contains several large ponds, from which issue branches of Woloomsack and
Deerfield Rivers. There is a good deal of wild scenery on the road, in
crossing the mountains from Bennington through Woodford and Scarsburgh.
The gurgling of the streams down the mountain sides allays, in a great
degree, the fatigue of the journey. The greater part of this town is too
elevated and broken for cultivation. It is a good location for the sportsman;
for fish and fowl are abundant, and the deer, the bear, and other wild
animals, roam with almost undisputed sway. The town began to be settled
immediately after the revolutionary war."
of Vermont, Hayward, 1849.
OF THE TOWN OF WOODFORD
THIS town was chartered by Governor Wentworth on the 6th of March,
1753; therefore with the exception of the towns of Bennington and Stamford
it is the oldest of those that form the county, but Stamford was not granted
prior to Woodford but at the same time. It was the intention of the worthy
governor of the province to make no township of greater than thirty-six
square miles, but for some reason Woodford was made an exception, it containing
no less than forty-two square miles of land, and being six miles in north
and south measurement and seven miles east and west.
Woodford ranks with the more mountainous towns of the county, being
situate almost wholly within the main range of the Green Mountain chain.
Its boundaries are as follows-: North by Glastenbury, south by Stamford
and Pownal, east by Searsburg and Readsboro, and west by Bennington. The
town, from its very mountainous character, is possessed of an abundant
water-power; its hills are, or have been, covered with a heavy growth of
excellent timber, spruce, hemlock, and other kinds. Thus, while the town
can lay no claim to possessing remarkable agricultural advantages, it can,
however, boast of its lumber producing interests, and this has been the
mainstay and support of her population. But Woodford is not without good
farming lands, some in the "hollow" and others on the mountain, still the
town is not particularly well adapted to farming pursuits, and the people
do not aim to make it such.
Although Woodford was chartered in 1753, settlement did not actually
commence until some twenty-five years later, and the town organization
was not effected earlier than February, 1789. The first settlers were Caleb
MOORE, Matthew and Zarah SCOTT, and Benjamin REED. At a town meeting held
March 10, 1792 there were present and took the freemen's oath, Joseph WILSON,
Caleb MOORE, Obediah EDDY, Zadock PIERCE, Eli PIERCE, Hezekiah PIERCE,
and Benjamin ORCUTT. The oldest town records appear to be lost or worn
out and destroyed, but in the back part of one of the old deed books are
to be found the proceedings of the freemen's meetings as far back as 1797.
In that year at a meeting held in March, Elkhanah DANFORTH was chosen town
clerk; William DANFORTH, Paul PHILLIPS, and William PARKS, selectmen; Elijah
PHELPS, collector: Jonathan DANFORTH, constable; Matthew SCOTT, treasurer;
William PARK, Matthew SCOTT, and Obediah EDDY, listers. At this meeting
also it was voted to raise the sum of twelve dollars for town expenses.
At a meeting held at Robert HILL's house, in December, 1798, there were
present, William PARK, Ebenezer PEASE, Robert HILL, Obediah EDDY, Samuel
STACY, Benjamin REED, Paul PHILLIPS, Isaac COBBE, Elkhanah DANFORTH, Jonathan
DANFORTH, and Lemuel MARTIN. In 1799 the selectmen were Elkhanah DANFORTH,
William PARK, and Paul PHILLIPS; the treasurer, Obediah EDDY; listers,
William PARK, Jonathan DANFORTH, and Eleazer PHILLIPS; constable and collector,
Jonathan DANFORTH; surveyors of highways, Paul PHILLIPS and William PARK.
At the meeting for the election of State officers, held in 1800, these
freemen were present: Elkhanah DANFORTH, Jonathan DANFORTH, Isaac KIBBE,
Samuel ORCUTT, Robert HILL, Lemuel MARTIN, Paul PHILLIPS, Oliver PERRY,
William DANFORTH, Obediah EDDY, Eli Pierce, John OLIVER, Spencer LYON,
Jabez KNAPP, John PHELPS, Samuel STACY, Alhanan PERRY, Hezakiah and Jonathan
During these early days, as well as at a later period, there was
kept with the clerk a record of marriages, births, and deaths in each town..
The first child born in Woodford is said to have been Benjamin REED, jr.,
the son of Benjamin and Huldah REED, pioneers of the town. This first event
occurred August 11, 1779. The record books of that period are now missing
from the clerk's office, and the first that is to be had is of a later
period. It appears that on the 24th of September, 1802, Obediah EDDY and
Fanny LYON were united in marriage; and, on the 4th of February, 1803 that
James EDDY and Sally FERGUSON were married; also, a further entry says
that Jabez KNAPP and Bethiah KNAPP, "having been lawfully published, were
joined in marriage by mee, Elkhanah DANFORTH, justice of the peace and
town clerk "
The town of Woodford cannot be said to have made much of any history,
in fact none at all, during the period of the controversy with New York,
the War of the Revolution, and the subsequent proceedings which preceded
the admission of Vermont to the Union; but its history really commenced
with the town organization, which event occurred in 1789 as has been already
narrated. At that time there were some ten or twelve families in the township
and the names of most of them have been given. The leaders seem to have
been William PARK and Elkhanah DANFORTH, while Robert HILL, Paul PHILLIPS,
and Obediah EDDY were lesser lights, yet quite prominent.
William PARK, undoubtedly the then influential man of the town,
seems to have been a surveyor, as well as pioneer, farmer, and lumberman.
He became the owner of very large tracts of land in the town, and was considered
a man of excellent judgment and business abilities. He held nearly all
the responsible offices of the town, and was clerk for some thirty years.
Elkhanah DANFORTH was equally prominent with Mr. PARK, likewise a continuous
officeholder in leading positions. As justice of the peace, an office the
incumbency of which then implied a thorough knowledge of the law, he was
quite a dignitary in the community, and one whose counsel was much sought.
His handwriting in the old record books would seem to entitle it to be
ranked with Horace Greeley's, for it is almost impossible to decipher it.
Obediah EDDY was the first representative elected in the township, but
Obediah obstinately refused to have this honor thrust upon him and would
not serve, whereupon the meeting adjourned without voting for State officers.
Such cases as this have been few, and it is believed that the town has
not been similarly embarrassed since that time, at least not during late
years. But Obediah EDDY was a prominent man in the town, and one whose
influence and counsel were of weight in town affairs.
The town of Woodford, from its situation and physical features,
was quite difficult of settlement, or if settlement was effected improvement
and cultivation were still more laborious. The exceedingly mountainous
and rocky character of the land obliged the residents to turn their attention
to something else than farming, and as the region had an abundance of fine
growing timber this became a lumber producing rather than an agricultural
township; and so it has remained to this day, only enough farm products
being raised to supply the needs of the inhabitants, and this to a limited
extent. Manufacturing commenced in Woodford about the beginning of the
present century, and in that part of the town that has ever been known
as the "Hollow," that being a ravine of some miles in length, through which
courses the stream called Bolles Brook. This pioneer industry was a forge
for the manufacture of bar iron, and soon after became a furnace for making
anchors for vessels. At a considerably later day another bar iron forge
was built, which outlived the others by many years, but neither of these
industries are now in operation. Another of the prominent industries, though
it may not have been an ancient one, was the production of yellow ochre,
a fine clay found in various places along the hollow, much used in mechanical
arts. There were two paint-mills in operation here at one time, the ochre
being a prominent factor in this manufacture, but this too, is now at an
end in this locality.
The chief products to day, that in fact has been for the last half
century or more, is the manufacture of lumber in various forms, and the
production of charcoal. These have been carried on to a very great extent,
but the supply of raw material now shows visible signs of exhaustion. For
fifty and more years the incessant attacks of the woodman have told seriously
upon the native forests of Woodford, and if continued for a like time in
the future their utter devastation will be the result It would be difficult,
if not impossible, to name each and every lumber and charcoal producer
that has operated in this town. Many are still here that have worked for
years, and others have come and gone of whom there is left no record.
That part of the town that has always been called the "Hollow,"
by people generally, has an advantage over the southern portion by its
proximity to the railroad that runs from Bennington to Glastenbury, for
the manufactures of this locality can be loaded on the cars with but little
team work, and are therefore sent to market at less expense than the products
of Woodford City and the region further south. The construction of this
road gave to the denizens of the "Hollow" a dignity not previously theirs,
and resulted in a change of name, at least, among the residents there,
of the locality from the "Hollow" to "Slab City," by which it was known
for some time. Then by a subsequent change, brought about by the extensive
industries operated by the HARBOUR Brothers, the place became known as
Harbourville. But the reader who is not acquainted with this immediate
locality must not for a moment imagine that Harbourville, formerly Slab
City, formerly Woodford Hollow, is a snug little hamlet on Bolles Brook,
for such is hardly the case. The "Hollow" begins as one enters the defile
between the mountains and ends where the ravine becomes lost in the mountains,
a distance of two or more miles. The place now called Harbourville, proper,
consists of the mills operated by the firm of HARBOUR Brothers and the
few houses erected for the accommodation of proprietors and employees.
This is about all there is of the place, still there are some other industries
in the "Hollow."
The most extensive manufacturers in the north part of the town are
the members of the firm of HARBOUR Brothers, already frequently mentioned,
who have been operating in the vicinity for a number of years. They are
large landowners and employ a number of men in their business. They have
been producers of lumber and charcoal, but the former, in various forms,
now mainly occupies their attention, their products including "bill stuff,"
lath and shingles. Harbourville with HARBOUR Brothers left out would be
Above the "Hollow" there was built and put in operation in 1864
a saw and turning-mill, the property of Lyman PATCHIN, but after some years
this passed to the firm of ALDRICH & MALLORY, who continued it. Of
late, however, these proprietors have changed the machinery and re-arranged
the building for use as a chair factory. In the lower part of the "Hollow"
is the lumber, box and lath-mills of Lyman EVANS and Irving E. GIBSON,
who do business here under the firm name of EVANS & GIBSON. The principal
charcoal industries in this part of the town are those of J. J. MOREHOUSE
and E. C. WHITE, (MOREHOUSE & WHITE), both residents of New York, and
Irving E. GIBSON's, formerly James BECKLEY's, who has some seven or eight
kilns scattered about, and possibly other producers of less note.
There was a time when Woodford Hollow, throughout its entire length,
was an exceeding busy community, but that time has long since passed. The
old hotels that were built for the accommodation of travelers and to boarders
in this vicinity, have long since lost their usefulness, and only during
the fishing season does the stranger venture to remain long within the
confines of the old "Hollow." The other and the principal manufacturing
point of the township is the hamlet known for at least three score of years
by the name of "Woodford City." It is said that "a city set on a hill shall
not be hid;" therefore here must be a city, for it is on one of the highest
elevations upon which a town could possibly be built up in the township,
unless, perhaps, the extreme heights of Mount Prospect were used for that
purpose. In all the long years of its existence Woodford City has acquired
a population varying from one to two hundred persons. Like the proverbial
Irishman's pig "it is little but old." But, notwithstanding the isolated
situation of Woodford City, and the difficulty with which its high elevation
is reached, the place abounds in beautiful scenes that attract many visitors;
in fact of late it has become quite a resort, and it only remains for some
enterprising person to build the proper style of summer hotel and advertise
judiciously to make Woodford City the rival of the other resorts so numerous
in the mountains of Vermont. Among the many natural attractions here is
the body of water called Big Pond, something like one hundred acres in
extent; to the southwest there rises high above the plateau lands Mount
Prospect. Here, too, is found excellent trout fishing in the waters of
Stamford stream, City stream and Rake branch. The whole locality abounds
in delightful scenes and situations to attract the presence of summer boarders.
Woodford City, although never regularly laid out, and having no
corporate existence apart from the balance of the township, is a busy little
hamlet, having a population of forty or fifty families, all of whom are
in some manner connected with the lumber and other industries for which
the place is noted. The first settler on this site is said to have been
Zurial CUTLER, but prior to his coming a saw-mill was in operation at the
place. Soon after CUTLER's settlement here William PARK and his son and
Henry LOVELAND moved to the locality and then the city got its start. These
families were at the city prior to 1820. The dense forest growth promised
good returns of lumber and charcoal, and in this these and subsequent comers
engaged, until the business spread over the entire central and southern
portions of the township. The numerous mountain streams afforded capital
power, and soon mills lined their banks at convenient points, while a multitude
of charcoal kilns were scattered through the forests.
These industries have used, perhaps, the greater part of the forests,
but still there remains a good quantity for the future. Where no longer
than twenty years ago there was nothing but woods, may now be seen good
farming lands, but this pursuit has never been considered profitable in
this locality. Among the scores of industries that have at one time or
another been in operation at the city but comparatively few remain, and
as the, decline has been here so has it been generally throughout the township,
owing in great measure to the exhaustion of the supply of raw material.
The present industries of the city are about as follows: F. A. GLEASON,
manufacturer of lumber and boxes, the latter for packing the knit goods
made at Bennington; George W. KNAPP, manufacturer of lumber and chair stuff;
Elmer Gleason, saw-mill; Stephen E. GLEASON and Charles F. WOOD, (GLEASON
& WOOD), saw-mill; John Bugbee, saw-mill, built in 1866; Anthony W.
HALTER, manufacturer of charcoal, two kilns.
At a point some four miles east of the city Enos ADAMS has a mill
for the manufacture of lumber and mop handles. At the foot of the mountain
the old "Foote" mill is starting up as a saw-mill. Also at Woodford City
are two good hotels-the Mt. Pleasant House, under the proprietorship of
George W. KNAPP, and the Summit House, the proprietor of which is Cornelius
The population of the township of Woodford, according to the census
of 1880, numbered four hundred and eighty-eight souls. At the present time
it will number about the same, but slightly less if any material variation
is shown. The check list for the presidential and State election of 1888
had nearly eighty voters, but there are many persons residing in the town
who are not legal voters, so as an index of what the present population
may be the check list is not entirely reliable. The present grand list
of Woodford is $900. The town, since 1872, has not sent a Republican representative
to the State Legislature. John ROONEY is the present representative.
The town of Woodford has two churches, the one a Union church at
Woodford City, at which all denominations are entitled to hold services,
provided each supplies itself with a pastor. The edifice was built in 1873,
at a cost of $1,200; the other church is located in the Hollow, and is
of the denomination known as the Advent Christian Church. The society was
organized in 1871 by elders of that faith, with twelve members. The church
building was erected during the same year, and cost $1,800. No services
have been held here for two or three years. In the town are three schools,
which are managed and supported according to the "town system," the freemen
having voted to adopt that form of school management in preference to the
"district system," but this is not wholly satisfactory, and it is more
than possible that the town system will be abolished and the district system
established. The school-houses are located -- one at the Hollow, one at
Woodford City, and the third in the extreme eastern part of the township.
Fifty cents on the dollar is raised annually for maintenance of the schools.
The present school trustees are as follows: George W. KNAPP, chairman;
Myron H. WOODWARD, and Giles HARBOUR.
The present town officers of Woodford are as follows: John ROONEY,
town representative; Amos ALDRICH, moderator; Amos ALDRICH, Giles HARBOUR
and Elmer GLEASON, selectmen; Myron H. WOODWARD, John HARBOUR, and George
W. BICKFORD, listers; George W. BICKFORD, town clerk and treasurer.
of Bennington County, Vt.
and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
by Lewis Cass Aldrich.
N. Y., D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1889.
XXX. Page 465-480.
by Karima, 2004
provided by Ray Brown