Photo: State of Vermont
The man who divided Rutland: Redfield Proctor.
Redfield Proctor (1831–1908) will forever be known as the man who divided Rutland. The Vermont businessman was a Republican and singlehandedly built Vermont’s marble industry in what is today the Proctor area.
After he oversaw the mining of marble and the building of the ore mills of the Proctor Marble Company into the 1870s, he served as governor from 1878 to 1880, as U.S. Secretary of War from 1889 to 1891, and as a U.S. Senator for Vermont from 1891 to 1908.
Proctor was already a family name in the Vermont history books when Redfield was born June 1, 1831. He was born into a town that already honored his distinguished family—Proctorsville. The town was where Redfield’s father Jabez Proctor became a profitable businessman and state Whig politician.
Like several of the family members before him, Proctor attended Dartmouth College and prepared to become a lawyer. After graduation, his Rutland-based practice brought in new clients and fresh money and by 1858 he had married Emily Jane Dutton and settled down to build an empire. (The Proctors brought four children into the world—Arabella, Fletcher, Redfield Jr., and Emily.)
When the Civil War erupted at Fort Sumter, S.C., in April 1861, Proctor immediately enlisted in the Vermont Third Regiment as a lieutenant.
He rose quickly and became staff liaison to Gen. William Smith.
In short order, Smith promoted him to major and and the young lawyer-turned-Army officer transferred to the Fifth Vermont Volunteers.
Proctor later became a colonel of the 15th Vermont Volunteers and was an eyewitness to Gettysburg although he was not a direct participant in the bloody battle.
After the war, Proctor drifted away from practice of the law and became manager in the Sutherland Falls Marble Company. The company merged with Vermont Marble Company, and Proctor rose to become its president. The village of Sutherland Falls, Vt., was later renamed Proctor in his honor.
Proctor had ambitions beyond the marble industry. He began his political career in the 1870s and became known as the man who divided Rutland into three distinct municipalities—Rutland City, Rutland Town and West Rutland. He broke up the city to help preserve his political base—an early attempt at redistricting. Even to this day, some Vermonters resent his fragmenting what had been Vermont’s largest city—Rutland.
In 1876, Proctor became Vermont’s lieutenant-governor and in 1879 became governor .
As the years passed, Proctor rose in political prominence.
In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Proctor as Secretary of War (now called the Secretary of Defense).
By 1891, Proctor had his eye on the U.S. Senate where he jumped in when Sen. George Edmunds resigned.
A champion for high tariffs to protect American workers and an advocate for the gold standard, Proctor was sought out by Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt for policy advice.
While Proctor loyally served both state and nation and built a marble industry, some Vermonters will forever think of him as the man who divided Rutland.