Thursday, August 11, 2011

Scribbler II : Summer 2011

250th Anniversary Activities

August 7 (Sunday): Crown Point Road Slide Show and Presentation, by Becky Tucker of the Crown Point Road Association, at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum, 2 pm. Sponsored by the Cavendish Historical Society and CPRA. For more information 226-7807

August 13 (Saturday): Picnic on the Proctorsville Green at five pm, celebrating religious freedom in our country. Sponsored by the five churches of Cavendish. For more information call 226-8199

August 27 and 28 (Saturday, Sunday): The Cavendish Community Theatre is presenting an original play called Cavendish Chronicles II to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Cavendish Charter. The play has history, humor and music. Curtain is 7 pm at The Cavendish Town Elementary School. Admission is free. For information contact 226-7398.

August 28 (Sunday): Early Settlers Tour of Cavendish. Includes the homestead of the Coffeen Family and visits to historic cemeteries. Meet at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum at 2 pm. Sponsored by the Cavendish Historical Society. For more information 226-7807

September 11 (Sunday): 18th century Potions, Lotions and Other Cures: Health care practices of the early settlers, 2pm at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum in Cavendish. For more information 226-7807

October 7-10 (Friday-Monday: Charter Weekend-Friday night will be a town dance featuring the music of local musicians. Bob Naess and his band Yankee Chank will play/call contras and squares with some hot Cajun dance tunes thrown in for good measure. Mark Huntley and his band will perform top forty . A parade, speeches and a reception will take place on October 8. On Sunday, from noon to 2 pm all of the Cavendish churches will hold an open house. From 2-4 pm the authors of “The Inventor’s Fortune Up for Grabs” will be discussing the book and its links to Cavendish at the Cavendish Elementary School’s Art Room. Monday evening there will be a potluck at 5 pm at the school followed by a talk on the history of religion in Cavendish.

Check the 250th website, Facebook and the CHS Blog for more information about Anniversary activities.

Supporting the 250th Celebrations: You can support the 250th celebrations by: volunteering to help with various activities; donations or sponsoring a 250th banner, which will be yours to keep when our year of celebration is complete. To purchase a banner send a check for $150 to the 250th Anniversary Fund and mail to Cavendish 250th Anniversary Committee, PO Box 126, Cavendish, VT 05142-0126. Donations can also be made to the same address.

First CHS Auction: Thank You: As part of Old Home Day this year, CHS held both a silent and live auction. It was not only a lot of fun, but money was raised to help with CHS expenses. A special note of thanks to Will Hunter, our auctioneer, as well as to the following who donated items for the auction: Old Cavendish Products, Inn at Glimmerstone, Therese and Hans Schrag, Gloria and Seymour Leven, Peter and Sandy Gregg, Winston Churchill, Mary McCallum, Candace Montessi, Lu Choiniere, Clare Murray, Six Loose Ladies, Judith Prescott, Heather Woodell, Bob Naess, Dan Churchill, Hunter Leigh Gallery, Richard Nye, Wallscapes (Roxie Davis), Singleton’s, Hancor, Goodman’s American Pie Pizza, Mary Ormrod, Etienne Ting, Ludlow Cooking Company, Village Clipper and Margo Caulfield

Annual Meeting: The Historical Society’s Annual Meeting and dinner will take place on Sunday, October 16 at 5 pm at the Cavendish Town Elementary School in Proctorsville. More information will be made available in the Fall issue of The Scribbler II.

Vermont Historical Newspapers Now Available On Line: The Vermont Digital Newspaper Project has recently added its first batch of newspapers on the Library of Congress Chronicling America page. This includes close to 10,000 pages from the Vermont Farmer, Rutland Herald, and Burlington Free Press weekly edition. You can read the newspapers at

Cavendish Civil War: John Brown’s Visit to Cavendish
Linda Welch, CHS’s genealogist, recently came across a letter written by Henry Bridge Atherton, a lawyer from Cavendish, to John Redparth, a biographer of John Brown, the famous abolitionist. Below is a copy of the letter, which further adds to the knowledge that Cavendish played an interesting role in the Civil War era. Not only was Governor Ryland Fletcher, from Cavendish, but he was a staunch abolitionist.

The letter indicates that Brown was seeking guns and money to help with his cause, particularly what he had begun in Kansas .

Unfortunately, the last page of what was most likely a five-page letter, is missing.

Proctorsville, VT Mary 9th, 1882

James Redparth Esq

I have sometimes thought the day would come where your publishers would issue another edition of your “Public Life of John Brown,” which was 1st published at Boston in 1860 by Thayer and Eldridge 11 St and 116 Washington St. I have been recently reading that book, and it occurs to me that, inview of the events following the execution of the old hero-the man-the freedom of the slave, the political results of the execution-and the history of our country in the past quarter of a century-you might perhaps to write that book and, if so, I would want a copy to side by side with the copy I now have in my library. John Brown and his son, Owen, I think it was, came here in the last days of Dec. 1856 or in the early part of January 1857- and spent some time on those days at my office-boarding at the Village Hotel. At that time I held the office of Secretary of the VT Senate- and our Governor-Hon. Ryland Fletcher, a brother of the late Hon. Richard Fletcher, of Boston, and Judge of Mass. Sup. Court- now my new neighbor. Our Legislature at the previous Oct. Session at Montpelier had passed an act authorizing Gov. Fletcher, in his discretion to furnish funds to an amount not exceeding twenty thousand dollars -$20,000-for the relief of the suffering citizens of Kansas-as you will find by reference to the session laws of 1856 in the Library-Our state casual care of __ General Gundry of Vergennes, VT had on hand quite an amount of guns-out of date & useless to our State. Gundry was authorized to sell or dispose of them. In some way John Brown had learned of these facts—and came here to examine the laws-and to confer with Gov. Fletcher. The Old man told us that the generosity of the people had so supplied the citizens of Kansas with food and clothing as none of this __ appropriation would be thus needed, least be thought possibly the Gov. might be authorized to let him have some of the old guns from the state Arsenal-He became satisfied on looking at the law, that Gov. Fletcher could not appropriate guns for the Defense of Freedom in the direction indicated. The Old man told us his objectives to enlist young men-pious and patriotic determined young men-not wild and -- profane ones in his service and that he proposed to rendezvous at Tabor in Iowa-just over the boarders from Kansas and await events. He showed me the enlistment papers as drawn up by him and most neatly executed. He said he expected on the return of Spring in 1857- the Missourians-becoming supplied themselves with a new stock of whiskey, would again invade Kansas-and he wishes to be ready to repel them. He said that courage of those invaders depended very much on the amount of whiskey they had. He was very conscientious-writing at my office table many letters in the time he was here. I offered him paper, envelopes—postage stamps-and he always left the dimes in the box to pay for them. The son was a light complexioned and sandy haired youth as compared with the father-they had the chains with them-that the borders….

Cavendish Historical Timeline 1886-1930
The Winter 2011 newsletter contains the town’s history from 1759- 1834 while the Spring issue covers 1835-1880. Both newsletters are posted at the CHS blog.
1886: The Gay family moves its woolen mill operations from Tunbridge to Cavendish.
- A local group of Odd Fellow (I.O.O.F. Mt. Sinai Lodge No. 22) is organized in Proctorsville.

1883: Civil War Memorial, donated by Vermont’s Former governor Redfield Proctor, is dedicated. This memorial is in front of the Cavendish Historical Society Museum.
- Fire District # 2 is formed in Cavendish and is staffed by all volunteers.

1890: Cavendish Population 1,172

1900: Cavendish Population 1,352

1905: The Claremont Power Company began construction of the Cavendish Hydro Station on the Black River. The dam was built in 1907, at the entrance to the gorge, and operation of the hydro station began that same year.

1907: Proctorsville becomes part of the town of Cavendish.

1909: Electric light poles started being installed in Cavendish and Whitesville. Electric lights were installed in the Town Hall in 1910, but it took until the 1940’s and some stretches even later, for electricity to be available town wide.

1910: Cavendish population 1,208
- The telephone comes to Vermont. There is evidence that Ludlow Telephone was in operation by 1913. Because of the costs, telephone service was slow to come to the rural areas. Most places had phone service by the mid 1940’s. Ludlow Telephone Company was eventually sold to TDS Telecom in the 1990’s.

1911: Activities for the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Cavendish Charter are postponed due to a small pox epidemic. Festivities are held in 1912, which are documented in “The Vermonter.”

1914: Proctor Piper State Forest, with the donation of 424 acres, established. A second gift from Leon S. Gay in the mid 1930’s added 300 acres and additional purchases of property added another 700 acres.

1917-1919 (WWI): 57 men and one woman from Cavendish joined the military. The flu epidemic of 1918 took the lives of three of the four Cavendish servicemen that were to die during the war. Food and coal rationing were required. The latter was not an issue for local farmers, who burned wood, but it was difficult for those in the villages. Daylight Saving Time was started on April 1, 1918.

The mills were operating at full tilt for the war effort. Business was in a boom period through 1920. Most of the Cavendish servicemen returned home.

1918: Cavendish elected its first woman selectman, Gertrude Foster.

1920: Cavendish population 1,319

1923: WWI Memorial dedicated in Proctorsville. Redfield Proctor, Jr donated the monument.

1927: The largest flood on record in Vermont caused heavy damage in the Black River Valley, particularly Cavendish. A quarter mile long channel avulsion bypassing the Cavendish Gorge eroded approximately 2 million tons of sediment down to bedrock leaving a channel 150 feed deep and 600 feet wide. Seven houses were washed away and the Duttonsville School ended up protruding over the edge of a high sandbank. Redfield Proctor, former Vermont governor, offered $10,000 to restore the schoolhouse. Olin Gay, Chairman of the School Board, proposed using this gift to move the school to a new location. He also proposed that the town raise an additional $5,000 by taxes to put in an auditorium basement, modernize the heating system and install toilets. The school building was moved on big rollers by oxen and horses 400 feet back to a safer location. It had much better facilities than before the flood. A Vermont Standard School until 1928, thanks to the renovations after the flood, Duttonsville was upgraded to a “Superior School,” a status it retained until closing in 1971.
- President Calvin Coolidge telegraphs his cousin, Park Pollard, after the flood, wanting to know what he can do for Cavendish. He sent Herbert Hoover, his Secretary of Commerce, to visit the region and to make recommendations. Two Army engineers came to give technical help about relocating the state road
- Charles Lindbergh flies over Cavendish
- Radio Station WLAK begins in Bellows Falls. Cavendish has radio service. Many farmers make their own “crystal” radios. They would use their car batteries to power them.

1928: In September, almost ten months after the flood, President Coolidge comes to Cavendish to view the damage. He looked at the washed out areas, but characteristically, did not say much.

1929: Stock market crash. This did not have an immediate impact on Cavendish. Few people had investments to lose, and for the Gay Brothers Woolen Mill, 1929 was the best year, financially, in the history of their business. It took several years before the depression was felt. Cash was scarce, but for many farmers, that had always been the case. Frugality was part of the depression, but it wasn’t caused by it.

1930: Cavendish Population 1,418

Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Gloria Leven
Marc Miele
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

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