Chester Chatter: Town farms were a lifeline during tough times

By Ruthie Douglas
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

In times past, many towns in Vermont supported town farms, also known as poor farms.

This really was a good plan for those folks who had come on hard times. It offered a warm, clean place to live and good food to eat. There were no homeless people living in the outdoors.

The managers of the Bartonsville Town Farm were family friends of ours – Emerson and Josephine Griswold. We spent some time at the farm and knew first-hand how great it was run.

The barn was home to a small herd of dairy cows, chickens and a couple of pigs. And there was a large vegetable garden. Usually there were seven or more men living there and they did the chores, which also helped supply the food for the residents.

There were perhaps seven women who helped with all the inside chores: working in the kitchen, cleaning the house and canning vegetables for the winter months.

They did some sewing and sometimes made a quilt to be sold for pocket money.

It was mostly a cheerful home. I can’t help but think if we could go back in time, it was a better life than living on the streets. The Griswolds made that happen for these folks.


Jack Atwood, formerly of Chester, has died. For some time Jack and his family bought a farm in Craftsbury Common, where they made their home. Jack leaves four children and his brother Phil, who many know.

Our sympathy to Roxanne Carvage on the death of her brother Carl (Buck) Bailey.

Happy birthday to my sister Marie Angel and to Kim Austin.

Several members of American Legion Post 67 attended the Winter Conference in Bennington over the weekend.

Classmates from Springfield High Class of 1959 enjoyed lunch at the Riverside Restaurant. The group meets the last Friday of the month. It seems to pass quickly. As usual, it’s a time to step back in time to when we were young.

Volunteers of the Tax Aide Program of the AARP Foundation will be ready to offer free tax preparation for those 50 and older. The program begins on Feb. 1 at the Chester American Legion Post 67 for Chester folks and will be held on Mondays. Call 802-463-1985 for an appointment.

  • This week’s trivia question:  What Vermont product outsells maple syrup?
  • Answer to last week’s trivia question: The IGA store was located where Phoenix Books/Misty Valley now is.

Street Talk

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Filed Under: Chester ChatterCommunity and Arts Life

About the Author: Ruthie Douglas is originally from Springfield but has called Chester her home for 58 years, and has been writing the Chester Chatter column for more than 40 of those years. Ruthie is also a longtime volunteer throughout the community.

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