Last summer when Frank Bidwell, Danny Clemons, Peter Farrar, and I were working at the historical society, Tom Hildreth stopped by. Dave Amidon from Connecticut, an acquaintance of Tom’s, had contacted Tom about his “Abbott” family members who had served in the Civil War from Vermont. Dave’s family has roots in the Chester–Springfield area. Dave graduated Springfield High School in 1955.
I keep my copy of Peck’s Roster of Vermont Civil War Soldiers and Sailors at the historical society. We often need it for research. There are over 30,000 Vermont soldiers, sailors, sharpshooters, and cavalrymen listed. These listings record the town from which the soldier enlisted, his regiment and company, along with his service record. Using Peck’s Roster, Tom copied Abbott soldier records for Dave.
Last month, in appreciation of Tom’s efforts, Dave drove up to Tom’s house to donate a box of old photos for the Chester Historical Society. It’s a great collection of Chester photos. Some we have yet to identify. Tom scanned a number of the more interesting photos. The photo with this article is one of the photos Tom scanned. I had never seen this photo before nor has Danny Clemons. That should tell you something.
Ed Jenkins sits in his delivery wagon just south of the green. You are looking toward the green. The hearse house can be seen on the right. Ed was parked about in front of Sarah Vail’s Law Office. You can see his dog resting his chin on Ed’s knee. Ed was born in 1861 and died in 1942. This photo would date to 1910-1915, give or take a couple years either way. You’ll notice Ed has a folded blanket he sits on for padding. These were hard riding rigs especially on old bones.
Underneath the seat on the side is painted, “J.H. Jenkins Chester Depot.” On the side of the wagon is painted, “FURNITURE.” Jenkins ran a furniture store where Pinske is today. He carried a full line of the latest furniture styles and made deliveries.
Most wagons we see of this period carried heavy loads of firewood, soapstone, or other heavy loads. These were heavy-duty rigs with wheels up to four inches wide.
This is a very lightweight rig. A load of furniture would weigh a fraction of a load of stone or firewood so a heavy-duty wagon wasn’t required. Notice how narrow the wheels are. They are more like wheels you’d find on a buggy. It’s a sexy little rig. His horse is a handsome, well-groomed animal, well cared for.
Howard told me a couple interesting stories he witnessed regarding Ed Jenkins. Ed lived up North Main Street on the left. On the opposite side of the street was a field where Orcutt Drive is today. Ed owned a portion of this field where he grew crops.
It was in the 1920s when a biplane made an unscheduled landing in Ed’s field. Howard told me the plane damaged Ed’s crops, but the real crop damage occurred when dozens of residents stormed the field to see the plane.
Next to the Civil War monument is our cannon. Some will remember when there were large cannon balls next to the cannon. In the 1960s some kids, usually late at night, would roll the cannon balls down the street. We called it bowling. This is not an admission of guilt on my part.
Howard told me in the 1920s, kids of his generation did the same thing. Howard said Ed Jenkins was coming down Main Street late one night when the kids were bowling. Ed was driving his new Nash when he drove over a cannon ball. It tore the front end out of the Nash. How the kids did scatter.
Before I move on, Andy Ojanen told me about the time Charlie Crouch wanted one of the cannon balls. These cannon balls weigh about 125 pounds each. Charlie backed his car up to the cannon balls and opened his trunk.
Charlie muckled on to a cannon ball and lifted it up and dropped it in his trunk. Well, his trunk was a little rusted. The cannon ball went through the trunk floor landing at Charlie’s feet.
For our June 24 slideshow, I will include these photos Tom scanned. There are some real beauties. We hope someone present will be able to identify photos Danny and I can’t.
Instead of an old saying I have a question. Do you remember “Boom, boom, Boomtown!?”