A.A. History Photos

A.A. History Photos with Dick B.

North Congregational Church St
North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, Vermont


Dr. Bob’s boyhood home, St. Johnsbury, Vermont


A.A. History Research Tour of Vermont and Massachusetts
With Dick B. and Ken B.
September 2-9, 2012

Here are hundreds of photos taken during our A.A. history research tour of Vermont and Massachusetts in September 2012. We began the tour in Burlington, Vermont, on September 2, 2012. We then spent several days in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where A.A. cofounder Robert H. Smith, M.D. (“Dr. Bob”) was born and raised. From there we went down to Northfield, Vermont, in which A.A, cofounder William G. Wilson (“Bill W.”) attended Norwich University, a prestigious military academy. We continued on to Northfield, Massachusetts (where Dwight L. Moody was born and raised, and to which he returned to live later in his life, and in which his famous girls’ school was located) and to nearby Gill, Massachusetts (where Moody’s boys’ school is still located. We went from there over to Manchester, Vermont, where Bill W. attended Burr and Burton Seminary from 1909 to 1913. Next, we passed through East Dorset, Vermont, where Bill W. was born and spent most of his childhood years. Then, we passed through Rutland, Vermont, where Bill lived for about three years while he was growing up. And we finished our tour back in Burlington, Vermont, where we did more A.A. history-related research at the Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont.

Here is Presentation Number One of the more than 600+ pictures from our research tour, nearly all of which were taken by Jim H.:


Here is Presentation Number Two of those same pictures, in this case a slide show:


More Details on Our September 2012 A.A. History Tour
of Vermont and Massachusetts

Although there is lots of work still to be done in labeling, describing, identifying, etc., we present these pictures and the following information for your enjoyment. Here are details about places we visited and pictures that were taken:

Burlington, Vermont, Sunday, September 2, 2012

We flew into the airport in Burlington, Vermont, and kicked off our research tour with a workshop at our hotel near the airport.

St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Monday through Wednesday, September 3-5

This is the “mother lode” for historical information on Dr. Bob’s Christian upbringing as a youngster in Vermont.

Robert H. Smith, M.D. (A.A. cofounder “Dr. Bob”) was born in his family’s home at 20 Summer Street in St. Johnsbury (the street number was later changed to 297 Summer Street, which remains the street number today) on August 8, 1879. He remained in St. Johnsbury until after he graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy (which we would call today a “high school”) in the late spring/early summer of 1898. He then left St. Johnsbury to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, which is about 57 miles southwest of St. Johnsbury using modern roads.

Fairbanks Inn–many historical photos;
Fairbanks Scales Plant–many photos and paintings;
Fairbanks family members, homes, patents, and gifts;
Dr. Bob’s boyhood home at 20 Summer Street (now 297 Summer Street);
Summer Street School–where Dr. Bob attended;
North Congregational Church–where the Smith family attended;
Pictures of participants with Pastor Jay Sprout;
Pictures of the Dr. Bob Core Library and the resource binder subjects;
Pictures at dedication of the Dr. Bob Core Library by Pastor Sprout;
Pictures of the sanctuary, baptismal font, pews, organ, pulpit, and windows;
Pictures of the church itself–located on 1325 Main Street;
Fairbanks Museum–location of thousands of historical records;
The Young Men’s Christian Association building (located at 113 Eastern Avenue—just off Main Street—until the building was destroyed by fire in 1984) and its activities;
The Caledonia County Courthouse, where Bob’s father, Judge Walter P. Smith, was Probate Judge;
The firehouse and public offices on Main Street (across the street from the county courthouse), where we obtained a certified copy of Dr. Bob’s birth certificate;
The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, a beautiful library which served as the school library for St. Johnsbury Academy while Dr. Bob was attending the Academy, and which contains newspapers on microfilm dating back to when Dr. Bob and his family lived in St. Johnsbury, along with many books and documents of historical importance to A.A. history;
St. Johnsbury Academy and Grace Orcutt Library, where the Academy’s archives are located;
A restaurant in St. Johnsbury, where research tour participants dined together;
The Village Welcome Center and new location of Town Offices;
Panoramic views of the village, signs, and well-known historical locations including banks, hotels, and railroad

The importance, significance, influence, and activities of the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury; well-known Christian evangelists (such as Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey, Henry Moorhouse, F. B. Meyer, H. M. Moore, and Allen Folger); the Young Men’s Christian Association; the Salvation Army; Vermont Congregationalism; and the United Society of Christian Endeavor are thoroughly covered and documented in:

Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont (http://mcaf.ee/3g2me); and

Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, The Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program (forthcoming)

Northfield, Vermont, Thursday, September 6

Northfield is the location of Norwich University, a prestigious military academy attended by Bill W. (and possibly Ebby T.). We spent time at, and photos were taken in, Kreitzberg Library. The library is filled with pictures, plaques, pamphlets, records, books, histories, curricula, religious emphasis, chapel data, and more. Some in our party visited the school’s archives located on the fifth floor, and the assistant archivist showed us Bill W.’s school records, articles by students and faculty about Bill W., and relevant pictures.

Northfield and Gill, Massachusetts, Thursday, September 6

Northfield, Massachusetts, was where Protestant evangelist Dwight L. Moody was born and raised, and also were he had his home later in life after returning from England in August 1875. Moody founded the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879 (which was later called the Northfield School for Girls) in Northfield, Massachusetts. In 1881, he founded the Mount Hermon School for Boys a few miles away on the banks of the Connecticut River in Gill, Massachusetts. Northfield Mount Herman (commonly known as “NMH”) merged into a single institution in 1972 and consolidated on one campus Gill, Massachusetts, in 2006. We drove by the entrance to the old Northfield School for Girls campus (which is now closed) and continued over to the now-consolidated campus in Gill.

We visited the Schauffler Library on the Gill campus, which is filled with books and documents dating back to the founding of the two schools. The school librarian (who was also the archivist) directed us to a number of key books and answered a number of historical questions for us. We read about the schools, the teachers, Vermont people and evangelists and students who attended, visited, taught, or spoke there. We also learned about early Young Men’s Christian Association activities; Christian Endeavor activities; school news; and Moody speeches and events. Dr. Bob’s foster sister, Amanda Carolyn Northrop, taught at the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies. Professor Henry Drummond taught and delivered his famous talk on 1 Corinthians 13 there; and there was extensive material by him. Colonel Franklin Fairbanks of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, frequently visited, held meetings, and became a trustee of the school where F. B. Meyer, the evangelist and Christian Endeavor-YMCA leader spoke. Dr. Robert E. Speer, author of The Principles of Jesus (origin of A.A.’s “Four Absolutes”), taught and later became Vice President there. And Northfield was the “launching pad” from which Dwight L. Moody and his partner Ira Sankey visited and held revivals and meetings in Burlington, Vermont; St. Johnsbury, Vermont; and other Vermont locations.

Manchester, Vermont, Friday through Saturday, September 7-8

Location of Burr and Burton Seminary, attended by Bill W., Ebby T., Bill’s girl-friend Bertha Bamford, and Reverend Sidney K. Perkins’s son Roger. Location of the home of Rev. Sidney K. Perkins, pastor of the First Congregational Church where Ebby boarded with Rev. Perkins and got to know his son Roger quite well.

Location of First Congregational Church of Manchester, where Burr and Burton “scholars” (i.e., students) attended each Sunday and for special events; and whose members actually help found the East Dorset Congregational Church where Bill W. and his family attended.

Location of the huge Burnham “summer home,” where Lois Burnham, her brother Rogers, her father Dr. Clark Burnham, and other family members lived half of the year as “summer people” and then went on to spend much time at their bungalows at Emerald Lake, Vermont (quite near East Dorset), where Bill met Lois and became engaged to her, and where the Thacher family became good friends.

Location of the adjacent, large, George Thacher “summer home,” where the Thacher family (including Ebby Thacher) lived half of the year; where Ebby got to know his Oxford Group mentors Rowland Hazard, Shep Cornell, and Cebra Graves; and where the Thachers also summered at Emerald Lake near the Burnham bungalows.

The Manchester Journal newspaper contains many articles about these personalities

The Mark Skinner Library is where our workshop people did a good deal of research on Manchester; Burr and Burton Seminary; the Congregational Church; Bill W.; Rev. Perkins; and the Burnhams, Thachers, and Bamfords.

One or more of our workshop participants went to Zion Episcopal Church, where Bertha Bamford’s father was rector; where there is a memorial plaque about Bertha and her death; and where Bill W. and Roger Perkins were pall bearers at Bertha Bamford’s funeral.

The Manchester period, people, and events are well covered in:

Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, The Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program (forthcoming);

Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A. (http://mcaf.ee/pxy5z); and

some excellent histories of Burr and Burton Seminary, First Congregational Church, and Vermont people.

East Dorset and Emerald Lake, Vermont, Friday through Saturday, September 7-8

The East Dorset Congregational Church, the Wilson House, the Griffith House and Library, and nearby Mount Aeolus all played important roles relative to the Christian upbringing of Bill W., the church and Bill’s parents, the church and Bill’s grandparents, and the Sunday school itself, as well as Bill’s Bible studies with his maternal grandfather, Gardner Fayette Griffith.

The events are well covered in:

Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A. (http://mcaf.ee/pxy5z);

Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, The Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program (forthcoming);

Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed. (2010).

Rutland, Vermont, Saturday, September 8

This is the town to which Bill’s parents, Bill, and his sister moved and where they lived from about 1902 to 1905.  We have photos of the Wilson home on Chestnut Street, and the Longfellow School where Bill attended.

We also have photos of the nearby Grace Congregational Church and are working with its pastor and others to see if there are records of attendance or activity by any of the Wilsons during the period of their Rutland residence.

Burlington, Vermont, Sunday, September 9

We researched extensively at the Bailey Howe Library on the Central Campus of the University of Vermont at Burlington. The library contains a wide variety historical records on Dwight L. Moody, Congregational Churches, and other locations.

Gloria Deo