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.

Baseball in Hartland

It’s hard to believe with all the sports available today to men and women, boys and girls, that a hundred years ago there was really only one game in town and that was baseball. It truly was the National Pastime back then. A history written in the 1950’s indicated that Hartland had fielded a town team at least since 1909, the date of our earliest team pictures. The then-current manager Clarence Jackson played shortstop on the first team in 1909. The early teams played in Lee Graham’s pasture. Many sons of the early players continued the tradition. Four generations of Howes played. Alonzo Howe was on the 1909 team; then Raymond Howe Sr., Raymond Howe Jr., and Raymond Durphey, son of Viola Howe Durphey; Roger Flanagan played 32 years. Leon Royce told me Roger was a great knuckleball pitcher.
In later years, the games were played at the fairgrounds. Home plate was near the corner of the present-day Hartland Elementary School gym. The town team was organized as the Hartland Athletic Association. They were the “Athletics,” appropriating the name of the Philadelphia team. Hartland played other town teams in the Bethel-Randolph area, in what was known as the Central Vermont League. Money to pay for equipment and expenses was raised by auction and dances. Frank and Lucy Temple and Floyd and Cecyl Davis were their most ardent supporters who never missed a game. The Temples lived where Dick and Edith White do now and held dances in their new barn to raise money for the team.
Some later managers of the team after Mr. Jackson were Elbridge Davis, Frank Durphey, Frank Barrell, Leon Royce and David Lamb. The lineup in the 1950s includes Mickey Cochran, Math teacher at Windsor; David Lamb, farmer; Martin Ide, government appraiser; Tom White, sawmill operator; Ken Russell, grain mill employee; Don Frail, grain mill manager; Leon Royce, Post Office employee; Bill Blaisdell, Windsor Town Manager; Calvin Frost, Windsor Machine Co. Employee; Delman Crowell; also Cone Automatic Machine employees Paul and Avery Howe, Roger Flanagan, and Robert Stillson. John Russell, John Barrell, James Ide, Bob White, and Gordon Roberts are not playing this year as they are in the Armed Forces.
In 1937 a group of youngsters, about 12 years of age, went to Mr. Jackson and asked him to help form a Little League team. They were Paul and Raymond Howe, Leon Royce, Henry Merritt, Lee Lasure, Jr., Frank Moore, Temple Hood, Launice Flower, Billy Wilder, Dave Jackson, Leonard Britton, Lloyd Barber and Bob Stillson. Some of them were still playing ball for Hartland in the 1950s.


Les Motschman

Hartland Fair

By Ruth Jenne, 1948

The first Hartland Grange Fair was held on October 17, 1925. The one-day fair was held in the Village and Mechanics Hall (across from the brick church). There was a chicken pie supper and dance at Damon Hall. The fair has grown to a three-day fair with land of its own and many buildings erected as the fair grew. The Steele meadow was purchased in 1931 and the bandstand and judges stand built the next year. Buildings for exhibits and livestock were built. In 1934 the grandstand was built, the merry-go-round from the Woodstock fairgrounds was acquired, and land across the road was purchased for parking cars. Several of the buildings were built from buildings from the State Fair at White River Junction and Floral Hall at the Woodstock grounds. The grandstand came from St. Johnsbury and Floral Hall was part of the old Barnard Hotel.

The program consisted of sports, a parade, a children’s parade, horse stunts, a chicken pie supper and dance. After the cement floor was built, dances were held on the grounds in a large tent. An automobile was given away the last night to the holder of the lucky dance ticket. There were fireworks on two nights. In the early days of the fair, the vaudeville shows were presented by local talent. As the fair grew, these attractions were engaged from outside sources.

From the start of the fair until 1942, the fair opened with a parade. At first it was a street parade in the Village, but it grew to be nearly a mile long with beautifully decorated floats and vehicles, pedestrians and animals. [The route was from the Methodist Church, now the Sign Shop to the fairgrounds, now Hartland Elementary School. L. Motschman]

The fair was not held in 1942 because of the war. In 1943 there was a one-day fair with horse pulling and 4-H events. The following year the fair returned to the three-day program.

I asked people who viewed the exhibit for their comments and memories of the Fair: 

Elizabeth Spear Graham attended her Aunt Elizabeth’s Farm-Home camp in the early 1950s and remembers the Fair as the most anticipated event of the summer. On fair day, the campers wore their best suits and dresses, complete with hats. A picnic lunch was packed as they were strictly forbidden to eat or drink anything from the Fair except bottled drinks. This was because of the extremely widespread fear of polio at that time. Since most of the campers were from the city or suburbs, they were quite interested in the animals at the Fair.

Sandra Springer Palmer grew up on top of the hill that overlooked the fairgrounds. She started working at the fair as a young teenager selling tickets. In the early sixties after auctioneer J.W. Barber bought the Fair, Sandy worked at a variety of events that Barber held there. For a few years there was a large Sportsman’s Show held in October. 

As a young boy, the Hartland Fair was a highlight of my summer, occurring just a week or so before “back to school.” As a teenager, it wasn’t as exciting, but still not to be missed. My father and his Fish and Game Club buddies ran a dice game so I was at the Fair with him most nights. My favorite attraction at the Fair was the Joie Chitwood “Hell Drivers” show. The next day, we kids would be building ramps for our bicycles. 


HHS has ledgers used by the various judges, ribbons, tickets, posters, programs and premium booklets. The latest booklet is 1964 with Hank Williams, Jr. and his white Cadillac on the cover. I don’t remember the show but distinctly remember Williams hanging out with people near the Floral Hall office after closing time. I didn’t think to get an autograph as I was more interested in getting an up-close look at the Cadillac. 

Speaking of my father and cars, he won the car raffle in 1947, a black Plymouth. Les Motschman

Lewis E. Merritt

Lewis E. Merritt 1868-1946

Now to honor Leon Royce’s request that Lewis Merritt be featured in the H.H.S. newsletter. When Leon was growing up in the house next to Damon Hall on the main street, the Merritts lived just up the street in the fine house now occupied by Larry and Jeannie Frazer. Of course, now I wish I had quizzed Leon more about his recollections of Lewis Merritt.

An earlier Lewis Merritt, Stephen Hammond, and Harvey Lamb came to Hartland from Charlton, Massachusetts. In 1817 they leased a grist mill in the gorge below what is now the Rte. 5 bridge from Aaron Willard. Having access to a supply of grain, the partners soon established Hartland’s first commercial distillery. Hartland was booming at that time. Several dams and mills had existed for decades on Lulls Brook from the village to the Connecticut River. By 1852, L. H. Merritt had consolidated all the mill privileges in the gorge, and the area became known as Merritt Mills for the next 60 years. In 1878 Asa Merritt, Lewis E. Merritt’s brother, purchased the mills, which included a saw mill, grist mill, and cider mill. The Hartland Historical Society’s 100th Anniversary 2016 calendar features a 1900 picture of the log yard and Asa’s house, which still stands south of the bridge. The calendar’s May picture shows some of the mill buildings. In 1911 a fire caused by an overheated bearing destroyed the entire complex.

Lewis E. Merritt continued the family business of building and operating mills. By 1911 he had built a saw mill, grist mill, and cider mill on a rise above the Rte. 5 bridge. The mills were powered by electricity generated at Asa’s mill site down in the gorge. The tall red grist mill still stands as a landmark visible when entering or leaving the village. The foundations of the saw mill and cider mill are still visible. In 1950 Herb Ogden removed their works to his place on Jenneville Road.

Besides the house where, it was said, the gardens were the showpiece of the Village, there was a Merritt farm. It was just up the hill from the Quechee Road on what is now Mt. Hunger Road. Mr. Merritt sold cattle as well as lumber. He may also have been a breeder of fine horses, as H.H.S. has accounts of his selling stock out of state. He also owned a lot of land. The first Lewis Merritt in Hartland went into business when Hartland was one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of 2500. A hundred years later, the population was only half that; Lewis E. Merritt was probably the most prominent and wealthiest man in what was then a town in decline economically. It must have been a buyer’s market for land. For people with hill farms who needed or wanted to sell so they could leave for greener pastures, Mr. Merritt may have been one of the few who had both the means and the inclination to buy land. My grandparents, Guy and Ada Best, worked on the Merritts’ home farm, and that may have been where they met. After marrying, they farmed at Ogden’s, a farm I’m pretty sure Lewis E. Merritt owned. In 1915, ten years after they married, they were able to buy a farm from Mr. Merritt. I sense Mr. Merritt was somewhat of a facilitator during what were tough times for many townspeople. He could buy farms from those who wanted to sell and he could put on those farms people who didn’t have the means to buy. Mr. Merritt was definitely an administrator as his name shows up in many transactions, such as settling estates. It’s apparent that he was regarded as a man of integrity who people turned to for help.

That said, H.H.S. has a newspaper clipping indicating at least one person found fault with Mr. Merritt’s character. In 1926 his sister-in-law, Anna Merritt, sued him for $50,000! Her husband Henry had died in Florida in 1923, and Anna claimed emotional distress because Lewis E. Merritt was “circulating talk” in
Hartland that she had poisoned her husband. It must have been a spurious claim or quietly settled because nothing else about it appeared in the paper.

As Leon Royce told me, Lewis Merritt did a lot for the town. Along with his business dealings and farming, Mr. Merritt found time to serve as a Selectman and President of the Cemetery Association.

So next time you’re passing through town, notice Lewis’s fine house on the main street. Note what was for decades Hartland’s lone sidewalk that runs in front of it—Mr. Merritt built that in 1928. At the center of the village you’ll see the soldier’s monument that Mr. Merritt gave the town in 1930. Leaving town, you’ll see the tall red grist mill where Mr. Merritt’s businesses were located. After crossing the bridge, Asa’s house is on the right—the Merritt fortunes were started in the long deep gorge across the road.

The Merritt House on Rt. 12 (on the right)



Les Motschman, with help from H.H.S.Board Member Pip Parker, who researched the Merritts, and H.H.S. member Jay Boeri, who operates a hydro station in the gorge and knows a great deal about the many previous owners and their mills.

Leon Royce

Leon Royce
July 15, 1924 – January 16, 2016

This newsletter is dedicated to Leon Royce, a life-long Hartland resident and long-time H.H.S. member who died in Florida this past winter. After his retirement from teaching and coaching at Windsor High School, Leon and wife Marjorie went to Florida every winter for the Red Sox “spring training.” He was an expert on all things Red Sox. Leon was well-known and respected throughout the greater Windsor area because of the hundreds of students and ballplayers he had taught. I played for Leon on a couple of good baseball teams in ’65 and ’66, but saw very little of him for years after that. Our lives had a similar trajectory a generation apart—growing up in or near the Village, Hartland grade school, Windsor High School, away a few years for the Marine Corps and college, and then back to Hartland to stay. When we did reconnect, it did not involve baseball, but rather H.H.S. programs. Of course, the relationship eventually revolved around baseball, whether watching games at his house or going to Windsor, Dartmouth, or minor league games. Either in the car or at the games, there was always conversation and not always just baseball; we talked politics and history, especially Hartland history. It was quite an oral history lesson for me to hear his observations about life in town and the characters who populated it. Unfortunately, not all that information can be reported in these pages.
My last conversation with Leon included talk about the last H.H.S. newsletter in which I wrote about the Damon family. I told him there were quite a few other people who were born in Hartland, went to a small school, then went out into the world and did very well for themselves. I said there’s such a lot of material that I could continue with that theme for some time. Leon said, “You know some people stayed right here and did very well. You should write about Lewis Merritt; he did a lot for the Town.” So I will, but first I want to tell Leon’s story, as he also was a local boy who did well in his chosen field.
Leon grew up on the main street in the house in back of Damon Hall and next to the Martin Memorial Building, home of H.H.S. (In Leon’s time, it was a garage that was next door.) In the ’20s and ’30s, Hartland was still very much a farming town. Even people who had jobs farmed their land to provide for themselves and bring in a little income. Leon was a “townie” and didn’t have farming in his upbringing. Living in town meant a short walk to school, stores, or any events taking place. There were always people coming and going. Leon’s father, Phillip Royce, was the Town Treasurer for many years and had an office in the home. Living in town also meant there were enough young people nearby for pickup ballgames. Leon, of course, always loved playing baseball. He told me that his father had no interest in baseball and never watched him play.
Leon attended Windsor High School, graduating in 1942. Like many of his generation, he was soon off to war. Leon enlisted in the Marine Corps; and surprisingly, because he had worked for a time at the Windsor Post Office, he was assigned to a postal job. His combat training was in artillery. As a Marine a generation later, I of course wanted to know what he had experienced. Leon was posted for a time at Maui, Hawaii, not a bad place to be in the middle of World War II, but in 1945, Marines there became part of the massive invasion of the island of Iwo Jima. After several conversations over the years about the Marines, Leon mentioned that he was at Iwo Jima. I said, “Wow! What was that like?” He said, “You know, we didn’t know how bad it was when we were there. It wasn’t until we left that men were learning from home what a costly battle it had been.” “Iwo,” of course, was the most famous battle in
Marine Corps history. It lasted five weeks. Several thousand were killed in action, and nearly twenty thousand were wounded. Leon told me he was certain that the post office job in Windsor saved his life.
After the War, Leon attended Ithaca College. Upon graduation, he returned to Windsor High School to teach and, of course, quickly got involved in the athletic program. By the late 1950s, he got his dream job coaching the baseball team. That is where he made his reputation, winning about two-thirds of the games over a thirty-year career. He accomplished that while playing against some of the larger schools in the state with the smallest school in the Division. I’m prone to telling people who haven’t been in the area too many decades that Windsor used to be a much larger school. In fact, we played Division 1 baseball and did very well. I relayed one such conversation to Leon not too many years ago and he said: “Damn right we did, but only because I insisted on it. Early on I went to the administration and told them I wanted to move up. I wanted to play against the best. They didn’t think that made much sense, but they let me do it.”
While most people probably associate the name Leon Royce with Windsor, he always lived in Hartland and found time to serve the community. He was on the School Board and was especially devoted to the Congregational Church. He served as a Deacon, doing what needed to be done around the Church and working on the suppers. One of his jobs in the old days was rising several hours before the Sunday services to start the wood furnace.
It is good that on his retirement, the Royce name was attached to the Windsor athletic fields. It’s doubly deserving, as not only was he a long time successful coach and Athletic Director, but Leon also actually worked on the field. He spent countless hours watering, raking, and pulling weeds. He wanted his teams to be the best, and he wanted to have the best field.
Leon leaves his wife of 68 years, Marjorie Hatch Royce, three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. There will be a service to celebrate his life on Saturday, May 14, at 2 p.m. at the Hartland Congregational Church.

Les Motschman


More on the Damons

by Les Motschman


While researching the Damon essay, I read a sentence in the 1985 application to place Damon Hall on the National Register of Historic Buildings that alluded to a subject in which I have long been interested. After noting that William Damon married Alma Otis of Windsor, the researcher wrote: “Thereafter the couple joined the middle-nineteenth century tide of emigration from Vermont.” Quite a brief aside to describe what really was the depopulating of a whole region.
Hartland was chartered in 1761, but it wasn’t until the mid-1770s that people started to arrive in numbers. They came mostly from Massachusetts and Connecticut, and within a generation transformed the land from forested hillsides into dozens of small farms. When the first Federal census was taken in 1790, Hartland had a population of 1,652, about half what it is today, 225 years later. The makeup of the population was different in the early days of the town from what it is now.
The Gallup family provides a good example. Two brothers came to Hartland [then Hertford] from Stonington, Connecticut, an early seaport. In 1775 William came with his family, which included seven children, and settled in the area of the present White Farm on Route 5. In 1778 William’s older brother Elisha brought his family to what is now Weed Road. There were ten children in that family; the youngest was two when they arrived in Hartland.
By 1810 the population of Hartland was 2,352. In that century it peaked at 2,553 in 1820. From there it declined for one hundred years, reaching its nadir around the time Damon Hall was built in 1915 when only about 1,260 people lived in town. In fact, when preparing the application mentioned above, the researcher wondered if the townspeople thought there was a need for a “substantially larger and more stylistically sophisticated Town Hall,” considering the population was in decline.
One could say Hartland’s heyday coincided with the sheep boom around 1820–1840. Most of the remaining wooded hillsides had been cleared for sheep pasture, and for a time these hill farmers made good money. Many of the finer houses around the countryside and in the villages date from that period.
By the mid 1800s, the Vermont economy was not growing fast enough to provide all the young people born here and now coming of age with work or with opportunities to make something of themselves. Elsewhere, the country was in a period of rapid expansion. Towns and cities in southern New England were industrializing, creating a huge demand for workers. Vast tracts of good land in the Midwest were available for settlement. Many of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the pioneers who settled Hartland had to leave town and strike out on their own, maybe becoming pioneers themselves.
William Damon may have been one of the more successful Hartland farm boys who left town to seek his fortune, but likely quite a few others also found a measure of success. I was curious about William’s several siblings. Did any of the others leave town looking for adventure? Did the women marry well? Did anyone stay and keep the farm going?
Most of the information below about the ten Damon siblings was provided by HHS member Jane Cawthorn, a Lamb descendant, and my Hartland Elementary and Windsor High classmate more than fifty years ago. 

Luther and Betsy Damon’s children
1. Luther A. Damon, b. 1820, d. 1821, infant.

2. Urias E. Damon, b. 1822, d. 1877 Served in the Civil War, Co. A, VT 12th Inf. Reg. Must have enlisted in Windsor. At age 40, he would have been one of the oldest “nine months men.” Had five children.

3. Luther E. Damon, b. 1824, d. 1843 in Canton, China Sailing to China is as far away from the farm as a Hartland boy could get.

4. Elizabeth E. Damon, b. 1827, d. 1891 May not have married. As of the 1880 census, she was listed as a head of household.

5. Sarah J. Damon, b. 1830, d. 1893 Was “keeping house” according to the 1880 census.

6. Lucy E. Damon, b. 1832, d. 1913 Lucy married John Quincy Lamb and with him had two children, Charles and Lizzie. The Damon farm was just south of the current I-91 interchange on the west side of Route 5. The Lamb farm was just north of the interchange on the west side of Route 5. The buildings burned in the 1930s, but descendants still live nearby.

John and his older brother Julius sailed to California in 1850 for the Gold Rush, but returned to settle in Hartland. They bought a lot of land with the money they made in California. John died at 29 when the children were very young. Lucy went to live out the rest of her life at the Damon farm with Elizabeth and Sarah, and Lizzie stayed there her whole life as she never married. Charles went to Dartmouth and became a civil engineer for the Federal government in St. Louis. Lizzie died in 1924, the last Damon to live on the family farm.

7. Aaron Damon, b. 1834, d. 1835, infant.

8. Lavinia F. Damon, b. 1836, d. 1896 Lavinia married Merrit Farnham Penniman in 1862, and they had six children. A well-respected family, they lived on the main street in Hartland Village.

9. William E. Damon, b. 1838, d. 1911 William was the most notable and successful Damon. He and his wife Alma had no children. He was the prime age for serving in the Civil War. We know he was in Bermuda collecting fish at the start of the War. Did he pay for a substitute to serve? His money kept the Damon farm in fine shape, and he visited it often. His money built Damon Hall. Did he support his sisters and niece who lived at the farm?

10. Mary E. Damon, b. 1845, d. 1854, at age 9.

Several of the Damons are buried in the Old South Church Cemetery in Windsor.

Growing up in Hartland and living here most of my life, I assumed that Damon Hall was named for some rich guy who had built it for the Town. As the 100th anniversary of the Hall approached, I started researching Damon Hall and the Damons. I discovered that William Damon, who probably earned most if not all of the money that built the hall, died in 1911, a few years before it was built. Especially confusing to me was the official dedication of the Hall as a memorial to Luther and Betsy Damon and their children, from Mrs. William Damon and the children of three of William Damon’s nine siblings. Now I see that only three of the ten children of Luther and Betsy had children of their own, and all ten had died by the time Damon Hall was built. 

I thank Pat Richardson for her most helpful editing of “More on the Damons” and to my wife Susan for

Damon Hall Dedication

Hartland’s Big Day – Damon Hall Dedication

On December 2, 1915, The Honorary Clark C. Fitts of Brattleboro spoke at length about the importance of community life and how it forms a town’s character. “You of Hartland, with this beautiful building, are far richer than if mere money had been given, for here is great opportunity for the best community life. This building should be a center of the very best social life in the community and of the highest intellectual life as well.”

Mr. Fitts commented on civic life: “The trend of the times is radicalism. The referendum and recall are put out as remedies. Now the very essence of democracy is in getting together the men of the town in such community centers as this for a meeting of the minds and discussion.”

The dedication exercises closed with a medley of patriotic airs by a chorus, ending with “America” by the chorus, orchestra, and audience. After the program, all were invited to inspect the hall, and supper was served in the new dining room. Townspeople provided the food for what was probably the most notable meal ever served in Hartland. Six-hundred people enjoyed the bounty of the town. At eight o’clock, the orchestra played for a dance, preceded by a grand march with 87 couples. The hall may have been too crowded for comfortable dancing, but everyone seemed to have a lovely time. Supper was served until 10:30, and dancing went on until 1:30 a.m.

Damon Hall was a gift to the town from Mrs. William Emerson Damon, the children of Urias and Harriet Cotton Damon, the children of John and Lucy Damon Lamb, and the children of Merit and Lavinia Damon Penniman.

Damon Hall

The hall is little changed from when it was built 100 years ago. What is now the Treasurer’s Office on the left at the front entrance was originally set aside for a library. A large room across the back of the building has a separate outside entrance. It is divided by an archway, with the larger portion occupied by the Hartland Nature Club. The smaller area was designated as a place to deposit relics and historical materials of the town for safekeeping.
The entire Damon family was interested in natural history. Mrs. William Damon became interested in the Hartland Nature Club and was pleased to contribute toward the building. The rooms for the library, Nature Club, and historical items were to be preserved for that use as long as needed. The library moved into a new building just up the street in 1957 (the Martin Memorial Library). After the current library was built, the Historical Society moved into the Martin Memorial building in 2001.
The main hall with the stage was designed to seat 375 comfortably. Another 125 could occupy the gallery. The pressed metal wall and ceiling covering was originally painted a light apple green. The woodwork in all the rooms is hard pine except for the original library, where it is oak.
Damon Hall became the civic center for the town. For many years, town meetings were held in the Ladies Aid Hall in the Four Corners village. Town officers elected to do the town’s business worked out of their homes or a store if they owned one. Eventually, some of the main functions occupied permanent offices in Damon Hall.
It seems Hartland always had a robust community and social life centered on the old hotel. Starting in December 1915, the townsfolk enjoyed a modern facility for their suppers, shows, dances, performances, moving pictures, social meetings, and any number of activities. Upon completion, the building and its furnishings were appraised at $25,000.


The Damons

Damon Hall is a memorial to Luther and Betsey Thayer Damon and their children, especially William Emerson Damon, through whose generosity the gift of the building was made possible. The Damon family in Hartland dates back to 1805, when they came from Peabody, Massachusetts (the Damon farm was just south of the present I-91 interchange.). Luther Damon became a farmer, and also drove freight to and from Boston with a team of six gray horses. The railroad, then being extended up the Connecticut River Valley, arrived in Hartland in 1849. Realizing he would lose his freight business, Luther contracted to help build the railroad. His youngest son, William Emerson Damon, was born in Windsor in 1838. He graduated from Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire. William married Alma Otis of Windsor. Thereafter, the couple joined the mid-nineteenth century tide of emigration from Vermont. William for many years was Superintendent of the Credit Department at Tiffany’s in New York. He was also instrumental in establishing the New York Aquarium. As an assistant to P. T. Barnum, he sailed to Bermuda during the Civil War to catch and bring back 600 live fish. He was the authority on transporting live fish and maintaining freshwater and saltwater aquariums. He traveled often from New York to his farm in Hartland. Mr. Damon died in 1911.

Damon Hall’s 100th Anniversary Celebration

September 26 & 27, 2015

Before Damon Hall

Damon Hall is turning one hundred, but the site it occupies has been the center of activity in Hartland for well over two hundred years. The first recorded building on that site was a hotel. It is not known when the hotel was built, but the land on which it stood was deeded to Isaac Stevens by William S. Ashley in 1774. Stevens built a square building with a high roof. There was a line of sheds on the north side and two barns on the south side. There was no road on the south side of the hotel until the “new road” (now Route 12) was built in 1835. The land west of the hotel was wooded.
It was no trick to make money with a hotel in those days, as freight was moved to and from Boston with six- and eight-horse teams. The horse barns were full every night. Weary travelers arriving by stagecoach could get a room, and enjoy rum in the bar and a meal in the dining room. The upper floor of what was known as the Pavillion House (later Hotel Hartland) was divided into a large hall and sleeping rooms. The hall hosted meetings, suppers, and dances. In the 1830s, Stephen D. Marcy built a wing with a spring dance floor that was said to have no equal in Vermont. On the ground floor were a store and post office.


Pavillion House