The Chatham Courier, Jan. 12, 1916, pg 1

The Chatham Courier Reports

Thursday, January 12, 1916



Mrs. Delia Reynolds Barrett Tells of Bygone Days—The First Train—Stage Coach Days—The Early Churches—Received Dollar a Week as Teacher and “Boarded 'Round.”

Mrs. Delia Reynolds Barrett, a member of the household of Frank R. Bushnell, near Chatham, and mother of the late Mrs. Bushnell, is eighty-seven years old. Despite her advanced years she is remarkably well preserved both mentally and physically. She says she has noticed that the majority of elderly persons take comparatively little interest in present day affairs and are constantly discussing things that took place many years ago. She has tried to avoid this condition and she has succeeded inasmuch as she has a thorough knowledge of what is going on today, reads the daily and weekly papers regularly and is able to converse intelligently on almost any topic of general interest.

While she prefers to talk of the present, she is able to recall many things that happened years ago and entertainingly discusses them if one expresses a desire to hear about them.

She tells of going to Flat Brook, from her home near Red Rock, in 1839 to see the first train that passed over the old Hudson and Berkshire railroad from Hudson to West Stockbridge.[1] The locomotives and coaches were both small and the rails were wood stripes on which thin pieces of iron were fastened. Steam was generated by burning wood.

She recalls what was known as the Bishop house near Fog Hill where the stage coaches halted on their way from West Stockbridge to Hudson.[2]

At an early age she became interested in church matters and is a veritable encyclopedia regarding early religious matters in certain portions of the towns of Canaan and Chatham. She says the church near Queechy lake was one of the first built in the town of Canaan. Churches in Red Rock, New Concord and East Chatham followed in order. The first church in Red Rock was burned but was soon rebuilt.[3] Circuit preachers were numerous in those days, men usually being in charge of four churches each.

At one time in Red Rock there was a district school with an attendance, of sixty students.[4] Rev. Mr. Manley was at one time both preacher and teacher there. Mrs. Barrett was a teacher in this school when she was sixteen years old.[5] She has a certificate of competence and for several years she taught during summer terms on Macedonia. Her school usually consisted of nine scholars. It was her duty to collect the money from the parents of the pupils, this amount depending on the number of days the children attended. She received one dollar a week salary and “boarded ’round,” usually staying a week in a home. In some instances she was glad when the week ended and correspondingly depressed when it again came time to spend a week with that particular family. She recalls that one of her pupils was a girl named Holdridge who was less than four years old.

In those days the residents were either Whigs or Tories. The Goodrich family were numbered with the Tories and even to the present, their descendants are democrats.

Recalling the compaign of 1844, Mrs. Barrett recalls that the Red Rock residents were particularly lined up against VanBuren because they, believed he was too extravagant in the White House. Their principal grievance seemed to be that he used too many towels.

“ Tippecanoe and Tyler too ” was the, popular cry in the days when Harrison was a candidate.

Mrs. Barrett recalls the Mexican war in 1845–47 and the frequent mention of Santa Anna.

She believes in woman suffrage and says her father used to tell her that when women vote, the liquor traffic will be put down. She thinks it would do much good to have woman vote and believes there would be, as she expresses it, less crookedness in politics. “I do not believe women would fight each other as men do,” said Mrs. Barrett. In the Red Rock school in 1849. there was a debate on woman suffrage and Mrs. Barrett was assigned to defend the negative side of the question. Her father attended but presumed she was to support the affirmative. After he heard her arguing against it he said to her: “ Why, my daughter, I do not see how you could have said that.” “I told him I had said what I did not believe but that I had no choice in the matter when the debate was being organized,” said Mrs. Barrett.

Transcribed from The Chatham Courier, January 12, 1916, Page 1 (

[1] A section of the old railroad road bed used to be visible in the field down in the valley west of Rt. 295 between Rock City Road and I90. I don’t know if it is still visible or not. jhc

[2] It was my understanding that Gerald Moore’s house on County 24 was the stage coach stop. Is this the same house? jhc

[3] Which church burned and was rebuilt? I don’t think I have heard of this before. jhc

[4] This implies the school closed before 1916. Is she talking about a different school or is it just an unfortunate turn of phrase? My dad went to school there through the 8th grade. The Jan. 18, 1923 Chatham Courier, on pg.11, Red Rock column, includes in Red Rock School Notes "Honors earned for the month of December at Red Rock school: Arithmetic grade 8—Kenneth Ford, 90; John Coxon, 90; William Clarkson, 93.” etc. so the school was open at least through the 1922/23 school year. jhc

[5] She would have been 16 years old about 1845 (1916–87+16 = 1845). jhc