The Damon Family – Assorted Bits From Our Files




Mrs. Alma C. (Otis) Damon, daughter of Mr. And Mrs Timothy Otis, was born in Windsor, Vt.,July 30,1841, and died in Hartland, Nov. 7, 1928, On Feb. 14 1865, she was married to William E.Damon, who for many years prior to his death in 1911, was identified with Tiffany and Co. of New York and maintained a summer residence at what has long been known as the Damon Farm in Hartland. … Mrs. Damon was a great lover of nature, and during her life in New York, she and her husband were identified with several societies offering opportunity for the study of trees, plants, flowers, and especially of marine life. Since her husband’s death, Mrs. Damon has spent a part of every summer at the farm where she could enjoy to better advantage the natural beauties which the country affords. Her funeral was held at her late home on Friday afternoon, at 2 0’clock, Rev. E.L.M. Barnes of Brownsville officiating.

Although Barnum had aquatic mammals and native freshwater fishes on exhibit in the American Museum in New York City, this was nothing new since The Boston Aquarial Gardens had such exhibits before the museum did. Damon convinced Barnum that what the museum needed was a collection of colorful saltwater fishes and so Barnum financed Damon’s famous( and hazardous) trip to Bermuda in 1863, the source of the shells in the Hartland Nature Club. He and Albert Bickmore who accompanied him (Bickmore at the time was a young student of Louis Agassiz and was later to become the primary founder of The American Museum of Natural History) were the first two to bring tropical marine fishes into this country. Those shells in the Hartland Nature Club are, therefore, of considerable historical interest and should not be viewed simply as shells from Bermuda. My research on Mr. Damon centers around his scientific endeavors and aquatic research. Mr. Damon was a much more learned and scientific individual than
most people realize. He was a member of the New York Microscopical Society, The Royal Microscopical Society of London, the New York Micrological Club, the Scientific Alliance of New York, the New York Naturalists Club, and the New York Zoological Society If it wasn’t for his impressive success as the credit manager for Tiffany’s in New York City, he undoubtedly would have become a well known figure in the scientific world. Mr. Damon was also very important in the establishment of the Boston Aquarial and Zoological Gardens, as well as persuading P.T.Barnum to add an aquarium department to the American Museum. Mr. Damon was also consulted when the Battery Park Aquarium was established in New York.

In 1861 the Boston Aquarial and Zoological Gardens secured a white beluga whale and brought it to Boston. It was kept alive for about one year and, although Barnum displayed several white whales, contrary to what has been written, the Boston whale was on exhibit before those in the American Museum in New York. The whale was placed under William Damon’s care while he was at the Gardens so he was the first one in this country to tend to a whale in captivity!!

The thought struck me that another member of the Damon family has another claim to fame. Damon gave the following account of early American aquarium activity in his “Ocean Wonders” book “In this country I believe the writer was one of the very first to be inoculated with the aquarial passion – a passion that has grown with time, and has a deeper hold today than even in the first period of magnificent visions.

So far as I have been able to ascertain, the pioneer inductor of the private aquarium in this country was Miss Elizabeth Emerson Damon, of Windsor, Vt.; and her first essays were made with the simple apparatus of a two-quart glass jar, with a few fish, some tadpoles and snails, and some Potamogeton (common pond weed): but so perfectly balanced was this young aquarium with animal and vegetable life, that I fell in love with it at first sight; and never since, among all the aquarial curiosities which I have possessed, and the thousands I have seen, has there been a collection nearer perfection than that contained in the poor old two quart jar.” Albert J. Klee, Ph.D.

The New York Sun of May 9 ( 1899) says “W.E. Damon read on Friday evening before the New York Microscopical society a paper on the seahorse, the wonderful little marine animal with a head and neck bearing a strong resemblance to those of a horse, while its tail is prehensile like that of a monkey. Mr. Damon exhibited a photograph of a seahorse which he had kept alive in his own aquarium for over a year. This seahorse was very tame, and would readily take food from its owner’s hand. The paper from which the above is taken contains a full and interesting synopsis of the lecture on this marine animal. No one in this section need be told who Wm. E. Damon is and our only regret is that our space will admit of no further quotation”.

Other Notes From our Files

Luther Damon lived on the farm that bounded on the Hartland Windsor town line. He was born Dec. 17, 1795 and died Nov. 28, 1872. Buried in the Old South Cemetery in Windsor Village.      –Howland Atwood.

Letter March 26 1823 from James B. Sumner (brother of David of Hartland) Dalton, N.H. to Nathanial Page (Hartland) “We are in great want of good settlers. If you see Luther Damon tell him I had expected he would have been up here before this . We want a real Teamster”

Mr. Luther Damon had a beautiful farm on the opposite side of the town near Windsor. He made many trips to Boston with produce, and the garden kept by Mrs. Damon and her descendants is one of the loveliest of it’s kind.    –Nancy Darling

On Jan 11, 1845 Mr. Leonard H. Hamilton of New York City wrote to Luther Damon, Esq. ” I was very glad to hear a good account of my stock I do not care how much they eat as long as they do not waste. “     –Nancy Darling

I hope you agree that these little peeps into lives lived so long ago serve to broaden and enrich our lives today.                                                   C.Y.M.

Reprinted from the December 2006 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter

Naming of the Brook, poem by Daniel Cady, 1929

” Good evening, Sister Brook, yon island is your care,
But I prefer your banks, I’ll build my mansion there;
I guess we’ll get along, if both of us play fair.

“This lady is my wife and these my children four;
They’re all I have just now although I’ve asked for more;
I hope they’ll all grow up to sail a boat like Noah.

“Miss Brook, you have no name? That’s stingy, I declare!!
I’ll give you part of mine, I have a piece to spare;
There’s no grand reeve to mind’ no constable to care.

“Wife, fetch that bottle here, that old junk jug of glass,
I want Miss Brook to be no nameless sort of lass’
But on the other hand, first water and first class.

“I ask the wilderness to listen now and look;
“Bottle, I break your head with this my boating hook;
Miss Brook, from this hour forth your name is mine-Lull Brook ”


Poem by Daniel Cady written in 1929

The Mill at Water Quechee (Sumner Falls) – 1885

In the last issue of the newsletter, we talked about the Ottaquechee Woolen Mill and as this is a related article, I thought it might be of interest. I don’t know the story about the “mulish obstinacy” but it sure shows that Hartland knows how to give a party. This is from the Vermont Journal, Windsor, Vt. on October 3, 1885.

“Wednesday of this week was a day long to be remembered in Hartland. Never since   the Connecticut valley was settled has the region around Sumner Falls been so densely packed with men, women and children. There were at the least calculation 2000 people on the ground, and many good judges think that too low an estimate.

The occasion of this great gathering was in honor of the Newton brothers of  Holyoke, and  in celebration of the victory they have gained over the mulish obstinacy of the Ottaquechee Woolen Company. After discussing various methods by which the town might   give expression in some unmistakable way to the prevailing sentiment, it was  decided to hold a grand town picnic. That picnic has been held, and more complete success never attended a human undertaking. By the princely generosity of the Newtons in supplying the substantials, supplemented by endless varieties of cake and pies of Hartland make, the tables, nearly an eighth of a mile in length were literally loaded down, and after the thousands had been fed the tables still looked as though other thousands might be accommodated.

The Newtons arrived by mail train, which let them off at the crossing near the grounds, from which place they were escorted to the tables by a procession of citizens headed by the Hartland band, which, by the way, performed excellent service through the day.

After leaving the table, W.R. Sturtevant, one of the citizens committee, mounted the band stand and called the vast multitude to order. In reply to comments given out by the master of ceremonies, W.R. Sturtevant, the first speaker called upon was Rev. W.L.Noyes of Hartland, he being followed by Rev. B.M. Tillotson of Woodstock, Hon. E.M. Goodwin of Hartland, and S.M. Pingree, Esq. of Hartford. E.C. Emmons of Taftsville, Henry Safford of   Hartford, A.A. Martin of Hartland, and Rev. Graham of Plainfield, N.H.

One of the speakers, E.C. Emmons, made honorable mention of the names of David   H. Sumner, Solomon Emmons, Frederick Freeman, Russell Freeman, John Burnham and   several others, as veterans of Sumner’s Falls who were engaged in active business there 40 years ago. We would gladly report, in substance, all the speeches, but the nearness of the time of the Journal’s going to press will not admit of this, but we can say they were all able and appropriate, and it is doubtful if better after dinner speeches were ever heard in  town.

And now by the authority of the great meeting here reported, as well as by the late special town meeting, which exempted their property from taxation with only one dissenting vote, the Journal welcomes the Newtons to the town of Hartland.

Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Summer 2008.

Cutts Family

On Clay Hill Road there still stands a stately old home that went through some rough times in her old age, but luck was with her and love and care have returned her to stately elegance. People now-a-days refer to it as Fairview Farm but during the time that we are studying, it was known as Woodland. The Hon. Hampden Cutts lived here with his family. They moved there from Portsmouth, N.H


“—the family decided to move to Vermont where the young man’s father-in-law had offered him a valuable estate in Hartland if they would reside there. So in accepting the offer, he was accompanied by his mother and sister, Miss Mary Cutts , as well as his wife and son. He was admitted to the bar in Woodstock and represented the town of Hartland in 1840,41,47 and 1858. Windsor County in the Senate in 1843, and was Judge of the Windsor County court in 1849-51.

Mr. Cutts was known as a literary man and particularly as a public reader and lecturer. As a reader of Shakespeare he gained a very high reputation, and appeared many times in public. He was an officer of the Windsor County Agricultural Society and an active member of the Vermont Historical Society, before which he read several important and interesting papers At his death he was Vice President from Vermont, of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, of which he had been a member for years.

[Mr. Cutts wrote the History of Hartland for publication in Abby Hemenways’s Vermont Historical Gazetteer .. Unfortunately she was publishing her works by county alphabetically as she was able to raise the money and Windsor County burned before it could be published.]

During the time he lived in Hartland, from 1833 to 1860, his home was the scene of many interesting entertainments, and he and his children and wife did every thing possible to help make the religious life of the place what it should be, by constant attendance and contributing generously to the support of religious worship. There 8 children were added to the one they had on arrival, and 5 had been laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery (Cutts/Paddleford) before they reached mature years. His mother was also buried there at an early day, as she only lived to 1847

In April 1860 they moved to Brattleboro, Vermont, soon after the death of Consul Jarvis, where Mr. Cutts had found college classmates and where their three daughters, Anna, Lizzie and Hattie were married. Their eldest son Edward, had married and moved to Fairbault, Minnesota before they left Hartland.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he( Hampden) was very desirous of taking command of a regiment, but on account of his age, he did not receive the appointment

He said at the time, “It is hard, hard that they will not let me fight for my country.” He felt as capable as ever in this regard.

His death occurred April 27, 1875, in Hartland, on the old home place, where he and his sister happened at that time to be spending a vacation, and the place had never left the family, for over 40 years. It was known then as the “Governor Spooner Farm” , and situated near the North Hartland. Services were held at the house attended by his widow, his daughter Harriet, one grandson, and his devoted sister, as well as many relatives. The internment took place in the adjoining cemetery, where his mother and children were buried. He was survived by his widow, Mary P.S.J. (Pepperell, Sparhawk Jarvis) Cutts, the author of a life of her father Consul Jarvis.(Consul Jarvis ,Wethersfield, Vt. introduced Merino sheep to Vermont , bringing them from Portugal where he was Consul. I have tried to find evidence that sheep were raised on the farm in Hartland  but all I have found to date is accounting with the Mallory Woolen Co. of Hartford., which began in 1836. This may have just been an investment.) His son and grandchildren( Capt E.H. Cutts of Fairbault, Minn, His daughter Mrs. Anna Holyoke Cutts Howard ( more on her later) and daughters Anna and Harriet.  . . .”

Author unknown.

Reprinted from the Fall 2006 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter

Largest black walnut tree in Vermont

This tree, located on Route 5 in North Hartland has been judged to be the largest black walnut tree in Vermont for 2014. It has been the site of many family picnics and while the farm was under the ownership of Philo and Vivian Withington, the Shorthorn Society of Vermont met in it’s shade.

Largest black walnut tree in Vermont

Largest black walnut tree in Vermont

Original “Center Cemetery”

From “In Sight Of Ye Great River”:

Ainsworth Cemetery: According to Nancy Darling, “The E. S. Ainsworth farm at The Centre has on it one of the oldest local landmarks – the broken headstones of the graves of pioneers.”

We have a picture of the only standing gravestone from this cemetery, on private property, that of Nathaniel Rogers in our cemetery database.

Gravestone of Nathaniel Rogers in the original Center Cemetery

Gravestone of Nathaniel Rogers in the original Center Cemetery

The Smallest Library

“Smallest library, now closed, Hartland Four Corners, VT 1994″ is part of the book “The Public Library” by photographer Robert Dawson. Images are presented in striking juxtapositions, including some taken during Dawson’s vacations in the Upper Valley. A 2009 photograph of the “nation’s smallest library,” assembled in Hartland Four Corners in 1944 out of two rooms from a sawmill office, sits across from the angled, mirrored matrix of Central Library in Seattle, an 11-story glass-and-steel building that opened in 2004. (The tiny Hartland library, deemed structurally unsound, has since been demolished.)

Smallest Library

Extracted from The Valley News, July 18, 2014.

Get your tonsils out at Damon Hall!!

Some of you may remember this day and may have even taken part. It happened sometime between 1915 and 1922. Let us know if you can pinpoint it better. C.Y.M.

The clinic for the operations on the throat and nose for the benefit of the children of Hartland which was held at Damon Hall, August 9th and 10th, under the auspices of the local branch of American Red Cross, was most successful, as to the number of operations and results obtained. Fifty-one cases were corrected; many being of long standing and some of a very severe type, which would ultimately have proven a serious menace to health. All cases needed immediate attention. While many of the operations were serious, all the children were able to be removed to their homes within a few hours. The expense of the operations was the amount arranged with surgeons and doctors going downward from $15.00. The total expense of the clinic was $442.00 of which $293.00 was borne by the Red Cross, $149.00 being taken at the clinic.

There were in attendance four doctors, six professional nurses, five domestic nurses and many assistants in the various departments. The hall was temporarily converted into a hospital. The dining room was quickly turned into a ward containing 14 beds with all the necessary furnishings. The kitchen was used as the operating room. The Nature Club room was used for a dressing room; and here the children were prepared for the operations. The selectmen’s room was given over to the branch committee where a bountiful lunch was served both days free to all.

The auditorium was used as a rest room, and here was maintained the business office in charge of Mrs. H. H. Miller and Mrs. A.W. Martin. The offices of the Hartland branch American Red Cross take this opportunity to express their thanks and appreciation to all who rendered aid during the clinic. Never was anything conducted in Hartland that received more hearty co-operation or a better response from the citizens. Aside from the doctors, all services were given. We are glad to make public acknowledgment to the following who rendered valued assistance.
(This was followed by a great list of people who assisted in various ways. I will finish with the section that dealt with special thanks)

Especially did we appreciate the use of the Martin truck in getting furnishings to and from the hall, also the help of Miss Florence Sturtevant whose car was stationed in front of the hall both days to be on call when needed, and was frequently used. Miss Regis Daley, in charge of the preparatory work at No .Hartland, gave most substantial assistance, both before and during the clinic. Dr. Carlton was the operating surgeon, assisted by Miss Horton. Dr’s Ward and Eastman gave the ether, assisted by Miss Brown. Dr. Kidder, health officer, whose services were given, was in charge of the ward, also rendered efficient aid helping in various places as occasion demanded, thereby making it easier for the management. Miss Jacques, public health nurse, is deserving of special mention for the interest manifested and painstaking efforts to further the work of the clinic.
Public Health Committee (No record of who wrote this.)

Extracted from the Spring 2006 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter.

Hartland Graveyards – editorial by Byron Ruggles 1907

We have been extremely fortunate to have had surveys [of our graveyards] made at different times over the years. Stones that were present in the 1907 survey by Byron Ruggles are not always still to be found. If a stone breaks and falls over, it doesn’t take long for nature to do its job of hiding it forever under leaves and grass that turn to dirt. People who are interested enough to carefully probe can sometimes find these stones and bring them back to light. The following was written by Byron Ruggles in 1907.

“To the Editor of the Standard;
During the summer of 1907 I visited all of the thirteen graveyards in town and copied the inscriptions on all of the stones I found. Some of the yards are so neglected and overrun with trees and weeds, brush, briars, vines and weeds that I am not sure that I found all of the gravestones, some being broken and down and covered with leaves and brush. Two or three of the yards are in fairly good condition. Two or three are barely passable and others are sadly neglected.
All of the yards are fenced and all but three or four with stone walls, but the walls are not all in a good state of repair. Eight of the yards have stones with dates previous to 1800, three dates at 1800 and the other two started at 1832 and 1844.
There are also from two to seven graves in each of six other places in town with eight or ten lettered stones in all of them I have been told but only a part of them can be found now. Only one of these family lots was ever fenced.
The smallest of the thirteen yards has 19 lettered stones, the next larger has 27 and the others range from 52 up to over 600 in the yard or cemetery at Hartland Village.
I found 2043 graves with stones having inscriptions and counted and estimated 431 graves that never had lettered stones.
Of the lettered stones, the oldest is the wife of Moses Barnes dated 1768. The oldest person is Grace Totman, died in 1832 aged 102 years.
Some of the inscriptions are quite short and some more elaborate. Among the later are those of Judge Elihu Luce, Dr John Harding, Griffin who was killed by the breaking down of a bridge, Elisha Gallup, the founder of the Vermont Medical College (this should be Joseph. CYM), Ephraim Carey, Peter Gilson and Granger Marcy, revolutionary patriots, and Capt. Timothy Lull, the first settler in town.
One of the shortest inscriptions reads: Frederick Remington, on a nicely polished Ascutney granite stone, and another on a marble stone is just Dr. Daniel Hall.
Some of the older gravestones are of hewed slate and soapstone, later sawed slate and soapstone, marble of five varieties, granite of eight varieties and sandstone and zinc.
On the more than two thousand stones there are 345 mottoes, quotations and items of original and selected poetry, from which I give a selection;

“She has left us to dwell with the angels on high,
She has gone to her home beyond the blue sky,
She has gone with the holy, the perfect to dwell,
She has gone and has bade us a final farewell”

Mr Ruggles has many more quotes but I would encourage you to go find your own. Beautiful fall days are a wonderful time to explore your local cemeteries and put yourself back in time. Finding a gravestone can be like opening a book to the story that lies within. The internet, the Clerks office and the Historical Society are great places to discover the life of the person you have just met. With that in mind, I decided to see what I could find out about the Aldrich family that for so many years made their home in one of the most beautiful parts of Hartland.

Extracted from the Fall 2008 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter.

Fitzgerald Wayside Spa and Garage, North Hartland

Fitzgerald Wayside Spa and Garage

Fitzgerald Wayside Spa and Garage

The Fitzgerald home is on the right.

The Fitzgerald home is on the right.

Bertha Chamberlain of North northhartlandvtpoHartland married Arthur Fitzgerald of Canada. Bertha became the postmistress of North Hartland and Arthur operated a garage next door. These pictures also show the Wayside Spa. The group of buildings were located along what is now Route 5.

Click picture for larger image

Click picture for larger image