Taxes or jail

For some time now Ted Spaulding has been donating Chester artifacts to the Chester Historical Society. Ted’s family has had a presence in the Chester area well before 1900. Recently Ted handed over to me a large collection of postcards, old photos and other ephemera. The document in italics below was included in Ted’s most recent donation. I didn’t know you could go to jail for not paying your taxes.

State of Vermont} To Elijah D. Tarbell Collector Windsor County of taxes for District No. 15 in Chester

  Greeting —

  By the authority of the State of Vermont, you are hereby commanded to levy and collect of the several persons named in the list or rate bill herewith with committee to you, the sum of money ann???? to the name of each person respectively, and pay the sum to the Prudential Committee of said District on or before the 25th day of August next, and if any person shall refuse or neglect to pay the sum in which he or she is assessed to said list or rate bill, you are hereby commanded to distrain the goods, chattel, or estate of such person so refusing and the same dispose of according to the law, for the satisfying the said sum with your own fees; and for want thereof you are hereby commanded to take his or her body and him or her commit to the keeper of the jail in the County of Windsor, as the law directs, within said prison, who is hereby commanded to receive such person, and him or her safely keep, until he or she pay said sum so assessed, with legal costs together with your fees, or be otherwise discharged or released, according to the law.

  Given under my hand at Chester in said County this 8th day of June A.D. 1852. Prescott Heald, Justice of the Peace.

Glued to the top edge of the above document is a smaller document as below:

The following is a taxbill assessed on the list of 1851 of polls and rateable Estate of the inhabitants of the 15th School District in Chester of eleven cents on the dollar raised by vote of said District on the 4th day of March 1852 for the purpose of supporting school the ensuing summer to be paid in to the Committee.

Old Home Day, Popular Grove District #15. Aug 26, 1909. Photo provided.

Below this heading are two columns of names of the individuals in the District. To the right of each name are two columns. One column is ‘Grand list.’ The second column is the amount of tax owed by each person. Next to some of the names in pencil is ‘X.’ I think this indicates the bill had been paid.

There are 39 people listed. Many of the names are familiar to me. A few are: John Marshall, Nathan Patch, Silas Baker, Ebenezer Cook, Pardon Field, Luther Stoodley, Jacob Rugg, and many more.

The highest assessed property was Augustus Whitney at $28 Grand list with $3.08 due in tax. The lowest was Nathan Patch with $1 Grand list and 11 cents in tax.

The District 15 Schoolhouse was up in Popple Dungeon on what is dirt road today. The schoolhouse was sold years ago and became a famous hunting camp known as ‘The Big Four.’ Many locals could tell you stories about The Big Four. I remember it burning in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Today the property is owned by Jon Clark who has built a small camp at this location.

Also included in Ted’s donation was a real photo postcard of the District 15 schoolhouse. This is the school mentioned in the tax document above.

Today it’s hard to believe that over 100 years ago Popple Dungeon was a thriving community. Every August they held an Old Home Day at the District 15 schoolhouse. These Old Home Days started in the late 1800s and continued as late as 1915, perhaps longer; although by 1915 attendance began to decline.

At the historical society we have a few guest books from Old Home Day. As many as 250 would attend, coming from all over New England. It’s interesting to read who signed the guest book and where they were from.

Music was provided by the Edson Drum Corps. The all-day event included dancing, socializing, games for kids and a smorgasbord of food. The little settlement of Popple Dungeon really put on quite the shindig.


This week’s old saying is from Archie Bunker. “Gloria will be alright once she gets rid of that albacore around her neck.”

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