I am a Stratton, an eighth-generation Vermonter, and a proud American woman. My Uncle Ronald passed away this past November, and I am still sad over the fact that I’ll never get a chance to hear more of his stories; he was an interesting character and while he embellished and stretched the truth at times, he was nonetheless very good at entertaining with anecdotes most people would have a tough time believing. His passing motivated me. I realize time is ticking away, and if I don’t collect stories from those who experienced them firsthand, I may never get the chance to do it again.
I am really interested in writing a book, and possibly producing a documentary about my family, focusing on the Stratton side. From what I’ve learned, our family came from England in the 1600’s, settled in New England, and eventually landed in Vermont. My ancestors fought in conflicts including The Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War II, and Vietnam. When I asked my Grandmother Margaret about my Grandfather’s ethnic heritage, she told me that the Stratton’s were “proud Yankees”.
There are some very tragic stories I want to tell, including the 1944 murder of my Great-Grandfather, Robert Drake Stratton, by Massachusetts native Harold Frotten. The story caught national attention due to the fact that Frotten had escaped prison and dodged justice for years. Police eventually caught up with him in Florida, and he died in a Vermont prison of cancer after a well-publicized trial.
A little over 22 years later, in November of 1966, my Grandfather Robert Shirley Stratton, and my Uncle, Don Stratton, were struck and killed by a train in Sunderland, VT. My father Mark was 12 at the time of this terrible accident, and was left traumatized by the image of his father’s decapitated head being carried away in a bag by the detective, which was published on the front page of the Bennington Banner. While it sounds unbelievable that a newspaper would print such a gruesome image, I have seen copies of the article and can verify that my Grandfather’s head is visible, though the image is old and has faded.
I have so much to learn, and I can’t wait to dive into this project head-on. For the time being, I’m doing some preliminary research, particularly genealogical related stuff. I need to get organized as well. Here are some of the ways in which I plan to collect information, at least for the time being:
* Create a family tree, and focus on the Stratton line in particular;
* Collect birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, census records, etc.;
* Conduct interviews on film – including Uncle Bobby, Aunt Marlene, and anybody else who has pertinent information;
* Search newspaper articles and town archives;
* Locate and visit sites of interest, to include the Chapel of the Snows, Stratton Mountain Base Lodge, White Chapel Cemetery, etc.
If anybody out there has any suggestions or would like to contribute in any way, please contact me via email. I can’t wait to dive in to my research. I will update this blog periodically to post progress as it happens.