Re-Introducing Turkeys

Lee Lesure and Hial Lobdell

Many people who have lived in town less than fifty years may not realize that there was a time when there were no wild turkeys. For a long time, they have been a large part of the wildlife one sees in the area. According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, wild turkeys are native to much of eastern America. Extensive land clearing for agriculture and hunting by settlers caused turkeys in the area to disappear for a hundred years. Much of our area has reforested, yet there is still a lot of agricultural and scrub land. This is ideal turkey habitat; they roost in forest trees but feed and nest on grass and scrub land.

Turkeys are social animals that prefer to live and travel in flocks. We see lone males in open areas in early spring. They puff themselves up to twice normal size and strut, hoping to attract a mate. If while you are driving you encounter a flock crossing a road, they may panic; some will run down the road, some will take flight. Either way, they can move at 25 to 30 miles an hour, allowing them to evade most predators. Turkeys are so plentiful that there has been a hunting season for many years.

It’s been some time since HHS member Bev Lasure suggested I write about the re-introduction of wild turkeys in Hartland. I put it off for a long time because I had little material. Ironically, I was once present at one of the turkey releases but don’t remember where it was or who was there other than my father. Not too long ago, I found snapshots of Hial Lobdell and Lee Lasure releasing turkeys (Lee was Bev’s late husband). Hial’s daughter and HHS Board member Janet Hewes remembers the event. She said the turkeys flew a long way down a field before roosting in a tree. The Fish and Game clubhouse was the old district schoolhouse next to Lobdells’ house. The snapshots were dated ’67-’70. That’s when I would have witnessed a release in another location when I was home from college. So it’s coming together, except that the Fish and Wildlife site says they were first reintroduced in Rutland County in the winter of 1969–1970.

Someone said I should talk to Paul Howe. Well, I let that slide, and then the Howes left Hartland to live in Florida full time. Daughter Paula Staples bailed me out recently by talking turkeys while visiting her father in Florida. (Both the Stapleses and the Howes are HHS members.)

The first piece of information indicated that in the early ’50s the Hartland Fish and Game Club did the first turkey release in Vermont. My first reaction is that has must be so wrong. But the Fish and Wildlife website indicates that in the 1950s hundreds of game farm turkeys were released by individuals and by local fish and game groups. These birds were several generations removed from the wild, and none could survive the Vermont winters. So let’s consider Hartland the first to try.

Paul said the Hartland club bought three sets of two hens and a tom from Virginia. One set was released near Lance Williams’s (on Clay Hill Road, in the northern part of town). Another was released at Hial Lobdell’s (on Advent Hill Road, south of the first location). The third set was released on Brothers Road near the “Cat Farm” (farther south, but not much below the geographic center of town). The people involved were Harold Barbour, Hial Lobdell, Floyd Rockwood, Allen Brothers, Lawrence Young, Lance Williams, Paul Howe, Avery Howe, and Wright Foster.
Les Motschman

Hartland in the 50’s

The Hartland Historical Society is sometimes asked to provide a photograph for the annual Town Report. This year’s cover created interest among people of a certain age who grew up in town. It was a 1950 picture of the 1st and 2nd grades on the Three Corners School’s front steps. The names of the students were not included, but it seems many from that era went to work identifying their classmates. We now have a nearly complete list of the 44 students in the photo. There are no teachers in the photo.

I’m a little younger than the ones on the cover, but I know some of them. The cover prompted us to reminisce about school in those days, with one teacher, almost always a woman, in charge of 25 to 30 students, teaching, maintaining order, and meting out punishment. When I was talking with one of those in the photo, he asked if I had checked the staffing level at the present K–8 school. The Town Report, of course, has two sections, the Town and the School. Both give very detailed accounting of their operations. By my count, our K–8 school has about 60 staff for just under 300 students, about the same number we had for Grades 1–8 in the 1950s.

That cover has inspired me to start writing about Hartland in the ’50s. The decade has long been considered a golden era of happiness and prosperity when we saw significant economic growth. Europe and the Asian nations that participated in World War II were beaten down; everything was made in the U.S.A. Some people today would be quick to point out that the ’50s weren’t great for the large black minority in the country. Certainly true, but Vermont and much of Northern New England was nearly 100% white. There were also some poor families in town throughout the ’50s.

Hartland then had been slowly reversing a hundred-year trend of losing population. When men returned from WWII, they found good jobs, and they married. Couples started families, built or bought new houses, bought new cars, and even took vacations. I saw it happening as a young Baby Boomer. The Baby Boom was one of the most momentous demographic eras in American history. Baby Boomers still represent a large segment of the population in the country, certainly in Vermont, which along with Maine has the oldest population in the U.S.

The ’50s did get off to a bad start. Hartland men too young to serve in WWII were now being drafted for yet another war. After WWII, the U.S. and Russia partitioned the Korean peninsula. In June of 1950, the communist North invaded South Korea. A U.N. force consisting of mostly American troops pushed the communists out of the South and right up the peninsula toward the Chinese border. Alarmed, China sent 250,000 troops into the fray, making the U.N. forces retreat a very costly running battle. There was a two-year stalemate until an armistice was signed in July of 1953. Thirty-six thousand Americans died in the brief Korean War.

We at the Hartland Historical Society have a well-documented history of Hartland in the 1950s. Herb Ogden started publishing his Hartland News in February of 1952. After looking through several issues, I couldn’t help but think how much the topics resemble those on our modern List-Serv–for example, people then second-guessed the Selectmen or School Board, or complained about the condition of their roads, or wondered when they would be plowed. There was even discussion about gender issues and the effect of modern media on children. The one all-consuming challenge facing the Town was what to do about the schools. As the Baby Boomers added to the population in the ’50s, everyone knew something drastic needed to be done and that a lot of money would have to be spent. There were many proposals and countless meetings.

Hartland News – February 23

By Saturday night the great storm of the 17th had been licked. It took 85 hours of plowing by the three plow trucks and the bulldozer. Road Commissioner Harold Barbour had no estimate of the cost of the storm other than labor at $1/hour came to $595.
Osmer ran short of hay, but he only buys one bale at a time and will know better next time. Milk piled up at several farms: C. Best had 18 cans, D. Hoisington had 16, and F. Richardson got his out to the road by horse and stone boat. People living on some dead end stubs and remote stretches wondered when they would be plowed as the plows went by on the main road. John Bowley called Road Commissioner Barbour to task: “I live on a 1/2 –mile stub off from Hartland Hill Road and did not get plowed out until nine days after the storm.” Barbour apologized.

March 1

Flood Control Legislation from Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts has formed a Connecticut River Flood Control Compact. Some 10 reservoir sites will be set up in the headwater states. North Hartland is one of them. Communities involved will be recompensated by Massachusetts and Connecticut for loss of taxable property.

April, 4, 1952

Thin Sap, Fancy Syrup, Snowshoe Gathering Mark New Season. Sugaring began here March 10th when Lyman, Maxfield and Rockwood began setting buckets. M. Adams started his floundering three days later. At least 15,000 buckets are hung in Hartland. There was no real sap run until the 17th – one day after the opening of the two-week “new moon in March” period. This is traditional sugar time and also when hard cider should be bottled.
While most struggled to gather on snowshoes in deep snow, Mesdames Minnes and Rudolph grinned and relaxed while their new tree-to-tree arch pipeline, from some 650 trees, ran full pipe. Most syrup made in Hartland is sold at retail, around $6 a gallon.
Armed Services – Brothers Lawrence and Richard Davis entered the Army and Navy respectively. A third brother, Corporal Robert Davis, is stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. Pfc Avery Howe has received a medical discharge on account of stomach ulcers. He now works at Cones.

April 16, 1952

Selectmen postponed appointing two new Special School Committee members. Ogden, a member of the Committee, said if they put any more women on the Committee, they would have to replace him as well. Ogden said that mixed committees on basic problems do not cut much ice. Men and women reach their conclusions by basically different methods. Men hesitate to speak freely on such committees and at a showdown men are inclined to be too polite. Chairman Bradley asked “What’s the matter, Herbert, don’t you like working with women?” Persis Stillson, the only woman present, said “He just doesn’t like women, period!” As Editor of the paper, Ogden added: “(She exaggerated somewhat.)”

June 12, 1952

Present at the June 12th Selectmen’s meeting were Dean Bradley, Everett Miller, Kendall Adams, Phil Royce, Jim Howland, 2 public
There was discussion of the Mace Hill incident of that afternoon and the sewage disposal problem at a new house in Four Corners. Work is going forward on proceedings to get some 10 little-used roads either thrown up or designated as trails. No business of any consequence was transacted. No date was set for the next meeting.

July 1

Ground broken for new fire station alongside Town garage
Steven Lobdell and Conrad Hoisington have formed a hay-baling partnership. They bought (on time, naturally) a new Turner baler at the start of haying and have been right out straight since. It’s a big, impatient, snorting rig with a capacity up to 8 tons an hour. With rakes, mowers, trailers, and tractors, they will put some $6,750 worth of machinery on a man’s hayfield for the prevailing rate of 16¢ a bale. They also do miscellaneous tractor work and Steve has added chain sawing to his list.
Hartland’s Most Remote Dwelling . The house, marked “camp” on the highway map, and barn are both small and homemade, but uncommonly neat and orderly. The garden, including asparagus and strawberries, is well-cared for. Leon Bettis, about 50 years old, and William, about 80, live there, approximately a mile off the Muskrat Hollow Road on Densmore Hill (now Creampot Road which has 30 houses). The road is in poor shape, good only for Jeep or truck. They have no car, but one horse. Leon hikes to South Woodstock for groceries, but William seldom leaves the place. He receives old-age assistance and does what he can around the farm. Leon does the heavy work. They have 20 cords of solid maple wood for sale, waiting only on someone with a truck to come get it.

There is more to tell, but I did not want to be nosey. The impressive thing is that they live way off from nowhere, on very little, yet do their work, maintain their self-respect and keep their place clean and right.
Les Motschman

Hartland in World War 1 (Part 2)

In the November issue, I stated that there were 62 names on the Hartland Honor Roll. I only wrote about the men whose war service was described by Walter Hatch. Some readers told me they enjoyed reading about Hartland guys who were old when we were young. Here are some more names from Mr. Hatch’s writing about members of the Hartland Legion Post.
Les Motschman

Hamilton Bail joined the Legion in 1946. He served in both wars. (I knew him in the 1970’s as my father did work for him. He lived in the brick house beyond Fairview Farm on the Dam Road.)
Dean McArthur is on the Hartland Honor Roll. He served in a Battery of the American Expedition Force. The McArthur farm was on the Quechee Road (Now the large brick house owned by the Littles). After his Army service he married and bought the property in Foundryville that was featured for sale in 1855 in the previous HHS newsletter. Mr. McArthur worked for the Hartland Telephone Company, which was owned by Ernest and Jennie English. He also worked in the garage Mr. English established as the first one in town. The garage was the red building near the Foundryville bridge across from the falling-down Telephone garage.
Paul Morrison ran a store in both North Hartland and Hartland Three Corners. He also served in both world wars.
William Carter will be remembered for his work at the Hartland Fair. In his younger days, Bill was a canvas man with a circus. He supervised the tent city at the Fair.
Fred Crowel worked in the area as a carpenter. He bought the old creamery building in the Four Corners and remodeled it into apartments (Now the bridal shop).
John B. Cawthorn married Dorothy Lamb and lived until his death in the brick house at the corner of Route 5 and Martinsville Road. He was from the Carolinas.
Rodney Burk was listed in the previous HHS newsletter as one of the Hartland men who went to France during the World War. Burk grew up on the Crandall Place on Weed Road (now Kennedy/O’Brien). I indicated that after the War he lived in the red house on the corner of Brownsville and County Roads (Gilberts), but it was probably the next house up County Road
as Mr. Hatch wrote that he built a cement dam above the house to store water for an ice harvesting business. At that time the Whiting Creamery in Four Corners stored a large quantity of ice to cool milk and cream in the summer. The milk and cream was shipped by rail to Whiting’s main plant in Boston. The dam is still visible, but the pond is mostly filled in.
Dean Bradley ran Fairview Farm on the Dam Road in North Hartland. He served with the American Expedition Force during the World War.
James Young worked at Fairview Farm and later started a trucking business. He was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas during the War.
Frederick Woodruff worked with the Red Cross in France during the War. He bought the house in Four Corners right on the corner of Route 12 and the Brownsville Road. He was involved with the small library that was across the street for many years. His wife Olga made the memorial that used to be on the Damon Hall lawn (It’s now in our HHS museum. It lists WWI, WWII and Korean War veterans from Hartland.).
Clint French was sent to the Clarkson College Training Depot in Pottsdam, NY during the War. He lived in a very old house in Foundryville (Now Derek Levin’s).
Deane Hoisington spent the War at the U. S. Naval Air Station in Halifax, Nova Scotia. NAS Halifax was established in 1918 as a base for “flying boats.” These large seaplanes had no landing gear and were used to patrol the North American coast looking for German U-Boats. (Wikipedia). His farm on Merritt Road still retains his name, even though he sold the farm in the 60’s and built a house nearby just off the Quechee Road.
Robert Patch is on the Hartland Honor Roll. He went into the garage business in Lebanon after the War. The Flanders and Patch name was still in use up until a couple of years ago.
Withington brothers Earle and Robert “Lyle” were from N. Hartland. During the War, Earle was at Camp Wright in Maryland and Robert was at Camp Devens in Massachusetts.
HHS member Judy Howland pointed out to me that I was spelling Osro Patch’s first name incorrectly (Osro, not Orso). That’s interesting because in the first part of his 13-page paper, Walter Hatch was misspelling his friend’s name wrong (Ozro).

Hartland in World War 1

Starting in 1848, Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck sought to unite the many German states into a German empire. Prussia was by far the largest and most populous state. Three successful wars against neighboring countries (Denmark 1864, Austria 1866 and France 1870-71) demonstrated to the citizenry how powerful a united Germany could be. Germany also created a colonial empire, claiming much of Africa not yet claimed by other European powers. As Bismarck was succeeded by Wilhelm II in 1890, the German Empire was becoming one of the most powerful nations in the world. It had the largest army; its navy was second only to the British Royal Navy. Germany had the largest economy in Europe and only the United States’ was larger.

By the turn of the century, many European nations had formed alliances for mutual defense. If one were attacked, allies would come to its aid. This arrangement set the stage for how a relatively minor event could lead to a truly global war. Germany was aligned with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy. Under Bismarck it had been allied with Tsarist Russia, but Kaiser Wilhelm II had allowed that treaty to lapse. Russia then aligned with Britain and France.

On 28 June 1914, a Bosnian Serb and Yugoslavian nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, causing a diplomatic crisis. One month later, the Austro/Hungarians shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade, starting the war. Soon Russia mobilized and France mobilized to support Russia. Germany invaded Belgium, causing it to invoke the 1839 Treaty of London, requiring Britain to join the war. Even Japan joined the Allied Powers as it hoped to seize German possessions in China and the Pacific. Italy left its alliance with Germany to join the Allies. The Ottoman Empire joined with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Eventually fighting spread to the African colonies. In 1917, the Russian Revolution ended Tsarist autocracy, and Russian military resistance to Germany collapsed. Germany transferred a large number of troops to the Western Front.

After the sinking of seven U. S. merchant ships and the revelation that Germany was trying to incite Mexico to make war on its neighbor, the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. The U.S. had already been on somewhat of a war footing in that it had been providing war materials and foodstuffs to war-ravaged Europe for some time. The cover page of this issue is one of several large posters displayed in our museum. They were used to encourage men to sign up and citizens to buy War Bonds, in effect lending funds to the government so it could prosecute the war.

That the country was at war was evident right here in Hartland, where the National Guard was detailed to guard railroad bridges. Much of what we know about Hartland in the World War comes from a paper prepared by Walter Hatch in September, 1966. Mr. Hatch reprints an Honor Roll of 62 men who served in the War. It was prepared by Wilbur Sturtevant who was Town Clerk for fifty years. The men’s names are followed by the unit to which they were assigned.  The original handwritten Honor Roll is displayed in our museum.

  • Claude E. Wood had the highest rank of the Hartland men. He was commissioned Captain in the Medical Reserve Corps. He was the town’s doctor for many years. He had an office in his home in Three Corners on the left side of the road to Woodstock.
  • Lee Graham was a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Service. He was a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard. Stationed in England, he was assigned to ferry a very old type of plane to France. He ran into a storm, the plane’s controls failed, and he crashed into a trash dump in Hastings, England, breaking his ankles.
  • Earle Graham was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Service, stationed at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. The Grahams grew up in the brick house near the Fire Station.
  • Rodney Burk was an Engineer in what was called the American Expeditionary Force (the AEF). Mr. Hatch recalls him later telling stories at hunting camp of his time in France, including building a bridge while under enemy fire. He lived in the red house on the corner where the County Road begins.
  • Elbridge Davis grew up in Hartland and Windsor. In the war, he was with a Coast Artillery Unit of the AEF.  When he returned, he married Eudora Sykes of Brownsville. They knew each other here but happened to meet in France where she was a WWI nurse. They had five children: Arthur was a well-known businessman in the area; Virginia married Micky Cochrane of Windsor and three of their children became Olympic skiers.
  • Mr. Hatch knew Orso Patch in Springfield where they grew up. When Hatch moved to Hartland in 1911, he roomed with the Patch family that was then living in the first house on Rice Road. Hatch worked at nearby Martin’s Mill. Orso went to France, where he drove a car for a Major.
  • The local National Guard trained during the summer of 1917 and sailed from Halifax on October 3, 1917. Frank Bement, Frank Russell and Ben Russell served in that unit. Ben was wounded in the Meuse offensive just before the war ended. The other two were in an ammunition train unit. Mr. Hatch recalls stories at hunting camp of what it was like in France to harness kicking mules to wagons at night while under orders to use no lights and make no sound. The roads were deep in mud and often ran through woods. Frank Bement married Ethel Russell [Yes, that happens a lot in wartime, your buddy’s sister starts writing you. In this case, they were classmates at Windsor High.].
  • Webb Hatch went to England on the Mauritania, without convoy as it was a fast ship. His unit crossed the Channel to Le Havre, France where they engaged in moving supplies. At first, they lived in tents in a muddy field but later were billeted in a barn’s hay loft, which was not so bad.
  • William Crane was one of the National Guard soldiers sent to guard the Martinsville railroad bridge when America entered the War. He later was in an artillery unit of the AEF. About three months after arriving in Hartland, William married a local girl, Mildred Howe, who was not yet seventeen. Mildred was born in 1900 and lived to 1992. She was aunt to Raymond, Viola, Paul, Avery and Laura Howe.
  • Walter Hatch was a corporal when discharged. He was stationed at an Aviation Repair Depot in Montgomery, Alabama. He lived in the house by the bridge just south of the Village. He was Marjorie Royce’s father. Mr. Hatch was involved with establishing an American Legion Post in Hartland in 1938. Much of his 1966 paper is concerned with members of the Legion—whom they married, what they did for work and leisure, and when they died. There was a lot of information about the old folks in town when I was growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s.              

The majority of Hartland men served in units of the American Expeditionary Force and probably went overseas. Several were at camps or bases stateside. Five men were in specialized training at Dartmouth, UVM and Clarkson College when the war ended. Three Hartland men died in the war, all of disease: Winfred Morgan on March 11, 1918, Lester Harwood on September 26, 1918, and Isaac Springer on October 4, 1918 at sea. The disease may have been the “Spanish” flu. While millions of people died in the World War, tens of millions around the world died of the influenza that probably didn’t originate in Spain. Certainly that so many people were displaced by the war and troops moved from one place to another–often living in crowded, sometimes unsanitary, conditions–contributed to the spread of disease.

For a local perspective of the War, I scanned the 1918 weekly Vermont Journals published in Windsor. One article stated that deaths by influenza in the U.S. in just two weeks were far greater than those in the American Army in the past year. A November paper stated that the ban on places of public congregation and all other rules enforced for the prevention of the spread of influenza had been lifted on November 9. The Hartland News column noted that no events or meetings had been held at Damon Hall in October fbecause of the ban.

I wondered how I might learn how many Hartland people died from the Flu. I remembered something from the information HHS Secretary/Treasurer Pip Parker had provided me about the Howe family.  Mildred Howe had an older brother, Raymond Stickney Howe, who married a Hartland girl the same age as Mildred. Christine Barbour married June 18, 1917 and died October 19, 1918. Raymond then married her sister Hazel Barbour. According to the recorded Certificates of Death in the Hartland Town Clerk’s office, Christine’s cause of death was Pneumonia Lobar – Influenza. William Nugent, age 45, a Canadian working in a woolen mill, and Francis Spaulding, age 1, also died of the flu in early Fall 1918.

It’s apparent that civilians were expected to make sacrifices and volunteer for the war effort. At HHS, we have quilts that were made to raise money. We have several booklets in which groups of women kept track of the items they had made. They were making knitted items, surgical dressing, hospital garments, and so on.  An item in the Windsor paper stated that 8 million had volunteered for the Red Cross, and 291 million items had been made.

Every week included a section of the paper devoted to war news. By late summer of 1918, it was clear that Germany was nearly beaten, and discussion turned to what it would take to make the Germans surrender and what the terms should be. Articles encouraged farmers to produce as much as possible as Europe would need help long after the end of the War. The government was still asking landowners with walnut trees to sell them to sawmills with government contracts as walnut was the best wood for gunstocks and aero-plane propellers.

The November 5, 1918, edition reprinted an article from the Boston Globe, saying it would be especially interesting to Hartlanders. “Daniel Willard, Chairman of the Baltimore and Ohio R.R., has been appointed a Colonel of Engineers, U.S. Army, for duty in France. General Pershing recommended the appointment. The French Government has taken over operation of all French railroads and thought it desirable to have an American executive in view of the extensive use the American Expeditionary Force is making of those railways.” [Daniel Willard was born in North Hartland.] In Hartland news. “Deer hunters at Plymouth are F. A. Durphey, Frank Barrell, Frank French, A. B. Howe and Raymond Howe.”

Germany surrendered November 11, 1918. My grandparents’ generation knew it as Armistice Day. The U. S., Britain and France returned to peace; Germany was in chaos. Millions had died, great damage had been done, and the terms of the Peace Treaty were particularly harsh. Germany was marginalized by its former enemies. With no government, leftist and rightist groups fought for power. Just over twenty years after the Armistice, Germany would start an even larger World War.

Hartland Celebration: Those who were overseas didn’t come home immediately after Germany surrendered as there was still work to be done. It wasn’t until August 23, 1919 that Hartland held an all-day War Service Festival in honor of those from Hartland who served. The morning was devoted to sports. At noon there was a banquet at Damon Hall. At 2 p.m. there was band music and an address by Vermont’s Adjutant General. In the evening there was a band concert and dancing until midnight.

Background on Germany and the World War is mostly from Wikipedia. Thanks to Susan Motschman for typing and arranging and Pat Richardson for editing.

                                                                                    Les Motschman

Almon Lull

Dr. Almon Lull


Almon Lull was born in Hartland in 1804, and died a millionaire in Glen County, California in 1894. His fortune was made from the goldrush although it was said that he did receive some unsolicited assistance in his rise from rags to riches, that assistance coming from a justice of the peace, a deputy sheriff and several constables from Windsor. It was also claimed that at one time his name was mentioned only in whispers by his Vermont relatives, if his name was even mentioned at all.

Little is known of his early life until the early 1830’s when he graduated from the medical college that flourished at that time in nearby Woodstock. According to family tradition he then served as an instructor in medicine at Dartmouth College although there is no trace of this in their records. Either the story is in error or Dartmouth made haste to erase his name from their records, a distinct possibility in light of subsequent events.

In early 1846 Almon arrived in Windsor accompanied by two medical students. There had been a recent burial at the Old South Church, and the three conspirators proceeded to disinter the body, supposedly for use in medical instruction. The operation however took longer than they expected and it was dawn by the time they had finished exhuming the body. Since they felt that it would unwise to risk loading the body into the wagon in daylight, they hid the body under the steps of the church and departed.

The next night they returned to complete their task, but unfortunately for them, the crime had been discovered and the bushes were alive with sheriffs, constables and irate citizens. All three were arrested. The following day the two students were released but Almon, as the ringleader, was dragged before a local justice of the peace. He was bound over for trial at the next session of the County Court at Woodstock and given the choice of spending the intervening months in the county jail or posting a cash bond of $500. His brother somehow managed to come up with the money and Almon was released. He immediately fled and headed West. He signed on as a surgeon for the assault upon Mexico, and then following the war he joined a wagon train of emigrants to California via the ‘Southern Route’. According to family history he is then recorded as being the first settler in the city of Berkeley (see note below).

The gold rush which began in 1849 soon brought swarms of men to San Francisco and it was this that made Almon his fortune. Whilst he himself never dug an ounce of gold, sickness was almost universal and due to the lack of doctors, a brief professional visit reportedly produced a fee of some $30 for just a 10 minute consultation, payable in gold, on the spot. His fortune grew rapidly and he soon became a great capitalist. At one time he reportedly owned all the ferry boats in the bay, thousands of acres of land, great herds of beef cattle and acres of wheat. He built business blocks in San Francisco and Sacramento. He sent recruiters to Windsor and neighboring areas to enlist young men for his various enterprises and many apparently left Vermont on that account.

Towards the end of his life he did in fact return to Windsor, his sudden departure nearly 50 years before apparently long forgotten by the authorities here. He cut an imposing figure with his silk top hat, elegant clothing and a black cane with an enormous gold head.

Surviving relatives in Hartland hoped to inherit some of Almon’s fortune upon his passing but were sadly disappointed. They received notification that they were to receive something and had visions of inheriting large sums of gold. A parcel duly arrived and the family went to the express office to claim their inheritance. It was something of a shock when they were informed that they had to pay $1.50 for express charges. It was a further shock to find that the long slim package they received contained no gold, but only the famous gold-headed cane. Not only that, but the cane was broken and a cabinet maker in Windsor charged another $1.50 to repair it. There was further disappointment when the ‘gold’ head was examined by a jeweler who informed the family that it was actually made of brass lightly plated with gold. The final let down came when it was discovered that the cane was actually entailed and was to be forever passed down to his brother’s oldest living male descendent. Thus the family’s dreams of a great inheritance were ended.



This story is based on the recollections of Col. Thomas Lull (1883-1960). Dr. Almon Lull was his great uncle. Almon and Thomas’s grandfather Morris were both sons of Titus Lull (1773-1844) who is buried in the Jenneville Cemetery. I believe that Titus may have been a son of Timothy Lull, an early settler in Hartland who gave his name to Lull Brook. Unfortunately I have been unable to verify this information.

I can find no mention of Almon being associated with Berkeley. However there is a link close to home. According to the Centennial Record of the University of California, “In 1866…at Founders’ Rock, a group of College of California men watched two ships standing out to sea through the Golden Gate. One of them, Frederick Billings, thought of the lines of the Anglo-Irish Anglican Bishop George Berkeley, ‘westward the course of empire takes its way,’ and suggested that the town and college site be named for the eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish philosopher.”  Although the philosopher’s name is pronounced “bark-lee”, the pronunciation of the city’s name has evolved to suit American English as “burk-lee”. Frederick Billings is of course associated with Woodstock.

In some versions of the history of Princeton, California it reads –

 “Almon Lull, MD, is credited with naming the town and applying for the post office there. He had about fifty     signatures on the petition he circulated. Throughout local history writings, it is said Dr. Lull graduated from Princeton University and thus the name. This is not proven, and it doesn’t appear that he attended Princeton or even lived in New Jersey.”

Hartland in the Civil War – Part 7

Seventh Installment By Les Motschman

Constant Conflict

Last spring’s newsletter described the terrible Battle of The Wilderness and ended with the running battle between the two armies through Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. There was no break from the fighting. Elements of both armies engaged each other all over northern Virginia throughout the summer and fall of 1864. Some clashes named for the nearest town or crossroads hamlet are quite well known. Many lesser engagements are hardly known at all except that officers’ reports duly note every interaction with the enemy. In his Hartland in the Civil War of fifty years ago, Howland Atwood mentions several engagements where he had determined that Hartland soldiers were present.
General Lee expected a full-scale attack on Richmond, but General Grant moved instead on Petersburg, an important Confederate supply base. Wilmington, North Carolina, was the only Confederate port still open and three railroads moved supplies from there to Petersburg and Richmond. In mid-June 1864, Petersburg was scantily fortified, but confusion among Grant’s subordinates caused a delay in taking it before Confederate troops arrived and strengthened its defenses. Grant called for a belated heavy attack but soon called it off when he realized Petersburg could not be taken by assault. Petersburg might have been taken in a day; instead the Federals laid siege to it. The siege lasted ten months. “Blundering” Bob Butler, a Massachusetts politician with no prior military experience, who was made a general at the start of the War, was blamed for not taking the town when ordered to do so. He had failed Grant and other commanders before, but President Lincoln would not dismiss him because of his influence in Massachusetts–The nation would vote for President in a few months, and Lincoln’s re-election was by no means a sure thing. The five Vermont regiments of the “Old Brigade” were at Petersburg.

Weldon Railroad – June 23, 1864

The Weldon Railroad engagement was not militarily important, but a tentative and poorly coordinated movement to destroy the railroad was very costly for Vermont troops. Operating near an area where 1700 Union soldiers had been captured the day before, the Vermont regiments battling Confederates near the railroad did not receive the order to retreat. Forty-nine Vermonters were killed, and 412 were taken prisoner. The captured were marched to the prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia, where 203 died and many of the survivors were permanently disabled. From the 11th Vermont, Edgar Leonard was mortally wounded and Elisha Spaulding was taken prisoner but paroled on Sept. 1. The Vermont 4th, 6th, and 10th, and the 1st Vermont Cavalry regiments also saw action there.

Monocacy, Maryland – July 9, 1864
After Cold Harbor, General Lee learned that a Union force was heading up the Shenandoah Valley. Though short of troops, Lee dispatched General Jubal Early and his Confederate corps to clear the valley and frighten Washington. At Monocacy, Early’s 15,000 Confederates overwhelmed the 5,000-man Union force assembled to slow the move on Washington. The nine-hour battle was important in that it delayed the Confederate advance, while a larger Union force sent by Gen. Grant made its way toward Washington. Atwood believes Hartland soldiers Charles Colby, Charles Colston and Seneca Young of the 10th Vermont were in the battle.

Fort Stevens, Maryland – July 11-12, 1864
From Monocacy, Early marched his men thirty miles toward Washington. They halted at Fort Stevens inside the district’s line on Seventh Street to assess the fort’s defenses. In fact, Washington’s defenses were poorly manned at that time. When the alarm was sounded, government clerks, home guards, invalid soldiers and casual detachments of soldiers in the city rushed to its defense. President Lincoln, looking through a glass at the White House, could see steamers in Alexandria arriving to unload veteran combat troops sent by General Grant. Soon, men in blue were filing into the fort and some formed a battle line in front.
Inexplicitly, Lincoln went to the fort himself to see how the confrontation would play out. When Early attacked, the President was standing on a parapet, a real concern for the officers accompanying him. As bullets started whizzing by, a surgeon was hit in the ankle and an officer was killed. Some accounts note an officer profanely cursed his Commander-in-Chief until Lincoln removed himself from danger.
The President had sent hundreds of thousands of men off to war. He had visited battlefields to see the resulting carnage. He had seen the wounded return to Washington in ambulances. He visited the hospitals to talk with the wounded and hold their hands. On this day, he saw first-hand many of his fine troops, under a rain of enemy fire, fall wounded or dead.
Early realized that the prize of Washington, so close, was not within his grasp. The Confederates withdrew to the Shenandoah Valley, leaving 400 wounded behind.

Les’s note: Howland Atwood ventures that helping to repel Early’s assault on the nation’s capital may have been Hartland’s most important contribution to the outcome of the war. If Early’s army hadn’t been delayed at Monocacy, it might not have been repulsed at Fort Stevens. American history from that point on would differ from what we know. One can only imagine the events that would unfold if the Confederate Army had been able to sack and burn Washington before the Union troops arrived. It would have sent a shockwave throughout a war-weary North. The war might have ended on terms more favorable to the Confederacy. Slavery might not have been abolished at that time. Who knows what a reconstituted United States would look like going forward? By my count, from the rosters of the Vermont 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 11th regiments that were at Fort Stevens, there could have been as many as twenty-four Hartland men in the battle. It would take a look at each soldier’s actual service record to determine who was fit for duty at that time, as several of the men had been wounded a few weeks earlier in the Overland Campaign.

The Army of Shenandoah
Following the battle at Fort Stevens, General Grant decided he would send an army after the Confederate force that had threatened Washington. It was time to wrest control of the Shenandoah Valley from the rebels. Earlier in the war, a large Union force had entered the Valley but had been beaten back at every turn by General Stonewall Jackson’s army. The Shenandoah Valley was Virginia’s breadbasket and it supplied food for the Army of Northern Virginia. Vermonters serving there likened it to the Champlain Valley without the lake. Grant placed General Phil Sheridan in command of the new Army of the Shenandoah. It consisted of some of the finest troops from the Army of the Potomac, including the Vermont 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 11th Regiments. The 1st Vermont Cavalry was also operating in the Valley.

Charles Town, West Virginia – August 21, 1864
Charles Town was founded by George Washington’s brother, Charles. In 1859 John Brown was tried, sentenced and hung here for treason. He prophesied “Many more lives than mine will be spent before slavery vanished.”
For a month the opposing armies maneuvered around each other. Then came the battle of Charles Town. The 6th Vermont reported being in a sharp battle, suffering more casualties than any other regiment. John Willard of the 1st Vermont Cavalry was taken prisoner.
Les’s note: A large part of Virginia beyond the Allegheny Mountains became the state of West Virginia in 1863. Residents in the mountains there and also East Tennessee did not depend on a slave economy, so they generally were not sympathetic to the Southern cause.

Winchester, Virginia – September 19, 1864
Sheridan defeated Jubal Early in an all-day battle at Winchester, also known as Opequan Creek. The Federals took 2,500 rebels prisoner. Sheridan began a “scorched earth” policy, destroying all crops and any food fit for man or beast. Barn fires everywhere illuminated the night sky. The usual five Vermont regiments were there along with the 8th and 10th. Frederick Small of the 1st Vt. Cavalry was wounded at Winchester.

Cedar Creek, Virginia – October 19, 1864
Most Vermonters likely recognize the name of Cedar Creek, even if they do not know its significance. A distinctive feature in the Vermont State House is the Cedar Creek Room on the second floor. A giant painting by Julian Scott on one wall depicts the Vermont troops’ role in saving the day at the Battle of Cedar Creek.
After the rout at Winchester, Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah went into camp for a well-earned rest. Sheridan went to Washington to report to his superiors. Meanwhile, the Confederate general, Early, had received some reinforcements and wanted to make one more run at Sheridan’s army. Confederate scouts
were atop a small mountain in the Valley looking down on the Union encampment, evaluating its defenses. Early sent 7,000 men quietly through the night to take up positions opposite the Union line. At first light the screaming rebels emerged from the heavy fog and overran the Union camp. Dazed Union troops ran from the oncoming mass of gray. Those who were left of the battered 8th Vermont Regiment, along with a few hundred other Union soldiers, were ordered to make a stand against the surging rebels so that the main army could escape, regroup and form a battle line. Such an order seemed like a certain death sentence as the gray wave engaged the defenders in hand-to-hand combat.
Gen. Sheridan could hear the battle begin twelve miles away in Winchester. His army had been pushed back four miles. Sheridan galloped back to lead his army. He urged the retreating soldiers he encountered to turn back. Because the men had the utmost respect for their commander, many did so. A thin Federal line was forming to receive an expected final massive assault. The rebels didn’t attack, and at 4 p.m. Sheridan ordered a counterattack across the ground given up earlier in the day. For a while it seemed as if the Confederates might hold their positions until nightfall. Later in the day, though, General George Custer’s cavalry, including William Wells’ 1st Vermont Cavalry, joined the battle and Cedar Creek became a rout. The great Union victory electrified the North, assuring Lincoln’s re-election a couple weeks later.
Five hundred Vermonters were killed, wounded or went missing at Cedar Creek. Of the 159 members of the 8th Vermont making the valiant stand against the rebel onslaught, 100 were shot or captured. We know of only one man from Hartland in the 8th Vermont Infantry Regiment. Thomas Geer joined the 8th on August 12, 1864, just in time to become part of the Army of the Shenandoah. He died of disease four months later. Judah Dana was wounded and Eldridge Thompson was killed at Cedar Creek. Both were with the 3rd Vt. Regiment.

Les’s note: For much of this installment, I have relied on Howland Atwood’s work of fifty years ago. To describe the Battle of Cedar Creek, I referred to Howard Coffin’s book Full Duty. Coffin has said that the 8th Vermont’s role in delaying the initial Confederate attack and the full Vermont Brigade’s participation in the successful counter attack may have been Vermont’s single greatest contribution to winning the Civil War. Coffin was instrumental in securing placement of a historical marker near the battlefield this past October for the 150th observance of the Shenandoah campaign. The marker details the story of Vermonters at Cedar Creek and says “Vermont soldiers played an important role in the Union Victory.”

The St. Albans Raid – October 19, 1864

On the same day as the Battle of Cedar Creek, the Civil War’s northernmost action took place right here in Vermont. Nineteen Confederate soldiers rode twelve miles from Canada to rob three banks in St. Albans. They shot and killed one man and tried to set the town on fire. After returning to Canada, the soldiers were arrested and held there. Most of the money was returned. The raid was one of several planned along the northern border, but the only one carried out. The objectives were to cause the Union to move troops to the border and acquire much needed money.

Men credited to Hartland who enlisted in late 1864
3rd Vt. Inf. Reg. 8th Vt. Inf. Reg. 1st Vt. Cavalry Gaius Thompson Thomas Geer Cyrus Bagley* Asa Benway 4th Vt. Inf. Reg. 9th Vt. Inf. Reg. Frederick Blaisdale John Douglas Richard Wheeler Hiram King Ferdinand Fallon* George Martin 17th Vt. Inf. Reg. Franklin Parker 5th Vt. Inf. Reg. George Hurley James Sleeper* John Blanchard John Temple* Frederick Small* Andrew Walker 6th Vt. Inf. Reg. 3rd VLAB** Zina Walker Thomas Kneen Cornelius Bagley Albert Willard Herman Orcutt Dwight Bagley Thomas Willard Hosea Young 2nd USSS*** William Petrie

* Nine-Months men who reinlisted ** VLAB – Vt. Light Artillery Battery *** U.S. Sharp Shooters (snipers)

Hartland soldiers James Emery of the 6th and Benjamin Hill of the 11th died of disease in late 1864.

The Election of 1864
Never before had the world seen anything like the election of 1864. A nation was preparing to hold free elections in the midst of a violent civil war. When people voted President, they would in effect be voting on whether to stop the war effort or to carry on to victory at any cost. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase (from Cornish, New Hampshire) made a bid to replace Lincoln as the Republican nominee. Lincoln was renominated but did not campaign. His prosecution of the war would be the principal issue. The Democrats nominated General George McClellan, who was Lincoln’s first choice to lead the Army of the Potomac early in the war. McClellan’s tentative use of his great army against a much smaller Confederate force in the Peninsula Campaign had caused Lincoln to remove him as commander.
The military campaigns of the spring and summer of 1864 looked like failures. Lee remained unbeaten; neither Richmond nor Atlanta had been taken; the Confederates had recently made a brash move on
Washington. The Emancipation Act and the Union’s enlisting black soldiers inadvertently led to the creation of prisoner-of-war camps in both the North and the South. Tens of thousands of soldiers were housed in those dreadful prisons. Casualties in battle were higher than ever. To top it all off, Lincoln called for a new draft of 500,000 men. Lincoln did not believe he would be re-elected.

Les’s note: Some of the information above is from Bruce Catton’s 1960 book Civil War. 


That one word in bold print caught my eye in a ship’s library while we were on vacation about three years ago. I don’t own gold and I don’t think I would have been a gold seeker if I was around in the mid 1800’s, but I regard the California Gold Rush as one of the most fascinating events in American history. People have always treasured gold–some have been obsessed with acquiring it. Still, one cannot understate the pull that California gold exerted on hundreds of thousands of people when it became known that it was there for the taking, just by digging in the ground or streambeds. In just a few years, the lightly populated Mexican territory of California became a booming U. S. state.

The book “GOLD!” was written by Fred Rosen and provides much of the background material for this article.

In 1848 the two-year Mexican War was winding down. Some considered the war a trumped-up affair that justified the U.S. acquisition of a large territory from Mexico. At that time, many people believed in “manifest destiny.” It was thought that the novel experiment in governing that was the Union of States would become the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. Its land mass should extend across the continent, sea to sea, and be bounded by the Rio Grande River and the 45th parallel of latitude. A treaty signed in March 1848 called for Mexico to cede one half million square miles of territory to the U. S. for $18million.The land represented most of what was to become the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Ironically, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill on the American River on Jan. 24, 1848. Word of the discovery did not travel very fast, as that was such a sparsely populated area.

John Sutter was the head of a group of emigrants that established an agricultural and trading community on the site of present-day Sacramento in 1839. With the end of the Mexica War nearing, he thought more pioneers would be arriving and they would need building material. Sutter hired James Marshall to build a sawmill. Marshall was from New Jersey and of the restless type. He had made his way clear across the continent, trying his hand at farming, ranching, and various jobs. He was ranching in the area before he joined the fight against Mexico. Marshall had worked as a wheelwright, carpenter, and blacksmith, so he was a good man to take charge of building a water-powered sawmill.

On that January day, he was inspecting the tailrace where the water leaves the mill. He saw a nugget that he thought was gold. He showed it to the workers and someone hammered it. It did not break apart; it was malleable. They thought it must be gold. There was not too much excitement at first; it was considered a rare lucky find. Marshall allowed the laborers, consisting of Mexicans, Native Americans, and members of the recently disbanded Mormon Battalion, to prospect on their own time. When they started finding gold, a local rush was on. Work on the sawmill ceased and it was never finished. San Francisco was a small town, a tent city with a few structures, but it was where ships arrived from back East. San Francisco became abandoned; what few ships arrived were abandoned as whole crews and any passengers headed for the hills. Soldiers at military posts around California deserted en masse.

Eventually word did reach the East as rumors and wild speculation. Once the government could confirm that prospectors were indeed recovering a quantity of high-purity gold, President Polk announced that the rumors were true, that people were finding gold and lots of it. People trusted the President and assumed he was telling the truth.

The President made the confirmation on Dec. 5, 1848, so it took over ten months from the discovery until gold fever infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The announcement absolutely opened the
floodgates; men walked away from their factory machines, left their farms, saying farewell to their families. They had to find a way to get to the land of gold.

It wasn’t easy; most people in the U. S. lived in the eastern third of the country, 2000 miles or more from the gold. There were three main routes. The shortest was the overland route: Take the train to Missouri, then follow the trails established by the early pioneers, cross the Great Plains, go over the Rockies, then across the Great American Desert and finally over the Sierras. Hostile Indians could be encountered along the way and this route was considered the most dangerous.

It was easier to take a train to a New England port or New York, then travel to Panama and walk across the Isthmus. The danger here was contracting a life-threatening disease in Panama, especially if one had to wait weeks on the Pacific side for a ship to San Francisco. The many ships abandoned in San Fran-cisco harbor did not return for more passengers. A few years ago, while I was walking in the Hartland cemetery to my grandparents’ graves near the little brick building, a gravestone caught my eye. A young man had died in Juan Dalsud. I thought that was an exotic sounding place for a Vermont boy to die. After researching it at the Hartland Historical Society, I learned that it was the Pacific port at the end of the overland trail taken by gold seekers on the way to California. Orsan Gill died there April 24, 1852.

Surprising to me was that the longest route—17,000 miles around Cape Horn at the tip of South America—was the safest. It took 150-180 days, but one could leave from New England. I suppose those New England sea captains and crews had plenty of experience rounding the Horn on the way to the Orient for trade or for whaling in the Pacific.

About half the gold seekers traveled overland and half by sea.

Some prospectors did strike it rich. Most did not, especially if they were not up to working with a pick and shovel or standing in icy water all day. Some returned home, but many found well-paying jobs servicing the needs of the prospectors. Many enterprising individuals who went to California had no plans to dig for gold. They intended to acquire wealth as merchants, manufacturers, bankers, doctors, lawyers, and so on. This element of the gold rush made San Francisco into a great city.

Unfortunately, we at HHS do not have a lot of details about how those who went from Hartland traveled to California, what they did there, how long they stayed, nor how successful they were. It would be great if readers have information about “49ers” in their family that you can share with us.

Here is a list of Hartland men mentioned in Hartland records as going to California:

Arnold Bagley _______French Thomas Richardson Charles Bagley Orsan Gill Eben Stocker Fred Bagley Dennison Harlow James Sturtevant Jefferson Bagley S. Hoisington E. S. Taylor _______ Burgett John Lamb P. Taylor A.J. Dunbar Julius Lamb R. Taylor Joseph Dunbar, Jr. Ralph Larabee

This is quite a list, and it is surprising that we have so little information about their adventures. It must have been a big event in their lives.

What we know:  Orsan Gill died April 24, 1852 on the Pacific coast of Panama.  We have a letter from California inquiring about James Sturtevant who left his pregnant wife in 1849.  Thomas Richardson came back to Hartland only once or twice, and townspeople remembered he contracted yellow fever on the ship home. He was confined to the Richardson house during his stay. He was the younger brother of Paul who built a Greek revival style house and store in the Three Corners in 1851. The Richardson House is now the Post Office. The store was moved from the corner and is now
BG’s Market. We have a very good picture of Mr. Richardson taken in a studio in Nevada City, CA (in gold country). He appears to be a distinguished gentleman. He died in 1906.

The best we have is a letter John Q. Lamb wrote home after arriving in San Francisco on May 8, 1850, on the steamship “Carolina,” accompanied by his brother Julius. The “Carolina” made the voyage from Panama to San Francisco in only 19 days, stopping in Acapulco, Mexico, and Monterey, California, for two days to take on coal.

Excerpts from John’s letter:

Sacramento, California Dear Father [Harvey Lamb], Here we are in the golden land at last. We had a very good passage and have been in good health since leaving Panama. A number were sick on board and a man from Maine died after we arrived. San Francisco is the meanest place out-of-doors; one can hardly get his breath the sand flies so. We do not know what mines we shall stop at, but think we shall go to the Yuba River. Wages are not as high as they have been. Carpenters get $12 a day, laborers $5. We have got here full early, they say, to make much in the mines, but they say there is no trouble to make our living there now, so we think it best to go and be there when the water goes down. Board is $25 a week or a dollar a meal. There is plenty of snow on the mountains yet. They say it does not go off until the month of August. If I were to start again, I would not take half as much baggage as I have now. We are not going to take much to the mines now, so we are storing it on a ship for $1 a month. Hoisington is now here with us. He is going to the mines today also but not with us. Taylor has not found his father and I don’t think he will. Tell Mother not to worry about us as it is as healthy in the mines as in Vermont. All the sickness they have here is the fevers and ague and there is not much of that. I should like to be at home to sleep in a bed once more, but a hard board or the ground goes very well now when one is tired and sleepy. We are going to start soon, I cannot write much more so good-bye. John Q. Lamb

John included a short note to his sister:

Clarissa, You must write to me as you get this and you must get Hatch to write too. I would write to her if I could, but it is not here as it is at home. I do not know when I shall have another chance to write, so you need not worry if you do not hear from us for two or three months. Write about every living critter in Hartland, where they are and what they are doing. Direct your letters to Sacramento City. I should like to see some folks in Hartland, I tell you, but I must wait some time but I hope not over a year. Here comes Jule and Taylor so I must finish so good-bye. JQL

According to family lore, John and Julius were successful in California. When they returned to Hartland, they wisely invested their money in land. That has benefitted later generations to this day. I don’t know what happened with Hatch, but John married Lucy Damon from a neighboring farm. [The farms are now separated by the I-91 Interchange.] John died in 1856 at the age of 29. Lucy returned to the Damon Farm with their two young children and she and daughter Lizzie never left.

In order to get a sense of what the local response to the Gold Rush was, I went to the Windsor Library. They have the weekly Vermont Journals that go back before that time. I started with January 5, 1849. At the top of the first page in bold letters was “El Dorado” heading a lengthy article. Here are excerpts:

“After making all due allowance for the exaggerations of traders and speculators in California, we cannot doubt gold has been found in the valley of the Sacramento River and in the spurs of the Sierra Nevada. Some thousands of Yankees, Sandwich Islanders, Mexicans and Indians are hard at work in the intervals of
fever and ague, sifting sand and washing gravel. According to Government documents, they are actually acquiring gold at the rate of $15 to $40 a day per laborer. There is getting to be a general rush towards the Paradise of Gold. We hear sixty to seventy vessels advertised in our principle ports for California and Chagres. A mere boat of 30 tons manned by adventurers has just sailed from New Bedford for San Francisco to encounter the ice bergs of Cape Horn and the dangerous billows of that mighty ocean.”

The article continues with a description of how, starting in the 1500s, Spanish explorers came to the New World in search of gold. Even Sir Walter Raleigh hoped to find El Dorado, a place of fabulous riches, in the Carolinas. The article concludes that El Dorado has been found and it’s in California.

Each of the four January 1849 weekly Vermont Journals included news of the growing rush to get to California:

“We hear of young and middle-aged men starting in every direction in this [Windsor] county, heading for California.

“California fever continues to increase and every day we hear of new adventurers starting for the Gold Mines.

“It’s been about a week or two since a party of ten from Vergennes and about thirty from Rutland left for California.”

The third edition of the month reprints a very long speech by Senator Colonel Benton “on the difficult subject of regulating the disposition of the lands in California. People are going to California to dig and dig they will. Wise legislation would regulate, not frustrate, their enterprise.”

The fourth edition of the month describes “The Woodstock party for California,” which was made of some prominent residents and included some wives: “The party is not of gold hunters; probably none will go to the diggings. Capt. Simmons and Mr. Hutchinson will establish a brokerage and commission business. Capt. Simmons is the owner of large real estate in or near San Francisco, which he purchased on an earlier trip. Dr. White has gone with Mrs. White to practice medicine, Mr. F. Billings to establish himself in the practice of law.”

Frederick Billings was born in Royalton, VT in 1823. He became a lawyer in 1848 and headed to San Francisco where he became the city’s first land claims lawyer. He also was a successful real estate developer and became one of the wealthiest and most prominent men in California. After the Civil War, he sold most of his property and returned to Woodstock, VT and purchased the George Perkins Marsh estate. Today the Billings Farm and Museum is a working dairy farm.

Susan and I have visited Gold Country twice. It covers a large area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. Many boomtowns were established and then abandoned. Coloma, site of the discovery, attracted two thousand prospectors in 1848. By the end of 1849, there were ten thousand placer miners working there. A couple of years later, it was nearly deserted as richer diggings were found elsewhere.

Initially, the Gold Rush symbolized the American Dream. No matter an individual’s status, if they had the stamina and determination to go to California and dig, they might greatly improve their lot in life. Eventually, companies were formed to mine the gold. Prospectors noticed gold flakes embedded in quartz rocks, but breaking the rock to dust by hand was too much work. Mining companies tunneled into the hillsides thousands of feet, following quartz veins. The environmental impact of hard rock mining was great, but even worse was hydraulic mining. This method required enormous amounts of water brought in by a network of flumes and directed into something like a fire hose. The resulting jet stream was used to erode hillsides, directing the runoff to sluice boxes where the gold could be collected. Of course, the silt and gravel continued on downstream, eventually impeding steamboat ravel on the Sacramento River. I believe it was the basis for some of the first environmental regulation the country.

The towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City grew to support hard rock mining. The wealth form the mines led to the creation of nice little towns. The professional class of merchants, bankers, doctors, and lawyers built fine Victorian-style homes. The highlight of one of our trips was staying in Nevada City’s National Hotel, built in 1854. I wish I had known that Thomas Richardson, a Hartland man, had probably spent most of his adult life there.

Today, most of Gold Country is encompassed by National Forest. State parks preserve and interpret historic sites.

Hartland News 1877

In the course of her work at HHS, Pip Parker came across this interesting (and amusing) newspaper article. The punctuation, italics and spellings are as the original.

Hartland, VT 1877

A little excitement happened in District No 6 in April. Mr. Sumner T. Lull who lives on the Cady farm, received from the hotel des tramps in Windsor, a lad named Charles Baker, about 15 years of age, to assist him on his farm. About two weeks ago they left him to go to church, when he went to Mr. Lull’s desk, and took about fifteen dollars in money, and what clothes Mr. Lull had furnished him, and left. When Mr. Lull came home he learned the boy had been missing about two hours, and immediately started in pursuit, toward Hartland, with Mr. Charles Wilder; at Hartland Four Corners, G.H. Thayer – who was not making soap – said he had seen the boy pass, as also did Mr. Albert B. Burk; Mr. Wilson Britton, Chairman of the Hartland Thief Detective Society, being busily engaged in his horse barn, did not see the boy pass. Mr. Lull then drove to the Pavilion Hotel, kept by Mr. R. L. Britton, who furnished him with a fresh horse, and also started with him in search of the boy, in company with Mr. Eli Shepherd, one of the Hartland detectives, they then proceeded up the track, on foot, eight or ten rods to Mr. Gilson’s cooper shop, when Mr. Britton becoming weary, returned, and as they came back to the depot they saw the boy who was immediately secured by Mr. Britton and Wilder. Upon searching him, the money was found secreted in a handkerchief around his body; after consultation, they delivered the boy to Mr. Lull, minus sixty-two cents, which “Roy” said was to go to the Detective Society. Now what does Mr. Lull do with the boy? Beat and pound him, as some wou’d suppose, from what they have heard on account of a little trouble he had with a contrary and ill-disposed prisoner? He took the boy home and kept him about a week, and gave him good Christian instruction, telling him the evil consequences of such things, which, from his former experience of rogues, he was capable of doing. The boy may find other homes, but none better than the one he had at Mr. Lull’s. We hope the boy may ever find as good friends as he found at Windsor.

Wilson Britton lived in the brick house across from the fire station. Pip’s father-in-law, Raymie Durphey, has lived there for many years.

Hartland in the Civil War – Part 9

By Les Motschman

The Aftermath

The Official National Park Service handbook—The Civil War Remembered—states that the American Civil War was the most momentous era in American history. It defined who we are as a nation. It was not only our greatest military struggle, but also our greatest social revolution, root of our greatest evolution as a nation. In the eighty years from the founding of the country until the Civil War, it was not certain at all that the disparate areas across the broad continent could be united into one nation. In addition, although the War was not fought to free the four million Black Americans from bondage, the institution of slavery was a deeply divisive issue that had been hotly debated for decades.
At the start of the War, slavery was legal in 15 states and the nation’s Capital. And in the mostly agrarian South, the economy was dependent on slavery. In 1848 a South Carolina senator asked, “Were ever any people persuaded by argument to voluntarily surrender two thousand million dollars of property?” In the North, abolitionists were the radicals of their time, who argued that slavery was a moral evil that should be prohibited. The arguments about whether slavery was a moral evil or a benevolent institution designed to care for a particular race split America’s two largest religious denominations—the Methodists and the Baptists—into separate churches. Each quoted Biblical scripture to support its position.
The Civil War affected the lives of every American in the 1860s. The outcome of the War determined that the Union would survive. Going forward, we would be one nation. Slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th and the 15th Amendments defined and nationalized citizenship and banned race as a reason for disenfranchisement. Before the War, the primary interaction people had with the Federal government was through the Post Office. Prosecuting the War, though, required more powerful central governments. Both the North and the South passed draft laws requiring many to risk their lives in service to their government. The North established income and excise taxes and created a national banking system.
Much of the South was beaten down after the War, its agricultural system and industries destroyed. A much higher proportion of its young male population were killed or maimed than the North’s. It took generations to rebuild and to come to terms with the place that freed Blacks would have in society.
The North emerged from the War an industrial powerhouse, ready to resume westward expansion. With its larger population, the North had more casualties in numbers, but wave on wave of immigrants from Europe displaced by war or by the Industrial Revolution headed straight for the Western territories or the growing cities.
Much of northern New England, however, was becoming a backwater. Our area as the frontier had experienced a large influx of settlers decades before the Civil War. Hartland’s population peaked in
1820 at 2553, and then declined with each census until 1920 when there were only 1212 people in town. It slowly rebounded but did not exceed the 1820 figure until 1990.
The population at the start of the War was less than 1800, yet Hartland is credited with sending 200 men. Twelve were killed in action, eighteen died of disease, and twenty were wounded. I’ve noted throughout the series that some returning veterans were at least partially disabled by their wounds or diseases they contracted in camp. At a time when the main occupation was farming, and most paying jobs involved physical labor, it was difficult for some to earn a living.
A year ago, I attended a lecture by Brian Jordan, who teaches courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction at Sam Houston State University in Texas. The topic was The Lives and Struggles of Union Veterans after the Civil War. Despite some of the progressive governmental measures put into effect after the Union victory, Mr. Jordan said it was an incomplete victory—there were race riots, the Ku Klux Klan was founded, and Southerners flouted the Reconstruction Laws imposed on them by the victors.
Most of the civilian population in the North did not suffer great hardship during the War unless they had lost a loved one. Generally, they were just glad the War was finally over so things could return to normal. The returning veterans, however, because of their sacrifice, were not so willing to reconcile with the Southern states and simply move on. They joined veterans’ organizations such as the G.A.R. (the Grand Army of the Republic), which demanded that Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and others be executed for committing treason. (They were not.) They saw themselves as returning heroes who not only preserved the Union, but also made possible a better Union, with liberty for all. Many veterans despised those in the community who did not serve, especially those who purchased a substitute. Some veterans could not work because of disability or the mental demons that can possess soldiers who have seen the massive killing and maiming of battle; some died of chronic ailments a few years after the War; some committed suicide.
Mr. Jordan said it was different in the South. As most of the War was fought there, civilians in the South shared in the suffering and defeat. The Confederate population in general tended to look backward after the War. The Civil War was a glorious lost cause that they hoped might someday receive vindication. Rebel soldiers, of course, were not eligible for U. S. pensions, but even in the face of widespread poverty, communities supported their veterans as living evidence of a just cause.
Many of the veterans returning to Hartland soon left for the cities or the Midwest. Most Hartland soldiers were in their late ’teens to mid-twenties, an age when they would naturally want to strike out on their own and get a good job or go into business or farming. Not all of them would have been able to stay in town. Older vets like the Davis twins or Benjamin Hatch were in their mid-thirties, already established in town, and remained here the rest of their lives.
About two dozen Hartland Civil War soldiers are buried in the Hartland Village Cemetery. An equal number are buried in the neighborhood cemeteries, and about that many are buried in cemeteries just beyond Hartland’s borders in South Woodstock, Woodstock, Quechee, and Taftsville. Quite a few more are buried elsewhere in Vermont or nearby in New Hampshire. The records indicate that two Hartland soldiers are buried in California and a few in the Midwest. For many, a burial site is not indicated,
presumably because they left the area for good. Those killed in action were often buried in a National Cemetery or in an unmarked grave on the battlefield.
Hartland historian Nancy Darling (1862-1932) wrote in The Vermonter magazine in 1913 on the occasion of the150th anniversary of Hartland:
When the present generation is tempted to think lightly of the flag and of its duty to the town and state and nation, would that it might remember what many saw here. The poor, worn-out soldiers on their way home from the war, stopping at the Four Corners, emaciated and sick, for the medical aid which Dr. Harding and Dr. Emmons were waiting to give; or that son of John Willard who weighed one hundred and ninety pounds when he went to war and ninety pounds when he returned from Andersonville prison.
Miss Darling lists the veterans still living in Hartland nearly fifty years after the War: Wm. J. Allen, W. W. Bagley, Sidney W. Brown, J. F. Colston, Ferdinand Fallon, Moses George, W. W. Kelley, Peter Lapine, L. J. M. Marcy, A. A. Martin, A. R. Pierce, S. M. Whitney, J. O. Wright; also, Enos Gingham, E. B. Maxham, and C. D. Myrnick, who went to war from other towns.
Around the time I started this Hartland in the Civil War project, long-time Town Clerk and HHS President Clyde Jenne told me the town went deeply into debt during the War. As I have said, the Federal government was not that big an entity before the War. There was a small standing army and navy. Towns had militia companies just as they did at the time of the American Revolution. Some of the men would gather from time to time to drill. One of the earliest pictures we have is of the Hartland militia drilling in a pasture above Foundryville. It soon became apparent that the U. S. Army as then constituted would not put down the rebellion quickly, President Lincoln called for volunteers to create a large army. Each state was given a quota, and the Adjutant General of Vermont in Woodstock determined a quota for each town. Incredible as it seems today, the responsibility for finding men for the army fell to the Selectmen in the individual towns. Technically, almost all the men went to war as volunteers, not draftees. There was, however, a bounty paid to those who signed up. Again, it’s hard to comprehend why the towns and not the Federal government paid the bounties. Towns weren’t able to double or triple the amount they raised by taxes; they had to borrow the money from banks.

From the February 1863 Town Report for payments made in 1862: Current expenses for the year in the Selectman’s Dept. $ 657.60 Orders drawn for Surplus Revenue paid State Treasurer 688.65 Amount of orders drawn for cash borrowed to pay soldiers ` 3,100.00 Amount of orders drawn to soldiers 1,750.00 Whole amount of orders drawn by Selectmen $6,196.25

The town finished the year $4,654.25 in debt. For some reason, three-year men got $50 and nine-month men got $100. All the soldiers’ names are listed in the Town Reports.

From the March 1864 Town Report: Names of drafted men who received orders for three hundred dollars each as their bounty from said town. [Seventeen names] at $300 whole amount $ 5,100.00 (Les’s note: These men did not serve but secured substitutes and were still paid by the town.)

Names of volunteers who have received their bounties voted by said town in cash, who volunteered under the last call of the President of the United States for three hundred thousand men: 24 men at $500 $12,000.00

The Town was $23,305 in debt.

From the February 1865 Town Report: Cash paid to three years men, $850 to $950 $ 10,225 Cash paid for substitutes, $750-$950 $ 6,450 Amount paid to one year men, $400-$750 $ 11,460 Amount paid to three years men (sailors), $625 $ 12,951 Amount paid to Men Re-Enlisted in the Field, $300 $ 7,213

The Town was then $65,407.80 in debt.
This seems like a crushing amount of debt at a time when the town was raising only a few thousand a year in taxes. Clyde says there are no minutes of Selectmen’s meetings from that time. The actual Town Reports are mere eight-page pamphlets with no written reports, only accounts. (By comparison, the 2016 Town Report is 127 full-size pages.). The Selectmen were paid two dollars a day when they worked on running the Town. Normally, much of the time involved overseeing work on roads and bridges, but it also included traveling to banks in Windsor and Woodstock to “hire” money. The 1865 Town Report indicates that most of the days the Selectmen billed the Town for in 1864 were spent in Windsor “after substitutes” or “for volunteers.” As indicated by the steep increase in bounties paid, it must have been a desperate time, as all the town selectmen competed for warm bodies to send to the Federal government. By 1864, most of the eligible Hartland men must have volunteered or been drafted. Many of the men receiving the large bounties were probably not Hartland natives.
Town Reports after the War indicate taxes raised increased somewhat. Of course, the Town had an interest expense of nearly $3,000 a year on top of normal expenses. In 1872 the Town was still $61,000 in debt. An 1887 warning asked whether the Town would vote to raise money for current expenses, for the school fund, and to pay a part of the indebtedness, reducing it by a few thousand a year. By 1898 the Town’s debt was down to $2,800.

Lucia Summers

Lucia Summers, 1835-1898

First Resident Botanist in the Pacific Northwest

Lucia Summers was a pioneer botanist in the Pacific coast states between 1871 and 1898. She experienced the Northwest landscape just as it was beginning to be altered by the first settlers. At the age of 34, she arrived in Seattle with her husband, the Reverend Robert summers (the first Episcopal priest in Seattle) in 1871. At that time, Seattle was a village of about 1,500 people. Lucia was well-educated and an accomplished linguist and musician. She traveled extensively with her husband, collecting specimens which she sent to botanists back East as there was no herbaria in the region at that time.

Lucia was born in Hartland, Vermont on November 22, 1835. Her given name was Susan Ann Noyes. Her nickname Lucia was probably to honor her father’s deceased first wife. Her father Benjamin Noyes was a master carpenter and sufficiently affluent for Lucia to receive an advanced education, unusual for a woman at that time. The Noyes were a long-established New England family, but sometime in the 1850’s they left for Hannibal, Missouri. It was there that she met her future husband, Robert Summers of Kentucky. They married July 17, 1859.

The couple apparently spent time touring Europe before settling down in Kentucky. Once they removed to the Northwest, they remained there until moving to San Luis Obispo, California for the last several years of their lives. They both died in 1898. Robert was 70, Lucia 63. After Lucia’s death, Phoebe Hearst, a regent of the University of California, purchased Lucia’s herbarium and donated it to the university. Lucia’s specimens sent back East are found in herbaria at the New York Botanical Gardens, Yale University and Harvard University.

The source is a paper done by Edward R. Alverson, who was with The Nature Conservancy in Eugene, Oregon.