Thursday, April 30, 2015

 Chapter 9 Tiemann Memoirs/Hawks Mountain

Following Chapter 9, the Cavendish Historical Society provides a brief history of Hawks Mountain, including information about the “cannon” and the B-29 plane that crashed there. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann. 

View from a top Hawks Mountain
 September merged with October, all of us working harder than ever to get the things done which should be done before winter. Not for several years did it dawn on us that this happy situation never is achieved. There comes a time when one heaves a sigh, gazes at the felling snow, and decides "Well, the rest will have to wait for next year."

Altho it really was getting cold earlier than usual that fall, we did have some fine weather, I remember with considerable pleasure the Sun­day - I think it was the first of October - when my neighbor friend suggested that we go squirrel hunting over on Hawk's Mountain (dividing the townships of Cavendish and Baltimore, which once were one.) It is, incidentally, a favorite landmark looking southeast from Windy Hill, green from spring to fall (except the year it was burned over) then spectacular coloring for a number of weeks until winter laces its browns and greens with white; and lovely purple shades of late afternoon.

We went there in the old Ford; I took a single-shot .22 rifle - and a bit envious of my friend's shotgun. It was one of those mellow sunny days, which warm up enough to start the sweat, and in the course of a long morning we had a good workout and came home with e small bag. Up among the beaches the squirrels too were enjoying themselves, but I had no qualms about the several I got, It was a sporting proposition, - dodg­ing about the tree-trunks and leaping thru the branches„ more got away than were hit; and while a red squirrel certainly doesn't have much meat, it at least adds flavor to a vegetable stew. And meat was scarce. That was one of the few days I took "off."

By this time we were putting the animals in the barn at night, the children generally going for them; which was a change of routine for me but saved little work, as I still had to curry and wipe and feed them and keep their stands clean.

As is frequently the case, until late October, the nights were frosty but the days generally pleasant and some quite mild. So outdoor work continued until the final "freeze" which, that year came toward the end of the month, somewhat earlier than usual.

During this period I built frames to hold three small cellar windows, fitted to gaping holes in the stonework, and cemented them in place. The brick hearth in the "front parlor" (being used as our bed room) had to be repaired, where the pipe from the cellar furnace had been thrust thru a hole to reach the fireplace flue. The plaster walls in this room, and. of the girls’ bed room (and, later, all the other rooms) 'needed a great deal of work. Then finally we gave up trying to keep warm with the big fireplace, closing it with a large shield constructed with some of the partition panels and moving in an old "chunk stove." What a comfort that proved to be! The difference it made was considerable, not to mention the saving in fuel. Altho by no means new, this stove served us for a couple of years and when replaced was sold to a neighbor for $1. And - I seem to remember - an interior door that we needed. And it heated his cottage for a long time. - This paragon of stoves was not quite the size of a barrel; a large door was in the side, but the top had a lid for introducing un­wieldy chunks. Ashes had to be removed every few days from a pit be­neath. Once we had learned to control it we found it quite efficient, giving marvelous heat (sometimes too much) and it could be stoked to last over night. The 6" pipe, by means of an elbow, was angled into the chimney flue thru a flanged hole about eighteen inches below the ceiling, - scarcely decorative. But a brass-finished plate with a pic­ture on it could be obtained to cover the chimney hole when the stove was taken out in the summer.

We were congratulating ourselves upon doing pretty well until, toward the end of the month, we suffered a serious blow. It was a misty, cold, sleety day when Isabel took several women to a meeting in Woodstock, returning about dusk. Thankful that she was home safe, I ran the car into the carriage house as usual and closed the doors. - Next day was fair and I wanted to go to the village, but when I started the oar it began to overheat immediately, and I discovered there was no water in the radiator. Further, when I poured water in it soon began to trickle out. Even then I didn't suspect what was wrong....but it turned out that the cylinder block had frozen and cracked during the night. Not being able to afford to have a new engine installed, I ordered a new block from the catalog and began to strip the old motor for removal only to be interrupted by weather too cold to work out­side. So it was lucky we had a horse, as we had to depend upon him all winter. -Now I keep anti-freeze in the car the year 'round,

Fortunately a man was available to shoe horses, so I had him come up end fix Dan with "winter treads" so to, speak,. calked shoes (that is, with moderately sharp projections) to prevent slipping on the ice.

As things turned out it may have saved us trouble not having the car that first hard winter,. the worst in my memory even today. Being new to this climate, and not the best of drivers, with no experience what­ever on snowy roads, nor yet with starting a motor when the temperature hovered near zero for days and was colder at night, we'd have been out of luck "irregardless," as they say up here. And the situation became impossible when the town plow broke down and the roads were impassible for cars, drifted deep in several spots where they passed thru "cuts.” So we made the best of it by going when we must in an old sleigh be­hind Dan, and might even have enjoyed it if our financial situation had been less pressing,

Perhaps we remained cheerful because we had expecting nothing less than a severe winter. Indeed we were rather surprised that some of the neighbors made more fuss than we did, and remained holed up near the stove on days that we were going out. But that is getting ahead of the order of events.

Hawks Mountain: Tiemann describes the beauty of Hawks Mountains in all seasons, with the exception of the year it was “burned over.” That was 1957. On May 7, of that year, Ellen Kingsbury wrote of the excitement over the forest fire which had started on the Cavendish side of Hawks Mountain and had spread so that it filling Perkinsville with smoke. The National Guard, near-by fire departments, and volunteers were all called to help. Thirty Black River High School students were released from school, with parental permission, to help fight the fire. Women in Cavendish and Perkinsville prepared hundreds of sandwiches and gallons of coffee for the firefighters. By May 9, the fire was under control and only some of the National Guard stayed to finish the job. By May 11, the fire was out. The 1957 “Town Report” lists $16,699.54 in expenses fighting that fire; the State of Vermont repaid the town for nearly all of that. `Chubb Hill Farm and Cavendish, Vermont: A Family and Town History by Barbara B. Kingsbury

Hawks Mountain is named for Colonel John Hawks, a “Hero of Fort Massachusetts,” and one of the builders of the historic Crown Point Road.

One of the more enduring stories is the famous “ Hawks cannon” that was supposedly left on the mountain 200 + years ago, when a group of soldiers hauling a cannon had the misfortune of having the caisson break. Whether the cannon was buried, to be dug up at a later date, or the wagon went down hill and it was too difficult to reach, is an unknown. What ever happened, the result was that a cannon, possibly from the French and Indian War, is rumored to have been abandoned on the Cavendish side of Hawks Mountain.

According to former Cavendish resident John Snarski, The late Tony Prokuliewicz saw those cannon many times, and told me and others about them on more than one occasion, back in the late 1950's/early 1960's.  Tony was not one to create fables.  He was the gardener for the Gay family, and overseer of their properties.  It not only was his job to roam the woods, it was something that he liked to do.  He likely had never heard the legend--nobody in his circle was much interested in history back then.  The first time he brought it up (in my grandmother's house on the corner) he was asking about them because he thought they were some sort of long-neglected war memorial up there. I was there during that conversation.  Hawks Mt was one of his "playgrounds" for want of a better word--He knew those woods like the back of his hand, and his big interests besides beekeeping and gardening were hunting and fishing.  Too bad he passed away at an old age back in the 1960's because he knew the exact location of those cannon. They were no fable to him and a few other old timers that I can recall, now long dead.

Carmine Guica wrote several years ago, In June of 1966 myself Atherton Bemis, Elbridge Thomas of Baltimore, Mary and Gordon Churchill met one day .....we took our lunch along and climbed the mountain on the Baltimore side, near the top on the Baltimore side. Elbridge told us that he can show us within a acre of land where the Cannon is. It seems it is on the Baltimore side. It is somewhere in them ledges where no man has gone.

All that remains of the B-29 on Hawks Mt.
Maybe the best information came from Jim Ballantine, one of the fire fighters from the 1957 fire, who noted that if there was a cannon up there, we would have found it after that fire. Still hikers continue to look for it.

If you visit the CHS Museum this summer, you will see a lamp made from the parts of a B-29 plane that crashed on Hawks Mountain. On June 14, 1947, B-29A 44-62228 of the 64th Bomb Squadron crashed on the Mountain, killing the pilot, co-pilot and all of the crew (12 in total). The plane was on a training mission, scheduled to fly to Bedford airport in Massachusetts, but apparently lost its way. There is little left at the crash scene today but the four engines and the landing gear.  You can learn more about this incident at The Hawks Mountain B-29 Crash. 

To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann. 

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