By Barbara Emery Moseley
With this chapter we conclude the previous series (“Stones & Bones, Where can they be?“) which related to the now-vanished Polly Lee Cemetery and various generations of the Lee family in Vernon, and begin an exploration of another family that has a cemetery named after them — the Whitheds. (The Whithed cemetery is on Route 142 just north of the intersection with Newton Road.)
Marshall Whithed was a prosperous landowner in town. In the 1840s, the imminent arrival of trains prompted the building of hotels at each stop. The enterprising Marshall Whithed built a large two-story hotel, the Whithed House, in the center of town, immediately north of the present day Vernon Union Church.
Its upstairs contained a large hall, with a stage and dressing rooms. Dancing was a popular pastime.
The ground floor housed the post office and general store. Its merchandise was delivered to a river landing. Old account books note the purchase of cloth, needles, kerosene, stationery, patent medicines, etc. Anxious relatives would visit the post office, hoping to receive a letter from a loved one, far away on a Civil War battlefield.
Much like the bed-and-breakfast of today, the Whithed House did the same. Water for the house and guests came from a spring through hollowed-out pump logs, each being tapered like a pencil fitting into the next. On the bank near the railroad was a patch of “blue clay.” It was used to seal each joint.
At the Vernon Historical Museum, a pump log from the Whithed House, and one of its tin bathtubs, are on display. Bath water was heated on the kitchen stove, in a copper wash boiler. It was then ladled into pitchers, to fill the tub.
Each room would have a washstand, which held a basin, shaving mug, toothbrush holder and chamber pot.
Marshall married Ruth Wright. They had eight children: Addison, Isabella, Josephine, Lafayette, Lucia Ann, Adaline, Sylvina, and Clinton Stratton. Their son Addison married Editha, who was one of Eli Lee’s daughters (this connects the family with our previous series on the Lee family!). Of their eight children, each had skills. It’s daughter Sylvina who must be watched… (Tune in next month!)