Welcome to this month’s edition of History & Heritage. Our purpose is to acquaint you with our mission to preserve the town’s rich history, highlight the legacy of those who have gone before and show how our past has shaped our present. We are a non-profit with 501(c)(3) status.
We are located at 421 Summer Street. Our winter hours are Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. thanks to a wonderful staff of volunteers. Please stop in and check out the WWI exhibit, newly acquired painting of the Rev. Sumner Clapp who was the first minister at the South Congregational Church and check out the progress on our permanent St. Johnsbury Town Band exhibit.
This is your establishment and we encourage your support in making this historic home and barn a wonderful place for exhibiting, preserving and collecting St. Johnsbury’s history. Browse our web site at www.stjhistory.org and our Facebook page. Our mailing address is 421 Summer Street, St. Johnsbury, Vt., 05819 and phone number is 802 – 424 – 1090.
In Mount Pleasant Cemetery there are two private tombs set into their respective banks with the outside entrances visible to the eye. The more elaborate one is the granite tomb of S. C. Chubb with the date of 1867 on it; this was the year the tomb was built. Should you come upon Chubb’s Tomb today, there is a brick door as opposed to the once granite one – there in is the story! The granite door had a cross carved into the door that went through the approximate five to six inches of granite. When I was a kid, it was sort of a rite of passage to be tall enough or standing on your tiptoes to look into the tomb through the cross and see inside. One never went alone and sometimes you went by bike; you took turns and checked out the inside; if your imagination was working well that day, you did not stay long! I was never sure what we thought we were going to see, the Chubbs’ having tea or just their grave boxes or ghosts of the Chubb’s! It was just one of those childhood memories that never left me so when I ran across the picture I took of my Uncle Kenneth Blair of Danville bricking up the door; the memory had to be relived.
The brick work went into place probably in the late 1960’s and the reason for that was the heavy granite door had cracked all the way across and because of the many visits by young kids, it was thought that someone might be hurt. No members of the Chubb family could be found and the least expensive way to remedy the potential problem was to brick the entrance. In one picture you can see one of the cemetery workers, Adolph Roy, on the left and my Dad, William, looking out of the tomb while Uncle Kenneth waits to place brick. You can also see a part of the cross that was carved into the door.
But who were the Chubb family and why the tomb? Computers and I barely get along so dangling a mystery in front of my co-worker Jen Paine’s face is like giving a dog a bone! Just a few threads that I had gleaned turned into a whole cloth. S. C. is Stedman Cumings Chubb and he was born in Corinth, Vermont on the family homestead in 1828. Early on, he learned the trade of a mason and after marrying Caroline F. Currier of Barre in 1856, they left for St. Johnsbury where he became the superintendent of the mason work of E. & T. Fairbanks & Co. This was to be his livelihood for twenty-four years.
Allen Hodgdon’s book, The Life, Times and Works of Lambert Packard, Architect, tells us that Lambert and his brother Charles Packard built the S. C. Chubb house in 1868 in South Park – stands at the corner of Fairbanks Drive and Belvidere Streets today. It fronted South Park and at one time you could see Western Ave and Main Street. The St. Johnsbury Caledonian reported on June 12, 1868 – S. C. Chubb is now erecting a modern house facing north on South Park, the main part of which is 30 x 30 with a L22 x25 It is two stories with a French roof. A side note is that he sold it in 1870 for $7000.00. In 1876, we find that Chubb had bought the building lot across from the Edward T. Fairbanks (now Sheepcote Dormitory) and had a home built there by Packard. This home later became known as The Elms and is no longer there. More information about The Elms may be found on our web site under Peggy’s blog.
During his time as head of the masonry works at Fairbanks, his work included enlarging the scale works, work on Academy buildings, North and South Halls, the court house and Athenaeum. The timing is right for him to have been involved in the brick work of the receiving tomb located in the chapel at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Chubb were members of the South Congregational Church. They never had children of their own but were known to support children of other family members. Mrs. Chubb, born in Orange, Vermont in 1833, had taught school prior to her marriage and was said to have a great interest in history. Their time in St. Johnsbury ended in 1880 when they came to Barre.
The only date on the tomb is 1867 – the year the tomb was built. Mr. Chubb was the first to reside in the tomb when he died April 28, 1890; his wife was brought to the tomb upon her death on June 4, 1920.
This I know – if I had more money than I knew what to do with – I would do two things; endow History & Heritage and put the granite door back on the tomb of Mr. & Mrs. Chubb!
– Peggy Pearl