Sunday, April 4, 2021

Waterford’s History Is on Display in Montpelier

 

photos by Donna Heath & Helen Pike

It’s lively, it’s local, and it’s uniquely Waterford: the hands-on archaeology “dig” that’s become an annual feature of the Waterford Historical Society’s partnership with Waterford School and local landowners. Now, from April 7 to July 31, it’s also on display at the Vermont History Museum at 109 State Street in Montpelier.

 

The exhibit features energetic approaches from 14 local historical societies, focused on the stories people share about their families, events, and grasp of the very personal past. Waterford’s portion shows students from the school, examining the remains of dairy farming at the Hale-Bonnett-Koeppl farm on Lower Waterford Road.

 

Also in the exhibit, visitors can find information on the hundreds of other local history organizations around the state via an online directory kiosk, and can “Build Your Own Historical Society” choosing objects for their own historical society, using examples from participating organizations and the Vermont Historical Society. 

Support for the exhibit is provided by the Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation. Current hours are 10 am–4 pm, Wednesday­ through Saturday (see vermonthistory.org for updated hours and visitor guidelines).


 

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Memory of an Upper Waterford Home, from Rosalie Vear


Rosalie (Rancour) Vear raised her children in a house near the top of East Village Road, in the corner of Waterford that's tucked between East St. Johnsbury and Concord. Some of the happiest days of her childhood were visiting her grandparents in Upper Waterford, before the Moore Dam completed the inundation of the former village. With her permission, and support from her daughter Kathryn (Vear) McGill, here are some pages from Mrs. Vear's autobiography that describe those days:




The book that contains her life story, FROM START TO FINISH, was printed locally and copies are hard to find. If you locate one, do take it home to enjoy every page! If anyone has a spare copy, the Waterford Historical Society would love to include one in its archives. Here are the covers, so you'll know what to watch for:




Thank you, Rosalie and Kate!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Globe Stone Farm in the Westernmost Part of Waterford

by Helen-Chantal Pike

We here at the “tiny, but mighty” Waterford Historical Society always appreciate when folks reach out. We’re starting our sixth year, and with a variety of projects* anyone can participate in. We’re as committed as ever to discover Waterford history’s from those who lived it or even on it!

Recently, Kimberly McBey wanted to share photos of her ancestor, Tobias Lyster, and we were thrilled! Here was a part of Waterford where for a while the mail was delivered via the mail carrier for Summerville, a town and that no longer exists but was incorporated into St. Johnsbury (St. Johnsbury is using the term currently to refer to that section of town east of the railroad tracks.) This town border area is one that we’ve always been curious to know more about – and bet many residents who live across Waterford’s 40 square miles are, too.

Tobias emigrated south from Quebec Province in 1869 when he was about 20. After working various Waterford farms for five years, he bought the 325-acre spread previously owned by Joseph A. Gould on Hastings Road, a thoroughfare that once went by the more practical name of Road 11.

Photo courtesy of Kimberley McBey.

 

We were intrigued.

Kimberly cited her main source as “Successful Vermonters”  published in 1904, which profiled Tobias who, with his bride Ida Hall, worked diligently on what was described as good farm land. 



 

They started first with fruit trees and chickens, then branched out with cattle, both for dairy and meat. Finally, they diversified with White Chester pigs and shoats – young hogs that had been weaned. They called their thriving business Globe Stone Farm.  Anyone can read the full profile here because the enormous, and heavy, book has been digitized!


The couple’s farmhouse and original barn are no longer standing. But, at least one of Globe Stone Farm’s later barns still is.

Original farmhouse and barn. Photo courtesy of Kimberley McBey.


 
A later barn still stands.

*So here we pause briefly with a shout-out for new volunteers to help pick up where the core group of founding WHS members left off, entering the town’s historic barns in the state Barn Census. Great project for a pair of students interested in history! Terrific outdoors project. And a wonderful child-parent/grandparent  project to do together. We have forms! We have clipboards! Contact us!

Now, back to the Globe Stone Farm story!

Tobias’s grandson, Allen Lyster, carried the farming heritage into Fairground Garden on Route 5, near the Comfort Inn in St. Johnsbury, according to Kimberly. Writing us via Facebook email, she added “A lot of gardening in my family ... and to think where my home sits now ... has been in the family for this long.”

Well, we just had to mosey out that way where Hastings Road connects to Simpson Brook Road. 

View of the barn looking up Hastings Road.

Hastings Road.

 

And not just because of Kimberly’s comment.

We noticed this item [see newspaper clipping below] in the February issue of The North Star Monthly. We’ve only ever heard of horseback riders making their way along the length of Hastings Road, one of our town’s Ancient Roads that no longer goes through…but perhaps one day it will again.


In closing, we’d like to pay tribute to Tobias and Ida Hall Lyster who rest in
Passumpsic Cemetery in Waterford. And to thank Kimberly McBey for reaching out. We hope to hear from you again.

 

Please contact Beth Kanell: bethpoet@gmail.com or Helen Pike at pikeprose@gmail.com if you want to participate in a Waterford Historical Society project. We have others! History never sleeps…

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Discovering Waterford 2021: "Oral History" Interviews of Waterford People

 As the Waterford Historical Society looks at what we've already accomplished and what's ahead, we're especially excited about the interviews we've recorded with Waterford people like Carol Bonnett, shown here.


You can watch these any time, on our YouTube channel -- click to see some 30 recordings already!

Our 2021 annual meeting is February 24th; join us to hear what's coming up next.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Discovering Waterford 2021: Our Rhubarb Festivals

Rhubarb festival prizes.

2015's event.

Most farm properties, and many home gardens, in Waterford are host to the traditional "pie plant," rhubarb. We chose this classic New England treasure for the annual fundraiser gatherings of the Waterford Historical Society. Yes, there WILL be a rhubarb festival event this June, too! We are planning one that can be "pandemic safe" -- watch for details.

Meanwhile, here are reminders of some of our rhubarb events, and a link to the recipes is here, too!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Discovering Waterford 2021: What Amazed Us in 2018 Was the Rabbit Hill Inn Reunion

Author Helen Pike with retired innkeepers Beryl and Eric Charlton, 2018.

The Waterford Historical Society began as a history interest group that met at the Davies Memorial Library in Lower Waterford. People shared documents, pored over maps, set up hikes to the dams that mark the biggest changes in the physical existence of the town.

Then we formed a "501(c)3" as the Waterford Historical Society, so we could do better at taking care of items entrusted to us, from letters to paintings to donations.

And we began to focus on hosting events that would uncover, celebrate, and record the special history of this place. One of the most exciting of these happened in 2018: the Rabbit Hill Inn Reunion, welcoming people who'd worked there and hearing their stories. That's where these photos are from.

Author Helen Pike with current Rabbit Hill Inn innkeepers Brian and Leslie Mulcahy.

Board member Donna Heath, recording the "RHI Reunion." Photo courtesy of Edith Aremburg.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Discovering Waterford 2021: What's Amazed Us at the Waterford Historical Society (and What's Ahead)

(Map from old-maps.com)

Upper Waterford, Lower Waterford, West Waterford, Copenhagen, Waterford Hollow -- in 40 square miles, Waterford has a lot to discover! Watch the blog as we look at the adventures we've already had and the ones we're planning, as the Waterford Historical Society launches a fresh year of exploration and sharing.