In between the pages of Killington history detailing
ordinary Vermont happenings over 100 years old - from fur
trapping to sheep ear markings to the path down
the old carriage road to the first Killington Hotel to
the Bates Farm where the Wobbly Barn now stands -
there lies the story of one woman; it's the story of the
town's slave trade.
The town of Sherburne's informal history, written by
Madeline "Sue" Fleming in 1972, doesn't say how Chloe Tripp came to
what is now one of the country's premier ski resort towns.
What the town record does say leads to more answers,
but also more mystery.
The details of the black slave are documented in
pages of yellowish-brown pieces of paper that nearly fell on
the head of the town's librarian Gail Weymouth
last October, as she pulled boxes from the basement.
High above her on a shelf was a bound book.
It could have been donated or settled there after the town
office's basement was renovated about five years ago.
The basement of the town office acted as somewhat of a museum
for town artifacts until it was renovated for a community
meeting space, Weymouth said.
The book contained what looked like scraps of paper, detailing
the transactions of the town's Board of Selectmen.
There were checks written with quill pens and ink, papers
describing the transfer of land, the paving of roads
- and the town's Overseer of the
Poor trading Chloe.
Chloe was a black slave, owned by Capt. William Tripp and
his family, for about the first 20 years of the
The captain, a resident of Sherburne according to the national
census at the time, and his wife, owned Chloe until his death
in what is estimated to be about 1815.
Chloe's "services," and her son John, were
then bid out annually.
"Someone would agree to pay the town a certain amount
of money for their upkeep, but no doubt she
contributed most with her domestic work," according
to some of Fleming's notes she used to compile the
"Between 1817 and 1836 it varied from $20 to $66. This went on
for 24 years until she (Chloe) died in 1839 and was buried by the
town, location unrecorded."
According to Weymouth, who has now taken on Killington's
job of preserving the artifacts she found in the
basement, where Chloe is buried and other details of her
legacy remain unanswered.
One of Fleming's notes describes Chloe being traded to
an "Albro Anthony" in 1820 to "use the minister's right to land"
near the Mission Farm Church off what is now Route 4.
With about $2,000 from the town this year, Weymouth will be
preserving what she knows and the documents she has
Yet, questions linger.
"Who are these people (Sherburne's first settlers)?" Weymouth
asked in a recent interview at the library.
"What brought them here? Was the captain given land?"
Weymouth said she also inherited "Civil War diaries" from a
former resident now in Florida named Nathan Adams. He
moved and left the library his grandfather's notes
of experiences on the battlefield in Gettysburg as a
member of the U.S. Army.
The look, smells and the sounds of shots and death nearly
jump from the pages, Weymouth said.
Then there's all the headstones of the town's founding
fathers falling to the wayside in the Riverside and Hilltop
cemeteries, crumbling into gravel after years of hard
winters and lack of attention.
"It is a disservice to the town to brush this stuff under the
rug," Weymouth said.
Photo by Cristina Kumka