McMillen, Jean Porter #3

Narrator: Helen Klein Ross
Place of Interview:  41 Chatfield Drive, Lakeville, Ct. 06039
Date:  January 24, 2024

Summary of talk: Salisbury Central School 1967-1991, “Effective Use of Retirement” Award from Keuka College, Sept.23, 2023, Sabbatical from Region #1 1987-1988 to study the British Education System, Building her house as a single woman in the 1970s, the story of Tory Hill, duties of the Town Historian, and suggested reading list for newcomers to the community.

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

Jean Porter McMillen #3 Interview

HKR:     Hi this is Helen Klein Ross on January 24, 2024. I am interviewing Jean McMillen in her home on Chatfield Drive in Lakeville, Connecticut.  Jean, I am so happy to be able to talk with you this morning. Even though we’ve talked a little bit about how you came to be here, I’d really like to know when you came here to Salisbury. I know you are not from here originally.

JMcM:  No, I am not.

HKR:     Can you please tell me why you came?

JMcM:  I have always wanted to be a teacher. When I graduated, I needed a job. I had a job in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. I‘d signed a contract. My mother got a letter from the principal of Salisbury Central School. He really wanted me to come for an interview.  My mother said, “But she’s got a job.” “Well, have her come down for an interview. Even if she doesn’t come to us this year, I would like her for next year.” My father brought me down: the interview lasted from 9:30 to 1.

HKR:     Wow, what could they possibly have asked?

JMcM: He wanted to know everything. Finally I said, “My father is sitting in the car.” Mr. Sullivan apologized. We had lunch at school.  He introduced me to the teacher I would be replacing: he showed me the room I would have.  Then I was sent over to the Superintendent’s office for approval. I went over to the high school and met the Superintendent who approved Mr. Sullivan’s decision to offer me a job for 1967-68. I had told Mr. Sullivan that I had signed a contract. “Don’t worry about that: contracts are broken all the time.”

HKR:     You’re kidding.

JMcM:  No, so that’s how I came to Salisbury Central School. I came down to get an apartment because I needed some place to live. I’d seen an ad in the Lakeville Journal about an apartment in the Holley Block. I went into the Post Office to ask where it was. Dick Barton was at the window. I asked about the location of the Holley block.  “Why are you coming to Salisbury?” “I shall be teaching at Salisbury Central School.” “I don’t think you would like the Holley Block. Let me call Jim Vaill, because he might have an apartment available.” That is how I wound up at the apartment house at the corner of Lincoln City Road and Main Street.

HKR:     Why did he think you wouldn’t like the Holley Block?

JMcM:  It was a little bit like a red light district. Morally it would not be a good idea for a teacher to live there.

HKR:     How many apartments were there?

JMcM:  Seven

HKR:     but it was also stores?

JMcM:  There were stores on the ground level and apartments on the two floors above. Mary-Louise gentile Diaz-Matos describes it very accurately because she lived there as a child.

HKR:     When was that building razed?

JMcM:  It was probably razed late 1960s to early 1970s as I do remember it. That is why I came to Salisbury Central: it was the only job I ever had. I loved it.

HKR:     You, unlike many young women who fall into teaching, knew that you wanted to teach.

JMcM:  Always, always

HKR:     You went to a college the specialized in elementary education.

JMCM:  Keuka College at that time was a women’s college, 800 women specializing in nursing and elementary education.

HKR:     Where is it located?

JMcM:  Finger Lakes Region of New York, Keuka Park, New York.  When I graduated in 1967, my class was the last class to receive permanent certification to teach elementary education K to grade 6 in New York State. I still have my permanent certification.

HKR:     I heard that they honored you recently?

JMcM:  Oh they did. I got a letter from Keuka in March of 2023 saying that I had been nominated for the “Effective Use of Retirement” Award.  I could not figure out who would nominate me because I am only in touch with one other alum that is not that close now to the school. I thought it was a joke as I received the letter on April 1. I e-mailed one of the women I knew at the school, “Is this a joke?” “Oh no fill out the application and return it to Laurie Adams by May 1st.” I filled out the form putting down everything I had ever done in town as a volunteer. I had about 4 pages worth of goobledy gook that I had done. I had babysat the Tremaine Gallery, worked on afterschool programs like SOAR and EXTRAS. For several years I was a docent at the Holley-Williams House. I was town Historian for the past 9 years: I had worked on the Oral History Project for 13 years.

The original letter said that if I did not hear by June15th, they would keep my application for next year. I did not hear anything so filed the paperwork. About July 1st I received a letter that stated, “Congratulations, I am so happy to inform you that your application was selected for the “Effective Use of Retirement”.  In reviewing you submission, we were impressed with the depth and breathe of your experiences and your clear love of our alma mater.”

HKR:     That is wonderful.

JMcM:  What I received was a framed picture of the college‘s main building. On the frame was written Jean Porter McMillen ’67 Effective Use of Retirement/Presented by the Keuka College Alumni Association September 23, 2023.  I was the oldest recipient. I did not attend the dinner, but one of the reps from the Alumni relations came to visit later in the fall and brought me the award. I asked Billy Jo, ”Do you know who nominated me?”  “I did.” “Why” “Well, you talked so passionately about oral history: I thought it was such a valuable program that I nominated you.”

HKR:     That’s fantastic.

JMcM:  That was a great surprise. It was to me truly an honor because it was the oral history project itself that was being honored, not…”Well, we’ll give Jean the award because she’s a nice girl.”  That meant a lot to me.  I am very fond of my college.

HKR:     I am sure it is inspirational to other students who are there now, to know what alums have done with their education.

JMcM:  I hope so. The college no longer dives an elementary education degree. It has also gone co-educational. It is still a good school

HKR:     Well, talking about times changing, I want to ask you about when you came to Salisbury Central. You lived in a rental?

JMcM:  I lived in an apartment.

HKR:     An apartment in a rental. But I understand you bought a house…or?

JMcM:  I lived in an apartment for 4 years. In 1971 there was a disagreement between my landlord’s wife and me.  I left.  I didn’t have anywhere to live.  Some of my colleagues came to my rescue and suggested that I rent a room from Alice Eggleston, a former principal at Salisbury Central.  She was a real Iron Lady!  I rented a room and house sat for her for a year.   When she returned from Florida in May, she said to me, “Well we’ve got to find you another apartment.”  I then went to live on Wells Hill road at the home of Mrs. Sisson. I was there until 1978.

In the meantime, I had decided that I wanted to buy a house. I went looking with several different realtors, but could find nothing that either I liked or was in my price range. Thus I bought a piece of land in 1974. I bought plot #18 in Chatfield Hills division.  I had money for the down payment, but I needed a small mortgage to pay for the rest. The mortgage was with Litchfield Bank for $3,000.  My father had to sign surety for me.

HKR:     Your father had to sign surety for you?

JMcM:  Yes, I was a single woman. Even though I was a vested teacher at school as I had taught there for 7 years, the bank would not accept my signature alone. Now we skip forward to January of 1978. My landlady came to me and told me that her father had died. She wanted her mother to come to live with her. They needed my apartment.  I called my contractor and told him we were building my house a year earlier than expected. I had had him look at the property before I bought it to see if a house could be built on it as it was a ski slope. We had been looking at house plans and designing the house to be in preparation to the time of construction.  He agreed.

Now I had to get a construction mortgage, which is a larger sum of money and harder to get. I went to several banks, but finally when to the Gt. Barrington Saving Bank. The lady in charge of building loans was Mrs. Majeski, I think.  I went to her office and explained what I needed. “Are you Chester Porter’s daughter?” “Yes”  “Are you the Jean Porter who paid back the Rotary Scholarship when you left school?”  “Yes”   “You have you mortgage.”

HKR:     Tell me that story.

JMcM:  I graduated from Searles High School in 1963. I was third in my class. I was supposed to get the Rotary Scholarship which was $250. The President of Rotary had promised me that money. A week before we graduated, the valedictorian, Patricia Lang’s father died very unexpectedly. The rotary scholarship was given to her as they should have done. Mr. Moran felt so badly about his broken promise that he told me I would get any money left over from the July horse show. The Rotary Club in Gt. Barrington ran a horse show each July as a fund raiser. It was a big deal. I did receive $250 left from the show: it was an outright gift.

However I felt as with the DAR scholarship and other scholarships I had received as a high school senior, I should pay it back. When I graduated in 1967 I wrote a letter to the rotary club and sent them a check for $250 to help someone else.  They made a big fuss over it. It was on the radio. It impressed the Salisbury School Board. I felt that was what you did: you give back. That was in 1967. The fact that someone remembered me in 1977 was very nice. So that is how I got my construction mortgage. The rate at that time was 8.5%

HKR:     Wow

JMcM:  We started building June 4, 1978: I moved in on Oct. 24, 1978, three months from start to finish.

HKR:     You’re kidding, an entire house?

JMcM:  Yep, this was a stick built house.   It was not a pre- fabricated like the house across the street.

HKR:     What does stick-built mean?

JMcM:  it is built from the ground up, not sections built in a factory and then put together like a jigsaw puzzle.

HKR:     In three months?

JMcM:  Yes

HKR:     That’s astounding.

JMcM:  The contractor I worked with was Edward Warren of Warren & Mackey of Sheffield, Mass.  They were the best in Berkshire County. Mr. Warren had rebuilt my mother’s kitchen so we knew him from experience.  I was 32 at the time: he treated me like his daughter. “Now Jean, I want you to investigate heating systems to decide what kind you want: oil heat, electric heat, forced hot air, or forced hot water. You make the decision. This was very different from most male contractors where they told a young woman what she should want. We worked on house plans and designed my house as I wanted it to be. I also took a correspondence course from La Salle College in Chicago on Interior Decorating so that I could read blueprints.

HKR:     So you went to Chicago?

JMcM:  No it was a correspondence course. That way I learned about traffic patterns, how colors create space and mood, where to have wall outlets and how many of them per room. I wanted to do it right the first time. I think it worked out beautifully.

HKR:     Explain to me more about a correspondence course.

JMcM:  You do it by mail. You receive a set of books to study. You are given questions to answer such as “Design a room for an active family with three young children.”  You use graft paper to outline the room place windows, outlets, and doors. You provide paint color chips for wall and ceiling color, type of flooring: rugs, vinyl, wood, or wall to wall carpeting; swatches of material for drapes, fabrics and styles of furnishings plus any extra wall décor. Then you mail it to your teacher at LaSalle. He or she will critique it and send it back with a grade and comments on areas to improve.

HKR:     Critique it by putting notes on paper?

JMcM:  Yes. It was done that way. Now we would do it by e-mail. I did the interior decorating course first. Next I took a bookkeeping course because I thought it might be useful. It was because I have been treasurer or auditor for several organizations.

Even though my dad did not have to sign the construction mortgage, there were glitches since I was a young single woman.  You had to put a $500 bond to the town for the asphalt entry to your driveway which I did. Later I got a call at school from Charlotte Ried, the First Selectman that I was going to lose my $500 because the entry was not done properly. I called Mr. Warren who called the paving person who told Mr. Warren, “Oh well she is just a woman. I thought I could get away with it.”

When I wanted to move my furniture out of storage and into my house, I went to my principal and explained the situation. He told me no that if I took a personal day (of which I was entitled 3 per year with no reason given) my pay would be docked. The only day I could do the moving was Columbus Day as the moving company worked and I did not. It was inconvenient as the floor have not been finished or carpeted. My principal lived on my street so he knew what I was doing, but apparently he felt a single woman should not build a house.

HKR:     Or move in her furniture.

JMcM:  Yeah

HKR:     Now was he, the principal, the same one when you received a sabbatical?

JMcM:  No this was a different one. I was the first teacher in Region #1 to earn a sabbatical to go abroad. I had been teaching about 20 years and was getting just a bit bored. Foster and I were sitting on the couch one Sunday afternoon. I had a brain wave and told him I wanted to go to put in for a sabbatical to go to the UK and study the British Education System. Boy, did he perk up! Foster was older than I. He had been an able-bodied seaman in the 1930’s and had spent some time in the UK. He had loved it. He always wanted to go back and spent a year there. He had gotten married, had 4 children and did not have much time off so there was no way he could realize his dream.  His first wife died in 1979, we married in 1982 and this was 1986.

“II am going to talk to Val,” said Foster. He was in Rotary with Val Bernadoni, the superintendent of Region #1. Val told my husband for me to make an appointment. I went to his office at the high school and explained what I wanted to do. “We are going to give you a list of questions to answer. You have to write a program that the big board passes.” The big board had on it representatives from each of the 6 elementary school s and the high school.

HKR:     Wow

JMcM:  I said at the time to foster that I would not get it because I was a woman, not an administrator, and wanted to go out of the country. There is no way I would get approval. The other people who had been given sabbaticals were all men, administrators and had stayed in the US. Lo and behold I got it!  I had answered all the 7 questions. “How are you going to benefit from this sabbatical?” “How are you going to relate this to your classroom?”  I would be on half salary. I must write a report and bring back enough slides for 6 slide shows of 30 slides each. We went over in late June of 1987. This is my report, 183 pages. (HOLDS UP A THICK SHEAF OF PAPER)

HKR:     Oh my gosh

JMcM:  Foster had seen an ad in the New York Times from Florida State University about taking continuing education course at Christ Church College at Oxford, England. At this time I was taking continuing education courses to retain my Connecticut teaching certificate.  We both thought it was a great idea. Christ Church College was started in the 1500s by Cardinal Wolsey. It is nick named “The House”.  For us it was three weeks of board and room and a chance to get used to the English money and way of life. Foster’s course was Medieval England. Mine was the English collection. Both of us had taken college course before but this set-up was entirely different from anything we had had before. Our preparation for a year in England included the time at Christ Church, 2 letter of introduction to two women I did not know and hired a flat  for the month of August in Stow- on- the-Wold in the Cotswolds.

HKR:     Where is that?

JMcM:  The Cotswolds are a lovely part of southern England and a terrific tourist destination which we did not know at the time. When we finished our coursed we took the train from oxford to Kingham, a village near Stow, got a taxi and arrived in the village to see our new home, Windrush Cottage. We had no transportation except the local bus or a hire car. We took the bus to Cheltenham 20 miles away and bought a car with the stipulation that they buy it back at the end of our stay. We had to have transportation if I was going to do schools. We left Stow in September and toured until the end of October.  I did my schools between November and April. I visited 26 schools and watched 65 teachers teach.  I stayed in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire for that. We toured again until July when we took more courses at Christ Church.

I saw some of the best teachers and some of the worst. I had made up a brief survey to give to the Head Teacher. The Head would assign me to a teacher to be an aide, just watch, critique the lesson or have the kids ask 20 questions.  I had no idea how to begin so I went to my tutor Gillian Salway and asked for her help. She had a friend in her village who was a teacher. Gill suggested that Foster and I come for dinner: she would invite Tanya and Steven to dinner. Tanya and I would work out the details. We went to dinner and of course Foster began eating English-style.

HKR:     English-style, meaning what?

JMcM:  Eating with the left hand and piling food on the back of the fork. He said to Gill’s two boys Oliver and Bennet, “See one of us knows how to eat properly.” I was eating American style, switching knife and fork back and forth. The first school I went to was at Dry Sandford, Oxfordshire. Tanya taught Infants ages 4-7. That is definitely not my level. She introduced me to her class and told them that I was going to teach small group English money. I knew the money but pretended I didn’t. A 50 pence piece is a big octagonal, a 10 pence is the size of our quarter and round, a 5 pence is the same size and shape of our dime. A 1 pence is copper like our penny. I deliberately messed it up.

When Tanya came over to check, the children said,”Oh this American miss does not know her money!” Tanya was horrified. I told her that it was fine. Having taught for 20 years I knew the children would learn more teaching me, than I them. Later I met with the Head of her school and gave him my survey to fill out. He suggested that I visit a school of a friend of his. He made the appointment and gave me directions. That is how I began visiting schools. I was passed around like a hot potato to 26 different schools. If I had been important or an administrator, I would only had seen the “top” schools.

HKR:     I see.

JMcM:  I visited a Catholic school. Most of the schools are C of E, Church of England schools. I saw a school where the majority of children were travelers or gypsies; I even visited a school that was closing at the end of the year. I had a much more varied experience than if I had been “somebody”. I watched infants age 4-7 and juniors age 8-11. At age 11 they take a test to see if they attend high school or a trade school. At 16 they take another test to see it they go to university or to work. I did 24 elementary schools, 2 high schools, a teachers college and my own advanced schooling at Christ Church.

HKR:     Wow

JMcM:  I tried to cover the gamut. I came back with about 2000 slides and boxes of extra material since I was supposed to be a resource teacher for the district K-12. You name it: I had something on it from spotted hogs to Goonhilly, the communication center for all of Europe.

HKR      So it was valuable for our community that you went as well?

JMcM:  Yes I think so. When we returned, we did presentations to church groups, the Rotary Club, the garden club, private schools and a few of Region #1 schools.  For me, personally, it was the most valuable experience I had ever had. I bless the ground Val Bernadoni walks on: it was not until I did an interview with him for oral history that I realized why he let me go abroad. It was his own background that was the key: my principal was against my going. I was able to go.

HKR:     Is Val Bernadoni’s interview on the Salisbury Association’s website?

JMcM:  Yes, Not only was he Superintendent of Region #1, but later he was the First Selectman of Salisbury.

HKR:     That would be interesting to listen to.

JMcM:  I have bits and pieces on all of the first Selectmen from 1922 Abe martin to 2024 Curtis Rand.

HKR:     No kidding. Did you interview any of your former students?

JMcM:  I went back and counted: I have done 22 of my former pupils. I have done ½ of the town crew, many veterans and others. They were available:  they would not dare say NO to Miss Porter or Mrs. McMillen. They have all done wonderful things with their lives and for the town, whether they were academic or not. That was never the point. They have given back, which is what I have tried to do as well.

HKR:     This is your 10th year as town Historian, isn’t it?

JMcM:  Yes it is.

HKR:     I’ve learned so many stories from you, visits to you personally, visits to your office. There’s one story I actually don’t know. Someone asked me about it the other day. I said, “I don’t know; I’m going to ask Jean.”  What is the story behind Tory Hill? How did it get that name? Was it like a hill of Tories during the revolution?

JMcM:  Tory Hill: I am reading this from an extract. “In the biography written by Malcolm Day Rudd ’When A.B. Landon died, he told the story of the Tory Hill farm property, which had been in the Landon family since 1751, when the track of land was granted to James Landon by George III of England.  When the Revolution commenced, Captain James and his son, a second Capt. James, were labeled “Tories” for siding with the Mother Country and suffered humiliation and financial loss in consequence. To avoid actual confiscation of their lands, they appeared to have transferred their land to their neighbors, the Bissells, who were “Whigs” in the hope of repossessing them when the war was over.

In this, the 2 Landons were disappointed, but Asheville Landon of the next generation succeeded where they had failed and passed it on to his son, James, nearly all of the real estate which the family had originally owned -7,000 acres.  The property stayed in the Landon family until it was sold by Mrs. Albert B. Landon to Clarence A. Seymour in May of 1943.  The house that Foster and I lived in at 384 Tory Hill was built on about 2 acres from the Tory Hill farm, because the son, George Seymour wanted his own home.

HKR:     That’s very interesting. Thank you. You were appointed Town Historian in 2014.  It involves a lot more than I knew, including keeping up the five town-owned cemeteries.

JMcM:  The job description includes preserving and interpreting the history of Salisbury and educating people concerning the material available. I have tried to do that. I work closely with the library director and staff.  When assisting researchers, I am available with the material they want, but the material stays in the History Room. It does not circulate. I don’t have a rigid schedule but am on call 24/7 practically. I try to answer all inquiries regarding ancestry or town history. I get phone calls at the office and at home as well as e-mails both places.

The Town Historian must keep good records of all the gifts received.  Part of the job is to do an annual inspection of the town cemeteries -13- and give recommendation to the selectmen.  I felt it was important because of my connection with DAR and for genealogical purposes. Originally there were 14 cemeteries because a former Connecticut state law required as many cemeteries as school districts of which we had 14. We have 5 town-owned and the rest are private, but I inspect them all and work with the land owner or the Cemetery Association that is responsible for a particulate cemetery.  I am responsible for tree limbing as needed, boundaries whether they are wooden fences or rod and pillar boundaries, and restoring gravestones.

I have a wonderful company from Norfolk Monument Conservation consortium. I also have a profession who cleans stones, Bruce Valentine from Millerton, NY.  We all work together as a team. I have one private citizen (Lester Hoystradt) who has been taking care of a small 10 stone plot since Lila Nash was Town Clerk. I call him in the fall and ask if he need help from the ton crew. Then I call him again in April or May and thank him for his care. The oldest plot is the Old burying Ground. The reason it is not called a cemetery is because the land was connected to a church. Where the town hall is now was in 1740 a meeting house that was used as a church.  The land behind it was a burying ground. Mt Riga, Chapinville (Taconic) and Salisbury Cemeteries are called cemeteries because they do not have a land connection to a church.

HKR:     Oh interesting. I didn’t know that distinction.

JMcM:  Now St. Mary’s Cemetery is unusual because when Father Lynch bought the property for the church c.1860s he also bought land for the cemetery which is private. I work with jack and Kathy Hawley who are responsible for the maintenance and burial there. I do inspect it and then thank them for all their hard work. I ask if there is any way I can help. If they ask for something, I try to get it done. The second oldest cemetery is in the middle of Hotchkiss campus, but it is hard to find.

HKR:     Oh, I’ve seen that. I love that little cemetery.

JMcM:  it is called town Hill because that is where the town was supposed to be settled.

HKR:     No kidding, on the top of a hill?

JMcM:  Yes, it was supposed to be on top of the hill with views overlooking the lake. I understand from my latest intern that the Hotchkiss students get teased about having a cemetery in the middle of their campus. The cemetery was there first; the school did not exist until 1890. The boundary of that cemetery is exceptional because it is composed of granite pillars which cost $1,600 to replace and the iron rails are actually axle rods made at the Salisbury Iron Works that was on the outlet of Lakeville Lake.

HKR:     Wow

JMcM:  I have to give John Bryant, Head of Buildings & Grounds and the sexton, Andy Fenn, at Hotchkiss full credit for bringing that cemetery up to speed. When I took over, it was a neglected cemetery. I really wanted them to focus on the problem. I asked Mr. Bryant to come with me to the cemetery and look at it. The rails were rusty; some were missing and others on the ground. The stones were broken or aslant. Some of the pillars were broken or missing.  Hotchkiss has many students from the Far East who value their ancestors as part of their culture. “What would they think looking at this?” From that point on, they had worked hard to improve it.  They had done a tremendous job. They get fulsome praise from me.

HKR:     How did you come to be Town Historian?

JMcM:  It was through Katherine Chilcoat. I had been working with her. She was ready to retire but was losing sleep at night worrying about the History Room being unlocked.  She was concerned about records being stolen.  At the present time the librarian at the circulation desk cannot see who is going up to the History Room. Because I like Katherine and greatly admire her, I felt that I should apply for the position. I sent the selectmen my resume and was interviewed by them. I was appointed to the position in November of 2014. When the new Director for the library was in place, I approached her about getting the doors locked. Now the History Room is locked if I am not there. It is a win-win situation.

HKR:     Yes, because these are records and history without duplication. With most of them , if you lost them, that’s it.

JMcM: This is part of the reason why I got a bee in my bonnet about four years ago to have some of the records digitized, which was an experience in itself.  All of the 429 oral histories and 65 memoirs have been digitized.  The oral histories are on the Salisbury Association website.

HKR:     65 memoirs?

JMcM:  Yes, these are first person accounts separate from the oral history interviews. As for example Jane Tuttle worked at the library for years. She moved to North Carolina several years ago, but wrote about her memories of working as the reference librarian here.  Rosemary Fudali wrote about working as an EMT when the ambulance service was formed.

HKR:     So they are digitized and protected?

JMcM:  They are not on the web, but they are protected. I am doing what I can to preserve and protect the town’s history. The town has been good to me and I want to give back.

HKR:     Well, speaking of once being a newcomer to the town, do you have any thoughts or advice for new people moving to town?

JMcM:  Oh yes!

HKR:     As Jean puts a stack of books on her lap.

JMcM:  Another anecdote: when we moved to Gt. Barrington in 1955, my father, who was not a book reader, went to the Mason Library and checked out “The History of Gt. Barrington” and read it right through. That impressed me a lot. First I would say, to get involved with the town, but read about its history so you have some background. I know a new broom sweeps clean, but it has been my policy when entering a new situation to shut my mouth and open my ears to learn about how it was done before I try to change anything.

Here is my list of town history books: We had an unofficial historian Malcolm Day Rudd who wrote “Men or worth (Of Salisbury birth). It is very comprehensive and very well done.  It talks about the movers and shakers of Salisbury back in the early days.  It is an interesting book to read. Ginny Moskowitz was our first Official Historian (1987-1999) but she did not write a book. She was followed by Norm Sills, who wrote a history of Salisbury called “The History of Salisbury from Primitive Frontier to Flourishing Town”. He covers a lot of territory and is easy to read. Katherine Chilcoat took over next and wrote “Highlights in the History of Salisbury, Connecticut   1700 to 2000, Some Known and Some Little Known Facts”.  Then I had to get into the act with a compilation of short essays written about how things began such as the Scoville Memorial Library, the fire department, Dr. Knight’s School for Imbeciles and others. It was my attempt at PR to get more people to read about town history.  Julia Pettee was another unofficial historian who wrote “Rev. Jonathan Lee & the 18th Century Township of Salisbury, Connecticut. She was a librarian at Vassar College. She documented everything with lots of footnotes, but she knew what she was doing.  Then there is Arnold Whitridge’s “A short History of Salisbury, Connecticut”, “The Journal of Judge Donald Warner” by Donald Tichnor Warner who was a pillar of Salisbury. He wrote this in 1926 primarily for his children and grandchildren to tell them about what was going on in town at that time. If you are interested in the American Revolution, the DAR chapter here was called “The Arsenal “because we supplied many cannon and ammunition to Washington’s army.  The book “Arsenal of the Revolution “was written and edited by Ed Fales Jr. They are available at the Salisbury Association located at the Academy Building.

HKR:     Thank you for that wonderful list of book recommendations.  These are all available for sale at the Salisbury Association?

JMcM:  Yes

HKR:     Are they at the library as well

JMcM:  I don’t think so, but they are at the Academy Building.

HKR:     That is very helpful. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you might want to share with people?

JMcM:  No we have covered pretty well.

HKR:     Jean, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a very illuminating chat. I really appreciate it.

JMcM:  Thank you for doing this.

HKR:     You’ve been very informative. Thank you.