ST. JOHNSBURY — Perfect weather and the prospect of a new addition to its collection drew steady patronage at Saturday’s Festival of Traditional Crafts at the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center.
Dressed in period turn-of-the-20th-century-clothing, craftsmen and women demonstrated wood turning, how spinning tops and wooden water lines were made, while the patrons enjoyed the indoor and outdoor activities, and gathered around the front porch of the Center’s Summer Street home for a special presentation at 1:30.
Making the presentation to the Center of a Civil War-era sword, was Steve Wakefield and the Vermont Civil War Hemlocks. Dedicated to portraying state infantry and artillery soldiers during the Civil War, the Hemlocks are historians, educators, preservationists and re-enactors of the war they call The War of the Rebellion.
They’ve had in their possession a sword that belonged to a local veteran and prisoner of war, Edward Farwell Griswold, and came to St. Johnsbury to donate it to the Center. “Captain Griswold was from St. Johnsbury, and we feel this is where his sword should be,” he said in a presentation to Heritage Center director Peggy Pearl.
Griswold’s story was extensively discussed. He was taken prisoner by the rebels in June 1864 in Virginia. On July 1 he and two others escaped. The three escapees remained together until July 17 in Millbro, where they were discovered by rebel guards. On the run, they became separated. Griswold entered a farm house some four days later thinking it was safe until two rebel guards appeared, and freedom was lost.
Griswold was paroled at Fort Monroe with a party of sick and wounded Union prisoners in September 1864. He later donated his service pension of $12 a month to the R. E. Lee Camp in Richmond, Va. In September 1894, he went up in a hot air balloon at the Caledonia County Fair in St. Johnsbury. “There were over 12,000 paid admissions on that day!” Peggy Pearl pointed out in her online blog.
Capt. Griswold died in 1926 and is buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. His sword was accepted with gratitude by Pearl.