Monday, October 30, 2017

A Cavendish Halloween

The Golden Stage Inn
Are there really haunted places in Cavendish? According to last year’s 6th graders at the Cavendish Town Elementary School, there are many places in town with unexplained and mysterious things happening. Check out their video Cavendish Ghosts Stores. 

At this year’s Cavendish Historical Society’s Ghost Walk, an Abenaki tale was related in honor of the first peoples of Cavendish.

For more “ghostly stories” of Cavendish, check out

The most haunted place in Cavendish? Well according to Haunted Places, it would be the Golden Stage Inn.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Cavendish’s First People

--> For nearly 40 years there has been a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Vermont is one of five states, the others being Alaska, Hawaii (Discoverers’ Day), Minnesota and South Dakota (Native Americans Day) that has made this change.

Why the change in a holiday that began in 1937? Columbus Day was designed to celebrate Italian-American culture and heritage. Starting in the 1970s, alternatives to the holiday emerged as attention was called to the fact that Columbus and other Europeans interactions with the indigenous peoples resulted in hundreds of years of violence and slavery; forced assimilation and conversion to Christianity; and a host of new diseases, e.g. small pox, that killed off thousands of native peoples. It was also noted that Columbus didn’t “discover” the Americas nor prove the world was round, since that was already common knowledge. In fact, he thought the world was pear shaped. Columbus’s voyage was economic in nature-a better trade route to the east- so slave trading was a lucrative opportunity and he captured natives for such purposes.

While Columbus may have been a very brave and skillful sailor, he was also a deeply flawed human who set the stage for the Spanish conquistadors who looted and killed natives by the thousands. How Columbus Sailed into US History Thanks to Italians

Columbus was also not the first European to reach America. Leif Ericksson arrived well before Columbus in what is today Newfoundland and it’s very possible that St. Brendan’s voyage from Ireland took place 500 years before Ericksson and 1,000 years before Columbus. However, all of them are “Johnny come latelies,” as the Americas were occupied, possibly as early as 16,000 years ago. 

To read more on how the Americas were populated, check the following resources:
First Humans Entered the Americas Along the Coast, Not through the Ice:Evidence mounts against the traditional story of early human migration through an ice corridor. 
A 24,000-year-old horse jawbone is helping rewrite our understanding of human habitation on the continent

So what about Cavendish? The following information is based on what is currently known through archeology and other studies. As we learn more, we will continue to provide updates.

There is archaeological evidence at Jackson Gore, Ludlow, VT that dates back 11,000 years, shortly after ice age ended. Judging from the tools uncovered, these hunter/gatherers were highly skilled craftsmen who traveled 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  fish and hunt game depending on the time of year, and may have spent days or weeks here depending on whether food was plentiful.

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. 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.

Bellows Falls Petrogylphs

Since the first settlements in Bellows Falls, numerous Indian graves have been inadvertently dug up throughout the village and near the falls.  There is a tradition among longtime residents that the section of town located on the west side of Main Street, across from the Square, was once an Indian burial mound (Hayes 1907:29). Additionally, two centuries of excavations for roads and building construction near the petroglyphs have uncovered numerous skeletal remains throughout the village and on the island leading to the bridge that crosses the Connecticut River. Lyman Hayes interviewed the late Dr. S.M. Blake who indicated to him that “the whole distance across the island had, in a much earlier period, been used for an Indian burial-ground. The bodies were uncovered sitting upright, having been buried in a sitting posture with the knees drawn up to the chin, in a circular hole dug deep enough so that the top of the heads came within a foot or two of the surface of the ground” (Hayes 1907:29). Even the mound just to the west of the petroglyphs, where a power substation is located today, was once an Abenakis burial mound. It would seem that the village was erected upon what could be one of the largest burial sites in all of Vermont, and perhaps in all of New England.  This was and still is a very sacred place to the Abenakis. The Abenaki and the Bellows Falls (VT) Petroglyphs 

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] . 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.

During the American Revolution, Abenaki ranger units and warriors fought on the American side. By 1840 there were confirmed 1,000 Abenaki in northwestern VT and 1,500 by 1910. Totals in other parts of the state for this time period are unknown. In 2006, the VT Legislature recognizes the Abenaki people and created the VT Commission on Native American Affairs. The 2000 US Census shows 2,460 Indian people and 3,976 who cited “Indian” as one of two or more races in VT for a total of 6,396 focused in northern and central VT.

So why aren’t these people readily known? Vermont has a very dark history when it comes to its native peoples.  With the arrival of the Europeans, life changed dramatically for the Indians. 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.

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

As recently as 2002, the Vermont Attorney General’s office said the Abenaki didn’t have a “continuous presence” in Vermont as they all migrated to Canada. Not only was this incorrect, but starting in 2011, there is state recognition of
Elnu Tribe of the Abenaki southern VT,
 Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk  Abenaki (Northeast Kingdom)Nation
KoasekTraditional Band of the Koos Abenaki Nation (northeast and central VT and NH regions) .

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

Learn More About the Abenaki at the websites listed above, as well as the following resources:

Malian’s Song The book,  Malian’s Song,  is based on an eyewitness Abenaki account of Robert Rogers’ 1759 raid on the Abenaki village of St. Francis. For many years the only information about the raid included in history textbooks was based on Robert Rogers’official report. In 1959 ethnologist Gordon Day recorded Elvine Obomsawin Royce telling a very different story of the raid that had been passed down in her family for generations. Here Jeanne Brink, granddaughter of Elvine, reads an English translation of her grandmother’s story

Additional Resources
Learning About First Peoples and How They Lived: Facebook Album of CTES’s 4th graders day long workshop with experimental archeologist Charlie Paquin.

                                             A History of the Abenaki Tribe 

                                                 Abenaki Documentary 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

CHS Briefs October 1, 2017

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

Museum: The last day the Museum will be open is Oct. 8. While we are happy to open it at other times, it’s awfully cold in there as it’s not heated.

RiverSweep 2017
Carmine Guica Young Historians Program: Once again the 6th grade participated in RiverSweep. The walk to Greven Field was a good opportunity to explain who Dr. Greven was, why he donated the property and where his office was on Greven Rd. This is a great activity to teach the importance of stewardship along with town history.

Charlie Paquin looking for artifact.
Plimoth Plantation
October is going to be a very busy month. We are thrilled to have the archeologist Charlie Paquin spending the day on Oct. 2 with the 4th graders. He will demonstrate flint knapping (stone tool making), host an atlatl contest and prepare them for their field trip to the SCHEP dig site on Oct. 13. Friday, Oct. 27 the 4th and 5th grades will be visiting Plimoth Plantation and the 6th graders will be going to Sturbridge Village. 

Also scheduled for the 5th grade is the Proctorsville Village Ghost walk on Oct. 23. A very special thanks to: Stein van Schaik for making Charlie Paquin’s visit and the Plimoth Plantation trip possible and to the Blueberry Fund of Bruce and Betty McEnaney, who sponsor the yearly 6th grader excursion to Sturbridge. Thanks also to our incredible volunteers-Pang Ting, Doris Eddy, Bruce McEnaney and special appreciation to town manager Brendan McNamara for stopping by RiverSweep and helping with the clean up.

Abenaki Indians
Researching Cavendish’s First People: With the Governor declaring Oct. 9 Indigenous Peoples Day, CHS  is looking for artifact from the 1st peoples that lived here. Carmine Guica reported that while he was exploring cellar holes he came across a variety of arrow heads or projectile points. Have you found such items in Cavendish? Have you found unusual rocks or stones that appear to be "worked?" They could have been used for grinding corn or acorns. Does your family lore contain stories of Indians, gypsies or "dark French?" If you have any information, please contact CHS at or 802/226-7807, CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142 or stop by the Museum on Sunday, Oct. 1 from 2-4.

Solzhenitsyn 100th Birthday: CHS is working with the Vermont Historical Society and the Russian
Department of the University of Vermont on various activities for 2018, which is the 100th birthday of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Not only has language been finalized for a proclamation by the Vermont Legislature-this will take place in January or February in Montpelier-but VHS is submitting a grant application to the VT Humanities Council for an exhibit. The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) is excited to partner with the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) and the University of Vermont (UVM) to celebrate the life and work of writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in honor of his 100th birthday.  We will provide two community lectures on Solzhenitsyn through the Vermont Historical Society’s Third Thursday Program Series, taking place in Montpelier and Burlington, respectively, and will create a panel exhibit to be displayed at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier.  The main goal of the project is to share and celebrate Solzhenitsyn’s life and work with the broader Vermont community.  Specific goals of the project include:
1.     Disseminate information on an important 20th century writer, his influence on Vermont, and Vermont’s influence on his writings, to a broad audience through VHS’s Third Thursday Program Series and a panel exhibition.
2.     Create the panel exhibition in a way that will ultimately be adaptable to travel to local historical societies and other cultural organizations throughout Vermont.  This will bring information on Solzhenitsyn to an even wider audience, and provide more opportunities for community programming.
3.     To honor Solzhenitsyn and his work during his 100th year.

Gage 170th Anniversary in 2018: In presenting the annual Phineas Gage Walk and Talk in September, we were reminded that 2018 will be the 170th anniversary of his famous accident. We’re open to ideas and suggestions about how to celebrate this event.

Oct 8 (Sunday): Ghost Walk in Proctorsville. Meet, 2pm at the War Memorial in Proctorsville, which is on Route 131 (Main Street) close to the Proctorsville Fire Department and Village Clippers

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

• Do you like to paint? CHS has painting projects both at the Museum and at the Stone Church.  Fall is a good time to get outside and take advantage of the good weather.

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