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Hancock, the most southeasterly town in Addison county, is bounded on the north by Ripton and Granville, on the east and south by Windsor county, and on the west by Goshen and Ripton. It was granted on the 7th of November, 1780, and chartered July 31, 1781, by the State of Vermont to Samuel WILCOX and one hundred and twenty-nine associates. It originally contained about 23,040 acres, but on the 28th of October, 1834, and again on the 1st of November, 1847, a small portion was set off to Rochester. The surface is very uneven and mountainous; a great portion is so much so as to be unfit for cultivation. The drainage is formed by the West Branch of the White River and its tributaries. Leicester and Middlebury Rivers both rise in the western part of this town. These streams furnish excellent mill sites, most of which are occupied. About a mile east from the western border is a natural curiosity in the shape of a pond situated on the top of a mountain and accessible only by steps. It is called Mount Vernon Pond and is about half a mile in diameter. In the valleys and along the principal streams, Hancock possesses some very fine alluvial land upon which are grown wheat, oats, buckwheat, Indian corn, potatoes and hay. Among its exports, sugar and wool take the precedence. The timber on the highest summits is chiefly spruce and hemlock, and in other portions beech, maple, birch, oak, etc., predominate.

      Settlement was begun in Hancock in 1788, by Joseph BUTTS, from Canterbury, Conn., Daniel CLAFLIN, from New Salem, and John BELLOWS, from Dalton, Mass., with their families. After that the population increased quite rapidly. During the same year Zenas ROBBINS, Levi DARLING, and several other young men came here and began to make clearings. In 1791 the town had fifty-six inhabitants. The following named were settlers who came to town before 1800, with their place of settlement where that could be ascertained. 

      Esias BUTTS owned the property now chiefly in the hands of E. DARLING, and embracing the hotel property of the widow of John E. WRIGHT. He owned, indeed, nearly all the west side of the village on the north side of the Branch. Daniel CLAFLIN and his relatives of the same name settled about a mile north of the site of the village. A part of their land is now owned by John B. DARLING.

      Zenas ROBBINS lived a mile west of the village on the farm now owned by his grandson, Charles M. ROBBINS. 

      Levi DARLING located half a mile north of the village on the place now owned by his son Ehud. He came from Massachusetts in 1790. He was twice married and had a family of nine children, all but one of whom, Ehud, are dead. Ehud was born March 16, 1804, married Elmira BRADFORD, and has two children, Mary J. and John B. Ehud represented the town in 1866, '67, and '78, and has held all the other town offices, having been justice of the peace for more than forty years. 

      Noah CADY settled about one and a half miles northwest from the village on the farm now owned by Philander CAREY. 

      Dr. Darius SMITH lived on the site now occupied by George V. WILSON, in the village. 

      Charles CHURCH owned the hotel property after Esias BUTTS. 

      Samuel DOLBEAR lived one and one-half miles from the village on the Middlebury road, where Hiram R. PERRY now owns. His brother Nathan settled about half a mile west of him. 

      WARREN settled first on the first farm over the line in Granville, and at a later date came to a place two miles west of the village, off the main road. 

      Eber HOWLAND located about half a mile south of the village. He was sworn as a freeman in 1795. 

      William CUMMING, sworn as a freeman in 1796, settled two miles west of the village, away from the main road, on the farm now owned by Ehud DARLING. 

      Ezra WASHBURN was a freeman first in 1798. He lived in the extreme south part of the town. 

      Peltiah SAFFORD, who took the freeman's oath in 1801, lived in the extreme west part of the town, between the mountains. 

      William ANDRUS, his contemporary, lived about eighty rods west of the village, on the place now owned by William CHURCH. Abraham LACCA lived across the road east of the hotel. 

      John ANDRUS lived where his brother William lived, and also on the Nathan DOLBEAR farm. 

      Other settlers whom the writer has not succeeded in locating were Edward CLEVELAND, Dennis BUCKFORD, David SAFFORD, Jonathan LACCA, Jeremiah SIMMONS, Daniel AUSTIN, Nathaniel BARNARD, Abner LORD and Nathan BARKER. 

      The first town meeting was held on the 18th of June, 1792, at the house of Joseph BUTTS, when the following officers were chosen: Moderator, Joseph BUTTS; town clerk, Zenas ROBBINS; selectmen, Daniel CLAFLIN, John BELLOWS, James CLAFLIN; town treasurer, Nathan DOLBEAR; constable, Noah CADY; selectmen, chosen listers; town grand jurors, Samuel DOLBEAR and Eliphalet FARNAM; highway surveyors, Nathan DOLBEAR, Joseph BUTTS, jr.; tithingman, John BELLOWS; collector, Daniel CLAFLIN. 

      At the second meeting held at the same place on the first Tuesday of September, 1792, it was, among other things, voted to maintain a school in town by a tax, and "to raise the sum of Four Pounds, L. M., to be paid in Wheat at the rate of four shillings per Bushel for the Benefit of the school," Noah CADY, Nathan CARPENTER and Daniel CLAFLIN being chosen a committee to lay out said money. 

      On the 4th of June, 1793, it was voted to accept the road from Rochester line to Kingston (Granville), and then from the Branch bridge (now in the village) to "Chaping's Crotch." 

      At the same meeting a vote was passed to raise four shillings tax on the pools" (poll) to be paid in work in the western district, on or before the last day of September next. Voted also to work a day by the pool on the burying-yard under the direction of the selectmen. 

      On the 4th of March, 1794, voted to raise eight shillings on the "pole," to be paid in work, for building a school-house in said town. 

      Such was the nature of the public action of the town. There was no occasion for the passage of many votes or the expenditure of much money. Private business always precedes the organized effort of communities, and bears to it nearly the relation of cause and effect. Private enterprise in Hancock at the opening of the present century had attained the proportions of today. The first saw-mill in town was built by Zenas ROBBINS about three-quarters of a mile west of the village, near the site of Simon HARLOW's present mill, but a little above it. He also had a grist-mill there. STEPHENSON & HAWLEY built and for some time operated a tannery near the Branch bridge in the village, on the south side of the bridge and on the east side of the road. It was finally burned. Moses INGALLS had a small one near the Church mill, and John LORD kept a tavern where Mr. RHODES now lives. 

      Other early taverns were kept, one by Reuben LAMB on the place now occupied by Solomon DUNHAM; one by Dr. Darius SMITH where George V. WILSON now lives. One of the CLAFLINs also kept a tavern, on the mountain west of the village, in the same house now occupied by Mr. MANNING. The hotel now kept open for the accommodation of guests was built about the year 1808 by Esias BUTTS, who was followed about 1814 by Charles CHURCH, grandfather of Mrs. E. C. WRIGHT, the present proprietress. He was, followed in the proprietorship by John RHODES, Colonel HACKETT, Frank HACKETT, Royal FLINT and Harvey, his son, Loren BAKER, now of Ripton, Mr. CHAMBERLIN, and John E. WRIGHT from about 1865 until his death in May, 1881, since when his widow, Mrs. E. C. WRIGHT, has kept it. The house will comfortably accommodate twenty-five guests. 

      The extreme rural location of this town and the absence of any large village confine its history to brief statistics. The inhabitants have always been industrious, frugal and patriotic. They performed their part well in the late war, sending to the front the following list of volunteers in Vermont organizations: 

      Volunteers for three years credited previous to call for 300,000 volunteers of October 17, 1863: 


      Credits under call of October 17, 1863, for 300,000 volunteers, and subsequent calls: 

      Volunteers for three years.--J. H. CHURCH, M. R. CLAFLIN, N. L. CLAFLIN, C. V. FLINT, J. H. FULLER, O. T. TUCKER. 

      Volunteer for one year.--W. S. KING. 

      Volunteer re-enlisted.---R. E. PAGE.

      Volunteer for nine months.--H. R. PERRY. 

      Furnished under draft.--Paid commutation, T. B. MARTIN, jr., A. PAGE. 

      Entered service, H. ALEXANDER. 

      The fluctuations in the population of the town are shown in the following table: 1791, 56; 1800, 149; 1810, 311; 1820, 442; 1830, 472; 1840, 455; 1850, 430; 1860, 448; 1870, 430; 1880, 382. 

Chapter XXIII, pages 466 469.
History of the Town of Hancock.
"History of Addison County, Vermont, 
With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches
of Some Of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers." 
Edited by H. P. Smith. Syracuse, N. Y.;
D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1886.

Transcribed by Jan Maloy, 2002