Thursday, January 30, 2014

Scribbler II: Winter 2014


The Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) Annual Meeting will take place on Feb. 23 (Sunday), 5 pm at the Cavendish Town Elementary School in Proctorsville. There will be a pot luck supper starting at 5 pm, followed by a short business meeting. At approximately 6 pm we will be showing the film Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie- Part 1 A Very New IdeaPart One explores the roots from which the future state of Vermont grew. Samuel de Champlain steps into
a canoe, paving the way for Yankee immersion into native culture. We look at early settlement, native peoples’ resistance, and the little-known history of African American settlers. Pioneer rebel Ethan Allen leads the struggle for independence, resulting in Vermont’s radical constitution- the first to outlaw slavery. Finally, Vermont’s heroic role in the Civil War reminds us that, despite occasional missteps, Freedom & Unity— Vermont’s state motto—continues to chart the state’s course into the present. In the event of snow, the meeting will be rescheduled. For more information 802-226-7807 or


No one seems to know just how long it’s been since the CHS Plant Sale took place the Saturday closest to the 4th of July.  Given the response to the Town Wide Tag Sale, held the last Saturday in July,  the board has decided to switch the date of the sale to coincide with this town event. Consequently, this year’s CHS plant and tag sale will be on July 26th from 9 to 3. Please mark your calendars.


Many people in Cavendish will proudly tell you how their house, or one of the houses in their neighborhood, was part of the underground railroad. While former slaves found safety here, there was no need to hide them. Vermont outlawed slavery in 1777 and continued to pass laws that made it difficult for those trying to recapture slaves to come to far into the state as they could easily be caught and prosecuted.

Yes, there are tiny rooms and odd places in many of the old houses in our town. Some had very practical purposes. If they were close to a chimney they could have been used for curing meat and storing large cooking pots etc. Tunnels and other hiding places had other practical purposes-rum running and smuggling.

Because Vermont shares a border with Canada, smuggling has been part of the state’s “underground” employment from the early days of its settlement.

On January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes" went into effect. Breweries, distilleries and saloons closed their doors. This did not sit well with Vermonters, who believed the government had no business interfering with their drinking habits. Consequently, more people drank more alcohol during Prohibition than they did before or since.

Everywhere people helped bootleggers, hid them in barns from chasing customs agents, covered up, covered over, and supported them by making bootlegging a very profitable venture. Stories abound showing the bootleggers as the folk heroes they quickly became, and revealing the customs patrol as being slow minded, dim witted, and unpopular spoil sports. VT Historical Society

When Suzanne Beyer, author of “The Inventor’s Fortune Up for Grabs,” and granddaughter of Una and Leon Gay visited Cavendish in 2011, she related that her great Uncle Art Hadley was engaged in rum running during prohibition at her grandparents home-Glimmerstone. Were other people in town involved in rum-running? Probably.

If you have stories about Cavendish’s involvement in various bootlegging or smuggling activities, please send them to the Cavendish Historical Society, PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142 or e-mail or call 802-226-7807.


Facebook has been a great way for people to reconnect and there are many discussions taking place on the Cavendish VT Facebook page. Some people have been posting photographs from their family albums as well as pictures they took when they were growing up. Unfortunately, not everyone is on-line and many would love to see and share their own photographs and stories.

This summer, the CHS is planning to host a special exhibit at the Museum –My Cavendish Album. If you have photographs, or even albums, that you would like to share for this exhibit, please send them by May 1 to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. These can also be brought to the CHS Annual Meeting on Feb. 23 or e-mailed in Jpeg format to Please include as much information as you can about the photograph(s)-date it was taken, by whom, names of people, location and stories that may be particularly relevant.

Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Gloria Leven
Bruce McEnaney
Mike Pember
Gail Woods

Coordinator: Margo Caulfield


February 23 (Sunday): Annual meeting, 5 pm at the Cavendish Town Elementary School in Cavendish.

March 17 (Monday): Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Hands on History for 3rd and 5th grades.

May 1 (Thursday): Last day to submit photographs for summer exhibit-My Cavendish Album.

May 25 (Sunday): CHS Museum opens for the summer season. Hours are 2-4 pm.

July 26 (Saturday): CHS Annual Plant and Tag Sale, 9-3 pm on the Museum grounds.
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        

President’s Report for 2013
This past year the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) laid the ground work for some new and exciting programs, which we hope will be around for a long time.

In March, voters approved accepting the donation of the Cavendish Stone Church from the Universalist Unitarian Convention of Vermont and Quebec. A town wide committee has been meeting to oversee the conservation of the building. While CHS has been putting considerable money and effort into this project, the good news is that after site visits from a number of people in the conservation field, the building is considered to be in exceptional shape. In fact, representatives from the Vermont Historic Preservation have said it is the only building in the state where the interior has remained in tact. As such it is not just a local treasure but an important piece of Vermont history. The building will used as the permanent home of the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exhibit as well a small venue space to be used for intimate concerts, plays, readings, lectures, films etc. It is also available for special events such as weddings.

The past summer, the Museum hosted a special exhibit on Solzhenitsyn as well as established a reading “room” where visitors can do research, watch videos and look at photographs. In addition to speakers at the Museum, CHS offered various tours to different locations in the community. We hope to expand our tours this coming summer.

The Young Historians program at the Cavendish Town Elementary School continues to grow by leaps and bounds. In December, CHS hosted a month long series of workshops with the theme “A Dickens of a Christmas.” All of the grades participated making ornaments, greens displays and flowers that were typical of the era. In addition, students learned about Cavendish in the mid 1850’s and the impact the Victorian era had on our town’s Christmas customs. This would not have been possible without the help of a number of volunteers, particularly Sandra Stearns and Pang Ting,  and the generous donation of supplies from the community.

It was a student in our home school outreach program that inspired the writing of a biography of Solzhenitsyn for students in grades 4-7. We are in the editing phase but we hope to have the book published and available for distribution by the end of 2014.

Even though Cavendish is a small town, our history has world wide impact. CHS strives to make this available via a variety of programs, including digital outreach. This past year, we launched a new Facebook page on Phineas Gage and we post a number of pictures of Cavendish through the years on the Cavendish VT Facebook page. As a result, many people have been adding their own photographs as well as including stories that were unknown to us. 

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