Sunday, September 1, 2019

CHS Briefs September 1, 2019

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

Indian Stones mark the birth of Captive Johnson in Cavendish.

September 8 (Sunday): Annual Phineas Gage Walk & Talk. The talk portion begins at 2 pm. We will be walking out to the site of the accident, which is approximately ¾ of a mile from the Museum. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

October 13 (Sunday): In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, CHS will present a talk on the First Peoples of the Okemo Valley, 2 pm. Location is still pending. This is the last day the Museum will be open for the season.

Dave and Bruce working on the steps.
MUSEUM:  Thank you so much to Dave Gallagher who did an incredible job in the renovation and restoration of the Museum steps and to Bruce McEnanney who assisted with the project. The doors are almost finished. Both the doors and steps should be painted later this month.   

We have been making calls trying to find someone to repair the slate roofs of both the Museum and Stone Church. So far we’ve been unable to find someone. If you know of anyone that can help with this project, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

CARMINE GUICA YOUNG HISTORIANS: The school year has started off with a bang. September projects will include:
Coolidge Homestead
• The third graders are studying “then and now”  will be visiting the Calvin Coolidge Homestead; taking a trip to the Tings Farm after reading Sandra Stearns book “Field Hill Farm;” and will make their own “chalk boards” and learn about canning by making bread and butter pickles.
• The 4th grade will be maintaining the flower bed in front of the school as part of a new CHS program.
• The 5th grade will spend Sept. 17 honoring Constitution Day at the Museum
• The 6th grade is participating in RiverSweep and helping with fall lawn choirs for various community members.

As part of “Preserving and Serving,” CTES students are helping to take care of important town landmarks as well as assisting community members who need help. If you know of a community member who could use assistance with fall chores, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

It was a short but sweet season this year, but thanks to the generosity of Betty and Bruce McEnanney’s blueberry picking fundraiser, the 6th graders will be going to Sturbridge Village on Oct. 30. This is a wonderful opportunity for students and every year we learn something new. Some of the canning techniques we learned last year we will be teaching the 3rd graders this month. Thank you Betty and Bruce!!

ARCHAEOLOGY: Since September is Archaeology month, several people asked if there would be an open house at the SCHEP project that CHS is involved with in West Haven, VT. Currently no event has been scheduled but if that changes we will send out a notice. Starting in late September, we anticipate volunteers will once again be working in the lab with this project at Castletown University.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you have questions or wish to volunteer with CHS, please call 802-226-7807, e-mail

Friday, August 30, 2019

Indian Stones Timeline


June 15, 1747: Susannah Willard marries Capt., James Johnson in Lunenburg, Ma.

1750: Moved from Lunenburg to Fort No. 4 in Charlestown, NH

August 29, 1754: The Johnsons host a party with neighbors, celebrating with watermelon and flip, at their homestead close to Fort #4.

Aug. 30 1754: Captain, Susannah, their children (Sylvanus-6; Susanna-4; Polly-2 and Susannah’s sister Miriam Willard (14 years of age) captured, along with their neighbor Peter Laberee  and hired hand Ebenezer Farnsworth.

Aug. 31, 1754: Susannah gives birth to daughter-Elizabeth Captive-1/2 a mile up the Knapp Pond Rd. making her the first recorded child of European descent born in Cavendish. The Indian Stones, which were erected by Susannah 43 years after the birth of her daughter, are in Reading.

Sept.7, 1754. They reach East Bay in Lake Champlain. Loaded into canoes and taken to the French Fort Crown Point (NY). They were well treated and remained for four days. They then traveled by water to St. Francis (Saint Francois du Lac) near Montreal. Everyone but Susannah, Sylvanus and Captive are taken to Montreal to be sold. In November, Susanna and Captive join them but the Abenaki keep Sylvanus.

Nov. 12, 1754: Once in Montreal, Capt. Johnson is given two months to secure a ransom for his family by the Governor. Accompanied by two Indians, he heads to Albany to secure ransom. Ultimately he is directed to Boston and then meets with Gov. Wentworth in Portsmouth, NH. He secures 150 pounds for ransom plus 10 pounds to defray expenses.

Feb. 15, 1755: Capt. Johnson is making his way back to Canada to pay the ransom. Receives a letter from Gov. Shirley (Mass) and is told not to return to Canada but come to Boston instead.

While Capt. Johnson is gone, Susannah, Miriam, and Captive reside with the DuQuesne family who treat them well. Polly (2) is now owned by the Mayor and his wife and Sue (4)  was bought by three elderly women. When Capt. Johnson doesn’t return in the prescribed timeframe, circumstances become more difficult and they leave the DuQuesnes, renting a room and supporting themselves by sewing.

June 1755: Capt. Johnson returns to Montreal but the governor has changed and is not sympathetic to their situation. They are reduced to paupers.

July 1755: Capt.Johnson is jailed in Montreal. On July 22, the family (Susannah, James and their two youngest children) is sent to Quebec and jailed. By this time Miriam’s ransom has been paid. She goes to the family of the Lt., General, where she continues to sew. Also having paid full ransom were Laberee & Farnsworth. However, they were not allowed to leave

Early spring 1756:  Laberee   makes his escape from the French, traveling at night and arrives in Charlestown in the winter. Farnsworth made it back to Charlestown before the other captives.

December, 1756: Susannah gives birth to a boy in prison that dies

July 20, 1757: Susannah, Miriam, Polly, and Elizabeth were sent to England via ship. James was not granted permission to leave and continued to fulfill his remaining prison sentence. They sailed to England and then to Ireland and arrive at Sandy Hook, NY in Dec.

January 1, 1758: Susannah is reunited with her husband. Because of legal troubles for violating parole, he travels back to New York to “adjust his Canada accounts.” There he was persuaded to take a Captain’s position in the French and Indian War. Move to Lancaster, MA.

July 8,1758: Capt Johnson dies in 1758 as an officer of the Crown at Ticonderoga-the Battle of Carillon.

October 1758: Sylvanus is returned to his mother at age 11 after his ransom was paid by the British. He was fluent in Abenaki and conversational in French, and fully accustomed to Abenaki life.

1759: Susannah moves from Lancaster, Mass to Charlestown, NH to her husband’s land. She opens a small store to support her family.

1760: The eldest daughter Susannah (Sue) is reunited with her family after the French surrendered Montreal. She only speaks French

1762: Susannah marries John Hastings Jr. She has seven children with him, of which only two survive. Ultimately she had 38 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.

March 20, 1769: Miriam Willard dies in Shirley, Mass, having been married to the Rev. Phinehas Whitney. They had no children.

1780: Captive Johnson marries George Kimball, of Cavendish. She is his second wife and has four children with him. He does not appear in the census after 1790 and it is possible that Captive moved with her daughter Betsy to Montreal.

1784: Polly marries Major General Timothy  Bedel. They have two children. Polly dies in NH in 1789 at the age of 36.

1794: Farnsworth dies in Charlestown, NH

1796: “A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson: An Account of Her Suffering During Her Four Years with the Indians and the French” is published.

1799: Susannah hires a stonecutter to create two slate markers, with the intent that one was to be placed at the birthplace, and the other at the nearby Native encampment site. The two stones were placed side-by-side in a location not far from their present site. Descendants of Johnson in 1918 had the two stones mounted in the granite slab.

1803: Laberee dies in Charlestown, NH at the age of 79.

1804: John Hastings dies

Nov. 27, 1810: Susannah dies in Langdon, NH, buried In Forest Hill Cemetery, Charlestown, NH

1824: Susannah Johnson Wetherbee dies in Concord, VT at the age of 73-74. She has 15 children, including five sets of twins.

1827: Captive Johnson Kimball dies in Montreal. She is buried under the Place d’Armes Orange Line Station on Montreal Metro

1832: Sylvanus dies in Walpole NH at the age of 84. He had married Susanna Hastings and had six children, none of whom married. He owned most of the land now known as North Walpole.

1957: Elizabeth George Speare’s publishes “Calico Captive”

                          Prepared by the Cavendish Historical Society for 8/25/19 presentation.


CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

CHS Newsletter Summer 2019


Once again Bruce and Betty McEnaney are opening their blueberry patch to the community. Betty writes, we have had a bit of a late start as we have been installing new posts after work and it’s been slower than expected. The bushes were pretty heavily pruned which has caused them to grow like crazy. The rows are tight and we are still tying back the branches, but there’s no point in waiting, just do the best you can. Loads of plump, organic berries waiting for you. Honor system. Picking baskets to wear on your neck so you can pick with both hands. Scale is on the porch along with the cash box. Bring your containers to bring them home. 354 Miner Road, Chester. If it’s daylight, we are open. Probably best to leave dogs at home. The bushes are too crowded for frolicking canines. Kids welcome and those under 12 get a free pound if they pick them themselves. $3.00 a pound (not pint). Proceeds split with Young Historians at Cavendish Historical Society ( CHS).


August 25 (Sunday): Indian Stones and the story of Captive Johnson (see article below). Museum, 2 pm.

September 15 (Sunday): Annual Phineas Gage Talk and Walk. Museum, 2 pm. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan on walking as the site of the accident is about ¾ of a mile from the Museum. We will begin with a presentation that takes about an hour.

October 13 (Sunday): Indigenous Peoples of the Okemo Valley. 2 pm. As part of this presentation, we will be screening the short film “Paleoindian Excavation at Jackson Gore,” produced by Okemo Valley TV. Location has yet to be determined. Note that this is the last day the Museum is open for the season. 


On August 30, 1754, a knock at the door of the Johnson family homestead in Charlestown, NH would change their life forever. Susannah Johnson was in the late stages of her pregnancy, but that did not keep the Abenaki Indians from taking her, her three children, husband, sister, a neighbor and a hired hand as captives.

On a forced march that took them through Cavendish, Susannah went into labor. Captive Elizabeth Johnson’s birth is the first recorded one of a European descent child in what is today Cavendish. It was in the Knapp Pond area.

Susannah would later write in “A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson,” I was fifteen or twenty miles from the abode of any civilized being, in the open wilderness, rendered cold by a rainy day—in one of the most perilous hours, and unsupplied with the least necessary, that could yield concenience in the hazardous moment. My children were crying at a distance, where they were held by their masters, and only my husband and sister [she was 14 at the time] to attend me.

Elizabeth Captive Johnson, would eventually marry George Kimball of Cavendish. However, between Captive’s birth and marriage, her family endured a forced march to Lake Champlain, separation, prison in Quebec and ultimately a four-year journey before returning to Charlestown, NH.
At the end of Chapter 5 of her narrative, having described the birth of her child, a nine days march to Lake Champlain,  life in the Abenaki Village of St. Francis and her husband’s departure to raise ransom money, but before she describes prison in Quebec, Susannah wrote, In justice to the Indians, I ought to remark, that they never treated me with cruelty, to a wanton degree; few people have survived a situation like mine, and few have fallen into the hands of savages, disposed to more lenity and patience. Modesty has ever been a characteristick of every savage tribe; a truth which my whole family will join to corroborate, to the extent of their knowledge. As they are aptly called the children of nature, those who have profited by refinement and education, ought to abate part of the prejudice, which prompts them to look with an eye of censure on this untutored race. Can it be said of civilized conquer|ors, that they, in the main, are willing to share with their prisoners, the last ration of food, when famine stares them in the face? Do they ever adopt an enemy, and salute him by the tender name of brother? And I am justified in doubting, whether if I had fallen into the hands of French soldiery, so much assiduity would have been shewn, to preserve my life. Note the text appears as written.

Today, in Reading Vermont, on route 106, there are two slate markers encased in a granite slab. The inscription reads, “These stones were placed in their / present Position by a Descendant of - Captain / James Johnson"-and Susannah; his Wife." Below that inscription is a slate stone with stepped shoulders, in which is carved "On the 31 st of August 1754, Capt James Johnson had / a Daughter born on this Spot of Ground, being / Captivated with his whole Family by the Indians." Depictions of various tools top the statement. To that stone's right is set the other slate slab, in which is carved the following inscription, accompanied by similar decoration: "This is near the Spot that the Indians Encamp^ / the Night after they took Mr Johnson 8 Family, / Mr Labarree & Farnsworth, August 30th 1754, and / Mrs Johnson was Delivered of her Child Half a mile up this Brook; // When troubles near the Lord is- kind, / He hears the Captives crys. / He can subdue the Savage mind, / And learn it sympathy."

In 1957, Elizabeth George Speare wrote the book “Calico Captive,” which is based on Susannah’s narrative. However, the story is of Susannah’s sister, Miriam.

On August 25, there will be a presentation on the Johnson family and what happened to the various captives, including the oldest of the Johnson children Sylvanus, who was fully assimilated into the Abenaki way of life at the time of his ransom. Following the presentation, there will be a short drive to Reading to see the Indian Stones. The presentation begins at 2 pm at the Museum.

Due to a computer glitch, the handout for the July 14 workshop Replacing single use plastics was not available. Per the request of those in attendance, we are providing this information in the Newsletter.
If this seems like an odd workshop for a historical society to offer, keep in mind that these organizations are good repositories of how people once lived. Sometimes we need to draw on that knowledge to help people adjust to changes that are more reflective of past eras.

It wasn’t until 1985 that single use plastic bags became routinely used in grocery stores. Very quickly, they took on other uses: totes for other objects, liners for trashcans and a useful tool in cleaning up after the dog. Note that the first “Pooper Scooper” law went into effect in 1978, almost 10 years before the high volume of plastic bags became available.


Vermont’s law banning single use plastics goes into effect July 2020. The new law prohibits retailers and restaurants from providing customers with single-use carryout bags, plastic stirrers, or cups, takeout, or other food containers made from expanded polystyrene. Straws may be provided, by request, and the ban does not extend to those requiring straws for medical conditions.

Pooper Scooper: Make a scoop from a milk or laundry jug. There are a number of readily available products that can be purchased. Highly recommended is Dogit Jaws.

Straws: For those that need a straw, the following are rated among the best by disability groups:
• Silicon Straws receive top scores for ease of use, can be used for hot and cold drinks, extremely durable, they’re dishwasher safe, can be sterilized. Seraphina’s Kitchen Reusable Silicone Straws
• Stainless steel straws with silicon tips: Stainless steel is the most durable, can be sterilized and if you lose a tip it can be replaced. Best for cold beverages. Mooker Silicone Straws Plus Silicone-Tipped Stainless-Steel Straws
• Biodegradable or Single use straws-such as a restaurant might provide: Paper does not hold up but those made from plant-based materials are much better. 

Trashcan Liners: Trashcans and bins that hold recyclables don’t require a liner as items placed in there should be clean and dry. If you have been using a plastic bag to hold compost-consider using a compost bucket. Note that compost can be brought to the Cavendish Transfer Station for free.

Tote Bags: While the workshop showed how to convert old T-shirts into totes, many types of shopping bags are readily available at stores. It is not clear if stores will charge for paper bags, which some already do.

What to do with single use plastic bags: Most grocery stores, as well as big box stores, e.g. Walmart have bins for recycling single use plastic. They will take grocery bags, bread bags, case overwrap, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, ice bags, wood pellet bags, Ziplock & other re-sealable bags, produce bags, bubble wrap, salt bags, and cereal bags. All materials must be clean, dry and free of food residue.


Inspired by the paintings of John Snarksi, which were recently re hung in the Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES), the spring edition of The Scribbler included the histories of The Cavendish Academy, Wheeler School; Fittonsville School; Duttonsville School; and the Rumke School.

Part II focuses on Tarbell Hill School and the memories of it shared by Carmine Guica in his “The Story of My Life. “ Note that the text appears as written.

Tarbell Hill School: The first recollection that I have of my school days is in the fall of the year of 1927. The year of the great flood. The Town sent up a truck to take all the kids home as water in the road was too deep, especially for the smaller children…In them days school was kept five days a week regardless of the weather and all Holidays were celebrated on the day they fell on by the calendar.

Our teachers when they taught at Tarbell Hill school it usually was their first time of teaching and they done a great job as they had all eight grades to teach. There usually was from 17 to 27 pupils and most of the years that I went to school perhaps it was near the lower side.

One of things we all looked forward to was the programs that we would put on at Holidays and the plays. We all would have poems we would recite and at Halloween it usually ends with a Box Social…the neighbors would come and sometime they would join with us in the fun. I believe one of the things that made our school great was the teachers. They were all young and very energetic and there always was a good cooperation between teacher, parents and pupils.

We always did look forward to recess time and to play games such as baseball, volley ball and just about all games and some that we made up. Then in the winter time we would slide down Tarbell Hill as there hardly was any cars.

The first few years we didn’t have running water as it was the job of the bigger boys to go up to the Wilcox’s with a pail for water and then we would fill up the blue stripped clay jug that had a spigot at the bottom so we could draw drinking water.

School days were busy in them days, as all our work we done at school. Very seldom did we have home work. I don’t ever remembering of bringing home the work that should be done in school, unless it was a book or so to read for pleasure. Now a days these kids have a “Hikers Pack” with work that they have to do at home.

The first thing in the morning after the teacher rang the bell to call us in from the playground to start our days, we would salute the flag from the heart then extend our right arm outward towards the Flag and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Then we would all sit at our desk and bow our heads and recite the “Lord’s Prayer.” This accomplished, we would then start our day’s studies. I am sure that later in life we were better for it---the start of the day with a tribute to the Flag and to God.

Guica included in his book an article he wrote on the Tarbell Hill School Reunion, which took place in 1991. The original school was built before 1799, according to a deed that I have and in 1860 it was moved a short distance down Tarbell Hill from its original site to where it was in 1956 when taken down.

Among the speakers that day was Mrs. Murial (Blanchad) Link who taught at Tarbell Hill School in 1915-1917. She said that she was her own janitor, built the fires in the winter, swept the floors and everything else that needed to be done. The hours were from 9 to 4 with a 15-minute recess and one hour for noon. This would give just time for a nice slide down Tarbell Hill in winter…Once a month the State Library sent 50 books in a wooden box, only cost was to return by Express. In the Spring they planned for a fair in September. The children would plant seeds at home and on fair day they would bring vegetables, canned goods, cakes, some needle work, and bird houses. These were all judged and prizes given. Friends, parents and neighbors all came and joined in the races and games..,When she taught there were 37 pupils.


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    __ Carmine Guica Young Historians

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

Monday, July 1, 2019

CHS Briefs July 1, 2019

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

July 14 (Sunday): In response to Vermont banning single use plastics, CHS will offer a Replacing Plastic Workshop, 2 pm at the Museum in Cavendish. Participants will learn how to make a no sew tote from an old T shirt, a “pooper scooper,” and how to fold a beach towel so it can be a carrying case as well as a pillow. Please bring an old t shirt. This is a free hands on workshop open to the public. If this seems like an odd workshop for a historical society to offer, keep in mind that we are good repositories of how people once lived. Sometimes we need to draw on that knowledge to help people adjust to changes that are more reflective of past eras.

July 27 (Saturday): 9th Annual Cavendish Town Wide Tag Sale. The CHS booth will be in the gazebo on the Proctorsville Green.

September 8 (Sunday): Annual Phineas Gage Walk & Talk. The talk portion begins at 2 pm. We will be walking out to the site of the accident, which is approximately ¾ of a mile from the Museum. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

October 13 (Sunday): In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, CHS will present a talk on the First Peoples of the Okemo Valley, 2 pm at the Museum.

ARCHEOLOGY: We had planned on taking the 5th and 6th graders out to the dig, but the never ending rain in April and May caused serious flooding so the trip will be rescheduled for the fall. In the mean, we are thrilled that Young Historian Emery Benoit, she has been with us since the program began in 2010, will be among the first students this fall at Castleton University’s new archeology program under Dr. Matt Moriarity, of SCHEP  (Southern Champlain Historical Ecology Project) , which we’ve been involved with for the last four years.

BUILDINGS: We’re waiting for Bruce McEnaney to return from England to start on the steps of the Museum. Bob Naess and Dave Stern continue to work between the rain drops in completing the front door project.  

Cleaning gravestones
CARMINE GUICA YOUNG HISTORIANS: Yes the school year is over, but we’re hard at work planning for the 2019/2020. Before we launch into plans, we want to thank our 5th and 6th graders for their hard work in cleaning the grave stones in the Cavendish Cemetery. A week later these two grades learned a great deal at the American Precision Museum in Windsor and from St. Gaudens, just across the river from the Museum. Thank you to our volunteers Bobby Glidden, Bob Naess and Pang Ting.
5th & 6th grade at St. Gaudens

To help our local teachers, as well as other schools who have been in contact, we have set up a web page “Resource for Teachers: Trip Opportunities.” This site lists places where students can learn more about their town, state and country. These are catalogued by travel time from Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) as well as by state. This list will be continually updated with new resources as well as notes about experiences.

New for the upcoming school year is Carmine Guica Young Historians: Preserving and Serving Cavendish VT. This program is for students at CTES. They serve each other, their families, community, state and country. In so doing, they learn basic civics, how their community functions and what type of citizens we want them to become. The teachers have been very helpful in identifying various projects that students can do. More information about this program will be provided in September.

A very special thank you to Ernestine van Schaik whose support to the continuation of this program. While we couldn’t do this without her financial help,  we also want to recognize her creativity and ideas about programs and activities to try. As a former teacher, she is a wealth of information.

Anyone who would like to volunteer to paint at the Museum and/or the Stone Church, please contact CHS at the numbers below.

If you have questions or wish to volunteer with CHS, please call 802-226-7807, e-mail