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Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Joan Alexander began some historical research contacting local historians and gathering information about Marshall and Amanda Felch in advance of our trip to New England.  JoAnn and I were coming up from Brattleboro in the morning of the 5th of October, 2012 and found our way to Dartmouth and then began seeking out the Rauner Special Collections Library which we found with the help of our GPS unit!   We knew Nat and Joan would already be there so we began our search and we’re soon rewarded when we found them hard at work in the library going through records.

Rauner Special Collections Library

Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College

Joan and Nat learned that the Felch family worked extensively for Alvah Bean, a prominent businessman in the West Fairlee area before the Civil War.  They  learned that Alvah was the town clerk for a period of time in West Fairlee and that he kept a “diary” noting important local information  Excerpts from diaries of Alvah Bean,were collected on that day and later transcribed.   Most of the diary entries are from the 1859 and 1860 time period which is a key time period in Marshall’s life.

Within the diary, Marshall’s father Parker  is mentioned numerous times working as a wagon driver for Alvah with a large part of the cargo being shoes.  Some of the places that shoes were delivered to included some of the nearby mines, Bradford, Corinth,  and Hanover (location of Dartmouth College). These are copper mines in the Corinth, Vershire, and Strafford areas of orange county and these mines would play a crucial role in the Civil War supplying copper for the war effort.  Below is a map of the area we are talking about.

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Also mentioned in many locations of the diary is Marshall’s older brother George who would later die at the notorious Andersonville Prison in 1865 after serving with the New Hampshire 7th and for a period of time with the 54th Massachusetts infantry. Other members of the Felch Family that are mentioned include Henry who was Marshall’s younger brother, someone who would eventually spend time in Canon City and participate in fossil discoveries.  Additionally Marshall’s younger sister Ida is mentioned as someone who apparently was not a good employee and was essentially dismissed and sent home by Alvah one day!

On an inventory list on the back of the diary (that my wife Joann noticed)  there is a mention of both Amos Whitney Eastman (Carrie Eastman Felch’s father) and J. J. Eastman who were identified as people Alvah had lent money to.   Also noted in the diary is a J.G. Eastman who is mentioned numerous times, an apparent relative of Carrie and Amos.

The diary notes on January 27 of 1860 that “Marshall has gone to be married” but there is no mention that he married Carrie Eastman or that they had a daughter born on April 20 of 1860 or that Carrie passed away on the 27th of April.  The diary does note that Marshall and his wife [Carrie] did have supper with him on the 19th of April which would have been the night before their daughter was born.

While they were slaving away they sent me on a special mission to the Evans Map Library located on the second floor of the main library building, just north of the Rauneer Special Collections Library.

Joan, Dan, and Natalie in the Evans Map Room

Joan, Dan, and Natalie in the Evans Map Room

 

I was there looking for historic maps of “Marshall and Carrie’s neighborhood including Thetford, West Fairlee, Strafford, Post Mills, Bradford, and Piermont noting the first three locations are in Vermont and the last three locations are in New Hampshire.  I had some great library help there and after Nat, Joan, and JoAnn joined me we were soon  all going through an 1877 Atlas of the area and I began taking pictures of the places we were going to visit.

Historic West Fairlee

Historic West Fairlee. location of Alvah Bean’s house noted with arrow along with town cemetery

 

Earlier during Joan and Nat’s research efforts and through an interesting coincidence, Natalie came across historic pictures of the house that Alvah owned.  The picture was actually found at the Bailey-Howe Library which is part of  University of Vermont in Burlington with some help from Nat’s husband Tom!  It was noted in Alvah’s diary that Marshall regularly boarded there.   It would be amazing to find this house in tact.

We headed into West Fairlee and it was only a matter of minutes before we found the house and this was definately one of those “WOW” moments if your into getting a feeling of knowing someone who lived long ago.

 

Alvah Bean house

The roof lines, windows, doors, and chimney locations all lined up perfectly!

Nat, Joan, and JoAnn were soon getting acquainted with the neighbors and we were all soon fast friends, all except for rather nasty dog who bit JoAnn during our expedition.   We learned from another neighbor that several homes and businesses burned down in the 1800’s and this is one of the few that survived.

Alvah Bean's Home

Nat, Joan, and JoAnn on the front porch of Alvah Bean’s house in West Fairlee with the owner who lived behind the house in a mobile home.

Our next stop in West Fairlee was the town cemetery.  This cemetery was not obvious but had been previously located by Nat and Joan who came up a few days earlier to survey the territory.   You can also see it on the West Fairlee Map shown earlier in this post.

We were hoping to find the grave of Carrie (Eastman) Felch but no such luck and our search for a headstone for her in the overall area was never successful.  We did find some other Eastman family members though and of course Alvah Bean who had a most prominent stone!

West Fairlee Cemetery

JoAnn, Natalie, Joan and Dan standing in front of Alvah Bean’s cemetery stone in the West Fairlee Cemetery.

One of the other quirky things about West Fairlee is it was not the first time JoAnn and I had been there.  A few years ago on our first trip through Vermont we swung through this part of the state, partially on a quick look to see locations where Marshall may have been but certainly not what could be called a research trip.   We needed gas and stopped at the Eastman garage just up the street from Alvah’s house.  This is Vermont and this gas station did not take credit cards, only cash but of course they were friendly and helpful.   We learned on our current 2012 trip that the owner of the garage had recently passed away and that the owner was one of the descendants of the family Carrie was from.   We didn’t make the connection before.

A few miles from here is where JoAnn and I bought some Vermont maple syrup on our 2009 trip.  We stopped at a location on the road where a sign indicated they were selling syrup and pumpkins and things like that.  Best of all when you drove up, you simply could pick out the item you wanted off a table and leave the money in a jar!  What a great place!   Of course JoAnn wanted to talk to the farmer at great length so I didn’t get away so easily!

Maple syrup "farmer!" and JoAnn in the fall of 2009

Maple syrup “farmer” and JoAnn in the fall of 2009.

I’m doing two other posts related to Marshall in Vermont.  One is the post on shoemakers in Vermont with a focus on Old Sturbridge Massachusetts and a final post dealing with the general area including Post Mills, Thetford, Strafford, Bradford, and near Piermont which was the location Marshall grew up on.

One last picture from this area I took in the fall of 2009 when the colors were just outstanding.

Hill Country of Vermont

Hill Country of Vermont