Previous Historical Society Meetings

April 10, 2023

Old Coins:   At our meeting Rick Heh presented a history of coins from antiquity to the present day, showed us some of his extensive collection, and provided some collecting tips.

Heh: coin presentation
Heh: Looking at coins
Heh: old coins

Oct 15, 2019

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. 

Sep 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

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

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

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 replaced 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.

Feb 10, 2018:   

Carmen Brunelle told usCarmen Brunelle and Barbie Doll 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.

Nov 13, 2017   

Dr Daniel Bean told us about Orphan Trains in Vermont - trains that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas. "It was fall in Enosburg Falls, VT in 1905 when the train from New York City arrived with about a dozen 3-4 year-old children from the New York Foundling Hospital.  As the children lined up on the loading dock a nurse who had accompanied them read their tag and called the name of the family that had agreed to accept a new child into their home. This was Enosburg’s introduction to the concept of orphan trains and their riders. The concept of sending New York’s street children and foundlings out of the city and into the countryside for adoption or indenture was the brainchild of Charles Loring Brace, founding director of the Children’s Aid Society of NYC. By the time Congress put a stop to the practice in 1928 it is estimated that about 250,000 children had been “shipped out” of New York City. They traveled to every state, territory and Canada, including Vermont. A report by the CAS in 1910 lists 125 children having been sent to Vermont. That list does not include the children sent from the New York Foundling Hospital run by the Sisters of St. Vincent. The Enosburg Falls stop was to be the last stop for this particular train. Children on that train were left in Enosburg, Fairfield, and other towns along the way. Dr. Bean’s own father was on that 1905 train."      Information on these, and other orphan trains is sketchy at best. Many of the riders never mentioned the circumstances to their families, or if they did tended to downplay it. Others did write reports in later life. It is estimated that fewer than 500 of the riders are still alive today. Our current sources of information are the records of individual families and their relatives.  A DVD of this presentation is available at the Historical Society.

September 11, 2017  

Chief Jennifer Morrison along with two early police officers, Ron Tatro and Jim Lockwood, described changes over the last 50 years in policing, women in law enforcement, equipment and technology improvements.   Ron and Jim gave us a real insight into the early days of policing with only three officers, 4 weeks of training and no radio communication equipment in the police car..  Chief Morrison described what it is like today, focusing on more community policing including youth and school involvement. She also talked about why Colchester officers tend to have long tenures - "this is a place where people truly come to make a difference,"   A DVD of this presentation is available at the Historical Society.

Chief Morrison

2016-2017 Meetings

  • July 22 - the Coates family hosted a Coates Island Open House for the public. What a wonderful opportunity it was to explore the island and its history.
  • May 8:  Tom Raub gave us a photo tour of Georgene's and his latest travel adventure: "Around the US in 89 Days" for our May meeting. His talk included some amazing photos (by Georgene) and lots of background history the various western national parks.
  • April 11:  Richard Allen, a local historian, gave us a look into the effort it takes to discover the history of people and places. Richard, a retired teacher, has authored several books on the history of local areas but he used his latest, “Ambition and Grit: The Life of Truman Naramore, Civil War Veteran and Entrepreneur” to illustrate the process and excitement of finally uncovering the fascinating details of a persons life. Discovering a stump puller patented by Naramore at a Vermont Expo motivated Richard to investigate more about this local inventor. Truman Naramore (1838-1895) was born in Charlotte, Vermont, served in the Vermont cavalry in the Civil War, survived six months in the notorious Andersonville prison eventually returning to Williston. A very creative and entrepreneurial person, he secured several patents for his inventions, mostly farm equipment, and had them manufactured locally but advertised them widely. Richard took about 5 years and lots of traveling to uncover the details about Naramore found in his book
  • March 11:  Malcolm Severance, a member of our Historical Society, described how he left the family farm to attend college then returned to Vermont to become a UVM faculty member and eventually leading the Grossman School of Business. He used his recently published book, “A Pursuit of Excellence: A History of the University of Vermont School of Business Administration” to provide an insiders perspective on the 120 year history of the school and its leaders. Some of the key charts from his presentation are in the Past and Present section of the website.
  • Feb 11: David Usher, our guest speaker, described his "Peru/Bolivia - Altiplano Adventure."

2015-2016 Meetings

  • May 2016: Coralee Magoon, a member of the Colchester Cemetery Commission told us all about the six town cemeteries and three private ones. She showed photos of some of the interesting grave stones and told us about some of the families and veterans buried there..
  • Apr 2016: Curt Taylor presented a fascinating look back in When the Boys Came Home - 1945-1947 . Near the end of WWII there were 10.3 million men serving the US Army and Navy combined (about 1.3 million living today). In 1945, when the war ended, 5 million men were released from service; another 5 million were released in 1946. A country that had been totally consumed by the war effort had to adjust to peace. What did that mean to the daily lives of those that had served? Using letters written at the time by Curt’s mother, he discussed the details of a young couple starting a family and a life together in post-WWII America.
  • Mar 2016:  At our March 2016 meeting a committee from the Milton Historical Society described the importance of the General Stannard House and their effort to restore it as a Civil War museum.
  • Feb 2016:  Jerry Allyn presented the history of Hazelett Corporation, a long time manufacturing business in Colchester at the Feb 2016 meeting. This was recorded and a DVD of the presentation is available in case you missed it.
  • Dec 2015:  Our annual Christmas party held at the United Church of Colchester once again had an overflow crowd who heard a wonderful musical presentation by several of the Colchester High School choral groups.
  • Nov 2015:  Curt Taylor used family memoirs to describe Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in New England of the 1800's and also described some antique cards presented to the society.
  • Oct 2015:  A group of members traveled to St. Johnsbury to visit the amazing Fairbanks Museum and enjoyed a special lecture by Mark Breen in the Planetarium.
  • Sep 2015:  Murray Thompson described the changes in agriculture in Colchester over the years and where it is headed with some local dairy farmers already using robotic milking machines.

2014-2015 Meetings

  • Apr 2015:  Jason Smiley told us all about "The Eddy Family of Spirit Mediums". The question remaining is "were they real or a hoax?"
  • Mar 2015:   Buzz Kuhns presented a slide show of an amazing Alaskan bike trip he took and also presented an amusing poem he wrote about "the cost of Maple Sugaring". If you missed the maple sugaring poem you can find it on the Internet.
  • Feb 2015:  Dr. Robert Sofferman showed us some wonderful animal and nature photos from several of his trips in Vermont, the US and foreign countries.
  • Nov 2014: Jerry Fox told us all about "Suzie Wilson, Her life and Her Myth" at the November 2014 meeting. If you didn't attend, you didn't find out why she has a road named after her.
  • Oct 13 2014:  A group of members took a field trip to Hildene, the home of Abraham Lincoln's son Robert Todd Lincoln.
  • Sep 2014:  Professor John Crock from UVM presented a fascinating look into the distant past of Colchester and the Lake Champlain basin in his presentation of the "Archeology of Colchester's Ancient Native American Past". Tools and artifacts from native Americans living in the area from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago were also on display.

2013-2014 Meetings

  • May 2014: In May the Historical Society visited the Ethan Allen Museum for a tour of Ethan's house and a presentation about his life and the museum.
  • April 2014: At the April 14 meeting Inge Schaefer presented "Writing Colchester History." Inge discussed her experiences in writing her books on Colchester. One of her books is listed in the Historical Literature section.