One of my favorite aspects of genealogy is finding some connection with moments and places in history. Such is the case of Kelley Stand Road situated in the Green Mountains in the beautiful state of Vermont. I feel a real connection with this state. Small in size but big in history and beauty, my research has uncovered the fact that both my parents’ ancestors had a significant presence in this state. In fact, I’ve found several instances when it seems that their ancestors were living just a few miles apart from each other. I find it fascinating that a couple hundred years in the future their descendants would meet and marry while living clear across the country in the state of Oregon.
Located in the southern part of Vermont, Kelly Stand Road connects the towns of East Arlington and Stratton. In the 19th century this road served logging camps and settlements. The road was named after a stagecoach inn built and operated by my 3rd great grandfather and his wife – John William Kelley and Lucy Grout Kelley. Nearby is Grout Pond, which I assume is named after the Grout family who operated a logging camp in the area – but I have not been able to find any definitive information on why the pond was named Grout.
John was born in Vermont in 1820 and lived until 1890. Lucy was born in 1823 in Stratton and died in 1906 in East Arlington. The stagecoach inn is sadly no longer standing, but the road that ran past it continues to bear their name.
In the 1840s, U.S. Senator Daniel Webster gave a famous speech to a large crowd in a clearing on this road. It’s known as his “Kelley Stand Speech.” Somewhere along this road is a historical marker noting the spot where the speech was given.
Kelly Stand Road is an unpaved forest road that is impassible at certain times of the year. But in dryer months it’s relied on to access hiking trails and Grout Pond, as well as serving as a much shorter route between East Arlington and Stratton. Sadly, in 2011 Tropical Storm Irene wiped out much of the road making it impassible. It took the better part of four years to get it reopened in September 2014. I had the joy of seeing some of the road in 2012 when I went on a genealogy tour of the East Coast. The memory of the storm was still fresh in the minds of the local residents. They talked of the prolonged, deafening sound of the boulders rolling down the mountain throughout the long night. It must have been terrifying. Here are a couple pictures of the river that runs along the road as it looked in July 2012. Someday I hope to return and drive the whole length of Kelley Stand Road and maybe even find where the inn was once located. For now I’m content to have seen it in person at all. And in my garden are a few small stones from along the banks of the river that runs beside this little piece of history.
The book, “The Turnpikes of New England” can be accessed online at https://archive.org/details/turnpikesofnewen00woodrich.