1908 Chester auction poster gives glimpse of farm life

This poster was recently donated to the Chester Historical Society. Photo provided.


CHESTER, Vt. – Recently Bob Ulbrich of Chester made a donation to the Chester Historical Society. The bulk of Bob’s donation was for our July yard sale consisting of modern items. Included in his donation were a few Chester artifacts that we saved for the museum.

One item we kept is a March 25, 1908, auction poster of real estate and personal property. At the top it reads: “Administrator’s SALE!” It then describes the real estate as being the estate of Charles F. Wilson: “Homestead and Farm of 142 Acres … 15 Acres of Tillage, Pasture, and Woodland.”

It further describes a sugar orchard of 700 trees, a never failing water supply to both the house and barn and a large quantity of timber.

Personal property included: “9 cows, 1 with calf by her side, 8 coming in this summer, 1 two year old steer, 1 Heifer with calf, 5 Yearlings, 1 Bull, 1 Calf, 1 black Horse and 1 black Mare, Both good workers.”

Farm implements and tools included: “1 Traverse Sleigh, 2 Cutters, 2 Wagons, 1 buckboard, 1 two-horse express Wagon,” all types of harnesses and much more.

The thing that caught my eye was the date, Wednesday, March 25, 1908. In all my years as an antiques dealer I have attended thousands of on-site antiques auctions. They are always held in summer months. It could have been a very cold and snowy auction in March of 1908.

At the bottom left I noticed the auctioneer was Henry A. Bond. Henry Bond lived in the stone house on the turnpike on what is now known as Holden Acres.

Henry Bond was in the 11th Regiment of Vermont Volunteers in the Civil War. He was wounded April 2, 1865, at the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia. He was struck in the ankle by a musket ball. His wound never fully healed and plagued Bond for the rest of his life.

Bond was also town constable for most of his life. I didn’t know he was also an auctioneer until I read this poster. I found the deceased Charles F. Wilson was Charles Fayette Wilson who lived in Popple Dungeon. He married Alta Bond (probably Henry Bond’s daughter or sister). They had one son, Henry. I’m sure many readers will remember Henry Wilson and his Model As. His son Henry Jr. was an odd duck, wasn’t he?

Another thing I noticed on the poster at lower right is F. A. Leland, the administrator. This would be Fred Leland who ran what is today Lisai’s Market. Leland was also a town constable. Today this property is owned by Pete Delaney.

Another noteworthy item in Ulbrich’s donation is a photo of the Fletcher Law Office. The photographer was standing near the upper end of the Green when he took this photo. The house on the left is the Aspen-Fletcher house. The house on the right is the current B&B, Chester House. What’s significant is the small building between these two houses.

This smaller building was the Fletcher law office. George Fletcher was a lawyer in Chester and life-long resident. Fletcher was a strong temperance man in favor of Prohibition. He was postmaster of Chester under two administrations, Circuit Court commissioner and a Democratic candidate for Congress.

It was about 1915 that the Fletcher law office was moved out back on the property and converted into a shed. It still stands today. While the Historical Society has a couple of other views of the law office, this is by far the best we have. Peter Farrar provided information for this article.

The February 19 Antiques Roundtable will feature horses, including work horses, show horses and riding horses. We are looking for exhibitors to show saddles, spurs, bridles, photos, etc. I will show an antique 1860s McClellan Civil War saddle. A farrier would be an excellent addition. How about someone who has therapy horses? It’s free to everyone from any town.

Following the Roundtable we will have three short movies on horses. The first is “A Job of a Farrier,” followed by a short UVM Morgan Horse film. Lastly, “What can a Morgan do?” The total time for all three films will be about 30 minutes.

The March 12 Roundtable will feature musicians who make, repair and play their own instruments. Don’t miss these two shows. You might make some contacts.

This week’s old saying I heard years ago from an old antiques dealer when I overpaid for an antique. “If you don’t lose money now and then, you aren’t buying very much.”

Fletcher law office in Chester. Photo provided.

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