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Amanda Matilda [Colburn] Felch

On October 9 and 10 of 2012, JoAnn and I along with our travel mates Sonny and Nancy Smaller were lucky enough to be treated to an in depth tour of the area by Natalie Kinsey, Joan Alexander and also Peggy Day Gibson.  We were there primarily to learn about the location where Amanda Matilda Colburn was born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.   We were lucky enough to get to stay with Joan during our visit. We were also honored to talk with all the students at Glover Elementary and do a presentation the Northeast Kingdom Civil War Roundtable in Newport on the 10th.

On October 9 we first took a tour of Parker Settlement.  This is a community that was developed in the very early 1800s and it was also a location where Amanda would have gone to school and church and would have spent much time with friends and neighbors.  We were guided by Peggy Day Gibson the director of the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington.  Parker Settlement is located along Hinman Road, about a half mile east of Lake Parker.

Peggy Day Gibson explaining Parker Settlement. Peggy on left, Joan Alexander in foreground, Nancy and Sonny Smaller on right.

Peggy Day Gibson explaining Parker Settlement. Peggy on left, Joan Alexander in foreground, Nancy and Sonny Smaller on right.

Parker settlement is located a half mile east of Lake Parker.  Lake Parker was known as Parker Pond until the name was officially changed in 1941, but many people in town still refer to it as Parker Pond.  Amanda and her family lived on the other side of the lake on a hill farm.

Parker Settlement historic map.

Parker Settlement historic map.

We walked through the village and saw the location where the church would have stood that Amanda and her family attended.  I soon learned that although the church was no longer at this location it stands prominently today in West Glover where it was moved to about 1850.  It was rolled on logs while being pulled by oxen and one little girl rode in the church while it was being pulled!

Picture in spring by Joan Alexander of original church location.

Picture in spring by Joan Alexander of original church location. The church was built in 1832 about a year or so before Amanda was born.

We had a special treat at the end of the day and that was to go see Amanda’s church which had been relocated to West Glover.  Of course we had to squeeze in some dinner at the Parker Pie Company which has won national awards for their pizza so I guess we had two special treats!

The church originally built in 1832 in the Parker Settlement was moved by oxen into the village around 1850 and is currently the West Glover Congregational Church in West Glover.  It’s sturdy post and beam construction made this move possible and the concept of moving a building to these Vermonters was not something that out of the ordinary.  We were lucky enough to be allowed inside the church that evening and given a tour by Judy Borrell.   Natalie and Joan had also located information on where Amanda and her family would have sat in that church, in their family box.  This was a very special moment for all of us.  Amanda’s grandfather Ira paid $35 for a middle pew in 1834!

1st Congregational Church in West Glover Vermont

1st Congregational Church in West Glover Vermont. Amanda’s family would have sat in the area to in the right center.

A small sign is visible in the trees to the left where the school stood that Amanda would have attended.   Amanda would have attended school in Parker Settlement also.  Below is the location of that school!

Parker Settlement school Location

Parker Settlement school location. Picture by Joan Alexander in the spring of 2013!

This last winter we were extremely dry in Colorado with little snow pack, apparently all the snow had  arrived in Vermont this last winter which is not that unusual back there.   I asked Natalie about what winter would be like in this part of Vermont when Amanda was growing up and she said”

” They would have had their regular chores, as usual, on a bitter cold day–feeding animals and getting them to water, the brook, and giving the animals extra hay to help stay warm.   Of course, they would have been very USED to bitter cold days, and especially in the mid- to late 1800’s, we were in the midst of a mini ice-age, where temperatures were much colder throughout then, so they would have been even more used to it.  For school, they might have still walked, but Ira Jr. might have taken them down into Parker Settlement by horse and sleigh (with hot potatoes tucked into their mittens, or by their feet), tucked under wool blankets.  On a non-school day, if possible, they would have stayed in-doors, working on indoor type work, like repairing harness, or sewing, or woodwork, or something like that, but Ira might have been out cutting trees down for the next year’s firewood, or to make lumber for building—it’s better to cut trees when it’s cold before the sap starts flowing, as sap, or pitch in spruce and fir really binds up a saw when you’re sawing the lumber.  People did do visiting throughout the winter for supper and music and storytelling when folks weren’t so busy, but they still loved to get-together and avoid cabin fever.  

Hinman Road continues to the south where the West Glover Cemetery is located but we took the easy way via a developed road to get there.  This is the location where Celena S. (Cisco) Colburn was buried after passing away at the age of 27 the same year as the birth of Amanda’s younger brother Henry.  Celana was married to Ira Colburn Jr. who was born back in 1808 and she and Ira had two other children besides Amanda and Henry, Eliza Ann and Ellen Nancy.  Amanda was the eldest of the children being born on November 12 of 1833.

Celana Colburn headstone - West Glover Cemetery

Celena Colburn headstone – West Glover Cemetery. Celena passed away on May 25, 1840.

We would be lucky the next day to visit both the home of Nat and her husband Tom the next day and see first hand the wonders of post and beam construction!

Natalie and friend in her home that she and Tom built!

Natalie and friend in her home that she and Tom built!

We would also be treated to a most amazing discovery by Natalie.  Nat’s parents previously owned a relatively large farm about two miles west of Lake Parker.  It was through some investigative research that  Natalie learned that part of that farm was the location where Amanda and her family lived.   Natalie had been to the site and had determined the location where the home once stood and the nearby stream which provided both water and power.  Ira Junior and Celana lived here on a hill farm along with their four children.

The location where Amanda would have grown up!

The location where Amanda would have grown up!

Here is a second view looking west toward the farm area.

Here is a second view looking west toward the farm area.

looking east toward parker Pond

Looking east toward Parker Pond in the middle of the picture.  The Parker Settlement would have been on the far side of the lake.

Amanda grew as a young lady in the Northeast Kingdom but at the age of 21 she met a young shoemaker by the name of Hiram H Farnham from Haverhill Massachusetts and they were later married on February 18, 1856 in Haverhill.   On April 21, 1857 Albert H (Hiram) Farnham would be born to Amanda and Hiram but their marriage would not last and they would separate.

Note: Three years after this post was written Natalie and Joan Alexander discovered that a second son, Frederick had been born September 2, 1858 and died about a year and a half later on March 9, 1860.  The rest of this rather sad story is now within the Northeast Kingdom – Amanda Colburn chapter

I’ve stood beside Amanda’s grave in Canon City and have been to many of the locations she was at during the Civil War but this was a very special moment seeing where it began in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Little did she know how the Civil War and what was then Colorado would become her future especially considering that Colorado did not even exist as a territory when she was small.

Our visit to the Northeast Kingdom would not be complete without an understanding of the Runaway Pond in a rather disastrous event that took place in 1810.  The story is told in a number of publications including the Glover Historical Society Website and it is important to the community in almost every way.  Amanda would have grown up knowing every detail of this story.

Our trip to Vermont was made extra special through our association with Natalie and Joan.   Joan provided a home for us for two days and treated us like royalty.   She was a gracious host and was wonderfully knowledgeable about the local history, genealogy  and cemeteries.     Natalie for us represented the spirit of what one may think of when they think of someone of Scottish descent who captures the essence of a Vermont pioneer and our lives have improved by getting to know her!

JoAnn and Natalie with one of her two horses that she and Tom have adopted.

JoAnn and Natalie with one of her two horses that she and Tom have adopted.

the clan

Sonny and Nancy Smaller, Joan Alexander, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, JoAnn and Dan Grenard on Joan’s deck!