Colchester Historical Society
Right now we are not holding any in person events because of the COVID-19 pandemic but watch this space for future plans.
Be sure to read the latest newsletter and find out about a new donation to the society. Have you visited the National Guard Library and Museum located in Fort Ethan Allen? There are also some of Colchester's historical properties that are up for sale. What are they? All that and more is included.
Have you checked out the Driving Tours of Colchester yet? There are still no lines and no charge and many interesting spots are just waiting for you to visit.
You can find a link to several Driving Tours of Colchester on the left panel. There are tours of Colchester Center, the Malletts Bay Area, the Airport Park Area, the Fort Ethan Allen Area and even the Town Cemeteries. You can download the files for your navigator (not the driver!) to use as you drive around to the locations described. We hope you enjoy finding more about the historical locations of our great town.
Also check out:
A new Colchester Historical Resource
Thanks to the dedicated effort of society member, Lisa Halvorsen, we now have indexes to the book: Colchester Vermont From Ice-Cap to Interstate. One index is a complete list of all key words and names found in the book and the other is a list of just the names of people. There is also a short document describing the content of the indexes. Links to these can be found under the Historical Resources tab found on the left navigation list.
In case you are wondering where the name for the Fanny Allen Campus of the UVM Medical Center came from, here is the story:
Frances (Fanny) Margaret Allen, daughter of Vermont's most famous Revolutionary War hero, Ethan Allen, was the inspiration for the founding of Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester. She was the first woman born in Vermont to enter the order of the Religious Hospitalliers of St. Joseph at the Hotel Dieu (“Hotel of God”), the first hospital established in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Sadly, Tuberculosis took her life at only age 26, but her memory was preserved in the hearts of the women of her congregation in Montreal as well as in the hearts of many Vermonters who were inspired and converted to a deeper faith by Fanny's life's example.
Interestingly, Fanny Allen's body was not interred in the Colchester cemetery that bears her name, but beneath the chapel of Hotel Dieu in Montreal.
The former Fanny Allen Hospital is known today as the Fanny Allen Campus of the UVM Medical Center.
Source: Walking in the Spirit – Fanny Allen Hospital 1894-1994, by Michael J. Healy (1993 Fanny Allen Hospital, Colchester, Vermont)
If you missed the presentation “The Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont, 1909 – 1913” with historian David Work hosted by the Vermont Historical Society, a recording of that talk is now available. You can view the talk here on the Vermont Historical Society’s YouTube channel.
Reminder of Winters Past:
We are always interested in adding photos to our Colchester Historical collection. Here is one that we received courtesy of Tom Gordon. Prior to refrigeration, ice cut from ponds and lakes was the typical way to preserve perishables. Remember ice chests? Supposedly the ice in the Bay was much cleaner than that on the Burlington waterfront so one place Benways harvested it was near the state boat access. Once refrigeration was available and ice was no longer needed, Benways evolved to providing Taxi service.
We would love to have some Colchester photos from the 1918-1920 pandemic. Look through your old photo albums. Don't forget that Winooski was part of Colchester at that time. Does anyone have some to share?
Here is an article from the Winooski Historical Society Newsletter about the 1919 Pandemic.
This photograph comes from the City of Dublin California Heritage Center and is accompanied by a caption noting that the photo was taken in Dublin, California around 1920.
Here are some interesting historical documents and links that you should check out:
- Read the paper by Thomas Buckley from Colchester High School who took Second place in the 2020 Vermont History Day in the Senior Division Historical Paper contest for his paper "Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington: Margaret Chase Smith and the Rise of McCarthyism." Thomas was the first person to ever enter this annual contest from Colchester.
- There is a lot of interesting historical information available online on this website and our Facebook page . Also checkout the Vermont Historical Society website which you can access here.
- You can always take a virtual tour of the Log School House using the menu on the left.
- Have program suggestions? Contact Suzanne Furst at 802-658-3706.
- Don't forget to browse our Vintage Photos section. If you have photos to add contact Bob Furst by email or phone: 802-658-3706.
- If want to join the society dues are only $5.00 a year for one person, $10.00 for a family or $100 for an individual life membership.
To become a member print the form from the link on the left. Fill out the form and bring it to a meeting or send it to the address shown.
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Tuesday, October 15, the Historical Society members took a road trip to the Vermont Granite Museum in Barre, plus a side trip to the famous Hope Cemetery. The museum has undergone a major renovation and has plans for working with Vermont colleges to implement a course in the art and crafting of granite. Director Scott McLaughlin showed us around the facility and described the various processes involved in producing a granite product - slabs of granite or works of art. Of course the Hope Cemetery is the local showcase of the skills of the granite artists.
September 9, 2019: Dr. Carleton Young told us a fascinating story of finding in his parents’ attic a box of approximately 250 letters, written by two civil war soldiers from Williamstown, VT serving in the Vermont Brigade. Carleton and some friends spent several years transcribing the letters and exploring the sites described by the soldiers. He subsequently published "Voices from the Attic" which contains excerpts of many of the letters. Reading from several letters, Carleton provided us a view through the eyes of the two brothers of the action of Vermont Brigade: life in the camps, thoughts about their commanders, and about the Civil War in general.
On Monday, May 11, 2019 the Colchester Historical Society and Burnham Memorial Library co-hosted an Appraisal Night! People from the community brought in their "treasured items" and Peter O'Brien and Mike Heath of Estate Sales & Consignments shared with the group their estimate of its origin and value. It was fascinating to hear an explanation of each item and its value as a collectible.
Monday evening, April 15, 2019 we traveled back in time with Martha Lang, who told us about life at the Lang Family Camp on Spaulding West Shore or was it Spalding West Shore? It depended on who was writing about it.
On Mar 9, 2019 members traveled to the Fort Ethan Allen Museum. Dr William Parkinson took us on a virtual tour of the Fort, showing then-and-now photos and details of happenings at each place. The museum is located in the old pump house for the stone water tower.
Feb 9, 2019 Reid Allen presented the history of the Heineberg Bridge. Actually, there have been 4 bridges: the first was built in 1853 - named the Heineberg bridge presumably because Dr J.B. Heineberg was instrumental in getting it built. He had a farm off Porter's Point road and wanted to have a bridge across the Winooski instead of using the Richardson ferry. The second was built in 1862 to replace the original bridge which burned down that year. Then in 1935 the old wooden bridge was replaced by a steel bridge. Finally in the mid-1980's the steel bridge was replace by the current concrete bridge as part of the Burlington Beltline project. Reid presented the society with a framed copy of the original bridge. A digital file of this presentation is available at the Historical Society.
Nov 12, 2018: A special Veteran's Day program was presented by Rick Heh about his father, Lt Richard J Heh, "A Prisoner Log of World War II POW". Lt Heh, a navigator on a B17, spent the last year of WW II as a POW after his plane was shot down on a mission over occupied Belgium. While a prisoner, he kept a log of his activity. After his release, he shared his logs with his family. His son Rick shared them with the Historical Society in a fascinating and moving account of life in Stalag Luf III. As a point of interest, this was the prison which was the site of the "Great Escape," which occurred shortly before Lt Heh was incarcerated there. Check out the Past & Present Events link for some pages from the presentation.
May 14 2018: Bob Furst presented the results of his study of Marble Quarries and Lime Kilns in Colchester. There was a large commercial Lime Kiln and quarry located at the northern end of Lime Kiln Rd that was in operation until 1970 when a lost contract caused it to shut down. The site was cleared and one of the two quarries was filled in. In the Bay area several attempts were made to quarry marble at Malletts Head and Marble Island in particular. The material while beautiful when polished was actually dolomite and not a pure marble. It was much harder to cut and polish. In the late 1800's a processing plant was built on Malletts Head but costs drove it out of business by 1900. The plant was converted into a club house which existed until 1976 when it burned down. The walls of the NY State House in Albany are lined with marble from the Malletts Bay quarries. This presentation was recorded and available at the Historical Society on a DVD.
April 9, 2018: The North Country involvement in the War of 1812 was the topic for the April meeting. History and civics teacher Jason Barney presented the story of the origins and first year of the War of 1812 and Vermont's role in it. If you missed this talk, you missed an interesting introduction to the war. Great Britain started taking US sailors off merchant ships to man their war ships in their war with France. In response the Federal government restricted trade with Britain (Canada in this case for Vermonters). This affected the livelihood of many Northern Vermonters as Canada was their biggest trading partner. Smuggling goods to and from Canada became a way of life for many. The Black Snake was a notorious smuggling vessel that drew the attention of the Feds. The locals had to deal with both the Feds and Great Britain. So began the story.
March 10, 2018: Researching Your Family History was the topic for the March meeting of the Historical Society. Christine Eldred, Colchester High School librarian, demonstrated how to begin researching family histories using methods from her own family history research. Her presentation focused on the best places and ways to get started with genealogy research. She also pointed out many of the free resources that are available to investigate your own family tree.
February 10, 2018: Carmen Brunelle told us all about the First 30 Years of Barbie Dolls illustrated by selections from her large collection. In 2003 she set a goal of collecting Barbies from the first one in 1959 but stopped when she reached 30 years of them. The original Barbie was modeled after a German doll, Lilli, but had her own unique features which continued to evolve over time. Many of the early dolls had very expensive, well made clothing, some being designed by well known designers such as Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. It was a fascinating story. This presentation was recorded for future researchers.