Photos of 2001 Annual Meeting

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Historical Marker near Dorset


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Rupert Congregational Church


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Rupert School


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Sheldon General Store


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Rose at organ in Rupert Church

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Sheldons in Rupert Church


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Friday Lunch


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Milk Cows at Woody Hill Farm


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Round Barn at Hancock Shaker Village


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Oxen at Hancock


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Cemetery at Stephentown


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A. Keith gives his report


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Sheldon Photo

Our 62nd Family Reunion!

by Wayne E. Nelson

Hosts, Jim and Rose Sheldon Newton and "on site" hosts Clara Sheldon Gutermuth and Marie Sheldon Hine planned an excellent program for the 62nd annual meeting of the Sheldon Family Association. Sheldons began gathering at the Best Western New Englander in Bennington, Vermont on Thursday, August 2, 2001. 

The Board of Directors met on Thursday night, approved reports from the various committee chairs and transacted other business coming before them.

 Promptly at 9:00 a.m. the next day, Friday, our coach was loaded and ready for our first day of adventure. We traveled North, paralleling a major trail through the "Northern Wilderness" that Massachusetts and Connecticut forces used during both the French and Indian Wars and the Revolution. We passed through several villages with early Sheldon settlers: Shaftsbury, Glastonbury, and Manchester. 

Near Dorset we stopped to see the historical marker honoring the "Dorset Convention." We learned the first general convention of the freemen of the New Hampshire Grants met at Dorset in 1776 to consider the organization of a free and independent district, and for many years the town played an vital part in the establishment of Vermont as a separate entity. Many times during the early years of the Vermont republic, the Legislature met at Cephas Kent's Tavern in Dorset.

Throughout our journey, Jim, Rose, Clara or Marie kept us informed of the history of the area and interesting Sheldons who settled nearby.

Our destination was Rupert, Vermont to visit the Rupert Congregational Church, the nearby burying ground, the old school (now home to the Rupert Historical Society) and the Sheldon General Store. The church is the oldest church in the state of Vermont still in use. It was built shortly after the Revolutionary War. (Sheldons buried in Rupert, Vermont) The Sheldon General Store has been closed for many years and is slipping into dereliction. On our first visit to Rupert, in 1983, the store was open and many Sheldons purchased some trinket as a souvenir. 

After a songfest at the church, we boarded our coach for the trip to the Woolomsac Revolutionary War Monument (a/k/a Bennington Battlefield). We ate our box lunch at picnic tables in the lower parking lot. Some Sheldons climbed the steep slope to the monuments, others waited to ride up in the coach.

Our next stop was the Woody Hill Farm in Salem, New York. The farm is owned by Dan Sheldon, Jim Sheldon and Sheldon Brown. The farm has 1,110 cows, including a milking herd of 590 cows. Milking is done three times per day and produces 38,000 lbs. (4,000 gallons) daily, enough to supply milk to a family of four for 22 years. A truly unique feature is a 28 stall rotary milking platform. Cows are loaded on the moving platform, the milking apparatus is attached, and by the time the cows make one revolution they have been milked dry. Computers track the amount of milk from each cow with herd management software. It is quite an operation.

We returned to the motel for rest or free time before dinner at the Mount Anthony Country Club in Bennington. The program after dinner was given by Fran Carter-Walker, nationally known genealogical speaker and author of some 27 "how-to" books on genealogy. She spoke on the Three Phases of Probate. Using Sheldons to role-play characters in her skit, she took an often deadly subject and presented it in an interesting and humorous fashion.

On Saturday morning, the coach was loaded and off to the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. Hancock was founded in 1783. The community's population peaked in the 1830s with more than 300 Shakers living in six communal groups called families. The population declined and by the 1930s only one family remained. In 1960 the property was sold by the Shakers to a local group of Shaker enthusiasts. The round barn is the most distinctive building. On-going programs include basket making, spinning and weaving, oval box making, etc. Many of us saw the oxen, Buck and Lion, yoked to a wagon and run through their paces. (I was surprised to learn oxen are ordinary steers, I thought they were a separate species).

After lunch, we boarded the coach for the drive to Stephentown, MA to view Sheldon tombstones. A light rain dampened and shortened our visit. (Sheldons buried at Stephentown)

Dinner, again at the Mount Anthony Country Club, was followed by the business meeting. A. Keith Sheldon, Secretary/Treasurer presented the minutes from last year's meeting and the treasurer's report. President Bruce Robertson read a report from Keith M. Sheldon, Genealogist. President Robertson reported there were 47 new members, the Genealogist had responded to 217 letters, and there were 66,027 Sheldons in the SFGS computer files. Wayne Nelson reported Sheldon Publication sales totaled $833.00 and the website recently celebrated its 10,000th visitor. Elections were held for officers and board members: Bruce Robertson re-elected President; Kathleen L. Alevras Vice President; A. Keith Sheldon Secretary/Treasurer; and Jeanne Arnold Jeffries, Margaret B. Jones, and Frank Sheldon elected Board Members at large.

Rose Sheldon Newton presented a program "Ideas for the Family Genealogist using the 5W's of Genealogy." The meeting closed with the traditional singing of "Blest Be The Tie That Binds" and the group photo session by A. Keith Sheldon.

Our heartfelt thanks are due Jim and Rose Sheldon Newton and Clara Sheldon Gutermuth and Marie Sheldon Hine for their hard work in making this 62nd meeting a success. Jeanne Arnold Jeffries is organizing our 63rd annual meeting next year in the Providence, Rhode Island area. See you there.   


Sheldon Family Association 2001
Rev. 29 August, 2005




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