February 2020

The Patch Hollow Tragedy - Bear Mountain, Vermont

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 0
The Patch Hollow Tragedy - Bear Mountain, Vermont
The Patch Hollow Tragedy, also known as the Patch Hollow massacre, was an event that occurred on the evening of May 11th, 1831. A man, Rolon Wheeler, was not well-liked in the community. It was this community who developed a dislike of Wheeler because he was "guilty of indiscretion with his wife's sister".

The community worked out a plan to grab Wheeler from his home, tar and feather him, and then chase him out of town. The gathering of individuals who were going to seize Wheeler were young men from Wallingford, Shrewsbury, and Sugar Hill. A few of the young men threatened Wheeler publicly before May 11th and Wheeler made it clear that he would defend himself. Subsequently, he had a large metal file that he owned formed into a two-edged knife by the local blacksmith.

The 11th of May arrived and, on that evening, the party set out to grab Rolon Wheeler.

The History of Wellingford, Vermont (Physical Book)

On the night of May 11, 1831,  the party set out from the village. Several carried jugs of rum, one a bucket of tar, another a sack of feathers. The detachment from Shrewsbury got lost in the woods, either from darkness or too frequent potations, and after wandering about for a  time went home and reported they'd had a great  time with "Old Wheeler." Next day, hearing how the affair terminated they were glad to make it known that they had never reached the house. In a field south of the "hollow" the parties from the village and Sugar Hill met, compared the contents of various jugs and proceeded to disguise themselves. Isaac Osborne at the time a foreman in James Kustin's hat shop, was appointed leader.  The party followed along the road until they came to Wheeler's house and there called for admission.  They claimed they were going fishing in Shrewsbury Pond and wanted some fire. Wheeler had placed against the door a rail long enough to brace against the opposite wall and feeling secure paid no heed to them. Finding it impossible to force the door, they pried a hole in the gable end of the roof and Isaac Osborne, James Sherman and Silas Congdon sprang into the house. Then commenced a terrible struggle in the dark. Sherman got Wheeler by the hair and began to drag him out when Wheeler commenced to use his knife with deadly effect. The rail was knocked down and others rushing in from the outside added to the confusion.  Benj. Brownell received a stab in the side. Jas. Sherman received fourteen wounds. Silas Congdon seized the blade of the knife in his hand and it was twisted around and wrenched from him, cutting out the inside of his hand. Isaac Osborne fell across the bed and died without a cry. During the struggle Wheeler slipped out of his shirt, dived under the bed, raised some floor boards crawled under the house and made his escape into the woods.

Exploration of where Patch Hollow was and an animated telling of the incident, by Green Mountain Metal Detecting:



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