Skip to main content

Grafton Historical Society

"One of the finest Small Museums in the State of Vermont"
History of Grafton
About Us
Brick Meeting House
Daisy Turner, Storyteller
Museum Exhibits
Karpin Memorial Library
Publications & Donations
The Messenger Boy Book
Board and Staff
Hours & Location
Contact us:
Slide Show


 About The Author
     Thomas E. Fontaine is a middle school teacher at New England Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster, VT.  He has been in education for thirty years.

     While teaching in Grafton, VT. Tom fell in love with the town's history and the impact that the Civil War had in its development. Educating students about local history has always been a passion of Tom's.  This book, intended for all ages but especially younger readers, captures much of Vermont's local history as well as some factual information on the Civil War.

     Although Tom lives in the town of Perkinsville, Vt., with his wife and children, he still spends a lot of his free time in Grafton walking the woods and discovering more historical facts.

     Cover Illustration by Noreen Sands, Grafton, Vermont

     Grafton is a small village in the southeastern part of Vermont, approximately thirty-five miles from the shared border of Massachusetts.
     The small village of old Grafton was located atop Middletown Hill.  Most of the old structures, including the Reverend's home with the cobbler shop in the back room,the old blacksmith shop in the outdoor shed, the potash works and even the big old meeting house were either gone or badly in need of repair.
     A good portion of the story revolves around Spring Hill in Grafton.  It was probably names Spring Hill because  the Spring family owned the piece of land on which they built their modest homes.
     Most of the Grafton residents who appear in this story are real people.  They helped shape Grafton into the beautiful village that it has become.  The sites and names of the various buildings are true as well.  The Civil War battles and their outcomes are factual as are the various generals and soldiers.
     Records show that more than 108 men from Grafton fought in the Civil War.  With a town population of 1,241 at that time, 108 is considered to be very high.  The names of several can be found on a plaque in front of the Grafton Library.  Many of those veterans are buried in the Grafton Village Cemetery, where their headstones may be seen today.
     This story about Henry Spring is a fictional story with a real life main character.  Henry lived in Grafton, Vermont, from his birth in 1848 to 1862, when he signed up for the war.  Henry was part of the 16th Vermont Volunteers.  He enlisted as a private with many of the men from Grafton.  To make this story more appealing to students at an intermediate level, I used Henry as a messenger boy in the Army.
     One can only imagine the chaotic sights that a messenger saw as he delivered his messages.  I hope that you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.
                                                                                                                         Thomas E. Fontaine


The book was a good book because it felt like I was Henry.  When Henry got hit by the exploding shell it almost felt like I was hit by it.  My legs were hurting so much when he was running the long messages.  For some reason the Civil War felt like it was happening right then and there.  The book was a good book in general because of how descriptive it was.
I had two favorite parts.  The part when Henry got shot back from the musket backfire.  The reason why I liked this part so much was because it was so hysterical.  I mean if you read closely you would find it pretty funny.  Another favorite part is when Todd died and Henry cries so much that it's getting Todd's uniform wet.  Most people would find this sad but we all saw it coming so it didn't bother me as much. I like when Henry was talking to his dead friend.
The book felt real and was jumping out at me because of how it was written.  At times you might think you were Henry.
                                                                                                                          Grade 5 student

The thing that makes this book a good book is that you are able to fall in it easily.  The detail is intense and the images that it draws in your mind are real, almost like you ARE there at that very moment.  It is also easy to say that this book is a favorite.  The Messenger Boy (Henry Spring) can be portrayed as about an average and real teen boy.  Another thing is that when you finish the book, and you're satisfied.  You know that the book was a good one because the author focuses on other characters as well.  The book molds deep within your mind and makes everything easy to understand.
                                                                                                                           Grade 5 student

Just wanted you to know I enjoyed your book about The Messenger Boy of Grafton, VT.  The writing was well thought out and it made me feel I was there.  I, of course, cried in several place because of the hardships Henry went through and death that comes with war.  I know you are proud of your work, but I just wanted you to know how I am proud of you, too.  Thank you for sharing your hard work, research, and the need to write about people of Grafton during the Civil War times. 

Your story was a pleasure to read both as a teacher and community member.  The passion you have for the history of the war is portrayed in all of the research that you put forth in writing it.  As a teacher, the story created a realistic image of what our families and communities went through.  Reading it to a class provides unlimited knowledge of something they could have imagined.  Your characters are heartwarming and real.  They are devoted to family and friends.  Each one has a strong dedication to family and friends under the worst circumstances.  The reality of war was not easy to perceive, but the valuable lessons of not giving up were overwhelming.  The book gives an incredible connection to those in the generation that was involved in the war.
                                                                                                                             Ann, retired teacher