Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

October - poem by Byron Ruggles

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Full now upon the yellow fields,

The mellow haze of autumn rests,

The harvest now it’s fullness yields,

And all the needs of man are blest.

‘Tis wonderful! October’s sun,

Makes paradise of noon,

And night, with all her stars as one,

Plays homage to the moon.

October is the artist gay,

Who turns the summers green to gold

With skillful touches free and bold

What pictures paints he, day by day.

By Byron Ruggles

Dr. Paul Spooner’s Tow Cloth

Monday, June 9th, 2014


We know from the 1789 tax list that Dr. Paul Spooner was a wealthy man. This list was taken just 2 months before his untimely death at the age of 43. I was very interested in the “tow cloth” that was listed on this and many of the other tax lists. I contacted Jane Nylander, a leading expert on textiles, through her daughter Sarah Rooker, who lives in Hartland.

This is what Jane had to say

Tow cloth is made of yard spun from tow – the course outer part of the remains after the linen fibers have been removed (usually by pulling the flax through a long toothed iron comb called a hatchel or hackle.) It is usually beige in color and very scratchy because it has bits of the outer chaff still attached to the threads. It was woven in very simple weave structures (tabby) with course texture (so simple a child can do it). It was used for course work clothing and children’s clothing – especially trousers – also for grain sacks, bales, and other storage. Because it is made of linen, it gets lighter in color and softer in texture with use and laundering. Sometimes tow cloth was traded for store credits and then shipped south for use in slave clothing.

Extracted from the Winter 2012 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter.

Preface to “Your Grandparent’s Recipes From the Hills of Hartland”

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

You can order the cookbook from the Hartland Historical Society.  See details and ordering information.


By Judith Howland

I commend the Hartland Historical Society for compiling this cookbook. Taking pains to collate and publish the recipes of Hartland’s previous generations is a worthy project and benefits us all. History is not just names and dates; it is also the crafts, the tools, the seasonal tasks, and most of all - the food! And that means recipes and directions for making dishes “just the same way Grandma did.” I grew up in Hartland and have many memories of special foods such as:

Grandma’s chocolate birthday cakes. She made round chocolate layer cakes with chocolate frosting and white “beading” on top. It was such a treat, along with home made ice cream and a gathering of cousins to share in the birthday.

Sally Comstock’s spice cake, which she would make for the Grout School Community Club’s weekly winter whist parties. A whist party consisted of an evening of cards which ended with sandwiches, cupcakes and pieces of Sally’s spice cake for refreshments.

Home-made ice cream at Fairview farm, which was my Grandma’s childhood home. We had an annual family picnic with ice cream and my mother’s custard pies for dessert. We sat at picnic tables beneath the two trees planted in honor of Grandma (Kittie Gates Spear) and her sister (Nellie Gates).

Dora Shepard’s dried beef gravy (some would call this chipped gravy) on boiled potato. It tasted so good on cold winter nights.

Della Merritt’s lemon sponge pie. Mrs. Merritt would make her pies for community suppers, and they were always well received.

Popped corn with melted butter and cocoa for Sunday night supper. We used to grow our own popcorn and shell it by hand for popping in a wire popper on the stove.

Sugar on snow. Many families enjoyed sugar on snow in early spring, before all the snow had melted. This tradition is carried on annually at the Universalist Church by Clyde Jenne and Bruce Locke.

Strawberry shortcake. Once every summer we would enjoy a meal that consisted only of strawberries, biscuits, and whipped cream. Nothing else.

Then there were all the suppers! The Firemen’s Turkey Supper was in the fall, then the Fish and Game Club’s Wild Game Supper. Somewhere in there were the Grange suppers at Damon Hall. These were followed by the Brick Church’s Roast Beef Suppers in the winter and the Universalist Church’s Chicken Pie Suppers in the fall. The meat at these suppers has always been excellent. But a good word needs to be inserted here on behalf of the home made rolls, the mashed potatoes, the home made cole slaw and the winter squash.

The pies deserve their own paragraph! At every supper, someone has had the responsibility of “soliciting pies.” This means calling up every name on the list and asking for two pies, freshly baked, for each supper. Each pie baker would then turn out her best example of pie.

The kinds of foods that the cooks prepared might be for special occasions, such as holidays or birthdays, but some of the most memorable were for the everyday meals which were prepared with devotion for the family.

Poem: Written for the P.O. at a Fair in Windsor, by E. B. Cutts

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Written for the P.O. at a Fair in Windsor, 1853

by E.B. Cutts

[This would be Elizabeth Bartlett Cutts b. 1837 d. 1863]

I sat one day by a gurgling brook,

In a shady dell, a right pleasant nook,

From the sun I was sheltered by tall spreading trees,

And was fanned by a gentle Southern breeze,

I was watching the foam of the dashing spray,

When in a bubble so light and gay,

I saw a little water sprite,

It was very fair and of colors bright,

It’s hair was of the finest gold,

And it’s body was shaped in a tiny mould,

It sprang from it’s chariot of air

And stopped before me that being fair,

It looked like a sparkling drop of dew,

From thence to my side it quickly flew,

“Now listen” said he “to all I say”

And all my instructions most strictly obey

If you do, all will be well

But if not beware of my magic spell

You must quickly repair said the little sprite,

To Windsor, upon next Wednesday night,

For in that village there is going to be,

In the Odd Fellows Hall a grande levee,

And in the crowd you there will find,

A lovely youth of a giant mind,

His features are of the Grecian  mould,

In peace he’s gentle, in war he’s bold,

You’ll know him by his sparkling eye,

By his marble brow, so full and high,

But shrink not thou from cupids dart,

For you must yield to this youth your heart

I have found, dear Liz that this tale is true,

My heart I have lost, it is given to you,

I have watched you through the crowd so gay

And my heart will follow wherever you stray.    July 1853

Poem: The Free Soul - April 1917

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Spring means new starts on the farm, new starts for the Town and perhaps a new start for your heart. I think this is the real New Year . Here is a portion of a much longer poem by J. Howard Flower, Four Corners, Hartland, Vt.

The Free Soul  - April 1917
Spring is Coming
That’s One Good Thing Nobody Can Prevent

The Duel Natures now begin
To rime with passing sweetness
The God without, the God within
Are teeming with completeness!!

All night premonitory throes
Of change came perseverant
And this chaotic dawn o’erflows
With voices incoherent.

In lofty solitudes afar,
Where hilltop snows are thawing’
I know the fir-shut hollows are
Now full of crows and cawing

I mark thine advent, hailing Spring’
As blithest of assurance:
It comes to pass, a heavenly thing
Above mankind’s concurrence.

The social powers that bear the purse
May thwart, and mete denial
To many things,- but not reverse
The tide upon the dial!!!

Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2005

Maple Parfait

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Maple season is here. Give this a try. I made a bowl full and have found it to be especially good when more maple syrup is poured over it and some nuts are sprinkled on top.
Maple Parfait Recipe
Della M. Dunsmoor Merritt (1883-1982) was Henry Merritt’s mother. This recipe was found in an autograph book. The owner of the book and the date are unknown but the owner chose to have her friends write recipes instead of the usual poem or other sentiment.

In case you have difficulty reading the original:

Maple Parfait

4 eggs
1 cup maple syrup
1 pint sweet cream
Beat eggs slightly. Pour on slowly the hot syrup. Cook in double boiler until very thick, stirring constantly.

Strain, cool and add the cream, beaten stiff. Would pack in ice with salt. Let stand 3 hours.                            Della M. D. Merritt

Undated News Clipping

It is safe to say that our western friends, who for many years have depended on this town for their maple sugar, will look in vain for it this year. A large number of the maple orchards have been ruined by the forest caterpillars, and been cut into stove wood. Farmers, who have had in years gone by from one to two tons of sugar, or its equivalent in syrup, for New England and western friends, will have little, if any, for their own use. More than this, the season for sugar making is getting late, and still the snow’s reported from 3 to 4 feet deep in the woods. We doubt very much if there will be honest syrup made to run the usual number of church socials. The truth is, sugar-making has become a lost art, where, a few years ago, it furnished our farmers with a source of no inconsiderable income.

Reprinted from the March 2007 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter