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 summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. thanks to a wonderful staff of volunteers. Please stop in and check out the new permanent St. Johnsbury Town Band exhibit. Join us at 421 Summer Street for our Festival of Crafts on September 21st from 10 am – 4 pm.
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.
Festival and Hemlocks’ Presentation
On September 21st, the History & Heritage Center will come alive with sights, sounds and smells of yesteryear. The smell of apple butter, cider and a candle dipping fire will be in the air; the sound of the blacksmith as he shapes something on his anvil with his hammer, the creak of the pump boring frame as a pump log is augured through for use as a pipe; the laughter of kids as they try some old fashioned games and toys. Watch raw material like wool achieve a new color through the use of natural materials; watch busy hands as they spin wool; create patterns on quilts and create pictures from sheep shears. Add to this the spring pole lathe; the model saw mill, the shingle maker and exhibits on ice cutting, horse drawn vehicles and you have a step back in time.
In the middle of this celebratory time of yesteryear will be a special presentation by the Vermont Civil War Hemlocks at 1:30. This group was founded by Andy Fisher back in 1963. Andy was a teacher out at Concord and after attending the 100th Anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, he came up with the idea of this group that could provide a living history look at the Civil War and help students understand this time in history. Over the years this group has provided countless demonstrations at schools, fairs,and historical events here in Vermont as well as on Civil War Battlefields. They have been popular marching in parades in many towns over the years. Over the years the Hemlocks have become a repository for Civil War artifacts and as time marches on they have tried to place some of these artifacts in Museums nearest their beginnings.
The sword of Captain Edward Farwell Griswold will be presented to the History & Heritage Center. Thanks to the searching of Nola Forbes and Jen Paine, we can give you a snapshot of the life of Captain Griswold. He was born in New Ipswich, N.H. in 1841. At the age of 21 he enlisted from East St. Johnsbury in Company A of the 11th Vermont Infantry. His unit served in the defense of Washington, D.C. and was engaged in the battles of Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and the first Battle of the Weldon Railroad.
It was at the Battle of Weldon Railroad, Virginia in June of 1864 that Griswold was taken prisoner. Libby prison at Richmond, Virginia was where he was taken for a few days until along with others he was on the move to Georgia to another prison. Arriving at Lynchburg, Viriginia, they find the railroad track had been destroyed; the prisoners were going to have to march eighty miles to Danville. Rations included twenty hardtack and about one pound of pork to each prisoner. Upon reaching Marysville, on the Staunton River, the prisoners were under guard in a field next to the stream. Three including Griswold with tin cups in hand headed for the river that was lined with bushes – not noticed as missing, they proceeded downstream where they could cross the river without exposure, July 1, 1864. The three escapees remained together until July 17th in Millbro’; where they were discovered by rebel guards. On the run, they became separated. Griswold entered a farm house some four days later thinking it was safe until two rebel guards appeared and freedom was lost. Griswold was paroled at Fort Monroe with a party of sick and wounded Union prisoners, on September 26, 1864 and sent to Annapolis, Maryland. His military service ended on June 24, 1865 when the Regiment was mustered out.
Griswold was married to Ellen Sargeant in June of 1878 but two years later he was a widower having lost a daughter in April and his wife in May of 1880 due to consumption. His occupation was listed as a flour and grain dealer in 1880. In 1887 Griswold, along with William L. Pearl took over Joel Fletcher and Sons grain, flour and oil business. Griswold & Pearl was the name (yes – my great Grandfather). W. L. Pearl died in 1895; the firm became Griswold & Mackinnon.
His adventures were not confined to that of the Civil War, the St. Johnsbury Caledonian reported on September 25, 1894 that he went up in a hot air balloon at the Caledonia County Fair in St. Johnsbury. There were over 12,000 paid admissions on that day! He was reported to have traveled around the world and in 1904 left for a six month sailing trip to South America.
In 1907, he is granted a service pension of twelve dollars a month that he wished to contribute to some Confederate camp…..in recognition of kindness shown me while a prisoner.” His offer was accepted by the R.E. Lee Camp at Richmond, Va. Edward Griswold dies at the age of 85 on April 5, 1926 and rests in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
Please join us for the festivities on the 21st of September and you will also see two other objects from Captain Griswold’s Civil War time.