I recently returned from a “leaf peeping” trip to Vermont. Unlike the many thousands of tourists flocking to New England to view the brilliant colors of the leaves, I also was taking the opportunity to visit the birthplace of Joseph Naper. According to written accounts, Naper was born in Shaftsbury in Bennington County, Vermont. How surprised I was to find that there is a stretch of Vermont state road 7A with a series of hamlets called “Shaftsbury” and “South Shaftsbury” and a place named “Center Shaftsbury.”
The Shaftsbury Historical Society and museums were closed though the sign on the Governor Jonas Galusha Homestead said they were open. How I would have liked to visit their archives!
I did note many cemeteries and stopped to wander about the graveyards in Manchester, Bennington and Shaftsbury. Although I found no Napers, I did find many Naperville and DuPage County family names. Names like Carpenter, Galusha, Whipple, Murray, Allen, Downer and many more.
On a beautiful fall day while snapping photographs of the picturesque Old First Church in Bennington, I noticed a sign pointing to the gravesite of American poet, Robert Frost. An unexpected treat to find the grave of the man who wrote poems like “The Road Not Taken” and “Mending Wall” which are so representative of New England.
Since I was part of the committee to help restore Revolutionary War veteran Israel Warner’s gravesite in Big Woods Cemetery, I had to stop at the Battle of Bennington monument. Warner was 14 when he and his father, Seth and the Green Mountain Boys fought a decisive battle against the British. The monument is built like an obelisk and one can take an elevator to the observation deck which is at 177.6 feet above ground (according to the guide).
I stayed at a private house in the mountains outside of Ludlow, Vermont. While in Ludlow, I saw a sign for a bed & breakfast labeled, “Pettigrew.” My first museum internship was at South Dakota senator Richard Pettigrew’s home and museum in Sioux Falls, so I had to stop and ask for information. I spoke with the innkeeper who showed me her research of the Pettigrew family who helped establish Ludlow. Courtney knew all about Senator Pettigrew and was delighted that I knew more of his story. She had old photographs of the Pettigrews and an 1865 map of Ludlow showing the homes, and businesses of the Pettigrews.
My “leaf peeping” in Vermont proved to be a rewarding historical jaunt, as well.