Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bennington Museum- Bennington Vermont

Address: 75 Main St, Bennington, VT 05201
Phone: (802) 447-1571
Website: https://benningtonmuseum.org/
The Entrance

On the edge of the little town of Bennington, not far from the monument to the battle that actually took place in New York State is the little museum with a hidden research library. Tucked in almost behind the original cemeteries and just around the corner from where the Catamount Tavern of Ethan Allen fame stood, you might easily overlook the possibilities housed within there. However, if you have ancestors in this southern corner of Vermont, or just an interest in the area, do not forget to stop in to the museum.

The museum itself had a wonderful display of the life and art of Grandma Moses who lived in this area, a room devoted to the Battle of Bennington and other exhibits.

Hours: The museum is open June through October 7 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. February through May, November and December Thursday through Tuesday, 10 am to 5 pm.
The research library is open Monday and Tuesday 1pm to 5pm, and Wednesday by appointment.
Appointments can be made through a phone call or email at library@benningtonmuseum.org
Admission to the library is free with the $10 admission to the museum itself.

Photocopying is done by the librarian and is 25 cents each. Many of the files must be pulled by the librarian as the bookshelves are open, but the file cabinets are restricted.

The library is tucked away in a corner of the second floor of the museum. Inside you will find the typical research for any area, cemetery listings, histories of the area as well as information on surrounding areas in both New England and New York.

Why would a Vermont library have much information on New York? Well, the actual battle of Bennington took place in Walloomsack, NY about 16 miles to the northwest. And of course, heading directly west on Rte. 9, you will be in NYS in less than 4 miles, so many of the families in this area lived and worked in both states. Also, Vermont was originally disputed territory, claimed by both New York and New Hampshire.

While there I found out some more information on a distant cousin of mine- a half first cousin of one my ancestor’s. Even though distantly related, I have been interested in this man, Stephen Fay and his family, because it is an example of how even though we think our families are totally ordinary and maybe not that interesting, there are connections to famous events scattered throughout. Often, this is the best way to peak the interest of someone not into genealogy as well. For those not familiar, Stephen Fay owned a tavern in Bennington known as the Catamount Tavern. Today, a statue of a catamount (a large wild cat) stands in front of the site. During the time of the Revolutionary War, this tavern was a popular meeting place of Ethan Allen and it is from here that the Green Mountain Boys set out to battle for freedom. A son of Stephen’s, Dr. Jonas Fay, was a close friend of Ethan’s and even named a son after him.
Site of Catamount Tavern

Additionally, I found some tidbits of information on another old tavern. This one is across the border in the town of White Creek in New York State. Seth Chase, a 5th great-grandfather on another line owned a tavern here before the Revolutionary War. In the library I found information that mentioned the owners of the property in the 1950s. More research needs to be done on this property, but with some of these leads I have been able to locate where the inn was and a house that sits there today may actually be the same structure.

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