William Gould

William Gould's Pumps And Lead Pipe, September 20, 1843.jpg

From The Vermont Phoenix

Tin-Lined Lead Pipe

Governor of Vermont Levi K. Fuller rendered this tribute to William Gould in his paper, "Vermont in a Century of Invention", read to the Professional Club on Monday evening, March 20, 1893---

William Gould of Brattleboro was a man of peculiar fertility of mind in matters connected with water works and plumbing appliances. While he made several other intventions, his greatest was that for making lead pipe, and lead pipe with tin lining. This occurred between 1840 and 1850. The machine was finally sold for old iron, though parts of it are still in existence. Although both these inventions involved interests representing immense sums of money, they never came to general public notice, and it is believed that Mr. Gould's idea was seized upon and developed by two strangers who were introduced to him by a Brattleboro friend.

Brattleboro Reformer, March 24, 1893.

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Levi K. Fuller


Before his work with melodeons and cottage organs, Jacob Estey made a fortune in the manufacture of lead pipes for the Brattleboro water supply. Jacob Estey's competitor in lead pipe was William Gould.

When it became widely known that lead from the pipes in the drinking water was not healthy, efforts were made to solve this problem. Hence the tin lining---and two men of conscience.


Death Of Wm. Gould

This event, for which the community will not be wholly unprepared, occurred last night at his home, to which he has been mostly confined during the winter from a progressive paralysis. It is probably safe to say no citizen of Brattleboro was more universally known than he, and none would be more generally missed, both by reason of his marked individuality and his useful and indispensable calling, which he pursued unremittingly for more than fifty years. He was a native of this town, having been born in Centreville Nov. 18th, 1814, and with the exception of three years, when a boy, in which he lived with an uncle at Bellows Falls, he has always been a resident of Brattleboro. At 15 years of age he hired the small house at the corner of North Main and North streets, and there made a home for his mother (previously a charge upon the town), and subsequently for his brother, and cared for both while they lived, having himself no resources save his daily labor. He was three times married. A son and daughter by his first wife are now living in Massachusetts. He married his last wife, Widow Emily Franklin, Jan. 13th, 1848. She and a son of theirs survive him in this place.

In some respects Mr. Gould was a remarkable man. He was of an inventive, mechanical turn of mind, and seemed to take up intuitively the principles of hydraulics, which he applied successfully in the practice of his calling--that of a practical plumber. To this trade, as such, he never served an apprenticeship, but became, by reason of his natural ingenuity, a skillful and thorough workman. For many years he was much employed by the Vermont and Massachusetts railroad company, also the Connecticut River and Valley railroads, in constructing their station water works, and overcoming hydraulic difficulties, for which he had a special genius. During the war he was employed to construct the works for the supply of water to the United States hospital, located here, which he did, greatly to the satisfaction of the Government authorities, by means of a water ram.

But he will nowhere be more missed than at the Asylum for the Insane at this place, where for forty-five years he has had sole charge of all the hydraulic work and plumbing in detail. Here to-day may be seen to best advantage his practical work, not only in all the thirty-one water closets and bath rooms of that establishment, but in all the aqueduct connections with reservoir and distributing tanks included in its system of works.

His service at the asylum dates from the year 1841 and has been continuous to the present year. The commencement of his work is connected with an incident he was in his later years fond of relating. The main buildings of this institution were commenced by the erection of the centre and one wing west, in 1838. A plumber from Worcester, Mass., was then employed. In 1841 the first wing east of the centre was erected. This enlargement of the building necessitated additional water supply and some shares in the village aqueduct were purchased, and a supply pipe laid in connection therewith. When connected no water could be made to flow through, although there were many feet of fall. The plumber who had done the work, after vain experiments to overcome the resistance of the air in the pipes, which held back the water, gave up and left, either to devise other means, or in disgust. Mr. Gould was then living on Chase street near by, but had not earned a reputation. Dr. Rockwell went to see him and desired him to try his hand at it. By a simple and purely original device he accomplished the desired object in a single day's experiment. Henceforth he was assured of employment at the asylum, and the doctor wrote the other party he need not return to the job, as "he had found a boy up here who could make water run down hill."

For the asylum Mr. Gould always entertained a feeling as a child for the old homestead, and it need not be said the officers and employees of that institution entertained a reciprocal feeling, which will be manifested in their attendance upon his funeral, which will take place from his late residence at half past two o'clock on Sunday next.


Vermont Phoenix, February 19, 1886.

Obituary by Dr. Joseph Draper.

William Gould's hydraulic ram during Civil War days raised water from the falling Venter's brook and William F. Richardson's pond up to the level of Camp Holbrook and to the United States General Hospital, on the later Valley Fair grounds.



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Black History Month Display In The Town Hall

Brattleboro Historical Society

Caveat Emptor

Not A House On The Underground Railroad

Researchers in black history in Vermont should be aware that this house on High Street has no documented connection at all with fugitive slaves, Antislavery, or the Underground Railroad. This house was probably built in late 1869, and possibly later, but in any case, years after slavery days. No map shows any house on this site until then.

The two small chambers, dry walled with field stone and connected by a tunnel---that were found under the front porch there are obviously septic pits that were built before indoor plumbing became common. Cesspits, in any case, that no escaping slave would ever consent to sink into under any circumstances.

Cylindrical T Pipe, Septic System On High Street, Brattleboro.jpg

A plumber's heavy lead "T" shaped cylindrical strainer or sieve, filled with many 1/4 inch round holes was found in the larger pit. The purpose of this T-pipe was to connect the wastewater inlet with the leach field without disturbing the surface scum or crust.

The remains of several tools necessary for the removal of sediment buildup were also at this site. The large slate slab on the chamber floor was probably an additional dividing wall. The High Street hill was the perfect place for this septic system, which worked by gravity alone.

The Vermont Record and Farmer for October 22, 1875 carries the article "The High Street Sewer", which claims that "quite a portion" of the houses there had cess-pools at this time, which were effective, and never placed near any wells or springs that provided drinking water.

The partial draining, exploration, and measuring of this one cesspit was conducted in April 1987 by a group of concerned people, and detailed in a later report. Their work is recalled briefly in an article with the inaccurate headline, "Underground Railroad Had Stations in Brattleboro", published on February 8, 1994 in the Brattleboro Reformer.

This municipal building first floor hallway display is an admittedly entertaining fantasy, but it is distracting and misleading for visiting students---and for anyone who has a genuine interest in learning the rewarding truths that are to be discovered in local or national black history. Hopefully this entire unfounded notion will be allowed to slide into obscurity.

Walter Harrington's Sketch, April 28, 1987.jpg






The discovery that Hepzibah Pyncheon is a witch, executed in an inner story within The House of the Seven Gables, and the discovery of the like-wise concealed story of the drowning of Clifford Pyncheon, came on September 3, 1983.

This was during work with Professor Margaret Higonnet of the University of Connecticut/Storrs and her stable of eight readers for Yale University Press representing Children's Literature.

Our projected article concerned the extensive allusions in the "The House of the Seven Gables" to the Sleeping Beauty legend, to Virgil's Aeneid, and to the Biblical Garden of Eden---describing how Hawthorne adapted these works to his contemporary America.

This work continued from late July to early October 1983, when the entire project was abandoned, Margaret Higonnet then claiming excessive length as the apparent reason.

This manuscript material concerning the legend of the Sleeping Beauty, Virgil's Aeneid, and the Garden of Eden in America was then published as Chapter Two in my "Forgotten Dreams: Ritual in American Popular Art (New York: Vantage Press, 1987). This work is still copyrighted.

Margaret Higonnet asked me at one point to discuss the long-standing academic and critical controversy over the strange and apparently overly-sentimental "happy ending" of The House of the Seven Gables. Nathaniel Hawthorne has traditionally been admired for the "rhinoceros hide" that he wore for protection against unnecessary sentimentality, so, this "happy ending" seemed to be extremely uncharacteristic for Hawthorne.

This single question by Higonnet and the academics focused my attention acutely, and my discovery of Hawthorne's secret narratives for Hepzibah Pyncheon and Clifford Pyncheon followed quite readily in the course of one afternoon in a pleasant apartment on Reed Street in Brattleboro, overlooking the Connecticut River, that September 3, 1983.




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The Old Grist Mill

Brewster, Massachusetts, Cape Cod

Photograph By Laura Burnham Hainsworth Of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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John Hainsworth

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Bernardston, Massachusetts Stone Arch Bridge, Wednesday, May 21, 2014.jpg

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William St. John With Family Genealogy Chart

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William St. John, Westinghouse Electric Patent

Fine Wire Drawing Furnace, November 23, 1954

William St. John, Fine Wire Drawing Furnace, Patent Filed November 23, 1954.png

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Vermont Phoenix, Thursday, September 25, 1845 2.5---

Mr. John Plummer, of West Brattleboro, committed suicide early last Sunday morning, by cutting his throat with a butcher's knife, which had been made very sharp. His intention to make way with himself had been for some time suspected---he had himself, indeed, previously told his friends to keep all edge tools away from his sight, saying that his mind was sometimes strangely inclined to do himself harm. The greatest possible care was therefore observed, and his nephew had slept in the room with him, in order to have a better opportunity to watch him. Mr. Plummer had been in the habit of rising early of mornings, and smoking. On Sunday morning he arose as usual, and had been out of the room but a moment, when his nephew heard a noise, as of water plashing upon the floor. He immediately got up, and proceeding to the spot where he thought he heard the noise, found his uncle just in the act of falling, his throat being cut from ear to ear with a terrible gash.

Mr. Plummer was 68 years of age, was a man of some property, and had been highly esteemed here as one of our best and most useful citizens.

Vermont Phoenix, March 5, 1846, Page 3, Column 4---

Farm For Sale.

The well known Farm lately owned and occupied by Income Jones, deceased, is now offered for sale on the most reasonable terms. Said Farm contains about Ninety Acres of good Land, situated three miles West of Brattleboro Village, well wooded and watered, and mostly fenced with Stone Wall, with good Buildings thereon, and a large variety of engrafted fruit, consisting of Apples, Pears, Peaches, &c.


About thirty Acres of Mowing and Pasturing Land, lying about one half mile from said farm, likewise fenced with Stone Wall. The above will be sold separate or together as may best suit the purchaser. For further particulars, enquire of Benson Jones, on the premises.

Feb. 25, 1846.


Income Jones acquired a warranty deed on December 11, 1799 from Capt. Caleb Parker for a parcel of land at 50 1/2 acres, and another parcel about one and a half miles away in a southwesterly direction, the soc-called "Salisbury Lot", at 35 3/4 acres. The first parcel lay along the east side of the road leading to Guilford---Lot No. 4 in the third range of Lots, the Salisbury lot being Lot No. 4 in the second range.

Income Jones died on January 19, 1845---his wife Mary Kingsley twenty years in the grave---but he had willed these lands to his son Benson on November 23, 1836. This will describes his Home Farm as about 80 Acres, and the "Salisbury Lot", so called, at about 30 acres. Income's daughter was the married woman called Mary Salisbury.

Caleb Parker, great great grandson of Deacon Thomas Parker, was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts in 1760 and died in Stukely, Canada in 1826. During the Revolutionary War, Caleb, and a small band of young soldiers, trained at night in the huge kitchen of the Artemus Ward home, which is called the General Artemus Ward Museum in Shrewsbury.

May 18, 1894

O. H. Carpenter's Serious Injuries.

Oliver H. Carpenter met with a serious accident at his farm house beyond the West village about noon on Wednesday. He had just driven in from the field to dinner with two horses and a heavy farm wagon. He unhitched all the tugs, as he supposed, and took one horse by the bit to lead the pair into the stall. The horse which he had by the bit was free from the wagon, but it proved that one tug of the other horse had not been unhitched. This horse, in attempting to follow, sprang forward and knocked Mr. Carpenter down, trampling on the left side of his face and cutting a bad gash down from the corner of the eye. The animal was frightened at finding itself still hitched to the wagon, and in plunging about the wagon was dragged over Mr. Carpenter in such a way that the right thigh was broken close to the hip joint. One wheel was also dragged over his right hand and wrist, and a large piece of flesh was torn up on the forearm. These were the serious injuries, but there were also numerous smaller bruises and cuts. Mr. Carpenter was got into the house and Dr. Gale was summoned. The shock to the system was great, but the condition of the patient is now as comfortable as the circumstances permit, and his recovery is expected. Mr. Carpenter is one of the best known and most highly esteemed farmers in Brattleboro, and the news of his misfortune has caused universal regret and sympathy.

[Oliver Hunt Carpenter was born in Brattleboro on June 28, 1830, and married Roxy Miranda "Mary" Nichols on March 6, 1856. He was active in the Grange, the Brattleboro Creamery, and the Valley Fair, and served as a town selectman. His parents were Deacon Oliver Carpenter and Arathusa Harris. He died on Friday evening, November 27, 1903 after falling and striking his head against a post that morning.]






The papers tell the following about a Brattleboro affair:

The story goes that a boy way back in 1811 made a kite and attached a paper lantern to it, in which he put a candle, and arranged it so that when the candle had burned out it would explode some powder which was in the bottom of the lantern. He kept the secret to himself, and waited for a suitable night in which to raise his kite.

The boy got his kite into the air without being discovered, for it was so dark that nothing but the colored lantern was visible. It went dancing about in the air wildly, attracting much notice, and was looked upon by ignorant people as some supernatural omen.The evil spirit, as many supposed it, went bobbling around for about twenty minutes and then exploded, blowing the lantern to pieces.

Next morning all was wonder and excitement, and this lad, who had taken his kite and hidden it after the explosion without being found out, had his own fun out of the matter. The people of Brattleboro never had any explanation of the mystery until nearly sixty years afterward, when the boy who had become quite an old gentleman, published the story in a Brattleboro newspaper.

Aurora of the Valley, December 21, 1872.

Published in Bradford, Vermont

This article was reprinted in the Chicago Tribune for December 10, 1872.


A Dying Confession.

Sixty years ago considerable excitement was caused at Brattleboro, Vermont, in the United States, by a strange meteor which appeared one dark night, and, after hovering in the sky for about twenty minutes, suddenly vanished with a loud explosion.

Many persons considered the phenomenon to be a supernatural omen, and so mysterious and striking was the occurrence, that it has never been forgotten in the district, and the story of this wonderful light in the heavens has been handed down from one generation to another as one of the most remarkable events of the present century.

The mystery has at last been solved. An old gentleman has lately died at Brattleboro, and according to a Vermont paper, on his deathbed he confessed that when a boy in 1811 he made a kite and attached a paper lantern to it, in which he put a candle, arranging the contrivance so that when the candle had burned out it would explode some powder in the bottom of the lantern.

He kept the secret entirely to himself, and, choosing a dark night when nothing but the colored lantern was visible, managed unobserved to get his kite into the air, thus producing the sensation which so profoundly affected the district.

Having made this confession, without which he could not die comfortably, the old gentleman turned his face to the wall and expired in perfect peace.

Wellington, New Zealand Evening Post, March 12, 1873.


Rareified Air-Balloons In Brattleboro.

The most appropriate use ever made of the unsold tickets was by Messrs. Hooper and Hughes, in the construction of rarified air-balloons, which were started upon their important mission near the old meeting-house on the village common.

Henry Burnham, "Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont; Early History, with Biographical Sketches of some of its Citizens. (Brattleboro: Published by D. Leonard, 1880). Page 36.

The Brattleboro historian is referring here to his boyhood friends sending aloft some recollections from the somewhat demoralized Vermont Lottery, probably around 1829.






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