Remember When…

A popular feature in the Vermont Journal/Shopper is the ‘Remember When’ old photo. Over the years I have submitted many photos. Occasionally I submit a photo that I know nothing about. Sometimes I don’t even know the town the photo was taken in. On several occasions savvy readers have replied to the paper with what they knew about a given photo. This has been a big help for me.

I was up to Peter Farrar’s last fall when he showed me a painting of a rural Vermont farm. It was inscribed, “Abbott Homestead” and signed “R. Abbott 1970.” Peter asked if I knew where it was. I did not.


Abbott Homestead on Massey Road in Springfield by Ruby Abbott 1970. Photo provided.

I took a photo of the painting and sent it in to the Journal to be included as a “Remember When” photo. Almost immediately the Journal was contacted by Judy Thomas of Baltimore, Vermont. She recognized the painting as the place her parents owned many years ago. Peter called Judy and made an appointment for us to pay her a visit.

We went to Baltimore via the Harris Road on a bright sunny January day. We arrived at Judy’s and sat down at her dining table. Judy told us how her mother had taken up painting about 1968 as a hobby. She had no training but she certainly had skill. The signature on the painting, “R. Abbott” was her mother Ruby Abbott. Judy had a few other paintings her mother painted and was very pleased when Peter gave her his painting. The photo with this article is Peter and Judy with the painting. Directly above the painting Peter holds and hanging on the wall is the photo of the farm Ruby used to paint the picture. Both Peter and Judy were pleased to have found a home for the painting.

Where did Peter acquire the painting? Peter’s aunt, Rebecca Farrar, “Becky” had owned the painting. When Becky passed the painting came to Peter. We discussed with Judy possible connections between Judy’s family and Becky, none were known. We have no idea how or where Becky acquired the painting but it’s now where it belongs.

The Abbott homestead was on Massey Road in Springfield. Massey Road is off the upper end of Craigue Hill. Peter and I learned a lot that day. The barn you see on the left in the painting was used as a Mennonite Church for some time.

Peter Farrar and Judy Thomas with Ruby Abbott’s painting and a photo of the original farmstead. Photo by Ron Patch.

Judy and her husband, Shep Thomas, of Baltimore worked at farming over in New York State. There they milked 60 to 80 cows. Returning home to Baltimore, Judy worked in the First Vermont Bank in Springfield. Shep bought ‘Advanced Fire & Safety’ on Bridge Street in Springfield. Shep built the business up and later sold it to a cousin from Springfield, Massachusetts who was in the same business.

Judy was town clerk of Baltimore from 1990 through 2005. Because Baltimore is such a small town I asked Judy how many days the office was open. “A half day on Saturdays” she replied. Judy also told me that residents could come to her house after 5 p.m. most any evening if they needed town clerk services.

Baltimore has always been an interesting town for me. It’s very small and has no paved roads. If you’ve never been there I recommend you go see it. It has some of the most scenic country in southern Vermont especially this time of year.

If you have any old photos you would like identified I suggest you send them to the Vermont Journal. They might select them for Remember When. Perhaps you too will learn their identity as Peter did.

We need photos and postcards of Derry & South Derry, Chester, Gassetts, Popple Dungeon, Weston, Andover, Simonsville, and Smokeshire for Chester Historical Society’s new book to be published this summer.

On Sunday, February 18 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Tom Hildreth and other historical society members will be upstairs at Chester Town Hall. Bring your photos in and Tom will scan them while you wait. Here’s your chance to have your photos published in a book. Don’t miss it. With your help this will be the best photographic history published in years.


This week’s old saying is from Ken Barrett and refers to the days from late January through early March. “When the days lengthen the cold strengthens.”

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