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“An interesting bit of history came to light in connection with the death of a riverman many years ago at Sumner’s Falls in the Connecticut River, near this town.
“Mr. J.G. Underwood, who heard the story in a hotel in Groveton, a small town in northern New Hampshire, tells it as follows.
“As we sat talking, one of my acquaintances asked me where I was living now. When I told him Hartland, an old man who sat near us said “Isn’t there a Falls in the river there? I buried a man there.”
“When asked how it happened, he explained. “It was in 1874. (The stone clearly says 1895. C.Y.M.) I had charge of the rear of the drive. One of our men went into the water near Wilder.”
“This was a characteristic expression meaning that he fell into the water and was drowned.
“Several days later the body was found at the Falls in Hartland. They sent for me. His name was Barber, a nice boy, —Fred, I think they called him, but he was a fine boy. I tied the body to a tree and sent for the selectmen. But the authorities wouldn’t let the boy be buried in their cemetery, and the minister wouldn’t even come and say a few words over him. Some people in those days didn’t think much of river men. Course, we had some that were tough sometimes, but as a general thing we were a pretty good sort of folks.”
“The narrator went on: “The boy’s father came down. He was a hard man, a mean man. The boys had chipped in, two dollars apiece, to buy the boy a casket. When the father asked how much pay was coming to him I passed the word around to the boys and we all took back our two dollars, so that the father wouldn’t get it himself. We bought the casket afterwards, but the father didn’t want any casket, and wouldn’t even pay for taking the body home. So we buried the boy where he was, on high ground near the river bank. We put stones over the casket first, before filling in with dirt. I have visited the grave a number of times since and kept it in repair.”
“When was the last time you visited it?” he was asked. “Let’s see. I’m seventy-six now. I was forty-eight then. How many does that make?” Twenty-eight, he was told.
“Yes, twenty-eight years ago. Is the grave still there?” He was assured that it was, and in
“We put up a stone and marked it.” He said, “Is it still there?” He seemed gratified that the stone was still there after so many years. “The speaker is a fine looking old man. Strong and well preserved.
“As for the boy’s name, it was found to be Charlie, not Fred and old residents remember
the circumstances well. They also tell of several Hartland men who were expert river men in former times, among whom were Fred Freeman and Milton Short. It was a job which called for quick thinking, good judgment, strength and courage.”
Extracted from the Spring 2012 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter. Another published version of this story is here.
The town of Hartland is now the proud owner of the area known as Sumner’s Falls. I would encourage you to go visit this section of town along the Connecticut River. There is an interesting history connected to the area. Knowledge of this history should make your visit more satisfying. The first accounting comes from Wilbur Sturtevant – long time Town Clerk, store owner, and recorder of the town’s best stories. C.Y.M.
“Lumbering on the Connecticut River was carried on very extensively in the early days of the town. Just at the upper end of Sumner’s Falls, a dam twelve feet high stretched across the river, and a saw mill stood near it on the Vermont side.
“The big logs of first growth pine, four or five feet in diameter were floated down from points north and guided by a boom to the west side of the river and held there above the mill until wanted. Two men would go up the river in a boat and bring a log from the enclosure down to the mill where it was raised by means of a pulley on a big wheel run by power, to the saw mill, where it was sawed by gang- saws all in one operation. Then the men would go back and get another log. The manner of getting the log was simple. One man held the oars and managed the boat. The other, in the stern, threw a rope which had an iron pick in the end of it, with an iron “dog” attached to it so that the “dog”, which was a piece of iron bent like a hook, could be driven down into the log with an axe. When the log was secured, it was guided under the boom by the man in the stern, while the rower started the boat down-stream, towing the log behind it. It was necessary to watch carefully lest the upper end of the log should be carried out into the current. When that happened, the man in the stern had only to knock out the “dog” and then the log was allowed to float down and go over the dam where it was caught and held in the eddy, Then it was drawn up to the mill by oxen.
“Fred Freeman was one of the men who worked at this dangerous occupation and has told the story many times of his narrow escape from death. He and Harrison Hanchett went up from the mill to get a log from the boom. After it was secured they started on the return trip. Soon Freeman, who was at the oars, noticed that the log was getting out into the current and without turning his head said quietly,” Knock out the dog”. But Hanchett did not comply. So leaving the oars he went to the stern where Hanchett sat white and motionless and knocked out the dog himself. By that time they had drifted into swift water, and Mr. Sumner, watching from the shore, said to himself that that was the last they’d ever see of Hanchett and Freeman. But Freeman, with intrepid courage and great strength, soon guided the boat to safety, while his companion, petrified with terror, was unable to lift a finger.
“Adam Crandall was one of the early settlers and a Revolutionary War soldier. His son Aaron W. was the father of Aaron Crandall who the present generation remembers. The first Aaron was a blacksmith and had a shop and house on the “Plain”, nearly opposite the road that leads to the “Falls”. He was also a lumberman and teamster. When the river was high was the best time to make rafts of the logs and float great loads of lumber – tons of it at a time, and take it down the river to Middletown. At night it was the custom to tie the raft to trees on the bank, and camp there until morning, with a rope at each end of the raft. One time when Mr. Crandall was “helping” do this difficult task of “snubbing” the raft, as it was called, he inadvertently stepped into one of the coils of the rope which lay along the bank, and as the swift current bore the raft along, snapping the rope taut, his leg was instantly cut off, as with a pair of shears, and hurled forty feet into the bushes.
“The blacksmith shop was moved in later years, taken down and hauled, one side at a time, to the farm on the Quechee Road where it was again set up and used for some purpose.”
Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2012.
Reprinted with permission from the Knobb Hill Joinery website.
Matt Dunne and Sarah Stewart Taylor of Harlow Brook Farm, a beautiful Federal era homestead in North Hartland, VT, received a state barn grant to restore an early square ruled barn on their property. Their thirty-seven by twenty-six foot barn features English tying joints with flared posts. The large timbers were mixed softwoods, mostly pine. The braces and other scantlings were hardwood, mostly oak. The plates and tie beams feature a boarding groove. The drive girts in this barn are set in from the traditional drive reference to catch the pegged planks in the drive. The stanchion bay of this barn has no joists but was clear-spanned with three inch thick pine planks, some of which measured up to thirty inches in width
When the project first began, the lowest post in the barn was more than fourteen inches below the highest post elevation. The highest post in the barn was resting on its stub tenon directly on the stone foundation. With the stub tenon being nearly three inches long and the sill timbers being nine inches in height, we determined that the post with the highest elevation was at least six inches low. Needing to clear the stub tenon when installing the new sills, we lifted the highest post to one inch above the height needed to clear the stub tenon with a nine-inch sill timber and stoned up to this finish height. This means that the lowest post was lifted a full two feet to the final resting height.
The entire sill system was replaced. Many of the original timbers were gone altogether while what remained was largely buried in the dirt with severe rot. One section of the rear sill that was still on the stone foundation was reincorporated into the new sill system as a summer girt in the drive. The nine-inch by nine-inch timbers for the sill system were replaced with bandsaw milled hemlock from a local sawyer. The original joists in the drive were log joists with only their tops hewn. The original joists had significant rot and were replaced with joists from timbers felled and hewn on the site.
The stone foundation had settled into the ground on the side of the barn toward the road. We excavated these stones and removed the loose soil and rotten wood along the front of the barn. We added crushed stone to the excavated trench before relaying the stone foundation. Much of the stone in the original foundation was round and had contributed to the sills slipping past. Although we did reuse all of the stone from the original foundation, we added two pallets of flatter stone from a local supplier in order to provide more stable support at the load-bearing points and make up the difference in height.
Two corner posts were replaced entirely. One corner post had severe rot at the top, another corner post was hollow due to carpenter ant infestation. All but three of the remaining posts required new post feet. The repair stock for the posts and feet were white pine to match the original post species. All of the post feet repairs were conventional bladed scarf joints with tables ranging from eighteen inches to two feet. All of the original braces and girts were able to be saved. Three of the braces required a new tenon at one end and one other brace required both a new tenon and shoulder. The repairs for the braces were also standard bladed scarf joints. The white oak repair stock for the braces was left over from the Willard twin bridge reconstruction a few miles down the road. The brace repairs were pegged with handmade pegs and wedges.
One of the middle girts on the gable required a free tenon and partial shoulder repair. This repair was made from white oak from the old decking of the Big Eddy covered bridge in Waitsfield,VT. The upper girt directly above the repaired middle girt required a new tenon. The softwood for this repair was recycled from materials on site.
One of the plate and tie beam junctions had severe rot, but fortunately good wood was found within a few feet of the corner. New ends were scarfed on to both the plate and the tie. These repairs were done in pine to match the original materials. Both of these repairs were bladed scarves with a wedged sheer key added to the table of the tie scarf.
One stud on the gable toward the house required a new foot. The two studs centered on the drive opposite the main doors were re-fabricated to fit original mortise positions. When we first began, these two studs had been moved. The tenons were gone and there was rot at the bases of both studs. The stud for the small door in the mow had been removed long ago. We fabricated a new stud for this location. A new stud and accompanying girt were also fabricated for the small door in the stanchion on the road-side of the barn. This doorway was not an original feature of the barn but had been made long before this restoration project. This was the only stud not to be mortised in. All of the new door studs are made of local red oak and reduced at the tennons with an adze to match the remaining studs in the barn.
Four out of five of the studs in the stanchion bay were gone and two of the studs were missing from the mow side of the drive. All of the missing studs were re-made using existing materials on site.
The most of the three-inch thick decking in the stanchion bay was too rotten at the ends to consider reusing to clear span as they had originally. These original planks are tagged, stacked and stickered in an adjacent barn to be placed in the mow bay at a later date. The original stanchion planks will fit neatly with the joist spacing in the mow bay with only the ragged ends needing to be trimmed. The clear span configuration in the stanchion bay has been kept and decked with new, three-inch thick planks. Ten feet of the original decking in the drive bay was able to be reused. The two-inch decking in the drive bay was elevated with furring strips, as it had been, to match the three-inch height of the stanchion bay decking. The drive bay decking is pegged at the log joists and spiked at the sill girts as they had been before.
In spite of the challenge, we managed to re-sheathe the barn with existing materials at the site. Most of the siding runs continuously from the boarding groove to the lower girt with short sections of siding running from the lower girt to the sill. We used all of the original wrought nails available to put the siding back on. The rest of the nails were cut, no wire nails were used in the siding.
The sliding doors on the front of the barn were put back with the existing hardware. The bottoms of the doors had rotten and hung a bit short of the drive. We cut a level line across the bottoms of these doors and added a horizontal base with new battens on the backs of the doors. A few of the boards on the doors were missing and replaced with left over siding material. The small door on the front of the barn was rebuilt with materials from the original small doors. The three small doors on the back of the barn were built with new materials. The batten height of each door is set to match the notches found in the posts adjacent to where they are hung. We had recovered four strap hinges and four pintles from the barn. We had the strap hinges hammered back into shape by a blacksmith in Marshfield. We purchased four more strap hinges of the same era and had a blacksmith in Woodbury make new custom pintles for the four purchased strap hinges.
It was a great privilege for Seth and I to save such early example of scribe rule framing.
Visiting the Hartland Historical Society in Vermont, historian Bill Hosley of Enfield, Ct., came upon a paper written in 1907 by a prominent local farmer, Byron P. Ruggles.
It was a hand-typed, 10-page manuscript with the less-than-compelling title “Modern vs. Conservative Dairying.” Hosley began reading.
One of the joys of poking around in the archives of a local historical society is that almost invariably you come upon something – letters, old photos, documents, something – that amounts to a revealing window into long-ago life. Sometimes that window gives us perspective; sometimes it helps explain how we got where we are, for better or worse.
The Ruggles paper, Hosley discovered, was one of those windows. He photocopied it.
In it, Ruggles , who was born in 1838 and died in 1917, was skeptical of the advice farmers were getting from academia, government and commerce.
Farmers were told: “We must use a seed drill, a land roller, a corn-planter, a corn-weeder, a cultivator, a corn harvester, a corn husker, a potato planter, potato hoer, potato digger, a reaper, mowing machine, hay tender, horse rake, horse pitchfork, ensilage cutter, threshing machine, drag and circular saws, and an engine to run some of the machines. We must have a silo. It would not do to think of stock or dairy farming without it.” He goes on for two pages complaining of what he was supposed to be buying, doing and not doing.
Most notably, though, Ruggles was bothered by the advice “to own and run large farms; that small farms are not profitable.” That of course became the government mantra of the 20th century, and led to the industrial farming dominant today. Industrial farming may be good at producing lots of food comparatively inexpensively, but it is fair to say, I think, that we are still sorting out the hidden and not-so-hidden environmental, nutritional and societal costs of the bigger-is-necessarily-better philosophy of farming.
Ruggles was one of those independent, civic-minded old New Englanders, the kind of guy, Hosley learned, who also founded the Hartland Nature Club and assembled its impressive natural history collections. He was an influential local leader in a small town along the Connecticut River that remains to this day a community of only 3,223 people. He also was a photographer. But first, he was a farmer. Bigger is better? After decades of farming, Ruggles figured he could shuck nonsense as easily as an ear of corn. He offered his own advice.
“Do not be a farmer unless you like the business and prefer it to another trade or occupation.”
“Do not buy a farm larger than you can do all the work on yourself.”
“Do not have a great multiplicity of farming tools. A plow, a harrow, a roller, a cultivator and a hoe are all the tools you need for working the soil.”
“Do not use any commercial fertilizers. You can raise good crops and increase the fertility of the soil without them.”
“Do not buy any meal or grain feed for your cows. Feed them with what you raise on the farm; that is what your farm is for. They must have good pasturage in summer; plenty of nutritious grasses… They must have good water to drink, such as you would drink yourself.”
“Do not keep cows in the barn all of the time in winter, nor most of the time. You cannot raise good calves from cows so kept. Let them out in the yard at least five or six hours a day except in stormy or very cold weather for sun and air and water and salt and exercise and general enjoyment.”
The Ruggles message was fundamental: respect the land, treat farm animals humanely.
It all sounds a lot like the kind of small, sustainable agriculture emerging in Connecticut and many parts of the country in recent years. I think, for example, of Megan Haney growing vegetables and flowers on three acres of land along the Housatonic River in Kent, Ct.
She starts and ends a long hot day in the field with a sunbonnet and a smile.
Oh, when she was starting out the representative of one federal agency told her that if her farm store wasn’t open every day she could fail. But her Marble Valley Farm store is open to the general public only two days a week in the growing season. After three years she has no plans to change; she is doing fine. Her Community Supported Agriculture program, in which families pay a farmer up-front for a season’s worth of vegetables provided weekly during the growing season, attracts more customers every year. Her farm store is a hit.
She uses a 60-year-old Allis Chalmers G tractor with 11- or 12-horsepower that looks, as she says, more like a Go-Kart than a serious farm tractor. It helps, for sure, but most work, all of the planting and much of the weeding is done by hand anyway. She farms organically. She does most of the work. She keeps it simple.
Her farm and her philosophy, it seems, are not unlike what Byron Ruggles was talking about all those years ago.
Reprinted with permission from the April 7, 2010 blog by Steve Grant, a freelance writer living in Farmington, Ct., www.thestevegrantwebsite.com.
Email any information you can about these people to Bev Lasure, email@example.com.
18, 19, are Raymie Durphy and Bill Flanagan, but which is which?
3. Carroll Rumrill
4. Carl Rumrill
21. Ildolyn Flower
Extracted from the Spring 2006 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter.
Dr. Friend Sturtevant was the 13th of Dr. Josiah Sturtevant’s children. Dr. Josiah was a Tory and died as a result of his treatment at the hands of Boston patriots. Dr. Friend was studying medicine with his half-brother, Dr. Thomas Sturtevant of Middleboro , when his mother and some of his sisters and at least one of his younger brothers went to Vermont. In 1793 he married at Middleboro, Mass. , Sarah Porter. After a brief experience of frontier life at Holland Patent, near Rome, N.Y. they settled in Pittsfield, Mass. by the spring of 1795. Ten years later, Dr. Friend moved his family to Woodstock and in 1807 to Hartland where he practiced until his death at age 63. During the war of 1812 Dr. Friend served for a time with the U.S.Army as a surgeon, being stationed at Plattsburg, N.Y. , but was taken sick and returned before the war finished.
The Sturtevant family first lived in Hartland Four Corners, occupying the house that is now the Skunk Hollow Tavern, which was then ornamented with a gambrel roof. The Dr. was the only educated physician in town for many years. (I question this as Dr. John Harding preceded Dr. Sturtevant but perhaps Dr. Harding did not have the same level of education . C.Y.M. ) He had an extensive practice ,and was as successful as the average of country practitioners. Let us now imagine how Hartland Four Corners looked when the young family came to live there..There were no buildings except the tavern which stood on the southeast corner in the village, the home that they occupied, and one other occupied by Captain Farwell who owned and ran a sawmill on the brook nearby; these with the schoolhouse made up the town. Later on the family moved to Three Corners and lived in the house that would later become the Congregational parsonage ( now Jane McClelland’s ). Here the good Dr. tied his horse and dispensed pills and plasters in the good old way, and, proving a good Samaritan to many a troubled household. No matter who called, poor or rich the Doctor must go and let the winter winds blow , he and his faithful horse must brave the tempest. The Doctor was a jovial, free-hearted , merry man, exceedingly fond of those things which go to make the happy part of the world - liked his joke and never lost a good opportunity.
Thus we see his life ran through times of war and times of peace, caring for his patients in the midst of a wilderness peopled with savages, where he got lost frequently and had to remain in the woods all night - binding up the wounds of those gallant fellows who fought to sustain the honor of the republic and plying his profession in a peaceful community where savage Indians and war were things of the past. He was taken ill early in the year 1830 and failed gradually till he died Aug 26th at the age of 63. His wife survived him and died in 1864 at the age of 92.
This was taken from an unidentified newspaper article.
Lucia Summers was a pioneer botanist in the Pacific Coast states between 1871 and 1898. She experienced the Northwest landscape as it was just beginning to be altered by the first generation of European settlers. When she arrived in Seattle with her husband, the Rev. Robert W. Summers (the first Episcopal priest in Seattle), it had been a mere 17 years since the arrival of the first permanent European settlers. Seattle of 1871 was little more than a village of about 1500 inhabitants. Lucia was well educated, and an accomplished linguist and musician, when she arrived in Seattle at the age of 34.
Lucia’s given name was Susan Ann Noyes, and she was born in Hartland, Vermont, on November 22, 1835, the older daughter of Benjamin Noyes and Julia Ann Bartlett. Her nickname Lucia was probably in honor of her father’s first wife, who died in 1831. Lucia had one sibling, a sister, Lavinia, who was born in 1839 (Noyes 1904). Lucia’s father Benjamin was listed in the 1860 census as a “master carpenter,” with a combined value of real estate and personal property of $2900, a considerable amount at that time. The Noyes were a long established New England family, and sufficiently affluent for Lucia to receive an advanced education, unusual for women at that time.
Some time during the 1850s, Lucia’s family moved from Vermont to Hannibal, Missouri, where she met her future husband, Robert William Summers. They were married there on July 17, 1859. Hannibal, of course, is the river town along the Mississippi that was the childhood home of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).
You can read an expanded article about her work by clicking here (PDF, 422kb).
From History of Windsor County Vermont, 1891, Authors Lewis Aldrich and Frank Holmes
Colonel Benjamin Sumner was a land surveyor, and a man of considerable wealth and prominent in the early history of Claremont. He took an active part in the controversy respecting the New Hampshire Grants. Of his thirteen children, David Hubbard was the ninth. He was born in Claremont, N. H., December 7, 1776. Having given a number of his sons a liberal education, it was the purpose of his father that he also should take a collegiate course, but after fitting for entrance to college he expressed a decided preference for mercantile life, and was accordingly placed in the store kept by the Lymans at White River, Vt., as a clerk. After some service there he commenced business for himself. In 1805 he married Martha Brandon Foxcroft, daughter of Dr. Francis Foxcroft, of Brookfield, Mass. She died in March, 1824, and left no children. Soon after this marriage Mr. Sumner removed from Claremont to Hartland, Vt., and engaged in trade at that place. This business he continued for many years, and with considerable success. During the War of 1812 a militia company formed at Hartland, and much to his surprise Mr. Sumner was elected as their captain. In 1813 and 1814 he represented Hartland in the State Legislature. He also served many years as justice of the peace. About 1814 he was appointed postmaster of Hartland, which office he retained for nearly twenty years. He was a Democrat during his entire life, but in the War of 1812 imbibed such a dislike of any factional opposition to an administration engaged in carrying on a war and upholding the national honor, that he could not oppose the war to suppress the rebellion, although he never confessed to any sympathy with the Republican party in respect to the matters out of which the rebellion sprang. Soon after coming to Hartland Mr. Sumner interested himself in the development of the town by building roads, some of them at his own expense, also in bridging the Connecticut River between Hartland and Plainfield, and in establishing mills. The first bridge built by the company of which he was one of the incorporators, having been swept away by a freshet, Mr. Sumner, who had become its sole survivor, in 1841 completed another bridge which was destroyed in a freshet March 1859, after which time he maintained a ferry at that point. Mr. Sumner was one of the original incorporators of a company organized for the purpose of rendering the Connecticut River navigable at Water Quechee Falls, where canals and through locks were put in. Extensive mills were maintained at the same point by Mr. Sumner for many years. The mills were lost by freshets, and a small portion of the old canal walls is nearly all that is now left to indicate what was once one of the busiest parts of the town. Mr. Sumner was largely interested in a company organized for the purpose of carrying on an extensive lumber and timber trade on the Connecticut, the company owning for that purpose whole townships of land in New Hampshire and Vermont. In 1817 he purchased of the widow and heirs of the Royal Governor Benning Wentworth all the unsold lots of land in Vermont and New Hampshire known as the Governor’s Rights. These lands were the 500 acre lots reserved by the governor to his own right in each charter of his New Hampshire grants. These lands being widely scattered, the purchase threw upon Mr. Sumner considerable labor, and the defense of them involved him in some litigation.
As a business man Mr. Sumner had great grasp of mind, was hopeful, progressive, and quick to avail himself of all improved methods. He was strong in his personal attachment to his friends, and would never suffer them to be misrepresented in his presence. In personal address he was a gentleman of the old school, somewhat formal, dignified and precise, but at the same time affable, hospitable, and possessed of a keen relish for wit and humor. Though earnest in his business, and active in every legitimate effort to win success, he was still scrupulously conscientious, and not only so lived as to preserve to himself the consciousness of rectitude but also so as to inspire others with entire confidence in his integrity. He was married to his second wife, Wealthy Thomas of Windsor, April 25, 1839. There were two children of this marriage, Martha, born May 19, 1840, widow of the late Judge Benjamin H. Steele, who owns and occupies the old homestead, and David H., jr., born November 8, 1842. The son, after a brief illness, died August 18, 1867, but a short time before the death of his father, which occurred August 29, 1867. The death of his only son, who had already taken upon himself the responsibility of his father’s affairs, and whose loss was deeply felt, not only by his relatives, but also by the public, undoubtedly hastened the death of the father. A few days after the funeral of the son the remains of the father were carried to the grave by the Masonic Fraternity of the vicinity, to whom he had been warmly attached in life, and among whom he had stood as a senior member. The memory of Mr. Sumner is still green and fresh in the hearts of many with whom he labored, and whom his generous and hopeful energy encouraged in later life. His wife, Wealthy, died at her home in Hartland, February 7, 1887, a devoted mother, a faithful friend, kind to the poor, unsparing in sympathy, whereby she attached to herself a large and delightful circle of friends. Her heart and hand were given to every good work.
This was the North Hartland Post Office prior to being moved to the former Store Building. Bertha Fitzgerald was the postmistress and the office was in the ell of her house.