Thursday, April 30, 2015

 Chapter 9 Tiemann Memoirs/Hawks Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chapter 8: Memoirs/ Cavendish Schools

Center Road School today

Following Chapter 8 is an article by the Cavendish Historical Society on Cavendish schools To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann 

Meantime, the children had started school early in September, walking the half-mile down the hill to the one-room building which had served the neighborhood for many a year. They carried their lunches. Our house seemed very quiet until they returned in late afternoon.

The country school system was new to us, of course, and we had some doubts as to its efficiency. The town head once been divided into ten or a dozen school districts, including one for each village, spaced as advantageously as possible to accommodate the children from all the scattered farms. Then as time passed some of the farms were abandoned and certain schools closed, with the result that in our time a few poor kids were isolated and to reach a school had to travel close to three miles each way, or even further if they had to follow the roads (in bad weather). rather than coming cross-lots. Theoretically, if the distance was two miles or more the children were carried, their families being allowed something for transportation; but plenty of times it did not turn out that way. Either carrying them wasn't convenient, or the roads were too bad. Then the children had to make it on their own, and generally did; there were not too many absences. - A brother and sister used to come by, and sometimes would come in to get warm. They didn't have any gloves.

(Eventually this problem was solved by building a good consolidated school in Proctorsville* and carrying the children by bus but that came a good many years later following improvement of roads and vehi­cles, and only after a terrific battle among the voters.)

The situation meanwhile was accepted without question: people had been given legs to walk with, and were expected to use them. The teacher was boarded in the neighborhood, near enough, of course, so she also could walk., This was a pleasant arrangement, as we found when we had girls stay with us several years; but never think there was money in it for anyone. Looking back in an old town report, I see that our teacher at "Center School No. 1" was paid $558. "for teaching and janitor work" "for the year ending January 31, 1935" (a weird accounting system which I helped to change.) This meant if she wanted help lugging water and wood and tending the big pot-bellied stove she had to pay a pittance to one of the boys. Five to seven dollars a week for board must have seemed like a lot - to her! - That year Center School cost the taxpayers $665.50, probably a low for the twentieth century: it was up to almost nine hundred the following year. I have no record of the number of pupils then, but in 1941 a new superin­tendent had a brainstorm and his annual report shows that Center had fifteen children divided among seven classes.
It's hardly surprising that a teacher seldom stayed more than two or three years; even if their homes were near by they generally found something better or got married. But I take my hat off to them (at least, most of them) for the job they did. In general the children were pretty well prepared for high school. Under the circumstances that was a considerable accomplishment.

At least it may be said that the one room was spacious, light, and pleasant (when it was warm.) Generally windows were along two sides, black boards on the other two. The stove has been mentioned.' This was practical enough for the times. Otherwise the building was as primi­tive as might be expected, some of them with only an open-sided wood­shed which generally housed the two privies (for boys and girls.) At Center, the latter facilities were in small alcoves off the main room and in the end were provided with chemical toilets,- at about the time the wood stoves gave place to oil heaters. This was much later.

These little buildings also served as neighborhood gathering places, and there were some gay times at Halloween and Christmas parties. A number still stand, as after having served their purpose they were sold, generally to the nearest neighbor upon whose land the school probably was originally built. Even after being refurbished as guest houses or hunting camps, and painted anything but red (which few of them were, anyway) it is impossible to mistake these structures for anything but what they were.

Center Road School-Intersection of Center  &
Town Farm Roads
Cavendish Schools: From 1795 to 2009, there have been 13 public schools in Cavendish. Students were assigned to the school closest to where they lived. These included: • Stoddard-Bailey Hill (closed by 1874)
• Hudson School-Old County Rd (burned in 1901) 
• Parker School-near Knapp Pond (closed 1911)
•  Densmore School-Brook and South Reading Roads (burned in 1922)
• Rumke School-Greenbush (closed 1923)
• Gilchrist School (closed 1947
• Center School-Center and Town Farm Roads (closed 1955)
• Wheeler School-Twenty Mile Stream and Chambers Roads (closed 1955)
• Tarbell Hill School (closed 1955)
• Proctorsville Village School (closed 1959 and replaced with the Cavendish Town School)
• Duttonsville School (closed 1971)
• Stockin School (half in Weathersfield and under Weathersfield School District)
• Fittonsville School-Cavendish Gulf Road Built for the children whose parents worked at Spring Mill. When the mill burned, the school closed in 1884

While Proctorsville had all 12 grades at one time, for many generations, students would go to Ludlow, Chester or Springfield high schools. This changed when the Green Mountain Union High School was built. Today, through school choice option, while a majority of the students go to GMUHS, many opt for Springfield, Ludlow or Woodstock.

School District #1, Center Road  School, where the Tiemann children went to school has been written about extensively in Sandra Fields Stearns’ book Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939-1957. Stearns school days begin in the 1940s, a decade after the Tiemanns would have graduated. Still there are many similarities, with the school being a hub for the social activities of the community.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chapter 7: Tiemann Memoirs/Foraging in Cavendish

Following Chapter 7 is an article “foraging” in Cavendish. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

We thought at first that the heavy Labor Day frost had done little damage, - altho leaves were wilted, it did not show on the squashes and pumpkins mature enough to have hard shells, and these were labor­iously carried. to the upstairs hall and attic for temporary storage. It was not until some days later that the children came to me, big-eyed: "Gee, Dud, have you seen the pumpkins and things?"

A survey disclosed that almost all had developed black spots, and in a day or two more they had subsided into messy piles that had to be shoveled up. Cucumbers, citron, and tomatoes ware the same, and few were saved. So it was indeed fortunate that a supply had already been canned. Carrots and turnips, having been in the ground, were all right. And we picked about five bushels of unshelled dry beans. There was a big apple crop and about a peck of plums. To us city people it looked like a lot of produce.

During this month, having first of all removed the privy back of the shed kitchen, I also ripped off the sheathing in that area, built in door and window frame, re-sheathed, and finished with building-paper. This made the room considerably more attractive; and placing some stone steps outside the door gave us a rear exit. We still had the intention of using this for a kitchen thru the winter.

But as September advanced it was steadily getting colder. The wood-stove did not hold a fire thru the night, co in early morning the kit­chen was pretty frigid. We hung on for a while, partly because I was stubborn but more for the sake of the open fires we were enjoying each evening,- Moving in the range would put an end to that. It was really cozy, reading by the light of a kerosene lamp, with the kids playing games or doing homework; or sitting on an old split.log bench watching the fire and perhaps toasting marshmallows.

"If only we could be as warm in back as we are in front," Isabel lamented. For we quickly discovered that the nine draft drawing the flames up the chimney also pulled cold air into the room: closing all the doors helped, but then it of too stuffy! Also, an open 'fire is a glutton for fuel.

As the kitchen range had been rapidly consuming such stove-wood as had been left us, we now had another problem of magnitude. Whereas we could get rid of almost any kind of refuse in the fireplace, to produce heat a stove must have hardwood, preferably well seasoned. In the shed there remained a few "chunks" which defied splitting, and not much else. So it was evident that something must be done. First (and the only thing in sight) was to get delivery of the wood due me in exchange for corn, and this was easily arranged: it was brought already cut, but not split, and I stacked it as it was thrown off the wagon into the shed. Not too well seasoned, so Wy and I split it as rapidly as we could, but we never did get far enough ahead to do much good. And there obviously was nothing like enough to go the winter.

I asked the driver, "How much more do you think I will need?' "Oh, you'll probably not burn more than ten or twelve cord," he replied with 'a grin. - When laid up, a cord of wood measures eight feet long by four feet high, in four-foot lengths, or 128 cubic feet. Ten times that? Whew!

Again we met with unexpected luck, as a neighbor dropped in one even­ing to say he had some extra wood I perhaps could use. The roadsides on his property, just below us, had just been cleared for the width of the right-of-way (two rods) leaving useable wood stacked in more ­or less four-foot lengths, and of course quite accessible. Even tho the town had done this work, it always is assumed that the wood be­longs to the owner of the adjacent land.

"It's green, and some of it not too good, but I'd like to sell it and I won't be too hard on you," he told me. "That sounds all right," I replied, "How much do you want for it?" "Well, by rough measure I'd say there is close to seven cord. You can check it if, you like. Say (so much) per cord." The exact figure I don't have a record of but it seemed reasonable and I accepted with thanks.

Here was a real boon, as I had neither the time nor the know-how to tackle a big chopping job. Yet, before it had been consumed this ready-cut supply proved very instructive. It included about every variety of tree in 'the area, from rock maple (by all odds the best for burning) to shad (practically worthless) Beech and yellow birch were good; white birch burned too fast, altho while green was better than some others. Elm is the devil to split and perhaps the slowest to dry, but fine when well cured. The soft woods had little heat but “caught" well and so were useful for starting a blaze. "Popple" was in this category with pine, spruce, and hemlock. We had no oak.

All this wood was relatively green and heavy to handle, and many logs had to be split before I could lift them. And green (hard) wood gives tremendous heat when several logs are nestled together,- but it also produces copious amount of creosote. I have touched on this elsewhere.

Cavendish Foraging/What’s Edible: The frost on Labor Day weekend was a foreshadowing of the winter to come. The winter of 1933-34 would turn out to be one of the coldest on record for Vermont.

Given the combination of a harsh winter and the “Depression,” many families had to look for ways to supplement the food budget. Fishing and hunting weren't recreational activities as it was an important source of food. More than one boy would bring his rifle/fishing rod to school so he could provide or supplement the evening meal.

Like the early settlers, Depression era families looked to what grew locally. In fact, there are a number of elderly Vermonters who don’t care for blackberries-“That’s all we had to eat some days.”

However there are lots of things that are edible in Cavendish besides blackberries, fiddle heads and maple syrup. Below are edible plants that grow in Cavendish. Please Note: DO NOT EAT  any of these species until you are positive in their identification, as some edible plants and fungi species look very similar to poisonous varieties. This is particular important when it comes to mushrooms. 

Curled Dock
Field Pennycress
Fox Grape