January 2019

  1st Quarter

Number 57
Artifacts & Fiction

The Quarterly Newsletter of the
Montgomery Historical Society

P.O. Box 47
Montgomery, VT 05470

e-mail pratthall@gmail.com


Click here for a printer friendly pdf version

Noela McGroarty's Nutcrackers

     Scott Perry - Chair/Editor
          Bill McGroarty - Vice Chair
               Marijke Dollois - Secretary
                     Pat Farmer - Treasurer

  The MHS Board meets the third Thursday of the month at 5:00 p.m.  Pratt Hall in the Summer, Public Safety Building Conference Room in the Winter.

History Quiz:

1.  Did Abraham Lincoln have a beard when he was first elected?

2.  How  many candidates were there in the election of 1860?

   a. 2     b.  4  

   c. 6     d.  8

3.  What was the estimated voter turnout for the 1860 election?

   a.  41%     b.  59%  

   c.  68%     d.  82%

CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE:  2018 in Review

     2018 was another busy year for us.  With your help we maintained our buildings and grounds, hosted two concerts, two weddings, and one memorial.  We continued the community Farmers Market, and held a yard sale.  We awarded a scholarship, and sponsored the annual Memorial Day commemoration, and the two day, holiday celebration called Holiday Happiness, and Candles and Carols.  

  The Board also voted to fund the printing of 5,000 more covered bridges pamphlets, having exhausted our initial order of 2,500 this fall.  We will provide these free of charge to Montgomery businesses, giving priority to our business members. 

  Our major project was landscaping our property on Deuso Rd.  Last year at this time we were just starting the planning process.  We finished our Heritage Garden this fall with new gardens,a stone wall, and a bench.  Here is the "before" and latest, pre-snow "after" photo.  Thanks for your support.

Happy New Year from the MHS Board


     The Hall is in good shape.  The clock has been a bit finicky lately and we  have a small problem with one of the stained glass windows which we are still trouble shooting.  The gardens are snug and the Men With Tools had to remove another tree that had snapped in two also.

All is Bright December 2018

     We participated in another local craft show in Early December, organized by our own Sue Wilson to benefit the Montgomery Elementary School.  We offered books, stained glass window and Harold Babcock note cards, and more.  Can't get more local than that!


      SAVE THE DATE:  We have been trying to arrange this for two years and are thrilled to announce the Northern Bronze hand bell ringers will be here on June first.  Couple Pratt Hall's great acoustics and these talented ringers and you will not want to miss this one.

     Do you have any ideas for any programs you'd like to see?  Please contact us and let us know.


      We're always thrilled to receive items to add to our collection.  Since the last news letter we received several photos, a 1973 edition of the Jay Times, and  more.  

   Montgomery artist, the Reverend Harold Babcock, creates numerous oil on board paintings based on literature and his recollections of his life in New England, and in particular Montgomery, Vermont.  Painting in the “Primitive” style familiar to many in Grandma Moses’ works, Harold’s landscapes contain many familiar buildings, landmarks, and events presented in uniquely stylized compositions. 

     Many feature the Jay mountains in the background as seen from his family’s Montgomery farm but with different buildings in the foreground.  His painting of St. Bartholomew’s (below), now Pratt Hall, shows the Jays and other village houses set in imagined perspectives.  His work evokes a time past with fondness and a tinge of longing. 

     The Babcocks have donated notecards based on these paintings to the Society for fundraising.   These cards were produced under the supervision of the artist.  A collage of all the cards is at this link.  Individual cards are available for purchase from our store page for $1.00 each.  Our thanks to Harold and his wife, Carolyn.

"Nunc Dimittis St. Barholomew's"
(Vespers or Evening Prayers)
Acrylic on Board by Rev. Harold Babcock


   Applications for our annual Lalia Pratt Hays Memorial Scholarship and the Joe and Irene Scott Scholarship are due May 1st.  All graduating Montgomery seniors going on to future education / training are eligible.  


     This time of year we remind everyone about the TD Bank Affinity program.  Anyone with a TD Bank account can designate the MHS as their Affinity partner and the Bank will make a donation based on the average aggregated annual balance of the participants.  

     Thanks  to all of you that have already designated us.   We can always use additional members.  The more participants and the more we save, the greater the donation from TD Bank.


     January:  1794 - two stars added to the U.S. flag, Vermont and Kentucky.

     February:  1987 - Ben and Jerry's "Cherry Garcia" flavor introduced.

     March:  1895 - Montgomery votes to establish a library, elects commissioners and applies to the State.


  1.  Lincoln did not have a beard when he was first elected president.  He grew a beard before his inauguration though, some say upon the recommendation of 11-year-old Grace Bedell who wrote to him:  
     "I have got four brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President."  (Women could not vote. ) 

  2.  b.  There were four major candidates for president in the 1860 election;   Republican (Lincoln), Northern Democrat (Douglas), Southern Democrat (Breckinridge), and Constitutional Union (Bell).

  3.  d.  Voter turnout was 82%.  Lincoln won nearly 40% of the popular vote and 180 electoral votes.  Douglas won nearly 30% of the popular vote and 12 electoral votes.  Breckinridge won 18% of the popular vote and 72 electoral votes.  Bell won 12% of the popular and 39 electoral votes .

Source:  Wikipedia Election of 1860. Accessed December 2018.

Another Noela Masterpiece

      2018 was another good membership year.  We came up short of our goal of 200 members again, but exceeded our $10,000 goal for membership donations.  These operating funds pay for upkeep of Pratt Hall, and programs like Candles and Carols, our Memorial Day commemoration, our scholarships, and more.  Thank you for joining and supporting these activities.  

     Our 2019 drive will begin in late March but you can join, or renew, anytime online by clicking the Membership link on our home page.  You can use any credit card (processed by Paypal) or your personal Paypal account by clicking the Donate button and following the prompts.

League of Local Historical Societies and Museums Annual Meeting

        In Late October we attended the annual meeting of the League of Local Historical Societies and Museums (LLHSM)  in Woodstock.   This year's theme was about  generational change and it's impact on organizations like ours.  The keynote presentation by two of the larger members boiled down to: we just try to offer lots of activities.

     The presentation by the Brattleboro Historical Society reviewed their Social Media activities.  They informed us that  on a scale of old-to-young, web sites were ancient, Facebook and Instagram were old, and Snapchat was what the youngsters were on.  Still, they created a facebook / instagram / twitter presence largely devoted to posting old photos.  Brattleboro Middle School students research and post the photos which have generated many comments and an occasional artifact, or ephemera, donation.  

     Despite the online interest there seems to be no increase in their Society's membership as seen by numbers, volunteers, or financial donations.  As the presenter put it, "there is an expectation for this to be available on line, and for free."   For them, Social Media helps get information out, but it doesn't seem to influence membership, participation, or financial support.

     This has been consistent with our experience, limited as it is.  We also have a slightly different additional mission, that is, we are dedicated to preserving Pratt Hall.  By using it and keeping it available for a variety of uses we hope to build interest and support for this work.  

     Tim Murphy was recognized for his long support of our Society with an Award of Individual Achievement.  He's been instrumental in rebuilding the tower, clock and other parts of the building, and was  active in fund raising in the early days.  His citation credits his contributions over an extended period of time for “making an enduring contribution to the Montgomery Historical Society and the community.”   Congratulations for this well deserved recognition.

This is the 14th LLHSM award received by the Montgomery Historical Society and its members since 2007.


      On December 15th Pratt Hall was host to our second "Holiday Happiness" celebration.  MHS's Sue Wilson teamed with Amanda Starr and the Northwest Counseling and Support Services - Family Center, for an event that included face painting, an interactive nature display and craft with Kurt Valenta, cocoa and cookies, and horse drawn wagon rides from the Hall to the Comstock bridge and back by Down to Earth Draft Horses.  The Montgomery Fire Department delivered Santa who listened to toy requests and handed out candy canes.  Our thanks to all involved in this wonderful community celebration.

        On December 16th the Society hosted it's annual Candles and Carols community sing-a-long.  Steve Hays led the caroling segments accompanying us on the organ and a digital piano donated by the family of Andrew Massey.  Kathleen McCloskey-Scott's Ballet Arts students performed an excerpt from the Nutcracker...

    ... Jay Farnham reprised "The Night Before Christmas".

     ... Warm cider and candy canes were provided for all until supplies ran out.  Our thanks to everyone who helped make this another memorable holiday evening, and special thanks to Noela McGroarty for her colorful Christmas tree and sprays.  Also our thanks to Maggie Elkins and Lois Lumbra for lighting the Montgomery Spruce outside the Hall.

     ... Joke of the night...  What kind of music do Santa's elves prefer?  Wrap music,  Ha!!

Hitching the Horses at Pratt Hall

Thanks for your support!!