Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cavendish Christmas Memories: Tiemann


Windy Hill
Philip Tiemann was born in New Jersey in 1900. He moved to Brook Road in Cavendish, VT from Chatham, New Jersey with his wife Isabel (Carr), and three children Wyeth, Ann and Joyce in 1933. Naming the property Windy Hill Farm, Tiemann wrote of the family’s early years in Cavendish in “Memoirs of Coming into Vermont (Cavendish) in the Depression.” The memoir was written in 1966, after his wife had died (1958) and just a few years before his own death in 1969.

In 2015, CHS serialized the Memoirs over a 30 week period, which can be read on line starting with the Prelude. Below is an excerpt pertaining to how they celebrated Christmas.

1930s Christmas card
Having the big room ready in time for Christmas was a "must." We always have made that day a very special one. While in 1933 there was little to spend, we tried to get a few of the things the children wanted most, and interesting packages were arriving from our families. Everyone was excited at the prospect of cutting our own tree, and a couple of Sun­days ahead of time we spent most of the day in the woods. By good for­tune we came across a small group of balsam firs, which are superior for the purpose, so got a nice tree and greens as well, and then more greens and small trees to send away. Red pine is our second favorite, used as sprays or made up into wreathes. All such things had to be Government-inspected before they could be sent out of the state, but on request the inspectors used to come around (before it got to be big business, and a very nice chap looked over our things and issued tags to be attached. Then it was quite a job bundling them up. But they made nice and rather unusual presents for the people "at home."

The tree that year (and a good many years since) was set in the embrasure at the southeast corner of the kitchen. I put it up the afternoon before Christmas-a chore which sometimes tried my temper considerably. It had to be uniform and nicely balanced in the stand: a mechanical contrivance, which after being wound up, caused the tree to revolve slowly while a music-box played alternately "Holy Night" and "Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing." Mother had found it about 1907 at Schwartze's in New York, and every generation has enjoyed "the dancing tree."

Our celebration began on Christmas Eve, altho it was impractical to-attend church (which in future years we did when we could.) The children eagerly hung their stockings (large ones, provided for the purpose!) by the living-room fireplace; then there was singing of carols and reading of "The Night Before Christmas." After they had reluctantly gone to bed, Isabel and. I filled the stockings and trimmed the tree. We also set out a Crèche, with candles. Altho it was late when we retired, we felt assured that we would not be allowed to oversleep!

And of course the children were down early next morning, investigating their stockings while I did chores end Isabel got-breakfast. This was a "party" meal, with. pancakes and sausages to supplement the usual fruit, cereal and milk, and bread and butter. Housework and necessary chores came next. Then Isabel said "Well, are we ready?" and the kids stampeded in' to see the tree,- not but that they had doubtless peeked earlier! Wyeth throu the switch to start the stand turning and playing and then the three handed around the gifts piled under the tree while Isabel and. I relaxed. Soon the floor was strewn with remnants of gay wrappings, as we all opened and displayed our things with happy ex­clamations. The only thing, which could. have made it more enjoyable would have been the presence of other members of the family.

The day we marked by drifting snow,- "five feet deep at the barn doors,”  and a contribution of eight eggs from the new hens. Also, despite the weather, company came for a very pleasant supper. After this very successful day, all hands were glad enough to turn in, and found it especially comforting to stretch out between cotton blankets with which we had replaced the linen sheets; they were much warmer.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ignat Solzhenitsyn Interview on NPR

Ignat Solzhenitsyn Returns To Vermont To Honor Piano Teacher Who Launched His Career


This weekend, a one-time Vermonter returns to the state to perform in honor of the woman who helped launch his career as a pianist and conductor.
Ignat Solzhenitsyn now teaches and conducts with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He's also the principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, and conducts and performs all around North America and Europe.
And his last name might sound familiar — he's the son of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author who was pushed out of the Soviet Union for his writing, which was seen as critical of the Soviet government.
The elder Solzhenitsyn became an international figure after he left the Soviet Union. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970, but didn't claim it until after he was exiled in 1974. Soon after, seeking a respite from the crush of attention, he ended up settling with his young family in Cavendish, Vermont. That's where his son Ignat discovered music.
Excerpts from VPR's conversation with Ignat Solzhenitsyn below. Listen to the conversation above.
A teacher's influence
As a child in Cavendish, Ignat Solzhenitsyn studied piano with Chongyo Shin of the Brattleboro Music Center. On Saturday, he returns to perform a recital in Brattleboro in honor of Shin. Solzhenitsyn says Shin provided him with a springboard for his musical career.
"I think the biggest thing was attention to detail," Solzhenitsyn says of what he learned from Shin, "reading the text with attention and understanding that anything the composer writes is there for a reason."
That has influenced how Solzhenitsyn approaches music. He says that he chooses to examine the historical context of a piece when he plays it, something he adds is hotly debated in the classical music world.
"If a composer is writing in exile or if he's writing on his deathbed, how can that not matter? And how can it not affect his state of mind?" Solzhenitsyn says. "On the other hand, the reason we want to be careful not to overstate that is simply that if it's art, in this case music, worth playing five years later and certainly 200 years later, it must be because it's more universal than simply reflecting a given circumstance, no matter how serious."
His relationship with Russia
Solzhenitsyn now regularly travels back and forth between the United States and Russia, something he says was utterly impossible when he was a child.
"I'm still pinching myself after all these years in that I'm able to go back and forth freely. This was an utter impossibility during my childhood because of the general circumstances of the Cold War and the specific circumstances of my family," Solzhenitsyn says. "And so for me, it's still just a great joy to be able to have that part of my heritage and of my life restored to me, no matter what the political environment is."
Of course, the political environment between the U.S. and Russia is tense right now. When asked what he thinks of the way Russia is currently discussed in the United States, Solzhenitsyn says he's not impressed with what he sees in the press.
"I actually find that regular folks, just people I talk to — whether it's after concerts, whether it's, you know, on the subway or whatever, something comes up — I find people have a much kind of a more realistic and a more normal sense of what's going on than I find really in the kind of most sophisticated press of the U.S.," Solzhenitsyn says.
In his view, both the U.S. and Russia are pursuing their own interests, and those interests will not always line up, which, he says, is to be expected.
"In a broad picture, it's normal, but it's kind of a bumpy ride right now, and certainly I very much hope that this will improve as this next foreseeable period of time unfold[s]," he says.
Music and politics
Though his writer father was swept into the world of international politics, Ignat Solzhenitsyn says his work as a musician is not overtly political. But he does try to live his life in a way he says his father would approve of, by living "not by lies."
"Even if we can't be heroic, or life doesn't call upon us to be heroic, at least do not participate in lies,"  Solzhenitsyn continues. "At least do not let your actions help that side, wherever one sees it. And so I certainly try to make sure that there is no concert I perform or program that I develop or agree to or participate in that somehow might lead to supporting the wrong, the wrong side, as I see it."
Disclosure: VPR is a media sponsor of Ignat Solzhenitsyn's performance at the Brattleboro Music Center on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

CHS Briefs December 1, 2017



Please also check the Cavendish VT Facebook page for photo albums of various CHS activities.

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
Decorating for the Holidays: Thanks to Svetlana Phillips, there are now greens and holiday decorations at the Museum, Stone Church and War Memorial. The lights are on in the Stone Church. Thank you Kem and Svetlana Phillips for the batteries and a special thanks to Cooper Naess for patiently working to make sure all the candles would light. They should be lit from about 6-11 pm. 

Carmine Guica Young Historians Program (CGHP): The Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) program for the 5th grade was so much fun. Check out the photo album to see all the crafts the students were involved in making along with the altar they set up. Thank you Peggy Svec and Pang Ting for your help with this program.
Examining the Model T located at the site of Fitton Mill.

Building on what they learned from their trip to Sturbridge Village, the 6th graders toured the old Fitton Mill site that burned in 1875. Using an archeologist map, they could identify cellar holes and observe the damage done to the area by repeated flooding. The Mill was constructed in 1867 on the banks of the Black River off the Cavendish Gulf Rd near the gorge. It was destroyed by fire in 1875. Robert Fitton set fire to the family woolen mill, according to court testimony. He is probably responsible for numerous other fires in town involving a dwelling house, tenement house, storehouse, and a factory boarding house. According to an article in the paper from that time period, "In giving his evidence in the case, James Fitton testified that Robert Fitton told him, after the burning of his (Robert's) factory in 1875 that he (Robert) set the building on fire himself, spreading oil over the floors and elsewhere so it would burn well, and that the machinery for putting out fires go out of order just in time so no one could prevent the mill from burning, or words of that import. James Fitton also swears in the same deposition that the books showing how Robert's affair stood previous to his going bankruptcy the first time were burned by Robert himself. " Check out the Photo album  for this trip as it includes a lot of photographs from the original mill.

It was a thrill to hear the 6th graders discussing how wrong they thought it was that the only surviving building from the mill-the school house-was now a second home. “They sold off our history,” one of them noted. The CGYHP makes a real difference.

Solzhenitsyn Program: In spite of a chilly Museum, we’ve had a number of Russian visitors this month including a group of five journalists. We’re gearing up for 2018’s 100th anniversary of his birth and we’re booking various speaking engagements. Have any ideas on what would make a nice T shirt design to celebrate this anniversary?

Brief History of Cavendish: CHS has provided the Cavendish Planning Commission with a brief history of Cavendish, which you can read on-line.

Newsletter: The Fall Scribbler II is now available on-line.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it, there is a special feature on the First People of Cavendish.

Appeal Campaign: CHS’s Annual Appeal letter has been sent.  It reads as follows: 
While 2017 has been an exceptional growth year, particularly for our Carmine Guica Young Historians Program, it’s the important anniversaries of 2018 that we’d like to draw your attention to. It will be the 100th birthday of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s as well as the 170th anniversary of Phineas Gage’s accident.

As different as they may appear, these two historic figures have much in common as they both highlight thriving in the face of adversity-Solzhenitsyn survived the Gulag, Russian labor camp, and exile, while Gage recovered from a massive traumatic brain injury and led a productive life. Solzhenitsyn helped to rewrite the course of history with his books, while Gage’s experience changed the world’s understanding of the brain and ushered in the field of neuroscience.  We are a better and richer world thanks to these men and it’s important that CHS honors them in 2018.

We can’t do this without your help. You can play an integral part by
• Donating to the annual appeal campaign (see attached form), specifying how you want your contribution to be used.
• Renewing your annual membership.
• Volunteering to help with our various programs, including fundraising and the planning committees being established on Gage and Solzhenitsyn

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN DECEMBER?
Christmas Spirits: We’re collecting Cavendish Christmas stories. If you have some you’d like to share, please e-mail them to margocaulfield@icloud.com

Polish Christmas at CTES: We’re working on a day long program of workshops and food for the students of Cavendish Town Elementary School as part of learning about the Polish people who settled in Cavendish. This program takes place on Dec. 21.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you can help with any of the following, please contact CHS margocaulfield@icloud.com; 802-226-7807 or PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142

• Have Polish traditions you’d like to share with the school children as part of the special holiday program? We’re looking for craft ideas, foods etc.

• CHS is looking for new board members as well as volunteers who can help with various activities.













Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Brief History of Cavendish


Cavendish has been occupied since the ice age glaciers receded, about 11,000 years ago. While the earliest inhabitants would have used the Black River and surrounding area for hunting and fishing, there is archaeological evidence that an Archaic Indian village existed in Cavendish 5,000-7,000 years ago.

The first Europeans would have traveled along the Indian trail that became known as the Crown Point Rd. Playing a significant role in the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars, the first deeded land was settled by Captain John Coffeen in 1769 in close proximity to the Road. One of the signers of Vermont’s Constitution, Coffeen came to Cavendish seeking religious freedom.
Dutton House in Cavendish, today now the VillageGreen

By the early 1800s, the center of town had shifted from the Crown Point Rd area, to the Black River where the river gave rise to a variety of industries that used water powered machinery-woolen, grist, pulp and saw mills. Two villages grew up within the Cavendish township-Proctorsville, named for Leonard Proctor, and Duttonsville, for Salmon Dutton. The latter would eventually be called Cavendish.

In addition to the industrial complexes along the Black River, farming was a staple for the town, with small businesses, such as a hat shop, tanneries, cabinet makers and tinsmiths, flourishing to provide goods and services to farmers and mill workers. While sheep was an initial cash crop, this gave way to dairy farming after the Civil War.

The arrival of the railroads in the late 1840s impacted the town in numerous ways. While blasting for the railroad tracks, Phineas Gage survived a major brain injury when a tamping rod went through his head, thus ushering in the modern understanding of the brain and its functions. More importantly to the town’s economics, the train increased the ability to ship goods and expand markets. It also opened the town to its first wave of tourists, some of whom bought “second homes” to escape the heat of the city in the summer months.

Gay Brothers Mill in Cavendish
While the industrial complex of the Black River made Cavendish a “mill town,” this rapidly changed after WWII, when military contracts for both Gay Brothers Mill in Cavendish village and Proctor Reel in Proctorsville military contracts ceased. By the 1950s, with the mills gone, and farming no longer a viable means of livelihood, many traveled to other areas for work-machine shops in Springfield, General Electric in Ludlow. Fortunately, the Gay Brothers Mill was purchased by Mac Molding, which continues to operate in Cavendish village.

The town’s highest census recorded was in1870 with 1,823 residents. This number would decline rapidly due to job availability in more urban areas as well as westward expansion. Since then, the population census has dipped down to a low of 1,100 and has yet to reach even 1,500.

Beginning in the 1980s, with the transformation of Okemo Mountain into a four seasons resort area, tourism and second homes have become major economic drivers. The 2017 Cavendish Grand List indicates that approximately 54% of the town is now owned by people who do not live here. 

It is the opportunity to live safely, freely and be a place of sanctuary that has drawn many to the town. As early as 1805, a former slave and Revolutionary War veteran found a home in Cavendish. Peter Tumbo (Tumber) signed the freeman’s oath and owned 50 acres of land. He died at the age of 106, with his death being noted in the anti-slavery papers of the day.

With Cavendish native Ryland Fletcher being Governor of Vermont, as well as the town’s strong anti-slavery stance, abolitionist John Brown spent a week  in Cavendish in 1857. Brown had hoped to secure some of the $20,000 the Vermont Legislature had approved to support anti-slavery settlements in Kansas.

In 1976, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize winner for literature and anti-communist, sought refuge in Cavendish. He would spend almost 18 of the 20 years he was in exile here writing “The Red Wheel.” His books, including “Gulag Archipelago” contributed to the downfall of the Soviet system.

Today, in many ways,  Cavendish has returned to its roots with the single largest employer being self-employment in the building related trades and services that cater to tourism. With the arrival of the Internet age, those parts of town that are fortunate to have high speed Internet, telecommuting and home business ventures flourish. There is a growing artist community as well as a return to small farms, with cows and sheep once again dotting the Cavendish landscape.







Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall 2017 Scribbler II


THEN AND NOW: 1927 FLOOD

Nov. 3 was the 90th anniversary of the flood in Cavendish. Instead of staying in its course down through the Cavendish Gorge, the Black River broke through the power company's pond dike above the gorge dam and by 9 pm, there were two feet of water in lower Main St. and four feet covering Depot St (now called Mill St.). The river   then cut a deep and wide gully down through lower Main St, once part of an ancient river bed. The gully was one-quarter mile long, 100-600 feet wide, and 25-150 feet deep. Note that this was a similar path that took place during Irene in 2011.  Swept away by the raging river were seven houses, ten barns, four garages, eight automobiles, land, trees, the lower part of Main St., and a section of the River Rd. The wreckage piled up in Whitesville, a mile downstream. 

This past year, we received a collection of photographs taken during the flood. In the week leading up to the flood anniversary, we posted the pictures to the Cavendish VTFacebook page. One photograph in particular caught people’s attention. This house still stands off Carlton Rd  down by the Black River
   


THE FIRST PEOPLE OF CAVENDISH

At the end of October, the 4th and 5th grades from Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) spent the day at Plimoth Plantation thanks to the Carmine Guica Young Historians Program (CGYH). One 5th grader, Andre wrote, “ I have a question for you, do you know when the Wampanoag arrive in Plymouth?”

To Andre’s question, as well as acknowledging Vermont’s adoption of Indigenous Peoples Day as a replacement for Columbus Day, we are including a more in-depth look at who the 1st people of  Cavendish were and how they came to be here. However, to answer Andre’s inquiry, it appears that the Wampanoag arrived in New England around 15,000 years ago.

Where did America’s 1st people come from and when? A much debated topic in the scientific community, most archaeologists and other scholars now believe that the earliest Americans followed Pacific Rim shorelines from northeast Asia to Beringia and the Americas. A prehistoric land bridge formed between Siberia and North America and for years it was believed that the first peoples walked over the bridge about 13,500 years. However, by the time this would have been possible the Americas were already populated. In fact, the dates for first humans in the Americas is about 20,000-15,000 years ago.


The Beringia theory is being replaced with the “kelp highway hypothesis.” Melting of the glaciers on the outer coast of North America's Pacific Northwest, about 17,000 years ago, created a possible corridor rich in aquatic and terrestrial resources along the Pacific Coast, with productive kelp forest and estuarine ecosystems at sea level and no major geographic barriers. Using boats and fishing tools, humans made it all the way from Asia to the Americas, founding many coastal communities along the way. More and more evidence supports this theory. It is possible that over a 2,000 year period, the people who would become the Wampanoag made their way from the west coast to the east coast.

As far as when the first peoples occupied Cavendish, there is archeological evidence at Jackson Gore in Ludlow that dates back 11,000 years, shortly after ice age ended. Judging from the tools uncovered, these hunter/gatherers were highly skilled craftsmen whose travels were far and included trading with other groups, as a high percentage of the stone used for the tools came from Maine. Cavendish would have had Indians traveling through the area via the Black River and/or what became known as the Crown Point Rd. The Paleo-Indians would have stopped to fish and hunt  depending on the time of year, and may have spent days or weeks here if food was plentiful. They traveled hundreds of miles each year.

The most practical group size was large enough to hunt cooperatively but  small enough to be self-sufficient and  mobile. It was probably an extended  family of men, women, and children  totaling 10 to 25 people. The human  population in this part of the world at that time was low, and the territory that  a few dozen groups like this shared may  have included hundreds or even thousands of square miles. At times several groups probably gathered together to hunt or fish; to exchange information, goods, and stories; to celebrate, to make friends, to resolve conflicts; and to meet potential spouses. Links were formed among the groups through these activities and through family ties. History & Culture Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center

Tools used about 5,000-7,000 years ago, called the Archaic period, have been found in Cavendish fields, indicating there might have been an Indian settlement away from the river and in close proximity to where Cavendish’s first European settlers built homes. Just 37 miles to the South of Cavendish in Keene, NH there is evidence of a winter settlement that is over 12,000 years old. Even closer is Bellows Falls, where petroglyphs can be found.

The first people of Cavendish would be part of the Abenaki Nation, which is part of the Wabanaki Confederacy, and not dissimilar to the Abenaki described in A Brief History: From the Koas Meadows to You Today.  The Abenaki Native Americans have been living in the same region for 10,000 years. Today, this area comprises Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and southern Quebec. The Abenaki Alliance in Vermont and New Hampshire consists of four tribal bands, much like America is divided into states. These tribal bands include the Missisquoi (St. Francis/Sokoki) [Swanton], the Elnu [southern Vt], the Nulhegan [Northeast Kingdom] and the Koasek [central and . Each individual tribal band is governed by a Chief and a Tribal Council, yet they are all part of the Abenaki Alliance....

Historians have often confused which band or tribe some of the eastern Indians were from. If they saw an Indian in one location, they assumed that person was a member of the local tribal band. Many historians have called all Abenaki “St. Francis Indians.” Other historians have used that term just to refer to the Abenaki of Odanak, who reside in Southern Quebec. This has often led to confusion about the history of the Abenaki people.”...

Hollywood moves have portrayed all Native Americans as having copper skin, dark brown eyes, and long black hair. This is far from the way the eastern tribal people looked. In 1542, sieur e Roverval, Governor General of New France, described the appearance of the Abenaki people in his letters. He wrote, “They are a people of goodly stature and well made; they are very white, but they are all naked, and if they were appareled as the French are, they would be as white and as fair, but they paint themselves for fear of heat and sun burning.” In 1637, Thomas Morton of Massachusetts wrote, “Their infants are borne with hair on their heads and are of complexion as white as our nation: but their mother in their infancy make a bath of walnut leaves, husks of walnuts, and such things as will stain their skin forever, wherein they dip and wash them to make them tawny.”

Between 1500-1609, it’s estimated that there was a minimum of 10,000 Abenaki in VT. With the arrival of the Europeans, by 1760, the population in VT and Southern PQ had dropped to 1,200. Reasons included disease, the Europeans pitting one tribe against the other, involvement in various wars, and movement into Quebec. The Abenaki were a peaceful people and were not well suited to war.

Vermont has a very dark history when it comes to its native peoples.  With the arrival of the Europeans, life changed dramatically for the Abenaki. They lost their land, were persecuted, and/or died from diseases they had no immunity to.  Consequently, those of Abenaki descent would be known as “dark” or “colored” French or gypsies. Many would have changed their name and it was very common for parents not to tell their children of their Indian heritage until they were adults.

Gratia Belle Ellis
Along with French Canadians, poor people and those with disabilities, the Abenaki were coerced into sterilization. In 1931, Vermont passed the eugenic sterilization law, "A Law for Human Betterment by Voluntary Sterilization." Vermont's eugenic solutions -- in the form of identification, registration, intervention in families with problem or backward children, and sterilization of those deemed unfit to conceive future Vermonters-was in effect until 1957, though the majority of sterilizations -200- took place between 1931 and 1941. A total of 253 people were sterilized, 80% of whom were women. However, though the sterilization was reported to end in 1957, the Abenakis continued to be sterilized in the United States, including Vermont

We have confirmed one former Cavendish resident, Gratia Denny, as being of Abenaki dissent. Her Grandmother Gratia Belle Ellis, born 1843, was an Abenaki and spoke Algonquian. It is expected there are others in town that share similar heritage, some of whom may not be aware of it.

CARMINE GUICA YOUNG HISTORIANS

The CGYH program is in full swing at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. Thanks to the generosity of Stein van Schaik, it was possible for CHS to sponsor a day long workshop with the fourth graders with cultural archeologist Charlie Paquin so that they could experience how the 1st peoples of Cavendish would have made stone tools (flint knapping) rope, and pottery as well as how they hunted with atlatls. The 4th and 5th graders were able to spend the day at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.


Thanks to Bruce and Betty McEnaney’s Blueberry Fund, the 6th grade spent the day at Sturbridge Village, which is a great way for the kids to learn why Cavendish developed along the Black River as the water powered the machines in the 1830s.

In December, we will hosting our annual holiday workshops at CTES based on the heritage of people who have settled in Cavendish. This year we will be celebrating the Polish, many of whom came to work at the Gay Brothers Mills. At the suggestion of one of the teachers, we will be adding a special luncheon so the students can try kielbasa, perogies, stuffed cabbage and more.

We could not run the extensive programming we do at the school without the generous support of the community, including our drivers and volunteers. Special thanks to Pang Ting, Peggy Svec, and Carolyn Solzhenitsyn

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                            

Volunteer
___ 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    __ Carmine Guica Young Historians

Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes                   __ Young Historians                  __Publications
__ Archeological Activities                _ Museum & Archival             __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund                             __  Williams Fund                             __ Solzhenitsyn Project
__ Other (please specify)                   __ Cemetery Restoration           __ Preservation Projects
    

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The flood of 1927

Ninety years ago on Nov. 3, 1927, there was a heavy rain. At first, the inhabitants of Cavendish were not particularly concerned but the rain continued hour after hour. In an unusual weather pattern, two storms from different directions stalled over Vermont. Seven and one-half inches of rain fell in 24 hours on the Black River drainage area. From its source, north of Plymouth, the Black River gathered volume and force as it washed out the Plymouth roads; flooded the streets and basements of Ludlow; damaged the Rutland Railroad tracks, undermined foundations of several tenements, and flooded the finishing room of the Proctor Woolen Company in Proctorsville.

The heaviest damage was reserved for Cavendish village. Instead of staying in its course down through the Cavendish Gorge, the Black River broke through the power company's pond dike above the gorge dam and by 9 pm, there were two feet of water in lower Main St. and four feet covering Depot St (now called Mill St.). The river then cut a deep and wide gully down through lower Main St, once part of an ancient river bed. The gully was one-quarter mile long, 100-600 feet wide, and 25-150 feet deep. Note that this was a similar path that took place during Irene in 2011.  Swept away by the raging river were seven houses, ten barns, four garages, eight automobiles, land, trees, the lower part of Main St., and a section of the River Rd. The wreckage piled up in Whitesville, a mile downstream. 

The Duttonsville School ended up protruding over the edge of a high sandbank. Redfield Proctor, former Vermont governor, offered $10,000 to restore the schoolhouse. Olin Gay, Chairman of the School Board, proposed using this gift to move the school to a new location. He also proposed that the town raise an additional $5,000 by taxes to put in an auditorium basement, modernize the heating system and install toilets. The school building was moved on big rollers by oxen and horses 400 feet back to a safer location. It had much better facilities than before the flood. A Vermont Standard School until 1928, thanks to the renovations after the flood, Duttonsville was upgraded to a “Superior School,” a status it retained until closing in 1971.  The school building still stands and to today is the home and business of Dan Churchill.  

President Calvin Coolidge telegraphed his cousin, Park Pollard, that he wanted to do whatever he could to help the town. He sent Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, to visit the region and make recommendations. Tow Army engineers came to give technical help about relocating the state road.