Monday, October 29, 2012

Scribber II Fall 2012: CHS Newsletter

Remembering Jim Ballantine
It is with sadness that we report the passing of Jim Ballantine on August 2. A long-standing member of the Cavendish Select board,  the Cavendish Town Elementary School Board and the Cavendish Municipal Water System Board, Jim was the chair of the Select board for the last several years. In prior years, he was very active with the Cavendish Fire Department.

Whether it was looking for a cannon on Hawks Mountain, or some other piece of Cavendish history, one of Jim’s big concerns was that we had Atherton Bemiss’s history of the town, some of which had been written by his ancestors.  When we assured him that we had a copy in the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) archives, and offered to make copies of some of it, he declined saying “just as long as it’s there.”

He thought it was important to video tape our older residents. “It’s not just their stories,” he’d say, “it was how they sound when they told those stories. You can’t get anyone to sound like Sophie.” Fortunately for generations to come, there is considerable footage of Jim at various town meetings, which have all been taped by LPC TV. 

CHS extends its sympathies to his wife Elsie, his c children and grandchildren.

Annual Meeting
 The CHS Annual Meeting has been scheduled for February 24, 5 pm. More information will be available in the Winter newsletter.

Linda’s Social History Corner
 Linda Welch is the genealogist for the Cavendish Histor ical  Society and the author of the series “Families of Cavendish.” To contact her, please e-mail

As many of us know, Don Carlos Pollard's store was not just a store. It was an operation. Located right near the railroad tracks and depot, the store was a stockhouse of just about everything families in a Vermont farm community would need to get along. And if Pollard didn't have it, he could get it (he had all kinds of catalogs in the store, and was agent for many companies). This advertisement of 1870 (the earliest one I could find) shows Pollard's was a dry goods, clothing, cloth, hats, caps, and ready made ware for boys, store. It sold boots, shoes, groceries including teas, coffee, etc., hardware, all the tools for the farm. In addition it was a drugstore and pharmacy and carried all kinds of dishes and house wares, glasses and pots and pans. It was an ole' New England style "WALMART" in its time.  This store was in business even after the Second World War. My great grandfather's and great grandmother's shopped there. My grandfather and grandmother shopped there; my father shopped there. He was raised in Proctorsville (born 1909). The people who lived all around this store knew its value and history. Everyone has there own personal memories of that great 'ole place, Pollard's Store. Do not forget, that it was while working in this store as a young lad, that Calvin Coolidge began interested in politics.  Many of you have your own memories of Pollard's. I would love to hear from you. —Linda M. Welch (

Cavendish Civil War History: Henry B. Atherton
Attending the Duttonsville School, where he excelled, Henry Bridge Atherton was more interested in poetry than farming. During his time at Dartmouth College, he taught the winter school in Duttonsville twice and one winter in Proctorsville. From there he went to the Albany Law School where her received the degree of L.L.B. in 1860.

With an office in Proctorsville, John Brown, the famous abolitionist, and his son Owen came to visit Atherton in late 1856 or early 1857. The purpose of that visit, Atherton describes in a letter to the biographer of Brown, John Redpath, in 1882, was to seek guns and money to help with his anti slavery cause.

When the Civil War began, Atherton offered his services to Governor Fairbanks, who on August 12, 1861, commissioned him to raise a company of three-year men for the Union. Within two weeks he had secured his hundred men and twenty to spare. It was the color Company of the 4th Vermont known as the “Lion Brigade.” Atherton was chosen captain and was mustered into service at Brattleboro in Company “C.” He wrote a great many letters during the war, some of which are available at the on-line Atherton Collection,  compiled by Linda Welch.

It is interesting that in 1853, at the age of 16, he wrote a poem, “The Widow,” which would take on a very sad and tragic meaning ten years later, when so many Cavendish wives lost their husband in the war.

The Widow
The widow is a dangerous thing.
With soft, black shinning curls,
And looketh more bewitching
Than an host of romping girls;
Her laugh is so delicious-
So, knowing, clear, beside.
You’d never dream she’s thinking
Soon to become a bride.

Her dress, though made of sables,
Gives roundness to her form-
A touch of something thoughtful,
A witching, winning charm.
And when she sits down by you,
With quiet, easy grace-
A tear may fall unbidden,
Or a smile light up her face.

Her voice is soft melodious-
And lute-like in its tone.
She sometimes sighs: “it’s dreadful
To pass through life alone.”
And she’d tell you, you remind her
Of the loved one dead and gone.
Your step, your form, your features;
Thus the widow will run on.

Oh! Listen, yet be careful,
For well she plays her part-
Her lips distill the nectar
That doth enslave the heart.
Be barded or she’ll win you,
With smiles, and sighs, and tears;
I’l saith she’ll wear the breeches, too,
And box your silly ears!

Severely wounded by a bullet in the groin, he resigned his commission, which was taken over by another Cavendish solder, George Blood French. Atheron accepted the editorial management of the New Hampshire Telegraph, in Nashua, NH. Returning to law practice, Atherton served in the legislature and was even offered the governorship of Alaska by President Harrison. He continued to write, including an article “The Old Indian Road,” covering the history of Vermont and the Crown Point Military Road and the captivity of Mrs. Johns, mother of the first white child born in Vermont.

Atherton died of pneumonia at the age of 71. “He was fulfilling a speaking engagement at the Tremont Temple in Boston, and stepped onto an outside balcony for a breath of fresh air. He suffered a chill, and within ten days he was dead.”

 Phineas Gage was the first documented traumatic brain injury case, as the result of a tamping rod passing through his head, while working in Cavendish, blasting rock for the new railroad in 1848.  While Dr. Harlow is credited with saving Gage’s life after the accident, it took another doctor, Gene Bont, who was the area’s family doctor for approximately 30 years, to find documentation that Gage made his living at times by posing as a curiosity. Bont found a poster advertising Gage as “The World’s Wonder.” For 12 1•2 Cents, “to be had at the door,” you could see Phineas Gage at Rumford Hall where he will exhibit to them, in his own person, one of the greatest wonders of the world! Nothing less than a man who has had a huge iron bar, which he will exhibit, forced through his head from chin to crown; has had, in fact his brains blown out!”

Copies of the Gage poster, 81/2 X 11,” are now being sold by CHS for $5 a piece, plus $3 for shipping and handling. Money raised from the sale of the posters will go towards a Phineas Gage website, which will be done by the Cavendish Town Elementary School’s 4th grade class under the direction of their teacher Jenn Harper.

You can purchase a poster by sending a check to the CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.

 Photographs Needed for Cavendish Facebook Page
Many people are enjoying the old photographs CHS has been posting to the Cavendish VT Facebook page.  If you have old photographs of Cavendish or Proctorsville that you would like to share, please e-mail them in Jpg format to Be sure to include a brief description.

Special Thanks to Volunteers
A very special thank you to Doug Haskell and Stewart Lindberg for keeping the lawns mowed and looking good this summer at the Museum and the Old Stone Church. Our Hands on History Program wouldn’t be possible without our amazing volunteers: Pam Bruno, Gloria Leven, Sandra Stearns, Pang Ting and Gail Woods. Jared Harper has done a wonderful job of reproducing our 1927 flood photograph and enlarging the Phineas Gage poster.

 Hands on History Program
Since people learn best by doing, CHS has come up with a variety of workshops that are available to local schools, community groups and at special CHS events. Thanks to a grant from the Cavendish Community Fund (CCF), a project of the Cavendish Community and Conservation Association (CCCA), CHS has already offered three Hands on History programs.

 Back to School with the Cavendish Historical Society: Make a Chalkboard was offered in August and was then repeated as a special project with the third grade students at the Cavendish Town Elementary School, who were studying what it was like to attend a one-room schoolhouse.

 George Baron, an instructor at West Point Military Academy, is thought to be the first American instructor to use a large black slate chalkboard, when teaching math, in 1801. By the mid-1800s, a blackboard was to be found in almost every school and had become the single most important educational tool.

Chalkboards remained the primary all-around educational fixture in schoolrooms and businesses for almost 200 years.

Many rural schools used the slate material chalkboard, a labor saving device for teachers and allowing them to educate many more children at one time. However, CHS found that not all of Cavendish’s rural schools adopted the slate chalkboard.

The Rumke School (Greenbush Rd in Cavendish) was closed in 1923. Left untouched, the property owners, Al and Diana Leonard, donated the teacher’s blackboard, to the Museum. This one room schoolhouse was still using a blackboard made by  the old method of combining un sanded grout and paint. Given the combination of Yankee thrift and lack of funds, many of the Cavendish rural one-room schoolhouses most likely used similar methods.

In addition to making their own personal chalkboards, which they then used as part of their lessons each day for the next few weeks, the Cavendish third graders had the pleasure of learning about life in a one room school house from Cavendish’s own “Laura Ingalls Wilder,” Sandra Stearns. In her book Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939 to 1957, Stearns recalls what it was like to attend the Center Road School, a one room schoolhouse at the juncture of Town Farm and Center Roads. The students had a chance to play the schoolyard games of sixty years ago.

On October 22, CHS held a town wide Early Settler’s workshop featuring  quilting, candle making with beeswax obtained from local hives, stenciling and cider pressing.
Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Gloria Leven
Marc Miele
Bruce McEnaney
Joseph Pasquerello
Mike Pember
Gail Woods
BECOME A MEMBER, RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP, DONATE 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+ $5  ___ 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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