Irina Ohl

Local History by Ron Patch. Ron Patch is a Chester native, Chester Historical Society president, and a lifelong antiques dealer. He can be reached at 802-374-0119 or email

For several years, I have been interviewed by Green Mountain High School seniors regarding John Butler. Most years I meet with two or three seniors.

Bob Ulbrich encouraged John to leave his money to Chester Academy Scholarship. This was a substantial amount of money. Every year, the John Butler Scholarship awards deserving Green Mountain seniors scholarships. Students need to write an essay about John. This is why they interview me. I knew John.

Last fall, I was contacted by Maddie Wilson, a senior at Green Mountain. We met at the town garage. I told Maddie what I knew about John. Last week, I got an email from Maddie. Maddie’s mother Amber works at VTel in Springfield. In that email, Maddie included a photo of a watercolor painting by Irina Ohl. The painting had been exhibited in one of the offices at VTel.

Michel Guité of VTel asked Amber if the Chester Historical Society would like the Ohl painting. Yes was my reply. Last week, I met with Maddie and picked up the painting.

It’s a wonderful watercolor of a barn up on Crow Hill. A sign over the barn door reads “Flamstead Farm.” Irina lived in the old Hoar house just beyond where the road turns from blacktop to dirt.

The Irina Ohl label from the Chester Historical Society
The Irina Ohl label from the Chester Historical Society. Photo provided

At the Chester Historical Society, we have another Ohl watercolor that was donated a few years ago. Ohl lived in Chester part of the year and in France the rest of the year where she painted the French landscape. Along with the earlier donation were two books Ohl wrote about painting in France.

The painting donated by VTel has a paper dust cover on the reverse of the painting. On this dust backing is residue of glue where there once was a label. I can see where the glue was applied with a brush. So we have a painting missing its label. So what, you wonder?

At the historical society, we have an Ohl label. No painting, just the label. A similar amount of glue residue is present on this label. So it too had fallen off an Ohl painting. While this label never was affixed to the VTel painting, it should be. A perfect marriage will last forever.

A little information on her label: “Born in New York City, Irina comes from a family of artists. She studied art at Skidmore College and at schools in Great Britain as well as with such well-known artists as Marshall Joyce, Irving Shapiro, Skip Lawrence and Robert Wade.

  “Irina’s realistic watercolors depicting, florals, seascapes and landscapes have been in solo exhibitions in England, Germany, and the U.S. They hang in numerous corporate and private collections. Irina has her studio and gallery on the 1820 family farm ‘Highland Ponds on Flamstead Road, Chester, VT.”

At the Chester Historical Society meeting last week, I included a photo of the Ohl painting in our slideshow. Some thought Flamstead Farm is where Ron Farrar lives today. This may be correct. Do you know?

The painting is nicely framed with a double mat and lemon-gold frame. It appears it doesn’t have UV glass. To protect from sunlight, we will have UV glass added.

The Chester Historical Society has collected quite a few paintings done by Chester residents. I want to thank Michel Guité of VTel and the Wilsons for making this painting available to us.


Last week’s “Whatzit” were ox tips, ox knobs, or ox finials. I’ve heard them called all of these names. Men who drove oxen took great pride in their teams. I remember Elmer Jenne of Reading had a pair of oxen weighing over 7,000 pounds, combined weight.

These ox tips served two purposes. The first purpose is that these polished ox tips gussied up a team. Imagine these polished ox tips glistening in the sun. The other reason is these ox tips protected oxen from goring each other. Horns were encouraged to grow.

An ox, like a deer, will rub his horns on a post or tree to sharpen them. Imagine working between a pair of oxen, a fly lands on the ox’s ear, the ox flips his head to the side to shake off the fly, and you got gored by the sharpened horn.

These ox tips prevented you being gored. It would still hurt, but the horn wouldn’t impale you.

  This week’s old saying my mother used to describe the outcome of a dispute between two people. One person came out fine. The other fellow didn’t make out so well. When the fellow who came out well said, “No harm done,” she would say, “It all depends on whose ox is getting gored.”

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