"This is a mountainous township, the surface and soil of which are too broken and cold for much cultivation . . . Thist own was granted in 1781 and chartered to Abel Thompson and associates." 
 

Gazetteer of Vermont, Hayward, 1849.

HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF RIPTON

      Ripton, situated in the southeastern part of the county, is bounded on the north by Lincoln; on the east by Granville and Hancock; on the south by Hancock and Goshen, and west by Middlebury and Salisbury. The surface of the town is mountainous in the extreme, the eastern part including some of the loftiest peaks of the Green Mountains, while the western line is stretched upon a spur of this range. The soil for the most part is too rough for cultivation, although to the west and north there is a tract of moderately level land and well-drained soil, on which are a number of excellent farms. The soil of this tract is largely a sandy loam, with occasional intervales of alluvial earth along the streams. Wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat, Indian corn, potatoes, and hay are the principal products. The inhabitants being denied, for the most part, the labors and the fruits of husbandry, turn their attention to that industry which nature most encourages in Ripton, viz., lumbering. Vast forests of hemlock, beech, maple, birch, spruce, balsam, basswood, and ash, with a few pine, mantle the mountains and overshadow the gorges and valleys of Ripton. Middlebury River, with its numerous tributaries, furnishes an outlet to the melting snows of spring and the heavy rainfalls of summer. This stream cannot be said to have a valley in Ripton. It rises in Hancock and flows a due westerly course to the Otter Creek in Middlebury, forcing its way through deep gorges and plunging tumultuously over gigantic bowlders. A branch of the New Haven River has its source in the northern part of the town and flows north into Lincoln.

      The town was chartered by the State on the 13th of April, 1781, by the name of Riptown, to Abel THOMPSON and fifty-nine associates. From the name Riptown to Ripton was naturally but a few steps in graduation. According to the charter the township originally contained an area of 24,000 acres, but this has been increased by annexation. In 1820, 6,200 acres were taken from

      Goshen and added to Ripton, and four years later 1,940 acres were annexed from Middlebury. On the 29th of October, 1829, another small piece was added from Middlebury, and again, November 1, 1832, 900 acres were added from Salisbury. Ripton has now, therefore, an area Of 33,000 acres.


EARLY SETTLEMENTS

      For a period of twenty years after the granting of the charter the town was uninhabited by man. As late as 1800, when the town of Middlebury had 1,263 inhabitants, Lincoln ninety-seven, Salisbury forty four, Goshen four, Granville 185, and Hancock 149, Ripton had not been visited by the smoke of a single cabin. The proprietors, or their grantees, in despair of settling the territory without resort to some coup d'etat countenanced the rumor that the first child born within the charter limits of the town would be entitled to a right of land, whereupon Ebenezer COLLAR, who knew what he was about, cut his way to the site now occupied by Oscar HURLBURT, erected a temporary shelter, where on the 11th of November, 1801 he became the father of a girl, whom he called Fanny. She afterwards became the wife of Amasa PIPER, and is still residing in town. She has never received her right of land.

      About 1802, Asa, father to Ebenezer COLLAR, came to Ripton, and settled near his son, at the Four Corners, on the place now owned by S. Cortez GIBBS.

      About the year 1803 Thomas FULLER settled in that part of Goshen which was afterward annexed to Ripton.

      Among the other settlers who may be mentioned as early (i. e., who were here some time before the town was organized in 1828) were Luman COGSWELL, who located on the place now owned by Amherst NOBLE; William ELLIS, where Philander GREEN and George DOW now live; Jonathan BROWN, who was an early settler on the farm now owned by Peter MURRAY; Elijah BROWN, his brother, who lived just west of him; John BROWN, who located on the place now owned by his nephew, George R. BROWN, and Abraham FULSOM, who was the first settler on the place now occupied by George L. YOUNG. FULSOM was fond of hunting and used often to track deer in company with Benjamin HALE and sons. Parsons BILLINGS located at an early day on the farm now occupied by S. B. HOWARD. Willard ALDEN lived in the east part of the town, where Josiah EMERY now owns. Noah BAILEY settled first on the North Branch, on the farm now occupied by George J. HODGES. Orin BAILEY was his brother. Marshall MILLER lived quite early on the farm now occupied by George RUSSELL. Benjamin HALE came to Ripton from Cornwall (originally from Orwell) about 1810, and settled on the place now occupied by Peter MURRAY, and owned by Sidney G. TISDALE. Daniel HALE, his son, who lives in town now, was born on December 22, 1827. On the 20th of November, 1872, he married Jane, daughter of Samuel HENDRICK. Nathaniel MCQUIVEY was the first settler on the farm now owned and occupied by his son Nathaniel.

      The other early settlers, with their places of settlement, may be mentioned as Orin BAILEY lived on the place which Joseph GEE now owns.

      Thomas FULLER, jr., located on the farm on the turnpike, now occupied by John HODGES. His father, before mentioned, lived with him. William ARNOLD was an early settler on the place, now unoccupied, owned by Orin DANFORTH. He and his son, William, jr., were blacksmiths. Schuyler TUEXBURY, [We follow the spelling in the records.] brother-in-law of David HALE, settled on the place now occupied by Duane P. MILLS. Silas MCWAIN located on the turnpike, near the MCQUIVEY place. Daniel CHIPMAN came to Ripton from Middlebury in 1828, and built the two-storied framed house now occupied by Mrs. Catharine FISHER and Henry B. RIPLEY. He was born in Salisbury, Conn., October 22, 1765, and was the son of Samuel and Hannah CHIPMAN. A sketch of Mr. CHIPMAN's life has been given in earlier pages. James MILES settled on the farm now owned and occupied by Herman C. DAMON. Samuel COBB located on the farm now occupied by David HALE. Samuel DAMON, father and son, lived on the farm now occupied by George T. FISHER. Paul PRATT was an early settler near the Four Corners. Lewis HUNTLEY settled on the place now occupied by Abel G. CHANDLER, near the Four Corners. Benjamin DURFEE was an early settler and located on the place where Josiah S. CHANDLER now lives, on the North Branch. Calvin Pier located on the farm now owned by Amherst NOBLE. Lucius ABBEY lived on the land now owned by Charles E. GEE. David C. SHERMAN, father to Willie SHERMAN, was born in Warren, Vt., in 1816. His father, Reuel SHERMAN, was a soldier of the Revolution. David C. SHERMAN came to this town in 1845. Samuel H., son of Jabez HENDRICK, who was one of the early settlers of New Haven and Middlebury, came to Ripton in 1838, and in 1843 was elected first town representative. He served also in 1846 and '47, and is one of the most prominent men in town. Sylvester FISHER, born in Bethel on June 25, 1811, came to Ripton at the age of twenty-one years. He lived here at intervals only, until 1851, when he became a permanent resident, locating on the Chipman homestead, where his widow now resides.


TOWN ORGANIZATION

      Settlement, however, increased so slowly that in 1825 there were only eighteen families in town, and there was no effort at organization until the first Monday in March, 1828, when the voters assembled at the house of Calvin PIER. The wisdom of electing officers and organizing the town was even then questioned by a number of the inhabitants. The question being determined in the affirmative, the meeting proceeded to elect officers as follows: Daniel CHIPMAN, moderator; Calvin PIER, town clerk; Lucius ABBEY, Ethan OWEN, Nathaniel MCQUIVEY, selectmen; Daniel CHIPMAN, treasurer; Jonathan BROWN, Ethan OWEN, Samuel BEEBE, listers; William ARNOLD, first constable; Daniel CHIPMAN, grand juror; Jonathan BROWN, Lewis HUNTLEY, William HUNTER, Benjamin HALE, surveyors of highways; James MILES, "tithingman"; John MAGANETY, "hog howard."

      It was not long after this that industries of various kinds were built up and Ripton became a town of considerable manufacturing importance. In 1830-1831 George C. and Horace LOOMIS built a tannery, which in 1835 they sold to Thomas ATWOOD. Amos A. and Charles E. ATWOOD afterward operated this tannery for a number of years. Charles E. ATWOOD was the proprietor when the building was destroyed by fire in 1852 or '53. Norman Lewis and son soon after erected a saw-mill on the site.

      From 1830 to '40 there were as many as twelve saw-mills in town. Daniel CHIPMAN, about 1835 built a saw-mill on the site now covered by the mill of George A. BAKER. He also erected a grist-mill a trifle before 1835, which is now occupied by Winfield S. HUNTLEY as a butter-tub factory. Hiram CHAMPLIN built a saw-mill near the present dwelling house of Dr. POWERS. This impetus in the saw-mill business was caused by the high price of lumber. In 1859 the price had depreciated and the old mills were allowed to decay, though circular saw-mills were afterward erected in their stead.

      In 1859 too, as we learn from the interesting sketch of Ripton contributed by Samuel DAMON to the Vermont Historical Magazine, two large coal-kilns were erected for the purpose of supplying the iron forge at East Middlebury.

      The first framed house in town was a tavern. Abraham LACKEY kept tavern very nearly on the turnpike, in the house now owned by Albert WHITCOMB and occupied by John PIERCE. The next tavern stood on the site of George A. BAKER's store, and was built by Ethan OWEN when the town was young. Benjamin HALE, jr., bought it years ago and ran it while in company with his brother Joseph. Seaver FLETCHER, Elias MATTESON and his son, Elias H. MATTESON, also managed the business, the last named having charge when the building, then called the Green Mountain House, was destroyed by fire in May, 1877.


POST-OFFICES

      The first postmaster at the "Hollow" was Daniel CHIPMAN. His successors in office have been Frederick SMITH, Seaver FLETCHER, Samuel DAMON, jr., Herman C. DAMON, and the present incumbent, George A. BAKER, who received his commission four or five years ago. A post-office was established at Bread Loaf Inn six or eight years ago, with Joseph BATTELL in office. His deputy John HOUSTIN, manages the office.


STORES

      The store now owned and conducted by George A. BAKER was built by him, in the summer of 1879. He carries a large and varied assortment of goods, and does an extensive and profitable business. C. S. ALBEE opened his general store in the early winter of 1884-5. Before that he operated the saw-mill in which he has been succeeded by W. S. HUNTLEY.


PRESENT MILLS

      We have already seen that the oldest mill site in town is that now occupied by the mill of George A. BAKER. The present mill, was built there in 1868 by E. D. SHELDON. Mr. BAKER owns one-third of this privilege and all the machinery and the building, and has had a controlling interest in the business for a number of years. The mill has a capacity of cutting 4,000 feet of lumber, 5,000 feet of clapboards, and 10,000 shingles a day. It is one of the finest mills in the county. The site of the extensive mill of W. S. HUNTLEY is the old grist-mill site of Daniel CHIPMAN. The present mill was built about the year 1873 by S. F. MATTESON, who after running it for a time gave place to C. S. ALBEE. In the fall of 1884 he sold it to the present proprietor. W. S. HUNTLEY also owns and operates a large tub factory, which was built by George A. BAKER in 1878. The saw-mill and shingle-mill now operated by Daniel C. BENTON was built by Perlin PADIE in 1864. Willie SHERMAN's shingle-mill, on the North Branch, was erected by Stillman HENDRICKS more than fifty years ago. The mill has been several times rebuilt. The mill now operated by W. R. NEWTON was built by Newell Culver in 1878. It was burned and rebuilt in 1885. The saw-mill now run by John E. GOODRO, on the North Branch, was erected by Cornelius BILLINGS in 1877. Mr. GOODRO came into possession about three years ago. The saw-mill and butter-tub factory of Hiram I. SPOOR was built by its present proprietor in 1876, and is operated by steam.

      The coal-kilns in the north part of the town, successors to those mentioned in previous pages, which now turn out about 9,000 bushels of charcoal per month, are owned and operated by WILLIAMS & NICHOLS (the East Middlebury Forge Company), who are the successors of T. M. CHAPMAN, of Middlebury.


THE PROFESSIONS

      There are no lawyers in town. Henry C. POWERS, who was born at Rochester, Vt., on the 17th of December, 1834, and came here in 1870, is the only medical practitioner in town.


PRESENT OFFICERS

      The town officers of Ripton elected at the annual March meeting of 1885 are as follows: Loren H. BAKER, town clerk and treasurer; George W. GILMORE, George A. BAKER, W. E. CUSHMAN, selectmen; William GALVIN, overseer of the poor; Henry B. RIPLEY, first constable and collector; Arthur BROWN, George J. HODGES, J. L. COOK, listers; E. C. GIBBS, J. S. CHANDLER, H. I. SPOOR, auditors; Mintie POWERS, superintendent of schools; Samuel H. HENDRICK, trustee of surplus moneys; O. S. KING, A. CUSHMAN, Albert O. PLATT, fence viewers; H. I. SPOOR, C. E. BROWN, J. L. COOK, town grand jurors; R. E. BENTLEY, pound-keeper; W. E. HOWARD, inspector of wood and shingles.


POPULATION STATISTICS

      The following figures show the steady though gradual growth of the town in population since the first census record of 1820: 1820, 42; 1830, 278; 1840, 357; 1850, 567; 1860, 570; 1870, 617; 1880, 672.


MILITARY

      The town of Ripton, of course, is of too recent origin to have taken part in the Revolution or in the War of 1812. The following residents of this town did her honor, however, in the War of the Rebellion:

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

J. ADAMS, L. ALDRICH, R. E. BENTLEY, M. BOYNTON, J. S. CHANDLER, A. CHANNING, H. C. DAMON, E. F. DOWNER, J. DUQUETTE, T. DURFEY, A. ENGLISH, S. J. ENGLISH, G. W. FARMER, E. M. FARR, G. W. FULSOM, J. GILLESPIE, O. S. GILMORE, W. C. GOODELL, D. HALE, L. H. HENDRICK, W. H. KEEP, J. P. KIRBY, S. S. KIRBY, J. LAUNDREE, R. O. LINSLEY, B. MAYNARD, L. W. MERRILL, L. B. NEWELL, W. R. NEWTON, L. PLANKEY, P. PLANKEY, L. STONE, A. WHITNEY, R. WRIGHT.

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

      Volunteer for three years. -- E. B. KENT.

      Volunteers re-enlisted. -- H. C. DAMON, E. M. FARR, G. W. FULSOM, J. GILLESPIE, R. WRIGHT.

      Volunteer for nine months. -- J. HALE.

      Furnished under draft. -- Paid commutation, J. W. BRIGGS, J. CHAPMAN, E. DOWNER, A. M. FISHER, J. E. GOODYEAR, H. KIRBY, F. J. LEWIS, L. LEWIS, R. O. LINSLEY, H. B. RIPLEY, W. D. STOWE. Procured substitute, C. J. ROBBINS. Entered service, S. SPOONER.


ECCLESIASTICAL

      The Congregational Church of Ripton was organized very early and continued without a meeting-house until about 1865 or '66 when they erected their present house of worship. Their pastor, Rev. Moses PATTEN, came here from Rochester, Vt., about three years ago.

      The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1829, with a membership of seven, and Rev. Nathan W. Stearns for their first pastor. It was reorganized in 1849. In 1862 they built their church edifice at a cost Of $2,200. They have no pastor at present.
 
 
 

Chapter XXX, pages 590 - 594.
History of the Town of Ripton.
"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
 
 

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