Hidden History of Litchfield County

 A Sunday Series “Extra”
Peter Vermilyea speaks on
Hidden History of Litchfield County

The Kent Historical Society and Kent Memorial Library presented local author and prominent educator Peter Vermilyea as he discussed and signed his new book “Hidden History of Litchfield County” on Sunday, February 8, 2015.

In his book and presentations, Vermilyea uncovers abundant clues all around us, and shares them with audiences and readers throughout the region. His curiosity takes him all over the local landscape, and he constantly turns up instances of history that still linger, if you open your eyes to see them.

Stonewalls and graveyards summon numerous stories from Vermilyea. He points out weed-choked railroad tracks that crisscross the county, in Kent and beyond, and brings our attention to a ruined cinderblock bunker in Warren that was once a crucial radar station during the Cold War. He reminds us of a catastrophic fire that devastated Winsted in 1908, forcing residents to flee the Odd Fellows boardinghouse in fear of their lives. In Bantam, art deco chairs made by the Warren McArthur Corporation were so appealing and comfortable that the War Department ordered bomber seats from the company during World War II. Vermilyea explores these and other juicy tales from the history of Litchfield County, Connecticut.

A resident of Litchfield, Mr. Vermilyea teaches history at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, Connecticut, and at Western Connecticut State University. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he is the director of the student scholarship program at his alma mater’s Civil War Institute. He is a member of the Litchfield Historical Society Board of Directors. He is the author or editor of three books and more than a dozen articles and maintains the Hidden in Plain Sight blog. In fact, the book grew from Vermilyea’s fascinating blog, which can be found at www.hiddeninplainsightblog.com. “Hidden History of Litchfield County” boasts five-star reviews on Amazon, with such comments as, “extremely well-written and impressively researched,” and “it is amazing how many remnants of the nation’s past the author has uncovered…”

Vermilyea’s lecture was geared to Kent and its citizens. A long-time friend of both the Kent Historical Society and Kent Memorial Library, Vermilyea made ample use of the society’s archives in researching this book. Readers will find a handsome acknowledgement to the Kent Historical Society’s Curator, Marge Smith, on page 8.  His book, “Hidden History of Litchfield County” is available for purchase at Kent’s House of Books

 

Hidden History of Litchfield County

A Helping Hand: Hidden History of Litchfield County

Pete Vermilyea book resizedAt the Kent Historical Society, we strive to accommodate researchers of all kinds, whether they are writing for themselves, their families, or the larger public. Our archives are available to anyone for any purpose they might have. Occasionally, though, some of our visiting researchers publish a book. Longtime friend of KHS, Peter Vermilyea has done just that. You can order a copy of Hidden History of Litchfield County, just published by the History Press.

Peter came by the office to drop off a review copy, and we were pleased to see a handsome acknowledgement to our curator, Marge Smith, right there on page 8.

The book grew from Vermilyea’s fascinating blog, Hidden in Plain Sight, which you can find at www.hiddeninplainsightblog.com. Peter’s curiosity takes him all over the local landscape, and he constantly turns up instances of history that still linger, if you open your eyes to see them.

A resident of Litchfield, Peter teaches history at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, and at Western Connecticut State University. A graduate of Gettysburgh College, he is the director at his alma mater’s Civil War Institute. He’s the author or editor of three books and more than a dozen articles, mostly about Civil War History.

We know that other researchers are out there, and maybe some of you have a book inside you, struggling to be born. At the Kent Historical Society, we can’t do the work for you, but we can help with documents, photographs, costumes, and who knows what else.

Boston Tea Party Connection

What’s The Connection Between The Boston Tea Party and Amenia Union?

At the Annual Meeting of the Kent Historical Society on Sunday October 18, 2009, at 2:30pm in the Kent Town Hall, David Parker illuminated the life of Ethan Allen’s unsung sidekick and partner-in-rebellion – Dr. Thomas Young.

Mr. Parker, who has been researching the life of Thomas Young for many years, explained how the United States very well might not be the great free country we know today had it not been for the radical thoughts of Dr. Young.

As a very youthful physician, Thomas Young, aged 19, left his home on the western shores of the Hudson River and headed east to the little settlement on the northwest border of Kent. There he found lodging at the home of Captain Garret Winegar, a prominent German Palatine immigrant. Winegar was one of the leaders of a group of Palatines who settled in this area; his descendants moved to the Macedonia section of Kent where they were involved in the iron industry. Dr. Young learned to speak the Old Dutch language, and became physician to the Palatine community.

In 1762, the erudite young doctor was asked to name the growing village in the Oblong on the New York side of the state line. He came up with the word Amenia, which he said meant “pleasing” in Latin. He lived in Amenia Union, just inside the Connecticut border, for 12 years, practicing medicine, reading voraciously and developing a rather radical and rebellious way of looking at the world.

1762 was a fateful year not only for the hamlet of Amenia but for the American colonies as well. 1762 was the year in which Thomas Young met Ethan Allen, and found in him a kindred spirit with a well developed sense of rebellion against all powers that be.

This friendship would set Young on the trajectory that eventually took him from the Oblong Valley all the way to Boston and Philadelphia – the hot beds of the brewing American Revolution. Working with radicals such as Thomas Paine, and supported by Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Young set about to ensure that the colonies could not only break away from England but also establish an entirely new order of governance in the fledgling new country.

South Kent School’s Center for Innovation

The Center For Innovation at South Kent School

Andrew Vadnais, Head of South Kent School, spoke at the Kent Historical Society’s Sunday Series program on September 18, 2011, at the Kent Town Hall. Joined by Rich Chavka, Associate Head of School, Mr. Vadnais outlined the school’s plan for the use of the 200-acre Arno farm in South Kent that the school purchased in 2010.

The Center will begin by creating environmental studies to restore the health of Hatch Pond and combine academic learning with real world applications. The program will ultimately focus on stewardship of local and global issues of environmental changes.

The farm will become a campus and lab for testing environmental applications while providing a learning experience for the challenges of 21st-century needs.

At the same time it will supply the school with organic food and alternative energy as part of an effort to become more self-sustaining and carbon-neutral by 2020. The mid-18th century farmhouse will be restored to its original condition and used as part of the daily education of the students, offering them a glimpse into the lives of early Connecticut settlers.