Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scribbler II: Spring 2012

Spring arrived quite early this year, with temperatures in March that toped 80 degrees. It certainly helped CHS board think about the summer and a variety of activities being planned.

For the last five years, CHS has hosted "Cavendish Old Home Day" at the Cavendish Green and at the Museum. This year, the board has voted to return to the original format used by CHS for many years- a summer fest with all activities taking place on the Museum grounds. There will be a live and silent auction, plant sale, museum tours, as well as vendor space. There will be a $15 booth fee (10 x 10 space). If this is something you or your organization would be interested in, please e-mail or call 802-226-7807 and reserve your space. Please note that the tree is no longer available to provide shade, so it is important to have a tent.

We know many will miss the tree, but it was very old and was loosing limbs with each strong wind and storm. Before it caused major damage to the Museum or another building, it was thought best to remove it.

Upcoming Events
June 2 (Saturday): Reception for the opening of the Cavendish Floods Exhibit.

June 3 (Saturday): CHS Museum opens for the season, 2-4 pm.

June 30 (Saturday): CHS Summer Fest, featuring annual plant sale, live and silent auction and local vendors. This event will be held on the grounds of the Museum.

July 15 (Sunday): “Lotions, Potions and Notion-18th through mid 19th Century Folk Cures.” 2-4 pm at the Museum.

July 28: 2nd Annual Town Wide Tag Sale.

Why is it called Greven Field?
At the Ignat Solzhenitsyn benefit concert for Greven Field on Friday, April 6, among the many positive comments about Ignat’s performance was sprinkled the question, why is it called Greven Field?

In 1948, Dr. H. J. Greven deeded his eight-acre field to the Proctorsville Fire Department. The volunteer firemen and the Auxiliary raised money and worked hard to put in a baseball diamond, bleachers, and other recreational items for the community. For many years, this was the site of Cavendish’s Old Home Day celebration.

Dr. Greven came to Proctorsville around 1925, to join Dr. Buxton in meeting the medical needs of Proctorsville. For many years, the local baseball players used the field behind his home, while the Cavendish players used the area between Olin Gay’s house (now Bonts) and the cemetery.

Dr. Greven died in 1956 at the age of 70.

Was Cavendish Part of the Underground Railroad?
If you ask many in town about whether the Underground Railroad (UGRR) went through Cavendish, you will hear stories of various houses on Tarbell Hill Rd., and Twenty Mile Stream as well as the Golden Stage Inn that had special hiding places for fugitive slaves. However, there is no documented proof of UGRR activities in this part of Vermont and in fact, according to “The Vermont Underground Railroad Survey Report,” by Ray Zirblis, because Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery, 50% of the documented escaped slaves spent a great deal of time in VT. They could safely live openly and many were brought here to work on farms.

So what about those rooms, secret tunnels and odd spaces in chimneys? Interestingly, Vermont has a very long history of smuggling, as early as 1812. Whether it was sneaking food to Canada or “rum running,” Vermonters had a variety of reasons for secret rooms. In Cavendish, there is documented proof that Glimmerstone was used in rum running during prohibition. Other spaces, such as the hidden chambers within hearths, had a specific purpose-smoking meats. A tunnel from a stream to a cellar, was very possible for operating a still, since VT had prohibition long before the rest of the country.

Cavendish has a very strong history of being anti slavery. While maybe not part of the UGRR, Cavendish and Vermont were definitely part of the “above ground” railroad. Many prominent Cavendish citizens, including Governor Ryland Fletcher, were staunch abolitionists. In fact the support was so strong for the abolitionist movement that the leading abolitionist of the day, John Brown, stayed in Proctorsville as he tried to raise money for his efforts in Kansas. Henry Bridge Atherton, a lawyer from Cavendish wrote to John Redparth, a biographer of John Brown of that visit, which appears on-line.

There were former slaves that lived in Cavendish. According to Linda Welch, CHS genealogist and author of “Families of Cavendish,” who has the letters and correspondence of both Captains French and Atherton, these men brought slaves back to Cavendish as a result of the Civil War. A probate guardianship paper dated at Cavendish, 19 July, 1864, signed by Gilbert A. Davis, Register gives George B. French guardianship of “Arthur Lewis, a colored boy, apparently about fifteen years of age now residing in said Cavendish.” Lewis was rescued by George French in Virginia during the early years of the Civil War, and stayed with him at different headquarter stations as George’s Regiment fought the war. Lewis lived with the French family for many years, where he was taught to read and write. Excelling in the raising of thoroughbreds, he was a valued member of the family, paid for his work with wages, board and room. He married in Woodstock and had at least two children. Lewis did not join the French family when they moved to Nebraska, instead he remained in Woodstock.

Civil War: Disease the Primary Killer
Among Cavendish’s Civil War soldiers (173), the fatalities were more often caused by disease than the battle itself. Ten died in battle, but 18 more died as follows: 4 in prison, 9 while in service from disease like typhoid and 5 from wounds received in battle. One soldier was lost at sea on his way home from Andersonville Prison.

The single biggest killer in the Civil War was not the battlefield but rather disease. In the Union Army 4 men died from sickness for every 1 man killed in battle, and deaths from disease were twice those resulting from all other causes. On the whole, the heaviest incidence of disease occurred early in the war. Because there were no cures or vaccines for the most common ailments (dysentery, typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria, measles), you either got well or died.

Vermonters were frequently sicker than their counterparts from other states. In fact, the incident of disease was so high among the Vermont “mustering” camps, that in January 1862, US Surgeon General Charles Tripler issued a special report on the health of Vermont soldiers. In December 1861, Dr. Edward Phelps reported that a quarter of Vermont soldiers were sick. The January report found an overall sickness rate of 18.42%, despite the fact that the rates for the Second and Third regiments had improved considerably since December.

Dr. Tripler concluded that a "nostalgic element" affected the Vermonters more severely than others, causing depression among the troops and, he implied, feeding into a vicious cycle of poor health. However, there is one major reason why Vermonters were more likely to become ill in the camps. Unique to Vermont was that the majority of volunteers came from rural areas and so had limited exposure to childhood diseases. Consequently, they were highly susceptible to measles, mumps and other diseases.

Cavendish Historic Timeline 1961-1990
Other portions of the Timeline are in the 2011 and 2012 issues of the Scribbler II, all of which are on-line at the CHS blog.

1961: The town celebrates its 200th anniversary.

1962: Mack Molding opens in the Gay’s Brother Mill complex.

1963-1973: Vietnam War Era. Sixty-four men and three women (Harriet Dockum, Linda Tyrell and Rachel Strong) served in this conflict.

1967: On December 12, the voters of the Cavendish Town School District approved, by a margin of 122 to 73, the formation of a union high school district, grades 7-12, with the town School Districts of Andover and Chester and the Duttonsville Independent School District.

1970: The Cavendish Historical Society leases the old town hall building for its Museum. Shortly thereafter, the Old Stone Church (Universalist Church) is leased to the Historical Society for preservation.
- Cavendish population 1,264
- Vermont passes Act 250, known as the Land Use and Development Act, as a result of the increasing development of resort and second home housing. This expansion was putting a heavy burden on small towns, particularly in the southern part of the state, which would need to significantly expand infrastructures to meet the expansion. One of the first projects was the Black River Estates off of Pratt Hill in Proctorsville. In subsequent years, this law is used to stop development thought to be inappropriate for Cavendish.

1973: Major flood, which washed out many roads and bridges.

1976: Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize winner and Soviet dissident, settles in Cavendish with his wife, children and mother-in-law. His home becomes a place of refuge for other Soviet dissidents.
- Green Mountain Union High School opens in Chester.

1977: Cavendish and Weathersfield residents learn that Springfield is planning to build a hydroelectric plant on the Black River from the media. Concerned Citizens of the Black River Valley (CCBRV) is formed to keep Springfield from building the generating project. Six units were proposed, the largest of which was Hawks Mountain Dam located on the Cavendish/Weathersfield town line. This dam would have been of earth fill construction, 165 feet in height and 900 feet in length at the crest and would have flooded five miles in Cavendish. CCBRV included citizens of the Towns of Cavendish, Weathersfield, and Springfield. Their slogan was “Save the Valley.”
- Stepping Stones Preschool opens in Ludlow to serve area children. The school will eventually move to a building on the border of Cavendish and Ludlow and today primarily serves Cavendish.

1978: Singleton’s general store opens on Main Street in Proctorsville. This marks the beginning of the Proctorsville revitalization effort.

1979: Alexander Ginsburg joins Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Cavendish. He was one of the architects of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. A constant irritant to the KGB and its political masters, Ginsburg served three terms of imprisonment for his activities. From 1960 to 1962 he was incarcerated in a labor camp. He was again arrested in 1967, and sentenced to five years. In 1977, after 17 months of interrogation, he was tried and convicted of “anti-Soviet agitation”, and sentenced to eight years. However, he and four fellow-dissidents were exchanged in New York for two Soviet citizens who had been jailed in America for spying.

1980: Cavendish population 1,355

1981: Lisa Ballantine becomes the first female fire fighter for the Cavendish Fire Department (District #2).
- The Southern Windsor/Windham Counties Solid Waste Management District is formed in order to provide solid waste management authority, services, and planning to its member towns, one of which is Cavendish.

1982: The Mueller’s purchase the Okemo Ski area in Ludlow and begin to turn it into a resort. This will have a significant impact on Cavendish in subsequent years. The 1980s saw a new potential economy, tourism, as Okemo Mountain became a prominent ski area. Increasingly, people looked to Cavendish for vacation and seasonal housing. Today, non-residents own 60% of the town’s property.
- Acousti-Phase, the old mill building on what is now the Proctorsville Green, burns down.

1985: Donna Blanchard is the first female fire fighter for the Proctorsville Fire Department. Her sister Amy was the second female fire fighter and in 2011 there are three women serving in this capacity.

1986: Proctorsville ceases to be an incorporated village and comes under the town of Cavendish.

1988: Dr. Bont and his wife Phyllis Bont, a nurse practitioner, leave Black River Health Center to work at Albany Medical Center. In the coming years, various medical groups try to establish a health center but are short lived. The longest standing occupant since the Bonts left has been Opportunities in Learning (OIL) a school for students who do not function well in a regular classroom. In 2010, several mental health counselors set up their practices in the building. Many people receive care via the Springfield Medical Care Systems, which includes a federally qualified health care system at the Ludlow Health Center and various offices in Springfield.
- Richard Svec becomes town manager, a position that he continues to hold. He has now served longer than any other town manager in Cavendish history.

1989: Proctorsville’s water system has to be abandoned due to contamination from road salt. Combined with the Cavendish Municipal Water system.

1989-1990: Twenty-eight Cavendish residents served in the Lebanon and Granada conflicts. This included five women-Amy and Donna Blanchard, Valerie Scales, Norma Westcott and Nicola Woodell.

1990: Cavendish population 1,323

Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Gloria Leven
Marc Miele
Bruce McEnaney
Joseph Pasquerello
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 __ Hands on History

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 __ Hands on History
__ Other (please specify) __ Cemetery Restoration

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