Popple Dungeon Old Home Day

Aug. 26, 1909. Old Home Day at the schoolhouse. Photo provided by Ron Patch

I’ve been looking over a scrapbook of newspaper clippings kept by Mary Harris. Most clippings date to the early 1900s. Mary lived where Dakin’s Law Office is today. If you look up in the peak of the porch roof, you’ll see a large “H” for Harris. There’s a great photo of the Harris place in our 2022 calendar.


From Mary’s scrapbook:


An Enjoyable Gathering

The Poplar Dungeon Old Home Day held last Thursday, Aug. 26, 1909, was a great success. There were about 160 present, most people who live or used to live in that vicinity. Everyone went for a good time and seemed to get it. A picnic dinner was served at noon at one long table near the schoolhouse in District No. 15.

The celebrated Edson Drum Corps was present and entertained the company by playing the old time airs. This drum corps is worthy of special mention as it consists of a fife, base drum, and two snare drums, played by Ezra R. and Aaron H. Edson and their two sons, Azro and LeRoy. Their ages respectively, 89, 84, 65, and 60 years.

A collection of antiques from the neighborhood were on exhibition in the schoolhouse and many of them were worth seeing.

Some of the older ladies present were Mrs. Huldah Clark, aged 81; Mrs. Hannah Fuller, 77; Mrs. C.C. Fletcher, 67; Mrs. Esther Sheldon, 67 – (all of Chester); Mrs. C.E. Howard of Walpole, age 74, and Mrs. Amy Mack of Bellows Falls, aged 73.

Visitors, most of whom were at one time residents of this portion of the town, were present from Windham, Bellows Falls, Bartonsville, Walpole, Alstead, N.H., Cavendish, Ludlow, Brattleboro, Ascutneyville, and Williams, Ind.

C.E. Wellman was present with his camera and took a good many pictures of the different groups. An organization was started and officers elected for another year as follows: President Frank Clark; vice president May Warner; secretary and treasurer, Dana Bean; business committee Mrs. Frank Clark, Mrs. Coolidge Clark, and Willis Edson. They voted to hold another Old Home Day the last Thursday in August, 1910.


Another clipping

Lucy Harris was Mary’s sister.

Mrs. F. Harris went to New York last Friday to spend a short time. On her return Miss Mary will come with her. Miss Lucy Harris had an accident Monday afternoon while skating on the ice on Mr. Edson’s Meadow. A deep hole near the bank was covered with weak ice. The others had crossed safely calling to her to hurry. Essaying to do so she was precipitated into the water to her chest. She was pulled out and hurried to F. Lawrence’s where dry clothes were substituted for the frozen ones, and a warm bath at home left her none the worse. If it had been the river – We shudder at the thought.



Here I do my best to describe locations mentioned. School District No. 15 was in Popple Dungeon. The following information is from Jon Clark. After the school was closed, it was bought in about 1938 by Don Landry and became a well-known hunting camp, known as the Big-4. The Big-4 burned down 1983. In 1994, Jon Clark bought the property and built a small camp on the site. Jon told me that, as far as he knows, the last year of Old Home Day was 1916. Jon is the person I go to regarding Dungeon history – you should too.

C.E. Wellman was a professional Chester photographer in the early 1900s. His studio was in the small house next to Whiting Library. I have a number of these Old Home Day photos but didn’t know who the photographer was until now.

At the Chester Historical Society we have a bass drum that was found in Popple Dungeon years ago. It dates to the 1840s and has a large eagle painted on it; it may have been used by the Edson Drum Corps.

Lucy’s skating accident at Edson’s meadow would have been on Blue Hill Road going west out of Chester on Route 11. As you turn onto Blue Hill Road there is a meadow on either side of the bridge. This would have been the location mentioned. For historical purposes this iron bridge was known as, “Edson Bridge.”

This was also the location of the Chester Fairgrounds in the old days. Lucy Harris graduated Chester High School in 1911.


This week’s old saying is from one of Henry’s friends: “The butter has slid off his peas.”


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