Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cavendish Chronicles II: The Early Years Rescheduled

The play about the early years of Cavendish history has been rescheduled, due to Irene, to Saturday night, September 3 at the Cavendish Town Elementary School in Proctorsville. Curtain is 7 pm. This is a free play, but donations are welcome.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rescheduling Settler's Tour

Due to Irene, the Settler's Tour, planned for Sunday August 28 has been rescheduled to September 25 (Sunday) 2 pm. Meet at the Museum. The Museum will also be closed this Sunday due to weather.

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: Civil War Letters/Play

The play Cavendish Chronicles II: The Early Years will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 7pm at the Cavendish Town Elementary School in Proctorsville. This is a free play.

The journals and diaries of the Civil War era were often filled with short sentences about daily life. “Hot today. Moving out tomorrow.” It was in the letters that a great deal can be learned about how the soldiers lived and how their families coped with the war. One such example was written to Laura Blood Atherton of Cavendish, by her cousin Marcia Ann (Blood) Marsh of Ware dated March 6, 1863. Marsh writes to Atherton about her brother Henry Sumner Blood who was an assistant surgeon with the 57th Illinois Infantry Regiment.

“You wished to know the particulars. He enlisted into the service in Chicago, Illinois, 57th Regiment, in October. Soon after he was quite sick with a fever. I don’t think he had entirely recovered when he sailed for the field of battle, then living as they did on the boat, and the privations, camping out on the shore, want of suitable food, brought on the dysentery and quick consumption. He wrote to Charles the 24th of February after the battle at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. His Regiment was not in the warmest part of the engagement. He wrote the next day after the battle. He went out on the field and such as sight as met his eyes he never should forget. He could not describe it, he would tell us when he came home, which he thought would be in July, and the war would be over. The poor boy, how little he could see of the future. He said he was scarcely able then to hold up his head, but should keep round as long as he could, then he should go to the hospital and his rank would insure him good treatment. But he added: “Lord have mercy on the poor private-if you are out of the army, keep out. I never what hardships were before, but think I do now.” He went as assistant surgeon. This was the 24th of February and he died the 4th of March. He died at Fort Henry, near Fort Donelson. The young man that had the care of him after he took to his bed said he kept up good courage and was cheerful until the day before he died. He made no complaint. Called for nothing, and apparently suffered buy little. When he was first taken he told the Colonel if anything happened, he wanted his body sent to Ware. That was all he ever said about dying. He wrote that he and others were up with him all night trying to make him comfortable. He was wandering most of the time in the morning he asked to be raised up. He raised home on his arm, that most the last, he died without a struggle. The funeral was the 19th of March. He looked very natural, but very poor. That was a trying time. I thought how would Mother have survived it if her life had been spared, but I felt she was taken from the evil to come. Two weeks ago two young men were brought home. One was shot through the head at Newburn, the same month Henry died. The other died in the hospital last June. They were not seen, so it is all around me. Oh when will this war cease?” “Families of Cavendish” Vol 4 by Linda Welch page 57.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: Emily Dutton Proctor

On May 26, 1858, Emily Jane Dutton of Cavendish, the granddaughter of Salmon Dutton (the founder of Duttonsville) married Redfield Proctor. This marriage joined the leading families of the two villages and promised to put an end to the former rivalry, which was over a turnpike (Proctor) versus a shunpike (Dutton). As Redfield said of his first son, Fletcher Dutton Proctor, "if the old names and blood had the old inclination left to stir up strife, it would have created a fearful internal commotion." In fact, the merger of these families proved to be a propitious event for Vermont, since three governors and a United States Senator came from this Dutton-Proctor line.

A great deal is known about Redfield Proctor, who was the owner of the Vermont Marble Company, the founder of Proctor, VT, the Secretary of War during the Harrison administration and a US Senator. Much less is known about his wife.

Emily Dutton Proctor was considered a “quiet, but firm character,” raising five children, two of whom died before her own death in 1915 at 80 years of age. She moved to Boston at one point so her daughter could attend a small private school for young girls. When Redfield was in Washington, D. C., she attended balls, teas and dinners at the White House. These were the days of the Gay 90’s and the golden era of American millionaires.

Involved with many charity organizations and benevolent work, among them were the Vermont Tuberculosis Sanatorium and the Preventorium at Pittsford, VT. The Proctors were among the earliest supporters of cancer research at Harvard University. Redfield Proctor was a generous contributor to Booker T. Washington and his work at Tuskegee University, established in 1881 as training school for black teachers.

Emily died in Proctor in February 1915 and is buried there. She left $1,250 in trust, the interest to be used for the Cavendish Baptist Church “towards paying the salary of a minister as long as preaching is kept up regularly.”

In the upcoming Cavendish Chronicles, Martha Mott will play the role of Emily Dutton Proctor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

250 Years of Cavendish HIstory

If you haven't had a chance to stop by the Museum this summer, make sure you do and you will see the 250 years of Cavendish History Timeline. The Museum is open from 2-4 pm on Sunday. We will be closing this year in early October.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: Susannah Johnson

The Cavendish Players production of “Cavendish Chronicles II: The Early Years,” will be held on August 27 and 28, 7 pm at the Cavendish Town Elementary School in Proctorsville. In keeping with the 250th anniversary of the town, the play covers the time period from the settling of the town through the Civil War. The next few posts will provide history about some of the characters in the play.

In August 1754, the Johnson family, who lived outside of Fort 4 in Charlestown, NH, was kidnapped by members of one of the Abenaki nations. Mrs. Susanna Johnson was nine months pregnant. She wrote the following about her capture, “Here, after being hurried from home with such rapidity, I have leisure to inform the reader respecting our Indian masters. (Susannah, as she writes her memoirs of her captivity, here, speaks to the readers of her account) They were eleven in number; all men of middle age, except one, a youth of sixteen, who, on our journey discovered a very troublesome disposition. According to their practice he who first laid hands on a prisoner considered (the prisoner) his property. My master, who was the one who first took my hand was as clever an Indian as I ever saw. He even evinced, at numberous times a disposition that showed he was by no means void of compassion. The four who took my husband claimed him as their property. My sister, three children, Labaree and Farnsworth had each a master. When the time came for us to prepare to march I almost expired at the thought of leaving my aged parents, brothers, sisters and friends and travel with savages through a dismal forest to unknown regions in the alarming situation in which I then was with three small children. The eldest (child) Sylvanus (Johnson) was but six years old. My sister Miriam (Willard) was fourteen. My husband was barefoot and otherwise thinly clad. His masters had taken his jacket. My two daughters had nothing on but their shifts and I had only the gown handed to me by the savages. In addition to the sufferings which arose from my own deplorable condition I could not but feel for my friend, Labaree. He had left a wife and four small children behind - his situation was extremely unhappy. The Indians pronounced the dreadful word, "munch", (march) and on we must go.

I was put on the horse; Mr. Johnson took one daughter and Mr. Labaree took the other. We went six or eight miles and stopped for the night. The men were made secure by having their legs put in split sticks somewhat like stocks and tied with cords which were tied to limbs of trees too high to be reached. My sister much to her mortification must lie between two Indians with a cord thrown over her and passing under each of them. The little children had blankets and I had one for my own use. The fatigues of day obliged me to sleep for several hours in spite of the horrors which surrounded me. The Indians observed great silence and never spoke but when necessary. My children were much more peaceable than could be imagined. Gloomy fear imposed a deadly silence.

The Indians captured a stray horse, which Mrs. Johnson rode. On the second day of their journey, they encamped in Reading, VT, when Mrs. Johnson went into labor. According to the Indian Stone markers on Rt 106, on the border of Reading and Cavendish, about a mile up the brook from where the stones are now, she delivered the child, Elizabeth Captive Johnson. The stone marker information would suggest that the first white child born in Cavendish would have been Elizabeth “Captive” Johnson.

The day after the child’s birth, they continued traveling northward. Starvation eventually forced the Indians to kill the horse Mrs. Johnson rode and use him for food. Given the choice of being left behind with her baby, Mr. Johnson carried his wife on his shoulders.

Once in Canada, the family was divided between Indian and French families. Mr. And Mrs Johnson were both imprisoned where they developed small pox. It would be four years before the family was reunited. Mr. Johnson’s freedom was short lived as he would die from wounds sustained at Fort Ticonderoga. Susanna Johnson lived to be 80-81 and wrote a book about her experiences “Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson Containing A Account of her suffering during Four Years with the Indians and French.” Her diary and story was the basis for Elizabeth George Speare’s 1957 book “Calico Captive.”

Learn more about Susanna Johnson

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

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: Small Pox Epidemic Cancels 150th Celebration

The following article appeared in the Vermont Tribune Cavendish: 12 Oct., 1911: Small Pox Scare in Cavendish at the Kingsburys: — “By reason of the discovery of four cases of what was pronounced small pox in the family of H. S. Kingsbury, living just below the village of Cavendish [they lived on Chubb Hill on the old Chubb-Peck farm] the committee in charge of the 150th anniversary celebration of the founding of the charter of that town, decided after consultation with the state authorities, to postpone that event indefinitely.

There is nothing at all alarming about the situation, but precautionary measures were deemed wise, and so were adopted promptly. The local health officer, Dr. Buxton, reports the matter well in hand and ever precaution being taken so that no further outbreaks are looked for. The school on Tarbell Hill is temporarily closed.” —[more under same date]

“A well-developed small pox scare has taken possession of our town and at this writing after thorough examination by the board of health, we have four well defined cases with a greater number under suspicion. As a result of this, the board of health and the committee on the celebration met in conjunction and decided that the celebration must be called off and that all cases will be places in charge of Dr. Edward F. Hodges [of Indianapolis, Indiana, whose summer home was the former Ely place— Glimmerstone] ...who is in our community for his vacation and who is an expert and specialist on this disease.” — [more under same date]: “A short time ago Miss Marietta Kingsbury attended camp meeting in Lakeport, NH where she contracted the disease. It was not until Monday of this week that the family became aware of the nature of the illness. Dr. Buxton our health officers was called. He immediately pronounced the disease small pox and sent for Dr. Caverly of Rutland who arrived Tuesday and concurred with Dr. Buxton’s diagnosis.

At a meeting of the committee in charge of the celebration Tuesday evening it was thought best to give up the whole affair. Although from the village there are many people with whom they have been associating before they were aware of their condition, so a quarantine will be necessary.

At present Miss Marietta Kingsbury is recovering. H. S. Kingsbury, Alfred Kingsbury and younger daughter are ill. Dr. Buxton feels confident in Dr. Hedges, as he, his wife and mother, Mrs. Martha Buxton, and Mr. Conklin left Thursday for a week’s stay in New York.” — 19 Oct., 1911: “The Kingsbury family are all gaining.

There are no new cases of smallpox yet, although Dr. Hodges fears the disease may develop in Frank Hewey, a schoolboy who was living at Ira Belknap’s and in one of Clarence Belknap’s little daughters, as these two children are ill, but not as yet broken out. However their vaccination is not working. All the other people who were exposed and then vaccinated are in quarantine and their vaccinations are working well. Dr. Hodges very kindly offered to take charge of the cases of smallpox and look after the quarantine free of all expense to the town and also to save our local physicians for their usual practice. Remembering the fact that the one smallpox case in Proctorsville eight years ago cost the town $700, Cavendish ought to be very grateful to Dr. Hodges and consider itself fortunate to have such a man for a citizen, do all we can to encourage him and urge more of the same kind to locate among us.”