One heart beats warm for me: A 19th century Vernon tragedy, with a long epilogue

By Barbara Emery Moseley

Nearly a century after they were written, the Vernon Historians received a packet of letters from a member of the family that treasured them for several generations. Although the ink is a bit faded, the elegant cursive handwriting reveals a poignant love story.

Written before the Civil War, they disclose the death from cholera of 22-year-old Gratia (pronounced Gray-sha) Fairman in 1847. They are from her fiancé, William H. Burt, who worked in Worcester, living there in a men’s boarding house.

Gratia’s brother George had notified him that she was sick in bed with a fever. Burt responded in a letter to Gratia: “It will be my constant prayer that you may soon recover . . . if you should become dangerously ill or materially worse, let me know it and I will soon be with you. I am enjoying my usual good health.”

Gratia’s condition deteriorated rapidly, however. She was in pain, but “she bore her suffering patiently, and calmly resigned herself into the hand of a kind Father who has promised never to forsake his children.”

Those words were from Professor John S. Lee, her mentor and teacher at Mt. Caesar Academy in Swanzey, N. H. (Born on West Road in Vernon, his life of distinction will be told another time.)

On his return to Worcester, after the funeral, Burt wrote to her family, “to find some relief from my anguish . . . there is no sympathy here for those who mourn.” He continues: “Not a day has since passed but I have found my relief in tears, my pillow is often moistened with them at night. Many times have I wished I might never see the sun rise again — I have lived long enough — my cup of bitterness is full. What more of affliction life has in store for me I know not . . . All is gone . . . Wherever I was, in whatever circumstances I was placed, I was sure there was one heart beat warm for me. Death, welcome Deliverer, come to me next.” (more…)

School budget fails again

In the re-vote of the Vernon school budget held on April 13, the budget failed to pass by a vote of 128 No, 127 Yes, with one spoiled ballot.

This compares with the original vote on Town Meeting day, March 7, of 272 No, 222 Yes.

Selectboard meeting, April 4, 2017

Here is video recorded by Brattleboro Community Television of the April 4 Selectboard meeting. Scroll down for the agenda with time stamps.  Click here to download or view minutes of this meeting.

Call to Order

00:38  –  Welcome / Pledge of Allegiance

01:04  –  Additions to Agenda

01:43  –  Chair’s Remarks

01:46  –  Guests

01:48  –  Public Comments

01:58  –  Department /Committee Reports: Town Treasurer (Cindy Turnley)

07:56  –  Approval of Minutes

09:02  –  Treasurer’s Report: BIlls and Warrants

10:30  –  New Business: Selectboard Rules

14:04  –  New Business: Appointments

30:38  –  New Business: Committee Discussions – Disband Fiber Optic Committee

35:18  –  New Business: Committee Discussions – Recycling Committee Discussion

36:04  –  New Business: Library Board of Trustees Appointment (Ruth Kibby)

41:13  –  New Business: Welcome Sign Spring Clean-Up quote

42:10  –  New Business: Open Cemeteries

43:55  –  Correspondence

44:15  –  Town Administrator’s Report

57:17  –  Upcoming Meeting Schedule


Town volunteer opportunities

The Town of Vernon is seeking to fill vacant positions in the following areas:

  • Solid Waste Committee
  • Rescue, Inc. Town Representative
  • Windham Regional Commission Representative
  • Capital Plan Committee

Volunteer participation in government is essential to the success of any small town.

If you are interested in donating your time and talents to any of these endeavors, please contact Michelle Pong at

Informational meeting on school budget re-vote, Mon. April 10 at 6 PM

The Vernon School Board will hold an informational session on the budget on MONDAY, April 10th at 6 p.m. at the Vernon Elementary School. We are reliably informed that there will be FREE COOKIES at this meeting!

Following the defeat of the proposed Vernon Elementary School budget in the election of March 7, the Vernon School Board has scheduled a second town-wide vote on the budget on THURSDAY, April 13, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. as usual.

Absentee ballot requests are now being accepted at the Town Clerk’s office. If you are not a registered voter, Vermont state law now provides for same day registration at the polls. To register to vote you will need a valid form of ID (driver’s license, passport, other government document, bank statement or utility bill).

Meeting on Village Center Designation for Vernon — April 11, 3 p.m.

Friends of Vernon Center invites you to a community meeting on Tuesday, April 11 at 3 PM at the Town Office building, lower level, with Richard Amore, who is Planning & Project Manager, Community Planning + Revitalization, Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. The reason for this visit is to understand and explore the possibility of applying for Vermont Village Center Designation for an area within Vernon.

Two of the projects to come out of the “Community Visit” program held last spring, led by Vermont Council on Rural Development, were (a) the development of an actual village center in Vernon, and (b) the development of a store/café to serve as a community meetup spot and social center for the town. The task forces charged with exploring these two ideas have now merged and formed a non-profit organization, the Friends of Vernon Center, Inc., to continue work. Having a formal organization will help in terms of fund raising and to apply for grants. The group is being chaired by Arthur Miller.

Richard will make a presentation and answer questions about the benefits of a Vermont Village Center Designation, which helps to make available various kinds of funding and other resources for village center development. Vernon would be eligible for this designation, if we choose to pursue it, as long as one more more pieces of town infrastructure (such as the office building and school) are within the designated village center development area. Zoning is not required. Richard will also discuss application requirements. There are 124 designated village centers in Vermont. To learn more about the program click here.

We will also look at maps and tour the area in question. No decisions will be made at this meeting, that’s down the road.

If you plan to attend, please email Martin Langeveld at so that we can have an approximate headcount.

Vernon Community News — April 2017 newsletter is out!

The “new” Vernon Community News is out — emailed to about 300 subscribers on Sunday morning, April 2. You can view the April issue in your browser by clicking here. For a free subscription, scroll down to the bottom of this page and use the signup form.

Many thanks to Bronna Zlochiver, who edited this e-publication from January, 2015 until March 2017. She has now retired from this task, and two new editors are tackling the job: Martin Langeveld (your webmaster) and Tim Arsenault (Vernon Town Clerk).

We would also appreciate receiving news items and event listings from Vernon organizations, businesses, municipal boards and committees, churches, schools, clubs and individuals. We will normally publish around the first day of each month. In general, we will not publish self-promotions, business promotions, political opinions or religious promotions (church news is fine, though!).

Send your news to Martin at, or to Tim at

Most items published in the Vernon Community News will also appear on the Vernon Facebook Group page, and right here on the unofficial town website. The e-newsletter goes to about 300 subscribers, the Facebook group has about 300 members, and the website sees about 450 local/regional unique visitors per month (with many more from around the country and abroad), so by sending us your news, you’ll reach a lot of people!

Burning permit info for Vernon

As we move into the traditional “burning season” of spring, Vernon residents should be aware that we have fire wardens, as follows:

  • John E. (“JJ”) Wheeldon (Fire Warden) — (802) 254-8185 OR (413 ) 896-3354
  • Jesse Jobin (Deputy Fire Warden) —(802) 698-0468

OR, if unable to reach the above, call:

  • Todd Capen (Fire Chief) — (802)  380-6214

A burning permit needs to be obtained from one of the wardens if you plan to have a fire that’s bigger in size than a normal backyard fire pit fire or barbecue. Permits will be given only for burning natural brush or branches, not construction materials, toxic items, or anything containing oils, paints or accelerants. (Other prohibited items include, but are not limited to: tires, tubes, plastics, shingles, foam rubber, oils, paints and any engineered building products.) Your fire must be attended at all times, safely extinguished, and out before dark.

Permits are free, and issued verbally. No forms, no paperwork, no fees. Just call JJ, or Jesse if you can’t reach JJ, (or Todd in a pinch) provide your name, the time and place of the burn, and ask for an OK. You can leave a message and they will get back to you. A permit will normally be given as long as conditions are not excessively dry or windy, and as long as you have the ability to keep the fire contained, and as long as the materials are limited to brush and branches. Burning permits can be obtained any time of year; there actually is no set burning season as there is in some areas.

Photo by Gord Webster, used under Creative Commons License


Sample ballot for school budget revote

The election to re-vote on the school budget takes place Thursday, April 13, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Here’s a sample ballot. Please keep in mind that the quoted 14% increase results from a state formula — an “equalized student” is not the same as an actual student, and on an actual student basis, the spending per student is reduced. An informational meeting to learn about the budget takes place on Monday, April 10th at the Vernon Elementary School, time to be announced (presumably 6 or 6:30 p.m.).