Westminster Historical Society

Vol. XVIII                                        THE                                          NUMBER 2

Westminster Historical Society




Trustees and Officers --  Dan Axtell, Ruth Grandy, Barbara Greenough, Obe Lisai, Patricia Haas, Robert Haas,

 Karen Larson, Richard Michelman, Fletcher Proctor, Racheal Scott and Barbara Taylor


P. O. BOX 2          WESTMINSTER, VT 05158


As some of you who live here in Westminster may have heard, the Select Board is planning changes in the layout of offices in Westminster Town Hall. At the same time there will be installed a “man lift” from the ground level to the first and second floors. In conjunction with the “handicap” access to the second floor, a meeting room for town board meetings will be created in museum space. We estimate we will lose at least one fourth of our exhibit space.


Board of Trustees and other members of your society have met with the Town Manager and the Select Board to discuss and clarify what this will mean to the historical society. Both boards have looked at the space available on the second floor and how it is going to change the way we exhibit and what we can exhibit. We have expressed our concern about the security of our collection. There will be no staff members or docents available during these non-visitor meetings to prevent access to museum areas. A rope barrier does not prevent a determined person from handling things that should not be touched. We can only hope these “guests” will respect the fragility of our possessions.


At present we are working in a tight space. Not necessarily the exhibit space, but the area where we have our storage of artifacts, photographs and archives. There are two small desks where we process donations for preservation. Each item that comes into the collection must be examined for possible contamination of other objects in the collection, labeled with an accession/catalog number, photographed, measured and described for our catalog and more.  We have exhausted our storage space. When we remove cases and furniture from the main exhibit area in order to make space available for a meeting room, there will be no place to store these items.


The Trustees have accepted this fate, as we are guests of the Town of Westminster. It is their space, they need to expand their office area and have nowhere to go but up. As other modern museums, we will move into a new and exciting way of telling the story of our rich history. The young people of today’s society are not interested in walking through rows of objects in dark cases. They want to “hear” and see a story. We accept this challenge. Welcome to the 21st century, Westminster Historical Society.


Early last spring we had a visitor who is a direct descendant of William Czar Bradley. He was delighted to be able to see and walk through his ancestor’s law office. His guide told him of the need for repairs to the building and in return William Bradley Ferris gave us a generous donation to be used as we saw necessary for the Bradley Law Office. Our President, Ruth Grandy presented the society with another large donation.


In our last newsletter we appealed to our members for a donation to help pay for the serious repair work needed to stabilize the foundation of the Bradley Law Office. Through the donations of Alma Beals, Allison and David Dean, Barbara Jones, Carole and Earle Milbery and Nellie and Burt Young the wonderful additional sum of $1,700.00 was raised. We have received a total $6,700.00 thus far in gifts to help us complete the work needed. This has gone a long way toward paying the expenses of replacing foundation sills and clapboards on the building.


We aren’t done yet. Recently our preservationist carpenter looked at the south side of the building, which we thought was fairly stable and discovered that 28 feet of that sill and clapboards need replacing. When that work is completed in the spring of 2017, we will treat the building for suspected powder post beetles. Then the entire exterior of the law office will be scraped to remove the lead paint and new paint will be applied. We have had an estimate for the scraping and painting at a bit over $10,000.00. We are looking for grants that will help us in funding this huge expense for our little society. In the meantime, we humbly thank all of you who have considered this project worthy of your support.


Along with responses to our financial plea to our members, we are so very grateful to Dan Axtell and Kathy Lisai. Dan is our Treasurer and computer guru. He came to our rescue when our 12 year old computer crashed a few months ago. Dan generously donated a new, modern, lighter weight computer; an external hard drive and a laser printer to our society. He set up the new computer for us and also worked with the PastPerfect technicians installing an upgraded version of our data program, PastPerfect v.5, on the new computer, moving all of our files from the old computer to the new one. Dan, what would we do without you? Thank you so much.


Kathy Lisai, our Registrar, purchased a monitor for the society that allows us to view as a slide show, photos and videos of our collection that have been saved to flash drives. This was used in conjunction with the William Czar Bradley clothing collection presentation at our annual meeting by Racheal Scott, our Co-Curator. It allowed us to see some of the clothing found in the Bradley Law Office that was too badly damaged to allow it into our collection for fear of contamination. Kathy, this opens all kinds of doors for us to show items not always on display. Thank you again and again.

Last, but not the least, thank you to Don Clark, Grafton; George Chapman, Westminster; Neil Mettrick, Westminster; Douglas Robinson, S. Acworth, New Hampshire and Robert Clements, Brattleboro; for their amazing knowledge of minerals and their generosity in helping us to identify a collection of minerals in our collection. Neil, Douglas and Robert are members of the Brattleboro Mineral Club. We discovered some fossils and possible Indian artifacts in the boxes. Thank you to all of our members for their continuing support and generosity.



From Caitlin Fox: 1864 Court Schedule ledger from Judge Goodhue of Westminster, a student’s sketchbook that belonged to Martha E. Goodhue, later married to Reuben Miller.


David Wright Estate: interior wood paneled door, identified by handwriting on the door panel as coming from the Westminster (Cumberland County) Court House, signed by E. A. Hills, 1881; Hills was a former owner of the house where the door was found.


Barbara Greenough: a collection of newspaper clippings regarding Westminster resident Delores (Wettach) Williams, her career as a model and marriage to ball player Ted Williams.


Robert and Patricia Haas: A collection of 17 letters from Harriet Blanchard of Westminster to her sister Charlotte Wainright of Roxbury, Massachusetts, circa 1830s; 1 letter from E. Gilbert to Mrs. P. Clark; 2 black and white photos: Sabin’s Covered Bridge and covered bridge near Gage’s basket factory; 1 label for maple syrup from S. H. Minard; Collection of pamphlets: Sermon by Rev. Pliny H. White, “Congregational Church, Westminster, Vermont, It’s Pastors and Native Ministers”, “Ministers and Churches of Vermont, A Review”, “Alfred Stevens’ a Memorial”, “Election Sermon” by Thomas Skeel; Magazine “Journal and Advertiser, 1900”; Booklet, “Confession of Faith, Westminster East Parish” with a catalog of members; Label, “Pure Apple Juice, Minard Farms; 1861; Passbook recording subscriptions to the Westminster West Parish Church; Booklet with extracts from the minutes of the Congregational Convention at Westminster 1820; Bill of Sale from “B. F. Atcherson, Carriages and Sleighs”; Order for the Westminster Paper Company, 1897; Postcard with insurance assessment by D. C. Wright; Booklet, “Revised By Laws of Maple Grove Grange”; Bill of Sale for horses by Arthur and H. M. Wilcox; Post Office receipt for registered letter, Westminster West; Bill of Sale, Henry Wilcox to W. S. Dunham; Receipt from the Valley Creamery Association to Arthur Wilcox and G. C. Wright, 1858; Bill of Sale from A. P. Ranney to A. J. Wilcox, 1895; Bill of Sale from O. J. Ranney, Florist to Arthur Wilcox, 1895;


Continued on p.3


Receipt from the Valley Creamery Association to A. Wilcox, 1889; Receipt from G. H. Walker to H. M. Wilcox,

1895; Receipt from S. P. Fenn & Co. to Mr. Wilcox, 1888; Receipt from the Westminster Saw Mill to A. Wilcox, 1889; Receipt from Westminster Saw Mill bought from A. Wilcox, 1889; Receipt from A. P. Ranney to A. Wilcox, 1896; Concert  program, Union Hall, Bellows Falls, 1897” Booklet, “Memorial Address for Rev. Pliny H. White”; Receipt from the Zeno Bakery to the Westminster Grange, 1922; Yankee Magazine clipping, regarding slavery in Vermont, 1994; Selectmen’s, Overseer’s & Auditors’ Report, Westminster, Vermont, 1874; Annual Report of the New England Kurn Hattin Homes, 1905; Transcript from the Vermont Phoenix, 1901 regarding the W. E. Wellman fire; Transcript of an audio tape from the Westminster West Oral History Project; Transcript and follow up from the Brattleboro Reformer regarding fire in Westminster West, 1917.


Harriet Hemenway Price: Handmade wax fruit and vegetables, made by Mary L. (Watkins) Farr of Westminster, Vermont, circa 1860s, in sealed glass dome; Handmade child’s dress made by Mary L. (Watkins) Farr for her son, Willis V. Farr; Book “Watkins: a Beginning Genealogy” by Jayne E. Bickford.


Richard Michelman: A handwritten letter and envelope dated 1848 from James D. Butler to Sylvester Judd regarding the settling of the town of Westminster, Vermont, 2 burl wood contemporary frames and archival framing for embroidery and advertising tissue from the Sarah Bradley collection in the Wm. C. Bradley Law Office.


Ann & Susie Speckman: Large framed oil portrait of Reverend Sylvester Sage; Provenance bill of sale and antique directory for portrait of Sage; Booklet “A Sermon Preached in Westminster, Vermont” by Rev. Pliny H. White.


Westminster East Parish: Some of the items that had been on long term loan from the Westminster East Parish were made gifts to the Westminster Historical Society: Piece of Confederate currency; Piece of Continental currency; Newspaper, Bellows Falls Intelligencer, 1827; Land deed, 13 Nov.1872 to Jonathan Atwater Phippen from Nathaniel Robinson; Journal of U. S. Representatives; Holy Bible; Book, “Appendix to Congressional Globe, 1855, used as a scrapbook by L. F. Ward for the Powers Institute, Bernardston, Mass.; Book, Powers Institute Phi Kappa Society record book; Book, Powers Institute bills for tuition; Ledger of

records; Booklet, Westminster School Report, 1793; Booklet, “Westminster Town Report”, 1906; Book that

belonged to Moses Fisher, 1781; Book, dictionary that tradition says was used in Tory Tavern; Book, Compendium of Geology: Document, list of men from Westminster, Vt, drafted into the Civil War; Document, “Protestant Episcopal Church formed by Lot Hall”; Document, Contract to build Cumberland County Court House in Westminster, Vermont; Document, original verse written by an eye witness to the shooting of William French; Document, John Norton’s commission to Lieutenant; Document, describing Medad Wright’s settlement in Westminster, Vt.; Document, John Norton’s appointment as Assistant Assessor of Lands, 1798; Document, “Warning to Meet to see if District #10 will have a School”, 1824; Document, John Norton’s discharge as Assistant Assessor of Lands; Document, Anne Norton’s last will and testament, dated 30 October 1813; Document, Commissioner’s paper signed by Jonathan Phippen; Collection of porcelain dinnerware; Collection of American Indian implements and arrowheads; Stone found in Fullam pasture on old brick yard; Collection of American Indian tomahawks, war points, hunting heads and pottery shards; Pitcher from set  at Old Tory tavern; Glass pane from Trinity Church steeple, New York City; Collection of minerals, Collection of bird eggs; Grain painted case; Early Drum; Fragment from pulpit of first Westminster church (Meeting House); Two fire buckets; Miniature of Cumberland County Court House; Chopping knife from Tory Tavern; Sampler; Fragments from William French’s saddle and trappings; Doily knit by Martha Miller in her 99th year; Pair mittens, knit by Martha Miller in her 101st year; Ink well, Pair of spectacles in case; 2 pair shoe buckles; Single shoe buckle; 2 pen knives; Handmade child’s shoe; 2 tortoise shell combs; Ink set; 2 vegetable scrapers; Box of nails from Tory Tavern; Child’s corset; Pair handmade shears; Fragment of wood from Cumberland County Court House; Pew door from first Westminster church (Meeting House); Board from Cumberland County Court House that tradition says has a bullet hole in it; Service flag; Tile from Tory Tavern; Tile from Cumberland County Court House; Tin serving tray; 2 dinner plates with blue designs; Sandwich glass decanter; Small wood rocking chair; Round tip-top table; 2 lanterns; 2 foot warmers; 1 wood staff with ball end.

Collected by Staff: Miscellaneous newspapers, maps and articles, Collection of the newspaper “Westminster Gazette”


If you are reading this, please send a quick email to gcagg@myfairpoint.net with the word YES in the subject line. That way we will know if it is worthwhile to create this newsletter twice a year. We have a feeling that very few of our members even open the envelope it is mailed in.  Thank you.



That when the 1790 Vermont Census was published it revealed that Westminster had 1,601 inhabitants; Rockingham had 1,235; Brattleborough,1,589; Dummerston, 1,501; and Putney had 1,848. It is amazing to realize that Westminster and Putney had more residents than Brattleborough. Guilford had the most inhabitants at a count of 2,432. Considering that number, read on.


Just eight years earlier in 1782, “At a Town Meeting holden in Guilford, This 13th Day of March 1782,

Voted.    First, as the opinion of this town, that there is a Treaty entered into with the British; as appears by a printed hand-bill, and other corrobatory circumstances.


Voted 2nd As our Opinion, that the Territory, called The New Hampshire Grants, justly owe their Allegiance to the State of NEW  YORK.


Voted 3rd  That it is the Opinion of this Meeting, that it is their Duty to withdraw all allegiance or Obedience                    from the State or authority of VERMONT.


Voted 4th  That it is the opinion of this Meeting, that we petition TO HIS EXCELLENCY The GOVERNOR of the State of NEW YORK to appoint CIVIL, and MILITARY Officers IN this county, and establish CIVIL Government under the authority of the State of NEW YORK, till the above disputes are settled by Congress.


Voted 5   To choose a committee of three persons to correspond with other commitees,(sic) and make return of their doings, the said persons chosen.


A True Coppy(sic) Attest                                            Dan’l Shepardson

Pr me Davis Walsworth                                              Jotham Bigelow                                  James Walsworth”    


(Capitalization of words are as they appear in the document. These records were found at http://digitalvermont.org/items/show/239  and            http://digitalvermont.org/items/show/259  being documents held by the Vermont Historical Society, digitized them and posted on the website Digital Vermont.)





Westminster Auto Service and University of Vermont



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