A flag and a fire

In the photos Ted Spaulding recently donated to the Chester Historical Society are a couple exceptional photos. These photos belonged to Ted’s father Ed. There are a couple photos that I would classify as rare. The photo with this article is one of those.

We have a number of images of the old Fullerton Hotel that you see here but taken from different angles. This image is unique in that it includes an American flag. The hem of the flag reads: “Harrison & Reid.” Many flags of this vintage survive today, but this is not your standard flag. It is a political flag for the Presidential race of 1892 and would be quite rare today.


Old photo of the Fullerton Inn and an American Flag with Harrison & Reid on it. Photo provided.

Republican, Benjamin Harrison was elected president in 1888 and sworn into office on March 4, 1889. Harrison had defeated President Grover Cleveland in Cleveland’s bid for a second term.

Harrison ran for a second term in 1892. This was a rematch between Harrison and Cleveland. In this election Harrison lost. Harrison has the distinction of being the only United States president whose predecessor was also his successor.

When Harrison was elected in 1888 he chose Levi P. Morton as his Vice President. For Harrison’s 1892 Vice President he chose Whitelaw Reid. This is helpful in dating this photo. With the Harrison & Reid flag in the foreground there is no doubt the photo was taken in the summer of 1892.

A little of Harrison’s background:

Harrison served in the Civil War for the State of Indiana. He was commissioned Colonel of the 70th Indiana, August 7, 1862. He later joined William Tecumseh Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

Harrison served under President Ulysses Grant in a landmark Supreme Court case concerning treason. Rapidly Harrison’s popularity increased and he was urged by Indiana Republicans to run for U.S. Senator, and elected in 1880.

As president, Harrison with Republicans in both houses of Congress fought for Black American civil liberties. Harrison’s Attorney General William H. Miller’s Justice Department prosecuted voting rights violations in the South. Other civil rights bills were introduced.

In 1891 Congress passed the Land Revision Act of 1891. This bill allowed Harrison and future presidents the ability to create National Forests. Within a month of its passage Harrison authorized the first forest service to be established at Yellowstone.

During his presidency six states were added to the Union: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Wyoming and Idaho. These state admissions were bitterly opposed by Democrats. The Democrats feared these states would be Republican.

Now a little about the Fullerton Hotel:


Harrison & Reid, up close. Photo provided.

This was the third hotel on this site. It was erected in 1891 after the previous hotel burned in June of 1888. This hotel was a grand building as you can see. The hotel had 35 rooms and the latest and best design in furniture and accessories. A stage running from the Depot delivered railroad passengers to and from the Fullerton daily. It was a very busy and prosperous hotel. The Chester Historical Society owns the original blueprints for this hotel.

Howard Peck told me that his parents took him down to the Hadley place that cold January 20, 1920 night to watch the Fullerton burn. Howard, standing in the Hadley home watched firefighters trying to save the building but to no avail. At the historical society we have a few photos taken the next day of the hotel ruins. We also have a couple photos that show the firefighting equipment completely covered in a thick layer of ice.

The photographer was standing on the porch of the Hadley house when he took this photo. Today we know the Hadley place as the Hugging Bear Inn. So the hotel you see in the photo was built in 1891 and the photo was taken in 1892.

Another little tidbit of information I found in an old ledger in the collection of the Chester Historical Society. That ledger is from the Yosemite Firehouse and dates to the 1880s – 1890s. One entry mentions President Harrison stopping one summer evening in Chester Depot. Harrison was on the train and while raining he did get off the train to stretch his legs. Yosemite firemen wore their dress uniforms with white gloves to greet the president. Harrison didn’t stay long in the Depot before he boarded the train and continued to his destination. I know of no photos of his visit but remain hopeful to find one someday.

This week’s old saying is a billboard I once saw in Rutland in the 1960s. Yes, at one time Vermont had billboards. It was a photo of a longhaired hippy and read “Keep America beautiful. Get a haircut.”

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