Abijah Prince’s Story
from The Guilford History Book, published by Broad Brook Grange 1961
Among the earliest settlers of Guilford was Abijah Prince, colored, who was commonly known only as ‘Bijah. He was born in Connecticut, in the year 1706, and was a servant in the family of Rev. Doolittle, the first settled minister in Northfield, Mass., after whose death he was for some time in the service of Captain Ebenezer Wells of Deerfield.
In 1764 with his wife, Lucy, he settled on Lot No. 187, next northerly from the lot of John Noyes, on the hill northerly from the old Culver place, later known as the Daniels place, more recently owned by Charles Jacob, and then later owned by Charles Scholtz, in Dist. No. 10.
This lot was given to ‘Bijah by Col. David Field of Deerfield , who was one of the originalproprietors of Guilford. After the settlement on Lot 187 ‘Bijah and his family soon returned to Deerfield,where they remained for several years, but after a time they returned to Guilford, where he died on January 19, 1794.
There was much trouble between the Prince and Noyes families, for some reason which we are unable to discover, and ‘Bijah was harassed and annoyed in many ways, his fence torn down, hay ricks burned and otherwise troubled and injured to such an extent that recourse was finally had to the highest Tribunal within the state, the Governors council.
Miller Road in Guilford near Bijah’s homestead, has been renamed because of Vermont’s 911 program. Guilford’s Select Board has named it Prince Road after ‘Bijah.
Martin A. Brown Jr. and his wife Ann Marie are seated in the carriage with their daughters, Gretchen and Karen standing behind them. Martin Brown III is holding the horse at the left. The three women are wearing bonnets, and the men, top hats. Karen and Ann Marie have polka-dotted dresses, and Gretchen a solid colored dress. Ann Marie is wearing a black shawl and glasses. Both men have dark suits. There is a fence behind them, with a pathway leading to the family’s home on the left. On the far left fence post, a small flower pot and a mailbox are visible. On the right post is an ornate lamp. In the background, to the right is a wooded area. The photo was used as the family’s Christmas card that year. Ann Marie and the three children are still alive today.
Clayton is wearing a knit winter hat and a long sleeved shirt, or sweater. There are woods behind him. There appears to be a large sugaring tank in front of him. There is snow on the ground. The tank sits on a horse-drawn sled. Clayton is pouring a liquid into the tank.
The sugaring equipment in this picture is a large tank and a sugaring bucket in Clayton’s hands. The tank is very large. The top of the tank is wooden. The rest of the tank also appears to be wooden. The tank is held together with metal strips. Clayton is probably gathering sap at the Cutting farm on Stage Road.
According to p. 303 of the Official History of Guilford, “David Goodenough owned the property in 1761, when he bought lot 45 from John Frizzle of Bernardston, and lived here in 1784 when he was exiled by the Vermonters, and was on a visit to his family here when fired upon and his companion, Daniel Spicer, was killed, on the Belden Hill Rd.” The lot changed hands many times, and the Cutting Brother’s bought it in 1956.
Conrad Lester Miner
In this picture Conrad is sitting in a chair; it looks like a old rocking chair. He looks to be reading the newspaper sitting on his porch. He is wearing nice pants a nice jacket, shirt, tie, and hat. He looks pretty old, with a small white beard, and his feet on the railing. On the porch there is white trim. On the porch there are 3 windows; there is a chair beside him. The house had shakes for siding.
Edward and Ruth Houghton
Major Edward Houghton was born in 1765 and died in 1845 and his wife was born in 1764 and died in 1832. Ruth has a bonnet with a ribbon on it. She has a large white separate collar over her dress with a bow. She is not smiling. Her husband on the right is wearing a suit with a white undershirt with a popped collar. The jacket appears to look black or gray.
The description offered on the back of this photograph says this, “Old photographs made from very old portraits, Edward Jr., son of Edward and Lucretia “Major Edward Houghton, father of Lucretia Houghton Martin wife of Willard Martin, born 1764, died 1832.” The captions say, “ Major Edward Houghton. Father of Lucretia Houghton Martin wife of Willard Martin B. 1765 D. 1845” and “Ruth Bridgman Houghton. Mother of Lucretia Houghton Martin Wife of Willard Martin. B. 1764 D. 1832.” This seems to be confusing and we cannot offer an accurate history.
The Guilford Historical Society
She appears to be a young female, and she is posing for the picture not looking at whoever was taking the picture. It appears she is sitting on a chair. We can not tell what color everything is because it is a black and white photo. Frances Miner has on a black or dark colored dress or shirt, and has frilly fabric on the end of her sleeves and the neck is tied into a bow. It apears she is in front of wood, but we are not sure. She is not smiling, and has very short hair.
Frances Miner was born May 17th, 1839 in Marlboro, Vermont. She was 83 years and nine days old when she died May 8th, 1922 in Guilford, Vermont. Frances was married to Conrad Lester Miner on August 4th, 1858.
He is wearing a formal black suit, and a black tie, which is either striped, or embroidered. Under the suit and tie is a starched white dress shirt, with a stiff, high, collar.
Frank Thayer appears to have very white hair, which is parted to the very side. This portrait is a frontal view, and his eyes are looking into the distance, with a twinkle. Frank has full hair, both on his head, beard, and eyebrows. His long moustache covers his mouth, but his cheeks are raised in what appears to be a smile.
Frank Thayer was husband to Anna Thayer, and father to Minnie and Walter Thayer.
Fred Horace Taft
He was six years old when this photo was taken.
He is standing in a room, wearing a tam, with curly hair showing. He has a coat with a white collar, or he has a white-collared shirt with the collar out. The coat also has a toggle button. His shoes are black and appear to be high-tops. Fred is standing next to a table with a patterned cloth on it. The carpet he is standing on is decorated with a diamond pattern.
Fred was the son of Horace and Mary M Taft. He had a sister named Aurelia. Fred Taft died in 1926.
The Guilford Historical Society
Betty Winsor, Bertha and Homer Thomas standing in front of Eagle Cliff Farm in West Guilford, Vermont, July 1997.
Ms. Winsor is wearing a blue and pink plaid dress and a blue sweater jacket. Mr. Thomas is wearing a dark teal jump suit, a brown belt and glasses. His wife Bertha Thomas is dressed in a pink shirtdress, and Homer’s arms are around both women. A gray brick wall is to the back left of the three and behind them the Eagle Cliff Farm with three columns showing and six-over-six windows on the second floor and four-over four on the first. The trim is green and the clapboards are white. The roof of the building appears to be Guilford slate.
Homer Thomas was a director on the Guilford Volunteer Fire Department for one year, and was present at the first annual meeting. He was married to Bertha Thomas, nee Thayer. Mr. Thomas is the son of Russell B. Thomas, and Emma Thurber. The Thomas’s house was part of the Thayer family and was built in 1779. At least five generations had lived there. Homer Thomas passed away in the early 1980’s and the house is currently owned by the Smith family.
Did you know that the first person to run for the Presidency of the United States while living in Vermont was not Calvin Coolidge but, instead, was Guilford’s own General John Wolcott Phelps? In fact, he was the only one until Howard Dean’s candidacy in 2004; Coolidge was living in Massachusetts when he ran for President.
General Phelps might best be described as a unique character. Born in Guilford, he graduated from West Point and rose to become a Major General in the Army. During the Civil War he issued a proclamation abolishing slavery long before President Lincoln’s own proclamation was made. Phelps’ act was ignored, however. After his army career, he returned to Guilford and lived here the rest of his life. He married at the age of 70 and had one son. He was always interested in meteorology and kept a diary of the weather and his activities for years.
In his last years he lived in the house now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bernie LaRock and often lectured on scientific matters to the school children in the one room school between his house and Christ Church. General Phelps ran for the Presidency on a anti-Masonic ticket. He is buried in the cemetery behind Christ Church in Guilford.
The Guilford Historical Society
Kate and Thomas Lynde
This is a black and white photograph of Kate and Thomas Lynde of Guilford Vermont, in their elder years.
Kate Lynde is standing in this picture, wearing a long skirt and a matching jacket with long, puffed sleeves. Under the jacket Kate is wearing a turtleneck blouse that buttons up the front, which is a darker color than her skirt and jacket. She is wearing glasses and looking happy, with her hair pulled back in a bun. Thomas Lynde is wearing a suit in a similar color to his wife’s ensemble. Thomas is sitting in a chair that appears to have brass knobs on the top. Mr. Lynde has a white beard, and the top of his head is bald.
Thomas Lynde was a Revolutionary War soldier in Captain Josiah Boyden’s company in 1777; later in the 1800’s, he became Lieutenant in the militia. Thomas was a selectman of Guilford in the early 1800s. Thomas and Kate had a daughter named Grace. The Lyndes lived in district two but owned many other properties. In 1812 the family owned a farm, later known as the Hollis Boyden Farm, and owned land on route five below the Gale farm. In 1814, Thomas owned property on Weatherhead Hollow Road. In 1818 he owned the present day Clark family farm. In 1819 they owned a flax mill in Algiers. In 1824, Thomas was a part owner of a linseed oil mill on Broad Brook, and a shingle mill. He was also the owner of the old tavern property in Guilford Center. Thomas Lynde died in 1836, and is buried in the Guilford Center cemetery.
Lucy Terry Prince: Black Pioneer and Poet
by Linda Hecker
Vermont has always been justly proud of its pioneer women. They faced the lonely challenge of rugged, often frightening. Circumstances, while bearing children and providing for their families the daily necessities and small comforts of frontier life. We have many stories of their courage, strength, and imagination, but one of the least known and most remarkable of theses women was Lucy Terry Prince, a black woman who, as far as we can determine, was the first published black poet in America.
Lucy Terry was born in Africa ‘of pure African blood.’ At an early age she was stolen from her family and brought to the United States, first to Rhode Island, but eventually to Deerfield, Massachusetts, where she was a servant to Ebenezer Wells. The Deerfield Church records note that on June 15, 1735, at the age of five, ‘Lucy, a servant (sic) to Ebenezer Wells was baptized on the account.’ This was at the height of Jonathan Edward’s ‘Great Awakening’ which swept the Connecticut River Valley. In 1744 Lucy was admitted to the fellowship of the Church. When we try to imagine Lucy’s relation to the white community and her social status, we are left guessing. We can see that Negroes in the early days of New England were admitted to the church by baptism and communion, and that they sometimes kept personal accounts at the local stores, held land, and served in wars. Yet they were passed to the heirs of their masters as the property along with cows and other livestock.
We can imagine that Lucy was held in esteem by her neighbors in Deerfield, however. She was the village poet and historian. In 1746 Lucy witnessed the terrible Indian massacre, known as the Bars Fight. This was one of the many similar tragic events in Deerfield’s history as a frontier outpost. Lucy was only sixteen at the time, but she wrote two poetic versions of the battle, ‘The fullest contemporary account of that bloody tragedy which has been preserved.’ In 1756 Lucy married Abijah Prince, a former servant to Reverend Benjamin Doolittle of nearby Northfield, Massachusetts. When Doolittle died he freed Bijah and gave him some land in a part of Northfield that is now Vernon, Vermont. Lucy and Bijah were married in Deerfield, however, and here we have the first indication of Lucy’s shrewdness and the sense of independence. By law Lucy and her children should have remained slaves, since the offspring of slaves followed in the condition of the mother. No one seems to know exactly how she managed it, but neither Lucy nor her nine children were ever slaves again.
After Lucy and Bijah married they lived in a small house close to what is now the Deerfield Academy. It became known during their time as Bijah’s Brook, and Lucy was called Luce (sic) Bijah. Here her reputation as storyteller and poet grew. According to the Deerfield history she was popular with young people, who gathered around her kitchen at night to hear her stories and original poems. ‘Lucy was a noted character, and her house was a great place of resort for the young people, attracted thither by her wit and wisdom, often shown in her rhyme and stories.’ Bijah was never content to stay in one place for long. He seems to have had a hunger for land. One of his first large parcels was a 100-acre homestead in Guilford, Vermont, which was granted to him by Colonel David Field of Deerfield. He moved to Guilford with his family in 1764, but did not stay long. The Princes moved back to Deerfield for a while, and eventually to Sunderland, Vermont, near Bennington. He was one of the original grantees of Sunderland, and the only one to actually homestead there. Unhappily, Bijah’s claim to his land was contested by Colonel Eli Bronson. This led to a heated legal dispute which went all the way to the newly formed United States Supreme Court. Colonel Bronson hired two of Vermont’s most prominent lawyers, General Stephen Bradley and Royal Tyler (later a chief justice of Vermont). The Princes hired Isaac Tichenor to draw the pleadings, but it was Lucy herself who argued the case in court! She not only won, but Samuel Chase, the presiding judge, was so impressed by her logic and passion that he claimed ‘Lucy made a better argument than he had ever heard from a lawyer in Vermont.’
Lucy was not yet content to rest on her laurels. She decided her eldest son should have as fine an education as could be had in those days. Undaunted by the lack of black students at the universities, she applied for a position at Williams College for her son. He was bluntly rejected ‘on account of race.’ This did not much discourage Lucy. She made the long trip Williams, Massachusetts, and argued for three hours before the College’s Board of Trustees, ‘quoting text after text from the Scriptures,’ legal precedent and other sources. Apparently this was one battle Lucy lost. The Williams College records show he was never admitted.
Around 1780 the Princes returned to their homestead in Guilford. Bijah again ran into trouble with his land. His neighbors to the north, the Noyes, for reasons undetermined. burned his fences and hayricks. The harassment continued unabated until the Princes were compelled to take legal action. They appealed to the highest state tribunal of the time (1785), the Governor’s Council. Lucy again leaded the case. The Princes were judged ‘much injured’. The Governor recommended to the Selectmen of Guilford to ‘take some effectual Measures to protect the said Abijah, Lucy, and family.’
Bijah died in Guilford in 1794. Lucy moved back to Sunderland to live near some of her children, but came to visit Bijah’s grave on horseback yearly, a ninety mile trip which she made well into her nineties. The Princes had the last say with their unpleasant Guilford neighbors, the Noyes, too. Not long after Bijah died a young woman of the Noyes family was passing by his grave on horseback, just at dusk. She reached a steep hill at nightfall, and when she approached Bijah’s grave ‘there appeared a fearsome apparition, so close and startling that both the horse and rider were tremendously frightened.’ The young woman hung on in desperation while the horse thundered down the road past the grave and on to the Noyes homestead. The apparition was declared to be Bijah’s ghost, but whether or not it was so, or some great owl or started deer distorted by a troubled conscience, is left for the reader to determine.
Lucy probably lived to be 110 years old. Sheldon commented in his History of Deerfield, ‘In the checked lives of Abijah Prince and Lucy Terry is found a realistic romance going beyond the wildest flights of fiction.’ Lucy was lively and stubborn to the last, though there is a story, probably apocryphal judging from her character, that when she returned to Deerfield, an elderly woman, to visit her former master, she refused to take supper at the family’s dinner table, saying, ‘No, no Missy, I know my place.’ As this account shows, Lucy never knew her place; instead, she made it.
Having survived the shock of being asked for an article on ‘Romance’, my brain started whirling and buzzing like a computer. What did the Guilford Central School children want—a true love story, a tale of events having occurred in Guilford or something from my imagination?
My years spent as Town Clerk included dealing with romance—marriages, births, etc. Tales of young lovers traveling from Connecticut, Massachusetts or wherever to marry in Guilford were common. The old records go back into 1800’s with stories such as I am going to tell you.
In 1914 Olive Allen, my mother, lived with her grandparents in West Halifax village. A young fellow by the name of Leon LaRock, my father, lived in South Halifax, a distance of about five miles. The romance blossomed for about one and a half years. My father always told of how many shoes he wore during that time, as walking was his only means of transportation. He was able to purchase a driving horse before they were married.
On December 24th, 1916 they harnessed the horse and with another couple as witnesses, they headed for Marlboro village through deep snow. At one point they liked to tell about having to lift the sleigh out of a snow drift to help the horse. A Marlboro minister, who they knew and liked, performed the ceremony in his kitchen. They lived to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
This is a picture of a man named Peter Serkin.
He lived in Guilford, Vermont. He has dark, short hair, and dark eyes. There appears to be a faint trace of facial hair over his top lip. Peter is smiling a “toothy smile.” He is wearing a white, button-down shirt, under a dark tuxedo jacket. He is also wearing a dark, striped tie. There is a pair of dark-rimmed glasses sitting on his nose.
Peter Serkin was the youngest of six children in his family. His father taught him how to play the piano. Peter Serkin is now a famous concert pianist, and travels all over the world. Peter’s great grandfather was born in Germany. His grandfather and father played their instruments with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Peter Serkin still plays the piano all over the world.
In this picture of Rudolf Serkin, a musician from Guilford, Vermont, there is only him, and a black background.
The picture seems to be taken professionally. Rudolph is balding on top, but where he does have hair, it is white and grey. He is wearing glasses, and a nice, black suit. He has a white-collared shirt with a black tie under it. The back of his head fades to black, which is also another sign that this may be a professionally tailored picture.
Mr. Serkin was a world famous musician. He was born on March 28, 1903 in Eger, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Cheb, Czech Republic), and debuted with the Vienna Philharmonic when he was twelve, and began a concert career in Berlin, living with the German violinist Adolf Busch. They opposed Nazi Germany, and moved to Basel, Switzerland, and then to New York, where he began a long relationship with the New York Philharmonic, and to Guilford, Vermont, where he was instrumental in establishing the Marlboro School of Music in 1951. He died on May 8, 1991 in Guilford.
The Guilford Historical Society
School #14, Class
In this photograph there are 15 people. The teacher Is Anna Johnson, but she is not in the photograph. Some of the students are smiling but most of them are squinting from the sunlight. One boy has a striped shirt and the others boys have plain colored shirts. The girls have dresses on with their hair up. They are standing at a tree line, also looks like there are some plants. It looks like late summer or early fall. The names of the people are: back row, left to right, Esther Henry, Unknown, Earle Clark, Ruby Thayer, Orville Wyman (?), Unknown, ___ Christianson (?). Front row: left to right, Carleton Clark, Merrill Thayer, Arvine Boyd, Harold Legate, Loyd Goodnow, Irene Wyman, Virgie Goodnow, Ruth Boyd.
The red Brick schoolhouse was built in 1797, then was used until the 1920’s and went a long time before repair. A new schoolhouse was built on Bonnyvale Road to replace it. Guilford Central School was built it in 1957. The Red brick School was renovated by the Anthony family, and is now owned and maintained by the Guilford Historical Society since the 1900’s.
School #14, Class 1919
This is a photograph of the students of School Number 14 taken in 1919 in Guilford vt .There are 9 children, 5 boys and 4 girls. One female student is taller than the others. Three children are holding flowers and the girls are wearing dresses and have boots on. The boys are wearing pants and white shirts and all of them are barefoot. There are trees in the background and a white building with a mansard roof.
The school was built in 1797 and was used until the 1920’s. After that, the building went into disrepair and a new schoolhouse was built on Bonnyvale Road. Guilford Central School was built in 1957. The schoolhouse was renovated by the Anthony family. It is now owned by the Guilford Historical Society since the 1990’s.
On the back of the photograph are written the names of the students: Arvine Boyd, Harold Clark, Arthur Boyd, Lloyd Goodnow, Irene Boyd, Virgie Goodnow, Ruth Boyd, Merrill Thayer and Ruby Thayer.
School #14, Class circa 1920
This is a photograph of eight girls, students of Number 14 Schoolhouse, circa 1920, Guilford Center, Guilford, VT. The teacher at this time was Anna Johnson, who is not in this photo. According to the information on the back of the photograph, the eight girls are Emma Christiansen, Sophia Christiansen, Faith Heald, — Bardwell, Marion Wyman, Esther Henry, Ruby Thayer, and Virgie Goodnow. All of the girls have their hair up. The two girls on the left-hand side of the picture are wearing the same dress. The two in the center appear to be the youngest. Seven of the eight girls are wearing collared dresses. The group is sitting on a hill, with a tree directly behind them. A large hedge is also behind them. A field and woods are visible in the background. It appears to be spring, summer, or fall and it us sunny.
The Red Brick Schoolhouse was built in 1790 and was used by District 14 schoolchildren, until it fell into a state of disrepair in the 1920’s and a new schoolhouse was built. The building still stands thanks to the generosity of the Anthony family and the Guilford Historical Society. The schoolhouse sits on Carpenter Hill Road. Ruby Thayer, a student, went on to be a librarian at the Guilford Free Library.
Sophie Christiansen, in Guilford VT, is standing in front a large, gnarled birch tree, with what appears to be a thoughtful look on her face.
Sophie appears to be in her 30’s or 40’s and is in a black hat with a white stripe or ribbon around the center. She is wearing a fur coat, with a double row of large, round buttons. Under this coat is either a dress or skirt, coming down to her toes, either black or grey. Her toes are not visible, though—Sophie’s skirt/dress covers them. Her gloveless hands lay straight by her sides. The weather appears to be chilly, because of the clothes Sophie is wearing, but sunny also—the lighting is bright and the ground is strewn with dry leaves.
The Minotts Work Behind the Scenes at the Tunbridge Fair
by Stuart Strothman
Up at the History Expo in Tunbridge toward the end of June 2007, it was hard work as usual for Addie and Addison Minott. Addison is a Trustee for the Vermont Historical Society (VHS), and the two of them have taken on considerable responsibility as the main volunteers for the operation of the annual event which brings together an average of a hundred Vermont historical societies. This year, there were over five thousand people in attendance. The VHS hires a director for the event, and the Minotts work with the director and four capable groundskeepers to set up tables, chairs, provide electricity, and to help society members set up their presentations.
Each society creates a display based on a theme of its own choosing. This year Addie, the president of the Guilford Historical Society, focused on past, present and future in our hamlet of Algiers. The display for the past included two shrewd mannequins at a card table, as the story goes that the hamlet was named in around 1815, when Guilford was still a very populous town at the frontier of the new state of Vermont. Some of the Brattleboro men liked to come and play poker, and the Guilford men were able to take them for a considerable sum. Unhappy with the outcome, the men of Brattleboro returned on a number of occasions, only to meet with further losses. The War of 1812 was still fresh in everyone’s mind, and as discussion often turned to pirates and commerce in the area of Gibraltar, the Brattleboro men labeled the Guilford poker players as a ‘pack of Algerian pirates!’
Addie’s display of the present included a number of “then and now” photos of locations in the hamlet, using historic photos scanned during the 2006 – 07 school year by Guilford 8th graders as part of a Community History Partnership program sponsored by VHS. Many areas have changed in their landscape, and some, like the carriage house and the mill, are no longer there. There were photos of the new firehouse, with its fresh coat of paint.
For the future of Algiers, Addie turned to the work of Eric Morse and the Friends of Algiers, and the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust (BACLT). The Friends have been working hard on revision of the hamlet aimed at revitalization, and have various schematics designed to return Algiers to its former beauty and importance as a town center. For its part, BACLT has developed plans for renovation of one existing apartment building, and construction of a three-story house which would provide four apartments to middle-income families.
Our thanks and appreciation go to the Minotts, for all their labors.
Thomas Lynde with Oxen
In this black-and-white photograph of Thomas Lynde of Guilford, Vermont, there are two trees visible in the foreground. There are also two oxen hooked up to a six-ton boulder. Lynde is shown with a white beard standing proudly next to his oxen. We think the sign next the stone says “This stone was found November 31, Ections Rd. Wt. 6 Tom.” There are also two stone walls, and snow on the ground. Lynde seems to be holding a whip. He is wearing boots, a hat, a jacket, and rolled-up pants.
There isn’t anything that mentions this photo in the Official History of Guilford, but it was most likely famous in its time, because it seems like Thomas Lynde may have won a prize for his oxen pulling the stone.
Walter Needham Family
This is a photograph of the Needham family, from Guilford Vermont, taken in 1900. In the Photo Walter is shown as a little boy, about age four. Walter is dressed in a white dress shirt with a striped bowtie. Seated to his left is his mother, Ina, who is wearing a dark blouse with a white collar. Seated to Walter’s right is one of his sisters, either Mae or Lottie, dressed in a white, collared shirt with buttons on the left side of it. Standing behind Walter, to his left, is his other sister, Lottie or Mae, dressed in a white shirt with a bow at the collar, wearing glasses. Behind Walter, to his right, is his brother, Warren, wearing a white dress shirt, with a dark, checkered bowtie and jacket.
Walter Needham and his family lived on Route Five in Guilford, Vermont, in their quarry worker’s house. Behind their house was his grandfather’s shop. The house and shop are still standing. Walter’s book, A Book Of Country Things, is an important historical work regarding slate quarrying in Guilford.