I grew up in a small New England country town where there were more dairy cows than people. Population 3,000 in 1955. 5,700 cows. A New England town is small, tidy, old and most of our dairy pastures were outlined with stone walls. My town was established in 1659 exactly 200 years before Boulder. It had a main street lined with colonial homes. Near the Mayflower Inn was a large field where Washington’s Amry had a winter encampment. George Washington himself spent the winter at the May Flower.
I grew up about a mile outside of town on West Main street or rural route 47 also known as Washington road. General Washington’s army marched down our road and had maneuvers across the street from my house.
Sitting way back in the field was a big green house. It was accessible by Linden Lane and sat by itself though now it was surrounded by some post war homes. The Webster brothers all confirmed bachelors lived there. Fred was 82 born 1873 Jim 78 born 1877 and George 63 born 1892 had lived in the house since birth. They were Yankees all. Their ancestors had fought with the blue coats against the crown. George was the only one who could read or write. He had been in WWI and fought in France. The other two brothers had not traveled further than 50 miles from our town. They had never been to Boston nor New York. They didn’t have running water, electricity or insulation on their walls. Their wooden floors were unvarnished and rough. In the kitchen was a wooden cook stove. The living room had a big pot belly stove.
Outside the back door was a hand well pump for water. Further from the house was an outhouse. They had oil lamps for light, and no motor vehicle. It wouldn’t have done them any good because none of them could drive. They had an old horse but it died several years before. So they walked or peddled a bike as did many of my 19th century neighbors.
The Webster brothers were the local grave diggers. They actually dug graves by hand with a pick and shovel.
Not far from my house was the local cemetery which had graves 100′s of years old. The Websters were the care takers. I used to see them every day on my way to school. They smelled bad too since they didn’t bath much. They all wore blue denim work shirts and dungarees and those funny old flat caps that you see in turn of the century photos. They also smoked corn cob pipes.
They kept to themselves mostly but whenever I or my friends talked to them they were always friendly. They spoke in thick country accents so it was hard to understand them. But on some summer evenings we would go over to visit them , sit outside and they would spin yarns of life in the country back in the old days. (the late 1800s and early 1900s)
One such tale was a story of “green rabbits” which lived in the near by fields and only came out at night. At nine years old I believed every word of it , but I never did get a glimpse of “them green rabbits”. But according to the story they ate from the Websters garden at night and had very big paws.
The Websters were the last of a New England long gone to me. They were simple 19 century men living their days in the mid 20th century and they didn’t see any reason to join.
Tags: blue coats, civil war, Connecticut, Continental army, history, Inn, linden road, Mayflower hotel, mitchel school, revolutionary war, webster brothers, Woodbury, woodbury cemetary, Woodbury connecticut