Poultney resident Janice B. Edwards recently researched a painting of Lake St. Catherine, and the artist Frances E. Wilson who painted it. Reproduced below with Janice's permission is the story - we think you'll enjoy it.
History: Beautiful Lake Saint Catherine in Poultney and Wells, Rutland County, Vermont - An Artist’s View Painted by Frances E. Wilson
by Janice B. Edwards, December 7, 2021
Beautiful Lake St. Catherine located in both Poultney and Wells, Rutland County, Vermont is, and has been for centuries, an artist’s haven. It has been the inspiration of many artists through creative expressions with oil and water color paintings, pencil sketches, black and white as well as color photographs, music, poetry and written articles. And, in the 21st century, with digital photographs in websites and shared in many social media sources.
As a Vermont history buff, this researcher / writer’s article about Lake Saint Catherine focuses on Mrs. Frances E. Wilson, who created an artistic painting of this lake. This research began as a request from David Adams, a lake resident, who has obtained a painting entitled, “Lake Saint Catherine Near Poultney, Vermont Painted by Mrs. Frances E. Wilson”. David and his family’s interest is in confirming the location the painting’s view is of; to learn more about the artist who was believed to have been Mrs. Frances E. Wilson; and to try to determine the year the painting may have been created.
David and his family include multi-generational residents of Poultney and seasonal residents of Lake St. Catherine. This researcher / writer’s family does as well.
The painting’s location view:
David and his family have studied the painting’s view, and they have talked with other lake residents about it. They feel that the painting’s view is from the Ferncliff Road near the cottages named Ferncliff and Whippoorwill, which are located on the west side of the lake’s north end. The view’s focus is to the southeast across the lake towards the lands currently home to the Lake St. Catherine State Park as well as towards multiple Cones Point properties.
Together, we each would enjoy hearing from others who may own paintings by Mrs. Frances E. Wilson, as well as from the community with your thoughts about the location of the painting’s view.
This is the only identification on the back side of the painting.
This recent photo view by David’s family is of the area believed to be in the painting created by Mrs. Frances E. Wilson.
Mrs. Frances E. Wilson (1842 - 1914)
Mrs. Frances E. Wilson was Frances Elizabeth Herbert, born one hundred seventy nine years ago on July 10, 1842 in nearby Whitehall in Washington County, New York. Her parents were Robert and Hannah (nee Searl) Herbert, who were both also born in New York State. Frances had several brothers and sisters.
Historical records indicate that Frances could read and write, however, she did not have formal school education. Her father was a farmer and from her birth until 1863 Frances lived with them in Whitehall. The home was apparently near Hampton in Washington County because their postal address was Hampton.
On March 10, 1863, Frances married Ashley Wilson who was also born in Whitehall, New York. He was born April 19, 1839, the son of Squire and Rebecca Wilson. By 1870, Frances and Ashley Wilson were residents in Poultney. Throughout their married life, Frances was keeping house and her husband
worked as a carpenter. The couple did not have any children, however, in 1880, four-year old Mable was living with them. Mable was their adopted daughter.
On June 28, 1898, Mable married to Mr. Perry B. Wolcott. The marriage occurred at her parents’ home. The service was officiated by The Reverend E. H. Randall, pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church. The wedding party consisted of a few friends. A news account relates that it was “… one of those pleasant affairs which we take delight in publishing, as indicating that this generation like all that have been before it has a just sense of the sacredness and importance of marriage vows, and recognizes wedded life to be an institution ordained of God.” The news account further stated that the wedding was “… arranged with respect to utmost simplicity [and that] there was none of that conventional formality which sometimes destroys the meaning of the occasion.” Following the 10 o’clock service, the couple took a train for Fair Haven, and there connected with a south-bound train of the D. & H.R.R.
Between 1863 and 1900, Ashley and France Wilson’s residences changed a few times, yet it appears they primarily lived in the west village area. By 1900, Ashley was then referred to as an architect, yet he also did not have any formal education.
In 1910 their home was on College Street about five structures northeast of the Mahar home. The Mahar home was the historic red brick house on the east side of College Street facing Moses Hall. It is between two white wooden houses. In 2021, the white house located on the corner of Main and College Streets is known as the Two Editor’s Inn. For many years, it was Carrigan’s Funeral Home. In 1910, Ashley and Frances Wilson have six roomers resident with them, each between the ages of 19 and 26 years. The roomers work in the shirt factory. The shirt factory was within easy walking distance of the College Street home in which they were roomers. The factory was located on the corner of Main and Maple Streets. In 2021, that factory property is occupied by the Stewart’s Bread & Butter Shop and its gas pumps. That corner property was originally site of the beautiful three-story Joslin Hall and the very fine F.B. Barrett & Co. store, a department store.
Mr. & Mrs. Ashley Wilson celebrated their golden wedding anniversary after having lived in Poultney forty-nine years. Throughout their lives, they were members of the Methodist Church, Hampton. The Methodist Church was a wooden structure located on the south side of Greenfield Lane in Hampton village near the road’s intersection with Route 22A across from County Route 18. Neither the church building nor the Greenfield Lane / Route 22A intersection mentioned exist in 2021.
Ashley Wilson died October 3rd, 1913, four months before his wife. His obituary provides significant insight into his life in the community, and because of that obituary details are shared herein.
The obituary stated that Mr. Wilson’s death “… was not unexpected as he had been in feeble health for several months, and was seldom seen on the street; but the passing of such a man as he could not be without a distinct feeling of loss not alone to his family, but to his neighbors and many friends as well. In his quiet and unassuming way he filled out his long life in works abundant and had a prominent place among men of affairs. In his chosen vocation of architect and builder he was foremost in the communities in which he moved, and the fruit of his endeavor survives him in many a structure, public and private, which do credit to his ability and good taste – notably the dwelling houses of E. R. Norton in Granville, and George Stannard in West Haven, Vt.
Mr. Wilson was self-made and yet well made. Chiefly from his own unaided effort came whatever success attended his earthly career. While a man of industry, he was never too busy to give a word of friendly advice or helpful suggestion to any who sought it; and in his employment of men he asked nothing from them that he would not require of himself. Faithfulness to this rule of action doubtless laid the foundation of many infirmities that vexed his declining years. It was his nature to do whatever needed to be done regardless of the difficulties that might stand in the way. He loved his business, and went about it with whole-hearted purpose and cheerful endeavor. His kindly disposition won for him numberless friends, and secured for him the respect of all who knew him. We sorrow for him yet hopefully; the righteous man shall doubtless receive a righteous man’s reward.”
Mr. Wilson’s funeral was largely attended by local people as well as many from other regions. Six nephews acted as bearers including Seymour Burdick of Rutland, Archie Burdick of Pawlet, Ashley S. Wilson of Middle Granville, and Ira, Chester and Warren Wilson of Poultney. He was buried at the Methodist Church’s Brick Church Cemetery, County Route 18 in Whitehall, New York.
Mrs. Frances E. Wilson died four months after her husband’s passing. She died at her College Street home after an illness of only a few days on February 23, 1914. Her cause of death was pneumonia. Her funeral was held at the home officiated by the Reverend E. H. Randall, assisted by H. P. Scratchley. The bearers were Warren Wilson, Ashley Wilson, Chester Wilson and Ira Wilson, nephews of her late husband. She was buried with her husband at the Methodist Church’s Brick Church Cemetery, Whitehall. She was survived by three grandchildren, two boys and a girl, the orphaned children of the couple’s adopted daughter. Mabel Wilson Wolcott died in North Dakota several years before her father’s death.
This 2021 researcher / writer has found an 1899 article about the inauguration of the Ferncliff property which was then owned and managed by Mr. N. Burdick. At the inauguration event, a largely attended concert and hop provided music by a seven piece orchestra from Albany, New York. Tables were laid for twelve people at each, and a splendid meal was consumed at midnight which everyone took part in.
It appears to this researcher / writer that Mrs. Frances E. Wilson was a talented, self-taught artist, and that the painting in question is certainly the Ferncliff Road property previously discussed. It also appears from the obituary information that her husband’s Burdick relative was owner of that property in the end of the 1890’s / early 1900’s. Therefore, it is likely that Mrs. Wilson had many opportunities to visit it, to be inspired by the beauty and the time to create her views.
It is now one hundred seven years since the death of Mrs. Frances E. Wilson. Again, David Adams and this researcher / writer each would enjoy hearing from others who may own paintings created by the artist, Mrs. Frances E. Wilson. Should anyone have comments, please be in touch with Janice c/o email to – Cartreftaid@yahoo.com. Thank you very much.