Guided walks show off Lincoln’s history

LINCOLN — Back in the day — this would have been the early 1900s — there was a kid in Lincoln named Roger Sargent who had his own special cup hanging on a nail in the Lincoln Creamery down the road, so that whenever he came to visit he could have a drink of buttermilk.
The cup was a gift from the fellow who ran the creamery, John Chapman.
Many decades later, long after the creamery had closed, kids growing up in Lincoln enjoyed different delights, like bumping into retiree Val Webber, who used to go around town with a pocketful of nickels, handing them out to every child he met.
These and other brief portraits of small-town life are what add richness and depth to a pair of Lincoln walking tours recently created by the Lincoln Historical Society (LHS) and the Lincoln Library.
“Learning the history of our community’s past is eye-opening and important and it can change the way you think about the present,” LHS President Rhonda Hutchins told the Independent. “The new walking tours are a fun way to experience our local history.”
The Lincoln Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of the town of Lincoln, including the communities of Downingville, West Lincoln and South Lincoln. The LHS operates a museum at 88 Quaker St., which is furnished with a growing collection of objects, documents and images that tell the stories of the town and its people.
Hutchins teamed up with Lincoln Head Librarian Wendy McIntosh and LHS Vice President Lucinda Cockrell to develop the walking tours.
“We live in a beautiful little town and we know we have a number of walkers, hikers and bikers here,” the trio said in an email to Independent. “We decided during this time of the pandemic, requiring separation and isolation, that we had a wonderful opportunity to offer a reason to get out, walk and learn something about our village.”
The organizers gathered information from a variety of sources, including old photographs and newspaper clips, conversations with current residents and a 1997 Lincoln Community School project called “A Walk Through Historic Lincoln.”
LHS has published guides for two tours through town — one that begins and ends at the Lincoln Library with 24 stops along the way, and one that begins and ends at the Lincoln General Store and takes in 18 sites. Each tour takes anywhere from a half-hour to an hour, depending on how long walkers spend at each site.
The guides cover the town’s history from the 1860s, when the “new” town center was established with the building of the Town Hall; continue through the housing boom of the 1890s with the establishment of the Lincoln Lumber Co.; and even include information about — and from — current residents.
Along the way, walkers will also gain a better sense of the architectural history of the town.
And they’ll learn wonderful details about past Lincoln residents, including store owner James Batchelder, whose “check kiting” in the 1870s wrought economic devastation on the town, and Dr. Dodge, who in the 1880s manufactured painkillers and cure-alls.
Hutchins, who now lives in West Lincoln, grew up in Lincoln Center, and her family features prominently in the recent history of the town.
Her parents, Martyn and Vivian Hutchins, purchased the Butterfield House in 1949 and the Butterfield Store (next door) in 1959. A decade later, Martyn bought the Lincoln Bobbin Mill from his brother Marshall, who had owned it since 1948. The property would remain in the Hutchins family until 2007.
Some of the inspiration for Hutchins’ recent historical research began with the stories she had heard as a child, she said.
Guides to the Lincoln Walking Tours are available at the Lincoln General Store, the Lincoln Library and the Lincoln Historical Society. The walks are free but donations are welcome.
Those seeking a deeper dive into Lincoln History would do well to consult “Lincoln Vermont History, 1780-2007,” which was published by — and can be purchased from — the Lincoln Historical Society.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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