Monday, August 29, 2016

Scribble II-Summer 2016

Upcoming Events

The Museum is open on Sundays from 2-4 pm and other times by appointment. The current exhibit is on the history of the Cavendish Woolen Mills. There are a variety of hands on activities to try including helping to make a woolen rag rug, potholders and needle holders.

Sept. 10 (Saturday): Honey Festival at the Golden Stage Inn, off Depot Street in Proctorsville. CHS will once again provide an opportunity for visitors to make hand dipped beeswax candles.

Sept. 11 (Sunday): Annual Phineas Gage Walk and Talk. CHS Museum, 2pm.

Oct. 9 (Sunday): Cavendish’s Ghosts and Eerie Stories. Over the summer, CHS has been collecting stories and we have quite a collection to tell. Story telling begins at 2 pm. We’d love to hear your stories.

CHS Briefs

To help members and friends stay involved with CHS, we are now offering a monthly e-mail update on what we’ve accomplished in the last month as well as what’s planned and how you can be involved. You can read it on-line at the CHS blog-address above-or receive it by sending an e-mail to with “subscribe CHS briefs” in the subject heading.

Cavendish’s Woolen Mills Timeline: Part I

As part of the Woolen Mill exhibit, CHS is providing a timeline of the mill history.

1830-1840: This time period marked the transition through out Vermont, from hand-weaving and spinning at home to the mills, which could be run by water power.

1832: The Black River Canal & Manufacturing Company is constructed in Cavendish. It was the first stone building in town. It burned in 1873. On the Beers Atlas in 1869, it was listed as Frederick Fullerton & Co Woolen Mill.

1836: The Proctorsville Woolen Mill started on what is today the Proctorsville Green.

1850: Peak of sheep raising in Vermont. Barely perceptible at first, it gathered momentum from the fact that the earlier spotting around of the imported Merinos, in localities throughout the country that would naturally encourage propagation, resulted in opening up the ranges of the West with their great expanses of grazing lands, which had no need for fencing. Experimentation has shown, too, that sheep raising in the West was cheaper than in the East; so Vermont saw its peak in sheep-raising pass. (Neither Wealth Nor Poverty by Janet Mabie)

1861-1865: The Civil War helped the American woolen business to a good start, But, as is typical of war periods, there was great over-optimism, with wool prices spectacularly inflated. Once the war was over, prices fell to disastrous levels. (Neither Wealth Nor Poverty by Janet Mabie)

1867-1875: Spring Mill (known as Fitton Mill) started in 1867 and burned in 1875 causing some 125-130 employees of Cavendish to be placed out of work. It was an economic disaster for the community. Many former employees tried to find work in  the other mills in the area, but there were just so many positions available. Some of the men who were heads of their families were forced to travel to other communities on the train and board in rooming houses during the week in the towns where they found some work, then travel back to Cavendish on the Saturday train home, making this a weekly requirement. Numerous fires occurred in Cavendish around this same time. Believing that the fires were arson, Robert Fitton soon gained the name of “Fire Bug Fitton.” While the Fitton Mill brought many new immigrants to the town, requiring a new school to be build, they did employ child labor.

1873-4: Proctorsville Woolen Mill fails and is not used for three years.

1877: New owners of the Proctorsville Woolen Mill reopen it as the Crescent Woolen Mill

1880: The Crescent Woolen Mill enlarged their operation by buying a chair factory one west of Proctorsville and converted it into a shoddy and flock factory, as well as a box shop.

1886: Herbert Murdock bought into the firm of Hayward, Taft, and Burbank in December and took over the management.

1887: Gay Brothers Mill opens on the site of the Black River Canal and Manufacturing Company, which by this point was nothing more than walls. Relocating from Tunbridge, VT, the town of Cavendish struck a deal with the Gays to make it feasible for them to purchase and start the mill.

1890: H.T. Murdock now had complete control over the Proctorsville Mill. He adds a large brick addition of four stories and the machinery was increased to 12 sets of cards and sixty broad looms, employing 175 people. The Proctorsville Mill was considered to “rank second in the state.” (1899 Souvenir Edition of the Vermont Tribune). Both mills depended on water power but had steam as an auxiliary source of power. The expansion of these two mills was at least part of the reason that the population of Cavendish rose by 180 people during this period.

 1900: While the mills kept hiring more people, the number of farms in Cavendish, and all Vermont, continued to decrease.

World War I:  Both Cavendish and Proctorsville village mills were operating at full tilt, doing their best for the war effort. Business was booming not only through the War years but also through 1920.

1927: The November flood caused serious damage to the mill in Proctorsville. It’s finishing room was under water, foundations of several of their tenement houses were badly damaged and 400 tons of coal were washed away. Gay Brothers was not as severely damaged, though muddy water had covered everything in the stock shed to a depth of three feet. Despite the damage, the Gays went ahead and completed both a dye house and a new shipping building, 60 by 64 feet, which had been started just before the flood.

• The Murdock Mill becomes the Proctor Mill

1929: Due to financial difficulties, Proctor Mill was sold to Mr. Pike of Hanover, NH. The sale included the mill, the tenements, the Opera House, and woodland, all for a total of $24,601, a fraction of the value.

1932: The Proctor Mill in Proctorsville becomes Bear Woolen Mill

New Doors for the Museum

Under the guidance of Proctorsville woodworker Dave Stern, volunteers have been stripping paint for the new doors to the Museum. While the original doors were found in the basement last summer, and wood was seasoned over the winter for replacement parts, a close examination showed that they weren’t salvageable. Fortunately, period appropriate doors were found but needed to be stripped, repaired and painted.

Unlike the doors in this photo, the replacements will not have windows, since churches of the 1830s would have used solid doors.

The goal is to install the doors once the Museum closes for the season.

Do You Have A Cavendish Ghost Story?

Over the summer we’ve been collecting all kinds of ghost and other “eerie” stories about various places in Cavendish. Who knew there were so many ghosts in one town? “George visits the Golden Stage Inn” while the Proctorsville Fire Department contends with “Homer” from time to time. Charlie frequents a house on Depot St leaving his signature trademark-pennies. The old Duttonsville School House still has children talking and playing in what was once the 4th grade classroom.

Do you know of a house or property that has strange stories connected to it, or have experience something out of the ordinary? If so, using the address, e-mail and phone information on the cover of the newsletter, please send us you stories by Sept. 20th so they can be included in our Oct. 9th program.

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                  __ Solzhenitsyn Project
__ Other (please specify)                        __ Cemetery Restoration        __ Preservation Projects


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