Colchester Historical Society

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on our plans for the upcoming season.  We have decided to not have any in person meetings until March 2021.  A schedule for the Spring will be posted here when it is available.  Please stay safe. Practice good hygiene and maintain social distancing.  We’ll get through this together.   


Check your old photo albums.  We would love to have some Colchester photos from the 1918 pandemic.  Don't forget that Winooski was part of Colchester at that time.   Does anyone have some to share?  For motivation check out this one. 

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. 

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  • Be sure to check out our Summer 2020 newsletter.
  • We congratulate Thomas Buckley from Colchester High School who took Second place in the Vermont History Day this spring, in the Senior Division Historical Paper contest, for his paper "Mrs. Smith Goes to  Washington:  Margaret Chase Smith and the Rise of McCarthyism."   See also the Colchester Sun article.  Thomas was the first person to ever enter this annual contest from Colchester.
  • While you are at home enjoying social distancing, 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.
  • The Vermont Natural Resources Council undertook the removal of the circa 1800 (with later modifications) Mill Pond Dam located on Indian Brook in Colchester during the summer of 2019. The goal of the dam removal was to restore habitat to a riverine condition, remove a fish passage barrier, reconnect habitat for aquatic biota, facilitate natural sediment transport, improve water quality and eliminate a safety hazard.  The Historic Resources Documentation Package was completed by University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program Historic Preservation Specialist Catherine Quinn, and Program Historian Kate Kenny. The final report is included here.  Mill Pond Dam

As noted above, the Log School House in Airport Park will remain closed for this summer. 

We hope to see you next summer!   You can always take a virtual tour of the Log School House using the menu on the left.

Log School House After Restoration - Outside

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Announcements

 
  •  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.

If you want to contact the Colchester Historical Society,  you can email or call one of the officers listed in the right column or you can send us mail at:
                                              Colchester Historical Society
                                              c/o  Robert Furst
                                              245 Bluebird Dr
                                              Colchester, VT 05446


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Vintage Photo of the Historical Society House

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Recent Meetings

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. 

Voices From The Attic

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.  

Appraisal Night

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. Lang Camp on Spaulding West Shore


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.  

Fort Ethan Allen Museum

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.

Original Heineberg Bridge 1853

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.

Malletts Bay Marble on the walls in the New York State Capital Building

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.

Carmen Brunelle and Barbie Doll