Elias Smith

We love local history, especially when we can read a first hand account from Elias Smith from 1783 when he was living in Woodstock. Elias was only 14 when he told of maple sugaring in Woodstock. He and his family had just moved here from Lyme, Connecticut. They had snow in October of their first year and had a mild December. They did not see ground until April. It was a hard winter as resources were short. The family needed to produce some food and they went out in February to gather sap and made sugar. Here is Elias' account of sugaring in the winter of 1783:

"One man said, that had it not been for three things, Vermont would never have been settled. Elm and ash bark, to cover their houses; maple trees which afforded good sugar, and potatoes which afforded food for many. In the latter part of this winter, we prepared for making sugar in the woods. The /40/ weather was so mild, that we made some in February; and while making troughs with my father, I cut my foot very bad, so that he carried me home through the snow on his back, nearly half a mile, leaving the blood on the snow as we passed along. I recovered of my wound, and was able to attend to the business in about one month. This work of making sugar was very hard. The way we attended to it was this: we dug a large place in the snow, which was generally three or four feet deep in March. Here we made our fire, and hung our kettles. Near the fire place, we trod down the snow, put four small poles down in the snow, and others on the tops of them; covered them with hemlock bows; laid some straw on the snow, for our bed, and had a blanket to throw over us. We were obliged to go on snow-shoes to gather the sap which run from the trees that stood around our camp. We had a kind of yoke which we put on our shoulders, so that we could carry two pails with ease. Sometimes a limb or bush would hold the snow-shoes, which would cause a person to fall his whole length forward. I had many such advances, and sometimes had a bucket of sap on me to add to the trouble. All the fatigue of the day, hard fare, and sleep on the snow, under hemlock boughs, never injured my health, as I had been inured to hardships from early life. The quantity of sugar we made this season was so great, that we felt ourselves richly /41/ rewarded for all our hard labor, and though ourselves in a comfortable situation to what many others were."