Saturday, June 6, 2020

June, Rhubarb, and Local History

Just because we're standing six feet apart and wearing masks (hello, historic pandemic months) doesn't mean we stop treasuring local history! June is the month when the Waterford Historical Society hosts an annual Rhubarb Festival, which includes many culinary delights made with the humble and sturdy New England "pie plant." We can still celebrate rhubarb online, and hope to share pie with you later.

An aspect of rhubarb that delights family history buffs is the way a clump of it may persist from one generation to the next. Find some next to a stone foundation, and you may savor the same plant where someone harvested the pink and green stems a century ago, or longer. Check out a recipe, and it may be one your grandmother or grandfather used.

Roberta Smith supports the WHS as board member and treasurer. Among her pleasures are rug hooking and baking. Here she shares a recipe for rhubarb muffins that are sturdy and not too sweet, good for breakfast or afternoon teatime. Thanks, Roberta!


Preheat oven to 325’

In a small bowl, whisk together:


1 cup milk 
1 tsp vinegar 
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 cup oil 
1 egg 

In a large bowl, combine:

2 1/2 cups flour 
1 1/4 cups brown sugar 
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and mix until evenly combined.

Fold in 2 cups chopped rhubarb.


Bake muffins for 25 minutes.

A note from Beth's kitchen: 350 degrees worked well for me. But then again, I am always changing recipes a bit, to fit my own Vermont lifestyle! Here are some more rhubarb recipes that we've enjoyed at the Rhubarb Festival in past years.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Vermont Women and the Right to Vote: A Personal History

[Postcard issued in a campaign by the National Woman Suffrage Association, circa 1915]
This account comes from Donna Rae Heath of Waterford, a member of the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance. She would have presented a talk in March of this year for the Waterford Historical Society, but with the coronavirus precautions in place, she's sharing it here, instead. Thank you, Donna!

A Short History of Suffrage

By Donna Rae Heath

I became a voter when I turned 21.  I took the Freeman’s Oath from Earle Whittemore in the kitchen of the restaurant that the Whittemores owned on Route 18 in Waterford.  Later, I had to take the Freeman’s Oath again in the 1970s when I went to register to vote in Montpelier.  I had moved back to Vermont from Boston.  Even though I had moved back to Vermont, the election officials insisted I take the Oath again. 

Community is one of my favorite words.  My interest in my community of Waterford goes back to my elementary school days when I joined my parents at the Town Meeting.  I watched my mother mark on the Warning of the Town Report the results of the various articles.  She wrote who was elected Selectman, Town Clerk, Town Treasurer, and the appropriations and the budget. I still have those reports. 

My mother has always had the right to vote.   She was eight years old in 1920 when Suffrage was passed by Congress.  [Editors' addition: Because the Suffrage Amendment reached ratification only nine weeks before the Presidential election of 1920, there was enormous pressure to get women registered to vote, resulting in about one-third of eligible women casting their vote in 1920, when Warren Harding was elected president, with Calvin Coolidge as vice-president, stepping in as President when Harding died in office in 1923.] Women have been allowed to vote in national elections in 31 of 58 Presidential elections.  Calvin Coolidge’s election [to continue as President] in 1924 was the first Presidential election in which women were seen as significant to the vote.  They could not vote for Teddy Roosevelt, but they could vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Edna Beard of Orange, Vermont, was the first woman elected Representative in the Vermont Legislature in 1920, and she won the Orange County Senate seat in 1922.

There are many significant years in the history of woman’s Suffrage.  One hundred years is not a long time that women have had the right to vote.  Look at these significant dates in the history of women in their Vermont community:  1900, women were allowed to be town clerks, library trustees, and Superintendent of Schools; 1917, women who pay taxes were allowed to vote in municipal elections; 1942, women were allowed to serve on juries; 1964, the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women was established; and in 1988, the United States Congress passed the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which allowed women business owners to obtain loans in their own name.  That was only 32 years ago.

Women’s issues go back to the early years of the country.  The Temperance Movement began in 1826 when the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance was formed.  By 1869, two organizations were promoting voting rights for women: The National Woman Suffrage Association fought at the national level through Congress, while the American Woman Suffrage Association worked for Suffrage through the states. 

Locally, the Vermont Woman’s Suffrage Association (VWSA) was formed in St. Johnsbury in 1883–1884. Nationally known activists like Lucy Stone, editor of the Woman’s Journal, and Julia Ward Howe, President of the Massachusetts Suffrage Association, attended the meeting.  Laura Moore of Barnet was elected Secretary and documented the VWSA’s work in very thorough minutes. She served as Secretary from 1883 until her death in 1902.  The minutes are available for viewing at the University of Vermont website. 

Moore wrote about the fight to give Vermont women the right to vote in municipal elections.  It was a petition drive throughout the state during 1883–1884.  Volunteers, men and women, spread across the state and obtained 3,278 signatures.  Some of the towns returning petitions were:  Barnet with 187 signatures; Barton, 164; Burke, 110; Concord, 277; Danville, 6; Hardwick, 89; Lyndon, 68; Peacham 61; St. Johnsbury, 258; Ryegate, 9; and Sheffield, 26.  Waterford was not listed in Moore’s report.  The right to vote in municipal elections was not passed by the Vermont Legislature until 1917, and that right was allowed only for tax-paying women.

A different petition that came from Waterford probably closer to 1920 asked the Vermont Legislature to ratify the “Federal Suffrage Amendment.” The signatures had Waterford and St. Johnsbury addresses, and there was no date on the petitions. Many of the signatures were written in the same handwriting ,with a note at the bottom that they were taken over the telephone.

The amount of information on Suffrage in books, magazines, libraries and archives is immense. Celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Suffrage are being planned by the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance (VSCA), a committee of about 25 women who represent several organizations.  Sue Racanelli of the League of Women Voters chairs the committee.  On August 22, 2020, a parade of people, floats, and bands will march down Main and State Streets in Montpelier to the State Capitol lawn.  There will be speeches, exhibitor booths, games, food, and music.  Other events include a traveling exhibit on woman’s Suffrage that will go to schools, a traveling play, and programs in various towns.  Check out the VSCA website at for details on programs, how to volunteer, and the status of all activities that may be impacted by the coronavirus. 

[Donna Rae Heath is vice-president of the board for the Waterford Historical Society.]

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Farewell, Eric Charlton, Former Innkeeper, Rabbit Hill Inn

The Waterford Historical Society offers its condolences to Beryl Charlton and the many other family members and friends mourning the March 10 death of Eric Charlton. Beryl and Eric together owned and managed the Rabbit Hill Inn in Waterford for a wonderfully long and joyful time, 1980-1987. They also gave the community the gift of their presence at the Rabbit Hill Reunion in 2018; you can view the video here.

View the full obituary here.

Other notes here on the Rabbit Hill Inn and its history: click here.

The inn's own description of its history: click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

March 25 Meeting: CANCELED for Community Health Concerns

Sorry to cancel the in-person gathering. BUT: Material from this presentation will be posted online soon -- keep an eye out!

What does a woman's right to vote mean in Vermont? Rural farm historian Donna Rae Heath reflects on how this right developed over the past century, and what it means to her today.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bruce Brink and His Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides, 1985, Waterford

This Caledonian-Record newspaper article from February 2, 1985, by Patricia Viles (married to Perry; see White Birch Farm owners of the past), speaks for itself in terms of the joy of Waterford's winter activities of the past. (Missing words for the bottom of second column: are open, by design. A clos-) The clipped-out article was found during the January 2020 archives work session.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Moving the Hen House, for the Sake of the Shadow Lake Road

During January's Waterford Historical Society archives work, this remarkable document emerged from donated materials. "Town Road #19" is today called Shadow Lake Road; Glenn and Eva Powers are the parents of Willard Powers and Geneva Powers Wright; and the rest is up to you to read!

Interested in more about the Powers family? Here is a family tree showing early settlers and recent descendants, including the connection to Waterford's beloved and influential 20th-century historian Eugenia Powers:

Powers Family Tree

Michael Powers (1727 Ireland-1807) New London CT
mar. Hannah Fox (1728-1793 New London CT)
Joseph Powers 1760 (CT)-1832 (Lunenburg VT) mar. Susan Barker (1770-1850)
*Stephen Brunswick Powers (1798-1860, Lunenb.) mar. Almira Johnson
**Russell Powers (1807 b. Lunenb. VT – 1885, Lunenb.) mar. Louise Chase Powers (1816-1892)
+3 more siblings

**Russell Powers (1807 CT – 18855, Lunenb.) mar. Louise Chase Powers (1816-1892)
Frank Russell Powers (1848-1936, b. Lunenb. VT) mar. (Concord VT) Sarah Ella Gilbert
Glenn Gilbert Powers (1895-1982) mar. Eva Belle Page (1896-1977)
Geneva Ella Powers (1919-2018) mar. (1 March 1938) Gilbert Augustus Wright
Theresa Powers (1921-1983) mar. Merton Roberts (1920-2003)
Russell Frank Powers (1924-2009) mar. Patricia Wallace (1926-)
Willard Bates Powers (b. 1925) mar. 1 (19 Dec 1946) Lina Elizabeth Bullock (1927-1986) [Lina Bullock’s parents: Frank Bullock, Lola Kirkpatrick];
                                                mar. 2 (4 Aug 1990) Gwendolyn Janice Sidell
Ellen Pearl Powers (1931-2003) mar. Donald Wark (1928-2011)

[Russell and Patricia’s children: Lois Eileen Powers 1950-1950, Daniel Glenn Powers 1953-2007; also Ronald, Kevin, Judith, Sandra, Sharon]

[Donald Wark’s parents: James Joseph Ira Wark 1906-1982, mar. Elizabeth Schubert (of German descent) 1907-1998]

[Glenn’s brother Roy F. Powers mar. Luvia M. Powers]

*Stephen Brunswick Powers (1798-1860, Lunenb.) mar. Almira Johnson
Timothy Powers (1827-) mar. 1 Electa Balch (1837) [mar. 2 at age 60 Lizzie D. Hurlbutt]
Ernest William Powers (1874-1960) mar. Stella Rebekah Church (1873-1959)
Eulalie Powers (1912-1999)
Eugenia Powers (1913-1985)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Lower Waterford School, 1909: Families of the Village

What could you donate to the Waterford Historical Society that would help describe Waterford a century ago -- or today? This item was found during the January 2020 archives work session (click on the photo to see it clearly):

Bullock, Dodge, Goss, Hale, Hemingway,  Morrison, Ross, Smith, Wright -- most of these are still names you may come across in Lower Waterford families today. This is a colorful "souvenir" of the summer term that ended July 1, 1909, a good reminder that school terms were far different when they needed to allow for agriculture.