In a May 2015 article about the Northland Journal and its mission to share and preserve the history of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Mark Davis, a reporter with Seven Days, referred to the Journal as probably “one of the most improbably successful publications in the state.”
Mark was probably right. Nobody in their right mind would create a magazine dedicated to telling the history and stories of such a sparsely populated, economically depressed region of the state. But that is just what I dreamed up—to build a magazine dedicated to sharing and preserving the nitty-gritty real history of the region.
Although I love the Northeast Kingdom, the land of my ancestors, I refuse to whitewash or romanticize the history of the region to make it more palatable. We also serve as a forum for people, particularly our seniors, to share their memories.
Although I was a writer, I had no business background and no concept that such a magazine would fail. Nine out of ten people I mentioned my idea to insinuated, or outright told me, the magazine would fail, if not put me into bankruptcy.
My wife, Penny Wheeler, who I’ve now been married to for more than three decades, believed in me and my mission, though she was probably as oblivious to the realities of such an undertaking as I was. She simply knew I believed in the mission.
I did find one person besides my wife who believed in the idea of the Journal. When I was a reporter with the Chronicle, I met Gary Kellogg, a Midwestern boy who’d only been in the Kingdom a short while, assigned to manage Citizens Utilities in Derby. Gary fell in love with the region, its people, and its history. He instantly loved the concept of the Journal. Although Gary now lives in Arizona, he is still a firm supporter of, and a subscriber to, the Journal. He also took a piece of the Kingdom west with him when he moved. During his time in the Kingdom, not only did he fall in love with the region, he met and married his wife, Kathy (Gray) Kellogg, a Holland, Vermont, native. We are all still great friends.
I’m not a betting man, so I guess I didn’t want to admit the odds were against me. Again, I had no business background to warn me this business venture was likely doomed from the beginning.
Fast forward in time. With the publication of this issue of the magazine, the Northland Journal celebrates its 15th birthday. Just think, that’s 15 years of doing what I absolutely love. During that time we have recorded hundreds of stories. No, it hasn’t been an easy ride, and I occasionally still think I was nuts to undertake such an endeavor.
First born as the Kingdom Historical, I changed that name 20 months into our adventure when I realized that many people have a dislike for history, at least the way it is too often taught in schools that makes one’s eyes glaze over from boredom. The more generic title, Vermont’s Northland Journal, arrived on the scene in January 2004, with the motto “Memories and Stories from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and Beyond.” My hope and belief is that the Journal has been able to put local names and faces to historical events—whether it be Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II or other events—and make what might otherwise be seen by some as boring history, far more interesting. Also, I hope it has educated people about this beautiful region of the state and possibly even instilled pride in its rich history.
Although I might be the public face of the Journal, in many ways I am only a tiny part of it. Instead, I surround myself with amazing people, a team that not only believes in the mission of the Journal, but people who also love the Northeast Kingdom—its beauty, its history, its people, and its future.
Of course there is my wife and co-publisher, Penny. She does a tremendous amount of valuable behind-the-scenes work on the Journal, in addition to working full-time as a pharmacy clinical analyst at North Country Hospital. She is great at juggling her life. Our daughter, Emily Brugman, is our office manager. Like her mother, she is super organized and pays close attention to detail. We are blessed she decided to join the business after college.
Here are some of the other people involved with the Journal:
Jeannine Young, our editor and owner of The Little House Desktop Publishing, has been with us for almost the entire history of the Journal. We first met when we worked together at the Chronicle in Barton. Not only do we value her editing skills, but her wisdom and guidance is second to none.
Bill Alexander has been associated with the Journal for more than a decade. As the owner of Alpine Web Media, he maintains our website and provides a wealth of guidance when it comes to the ever-evolving world of social media.
Thomas Lichtenberger, owner of Lichtenberger Design, designs the covers of the Journal, and he makes many of the ads. He also jumps to the rescue in multiple other ways when needed.
Ellen Howell, who helps us out with selling ads, has decades of experience selling ads for
numerous publications. Her work is so important to the Journal because we rely on our advertisers to help keep our mission alive.
Natalie Hormilla is the newest member of the team. She is our layout and design professional. Joining us in the fall of 2016, she brought with her a high degree of professionalism and a keen eye for detail. She has already begun giving the layout a more professional feel. Natalie is just what we were looking for as we moved into an exciting transitional year at the Journal.
We also have a number of regular contributors.
Amy Ash Nixon of Kirby is no stranger to the Vermont writing world. In addition to contributing to the Northland Journal, she is a reporter for The Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury.
Daniel A. Métraux is Professor of Asian Studies at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. He has been a frequent visitor to his old family home in Greensboro since the late 1960s. He was the 1974 founding editor of the Hazen Road Dispatch, the journal of Greensboro Historical Society. Daniel is a frequent contributor to Vermont History.
Sylvia Dodge was born and raised in St. Johnsbury. She is a licensed Vermont School Counselor and has worked at Lyndon Institute and Craftsbury Academy as an advocate for disadvantaged children and families. She has worked as a reporter and editor at The Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury and the Journal Opinion in Bradford, and was a frequent freelance contributor to Vermont Business Magazine from 1988-1995.
We also have several other accomplished writers who periodically submit articles, including Beth Kanell of Waterford; Tanya Sousa of Coventry, Bethany M. Dunbar of Glover, and Barton native Dan Taylor of St. Paul, Minnesota. As important, are the ordinary people who submit personal memory articles of growing up in the Northeast Kingdom during an earlier time.
Thank you also to our readers, advertisers, sponsors, and the stores who sell the Journal. And a shout-out to our print shop for almost the entire history of the Journal—Blanchard Litho in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the people who shared their stories and/or photo collections with us. Many wonderful folks in historical societies, museums, libraries, and town clerks around the region and beyond, along with other individual resources, have been so helpful to our mission.
Although not directly connected to the Journal, I can’t say enough positive things about my friends John Rice and Tod Pronto. John is the producer of my radio show, Vermont Voice, and Tod is the producer of my television show, Northeast Kingdom Voice.
I still occasionally wonder what I got me and my wife into when we gave birth to the Journal, but in the long run it has been worth all the stress. Our mission has never been about getting rich. For that matter, if my goal was to get rich, the Journal has been a dismal failure, at least monetarily. However, it certainly has made me rich in many other ways.
As for the future of the Journal, we are going to continue to do what we do best—record and share the history of the Northeast Kingdom through the memories and words of the people who lived it. The Journal also plans to publish more books in the future.
In closing, this issue of the Northland Journal is dedicated to Howard Frank Mosher of Irasburg. Howard, who died on January 29 at 74 years old, was the Northeast Kingdom’s best known writer, and he supported the endeavors of many aspiring writers.
Thank you, everybody, for supporting the mission of Vermont’s Northland Journal – Scott A Wheeler/ Publisher
To learn more about the Journal
The monthly magazine is filled with stories of the Northeast Kingdom from an earlier time as told by the people who lived it. Each issue is also filled with historic photos of the region. The Journal comes in print and electronic versions.
Click here to view an entire issue of the journal: HERE
To subscribe to the Journal, send a check or money order for $25 (12 monthly issues), or $45 (24 monthly issues) to Vermont’s Northland Journal, PO Box 812, Derby, VT 05829. Or subscribe online HERE . You can also subscribe by calling: (802) 487-0254. Prices are based on delivery in the United States. Also check out our website HERE.
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