Joseph Battell

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This article is about the wildlife philanthropist. For other uses, see Joseph Battell (disambiguation).
Joseph Battell
Born 15 July 1839
Died 1915
Occupation Publisher
Language English
Nationality American
Citizenship USA

Joseph Battell (15 July 1839–1915) was a publisher and philanthropist from Middlebury, Vermont.[1] Battell is credited with preserving Vermont forest land including the land for Camel's Hump State Park. Battell edited a newspaper and authored several books, including the "American Morgan Horse Registry". He donated his horse farm to the federal Morgan horse breeding program, and is credited by some as saving the breed.[2][3] In addition, he served at the Vermont Legislature, and as a trustee for Middlebury College.[1]

He was also the author of one of the more peculiar books ever written, Ellen--or the Whisperings of an Old Pine, a dialogue between a sixteen year-old girl, Ellen, and a wise old white pine tree. Among the matters they discuss is a refutation of the wave theory of sound propagation. It is illustrated with many photographs of Vermont scenery, including several of Ellen. (Gardner, 1957) .[4] Her mountain, Mt. Ellen, a 4000-footer near Sugarbush ski area, can be found here.[5]


Three dormitories at Middlebury College are also named for Battell as recognition for the land he bequeathed to the college.[6]

Battell purchased many thousands of acres in the vicinity of Middlebury, adjacent to Bread Loaf Mountain, and had an existing building added to and cottages built for guests of his. On his death the property was bequeathed to Middlebury College, which, since 1926, has held the Bread Loaf Writers' Conferences at this location each August.[7]


  1. ^ a b Joseph Battell: Once and Future Wildlands Philanthropist
  2. ^ Classic Bloodlines Accessed online: July 1, 2007
  3. ^ Williams, John O. "Morgan Horse Record". Yearbook of Agriculture, 1926, p. 526-529. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  4. ^ Gardner, Martin, 1957. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science pp. 82-83, Dover; ISBN 0-486-20394-8
  5. ^ Google Maps at
  6. ^ Diversions: Middlebury Vermont Accessed online: July 1, 2007
  7. ^ Bread Loaf Writers' Conference