Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tyler Resch and the Anthony Haswell case

Here is a self-profile by Tyler Resch, librarian at the Bennington Museum, and expert on one of the most important, and little know applicants of the 1798 Sedition Act. Anthony Haswell was a Bennington printer and publisher who was arrested, charged, tried, convicted, fined, and jailed by the United States government in 1799 and 1800 for publishing criticism of the government.



Background: I have a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Amherst
College, a master's in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern. I
worked four years as a reporter-photographer for the Providence Journal, and
then went small-town, so to speak. I wanted to get my hands on the whole
paper, do layouts, write headlines and editorials, run a staff, etc. So I
came to Bennington after learning that Pete and Don Miller of the Berkshire
Eagle had just acquired it.

I really intended to move on after a while, of course. But I loved the
Vermont scene and the skiing, got married, bought a 200-year-old house
(which I still have, and work on assiduously), raised two kids, and became
immersed in the community. So I was editor of the Bennington Banner in two
phases, 1963-65, and then a full decade, 1968-78 . . . [when] I quit.

But the community still called. I "moved on" to be communications
director for Bennington College for six years (had five bosses in those six
years, indicating the administrative instability there). Not a bad
experience, challenging, different -- and it got me out of newspapers at a
time of growing chain acquisitions and monopoly tendencies. I would not have
been happy working for Gannett.

Somewhere in all this time I wrote or edited twelve books of regional
historical interest, starting with a pictorial history of Bennington County
(while still at the Banner, at Pete Miller's behest) titled The Shires of
Bennington. Researched and wrote a 400-page town history of Dorset (an
upscale town that now boasts about 70 single-family residences assessed at
more than $1 million). Edited and produced a history of Bennington College.
Was commissioned to write a history of Putnam Memorial Hospital, now
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Was commissioned by the Rutland Herald
to edit a 400-page anthology of the editorials of its publisher, Bob
Mitchell, who had just died. Mitchell was a rare example of a daily
newspaper's owner who also wrote its editorials, and they were amazingly
substantive. That led to a bicentennial history of the Rutland Herald
itself, one of the few non-chain dailies that remains in the hands of one
family. Wrote a book about the Bennington Battle Monument.

My historical interests prevailed, and so in semi-retirement I became
librarian of the Bennington Museum, part-time, which I enjoy a lot, dealing
with lots of people from all over, and digging into historical and
biographical issues and a lot of genealogy. With a crew of volunteers, we
answer e-mails by the hundreds, mostly from descendants of early Vermont

I have a couple of unpublished books on the back burner: a biography of
Hiland Hall, a 19th-century Vermont political figure and historian in his
own right (responsible for the Battle Monument and its "massive and lofty"
design); and a history of the high-elevation ghost town of Glastenbury, just
northeast of Bennington.

I have just discovered your biography of Hiland Hall, my great-great-great grandfather. I am a descendent of N.B. Hall, who moved to Jackson, Michigan after serving in the Civil War. His daughter, Hattie Hall, was my great-grandmother.
Thank you so much for your work--which my cousin found on line and printed out. I am very eager to read about Hiland Hall's life.
Is your book available in publication or may I make copies for my brother and sister?
Frances Laird
Just cited a bit from your biography of Hall on my blog.

Getting increasingly interested in Hall and Vermont history -- I should chat with you about HH's papers at some point.

Evidently Mr. Laird and I are distant cousins (5th or 6th?). I find it kind of curious that I seem to agree with "my" -- the McCullough -- side of the family about the Bennington battle monument: I hope you won't hold continued partisanship against me.
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