Editor's note: You may recall the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud (1878-1891) of the West Virginia-Kentucky border between 1878 and 1891. But did you know about Vermont's Proctor-Dutton family feud? It lasted 75 years but without the bloodshed of the Hatfields and McCoys. And you can blame all the fuss on a muddy road that divided the two families, both literally and figuratively.
In 1782, Capt. Leonard Proctor, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved his family to Vermont. With his two sons (Jabez and John) he built a "shunpike" to the village of Gassetts in nearby Chester to avoid paying the tolls of the Green Mountain Turnpike.
Salmon Dutton, who came to Cavendish around the same time, had helped to build the Green Mountain Turnpike, which ran from Bellows Falls to Rutland, bringing Boston coaches north up the Duttonsville Gulf to the village and then west along the present Route 131 through Proctorsville.
The toll-free "shunpike" resulted in northbound traffic from Boston coming directly to Proctorsville and bypassing Duttonsville. Because of the road, the Dutton and Proctor families-as well as the villages of Duttonsville (today know as Cavendish) and Proctorsville-feuded back-and-forth for 75 years.
The marriage of Redfield Proctor and Emily Dutton in 1858 joined the leading families of the two villages and promised to put an end to the former rivalry.
As Redfield said of his first son, Fletcher Dutton Proctor-"If the old names and blood had the old inclination left to stir up strife, it would have created a fearful internal commotion."
In fact, the merger of these families proved to be a propitious event for Vermont, since three governors and a U.S. Senator came from this Dutton-Proctor line.
On Feb. 20, 1907, Proctorsville formally gave notice to the Town of Cavendish that it wished to be incorporated. Today Proctorsville is a village within the township of Cavendish.
For the month of October, a pictorial display of Proctorsville will be on exhibit in the Cavendish Public Library.
On Oct. 10, the annual cemetery tour will take place at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Proctorsville at 2 p.m. There will be a guided Proctorsville Walking Tour that day starting at 1 p.m. at the war memorial; it will include the cemetery tour. Carmine Guica, one of CHS's genealogist, will have information about who is buried in this cemetery.
If you don't know the story of "Fire Bug Fitton", Carmine will tell you about it when you visit the family grave plot.