277 Main Street
Norwich VT 05055
Aunt Ella’s Diary: Transportation (#5)
How did Ella Get Around?
Ella’s diaries between 1884 and 1922 mention the various forms of transportation that she and her neighbors used in Norwich and the surrounding area.
Travel around town in the late 1800s and early 1900s was by horse and buggy or sleigh. The Norwich Historical Society collection includes this picture of Mrs. Dale Bullock across from the Patterson Chair Company in her horse-drawn sled around 1900.
The diary entries that follow give an indication of the limited amount of travel done by Ella and her family in the early years. Road conditions were always noteworthy, especially in the winter.
Tues. Dec. 30, 1884 Father and Bartlett have been to the Village [Union Village] and got the Horse shod
Friday Jan 24, 1890
It is pretty good Sleighing
Tues. Mar. 3, 1896 Bartlett has been to Town Meeting in a Wagon
Mon. Dec.14, 1896 Mother has felt about as she did Yesterday
Dr Nolan has been here to see her
The Doctor came in a Sleigh
Tues. Jan. 2, 1900 I have seen the first Sleigh of the season go by today but not hardly enough Snow for a Sleigh to run good
Friday, April 2, 1909
F Dora and Henrietta have been to Lelands in a Wagon Maud has been down in a Wagon
Saturday, Nov. 29, 1919 Myra and I have been up to Sarah Sargents funeral It is very bad traveling hard for Horse and hard to ride
Monday, Jan. 3, 1921 Pretty good Sleighing on the back roads but pretty thin on the River Roads
Mon. Apr. 10, 1922 Snow Melting fast It is very Mudy hard traveling
Trips out of town usually required a trip on the train. People were “carried” to the depot by horse and buggy.
Tues. June 30, 1896 Aunt Mary has gone to Concord this afternoon Bartlett carried her to the Depot
Mon. July 30, 1900 Bartlett carried Susie to the Depot this morn she has gone to St. Johnsbury to a Summer School
Monday, Oct. 24, 1904 [After visiting in the Boston area since Sept. 29] I left Winthrop at 7 this morn and I started from Boston at 9 A.M. got to Norwich at 2 P.M. Mr Wood met me at Depot C.V. and Grace came to Boston with me
Wednesday, August 26, 1908 We got up at 4 Oclock and Mr Wood and George Avery went to Bradford Fair took my Horse and went to the Depot
Wednesday, June 8, 1921 Myra has been to Royalton to see Dr Fish. they went to Norwich took the Train to Junction then Lawrence took them in Auto they did not get home till 10 P.M.
The first local automobile was mentioned by Ella in 1905. Although the horse and wagon and sleigh continued in use for many years, mentions of automobile rides were significant events. The last entry gives the impression that by 1921 the main roads were cleared, or rolled, for cars in the winter only to certain places.
Thursday, June 15, 1905 Dr Richmond went past with his automobile
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 1917
I did what Chores I could this morn got ready and at 9 A.M. Clement and Grace came with their Auto and John and Lilla were with them and we went to Pompa then up the River to Lake Morey and rode around the Lake crossed into N.H. at Orford came down to Lyme Pond then to Hanover then over to Norwich then up to John’s got there about 12,30 I eat dinner there then they all came up here a while so we had quite a day of it
Sunday, Nov. 24, 1918
Lawrence Wife and Baby have been up to day they came with an Auto this P.M. he took us all for a Ride
Sunday, Jan. 16, 1921
Lawrence and Wife and little Girl have been up to Myra’s today came in Auto as far as School House
Sunday, July 6, 1919
We heard a Flying Machine this morn
Can you imagine the excitement on this day! Ella likely didn’t have the opportunity to fly in an airplane in her lifetime, but her diary gives a good snapshot of the changes she experienced over the years.
Photo courtesy of the UVM Landscape Change archive.