Franklin Barbecue of ’57

When a calf weighing 175 pounds at birth was born in 1953 on Warren Franklin’s farm up on East Mountain road in Guilford everyone asked what was to be done with him. Warren would answer them “Going to barbecue him when the boys come home.”

The boys he was referring to were his twin sons, Alfred (Al) and Wilfred (Bill) who were away serving in the U.S. Army. Al, who was stationed in El Paso, Texas, arrived home in November of 1956. Bill, who was stationed in Germany, arrived home in March of 1957. 

By the time of the barbecue, August 11,1957, ‘Samson’ had grown to weigh in at 2,140 pounds at the time of slaughter. A cement block pit with a hut, lined with aluminum, was built and a crane was used to lift the meat where Samson turned on an 18 foot spit hitched to a tractor power take off for 64 hours over one ton of charcoal.

A week’s worth of preparation went into the barbecue in addition to the thousands of pounds of meat. Warrens five sons; Lawrence, Al, Bill, Russell and Gordon, his two daughters; Elaine and Glennie and their families spent many hours including an ‘all-nighter ‘peeling’ 500 bushels of potatoes, 50 bushels of onions’ (slightly exaggerated by those who did the peeling). Also served were 3,000 rolls 3,000 ears of corn, 2,000 bottles of soda, 100 cases of beer, 60 pounds of butter, 10 gallons of ketchup, 20 cloves of garlic, 5 gallons of cooking oil, 3 gallons of salad dressing, 2 pounds of pepper, and 15 pounds of coffee. For dessert, $150 worth of ice cream. The only food leftover—scraps!

Sightseers started coming on Thursday, 300-400 on hand most of the time. By the early morning hours of the barbecue 1,400 tickets had been sold at, $3 for adults and $1 for children. The road leading up the hill to the farm was packed with cars. 

The event made news World Wide, with a reporter from Life Magazine. An article was also published in the Serviceman’s paper, Stars and Stripes. A reporter from The London Daily Express called by Transatlantic telephone for an interview and asked the question evidently on the minds of many. “Could you tell me Sir,” the reporter asked, “Did you slay the beast first?” The answer was “Yes!!!”

Ashtrays were made by Edith Franklin,to be sold. The ashtrays had the date of the event on the bottom and a replica of Sampson on the Base. 

Hundreds of letters were received from people who had read the articles. Some favorable some not so favorable. The letters came from behind the Iron Curtain and Korea. Many family members, friends and neighbors, including Russell Deane of Bernardston MA. (who was in charge of the roasting, after many chefs from VT, MA and even Texas turned down the job) All worked many hours preparing. However, hundreds of folks who had never heard of Guilford before, will remember it as the town where they had the big beef barbecue.

Thanks to mom, Uncle Bill, Aunt Shirley, and Aunt Elaine for the information and especially Uncle Al and Aunt Frieda for the pictures. 


Guilford’s Revolutionary History

This following project was originally published in 2002 as a brochure for local community use by students from Mrs. Kramer’s 6th grade class at the Guilford Central School. The project took place as part of a study of the Revolutionary War. Brochures are available at the Guilford Historical Society.The class researched material from primary sources, wrote descriptions, created artwork and then designed an attractive brochure with copies being produced digitally. 

Once completed copies of the brochure were made available through the Town’s offices, school and local historical society for use by townspeople, students and visitors.Special recognition goes to the followingEditors/Writers: Tiffany, Emma, Mary

Contributors: Whitney, Heather

Design/Layout: Jennifer Kramer

Special Thanks to: Addie Minott, Guilford Historical Society, Charles Butterfield, Joe Brooks, Debbie Tyler, Priscilla McKinley, Beth Yudin, Susan Hessey, Jane Wilde, Eric Morse, and the Evans Farm

Guilford, Vermont During the Revolutionary War

Guilford was chartered in 1754 by Benning Wentworth, the Governor of New Hampshire. After a second charter in 1764, the landowners of Guilford made many attractive proposals to potential settlers of Guilford, making the town have a rapid growth in the earlier days. People started moving to the vast wilderness of Guilford, and started clearing the land. Fifty-four people were given equal shares of land, and told to clear and plant five acres in five years for every fifty acres of land they possessed. Benning Wentworth gave himself 500 acres, while others got blocks of 50 acres. The only trees they weren’t to clear from the land were the pines, which were to be preserved for the use of Her Majesty’s Navy’s ship’s masts. The whole charter was later changed to fit the needs of the town’s population. Only after the French and Indian War, when people thought it safer, did vast numbers of settlers begin to arrive.

Timeline of Important Events

1609 – Samuel de Champlain, French explorer, first entered to region.

1754 – April 2nd, – Guilford was chartered by Benning Wentworth.

1761 – Micah Rice and family, first settlers if Guilford, established their homestead.

1764 – The charter was renewed for Guilford since there were not enough settlers to satisfy the requirements of the 1754 charter.

1776 – July 4th, – Declaration of Independence (for the 13 colonies)

1777 – January 15th, – Vermont was declared a free and independent state at Westminster.

1777-1791 – Fourteen years of strife between the Yorkers and the Vermonters.

1791 – February 18th, – Vermont accepted into the union as the fourteenth state.

Revolutionary War in Guilford

During the Revolutionary War, there was a lot of arguing between the Yorkers and the Vermonters within the town and for several years there were two sets of officials sparring for control. Some thought that Guilford was part of New York, others thought Guilford was in the province of New Hampshire. These issues were just as important to Guilford residents as the war was. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys put a stop to that and by the end of 1777 Vermont achieved Independence.

Guilfordites who fought in the Revolutionary War were usually sent to New Hampshire where they joined a company and went to conquer the British in Canada, and New York. People traveled from place to place during the Revolutionary War by following rivers like the Connecticut River and Green River in Guilford. Everyone in Guilford was a Patriot and if you weren’t, you wouldn’t want to say otherwise. Fighting in the war wasn’t easy and it is awesome so many people decided to join up. Soldiers often didn’t have uniforms, guns and food. On rare occasions wives could come with their husbands.

Zephaniah Shepardson: Story of a Guilford Soldier

Zephaniah Shepardson came to Guilford when he was fifteen. He fought in the Revolutionary War when he was twenty years old. Zephaniah was sent to a company in Chesterfield New Hampshire where he was then sent to Lake Champlain in Canada. Other men had been trying to invade Canada but they didn’t have enough men. Originally Zephaniah was supposed to be going to New York, but plans changed so he and other men set up a fort in Canada. Their plan was to run the British out of Canada. Many people in New England were afraid that the British would invade New England and so this is why Zephaniah was there.

Unfortunately the British invaded the fort and took captives including Zephaniah. They already had over five hundred Indians. The British tortured the captives, and they took all of their clothes, didn’t feed them for eleven days, and after this, Zephaniah got the small pox and became very sick. He was sent home to Guilford where he remained very sick for three years. He eventually became healthy once again. After his first wife died that he had five children with, he married his second wife that he had ten children with, and when he became much older he married his third wife that he had fifteen children with. Zephaniah Shepardson lived for a long time experiencing old age until he died.

Where Did They Live?

Most families had what is called a post and beam house. The frame was made of large beams usually constructed by hand, even if sawmills were available. Then the neighbors would come for something called a raising bee. The frames were assembled on the ground and put in place by men with long poles called pikes. This was a way for the community to come together. 

The houses were usually one to two stories high and there was usually a central chimney with fireplaces on two to three sides of it. The windows were arranged very simply with two on the major rooms in the front of the house. The panes were something like twelve over eight, nine over nine and nine over six. The larger number was on the top because it was easier to open the bottom of the window with fewer panes. The smaller panes usually mean an older house.

Famous Townsfolk 

Without important people in Guilford, Guilford wouldn’t be what it is today. Guilford wouldn’t be rich with history and an important part of the Revolutionary War. Some of these people not only helped their town, but their state and their Union.Benning WentworthBenning Wentworth was a son of a lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. When he grew up he followed in his father’s footsteps and King George the Third granted him governor of New Hampshire. He was a Loyalist and chartered Guilford, although he never lived there himself.Micah RiceMicah Rice was the very first settler in Guilford. His wife, Silence, and he farmed with their three children, Sarah, Molly and Asa. Molly was the first white child born in Guilford. Micah, along with many others, fought in the Revolutionary War.Royal TylerRoyal Tyler was born on July 18, 1757 in Boston. He was Harvard-educated and the first time he came to Vermont for an investigation of Shay’s Rebellion. In 1791 he decided to move to Guilford permanently. At that time there were only 2,435 citizens. His wife moved to Guilford in 1796 to farm and they moved to Brattleboro on 1815. He was known to be a dramatist, novelist, essayist, poet, and foremost a layer, and Chief Justice of a Supreme Court.Lucy PrinceLucy Prince was born in 1724 in Africa. Taken from Africa as an infant, she came to Rhode Island and was bought as a slave by Ebenezer Wells of Deerfield, Massachusetts. At age 20, she was admitted to the church. In 1756, she married Abijah Prince, a free black man who purchased her freedom. They lived in Guilford, and soon had five children. Because they were one of the first black families to live in Guilford, they were harassed and threatened by their neighbors, the Noyles. Lucy, being a marvelous speaker (she later became known for that) spoke in defense of her family’s rights many times.  Once, when Colonel Eli Bronson attempted to steal land that was rightfully the Princes, Lucy spoke in the Supreme Court against two of the leading lawyers in the state, one who later became the chief justice of Vermont, and she won. One man said he had never heard a better argument from any Vermont lawyer. Lucy was a poet too.Abijah PrinceAbijah Prince was born in Connecticut in 1706. He was a servant for the family of Reverend Benjamin Doolittle for some time, and then moved to Guilford with his wife Lucy in 1764. They settled on lot # 187 next to the lot of John Noyes. David Field of Deerfield, an original proprietor of Guilford, gave the lot to him. Because he was black, he was threatened, and his house was vandalized by unfriendly neighbors.
Life in Guilford

Farming wasn’t easy in New England with unpredictable weather, but over 90% of families farmed in the Revolutionary War. It was hard and strenuous labor to start a farm. Mostly young bachelors and couples settled in places like Guilford. All members of the family helped run the farm. 

Farms contained 100 to 200 acres of land. Barns, orchards, hay meadows, and fields took up over fifty acres. Stone walls were used as fences and later when the farm was settled they used split rail fences. They found the stones for the stone walls when they cleared the land for farms, houses etc. Farmers would build barns that would work for the time being and later build a strong permanent barn. 

Women planted kitchen gardens that had a variety of different vegetables. There were usually orchards beyond that. The most common orchard was apple orchards because they were easy to store and can be made into cider.

Most families had horses, sheep, and cattle. Horses served as transportation, and pigs and cattle served as meat, ingredients for soap, candles, and hides for leather. Sheep served as wool and meat. Cows served as dairy products such as butter and milk. The items could also be sold for money or traded to families without dairy animals. The livestock and plants were essential to help the families survive. It put food on the table and served as a profit for money. 

Everything a farmer did depended on timing. If a farmer didn’t have the right timing his family and farm are at stake. In May a farmer spent a majority of time haying for feed for the animals. In August a farmer harvested rye, barley, wheat, and oats. They harvested everything by hand; it was very hard on the body and very tiring. November and December was a time for butchering the winter meat. Then firewood had to be chopped, and the animals had to be brought indoors for the winter instead of the pastures. A farmer’s wife cooked, took care of the family, did the sewing, and cleaning. At an early age, children tended the livestock. A farming life wasn’t easy at all, but every Sunday the family did have time to rest. Sunday was when the family rested. It was when the community socialized and had religious meetings.

Town Meeting – Circa 1900

It was February 4, 1903, Town Meeting day in Guilford. Groups of men, who seem to have been dressed in their best clothes, were gathered in front of the Town Hall, presently the Guilford Historical Society Museum.

The area was littered with horses, buggies and wagons. One buggy was parked on the lawn of the house presently owned by Walter Greenleaf, very near a young tree which could be the large elm now growing there. Someone on foot appears to have been coming from the hotel that occupied the corner of Center Road and Carpenter Hill Road. A colorful scene! 

Women probably weren’t attending Town Meeting. It would be another seventeen years before they were allowed to vote. If the ladies were involved in any way, they would be preparing oyster stew, the chosen main course for Town Meeting Dinners of that era. Those dinners were cooked and served in The Ladies Aid Building, the house where Bob and Laura Tucker live today. 

At ten o’clock a.m. the meeting-goers entered the Town Hall and the meeting was called to order. Articles voted on were similar to those currently considered. Town and School meetings weren’t separate as they are today. Files at the Town Clerk’s office show that all voting took place during the meeting. At the assembly’s end, everyone attending not only knew how the town was to be run in the following year, but who would be doing the running. 

Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the 1903 warrant had to do with electing a moderator, town clerk, and auditors. Under Article 4 the body ‘voted to place its Public Burial Ground in charge of Commissioners’, and elected five men to those positions. Article 5 filled various town seats. Three of those that no longer exists are: fence viewers, overseer of the poor and surveyors of wood and lumber. 

The roster of officials in 1903’s Town Report lists Superintendent of Schools. At that time superintendents were town officials, sometimes women. It would be interesting to know what credentials were required. No mention is made of anyone being elected to this slot, even though all other listed officials were elected. Could it be that the School Directors appointed someone? One wonders if a woman could not be elected to a public office.

Article 6 considered, ‘should licenses be granted for the sale of intoxicating liquors in this town?’ The meeting minutes read: Box turnout at 3 o’clock p.m., 89 yes, 66 no.’

Article 7 passed, directing that taxes be collected through the Treasurer. Action on Article 8:

‘Voted to raise 150cts on the dollar of the Grand List to defray expenses.’
(Let’s hope 150cts was a recording error!)

‘Voted to appropriate $40. for the library.’

‘Voted to abate a $300. Tax error.’

‘Voted to accept Jurors as presented by Selectmen.’ 

Article 9: Other business:

‘Road Commissioner to be limited to what belongs to them for highways.’ 
(Some years there was more than one road commissioner.)

‘Voted not to pay for conveying Pupils to School.’Meeting adjourned! 

Guilford’s Town Meeting minutes record action taken on Warrant Articles to know what influenced voters’ decisions at the 1903 meeting would be very interesting. That debates, heated at times, took place, is a given. After all, discussion is one of Town Meetings’ purposes; it was one hundred years ago, is still today, and let us hope will be that way for another century. 

Mary Sargent