of the land of this township is broken and hilly; the remaining part is
very level, handsome land, and produces abundant crops of all kinds of
grain. The principal streams are East Creek, which rises in Benson and
falls into Lake Champlain, on the north side of Mount Independence . .
. The width of the lake between Mt. Independence and Ticonderoga is about
eighty rods . . . May 13, 1820, a piece of land in the town, of more than
five acres area, sunk about forty feet, and slid into the lake. The impulse
made upon the water was so great, as to raise the lake three feet at the
opposite shore, a mile and a half distant. The ground was partly covered
with small trees, some of which moved off erect, while others were thrown
down . . . In common with most of the towns on Lake Champlain, the scenery
in Orwell and its vicinity is truly delightful . . . The first permanent
settlement was made in 1783, by Amos Spafford, Shadrach Hathaway, Eber
Murray, Ephraim and William Fisher and John Charter, upon Mount Independence."
of Vermont, Hayward, 1849.
OF THE TOWN OF ORWELL
the following history we are largely indebted to that written by the late
Hon. Roswell Bottum, printed in pamphlet form in 1881,
four years after that gentleman's death.
The town of Orwell is located in the extreme southwestern corner
of the county, and is bounded north by Shoreham; east by Whiting and Sudbury
(the latter in Rutland county); south by Benson (also in Rutland
county; and west by Lake Champlain). It was granted by King George
III, through Benning Wentworth, his majesty's governor of the province
of New Hampshire, and consisted of an oblong square of land about six miles
by seven, and bounded by a line beginning at a point due east from the
flag-staff of the fort at Ticonderoga, thence passing east seven miles,
thence south six miles, thence west to the shore of Wood Creek, as this
part of Lake Champlain was then called, thence along the shore of the creek
to the place of beginning. The conditions of the grant were the same as
those of other towns in this county. Notwithstanding the stringency of
the condition to cultivate five acres within five years for each fifty,
a very long period of time was suffered to elapse before the grantees took
possession of their grants, for the township was not settled, and remained
in unbroken wilderness, with one exception, until after the Revolutionary
War; nor was it surveyed and divided among the grantees until after that
time. As may readily be supposed, then, very little attention was paid
to many of these royal conditions.
As originally surveyed by the proprietors, the town was said to
have, "exclusive of ponds and streams," an area of 27,570 acres, though
it was probably somewhat larger; but this area was increased by the Legislature
November 9, 1847, by the annexation of a small part of Benson. Four days
later, November 13, an act was passed annexing the whole township to Addison
county, as up to this time it had been a part of Rutland county.
The surface of the town is generally about as level as is suitable
for farming purposes; most of it is termed rolling land -- that is, more
or less undulating -- and is very fertile, producing abundant crops of
grain and grass. The western part is more clayey, yet is counted quite
as good for grass. The eastern part is better adapted to the production
of grain. There is a tract of land from fifteen to eighteen hundred acres,
in the south part of the town, that is considerably broken and hilly.
The attention of the early settlers was first directed to the growing
of wheat, to which their lands were well adapted. It is believed that no
country has ever produced that crop in greater perfection or in greater
quantities per acre than this town. As the country became cleared up and
their means for grazing developed, they shifted their attention from the
growing of wheat to the raising of cattle, as an easier mode of getting
the profit of their lands, until, in turn, beef cattle became the staple
article of production. The Orwell cattle were for many years well known
and appreciated in Boston as the finest cattle brought to market.
About the year 1825 the demand for wool for the supply of our domestic
manufactures, which had sprung up, under the auspices of our protective
tariff system, in all parts of New England, was such as to command prices
that induced the people of Orwell to shift their staple from beef cattle
to the growing of that article; and to such an extent did the people pursue
this branch of husbandry that for several years they produced but little
else, not even a supply of breadstuff for home consumption; and in consequence
large quantities of flour were for several years imported from the West
for domestic use. During this period it was estimated that the annual amount
of wool produced was about one hundred thousand pounds, and some years
considerably over that quantity.
About the first Merino sheep in town were rams introduced here by
Luther BROWN and William FULLER (neighbors), as early as 1815. Among the
more prominent early breeders were Linus WILCOX, who raised both Merino
and Saxony sheep; Dorus, BASCOM, and his son O. H. BASCOM, whose flock
has remained intact to the present day, and is now owned by William BASCOM;
Moses A. CLARK, whose flocks were a mixture of Merino and Saxony; Archibald
BREWER, and Samuel his son, who raised high-bred Merinos; Colonel Joseph
CHITTENDEN, and Josiah B. SCOVELL. In fact, nearly every farm of any pretensions
had its flock of more or less thoroughbred sheep. This interest began to
decline in Orwell, however, many years before the war, and to be replaced
by the dairying interest. The most prominent breeders of to day are Daniel
and Joel BUELL, W. R. SANFORD, S. S. STEVENS, Henry HIBBARD, William O.
BASCOM, Horace and George D. BUSH.
In 1854, January 10, the "Orwell Farmers' Club" was organized with
J. H. CHITTENDEN, president, W. R. SANFORD, vice-president, Seth BENSON,
secretary and Ira YOUNG treasurer. Article second of its constitution states
the object of the club to be as follows: "The object of this club shall
be the discussion of agricultural subjects, the cultivation of our minds,
and the improvement of the agriculture of this town." All of these points
have been successfully and faithfully carried out, as the improvement in
stock and agriculture will testify, clearly proclaiming that a "cultivation
of the mind " preceded it.
East Creek, which takes its rise in Benson, enters the town a little
west of the center on the south line, and takes a northerly course until
it approaches within about one hundred and fifty rods of the center village.
It then turns and bears a northwesterly course until it flows into the
lake near the northwest corner of the town. Soon after taking its northwestern
direction its course is quite serpentine, traversing in its course to the
lake nearly double the distance of a straight line. Upon this stream, about
one mile from the center village, were located the grist and saw-mills
of Colonel CHITTENDEN. A few years since a woolen factory was in operation
at this place, and formerly a carding- machine and clothing works found
profitable business there; but both were long since abandoned, the state
of domestic manufacture not being sufficient to afford them requisite business.
About one-third of a mile below is another set of falls, where were formerly
mills, but they are now abandoned. At this place, about the year 1788,
a furnace that did considerable business was erected by the Hon. Matthew
LYON. North Branch enters the town from the north and unites with the creek
about a mile below the last mentioned falls. There are several falls in
this stream that would afford mill privileges if the supply of water were
adequate throughout the year. Lemon Fair River has its source in the eastern
part of the town in two branches which run nearly parallel and unite near
the north line of the town, and thence flow into Shoreham.
Mount Independence, noted in the history of the Revolution, is upon
the eastern shore of the lake and upon a point formed by the junction of
East Creek with the lake, and is near the northwest corner of the town;
the creek approaching the lake at an acute angle forms a point which appears
to jut out into the lake.
The town was originally heavily timbered, a large part of its forests
consisting of a fine quality of white pine, while white, red, and black
oak, hemlock, maple, beech, birch, hickory, white and black ash, red and
white elm, etc., were abundant.
The first white settler in this township was John CHARTER, an emigrant
from Scotland, who located himself with his family upon the lake shore
near Mount Independence some years previous to the Revolutionary War, and
while the country, to a great extent around him, was an unbroken wilderness;
and with the exception of a small garrison stationed at Ticonderoga, on
the opposite side of the lake, there was no white inhabitant with whom
he could have had communication. He came by way of Quebec and Montreal.
At the latter place he procured a boat, in which he embarked his family,
and pursued his way up the lake until he reached the place where he finally
settled, which probably appeared to him an Eldorado that satisfied his
desires, for he had his choice along the whole line of the lake on either
side from St. Johns to Whitehall, no one in all that distance being there
to oppose him in taking possession; and it is extremely doubtful whether
he could have made a better choice anywhere upon the borders of the lake.
The farm he selected has always been considered the most fertile and productive
of any land in town. He claimed only one hundred acres, and with that was
content. He raised a large family of children, and continued to reside
upon his farm until about the year 1808, when he sold his farm and with
his sons removed to the West, and has been dead many years.
As we have stated, the town was not surveyed, laid out into lots,
and divided among the original grantees until after the Revolution, or
in 1783. None of the original proprietors ever settled in the town, and
but few of them retained any interest in the lands at the time the survey
was made, though their names were all retained as shareholders and appear
upon the early map and records of the town, yet their interest in the lands
had been assigned to actual settlers. Several, perhaps the larger part
of the grantees, settled in Dutchess county in the State of New York, and
in the city of New York. Only three or four of them ever made themselves
familiar with the settlers, namely, Benjamin UNDERHILL, Reed FERRIS, Benjamin
FERRIS, and perhaps one or two others who settled in Dutchess county. They
were highly respected for their honesty and fairness in all their business
transactions. Joshua TRACY, esq., a resident of the town of Pawlet, was
employed by the proprietors, in the year 1783, to make the survey and draw
the shares, and early in the spring he came into town for the purpose of
commencing the work, with the necessary assistants. He found Ephraim FISHER
and Eben MURRAY already located in the wilderness, they being undoubtedly
the first settlers after the charter of the town. The same year William
FISHER, brother of Ephraim, came in, also Major Amos SPAFFORD and Shadrach
HATHAWAY, and began settlements. The year following, 1784, several others
came into town, among whom were Hon. Pliny SMITH, Joshua TRACY, David LEONARD,
Nathaniel MALLARY, and Elisha CLARK.
After the year 1784 the settlements advanced very rapidly, so that
when the town was organized, on the 12th day of December, 1787, there were
between seventy and eighty families here. From the record of the meeting
for the organization it appears that the following persons were present
and took the freeman's oath and the oath of allegiance: Colonel Samuel
BREWER, Captain Ebenezer WILSON, Lieutenant William SMITH, Lieutenant Jonas
RICE, Shadrach HATHAWAY, Amos SPAFFORD, John CHARTER, William CULVER, Thomas
DAVENPORT, Archibald BREWER, Cyrus CLARK, Joshua TRACY, Peter HALL, Smith
CLARK, Jabez WARREN, Nathan WARREN, Ebenezer GRISWOLD, Robert OLIVER, William
FISHER, Isaiah ABEL, Azel ABEL, Ephraim FISHER, David CUTTING, Ruggles
WARD, Thomas STEARNS, Elijah CUTTING, Amos PALMER, Ebenezer BABCOCK, Samuel
TORRY, Heman WILSON, Stephen SPAULDING, Simeon SPAULDING, John THOMPSON,
John MCMANUS, Sampson SPAULDING, Thomas SCOVELL, Ebenezer SPENCER, Micah
WILSON, Elezar MALLANY, Samuel GRISWOLD, Adoniram HINMAN, Gershom HALE,
jr., Elijah WENTWORTH, Pliny SMITH, Nehemiah ROYCE, Joseph SANFORD, Eliphalet
SMITH, Simeon YOUNG, Gideon TOWER, Timothy HIBBARD, Sterling STEARNS, Paul
GATES, Dyer WILLIAMS, Elisha CLARK, Beniah STEVENS, Reuben SMITH, Gershom
HAIL, Elias WILCOX, Samuel COOK, Jacob ROYCE, Abijah SMITH, William ALLEN,
Uriah HIBBARD, Brisley PETERS, Asa STORY, Jessee BROWN, Clark SANFORD,
Jessee BOTTUM, Ichabod Sparrow PAINE, Solomon SAVERY, Ebenezer GLEASON.
These seventy-one citizens, taken collectively, in point of industry, enterprise,
perseverance, honesty, morality, and firmness of purpose, cannot probably
be excelled, nor perhaps equaled, by any like number of first settlers
in Vermont or any other country. They were mostly emigrants from Massachusetts
and Connecticut. As early as 1852 only three of this venerable band were
left -- Clark SANFORD, Samuel GRISWOLD, and Reuben SMITH -- and even these
passed away soon after.
Joshua TRACY, whom we have mentioned as making the first survey
of the town, and who subsequently became an agent of the proprietors in
disposing of their lands to the settlers, was a native of Norwich Conn.,
and emigrated from there to Pawlet, Vt., and finally came to Orwell in
1784. Being a man of considerable capacity, and understanding the surveys,
he was thought a suitable person to employ as land agent. He was one of
the first justices of the peace elected after the town was organized, and
was well esteemed by the inhabitants. He died in the year 1790. He had
a large family, but none of his descendants remained in the town.
Jabez WARREN succeeded to the land agency, and became a man of considerable
note in the town. He engaged, in company with Dr. Luman PETTIBONE and Thomas
SCOVELL, settlers of the town, in the mercantile business, which proved
a failure, and which so embarrassed his pecuniary affairs that he was obliged
to sell his farm, a very good one, now owned by Edwin BOTTUM. He afterwards,
about the year 1803, removed to Western New York. He was also one of the
first justices of the peace in town, and continued as such until he left.
He was chosen town clerk in 1790, and continued to hold that office until
the year 1799.
Hon. Pliny SMITH was born in Suffield, Conn., December 19, 1761,
and with his father removed to Rupert, Vt., in 1776. In 1777 he served
as a soldier in the Revolutionary army. In 1783 he was employed by TRACY
as chainman in surveying this town, and, being pleased with the country,
the next year, 1784, removed into town and bought a farm. He was appointed
a justice of the peace in the year 1797, and held that office until he
died, a period of over forty years. He was chosen one of the town selectmen
as early as the year 1790, and held that office about forty-five years.
He officiated, about the year 1790, two or three years as constable. In
the year 1798 he was chosen town representative to the State Legislature,
and represented the town for ten years consecutively, when he was elected
a member of the State Council, to which he was re-elected for eight or
nine years. He was appointed assistant judge of Rutland County Court in
1808. After serving several years as assistant judge, he was appointed
chief judge of that court, which office he held until 1820 or '21. He was
a member of the corporation of the Vermont University from 1810 to '16,
and was chosen town clerk in 1799, and retained that office until 1825.
Judge SMITH died July 5, 1840, aged seventy-nine years. The old homestead
is now occupied by his granddaughters, Jane and Ann SMITH, daughters of
Israel. Lieutenant William SMITH, an elder brother of judge SMITH, came
into town very early, probably in 1784. He was a magistrate and quite active
in the early proceedings, but died in 1789.
Hon. Ebenezer WILSON, a native of Connecticut, emigrated to this
town about the year 1784, and was chosen proprietors' register in the year
1791. He was the first representative of the town to the State Legislature,
elected in 1788, and was re-elected to that office until the year 1798.
Judge WILSON was appointed assistant judge of Rutland County Court in the
year 1792, which office he held for several years. He sold his farm and
removed to Western New York about the year 1808.
Hon. Apollas AUSTIN, a native of Suffield, Conn., was born about
the year 1760. Early in the War of the Revolution he enlisted as a soldier,
while yet a boy in his seventeenth year, and continued in the army throughout
the war. He was in the battles of Monmouth, Germantown, and many others,
and was honorably discharged at the close of the war. On retiring from
the army he first engaged in the business of peddling wooden dishes, afterwards
adding to his stock needles, pins, and a variety of other small articles,
and later came to Orwell for the purpose of getting out timber for the
Quebec market, disposing of his goods for timber and labor. He was very
successful in this enterprise and followed it two or three years. He afterwards,
as a merchant in this town, acquired wealth.
Deacon Eber MURRAY, from Guilford, Conn., came to Orwell in 1783,
locating in the northeastern part of the town. Mr. MURRAY was an earnest,
straightforward man, and was mainly instrumental in organizing the first
church, and served as a deacon of the Baptist Church for many years. He
was twice married, and reared a family of eight children, his son David
being the first child born in the township. Deacon MURRAY died in 1825.
The widow of his grandson, Mrs. Leland MURRAY, now occupies the homestead.
Ephraim FISHER, who came into town with Deacon MURRAY, was a native
of Massachusetts. He also acquired a large property, which he left at his
death in possession of his son, Isaac Fisher, and which is now the property
of his grandson, Ira FISHER. The old gentleman had very little taste for
notoriety, but contented himself with the business of his farm and in the
quiet of his own family. He died about the year 1834. His brother William
came into the town soon after, locating upon an adjoining farm, where he
also acquired a large property. He died about the year 1829. The farm is
now occupied by George THOMAS.
Joab SMITH, esq., came into town about the time of its organization,
though his name does not appear upon the records of that transaction. His
native place was Athol, Mass. He was elected town representative in the
year 1808, and was annually re-elected to that office until 1818; was a
justice of the peace over thirty years, and was many years town selectman.
He was very influential in town, and died about the year 1844, upon the
farm on which he first settled, now owned by Chandler JOHNSON, leaving
it in possession of his youngest son, Jacob SMITH, jr., now a resident
Shadrach HATHAWAY was one of the first settlers upon a farm where
is now located the center village in the town, and was a very active and
prominent citizen while he resided in town. He gave to the town a lot of
two acres of land for the benefit of the society (probably intending the
Congregational Society and Congregational Church, of which he was a member)
for a meeting-house lot, provided they should occupy and continue to occupy
the same with a meeting-house. He removed as early as 1794 to the north
part of this State.
Major Amos SPAFFORD also came into town among the first settlers,
and was quite active in the early proceedings of the town for a few years,
and then removed.
Simeon YOUNG came into town before its organization, from Athol,
Mass., and was an active and useful citizen, acquired a large property,
and was quite influential. He had three sons in town, who became citizens
of the first respectability. All of them have been many years magistrates,
and two of them have been town representatives. He died in October, 1847,
at the advanced age of eighty-four years, leaving his farm in the possession
of his eldest son, Samuel YOUNG, and it is now owned by H. H. YOUNG, son
Deacon Ebenezer HULBURD came into town about the time of its organization,
from Rupert, Vt. His native place was Suffield, Conn. He was the first
deacon of the Congregational Church, and continued in that office until
his death, which occurred in the year 1819. He acquired a handsome property,
and reared a large and respectable family, who settled in various parts
of the country, and but few of whom remain in Orwell. The old farm is now
the Property of Dr. MATHER, of Boston.
Colonel Samuel BREWER came into the town in 1786. He was a native
of Connecticut. He commanded a regiment in the War of the Revolution and
was stationed some time at Ticonderoga. His son Archibald, then a youth,
was with him in the capacity of waiter. Immediately after the war closed
they both removed to Ticonderoga and erected mills there upon the falls
of Lake George Creek, but soon removed to Orwell, where the son built a
distillery. Colonel BREWER was a very companionable man, with a great fund
of ready wit, and was much esteemed. It was said he was a very good officer.
He died about the year 1810.
David LEONARD came into the town in 1784, and was an enterprising
and energetic man, who immediately set about erecting a grist-mill and
saw-mill. These were the first mills erected in town, and were of great
benefit to the early settlers. In the month of March, 1789, the grist-mill
was burned, with 200 bushels of wheat deposited therein, which circumstance
tended greatly to enhance its scarcity that year. Mr. LEONARD lost no time
in rebuilding his mill, and the people, having an interest in its reconstruction,
did much to aid him in accomplishing the work, so that early in the season
of the same year it was again in operation. These mills were where James
LILLIE's now is.
Jonas ROYCE, formerly spelled RICE till changed by the Legislature,
served in the War of the Revolution, and soon after its close located upon
the farm now owned by his grandson, William ROYCE. George ROYCE is another
grandson. The old building now standing on the farm, erected previous to
1800, was used for many years as a hotel.
Nehemiah ROYCE, from Massachusetts, came soon after the Revolution,
and located upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Luther Royce, moving
his goods on horseback. He married Cynthia SMITH, reared a family of four
children, and died April 5, 1817.
Joshua WHITE, one of the early settlers from Connecticut, purchased
a large tract of land in the western part of the town, where he subsequently
engaged in mercantile pursuits, residing upon the farm he first settled
till his death. Some of his descendants are still residents of the town.
Isaiah ABELL, from Norwich, Conn., came to Orwell in 1786, locating
upon the farm now owned by his grandson, C. E. ABELL. The year previous
he came on with Samuel GRISWOLD, made a clearing, and planted some wheat;
it was the first clearing made on this farm. He died at an advanced age
Nathaniel BACON, from Connecticut, located at an early date upon
the farm now owned by Thomas BURKE, and later moved to the present farm
of Sheldon CONKEY. Mr. BACON was a deacon of the Congregational Church
here for forty years, and led the choir for a number of years. He died
in 1851, aged eighty-six years. J. W. BACON, son of Nathaniel, was born
here in 1800, and died in April, 1881. He was largely identified with all
that concerned the welfare of the church and the support of her ministers,
and was recognized as a benevolent man. His wife, Harriet (HUBBARD) BACON,
a native of Sheffield, Mass., was a woman of rare intellectual gifts, and
was noted for sustaining a part in all good works.
Ellis BENSON came to Orwell among the early settlers, locating in
the south-western part of the town, where he died at an advanced age. Ellis,
jr., came with his father, but removed to Benson a few years later, where
he died December 31, 1849. His son Justus, born in Benson in 1808, located
in the southwestern part of this town in 1865.
Timothy HIBBARD located in the eastern part of the town, upon the
farm now owned by his son George M. The old homestead, built in 1800, is
Samuel GRISWOLD, from Norwich, Conn., located in 1787 upon the farm
now owned by his grandsons, Sidney, Henry, and Carlton GRISWOLD, where
he resided till his death in 1852. Lester GRISWOLD came with Samuel, his
father, and subsequently located upon the farm now owned by William C.,
where he died in 1867. Marvin, son of Samuel, born here in 1800, died in
1854, when his place reverted to his son Sidney. E. D. GRISWOLD, son of
Lester, born here in 1829 and a resident since that time, was the pioneer
in breeding Jersey cattle in this section, and brought the first full-blooded
jerseys to this town.
Moses A. CLARK, an early settler in the western part of the town,
came from Pawlet. He married twice, had seven children born to him, and
died in 1859. One of his sons, who died recently, married Emily, daughter
of judge BOTTUM, who now resides on the old Bottum farm.
James CONKEY, from Connecticut, located at an early date upon the
farm now owned by his grandson, a son of Chauncey, where he resided until
his death in 1838.
Rev. Elnathan PHELPS, from Massachusetts, located with his son Elnathan
in the northern part of the town previous to 1800. He was the first settled
minister in the township. Elnathan, jr., married Phebe TUTTLE, reared eleven
children, and died in 1843.
Asa PARKS, from New York, located in the southern part of the town
in 1785. He married Lucy BRANCH, reared nine children, and died in 1813.
His wife died in 1863, aged ninety-seven years. Their son Asa, born in
1798, died recently.
Elias BASCOM, from Newport, N. H., located in the western part of
the town in 1792, where he remained three years and then removed to the
farm now owned by S. H. BASCOM, where he died in 1833. His son Darius resided
on the old farm and died in 1842. He married Chloe HUBBARD and reared a
family of nine children, one of whom, S. H. BASCOM, resides on the old
farm. His Sister Emily was the wife of William R. SANFORD.
Luther BROWN, from Litchfield, Conn,, came to Orwell previous to
1790, locating upon the farm now owned by his son John F., where he continued
to reside until his death in 1837. John F. was born on this place in 1805.
He married for his first wife Caroline SANFORD, who bore him a daughter,
Carrie S., and for his second wife Pauline WHITE, who bore him four children
-- Milton R., Effie, Ella, and Allen. Mr. BROWN is now a hale old gentleman
of eighty years.
Roswell BOTTUM, from Norwich, Conn., came to Orwell among the early
settlers, locating upon the farm now owned by Mrs. Emily CLARK, widow of
M. J. CLARK, where he continued to reside until his death in 1856. Roswell
BOTTUM, jr., born here in 1796, lived a long and useful life, and died
October 28, 1877, aged eighty-one years. He married Elne HULBURT, daughter
of Ebenezer HULBURT, born August 20, 1797, about a mile and a half south
of her present home. Since their wedding, in 1820, Mrs. BOTTUM has resided
on the old farm, a period of sixty-six years. Of their family of two sons
and seven daughters, Henry resides in Rosendale, Wis., George R. in Rutland,
Vt., and Mrs. Emily CLARK, one of the five surviving daughters, on the
farm with her mother. Judge BOTTUM possessed a strong intellect and an
energetic disposition, coupled with sterling integrity, which early won
for him a warm place in the regard of his townsmen, whom he served in the
principal town trusts for many years. He was a justice of the peace fifty-two
years, town clerk forty-five years, assistant judge of the County Court
three years, and represented the town in the Legislature several terms.
Judge BOTTUM was also quite literary in his tastes, and had commenced a
history of the town, which, in an incomplete state, was published in 1881.
Jesse BOTTUM, also from Norwich, Conn., came here previous to 1800,
locating upon the farm next south of where W. R. SANFORD now lives, and
afterward removed to that occupied by the latter's grandson. His son Bishop
came with him and subsequently participated in the battle of Plattsburgh.
Bishop married Zilpha CONKEY, reared a family of six children, and died
in 1860. His son, E. M., occupies the old homestead.
Joseph SANFORD was one of the early settlers on the farm now owned
by Addison KIMBALL, where he kept a tavern for several years, and removed
to the place now occupied by his grandson, W. R. SANFORD, son of Clark
SANFORD. W. R. SANFORD was born here on the 4th of March, 1805, and has
passed all his life on the homestead. He married Emily BASCOM and had a
family of seven children -- three sons and four daughters, of whom three
sons and two daughters are yet living. Mr. SANFORD is one of the oldest
sheep-breeders in the State. He kept sheep for some years before 1830,
when he began to raise thoroughbred Merinos of the Jarvis variety.
Joseph THOMAS, from Litchfield, Conn., came to Orwell in 1793 and
located in the western part of the town, where he remained a few years,
then removed to the northeastern part upon the farm now owned by Mrs. VAIL,
where he engaged in the business of a saddler. He had eight children --
four sons and four daughters, all but two of whom, Julia and Julius C.,
are now dead, the former residing in Bennington, the latter in this town.
Isaac TENNEY, with his three brothers, Jesse, Alvin, and Lewis,
removed from Bennington county to this town in 1794, and located upon the
farm now owned by I. T. BRANCH. He married Minerva BUCK and had a family
of seven children, five of whom were daughters. One, Luna, married Martin
D. BRANCH, who occupies the old homestead.
James HULL, from Newport, N. H., came to Orwell about the year 1800,
locating upon the farm now owned by his son, James E. He married Charlotte
BUSH and had a family of five children, two of whom still reside in the
Philip HEMENWAY, from Massachusetts, located in Bridport in 1806,
and thence came to Orwell in 1808, locating upon the farm now owned by
his son Lewis S. He died in August, 1863, his wife following him in April
of the next year. Lewis S., now aged seventy-nine years, represented the
town in 1863 and 1864. He married Marsha CLARK and had a family of four
children, only one of whom, Harriet, the widow of H. D. BASCOM, is now
Jeremiah BOYNTON, from Massachusetts, came to this town about the
year 1800, locating about a mile and a half east of the village, where
he remained about three years, then located in the village, where in 1816
he built the Eagle Hotel, and conducted it for a period of about a quarter
of a century, when it was taken by his son, J. W. BOYNTON, the present
proprietor. Jeremiah married Martha WILSON and had a family of five children,
and died in 1865, aged eighty-three years. His wife died in 1871, also
in her eighty-third year.
Ebenezer WILCOX, from Newport, N. H., came to Orwell about 1808,
and located upon the farm now owned by his granddaughter and her husband,
H. T. CUTTS. Ebenezer had a family of ten children, and four generations
have been reared on the old homestead.
The locations selected for a home by others of the early settlers
were as follows: Smith CLARK and Cyrus CLARK, south of the HULBURD farm;
Peter H. HALL, east of the present farm of W. R. SANFORD; William CULVER,
upon the farm now owned by the Rollin Williams ABELL family, in the eastern
part of the town; David CUTTING, upon the farm now owned by Patrick SPEARING;
Amos PALMER, near Pliny SMITH's; Samuel TORRY, a harness-maker, boarded
with Jeremiah BOYNTON, and participated in the battle of Plattsburgh; Beriah
STEVENS, the farm adjoining that of Ellen YOUNGS on the east; Samuel COOK,
in the northern part of the town, upon the farm now owned by his grandson,
Samuel; Abijah SMITH, in the southeastern part of the town; Brinsley PETERS,
known as "old Father Peters," kept a small tavern in the eastern part of
the town, about a mile west of Joab SMITH's; Ebenezer GLEASON, in the Pliny
SMITH neighborhood; Gershom HALE lived about half a mile east of the village,
upon the farm now occupied by Chester HACK, where his father, Gershom HALE,
also lived, who was a noted hunter, fisherman, and wag; Eliphalet SMITH
lived in the eastern part of the town; Simeon YOUNG, also in the eastern
part of the town; Gideon TOWN located near the Shoreham line; Heman WILSON,
near Pliny SMITH's; Stephen SPAULDING, just west of Jonas RICE (later ROYCE),
now occupied by John HALL and Apollas SKINNER; Simeon SPAULDING lived on
the same place, and Sampson SPAULDING was a near neighbor; Thomas SCOVELL,
about two miles east of the village, on the Ellen YOUNG farm; Adoniram
HINMAN, southwest of the village, on the late Samuel COOK place; and Daniel
and Silas BUELL, in the southwestern part of the town.
At the meeting for organization, December 12, 1787, the settlers
made choice of the following persons for office in the town for the year
Lieutenant William SMITH, moderator; David LEONARD, town clerk;
Lieutenant William SMITH, Captain Ebenezer WILSON, Major Amos SPAFFORD,
trustees; Cyrus CLARK, constable. Voted, That the selectmen serve as listers
or assessors, and that the constable serve as collector.
These were all the town officers that it was deemed expedient to
elect at that time; but the succeeding year the inhabitants convened on
the 12th of March, and proceeded to transact the following business, viz.:
The meeting being opened pursuant to the warning, Lieutenant Elisha
CLARK was chosen moderator; David LEONARD, town clerk; Captain Ebenezer
WILSON, Major Amos SPAFFORD, Lieutenant William SMITH, Colonel Samuel BREWER,
and Ebenezer GRISWOLD, selectmen; Lieutenant Jonas RICE, town treasurer;
Jabez WARREN, constable and collector; David CUTTING, grand juror; Cyrus
CLARK, Elisha CLARK, Nathan WARREN, and Ephraim FISHER, listers; Eber MURRAY,
sealer of leather; Joseph SANFORD, sealer of weights and measures; Westley
PERKINS, tithingman; Shadrach HATHAWAY, Micah WILSON, Archibald BREWER,
William SMITH, Samuel TORRY, Smith CLARK, and Thomas SCOVELL, surveyors
of highways; William FULLER, Azel ABEL, John THOMPSON, haywards; William
CULVER, brander of horses; Adoniram HINMAN, deercap.
Extreme anxiety was felt about this time to obtain settlers, and
every inducement was held out that could be offered by the people to persuade
new comers to buy lands. TRACY, the land agent, who partook of the same
feeling, to accommodate the wishes of buyers disregarded the surveys and
division made by his principals, the original proprietors, often making
entire new "pitches," as they were called, surveying out to buyers such
desirable pieces and in such form as they chose, making it the one point
aimed at to suit purchasers. As it proved, he in nearly every case made
great errors in quantity, in favor of buyers, the result of which was that
when the lands had been all taken up several of the entire shares of the
original grantees were run out, and no land remained for them. It was known
that the dimensions of the town were sufficient to give to all their full
shares, and that the deficiency was the result of gross errors. Before,
however, these difficulties had assumed any serious aspect, Mr. TRACY died,
and his agency fell into the hands of Jabez WARREN, esq., whose management
was no better, but in many respects much worse. Between the two agents,
titles had become so deranged and confused that it was difficult to ascertain
whose titles were good and whose otherwise.
These difficulties became apparent about the year 1797; and to render
the circumstances more appalling, a man by the name of David Porter appeared
in town, who claimed to have purchased of all the wanting proprietors,
whose shares had been crowded out, their several interests in and claims
to lands in town, bringing deeds and powers of attorney to that effect.
To enforce his claims, PORTER threatened to commence suits at law to recover
the rights he claimed to have purchased. It was foreseen that if PORTER
should proceed to put his threats in execution the effect would be to involve
the inhabitants, and perhaps the town in its corporate capacity, in endless
litigation, a calamity which all saw the importance of endeavoring to avert
To this end a proposition was made to PORTER that if he would desist
from prosecuting, the whole of the lands in the town should be re-surveyed
by an accurate surveyor, giving to each occupant the right to hold his
land as he then occupied it, merely perambulating the present lines, but
with the condition that if the land of any occupant should hold out in
quantity more than he had purchased it for, such occupant should pay in
money for such excess to PORTER, at the rate he had purchased his lands;
or if any occupant chose to relinquish his excess of land instead of paying
for it in money, he should have the right to do so, and PORTER should take
the land. And to induce all the land-holders in town to sign this compact
in writing, it was agreed that one link should be added to the chain with
which the lands should be surveyed, so as to be sure to give to each occupant
the full measure of land; and if any occupant should have less land than
he had purchased, his quota should be made up to him. A committee was to
be chosen by the town to assist the surveyor, and to have power to designate
and locate all surplus pieces, and award lands for such as were deficient.
To this proposition PORTER filially acceded.
James WHELPLEY, esq., was selected as a surveyor to be entrusted
with the work, and the Hon. Pliny SMITH, Hon. Apollas AUSTIN, Ebenezer
WILSON, and Cyrus CLARK, esq., were chosen the committee of "location,"
as they were called, to locate surplus lands. This survey was made in the
year 1799. The result of this arrangement was that nearly all paid the
money for their surplus lands to PORTER, and the residue of lands that
were not paid for he sold out in bulk to Mr. AUSTIN.
The town of Sudbury, adjoining Orwell on the east, was chartered
a short time prior to the town of Orwell, and it appears that through some
mistake the charters of both cover a strip of land one mile in width across
the entire east end of the town. After considerable trouble the tract was
held by Orwell.
In 1789 the inhabitants suffered a terrible scarcity of provisions,
when meager want became an inmate in nearly every dwelling in town. The
settlers, during the short time they had been upon their farms, had been
employed in rearing their log cabins and other fixtures of immediate necessity;
had as yet made but small openings in the wilderness around them, and these
had to be sub-divided so as to afford grazing and fodder for their teams
and a cow or two for each, so that their means for producing grain in most
cases had not become very extensive, each endeavoring to produce a supply
for his own wants. The year preceding had been an unfruitful one, and only
a very short crop had been produced throughout this section. The people,
being mostly poor, had not been upon their farms long enough to raise produce
for market. Therefore there was a scarcity of money also; besides, the
roads had hardly yet been made passable. Much suffering and destitution
followed. Many families were entirely destitute of bread for weeks together,
and destitute also of meat. Their only resources were fish, which they
roasted in the frying-pan without any seasoning but salt, which with the
milk of a cow divided perhaps among seven or eight, constituted their living.
The harvest, though unusually late, came at last, and brought a supply,
so that when merry Christmas came round the people had recovered from their
Although not settled until after the Revolution, the town is noted
for having within its limits the celebrated Mount Independence. This place
became a military station soon after the capture of Ticonderoga by Ethan
ALLEN, May 10, 1775, and, being a very eligible situation for military
works, it became the headquarters of the Army of the North, and the scene
of the stirring events, the chronicles of which have gone into general
The military road that communicated from this station with Hubbardton
and Castleton probably passed on the southern side of East Creek, to a
point about a mile and a half southwest of the center village in town,
thence south, crossing the creek near the south line of the town, near
the place occupied by the old Fair Haven turnpike.
A large number of the early settlers in this town served more or
less in the Revolutionary army; but of these many had died previous to
the passage of any law granting pensions for Revolutionary services. Those
who lived to receive the gratuities of the pension laws were Lieutenant
Jonas ROYCE, who served in three companies under lieutenant's commissions,
receiving a pension equal to lieutenant's pay; Ephraim BLOOD, Daniel BUELL,
Peter HALL, Christopher MINER, Seth BENSON, Christopher BUNKER, John NOBLE,
Jonathan BELDING, Apollas AUSTIN, Stephen LONG, Pliny SMITH, Samuel GRISWOLD,
Solomon CHITTENDEN, and William JONES, all of whom are now deceased except
the three last. The widows who have received pensions were Lydia BENSON,
Mary BUELL, Hannah HULBURD, Elizabeth ROYCE, Sarah AUSTIN, Abigail NOBLE,
and Esther THOMAS.
A majority of the inhabitants of the town believed that the injuries
and indignities which our country had received from Great Britain were
a sufficient justification of the declaration of the War of 1812, by the
United States against that power, and therefore heartily sympathized in
the measures of the administration in carrying on the war. During the first
year of the war a draft from the militia was made, in the month of June,
1812, in which it fell to the lot of Captain Mason ORMSBEE, the commander
of one of the militia companies of the town, and twelve non-commissioned
officers and privates, to go into actual service when called for, in defense
of the northern frontier. During the year 1813 upwards of twenty men from
this town enlisted into the regular army of the United States for the term
of during the war.
In September, 1814, Sir George PREVOST, from Canada, made a descent
upon Plattsburgh with a large army, accompanied by a formidable naval force
upon the lake. The news of the invasion, by express, reached the town of
Orwell on the night of the 9th of September, about sunset. During the night
measures were taken to give notice of the threatened danger, and at sunrise
on the morning of the 10th about one hundred and fifty men, citizens of
the town, were under arms and on their way to repel the invasion. These
men formed themselves under the command of the officers of the two standing
militia companies of the town, and proceeded to the scene of the invasion,
but arrived too late to be of very much actual service.
The following list contains the names of those who went out from
the town to serve in Vermont regiments during the late war:
Volunteers for three years credited previous to call for 300,000
volunteers of October 17, 1863:
C. E. ABELL,
G. S. BENSON, A. BLOOD, S. S. BOWEN, C. F. BRANCH, F. BROWN, J. BRUEN,
P. CHAMBERLIN, J. M. COBURN, C. C. COMAFOURD, J. C. CUMMERFORD, L. DUNBAR,
M. FANNING, W. FANNING, M. FINNESSY, T. FINNESSY, J. W. GOODRICH, L. L.
GOODRICH, J. HAMMEL, C. A. HIGGINS, H. O. HIGGINS, J. J. HUIT, G. A. KILMER,
J. LA MOUNTAIN, C. C. LARABEE, P. MALONEY, J. W. PERKINS, E. M. RAYMOND,
I. W. RAYMOND, E. J. ROGERS, H. C. ROGERS, M. H. SKEELS, F. C. STEDMAN,
I. W. STEDMAN, J. STEDMAN, H. C. Thomas, D. WADSWORTH, J. N. WOODWARD.
Credits under call of October 17, 1863, for 300,000 volunteers,
and subsequent calls:
Volunteers for three years. -- J. N. BROCK, J. BROCK, jr., J. CARLISLE,
J. R. GRAY, J. HERSEY, L. R. HOPKINS, C. Howard, R. KILLMER, C. T. LESTER,
O. D. LYFORD, W. MILLER, A. J. MORTON, N. A. MUNGER, W. T. MUNGER, A. PARENT,
F. PLUE, H. STEWARD.
Volunteers for one year. -- T. DENNO, C. R. LILLEY, M. NAYLOR, L.
Volunteers re-enlisted. -- M. FINNESSY, J. QUARTERS, E. M. RAYMOND,
E. C. ROGERS, F. C. STEDMAN, J. STEDMAN.
Enrolled men who furnished substitute. -- D. C. BASCOM, D. W. CLARK,
H. T. CUTTS, J. L. HAMMOND, A. D. HOLBROOK, D. H. W. HORTON, C. SANFORD,
P. SMITH, J. H. THOMAS, S. D. WELLS.
Not credited by name. -- Three men.
Volunteers for nine months. -- C. E. ABELL, E. C. BALL, J. D. BARBER,
D. I. BROWN, S. E. GRISWOLD, H. E. HACK, H. G. HIBBARD, T. W. LEWIS, J.
A. MUNGER, D. ROGERS, G. H. ROWLEY, D. E. ROYCE, A. W. SAMSON, F. SPAULDING,
H. STURDEVANT, W. D. WALKER, C. R. WINCHESTER, J. WOLCOTT, N. L. WOLCOTT.
Furnished under draft. -- Paid commutation, L. A. AUSTIN, H. C.
BROWN, C. A. COOK, M. A. HITCHCOCK, C. R. LILLEY. Procured substitute,
C. F. PERSONS, W. O. RAY, H. RUST, R. C. WILCOX.
The first merchant in Orwell was Ruluff WHITE, sr., who came into
the town from Hoosick, N. Y., about 1788. He continued in business only
a few years. Apollas AUSTIN was the next, who opened a general store in
1792, in a building now used as a horse barn by J. O. RAYMOND. He did an
extensive business. About 1795 he took his brother, Josiah AUSTIN, into
partnership with him, the firm continuing until the death of Josiah in
1819. Apollas then conducted the business, a portion of the time having
his sons connected with him, until 1846, thus being in business longer
than any other merchant in the town. Among the principal ones of the other
early merchants were John B. CATLIN, Mason ORMSBEE, and Walter CHIPMAN
& Co., after the latter of whom CHIPMAN's Point received its name.
As late as 1850 there were in business CATLIN & WRIGHT, ABEL &
WILCOX, and W. C. and James GRASSIE, the latter at the Point.
As early as 1803 emigration from the town commenced, the course
being principally to Northern New York, St. Lawrence county receiving many
families during the following eight or nine years. About 1810 the tide
of emigration turned towards the West, and from that time to the present
has been a constant drain on the population, Western New York, Ohio, Michigan,
Illinois, and Wisconsin receiving a large portion of the number. The tendency
of this emigration of medium farmers, without other settlers from abroad
coming in to take their places, has been to diminish the number and increase
the size of the farms, so that in many, cases four or five original farms
have been amalgamated into one. The following statistics from the United
States census reports show the fluctuation for each decade since 1791 when
the first census was taken: 1791, 778 ; 1800, 1,376; 1810, 1,849; 1820:
1,730; 1830, 1,598; 1840, 1,504; 1850, 1,470; 1860, 1,341; 1870, 1,192;
The present officers of the town are Gideon ABBEY, clerk; J. W.
BOYNTON, treasurer; John HALL, G. A. KIMBALL, and I. T. BRANCH, selectmen;
R. W. SHOLES, constable; G. A. KIMBALL, superintendent; D. B. MERWIN, H.
T. CUTTS, and B. B. BUELL, listers; D. B. MERWIN, overseer; and C. E. BUSH,
Independence Lodge, No. 10, F. & A. M., was organized October
9, 1815, its first list of officers being as follows: Wait BRANCH, W. M.;
Ashur NICHOLS, S. W.; and Joel BARBER, J. W. The masters since then have
been Daniel ROOT, Joel BARBER, Ashur NICHOLS, George D. DAVIS, Benjamin
PARDY, Lyman SAUNDERS, Samuel PARDY, Roswell BOTTUM, jr., George D. DOWD,
William C. GRISWOLD, M. J. CLARK, D. C. BASCOM, C. D. ABELL, E. M. BOTTUM,
V. V. BLACKMER, H. G. HIBBARD, C. E. ABELL, and G. A. KIMBALL.
As Orwell is purely an agricultural town, little can be said under
this head. Orwell village is located almost precisely in the geographical
center of the town, where the main roads extending north and south and
east and west intersect. The early settlements made upon its site and vicinity,
and the early storekeepers, have already been mentioned. The village now
has two churches (Roman Catholic and Congregational), a national bank,
three stores, one hotel, a large carriage factory, three blacksmith shops,
one harness shop, a fine school building, town hall, and about twenty-five
or thirty dwellings.
The earliest postmaster here of which we can find any trace was
Ira Smith, about 1815; and from that time the successive storekeepers have
served as postmasters, among whom have been A. B. CATLIN, Joseph M. BISHOP,
E. M. WRIGHT, S. C. BULL, Dorus C. BASCOM, and the present postmaster,
William B. WRIGHT.
The store now occupied by William B. WRIGHT, in the general mercantile
business, was built by Jeremiah BOYNTON, and first kept by Ira SMITH. In
1845 E. M. WRIGHT, father of William B., came here from Burlington and
immediately engaged in trade, the firm being CHAMPLIN, FLETCHER & WRIGHT.
About 1847 the firm was changed to CATLIN & WRIGHT, then WRIGHT &
GALE, WRIGHT & WYMAN, WRIGHT & BASCOM, and finally, in 1867, it
became E. M. WRIGHT & Co., William B. being the partner. On August
15, 1881, he became sole owner, and has conducted the business since. Mr.
WRIGHT was born in Hinesburg, Chittenden county, August 10, 1818, and married
in 1846, the year after his father came here, Eliza BOTTUM. W. A. JOHNSON
and J. E. WILLIAMS, under the firm name of JOHNSON & WILLIAMS, began
the hardware business here in 1883, occupying the present store of W. O.
RAY. In the summer of 1885 they built their present store, which they have
occupied since. W. O. Ray has been in the grocery business here since the
latter part of November, 1885. He OCCUPIES the old "WILCOX store," which
was built at a very early date by ORMSBEE Brothers.
Calice BESSETTE's carriage and wagon factory is the prominent business
interest of the town. The business was established by Eleazer ABBEY, father
of Gideon ABBEY, in 1825, who conducted it until Mr. BESSETTE succeeded
him, May 15, 1860. Business increased rapidly with the latter and was flourishing
when, December 31, 1869, the buildings took fire and were entirely consumed,
together with the stock and tools they contained, causing a loss of $10,000
over and above the insurance, which was only $1,800. The factory was soon
rebuilt, however, and business resumed, which has increased till Mr. BESSETTE
now employs twelve men, and does an annual business of about $20,000 in
the manufacture and repair of all kinds of wagons, carriages, and sleighs.
First National Bank of Orwell, located at Orwell, Addison county,
was organized in 1863, with a capital of $50,000, which was increased in
1865 to $100,000. It succeeded to the Farmers' Bank of Orwell, which was
organized in 1832, and went into liquidation in 1863. The first board of
directors of First National Bank were as follows: John L. HAMMOND, G. A.
AUSTIN, E. S. CATLIN, Marvin NORTH, and M. C. RICE; cashier, H. C. HOLLEY.
John L. HAMMOND was president of the bank from its organization in 1863
up to his decease, in February, 1882. He was succeeded by Virtulon RICH,
who has been president since that time. Officers elected at annual meeting
in January, 1886, are as follows: Virtulon RICH, T. A. HAMMOND, Cyrus JENNINGS,
William B. WRIGHT, and C. E. BUSH, directors; V. RICH, president; T. A.
HAMMOND, vice-president; C. E. BUSH, cashier, and J. S. WILCOX, assistant
cashier. Cashier and assistant cashier have held their positions since
1870 and 1872, respectively. The bank has paid in dividends up to January
1, 1886, $160,000, and has a surplus and undivided profit account of $
110,000. The real estate of the bank consists of a substantial brick banking
house and dwelling combined, which was rebuilt and enlarged in 1879. It
is provided with a fire-proof vault and one of DIEBOLD's largest and best
burglar-proof safes, with SARGENT's timelock.
The Vermont Investment and Guarantee Company, of Orwell, Vt., was
organized under act 193 of the laws of 1884, to succeed to the real estate
loaning business of Hammond, BUSH & Co., and makes Western farm mortgages
a specialty. It has a paid-up capital of $150,000, in addition to which
its stockholders are made personally liable beyond their stock for an amount
equal to the par value thereof. Among its stockholders are a number of
prominent banking and business men of the State. At the annual election,
January 1, 1886, the following directors and officers were elected: Cyrus
JENNINGS, Virtulon RICH, T. A. HAMMOND, William B. WRIGHT, George BRIGGS,
T. M. CHAPMAN, and C. E. BUSH, directors; Cyrus JENNINGS, president; William
B. WRIGHT, vice-president; C. E. BUSH, treasurer, and D. L. WELLS, secretary;
Hon. E. J. ORMSBEE, Brandon, and T. A. HAMMOND, and J. S. WILCOX, Orwell,
are trustees for holders of debentures.
The hotel here was built by Jeremiah BOYNTON, father of the present
proprietor, in 1816. He came from Pittsfield, Mass., in 1806, and built
a log house about a mile and a half east of the village, on the present
A. C. YOUNG's farm, and subsequently moved about half a mile west of that
location, and later to a lot opposite the present hotel. About 1813 he
sold to Dr. BAKER and opened a small tavern just east of where the bank
now is, where he remained till he built the present hotel, in 1816, which
he kept till about 1852.
The present proprietor, Joshua W. BOYNTON, born September 16, 1808,
began to assist his father in the management of the house about 1842, and
has been sole proprietor since 1852, making him probably the oldest hotel
proprietor in the State of Vermont. He was in the mercantile business several
years previous to 1842.
There are two other post-offices in the town, North Orwell and Chipman's
Point. The former is at the station of the Addison Branch of the Central
Vermont Railroad in the northern part of the town, and C. D. ABELL is the
postmaster; the office was not established until after the railroad was
built, about ten years ago. The latter is on the lake shore, where is gathered
a small hamlet of about eight dwellings, a store, and hotel. The office
was established about 1830, W. CHIPMAN being the first postmaster.
The Orwell grist-mill -- James F. LILLIE, proprietor -- which we
have mentioned on a previous page, is located about a mile west of the
village. It is operated by water power, has three run of stones, and does
East Orwell Cheese Factory, located in the eastern part of the town,
was built by a stock company in 1867, and is now operated by I. T. BRANCH.
Orwell Cheese Factory, located in the western part of the town,
was built by a stock company 1866, and is now operated by W. O. RAY.
There was no regular physician in the town until the year 1788.
In the early part of that year Dr. James BENEDICT came into town. He was
thorough-bred in his profession, and a very amiable and worthy man, as
well as an active and influential member of the Congregational Church,
which was about that time organized in town. He died in 1794, much lamented.
Dr. Luman PETTIBONE, who resided where Dr. GALE now lives, came
into town in the year 1792. He also was a very respectable man, and accounted
a skillful physician. Though not possessed of as much medical science as
Dr. BENEDICT, he was nevertheless thought to be a good practitioner. He
entered into co-partnership with Thomas SCOVELL and Jabez WARREN about
the year 1795, in the mercantile business; but they were not successful
and the enterprise proved a failure. Dr. PETTIBONE removed to the north
part of the State of New York in the year 1803.
Dr. PETTIBONE was succeeded by Dr. James O. MCFARLAND, who came
into town about the same time that PETTIBONE left; lived in the village
for a time, then moved to where Charles COOK now lives. He was a skillful
physician and an able surgeon. In the years 1818 and '19, he represented
the town in the State Legislature. He died in 1820.
Dr. Lemuel WICKER came into town about the same time with Dr. MCFARLAND,
and settled near the lake. He was a thorough-bred physician, but never
acquired an extensive practice. Dr. Nathaniel SHURIL succeeded Dr. MCFARLAND
in 1808. He absconded from the town under cover of the night to save himself
from arrest. He removed to Western New York, and has since died. He was
in town eight or nine years.
Dr. Artemas ROBBINS came into town about the year 1808. He was a
man of much science in his profession, and had acquired a great stock of
general knowledge. After staying several years he removed to Rockingham,
in this State.
Dr. Ira BASCOM, a graduate of Middlebury College, a profound scholar
and thorough-bred physician, and a native of the town, after having practiced
several years in Granville, in the State of New York, located himself in
Orwell in 1819, and offered his services in his profession, but soon after
was seized with a pulmonary affection, which soon incapacitated him for
actual business, and to which he fell a victim in 1820. He was both a scholar
and a gentleman, and died much lamented. He lived where C. BESSETTE now
Dr. Isaac HUMPHREY came into town from Goshen, Conn., about 1810.
He continued in town nine or ten years, but did not practice much, except
among his relatives. He was also a good mechanic, and employed himself
mostly at his trade. He removed to Western New York.
The latter was succeeded by Dr. Joel BARBER, Dr. CUSHMAN, and Dr.
GALE, who is still in practice here.
Dr. Nathan GALE has been here since October 11, 1826. His father,
Phineas GALE, was one of the early settlers of Panton, and subsequently
removed with his son Somers to Bridport, and thence, in 1807, to Cornwall,
where he died in January, 1826. Nathan was born on the old farm in Bridport
July 30, 1801, studied medicine with Dr. Jonathan B. ALLEN, of Middlebury,
attended lectures at Castleton three terms, graduating in 1825. He married
Esther, daughter of James and Mary CONKEY, January 8, 1828. Mrs. GALE was
born February 3, 1803, and is consequently now nearly eighty-four years
Dr. Walter H. VINCENT, the only other physician in town, was born
in East Montpelier March 31, 1859, studied three years at the University
of Vermont, and graduated from the University of New York March 4, 1884
he came here July 28, 1884.
For members of the legal profession the town has never been a favorite
location. The first attorney that came into town with a view to settle
was J. C. THOMPSON, a native of Connecticut. He came into town in 1812,
but not meeting with such encouragement as satisfied him, he remained here
about six months only, when he removed to Burlington, Vt., where he acquired
a very respectable standing as an attorney. About three years after, Elijah
PARKER came into the town from Brandon, and remained three or four years,
but did not succeed in obtaining much business. In 1823 James BRECKENRIDGE,
an attorney, made a short stay of a few months here. During his stay he
managed to get into his hands something of an amount of business for collection,
with the avails of which, when collected, he absconded. He was succeeded
about two years after by Robert HOLLY, a very worthy and respectable remained
about two years, possessed fair talents, and was a very good lawyer, but
did not find sufficient business to induce him to stay longer. The town
now has no lawyer.
The town was originally divided into nine school districts. As early
as 1792 every district had a school-house, where early instruction was
given. It is not known that a single individual has ever been raised in
Orwell from its first settlement to the present time, who has not been
taught to read and write; and if any have not received a fair, common school
education it has been the result of his own stupidity, for it was among
the earliest efforts of the settlers to provide and foster means for educating
the rising generation. The town now has ten school districts.
The first religious society organized in the First Baptist Church
of Orwell, December 21, 1787. Its first pastor, Rev. Elnathan PHELPS, was
the settled minister in the town. Their church building, located in the
eastern part of the town and built in 1810, was sold to A. P. CUTTING June
The Congregational Church was organized in 1789, with seven or eight
members, viz.: Ebenezer HURLBURD and wife, Stephen SPAULDING and wife,
David LEONARD, and James Benedict. The early records of the church were
probably written on sheets of paper, and have been lost, so that the exact
date of the organization is not known. Rev. Mr. HARWOOD, of Pittsford,
was present at the organization ceremonies. The first settled minister
was Rev. Sylvanus CHAPIN, of Belchertown, Mass., who studied divinity with
Rev. Eben BURROUGHS, D. D., Hanover, N. H. Mr. CHAPIN was ordained and
installed pastor of the Congregational Church in Orwell May 30, 1791; dismissed
May 26, 1801. In 1798 there was a general revival of religion. From 1801
to 1808 the church was without a settled pastor, enjoying in the mean while
stated supply. Rev. Mason KNAPEN was called to become its pastor March
22, 1808, and was installed on the first day of June following. There had
been connected with the church at the time of his installation one hundred
and eleven members. In 1810 a revival of great power was enjoyed, and ninety
persons, as the fruits of it, were added to the church. Mr. KNAPEN was
dismissed August 24, 1819. Rev. Ira INGRAHAM was installed pastor June
14, 1820, and was dismissed at his own request October 23, 1822. A general
revival was also enjoyed in the summer of 1821. Rev. Sherman KELLOGG was
installed pastor March 14, 1826. In 1829 another revival was enjoyed. Mr.
KELLOGG was dismissed April 13, 1832. Rev. Seth SACKET supplied the pulpit
several months in the interim which followed. Rev. Henry MORRIS was installed
Pastor October 3, 1834, and was dismissed October 4, 1841. In the winter
of 1834-5 a revival of great interest was enjoyed. Rev. Rufus S. CUSHMAN
was installed pastor December 21, 1843. There were seasons of unusual religious
interest in 1847 and 1855, also a good degree of interest in 1861. Mr.
CUSHMAN was dismissed May 7, 1862, at which time seven hundred and twenty-two
persons had been connected with the church, of which number one hundred
and twenty-one were added during his pastorate. Rev. Lewis A. AUSTIN was
ordained and installed pastor June 25, 1862, and was dismissed August 4,
1868. In the winter of 1867 there was an extensive revival, and on March
3 forty-one persons united with the church. Rev. M. L. SEVERANCE commenced
his pastorate January 1, 1869, and was installed February 27 following.
Religious interest was manifest in the years 1870 and 1873, and again in
1877. Mr. SEVERANCE was dismissed December 28, 1880. Rev. S. F. CALHOUN
was installed pastor December 28, 1880. There have been connected with
the church (January 1, 1881) 874 persons. The church has had three houses
of worship. The first, a framed structure, stood down in front of the present
town hall, a rude edifice with seats of slabs, widely in contrast with
houses of worship at the present day. The second was built by Deacon Paul
SPOONER in 1804-5, and stood a little south and east of the present edifice.
It was the same size as the brick church, was finished off with box pews,
mostly square, gallery extending on three sides, and a high pulpit. The
present brick edifice was built at a cost of about seven thousand dollars,
and in December, 1843, was dedicated to the Lord.
St. Paul's Catholic Church of Orwell was organized by Rev. Joseph
DOUGLEY, the first pastor, in 1860, with forty-five members. The church
building was erected the same year, a brick structure capable of accommodating
200 persons with seating room, and at a cost of $1,500, the whole property
being now valued at $2,000. The society has at present forty-five members,
with Rev. Father E. D. COFFEY, pastor.
XXVIII, pages 555-576.
of the Town of Orwell.
of Addison County, Vermont,
And Biographical Sketches
Of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers."
by H. P. Smith. Syracuse, N. Y.;
& Co., Publishers, 1886.
by Jan Maloy, 2002
Page for look-up offers concerning this town.