Stray shots & short casts

In the 1960s the Rutland Herald had a weekly column titled “Stray shots & short casts.” I choose that title for this article as I have several subjects to write about this week.

Last week Peter Farrar, Danny Clemons and I went up the Reservoir Road researching a bit of local history. Peter knew the history and Danny knew the area.

While we didn’t locate exactly what we were looking for we did find a number of old cellar holes. One site had several cellar holes. On the 1869 Beers Atlas we found the Sabin family living there in 1869. All that remains today are the cellar holes.

Some of the foundation stones were huge. While some of the walls had partially fallen in most were well preserved. Today, these old cellar holes are being bulldozed by landowners without concern for their historical importance. Peter suggested before any more are destroyed a high school student using GPS could locate and map all of the cellar holes in the town of Chester. It doesn’t have to be a student, perhaps you’d like to give it a try. It would be a worthy project. Today, we map trees in town. Why not cellar holes? Trees are renewable; cellar holes are not.

Clyde Clark with his oxen, Dick & Dan. Photo provided.

The Chester Historical Society is publishing a new book to be released next spring. This book will include real photo postcards of Chester and surrounding towns. Included will be Chester village, the Depot, Gassetts, Smokeshire, West Chester and Popple Dungeon.

Also included will be Andover, Simonsville, Londonderry and Weston. We invite you to submit any old photos or postcards you have of these areas. I imagine there are a few families in these towns who have unpublished photos. This is your chance to step forward and share your photos with a wide audience. You will be given credit for any photos you submit or you can remain anonymous.

Another item: recorded history shows Captain Melvin left Fort Dummer May 13, 1748 to Lake Champlain. It was May 31, 1748 on the return trip to Fort Dummer when Melvin’s men were attacked by Indians. Here a massacre took place with four or more of Captain Melvin’s killed and scalped.

There is a monument to Captain Melvin and his men at the Salmon Hole in Jamaica but is this accurate? Sam Ogden of Landgrove, Vermont made an interesting discovery many years ago and makes a strong case for it having occurred in Londonderry.

Ogden located Captain Melvin’s 1748 journal at the New Hampshire Historical Society and copied it word for word. This journal documents Melvin’s daily route with compass bearings and miles marched each day. In those early days few mountains, streams or rivers had been given names.

However Melvin’s journal is fairly well detailed where he describes mountains, waterfalls or streams crossed. Sam concluded the massacre occurred in Londonderry not Jamaica.

Here is part of Sam Ogden’s conclusions.

“…At any rate, it seems quite plain that the captain and his group followed this stream to the east where, as he says, ‘travelled over a Large Mountain, leaving another large mountain on the N/W,’ the first undoubtedly being Bromley and the other Stiles Peak, at which point they would come upon the headwaters of our Flood Brook. I cannot pinpoint the actual location of the ambush, but as I have indicated, it would seem to have taken place in Londonderry somewhere just below the juncture of Flood Brook with the West River….”

We have assembled a small group of individuals with different skills. One individual who is a retired engineer will take Melvin’s journal with aid of a compass and a 1756 map of the region and attempt to retrace Melvin’s steps. Others have equally important skills. Our goal is not to rewrite history but to accurately record history. Whatever our findings are it is our intent to present them in a Power-Point presentation in the future.

The 2018 Chester Historical Society calendars are for sale at: Stone House Antiques Center, Chester Hardware, Phoenix Misty Valley Books, Lisai’s Market, Erskine’s Feed Store, Chester Town Hall, Vintage Vermont, Salon 2000 and the Framery of Vermont. The photo with this article is the cover of our 2018 calendar.

Instead of an old saying I offer an epitaph I recently read in an old book for Maggie, an Army mule.


“In memory of Maggie, who in her lifetime kicked 1 General, 4 Colonels, 2 Majors, 24 Lieutenants, 42 Sergeants, 454 Privates and one bomb.”

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