Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Winds, April Showers, and a Postponed History Hike

The April 2 history hike on the Campbell Road has been canceled by the Waterford Historical Society. But exploration of the town's mineral-related past continues, and it should be possible to reschedule this hike for another season.

Meanwhile, if you are walking around Lower Waterford, take a look at the church with this old photo in mind, recently spotted at an online auction: see the wooden front porch? The photo was mailed in 1909. Keep it in mind for the next WHS regular meeting, April 27 at the Davies Memorial Library at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Thousands and Thousands of Sheep ... in Vermont in the 1800s

And there are still sheep in Vermont today. Farmer Elizabeth Everts of Barnet shared details of the many years when Vermont had more sheep than people -- and of her sheep-raising life today, complete with vibrant skeins of yarn. What a great speaker for the first regularly scheduled meeting of 2016 for the Waterford Historical Society! (In the photo, Elizabeth is on the left, with WHS president Donna Heath.)

Next adventure, a history hike on April 2, weather permitting, to some excavations for copper ore. Then, as the April 27 meeting, ace genealogist Nola Forbes brings us skills and techniques for hunting down family connections, present and past.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sheep in Waterford, Vermont: A Preview and a Farmer's Talk

photo by Linda Kenney from United Kingdom (Baaaaa!) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The Waterford (Vermont) Historical Society welcomes farmer Elizabeth Everts on Wednesday March 23 to talk about the history of sheep in our region. The Everts family owns Too Little Farm in Barnet, Vt., where they raise sheep, as well as market vegetables and fruit. The talk is at the Davies Memorial Library in Lower Waterford at 6:30 p.m. Please join us if you can!

As a preview, the sheep face here belongs to a Cotswold, one of the popular breeds in town in the 1880s. Here is a short general description of sheep in Vermont, from the Billings Farm website:
Vermont was a sheep state before it was a dairy state. Through much of the 19th century, sheep dominated the livestock interests here, outnumbering both cows and people. The first important breed in Vermont was the Merino, whose numbers exceeded 1.6 million by 1840. The Merino was known for producing fine wool and its desirability helped Vermont's woolen mill industry to prosper. By 1870, Vermont still had well over 500,000 sheep – and just under 200,000 cattle. As the demand for Merino wool declined however, Vermont's sheep population also declined and the conversion to dairy cattle was underway. Today, there are an estimated 25,000 sheep in Vermont.
     Frederick Billings began importing Southdown sheep from several of the best flocks in Britain during the 1870s – about the time that sheep farming started to decline in Vermont. He selected this breed for its excellent meat and wool - believing that introducing a dual-purpose breed might help slow the decline of sheep farming. Billings's flock of Southdowns quickly became one of the best in the state. By the early 20th century, there were several hundred sheep at Billings Farm.
Local Waterford details on sheep in Child's Gazetteer of 1887 show a dozen local farmers with sheep, most with 20 or 30 sheep, one with 50, and George C. Lawrence, co-owner with George G. Winslow, held 100 Cotswold sheep.

The Lawrence/Winslow farm was also known for Mr. Winslow's breeding and dealing with the Costwolds.

Now, aren't you curious to learn more? Come to the talk!

Friday, March 4, 2016

March 5 (2016) History Hike Postponed

The "First Saturday" hike for March, for the Waterford Historical Society, is being postponed due to weather effects ... although the Moore Lake water level is always reduced around this time of year, the unusually low northern snow pack has kept the reduction much less than usual, and the remains of Upper Waterford are iced over and NOT visible.

Hope to see you March 23 instead, at 6:30 pm at the Davies Memorial Library, for a sheep and wool evening featuring guest speaker Elizabeth Everts.