West Lebanon Resident Hiram Allen: The Quintessential Vermonter
If you were to take time and Google “What is a Vermonter?” most likely a photo and history of Hiram Allen would pop up on your computer screen – and with good reason.
Hiram has traced his ancestry clear back to a Vermont icon by the name of Ethan Allen. Yes, the same Ethan Allen who led the Green Mountain Boys and who eventually played a key role in the establishment of the State of Vermont!
So at the tender age of 80, what led Hiram to cross the Connecticut River and take up residence at the Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in West Lebanon, New Hampshire?
Carolyn DeRosia, Lake View Grange Master Hiram Allen, and Mary Jean Thielen
In his straight forward manner, he addressed that question, explaining why he now calls the “Live Free or Die” state his home.
“Well, after I retired I looked around and they just don’t offer places like Quail Hollow in Vermont in my opinion,” he explained. “Or at least one that you can afford anyway. This just meets all our needs.”
Ripping on the wood frame table saw
Hiram and his wife Lois moved into the senior living community last year but neither shows any signs of slowing down or abandoning their Vermont roots. Hiram’s work ethic stays true to his Vermont legacy, and recently he had to recover from an injury resulting from a roofing project.
“I worked for over 45 years and during that time I only missed two weeks of employment,” he said. “I was once laid off from a carpenter’s job, but by the time I received my first unemployment check, I was back at work. I am a Vermonter, and will always be a Vermonter that is for sure!”
Hiram’s work history is unique, to say the least, and it was as varied as the Vermont weather. He is a self-taught master carpenter (he refers to the position as Boss Carpenter), a logger and farmer, while taking on any project that needed doing to remain self-sufficient.
For 16 years he served as Town Manager for the Town of Hartland, Vermont. During his tenure as Town Manager, Hiram did not display any fancy college degrees in his office, but took a more native Vermonter approach.
Bending penstock hoops
“I just took a common sense approach to town government,” he noted. “Town government is no different than life itself. Just do what is necessary and use your head. I had served as a selectman until 1981 and when the manager’s position opened up, I applied and was accepted. I served from 1982-1997. It must have worked. During that time I also filled in as Road Foreman and Tax Collector or whatever needed doing, I did it! Like I said, common sense.”
Hiram also served a two-year stint in the United States Army.
“In 1956 I had joined the Army Reserves and that allowed me to choose my time to enter the Army full-time. I worked that summer before going on active duty by doing logging and farming. In those days everyone was facing military service and I still think that is a good idea to this day. It builds character while serving your country.”
Hiram also took time to explain his physical appearance these days that has gained him a lot of good-natured poking by his fellow Quail Hollow neighbors who refer to him as the resident hippy.
“When I finally retired, I told myself that I would let my hair and beard grow. Then I was going to buy a donkey and a cart and ride into town everyday!” he chuckled. “My hairdresser thought I was beginning to look like Jesus, but I told her I looked more like Moses!”
Hiram remains very involved and stays busy. He had purchased Ben’s Mill in Barnet, Vermont, in 1999. Ben’s Mill is an old water powered mill built in 1872 that has become a working museum. It remains on the National Historic Register.
“We acquired a nonprofit trust and grants so that we could restore the Mill, which used to generate electricity for the town of Barnet. A complete restoration has been completed and now it is a museum open to the public.”
While the image of a true Vermonter may have changed over the years, it is comforting to know that Hiram Allen remains true to his heritage. Never forget that if you ask him for directions, he just may tell you that you can’t get there from here! No doubt that he should be listed on the National Historic Register.