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Welcome to iBrattleboro!
It's a local news source by and for the people of Brattleboro, Vermont, published continually. You can get involved in this experiment in citizen journalism by submitting meeting results, news, events, stories, reviews, how-to's, recipes, places to go, things to do, or anything else important to Brattleboro. Or, just drop by to see what others have contributed.

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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

History


History section

Enigma, A Word Puzzle From 1837

I know that many of you like word puzzles. Here is one found in an 1837 copy of The Phoenix newspaper. Can you solve it? (The answer was not published with the puzzle. I may find it in coming weeks. I may not.)

 

"Enigma

I am a word of twenty two letters.

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1886 Boiler Explosion on Frost Street

This was quite a story, on April 16, 1886. It had it all — an explosion, death, and destruction. The Phoenix devoted a full column to it, and even provided a small illustration showing the path of the flying boiler. I'll get you started with the introduction to the story, and then provide a link if you'd like to read the full account.

...

"Last Tuesday afternoon at about 20 minutes past three the boiler at J. A. Church’s general wood-work factory and grist mill on Frost street burst with a terrific explosion, the result of which was the entire destruction of the one-story engine-house attached to the main shop, the partial wrecking of the rear portion of the main building, serious injury to R.D. Brown’s barn, the killing of a valuable horse, and the shaking up of things generally in that vicinity.

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Estey Organ Company Exhibit At 1893 World's Fair

Today, in 1893, the Estey Organ company was putting the finishing touches on their organs to be shipped to the World's Fair in Chicago. The Phoenix reported on it thusly:

….

FOR THE WORLD’S FAIR

The Estey Organ Company’s Exhibit

A Description of the Beautiful Instruments Comprising their Display

Today the finishing touches are being put to the large and beautiful exhibit of instruments which the Estey Organ company are to send to the World’s Fair at Chicago, and it is the present plan of the company to have the organs en route to their place in the great exhibition to-morrow. Many workmen are very busy upon them, and our glance at the instruments was necessarily hasty and imperfect, but a short chapter of notes will be of general interest.

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Brooks House Annunciator

1892:

The old annunciator at the Brooks House, which was on the French system now generally discarded, and which was injured by fire several years ago, has been replaced by a new gravity-drop system of the most approved kind. All the wires run upon the surface instead of in the walls as heretofore, and are brought into an annunciator of 100 drops.

an·nun·ci·a·tor (ə-nŭn′sē-ā′tər)

n.

One that announces, especially an electrical signaling device used in hotels or offices to indicate the sources of calls on a switchboard.

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The Millerites

1843:

The third of April has passed, yet the earth, in this region at least, is wrapped in snow instead of fire, as some of our friends, the Millerites, have predicted. So far from burning up, we have been in great danger of freezing to death.

It's often interesting to look up the back-stories behind the old historical articles.

William Miller, a self-taught preacher, believed that the end times and Second Coming would happen on April 3, 1843. When that date passed, he just kept revising his predictions.  Many followers gave up all their possessions in anticipation of being called to Heaven with the faithful.  Sounds like another preacher that was in the news in recent years!

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Today In Local History

The daily local history sidebar is one of the most interesting features on ibrattleboro, and seems to be seldom commented on. Those abbreviated items often leave me wondering about the details.

Today we read: 

1878: The 90-cent dollars have put in an appearance as pocket pieces.

What could that be about? 

About a month ago, this item ran:

1887: Samuel Simkoveze, the well known Jew peddler, is about to open a clothing store in the basement of Vinton’s block.

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Brattleboro in the Vietnam War Era: A BHS Oral History Project

The Brattleboro Historical Society is putting together an ORAL HISTORY of the Vietnam War Era and is seeking Brattleboro area people - veterans to anti-war activists - to come forward to share experiences.  If you have an interest in participating contact Bill Holiday at -

holiday@brattleborohistoricalsociety.org

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The Great Blizzard of 1888

On March 16, 1888, The Phoenix ran the following report on the Great Blizzard of 1888, which had happened just a few days earlier.

.....

"Snowed Under.

Brattleboro’s Experience with a Dakota Blizzard.

40 in. of Snow in a 90-mile Gale.

Sights, Scenes and Incidents in Brattleboro on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Madame Sherri: Theatrical, Eccentric, Flamboyant

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Brattleboro AAUW presents: The Theatrical, Eccentric, Flamboyant Madame Sherri, a talk by Eric Stanway on Tues., March 17 at 7 p.m. at the Brattleboro Historical Society History Center at the Masonic Temple, 196 Main St., Brattleboro.

Stanway is author of “Madame Sherri: The Special Edition,” an expanded biography of the diva of the 20’s who scandalized the locals for years before succumbing to poverty and dying in a Brattleboro boarding house, leaving her castle in the woods of West Chesterfield, N.H., to crumble to ruins.

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Living Whist

Those who follow This Day In History on a regular basis might recall a couple of mentions of members of the community rehearsing to perform as cards for an upcoming entertaining exhibition of "Living Whist." Well, you will be pleased to know that the event was a success.

Below you'll find the almost complete account of the event as told in the Phoenix on March 3, 1895. (The scanned newspaper was torn in one place, so I copied as much as was available.)

If we have any whist players, perhaps the game could be explained a bit?

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1849 Opening of the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad

The Vermont Phoenix account of the first train arriving in Brattleboro, from Boston, on February 20, 1849.

Celebration of the Opening of the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad

This celebration took place on Tuesday last, the 20th inst., and will be long remembered by those who were present at it. By the arrangements made, the cars from Boston were to arrive about 1 o’clock P.M., but owning to the large train of passengers, they did not arrive until 3 P.M. Our citizens, and guests from the adjacent country, in the mean time were assembled “en masse” - and notwithstanding the long delay, had not the least difficulty in keeping cool.

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Puppies and Pigs

From the Vermont Phoenix, Feb. 21, 1896, comes a story of puppies and pigs.

"Michael L. is a son of Erin’s Isle. His facial expression and his linguistic accomplishments would be convulsive proof before a jury.

Michael is not afraid of trichinosis, and recently bought two infantile porkers in Brattleboro, to be raised on his Vernon farm.

Michael started for home with his pigs, but he stopped at a wayside in in Guilford, presumably to get refreshments. While he was there some fun-loving person released his pigs from the bag and put two small puppies in their place.

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Handed Down from the Trade: A Story of a Slave-holding Past

Join independent scholar, David Mulholland, in his talk Handed Down from the Trade, Wednesday, February 18, 7:00 PM, in the library's meeting room.

Imagine growing up in an America grasping with the horrors and social havoc of its slavery past that you personally despise. Then imagine discovering that your ancestors participated extensively in slavery, prospered from it, and influenced public policy to set people, states, and a nation on a path to spread slavery, to engage in a Civil War, and to undertake an arduous Civil Rights struggle.

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Interest in Pre-Brattleboro

I'm a local fellow with a great interest in the context and culture of this area prior to its becoming the Brattleboro we know today. Meaning, the vast sweep of 12,000 years preceding the past 250 or so; the Sokoki of the Western Abenaki were here for centuries and their ancestors for millenia before them. And, it must be affirmed, their descendants are still among us.

By way of honoring this land and its people, I would like to help acknowledge and document this heritage and raise awareness to engender respect. It struck me that this gathering of the minds might be a reasonable venue within which to inquire about likemindedness. Anyone else with such an inclination?

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The Lecture at The High School By Principal Professor Bacon

In February of 1860, the principal of the high school gave a lecture describing what he saw as “defects” in the current school system. The newspaper was kind enough to dcoument this, so we can go back and read what he said about such topics as books, naps, exercise, carbonic acid gas, and politeness.

The system he describes seems rather far from what we do today, but the goal is identical.

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The Great Snowball Assault of 1892

The weather was right for packing good snowballs. The targets were a plenty. Nobody stopped them.

February 5, 1892, as reported in the Phoenix:

The heavy fall of damp snow, which came on Tuesday and Tuesday night, was followed Wednesday by the worst exhibition of hoodlumism ever seen on Brattleboro streets.

In the early morning the boys began snow-balling in an entirely proper and legitimate way, but at noon this had degenerated into a wanton and indiscriminate attack upon every passerby, and upon every team, person and object which chanced for any reason to furnish a target. 

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Vermont Asylum Ready For Patients As 1837 Begins

On January 20, 1837 the Vermont Phoenix published the following announcement regarding the opening of a new establishment in town. Read on to see how the Brattleboro Retreat was first presented to the public.

VT. Asylum For The Insane, Open

The Trustees of the Vermont Asylum for the Insane would announce that this institution is now ready for the reception of patients. The building is finished in a manner adapted to the classification and convenience of its inmates. The two wings are so constructed as to afford pleasant and commodious rooms, and that the sexes may be entirely separated. Rooms are prepared for the sick, removed from all annoyance, where the immediate relatives and friends of the patients can if they desire, bestow their kind attentions and sympathy. Experienced nurses and attendants are procured, and none will be retained except this who are kind and faithful to their trust. - No harsh treatment will ever be for a moment allowed.

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Booker T. Washington's Pencil

From today's Phoenix, December 15, 1899:

"Before the appearance of Booker T. Washington in the Auditorium a Brattleboro girl read that he always carried a lead pencil in his right hand when delivering an address. When he came up to the stage she looked for the pencil, and there it was.

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The Holiday Trade - A Look Among The Dealers, 1875

Digging through the old newspapers today, I found an interesting story describing the holiday items for sale at some of the stores downtown in 1875 during a period of economic hard times for many people.

The article provides quite a few extended details about the stores and items for sale, so I thought I'd share it. Set your iBrattleboro time machine for early December, 1875, and let's go shopping in downtown Brattleboro.

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1984: High Street Runaway Truck and Song

Today is the 30th anniversary of the runaway truck down the High Street hill, December 8, 1984. It was a busy shopping Saturday in Brattleboro. Margaret MacArthur's song, "Stephen Johnson" tells the story. It's available online at the VermontFolklifeCenter website.

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