While collecting historical notes from old papers, I occasionally come across stories that are a bit too long to condense for the This Day In History feature, but are fun nonetheless. This morning provides a fine axample with a story of a fight between two well-to-do women in town, in 1859.
It jumped out at me for a few reasons. One was the colorful reporting and choice of words to describe the fight in great detail. Another was that it was really quite a brawl if this description is correct. Imagine two of our most notable women going at it like this today. Charges would be pressed!
Derby, Oct. 14, 1864.
I have hired the Skinner House for one year and shall come after you Monday and stay all night so as to pack up and get an early start Tuesday. Father will come Tuesday for you and the children. Have Father Mansur come and help load Tuesday. Rec'd you letter last night.
For many decades, Brattleboro was home to the annual Valley Fair at this time of year. It was a two day, town-wide celebration of livestock, farming, craftsmanship, sport, and entertainment. Brattleboro literally shut down so that everyone could participate. Imagine the Stroll merged with the Guilford Fair, on steroids.
The newspapers would hype the event for months, giving details of various fair committees and their decisions. After the fair, they would run multi-page accounts with full details, and pages with lists of every winner of every competition - from best pumpkin pie to the cow that can produce the most milk.
Let’s go to Valley Fair, 1893! I’ve combed through the reports to recreate a visit for us.
(Post marked Martinsburg, W. Va. Oct. 1, 1864)
6th Vt. Vols. Spt. 27, 1864.
It is with very sad heart that I inform you of the death of your husband. He was killed in action Sept. 19th, at the battle of Winchester during the last charge made by our Regt; A canister shot passing through his breast. His last words were, “I am a dead man.” We were in a great hurry at the time and I did not see him fall and did not learn of it until after the excitement was over. His things were all lost much to my sorrow.
The Battle of Winchester (aka The Battle of Opequan Creek) 9/19/1864
Blake, Charles, credited to, Charleston, VT, age 43, substitute - enlisted 8/27/63, mustered in 8/27/63, Private, Co. D, 6th Vermont Volunteer infantry, killed in action, Winchester, 9/19/64
Mansur, Zophar Mack, credited to, Charleston, VT, age 19, enlisted 8/11/62, mustered in 9/1/62, Corporal, Co. K, 10th Vermont Volunteer infantry, wounded, Winchester, 9/19/64, discharged because of wounds 8/31/65
Clifton Farm, Va.
Sept. 18th, 1864.
The mail has come in rather unexpectedly, and will soon go out again. The mail that has arrived has not been distributed, so I know not whether there are any letters from you or not. I got one Thursday. I have nothing new to write.
1860: The little fairy, Dollie Dutton, finished her series of entertainments to the inhabitants of Brattleboro in the Town Hall on Monday evening. While she herself os but nine years old, measuring 29 inches in height and weighing 15 pounds, she was assisted and sustained by two other persons, upon whose births the reverse ends of a powerful magnifying glass had seemed to smile in respective proportions.
Clifton Farm, Va.
Sept. 15th, 1864.
Went on picket Monday. Left a letter to be sent out that night, as there was a man going out, but came in and still find it here. It was not sent by some mistake, so now will let it go for what it is worth, and give you a new addition. We see no signs of moving, but we never know what the day may bring forth. We went on picket Monday, as I said before. On Tuesday our division were taken out on a scout towards Winchester. They went out about five miles and came back at some time in the night between 10 and 11.
Clifton Farm, Va.
Sept. 12th, 1864.
Here we are yet, only our regiment has been moved down nearer the river and are doing picket duty by themselves. Came here Saturday. Saw Zopher just before we came; the same morning.
Perhaps it will do to talk a little about that commission. I have not wanted to say much about it heretofore, but it is probably not very far off. I received a note from Major Foster's office with regard to the chances of three of us. James Tinkham Capt. There were then ten that preceded him and 21 ahead of me and W. S. Myers he was second Lieut. There were 43 preceding him.
Clifton Farm, Va. Sept. 9th, 1864.
Here I am, just about 1 ½ miles north of Berryville, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. I promised to write to you when in Washington, but have had so much to do that until within the past two weeks have had time to write to anyone, except my wife. I will give you a history of our movements since joining the regiment. Passed the Casey Board in Washington as first Lieut. for colored troops June 12th, went to Camp Distribution June 14th, drew arms and equipment that night (mine had been turned over at Brattleboro) next morning took a transport for Bermuda Hundred, reached there the third day after leaving Alexander. We went to City Point and the 6th Army Corps had just crossed the Potomac and were in front of Petersburgh. Went up there and reported June 20th for the places I shall mention. I will refer you to Leslie's Illustrated Paper for Sept. 10th.
Thursday morning, Sept. 8th. I am here still in the old place, after cleaning up our company street, carrying off beef bones, scrap of beef that could not be eaten and bushels of cobs, husks, apple pearings, and had bean pods (you see there is plenty to eat). Those of us that could not draw the charges from our guns went out and fired them off. Was wiping out the gun when Zopher came over to see me. He is looking extremely well. Looks fresh and in good flesh. Was very glad to see him. The report is that the Johnnies are reported to have left, but I never put any confidence in reports after the fight on the 21st of August I was quite unwell until the next Friday morning. That morning I got up all right. My legs were so sore that I could hardly step.
Camp-near Berryville-Sept. 7, 1864.
Dearest Abiah -
It is sometime since I have written, but it would have made no difference, as there has been no chance to send out letters since we came here until last night, and then I was away after some water and a few apples to stew. We have to go some distance for green corn and apples now. We will soon clean out a hundred acres of corn. We came here Saturday morning. I had just before written to Mary Ann and to Father. Since we came here have been pretty still. Have worked one night building breast works and then were marched back. The breast work was built on our right facing Winchester. I have not seen Zopher since I wrote to Mary Ann, but the 3d Division has been in no fights since the first was in, the night we came here expected to have to go out, but the Rebs ran their heads against something that hurt them and hauled off.
Who was killed in the accident to the presidential party...
If you were in Brattleboro on September 1st, 1902, there is a good chance that you might have worked your way downtown to the train station late in the afternoon in expectation of the arrival of a notable visitor.
Arrangements had been in the works for months for a visit to Brattleboro by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Young Men’s Republican club had sent an invitation and had been forming committees to schedule the visit, arrange a program of activities, decorate the parade route, and welcome him to town. As the President’s plans changed (his time available was increasingly short), so did Brattleboro’s. The reception banquet was cancelled and a more simple ceremony substituted.
The visit, Roosevelt's welcome, and his speech made headlines, and he spoke to those assembled on the topic of good government and Abraham Lincoln.
In additional to its historical Importance and preservation, one of the prime movers behind the redevelopment and renovation of the Brooks House is the economics of Brattleboro’s daily life. Historically, Brooks House was, and remains, the largest commercial structure in Brattleboro.
In the midst of The One and Only the Brooks House continues to be an important visual symbol of what makes Brattleboro so unique. Of all of Southern Vermont’s noteworthy landmarks none capture the quintessential past and renewed hopes for the future as this Main Street frontage in the center of downtown Brattleboro.