Ancient Brick’s Story

Ancient Brick on North Field Dam

That is an old brick. I suspect it is over 200 years old. It looks just like the bricks in the beehive oven and chimney in our house. Funny that it should be way over there, 1,000′ from the house.

This summer we dug a small pond in that spot in the north end of the north field to provide our livestock with drinking water and to catch some of the rushes of water that flow down the mountain. This will help in dry years so we’re no longer completely dependent on the one spring that had previously supplied our house and farm. In the process of digging the pond in a low spot we kicked up this brick. We may have kicked out many others that I haven’t seen. The spot has quite a bit of clay, which is why I chose it, and might have been the site of colonial brick making back in the late 1700’s.

There used to be an entire village on our land. Our old farm house is the last standing building. The man we bought our land from back in the 1980’s was born here (Lloyd D. Hutchins Senior, 1912-2007 RIP) on the land and he farmed another part of it before us. Walking through the woods it is amazing the number of foundations we run across in the woods. Some are full depth, others just corners of rock that perhaps were sheep sheds. Some are down in the valley along the road, others on the ridge roads and a few are high up on the mountains.

When Lloyd was a young man he hayed most of this land but now there are big trees. Lloyd told me the story that he came back from the war and working down country. He said his fathers house was gone and in the middle of the foundation was a tree thicker than his shoulders. He said that made him feel old. Lloyd told me that when he was a spry 80 years of age. He didn’t die until last fall at the age of 95. He remained pretty able right up until the last couple of years. Lloyd used to come visiting often. He told me a lot of stories about the land. My wife Holly says we were peas in a pod. Ironically, years after we moved here Lloyd and I figured out that we were probably cousins, sharing a common aunt from the 1800’s. We both have big families so that’s pretty easy to have happen in a small rural area.

The forests are filled with stone walls from the lows of the valley up to the peaks of the mountains. One doesn’t build stone walls in the woods. Moving that much rock is just too much work. People did it to clear the fields. Now those fields are gone, filled with trees of great girth that reach into the sky. At one time almost all of Vermont was sheep pasture. Now it is almost all forested. A hundred years. Just a hundred years have passed. One man’s lifetime. Things change and change again. The world keeps on keeping on.

So I stumbled on this brick out in the north end of the north field. Time to time the pigs or I dig up an old axe head, a shard of a dish, an old whiskey bottle, a boot, an ancient machine part, old flat nails, a section of chain, a tool. I collect these bits and pieces and I think about the history under my feet.

Outdoors: 58°F/24°F Cloudy, 1″ Rain
Farm House: 66°F/49°F
Tiny Cottage: 72°F/62°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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15 Responses to Ancient Brick’s Story

  1. Hi Walter,

    I love finding relics and pieces of history on our property. And I, too, spend time imagining the lives of those that walked this land before me. It’s just fascinating. Thanks for sharing the old brick.

    I hope you’ll accept the “Premium Dardos Award” I’m giving you for your blog. I enjoy your blog and appreciate your contributions. If you accept, you can post the image of it by copying it from my blog at I think this is a great way for blogger to honor and promote each other.


  2. Dukerdawg says:

    Walter, I try and remember to check in every day. Your family is great and I enjoy your stories. Today’s was especially enjoyable. Just imagining the lives of all those people that used to inhabit your farm is intriguing. Each and every one of them a life, a story, hopes, dreams and perhaps tragedies as well. Take care and enjoy your sunday. Duane

  3. pablo says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post! I keep looking for evidence of the past in my woods, but aside from the occasional cow bone, I haven’t turned up a thing.

    They say that Missouri now has more forested land than it did in pre-settlement days.

  4. oshea12566 says:


    Here is upstate New York, I keep finding wagon parts…the metal steps (i think), door handles, wheel hubs. I wonder if they used to make wagons on my property or something. I find the parts all over the place. Amazing the history that right below us.

  5. Peter comly says:

    I’m just in from back filling the trench I had to put in so I could hook up a freeze proof water tank for my cows down at the barn. I found a horse shoe, some square nails and some bucket milker rubber inflations. And some harness hardware.

    It is amazing how quickly the history of a place is lost.

  6. Peter says:


    I always enjoy your posts, thank-you for taking the time.

    Our property in New Mexico has the ruins of the stagecoach stop that used to run between Springerville in Arizona to Magdalena east of us — talk about bits of glass, metal, livestock bones, etc. History is seen daily :-)


  7. MMP says:

    When I was preparing the section of ground in the back field for tilling, I pulled up a section of chain and a broken tiller tine. Luckily, I turn them up with the scarifying tines of my box blade, not the tiller. I imagine Hiram lost them when he was trying to grow corn up there.

    Down by the house, if I dig along the foundation, I often find window hardware, squarecut nails, glass that has been melted and the occasional charred peice of wood. I assume these are artifacts from the fire that burned the railroad hotel that was here. The town clerk thinks our house was built on the same foundation.

  8. would love to use a metal detector here! do you know what kind of village or settlement? i love stuff like this! We are doing great at our adventure living off grid on the amish farm. it has not been that large of an adjustment! i am online with my hubby’s wireless alltel antenna on battery of his laptop with gas lamps :)

  9. How cool- thanks for sharing. Mom & Dad's old barn (built c. 1900) fell down last year- not having animals in it quickly took it's toll. I have always loved looking at the barn construction and thinking about how many others put up hay in the loft, milked cows, etc….

  10. Mellifera says:

    There’s nothing like going to college and discovering halfway through the year that your roommate is your third cousin… and one of your buddies finding out that that girl he was hopelessly pursuing was also his third cousin. It never would’ve worked out with them anyhow, so that was about the most graceful conclusion that situation could have come out to.

    (Then we found out that he and I were 12th cousins, but that goes back to the Mayflower, so it’s ok that we got married. :) None of us were from the same town or even area of the country, but it was BYU. This is what a somewhat endogamous community, polygamous great-great-grandparents, and lots of job-driven migration in the meantime can do….

  11. Patty says:

    I grew up in a very old house in Massachusetts and what fun I had as a child digging around and finding things, including a tiny tea set. That sort of connection to history makes it seem real.
    We now live in Texas in a old house by Texas standards, its about 100 years old. We have found more than a few old medicine bottles where our garden is.
    We love them, pieces of the past.

  12. Gadget_ca says:

    Walter & family;

    Many thanks for the many hours of enjoyable reading! The "ancient brick" made me think of my grandfather, and farm that he grew up on, and raised his kids on. Many hours of haying and playing were spent on that farm by my cousins and I!! Much of what you write takes me back in time, in my mind's eye…

    Just out of curiosity, the trees around your place, are they soft wood? One of the things that my grandfather said was that after the grass comes brush, then soft wood, and then hard wood. Looking around on the old farm shows this to be true; I was wondering if you were seeing the same sort of cycle there?

    Many thanks again!

    Is it wrong to wish I was one of your kids?? ;)

  13. Gadget,

    Yes. That is the natural cycle. First come the brambles with their plethora of fruit. Softwoods like spruce, pine and poplar follow. Then the hard woods like maple and birch. We have no oak, sadly, although I’m working on growing some. At this point most of our land is hardwoods with a few hundred acres of evergreens scattered throughout.

    And no, it’s not wrong to wish that. Others have before you. I’ll take it as a complement. The age thing will require some interesting time travel though. A common problem. :)



  14. RMK says:

    Amazing what you find when you're out and about in the woods. We have coonhounds and when you're up on top of a wooded hill at night, the remains of old fence lines are easy to spot. For those of us who've built fences, it's not hard to imagine someone 80 to 100 years ago toiling in the July sun, digging those postholes & prying out rocks. All that work and now the woods swallow it up. We've even found an old zig-zag chestnut rail fence mouldering in the leaves & duff.
    Well, our collection of horse shoes, canning jars, & doorknobs continues to grow at our farm. Been here since 1991 and you can't put a shovel into the ground without hitting something …. bricks included.

  15. Farmerbob1 says:

    Heh, relatives turn up in the strangest places. I went to college with two people who were good friends, occasionally giving signs of becoming a little bit more than good friends. Then, one day, at a wedding they were both attending, he overheard her saying ‘hello grandpa’… to his grandfather.

    After a brief, somewhat shocking, discussion with their grandfather who had apparently been a very busy young man, they did a complete rewrite of their relationship.

    As for relatives in Vermont, I’ve got some Fleury and Sharpe family ancestors in the family tree up that way.

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