Hartland Town Meeting Results, Vermont Tribune, March 15, 1889

Moderator, J. H. EASTMAN; clerk, W. R. STURTEVANT;  selectmen, Asa WEED, J. H. EASTMAN, C. C. GATES; listers, E. S. AINSWORTH, Geo. W. SPEAR, Wilson BRITTON; auditors, E. S. AINSWORTH, W. R. STURTEVANT,  B. F. LABAREE; street commissioners, selectmen; treasurer, E. W. BILLINGS;  overseer, C. P. BURK; agent, E. M. GOODWIN; constable, J. S. SLEEPER; grand juror, A. J. WEED; trustee U. S. revenue, E. W. BILLINGS; school board, D. F. RUGG.

Transcribed by Ruth Barton

Historically Speaking: July 4, 1807 Oration

From “An Oration Pronounced at the Meeting House in Hartland on the Fourth of July”, 1807 by Hosea Ballou, American Independence Hartland (Vermont_ July 6, 1807).


Last Saturday, the anniversary of our Independence was celebrated at the meeting house in this town, to the great satisfaction of the numerous concourse of people who attended on the occasion. The rising of the fun was announced by the discharge of the cannon.

At eleven o’clock, a very respectable procession was formed, preceded by the orator and Officers of the day, aided by Capt. Campbell’s company of Artillery, (who did themselves great honor) and marched to the meeting house, with locked arms, where the Declaration of Independence was read, and an Oration by the Rev. Hosea Ballou, well adapted to the occasion. The devotional parts of the exercise were composed of solemn prayer and singing, which were both fervent and patriotic. Vocal and instrumental music formed a part of the exercises of the day.

At half past 2 o’clock the procession again formed, and were conducted to a bower, where they partook of a generous repast, well provided for the occasion, by Mr. E. Campbell. After dinner, the following Toasts were drunk, accompanied by discharges of cannon, and cheers of martial music.

  1. The day we celebrate,- How animating to every friend of liberty is the remembrance of that glorious era; may the birth-day of equal liberty and the rights of man never be forgotten.
  2. The sovereignty of the People, – May it no longer be insulted by Aristocrats, Tyrants nor Traitors.
  3. The Constitution of the United States, – Like the golden lamp, may it never cease burning.
  4. The President of the United States, – Whose wisdom has conducted the ark of our safety through the storms and whirlpools of the contending powers, and hath moored us safe in the haven of peace and happiness.
  5. The Militia our only defense, – may they be, like the ancient Spartans, sufficient for our protection, without walls or fleets.
  6. The American Navy, – May it yet be able to set bounds to the present Tyrants of the sea.
  7. American Heroes …
  8. The Tree of Liberty …
  9. The Freemen of Vermont, – May their next election fill the several offices of State with men most noted for wisdom and genuine republicanism.
  10. Agriculture …
  11. The Agricultural Society of Vermont …
  12. Commerce and Manufacture …
  13. The State Bank of Vermont …
  14. The American Eagle, – May she soar above all contending parties, and carry with her the olive branch of peace.
  15. The Press -May it’s conductors be men of science and liberty, and it’s patrons whose of wisdom and harmony.
  16. Abolition of Slavery, – May the sons of Columbia be philanthropists in practice, and never abate in their indeavors (sic) to annihilate the practice of making slaves of the human race.
  17. The Western Territory …
  18. The Fair Daughters of Columbia, – May virtue form their moral character, modesty be their charms, and faithful republicans their husbands.

This being the first anniversary of this kind ever celebrated in this town, and the whole proceedings being attended with that harmony and regularity which rendered the day joyous, we think it well worthy the imitation of all good citizens.

Reprinted from the Vermont Standard,  “Historically Speaking” by Carol Mowry.

Historically Speaking: Oliver Willard

The Lull descendants don’t agree, but I think there is little doubt that Oliver Willard was the first settler in Hartland. He was here, at least by 1759, beating Timothy Lull by four years.

It was Oliver Willard who called upon Gov. Benning Wentworth in Portsmouth, N.H. and secured a patent for Hartland ( It was Hertford then) on July 10, 1761. Oliver immediately sent out a notice for the following meeting.

“Province of New Hampshire : Notice is hereby given to the Proprietors of Hertford on Connecticut River, That they Assemble at Fort Dummer on the last Wednesday in August next, First, To chuse a Clerk, also a Proprietor’s Treasurer, and to raise what Money shall be thought needful for the defraying the Charges of procuring the Grant of the Township; and to chuse a Committee to bound out the Town, and allot the same (if needful) and raise Money sufficient to defray the said Charges. Also to agree on a method for the calling their Meetings for the future, and to chuse the necessary Town Officers for said Town. Dated at Portsmouth, July 14, 1761. Oliver Willard.”

Who was Oliver and how did he come to be on this stage at this time? He was the 4th generation of Willards in North America, preceded by others who were instrumental in forming our country. Simon was the 1st to settle here from England, and was one of the ones to found the plantation of Concord, Mass in 1635. He had a long and illustrious life.

Next came Simon’s son, Henry (the 11th of 17 children) born in Concord in 1655. Henry provided 14 children to the Harvard, Mass area. One of these was Josiah, born in Lancaster about 1693. He was one of the first settlers of Lunenburg, a Captain in frontier service against the Indian enemy, and was commander of Fort Dummer in Brattleboro. He was an original proprietor in ” the township on the East side of the Connecticut River above Nothfield, commonly called Arlington”.

Our Oliver was his son, born in 1729 (7th of only 9) in Lunenburg, and was a Colonel at Forth Dummer by 1748. He was one of the grantees of Winchester and Westmoreland, N.H. He then settled in Hartland, Vt. where he was proprietor of the entire township and sold to the settlers. He took the side of New York in the boundary dispute.

Oliver’s son Levi was the first child born in Hartland, arriving in 1759. Poor Levi was unlucky in love. ” Levi Willard, the son of Col. Oliver and Thankful Doolittle Willard, was born at Hartland, Vt. and died at Sheldon, Vt. in Oct. 1839 ae 80. He went early to Montreal, E.C. espousing the British cause and being employed in the commissary department; engaged after the war in the Fur Company, and for several years led a wandering life among savages and trappers. “Traditions have it that previous to this he had married Jane Dailly of Montreal, said to be an accomplished Irish lady; but returning there had been informed of her unfaithfulness and departure for Hartland. Arriving there and finding the report confirmed, he walked his room in agony all night, and found in the morning that his hair had become prematurely gray, After this he taught school some time in Richford, Vt. but at length repaired to Sheldon, where a daughter resided, and there this unhappy man, from being first scholar in his class, (Dartmouth, 1776 ) descended to his grave in painful humiliation and obscurity.”

Information taken from the “Willard Genealogy” by Joseph Willard 1915,” In Sight of Ye Great River” and “Alumni of Dartmouth College by G.T. Chapman, class of 1804.

Reprinted from the Vermont Standard, “Historically Speaking” by Carol Mowry.

Drowning at Sumner’s Falls 1895 (2) – Charles A. Barber

Six miles above Windsor, at Hartland, Vermont, is a part of the Connecticut known as Sumner’s Falls.  A rough cart track goes down through the woods to the river from the main road to the falls, and here the curious will perceive a mound of earth, six feet long, covered with flat stones.

On June 21, 1895, one of Van Dyke’s rivermen, a nineteen-year-old Charles A. Barber, From Cherryfield, Maine, lost his life there. He fell off the log he was riding into the swift water of the falls and was drowned. The drivers recovered the body, took it up into the woods, and covered it with a blanket. The paymaster who accompanied the drive sent a telegram to the boy’s father, who came through from Cherryfield with a pair of driving horses.

The dead youth had about three hundred dollars coming to him. When the father received the money he put it into his pocket, jumped into the buggy, and took off for Cherryfield as fast as he could go. He left the body right there.  The drivers then took it and buried it beside the woods road. Then those rough and mostly uncouth men took time to pick a slab of stone and scratch on it the boy’s name, age, and hometown, and put it on the grave. I visited it on April 9, 1966.  The headstone is still on the mound, but the inscription is getting faint.

Reprinted from “Tall Trees, Tough Men”, By Robert Everding Pike, 1967, Page 236, Google Books

Dr. Gallup and the Vampire

Reprinted from the Summer 2008 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter From Joseph Citro’s Book “Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls & Unsolved Mysteries” we get this story. True? Or not? You decide.

… About 100 years later, the most famous- or at least the most long-lived and publicized- case of Vermont vampirism came to the public’s attention. It was reported in the Boston Transcript during the first week of October 1890. A more complete accounting of the remarkable events appeared as a one page story in Woodstock’s own newspaper, the Vermont Standard. Imagine seeing this headline while sipping your morning coffee: “Vampirism in Woodstock.”

The article recalled events that supposedly occurred in the 1830’s when a local man named Corwin died of consumption.

His body was buried in the Cushing Cemetery. A while later, his brother – presumably also named Corwin – began wasting away. Of course the living Corwin may have been showing symptoms of his dead brother’s disease. Or, as was the common wisdom, there might have been a more grisly alternative. Perhaps the dead Corwin had come back as a vampire, his spirit rising from the grave every night to feed on the blood of his living brother.

To find out for sure, the town fathers ordered the body disinterred. A horrifying discovery convinced them they were dealing with the supernatural. Dr. Joseph Gallup, the town’s leading physician and head of Vermont Medical College, observed that “the vampire’s heart contained its victim’s blood”

(though how he was able to determine that remains a mystery).

There was only one way to stop the spread of evil: concerned parties would assemble on Woodstock’s boat shaped green and perform an exorcism.

Predictably, most of the town’s population turned out for the event. Dr. Gallup and Woodstock’s other physicians built a fire in the middle of the green, heated up an iron pot and cooked the undecayed heart until it was reduced to ashes.

Then they buried the pot and ashes in a hole fifteen feet deep, covered it with a 7 ton slab of granite before refilling the hole, sprinkled everything with bull’s blood for purification.

Finally they forced the dying Corwin to swallow a ghastly medicine made of bull’s blood mixed with some of his brother’s ashes. They believed that this concoction would break the vampire’s curse and stop the victim’s body from wasting away.

Unfortunately, we never learn if Brother Corwin survived the disease, let alone the cure, but the town fathers were convinced they had rid Woodstock of vampirism forever

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

North Hartland Mystery




“North Hartland

An unknown man, fatally injured, was found, Thursday morning of last week, under the railroad bridge across the river near the station at this place. One knee was broken; the left side of his face was crushed, and there were wounds on his body. He died a few hours after he was found beneath the bridge. The deceased was about five feet eight and a half inches high; dark hair, complexion and moustache; age somewhere between 50 and 60 years. A memorandum book on his person had the name of Joe Kelley or Riley written in it, but the writing was almost illegible from water, and an address, Essex, Mass., was on one of the leaves. A few papers also were found in one of his pockets, which lead to the belief that he was canvassing for a book, “Leaders” or some such title. On the back of his left hand, between the thumb and first finger, a star enclosed in a circle is tatooed. The great toe on the left foot is wanting. It is thought the man must have sustained his injuries many hours if not at least a day or two before he was found. How he lived so long is the surprise of all. The cause of his injuries is but conjectures, as no one has been found to explain how he came, where found. Many believe there was foul play, as it does not seem possible that any one could have been knocked from the bridge by a train without the knowledge of the engineer or fireman. Nor is it probable that a man could have lain for hours, where the unfortunate on was found, without having been seen by someone to render assistance. “

Brief research shown that the Town of Hartland paid for a doctor and an undertaker. No proof has been found, yet, that the man was ever identified. There is no record of him being buried in Hartland so does that mean someone claimed the body? Did he have a family waiting somewhere for him to come home? Did they assume that he’d run away? Was he beaten somewhere else and brought to this site, easily accessible from the Connecticut River by boat?

If the man was identified then did someone know a reason for foul play and was the crime solved? Was he walking along the tracks between Windsor and White River Junction and got caught on the trestle when a train came along? Perhaps there is no mystery at all and the information is out there waiting for someone to research this and tell us the next chapter of the story.

Contact the Hartland Historical Society if you have any information on this so-called mystery.

(See also the article entitled ‘The Body Under the Bridge’)

Town Meeting from The Hartland News, March 15, 1955 issue

There were about 185 voters at Town Meeting. A tax rate of $7. 92 was approved, the town manager system was retained, the Australian ballot lost by one vote, and the meeting adjourned around 4:30!!

The meeting started right off with a bang with the election of Moderator. Ogden having been nominated for the office, turned the meeting over to Town Clerk Rogers. There were no further nominations. Woodruff, however asked for the floor and set out to show that Ogden was a poor man for the job. To prove his point he recited a list of incidents from Ogdens school days, such as the fact that he flunked out of college, only won second prize in a declamation contest, once interviewed Norman Thomas, etc. After 5 minutes of this, Moderator pro tem Rogers, with the support of the Selectmen ruled Woodruff out of order with the comment that his charges were of no consequence; that, if he did not care for a certain candidate, all he had to do was vote against him. This stand was hailed by vociferous cheering and clapping and Woodruff resumed his seat. Ogden was then elected unanimously to serve as Moderator.

The Town Report was accepted with very little discussion. Woodruff criticized the Officers for not including , in full the report of the State Auditors. The Selectmen explained they did not think it worth the expense and that the report was in the Clerks office for anyone to read that might want to. The Town Manager system was discussed next. James asked for an opinion from the Selectmen concerning the system. Ginter replied that there are only three problems in Hartland: Roads, Schools and Taxes; that the School Directors attend to the Schools, the Selectmen have charge of the Taxes and that leaves only the Roads ( and the Poor) for any Town manager to contend with. He stated
that the cost figures in the Hartland News , while not absolutely accurate were basic that the Managers salary comes only partly from the road money. In general he stated that the Selectmen did not recommend the system for Hartland. Woodruff gave a speech in favor of the system. In reply to Mrs Alfonse, Blaisdell presented figures to show that the salaries for the old system during its last full year were:

Road Commissioner        $3,216
Overseer of the Poor        315
Selectman – bookkeeper       25

Town Manager salary for the current year was $3,600 , leaving a difference of only $44. The question was settled by ballot, 110 in favor, 50 against. Later in the meeting, Blaisdell received a unanimous vote of confidence.

Town Meetings are known for providing good entertainment, whether that is the intent or not. As for Mr. Ogden, he was certainly qualified for the job, and served for many years as a State Senator. Like Mr. Ruggles, he was a man of many opinions. We’ll visit him more some other time.

Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2005.

Sumners Falls and Lumbering

The town of Hartland is now the proud owner of the area known as Sumner’s Falls. I would encourage you to go visit this section of town along the Connecticut River. There is an interesting history connected to the area. Knowledge of this history should make your visit more satisfying. The first accounting comes from Wilbur Sturtevant – long time Town Clerk, store owner, and recorder of the town’s best stories. C.Y.M.

“Lumbering on the Connecticut River was carried on very extensively in the early days of the town. Just at the upper end of Sumner’s Falls, a dam twelve feet high stretched across the river, and a saw mill stood near it on the Vermont side.

“The big logs of first growth pine, four or five feet in diameter were floated down from points north and guided by a boom to the west side of the river and held there above the mill until wanted. Two men would go up the river in a boat and bring a log from the enclosure down to the mill where it was raised by means of a pulley on a big wheel run by power, to the saw mill, where it was sawed by gang- saws all in one operation. Then the men would go back and get another log. The manner of getting the log was simple. One man held the oars and managed the boat. The other, in the stern, threw a rope which had an iron pick in the end of it, with an iron “dog” attached to it so that the “dog”, which was a piece of iron bent like a hook, could be driven down into the log with an axe. When the log was secured, it was guided under the boom by the man in the stern, while the rower started the boat down-stream, towing the log behind it. It was necessary to watch carefully lest the upper end of the log should be carried out into the current. When that happened, the man in the stern had only to knock out the “dog” and then the log was allowed to float down and go over the dam where it was caught and held in the eddy, Then it was drawn up to the mill by oxen.

Lumberman's dog. The hooks were either connected with chain, like this one, or a solid bar, for holding logs together.
Lumberman’s dog. The hooks were either connected with chain, like this one, or a solid bar, for holding logs together.

“Fred Freeman was one of the men who worked at this dangerous occupation and has told the story many times of his narrow escape from death. He and Harrison Hanchett went up from the mill to get a log from the boom. After it was secured they started on the return trip. Soon Freeman, who was at the oars, noticed that the log was getting out into the current and without turning his head said quietly,” Knock out the dog”. But Hanchett did not comply. So leaving the oars he went to the stern where Hanchett sat white and motionless and knocked out the dog himself. By that time they had drifted into swift water, and Mr. Sumner, watching from the shore, said to himself that that was the last they’d ever see of Hanchett and Freeman. But Freeman, with intrepid courage and great strength, soon guided the boat to safety, while his companion, petrified with terror, was unable to lift a finger.

“Adam Crandall was one of the early settlers and a Revolutionary War soldier. His son Aaron W. was the father of Aaron Crandall who the present generation remembers. The first Aaron was a blacksmith and had a shop and house on the “Plain”, nearly opposite the road that leads to the “Falls”. He was also a lumberman and teamster. When the river was high was the best time to make rafts of the logs and float great loads of lumber – tons of it at a time, and take it down the river to Middletown. At night it was the custom to tie the raft to trees on the bank, and camp there until morning, with a rope at each end of the raft. One time when Mr. Crandall was “helping” do this difficult task of “snubbing” the raft, as it was called, he inadvertently stepped into one of the coils of the rope which lay along the bank, and as the swift current bore the raft along, snapping the rope taut, his leg was instantly cut off, as with a pair of shears, and hurled forty feet into the bushes.

“The blacksmith shop was moved in later years, taken down and hauled, one side at a time, to the farm on the Quechee Road where it was again set up and used for some purpose.”

Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2012.

Drowning at Sumner’s Falls 1895 (1) – Charles Barber

“An interesting bit of history came to light in connection with the death of a riverman many years ago at Sumner’s Falls in the Connecticut River, near this town.  “Mr. J.G. Underwood, who heard the story in a hotel in Groveton, a small town in northern New Hampshire, tells it as follows.
“As we sat talking, one of my acquaintances asked me where I was living now. When I told him Hartland, an old man who sat near us said “Isn’t there a Falls in the river there? I buried a man there.”

“When asked how it happened, he explained. “It was in 1874. (The stone clearly says 1895. C.Y.M.) I had charge of the rear of the drive. One of our men went into the water near Wilder.”  “This was a characteristic expression meaning that he fell into the water and was drowned.

“Several days later the body was found at the Falls in Hartland. They sent for me. His name was Barber, a nice boy, —Fred, I think they called him, but he was a fine boy. I tied the body to a tree and sent for the selectmen. But the authorities wouldn’t let the boy be buried in their cemetery, and the minister wouldn’t even come and say a few words over him. Some people in those days didn’t think much of river men. Course, we had some that were tough sometimes, but as a general thing we were a pretty good sort of folks.”
“The narrator went on: “The boy’s father came down. He was a hard man, a mean man. The boys had chipped in, two dollars apiece, to buy the boy a casket. When the father asked how much pay was coming to him I passed the word around to the boys and we all took back our two dollars, so that the father wouldn’t get it himself. We bought the casket afterwards, but the father didn’t want any casket, and wouldn’t even pay for taking the body home. So we buried the boy where he was, on high ground near the river bank. We put stones over the casket first, before filling in with dirt. I have visited the grave a number of times since and kept it in repair.”  “When was the last time you visited it?” he was asked. “Let’s see. I’m seventy-six now. I was forty-eight then. How many does that make?” Twenty-eight, he was told.

“Yes, twenty-eight years ago. Is the grave still there?” He was assured that it was, and in
good condition.

“We put up a stone and marked it.” He said, “Is it still there?” He seemed gratified that the stone was still there after so many years. “The speaker is a fine looking old man. Strong and well preserved.
“As for the boy’s name, it was found to be Charlie, not Fred and old residents remember the circumstances well. They also tell of several Hartland men who were expert river men in former times, among whom were Fred Freeman and Milton Short. It was a job which called for quick thinking, good judgment, strength and courage.”

Extracted from the Spring 2012 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter. Another published version of this story is here.