Saturday, April 1, 2017

CHS Briefs April 1, 2017

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

Annual Meeting: CHS’s Annual Meeting was on March 5. It was great to see so many kids (seven) who came to learn about the “strange” side of Cavendish. One boy stayed for the business meeting because he said, “I like learning about this.” At the Annual Meeting, the following was agreed to:
• Rename the Young Historians Program to the Carmine Guica Young Historians Program (CGYH). Funds donated in his name will be earmarked specifically to help offset the costs of the programs at Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES). 

• Since the Catholic Church is no longer able to offer a luncheon after Memorial Day activities, it was suggested that CHS could work with the respective churches-Cavendish Baptist when the ceremony is at the High Street Cemetery and Gethsemane Episcopal when it’s held at Hillcrest- in providing a lunch as a show of respect for our veterans. See Memorial Day in the Upcoming Activities section for more information.

• The activities for the coming year will include: Continued renovations of the Cavendish Stone Church; Installing the new doors on the Museum; planning for the 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth in 2018; and to have sufficient fundraising to offset expenses.

An Irish knot made 
Bruce McEnaney talking to the 3rd
graders about the Irish in Cavendish.
School Program: Grades 3, 5 and 6th learned a lot about the Irish in Vermont and Cavendish as part of CHS’s annual St. Patrick’s Day program. This year, everyone (staff, students, faculty, visitors) colored a section of a Celtic knot. A wall hanging was created and hangs in the school's hallway. Thank you Becky Plunkard for jumping in at the last minute and helping. 

Solzhenitsyn 100th Anniversary in 2018: CHS is talking to the Russian Departments at various colleges and universities about collaborating on a year long series of events pertaining to the 100th birthday of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on Dec. 11, 2018. To that end, Dartmouth, University of Vermont and Middlebury College have expressed interest in working with us. Some of the activities being discussed include: Governor declaration of 2018 as the "VT Tribute Year to Solzhenitsyn" (this would be done with the help of UVM’s Office of Governmental Affairs); series of lectures throughout the state working with VT Humanities Council, Elder Hostel, Osher Lifelong Lecture Series etc.; holding a special weekend Elder Hostel event in Cavendish; opening of CHS’s permanent Solzhenitsyn exhibit at the Cavendish Stone Church.

Stone Church: The first order of business is to take care of the powder post beetles that were discovered in the vestibule in January. The exterminator explained that until we had warmer temperatures the chemicals needed to remove the beetles wouldn’t be effective. The belfry beams, which are currently housed in the church, will be installed. Outside painting of doors, shutters etc.

These were most likely the original doors
but for various reasons wooden panels were removed and
glass panes installed. 
Museum: Installation of the new doors, which wintered over inside the Museum. These will be very similar to the original doors that would have been installed in 1834, so no windows.

Memorial Day: CHS has been working with Bruce McEnaney, who is both Cavendish’s Assistant Town Manager and CHS board member, on Memorial Day activities. In order to promote environmental conservation and reduce the use of plastics, the wreath tossed into the Black River will be made from natural fibers. Planters will be placed in front of each war memorial and will be filled with red, white and blue annual flowers. The 6th graders will be making poppies for the day’s event and the Cavendish Baptist Church has agreed to host the luncheon following the parade and service at the Cavendish Village Cemetery.

Cemeteries: The 6th graders will be placing flags on the graves of veterans in all of the town maintained cemeteries as well as removing winter debris on May 15. This is a daylong activity and volunteers will be needed. In June, the 6th grade will be cleaning gravestones.

A young Carmine Guica.
Carmine Guica Young Historians: A series of activities are being planned with the 6th graders including a panel on immigration and interviews and recording of Cavendish ghost stories with LPC-TV.

If you can help with any of the following, please contact CHS; 802-226-7807 or PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142

Craig Rankin's Original Plant Sale List
• Annual Plant Sale, which will be July 2 (Saturday). Do you have plants you like to contribute? Are their plants you’d like to see us carry this year? Other suggestions?

• The Museum is in desperate need of a deep cleaning. Do you have some time to spare to help with this activity? It’s a great way to learn about what’s in the Museum.

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Do You Know the Henry James Farm?

Recently the Cavendish Historical Society was asked if we knew anything about the Henry James Farm in Cavendish, dating back to the WWII era. The person who is inquiring writes, "I only know about it because my father volunteered there between 1941 and 1944. And I only know that because the FBI was watching him at the time and reported that he went out with the other young people who stayed - there- likely other COs [consciousness objector] -to volunteer to help local farmers with their work such as haying I imagine. Chances are no such person as Henry James who lived there- maybe it was named after a radical Henry James figure ?? Or maybe a local farmer named Henry James with lefty politics?? Really love it if u dig up Any info- the coincidence of this has bugged me for years as my dad eventually settled in close by Andover but never bothered to mention his experience in Cavendish a decade earlier... although he did love to tell a story about how he went door to door during the depression trying to peddle apples in Springfield . Having no luck with sales he eventually just knocked on doors and offered them for free .!people would not accept them and slammed their doors and called him a communist. He did love to tell that story. Now I wonder if that period in his life was the same as when he lived on Henry James farm in Cavendish. FBI records are the only documentation ironically of this."

We've solved the mystery. Turns out the name was William James, for the psychologist and philosopher, and a former Civilian Conservation Camp (CCC) in Sharon VT was renamed accordingly. Turns out this individual was never in Cavendish but rather in Sharon VT.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Annie's Grave/Annual Meeting

As part of Sunday's, March 5, Annual Meeting (3-5 pm at the Cavendish Baptist Church),  we will be telling stories that you may have never heard of.

Recently, CHS learned of a song “Annie’s Grave”  that was published by Melvin Wright of Proctorsville, VT. The song is typical of the era it was written in -1865

I remember well the time tho’twas many year ago,
When I wooed and won the love of dear Annie.
Oh, the time went swiftly by like a sweet gliding Stream
For my young heart was happy, light and free
But that happy time is past and my hair is turning gray
For that love one I never more shall see
And my heart is sad and lone, as  I weep from day to day
Since dear Annie is no longer here with me

Oh Annie, dear Annie
Thous art laid where the tall willows wave
And my heart is sad and lonely
Yes my heart is sad and lonely
As I weep o’er dear Annie’s grave.

Twas a bright and sunny morning in the autumn of the year
When they told me that I’d lost dear Annie.
That her sweet and gentle voice I never more shall hear
Or her winning smile would beam again on me
In a little green vale where the sweet flowers bloom
Near the spot where the tall willows wave
They have laid her there in rest and my heart is sad and lone
As I weep o’er dear Annie’s grave.

Curious about the author and publisher, we asked CHS genealogist Linda Welch what she might know. It turns out that the song’s publisher, Melvin Wright lived in Cavendish from at least the 1860’s to 1870’s. His wife Catherine died in 1875 and is buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in Proctorsville, along with their child. By 1880, he had remarried and was living in Saratoga Springs.

Interestingly, Wright served as town agent for Cavendish in 1868-69. He wrote in his report, "On coming into office March, 1868, I found the town carrying on three county court suits. The "Troy case" was carried to a successful termination by the former agent, though now hanging upon the matter of taxable costs. This town should receive $300 or more from the same source yet it is unsafe to make any calculation upon that or any specified amount. The W. B. Davis Road case I settle by paying the opposing party $8.00, the sum usually charged by an attorney to get a case "continued." The case Windsor vs. Cavendish, I have given but little attention as the former agent stated in town meeting that it was virtually settled and has also assured me that he was making the town no costs. I did not consider it best to spend any time with it. I have charged the town for one day on these matters, which included the correspondence with parties on other smaller matters for the town. —Melvin Wright, Town Agent."

The songs author, George M. Clark, lived in Felchville, VT. He was no stranger to death as his first wife died in childbirth in 1856, having been married for a little over a year.

 In 1860, Clark joined with other musicians and actors and put a show on the road called the “Broadway Minstrels.” In the spring of 1866, he organized with E. P. Hardy and O. A. Whitmore, a minstrel company that became widely known in Vermont as “Whitmore & Clark’s Minstrels.” This company traveled throughout the New England states, New York and the Provinces, and for twenty-six consecutive years.

Throughout his career, he wrote some twenty-five songs— both the words and the music —many of which were published, copyrighted, and became well known and popular in their day. Among the most widely known are “Annie’s Grave,” “Meet me Josie at the Gate,” “Drifting with the Tide,” “Give me the Man who is True to his Neighbor,” etc. All of his songs had the theme of high morals and sentimentality. He also wrote church music, some of which he published, and all of which were used in the Union Choir at Reading, one time or another. George also sung in this Union Choir, and led the group for many years. 

On March 3, 1876: “Geo. M. Clark and his company gave an entertainment at Eagle Hall Tuesday evening last, consisting of vocal and instrumental music of a great variety. Hank and George were both there. If anyone wants to enjoy an evening entertainment, go and see and hear them, and if you are not satisfied that your 25 cents were well expended, we are of the opinion that to please you is a very difficult task. As usual when George comes here, the hall is full, and everyone, young and old, had a good time, ‘laughed and grew fat.’ 

Clark died June 5, 5 June 1885 (age 47) in Felchville. From his obituary:  “The news of the death of George M. Clark, the well-known and popular showman, was announced on Friday afternoon of last week, and took many of our citizens by surprise as it was not known by many that he was not in his usual health until informed of his demise. His funeral was attended on Sunday at the Baptist church, which was used because of its superior seating capacity, by Rev. F. S. Rice of Springfield, assisted by Revs. Luther Rice of Watertown, NY, A. Heald and W. E. Douglas of Felchville, Masonic Lodges from Cavendish, Springfield, Woodstock, Windsor, and Claremont, to the number of 160 members, were present, together with the G. A. R. posts from Windsor and Ludlow and the Good Templars Lodge of Felchville.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Murdock Returns to Proctorsville

In 1886, Herbert T Murdock bought into the firm of Hayward, Taft, and Burbank and took over the management, which owned the Proctorsville Mill. By 1890, Murdock had complete control over the Mill and added a large brick addition of four stories. Machinery was increased by 12 sets of cards and sixty broad looms employing 175 people. The Proctorsville Mill was considered to “rank second in the state.” Dependent on waterpower with steam as an auxiliary source of power, the expansion of this mill, along with the Gay Brothers Mill in Cavendish, were part of the town’s the population boom.

By 1916, the Proctorsville’s Mill, locally known as Murdock’s was specializing in cassimere and doeskins. H.T., as he was known, was an influential member of the community. His wife Cora promoted culture and social advancements and even purchased what today is Crows Bakery and Cafe to be used as a library and social gathering spot for employees and community.

Unfortunately, Murdock’s death in 1916, brought an abrupt end to the mill, as it revealed the shoddy practices of the second in command.

The mill operated during WWII and changed hands several times, becoming the Bear Woolen Mill. However, by 1938, this mill had fallen on hard times and Proctorsville village purchased the building. Various businesses operated out of it, with the last one being Acousti Phase. A fire destroyed the property in 1982.

However, out of the ashes come great things, and thus, under the direction of the town manager at the time, Rich Svec, the Proctorsville Green was born, along with the revitalization of Proctorsville Village. Directly across from the Green’s gazebo is now the home of Murdock’s Pub in what was once an original Mill building.

As with so many things with the Cavendish Historical Society, there is a twist.

After talking with Etienne Ting, the owner of Murdock’s, CHS thought this was a good time to educate the town about its mill history. As the summer exhibit was being mounted, who walks into the Museum but the descendants of H.T. Murdock, donating both the original keys to the Mill along with portraits of him! With them was Linda Welch, CHS’s genealogist, who provided the family’s history.  Talk about dumb struck. You couldn’t script something like this.

Note that the timeline of the Cavendish/Proctorsville Mills is being serialized in the Scribbler II, the CHS newsletter.

Murdock’s on the Green opened on February 17, 2017 to the cheers of many in Cavendish who have wanted a local place to escape to for a few hours, grab a quick bite and catch up with friends. Currently open from 4-10 pm, Murdock’s is offering craft beers, fine wines and the all-important comfort food.

The owner is Etienne Ting, who with his wife Pang, owns Moonlite Meadows Farms in Cavendish. So yes, this is a farm to table pub.

When we told Murdock’s descendants about the new “Murdock’s” they were pleased to know that their family once again “lives” in Proctorsville. We agree that H.T. would be thrilled to see how his old mill building continues to serve the people of Cavendish.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Scribbler II Winter 2016


The Annual Meeting of the Cavendish Historical Society will be March 5 (Sunday) from 3-5 pm. We will once again be returning to the Cavendish Baptist Church, which hosted so many meetings for CHS over the years. After a significant renovation, the downstairs parish hall is now handicap accessible.

While this edition of the newsletter contains the President’s Letter, the budget is still being worked on and will be made available at the meeting. In addition to the business agenda, there will be a special program Cavendish Believe It or Not! -see the article below.  In addition to the review of CHS’s finances, the business agenda will include:
• How to honor Carmine Guica-Suggestions to date have included: restoration project; renaming Young Historians to the Carmine Guica Young Historians Program; scholarship fund; fund to help local kids research aspects of Cavendish history
• The 100th Birthday of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and how we would like to recognize that
• The renovation of the Stone Church 


Alexis St. Marten
When ever something unique, strange, funny or unusual happens in town, board member Bruce McEnaney’s comment is “it’s going in the book.” When Bruce has time to write this book remains to be seen, but in the interim, we’ve borrowed the title “Cavendish: Believe it or Not!” to be the theme for the Annual Meeting program.

There are many Cavendish stories that people don’t know about. Yes, Phineas Gage’s and his famous accident ushered in the age of brain research. However, another medical curiosity lived here for at least 10 years. Alexis St. Martin revolutionized the understanding of gastroenterology with his permanent hole in his gut. A bit gory, and definitely strange, but oh so fascinating.

Penguin Ski Hill
With the snows of February, its fun to remember that at one time Cavendish had both a top notch bobsled run and its very own skihill. As part of February’s Black History Month, we have once again revisited the amazing story how an African slave, Peter Tumber (Tumbo) became free, moved to Cavendish and died here in 1832 at the age of 106. We’ve learned a lot in the past year that adds even more understanding to the Tumber’s story we published this time last year. Then there is Clarence Adams. Just who is buried in his grave? Turns out he visited with a friend in Montreal after his supposed death and was spotted in Nova Scotia and still later in Florida.

In the last few days we learned that a “zombie” movie was partially filmed in the Proctor Cemetery in Proctorsville. We’re trying to obtain a copy of this short film to screen at the meeting. If you have other tales you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them.


The Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) “Preserving Cavendish Heritage” committee has made incredible strides this year. The Civil War Memorial was cleaned, lights replaced and decorated for the holidays for the first time in many years. The Cavendish Stone Church’s belfry is undergoing a replacement of beams, resetting of the bell and making it possible to once again ring it. Rounding out the activities is the replacement of the doors to the CHS Museum. A dedicated team of volunteers, headed by master craftsman Dave Stern, spent the summer and fall restoring doors from the same era as the building. Both the door installation and the exterior work on the Stone Church Belfry will take place in the spring.  Also on the 2017 preservation “to do list” is the extension of a stonewall in the new portion of the Twenty Mile Stream Cemetery.

In June, CHS published Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Writer Who Changed History, a biography for students in grades 4-7. However, many adults are purchasing the book and the reviews have been positive. I got the book yesterday and it is so beautiful. I am really impressed with the layout, the photos, the prose and the way the inside covers feature Solzhenitsyn's writing, in his own hand. It makes you feel like you are getting a glimpse into his private diary.

4th graders with archeologist, chaperones
and volunteers. Every student found
The CHS Young Historians program at Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) continues as a way to teach town history as well as encourage stewardship. New this year was the 5th graders joining the 6th graders in RiverSweep. Through the “Pick Your Own Blueberries,” sponsored by Bruce and Betty McEnaney, we were able to take the 6th graders to Sturbridge Village once again. While cemetery cleaning has primarily focused on Hillcrest or Proctor Cemeteries, this spring, the students placed flags on veterans’ graves and cleaned up debris in six of the seven town cemeteries. 

CHS volunteers are working on the South Champlain Historical Ecology Project, an archeological dig over 12,000 years old. As a result, CTES 4th graders were able to visit the site and participate in the dig. One of the archeologists visited the 5th grade to discuss Mayan Ball Courts. In the spring, we hope to offer more archeological experiences to other grades.

People come from around the world to visit the Museum. Because Cavendish history has such international appeal, CHS maintains a very strong web presence (see URLs above) including various Facebook pages, websites and even posting lots of historical photos and history to the Cavendish VT Facebook page. Use of these Internet resources is rapidly growing with thousands using the sites every week, if not daily.

CHS relies heavily on contributions from individual donors as well as the town. Whenever possible we use in-kind donations and volunteers to meet our mission. While we’d normally list the names of all those who make CHS possible, this year we want to acknowledge the incredible contribution of Carmine Guica who died, at the age of 95, in November..

A founding member of CHS, Carmine was also President for a number of years. He has been an invaluable source of information, researching any request made of him. Thank you Carmine for making such a difference to our community.


In October we had a group of Chinese dissidents who came to visit the Solzhenitsyn exhibit. We loved what they wrote in the guest book. Special thanks to Pang Ting and Sze Pang for the translations.

Because we share Solzhenitsyn’s trials and ideals, because like him we are living as exiles, we are the true bearer of Solzhenitsyn’s mantel. Yi Zheng writer

The Chinese have an honorific title, we add the word ‘old’ in front of a person’s name to express our respect. I call Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn ‘Old Sol.’

Od Sol belongs not only to Russia, he belongs to China. He belongs to all suffering humanity seeking redemption.

The town of Cavendish Vermont is very fortunate to be the one to have given refuge to and welcomed the great writer old Sol.

Today the seven of us have made the pilgrimage to the sacred ground where Old Sol lived and was inspired. We are honored by this privilege. Wang Kang Scholar

He has left
His voice still echoes throughout the valleys
Faintly across the centuries
Faintly from the ends of the earth Yi Ping poet

Cavendish’s Woolen Mills Timeline: Part II

Part I of the Cavendish Woolen Mills timeline appeared in the Scribbler II Summer 2016. This issue covers the turbulence period of 1933-1937.

1933: The workers at Gay Brothers (Cavendish) walked out on a strike followed by the millworkers in Proctorsville and Ludlow. The workers were afraid that their mill owners were not going to follow the code provided for in the National Recovery Act (NRA). Leon Gay assured the workers he was going to sign this agreement and immediately announced a 10% wage increase and a 40 hour week. The other mill owners followed suit.

1934: In September, there was a general strike of textile workers throughout much of Vermont. Ludlow and Cavendish had not yet joined. Some Ludlow mill workers only made 10¢ an hour for their work, and although they worked 60 hours a week, they couldn’t feed their families. Wages were higher in the Cavendish mills. The National Recovery Act set 35¢ an hour as minimum wage. Many workers were ready to join the United Textile Workers Union and fight for better pay. The Black Bear employees asked for a union representative to come down and organize them as they wanted to join the strike. Louis Guilmet,  union organizer, and about a hundred other union men left Winooski at night to come to the support of their fellow workers in Proctorsville. Management was prepared and met the visitors with state troopers. Ninety workers were deputized and told to bring clubs. “Attempts to force the closing of Black Bear Mill failed Tuesday, September 11) for the third time in three days when “flying squadrons,” approximately 300 men from idle mills in Burlington, Winooski, and Claremont were met at the entrance of the village by armed deputies and ordered to return to their homes. (Vermont Tribune). The state trooper would not allow the Winooski men to come near the mill and Guilmet was advised by the County Sheriff to withdraw. Guilmet and his party did so and there was no violence.

Some Gay Brothers workers met Louis Guilmet before he left town and asked him to meet with them about forming a union. To avoid problems, 27 men met with Guilmet at a farm in Plymouth a week after the Black Bear incident and officially organized as Local No. 162, Textile Workers Union of America. Their leaders advised them that it was not an opportune time to join the general strike. On September 29, 150 mill workers met in the Cavendish Town Hall to hear a speech by Guilment, who told them they had the right to unionize under the National Recovery Act.

1935: A public meeting was held at the Cavendish Town Hall to protest the firing of a weaver by Gay Brothers. They voted to strike, production was stopped and a committee, accompanied by Guilment, called on the Gays. The surprise ending to this incident is that the Gays did not call out the state troopers but listened to the complaints and worked out a compromise satisfactory to both sides. The weaver, who had more than one serious violation of company policy, was given a six week lay-off and then re-instated. With no written agreement, the Gays had recognized and to a degree that the union was now part of the Mill. Among mill owners of the time, this was an unusual stance.

• The Wagner Act was passed in July 1935, which reaffirmed the rights of labor to join unions and choose their own representative for collective bargaining.

1936: In March, 150 workers of the Black Bear Woolen Mill (Proctorsville) did not report to work. Later that day, 14 of the union leaders were fired. The union had been trying to see the owner to negotiate a wage increase. The owner, Gordon Brown, had two other mills in New Hampshire, which also went on strike at the same time. Later in March, it was reported that the mill officials had agreed to confer with the union. They evidentially changed their minds as on March 26, the strikers reported that the main issue was no longer wages  but full recognition of the union. Instead of talking with the union, the officials now posted a notice of dismissing all employees who were out “on holiday.” By now 180 men, almost the entire work force had joined the striking group. They were paid .35¢ an hour, which gave them $14 for a 40 hour week. Other local mills were paying $16 a week. The workers returned to work on April 2 when the mill officials agreed to talk with the union leaders. Gordon Brown died and his sons took over the running of the Black Bear Mill.

1937: In November, the Black River Mill closed leaving 200 workers without jobs. Lack of orders and modern equipment were given as reasons for the closing. Although there were rumors that the mill would reopen, it never did.
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                             __ Solzhenitsyn Project
__ Other (please specify)                   __ Cemetery Restoration        __ Preservation Projects