Tag Archives: Vermont

One of America’s Most Prominent Doctors


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Alfred Loomis Oval (1)It was Saturday, January 26, 1895, and throngs of mourners were gathered at the Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan for the funeral of one of America’s most prominent doctors.

Dr. Alfred Lebbeus Loomis, who had revolutionized the way tuberculosis was treated in this country, had died on January 23rd, just two days after his own personal physician had ordered him confined to bed because of a spiking fever.   Dr. Loomis, diagnosed with tuberculosis some thirty years earlier, had contracted pneumonia, and would never recover.  Continue reading

Same-Sex Marriage in Early America


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ben_franklins_worldDid you know that some early Americans lived openly in same-sex marriages?

In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Rachel Hope Cleves, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, will reveal the story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, women who lived openly as a married couple in Weybridge, Vermont between 1807 and 1851. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/013 Continue reading

Ben Haynes: Deacon Builder of the North Country


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1BWH 1st Presb ChurchNo matter how long a life lasts, the residue left behind is often fleeting, and within a generation or so, most of us are largely forgotten. But it’s also true that every life has a story, and many are worth retelling. I often glean subject matter from obituaries, or from gravestones as I walk through cemeteries. A tiny snippet of information stirs the need to dig for more, perhaps revealing unusual or remarkable achievements and contributions.

A fine example involves Benjamin Wood Haynes, a native of Westford, Vermont, who lived and worked in northern New York in the latter half of the 1800s. Intriguing to me was a reference to him as a “builder,” and so the digging began, yielding some impressive nuggets. Continue reading

Free Day At Vermont Owned Historic Sites


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Bennington1777MapAugust 16th is a Vermont State Holiday commemorating Bennington Battle Day and the victory over the British on August 16, 1777. To celebrate this Revolutionary War victory, admission to all the state-owned historic sites will be free on Saturday, August 16, 2014.

Pack the picnic basket, grab the kids, invite your friends and neighbors, and head out to enjoy the great Vermont summer at any of the state-owned historic sites. Continue reading

Champlain Region VT State Historic Sites Opening


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DSCN1616The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2014 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites.  The sites open on Saturday, May 24, at 9:30 a.m. and starting at 8:00 a.m. is the annual Early Bird Nature Walk at Mount Independence.

These sites preserve and present Vermont’s significant history in their museums and on their historic grounds.  There are also State Historic Sites on the New York State side of Lake Champlain, but they almost never issue announcements to the press. Continue reading

Madame Sherri: Early 20th Century NYC Show Business


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Madame SherryResearch projects sometimes take unexpected, but fascinating, twists and turns. I had reason a few years ago to look into the case of a woman called Madame Sherri. She is mostly known for an unusual castle-like house built for her in a rural area of New Hampshire–its ruins are now popular with hikers and lovers of the odd and mysterious.

My investigation dragged me far from New Hampshire–to the world of cabaret reviews in New York City, the vaudeville circuit, and “soldier shows” (popular during World War I, with Irving Berlin’s “Yip Yip Yaphank” being the most well-known). And, for good measure,  toss in a scandal involving sex and blackmail. Continue reading

New Book Challanges Vermont’s Abolitionist Reputation


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Vermont slaveryVermonters have always been proud that their state was the first to outlaw slavery in its constitution—but is that what really happened?

In a new book, The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810 (Vermont Historical Society, 2014), historian Harvey Amani Whitfield challenges this myth by showing that the enslavement of African Americans continued in Vermont for another 30 years, even as anti-slavery sentiment continued to swell.

The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810 will be enlightening to Vermont teachers and students, scholars of the early national and antebellum periods of U.S. history, and anyone interested in the history of Vermont.  The book can be purchased at the website of the Vermont Historical Society. Continue reading

Should We Still Teach Cursive Handwriting?


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01679vAn ad like the one in the January 21, 1869 issue of the Malone Palladium which announced the opening of a new writing school in Malone, NY, was not uncommon during the post-Civil War era.

According to the ad, Professor T.M. Tobin, a former teacher at the Vermont Business College in Burlington, was offering to teach “ladies and gentlemen the Spencerian system of penmanship.”

Students were expected to provide their own foolscap paper, “good” ink, and pens. Tobin’s ad stated that specimens of his penmanship could be seen at the post office and that he would award a gold pen to the student who showed the most improvement. His fee for twelve lessons in today’s money was about $35.00, payable in advance. Continue reading