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Books about Plymouth, Vermont



Genealogy

Early settlers of Plymouth, Vermont, including their genealogical records,
by Blanche Brown Bryant and Gertrude Elaine Baker. Published in 1975 by the William L. Bryant Foundation of Springfield, Vermont.
Originally published in 1967 as Genealogical records of the founders and early settlers of Plymouth, Vermont. So that you can see if families you are interested in are included in this book, I have posted the Table of Contents.
I DO NOT HAVE A COPY OF THIS BOOK (wish I could afford it). If anyone who does would be willing to do lookups for other Plymouth researchers, please let me know!

The Progenitors and Descendents of Thomas Page Brown and Sarah (Sally) Parker Brown,by Blanche Brown Bryant. Published in 1938 by the author, in Springfield, Vermont.

And a sequel by the same author:
A Record of the Descendents of James Smith Brown and Polly (Maria) Taylor Brown.
Published in 1962 by the author in Tangerine, FL.


Families of Cavendish: the early settlers of the Black River Valley in Windsor County, Vermont : a social and genealogical history,3 volumes, compiled by Linda Margaret Farr Welch with assistance from Carmine Guica; edited and indexed by Barbara Kingsbury. Published [1995] by the Cavendish Historical Society, Cavendish, Vermont.
Despite the Cavendish title, these books include a great deal of information about families of neighboring towns as well - including Plymouth. I have found Linda's work very helpful in my research. These books are available for sale from the Cavendish Historical Society, P.O. Box 110, Cavendish, VT 05142.


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History and Tourism

Plymouth Kingdom and Plymouth Five Corners: A study of Social and Historical Patterns in Two Nineteenth Century Vermont Settlements
Compiled September-December 1970 by students of the Vermont Off-Campus Study Program [of Earlham College]. Unpublished. 77 pages typescript. Copies exist in the University of Vermont Library, and the Earlham College Library - perhaps the Ottaquechee Regional Planning Commission would also have a copy.
The research, done at the suggestion of the Ottaquechee Regional Planning Commission, was a project for a sociology course taught by John Hunter of Woodstock, Vermont. The purpose of the project was to attempt to discover what factors caused people to settle in Five Corners and Plymouth Kingdom, what kind of life they led, why they eventually left these villages, and finally, what these areas would be best suited for in the future.
....Interviews with local residents figured predominantly in accumulating important information.... Other important resources were local histories, diaries, town records, and genealogies.
Quite a few books have been written about Plymouth as the hometown of Calvin Coolidge. Many of these have more to do with the Coolidge family than with the town as a whole, but some are helpful in describing the town, its people, and their lives. Both the University of Vermont and Middlebury College libraries have good collections - take a look in their catalogs. Many of these are in the collection of the Library of Congress.. The list below is not an exhaustive one, just the items I have been able to look at so far, with those I have found more useful listed first. Let me know what YOU find useful in your research!

Vermont Explained by a Typical Vermont Village, Which is to Say Plymouth,
by John Cotton Dana.
Published in 1925 by the Elm Tree Press, Woodstock, Vermont. 52 pages.
This is a booklet written for tourists who were coming to visit Plymouth as the home of Presicent Calvin Coolidge. "It explains Vermont, tells how its people came to be of the quality they are; of a quality that makes more than an average share of them leaders of their fellows in all lines." The author is a native of the nearby town of Woodstock, and includes at the end of the booklet a photo of the building where his Elm Tree Press is located, which he says was built by his grandfather Charles Dana in 1820 as a country store. The first few pages of the booklet give general history of the state, with some reference to Plymouth but no specific local history. The bulk of the booklet is photos of the village of Plymouth Notch with captions describing life there, and the Coolidge family. There are a few photos of Calvin Coolidge, a reproduction of his signature, a map of the town as well as one of the state, and - to encourage tourists to Plymouth to extend their stay, some of neighboring towns. The caption accompanying the state map contains a paean to the state's dirt roads as "ideal for motoring." And of Plymouth, Dana writes, "The 'Abandoned Farms' of Vermont are here found at their best" - making a tourist attraction of what most at that time still considered a tragedy painfully close to home.


Return to These Hills: the Vermont Years of Calvin Coolidge,
by Jane & Will Curtis and Frank Lieberman.
Published in 1985 by Curtis-Lieberman Books of Woodstock, Vermont. 96 pages.
Although it is primarily about Calvin and the Coolidge family, this book gives a lot of flavor of life in Plymouth Notch in the late 19th and early-mid 20th centuries (including some good photographs).
For instance: the nearest railway station was at Ludlow, but "a stage ran through the village twice daily on a round trip from Bridgewater to Ludlow. The one way fare was seventy-five cents, not cheap considering wage rates." The village of Five Corners, however, was much more isolated, and apt to be completely cut off in winter.


The Boyhood Days of President Calvin Coolidge, or, From the Green Mountains to the White House,
by Ernest C. Carpenter.
Published in 1926 by The Tuttle Company of Rutland, Vermont. 192 pages. (First edition published 1925.)
The book describes the town and gives some brief history. There is a chapter of anecdotes about some of the people of Plymouth in the 1880s, then chapters on 'the farming of that day,' 'Vermont maple sugar,' 'gold and iron mining in Plymouth,' 'Plymouth parties and amusements,' 'district school education,' 'rural politics,' 'religion in Plymouth,' and 'sickness and death.' The book also includes a number of Daniel L. Cady's poems about rural Vermont life.
The aim of this book is very modest. It is not a history of Plymouth, Vermont, nor a biography of President Coolidge.... Its sole purpose is to picture truthfully the people and customs of the town of the Presdent's birth in the 70s and 80s when Mr. Coolidge was passing through his childhood and youth.
The writer was born in Plymouth and lived there for twenty years, and has been a frequent visitor to the town since. At one time he taught the ungraded district school at the "Notch" when Calvin Coolidge and his sister, Abigail, were among the pupils.... Whatever virtues the book may lack, it possesses this one, that the things written about are not hearsay but first-hand knowledge.

Calvin Coolidge's Plymouth, Vermont,
by J. R. Greene.
Published in 1997 by Arcadia of Dover, New Hampshire.
"This book is meant to convey a pictorial record of the town of Plymouth, Vermont." Following a brief two-page history of the town, the book is divided into three sections, all photos with brief captions: "Plymouth Outside the Notch," "Plymouth Notch," & "Calvin Coolidge in Plymouth."
There is a photo of the horse-drawn stage which passed through Plymouth Union on the way from Ludlow to Woodstock (a five-hour trip one way). Both those towns had rail stations, and the stage often brought summer visitors. After World War I a truck replaced the horse-drawn stage which had delivered the mail to the Notch store & post office, but it was still called the "stage." One winter they tried putting skis on the front in place of the wheels, but the truck kept sliding into ditches, so they then replaced the rear wheels with tractor wheels, which handled the snow better.


Growing Up in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, 1872-1895:The Boyhood of Calvin Coolidge,
a mini-biography by Sally Thompson.
Published for the Coolidge Centennial, 1972, by The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Woodstock Vermont, "for school children". 8 pages.
Although brief, this little biography gives a good picture of the Coolidge family farm, the district school, and something of community life in the village; much of this is quoted from Coolidge, presumably from his autobiography.
"The farm year began about the first of April with the opening of the maple-sugar season.... After that the fences had to be repaired where they had been broken down by the snow, the cattle turned out to pasture, and the spring planting done. Then came sheep-shearing time, which was followed by getting in the hay, harvesting and threshing of the grain, cutting and husking the corn, digging the potatoes, and picking the apples. Just before Thanksgiving the poultry had to be dressed for market, and a little later the fattened hogs were butchered, and the meat salted down. Early in the winter a beef creature was slaughtered. "We had husking bees, apple-paring bees, and singing schools in the winter. There were partieds for the young folks and an occasional dramatic exhibition by local talent. Not far away there were some public dances....
"Sometime during the summer we usually went to the circus.... In the autumn we visited the county fair."


Calvin Coolidge: from the Farm to the White House,
by H. L. Moore.
Published 1935 in Plymouth, Vermont. 19 pages.
According to the J.R. Greene book above (which includes a photo of Mr. Moore on the porch of the Plymouth Notch store), Herbert L. Moore was "an unofficial greeter at the village from the 1920s to the 1940s.... and served the town as a state representative." This is a short booklet produced for tourists; it does not say much about the town in general.


Plymouth, Vermont, birthplace of President Coolidge; photo-gravures.
Published in 1925 by G. E. Chalmers of Rutland, Vermont.
This little booklet contains mostly photos of Calvin Coolidge, including many of him at farm work, plus some pictures of the village of Plymouth Notch.


A Ballad of Plymouth Town: rhymes of old and new Vermont,
by Karl A. Pember.
Published in 1925 by The Elm Tree Press of Woodstock, Vermont. 14 pages.
A poem celebrating the election of the small town's native son as President, written by a Plymouth resident.


The Library of Congress also has in their collection a film "Visitin' round at Coolidge Corners," produced by Pathe News in 1924. It can be viewed online or downloaded. There are two parts, the first just over two minutes, the second just shy of four.
Diaries of Sally & Pamela Brown, 1832-1838 - Hyde Leslie 1887, Plymouth Notch, Vermont,
edited by Blanche Brown Bryant and Gertrude Elaine Baker.
Published in 1970 by the William L. Bryant Foundation of Springfield, Vermont.
Sally & Pamela Brown were second and sixth of eleven children of Thomas Page Brown and Sally Parker Brown. They were born respectively in 1807 and 1816. Sally began the diary in 1832; it was later continued by her sister. The second diary is that kept by Hyde Leslie, who was a hired man on the Brown family farm in 1887 (and my great-uncle). The entries are short, describing briefly what they did that day, visitors who came to call, and bits of local news.


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"Making of America" is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Both the University of Michigan and Cornell University are part of this project, and they each have the materials from their own collections posted at their websites. Cornell's so far contains many old periodicals; the University of Michigan's contains several thousand books and many journal articles.
Here are a few sources which mention Plymouth, results of a search in the University of Michigan collection for Vermont + Plymouth+ Windsor County (after weeding out those matches which merely mention Plymouth as a neighboring town, or which are references to Plymouth, Massachusetts):

History of Vermont, natural, civil, and statistical, by Thompson, Zadock, 1796-1856. Published 1842. Contains brief histories & descriptions of each town in the state. The entry for Plymouth, on pages 140-2, includes a listing of its churches at that time, and a description of the recently established operations of Tyson Furnace.

Catalogue of the principal officers of Vermont, as connected with its political history, from 1778 to 1851, with some biographical notices, &c., by Leonard Deming, 1787-1853. Published 1851. Town listings in the Gazetteer (Part III) include the names of the first settlers, early town clerks, & first representatives. The listing for Plymouth is on pages 171-2.

And, one interesting tidbit from another part of the county altogether: History of the early settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois. "Centennial record." By John Carroll Power, 1819-1894, assisted by his wife, Mrs. S. A. Power. Published under the auspices of the Old Settlers' Society, 1876. On page 769 begins this biography: "WILLIAMS, ELIAS, born Feb 27, 1770, near Clarendon, Vermont, was married in that state to Mary Boynton, who was born July 19, 1773, at Plymouth,Windsor county, Vermont...."


In locating used and out-of-print books I have found the Advanced Book Exchange helpful - it is a network of used book sellers. And, of course, interlibrary loan is a wonderful thing - get to know your local librarian.


This site maintained by Nancy Wygant of Philadelphia, PA. Last updated 5 June 2013.

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