Archive for September, 2014

David Hubbard Sumner (1776-1867)

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

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.

North Hartland Post Office

Friday, September 26th, 2014

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.

North Hartland Post Office

North Hartland Post Office

1897 Receiving Vault Repaired

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Hartland Village Cemetery, Hartland, VT, May 2013

Article originally appeared in the Vermont Old Cemetery Association website. Used with their permission.   Supplemental information added.

The 1897 Receiving Vault in the Hartland Village Cemetery, Hartland, Vermont sustained damage when a tree limb went thru the slate roof. Volunteers Richard Brousseau, cemetery sexton and Dick Belisle, cemetery mower repaired the roof this spring at no cost to the Hartland Village Cemetery Association. Both are directors of the non-profit association which owns and operates the cemetery located in Three Corners, Vermont. Thanks to them, this repair will ensure the building will survive for many more years to come! Whit Mowrey, VOCA Assistant Treasurer and Footstone, spearheaded the project.

Click here for a Google Maps Street View.

A receiving vault or receiving tomb is a structure designed to temporarily store the bodies of deceased persons in winter months when the ground is too frozen to dig a permanent grave in a cemetery.


Click on any picture for a larger image.




Fairview Farm

Friday, September 26th, 2014

From “History and Anniversary of Hartland (1913)”:

Among the fine mansions is “Fairview,” once the home of Lieut. Gov. Spooner and later of Judge Cutts, now owned by the Elisha Gates and Charles C. Gates families. From its verandah, seven towns can be seen across the valley of the Connecticut River.

It was built in the late 1700’s. It operated as a guest house in the late 1800’s before it reverted to a residence.

Fairview Farm

Fairview Farm

Fairview Farm

Fairview Farm

For more information on the Cutts family, go here.

John Harding - Marble and Granite Manufacturer and Engraver

Friday, September 26th, 2014

From Industries and Wealth of the Principal Points in Vermont, American Publishing and Engraving, 1891.

JOHN HARDING Manufacturer of Marble and Granite Work Monuments Tablets Gravestones. An ably conducted house engaged in this line of industry in White River Junction is that of Mr John Harding manufacturer of marble and cemetery work etc. Mr Harding is a native of Hartland state and at an early age acquired a thorough knowledge of trade in all its branches and established himself in business in 1855i in his native place and in 1878 moved to his present location. His business premises are of ample dimensions commodious and provided with all the modern facilities required for first class work. Many of his productions are manufactured at West Rutland, Quincy and other places. Original designs furnished by skilled and experienced draughtsmen drawing and estimates are made and contracts of any magnitude are entered into for all kinds of marble and granite cemetery monuments tablets gravestones memorials vaults mausoleums tombs etc and executed promptly and satisfactorily on the reasonable terms. A specialty is the making of Quincy granite monuments to order while special terms are made for soldiers sailors cemetery work and in his warerooms will be found at times a fine assortment of monuments memorials tablets etc embodying the highest conceptions of artistic skill and of his production.

Digging Deep: Unearthing the Mysteries of Burial and Cemetery Law

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Copied from the introduction to the 2007 document by the Vermont Secretary of State:

Dear Readers:
There is no better way to connect with the history of a place than to visit its cemetery. Indeed, when Vermont was first settled in the 1700s one of the first signs of community life was the creation of a cemetery. Many of these early cemeteries still exist today, and a visit to these old burial grounds can tell us a lot about life in Vermont at the time. While most Vermonters will visit a cemetery at one time or another, many people do not realize that most of Vermont’s cemeteries are managed by volunteer boards.
There are over 1,900 cemeteries in Vermont, and we ask a lot of our cemetery commissioners and cemetery associations. The laws governing Vermont’s cemeteries are complex. They are meant to protect the public health and safety, and also seek to ensure that the individuals who have bought plots and families who have loved ones buried in the cemetery, have a reasonable guarantee that the cemetery will be maintained into the future.

With this publication we hope to assist the many volunteers who oversee our cemeteries by explaining the various rules and requirements that apply to burials and cemeteries in  Vermont. I want to thank Rich McCoy from the Vermont Department of Health for his  review of this booklet; and I want to thank Patrick Healy, director of the Green Mount Cemetery, and Joy Fagan, president of the Vermont Cemetery Association, for encouraging this office to focus on the needs of the people who care for our state’s cemeteries.

Deborah L. Markowitz
Vermont Secretary of State

To see the complete document, updated in 2010, click here.

Civil War Picture: soldiers drilling in Hartland

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

About the oldest photograph in the Hartland Historical Society’s collection, this picture shows the C. W. Warren - Floyd Best - Schouten home on the left and the Shedd - Crosby house on the right. It shows civil War soldiers practicing and the public watching them. It is on Route 12  in what was known as Foundryville.

Civil War Soldiers drilling in Hartland

Civil War Soldiers drilling in Hartland - Click picture for larger image.

Charles Orcutt (1864-1929)

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Charles Orcutt. Click picture for larger image.

Charles Orcutt. Click picture for larger image.

Charles Russell Orcutt always considered himself first and foremost a collector. It was largely through his writings and extensive collections that a foundation was provided for what is now known as the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Born on April 27, 1864 in Hartland, Vermont, he was the first of five children of Herman Chandler Orcutt and Eliza Eastin Gray Orcutt. In 1879, the Orcutt family left Vermont and relocated to San Diego. Herman Orcutt was considered a pioneer in the field of horticulture and had opened a nursery near the ruins of the San Diego Mission de Alcalá.

C.R.Orcutt was a self-educated man, who had a strong interest in the field of science. He accompanied his father on many expeditions throughout the San Diego region. In 1882, Orcutt accompanied his father and scientist Charles Parry to Ensenada. Even though Orcutt was brought along merely as a driver, he was curious about the discoveries being made. On this journey, he learned from his father and Parry how to collect and preserve specimens. Later when he talked of this trip, Orcutt stated that he “owed whatever skill he has as a botanical collector” to this expedition.

As his interest in horticulture grew, Orcutt began to explore the San Diego region alone. Charles Orcutt was constantly searching for new discoveries, something that would make him a standout in the scientific world. His desire for new fields to explore would take him to Southern California, Baja California, the mainland of Mexico, Central America and eventually to the Caribbean. On many of these expeditions Charles Orcutt found new species of cacti and was thus given the name “The Cactus Man.”

This combination of interests in natural history and collecting led him to an organization known as the San Diego Society of Natural History. He attended all the society meetings regularly, participated in the discussions and donated new specimens to the organization. Orcutt was considered one of the more colorful members of the society during the time. He was known as an eccentric individual who was always very boastful of his accomplishments. Charles Orcutt was elected a life member of the San Diego Society of Natural History on June 5, 1885. He also served on the Board of Directors in 1893, 1902, and 1903. Orcutt left the San Diego region to live in Jamaica and Haiti in the late 1920s. On August 24, 1929 at the age of 65, Charles Orcutt died in Haiti. He was buried there as well, according to his wishes.

From the San Diego Natural History Museum website.

Wild Turkeys

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Looking at the wild turkeys seen throughout Vermont, you wouldn’t think that at one time there were no wild turkeys in Vermont. Due to clearing of their natural habitat, they totally died off. This portion of a Vermont Fish and Wildlife brochure describes how they became extinct, how they came back, and their current condition. It has been added to with contributions from Bev Lasure and others to add Hartland’s involvement.

Once extinct in Vermont, the turkey population is triving due to conservation actions.

Once extinct in Vermont, the turkey population is triving due to conservation actions.


Wild turkeys are prey to a long list of predators including coyotes, bobcats, foxes, fisher, weasels, skunks, opossum, raccoons, snakes, hawks, owls, dogs, and people. As a major prey species, the turkey fulfills it natural role in the ecosystem by providing sustenance for other animals.

Through the process of natural selection, wild turkeys have co-evolved with predators over millions of years. In this long, evolutionary process, predators have had a tremendous influence in shaping the development and behavior of the wild turkey. Producing large numbers of young, re-nesting (laying another clutch of eggs if the first set is destroyed), roosting in trees, and flocking, are all survival strategies resulting from eons of predation. Many of the qualities that people admire about wild turkeys, such as their incredible eyesight, wariness, and ability to detect movement, are the product of evolution with natural predators.

Many people express concern that predators will harm the turkey population. It is clear that in spite of predation, our turkey population in Vermont continues to flourish.

Management Efforts

Early settlers cleared Vermont forests for farmland and lumber. By the mid-1800s, more than 75% of Vermont was open land. As a result, wildlife habitat was scarce, especially the forests that turkeys needed to survive. By 1854, the last of Vermont’s turkeys disappeared. Loss of habitat and uncontrolled hunting wiped them out.

In the 1950s a private effort by well meaning people and fish and game clubs to reestablish turkeys in Vermont, included the release of hundreds of “game farm” turkeys throughout the state. Most of these birds were several generations removed form the wild, and therefore lacked the ability to survive Vermont’s rugged winters. No game farm turkeys succeeded in establishing populations in Vermont.

Following these attempts, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department investigated the possibility of reintroducing wild turkeys to Vermont. The department worked with the New York State Conservation Department to trap wild turkeys during the winter of 1969 - 1970. The first winter’s trapping captured 17 turkeys that were released in Pawlet, Vermont. The second winter of trapping resulted in 14 birds that were released in Hubbardton, Vermont.

These initial populations expanded rapidly, both in number and occupied area. In 1973, the population was estimated at more than 600 turkeys. Since 1973, additional efforts and the refinement of trapping equipment enabled Vermont Fish & Wildlife staff to capture as many as 100 turkeys in one trapping season for release in various areas of the state.

Hartland’s Involvement

The Hartland Fish and Game Club has been significant part of life in Hartland for many years. Hial Lobdell graciously let the members use an outbuilding on his property for several years to hold meetings.

Wild turkeys became almost extinct in Vermont. The State of Vermont offered wild turkeys to the various clubs for release into the wild. The Hartland Fish and Game club accepted the offer and in the 60’s got their batch. The Hartland Historical Society has pictures of this event. They show Hial Lobdell, Lee Lasure and others releasing the birds.

The Hartland Fish and Game Club maintains the Hammond Cove shooting Range in town along the Connecticut River.

If anyone else can add information to this article please email me, Bev Lasure, at You can either write the information down for me to interpret or add to the article. The Hartland Fish and Game has played an important part in more recent history and it would be nice to preserve information. I know that at one time we had the original incorporation papers at home and we had Avery Howe come to the house and pick them up so that they would stay with club records. Someone surely know more information about this organization than I can remember.

Hunting Season Reestablished

A spring turkey-hunting season was established in 1973. This was the first time wild turkeys had been hunted in Vermont in more than a century. Fall “either sex” turkey hunting began in 1975. Spring and fall hunting seasons have continued every year since. Both spring and fall turkey seasons provide a recreational opportunity for hunters and serve as a population management tool.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Vermont’s turkey population remained relatively stable, at an estimated 9,000 to 12, 000 birds. Unusually harsh winters reduced the population in 1993-1994, but a combination of limited hunting seasons and milder winters caused the population to rebound quickly. Vermont’s turkey population has risen each year since 1994 to its highest level in recent history, and is now estimated at some 35, 000 birds.

From year to year the number of wild turkeys in Vermont will fluctuate because of a combination of random environmental factors, such as weather changes that affect nesting success, or severity of the winter that affect survival. Long-term population trends, however, are most influenced by changes in habitat and the overall landscape. Relatively mature forests now dominate 80% of the state, with only about 15% in an open, non-forested condition, such as croplands, hay fields, or pastures. Although the wild turkey is primarily regarded as a forest dwelling bird, ideal habitat conditions include a mix of forest and agricultural land, which provides the greatest opportunities for feeding, nesting, and brooding.

Agricultural lands on active farms provide most of the remaining open acreage in the state that is ideal habitat for wild turkeys. As the number of Vermont farms declines and the trend toward increased forestation continues, availability of open land may increasingly limit habitat for wild turkeys. Keeping active working dairy farms in Vermont will help maintain excellent wild turkey habitat.

Public Shooting Range Opens in Hartland - November 7, 2012

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Public Shooting Range Opens in Hartland

A new fully-accessible public shooting range is now open, according to an announcement from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

The Hammond Cove Shooting Range in Hartland is a true milestone for the state’s hunters and shooters. Originally purchased in the late 1960’s, the site had long been popular with shooters from both sides of the Connecticut River, and it now boasts a state-owned shooting range designed solely for public shooting.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this facility to Vermont’s hunters and shooters, and to the future of our hunting heritage,” said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry. “It’s also hard to overstate the importance of the National Rifle Association and the Hartland Fish and Game Club in helping to make this range a reality.”

The upgrades include a covered, six-port 100-yard rifle range with 20-foot side berms and a 60-foot plus high backstop. Public range use is free. Range rules are posted at the site.

“And there’s still time to get some extra practice in before the upcoming November rifle and December muzzleloading deer seasons,” said Berry.

Funds used to improve this site were provided by a National Rifle Association Public Range Grant that was used to match Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act funds. Also known as Pittman-Robertson, this money is generated through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition. Hartland Fish and Game Club members will act as the range stewards.

Hammond Cove is a key part of a larger department initiative to improve access to public shooting ranges in Vermont. The department has two limited use ranges at its Green Mountain Conservation Camp facilities.

A grand opening is planned for the spring [2013]. The Hammond Cove Shooting Range rules can be found at