Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Young Historians Handout: Christmas Garlands

December 16. 2009

Dear Young Historians:

Today’s activity is decorating for a 1930’s Christmas. The motto “Repair, reuse, make do and don’t throw anything away” extended to the holidays.

A Christmas tree would be cut down in the woods. Children would help to decorate it with garlands made of paper. Paper doll and snowflake chains would also be made, and cut out snowflakes would be hung in the windows. Stringing popcorn was another popular activity.

If you could afford it, there were special Christmas movies to see. Two popular ones are still shown on TV. They can also be rented. These included: “Babes in Toyland” with Laurel and Hardy (1934) and “Scrooge” with Reginald Owen (1938)

We’ve included a story called “Christmas in the 1930s,” by Tomm Larson.[Available on-line at http://mymerrychristmas.com/2005/xmas30s.shtml] Share this with your family and friends. Notice things that you do that “Grandpa” did in the 1930s.

Some on-line resources for snowflake patterns and other ideas for garlands:

Paper Snowflakes Some of the patterns are based on William Bentley’s photographs. Bentley was called “The Snowflake Man” because he was the first person to photograph ice crystals from snow on his farm in Jericho, Vermont.

Popcorn Garland This can be a treat for the birds after the holiday season ends.

Paper Chains

If you like to fold and cut, try making a Christmas Tree with a star using the technique Kirigami

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Young Historians Handout-Recipes

We will now be posting the handouts we are distributing as part of the Young Historian's Program.

The Young Historian's are students in grades 3-6 at the Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES). This school year we are focusing on life in the village and farm of Cavendish Vermont, which includes the villages of Cavendish and Proctorsville.

December 2, 2009

Dear Young Historians:

Below are the recipes we made today. Try some with your family this holiday season.

Keep in mind that chocolate was very expensive, as were cereals. Many of the nuts used would have come from trees in the area. Because of the expense, these candies were a very special treat for the boys and girls of the 1930’s. They would be made at Christmas time.

Don’t forget that this coming Saturday, December 5, is the craft workshop at the school. We will be selling the candies at the workshop. If you can come and help that would be great. You can help show people how to make paper beads and gift boxes from cards. The workshop begins at 10 am and goes until noon.

Ting- A- Ling: This recipe was modified from the one that appears in the book Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

- One pound of dark chocolate melted
- Two cups each of Rice Krispies and Cornflakes
- Two cups of nuts (in the book they had hickory nuts, walnuts, pecans or coconut).
Mix well, drop by the teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator to harden

One Bowl Fudge:
- Two packages (8 oz) Semi Sweet Chocolate
- One can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
Melt together.
- Add 2 tsp vanilla and 1 cup chopped nuts. We didn’t use the nuts since some of you said you couldn’t eat them because of braces.
Spread into a foil lined 8 inch square pan. Put in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

John Brown in Cavendish VT

The November 29 Rutland Herald, contains an article about John Brown in Vermont, ) including Cavendish.

Below is the portion of the article that pertains to Cavendish.

What Coffin only discovered six weeks ago, however, was that Brown made a visit to Cavendish in 1857, probably in hopes of securing some of the $20,000 the Vermont Legislature had approved to support anti-slavery settlements in Kansas. Although Vermont's governor at that time, Ryland Fletcher, was a devout abolitionist, he turned down Brown's request for some of the money at the Cavendish meeting.

Coffin tripped across a newspaper recounting of the visit in a microfilmed copy of the Rutland Herald from May 7, 1869.

The writer, who is not identified, described how Brown's physical appearance on that visit differed from the bearded photographs taken around the time of the Harpers Ferry raid.

"... Hair closely cut, beard neatly shaven, tight, stiff stock around his neck, no collar, or dickey, closely fitting swallow-tailed coat ..." the newspaper described. "As soon as it was known that 'John Brown' was stopping in our village, all manifested a desire to see and hear the man ... Notice was given that he would meet the people at the school house, and at the appointed hour an audience assembled.

"We introduced the modest and unassuming old man ... He went on and told the tale of his struggles with the despotism of slavery ... We little thought then how soon 'John Brown's body' would be mouldering in the ground, but his soul was even at that hour 'marching on.'"

"I thought, 'Wow,' Coffin said of the article's discovery. "It's an authentic account, there's no question because you couldn't make this stuff up. It's somebody in Cavendish who was working for the Herald."

Brown was raising money all over New England at that time. "I'm sure he had Harpers Ferry in mind then," Coffin said. "You can see what a celebrity he is here. People apparently flocked to see him, to meet him."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hats From Scraps: Upcoming Cavendish Historical Society Events

The Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) chose the 1930’s as its theme for the year due to the current economic situation. At the upcoming Holiday Fair on September 28, 9-2 pm at the Cavendish Town Elementary School, you can see how members of CHS have “reused and recycled.”

Hats from Scraps are made from bits and pieces of left over fabric and fleece. There are even some holiday stockings made in the same manner.

In the 1930’s, socks were often knitted using either wool or cotton. When the socks had been passed downed and darned so often that they no longer could be worn, they would be cut up and reused. Some were used in mops-cotton socks for wet chores and wool for dry mopping. Another handy item was cutting the socks into loops and using them to weave potholders. Students from the Young Historians program, who are studying town and farm life in the 1930’s, have been making potholders, but not from old socks. Thanks to a donation from the Vermont Country Store, the students have looms and cotton loops.

In addition to handmade items, the Fair is a good time to give the gift of Cavendish, by purchasing copies of old photographs, including the 1927 Flood panoramic photograph, as well as books and note cards.

On December 5 (Saturday), the Young Historian’s program, a project of CHS and the Cavendish Elementary School, is sponsoring a “Re-Make it for the Holidays” workshop. All three crafts provide an opportunity to recycle paper. These include paper beads; gift boxes made from old greeting cards and Iris Folding. The latter is a way of using folded pieces of paper to make interesting pictures and cards. Developed by a Dutch photographer in the early 1900’s, the patterns give the appearance of a camera shutter closing.

The cost of the craft workshop is $5 and includes all materials. The workshop will be held from 10-noon in the multi purpose room at the Cavendish Elementary School.

For more information about these events, e-mail margoc@tds.net or call 802-226-7807.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Green Mountain Folklore Society

At the recent Annual Meeting of the Cavendish Historical Society, one of the members talked about The Green Mountain Folklore Society Founded in 1948 by University of Vermont English Professor Leon Dean, the non profit organization is working to collect, preserve and make available the folklore of Vermont.

Folklore can include customs, ceremonies, crafts, clothes, entertainment, proverbs, tall tales, writing, and songs. Each year, The Society holds a "Gabfeast," where people come and share stories and folkways. In addition, Green Mountain Whittlin's is published yearly and includes some of the stories from the Gabfeast, as well as ones submitted during the year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Proctor Cemetery Tour 10/11/09

The Annual Cemetery Tour will be held tomorrow, Sunday, October 11. We will touring the Proctor Cemetery in Proctorsville. This will be the first time that many will see the cemetery. Note how the graves with the Irish names are off to one side. The Irish came to the area to work on the railroads.

The tour will be lead by Carmine Guica, who has completed the genealogy for many people in the cemetery. He not only has stories about the famous, but more often as not, the infamous.

The tour begins at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum at 2 pm. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a short hike up to the cemetery.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Young Historians Program Oct 7 and 14

Today the Young Historians at the Cavendish Town Elementary School meet for the second time. We will be making paper beads and listening to music from the 1930's. Each student will be given materials so they can make enough beads for a bracelet or necklace. The stringing will take place at the YH meeting on Oct. 14.

Paper bead making was very popular in the 1930’s. It was a way to make something from scraps of paper, including newspaper. Just about any paper will do, with the exception of crepe and tissue paper. For a special present, beads from broken necklaces and bracelets would be added. While there are templates, special papers and a variety of videos on this topic, keeping it simple is the best. You can wrap the paper around straws, wire, skewers or anything else that leaves a hole. To make sure the bead comes off whatever type of rod you use, don’t start applying glue until you have already starting rolling the bead. Glue sticks work just fine. Once you have made some beads, they can be strung on any type of cord or wire. You can even make some fun animals using pipe cleaners. Below are on-line resources:

How to Make Paper Beads
How-To Make Recycled Paper Beads, Threadbanger Video

Monday, September 21, 2009

Senior and Young Historians Programs

Today begins the Senior Historians program and Wednesday is the launch of our Young Historians Program. We will be meeting with residents and former residents of Cavendish who are now in the Gill Home in Ludlow. Today's program will include helping to identify people in photographs and to talk about life in Cavendish in the 1930's.

The Young Historians program is open to 3-6 graders at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. Seventeen students have already enrolled in the program, which meets during recess on Wednesdays. Our theme for the year is the 1930's. This coming Wednesday, the students will have hands on experience with radios and record players from that era thanks to Dan Churchill and his business, Commercial Radio. Want to know more about the music and the Golden Age of Radio? You can listen to Old Time radio shows, including "The Shadow," and enjoy the music of the 1930's online.

A side note-we learned that the name of the school came from Bob Snarski. The current school replaced the Proctorsville School. In 1972, after the Duttonsville School was closed, and the students were merged with the Proctorsville School, the principal Bob Snarski, stressed that the school was no longer just the Proctorsville School, but rather the Cavendish Town Elementary. Bob grew up in Cavendish and not only graduated from the Duttonsville School, but did his student teaching there as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Haunted Houses in Cavendish

With the falling leaves, and cooler temperatures, Halloween, ghosts and goblins start being discussed. Recently, we've been asked questions about the Dutton House. Is it or was it haunted?

The Salmon Dutton House was built in 1782 on what is now the Cavendish Green. In 1950, having not been occupied in 40 years, the house was moved to Shelburne Museum. You can watch a video of what Museum staff have to say about their experiences with the house. Some staff members wont step foot in the house because of experiences they've had. Who might have been the child they've heard or the man that one staff member has seen?

During the recent Duttonsville School Reunion, Dan Churchill, the owner of the building, describes how he'll be working and hear what appears to be children playing and laughing in what was once the 3-4 grade classroom. When he opens the door, no one is there. His Aunt, who taught at the school, would never come to visit him in his new home, saying the building was haunted.

Please e-mail us your stories about haunted houses in the Cavendish area.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reunion and Young Historians Program

Aug. 23 is the DuttonsviIIe SchooI Reunion, from 1-5 at the schooI off of Route 131.

The Cavendish Historical Society, in conjunction with the Cavendish Town Elementary School and the Vermont Fiber Arts Society, is pleased to announce a Young Historians program for the Cavendish School in September for grades 3-6. This program is being funded in part by the Wendell M. Smith Foundation.

Meeting at least once a month, the program takes place for approximately a half hour on Wednesdays mid-day. Using the children’s recess time, provides an opportunity for all interested students to participate.

In keeping with the Historical Society’s theme of the 1930’s, the students will learn about the food, fiber arts, and day to day life from this period. They will also help to undercover the towns past, through oral histories and genealogy.

Volunteers are needed to help with all aspects of the program. People who are interested in volunteering, or want to learn more about the program, should call 802-226-7807 or e-mail margoc@tds.net

Friday, August 7, 2009

Duttonsville School Reunion August 23 1-5 PM

For over a100 years, the Duttonsville School served the town of Cavendish. In addition to its school function, the building was used for town meetings, plays and other activities as the basement contained a stage, kitchen and auditorium.

After the waters receded from the flood of 1927, the school hung over a cliff. Using horses and oxen, the building was moved on rollers several hundred feet back to a safer location. The building still sits on this location.

During the 1950’s, there was a heated campaign to consolidate all of the grade schools in Cavendish and Proctorsville into one school building in Proctorsville. Despite many meetings, votes and defeats, a new school for the Cavendish Township was finally dedicated in 1960. Duttonsville School remained opened for 12 more years, but eventually closed in the early 1970’s.

One of those most opposed to the school merger was Mary Churchill. Interestingly, Mary Churchill’s son, Dan Churchill, purchased the Duttonsville School in the 1980’s and turned the building into his home and business. Even though he has updated it considerably, the integrity of the school remains, right down to the dent in the banister from a student who fell down the stairs.

The Cavendish Historical Society is holding a reunion and open house at the Duttonsville School on August 23 from 1-5 pm. Churchill will be giving tours of the old school house on the half hour. This event is open to all. People are encouraged to bring their photographs and other memorabilia to share. The school is located on the Duttonsville School Road, just off Main Street (Route 131) in Cavendish.

For more information about this event, call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

Friday, July 31, 2009

More information on Phineas Gage

Recently Matthew Lena, who is working with Malcolm Macmillan, one of the leading experts on Phineas Gage, contacted CHS. He has provided us with a number of items relating to the photograph recently found as well as the most updated information on Gage. Below are resources which are either available on-line or at the CHS Museum • http://www.deakin.edu.au/hmnbs/psychology/gagepage/PgNews.php
• Article from the Journal of the Hisotry of the Neurosciences, "Face to Face with Phineas Gage."
• A copy of “Phineas Gage-Unravelling the Myth” by Maclcolm Macmillan updates a familiar tale, 160 years after its inception
• Copy of a poster promoting Phineas Gage as “The World’s Wonder.”

The CHS museum is open Sunday’s from 2-4 pm and at other times by request.

If you have old diaries or records dating back to 1848, the year of the injury, please check them for any possible references to Phineas Gage.

FMI: 226-7807 or margoc@tds.net

Monday, July 27, 2009

First Photo of Phineas Gage Discovered

A pair of photograph collectors in Maryland, have uncovered what they believe to be the first and only photograph of Phineas Gage, the railway worker who survived an iron tamping rod passing straight through the front of his brain, following an explosives accident in Cavendish in 1848. Gage’s injuries were well documented and serves as one of the first cases of recorded brain injury. The photograph shows Gage as a scarred, handsome, proud man, smartly dressed, with one eye closed, wielding the tamping iron that made him famous. Jack and Beverly Wilgus originally thought the image was of a whaler, but after posting the picture on Flick-r, they soon learned from experts that this was not the case (it was a tamping rod, not a harpoon, that he was holding), and they followed up on an alternative suggestion that perhaps the image was of Gage. For more information, go to http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2009/07/first-ever-photo-of-phineas-gage-is.html

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Old Home Day July 4

Old Home Events Schedule
Old Home Day will be spread out among three locations in Cavendish, with events occurring as follows on July 4 (Saturday):

8:30 Annual Plant and Museum tours Cavendish Historical Society Museum Green

9:30 Dedication of the Craig and Pat Rankin Bench in front of the Museum

10:00: Cavendish Green opens after the Bench dedication. This area includes a variety of booths, food sales, Chicken BBQ and more

11:00 Games for children and families on the Cavendish Green

Noon-4 pm: Winston Churchill Retrospective opens at the Stone Church

FMI: margoc@tds.net or 226-7807

Monday, June 29, 2009

6/29/09 Newspaper Articles about James Fitton

The following newspaper articles relate to James Fitton, the owner of the Fitton Mill.

From the Vermont Tribune, Aug 9, 1880:

"Robert Fitton was taken to Woodstock jail about a week ago. He has
several more law suits on his hands, one for forgery, bail fixed at $2,000,
one for malicious prosecution, brought by Clarence Whelden, one for theft
brought by G.S. Hill charging him with taken over $15,000 of Hill's money"

From the Vermont Journal, Sept. 4, 1880:

"A short time ago Robert Fitton of Cavendish brought suit in the name of
Whittemore, Poit and Company against his father, James Fitton, who returned
from New York, claiming $4000 an old matter of several years standing.
Testimony was taken before Judge Pingry at Walker's Hotel in Cavendish last

According to the article in the paper, "In giving his evidence in the
case, James Fitton testified that Robert Fitton told him, after the burning
of his (Robert's) factory in 1875 that he (Robert) set the building on fire
himself, spreading oil over the floors and elsewhere so it would burn well,
and that the machinery for putting out fires go out of order just in time so
no one could prevent the mill from burning, or words of that import.
James Fitton also swears in the same deposition that the books showing
how Robert's affair stood previous to his going bankruptcy the first time
were burned by Robert himself. This was before the pretended loss of $14,000
in Montreal, which our readers remember. The Fitton's, father and son settled.
The insurance company that sustained the losses felt he Vermont Tribune,
May 15, 1891:

"For several weeks past the erratic and versatile Robert Fitton has been
in the retirement and quiet of the Woodstock jail, been preparing his libel
case vs the Tribune. Having brought matters to that satisfactory pitch in
which his bodily presence was demanded to bring matter to a focus, he longed
for 'Green Fields and Pastures New', The ordinary means of egress being
denied him, so on Friday sawed off the bars of the windows and took out a
section of the inner grating making an opening 9 by 17 inches, and he also
cut the outer grating, so that in 15 minutes more, it would have given him
ample time and opportunity to personally attend to our case. Sheriff Taylor
who for sometime been cognizant of his movements, but who did not want to
prematurely discourage him stepped in at the juncture and the perspiration
rolled from Valiant Robert in copious showers. Sheriff Taylor found a saw for
cutting iron in his cell in prime condition, but Robert, had an acute attack
of knowing nothing and denied all knowledge of the hole and the saw, but an
obdurate court refused to believe his story, and he was held in $1,500 bonds
for attempting to break jail and now languishes in a cell where such miracles
will be less likely to occur. The various chapter in this 'Jail Bird's' life
which appear from time to time in the Tribune makes mighty interesting
reading and add new testimony for the famous suit against the paper."

From the Vermont Tribune, June 18, 1891:

"State vs Robert Fitton, this case has excited a wide spread of
interest, and was attended by a large audience. The charge was perjury, at
the December term of Court of 1886. On trial the case of Fitton and wife vs
Clarence Whelden to recover damage for the careless burning of a Tin Shop in
Proctorsville. On that trial Mr. Fitton presented in evidence an affidavit
signed by Whelden referring to this burning in which he knew of no cause for
the fire "Except it was caused by my own carelessness". It was claimed that
the clause was written after the affidavit had been signed and sworn to by
Mr. Whelden, and this was shown by the ink being paler, the writing cramped
and not corresponding with the remainder of writing. The respondent did not
testify, there was a large evidence given as to his conduct since that trial
as indicating his guilt such as fleeing the country, changing his name,
disguising the affidavit from the custody of the Clerk in whose hands it had
been placed by order of the court and trying to suppress evidence. The jury
promptly returned a verdict of Guilty."

Robert Fitton was sentenced on June 17, 1891 to 10 years hard labor in
the State prison for perjury and two years in the same institution for an
attempt to break jail. The Governor granted him a release in 1897.

When he died in 1902, the Bennington Reformer said of him: "Robert
Fitton, at one time one of the leading and most influential citizens of
Windsor County and afterward descending to be perhaps Vermont's most famous
crook and swindler, died recently in New York."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1930's Program at the Museum on July 12

1930's Revisited
The Cavendish HIstorical Society will be hosting a car show, exhibit and program on sustainable living tips from the 1930's on July 12. To get yourself in the mood, as if the current economic situation wasn't a reminder, check out http://newsfrom1930.blogspot.com/ which catalogues the news from that era. Very interesting reading.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

6/21/09 Fitton's Mill Tour/Mill Tragedy

Fitton Mill Tour
On June 20, CHS was a co-sponsor of a tour of the Fitton Mill. Charity Baker, consulting archaeologist, provided a map which helped to identify where the Mill once stood, as well the cellar holes of tenement houses, office and the boarding house. Where the hydro turbine once operated now sits a very old car, washed down from the flood of 1927.

Kristen Underwood, consulting geologist, had pictures and maps showing how the Black River jumped its banks to bypass the Cavendish Gorge during the great flood of November 1927, resulting in catastrophic damages in Cavendish village. Historic photographs depicted a 600-foot wide, quarter-mile long channel carved 150 feet deep to bedrock. Photographs of the Mill, as well as of the Cavendish flood, can be seen on-line at http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/

Spring Mill, also called Fitton’s Mill, started operation in 1867. Located on the Black River near the Cavendish Gorge, it was the largest mill in the area, employing farmers and their families, along with immigrants from from England, Ireland and Norway. The Mill complex included tenement houses as well as a boarding house.

A short lived operation, the mill burned in 1875 and when two other Fitton buildings burned later, it was suspected that the mill owner, Robert Fitton, had committed arson to collect the insurance. According to the New York Times, Oct. 23, 1875, “The failure of Robert Fitton, woolen manufacturer, proprietor of the Spring Mills at Cavendish, Vt., is occasioning no little excitement in the wool trade of this city. His Boston indebtedness is quite large, the result mainly of purchases of wool in this market. The total liabilities are about $140,000.”

Besides the suspicion of arson, Robert Fitton faced other lawsuits and eventually convicted on more than one charge was imprisioned in Woodstock in 1880.

To see pictures of the Mill and scenes from the 1927 flood go to http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/

Appalling Tragedy at Cavendish, VT.
June 11, 1868, From The Daily Index, Dr. J. M. Pleasants, City Editor.

The Bellows Falls Times, of Friday, contains tube following details of the Fearful death of two young women by drowning, at Cavendisb, Vt. on Monday evening last, the general particulars regarding which sad event we have already published.

Mrs. Albina Knight, wife of Horatio Knight, and Miss Ellen M. Gary, both Operatives in James' Fitton's woolen mill, proposed the exploit of crossing the mill pond in a boat, the water being high, and the current strong, from so large a flow over the dam. Being ready to start, they urged other friends to ride with them, who not only refused, but earnestly urged them not to make the attempt. They did not, however, share in the fears of their friends, and pushed off their boat, waving their handkerchiefs in salutation, and bidding "good bye" to those on shore.

Then followed one of the most painful and thrilling scenes which ever occurred in Vermont. They had got but a short distance when it was perceived that the current was carrying them down, but they did not appear to notice it. Nearer and nearer they approached the dam, till Miss Gary rose and jumped out of the boat. The strong current immediately carried her over. Mrs. Knight remained in the boat, and just before it made the fatal plunge seemed to faint and fall back as it went over, carrying her to a watery grave with her friend, or possibly she may have thrown herself into the bottom of the oath with possible hope that in that condition she might escape. Both were seen once several rods below the dam, the current carrying them very rapidly down into the rocky Gorge known as Cavendish Falls. The feeling of those who witnessed the scene, who were utterly powerless to render assistance, cannot be described.

Friday, May 22, 2009

CHS News 5/22/09 Reunion/New exhibit

We are currently preparing the Museum for the 2009 season. This year's theme, in keeping with the current economic situation, is the 1930s. If you have information and/or pictures from this era, you can share them on this blog and/or e-mail them to margoc@tds.net

The Duttonsville School Reunion has been planned for August 23 (Sunday) at the old school, which is now the home of Dan Churchill.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cavendish Historical Society News

Welcome to the Cavendish Historical Society News. Check regularly for ongoing information about Society news and events.

In Search Of: History, photos, documents, artifacts etc, pertaining to the Mason / Atkinson homestead. Call 802-226-7477

Upcoming Events
July 4: Old Home Day