Sunday Series will focus on “Foods of our Founders”
In what promises to be a lively afternoon, self-proclaimed foodie Lola Chen will examine colonial cooking from the ground to the kitchen in mid-18th century Kent. She’ll examine what food was available in Kent in the founders’ era, what foods might have been borrowed from the Native Americans, and how everything would have been prepared. Salted cod, anyone?
“Foods of Our Founders” will be presented by the Kent Historical Society as part of its Sunday Series lectures in the Kent Town Hall Sunday, May 21 at 2:00 p.m.
Chen brings a global perspective to the subject. Educated in the UK and Hong Kong, Chen has traveled the globe and examined foodways and their history wherever she’s gone. She’s a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, and also the Museum Educator at the Wilton Historical Society. She brings an unusual blend of food and cooking excellence, along with a deep historical awareness of how cooking evolved over the years.
The lecture, as well as future Sunday Series events in 2017, helps give context to the Kent Historical Society’s upcoming exhibit in the summer of 2017, “The Founders of Kent,” on the emergence of one New England town in the 18th century. The 2017 Sunday Series events are sponsored by the Kent Barns and the Kent Lions Club.
The Kent Historical Society sponsors the Sunday Series every other month September through May. Free admission for members; $5 suggested donation for non-members.
Who Saved Otto Klug?
Investigating a 75-year-old mystery
By Peter M. Heimlich, copyright@2017
So-called “alternative facts” are nothing new. Here’s an intriguing example tied to a dramatic, high-profile event that happened about 75 years ago in Litchfield County.
It starts with an August 29, 1941 front page New York Times article, Children Escape in Train Wreck; 2 of Crew Killed, about a massive train wreck in Kent. Six cars carrying hundreds of campers derailed into Hatch Pond. Two trainmen were killed and a third had a leg amputated.
The article concluded with information provided by “Henry Heimlich, 21, of 30 West Ninetieth Street, a sailing counselor at Camp Mah-kee-nac and a pre-medical student at Cornell University, who was… the ‘hero’ of the accident.”
“I was riding in the next-to-the-last coach.” Heimlich related, “when suddenly there was a lurch…I ran forward and jumped out. I saw that the engine and the first car were almost submerged and that the fireman’s leg was caught under the steps of the second car which had overturned. He was lying in about four feet of water.
“He was floundering around, hysterical, and I ran toward him and held his head above the water…”
“He was all black and he was crying that he was afraid he’d lose his leg. Another counselor, Jack Handelsman, who is also a pre-medical student jumped into a boat nearby and rowed out to help me. Then a lot of people came and while I held the fireman up they started digging underneath with their hands, and later with shovels, to free his leg.”
A few months later, the Times published a follow-up item with a photo of the handsome 21-year-old pre-med student receiving an award for bravely saving the life of the train fireman.
The sailing counselor and apparent hero was my father, Henry J. Heimlich MD, who died a couple of months ago. If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because of a choking rescue treatment he first called “the Heimlich method” in the June 1974 medical journal Emergency Medicine. Only two years later, what had been re-named “the Heimlich maneuver” was incorporated into national first aid guidelines. Since then my family name became a household word and my father’s namesake treatment has been credited with saving the lives of thousands of choking victims.
Fast forward to Spring 2002 when my wife Karen and I began researching my father’s career. To our astonishment, we uncovered an unseen history of fraud throughout my father’s career. Most shocking, he’d used nonexistent or fraudulent data in order to promote a string of crackpot medical claims that resulted in serious injuries and deaths.
My dad was no slouch when it came to singing his own praises to anyone in earshot and I was no exception. Most of our time together consisted of him telling me about his achievements and awards, especially after he became famous.
And that was my first problem with the train wreck story – over the decades he never mentioned it to me. I only learned about in the early months of our research when Karen and I happened upon the 1941 New York Times articles.
My interest was piqued, so about 14 years ago, I decided to take a closer look.
Via public libraries in Connecticut, I obtained copies of every article I could find about the headline-making disaster. I also contacted Marge Smith at the Kent Historical Society who sent me some paperwork from their files and put me in touch with Emily Krizan, whose husband, Joseph Krizan Jr., reportedly participated in rescue efforts at the train wreck including helping the trapped fireman, whose name was Otto Klug.
Interestingly, none of the articles and none of the people with whom I communicated said anything about any camp counselor (or my father by name) being involved in the rescue.
Instead, they near-unanimously identified a local resident named Jack Bartovic as the person responsible for holding Klug’s head above water for hours. Local residents Charles Durcher Edwards and Philip Camp were also identified as participants in the rescue.
“Joseph Krizan, Jr., had seen the locomotive and cars topple off the track into Hatch Pond at South Kent yesterday as he was mowing the grass in front of his mother’s house, just off the South Kent Road.
He and a friend, Jack Bartovic, ran toward the accident as fast as they could…Krizan was the first person to reach the scene. Bartovic didn’t get into the car, because he saw a man half in and half out of the water, a short distance away at the other end of the car. It was the fireman, Otto Klug, of Seymour.
Bartovic waded in and held Klug’s head above water, for his leg was caught. Later they found it had been almost severed and a doctor wanted to cut it off and get Klug out of there, but Klug said, ‘My leg isn’t bad. I won’t let you cut if off. I’ll wait until the crane gets here and they lift the car off me.’
So Bartovic stayed with him for more than two hours, and the crane lifted the car and then Klug saw that his leg was hanging only by flesh.
Krizan and Bartovic told their stories as they watched the wrecking crew working on the derailed trains in the late afternoon sunlight that slated off the green quiet hills.”
In a March 25, 2003 e-mail, Marge Smith wrote me:
Emily Krizan stopped by here today with some thoughts for me to pass along to you…She got into a discussion with Marge Richards, who is sure HER husband was THE one to hold up Klug’s head. But we feel positive that several people had that task, as the poor man was in the water for many hours. Emily and her husband had a dear friend named Jack Bartovic (no longer alive), who also held up Klug’s head. Many years later, Klug knocked on Jack’s door and came in to thank him for helping to save his life. Jack said he remembered Klug begging them to save his leg because he could feel it.
At the time I also interviewed Jacob “Jack” Handelsman – the camp counselor my father told the Times reporter had “rowed out to help me.” Dr. Handelsman, then a prominent surgeon at Johns Hopkins, said he never heard anything about my father being involved in the rescue. He also didn’t remember anything about a rowboat. When I asked him about my father getting the award for bravery, he expressed surprise because my father never told him about it.
The mystery of the Hatch Pond train wreck resurfaced recently because a December 19 Wall Street Journal obituary about my father repeated the 1941 New York Times version about how my father “held up the head of one of the train workers until help was able to arrive.”
In the course of corresponding with the Journal about the apparent roles of Jack Bartovic and other area residents, I again reached out to the Kent Historical Society. That resulted in a gracious invitation to write this article which I hope generates more information from readers.
To get the ball rolling, I composed and uploaded this page to to my website that includes all articles and related information I’ve obtained: http://medfraud.info/OttoKlug.html
CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS CAMPS BOOK TALK & SIGNING
Join the Kent Memorial Library and the Kent Historical Society as they welcome Martin Podskoch of East Hampton, Connecticut on Saturday, March 11, at 2:00 p.m. at the Kent Town Hall, 41 Kent Green Boulevard, Kent. He will discuss and sign copies of his newly published book, Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy.
Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy is the definitive book that records the CCC experience for the men who helped support their families during the Great Depression with days of hard work, Army discipline, and camaraderie.
This volume is the second state CCC project Marty has completed. New York State was the first. He learned from the first research effort the skills needed to complete such an all-encompassing history. He interviewed many old men whose fond memories of their youth in the CCC remained vivid. In his interviews Marty found that these men felt great pride in their work with the CCC, that it was a good time in their lives – – for some, the best. Most agree they learned how to get along with many types of people. As you read what each man said you will come to know something of the time, to reach into the past and know what it was to be in the CCC!
The CCC was a public works program that operated from 1933 to 1942, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It targeted young men and veterans in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression, providing unskilled manual labor related to environmental conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands.
Volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways. In nine years, 2.5 million young men participated in restoring morale and public appreciation of the outdoors.
These young men worked in 21 Connecticut CCC camps while some traveled to Western states to do conservation projects. These interviews and hundreds of marvelous photos of camp life capture the vitality of the young men who worked so hard to improve our forests, which had been ravaged by fires, lumbering, and storms. We must not forget their labors in the woodlands and state parks that continue to be enjoyed by millions today.
Podskoch’s book describes the history and projects of the 21 camps located throughout the state. Camps were located at Housatonic Meadow in Sharon; Stones Ranch in Niantic; Natchaug State Forest (SF) in Eastford; Nipmuck SF in Union; Squantz Pond in New Fairfield; Meshomasic SF in Cobalt and Portland; Pachaug SF in Voluntown; Black Rock SP in Thomaston; Tunxis SF in East Hartland; Mohawk SF in West Goshen; Burr Pond in Paugnut SF; American Legion SF in Barkhamsted; Salmon River SF in East Hampton; Wooster Mountain SF in Danbury; Shenipsit SF in Stafford Springs; Experiment Station Land in Poquonock; Macedonia Brook in Kent and three camps in Cockaponset SF in Killingworth, Haddam, and Madison.
Enrollees signed up for six months and worked a 40-hour week for $30/mo. The government sent $25 to the enrollee’s family and the enrollee received $5. The young men received good food, uniforms, and medical care. At first they lived in tents; later they lived in wooden buildings. These young men and special camps for war veterans were able to help their families and gain a sense of worth.
There are hundreds of pictures of the boys at work and at camp, sometimes laboring mightily, other times clowning around or playing on camp teams.
There are excerpts from camp newspapers of cartoons, poems, doggerel, and songs that will delight the reader for this unique window into their lives.
Since most of the boys quit school after 8th grade to help their families, the Army organized evening classes for those who wanted to get a GED, learn vocational skills or just hobbies like photography. In precise detail the reader will see what the boys studied in the education classes, a wide variety of classes from Accounting (practical) to Drawing and Music (entertainment), and life skills.
Scores of interviews with CCC veterans tell each man’s story from early life in a large family trying to help during the hard times. Angelo Alderuccio, from Bristol, worked at the Cobalt CCC camp in 1934. He said, “I was happy joining the CCCs because my mother was going to get some money, and it took me off the streets.”
CCC enrollee, Ed Kelly of Woodbury, said: “I was interested in the CCC because there were no jobs and I had cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. There were eight children in my family and the money I earned helped my parents.”
You will follow boys from city and village as they learn of the CCC, enlist, travel away, and become the muscle and bone that built the state parks, water projects, planting trees, and so much more. Their stories continue, most often through WW II, a return home to begin to use what they’d learned. There are stories of their families and their professional lives. After reading one boy’s life journey it is clear how much the CCC helped each one develop the character and purpose they carried through life.
Marty Podskoch has authored six other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts, Northern Districts and also Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II:101 More Historical Sketches. His travel book, The Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport & Guide to the North Country, was published in 2014.
This event is free & open to public. His book Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy will be available for purchase & signing after the talk. Please register. For more information, call the Library, 860-927-3761; email firstname.lastname@example.org; stop by the Library; or visit the Library’s online calendar at kentmemoriallibrary.org.
The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information, visit kenthistoricalsociety.org or call 860-927-4587.
The Kent Memorial Library’s mission is to enrich the lives of individuals and the community by providing materials, programs, and services to encourage reading, learning and imagination. The Kent Memorial Library is located at 32 North Main Street, Kent, Connecticut. Visit kentmemoriallibrary.org for more information.
Arsenic and Injustice ~ The Trials of Florence Maybrick
By Brian Thomas
Her tale stretched from Alabama to England, and ended on the grounds of the South Kent School. Locally known as a solitary cat lady in shaky mental health, only a few neighbors realized that she had been one of the most notorious women of the 19th century, and the victim of a galling injustice. Her name was Florence Maybrick.
Florence Elizabeth Chandler was the daughter of a banker who was once the mayor of Mobile. On a ship to England, Florence caught the eye of a wealthy cotton dealer, James Maybrick. She was 19, he was 42. They married in 1881, and settled in Liverpool, where her beauty and her husband’s wealth guaranteed their social status. They had two children, James and Gladys. But James Maybrick had many mistresses, and even fathered five children with one. More perilously, hypochondria and an addictive streak led him to experiment with poisonous chemicals, including arsenic. At the time, arsenic was a recreational drug.
Unhappy with her husband, Florence took lovers herself. When Maybrick learned of her affairs, in a fine piece of Victorian hypocrisy he became enraged and threatened to divorce her. He tore up his will and wrote a new one that left Florence almost nothing.
James Maybrick fell ill in April 1889 after a self-administered double shot of strychnine and declined rapidly. In May, with her husband dying, Florence wrote an affectionate letter to a lover, which a disgruntled servant intercepted and passed to Maybrick’s brother, Michael. Michael loudly declared that Florence had poisoned his brother, and had her held under house arrest.
James Maybrick died at on May 11, 1889. His brothers ordered an autopsy, which revealed faint traces of arsenic, but not a fatal dose, especially not for an out-of-control user like James. Nor could they prove that Maybrick didn’t deliberately take the poison himself. Some of the specifics looked incriminating, though. Florence had bought arsenic-laden flypaper around this time to lighten her complexion, she said — also a common practice at the time.
Despite the rickety evidence, Florence Maybrick was charged with his murder and stood trial in Liverpool. The prosecutor’s summation claimed that Maybrick’s extramarital affair meant that her guilt was certain. She was convicted and sentenced to death, later commuted to imprisonment for 15 years.
From a modern legal point of view, the trial was outrageously defective. The Maybrick family held Florence incommunicado. British law prevented her from mounting a defense or giving any testimony on her own behalf (though she was allowed to read a statement). She couldn’t point out that her late husband’s stingy new will gave her a strong motive for keeping him alive as long as possible. Nor were there any courts of appeal.
What’s more, the judge, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, had never really recovered from a paralyzing seizure three years before the trial. A legal observer at the Maybrick trial said that had never heard “such a pathetic exhibition of incompetence and inaccuracy” by a judge. In charging the jury, he spoke for twelve hours (over two days) about the defendant’s wickedness and immorality. But in England there was no mechanism for removing a judge, no matter how impaired.
During the 1890s, her supporters produced new evidence of James Maybrick’s prodigious recreational arsenic use, but without the possibility of an appeal, the Home Office would not relent. King Edward VII finally pardoned her in 1904, after 14 years in prison. Broke, she returned to the United States. For a while she earned a living on the lecture circuit, explaining her innocence and arguing for reforms in women’s prisons, but her spirit tottered from her ordeals. She drifted for some years. English law was eventually reformed to prevent the abuses that led to her imprisonment, too late to help her.
In 1918, Florence had to earn some money. A supporter referred her to Henrietta Banwell, who wanted a housekeeper in Gaylordsville. With funds from supporters, she bought less than an acre in South Kent and built a tiny house. She told everyone her name was Florence Chandler.
She never said a word of her past. A visitor saw a photo of a baby in her cabin. When asked, she said it was the child of an old friend of hers. In fact, it was one her own children, whom she hadn’t seen since her imprisonment.
Sometime in the 1920s, she gave a black lace dress to her Kent neighbor Genevieve Austin and her sister-in-law Alvy Austin. They noticed a drycleaners ticket for “Florence Maybrick.” Austin wrote to a cousin who was a librarian, who wrote back with the piping hot news from over 30 years earlier. Austin told her husband, Tom, and her cousin Connie Kissam. Out of kindness, they chose to reveal nothing. They protected Florence’s privacy, which was almost the only thing she had left.
By 1926, nobody was allowed in the cabin except her cats, and she didn’t make eye contact or pay bills. She was seen around town occasionally, but she kept to herself. Boys from South Kent School would bring her firewood. Her neighbors helped her through the Depression years. Pop Conkrite looked in on when she fell ill, and discovered her body in October, 1941.
Once she died, the Austins revealed her identity, and a flurry of press interest rehashed how her life had been poisoned by Victorian sexism, and how the case changed English law. The press emphasized every aspect of her life except the final one — as a tragic neighbor in Kent.
“The Howling Wilderness: Western Connecticut in the 18th Century”
This video is the entire talk from Jan. 22
Michael Everett, the President of the Kent Historical Society and an Emeritus Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, discussed the conditions in Western Connecticut at the beginning of the 18th century, during a Sunday Series talk on Sunday January 22 at the Kent Town Hall.
The Revolutionary period is often viewed as the starting point of Kent’s history, but the town was founded well before that. Through the entire period, the Puritan view of the countryside as a “howling wilderness” had theological and cultural consequences, which Everett will explore as he examines the natives and settlers, changing agricultural and ownership ideas, and more.
The lecture, as well as future Sunday Series events in 2017, helps give context to the Kent Historical Society’s upcoming exhibit in the summer of 2017, “The Founders of Kent,” on the emergence of one New England town in the 18th century.
This year’s Sunday Series lectures are sponsored by Kent Barns and the Kent Lions Club. The Society extends its thanks for their generosity to make this program possible.
The Kent Historical Society sponsors the Sunday Series every other month September through May. Free admission for members; $5 suggested donation for non-members.
The Kent Historical Society celebrated its accomplishments in 2016 and honored a number of volunteers during its Annual Meeting Sunday, Oct. 16 in Kent Town Hall.
President Mike Everett welcomed everyone to the event and went through some of the highlights of the previous year. He mentioned that three grants have been received for the renovation of Tallman House into an Art and Archives Storage Area. He also explained there has been much work to organize the administrative floor of the building
The Collections Committee has received a number of donations from the late Marie Camp and from her family after she passed away this year. The committee continues to try to assimilate the material into the collection. He also mentioned a number of the events, including the Sunday Series, the Summer Art Enrichment for children and the Musicale and Spirited Tea in the spring, and thanked those responsible for organizing and orchestrating the details. One of the major accomplishments was the re-clapboarding of Seven Hearths that was finished and then the siding was painted with a second coat of stain in the summer. Almost all of the trim on the windows and doors has also been painted this year. Monthly curators’ tours were conducted from July through October that were long detailed discussions of how an old house, like Seven Hearths, is restored. These were conducted by Curator Marge Smith and trustee Jeffrey Morgan.
The Summer Postcard Exhibit at the town-owned Swift House was held in June through August, with a walking tour offered in July. There was a new version of the organization’s Constitution and Bylaws adopted and ratified by the members. This document was last amended in 2012.The election of officers and trustees was held:
President Mike Everett, term ends 2017
Vice President Lynn Mellis Worthington, term ends 2019
Secretary Melissa Cherniske, term ends 2018
Treasurer Bruce Whipple, term ends 2019
Jeffrey Morgan, one-year term
Deborah Chabrian, one-year term
Roger Gonzales, two-year term
Kent Freeman, two-year term
Kate Vick, three-year term
Austi Brown, three-year term
Several people ended their tenure on the Board of Trustees and Mr. Everett recognized those who had stepped down and gave them each a hand-created token of thanks. Beth Dooley was honored for her long tenure that stretched back to when Miss Emily Hopson served as president. Zanne Charity, who has been on for five years, was recognized for her efforts particularly in programs and outreach efforts of the society, and for the renovation of the Seven Hearth garage into the Art Barn. Patti Case was thanked for her time on the board and her willingness to continue on as a volunteer for the Collections Committee. Tim Good and Nancy Schaefer were unable to attend but were also thanked for their time on the board.
The Board of Trustees also honored two long-time members with a new designation – Distinguished Member – and Fran Johnson and Ky Anderson were both recognized. Ms. Anderson was able to attend and graciously accepted a hand-crafted certificate from Mr. Everett. The docents who volunteered during the summer’s Postcard exhibit at the Swift House were also honored for their service to the society and each presented with a small gift.
Finally, the Kent Quilters were honored and thanked for creating and donating the 2016 Signature Quilt to the Society. All attending were called up to the front to stand next to the displayed quilt. Jane Suttell Zatlin, group organizer of the Kent Quilters, shared a little information about the group. The three-panel quilt includes 600 signatures from Kent residents and six different iconic scenes from town. The ceremony marked the official acceptance of the quilt into the Society’s permanent collection. The 25 quilters were thanked and recognized by the society’s members. The event then adjourned to an entertaining presentation by Nick Bellantoni on “Vampires in New England,” the final Sunday Series of the year.
Stories from the Past
By Lynn Mellis Worthington
Capturing historical remembrances through individuals is a program that is alive and well at the Kent Historical Society thanks to the work of a group of dedicated volunteers.
During the past year, the Society has enlisted the efforts of teenagers to conduct oral history interviews of the town’s residents and these are being recorded and catalogued as part of the collections preserved. A group of students at South Kent School were able to learn a bit about local history through the eyes of four long-time residents by conducting oral history interviews. This summer, resident Claire Lee, who is a senior at The Gunnery, also assisted with the Oral History program.
The SKS students are part of a new class, Oral History, which is offered by instructor Max Pfeffer through the school’s Center for Innovation. They worked in teams of two to interview Kent residents Marie Camp, Noble Richards and Andy Ocif in the fall of 2015.
Their project was done in cooperation with the Kent Historical Society and they went through training similar to what all of the Society’s Oral History Committee volunteers have experienced. In the spring, Willard “Wink” Lampe was interviewed by a new group of students.
Pfeffer came up with the idea for the innovative class with guidance from Head of School Andrew Vadnais, who has a deep interest in history, including a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College and experience working at the Hancock Shaker Village, where he is currently a member of the Board of Trustees.
“I wanted the students in The Oral History of Kent class to gain an appreciation for their greater community,” Pfeffer said. “The town of Kent has such a rich past, and as students with such busy schedules, it can be easy for them to solely focus their attention on the smaller, South Kent community where they live. Having the students help preserve that history by interviewing longtime residents of Kent is a way for them to not only learn the importance of the town itself, but to also give them the opportunity to build relationships with off-campus residents.”
The students learned about interviewing people and what questions work best to draw out stories and they completed practice interviews of adults on campus. They also compiled questions before meeting with the person they were assigned to interview.
Loren Brill from Maryland was a post-graduate student at South Kent and he interviewed long-time faculty member Noble Richards, who retired in 1996. His interview partner was Nicholas Washington, a senior from Puerto Rico. Richards has stayed closely connected to the school and he is a Kent native with deep roots in town.
Brill said he enjoyed doing the interview with Richards. It was something he had never done before.
“I found a different skill that I can use in my life and I also found how rich South Kent history is,” Brill said. He enjoyed learning about how some of the traditions, such as reciting the prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, began at the school.
Brill said he was surprised by how much preparation was involved in planning for an hour interview, as well as how time consuming and difficult it was to transcribe an interview. He and his partner got about three-quarters of the way through the task and ran out of time.
Pfeffer plans to continue his class and he enjoys what the students get out of the course. “Aside from learning the excellent skill of communication through interviews and transcription, my hope is that my students were able to garner new perspectives on life, having spoken to members of the community who’ve lived such full lives of their own,” he said. “I also hope that as my students continue on their own journeys, that they’ll take time to think about how their own pasts have impacted their present.”
The Oral History program at the Kent Historical Society has been collecting stories of Kent residents for many decades. Former trustee Charlotte Lindsey spearheaded organizing a group of volunteers that conducted many interviews recorded from 2009 to 2014.
The Society has 51 interviews that have been recorded in one form or another. Some of these are written and others have video and/or audio. We recently purchased equipment to transfer some of the analog recordings to a digital format that will make them easier to use and listen to.
We are considering different ways to use the recordings and the remembrances. Everything that is collected could always be useful in a future exhibit because oral histories capture what people remember about living in our town.
One of our most active volunteers is Ky Anderson and she has met with many people and encouraged them to talk about their memories of Kent.
It is especially important to meet with our town’s oldest residents and we feel fortunate to have met previously with and recorded the memories of people such as Marie Camp, Bill and Charlotte Newton, Gene Bull and others who have passed away and played such an important part in the town’s history.
October 16 Sunday Series talk to focus on “Vampires in New England”
Vampire folk beliefs go back to the 18th century in Connecticut, and Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni has archaeological evidence that he’ll share to illuminate beliefs about… the undead.
On Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 2:00 PM at the Kent Town Hall, Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni recently retired Connecticut State Archaeologist, will present some highlights of his own research at Colonial gravesites, exploring how fear and superstition led New Englanders, particularly those around Jewett City, CT, to take drastic measures with burial customs — they didn’t want anyone returning from the grave. The archaeologist will discuss the sources of belief in vampires and the undercurrent of fear of the undead. Bones, graves and history reveal the myth and fact of each situation.
Dr. Bellantoni’s talk will follow a brief Annual Meeting of the Kent Historical Society. There will be an election of trustees and officers, as well as a vote to amend the organization’s bylaws. The Kent Historical Society sponsors the Sunday Series every other month September through May. Free admission for members; $5 suggested donation for non-members.
The Kent Historical Society 2015 Exhibit, “Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer” has been honored by the Connecticut League of History Organizations with their Award of Merit. The award letter declared, “The Committee highly commends the Kent Historical Society for creating an exhibit that explored this previously undocumented aspect of the town’s history. The committee was impressed with the amount of original research that was conducted and the extra effort that was made to reach out to the community to collect and share the stories and artifacts of both the camps and the campers who came to Kent.”
Marge Smith and Melissa Cherniske co-curated this exhibit and did a tremendous job, particularly guest curator Melissa Cherniske. Her personal experience and passion for the camp experience shone through every facet of the exhibit.
For more information on the award-winning exhibit please click here.
The various legends of Molly Fisher Rock were explored in May through a lecture and hike to the actual location. Those attending a talk in Town Hall May 15 learned that there are various theories of why there are markings on the large rock and what they might mean. A hike in cooperation with the Kent Land Trust drew a crowd over over 40 people May 21 and participants hike up the hill to a ridge, where the rock is located.
Now covered with quite a bit of moss and lichen, the markings are getting harder and harder to see, but Chris Harrington and KHS Trustee Roger Gonzales were able to spot them and point them out to everyone. Gonzales explained that the rock has been certified as Celtic site and he told the story of folk singer, U. Utah Phillips, who visited the area and pointed out the eye of Horus on another rock. It is a natural formation of quartz that creates a human eye.
“We were climbing up and he said, ‘you never told me anything about the circle,’ “ Gonzales said. “He said, ‘You’re standing right in the middle of it.’ “
There were a number of stones is a big clearing, he explained. Gonzales also pointed out how the Molly Fisher Rock aligns with another rock during the Summer Soltice.
During the Sunday Series lecture, Alicia North of Cornwall and Chris Harrington of Kent shared stories about growing up on the property and being taken to the rock by their grandfather. The legend is published by the Bulls Bridge Inn on their web site.
South Kent School teacher Pat Bonis finished up the talk by sharing how he likes to take his students to the rock and share the mysteries about it, because they are fascinated by the stories. The area was formed by glaciers but he said it is quite unusual to have such large rocks at the top of a ridge.