Sam Ogden…City Slicker, Part 2: The Birth of Landgrove, Vt.

Ron Patch

In last week’s installment, Sam Ogden had decided to leave New Jersey and move to parts unknown. Below is a continuation of that story. In future installments you will see how Sam learned to build a fireplace, carpentry and blacksmithing. Sam was board member of Vermont Life magazine and a member of the Vermont Legislature. He authored several books including organic gardening.

“Vermont had been the happy hunting ground of my boyhood, where, at the summer home of a friend in the Green Mountains, I had caught my first trout and built my first lean-to. This friend as I, enlisted when the war (WW1) broke out, but he was killed. His mother and father from the time I was just another child playing in their yard, until now, were more than friends to me.

“And it was from their summer home (Peru) in the mountains we started our search. Back off the main road three miles or so we found an abandoned village, the houses strung along a dusty road, half hidden by their lilac bushes, and shaded by great hard maples. … One or two of the houses were so charming that we wanted to own them.

Ron Patch
Sam and Mamie’s place in Landgrove. Sam standing in the yard about 1932. Photo provided.

“… We made up our minds. It took three months and an infinite deal of hard work but we did it. Yes we owned a village. There were only seven houses but there were some barns which I decided could be turned into summer places without much expense. Here was a chance to live in the country and a chance to do something with our village.

“February (1930) found us impatient to start on the actual work, and we made our first trip up in a small truck we bought for the purpose. … We found one of the houses to be a plank house, there were stoves in two rooms and wood in the woodshed. Here we found we could keep warm, and snug so we made camp. The snow was three and four feet deep and the temperature more often below zero than above, so all ideas of starting work were soon dispelled. We stayed two weeks, got our first taste of winter in the country, changed our ideas somewhat, and returned to the city.

“In April snow was still on the ground and frost deep in the earth but there was a lot of policeing to be done so we started on that. ….there were remains of broken fences, piles of old timbers and boards, tin cans and debris of all sorts. A dump was chosen, the truck put to work and the cleaning up began.

“In those early days we camped at our base camp, a gloomy place if there ever was one in order to keep warm. With the warm days of June we moved the family up from the city and all our belongings, lock, stock and barrel. We had by this time decided on the house which was to be our new home, but it was such bad condition… This house while structurally bad, was in best living condition of all the houses. The roof was sound, the floors and walls good, and the rooms bright and sunny. The house we had chosen to live in had to be ready by fall, and there was much to be done. Then too, a friend having made us a visit inspired by curiosity, decided that he wanted one of the barns which was perched on the bank overlooking the river gorge below. He promptly bought it and gave me sketches, and wanted work to begin at once.

“Next to the river, squatted at the foot of a large maple and protected from the north and west by two huge glacial boulders was one of the most decrepit and forlorn houses of the village. Bill Faulks, who is an architect, saw through the wreckage and filth to the beauty beneath and both he and his wife fell in love with the location.

“…and one job which I have not yet mentioned. This job was our city water system. When we looked at the sixteen different properties before we bought [there] was a fine spring well up on the hill not far from the village. It was our plan to lay a sizeable main and bring the water down to all houses. This was one of the most necessary and pressing jobs we decided, after carrying our water in buckets for those first several months.

“The worst eyesore in the village was a small cottage, in which the school teacher had formerly lived. There was a shed attached which badly wanted to fall down but due to the heavy timber framing could not quite manage it though the roof was in and the structure sagged and leaned at all angles. Junk was piled high around it all camouflaged with a noble growth of burdock and jewell weeds. Adjacent was an empty cellar hole half filled with junk and sporting a splendid growth of brush and weeds. In the attic of the cottage we found a spinning wheel, which we set up on the porch, afterwards when the cottage was finished we came to call it ‘The Spinning Wheel Cottage’.

“This was our first year’s program, fix our house up for occupancy, start work on the Hoyt Barn help our first citizens with their ‘River House’, install our water system, and fix up the worst eyesore, the ‘Spinning Wheel Cottage’.

“First I found a carpenter nearby. He was slow, but honest and thorough. I put a team (oxen or horses) and a couple men at work on the pipe line ditch, set the carpenter and a helper to work tearing out in our home to be, and set myself the task of being on all jobs at the same time. Bill my helper, had in his makeup in large amounts, that, which we all have in us to some extent. That which prompts small boys to throw stones through the windows of vacant houses. I have my share too. So Bill and I had great fun tearing down the shed and outhouses to the Spinning Wheel Cottage. We would fasten a chain to what we conceived to be a strategic timber or post, hook up to the truck, and then start off. The sheds came down, then there remained the job of knocking apart the timbers, sorting and piling the boards and cleaning up the junk.”

Ron Patch
Gordy Hart’s 1935 V-8 Ford. Photo provided.

Recently Herb and Doris Eddy donated a photo album kept by Gordy Hart of trucks and busses he sold in Chester. With this article you’ll see a photo of a

1935 Ford produce truck. It is one of 18 photos in the 2018 Chester Historical Society calendar.

The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Academy Building. The monthly slideshow will be photos of 1930s trucks and busses Hart sold.

Recently I stopped at the Bargain Corner antiques across the street from Whiting Library in Chester. They have an excellent inventory. If you’re an antiques collector stop by and make a deal.

This week’s old saying refers to those that always find fault. “An empty barrel makes the most noise.”

 

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