Friday, February 25, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: First Settlers

Below are two accounts of the first settlers in Cavendish:

The first actual settlement in Cavendish was made in June, 1769, when Captain John Coffin located and built a dwelling in the northern part of the town. His hospitable residence during the Revolution afforded thousands of American soldiers shelter and refreshment while passing from Charlestown, NH, to the military posts on Lake Champlain. IN the northwestern part of the town was another stopping place, known as the Twenty-Mile Encampment. Captain Coffin gained his title during the Revolutionary war, being connected with the militia.

The first settlers of Cavendish were mostly from Massachusetts, and in 1771 Noadiah Russell and Thomas Gilbert joined Captain Coffin, sharing with him the hardships and privations attendant on frontier life. The grinding of a grist of corn involved a journey of sixty miles in those days.

The first deed, recorded March 21, 1781, was from Jesse Reed of Lunenburg, Mass, one of the original patentees, to John Coffin. Ebenezer and John Stone and John Russell settled in the town in 1781. …. As seen by the following in the town in early years grew rapidly in population, but has fallen off in this respect in later years 1791 (491 people); 1800 (921); 1830 (1,498); 1850 (1,576) 1870 (1,823), 1880 (1,276)
. Note that the 2010 Census has a census of 1,367 people. History of Windsor County, Vermont edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Frank R. Holmes 1891

On the 10th day of June, 1770 (although some authorities say it was 1769) John Coffeen, with his family, consisting of his wife, eight children, two hired men, )help was plentier than than now), two oxen, two horses and a cow, together with some household effects, arrived in Cavendish and located on what is now E. I. Heald’s farm, on the lot still called the “Coffeen pasture.” The old cellar-hole is still in existence where his first domicile is supposed to have stood. It was some time later that he moved up higher on the hill, nearer the “Ticonderoga Road” to substantially the place where Chas. S. Parker’s house now stands on what is known as the “Gilsonfarm.”

We are told that, owing to high water in the Connecticut river when he arrived at Charlestown, he was compelled to wait some three weeks for the water to subside, but I can not believe that there was a drouth there even then, and I have been much perplexed as to how Coffeen got that wife and eight children across the river. …

For something more than a year Coffeen had no neighbors in town, his nearest neighbors, I think were a family named “Spofford” living near “Greenbush” in Weathersfield, some eight miles distant. It is said that Coffeen, in later years, when joking his wife, who by the way was of very plain features, used to say that “although she was not handsome, still she was once the handsomest woman in town.”

The following year after Coffeen’s coming, Noahdiah Russell settled on what is now known as the “Richard Russell farm” and Thomas Gilbert located on the “Elwin Taylor farm” near Weathersfield line. This brought neighbors within about four and six miles from Coffeen towards Charlestown and life began to be quite social.”
“The 150th Anniversary Celebration of Cavendish,” by Chas. R. Cummings; “The Vermonter August-September 1912.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: 100 Year Old Postcard from C.F.Q.

In this year’s town report, thre is a copy of a postcard depicting what Proctorsville would look like in 100 years, postmarked February 2, 1911. The postcard was sent to Miss Izella Pratt of Windsor Vermont in care of A. K. Hall. The text is as follows: “Hello Sis. How are you? We have all got colds but are all kicking around. We have our wood sawed and have been getting in ice this week. Hollis thinks we can just about live on ice cream this summer. Did you know John Bartlett was dead? Also Cornelia Densmore. Its most mail time so will stop. Good by this time. C.F.Q.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Young Historians: Ivory Soap/1948

James N. Gamble invented ivory Soap in 1879, in England. During the 1940’s, this soap was brought to the school children of Cavendish. They were shown how it floated and cleaned better than other soaps of that time. It wasn’t long before most of the homes in Cavendish were using Ivory.

Today we will be doing what a number of the school kids did with the soap given to them to take home-carve it. We’ll also learn why it floats.

Thanks to the Rural Electrification Act, signed by Roosevelt in the 1930’s, many farms were wired for electricity during the 1940’s. By 1950, nearly all homes had electricity.

When you look at the 1948 timeline below, note how popular TV was becoming. Cavendish didn’t get its first TV set until after 1954. On September 26 of that year, WCAX-TV became the first television station in Vermont. The Museum has one of the first TV sets in Cavendish.

Time Line for 1948
• Berlin Airlift
• “Big Bang” theory formulated
• Truman becomes President
• Gandhi Assassinated
• Apartheid begins in South Africa
• State of Israel founded.
• Executive Order 9981 ended segregation in the United State military
• Candid Camera appears on television
• NBC-TV airs its first nightly newscast “The Camel Newsreel Theater.”
• A televised concert by NBC was conducted by Arturo Toscanini
• The first television guide, called “TV Forecast,” was published. It became the basis of TV Guide, which is still published today.
“The Texaco Star Theater” made its debut on NBC-TV with Milton Berle as host.
• The Frisbee invented
Movies: The Red Shoes
Books: Newberry Award: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois ; Caldecott Award: White Snow, Bright Snow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin; text: Alvin Tresselt
Songs: I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover Art Mooney; Buttons and Bows Dinah Shore; I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm Les Brown; All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth by Spike Jones

Monday, February 14, 2011

Farr Family: Quadrille Poster

From Linda Welch, CHS geneologist, "This "Quadrille Band" was organized by one of my FARR relatives."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Young Historians: Valentine's Activities/1947 Timeline

Parties at school were major events for kids in the 1940’s. During the war, sugar was saved so cookies and other treats could be made. Like today, kids made or bought cards and they were stored in a special Valentine's box. One student was selected to be the “mailman” and distribute the cards. Students decorated sugar cookies, used doilys to make baskets for their decorated cookies and made a variety of paper chains.

Time Line for 1947
• Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier
• Dead Sea Scrolls discovered
• Marshall Plan
• Polaroid Cameras invented
• Congressional proceedings of the 80th Congress were televised for the first time to viewers in Washington, Philadelphia and New York
• In the first televised White House address, President Truman asked Americans to refrain from eating eat meat on Tuesday and poultry on Thursday to help stockpile grain for starving people in Europe.
• Kukla, Fran and Ollie premiered as local Chicago Television show.
• Buffalo Bob Smith and puppet Howdy Doody starred on the first nationally televised program specifically for children. The show would run until 1960.
• Jackie Robinson becomes the first African America to play Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers

• Movies: Miracle on 34th Street; Rin Tin Tin

• Books: Newberry Award: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey ; Caldecott Award: The Little Island, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard; text: Golden MacDonald, pseud. [Margaret Wise Brown]

• Songs: This Land is Your Land Woody Guthrie; zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scribbler II Winter 2011 (Newsletter)

2011-An Important Year in Cavendish History

Cavendish will mark two important anniversaries this year-the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town. Each week, during this historic year, the Cavendish Historical Society will provide information about the early years of the town, and the Civil War era. You can follow along via our blog (see address above) or at the Cavendish Update website A timeline of Cavendish will also be included in four segments in this newsletter.

Cavendish was chartered on October 12, 1761 under New Hampshire’s Benning Wentworth, who was appointed first Royal Governor of New Hampshire (1741-1766). Starting with Bennington in 1749, Wentworth granted (sold) large tracts of land in what would become Vermont, even though this territory was claimed by the Province of New York. Wentworth kept the fees paid by the towns, as well reserving two shares (500 acres) of each town for himself. Though he became very wealthy through these activities, he desperately wanted a title. Consequently, he named the towns to honor people that he thought could further his interests.

Cavendish was most likely named for William Cavendish, the fourth Duke of Devonshire. The Duke was married to Charlotte, who was a daughter and heiress of Richard Boyle, the third Earl of Burlington, and a granddaughter of the Marquis of Halifax. At different times William Cavendish was lord lieutenant of Ireland and of Derbyshire and first lord of the treasury. In 1756-57 he was prime minister of England, and from 1757 to 1762 he was lord high chamberlain.

In 1764, after considerable dispute between New York and New Hampshire, the King awarded Wentworth’s grants to New York. Neither the settlers nor the proprietors of this town were eager to pay for a New York charter, which cost more than ten times the amount charged by New Hampshire. Eight years later, proprietors re-purchased Cavend-ish from New York, having raised funds by selling the town’s Wentworth’s tract. Yet the land dispute continued, and Vermont fought New York as well as Great Britain for its independence. Finally, in 1791, when no colony or state could make claim upon its terri-tory, Vermont joined the United States and the land question was settled.

Anniversary Celebrations
There is now a town wide planning committee working on various events for the year. CHS is a part of this committee and is planning the following events:

• Screening of Life in Windsor County with board member Bruce McEnaney. This will be done several times through out the year.

• Old Home Day Weekend July 2 –3:-Special Pictorial display of Cavendish and Proc-torsville.

• Speakers during the summer, including several on native peoples

• October Town wide celebration.

• Young Historians will spend Sept-Dec learning about native people; Jan-April early settlers

• Walking tours of the villages of Cavendish and Proctorsville, as well as a driving tour of Cavendish early settlement sites.

• Oral Histories of people remembering the 200th anniversary.

• Quilt Project: An anniversary quilt is being made to mark this special event. It will be on display at Old Home and anyone can sign the back of it. After this year, it will be stored at the Museum and will be our fiber “time capsule” for future generations.

If you haven’t been to Cavendish in a while, this is a good year to come. If you would like to support CHS in their Anniversary efforts, you can send donations to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142.

Early Man in Cavendish
According to the Vermont Historical Society The first people of Vermont lived in a climate still dominated by glaciers. …Approximately 12,000 years ago the Paleo-Indian came north, following the large roaming caribou herds that they hunted. They were nomadic hunters and gatherers, usually living in small bands of twenty-five to thirty people. As the glaciers continued to recede the Paleo-Indian moved on, migrating even farther north in pursuit of their large prey.
The changing climate produced a new environment. Plants and animals that are familiar to us today began to appear. Gradually, the people living in the region adapted to the new environment. This era, identified by archaeologists as the Archaic Period, began about 8,000 years ago. The people of this time, unlike the Paleo-Indian, moved in a defined territory on a seasonal basis, hunting, gathering wild plants, and fishing.

About 3,000 years ago, another major change occurred when people began to cultivate plants. The Woodland Period was characterized by a more settled life. People continued to hunt, fish, and collect wild plants, but increasingly depended on crops they grew as a source of food. Raising corn, squash, and beans required clearing fields, digging, sowing seeds, weeding, guarding the plants from birds and animals, harvesting, preserving, and fertilizing. These activities took place over three seasons and as a result the Woodland people established more permanent villages. Trade routes developed between villages. Local clays were used in pottery production.

Over time, the Woodland people evolved into five different groups characterized by language. Two of those groups lived in this region: Iroquoian speakers west of Lake Champlain and Algonquian speakers to the east. The Western Abenaki were part of the Algonquian family, the largest language group in North America. These were the people whom Europeans would first encounter when they moved inland from the Atlantic coast.

In 2007, members of the Cavendish Historical Society participated in an archeological dig at Jackson Gore in Ludlow, where they had a chance to help identify stone tools from 11,000 years ago. The archeologists on this dig, Jess Robinson and Charlie Paquin came to the Museum that September and explained that the Paleo-Indian traveled in small groups of 20-30 people following game. They most likely met seasonally with other small groups for trade, marriages and possibly spiritual or religious purposes. Because of the acidic nature of Vermont’s soil, little remains of this culture but the stone tools. These were master craftsman, making tools that were more advanced than Paleo-Indian in other parts of North America.

In 2008, thanks to a grant from the Cavendish Community Fund, a project of the Cav-endish Community and Conservation Association (CCCA), a dig was conducted on land in Cavendish. Given the types of tools that were pulled from the area in the 1920’s, as well as the location itself-several sources of running water, chances are good that this was an archaic Indian village.

Cavendish Timeline 1759-1834
1759: Crown Point Road is built by the British, linking Fort Number 4 in Charlestown, NH to Fort Crown Point on Lake Champlain. Major John Hawks and 250 rangers cleared a roughhewn road through the forest. A path was cut across the elevation in southeastern Cavendish, now called Hawks Mountain. Soldiers traveling along this section of the road soon complained of its roughness. Another route bypassing Hawks Mountain was laid out during the next spring. An encampment from twenty miles from Charlestown on the road gave the tributary of the Black River its present name: Twenty Mile Stream.

1761: Cavendish Charter signed by King George III of England.

1769: John Coffeen is the first settler in Cavendish. His home was located on the Cav-endish Reading Road, close to Brooke Road. He is buried across the street from the farmhouse in the Coffeen Cemetery.

1781: Salmon Dutton moved to Cavendish from Massachusetts. Dutton worked as a road surveyor, a justice of the peace, and the treasurer of the town of Cavendish. His home was located on the Cavendish Green, and is now located at the Shelburne Museum. He provided the land for the High Street Cemetery, where he is buried.

1782: Capt. Leonard Proctor, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved his family to Ver-mont. With his two sons (Jabez and John) he built a “shunpike” to the village of Gassetts in nearby Chester to avoid paying the tolls of the Green Mountain Turnpike. Salmon Dutton, helped to build the Green Mountain Turnpike, which ran from Bellows Falls to Rutland, bringing Boston coaches north up the Duttonsville Gulf to the village and then west along the present RT 131 through Proctorsville. The “shunpike” being toll free re-sulted in North bound traffic from Boston coming directly to Proctorsville and bypassing Duttonsville.

Because of the road, the Dutton and Proctor families, as well as the villages of Dut-tonsville and Proctorsville, feuded for 75 years. Proctor is buried in the Proctor Cemetery in Proctorsville.

1795: Established Cavendish. Center Road School on the corner of Town Farm Road and Center Road adjacent to the Center Road Cemetery. From 1795 to present day, there have been 13 public schools in Cavendish. Students were assigned to the school closest to where they lived. In addition to Center Rd school, which was closed in 1955, schools in-cluded: Proctorsville Village School (closed 1959); Duttonsviile (closed 1972); Coffeen (Densmore) School (burned in 1922); Hudson School (burned down in 1901); Stockin School (half in Weathersfield); Parker School (closed 1911); Rumke School (closed 1923); Tarbell Hill School (closed 1955); Bailey Hill (unorganized district); Gilchrist School (closed 1947); Wheeler School (closed 1955); and Fittonsville School (Spring Mill). The town has one school Cavendish Town Elementary School, for grades K-6. Middle school and high school students are part of Green Mountain Union High School.

1832: Black River Canal and Manufacturing Company built in Cavendish. By 1842, they employed 75 workers making broadcloth.

1834: Baptist Church built in Cavendish. Extensive renovations were made to the brick structure in 1875, but the building was destroyed by fire. The Baptist Church decided to relocate and the building was sold to the town. Now the home of the Cavendish Historical Society Museum, the building served as town office, community and recreation center at various times.

Vermont Humanities Council Civil War Book of Days E-Newsletter
The Vermont Humanities Council is pleased to present the “Civil War Book of Days-150 Years Ago This Week in the Civil War.” To register for this free service visit

Aunt Lizzie Aiken
Born Eliza Atherton in Auburn, NY, Lizzie Aiken moved to Cavendish in 1826 at the age of nine. She came to live at her paternal grandfather’s, Jonathan Atherton, farm.. When Lizzie was 16, her mother became ill and she spent the next four years caring for her family. When her mother’s health improved, she attended the New England Academy in Cavendish for one term.

At the age of 20, she married Cyrus Aiken and they relocated to Illinois. Tragedy struck when she lost all of her sons to cholera, which was followed by the death of her sister from the same disease. Not long after, her home was destroyed by lighting. When her husband became ill, and her father died, she became a domestic nurse to help defray ex-penses and to support her mother, who was still in Cavendish.

With the onset of the Civil War, Lizzie nursed soldiers in the sick tents near Peoria, Il. In Nov. 1861, Aiken accompanied the 6th Illinois Cavalry to Shwaneetown on the Ohio River. Her comfort and care resulted in the nickname “Aunt Lizzie.” At first she worked for no pay but eventually received $12 per month from the army.

In 1862, she wrote a friend, “Twenty four nights in succession I have sat up until three in the morning dealing out medicine. I cannot think of leaving these poor fellows if there is any chance of their living. Dr. Niglas tells me I have saved the lives of over 400 men. I am afraid I hardly deserve that compliment. I cannot tell you how well this work suits this restless heart of mine.”

In 1864, the ladies of the Peoria Loyal League raised the money so she could visit her mother in Cavendish for three weeks. With the end of the war, Aunt Lizzie was sick and returned to Peoria where she was nursed back to health. In 1867, she joined the Second Baptist Church and worked as missionary until her death in January 1906. She was 88 years old.

Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Gloria Leven
Bruce McEnaney
Mike Pember
Gail Woods

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+ $ ___ 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
__ Young Historian Program

Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes __ Educational Programs __Publications
__ Archeological Activities __ Museum & Archival __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund __ Williams Fund __ Young Historians
__ Other (please specify) __ Cemetery Restoration __ 250tAnniversary

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: Governor Wentworth

This week we take a closer look at Benning Wentworth, who played such an important role in Cavendish and Vermont history when, as Governor of New Hampshire, he issued (sold) 129 township charters in Vermont. Most of these charters were granted between 1761-1764, with nearly half occurring in 1761.

Benning Wentworth was the eldest son of Lt. Gov. John Wentworth and his wife, Sarah’s 14 children. John served as Governor of New Hampshire while it was still a province of Massachusetts. A 1719 graduate of Harvard. at a time when social position accounted more than academics, Benning graduated fifth in a class of 20 students. His college achievements were not academic, rather he was known for having set a college record of fines for broken windows and other damage caused by his various pranks.

After graduation at 18 years of age, Wentworth joined the family business of importing wines from Cadiz and other Spanish ports. For the next 15 years, he would spend considerable time in Spain, while his father and brothers tried to have New Hampshire constituted a separate colony.

In 1719, Benning married Abigail Ruck. They had several children, all of whom predeceased him. In 1732, he was elected to Massachusetts’s assembly, and ultimately served on the Governor’s Counsel. It took about nine years before the colony of New Hampshire gained its independence. Wentworth became the first Governor Wentworth’s siblings married into important seacoast families, making it easier for Benning to govern, since members of the Council and other office holders were often relatives or friends of relatives. On one journey to England, Benning lost a fortune at sea but as Governor he was able to re build his wealth, particularly through his practice of land grants.

He became very wealthy by the standards of the day and he built a large mansion in Portsmouth and a summer home on Lake Wentworth away from the seacoast. After his first wife died in 1755, he re married, in 1760 at age 64, his much younger housekeeper, Martha Hilton. This, plus growing annoyance with his administration, corruption, and taxes, forced his resignation in 1767. He died October 14, 1770 in Portsmouth.

You can visit Wenworth’s former home in Portsmouth, NH now called The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion.