Portrait In Detail 1832 By Zedekiah Belknap
Some forty years ago or more the following amusing incident occurred in Dummerston. None of the parties are now living. It appears that Asa Knight, Esq., a merchant in this place many years, and Ithamar Chamberlain, a farmer, went together on one occasion to find wild honey.
They had succeeded in lining or following some bees as far as Black Mountain, when one Joel Tuttle came up with them and said he had recently found a swarm of bees in that vicinity, but had not disturbed them because their hiving place was difficult to reach on account of the bee-tree standing high up in the locality called the "shoe of the mountain."
He made the proposition that if Knight and Chamberlain would help him secure the honey, he would be willing to share equally with them. They agreed to do so, and forthwith started for the bee-tree. After much hard climbing they found the place where the bees were at work, and, sure enough, they were busy flying in and out at the top of a tall dead tree, which had been broken off many feet from the ground.
The opening at the top was much hidden by the leaves and branches of trees standing near, but the bees appeared to be very numerous. As it was evident that cutting down the dead tree would be a hard job, the work was postponed until the following Sunday, and they returned home to await the eventful day, in the meantime keeping the matter a profound secret.
Mr. Knight, being a prominent man in the affairs of the town, hesitated about the propriety of his performing unnecessary work on the Sabbath day; but, wanting very much to get his share of the coveted honey, he procured a substitute for himself in the person of Henry Cressey, who was quite an adept at handling bees.
At the appointed time, Tuttle, Cressey and Chamberlain met, having provided themselves with pails, buckets and dippers for securing the honey. To make doubly sure, Tuttle shouldered a large tub extra; and thus equipped the company started for the mountain, three miles distant.
It was hard climbing the mountain, encumbered with so many kitchen utensils; but they persevered, and, having at length reached the spot, began cutting down the dead tree. It was three feet in diameter, very dry, and hard to cut. Each took his turn with the axe as the other became tired. The tree, standing straight up as a plumb line, had to be cut nearly off the stump before it fell.
Finally it came with a crash to the ground. Cressey, being a most fearless man, was at the top of the tree instantly with pail and dipper, that no honey be lost. His friends, being a little more discreet than himself, awaited his movements. He did not announce the appearance of honey, but was seen to suddenly drop his utensils and begin a desperate fight with the enemy.
His hands alternated rapidly in snatching the stinging adversaries from his hair, ears and cheeks. In the midst of the conflict, Cressey suddenly comprehended the situation, and he yelled out lustily: "Nothing but a d-----d yellow wasps nest!"
Presto, chango! The enemy were victorious, and the Sunday adventurers retreated with hasty steps and saddened countenances. The enterprise was a failure, and it was decided not to mention it. It was, however, too good a secret to keep long, and somebody divulged it. The result was that Knight and Chamberlain were out of pocket several dollars for drinks to quench the thirst of their mirth-loving friends.
Dummerston, March 9, 1883.
David Lufkin Mansfield, Vermont Phoenix, March 16, 1883
Joel Tuttle was born in Winchester, New Hampshire on June 22, 1791 or upon August 23, 1791. He married Martha Barnes in Dummerston on October 3, 1821 or upon October 7, 1821. Joel Tuttle died in Boston, Massachusetts on April 19, 1844.
Ithamar Chamberlain, Jr. was born on July 6, 1782 to Ithamar and Hepzibah Farr, and grew up in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. His father built a grist-mill in West Chesterfield about 1810 and was killed by a runaway horse at the age of eighty on September 19, 1825. Ithamar married Rebecca Dutton, the daughter of Samuel Dutton of Dummerston, on June 10, 1813. He died on June 14, 1859, aged 76 years, 11 months, and 8 days.
Henry Cressey was born on February 11, 1760 in Groton, Massachusetts and was resident in Chesterfield, New Hampshire when he purchased sixty-one acres in Lot No. 34 joined on Canoe Brook in Dummerston, from Josiah Boyden, on August 31, 1786. Henry married Olive Anne Holton in 1787. Thomas Henry Cressey, their son, was born in Dummerston on July 15, 1787.
Henry Cressey lived on a farm east of the "Lyman Knight place," since divided up and sold in separate lots. He is known as the man who made the "Cressey jump". The story goes that he was walking alone across a field and coming to a brook that was wide and deep, he said to himself: "Cressey, I will bet you a dollar that you can't jump across the brook. "Done," said he, and back he went a few paces to get a good start. When at full speed he bounded like a deer across the brook. Elated by his success, he said, "Now, Cressey, I will bet you another dollar that you can't jump back again.---"Agreed," said he, and, starting as before, he bounded, and missing a firm foothold, fell backwards, splash into the brook. Scrambling out of the water, he said: "It is a Cressey jump; nothing gained, nothing lost," and went on his way a wetter if not a wiser man.
David Lufkin Mansfield, The History of the Town of Dummerston; The First Town Settled by Anglo Saxon Descendants in the State (Ludlow, Vermont: A. M. Hemenway, 1884), pg. 151.
This store was built in 1810 by Asa Black. It measured sixteen by eighteen feet, with white plastered walls and red trim, and stood on the south side of the Dummerston common. Asa Knight purchased the store on December 21, 1826 from Adin Thayer and added a thirteen-foot storekeeper office. Knight then opened his store on April 1, 1827.
During 1837-1842 Asa Knight built a two and one-half story addition to the original store. This new building was roughly twenty-seven and one-half feet by forty-three feet and nine inches, in the fashionable Greek Revival style.
The new addition was built in part over the original store, in such a way that the 1810 structure appeared as an ell on the west side. The new main room was decorated with blue wallpaper. Immense spruce beams braced the stone foundation.
Capt. Jonathan Knight, Asa's grandfather, removed from Worcester, Massachusetts to Dummerston in 1774, and received a buckshot charge in the right shoulder on March 13, 1775 at the Westminster Court House fight.