Union Hall

The upper floor of the building on the right was called Union Hall and was used for a time as the headquarters of the town's cavalry troops.

The upper floor of the building on the right was called Union Hall and was used for a time as the headquarters of the town's cavalry troops.

This photo is from our archives and shows the building on Elm Street in which Charles Dana had his original store before building another in 1820 on the property next to the Woodstock History Center. The upper floor was known as Union Hall and served for a time as the headquarters of the town's cavalry troop. According to Henry Swan Dana, β€œIn the year 1797 a general militia law was passed by the Legislature, under which the brigade generals were authorized to complete the cavalry in their respective brigades to at least one full troop in each brigade, and no more.” About this time, the local company of cavalry was organized and continued until 1825.

In the History of Woodstock, published in 1889, it states: "The military spirit was then at its height, and this gave animation to the military parades and exercises of June training-days and muster-days, which, being regarded as the grand festive occasions of the year, all classes and ages were accustomed to attend with one accord. Nearly half a century has now gone by since the last of those June trainings, and the memory of the annual muster has almost entirely faded away. But at the time of which we are writing they were celebrated with great spirit, and by none of the military companies in more lively style than by the Troop. The headquarters of the company, for the most part, were in the hall over Charles Dana's store, known in later times as Union Hall. Roll being called and everything made ready, the company on parade-day first proceeded to the Upper Tavern on the Common, where washtubs of punch had been provided. Here all hands partook freely of the precious drink, preparatory to the morning ride to the South Part, where the company frequently met for parade on Farnsworth's meadow. After a swift and cheerful gallop to the South Village, they brought up at the place of destination with throats dry. Having arrived at the tavern the captain treated the company all round. After this came the parade on Farnsworth's meadow, and so the day wore by till about four o'clock in the afternoon, when the company broke up from the parade-ground, rode back to the upper tavern, stabled their horses till dark, got well-filled sacks, and then went home. High times these young men frequently had on such occasions. Captain Jacob French, who lived near the Mendall schoolhouse, had complained that 'the boys' never came to see him when were out. To make the captain's mind easy on this point, one night between twelve and one o'clock some twelve or fifteen of them started on a visit to his house, being minded to give him a 'waker, as they said. But the captain was equal to the occasion, received his visitors with open arms, and gave them a capital breakfast. All hands then went over to Howland Simmon's house, and after having gone through the proper exercises there, they came down to the Green, 'and by that time there was a great company of us.'
     It is too true that the breaking-up of the company for the night, and dispersion to their homes, was never a very quiet affair, and some of our elderly people still recall the terrors excited in the youthful mind on these occasions."