Sherburne Wiswell

Gertrude Wiswell Wells

Merton D. Wells

Seraphine Wiswell 

By her granddaughter Esther W. Bundy for a school project ~ 1910

Grandma Wiswell was an extraordinary person in many ways. Very strong willed, did not tolerate any unnecessary spending, very thrifty, and was a very good business woman, liked to make money. 

Went to church, gave a lot of time and money to it. After breaking her hip in her fifties could not attend church, but still contributed in many other ways. 

Had a woman come in to take care of the house for things Grandma could not do. Grandpa had saved the woman’s life at one time, so was a very grateful servant. 

Grandma was very upset if my sister Margie and I did not bring home the evening paper on time, we stopped to play instead. 

When I came home with a beau, I'd sit on the porch steps with him. Grandma would open and slam the window every now and then to let us know she wanted none of that. We tried to ignore it but she always won. 

Did not approve of dancing, would not let the boys kiss us goodnight on the porch. 

One of my most embarrassing moments was when I had to go riding with her in her pride and joy her Packard. She had a pottie she always took with her. It was kept in a special-made flannel container, with a top to close it. After using the pottie she would dump it out the window much to the horror of myself and her chauffeur. When Grampa found out he said I did not have to go with her anymore, what a relief for me. 

Grandma Wiswell had a pocket in her petticoat and no matter where she was, when she paid for something she just lifted her skirt and took out her purse. 

Would think nothing of buying a piano, but rebelled at buying a packet of pino. 

Grandma had a bonnet she wore everywhere, black, with a big black bow that tied under the chin. She always wore black. 

Grandma’s Packard was her pride and joy, it was the first one in Cabot. 

When the Dr. told her she would have to use crutches after breaking her hip she told them, I shall walk, but with one crutch only, and she did. A very determined woman. 

When a very young girl while out riding her horse, she was frightened by a bear, but that did not daunt her she kept riding every week which she really loved to do. 

Grandma supervised the garden work. knitted face cloths, never idle, when she had to sit she always did some kind of handwork. 

As Grandma was very involved with the W.C.T.U. she had guests from all over the state. One time at a meeting they heard something popping in the cellar. A cousin George Crosby had made home brew and that was the popping noise. Grandma was shocked. This was the laugh of the town for many years. 

Grandma was very interested in the Home of Friendless Women, an organization for unwed mothers. She was on the board of trusties and gave it a great deal of financial support. 

The Home was a great distance from Cabot but she always attended the meetings. 

My Grandmother loved flowers, had a man take care of them. He was a drunkard, but she and Grandpa took care of him and eventually straightened him out. She did this even though she was death against drinking. 

Grandma always came to St. Johnsbury on weekends to pick me up at the Academy where I went to school. Of course she always came in her Packard. 

One time her chauffeur Aubry Nelson, while driving Grandma and a friend, they were almost hit by a train. The car rolled down into a field and was damaged. Grandma expected Mr. Nelson to pay for the damages as it was his fault and it was her pride and joy that was damaged. 

One time I had bought an orange coat, Grandma hated it, so she said I could buy any other coat I wanted as long as I got rid of the orange on. I did. I had red hair so I guess the colors did not quite go together.


In the evenings we had to play Letters, and if Grandma was losing she always said she was tired and would go to bed, she did not like to lose. 

After Grandpa died, quite a few gentlemen used to come and call on Grandma. One time she had a gentleman visiting and they saw another man coming up the walk, her visitor tried to sneak out the back door but got caught up in Grandma’s ball of yarn and did not make it. That was another story that made Cabot chuckle.


Grandma always wanted to make money and used to argue all the time with my father about Vermont interest and the interest plan my father had. I never found out what Veremont interest was. But it must have made more money if Grandma wanted it. 

It was always very sad that Grandma had to use a crutch so young and be so lame, but she was very strong minded.


She was very hard to describe. Very different from Grampa Wiswell. She was very graspy. 

Grandma was very elderly when she took sick, went to bed, refused to eat anything brought to her and after a very short time she died. 

Grandpa Wiswell 

He was something else. I adored him. He was loved by everyone and as the only Doctor in Cabot kept very busy. 

Grandma Wiswell had the money and she was always upset that Grandpa would not collect the money his patients owed him. He was a wonderful, wonderful person, and would accept produce for payment for his services as he knew most of the people were poor. Grandpa rode his Morgan named Dolly on his rounds, many came to the house for treatment. He hated to see people suffer. 

We had a big heavy doorbell, and Grandma hated to hear it ring at night as it meant he had to go out no matter what the weather. 

One of the things that upset Grandpa was that the women were having too many babies, so tried to talk to the husband, sometimes it worked, but not enough to please him. 

Grandpa and two other Doctors went to Europe to study about ether, and how to use it, he was involved in the first use of it. 

Grandpa was a great gardener when he found time, I used to follow him around while he was working in the garden. 

Grandpa was not a church goer, I never knew why, but he lived a good life. 

Grandpa loved books. In one of the small rooms made a library. He also had a very big cabinet in the room and displayed a lot of relics from his trips to Europe. I loved going into that room and just looking at all his treasures. I have a lot of his favorite books, Dickens and many other sets of the classics. 

We had three pianos, Grandma Wiswell’s on the 3rd floor. Father Wells on the 2nd floor and a square piano on the 1st floor that was also Grandma Wiswell’s. My father played the organ at the church.


I only knew my Grandfather Wiswell when he was very old, and almost ready to retire. He was very old when he died, and I was very very sad at his death.