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Welcome to iBrattleboro!

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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Ye Olde iBrattleboro Archive

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Search the first decade
of iBrattleboro archives
at Archive-It.org
Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013


History section

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 -



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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


The Simple Recipe For Town Government - Village of Brattleboro Incorporated

In today’s paper, a Phoenix from 1858, a notice appeared requesting everyone to attend the village meeting next week in order to vote on incorporation of the village of Brattleboro.

Along side the notice was the full text of the state act authorizing incorporation. It describes the boundaries of the town, then outlines how the town is to be organized. I found it interesting to look back at our origins, so to speak, to see what we felt was the bare minimum required to operate Brattleboro on day one of incorporation.


Documentary Film On Brattleboro Red Cross Nurse In France 1914-1918 To Be Shown By Historical Society

An American Nurse At War is the title of a documentary film to be shown on Sunday, November 9, 2014, at 2:30 pm for the annual meeting and program of the Brattleboro Historical Society at the Brattleboro History Center located in the Masonic Center building at 196 Main Street, Brattleboro.

The film chronicles the experience of Marion McCune Rice of Brattleboro who went to France one hundred years ago to care for injured soldiers during World War I. Rice was born in Brattleboro in 1882 and graduated from Brattleboro High School in 1900 before attending Smith College and nursing school at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. She was the sister of Howard Crosby Rice, longtime publisher of the Brattleboro Reformer, and spent summers at her home on Chestnut Hill.


Peacock Alley Plumage Flies in 1859 Fight

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!


150 Years Ago (1864 10/14)

Derby, Oct. 14, 1864.

Sister Abiah,- 

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.


Let's Go To Valley Fair, 1893

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.


150 Years Ago (1864 9/27)

(Post marked Martinsburg, W. Va. Oct. 1, 1864)

 6th Vt. Vols. Spt. 27, 1864.

Madam -

 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.


iBrattleboro Poll

60 degree temperatures in Brattleboro in February are