Sunday, February 17, 2019

CHS: Winter 2019 Newsletter

Proenneke building his cabin.
The Cavendish Historical Society’s (CHS) Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, March 31 (Sunday), 4 pm at the Cavendish Baptist Church. As part of the Meeting, we will be screening Alone in the Wilderness. The film provides a glimpse into what life might have been like for Cavendish’s pioneering families.

Alone in the Wilderness is a documentary of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Filming himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin by himself. The documentary covers his first year, showing his day-to-day activities as he sought to scratch out a living. We hope to have Proctorsville resident, Tim O’Donoghue on hand that afternoon as he visited Proenneke’s property this past June.


In 1832, the abolitionist newspaper, “The Liberator,” along with “The Vermont Watchman” & “State Gazette” carried a notice that read, On Jan 30, 1832, Peter Tumbo, “colored man”, aged 106 died in Cavendish, VT.

CHS has spent years trying to find as much information as possible about Peter Tumbo, referred to in Cavendish records as Peter Tumber. What we’ve been able to confirm, while sufficient to qualify for a Revolutionary War Veteran marker, still leaves numerous questions.

Below is the timeline we’ve constructed, though it is unclear if he was in fact 106 at his death:

Born in Africa and brought to America via slave ship

1775-1783: Served in the Revolutionary War. See below

1780: Marries Phyllis Vaughn in Roxbury. Over the years multiple children are born to them as recounted by Dr. Ames

1795: Warned out of Roxbury Mass

1804: Charlotte Tumber is born in Windsor VT

1805: Buys 50 acres of land in Cavendish from Lake Coffeen ( town records)

1812 Married Polly Job of Cavendish ( town records)

1820 &1830 Census: Counted as head of household

1823: Land reverts to the town (town records)

1832: Tumber dies at the age of 106 (newspaper articles, no information in town record, but believe he would have been buried in the Coffeen Cemetery)

1850: Charlotte lived in Reading with Charles Buck’s family of 5. Probably a servant. Her last name was spelled Tamber. (Census data)

1870: Charlotte is living in the household of Merrium Sherburne (black) in Reading and is listed as “keeping house.” Probably housewife.

1871: Charlotte Tumber dies at 67 years of age (She is believed to be buried in the Coffeen Cemetery)

The testimony below, taken as part of obtaining a Revolutionary War pension, not only confirms Tumber’s veteran status but also suggests that he wasn’t 106 at the time of his death. His daughter states that he is given his freedom at the age of 21, soon after the war ended. Since the war ended in 1783, he would have been considerably younger than 106 at the time of his death.

Rumor has long persisted that a runaway slave named Charlotte and her sister are buried in the right hand corner of the Coffeen Cemetery. Charlotte was never a slave. Given that Tumber remarried in 1812, it’s possible that his first wife Phyllis Vaughn is buried in the Coffeen Cemetery. While we have found a death certificate for Charlotte, confirming place of birth and death, we have found no burial record.

Affidavit:  "I, Charlotte T. Tumbers of Cavendish, aged 33 years on 18 Jan. 1837. (She made her affidavit before Judge Calvin French of Proctorsville 7 July 1837.) "I am the youngest daughter of Peter Tumber and Phillis Tumber, deceased. I have known and been acquainted for many years with Prince Robinson, a Black man, late of Rutland and with his wife now is Widow Anna Robinson, now living in Rutland.

That my father and mother were both Black people; and I have often heard both, my father and Prince say that they were African-born and had been imported and sold as slaves in this Country before the Revolutionary War.

My father was last a slave to a Quaker by the name of Tripp, who gave my father his freedom when he supposed Tumber had arrived to the age of twenty-one year, which was soon after the war, and then he went to reside in Roxbury, Mass. [He married in Roxbury, Charlotte’s mother Philesta “ Phillis” Vaughan 24 Feb. 1780].

 I have often heard my parents say that Prince and his wife moved into Cavendish with them about 42 years ago (1795). Prince was lawfully married to Anna, his present widow, also a Black woman, during the Revolutionary War and I have always understood it was on Long Island. I have heard my father tell a great deal about a Mr. Clark, a justice of the Peace, who was said to have married Prince and Anna, that he knew Mr. Clark.

I have often heard both Prince and Ann tell the same story, that they were married while Prince was in the Army by the same Justice of the Peace, Mr. Clark. I have many times heard a great deal more from both of them about their service in the war. I have also heard Prince relate that he was to be free when the war closed, and that he was freed accordingly. I have no doubt that my father related the story of Prince and Anna's marriage from his knowledge of the fact; as he was always an upright and conscientious man, and would never assent anything that he did not know or believe to be true." [She signed her own name, which was very unusual for a Back woman in 1837]: Charlotte T. Tumber." 

Affidavit of Josiah French of Cavendish, 15 Sept. 1837: "I, Josiah French of Cavendish.. aged 72 yrs.  "I was acquainted with Peter Tumber, deceased for about 40 yrs. previous to his death which took place five or six years ago and during all the above time said Tumber was an inhabitant of the Town of Cavendish, and as I believe he was reputed to be a man of good moral character, and sustained a good reputation for truth and veracity. He was a very industrious man and had acquired a small property consisting of a farm of about 50 acres. He was a man of good natural abilities and intelligent for one of his grade. He was believed to have been a soldier in the American Army of the Revolution.  I further testify and say that I am acquainted with Charlotte T. Tumber, daughter of Peter Tumber and Phillis Tumber, have been acquainted with her for fifteen or twenty years. She has the reputation of a very honest person and a person of truth and veracity, sustaining a good moral character as for as I am informed. —Josiah French (before Calvin French, Justice). —

Affidavit of Jabez Proctor of Cavendish:,  "I, Jabez Proctor of Cavendish, aged fifty-seven years, do depose and testify: I was acquainted with Peter Tumber for about forty years previous to his death which took place five or six years ago and that he was during said period, a resident of Cavendish aforesaid. His general reputation for truth and veracity was good. His uniform moral character was considered good and he was not reputed as being in the habit of embellishing stories. I have understood from him and I should think from others, that he was a soldier in the American Army of the Revolutionary War.

Said Tumber did not draw a pension to my knowledge, having died near the passage of the Act of Congress of 7 June 1832, and could not, I suppose draw under the Act of March 18, 1818 in consequence of having acquired by industry, a small farm of about 50 acres of land and some stock and other property. He was an intelligent man for one in his grade and respected. I also further testify and say that for a number of years I have been somewhat acquainted with Charlotte T. Tumber and that so far as I am informed, she sustains a good moral character and was reputed as being a person of truth and veracity and further this deponent sathe not. —Jabez Proctor (before Judge Calvin French).

CHS is looking to erect a memorial in honor of Tumber. If you have information about him or possible descendants, please contact us. If you would like to donate to his monument, please send a check to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142 noting that it be used for the Tumber Memorial.

CAVENDISH PATRIOTS In honor of the United States Bicentennial in 1976, the Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) changed its mascot from the Blue Devils to the Patriots. It’s been 45 years since this change. On July 4, 2019, we celebrate the 245th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so we thought it was worth taking a look at Cavendish’s original patriots, which included men, women, former slaves as well as children. Below is a sampling of who some of them were.

Coffeen Cemetery where many Patriots are buried.
Coffeens: The first legal settlers in Cavendish were Capt. John Coffeen, his wife Susanna and their eight children. Capt. Coffeen’s grain and grass fields, as well as fledgling young orchard, were destroyed when 300 New England troops were stationed on his farm, while working on the Crown Point Road. Later in the year, after the surrender of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, militia, whose terms had expired or where discharged for misconduct, again encamped at Coffeens. The tavern house, which Coffeen had established, was immediately filled to overflowing. Those who could not get lodging inside built fires with the boards that Capt. Coffeen had procured for building a large barn and house. They stripped his home of nearly everything it contained and the turned their horses into his grain. They justified their actions by declaring that the enemy would do it themselves within 48 hours. Capt. Coffeen’s place became an interim camp and as a result he buried a number of Revolutionary soldiers in his family’s burial grounds. It is believed that there are 12 unmarked graves of Revolutionary soldiers in the Coffeen Cemetery.

• Susanna: She was the only woman who stayed in Cavendish throughout the war tending to soldiers, running the tavern and doing what was needed. As a result of her service, the town awarded her property in her own right.

• Lake -Enlisted April. 1775 as a Minuteman. He served in Capt. Reuben Dickinson’s Company of Minutemen of Col. Benjamin Ruggles Woodbridge’s Reg’t.

• Michael: Enlisted as a Minuteman in May 1775 at the age of 17. He and his brother Lake fought at Bunker Hill. Michael would serve in a number of battles including the Battle of Saratoga.

In 1777, Capt. Coffeen attended the First Constitutional Convention of Vermont at Windsor as Cavendish’s delegate. Capt. Coffeen and Susanna are buried side by side in the Coffeen Cemetery.

Salmon Dutton (founder of what today is Cavendish Village): A minuteman under the command of Captain Samuel Stone in Colonel William Prescott’s regiment he would help to found the Cavendish Academy in 1792, one of the first independent schools in the state. The building still stands at the corner of High Street and Route 131. Dutton is buried in the Cavendish Cemetery on High St.

Captain Leonard Proctor(Founder of Proctorsville): Well respected for his leadership, he served as the company’s Second Lieutenant on the Lexington Alarm of April 19, 1775 in Capt. Minot’s Company, Col James Prescott’s Reg’t. “This brave group of men took up their muskets and fought as minute-men on the Lexington Green in the opening battle of the American Revolution. Leonard Proctor was 41 years old at this time and the father of seven children.” Proctor is buried in the Proctor Cemetery off of Route 131 in Proctorsville.

Hannah Lovell: Her gravestone in the Cavendish Revolutionary Cemetery notes her involvement in the war. Research done by Carmine Guica found that she was “a very brave and patriotic woman who often carried messages by horse back to commanding officers of the Revolution.”

Parkers: Joshua Parker was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. His son Deacon Joshua Parker was 14 years old when he fought in the war. Both are buried in the Center Rd. Cemetery.

There are many veterans of the Revolutionary War buried in Cavendish, some in graves that are unmarked and some on private land. Other parts of town, such as Chubb Hill, Tarbell Hill, take their names from Revolutionary soldiers who were among Cavendish’s first residents.

The values and beliefs of the patriots that forged the small rural community of Cavendish while helping to found the state of Vermont along with the United States, are as relevant today as they were 250 years ago. Their integrity, resilience, resourcefulness, bravery, creativity, compassion, sociability and self worth are values that are timeless.


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
__ Archeological Activities                _ Museum & Archival             __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund                           __  Williams Fund                  __ Solzhenitsyn Project
__ Other (please specify)                        __ Cemetery Restoration           __ Preservation Projects

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