• All the News That Fits The Print


    In the event that some of you have become weary of my idyllic representation of Vermont country life, I offer a series of more unbiased and historically precise descriptions taken from a local newspaper that has records dating back to 1861. Kathy Wagner, one of our neighbors, assembled the relevant clippings and published them in a small booklet.

    Before I leave you in the capable hands of the farmers, doctors, wives, clergymen, and others, I would simply quote Calvin Coolidge, who said, "[Vermonters] are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves in the service of others. If the spirit of Liberty should vanish from other parts of our Union and the support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of the brave little state of Vermont." It may indeed be time, as Coolidge aptly predicted, that our nation should look to this hardy race of pioneers to replenish our sadly depleted stores.

    September 4, 1867: "C. B. Hitchcock, the noted woodchuck hunter, is slaughtering a large number of the 'vermins' this season, having already killed upward of 150."

    October 15, 1867: "Mr. Hitchcock outdone. Ason of Mr. Harwood, aged 14 years . . . has caught . . . with the aid of a dog, 279 woodchucks."

    November 19, 1867: "I noticed an article in the Journal entitled 'Mr. Hitchcock outdone.' Now. . . that is not the whole truth. The facts are these: Seymour Harwood, aged 14 years, has caught during the present season 320 woodchucks. Last year he caught 250; in 1865, 176; and in 1864, 191, making in the four seasons 937. Respectfully yours, subscriber."

    December 22, 1868: "A correspondent writes concerning the character of a spiritualist who recently visited town. Her lectures were bold and open attacks upon the Bible and the religion of Christ. She left the town with a crowded wallet and a smiling face."

    November 1, 1870: "A hailstorm about the first of August passed over the west and north part of town. Neighbor B was out in his field haying at the time, the storm coming suddenly, he burrowed under a cock of hay for protection. Forgetting the fate of Lotte's [sic] wife who looked back to see the storm of fire upon the cities of the plain, he peeked out to inspect into the mysteries of nature and ascertain the state of the weather, whereupon a frozen missile from the clouds took effect upon the exposed part, not a transformation into a pillar of salt, but a panoramic view of all the stars of the firmament and a sudden development of the bump of veneration. The consequences, however, were not very serious or lasting."

    November 22, 1870: "A flock of turkeys belonging to a Mr. Barber recently flew from a big hill out over the valley in which his house stands and came with such velocity to the ground that 20 of them were killed."

    July 13, 1871: "Manchester journeau printer I cend yew inklosed one dollar to pa for last yearz paper I don't reed the hournel but yew ma koncider me a subscriber for the nabers all say they luff to see it on the shelf thare ant much sed about your paper over the west cide but we east ciders tawk of getin up a klub to get the paper cheeper."

    August 15, 1872: "The Congregational Church is unoccupied this season, the Methodists for some reason having failed to send a preacher."

    January 2, 1873: "Recently a man named Towsley was seriously injured at R. S. Hurd's circular saw mill. His jaw was broken and his nose smashed. An intimate acquaintance with a circular saw when in motion is not very desirable."

    July 15, 1875: "Mr. Editor: Not much worthy of note has transpired over here 'among the hills.' The boys generally find time to take their sweethearts out riding when the labors of the day are over, and those that haven't any sweethearts stay at home and milk the cows."

    November 16, 1876: "Bennett is having fortnightly hops at his home, where, for the small sum of $.50 a couple may dance until the 'wee small hours' and until they are 'all in a muck of sweat.'"

    June 7, 1877: "Very many people have the impression that fowls will not eat the potato bug, but Mr. Thomas Hayes of this place saw his rooster poking around among his potatoes and supposing that the old fellow was digging them up, killed him, and finding the gullet very much distended opened it and found therein 107 veritable potato bugs. Mr. Hayes thinks now that he killed his best friend."

    May 1, 1879: "'In times of old, when men were wise and women were bold, when bills were short and credit shorter, when from malt they brewed good porter,' lived Dr. Watkins. Like many others in his profession, he had a good practice but was a bad financier, a poor collector who seldom resorted to the law to collect a debt. But he did on one occasion sue a Mr. C, who had utterly refused to pay and who, the doctor supposed, was abundantly able. The doctor obtained judgment, Mr. C went to jail, stayed his six days, 'swore out' (agreed to pay his debts) as they called it, and was around as usual. It was winter and the snow was deep and the doctor's horse, old Whitey, got into the wrong track, the deep square-boxed cutter ran up on to a high snow drift, overturned, and actually imprisoned the old doctor. The identical Mr. C happened to be passing that way and righted matters at once, freeing the doctor. As he was leaving he asked, 'Doctor, how would you have got out without help?' The doctor coughed and said, 'I'd--I'd a swore out.'"

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