Molly King works to preserve Charlotte family history
Lynn Monty, Editor in Chief
Why would a woman who lives in Colchester spend most of her days in Charlotte? Enquiring minds wanted to know, so The News asked. We had the pleasure of visiting with Molly King, 48, on the shores of Lake Champlain on Feb. 24.
In the words of her good friend Alice Outwater, King is a true historian at heart. Her extensive work with Charlotte’s Historical Society is proof of that. What’s more, she was born and raised in town. She called Greenbush Road home in colder months and summered on Thompson’s Point most of her life.
“We had a really great childhood,” King said. “The houses from the Old Brick Store going north were all owned by my family at one time. I have known Alice since I was a small child. She was a neighbor of ours on Thompson’s Point and we are still close now.”
King’s great-grandfather and uncle owned The Old Brick Store from the mid-1800s to the 1980s. It was once a daily childhood stomping ground where she remembers everything from rubber boots to giant wheels of cheese being sold. “Back then you could get everything there,” she said.
The homes, the store and even the camp on Thompson’s Point have all been sold, King said as she retrieved a special book that documented the history of her family in town. Her copy of Around the Mountains: Historical Essays About Charlotte, Ferrisburgh, and Monkton had several bookmarks indicating where her family was mentioned in the tome put together by the Charlotte Historical Society in 1991.
She read from the page where The Russell Williams House, where she grew up on Greenbush Road, was mentioned. “It’s the white one with the big maple,” she said pointing to an old photograph. Her mother, Mary King, sold it in 1995.
“It had what they call a TB porch,” King said. “When people had tuberculosis they needed to be outside to get fresh air, so one addition that this house had before we moved into it was a 20s-style upper porch that had maximum air flow. We were never really allowed on that porch.”
TB porch aside, her favorite features of that house were the cold closet and the kitchen. “We had the quintessential Norman Rockwell kitchen,” she said. “It’s since been renovated and updated. We had a huge sideboard in the cold closet where we would keep the Thanksgiving turkey. It was like a huge walk-in refrigerator. I think it’s a laundry room now.”
In the early 1900s King’s great-grandfather Stanton Williams had a sidewalk installed on Greenbush Road that has since disappeared. “He had it put in from his house to The Old Brick Store so he didn’t have to get his feet muddy walking on the road,” King said.
Great-grandmother Maude Williams also helped shape the town. “When they came through with telephone poles and wires they were going to put them in front of her house,” King said. “She made them put them out back. She didn’t want the eyesore.”
The Williams family has been a big part of town history, having arrived in the late 1700s, but King no longer has any immediate family here. Both of her parents, Mary and Peter King, were only children so she has no first cousins. And Molly and her brother, John, have no children. So, to preserve her family history, King has dedicated time and energy to completing two books, one of personal essays written by her grandfather and another on a walking tour of West Charlotte written by her dear friend Francis Thornton.
Thornton died in 2011. King said they had collaborated on the walking tour book extensively before his passing. “I want pictures and a map and I really want this to come to life,” she said. “It’s 50 pages long and walks readers from the Senior Center to the blacksmith shop, the old post office and to the tavern in town.”
On the northwest corner of Ferry and Greenbush was a stagecoach stop, a tavern that had a spring floor, King said. “The second floor was on springs for dancing. It’s wild to think of all of the dancing that went on in town back then. Springs were in place to protect the beams.”
“Frank was a patent lawyer who loved potatoes,” King said of her friend. “I think he was Irish. He was a prolific writer. He was a love. I miss him.”
Look for more about local history from Molly King in upcoming editions of The News.