"The people of this town are favored with mountain air, and with crystal streams which even the Bostonians might relish. Shetterack and Bald Mountains are in the north-west part of the town; Spruce and Equinox are in the north-east; Red Mountain is in the southeast; and Swearing Hill in the southwest. Between these elevations is some good land, which produces grass and grain; and which, with the mountain browse, affords feed for large flocks of sheep . . . The settlement of this town was commenced in 1771, by a Mr. Bristol. The religious denominations are Congregationalists and Methodists." 
 

Gazetteer of Vermont, Hayward, 1849.

HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SANDGATE



      SANDGATE was the eighth town of those now forming Bennington county that was chartered by Governor Wentworth, the grant bearing the date of August 11, 1761, and by calling this the eighth chartered town of the county the reader must assume that Manchester was granted first, although both charters were of the same date. But Sandgate has hardly achieved a prominence in the history of the county equal to Manchester, or perhaps some other towns, but still her people are progressive, and thrifty, and reliable. The geographical position of the town in the county, and its physical features are such as to preclude the probability of the town's ever playing an important part in the county's affairs.

      Sandgate occupies a position in the extreme western part and in the second tier of towns, counting from the north. Rupert lies to the north, Manchester on the east, Arlington on the south, and New York State to the west. Communication with the other towns of the county is difficult except by the highway leading south into Arlington, which may be considered a reasonably fair route of wagon travel. With Manchester the town connects by two roads, the one in the extreme south part passing around the south base of Mount Equinox, and the other in the northern part through the "notch" as it is called. Another road communicates with Rupert on the north, and still another with New York State on the west, the last named being probably the most used of any, for it is in New York State that the bulk of the town's products finds a market.

      Sandgate is an exceedingly hilly and mountainous region, the greatest altitude being reached on Mount Equinox, which is something like three thousand feet higher than the level country to the west of it. Mount Equinox, on the Taconic range, occupies a large proportion of the lands in the eastern part of the town, while the other prominent peaks, Swearing Hill and Minister Hill, likewise make their portion of the town practically useless for general agriculture. Generally throughout the whole north part of the town, as well as elsewhere, high hills prevail thus making farm labor expensive and unprofitable. But Sandgate is not without excellent farming lands, for through the valley of Green River there are as fertile tracts as car be found in the county, but the flat lands are quite limited in extent. The latter are of course more easily cultivated and produce better results, perhaps; but the rolling lands are more easily drained and can be broken and tilled earlier in the season.

      The town of Sandgate, as has been stated, was chartered August 11, 1761 to John PARK and sixty-five other grantees, but its settlement did not commence until some ten or more years afterward. The first settler is said to have been Joseph BRISTOL, but of him there appears no record, in fact the old record books that should contain the transactions of the early residents are in such a deplorable condition as to be practically useless. The first deed for the conveyance of land in the town appears to have been executed in 1778, and recorded in 1782. Abner HURD was the first town clerk and justice of the peace. George PECK was justice of the peace, town clerk, and surveyor from 1801 to 1828. Walter RANDALL was clerk of the town for twenty-five years. Reuben THOMAS and ____ ____, were likewise early justices of the peace, latter in 1786. Reuben THOMAS was the first representative from the town, chosen in 1778.

      Among the pioneer residents of this town was Captain Lewis HURD, who came here in the winter of 1783. He became at once one of the leading men of the town and vicinity, enjoying the esteem and confidence of all who knew him. An additional interest attaches to the life of Captain HURD from the fact of his having been a soldier in the American army during the Revolutionary War, and as such, having served under the immediate command of General Washington. "His first term of service continued about six months but this period saw him with the army in New York City in July 1776. He was with Washington in his memorable retreat from Long Island, but soon after was taken sick with camp fever, and was carried across the North River into New Jersey where he was left some six weeks. In May, 1777, he enlisted to serve during the war, and was at the taking of Fort Montgomery, was at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, at the battle of Monmouth in 1778, with Mad Anthony WAYNE at the storming of Stony Point in 1779, and at Jamestown in July, 1781. Captain HURD was on General WAYNE's staff for a time, and also with Marquis de LAFAYETTE during his journey through Virginia, and at the famous battle of Yorktown." Captain HURD lived in Sandgate from 1783 until the time of his death in December, 1848, he then being ninety years of age. He was one of the Congregational Church at Sandgate and one of its most liberal and devoted members. The descendants of Lewis HURD, and his kinsman, Abner HURD, are still numerous in the town and among its leading citizens. Another of the old families of the town was that of Rev. Charles NICHOLS, who was a prominent minister here many years ago. But little is known of his family, except that Charles, jr. was one of his children. The latter married into the old BRISTOL family of the town, and had several children, as follows: Marshal; Burton, Gaylord, Harry, Chloe, Ann, and possibly others. Sherman and Ezra NICHOLS, both now residents of Dorset, are sons of Gaylord NICHOLS by his marriage with Polly DAYTON, of Sandgate, she being also of an old family of the town. Among the other old and respected families and persons of Sandgate the names of some can be remembered, such as PROBAN, HAMILTON, WOODWARD, ROBINSON, RANDALL, COVEY, HOYT, WYMAN, BEEBE, BENNETT, PECK, SMITH, DRAPER, and others equally prominent; and while all of these may not be of pioneer descent, they nevertheless represent an element of entire respectability and as worthy of mention as pioneers.

      During the Revolutionary period and preceding that time, while this whole region of country was in dispute between the New Yorkers and those holding under the New Hampshire charters, the township of Sandgate was uninhabited save by a very few persons; and therefore this section was not disturbed, or at least there is no record of any disturbance on the part of the claimants from the west of Hudson's River. In the proceedings of the governor and council the first mention made of the town of Sandgate appears in connection with the organization of military companies for the Fifth Regiment, for which the sixteenth company was to have been recruited in that town; but the names of officers or men do not appear, from which it is fair to assume that the town had not sufficient population to furnish a company, however small. This theory would seem correct from the tenor of a subsequent order issued to Colonel Gideon WARREN of the Fifth Regiment by which he was directed to "draft twenty-seven good, effective men," "to be drafted" out of the towns of Rupert, Dorset, Sandgate, and Manchester; a similar order was directed to Colonel Samuel HERRICKS also in 1778, by which that officer was commanded to raise thirty men from the towns of Sandgate, Manchester, Dorset, Rupert, and Danby. In the proceedings of the Board of War, that body, by an order dated at Arlington, May 11, I780, directed the selectmen of the several towns in general and of Sandgate in particular "to collect thirty pounds of salt pork for each man raised in your town, or ordered to be raised for the defense of the frontier," etc.; and further, "you will use your utmost discretion in collecting said pork, and as it is of absolute necessity you will not fail to carry this order into execution, for which this shall be your sufficient warrant. You will keep accounts of the pork you furnish and the expense of transportation, for which your town will be paid by this State." Signed by Thomas Chittenden, governor. It seems from subsequent records that the town of Sandgate furnished two men for the service, consequently the quantity of pork to be raised amounted to sixty pounds. This was collected, as will be seen from the following communications:

"SANDGATE, March 6, A. D., 1781."

"We raised our Cate of Pork according to orders, and sent it to headquarters, being sixty weight of Pork."

“This we attest.”

TIMOTHY HURD,
REUBEN THOMAS,
Selectmen.” 

"Pay table office, 2d of May, 1781. The treasurer is directed to pay to the selectmen of Sandgate three pounds for the above pork, and eighteen shillings for transportation. Pr order.

"THOMAS CHITTENDEN, JOHN FASSETT, Committee."

"Recieved on the above twenty shillings and eight pence. Recieved more twelve shillings.

REUBEN THOMAS."
"5th of June, 1781 recieved two pounds twelve shillings, the remainder of the above order. Pr me.
REUBEN THOMAS."
 

      So far as the records show this was about the extent of the transactions that the town took any part in during that period. It had at that time a population of perhaps a hundred persons, or about fifteen or twenty families -- not more. After the War of the Revolution had ceased, and the proceedings which preceded Vermont's admission to the Union were terminated, the town grew rapidly, so that in 1791 the population amounted to 733.. In 1800 it reached 1,020; in 1810, 1,187; in 1820, 1,185. Then begun a general decline in numbers, the falling off between the last year named and 1830 being 252; in 1840 it had fallen to 777; by 1850 it had increased to 850, and then dropped again; in 1860 reaching 805; in 1870, 705, and by the last census of 188o the population was only 681.

      The town of Sandgate is not exclusively devoted to agriculture, as it enjoys a reputation for the production of lumber and other commodities made from wood that is somewhat surprising, when we consider the fact that it has no means of transportation other than by teams. Green River, as it courses rapidly down through the town, furnishes an abundant water power, and this is utilized to a large extent for various manufacturing purposes. Several members of the HURD family have been engaged in milling industries for a long time. Then there was Dr. SMITH's oyster keg factory, COVEY's brush-back factory, PROVAN's grist-mill, CONKEY's saw-mill, and others; but the largest, perhaps, of the mills along the river is that now operated by STICKLE Brothers, who came up here not long ago from Shaftsbury, and are doing an extensive business. But there was a time when Sandgate was an important town in the sheep and wool growing industries, the rolling and mountainous country being admirably adapted to this use; but, like many other things, this has declined, not that the land is by any means exhausted, but rather owing to the decline in the price of wool.

      The town of Sandgate has a central or trading point that takes the form of a hamlet, although its houses number not more than half a dozen. This is Sandgate Center, the post-office being Sandgate. Some two or three miles further west is another cluster of houses, less, perhaps, in number than the first named, that is commonly known as West Sandgate. On driving from one to the other the traveler is obliged to pass through what is called the "notch;" a very narrow defile between almost perpendicular walls of rock, and something like fifty rods in length. The walls on either side rise to a height of thirty feet. This is Sandgate's greatest natural attraction, and a source of wonder and admiration to all visitors. The most beautiful works of nature abound throughout the township, but this is unquestionably the chief attraction of all.

      In matters pertaining to the spiritual welfare of the people the town of Sandgate is as forward as any in the county in proportion to respective population There are two organized church societies, the Congregational and the Methodist Episcopal, the former formed in 1792, and the latter in 1830. The Congregational Society built their church edifice in 1827, and repaired it in 1846. The M. E. Church now used was built in 1878. Neither of these are structures of elaborate design, but plain, modest appearing buildings, designed for the use and occupation of humble worshipers, rather than for ostentatious display.

      The schools, too, of the township are in keeping with all other appointments, generally small but comfortable buildings, and the teachers are as good as can be found in any other rural district of the county. In this selection the trustees have acted for the best interests of the scholars, and have not sought to employ instructors with sole reference to economy of expenditure.
 

History of Bennington County, Vt.
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
Edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich.
Syracuse, N. Y., D. Mason S Co., Publishers, 1889.
Chapter XXVI. Page 447-452

Transcribed by Karima, 2004
Material provided by Ray Brown


Sandgate, Bennington, County, VT - 1790 Census