January 2006
Artifacts and Fiction

Montgomery Historical Society Newsletter
P.O. Box 47
Montgomery, VT 05470

e-mail pratthall@yahoo.com

Number 2006-1

Scott Perry - Chair/Editor
Bill McGroarty - Vice Chair
Marijke Dollois - Secretary
Sue Wilson - Treasurer

The MHS Board meets the second Thursday of the month at 5:30.  Pratt Hall in the summer, Public Safety Building Conference Room in the winter.

  2006 Calendars, featuring Montgomery's historic  buildings, are now available on line and at numerous Montgomery businesses and venues.

January Vermont History:

On January 16, 1777, men met in Westminster for what became known as the Westminster Convention. The convention produced and put into action the plan that would lead to Vermont’s declaration of independence.

First, it was decided that land commonly called the New Hampshire Grants should become its own state, conducting itself autonomously.

Second, responsibility for drafting and printing the Declaration of Independence was placed in the hands of three men, who promptly wrote and published it within the next two months.

The Westminster Convention was an important step in Vermont’s path to statehood.

Courtesy the Vt Book Of Days
Chairman's Message

     The closing months of 2005 brought a wonderful gift to the Historical Society and the Montgomery Community.  Member Jay Heaton sold his property, which adjoins Pratt Hall, to us for about half its appraised value.  The property includes a small house and the land formerly occupied by the general store which burned in the 80s.  The Society is financing the purchase...more on the financial implications later in this newsletter.
     As we discussed the possibility
of the purchase, Jay asked me what our "vision" was for the organization and the property?  I, on behalf of the Board, offered the following:
    The Montgomery Historical Society's vision includes providing a safe and secure home for the artifacts and culturally important pieces of Montgomery's history, and the ability to grow the collection.  We envision providing better access to our growing collection by regularly exhibiting it and making it more available to the community.  
     To meet the needs of this vision we require a facility beyond what Pratt Hall can provide.  Our current archival room is a small cramped closet, unheated in winter and almost always dark and dank. 
Lighting and physical layout also make most forms of exhibition at Pratt very difficult.  It would be hard to modify Pratt Hall to meet archival and exhibit needs without changing the very character of the venerable church.  
     A separate building with an environmentally controllable archival room, equipped with a suitable fire mitigation system, is our goal.  The new building would include exhibit space and resources for managing our collection.  This would also allow us to serve the community better by improving access, encouraging wider participation, and attracting donations of important collections and artifacts (some of which our Archivist, Bill Branthoover, has discussed with the Board.)
     So, the first step to achieving this vision has been taken.  The property is ours thanks to this very generous contribution by Jay.   Thanks also to all of you.  Your continued support through membership, and participation, helped put us in a position to make this purchase.  We will undoubtedly need your continued support, in every form, to make this entire vision a reality.    

                                                             Scott Perry, Chairman, Board of Directors
                                                             Montgomery Historical Society

Happy New Year Everyone

Montgomery Historical Society Events and Programs


      About 85 people enjoyed the one man show "Even We Here" this past November where actor Michael Fox Kennedy portrayed Abraham Lincoln.  Aside from his remarkable likeness to Lincoln, his words resonated with many of today's current issues.  For his part, Michael credited Montgomery with the "best organized" support he has ever received.

     Thanks to
Charles Henderson, Sally Newton, and Winston Lewis for all of 2005's programs.  Can't wait to hear what's in store for this year  (insiders indicate we may have some Contra/Square Dance history and dancing to look forward to...).  They are always looking for program suggestions.  Call one of them if you have any ideas.

     We've also agreed to co-sponsor a program on Benjamin Franklin this month in Richford along with several local Societies and Libraries to commemorate his 300th birthday.  The speaker will be
Professor Willard Randall, an Historical Scholar in Residence at Champlain College. 
     Professor Randall is the author of twelve books, including five biographies and two biographical readers. A former investigative reporter, he received the National Magazine Award for Public Service from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the Hillman Prize, the Loeb Award and three Pulitzer Prize nominations during his seventeen-year journalism career in Philadelphia. After graduate studies in history at Princeton University, he turned to writing biographies, which have also garnered three Pulitzer nominations. His first, Benjamin Franklin and His Son, won a Frank Luther Mott Award for research from University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism.

     The program  will be at the Richford Town Hall on January 17th at 7:00 p.m.

 Covered Bridge Festival

Ben Weed is busy working on the  bridge mailboxes and hopes to have them ready by Town Meeting.    Heidi Lague and Parma Jewett will be organizing the sponsors and artists, and the plans to exhibit the mailboxes and hold a reception too.  We will also exhibit them on our web site.  They will eventually be auctioned off.  Thanks to Ben and to everyone who has signed on as a sponsor and/or artist.  Stay tuned.  

     Community History Project
     The shoot is complete, and the editing is underway.  We are in the home stretch  This project is sponsored in part by the Vermont Historical Society, IBM, and Verizon.

 Carols and Candles

     This year's community sing along and performance filled Pratt Hall's pews with about 150 people enjoying the show.  Thanks to Marijke Dollois and Sabra Massey for organizing the event, Noella McGroarty for leading the decorations team, Parma Jewett for baking the delicious refreshments and the Gingerbread House we raffled off to a lucky child,  Kathleen McCloskey-Scott and her talented dancers, Lisa Perry and Suzanne Dollois for reading Christmas stories, and our special guests, the North Country Brass Quartet.  Kudos and thanks also to Andrew Massey for conducting us and motivating your humble editor to attempt to hit those high notes.  (Sabra assures me she was laughing with me, not at me!)


      Deja Vu all over again!  Past President and Board member, Steve Hays, will be leading the 2006 concert series.   His committee, comprised of Andrew and Sabra Massey, John Beaty, and Charlie Fichman, had their first meeting at the end of December.  Please give them a call if you would like to join them, or have any ideas for programs.

Other News...

Montgomery Covered Bridge News

     It's official!  $450,000 was appropriated by the Feds for Montgomery's Creamery Bridge.  This money probably won't be put into action for at least a couple of years but the money is there.  The Town will have at least a 5% match.

    We also learned the State awarded a contract to an engineering firm to draft plans for the restoration of the Hutchins Bridge.  Engineering should be largely complete this spring with construction likely in State Fiscal Year 2008.

Name the Newsletter

     As you can see your humble editor has settled on a name for the newsletter, "Artifacts & Fiction".  I would like to say this recognizes the dialectic struggle all historians face trying to sort out truth, colored by experience and the passage of time, from myth...but I just liked the ring to it!

Oral History News

     Since the last newsletter Winston Lewis, Sally Newton, and Jo Anne Bennett interviewed Irene Scott.  She taught school in Montgomery for 42 years.  The following excerpt describes her first trip to Montgomery from Lowell as a child:

     "I came to Montgomery when I was three.  Way over the mountain.  I remember that day better than I do what I had for breakfast this morning.  Wonderful!  My brother who was anything but fun, ‘cuz he was smarter than me and older.  But he could think of everything and he told me that all these animals (were) in the trees up on Hazen’s Notch  and how crafty they were.  And how they – you didn’t see ‘em move but they were moving.  And they would sneak right along just like branches.  Then all at once they would pounce down on whoever was going past.  And so I expected any minute to have this big animal of some kind pounce on me.  I’ll never forget that trip over Hazen’s Notch."

Mystery Photo

     This month's photo is from a postcard donated by Jay Heaton.  The postcard was mailed to Mr. Ellis Gallant in Delaware, Ohio and was postmarked in Montgomery Center, 1908.  It shows what the Hazen's Notch Road looked like near the turn of the century.  The note on the back says "We reached home Thursday morning.  When you come to Vermont we will take you up to the Notch."  It was signed Alice Orton Wright.  

     Bill Branthoover has this same post card in the MHS collection and says it was taken at the site of the spring.  He says there was a lumber mill in that area and several workers' homes.  He thinks the kids in the photo were probably children of the mill workers.  

January 15th is Vermont Independence Day!
 January is Vermont History and Independence Month!

This and That

Property Acquisition Finances

     Members should know the Board obtained a commercial loan to finance most of the purchase of the former Heaton property adjoining Pratt Hall.  The loan was for about $28,000.  Our annual liability, including mandatory flood insurance, is about $5350.00.  The board felt comfortable with this based on an average annual income (mostly membership) of about $6,000 over the past several years.

     We will need to manage our budget carefully to make sure we can meet all of our obligations.  It is our intent to do this without compromising any of our programs and activities, which are many times free.    We would also like to avoid a capital fundraising campaign at this time to avoid any chance of donor "fatigue" since we anticipate a significant fund raising effort will be needed when it comes time to build.  We would like to have this loan largely paid off before building.

     In the meantime we will explore grants, fundraisers, and any other revenue source that may help us retire our debt.  If you can make a donation for this effort it would be greatly appreciated.  Likewise if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work at fundraising events we would welcome your help.  
Membership Summary

     As of  writing this newsletter we have 179 members.   Thank you all.  Welcome to our newest new member:  Cheryl Heneveld.

  History Internet Surfing

     The following link is to an wonderful article on the Bayley Hazen Military Road: http://www.rootsweb.com/~vermont/HistoryHazenMilitaryRoad.html

     This link is to a Vermont In The Civil War web site:
     Those of you who attended the MHS program on Ira Allen by Kevin Graffagnino learned he and the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) were publishing a book on Ethan Allen's memorable quotes.  It is now available in bookstores and via the VHS site:


     If you haven't already and would like to receive this newsletter and other event reminders or news via e-mail, please send us an e-mail - pratthall@yahoo.com.  Thanks.

Make History Everyday!