Edward Gould


With slender, bent form and shuffling, dragging step--- the motion of his body like that of a ship in a high sea, and apparently as insensible to surroundings,--- this queer specimen of humanity was for many years almost daily seen in our streets, to as late a period as 1869.

He was peaceable and inoffensive under great provocations; but when he heard from a crowd of school boys,

"Ed Gould stole a knot hole, a post hole,
and he stole squashes in the blow,"

his anger was aroused to a fearful pitch. He was often shamefully treated and made the subject of ridicule.

The boys, delight­ed to find a vulnerable point in the armor of his good nature, teased and tormented poor Ed. until he often became completely exhausted in vain efforts to punish them for libel and clear up his character.

It was not, we have charity to believe, inten­tional cruelty on the part of the boys, but it was their natural, almost insatiable love of fun that nearly wore out this poor, unfortunate being. The veteran frog, as stated in ancient fable, exactly explained the situation amidst a shower of stones.

Deficient as he was in the qualities needful to command respect, he seldom, if ever, failed to give a correct answer when the question was, "What is the day of the month?" He also gave exercises in sing­ing, yelling and preaching.

If a chair, box or barrel was furnished him for a ros­trum, he never declined when invited to address the few or many. These efforts, it has been said, "were enough to make a colt break his halter."

They were often unintentional burlesques, more character­ized by entertainment than by instruction, yet some gifted men of high intellectual attainments will ever lack the important qualifications--- assurance, energy and earn­estness--- as displayed by Ed. Gould from the last head left in an empty flour barrel.

"The Scolding Wife" was the song best adapted to his operatic abilities--- his high­est accomplishments in vocal music. In the chorus---

"It is her heart's delight
To bang me with a fire shovel
Around the room at night"

a very proper sympathy was excited for the unfortunate husband in this age of female domination.

When the song of "Brave Wolfe" was called for, the whole air and manner of the singer changed. The smacking together of clenched hands, the fire and indignation, in singing the grievances of the unhappy subject of petticoat despotism ceased, and in soft, plaintive tones was heard:

"Love is a diamond ring, long time I've kept it,
'Tis for your sake, my love, if you'll accept it.
And then this gallant youth did cross the ocean,
To free America from her invasion.

The drums did loudly beat, the guns did rattle;
Brave Wolfe lay on his back, "How goes the battle?"
I went to see, my love, 'twas in my favor;
"Oh then," replied brave Wolfe, "I die with pleas­ure."

Then the cannon on our side did roar like thunder,
"And, have yer got eny terbacker with ye?"
"Be yer goin' to use that pipe for a few minutes?"

His Lecture On Millerism.---

"Now my Christian Friends, Rumsellers, Ter backer-chewers and Sabbath-breakers, you don't believe the world will all burn up next year, because you don't want to be­lieve it; and that ain't all, you don't want a stop put to your deviltry.

You are as bad as the folks was more than 40 years ago, when old Noah built his yark. When he told the folks the water was goin' to rise high as Chesterfield mountain and drown 'em all out, they didn't believe it, but they abused him, and made fun of him, and yer see how they got paid for it.

Noah flew round like a house afire after stuff to build his yark. He went to Texas, Hinsdale and Chesterfield to buy lumber. He got some of his best sticks down to Jarro Bur­rows' mill, in Vernon; and farmer Wood with his stags did the teaming for nine-pence a perch.
He got all the nails at Hall's store and paid for 'em in sheep pelts and dried apples.

He hadn't but just got his yark done when the rain come down like pitchforks.

But folks wouldn't be­lieve Noah when the water was knee deep in Main street. Noah see how 'twas, and he opened the door and told 'em they bet­ter git aboard while they could; but they said it wasn't much of a shower, and soon over; then they began to yell and hoot, and the tarnal school boys snow-balled him so he had to go in and shut the door.

But you know it wasn't long afore they wished he would open that door agin and take 'em aboard. This time the fishes will all be killed, and a yark such as Noah had wouldn't do yer any good. Nothin' will save ye now but to believe what I tell you, and being so good, the fire won't burn ye more'n t'will Hinsdale red oak.

We must all stop being sinners. I have been a sinner myself. I stole rum from Hartwell Bills and denied it when they laid it to me. I went to court the Pierce girl and pre­tended all I wanted was a drink of water. I was a lying scamp and I've been sorry for it a good many times, and I shan't do so again next time I see her."

Ed. obtained some of the ideas from which this lecture was constructed by at­tending Millerite meetings at the Chapel on Canal street, in 1842.

One of the preach­ers at the series of meetings held there at that time usually, when commencing his services, took off his coat and cravat. While disrobing himself to his shirtsleeves, he said to the audience,

"Thank God, I know what it is to work for my living. I have laid many rods of stone wall in my day, but I have done with all such work forever. I have but one task before me, and that is of short duration.

I shall never again visit my earthly home, for before I finish the work assigned me, before I can complete the circle marked out for me, the last great day will surely come and all the things in this world will burn up or melt with fervent heat.

This mountain of rocks, now clad in the varied colors of autumnal beauty, will, before another autumn, melt down into the river and kill all the fish. Please to sing,

"You can't stand the fire
In that great day."

In an atmosphere charged with fumes of burning sulphur, a large share of the audi­ence, judging from the sound, kept time with the singing by stamping their feet.

Chipman Swain, Esq., our deputy sheriff, appeared in the sacred desk, on the left side of the preacher, and requested there be no more manifestations of disrespect for the services. He reminded all present of Vermont law, its impartiality in protecting all religious sects, and the penalties for persons who in any manner disturb assem­blies gathered for religious worship.

The tall, commanding form, authority, and very proper remarks of this executive offi­cer prevented, it may be, the riotous oppo­sition or persecution needful for the prosperity of this sect in Brattleboro.

The awfully solemn words of the stone wall preacher fell mostly upon stony ground, and since this event more than thirty times has old Chesterfield mountain put on her annual gala dress, as in days of yore, while upon Ed. devolved the task to keep green the memories of the prophets by his ora­torical efforts in the public streets.

At the conclusion of a lecture on phre­nology, Ed. and "Jess Marsh" were per­suaded to become subjects for examination by the lecturer before the audience. The next morning Ed. said,

"They wouldn't let the phrenologer man tech us 'till they put a hankercher on my face and a hankercher on Jess' face. The phrenologer said we was both fools, but Jess was the biggest fool, 'cause he didn't know it, and I did."

One evening in a crowded meeting house, not very well lighted, Ed. was seated list­ening to a revival sermon from an itinerant minister. Immediately after the ser­mon, an invitation was given to all unconverted persons desiring prayers to occupy the "anxious seat."

The reverend gentle­man, depending upon his sagacity to de­tect mental emotion from appearances, left the pulpit, and by making personal applications, as he moved among the peo­ple, some persons went forward who other­wise would not, probably, have presented themselves.

The serious, humble appear­ing Ed., as he sat with downcast eyes, at­tracted the attention of the vigilant shepherd. "My friend," said the preacher, as he grasped Ed. by the hand, "Is Christ precious to your soul?"

The great, prominent blue eyes of Ed. opened wide with a vacant stare as he replied, "Wal, I dun know; guess it's pretty good plan." The faithful watchman said no more,

"But with a sigh moved slow along."

Henry Burnham, "Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont. With Biographical Sketches of some of its Citizens. (Brattleboro: Published by D. Leonard, 1880), pages 170-172.

[Henry Burnham's reference is to the Aesop fable called "The Boys and the Frogs"---

A troop of boys were playing at the edge of a pond when, perceiving a number of frogs in the water, they began to pelt them with stones. They had already killed many of the poor creatures, when one more hardy than the rest put his head above the water and cried out to them, "Stop your cruel sport, my lads! Consider what is play to you is death to us."]

[Major General James Wolfe was killed at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, at the siege of Quebec, on September 13, 1759.]

[The Adventist preacher from New York, William Miller, predicted the Second Coming for some time during the year following the spring of 1842. The final date was set for October 22, 1844.]

[Edward Gould refers to the Main Street general store owned by Gardner Chandler Hall with "He got all the nails at Hall's store and paid for 'em in sheep pelts and dried apples." The Gardner C. Hall establishment was called "Hall's long building", on the east side of the street.]

[Edward Gould refers to "Jarro Burrows' mill, in Vernon"---

The Vernon Depot was erected by the railroad as part of an agreement with Jarvis F. Burrows, which construction also encouraged the building of a steam sawmill nearby in 1852. Constructed by a company known as Ely, Newkirk & Frink, the mill did an extensive business in clearing up land and manufacturing lumber.]

[Hartwell Bills had a cooper shop on Hudson Street, at the foot of Reed's Hill during 1842-1843. The rum in his shop may have been brought there for storing in casks and hogsheads. He lived with his wife Lucy M. Bills, and his daughter, also named Lucy, on Clark Street.]

[Anthony Van Doorn promoted phrenology in Brattleboro.]


Poor Old Ed Gould is no more: he died on Tuesday last, aged 49 years. Ed was among the most generally known individuals of our town, and will be missed very much.

He had been subject to the jibes and practical jokes of several generations of boys, sometimes amounting to downright cruelty, but we believe he was never known to retaliate in a manner which would have been deemed worthy such treatment, but kept on his way, happy that it was no worse.

Our earnest prayer is that his tormenters may be as happy in the hereafter as we believe the object of their abuse now is.

Vermont Record and Farmer, Friday, February 17, 1871.

[Ed Gould died Tuesday, February 14, 1871 aged forty-nine.]

Another notice in the Vermont Phoenix---

Among the deaths reported this week will be noticed that of poor Ed. Gould, for so many years an "institution" of our village. His disease was consumption.

The United States Census for 1850 Brattleboro gives the name as Edward Gould, 26 years old, but the 1860 Census gives---

Edwin Gould 36 cow driver born Vt idiotic


Iron Fountain For Man, Horse, And Dog, June 24, 1882, Estey Guard Parade.jpg

Parade On Main Street, June 24, 1872

Octagonal Iron Fountain At High Street

Three Separate Bowls For People, Horses, Dogs

Water Flows From The Lion's And Dogs' Heads Decorations

This fountain, with its new iron tank, was set in place during July 1872, after the former law office, express office, and billiard room on this corner had been removed. This iron fountain eventually failed, as indicated by these Vermont Phoenix comments---

That drinking fountain has been in position at the corner of Main and High streets for some days, and seems to be pretty well patronized. If it would only run ice water!

There is at present no public drinking fountain or other watering place, in the village of Brattleboro, where man or beast can get a drink of water, and for this reason a good many inquisitive people are asking why the fluid isn't drizzling through the dogs' noses in that cast iron concern on the corner of Main and High streets. They say they have spoken to the proper authorities about the matter, but it didn't do any thing. Perhaps they didn't speak loud enough.

That fountain on the corner of Main and High streets still refuses to drizzle. Humanity won't mind it much while whiskey is cheap and plenty, but it is rather rough on the dogs and horses.

For the benefit of strangers and young persons we are requested to state that that uncommon looking thing on the corner of Main and High streets was originally intended for a drinking fountain. Its use for that purpose having become obsolete, we presume it will, in due time, be recast into a monument to commemorate the discovery and former use of water as a beverage.

These quotes are from the August 2, 1872, June 4, 1875, June 18, 1875, and June 25, 1875 issues of the Vermont Phoenix. A runaway horse accident in early November 1874 left the iron fountain "out of perpendicular".

The distinctive lion's head on this iron fountain was reproduced twenty years later, in 1890, for the Wells Fountain. The architect William Rutherford Mead honored a fond memory from his youth with an echo from the old iron lion, in the new fountain's rose marble lion's head.

Wells Fountain.jpg

Wells Fountain In 1905

Edward Gould referred to the "tarnal school boys", that is, 'tarnal, or eternal boys, the street urchins that also tormented Fred "Barber" Green and Eliphaz "Old Blind" Johnson to distraction, and eventually to belated public condemnation.

Here are the thirsty urchins seen by the iron fountain, some years after Edward Gould had finally escaped them. Street urchins were usually passed over in polite silence, or praised for playing Elliot Street mud billiards, that is, marbles, or some such innocence.

But when the urchins "attempted a circus", they were almost always ignored. One notable exception concerned the street childrens' fad for shooting robins on Elliot Street.

Wells Fountain, Girl, Putney Road.jpg

Wells Fountain With Lion Head

Girl Pulling At Long White Cotton Glove


The Scolding Wife

Well I came into a scolding wife a few short years ago
And ever since I lead a life of misery and woe
My wife she is a tyrant around the room and inn
I should sell her to the devil for a glass or two of gin

Sure I'll get up and go to work as mild as any man
And she'll get up and dress herself and go and have her dram
I never chance to say a word, it's well I know my due
She'll follow me with the fire shovel up and down the room

And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again
And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
Though I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again

When I get up at breakfast time she'll tap me on the head
when I come home at dinner time I'll find her drunk in bed
When I come home at supper time at patience I must stop
'Cause she drinks what's in the teapot and I must drink the slop

And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again
And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
Though I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again

Well one I asked me scolding wife if I could go to bed
She scarce gave me and hour on the pillow to lay my head
When like a roarin' lion she came bustin' down the door
She caught me by the middle and threw me naked on the floor

And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again
And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
Though I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again

Now me and my companions go to a public place
She'll search around the neighborhood until she finds my face
She'll hoist me up in ridicule before the company
Saying', "Petticoats is your master and forever more shall be!"

And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again
And if the devil would take her I'd thank him for his pain
Though I swear to God I'll hang myself if I get married again





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