Harold Goddard Rugg (1883-1957)

From Harold Goddard Rugg to Mrs Janet Blackford: (She was Janet Harding, grand daughter of Dr. John and grew up in Four Corners in the brick house now owned by Peter Gordon):

Where the town hall was given Mrs. Lamb fitted out a room for a historical room and I was asked to have charge of it. We have so far collected quite a number of things for the room, old furniture, china, portraits, etc.

and so we, the Hartland Historical Society, began.

Harold Goddard Rugg (1883-1957)

Harold was the son of David Fletcher and Julia Goddard Hager Rugg. His father was a Hartland Doctor who died when Harold was quite young. He graduated from Black River Academy in 1902 and Dartmouth in 1906.


Birthplace of Harold Goddard Rugg. Now home of Ron and Hylene DeVoyd.


For a closer look at this remarkable man, take a look at the Valley News of Feb. 21, 1957:

In Memoriam:Harold G. Rugg
The entire Upper Valley mourns the death of Mr. Rugg. Mr. Rugg held a unique place in the affections of many people in the area, for he was an “accessible professor”. Although he spent a lifetime of professional service at Dartmouth and although his reputation as an astute collector of rare books spread to the far corners of the globe, his interest in local projects and problems never flagged.

A native of Hartland and a keen student of Vermont history, Mr Rugg became an elder statesman of things historical and botanical. Many a garden club or struggling historical society turned to him for help and guidance. With calmness and gentleness he adjudicated many a historical dispute, and the phrase “Let’s ask Harold Rugg” heard often hereabouts testified to his neighbors trust in Mr Rugg’s judgment and their respect for his scholarship.

Lest we strike too parochial a note, it should be said that Harold Rugg’s interests were wide -ranging. He could enjoy gardening in Hanover where he became an expert on ferns and even discovered a new variety that bears his name. Simultaneously he could say” I have an insatiable desire for remote and lonely and queer places”. He knew from personal experience more diverse parts of the globe than is ordinarily given a dozen men to know. He knew Europe and the Near East. He climbed the Grand Tetons of Wyoming: but he also climbed the Pyrenees. He skated far up the Connecticut and was one of the first men to climb Mt. Washington on snowshoes: but he also knew the tiny nation of Andorra, the Gaspe, Mexico, and once in the company of hardy souls, he set sail from Spitzbergen, 360 miles north of Norway, to see how much farther north he could go before ice floes halted his progress.

He often had lunch with an undergraduate, but he also dined with Lord Dartmouth in England and took tea with Sir Winfred Grenfell in Labrador. He could become intrigued with the amateur history of some north country hill town or he could lose himself in a catalog of rare books. It was he who arranged Robert Frost’s first lecture at Dartmouth when the poet was struggling for recognition. Out of this grew his remarkable collection of Frostiana, now a part of the Baker Library. He also collected rare Bennington ware and books and manuscripts concerning Vermont that number into the thousands.

Perhaps more than anything else he treasured the honorary degree bestowed upon him by his alma mater, Dartmouth, in recognition of his many years of service to the college. Harold Rugg was a remarkable man. His ivory tower was the world. There is an oil painting by Paul Sample – Dartmouth 1920 hanging in the Baker Library.

Mr. Rugg was also the first President of the Hartland Historical Society in 1916 and a member, Vice – President, and Curator of the Vermont Historical Society. In 1955 Mr. Rugg was a speaker at a Hartland Historical Society meeting. Rugg spoke of his childhood and youth in Hartland before he left in 1896.

He remembered a tinsmith in the rear of the old hotel; the nearby harness shop of Jake Emerson, later used as the post office; of the “Pound” on the Quechee Road where stray animals were put; of events of the two churches in the village. He remembered looking across the road from his home and seeing white robed persons, accompanied by the minister, going to Lull Brook for a baptism by immersion.

Rugg said he attended a boarding school in South Woodstock conducted by Joseph Dunbar, a Hartland mathematician and author of textbooks.

During the log drives on the Connecticut River, he used to accompany his father, Dr. David F. Rugg, who was often called to attend to an injured river man.”

Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, June 2005

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