Grandma and Gramps were about 60 years old when they moved to South Lincoln Vermont in 1946. I was 7 or 8 years old the first time I visited in the late 1940’s. They finally had running water. Before that they bathed in the New Haven River.
I was excited about trip. To a young lad the area provided adventure. There was much exploring to do. I caught trout in the river. I made friends with the farm kids and would help them bring their cows home.
|Gramps, Grandma, Sister Bonnie, myself and little baby sis Priscilla.|
South Lincoln is about 10 miles south of Lincoln. The area was mostly dairy and potato farms. South Lincoln consisted of 3 houses and a post office. The post office was a room in one of the resident’s house.
My grandparents kept a photo album of their newly purchased home and a log of the work they did on it. The written introduction to the photo album is followed by pictures from the album.
Gramp’s Introduction to the Photo Album
THE END OF THE RAINBOW
It was not until we began to look backward that we came to the full realization of how long we had entertained the idea of some day owning a little farm in Vermont. We had long been lovers of the mountain and lake country, but just when or how the Vermont germ became implanted, would be hard to say. To forestall any argument (and I believe this statement to be most nearly correct), let us say that the smoldering spark was there all the time, but doubtless was fanned into flame by our dear friends the Brownell sisters, born and bred in the Vermont manner, and their husbands, “would be” Vermonters.
In the summer of 1936, Agnes and Travis bought their river-brook bordered farm of 17 acres in Lincoln. The following summer Ella and Frank established their little nest in West Pawlet, which, emulating the farm in Lincoln, was brushed by the singing waters of the Mettawee River.
In 1938 we visited West Pawlet. Looking over some prospects there added fuel to the flame. In 1939 our wanderings took us to Lincoln. The flame burned brighter. During the long winter months which followed we toyed with the idea and “calculated” that a little farm up there somewhere would be a mighty nice haven to flee to when the bank decided to “put me on the shelf”. A grand idea! And so the germ grew.
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I have been speaking of the winter of 1938/39. Each succeeding summer, long holiday weekends spent with Ella and Frank, meeting new friends, caused the flame to burn deeper and brighter in our hearts until we became literally branded with the idea. Feverishly we would devour the glowing descriptions in the booklet “Farms and Summer Homes for Sale” issued by the State of Vermont; 100 acre dairy farms, or shouldn’t we have a larger one, say 600 acres, where one might develop a herd of beautiful registered cattle to about 80 or 100 head. A big sugar orchard thrown in which would hang 1000 to 2000 buckets. There’s money in maple products, no doubt about it, and it would make a nice “side line”. Those were the ideas which went tumbling through our heads, or I might properly say head, for Doris’ ideas were a little more on the conservative side. Of course while she did not actually discourage my enthusiasm, still she endeavored to temper it somewhat by remarks such as “Now, I don’t want you to attempt too much when you go up there” or “Do you think you could manage all that by yourself?” Why, there wasn’t any doubt about it (in my mind) and the obsession of owning a big block of beautiful Vermont had taken possession of me completely. It was only a little later when I viewed the enormous expanse of 100 acres, that my ardor for 600 diminished somewhat. 100 acres is a lot of land! Well, perhaps I would compromise on 50, and I finally decided that 25, or 15, or even 10 acres would answer my purpose very nicely.
Was it ignorance? No, I would rather think that it was, well, say exuberance, a natural exuberance to want a lot of something which was so lovely, so beautiful, so restful, so friendly, as those Green Hills of Vermont. Well, it was a great dream, anyway, and those air castles I built didn’t go down entirely in ruins. Say rather that they dwarfed to the snug little story and a half cottage which was to be ours, with fields of tall sweet hay, verdant pastures for grazing animals or ra nges for young pullets, the headwaters of a fine river washing one side of our farm, with plenty of room for stretching out our arms without touching our neighbors, yet near enough to feel secure if illness or trouble threatened. But I am getting ahead of my story.
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In 1942 we spent two weeks vacation alone on a farm in Eden, Vermont. It gave us a first-hand idea of how we’d like such a life and a splendid opportunity to look the place over thoroughly at our leisure. It was a fine old place, sturdily built, in excellent condition, but the neighbors were too close, 75 feet on one side, 150 feet on the other, and it was farther north than we liked. This was a start however.
The gasoline situation was so acute in the summer of 1943 we were obliged to depend on trains and buses, which necessarily narrowed our horizon, and the places we saw that year were negligible.
At home during the late winter and spring of 1944, we walked or bused it wherever we went, and hoarded enough gasoline to take us to Vermont and back again and allowing a little extra “to get to back roads”. That year we really went at the job in earnest. We looked at 38 different farms in almost as many different towns Pawlet, West Pawlet, Fair Haven, Poultney, East Poultney, Castleton, Hubbardton, Pittsford, Chittenden, Brandon, East Middlebury, Middlebury, Weybridge, Monckton, Bristol, Lincoln, South Lincoln, Starksboro, South Starksboro, Randolph, Braintree, Ludlow, Belmont, Mount Holley, Chester, and Weston. A formidable array of towns and they were scattered over a considerable portion of Central Vermont.
We returned home with a rather “let down” feeling and somewhat disheartened. I hesitate to say disillusioned, but could those places we had looked at be samples of some of those glowing descriptions we had read? We learned that “needs a little fixing up” usually meant the expenditure of $1000. to $2000 to make it barely livable. “Structurally sound” might mean just that - the frame was there, but gaping holes yawned where windows should be, and doorways were oblongs of black emptiness. “Electricity available” could mean anything up to four miles distant; it was there if you could induce the Company to bring it to you. “Brook” could mean the veriest trickle, “buildings in need of some repair” usually indicated that another hurricane might really be beneficial and save you the effort of tearing said buildings down, and so on. Farms that were livable and worth looking at were priced far beyond our pocketbook, places within range of that needed a lot done to them. Two places did appeal to us, but no water!
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|Mt. Abraham with his chin in the clouds.|
During the fall, winter and spring of 1944/45, our spirits were up, then down, then up, then down, alternately. We still scanned the papers, we still read descriptions, we still wrote to real estate men, and we continued planning.
Finally vacation of 1945 rolled around and we headed for the old Green Mountains with a few prospects in mind. One-by-one they were checked off; too high priced, too much to be done, too much house, too big a farm, always one or the other. I am afraid folks began to think we were too fussy, but we knew what we wanted and were not going to be rushed into buying something we didn’t want. Our list narrowed down to two places and we were beginning to feel that this year was going to be a repeat.
I thought Doris’ hunch was doomed to failure, Then we went to see what to us had been the least appealing of any prospect, the Grant place in South Lincoln. We took one look, we looked at each other, and something in our glances distinctly said “This is IT”. Yes, it surely was — so we bought it. There was no doubt in our minds, for this place so eclipsed any other we had seen thus far, that it banished any longing which might have lingered for some place we had already seen and liked. A nice comfortable farmhouse, set solidly at the edge of a verdant meadow, part of a quadrangle of staunch farm buildings. Property on both sides of the road, pastures stretching down to a fast stream, the headwaters of the New Haven River. I had been told by the real estate man that there was “the most gorgeous view you ever saw in all your life”. I realized the truth of that statement. To the north, range after range of rolling hills grew out of one another, purpling into haze in the distance. Most of the town of South Lincoln lay to the south in an amphitheatre flanked by notches fashioned by roll after roll of low hills. Westward were more hills with a crazy-quilt patchwork of farms dotting them. The main range of the Green Mountains lay to the east, almost at our east line, dominated by the towering height of Mt. Abraham, fifth highest mountain in the State, 4052 feet above sea level.
We learned from Mr. and Mrs. Grant that the farm had always been in their family, dating back to the original log cabin. Following the log cabin, the present house was built, well over 100 years ago, about 1832.
Photo Gallery of Vermont Home, 1946
|Our Vermont home, back porch.|
|Front porch, lots of shrubbery.|
|Back view of the woodshed.|
|Entire group of buildings on our farm.|
|Hog house and horse barn.|
|Carriage and implement shed.|
|Pasture on Southeast boundary of the farm.|
|Close-up of the river. Great trout fishing.|
|Mrs. Grant’s stove. Thirteen years old and “not a brack on it”.|
|Dish closet and sink in the background.|