Brownsville

An historic photograph of a farm family in the Brownsville section of Stowe.

Awhile back, my wife and I took a ride through an area of my childhood.

We drove up Randolph Road a short distance and turned right by Theodore Mataski’s blacksmith shop. He was not only a blacksmith but also a wheelwright, one of the last in Vermont.

We drove up the road a way and there was a rental home on the left owned by Wayne Burt. He decided to move to the building across the road by his pond. It is still there.

Next, we went a short distance up the road to Moss Glen Falls. A man by the name of Lyle Pitcher had a dream. He built Moss Glen House, a large restaurant, a power plant, hiking trails and a footbridge over the falls. There was also a dam and a large pond above the falls.

World War II came along and he lost his dream — no customers. Craig Burt purchased the land and the buildings. The restaurant building was sold and moved and is now the home first on the right as you go up the Randolph Road.

We continued up the hill by the right-hand turn that led to Glen Warren’s farm. Beyond Mr. Warren’s turn, we came to the Brownsville one-room schoolhouse — no electric power, kerosene lamps and an outhouse. The teacher was Florence Canning.

Next, the “old” house of the 1800s is the last home standing — too late to restore but perhaps the Stowe Historical Society could exert some pressure.

I am sure the owner, Mrs. Page, would allow that to be done. I am partial to this home, as my grandparents lived there with their children — a son named Guy died young. They provided room and board for $3 a week for Florence Canning, the teacher. This small home had no power, no phone, no running water, a small woodshed and an outhouse. Hard to believe they raised nine children. My grandfather never bought a gallon of gas, but a lot of kerosene.

Just up the road is where the family of Leo Grimes lived — a beautiful area — a nice home, green fields and horses.

Then came a shock. The road to the McCall Brothers farm is blocked. Sad that government allowed the gate. I recall when their home burned. The brothers were large men. My dad offered to help when they thought they would rebuild. They lost their hard cider barrels. One brother lost an arm in a circular saw accident. If you could go by the remains of the rebuilt home, you could see a concrete slab over the cellar to protect the cider barrels — guess the cider went well with the blood pudding they were famous for.

The road past the farm went for miles and became a trail to North Hollow. It also was an access to Johnny Cake Flat area and Dead Horse Falls.

Hollister Brown’s cellar hole is just up from the gate on the left. The ruins of a snow roller was there (a two-horse roller to pack the snow in the winter). No plows. The problem, of course, was in spring, the only places that had snow was in the road.

We continued a few miles to a farm that was run by a cousin and her husband, Richard Grimes. Hill farming … a tough way to make a living.

Next is a farm that is about the same as it was years ago. The Morrill brothers now farm it.

A short distance from the Morrill farm was a farm run by brothers Mark and Les Doubleday. They had a team of mules to use for farm work. They loved to argue with each other.

The drive gave me time to think back on my 82 years of memories and that I am glad to have known such great Vermonters.


Kermit R. Spaulding lives in Stowe.

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