Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) News



CHS is pleased to announce the start of a new facebook page-Phineas Gage Cavendish.  

On Sept ember 13, 1848 Phineas Gage, a foreman, was working with his crew excavating rocks in preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Cavendish. An accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head. It entered under the left cheek bone and exited through the top of the head. The rod, covered with brains and blood, was found approximately 30 yards from the site of the accident. Thus began the first documented case of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the medical literature.

Since Gage continues to be of interest, and is still being studied, the Historical Society receives many inquiries about him. This new Facebook page is a place to continue the discussion, hopefully to obtain new information and separate fact from fiction where possible. So be part of the discussion and “like us” at the Phineas Gage Cavendish Facebook page.

This Sunday, June 2,  is the first day of the CHS Museum season. With so many different activities underway at CHS, not all of the exhibits have been finalized. The Museum will now be open every Sunday from 2-4 pm until Columbus weekend. Arrangements for tours of the Museum can be made at other times by calling 802-226-7807 or e-mailing margoc@tds.net

To inquiries about the Solzhenitsyn exhibit. There will be a summer exhibit at the Museum this season, with the permanent exhibit at the Stone Church hopefully established by the summer of 2014. We will have the Stone Church open on July 6, as part of Summer Fest and again on July 27, as part of the Town Wide Tag Sale.

Summer Fest is July 6, and once again there will be a chance to get the best hosta at the lowest price in town. More to follow. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cavendish Historical Society’s Settlers Tour


Coffeens: John and Susanna Coffeen and their children arrived in Cavendish in 1769. They were the town’s first settlers. Their first home was located off of Heald Road, but was relocated shortly after being built, as it was too far from the Crown Point Road. Since Coffeen planned on having an inn, he believed it was prudent to build closer to the road. The Heald Road property was given to Lake Coffeen and it is believed that the cellar hole there was most likely his.

 Coffeen relocated to the Cavendish Reading Road, close to Brook Road. Not long after Coffeen settled in Cavendish, he and his wife set out for Charlestown, NH for supplies and grinding their grist. Due to a snow storm, the parents did not return for six weeks. During this time, one of the Coffeen children became ill and died. The other children kept the body in the house until the parents return, at which time, due to heavy snow, the body was buried across the road from the house. Coffeen decided that this would be the family’s cemetery. Coffeens, Baldwins and at least four Revolutionary soldiers are buried there. The cemetery is located on the left hand side of the South Reading Rd just before the house. This property is now owned by the Durkins.

John Coffeen played a key role in not only being a founding father of Cavendish, but he was chosen to represent Vermont at the Windsor Convention to form a Constitution for the new State of Vermont

Dutton: In 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. He was also a major contributor to the Cavendish Academy.  His home was located on the Cavendish Green, and is now located at the Shelburne Museum. He is buried in the Cavendish Village Cemetery on High Street.

Proctors: In 1782 Capt. Leonard Proctor, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved his family to Vermont. 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 (Main Street) through Proctorsville. The “shunpike” being toll free resulted 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 Duttonsville and Proctorsville, feuded for 75 years.

Leonard Proctor built a log cabin and in the spring of 1783, he constructed the first house or tavern beside the cabin near where the Methodist church now stands. The house stood where the present highway runs. Part of the house was moved, and then torn down to make way for the elementary school. The remaining part of the house was moved to the current location and became known as the Page House. This house is to the left of St. James Church.
 Across the street from the Page House and the second house before Maple Street, is the “Town house or the “Jenny House.”   This was built in 1787 by Captain Leonard Proctor. He and his wife Mary Proctor, lived in this house over 30 years and died there in 1827. The house, built of wood, is famous for its fancy hand-carved decorations around the roofline, on the corner posts and around the center doorway.
 The Proctor family is buried in the Proctor Cemetery off of Main Street in Proctorsville.

DIRECTIONS
All directions start from Route 131. 

A1. Coffeen: Heald Road: In Proctorsville on route 131, take Twenty Mile Stream to Heald Road, which will be a right hand turn.

A Coffeen Homestead and Cemetery: Take Center Road from Route 131 in Cavendish. Turn left on either Town Farm Roard or just after on Brook Road. Either road intersects the Cavendish Reading Rd. Go right on the Reading Rd. It wont be long before you will see the cemetery on the left, and the homestead above it on the right.

B. Dutton: Dutton’s home was on the Cavendish Green on Route 131. There is a marker, which explains that the house was moved to the Shelburne Museum. Dutton was buried in the High Street Cavendish Cemetery. The road next to the Cavendish Green, where the Town Office is located, is High Street. The Cemetery is at the top of the hill. Dutton and his families graves are on the right hand side of the cemetery, in the older section,  and have slate grave markers.

C. Proctor: On Route 131 one in Proctorsville, the remains of the first home Proctor built are located in the “Page House” which is the white house just before St. James Church when heading west to Ludlow. The “Jenny House” is across the street from the Page House and the second house from Maple Street when heading east towards Cavendish Village. This house has decorative carvings on the front. The Proctor Cemetery is located in short walking distance of the two houses on the right hand side of the road when heading towards Ludlow. The entrance is opposite Singleton’s Parking area. This is up a fairly steep hill, but isn’t all that long. Capt. Leonard Proctor is buried just outside of the gated area. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

WALKING TOUR: PROCTORSVILLE VILLAGE


In 1782, Capt. Leonard Proctor, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved his family to Vermont. 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, who came to Cavendish around the same time, had 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 resulted 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 Duttonsville and Proctorsville, feuded for 75 years.

The marriage of Redfield Proctor and Emily Dutton in 1858 joined the leading families of the two villages and promised to put an end to the former rivalry. 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.

In February 20, 1907, Proctorsville formally gave notice to the Town of Cavendish that it wished to be incorporated. Today Proctorsville is a village within the township of Cavendish.

                        Begin your tour at the Proctorsville Green facing the War Memorial.

Proctorsville War Memorial: On November 12, 1923, the American Legion, school children and various members of the community, including Civil War veterans, participated in an Armistice Day ceremony to dedicate the WWI monument. The monument was given by Redfield Proctor, Jr. All of the veterans of WWI were inscribed. Plaques have been placed for veterans of subsequent wars and military actions.

To the east of the War Memorial and on the same side of the street:

 Fraternal Building (now the Village Clipper and pictured above): Originally the Eagle Hotel, Jabez Proctor built it. As many as 50 guests and nearly 100 horses would stop for the night on the stagecoach route. The hotel ceased in 1896. The porches and chimneys were torn down and the livery stable dismantled. It became a very ordinary building. In 1900 the building was sold to Proctorsville Fraternal Society, which became the home of the Masons, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs. The first floor was used by businesses. The building became home to Lawrence’s Lunch, Mae’s Lunch, various barbers and the Proctorsville Post Office. Today the building is owned by Art and Jo Frye and houses apartments as well as The Village Clipper and Black River Tax and Business Services.

Continuing on Main Street towards Cavendish, past the Elementary School, go to the second house before Maple Street:

Sunset Tavern: “Town House” or the “Jenny House,” was built in 1787 by Captain Leonard Proctor, the second home he built in Proctorsville. He and his wife Mary Proctor, lived in this house over 30 years and died there in 1827. The house, built of wood, is famous for its fancy hand-carved decorations around the roofline, on the corner posts and around the center doorway.

Across the street from the Cavendish Town Elementary School to the left of St. James Church

Page House: In 1782, Leonard Proctor built a log cabin and in the spring of 1783, he constructed the first house or tavern beside the cabin near where the Methodist church now stands. The house stood where the present highway runs. Part of the house was moved, and then torn down to make way for the elementary school. The remaining part of the house was moved to the current location and became known as the Page House.   

St. James Church: Built in 1882 to replace the old church. A Hamill pipe organ was installed in 1886.

 Continue to the corners of Main and Depot Street

Pollard’s Block (Proctorsville Post Office and Six Loose Ladies): In 1863, Don C. Pollard opened a general store on the corner of Depot and Main Streets. When a fire destroyed the brick building in 1895, it was replaced with a wooden structure known as the Pollard Block. The store included a pharmacy service, as Fred Pollard learned to fill prescriptions from the local doctor, Dr. Darwin Story. Various members of the Pollard family ran the store until it closed in 1964. Since then the building has served many purposes including a bar, Baba Lou’s Bakery and Crows Corner Bakery.

Continuing on the East side of Depot Street towards 103

Gethsemane Episcopal Church: Construction on the church began in 1889 on land left for this purpose by Sally Parker. Prior to her death, Parker had a small chapel on her property where Episcopalians could worship. Consecration of the church took place in December 1890. The Parish Hall was built in 1956. Behind the church are community and memorial gardens. 

Continuing towards Route 103

Opera House (now Crows Bakery and Opera House CafĂ©): Built in 1907-1908 by Will Adams, postmaster. The first floor housed a hardware store, library and post office. The second floor contained a stage and a hall. The third floor had a larger meeting hall and a kitchen. In 1919, the building was purchased as part of the Murdock Mill. In 1921, Cavendish Grange 275 moved to the Opera House. The building has been sold and resold over the years. In 1930’s, the building had a pool table and two bowling lanes and a boxing ring. In 1941, it was sold to the Proctorsville Library and in 1946 the American Legion purchased the building for the returning veterans of WWII. The building was open 24 hours a day, six days a week. Over the years, the building has been a hub of activity for the town, providing a place for plays, school functions, movies and even a 5 & 10 ¢ Store. The building continues to serve the community as a gathering space.

Bridge: At one time a covered bridge, this bridge has been replaced many times.

Just after the Bridge

Cottage Hotel-The first building after crossing the bridge. This building was converted from a frame house to Hotel around 1902 and was run by C. W. Carpenter. The rates were a dollar a day and up. The hotel went by many names- Proctor-Piper, Riverside Inn Hotel, Proctorsville Inn and Allen Inn. It is now a private residence but rooms are let at various times of the year.

Continuing towards 103

Golden Stage Inn: Originally the home of the Skinner Family, it was converted to an inn. Otis Skinner, a famous actor in the late 1800’s, was a frequent guest at the Inn. It’s believed to be haunted by young man that has been nicknamed George.


Across route 103 and up Bailey Hill Road

Hillcrest Cemetery: The land for this cemetery was obtained from the Proctors. The earliest burial was in 1828. Veterans include at least 16 who served in the Civil War. Just before the entrance of the cemetery there is an area that was known as a “potter’s field.” This area was destroyed when it was dug up and used to plant potatoes during the Depression. Only three graves remain.

Returning to Depot Street, heading towards Route 131 just before the train tracks

Dr. William’s House Location: Dr. William was an engineer, who went to medical school when ill health kept him from working outside. He was the first doctor to care for Phineas Gage when the tamping rod went through his skull (1845). Not long after the incident, Williams returned to engineering full time and started the oldest engineering society in the United States, Tau Beta Pi. (A “Phineas Gage Walking Tour” is available from the Cavendish Historical Society.

Just after the tracks, look for the stone house that has a “vault alarm on the front.

Bank: Built in 1845 of snecked ashlar stone, it was known as the Black River Bank. In 1865, it became the National Black River Bank and changed names again in 1932, when it became part of the Windsor County National Bank. Merging with Vermont National Bank in 1964, the bank was closed in 1972. The building is now a private home.

Bordering the Proctorsville Green

Proctorsville Woolen Manufacturing Company: This mill was started by Jabez Proctor in 1836 and was reorganized in 1878, to become the second largest mill in Vermont. Reflecting changes in ownership, the Mill was known as the Murdock’s Mill, Crescent Woolen Mill, Proctor Mill and the Black Bear Woolen Mill. The Mill building was purchased by the Town in 1938. Proctor Reels used the building to make furniture as well as reels. Acousti-Phase Company replaced Proctor Reels until 1982 when the building was burned. Wild Bill’s Discounts occupied one of the remaining buildings. The Building was purchased from the Town in 200 and was being renovated for the production of tiles. The structure is currently for sale. 

Cross Route 131 and head west (towards Ludlow)

Proctor Cemetery: Located between two houses, look for the Cemetery sign. The earliest burial was in 1816. The Proctors gave the land for the cemetery. Among the veterans buried here is at least one who served in the Revolutionary War, Capt. Leonard Proctor, the founder of Proctorsville, two in the Civil War and one each in The War of 1812 and in the Spanish American War. 

Phineas Gage Walking Tour


On Sept ember 13, 1848 Phineas Gage, a foreman, was working with his crew excavating rocks in preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Cavendish. An accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head. It entered under the left cheek bone and exited through the top of the head. The rod, covered with brains and blood, was found approximately 30 yards from the site of the accident.

Sitting on the back of an ox cart, Gage was brought to the boarding house where he was staying on Main Street in Cavendish. Dr. John Harlow treated his wounds, along with Dr. Edward H. Williams. The large wound at the top of his head was closed with adhesive straps and a wet compress covered the opening. No surgery was involved.

Within days of the accident, an infection developed and Gage lapsed into a semi comatose state. Fearing that he was about to die, a local carpenter prepared a coffin for him. Two weeks after the accident, Harlow released 8 fluid ounces of pus from an abscess under Gage’s scalp. By January 1, 1849 (approximately 4 months) Gage was functional.

It is remarkable that Gage survived this accident, let alone lived for 11 more years. Fortunately Dr. Harlow and Dr. Henry J. Bigelow, a professor of surgery at Harvard University, tracked Gage as much possible, thereby documenting one of the first cases of traumatic brain injury in medical science. It was also the first understanding that different parts of the brain have different functions. With this knowledge, the first brain tumor removal operation became possible in 1885.

According to Gage’s family and friends, his behavior was significantly altered by the accident. In 1868, Harlow wrote in the “Bulletin of the Massachusetts Medical Society” His contractors, who regarded him as the most efficient and capable foreman in their employ previous to his injury, considered the change in his mind so marked that they could not give him his place again. He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint of advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinent, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operation, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. In this regard, his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was “no longer Gage.”

Not able to work as a foreman, Gage held a variety of jobs. He worked in the livery stable at what is now known as the Hanover Inn in New Hampshire. In 1852, he boarded a boat in Boston and sailed to Valparaiso, Chile.  While he was there for approximately seven years, and was thought to have driven coaches and cared for horses, little is know about what he did there. According to his mother, many ill turns while in Valparaiso, especially during the last year, and suffered much from hardship and exposure.”

Around 1859, in failing health he went to San Francisco to live with his family.  He worked on a farm in  Santa Clara County but returned to his family when he started having seizures. He died May 21, 1860 from epilepsy.

Rumors circulated that Gage appeared at Barnum’s American Museum in New York. It would take another Cavendish doctor, Dr. Gene Bont, almost 160 years later to find proof that Gage did in fact promote himself as a curiosity. Bont found a poster advertising Gage’s appearance at Rumford Hall.




Start tour at the Phineas Gage Memorial  on the Cavendish Town Green (High Street & 131)

Location of Accident: While a precise location is not known, the alleged site of the accident took place 0.75 miles south of Cavendish along the track of the Old Rutland and Burlington Rail Road. Take Mill Street, by Mack Molding,  the first left from the Town Green, heading west on Route 131. Go through the underpass and take an immediate left on to the Cavendish Gulf Rd. When you come to the marked railroad track crossing, approximately 200 yards, look to the right along the tracks from the crossing, and you will notice a major cut in the rocks. The approximate site of the accident is somewhere between this cut and the “lime kiln” area. Please stay off the track. This is an active railroad. Continuing on the Cavendish Gulf Road, approximately 300 yards from the white house just past (east) the railroad crossing. On the right hand side, is a small driveway that crosses the tracks. There is a 21.7 marker on tracks, which can be seen from the road. If you look across the tracks, you will see the remains of a limekiln. In 1936, Walton H. Green relayed information given to him 30 years prior by Christopher Goodrich, the ox-cart driver who drove Gage to his boarding house. Goodrich was 82 at the time. Green said, “The accident took place at the second cut south of Cavendish …near where Roswell Downer built his lime kiln later.”  Please stay off the railroad tracks.

Boarding House: From the Town Green, walk west on Main Street. Standing by the War Memorial in front of the CHS Museum, the building was located across the street from the Memorial.

Carpenter’s House: Immediately after the Museum, same side of the street, is the area where the Carpenter’s shop would have been located. It currently is the Town Garage.

Dr. Harlow’s House and Surgery: Dr. Harlow’s house, on Main Street but east of the town green, was located next to the Stone Church. All that remains is the cellar hole.

Dr. William’s House: Dr. William was an engineer, who went to medical school when ill health kept him from working outside. Since he did not have a busy medical practice, Williams spent considerable time in various forms of engineering. In fact, he knew Gage prior to his accident. He was the first doctor on the scene but would have differed to Dr. Harlow as he was a surgeon. Not long after the incident, Williams returned to engineering full time and started the oldest engineering society in the United States, Tau Beta Pi. His home was located on Depot Street in Proctorsville. The house would have been on the right hand side of the road, as you head from Route 131 to Route 103,  just after crossing the railroad tracks.