Monday, September 18, 2017

State Archaeologist to Speak in Waterford, September 26

State archaeologist Jess Robinson will speak on Tuesday September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Davies Memorial Library, 111 Lower Waterford Road (across from the Rabbit Hill Inn).
            Robinson’s talk is part of Vermont Archaeology Month and presents an overview of early Native History of the Upper Connecticut River and adjacent areas, focusing on early and overlooked documentary and archaeological evidence.
            There will be time for questions. The Waterford Historical Society, host of the event, will also have related displays to examine.
            The Waterford Historical Society aims “to discover and preserve whatever relates to the history of the Town of Waterford and surrounding communities, for the use, education, and enjoyment of present and future generations.”
            The event is free and open to the public, with limited handicap access. Contact the library director at 802-748-4609 or e-mail WHS president Donna Heath at

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waterford, Vermont, Meetinghouses Over the Years

Hard to believe how many locations Waterford folks have chosen for their meetinghouses -- locations where the residents made important choices for the town government and finance, and where community has taken shape. All the locations tagged on this 1875 "Beers" map are described in the town's history, A VERMONT VILLAGE, written by Dr. C. E. Harris in 1941.

Looking for an enjoyable way to learn more about the town's varied history? Join Waterford Historical Society member Dave Morrison this evening (July 26) at 5:30 pm at the Davies Memorial Library in the White Village (Lower Waterford, across from the Rabbit Hill Inn), for a guided strolling tour of people, homes, and memories.

(You are also invited to more WHS meetings, on the fourth Wednesday of each month, usually 6:30 pm at the library, until the snow gets too "interesting.")

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lower Waterford Congregational Church Reveals Memory Garden, Sunday July 9, 2017

Rev. Ann Hockridge and Church Trustee/Deacon Kate Piper pose beside the flourishing Memory Garden, a celebratory project Piper began planting three years ago in the historic village of Lower Waterford.
Workers for Robert Morgan Steeple & Building Restoration, Littleton, NH, replaced the old sills and repaired the foundation of the 153-year-old church in May of 2014.

On Sunday, July 9, the Lower Waterford Congregational Church will publicly dedicate a Memory Garden that honors those for whom the town held special meaning.
Descendants of 18th- and 19th-century families who settled the nearly 40-square-mile municipality as well as newcomers attracted by the natural beauty of the Connecticut River hill town are expected to come, some from as far away as Florida. The event is open to the public.
To date, 60 individuals or families have names carved in red brick. In neat rows, they share an elevated, semicircular floral bed with three seasons of colorful perennials. The garden is located next to the church’s Maple Street foundation.
“This truly is Isaiah-worthy to ‘enlarge the place of thy tent’,” said Pastor Ann Hockridge, quoting from the Old Testament. “We’re deeply grateful to Kate Piper for undertaking this project and for the research assistance of Waterford Historical Society member Beth Kanell.”
Mini biographies will be shared in a commemorative program. They include a former pastor who ministered to the needs of Lower Waterford, East Saint Johnsbury, and East Concord; a son who gave his life for his country during the Vietnam War; dairy farmers, summer residents, a blacksmith, a postmistress, teachers, a photographer, an author, a veterinarian, a retired geologist who served on the town’s Planning Commission, a Select Board member, residents of the forgotten village of Upper Waterford, and an avid snowmobiler whose trails through town are still used.
Funds raised from the purchase of the memorial bricks help with the enormous restoration needs of the 153-year-old building. A successful community drive in 2012 brought in $24,000 in donations that were subsequently used to repair 19th-century support beams at both the rear and Maple Street sides of the church.
“It’s the kind of work you can’t see,” Piper explained, “but necessary for holding up the building.  A church member then gifted us with money to paint the building’s exterior.
“But not the steeple,” she added. “It was leaking and needed repair, and that now is done.”
Trustee/Deacon Norrine Williams said, “We’re looking for an angel, or two, to help us get the steeple painted and this time install solar-powered lights so travelers on I 93 and Route 18 can use it again as a beacon when they’re driving at night.”
A devastating fire in 1859 leveled the 22-year-old meetinghouse built on what was once the crossroads corner of Lower Waterford Road and Maple Street. A covered bridge at the foot of Maple Street connected this section of Caledonia County to New Hampshire.
Repurposing timber and pews from Deacon Abial Richardson’s 1818 meetinghouse on Old Country Road South near Mad Brook, the edifice was built in the Greek Revival style and dedicated on January 11, 1860.  A portrait of the pioneer settler from Royalston, MA, is on view in the church foyer along with notable Waterford artifacts that were once on display in the Fairbanks Museum, and items from the Upper Waterford church that was de-accessioned in 1954 prior to Moore Dam’s construction.
Until 1957, when the new elementary school opened, Town Meeting took place in the Lower Waterford church’s lower level while the sanctuary hosted 8th grade graduation ceremonies from the town’s 14 district schoolhouses.
The work of postcard and Hallmark greeting cards photographer Winston Pote of Lancaster, NH, brought the Congregational Church and the village of Lower Waterford international recognition in the decades after World War II.
Following the 10 a.m. worship service, Pastor Hockridge is scheduled to offer a blessing of the garden at 11:30 a.m. It will be followed by a light lunch for all who attend.
Financial gifts to help meet the Lower Waterford church’s need to restore the sanctuary interior, install a composting toilet on the lower level, and add insulation can be mailed to P.O. Box 111, Lower Waterford, VT 05848.
Yoked with Third Congregational Church on Route 2 in East St. Johnsbury, the two houses of worship share a presence on Facebook:

POSTSCRIPT: Here is the July 9, 2017, gathering for the blessing of the garden. What a lovely and loving day! Photo by Helen C. Pike.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Waterford's Older Residents Tell Their Stories -- See the Show, June 17

Waterford resident Carol Bonnett shows the photo in her album of herself at age 14, with Lower Waterford's Mrs. Davies, a prominent village resident at the time.
Camera! Lights! Oral Histories! Rhubarb!
WATERFORD - Curious about "the who" of the Davies Memorial Library?
Want to know what it was like growing up in the now-gone village of Upper Waterford on the Connecticut River?
Interested in how dairy farming used to be done in a milk house attached to an iconic red barn?
Come find out in the first public reveal of Waterford's videotaped oral histories from such long-time residents as George Bullock, Geneva Powers Wright, her brother, Willard Powers, sister-in-law Patricia Wallace Powers, and Doris Carol Fuller Bonnett. Their stories are, by turns, funny and insightful, and capture an era that started to disappear with the construction of Moore Dam in the early 1950s.
Designed for anyone with a connection to or curiosity about the post-Revolutionary War town chartered in 1780, this benefit event includes a wide variety of delicious rhubarb desserts and refreshments.
Part of the on-going Welcome Home to Waterford series, this is the 3rd annual joint fund raiser between Vermont's youngest historical society and the Congregational Church's Ladies Social Circle.
It is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, in the Fellowship Hall at the corner of Lower Waterford Road and Maple Street. Doors open at 6 p.m.; program begins at 6:30 p.m. The Maple Street door is handicap accessible.
Proceeds help the Waterford Historical Society's associated costs for its on-going videotaping of oral histories and the Ladies' steadfast goal to raise much-needed restoration funds for the historic building that opened for worship in January of 1860.
Seating is limited to 90. Tickets are $10 adults; $5 for children under 12. To reserve a place (or a table for 10), please call WHS treasurer/secretary Roberta Smith: 748-0923 or Ladies' member Carroll Campbell: 748-3455.
Can't attend, but interested in making a tax-deductible financial gift to either worthy organization? You can send a donation to the:
WHS at P.O. Box 56, Lower Waterford, VT 05848 or Congregational Church, P.O. Box 111, Lower Waterford, VT 05848.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

When Alden Hull Managed the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford

Recently Christopher Ryan, a St. Johnsbury Academy alumnus, wrote to the Caledonian-Record about Alden Hull, whose daughters still live in this area. Here is his letter (if you click on the image, it should enlarge so you can read it):

And here is a postcard featuring the inn with its "Motel" sign on the roof, from the days when Mr. Hull managed it along with the St. Johnsbury House. At some point, the Waterford Historical Society hopes to host a gathering of people who worked for Mr. Hull -- many worked in both locations at the time, according to the day's needs.

Waterford's Hill Cemetery: Greening Up, and Two Revolutionary War Veterans

A small but dogged crew from the Waterford Historical Society brushed out the two sections of the Hill Cemetery this morning, as our contribution to Green-Up Day and in recognition of the many Waterford residents buried there. (A follow-up crew added raking afterward.)

The photos here show the graves of Revolutionary War veterans Moses Wright and Caleb Bugbee, and Mr. Bugbee's family. DAR member Nola Forbes, who was present when the DAR marker for Mr. Wright was set into the lovely little cemetery, shared details of both men's lives, families, and military service. She also planted a flag at each of the two grave sites. This salute to the men and the town's past is greatly appreciated.

To learn more about Waterford's veterans of this early American conflict, join the Waterford Historical Society at its May 24 meeting:
Waterford's charter took place in 1780, in the midst of the ongoing American Revolutionary War. Among the town's first non-indigenous settlers were a startling number of Revolutionary War veterans. Where did they come from? What are their stories? Where are their graves? And are they connected to today's town residents? Beth Kanell, author of both historical novels and some regional histories, presents insight into this early wave of Waterford residents, on May 24 at 6:30 pm at the Davies Memorial Library in Lower Waterford.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waterford's Poets and Poems

Wednesday evening April 26, 2017, the Waterford Historical Society gathered with many guests at the Lower Waterford Congregational Church, to celebrate National Poetry Month through the words of local writers. What a great event!

WHS Pres. Donna Heath as master of ceremonies.

Patirica Powers
Teagan and Joe Healy reading together.