CHAPTER XVII
HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF BOLTON

      BOLTON is an irregularly-shaped, mountainous township lying in the extreme eastern part of Chittenden county. It is bounded on the north by Underhill, on the east by Waterbury and Duxbury-towns in Washington county on the south by Huntington and on the west by Richmond and Jericho. The surface of the town is very much broken; high hills and rocky ravines, mountains and gorges are everywhere. The town always reminds one of the landscapes of the Yosemite region; here, indeed, is the "wild pomp of mountain majesty." A part of Camel's Hump, one of the highest peaks (4,088 feet) of the Green Mountains, lies in Bolton. Other peaks in town are Bone Mountain in the eastern, Stimson's Mountain in the central, and Robin's Mountain in the western part. The highest hill is Blueberry Hill, in the extreme eastern part. These several mountains are separated from each other by deep gorges running at right angles to each other, through which numerous brooks tumble along. Pinneo Brook, short and noisy, rises in the western part of the town, flows a southerly course, and unites with Winooski River near the town line. Joiner Brook rises in the northern part, flows a southerly course between Bone and Stimson's Mountains, and reaches Winooski River not far from the center of the town. Duck Brook -- so called from the wild ducks that formerly made their nests in the wood along its banks -- rises in the northwestern part of the town, flows a southerly course of about four miles, and joins Winooski River in the western part of the town. It is fed by numerous cold springs, and far-famed for trout, as are also the other brooks in the town. Preston Brook rises in Huntington, flows a northerly course and pours into Winooski River. Mill Brook rises in the northern part of the town, and takes an easterly course into Jericho, furnishing fine water-power to several saw and shingle-mills. These streams, with other minor ones, are short and rapid, and, in the spring when the snows melt, frequently swell to mountain torrents. There is one small pond in the township, Sanborn Pond, lying a little north of Blueberry Hill. The largest stream of water in Bolton is Winooski River, which flows westerly through the southern part of the township. Bolton is somewhat noted for the winds that pass through the valley of Winooski River and around the mountains. To this fact it is owing that in summer it is always four or five degrees cooler in Bolton than in the surrounding towns. Bolton is also celebrated for her bears, and Bruin has probably been more extensively slaughtered here than in any town in the State; hundreds have been killed, and still there is a sufficiency remaining, and nearly every year the flock of some farmer suffers. Only a few years ago the bears came down from the mountains and slaughtered ten sheep in one night within half a mile of the village of West Bolton. This was, however, an unusual raid, and some people suggested that the bears should not be too much blamed in this case, as they were tracked to Washington county, and it might be after all, county jealousy or "sectional prejudice" that made Bruin turn a border ruffian. Although Bolton has been denominated the land of "boulders and bears," and the business to-day to a great extent is lumbering, the town is no wilderness. The soil is, indeed, rocky, but it is good, and there are many fine farms, especially along Winooski River. Both hard and soft woods grow in the town, there being many large tracts of spruce and hemlock. All the grains and fruits of our climate are raised in good quantities.

      The principal highways in Bolton are as follows: A road running through the entire township, keeping close to Winooski River, being the old turnpike leading from Burlington to Montpelier; a road running through the "Notch," as it is called, from West Bolton and meeting the first mentioned road at a point two miles north of Bolton Station; a stage road running westerly from West Bolton to the village of Jonesville, in Richmond. The town is crossed by the Central Vermont Railroad, which keeps close to Winooski River. There is one station called Bolton.

      Bolton was chartered June 7th, 1763, by Benning WENTWORTH, colonial governor of New Hampshire, to Thomas DARLING, and seventy-one associates. The original grant was thirty-six square miles, or 23,040 acres. The original charter is now in the possession of Joseph SMITH, of West Bolton. The following is an exact copy from the "first book of town records" "Province of New Hampshire.

"GEORGE the Third By the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland KING, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all Persons to whom these Presents Shall come, Greeting: Know ye that we of our special Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion for the due Encouragement of settling a New Plantation within Our said Province by and with the Advice of Our Trusty and Well-beloved Benning WENTWORTH, Esq., Our Governor and Commander in Chief of our said Province of New Hampshire in New England and of our Counsel of the Said Province, have upon the Conditions and Resolutions hereinafter made, Given and Granted, and by these Presents for us Our Heirs and Successors do give and grant in equal Shares unto Our loving Subjects Inhabitants of Our Said Province of New Hampshire and Our other Governments and to their heirs and Assigns forever whose Names are entered on this Grant to be divided to and amongst them into Seventy-Two equal Shares all that Tract or Parcel of Land situate, lying and being within our Said Province of New Hampshire containing by Admeasurement 23,040 Acres, Which Tract is to contain Six Miles Square, and no more out of which an Allowance is to be made for High Ways and unimprovable lands by Rocks Ponds Mountains and Rivers One Thousand and Forty Acres free according to a Plan and Survey thereof, made by Our Sd Governor's Order, and returned into the Secretary's Office, and hereunto annexed butted and Bounded as follows, Viz. Beginning at the southeast Corner of Jerico on the northerly side of Onion River (so Called) from thence Easterly Running up said River so far as to make Six Miles on a Line Perpendicular with the Southeasterly line of Said Jericho, from thence Running Six Miles Northerly upon a Parallel line with the line on the easterly Side of Jerico from thence Running westerly about Six Miles to the Northeasterly Corner of Said Jerico, from thence Southerly by Jerico to where we Began.

"And that same be and hereby is Incorporated into a Township by the Name of Bolton and that the Inhabitants that do or shall hereafter inhabit said Township are hereby declared to be Enfranchised with and Intitled to all and every the Priviliges and Immunities that other Towns within our Province by Laws Exercise and Enjoy. And further that the said Town as soon as there shall be Fifty Families resident and settled thereon shall have Liberty of holding Two Fairs one of which shall be held on the ____ and the other on the ____. Annually which Fairs are not to continue longer than the respective ____ following the said ____ and that as soon as Said Town Shall Consist of Fifty Families a Market may be opened and kept one or more Days in each Week as may be thought advantageous to the Inhabitants. Also that the first Meeting for the Choice of Town Officers agreeable to the Laws of our Said Province shall be held on the Twenty-Seventh Day of July next which said Meeting Shall be Notified by Mr. Thomas DARLING who is hereby also appointed the Moderator of the said first Meeting which he is to Notify and Govern agreeable to the Laws and Customs of our Said Province, and that the annual Meeting forever hereafter for Choice of such Officers for the said Town shall be on the second Tuesday of March annually.

"To have and to hold the said Tract of Land as above expressed together with all Privileges and Appurtenances, to them and Their respective Heirs and Assigns forever upon the following Conditions viz.

"Ist That every Grantee his Heirs or Assigns Shall Plant and cultivate five Acres of Land within the Term of five years for every fifty acres contained in his or their Share or proportion of Land in said Township and continue to improve and Settle the same by additional Cultivation, on Penalty of the forfeiture of his Grant or Share in the said Township and of its reverting to Us our Heirs and Successors to be by us or them Regranted to such of Our Subjects as shall effectually Settle and Cultivate the same.

"IInd That all white and other Pine Trees within the said Township fit for masting Our Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that use and none be cut or felled without our special Lisence for so doing first had and obtained upon the Penalty of the forfeiture of the Right of such Grantee his Heirs and Assigns to us Our Heirs and Successors as well as being subject to the Penalty of any Act or Acts of Parliament that now are or hereafter shall be Enacted.

“IIId. That before any Division of the Land be made to and among the Grantees, a Tract of Land as near the Center of the said Township as the Land will admit of, shall be reserved and marked out for Town Lots, one of which shall be allotted to each Grantee, of the Contents of one Acre.

"IVth. Yielding and paying therefor to Us, Our Heirs and Successors, for the space of Ten Years to be computed from the Date thereof the Rent of (one) Ear of Indian Corn only on the Twenty-fifth day of December Annually if Lawfully demanded the first payment to be made on the Twenty-fifth of December, 1763.

"Vth. Every proprietor Settler or Inhabitant Shall yield and pay unto Us, Our Heirs and Successors yearly and every year forever from and after the expiration of Ten Years from the above said Twenty-fifth of December namely on the Twenty-fifth day of December which will be in the Year of Our Lord 1777 one Shilling Proclamation Money for every Hundred Acres he owns Settles or Possesses, and so in proportion for a Greater or lesser Tract of said Land, which Money shall be paid by the respective Person above said their Heirs or Assigns in our Council-Chamber in Portsmouth or to such Officer or Officers as shall be appointed to receive the same ; and this to be in Lieu of all other Rents and services whatsoever.

“In testimony whereof, we have caused the Seal of our Said Province to be hereunto affixed.
" Witness,

"BENNING WENTWORTH.

“Our Governor and Commander-in-Chief of our Said Province the Seventh Day of June, In the Year of our Lord Christ one Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Three and in the Third Year of Our Reign

"By His Excellencys Command with advice of the Council.
"B. WENTWORTH.
"T. ATKINSON, Jr., Secy.
"Province of New Hampshire June 7 1763 Recorded in the Book of Charters Page 437:438.
" Pr T. ATKINSON Junr Secy."

      The Charter has the following endorsement, and a list of the grantees:


“His Excellency Benning WENTWORTH Esq., A Tract of Land to contain Five Hundred Acres marked '13. W.' on the Plan which is to be accounted two of the within shares.

“One whole share for the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts.

"One share for the Gleeb of the Church of England as by law established.
“One share for the first settled Minister of the Gospel and one share for the Benefit of schools in said Town.
“Province of New Hampshire June 7 1763. "T. ATKINSON Jr Secy." 

      Following are the names of the grantees:

      George BUNNELL, Josiah BROADWELL, Nathaniel BUNNELL, John BUNNELL, Alexander SIMPSON, William BROADWELL, Thomas DARLING, Isaac CLARK, Henry BROADWELL, Bethual PERSON, Ezekiel JOHNSON, Joel OSBORN, Israel WARD, Jacob MERRILL, Lawrence WILSON, David WARD, Thomas MILLIDGE, Ebenezer COE, Seth BABBITT, Ebenezer HAULBART, Samuel HINDS, Wilber CLARK. Elisha FRAZEE, Nathaniel COGSWELL, Daniel COGSWELL, Crowell WILKINSON, John MCGILIVER, Enoch BEACH, Seth CROWELL, jr., Stephen DAY, George DAY, Paul DAY, William DARLING, Thomas DAY, esq., Stephen MOORE, Nathan WILKINSON, Alexander CARMICHAEL, Isaac TUTTLE, Stephen TUTTLE, Jonathan WILKINSON, Christopher WOOD, Daniel WOOD, Thomas OSBORN, Gilman FREEMAN, Thomas KINEY, John JOHNSON, Ephraim HAYWARD, Philip HATHAWAY, Thomas THROOPE, Elisha WEAK, Benjamin COE, Richard MINTHORN, Benjamin DAY, Matthias CLARK, Joseph WINGET, Joseph WARD, David SAMSON, Timothy DAY, Samuel AVERILL, Partridge THATCHER, esq., Hon. Richard WEBARD, John DOWNING esq., Daniel WARNER, esq., Colonel Joseph SMITH, Peter GILMAN, esq., Zebulon GIDDINS.

      The area of the chartered tract remained the same until October 27, 1794, when a part of the town of Huntington was annexed to Bolton; but, titles being questioned and law suits resulting, the same was re-annexed to Huntington on the l0th of November, 1808. Another change was the annexation of a part of Bolton to Richmond, on the 25th of October, 1804.

      It appears that the Indians found Bolton an excellent hunting and fishing ground; their regular trail from Connecticut River to Lake Champlain led through the town and there was generally an Indian village in the adjoining town of Richmond. A number of small arrow-heads, such as are used in killing birds, have been found in town.

      The first white man to visit Bolton was John BARNET, who, with a party of twenty-four, set out to explore the country from Connecticut River to Lake Champlain. Following the Indian trail along Winooski River, he passed through the town into Richmond, where the party was attacked by Indians and Tories, and Mr. BARNET killed. On the 10th of May, 1770, the first proprietors' meeting was held at the house of Samuel CANFIELD, of New Milford, Conn., at which time Samuel AVERILL, of Kent, was chosen proprietors' clerk. There were other meetings, but the Revolution interrupted surveys and settlements. However, soon after the close of the war Robert KENNEDY, Amos PALMER, Peter DILSE, Daniel PINNEO, Augustus LEVAQUE and others, came into town and began to chop down the forests. A considerable settlement was soon established, and the first census, taken in 1791, showed eighty-eight inhabitants, which number had increased to 219 in 1800.

      Samuel BARNET, of Newbury, Vt., one of the early settlers of Bolton, was one of Washington's guards during the War of the Revolution. At the close of that struggle he came to Bolton, built a little log cabin, and began to make a clearing. Soon after his arrival crops suffered greatly from frosts, and it was with difficulty that he raised sufficient corn and turnips for his sustentation. He was present at the battle of Plattsburgh and died about four weeks afterward, aged sixty-eight years.

      John KENNEDY, one of the first settlers in town, was born in Massachusetts and when a young man came to Newbury, Vt. He was with Ethan ALLEN at the bloodless reduction of Ticonderoga, and received $80 as his share of the prize money. During his twelve-month service in the continental army he became personally acquainted with General Washington. After "the wars were all over," he returned to Newbury, but soon purchased lands in Waterbury, Vt., where he worked one summer, harvesting his corn and putting it in a crib. He then returned to Newbury, and on coming back in the spring found that his corn had been stolen, and the title to his lands claimed by others. Upon this he came to Bolton, where he continued to reside until his death, in 1820.

      John SABIN came at an early day with his family from New Hampshire to Duxbury, Vt., and soon removed to Bolton. He had a family of eight children; many of his descendants are now living in town. He remained in town until his death, when he was seventy years of age.

      John BONE, a native of France, was one of the very first settlers. While clearing his land he boarded with Augustus LEVAQUE. He was killed about 1798 by falling from a precipice on Bone Mountain (named after him), 400 feet in height. John MORSE came from Massachusetts to Waterbury, Vt., in 1782, and removed to Bolton the next year. He lived in town the remainder of his life, had five children, and was a well-to-do farmer. R. J. MORSE is his son. Joseph, Samuel and Asa LEWIS came from Bradford, Conn., about 1802, and bought farms in town. Asa was at the battle of Plattsburgh. He was very eccentric, and figured connectedly as a farmer, a poet, a soldier and a Methodist. His death occurred in 1835. Moses L. Colton came to Bolton when it contained but few families and little business. He built the first saw-mill at West Bolton, and continued in the lumber business until his death, in 1850. He was one of the first men in town affairs, being representative six years and justice of the peace twenty-five years. He came originally from New Hampshire, and married Susan POND, of Jericho. E. N. COLTON, of West Bolton, is his son. Jonathan BOHONNON came early from Connecticut and settled in this town. His farm was on the "Notch Road." He was twice married, and lived in town until his death, which occurred some twenty-five years ago. Elijah HINCKSON was another pioneer of Bolton, living at the junction of the "Notch" and River roads. He was widely known as a bear-hunter, having killed more than sixty in his day. He died in town in 1860, in his seventy-second year. Merrill FELLOWS came to Bolton "when the town was new," and engaged in lumbering. In 1830 he erected a saw-mill. He was a soldier in 1812 and witnessed the battle of Plattsburgh. He died in Richmond about twelve years ago. Solomon FAY came to town at an early day from Ohio. He carried on a farm at West Bolton, where P. F. WEBSTER now resides. He died twenty-five years ago. Asher HALL was still another early cultivator of the earth in Bolton. He was twice married, his first wife, Chloe SMITH, leaving him two children, sons. His second wife was Hopa LYMAN, by whom he had four daughters and five sons. Mrs. Joseph SMITH, of West Bolton, is his daughter.

      The first birth recorded in town is that of James BLAIR. The record reads: 

"James Blair, Born in this Town July the third one Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-one. Bolton, Febu'y 27, 1792."

      The first town meeting was held on the second Tuesday in March, 1794, at the house of James MOORE. At this meeting Samuel BELL was chosen moderator; Jabez JONES, town clerk; Francis JOINER, William ROGERS and Samuel BELL, selectmen, and Robert KENNEDY, constable. The first representative of the town was Jabez JONES, elected in 1794. The first justice of the peace was Stephen ROYCE, who held the office from 1794 to 1805. The first settled minister in town was Rev. William L. HURLBURT. The first hotel keeper was James MOORE, who came from Connecticut and for a number of years kept a locally famous hostelry. The early settlers of Bolton were sturdy, hard-working men, and engaged in both lumbering and farming. Saw-mills of their own they had, but patronized the Jericho tanneries, distilleries and asheries. The first settlements in town were effected along the sinuous Winooski; while the region of the "Notch" was next in time and prominence was early opened and the road worked. The settlers suffered much from the cold season in 1816, and but lightly from the epidemic of 1813.

      The building of the Central Vermont Railroad, which crosses the town from east to west along the northern bank of Winooski River, added much to the business interests of Bolton, about 300 workmen being employed.

      C.P. & G.W. STEVENS's lumber-mills at Bolton Station were established five years ago by the present owners. The firm do a business of $15,000 per annum, employing twenty-five hands and cutting 1,000,000 feet of lumber. Packing-boxes, spruce clapboards and winding-boards are also manufactured and shipped to all parts of New England, besides which the company have a large retail trade.

      J.G. TOMLINSON's butter-tub and cheese-box factory, at West Bolton, was established eight years ago by Mr. TOMLINSON. He employs five hands, doing a business of $2,000 per annum, and some years manufacturing as many as 12,000 butter-tubs. He saws also large quantities of rough lumber, for which his market is Burlington. He cuts in all from 75,000 to 100,000 feet per annum.

      G.W. GILES's circular saw-mill at West Bolton was put in operation by himself seventeen years ago. He employs four men and cuts 500,000 feet of lumber a year. He also manufactures boxes, cuts chair stock, and does planing.

      Nathan GILES's estate's saw and shingle-mill, located at West Bolton, cuts 100,000 feet of lumber every year, the market being Burlington and Winooski. Basswood furniture stock and shingles are also cut. The business was founded six years ago. G. A. PEASE is manager.

      E.N. COLTON & Son's circular saw and shingle-mill at West Bolton cuts 300,000 feet of lumber a year, turning out from 800,000 to 1,200,000 shingles. In 1824 the business was established by Mr. COLTON's father, and continued by him until 1847, when he was succeeded by the present senior proprietor. His son, H. J., assumed an interest in the concern in 1882. From six to twelve hands are employed.

      D.W. TRACY's circular saw-mill on joiner Brook cuts 200,000 feet of lumber annually. Whitcomb & Willard built the first mill on this site. Mr. TRACY purchased the property in 1872 and has since operated the mill.

      F.W. HALL, of West Bolton, keeps a general dry goods and grocery store. He began business eight years ago, and carries a full line of merchandise. He also deals in lumber and hides. His store is the only one in town and he does a large business.

      J.F. WHALEN, of Bolton Station, deals in watches and clocks, and does all kinds of repairing.

      Bishop's Hotel, at Bolton Station, was a public house forty years ago. The present proprietor, Solomon BISHOP, purchased it of Julius HODGES twenty years ago. The house accommodates thirty guests. H. H. BISHOP is the manager, and many city boarders stay with him during the summer season.

      Post-Offices. --  The post-office at Bolton was established in the first quarter of the present century. As early as 1824 James WHITCOMB was postmaster, and in 1829 was followed by Almon WHITCOMB. The successive incumbents of that position since his retirement in 1836 have been as follows: Joseph SMITH, 1836-53; A. SMITH to 1854; E. W. BATES to 1858; J. M. BATES, 1859; E. W. BATES to 1861; C. E. WHITCOMB to 1865; E. R. MORSE to 1868 Mrs. Sarah BISHOP to 1871; Dan SHAW to 1877; E. W. BRUCE to 1881; James F. WHALEN to and including the present. Soon after 1850 the increasing population of the town, and the consequent inconvenience occasioned to the inhabitants of the western part of the town, demanded the establishment of a separate office at the little village of West Bolton, which accordingly took place by the appointment of F. D. COLTON. His consecutive successors have been: Moses L. COLTON from 1855 to 1862; R. HARRIS to 1867; B. M. MORSE to 1870; Smith A. HALL to 1872; H. WEBSTER, 1873; R. HARRIS to 1875; C. C. STEVENS to 1877; R. HARRIS, 1878; F. W. HALL to 1886; and the present official, G. A. PEASE.

      The present officers of the town are as follows: F. J. WHALEN, clerk and treasurer; E. M. STEVENS, constable and collector; John PHILLIPS, P. L. TOWERS, T. B. WHALEN, selectmen; F. W. HALL, superintendent of schools; T. S. McGINNIS, town agent. Bolton adopted the town system of schools some six years ago, being among the first in the State to manifest its desire to remain in the van of intellectual progress. The system has given great satisfaction and reduced the number of schools from six to five. The total cost to the town of its schools for 1855 was $683.48. The school directors are: F. W. HALL, J. H. SMITH, E. H. SABIN, C. F. SABIN, John PHILLIPS and M. V. HAYDEN, the first named gentleman being chairman.

      The Baptist Church of West Bolton. -- This church was organized on the 16th of February, 1848, with forty-three members, as the Second Baptist Church of Jericho, many of the members living in that town. In 1862 a Baptist society was formed in connection with the church, and until 1875 the organization was known as the Baptist Church and Society of West Bolton. In 1875 the church was chartered under the laws of Vermont as the Baptist Church of West Bolton. The following pastors have served the church in the order named: Revs. W. S. HURLBURT, H. C. LEAVITT, L. L. WOOD, L. B. STEELE, W. S. HURLBURT, A. A. DAVIS and P. C. ABBEY. The officers of the church are: Otis B. CHURCH, of Underhill, and Rufus HARRIS, deacons; E. R. DAVIS, F. W. HALL and Hobart PEASE, committee on finance; E. R. DAVIS, treasurer;. Mrs. R. W. GILE, collector; Mrs. Rufus HARRIS, clerk; Mrs. Fred FULLER, superintendent of the Sabbath-school. The church now has sixty members and the Sabbath-school forty. The church edifice, a pleasant wood structure, was erected in 1867 at a cost of $3,000, and will seat 250 people. The church is at present without a pastor.

History of Chittenden County, Vermont 
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches 
of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
Edited By W. S. Rann, Syracuse, N. Y.
D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1886
Page 384-392.

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~ 2004

Bolton section of Hamilton Child's "Gazetteer and Business Directory of  Chittenden County, Vt. For 1882-83."
Memories of the 1927 Flood in Bolton, VT 
Transcriptions from East Bolton Cemetery, Bolton Vt 
Transcriptions from West Bolton Cemetery, Bolton Vt
Bolton Vermont ~ "The Land of Boulders and Bears"
Historic USGS Maps of Bolton, Vermont