Old Vermont humor

The Bradley tomb in Westminster.  Photo Provided
The Bradley tomb in Westminster.
Photo Provided


In Memory of William French, son to Mr. Nathaniel French; who was shot at Westminster... Photo Provided
In Memory of William French, son to Mr. Nathaniel French; who was shot at Westminster…
Photo Provided


A closer view of French’s stone.  Photo Provided
A closer view of French’s stone.
Photo Provided


The story below was written by Lyman Hayes of Bellows Falls for his book “The Connecticut River Valley in Southern Vermont and New Hampshire” published in 1929. See my footnote marked *

In the village cemetery at Westminster, across the avenue from the granite shaft erected by the state of Vermont as a memorial to the martyrs of the 1775 massacre, William French and Daniel Houghton, is the large tomb in which the ancestors of the Bradley and Kellogg families lie. At the southeast corner of this tomb, and attached to it, is a small marble slab which bears the inscription, which is often wondered at by the visitor: “To Our Gentle, Kind and Faithful Penny.”

“Penny” was a dog, much beloved and an inseparable companion of Hon. William Czar Bradley, one of the leading lawyers of Vermont who resided in Westminster practically his entire life. He for several years represented this district in the Congress of the United States. The affection which he lavished upon his little companion was a most pathetic and interesting side-light to the life of a most eminent and widely famed man. Many most interesting and amusing incidents in which Mr. Bradley and his dog figured were often told among his friends and intimate associates of the bar. The memorial stone was first erected at the grave of the dog at the little mound in the front yard of the ancestral home of the family, which still stands today farther south at the corner of School Street.

The late Judge Daniel Kellogg of Westminster, a descendant, used to tell of the dog frequently accompanying Mr. Bradley into the court room. On one of these occasions, when Mr. Bradley had made one of his eloquent pleas, he took his seat and as usual Penny jumped into his master’s lap. His opponent, desirous of displaying his forensic ability, commenced his reply in a loud voice with wild gesticulations. Then little Penny from his seat in his master’s lap became interested evidently in the discussion and commenced a furious barking. The old orator patted the little dog on the head and said in a voice loud enough to be heard all over the court room, “Hist! hist! Penny, only one dog at a time.” Suppressed laughter from the bar filled the court room, and even a broad smile illuminated the countenance of the dignified judge, while the young lawyer sank back crestfallen and dumbfounded. He never completed his plea.

Mr. Bradley, although a man of immense research and quaint intellect, was peculiarly superstitious. On one occasion he was driving on his way to the county seat at Newfane with Mr. Kellogg. It was a bright spring morning and all at once Mr. Bradley exclaimed, “Hold on. We must kill that snake,” and immediately sprang out of the buggy, cane in hand, and as quickly as he could chased the meandering varmint into a high stone wall. With Mr. Kellogg’s help the old gentleman tore down more than a rod of the stone wall before the snake was found and killed. Mr. Kellogg being surprised at the persistence of Mr. Bradley in his search for the snake inquired how long he would have worked if they had not found the snake, when Mr. Bradley quickly replied, “I would have hunted for him until dark if we had not found him, otherwise I should have lost every case this term”

It was in the old Bradley mansion that Ethan Allen, early one morning, married his second wife, Mrs. Buchanan. This Frances Buchanan was the step-daughter of the detested Tory, Crean Brush. John Norton, the proprietor of the Tory Tavern, was a guest at this wedding breakfast, and is said to have humorously remarked to Allen, “General, I understand that you do not believe there is a God, or heaven or hell.” Allen mused a moment, and then turning a stern eye on Norton replied, “No John, I believe there is a hell—for Tories.”

Hon. Stephen Rowe Bradley, the father of William Czar [Bradley], and Moses Robinson were the first U.S. Senators from Vermont. Mr. Bradley was five times elected president pro tem of the senate, and a close friend and adviser of Presidents Jefferson and Madison. He was a graduate of Yale in 1775, served as an officer in the War of the Revolution, locating in Westminster in 1779. From that time the name of Bradley has been held in high estimation in that town in all succeeding generations. Very many mementos of their life here, and the liberality of their descendants, abound in various parts of town.* See my note below.

William Czar Bradley died in the old homestead March 3, 1867, and his little law office on the adjacent grounds remains in exactly the same condition in which he left it, library, furniture and pictures, yes, even his straw hat he last wore hangs on the wall as he left it.”

*Lyman Hayes wrote in a style that today can be confusing. Hayes makes it appear Moses Robinson was a son of Stephen Rowe Bradley, he wasn’t. Robinson was one of the first two U.S. Senators from Vermont. The other was Stephen Rowe Bradley. Both Robinson and Stephen Bradley were elected in 1791.

The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Wednesday, July 27th at the Academy Building at 7:00pm. The monthly slideshow will consist of photos for inclusion in the 2017 calendar. Selections are made by vote of the members.

This week’s old saying is from Dr. Seuss. “Be who you are and say what you feel. Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter won’t mind.” Dr. Seuss has a Chester connection.

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