We share our programs with the Calais Society
16 April 2013
Calais Recreation Center
by Anne Ormsbee
In the summer of 1862, Alexander Dingwall of Worcester heeded the call of his town to serve as a nine-month volunteer in a company being formed from the towns of Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Marshfield, Plainfield, and Worcester. About 100 men would be required to fill the quota from those towns. On August 29, 1862, Alexander joined other recruits to organize Company C, 13th VT Regiment, electing Lewis Larned Coburn of East Montpelier as their captain.
Alexander grew up in Worcester, worked in Calais, and in 1861 married 17 year old Mary Rebecca Dodge, daughter of Nathan H. Dodge, a farmer and blacksmith in Adamant. On Oct. 14, 1862, Mary gave birth to a son, Cortez, four days after Alexander had traveled to Brattleboro to be mustered in. Mary and her baby probably stayed with her parents in Adamant.
Alexander was mustered out on July 21, 1863, and by 1873, the family was living in East Montpelier Center, where Alexander plied his trade as a carpenter and builder. A daughter Inez was born in 1873.
Mary had a flair for poetry, joining other women of the time who broadened their lives by reading, attending lectures and singing schools, and writing. An 1888 Ormsbee family diary relates that Mary contributed “some pieces” to a 50 page paper presented at a lyceum in the Center, one of the “best papers ever.”
Mary also had some poetry published, an example of which appeared in the Chataqua Magazine, a publication of the Chataqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC), Vol. 3 Oct. 1882 to July 1888:
A Sweet Surprise
We went to school, my dear books and I-
Full twenty years ago and miles away-
True trusted friends, from morn till twilight grey:
I held them dear, and could not pass them by
When other work came in my strength to try;
Like blocks with which the child first learns to play,
I wanted them in sight both night and day.
Oft in my dreams with book in hand would I,
Unfettered, walk the longed-for upward way-
The pleasant path that leads up Science hill;
But waking, knew for me it might not be;
God’s way is best, I truly tried to say,
When lo! A hand, a token of his will,
And on the outstretched hand I read CLSC.