The Little Brown House on The Albany Road

his father's adventures while in Canadian captivity and his terrible experiences when, with three other young men, he escaped and made his way home through the wilderness, where he arrived in a demented state and nearly famished. John Williams, Nathan Catlin, John Sheldon could each relate tales of Indian warfare and captivity, heard from their grandfathers; while his next door neighbor, Justin Hitchcock, could talk of a later war, and thrill his hearers with his own experiences while responding to the Lexington alarm. He could tell how the inspiring notes of his fife renewed the tired muscle of the Deerfield Minute Men under Captain Locke on their march to meet the enraged British lion in Boston. The fifer could also relate as an eye witness the particulars and the result of the disastrous campaign of Burgoyne, and could tell with a relish how the company of Captain Joseph Stebbins and others swooped down upon the personal baggage train of the harassed general, and could perhaps show, like some of his fellows, trophies harvested on that occasion. Captain Joseph himself, whose house stood in sight across lots, could repeat the well known pranks of the mobs he led in visiting the tories and enforcing their signatures to patriotic resolutions. Others could tell stories of witches, or of ghosts, as the current talk of the evening might run. Meanwhile, the light from the blazing hickory logs was casting shadows of the group around the hearthstone upon the green baize curtains of the turn-up bed and the red wainscoted walls, where they appeared huge and weird, like the ghosts of restless giants; — pictures quite in keeping with the tales that were told.

About a century ago, Epaphras Hoyt, son of David and Silence, became the owner and occupant of the cottage, which then retained its original external form, to which recent changes have restored it. Although a young man, Hoyt brought with hima valued experience, and the atmosphere as well as the form of the house was gradually changed. Hoyt was a man of genius, whom science had marked for its own, and he gathered here all kindred elements in the town. His Experience, or "Spiddy," as she was called, bore fruit from time to time, and wider accommodations were required; so "Aunt Spiddy's bedroom" and back kitchen were added in the rear, and "Aunt Spiddy's stoop" in front.

The favorite studies of General Hoyt were the art of war, natural philosophy, astronomy and colonial history. He was in the meridian of life when the great wars of Europe which followed the "Reign of Terror" convulsed that continent. As a military man, he watched the course of Napoleon with the deepest interest. He followed him step by step, over the Alps into Italy, over the sea into Egypt, over the Pyrenees into Spain,

Doorstone Tales
Doorstone Tales.

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This page was last updated on 11 Feb 2006