Recently Peter Farrar loaned me a couple interesting historical items. One item is a 38-page handwritten manuscript. This is an amazing record of early 1900s Andover. It was written by Agnes Beatrice ‘Bea’ Farrar, Peter’s grandmother.
The other item Peter loaned me is a book titled, “Big Heart The Journey to Castleton’s Two Hundred and Twenty-fifth Birthday.” In this book, I found additional history regarding Bea. Watch for more articles regarding Bea and Harry A. Farrar. Harry learning to drive is a real hoot.
According to the book “Big Heart,” Bea was orphaned at 8-years-old. She was taken in by Mother Griswold of Orwell and raised as her own. From Mother Griswold, Bea learned the importance of hard work and education. Bea’s maiden name was Agnes Beatrice Field. Below is an excerpt from Bea’s manuscript.
“In return for the scholarship for the two year course at Castleton Normal School I promised to teach two years in rural schools. I received my Teacher’s Qualification Certificate and my diploma from Castleton Normal School and I was to put into practice the many things I had learned in those two years.
“My first school after graduation was in Andover Vermont. It consisted of all the grades, and many of the children were Fins. I stayed at the home of a Finnish family, and thought ‘I’ll soon learn their language’ but I was a poor pupil. When I wished to converse with the mother I had to tell one of her children what I wanted to say, the child would tell the mother in Finnish language and the mother would answer in Finnish language and then the child would tell me what the mother said. So I did not converse often with the mother. The father talked in English and I could visit with him. My room was not heated and it was necessary for me to find a different place to stay before winter time.
“My next place was in an old farm house at the foot of a long hill. The family in this home consisted of father, mother, two children and an old uncle.
“The father was a rugged man about six feet tall, who had lost both feet at the ankles. He wore very special heavy shoes. After his farm chores were over at night and he removed his shoes the only way he could get around was on his hands and knees, creeping like a baby. He was a brave man and never once did I hear him complain about his handicap. He did all kinds of farm work. His wife was a small woman, very spry, and helped her husband many ways as well as looking after the old uncle, her two children and me. I was made to feel I was one of the family. I helped her wiping the supper dishes and caring for my room.
“Most days I walked to the school house. The long hill was quite a walk and I was glad I travelled up it in the morning. At night it was easier to go down after the long school day. It was an interesting walk on sunny days. Not as pleasant in wet weather.
“One morning during the winter we discovered it had snowed hard during the night. Everything was heaped with snow. The father hitched his team to the farm sled and with teacher and several of the school children who lived near by, climbed the long hill to the school house.
“One little first grader on the sled, exclaimed over and over ‘Oh Lepisto’s stops are covered.’ At first I wondered what he meant, then I realized that by stops he meant fences. Indeed the snow covered the fences. Many of the children came on skis. What good times at recess and noon time the children had playing outdoor games….”
The photo with this article is the Boynton Hill Schoolhouse in Andover where Bea taught school in 1915. The photo was taken by Peter’s grandfather Harry A. Farrar. This schoolhouse had sheet metal siding instead of clapboards. It was described as having wide temperature swings, from an oven in the summer to an icebox in the winter. Today, the school is a private home.
This is one of approximately 275 photos in Chester Historical Society’s new book, “Pictorial History of Chester, Andover, Weston and Londonderry.” It’s available at select stores in Chester, Weston, Londonderry, and Bellows Falls.
This week’s old saying. “I feel more like I do now than I did before.”