Previous Historical Society Meetings

Nov 13, 2017   

Dr Daniel Bean told us about Orphan Trains in Vermont - trains that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas. "It was fall in Enosburg Falls, VT in 1905 when the train from New York City arrived with about a dozen 3-4 year-old children from the New York Foundling Hospital.  As the children lined up on the loading dock a nurse who had accompanied them read their tag and called the name of the family that had agreed to accept a new child into their home. This was Enosburg’s introduction to the concept of orphan trains and their riders. The concept of sending New York’s street children and foundlings out of the city and into the countryside for adoption or indenture was the brainchild of Charles Loring Brace, founding director of the Children’s Aid Society of NYC. By the time Congress put a stop to the practice in 1928 it is estimated that about 250,000 children had been “shipped out” of New York City. They traveled to every state, territory and Canada, including Vermont. A report by the CAS in 1910 lists 125 children having been sent to Vermont. That list does not include the children sent from the New York Foundling Hospital run by the Sisters of St. Vincent. The Enosburg Falls stop was to be the last stop for this particular train. Children on that train were left in Enosburg, Fairfield, and other towns along the way. Dr. Bean’s own father was on that 1905 train."      Information on these, and other orphan trains is sketchy at best. Many of the riders never mentioned the circumstances to their families, or if they did tended to downplay it. Others did write reports in later life. It is estimated that fewer than 500 of the riders are still alive today. Our current sources of information are the records of individual families and their relatives.  A DVD of this presentation is available at the Historical Society.

September 11, 2017  

Chief Jennifer Morrison along with two early police officers, Ron Tatro and Jim Lockwood, described changes over the last 50 years in policing, women in law enforcement, equipment and technology improvements.   Ron and Jim gave us a real insight into the early days of policing with only three officers, 4 weeks of training and no radio communication equipment in the police car..  Chief Morrison described what it is like today, focusing on more community policing including youth and school involvement. She also talked about why Colchester officers tend to have long tenures - "this is a place where people truly come to make a difference,"   A DVD of this presentation is available at the Historical Society.

Chief Morrison

2016-2017 Meetings

  • July 22 - the Coates family hosted a Coates Island Open House for the public. What a wonderful opportunity it was to explore the island and its history.
  • Tom Raub gave us a photo tour of Georgene's and his latest travel adventure: "Around the US in 89 Days" for our May meeting. His talk included some amazing photos (by Georgene) and lots of background history the various western national parks.
  • On April 11, Richard Allen, a local historian, gave us a look into the effort it takes to discover the history of people and places. Richard, a retired teacher, has authored several books on the history of local areas but he used his latest, “Ambition and Grit: The Life of Truman Naramore, Civil War Veteran and Entrepreneur” to illustrate the process and excitement of finally uncovering the fascinating details of a persons life. Discovering a stump puller patented by Naramore at a Vermont Expo motivated Richard to investigate more about this local inventor. Truman Naramore (1838-1895) was born in Charlotte, Vermont, served in the Vermont cavalry in the Civil War, survived six months in the notorious Andersonville prison eventually returning to Williston. A very creative and entrepreneurial person, he secured several patents for his inventions, mostly farm equipment, and had them manufactured locally but advertised them widely. Richard took about 5 years and lots of traveling to uncover the details about Naramore found in his book
  • On Saturday March 11, 2017, Malcolm Severance, a member of our Historical Society, described how he left the family farm to attend college then returned to Vermont to become a UVM faculty member and eventually leading the Grossman School of Business. He used his recently published book, “A Pursuit of Excellence: A History of the University of Vermont School of Business Administration” to provide an insiders perspective on the 120 year history of the school and its leaders. Some of the key charts from his presentation are in the Past and Present section of the website.
  • David Usher, our guest speaker at the February 11, 2017, described his "Peru/Bolivia - Altiplano Adventure."

May 2016
Coralee Magoon, a member of the Colchester Cemetery Commission told us all about the six town cemeteries and three private ones. She showed photos of some of the interesting grave stones and told us about some of the families and veterans buried there..

Apr 2016
Curt Taylor presented a fascinating look back in When the Boys Came Home - 1945-1947 . Near the end of WWII there were 10.3 million men serving the US Army and Navy combined (about 1.3 million living today). In 1945, when the war ended, 5 million men were released from service; another 5 million were released in 1946. A country that had been totally consumed by the war effort had to adjust to peace. What did that mean to the daily lives of those that had served?  Using letters written at the time by Curt’s mother, he discussed the details of a young couple starting a family and a life together in post-WWII America.

Mar 2016
At our March 2016 meeting a committee from the Milton Historical Society described the importance of the General Stannard House and their effort to restore it as a Civil War museum.

Feb 2016
Jerry Allyn presented the history of Hazelett Corporation, a long time manufacturing business in Colchester at the Feb 2016 meeting. This was recorded and a DVD of the presentation is available in case you missed it.

Dec 2015
Our annual Christmas party held at the United Church of Colchester once again had an overflow crowd who heard a wonderful musical presentation by several of the Colchester High School choral groups.

Nov 2015
Curt Taylor used family memoirs to describe Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in New England of the 1800's and also described some antique cards presented to the society.

Oct 2015
A group of members traveled to St. Johnsbury to visit the amazing Fairbanks Museum and enjoyed a special lecture by Mark Breen in the Planetarium.

Sep 2015
Murray Thompson described the changes in agriculture in Colchester over the years and where it is headed with some local dairy farmers already using robotic milking machines.

Apr 2015
Jason Smiley told us all about "The Eddy Family of Spirit Mediums". The question remaining is "were they real or a hoax?"

Mar 2015
Buzz Kuhns presented a slide show of an amazing Alaskan bike trip he took and also presented an amusing poem he wrote about "the cost of Maple Sugaring". If you missed the maple sugaring poem you can find it on the Internet.

Feb 2015
Dr. Robert Sofferman showed us some wonderful animal and nature photos from several of his trips in Vermont, the US and foreign countries.

November 2014


Jerry Fox told us all about "Suzie Wilson, Her life and Her Myth" at the November 2014 meeting. If you didn't attend, you didn't find out why she has a road named after her.

October 13 2014


On October 13, we took a field trip to Hildene, the home of Abraham Lincoln's son Robert Todd Lincoln.


September 2014


At the September meeting Professor John Crock from UVM presented a fascinating look into the distant past of Colchester and the Lake Champlain basin in his presentation of the "Archeology of Colchester's Ancient Native American Past". Tools and artifacts from native Americans living in the area from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago were also on display.
April 2014
At the April 14 meeting Inge Schaefer presented "Writing Colchester History." Inge discussed her experiences in writing her books on Colchester. One of her books is listed in the Historical Literature section. 

May 2014

In May the Historical Society visited the Ethan Allen Museum for a tour of Ethan's house and a presentation about his life and the museum.