lies in the extreme southern part of the county, on the Connecticut river,
in lat. 14º 12', and long. 4º 54', bounded north by Barnet, east
by the left bank of the Connecticut river, south by the county line, and
west by Groton. It was originally chartered by Benning Wentworth, the colonial
governor of New Hampshire, September 8, 1763, to ninety-four grantees,
who resided in and near the town of Rye, N.H., whence its name of Ryegate
On March 26, 1772, John Church, of Charlestown, N.H., applied to
Governor William Tryon, of New York, for a grant of Ryegate. On June
12, 1775, Church had his application again entered in the secretary's office,
and on June 20, 1775, the town was granted to him and his associates,
in all twenty persons, the charter being signed “at our fort in the
city of New York,” by "Cadwalader Colden, Esq., Lieut.-Gov., and Commander-in-Chief
of the Province of New York." The grant specified 20,514 acres.
The surface of the town is generally uneven, and quite a portion
of it is hilly and broken. Blue mountain is a little northwest of the center
of the town, and rises, dome-shaped, about 1,000 feet above the surrounding
country, and about 2,200 feet above tide water. It contains some of the
best granite in the United States, and in inexhaustible quantities. This
has recently been largely used for monumental purposes, and been carried
to distant parts of the United States. R.F. Carter, who has been the leader
in this work for some eight years, is a man of great energy. The town is
watered by Wells' river, some smaller streams, and several ponds. Among
the latter are Town, North and Coburn ponds. There is not much intervale
land on the Connecticut, though in general Ryegate is a first-class farming
town, with dairying as the leading industry. It has long been celebrated
for its excellent butter. The soil is mostly of clay and loam. The eastern
and central parts have the best soil, though stony and hardest to till,
while the soil of the western part is easier to cultivate, and more of
a chocolate color. Granite and slate rock is found throughout a large part
of the town, and copper ore also exists.
In 1880, Ryegate had a population of 1,046. In 1886 it had
ten school districts and eleven common schools, employing four male and
thirteen female teachers, to whom was paid an average weekly salary, including
board, of $7.98 to the former, and $5.99 to the latter. There were 270
scholars, twenty-six of whom were attending private schools. The entire
income for school purposes was $2,512.53, while the total expenditures
were $2,133.93, with James W. Flagg, superintendent.
Ryegate is a post village located in the central part of the town.
South Ryegate is a post village located in the southern part of
the town, containing one hotel, several stores, mechanic shops, etc.
The Blue Mountain Granite Company, at South Ryegate, manufactures
all kinds of building and monumental work in granite. The business was
started by Murdo F. McDonald, about ten years ago. On September 1,
1884, Robert Farquharson joined with him to form the Blue Mountain Granite
Company. They have a quarry on Blue Mountain of one hundred and fifty acres
of granite of the best quality. They employ twenty-five men and turn out
one hundred and fifty monuments annually, at a value of fifteen to twenty
thousand dollars. The granite is of a dark gray color, susceptible of a
high polish, and entirely free from rust or blemish of any kind.
J.F. & W. F. Hendrick, under the name of Hendrick Brothers,
carry on the manufacture of monumental and cemetery work of all descriptions
in granite, at, South Ryegate. They have a large quarry of the finest quality
of granite on Blue Mountain. Their business was established in the spring
of 1885. They employ thirty men and turn out a large quantity of goods
I.C. Renfrew, set up a press for job printing at South Ryegate
in November, 1882. He has a Columbian printing press, and is prepared to
do everything in the line of his business to the satisfaction of his patrons.
Samuel Mills, Jr., carries on the manufacture of light and heavy
carriages and sleighs, lumber wagons, etc., at South Ryegate. The business
was established in March, 1881. He employs eight men
and his annual sales are about $5,500.00. He also
carries on a jobbing shop for blacksmithing, horse and ox shoeing.
The Union Co-operative Granite Works are operated by a company organized
April 21, 1885, with James D. Grant, secretary, C.W.Zastrow, treasurer,
and Orr W. Lewis, traveling agent. They manufacture all kinds of cut and
polished monuments, statuary, vases, urns, etc., and also all kinds of
cemetery work. Their shop is located at South Ryegate. Their quarry is
near Blue Mountain, is of excellent quality, and is inexhaustible in quantity.
There are thirteen members in the company, whose combined and individual
aim it is to establish for the company a good reputation.
The Ryegate Granite Works, which were carried on for a number of
years by Rodney F. Carter, who established the business in 1877, were in
the spring of 1885 sold to a stock company with a paid in capital of $90,000.00.
They have very extensive works at the “Quint place,” so-called, one and
a half miles from South Ryegate, on the M.&W.R. R.R. They employ one
hundred men, and have just put in a McDonald stone cutting machine, at
a cost of $9,000.00. They have a quarry of two hundred acres on Blue Mountain.
Darling & Sargent, at South Ryegate, have a saw and grist-mill.
They manufacture all kinds of lumber and lath. Their mill is on Wells river,
near South Ryegate station. Their grist-mill is used exclusively as a merchant
S.S. Hunt & Son have a steam and water-power mill on road
19, for the manufacture of hard and soft wood lumber of all descriptions.
They also do wood turning, planing, and matching. They produce 500,000
feet of lumber annually. Their mill is on the outlet of Symes pond, in
the northeastern corner of the town.
James R. Hunter has a manufactory for evaporating apples and making
apple jelly, on road 6. The business was established in 1881. He employs
six men and uses 2,000 bushels for evaporating, and manufactures eight
to ten tons of jelly in a season.
Ryegate was first settled by a Scotch company of farmers, in 1774.
This company was formed at Inchinan, near Glasgow, Scotland. In their records
is the statement, “Since February 1, 1772, everything that is recorded
on the books is binding,” etc. The complete organization of the company,
the adoption of their rules (which covered twenty pages of an ordinary
land record book), and the signatures of all their members, is dated at
Inchinan, February 5, 1773. The title of the company was “Scots American
Company of Farmers.” The company numbered 137 members, of whom six were
sketch was prepared principally from statistics furnished by Edward Miller,
version is that the town is named after the town of Reigate, in England,
which was formerly spelled Ryegate.
of Caledonia and Essex Counties, VT.; 1764-1887, Compiled and Published
by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page 283-285)
was provided by Tom Dunn.