A Letter and Reply to Bonnie Burke, Managing Director of Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont, Explaining Our Planned Vermont Tour
Bonnie: Thanks so much for excellent, fact-filled interview. It’s the kind of material we think blesses our many listeners and those who ought to listen.
As to the proposed Vermont trip, the following details are important:
1. No money to cover our travel, meals, and accomodations, no trip. And we hope that will be resolved one way or another in July.
2. Our two trips to Vermont for research purposes were a gold mine of information most simply don’t want to report, or at least haven’t.
The following matters have to do with Bill Wilson
a) There is the common view, espoused by Kurtz, that Bill had no Christian upbringing and with others including Hartigan claiming Bill was not a Christian.
b) Our visit with Marge into the church made clear the Wilson participation you had given us leads for. Further extensive research, gathered by various historians, showed that Bill read the Bible with his grandfather Fayette and his friend Mark Whalon. These researchers and writers told of grandpa Willie’s miraculous conversion and cure. They showed Bill remembered his parents singing and the memory of the “Father” it brought out. They showed Bill remembered Sermons, hymns, conversion meetings, and temperance meetings. They showed that the Griffiths regarded the little church as the family church, that they attended it, that Bill’ mother regarded it as the family church and attended, and that Bill was there in church and Sunday school. They showed his parents were married in the church and lived in the parsonage. They showed that Wilson lineage attended that church, made financial and other contributions. They held offices. They were among the founders. And they owned Pew 15. In other words, the violin and the boomerang and the temperance pledge overwhelmed and was superimposed upon the rally important evidence about Bill’s East Dorset Congregational Christian upbringing.
c) There are still some pending questions about what the parents did while in Rutland and whether they attended, or Bill attended the church there.
d) Thanks in large part to Fredericka Templeton, we verified that Burr and Burton was heavily influenced by Congregationalists, that it owned a pew in the local church where students attended, that there was required daily chapel—with sermons, hymns, and Scripture reading, that Bill took a four year Bible study course at the academy, that Bill was president of the school YMCA, that Bertha Bamford was president of the school YWCA, and that both attended “Y” activities together, and that—instead of being an atheist—Bill went into another of his many depressions when Bertha died and “turned his back” on God—which is a common occurrence with some drunks when a parent or loved one is taken from them.
e) We believe there may be additional information in Manchester—an area where I believe you are connected in terms of its historical society.
f) We know thousands have attended Wilson House, a much smaller number know about or use the Griffith Library despite its immense importance, and the little white church on the green is barely noticed or spoken of.
g) In other words, Wilson House needs no seminar or public recognition. It deserves far more attention when it comes to a cadre of Christian leaders knowing about and briefly seeing, and hearing about both the East Dorset and Burr and Burton scene. And it’s a tough job because of the increased secularization of the fellowship and its hostility to Bible and religion
h) While our focus is on East Dorset and Manchester as “optional”, we are hopeful that some of the key cadre members will accompany us there, listen, and soak up facts
3. St. Johnsbury is another matter entirely.
a) It is loaded with concrete historical locations and information. They are barely known, seldom reported, and disparagingly discussed. For example, a tiny group of the history lovers went there, looked at the library before it was completed (and still has much more to come when funding is possible), and said there was nothing there of importance.
b) I won’t burden you with all the details which we laid out in www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml. But they are not known and are tossed aside—Great Awakening, Evangelists, Rescue Missions, YMCA brethren, Salvation Army, Christian Endeavor, and Oxford Group sources. Dr. Bob’s boyhood home rebuffed us and refused the library that we therefore placed
At North Congregational Church which is itself loaded with information. The Athenaeum is warm and welcoming. So was St. Johnsbury Academy; and the two visits unearthed an immense Christian upbringing of Dr. Bob.
c) There is a nice hotel in St. Johnsbury there where our cadre can stay while we conduct a tour, show and tell.
d) From there, they can, if they wish, go to Manchester and East Dorset ; and we will be there. Whether accomodations are available is up for grabs and, if properly, scheduled, might enable stays there or at nearby inns.
e) Ditto a Fall Leaves tour.
4. As our interviews and worldwide growing membership of International Christian Recovery Coalition show, there is a growing body of vibrant, devoted to AA, Christian leaders holding forth all over the world. Therefore the questions are:
a) Will one or several sponsors pay for the trip expenses of Ken and myself. They probably would come to $5000. And I have circularized some who might combine to help.
b) Considering the shortness of time and your busy schedule, we don’t know what Wilson House can permit, provide, or schedule; but we would welcome it. Many of my groupies often ask when I’m coming back. And this might be a brief substitute.
c) As you know, I love and treasure Wilson and Griffith and the little church as well as the warmth and importance there. One of your nearby Vermont souls has volunteered to help; and we can use any and all local help that is available and offered.
5. This has sprung up all of a sudden out of our several western workshops and conferences, the Coalition, the radio show, and a steady flow of phone calls and emails. So it’s a long shot, but worthy of the effort if it can happen.
6. Your suggestions, comments, and support would be most welcome. Thank you for the inquiry.
Author, 44 titles & over 1,000 articles on A.A. History and the Christian Recovery Movement
Exec. Dir., International Christian Recovery Coalition
Christian Recovery Resource Centers - Worldwide
Christian Recovery Radio
PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837
From: Wilson House [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2012 8:51 AM
To: 'Dick B.'
Subject: RE: Fall Leaves event k rev 06 29 12
Tell me even more about this. Thanks again for having me on your radio program.
From: Dick B. [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2012 5:30 PM
Subject: Fall Leaves event k rev 06 29 12
A.A.’s Spiritual Roots: They Center on New England
An International Christian Recovery Coalition Fall Leaves Workshop
Informative Visits to Historic A.A.-Related Locations in Vermont
By Dick B.
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Come Join Us!
Here are some principal leads:
We are planning a Fall Leaves Workshop centered on the New England Area and definitely zooming in on historic A.A.-related locations in Vermont: the Green Mountain territory of Bill W.’s and Dr. Bob’s youth. It’s where my son Ken and I identified and examined in great depth some of the Christian roots of A.A. And we gathered an immense amount of historical evidence, embodied it in our books and articles, posted it on the Web, and included it in our www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com presentations. But there’s nothing like the excitement of seeing it all for yourself with excellent guidance.
If we can get the response and assured funding of our own travel from Maui to Vermont, you will be able to participate in September 2012 events involving:
1. St. Johnsbury and Dr. Bob’s boyhood home;
2. North Congregational Church—the Smith Family church and location of the historical collections in Dr. Bob Core Library;
3. Identifying Akron A.A.’s “Christian fellowship” program with Dr. Bob’s Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor;
4. The immense historical resources in the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum (library);
5. The St. Johnsbury Fairbanks Museum, the Courthouse where Dr. Bob’s dad was probate judge, the former location of the YMCA building where Dr. Bob’s father was President;
6. St. Johnsbury Academy—where Dr. Bob’s mother was a teacher and later an historian, where Dr. Bob’s father was an examiner, and where Dr. Bob attended daily chapel and weekly church services and Bible studies, and participated in YMCA events;
7. East Dorset and Bill W.’s birthplace;
8. The Wilson House where Bill W. was born and where many A.A. meetings, seminars, and tours and offered;
9. The Griffith House where Bill was raised by his maternal grandparents for several years and where he studied the Bible with his maternal grandfather, Fayette Griffith;
10. The Griffith House Library which probably contains the largest collection
of A.A. historical books and articles and pamphlets and memorabilia of
any place in the world
11. East Dorset Congregational Church, where Bill, Bill’s parents, and
both sets of grandparents attended; and where Bill attended church and
Sunday school, along with revival and conversion and Temperance meetings;
12. The Bill and Lois Wilson gravesites;
13. Manchester, where Bill attended Burr and Burton Academy, attending its
required daily chapel and four-year Bible study course, and was its president
of the Young Men’s Christian Association during his senior year; and
14.Your optional personal detour to see the Fall Leaves display.
Want to come? This tour and workshop will give you a take on A.A. history, A.A. historical collections, and A.A.’s Christian roots and origins you’ve probably never heard about or understood. It will provide you with important keys to the Christian upbringing of Dr. Bob and Bill W. It will show you more about real “spirituality”; ie., the relationship with God that the Big Book talks about. You visit a location with thousands of A.A.-related historical items. It will take you to an area filled with New England charm. It will be far more than just a walk through a memorial building or two. It will be at a time when the Fall Leaves displays and Leaf pickers are about. And Dick B. and Ken B. will be there to show you what’s what.
What is needed to make it happen:
A real interest in learning something very vital about “old-school” A.A. ideas and their applicability today.
A zest for a guided tour to inspect and handle scads and scads of historical evidence, attend meetings if you wish, and hear Dick B. and Ken B. report on 22 years of research as you move about and stop for some short talks.
Benefactors to provide funds for our travel are needed.
Your plans for a car or car pool with friends.
Accommodations at the St. Johnsbury Marriott hotel and in East Dorset.
And an essential willingness to walk, look, listen, and learn.
Since this will be an International Christian Recovery Coalition workshop, we are looking for a cadre of Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena who want to learn and pass on to others what we’ve found and you have actually seen.
This will be unlike other history and archive conferences, seminars, and forays.
You’ll see and enter the buildings. You’ll pick up and examine the historical items. You’ll explore on your own, too. You’ll hear from two speakers who have researched, written about, and spoken about the whole scene—many times.
This may be the only time in your life that you will have such an opportunity.
July is the month to plan and let us know if you’ll be coming and when. It is also the month to help fund our trip. And then to make your car and hotel reservations.
If the light is green in July, we’ll go. In August, we’ll act. If the light is other than green, at least you’ve had a chance to make the trip or plan a future one.
For more information, contact Dick B. by email at DickB@DickB.com.