Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery

Sarah Culy Wife Of Hezekiah Died December 17,1854 Aged 34 Asylum Cemetery.jpg

Sarah Culy
Wife of
Hezekiah Culy
Dec. 17, 1854.
AE. 34

The eye of him that hath seen me shall
come no more. Why hast thou set in
me a mark against thee so that I am a
burden to myself? and why dost thee not
pardon my transgression and take away
mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the
dust and thou shalt seek me in the
morning, but I shall not be.

Sarah Culy Died 17 December 1854, Book Of Job Epitaph, Asylum Cemetery.jpg

Sarah Culy wrote her own epitaph, perhaps while finding some consolation in several different verses in the seventh chapter of the Book Of Job. Her gravestone was cut from soapstone---not a common practice in Windham County. Soapstone was mined in the Cambridgeport part of Athens, Vermont.

Sarah Culy's monument was severely defaced by vandals who coated it with a corrosive white powder that hopelessly stained and defaced it. This was not a simple act of carelessness, as reported. This stone had marked Sarah's grave for one hundred fifty-seven years. It is not now standing in its original place, following "restoration".

Vermont State law had made belated burials in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery illegal at this time, and an illegal recent burial apparently started these courses of vandalism. All the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery stones were removed for some time, after which the stones were returned, but not to their proper places.

Brattleboro individuals and one group promoted this cemetery as a "spooky nature walk", fit only for fright fantasies at Halloween, and for shooting horror videos, complete with irresponsible promotion which quite possilbly contributed to the destruction.

This cemetery is yet another victim of the unspoken but official, politically correct agenda that has proved to be so destrucive to so many Brattleboro places of beauty and historic value--- especially through "vandalization through restoration".

The damaging of parks, monuments, cemeteries, town records, traditions, old newspapers, antiques, the Hezekiah Salisbury house that is now reduced to a hallmark auto junkyard---the rampant pillaging by the officially recognized history "caretakers" at the local "historical society" and the main library has permanently damaged Brattleboro.

All cemeteries in town jurisdiction are now considered to be unsustainable properties, fit only for "benign destruction" by neglect. The removal of protective fencing and the policy of creating, in effect, a recreational park in the Prospect Hill Cemetery, encourages unleashed dogs, skateboarding, impromptu soccer games, picnic refuse, and used needles. All this is in the name of caring "more for the living than for the dead"



Henry C. Dawson

Private Henry C. Dawson was born on January 19, 1842 in Wallingford, Vermont, and served with the 10th Vermont Infantry, Co. "E", after mustering in on September 1, 1862. He was wounded at Petersburg on April 2, 1865 and mustered out on June 22, 1865.

Henry Dawson died on August 17, 1906 and is the only known Civil War soldier to be buried in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery.

After a hundred years
Nobody knows the place,--
Agony, that enacted there,
Motionless as peace.

Weeds triumphant ranged,
Strangers strolled and spelled
At the lone orthography
Of the elder dead.

Winds of summer fields
Recollect the way,--
Instinct picking up the key
Dropped by memory

Private Cephas V. Peck was also buried here on May 12, 1872, who served in the 5th New Hampshire Infantry, Company H from his enlistment on December 5, 1863 until his discharge for disability on February 18, 1864 at Port Lookout, Maryland.

Vermont Civil War soldiers buried here also include Stillman Bacon, Sullivan R. Church, and Hiram M. Marshall. Photographs for these soldiers are available at


Miss Sylvia B. Hall, Vermont Asylum For The Insane.jpg

This letter envelope was addressed to "Miss Sylvie Hall" at the Asylum, "In Great Hall", and posted on November 29 from Marlboro, Vermont. Sylvia B. Hall was in residence at the Vermont Asylum For The Insane until her death by dysentery on August 13, 1859, at age forty-three.

The handwriting is carefully ornamental. The reverse of this envelope indicates that the letter passed through the hands of Mrs. Lucien Thayer, and Mrs. H. F. Jennison---

Miss Sylvia B. Hall, Letter Envelope.jpg



The gravestones in this photograph include the names---

Bathsheba Benton, Mary Brown, Apptah Cornett, Sarah Culy, Henry C. Dawson, Julia Ann Denniston, Rebekah Fuller Drown, Silas French, Welcome Fuller, John Graham, Thomas Welles Hale, Abram N. Horton, Ann Jessups, Caroline Gordon Jones, Susan Leach, Mary Ann Litchfield, Othniel Looker, Maria McDonald, Misella Mears, Michael Merwin, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Schaffer Moss, Moses Palmer, John Paul, Nathaniel Perrin, Ann F. Perry, Peter Jas Quinlan, Samuel S. Seymour, Abby C. Smith, Franklin Strong, Sarah Tebedo, Jonathan T. Throup, John W. Tomson, Charles Clinton Treat, Gilbert J. Wanzer, Zenas C. Ward, Nancy Warner, ______ Wheeler.

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery, March 23, 2006.jpg


Charles Spaulding

Mr. Gilman
was kill'd with an ax
by an insane Brother,
Sept. 19, 1842
Aet. 38

The Vermont Phoenix for September 23, 1842 recorded this affair of a Sunday morning---

Melancholy Occurrence.--- Mr. Charles Spaulding of New Ipswich, N. H. who has been insane for the last few years, wandered from his home a short time since and came to Windham in this State. On the 20th inst. he was found by his brother, who was about to take him home.

In the mean time the insane man slyly took an axe unnoticed by his brother, knocked him down, and then struck him several times with the axe, which wounded him so that he survived but a short time.

The insane man was immediately taken and placed in the jail in this County. He now appears to be wholly unconcerned, says he is glad that he killed him and intends to kill another brother and a sister.

From the Newfane jail, Charles Spaulding was taken to the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, where he remained until some time after 1847. He was buried in the asylum cemetery in Tier 3.

Gilman survived the attack in the shed for only two hours. He was buried in the Central Cemetery in New Ipswich, Hillsboro County, New Hampshire. Gilman and Charles were born about 1804 and 1806 respectively, the sons of Stephen Spaulding and Lucy Farnsworth. The brothers were both unmarried.


Margaret Barney, Died January 27, 1866, Aged 22, Tuberculosis, Portrait By Caleb L. Howe.jpg

Margaret Barney was buried in the Vermont Asylum Cemetery. She died of tuberculosis on January 27, 1866 when she was twenty-two. This portrait was taken at the Union Block studio of Caleb L. Howe.



Burial Basket, Vermont Asylum For The Insane, Brattleboro

Wicker Washed With Light Blue Paint


The Vermont Asylum For The Insane In 1854

Garden Plots In Distance

This photograph was most likely taken by Caleb Lysander Howe. He placed his camera just north from the former site of the Church on the Common. Howe's image closely resembles a well-known engraving made in the same year. The level plain in front of the main building contains several vegetable plots.

The horizontal, light band seen in the foreground is not a lane or pathway, but the northern edge of the completely barren, sandy plain that was the Common until it was seeded with grass and otherwise greatly improved in 1857.

This is the view that Sarah Culy knew in her final year.

View West From Brattleboro Common, Lithograph After Photograph By Caleb L. Howe, Published 1861.jpg

View West From Brattleboro Common

Caleb L. Howe Photograph, Attributed To 1854

Lithograph By Fred Meyer & Co., N. Y. 1861

Lithograph 1861 After Caleb L. Howe Photograph In Detail, Vermont Asylum For The Insane, Gardens.jpg

Asylum Gardens

Vermont Asylum For The Insane, After Caleb L. Howe Photograph.jpg


John H. Bufford Lithograph - May 1856 - John L. Lovell Ambrotype

Bradley Farm, Asylum Cemetery Woods, North Main Street, Asa Keyes House


Dr. Joseph Draper

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery, June 2015, South Part.jpg

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery, Granite Posts.jpg

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery, Looking North.jpg

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery.jpg

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery, Summer.jpg

Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery, Nathaniel Perrin Gravestone.jpg

Nathaniel Perrin (1820-1850)

Son of Nathaniel Perrin and Joanna Gaines of Royalton, Vermont.

Franklin Strong, Died February 5, 1853.jpg

Thomas Welles, Gravestone, Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery.jpg

Thomas Welles

Abram N. Horton, Died January 7,1855, Aged 32.jpg

He sleeps far from home & in a strange land.

Photograph Courtesy Of Cynthia Kaley

Sarah Culy Gravestone, Asylum Cemetery.jpg

While Cynthia Kaley was resident in Brattleboro, she took photographs of all the remaining gravetones in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery on March 23, 2006. The photographs taken that early spring day, record accurately---for the first time---the complete stone inscriptions. They are seen here---

Cynthia Kaley's March 23, 2006 Photographs In The Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery


They stole a statue, a two-foot leaden figure of a boy, from a fountain on the grounds of the Brattleboro Retreat. They stole cemetery urns.

They scaled local barns and steeples in pursuit of weathervanes, which, in the mid 1970s, had become valuable collector's items and could fetch high prices from antique dealers. They took a peacock weathervane valued at several hundred dollars from a Retreat building.

They took a prized ox weathervane from the George Thomas farm on Putney Road. And on September 9 1974, they stole "The Spirit of Life."

Martha M. Moravec, "Consolations of History; Casual Glimpses Into Brattleboro's Past" column in Vermont View Magazine.







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