Pine Grove Cemetery
As you may know, I have been spending a large portion of my free time researching Jett’s ancestors. One branch of her family lived – and died – in Vermont. According to my records, six of them were buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in North Springfield, VT. Despite it being the permanent resting place for most of Springfield’s earliest settlers, it is an active cemetery – with its own FaceBook page! This is your opportunity to be friends with a cemetery.
So I took a (very long) day trip to North Springfield recently to see if I could locate the headstones of Jett’s ancestors. It was also my first genealogical graveyard trip and an opportunity to test some of the headstone photography tips that I got at the Escapade. I loaded the car with some paper towels and “Awesome” cleaner (to clean dirty markers) and took, in addition to my cell phone, my trusty Mexican-bought digital camera, mostly to see which was better at capturing headstones.
Burlington to Springfield is about two and a half hours. I had no trouble finding the cemetery or gaining access, but I was somewhat daunted when I got there. It is a large cemetery with thousands of headstones. I was thinking it might take me several hours to find the headstones I was looking for, if, indeed, they existed at all. But I quickly figured out that the pre-20th-century headstones were all in the northwest quarter of the cemetery, which cut my estimated search time by 75%.
I was looking for two families: the Cooks and the Winchesters. As it turns out, I would have found both very quickly if I had started my search at the top of the hill rather than the bottom. But I didn’t, so I spent about 30 minutes discovering that Springfield was loaded with Woodwards, Bisbees, Howes and Lelands, but not many Cooks or Winchesters. But I found them, eventually.
The people I was looking for:
Salmon Winchester, died 1887. I believe his name is pronounced like a 2-syllable “Solomon” rather than like the fish. He was a soldier in the Civil War. One of the things I learned from this trip – from cleaning his headstone – was that he was a member of “Co. A 3rd Reg. Vt. Vol.” A little research revealed that the 3rd Vermont Infantry (which Salmon’s company was incorporated into) was a highly regarded and decorated force in the Union Army. It suffered the highest casualty rate of any union unit in the war. I would like to research Salmon a bit further to find out what his personal experiences were.
Salmon Winchester inscription
David Winchester, Jr., died 1858. Salmon’s father. He was a prominent man in Springfield and, for a time, a proprietor of the town’s only hotel. In addition to providing lodging, it provided libation and eventually became a target of the temperance movement.
Abigail Clarke Winchester, died 1871. David’s wife and Salmon’s mother. Not much is known about her other than she was the wife of a prominent citizen of Springfield. She was born in Raynham, MA, and I have to wonder how a homebody like David Winchester, Jr., managed to find a court a woman from southeastern Massachusetts. Her headstone was in the worst shape of the six, broken in half.
Abigail Clarke’s broken headstone
- Susan “Bessie” Cook Winchester, died 1917. She is the link between the Cooks and the Winchesters. Born in North Springfield, lived in North Springfield her entire life, died in North Springfield. She was the granddaughter of Thomas Cook, one of the earliest settlers of Springfield, who came to Vermont from Rhode Island in 1795. But he died in New York and is not in the Pine Grove Cemetery. One of her brothers, Selden Cook, was a very prominent businessman in Springfield, operating a department store there for many years.
- Oliver Cook, died 1863. Son of Thomas Cook, father of Susan Cook Winchester and Selden Cook.
- Polly Bruce Cook, died 1842. Wife of Oliver Cook. Her parents were reportedly Quakers and some of the earliest settlers of an adjoining town, but I have not been able to corroborate that.
The Vermont connection was broken when Abigail Winchester Stone, the daughter of Susan and Oliver Cook, married and moved to Massachusetts.
I found all 6 headstones and took pictures of them all with both cameras (conclusion: picture quality was pretty similar with both cameras). I then drove down to Springfield and spent about 90 minutes doing some research in the public library there, with the assistance of a very helpful librarian. I didn’t learn a lot that I didn’t already know about Jett’s relatives, but learned a lot about the town. For example, it wasn’t settled until the violence of the French and Indian War died down and an outpost was built there. And that the first roads were Indian trails. And that the original site of the town – along the Connecticut River – was abandoned because the land was grabbed up by speculators (the cost of over-speculation, I guess).
All-in-all, it was a very interesting and productive day. I hope to get an opportunity to do similar cemetery research when I get back to Massachusetts.
I am beginning to wish that some of our ancestors died in Florida. It would be a nice way to spend some time this winter. But, no, they were a bunch of northerners.
My dogs hate thunderstorms, so lightning of any kind is usually not welcome in our home. But recently we experienced a spectacular nighttime lightning storm that was almost totally thunder-free. It eventually turned into a real thunderstorm with rain, wind, thunder and lightning, but for about 20 minutes it was simply a spectacular light show that rivaled the best fireworks extravazanzas.
I decided to see if I could capture any of these vivid bursts of light and, in doing so, found a use for the “burst” mode on my cell phone’s camera. When I press and hold the snap button it produces a series of still shots. In the past this has annoyed me as my natural ham-handedness with the camera has produced multiple shots when I really wanted just one. But with the lightning show all I had to do was point at the sky, hold the button down and then discard the 90% of the shots that were uninteresting. With technique you are pretty much guaranteed to capture some flashes.
The “test patch”
One of the tasks of a marina guy is to maintain the docks. This includes replacing worn board (I have replaced about 25 this year) and staining the docks. Replacing the boards is a matter of using a crowbar to rip up the old one, then screwing down a new one. Not hard, except on the knees. Staining is simpler – just use a roller to apply the stain. The only hard part is to do it while keeping the docks operational, which means doing only half the width of the dock at a time and carefully planning how to get to the boats and the gas pump at all times without stepping on wet stain. I started with a “test patch” – one of the small finger docks – then moved on to the rest after the marina manager approved.
Because it can only be done in the “down time” when there is no other activity, staining the launch dock took almost two months, start to finish, with almost 7 gallons used.
As Jett would say, “A good job done.”
I included the bottom photo just because it shows how beautiful the marina can be on a perfect day.
A perfect marina day
The Apple Island Resort is not exactly in the middle of nowhere; it is on US Route 2 – a heavily-traveled road – on the shores of Lake Champlain, just a few miles from Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. Yet I have been surprised several times by the sudden and unexpected appearance of wildlife of various sorts. First, two fawns (the second is just barely visible above the white post) surprised me on the third hole of the golf course. They just came out of the adjoining woods, walking straight onto the fairway and headed straight for my ball. They were maybe 50 feet away from me. They were unafraid and, for a moment, walked directly at me. I was somewhat fearful that a doe or buck would charge out of the woods and try to butt me, to protect the young-uns. But the fawns turned and romped back into the woods and I continued my round, unmolested.
Then there was the fox that crossed our path as I walked the dogs down one of the resort roads one morning. It just ran by us, probably no more than 25 feet away. I was totally surprised, having never seen a fox in the wild(?) before. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t get a photo. And it apparently surprised the dogs as well as they just watched it run by, mute. Rusty barks at and chases anything that moves, so having him remain silent and motionless as he watched the fox was a huge surprise.
Crane at the marina
The marina also has some wildlife. There is the crane that lives in the area and uses the marina basin to fish. I haven’t identified the type of crane, but it is smaller than a sandhill.
A large-mouth bass for several months was living under the launch dock. I would see it every morning as I was working on the boats. I regarded it as my pet and admonished people to not fish for it (fishing off the docks is prohibited anyway, so I was well within my rights to yell at them). But someone must have gotten it as I have not seen it for a month.
Then there is the muskrat that startled me one morning by popping his head up out of the water near the dock as I was walking by. Again, his appearance was so brief that I didn’t get a photo, but it is another animal that I have never before seen in the wild.
Finally, there are the dogs. We allow dogs to be taken aboard the pontoon boats. They are not exactly wild animals, yet one of them was responsible for the only animal-inflicted injury that I have received this summer: a bite on the calf. The owner assured me that his dogs were friendly, but I know dogs and one seemed to be acting aggressively, so I kept my distance. But as I was carrying the paddles (he and his companion were renting the canoe) to the shore, I got a bit too close and the damn dog lunged and nipped me. Not a bad bite, but bad enough to break the skin. Fortunately it did not get infected and is now nearly healed.
Didn’t he know that I am a dog person?
Jett will probably kill me for posting this, but it is an important topic that significantly affects our life on the road, so I think it should be covered.
Jett has, for many years, suffered from occasional bouts of pancreatitis. I am sure that she would want me to immediately point out that hers is NOT caused by alcoholism (in fact she almost never drinks alcoholic beverages of any kind); rather, she is one of the unlucky people who have pancreas divisum, a congenital abnormality of the pancreas.
Due to this physiological variation, she has suffered occasional episodes of severe abdominal distress for over 10 years. Several of these episodes have landed her in the ER. She has learned to live with the condition, meaning that she is very careful with her diet (e.g., light on fatty foods) and is able to recognize the early signs and just stop eating when they appear. The good news, if any is to be found, is that she will never be overweight because she can’t eat much and the condition isn’t fatal. But each episode is very unpleasant.
When she experienced some digestive issues in mid-July, few days before the start of the 56th Escapade, the first thought was “Oh, no, not another pancreatitis attack!” But the symptoms were not quite the same – less severe, which was good, but more persistent, which was bad. The pain finally drove us to an “urgent care” facility the day before the start of the Escapade where tests were done which led to a shocking initial diagnosis of “hepatitis.” She was then transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center for additional tests. There the diagnosis was revised: she did not have hepatitis but did have “elevated liver enzymes.” Some palliative care got her home in time to get to the Escapade, but she spent the week in discomfort. The UVM doctor recommended that she come back for more tests if she didn’t improve. She didn’t improve, so the day after we returned from the Escapade we were back in the ER. A CAT scan and an ultrasound produced a diagnosis of “blocked bile duct” on Friday night, followed by a very uncomfortable weekend before she could consult with her regular doctor. He advised her to submit to an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure at UVM and, on Thursday last week, she did. The doctors were able to confirm the blockage and were also able to install a temporary stent to allow the bile to flow again. They said they saw no sign of cancer, which had been a concern as cancer could have been the cause of the blockage.
I wish I could report that Jett immediately improved and the whole painful mess is behind us, but that would be an overstatement. She was in extreme discomfort through the weekend, due mostly to the trauma the procedure wreaked on her very sensitive esophagus. The throat pain subsided on Monday, to be replaced by abdominal pain. Today (Tuesday) her doctor had her go back to the hospital for more blood tests which showed that she did not have pancreatitis, as feared. Rather the suspected cause of the severe pain was the trauma to the pancreas due to the ERCP. In any case, the conclusion was that there was not much that could be done. She just has to be very careful with her diet and keep hydrated. By evening she was considerably better.
It has been a rough stretch for her, but we remain optimistic that this, too, shall pass.
When Jett and I first heard that the 2016 Escapade – the national convention for the Escapees RV Club of full-time RVers – was to be held in 2016 in Vermont, we immediately resolved to be there. One of the reasons we accepted our summer jobs in South Hero, VT, was that we would be just 15 miles from the Escapade venue in Essex Junction, VT. We even made getting the week off a condition of our employment.
So the Escapade, held July 23-29, is now history. We are glad we went, though Jett participated only minimally due to poor health (ongoing digestive issues – more on that in a subsequent post). It was a large event – over 1,200 people living in over 700 RVs (and we probably had the shortest trip of all as many traveled thousands of miles to get there). It was amazing to be surrounded by so many other people “living the dream” as they say. I attended many of the very informative seminars and learned a lot. As a side benefit, we got the RV in motion after several months of just sitting, which is always a good idea.
The first amazing thing we observed was how efficiently the “parking team” got everyone situated in a water/electric site. Though there was a constant stream of arrivals on both Saturday and Sunday, there was never a line of RVs waiting to get parked. We were parked within 5 minutes of arriving. It is almost like they have done this before. Or maybe they have done this 55 times before (this was the 56th Escapade).
One row of RVs
Our site for the Escapade
The seminars varied widely in topics. I attended one – surprisingly entertaining – on toilet odors and how to control them. I also sat in on two very interesting and informative genealogy seminars, one on how to do local research and another on how to photograph gravestones (which is harder than you would think). Other seminars included volunteering in federal parks and refuges and workamping in general. The general sessions were also interesting with the best one featuring Kay Peterson, co-founder (with her husband, now deceased) in 1978 of the Escapees organization. The success of her effort was demonstrated in the announcement that the most recent membership number was over 130,000. Jett, in one of her distressingly rare moments out of bed, sat with Kay and had a nice chat. Wonderful ladies both.
Jett with Kay
The toilet odor talk
Social events included a concert, an amateur talent show, a potluck supper, a fundraising chili cookoff (very successful – over $6,000 raised for charity), a pet parade and, on Friday morning, a “hitchup breakfast” to give everyone something to eat before they left. Jett volunteered for the potluck supper (with me filling in because she felt so lousy) and I volunteered for the hitchup breakfast (a breeze, except for getting there at 6:30am). We met some wonderful folks, all of whom planned to attend the 57th Escapade in April 2017 in Tuscon, AZ. We didn’t commit but would very much like to be there. Escapades are fun.
One of the (many) shortcomings of the Apple Island Resort is the lack of a dog park. While there are plenty of places to walk the dogs, there is no place where they can run (or in Grace’s case, walk) freely. So I recently took them to the Starr Farm Dog Park
in Burlington. This is a very large dog park – maybe an acre of fenced-in land – with water for the dogs and places for owners to sit. About a half dozen other dogs were there when we arrived and neither of our dogs socialized much. Rusty doesn’t deal well with larger dogs and he was the smallest dog there, so just as well that he kept to himself. Grace is more social but showed no interest on this day. They contented themselves with sniffing their way around the boundary fence and enjoying the ability to roam freely.
Grace, who is nearly 16 now, is becoming more feeble. She went down into a large hole that had been dug by some other dogs and was unable to turn around or back out. I had to grab her collar and assist her back up to level ground. Sad.
But it is a very nice dog park and we will get back there again someday.
Christine as pontoon captain
Jett’s sisters, Sybil and Christine, came to visit us at Apple Island Resort. These are the 3 surviving sisters from the original 6. A lot of wine was downed, good food was consumed, cards were played and lots of friendly banter was exchanged. A good time was had by all, I think.
There were three notable outings: a pontoon boat ride, dinner at The Blue Paddle Bistro and a trip to downtown Burlington featuring a downpour and lunch at Leunig’s Bistro. The pontoon boat ride was gratis, due to my position at the marina. It featured a few minutes with Christine at the helm, looking very comfortable, but was cut short by the arrival of a thunderstorm.
Waiting at The Blue Paddle
The Blue Paddle Bistro is just about 2 miles from the resort. It is one of only two restaurants nearby. Jett and I had passed it many times and had vowed to try it out “sometime” but sometime didn’t come until Sybil and Christine arrived. The place is understated by is decorated with some very imaginative and colorful original artwork, including a woodcut portrait of the owner’s dogs.
The food was… what is the word? Spectacular. I regretted not taking photos of the various dished, but I distinctly remember the flavors. Jett had one of the most succulent and tender ribeye steaks ever. I had salmon on a bed of ginger and fried cranberry risotto, Christine had the coffee-crusted roast pork tenderloin – the best pork dish I have ever tasted – and Sybil had the filet mignon (Mmmm!). I tried to avoid dessert, but they offered both crème brulee and pecan pie, so I couldn’t resist. I went with the pecan pie while Christine and Sybil split a crème brulee. The pecan pie was unbelievable. Simply the best ever.
Woodcut of owner’s dogs
Trash can with a message
This superb dinner was followed, the next day, with lunch at Leunig’s Bistro in downtown Burlington. The food was very good, though not spectacular, but the craft brews were very tasty and the ambiance was very authentically Parisian. We had contemplated dining at a sidewalk table, but opted for inside. Good decision as a downpour erupted mid-lunch, driving everyone inside. We had a window table and were amused by all the people running and getting soaked. I also noted a trash barrel with a cleverly-altered sign with perfectly captured the Burlington spirit.
All-in-all, a very fine visit from two very fine sisters-in-law. Thanks, Sybil and Christine, for brightening our temporary Vermont homestead.
One of the best things about the Apple Island Resort
is Paradise Point, an elevated promontory overlooking Lake Champlain. It is nearly inaccessible by car, but is a great destination for a short hike. It has a few Adirondack chairs in case you
feel the urge to sit and enjoy the view. And you will.
Route 108 at Smuggler’s Notch
Two weeks ago, on one of my off days, I explored the Green Mountains just east of Burlington. Specifically, I was curious about Vermont Route 108 which has the reputation of being one of the most intimidating roads east of the Rockies. I have to say that it didn’t disappoint… at Smuggler’s Notch – the pass through the mountains near Mt Mansfield – the road narrows to a single lane and traverses a chasm, with an S-curve, that prevents seeing oncoming traffic. The only comfort is that no one in their right mind would be traveling more than 5 mph through this curve, so the risk of a high-speed head-on collision is nil. But, still, I did this with my monster truck and would have appreciated an extra set of eyes so that I could simultaneously watch for sides scraping and oncoming traffic.
I made it, but I am not about to do it again.
This route passes by both Smuggler’s Notch (north of the notch) and Stowe (south of the notch) resorts, two of the largest and best ski areas in the east. Should I ever go skiing at one of these places (unlikely as they are a long way from Ft Myers), I will know how to get there.