The Tin Peddler's Ruse
The peculiar theology and religious character of New England Congregationalism was indelibly stamped upon the men who founded Vernon and there was little separation of church and state. For them the Sabbath commenced with the setting of the sun on Saturday from their recognition of the recorded fact that "evening and morning made creation's first day."
Sabbath day was universally honored. Civil guardians restrained out-of-door disturbances of its quiet, and 'tithingmen,' with their long, slender wands gently touched boys or girls, preventing disturbances in the sanctuary.
The following story, quoted from The Connecticut Magazine, is an example of how church rules were enforced and, as is human nature, how we get around them.
"Tradition says that a tin peddler by the name of Dean, who had been peddling his wares up this way, desired to get to his home in Stafford for over Sunday. Knowing how strict the people were, and with what horror they viewed any desecration of the Sabbath, he ingeniously made a dummy to represent a man from bags which he had in his wagon.
"When he reached the place where Nathan Lanz now lives he was halted by one of the good fathers of the town, who came rushing out of the house. With a solemnity that would do justice to a deacon of those days the tin peddler said: "Keep away; keep away; I've got a smallpox case here." It is needless to say that the tin peddler was allowed to go on his way unmolested. The good father of the town who sought to hold him up, went back to the house quicker than he came out."
"The Connecticut Magazine, Volume 12", 'Centennial of Vernon 1808-1908' by Harry Conklin Smith, 1908. The referenced story is on page 167. The magazine and article are online to read. Available at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.
Photo 'The Tin Peddler' from "Massachusetts Beautiful" by Wallace Nutting, 1923.
Updated April 2016