jars (this was something we were very fond of but could not grow successfully in our climate,) And I bought a Jersey heifer calf to raise,

Wyeth had to be taken to Rutland for an eye, check. He had been working hard and deserved a break, so while we were in town I let him browse around a couple of sporting goods stores, One of his hobbies was firearms and I believe it was on this expedition that he found a fairly good Sharps carbine the purchase of which we were able to finance (it being long before the days when antique weapons even approached their present astronomic prices,)-Also in the entertainment field the family attend­ed a Walter Hard program which was very good, in the "theater" which had been constructed in the big barn at Fletcher Farm, a recently constituted philanthropic group, just over the Cavendish town line in Ludlow.

The autumn was chill but beautiful, and the few rainy days were useful for inside painting. I also gave the cow barn a there cleaning, sprayed it with disinfectant, and finished the walls with a good coat of white­wash, Then a neighbor wanted help getting in corn for ensilage. And at last I got around to digging the potatoes - a modest ten bushels - which ended the garden, We were so busy that a couple of nights we had to work by lantern light, out at the barn plucking ducks and chickens for market, It was on one of these evenings that I happened to look toward the north where the horizon was brilliantly alight, "What do you suppose it can be?" I asked Isabel - the first thought being fire, always a horrid possibility in the country, But as brilliant shimmering fingers shot up into the sky we could not doubt that it was the Aurora Borealis. It was the first such exhibition we had seen here, and was a breath taking spectacle lasting for almost two hours. During late summer and fall the northern lights are not uncommon as a pale band of gold across the sky, but seldom do they put on a real show.

Then came a period of cold and snow, "Do stop in and prod them about the stove," Isabel urged. "It's freezing here," The Heatrola had gone to the shop for a repair I could not make myself. So I prodded and received the stock answer about hard-to-get parts. Tho it grew milder for a while, it was bleak and rainy and we were very glad when the stove was returned, 'the more so because I was in bed with another of my severe colds (an affliction which bothered me less and less, doubtless thanks to outdoor life and healthful climate.)

My convalescence was enlivened by Isabel's account of how she had purchased a "player" piano, which someone had abandoned in storage. Not exactly handsome, it had no music rolls and we never tried to see if the player would work; but for the girls to' learn and practice on it was well worth the $15, we paid for it delivered! (At a later time after inheriting a real piano, we gave the "player" to some summer neighbors,... who later in turn contributed it to an auction, and it ended up on the platform of the to hall where I imagine it still is,)

Altho the cord wood had been brought up and stacked at the shed in good season, the sawing was delayed and it kept getting later and later. Then intense cold - 10 below zero with that good old northwest wind ­and snow hit us in early December. This further hold up and then made difficult the sawing stint. So when at last it was completed I was considerably relieved, and there seemed and adequate supply.

Time not otherwise occupied I spent helping Isabel change some of our domestic arrangements, which began to assume their final pattern. Neither of us had liked having our bedroom on the first floor (not having boon brought up with this system) but considerable work was necessary before the two north rooms upstairs could be used. Forming the partition between wore their closets, shallow but so long that the far end of each was most inconvenient to reach. By tearing out the one belonging to the front room and shortening the other, needed space was gained for the smaller room. I then built a new closet for the front room extending out into the hallway by the foot of the attic stairs. When this was finished and much plaster repair down on the walls, the room was re­decorated with a simple rose pattern paper the girls liked. The trim was painted white. We had found a little old iron stove "Rathbone & Go. Pat. 1865" and set it up on the hearth to take off the chill. The girls moved in and used that room as long as they remained at home.

Then we went to work on the room they had vacated in the southeast corner, The first task was to build a small closet behind the door (in most old houses, closets must have been a second thought, as where rooms did not lack them completely they were very poorly designed.) Then this room, also, was completely "done over". Isabel choose paper with a small oak-leaf-acorn pattern, white on blue, the floor was paint­ed a darker blue; trim and ceiling, white. The pipe from the room below gave enough warmth so that we blocked the-fire-place flue, This had one serious drawback: occasionally moisture distilled from not-quite-dry wood condensed in the short horizontal length to the chimney and ran out at the seams, the odorous black drip splashing from the floor onto the wallpaper and baseboard, making an unsightly mess. - Isabel and I moved in as soon as we could, and it has been the "master bedroom" since.

This move completed, we could better see the way we wanted to arrange things down-stairs and I began to plan, The larger part of the long back room would make a nice kitchen, with a bath partitioned off in the cor­ner adjacent to tie old kitchen which would become the permanent living-room, The "front parlor" would be convenient as a dining-room, opening directly into the new kitchen behind it. Water for the bath and kitchen was the big problem, as the gravity inflow from the spring provided no pressure; but I had glimmer of a thought as to how this could be work­ed out, My ideas tend to germinate slowly so it is best to give them time,- a matter of years in some cases. Then the result usually is sat­isfying, There seemed no hurry in this case, and there were more pressing matters.

During the summer we had acquired some ducklings. They were most amusing-creatures; loved the back brook and grew amazingly. A little cracked grain kept them well and happy. When they reached maturity we selected the best drake and two ducks to keep for hatching eggs in the spring; the others we sold or ate. But I wouldn't have bothered with them except for var­iety, They were a great nuance to pluck because of the fine down which required perseverance to remove (it could be singed off but this was apt to spoil the appearance.) - I fixed a nice one for Isabella birthday.

Along with other preparations for Christmas I was having made for her a pair of snow-shoos by a man in Maine who specialized in such things. They turned out to be very good and also gay, with red and green wool tufts around the front edges. Then one day the minister came up from the village and we all went out to the pasture and cut some nice spruces to decorate the church, as well as fir trees for both families. - We sent trees "home" as usual, and also some dressed chickens.

However, we never did really catch up on the lost time; in contrast with the previous year everything continued to run late. Moving in the stove and hanging the storm sash was not accomplished until just before the holidays. Them by helping a neighbor saw for a couple of days I financed a shopping expedition to Rutland. And in between times I was getting up as much reserve wood as I could. Then. everything came to a halt when it turned mild and rained all one day, making it too messy to work outside.

A lovely candlelight service at the church on Christmas Eve did much to sooth rather frayed nerves, even tho Isabel and I had much to do when we got home. Santa Claus does not always lead an easy life!

Fletcher Farm and Walter Hard: Tiemann describes how the family attended a "Walter Hard Program" at the newly formed playhouse at Fletcher Farm. Born in Manchester, Vermont in 1882, Walter Hard ran the family drug store there, but his heart was in journalism and story telling. By 1930, Hard had produced his first collection of poems, Some Vermonters, and his column regularly appeared in the Rutland Herald, Boston Transcript, Boston Globe, New York Herald Tribune, and Chicago Tribune. When he died in 1966, Walter Hard left behind nine books of poems and two prose works, one of which he wrote with his wife, Margaret. He was an Editorial Associate for Vermont Life from its first issue in autumn 1946 until spring 1951; wrote the “Green Mountain Post Boy” feature in Vermont Life from summer 1947 until the winter of 1955-56; and continued to write an article of observations on Vermont and Vermonters in that magazine twice a year through the autumn 1960 issue. Learn more about Walter Hard at the Vermont Historical Society website

While most locals think of Fletcher Farm (Route 103, located in both Cavendish and Ludlow) as a craft school, the farm was established around 1783, when Jesse Fletcher and his wife Lucy, came from Westford MA. Passed down from one relative to the next, in 1928 Mary Fletcher and her daughters gave the property to the National Board of the YWCA to be used as a training school for young women. Not successful, the property was returned to the Fletchers. In 1933, the entire property, including more than 400 acres of forest land and meadows, about half in the town of Ludlow and half in Cavendish, was given to a newly formed non-profit educational foundation, Fletcher Farm, Inc., with the condition that the property should always be used for educational purposes for the inhabitants of the towns of Ludlow and Cavendish and such other, places as may be determined by the Trustees

The big barn was remodeled into an auditorium with stage and dressing rooms. The Fletcher Farm Players, aspiring actors and actresses from Ludlow, Cavendish, and neighboring towns, often gave performances there. In the summer of 1936, there was some activity every week at the Farms: Farm Women’s Week, Home Demonstration Week, Music Week, Public Health Conferences, and several plays.

In 1948, the Farmhouse, barns and sugar house were leased to the Society of Vermont Craftsmen, a non-profit organization, who have continuously operated the Fletcher Farm Craft School ever since. It's purpose is to provide instruction in the Arts and Crafts under the expert guidance of skilled professionals.

To this day, Ludlow and Cavendish split the taxes associated with Fletcher Farm.  It now houses the Supervisory school union for both towns, playing fields (soccer and baseball) and continues to provide a wide array of craft classes throughout the year, which are offered at half price for Cavendish and Ludlow residents.














Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cemeteries of Cavendish Vermont

Twenty Mile Stream Cemetery where Mary Churchill is buried
Mary Churchill compiled a list of who was buried in the Cemeteries of Cavendish from 1776-1976, which is available in book form from the Cavendish Historical Society, the Town Office, as well as the Cavendish Library.

Today, thanks to websites like "Find a Grave" more and more of this information is available on-line, including pictures, and people continue to add to it.

If you are trying to find an ancestor buried in Cavendish, we would recommend that you try the following on-line searches for the various Cemeteries included in Churchill's book:

• Coffeen Cemetery  (Complete)


Cavendish Cemetery on High Street
• Cavendish Village (2,005 entries) 


• Farr Cemetery  (Complete)

• Hillcrest Cemetery (619 entries) 

• Old Revolutionary  Complete 

• Proctor (192 entries) Complete

• Twenty Mile Stream (443 entries) 

Cemeteries in Churchill Book but which are not located in Cavendish
• Baltimore (58 entries) 


• Smokeshire (139 entries) 

If you are unable to find your ancestor through these links, consider the following:

Note that more recent burials are not always listed and CHS, along with the town is working on providing this information. 

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact CHS, margoc@tds.net or 802-226-7807