Old Roads and Cellar Holes
From History of Athens Vermont by Lora M. Wyman (1963)

Traces of many seldom used and abandoned roads in town may be found lying between crumbling stone walls and lined with cellar holes which mark the former homes of once thrifty farmers. Three of these wind over the East Hill to Westminster. One turns off the lower road,¹ between the former Fred Smith place and the north schoolhouse, and climbs the hill past the Chaffee place to Saxton's River. Another leaves the lower road at Butson's bridge,² passes the new parsonage through the Butson meadow, up beyond the Miller lot to Westminster. A family named Robbins was the last to live on the Miller place, and one named Cobleigh lived in a plastered house on this road.

Another former road to Westminster branches off at the Archie Jones place.³ This used to follow the town line nearly to the top of Hedgehog Hill. Cellar holes on this road are called the old Upton place, the Joseph Powers place and the Carpenter place. The Sam Farr road begins a short distance north of the Robert Smith house, and follows a westerly direction past former summer home of the Spragues and later the Pattersons, past the old Farr place to Townshend. Beginning opposite the Robert Smith house, the road up hill⁴ passes the Sherman Oakes farm now owned by Dr. Mark Altschule, and can be traced beyond the J. L. Perham cellar hole over Stickney Hill to the Lily Pond. On an old road up the hill between the Silas Butson and the former G. W. Powers place,⁵ now the Wickberg property, is the cellar hole of the home once belonging to Nelson Oak, later to Aaron W. Ball.

On the West Hill a well traveled road once passed the Old Brick Church,⁶ on which were situated several successful farms. The cellar holes of the Davis, Thrasher, Marsh and Thayer homes are found on this road. The Thrasher farm was said to be at one time the highest appraised place in town. This road came out at a yellow house near the soapstone quarries close to the Grafton line. Another old county road leading to the quarries left Rte. 35 about opposite Brookside bridge, climbed the hill past the West Cemetery, and joined another road.

In the northwesterly part of town, partly bordering on the West Pond,⁷ are two old roads. One stretches northwest⁸ and on it one hundred years ago stood the home of E. and A. G. Colton, later of J. M. Goodnow. The other road pointing north led to the homes of L. M. Goodnow and David S. Farr.⁹ This road once turned easterly meeting other roads to the quarries. Part of the McCusker estate now covers this section, including the farm where formerly the Clarence Woodards lived. Perhaps the oldest cellar hole in town is located high on the hill west of West Pond. It is said to mark the site of a house built before 1800, by an old sea captain named Ferris Porter, who felt safer on high ground. Beyond the Christian home was a road which, one hundred years ago led south to the R. W. Howard and E. Turtelot farms, meeting the Sam Farr road.¹⁰

Several houses in town built before 1800, are still inhabited. Part of the McCusker house was a tavern, owned by James Shafter, veteran of the Revolution and a charter member of town. The Alfred Ernst place was the home of Capt. Seth Oak, also a Revolutionary War veteran and charter member. The Edward J. Perry house, the Elizabeth Herring house, the Silas Butson, Robert Bemis, Mrs. Walter Rautenstrauch, Andrew A. Wyman, Dwight P. Spencer and the old Powers house are all believed to date before 1800.

¹Ober Rd. to Bemis Hill Rd.
²Miller Rd.
³Old County Rd. to Old Athens Rd.
Whitney Hill Rd.
Taylor Hill Rd.
Meetinghouse Rd.
Athens Pond
Bemis Pond Rd.
Walker Rd.
¹⁰Christian Rd.

See also: Homes of Residents of Athens — 1869, 1914, 1957