Thursday, September 7, 2017

Who was Emily Proctor?

The Emily Proctor Shelter (photo above) is on Vermont's Long Trail in the middle of the Breadloaf Wilderness. The Emily Proctor Trail is a side trail that leads from USFS Road 201 to this shelter. Who was Emily Proctor?

I wrote about the Proctor family in my earlier post The Proctor Family. Three generations of the Proctor family led the Vermont Marble Company and provided four Vermont governors. Emily Proctor was part of this family. But which Emily Proctor? My earlier post about the Proctor family listed three Emily Proctors, one in each generation:

1st generation: Emily Proctor (1835-1915) was the wife of Redfield Proctor.

2nd generation: Emily Proctor (1869-1948) was the daughter of Redfield and Emily Proctor.

3rd generation: Emily Proctor (1887-1964) was the daughter of Fletcher and Minnie Proctor, and granddaughter of Redfield and Emily Proctor.

The Green Mountain Club (GMC) publishes a book titled Place Names on Vermont's Long Trail. This book says the following (1st edition, 2007):

Emily Proctor Shelter - This shelter, built in 1960 and rebuilt in 1983 and 2002, honors Emily Proctor, for whom a previous shelter was named early in GMC history. In 1914, she gave $500 to the GMC for the construction of three shelters.

Alas, that does not tell us which of the three Emily Proctors is being honored. All three of the Emily Proctors mentioned above were alive in 1914.

In my earlier post The Long Trail Lodge, I wrote about Mortimer Proctor (1889-1968) who was the son of Fletcher and Minnie Proctor and thus brother of Emily Proctor (1887-1964) in the third generation of Proctors. I mentioned that Mortimer Proctor was twice president of the Green Mountain Club, which built and maintains Vermont's Long Trail. But nothing in that post, either, tells us which Emily Proctor the shelter and trail are named for.

The Proctor family was "the GMC's wealthiest patrons" in the early years of the Green Mountain Club (source: On the Trail: A History of American Hiking by Silas Chamberlin (Yale University Press, 2016), page 119). In my earlier post The Long Trail Lodge, I explained how Mortimer Proctor and his mother gave the Long Trail Lodge in Sherburne Pass to the Green Mountain Club in 1923. But which Emily Proctor gave $500 for three shelters in 1914? Mortimer's grandmother, aunt, and sister were all named Emily Proctor!

Construction of the Long Trail began in 1910 and was completed in 1930. Mileage was added throughout that period. The book On the Trail notes that more than 50 miles of trail were added in 1913 between Camel's Hump and Killington Peak, and goes on to say:

With the additional mileage, the club began to construct log lean-tos that would provide temporary shelter for hikers. The first were built at Birch Glen, at Broad Loaf Glen [sic], and south of Mount Horrid with the private funds of Emily Dutton Proctor, the philanthropist daughter of Redfield Proctor, founder of the Vermont Marble Company and U.S. Senator from Vermont.

(Source: On the Trail, page 118. Should be Bread Loaf or Breadloaf not Broad Loaf.)

Bingo! Emily Dutton Proctor was the Emily Proctor (1869-1948) in the second generation of Proctors. She was Mortimer's aunt. She was a noted philanthropist – known, for example, for collecting foreign-language and picture books for the immigrant workers of the Vermont Marble Company and their children.

I wish to thank John Page, the current president of the Green Mountain Club, for solving this mystery for me by finding the above reference in On the Trail. John further wrote the following to me in an email:

The shelter "south of Mt. Horrid" that Emily Proctor also funded was the original Sunrise Shelter, just south of Brandon Gap. This shelter was replaced in the 1960's by the current Sunrise Shelter with funds donated by Mortimer Proctor. Thus the current Sunrise Shelter appears to be the last remnant of the Proctor family's GMC legacy other than the name of Emily Proctor Shelter.

Full disclosure: I am related to John Page, a cousin. John Page's aunt, Jane Clark Brown, and my father, Harold Putnam, co-authored a book in 2001 titled Cloverdale: An Anecdotal History of A Rural Neighborhood. My sister Beth and I used this book as the basis for a presentation in July for the Cambridge and Westford Historical Societies on the history of Cloverdale. Minnie Robinson Proctor, Mortimer's mother, grew up in Cloverdale. It's a small world.

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