Mark Bushnell


Mark Bushnell is a Vermont journalist and historian. He is the author and co-author of several books on Vermont history, including It Happened in Vermont. His regular column, Life in the Past Lane, appears in the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus.

Toby Talbot / AP

Vermont started electing governors even before it was a state. As Vermont gets ready to elect its 82nd governor, writer and author Mark Bushnell spoke with Vermont Edition about the high points of our gubernatorial history.

If Vermont ever had an Ebenezer Scrooge, it was Silas Griffith.

He was bold, ambitious and often shrewd to the point of heartlessness. Griffith lived to make money, and was tremendously successful at it. During the late 1800s, his lumber and charcoal enterprise employed 600 people and made him Vermont’s first millionaire.

Griffith’s business required huge tracts of land, which he bought, often through foreclosure, and amassed 50,000 acres that sprawled over the towns of Danby, Mount Tabor, Dorset, Arlington, Peru, Manchester, Wallingford and Groton.

Neshobe Island wasn’t a place you visited without an invitation. That's what some tourists discovered one day, when they pulled their boat ashore and were greeted by a bizarre one-man un-welcoming committee.

It’s hard to say what was most frightening about the man – his incomprehensible screaming, the axe he carried or his strange attire. He wore a red wig, and that was it, unless you count the mud smeared across his body.

The visitors fled so quickly they didn’t realize the naked man was Harpo Marx.