Monday, June 6, 2011

OZRO ELLIS—1849-1929

Picture and text from Barnard  A Look Back by Marie deGiacomo, 1982 Greenhill Books Randolph Center

Now before I get completely away from Vermont I will expand my imagination even more.  The history I have of Ozro is taken from interviews with Philip Desmond, owner of Ellis Farm in 1999, and articles from The Harbor.  Since Harlan has left the farm Ozro will take over the operation of the farm.  That will include managing the quarrying of granite from Ellis Mountain.  From the sources I cited earlier, indications are that the granite from the mountain was used extensively throughout the area.  
Author at the Granite Quarry on Ellis Mountain
The method of harvesting the granite was by the “drill and fill” method.  Holes were drilled into the granite, by hand, several inches apart and then filled with water.  I was told that this operation was done during the winter months so as the water froze and expanded the rock was forced apart.  The granite, being layered, would split off into rather uniform slabs which were then loaded on a stone boat or as some say stone sled.  This piece of equipment consisted of two wooden runners tapered in front and a platform secured to the runners forming a very low sled.  This was pulled by horses down trails on the mountain and to the place where the granite was to be used.  The use of granite for foundations and retaining walls was prevalent at that time and were laid up with the “dry stone” method.  That is no mortar was used but by careful fitting the stones were placed and remain in place to this day.  The dry stone method was mostly abandoned after the Civil War as poured concrete became more readily available.  Some walls and fences still use the dry stone method. 
Barn foundation Ellis Farm

Retaining wall at the end of the Barn

This excerpt was taken from The Harbor  published July 1976 by the East Barnard Community Club:  The stone quarry on Ellis Mountain furnished the underpinnings and handsome doorsteps for many homes in the valley and for houses as far away as Woodstock. The wall around the Billings’ Mansion  is built with Ellis Mountain stone.  The stones were all moved by sleds in the winter.  
Granite doorstep at the Ellis Farm House

My cousin, Helen, in Wisconsin found another use for Vermont granite.  While she was visiting the farm in 1998 she asked Mr. Desmond for a slab of granite that she intended to use for her tombstone when she dies.  This has been marked and placed at the grave of her husband.  It will be ready for when it is time.   
Headstone for Elroy and Helen Moe

My wife and I found another use of the granite slabs as indicated in this picture of granite fence posts in use in the Royalton area.  Since granite is quite abundant in that area I don’t know if the granite posts came from Ellis Mountain or not.  But I thought them quite interesting.  Yankee ingenuity at work.
Another use for the granite as we found out on our trip to Vermont was that it was  used to build a dam at the Billings Living History Farm near Woodstock.  The dam is roughly eight feet high and thirty to fifty feet across.

Dam at Billings Living Farm

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