OF THE TOWN OF
THIS town, lying in the central part of Chittenden county, and bounded
north by Winooski River, which separates it from Essex and Jericho, east
by Richmond, south by St. George and Shelburne, and west by Muddy Brook,
which separates it from Burlington, was chartered by Governor Wentworth,
of New Hampshire, on the 7th of June, 1763, to Samuel WILLIS and sixty-four
associates. It derived its name from Mr. WILLIS, who seemed to be one of
the most prominent among the grantees. The charter purported to grant 23,040
acres, the regular area of a complete township, in seventy-one shares,
bounded as follows: North by Winooski River, east by Bolton, south by Huntington
and Hinesburg, and west by Burlington, whose eastern line was about one
mile west of the site of Williston village. On the 27th of October, 1794,
these limits were altered by annexation from Burlington of the land lying
east of Muddy Brook, and the taking of the eastern portion of Williston
towards the formation of Richmond. The surface of the town is remarkably
regular for a Vermont town, and is well adapted to cultivation. The soil
is various, ranging through all the degrees from a soft and friable mould
to a stiff clay. It is almost everywhere productive, and the town is inhabited
by some of the wealthiest and most successful farmers in the State. The
principal feature of its farming is dairying. The land is well drained
by streams flowing north into Winooski River, and west into Muddy Brook,
the largest of which are Allen's Brook, flowing from its source in the
eastern part of the town northwesterly into Winooski River, and Sucker
Brook, flowing westerly into Muddy Brook. Mill privileges are few and deficient-a
fact which tends to direct the attention of the inhabitants all the more
exclusively to agricultural pursuits.
SETTLEMENTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Thomas CHITTENDEN and Colonel Jonathan SPAFFORD were the first to
establish settlements in Williston. They came together in May, 1774, and
took up large tracts of land adjoining each other on the river. Just two
years later they were joined by Elihu ALLEN, Abijah PRATT and John CHAMBERLIN.
These families were no sooner settled in their wilderness habitations than
the enemy advanced from Canada, causing a general exodus to the south.
CHAMBERLIN was attacked in his house by a party of Indians and Tories,
and a hired man and child were killed. After the close of the war the settlers
returned quite rapidly, and the settlement and improvement of the town
began in earnest.
Hon. Lemuel BOTTOM was one of the most enterprising of the pioneers.
He came herein 1786 and settled at the foot of the hill north of the village,
on the place now owned by Lorenzo CHAPIN. He was placed by his townsmen
in many offices of trust and confidence until his death in 1815.
Jonathan SPAFFORD, who came with Thomas CHITTENDEN, lived on Winooski
River, the farm being now owned by Blossom GOODRICH. He has been described
as well fitted to perform the most arduous duties of an early settler in
the State, and was appreciated by his companions, who depended on him for
the execution of many projects. He finally died at an advanced age in Upper
Colonel Isaac McNEIL, the first lawyer in town, came here at a very
early day from Litchfield, Conn., and settled about a mile north of the
site of Williston village. He was well educated and gifted, and during
his all too brief residence in town was honored by election to the highest
offices within the gift of the town. He died in 1807.
Solomon and Elisha MILLER, other prominent early settlers, were
the first to occupy land in the center of the present village of Williston.
The former built the first house where Dr. BINGHAM now lives. He was born
at West Springfield, Mass., in 1761, and upon the outbreak of the Revolution,
young as he was, he entered into the service of the American army, and
participated in the battle of Bennington and the capture of Burgoyne. For
the several years between the close of the war and 1786, when he came to
Williston, he was engaged with Nathaniel CHIPMAN in the manufacture of
iron at Wallingford, Vt. From 1794 to 1815 he served this town as clerk;
and for twenty years was clerk of the Supreme and County Courts, besides
being judge of probate about the same length of time. He was also for a
time a member of the Governor's Council. He died in 1847, aged eighty-seven
years. Elisha died about the same time. His sons, William and Edward, are
still residents of the town.
Elisha WRIGHT came from Connecticut previous to 1797, and was the
first to occupy the farm now occupied by Patrick LAVELLE, where he remained
until his death in 1830. He was grandfather to Hon. Smith WRIGHT, an extended
sketch of whose life appears in later pages of this work.
Jonathan HART was one of the early settlers in the tract of land
west of Muddy Brook, which originally formed a part of Burlington. He purchased
the original right of Thomas VAN WYCK, of Oyster Bay, Long Island, on the
29th day of September, 1789. His brother Zachariah purchased a part of
his land on the 1st of March, 1790, and lived in town until the time of
his death, March 26, 1852, at the extreme age of 103 years. He lived in
the northwest corner of the town, near Hubbel's Falls, now Essex Junction.
Philip WALKER, one of the earliest inhabitants in the southwest
part of Williston, came originally from Hoosac to Ferrisburgh, whence he
removed to this town. He purchased lots Nos. 69 and 71 of Ira ALLEN, in
the fall of 1790, and dwelt upon them until his death, about 1840. It was
his habit during the earlier part of his life to pass his winters in pursuit
of game in this State and the Canadas.
John DOWNER settled on the hill south of the old “FRENCH place"
about 1792, in which year he purchased his land of Ira ALLEN. He died about
1851, an old man.
Isaac FRENCH came into town at an early day, and purchased of Ira
ALLEN 500 acres of the best land in town. His brother Jeremiah came originally
from Connecticut to Manchester, Vt., and thence to Williston. He lived
in the western part of the town, on a large farm which embraced the present
premises of Chauncey BROWNELL. He was one of the most esteemed men of the
community, and was honored by his townsmen with many positions of trust.
At his death he left a large landed property of great value. His son, William
Henry FRENCH, was born on the 4th of May, 1813, and resided in town, with
the exception of the few years while he was judge of probate, until his
death. He was always an influential and prominent citizen; represented
Williston in the Legislature in 1838. He was instrumental in the formation
of the third or Liberty party, and as its candidate for member of Congress
ran against Hon. George P. MARSH. In 1844 and 1845 there were no elections
made in Williston for town representative. In 1846 the Liberty party nominated
and elected Mr. FRENCH -- he then being one of the twelve members of that
-party in the Legislature, and the only one from Chittenden county. He
was re-elected in 1847, and the following year he was chosen by the Legislature
judge of probate for the district of Chittenden. In 1852 he was elected
judge of probate by the people, and at their hands received eight successive
re-elections. He was deeply interested in the famous underground railroad,
by which fugitive slaves were enabled to escape to Canada, and frequently
opened his doors for some persecuted and fleeing negro. He was a member
of the Masonic fraternity and a prominent Knight Templar, having held the
office of grand captain-general in the Commandery of the State. He died
on the 29th of May, 1866.
Beriah MURRAY came to Williston at an early date from Claremont,
N. H., together with his son Calvin, who afterward died in Hinesburg. He
passed his life in the southern part of the town.
Deacon David TALCOTT, born in Connecticut on the 5th of January,
1740, came to Williston previous to 1786, from Tyringham, Mass., with his
five sons and two daughters, and settled on the hill that now commemorates
his name, the farm including the present property of ISHAM TALCOTT. He
was one of the first selectmen of the town in 1786, and was frequently
called upon to serve the town in some public capacity. Immediately upon
coming to town he erected a large framed house on the top of the hill,
and opened the first tavern in Williston, which he kept until his death
in 1810. His sons were all farmers save one, David, jr., who was a tanner
and currier, and built the first framed house in the village, still standing,
the second building east of Warren's store. The tannery was on the brook
back of the house, and was operated for many years. His son Johathan was
born in 1773, and died in 1802, leaving two children, one of whom, Roswell,
is now a resident of the town.
John BUSHNELL came from Connecticut to Williston previous to 1795,
and settled in the north part of the town on the present road to the railroad
station. After a long and useful life he died here in 1821. His son Hiram,
born in 1798, is at the present writing (1886) a resident of the town.
Obadiah WALSTON was an early settler in the south part of the town,
coming from Connecticut. Two grandsons, Obadiah and Charles, are still
Elisha BRADLEY immigrated to Huntington from New Haven, Conn., toward
the close of the last century, and thence, soon after, to this town, settling
on the place now occupied by Oras BRADLEY, about two miles south of the
village. He died in November, 1848. His brother Joseph came about the same
time and settled nearly a mile north of the village. They were both soldiers
of the Revolution, and were both original and eccentric in manners. Sylvester,
son of Elisha, died here on the 5th of February, 1873.
Stephen N. WARREN was an early settler in “Jackson Hollow," in the
south part of the town. He died in Fairfax. His son Charles E. is now a
Daniel SHAW came from Taunton, Mass., to Williston in 1790, and
settled about a mile east of the village, where he died in 1804. His son
Daniel, jr., who came with him, died in 1810, after building, in his occupation
as carpenter and joiner, some of the first houses in the village. His daughter,
Mrs. LOCKWOOD, is still a resident of Williston.
John BROWN, from Massachusetts, settled in the western part of Williston
in 1800, and afterward on the farm now owned by his grandson, Wm. WHITNEY.
Here he died in 1855, at the unusual age of ninety-seven years. He was
a blacksmith by trade. At the present writing his son William is still
residing in town.
Edward BROWNELL came to Williston about 1800, and settled on the
place now occupied by his grandson and namesake. He died at the age of
seventy-eight years, leaving a family of eight children.
Eldad TAYLOR came to Williston from Sunderland, Vt., in March, 1786,
and died here in 1796, aged sixty-three years, leaving a family of eleven
children. By repeated intermarriages they became the most numerous in name
of any family in town, but none of the name now lives in town. Among many
descendants of different names, however, are Alfred C. and Roswell B. FAY,
also descendants of the famous FAY family, of whom a more extended notice
appears in the biographical sketch of John WHITCOMB, in the latter portion
of this work.
Among other settlers who are mentioned in early records, and many
of whom have honorable descendants in town at the present time, are Joel
BROWNSON, who lived on the tract set off to Richmond, and had a large family;
Samuel BROWNELL, whose son, Chauncey W., was born in this town on the 13th
of September, 1811, married in March, 1841, and has held many important
offices in town and county, among them being that of representative in
1860 and 1861, and county senator in 1870, and who now lives in Williston;
Nathaniel WINSLOW, who lived about one mile north of the village of Williston,
and Lemuel and Fitch WINSLOW, who lived about one mile west of Nathaniel;
Felix AUGER, who lived in the southwestern part of the town, and held a
conspicuous station among the early settlers; Timothy TUTTLE, who settled
the farm now occupied by Samuel LOGGINS; Nathan ALLEN, who occupied a tract
embracing a part of the present farm of Lewis H. TALCOTT, and lived a little
southeast from the present house of Roswell TALCOTT; John WASHBURN, who
lived on the site of the house now occupied by William MILLER, before 1813,
and who made potash back of his house, was something of a butcher, and
in later years ran a distillery; Josiah N. BARROWS, a saddler, who lived
and had his shop in the frame of the house now occupied by Mrs. Philo CLARK;
Simeon LEE, who owned a farm east of the village on the road leading south
from the old turnpike; Roswell MORTON, a farmer, who lived east of the
village on the place now owned by John JOHNSON, the present house being
built over from the old one; Deacon Thomas BARNEY, who married a daughter
of Governor Thomas Chittenden, and lived about one-half a mile west of
the village on the turnpike road, where Mr. METCALF now lives; Linus ATWATER,
a farmer, who lived in the center of the village, near the present site
of the Congregational Church; Joshua ISHAM, who lived in the south part
of the town, near the line of St. George; Samuel, son of Caleb B. Smith,
who traded awhile in the village, and in company with his father operated
clothing works at the west end of the village (Frederick SMITH, now of
Burlington, is a son of Caleb B. SMITH); Calvin MORSE, who kept a tavern
in the western part of Williston, at the four corners of the turnpike,
as they are called, and who died in the village; Daniel ISHAM, who lived
near St. George, in the southwestern part of this town; Elisha THATCHER,
a near neighbor of Daniel ISHAM; John and Reuben HALL, farmers, in the
south part of the town; Phineas RANDALL, in the south part of Williston;
Selah MURRY, who lived in the east part of the town, about half a mile
south from the turnpike road; Jonathan ALEXANDER, who lived about two miles
south from the village; Luther LOOMIS, who for a short time lived in the
village in the house now occupied by Mrs. PADDOCK, and operated a large
tannery near his house, and afterward removed to Burlington, where he died;
and Chester ROOT, who lived about a mile and a half north of the village,
on the road leading directly north.
Of course there were others that are entitled to the honor of being
called early settlers, and a few, perhaps, of more prominence than some
who have been mentioned; but here are included about all that the records
mention, that can be remembered by the oldest inhabitants, or that have
received notice in former works of history. We have reserved for this place
a sketch of the most eminent man who ever lived in the town, Hon. Thomas
CHITTENDEN, the George Washington of Vermont, who gave this county its
name. He was born at East Guilford, Conn., on the 6th of January, 1730.
He was obliged to devote the most of his time during his youth to labor
on his father's farm, and received but the rudiments of an education in
the common schools of his native place, and it is said that even from his
supposed hours of study he was wont to steal many a moment to indulge in
his favorite athletic sports, receiving thus, perhaps, just the training
needed for his future career in a new country in the presence of powerful
enemies. Finding the employments of his father's farm becoming irksome,
at the age of eighteen years he enlisted as a common sailor on a merchant
vessel bound from New London to the West Indies. This was during the war
between the English and French, and young CHITTENDEN and his associates
had scarcely passed the Bahama channel on their way to their destination
before they were picked up by a French man-of-war. The captors appropriated
the greater part of the cargo, destroyed the vessel, and then, as a matter
of convenience landed the prisoners upon one of the West India Islands
and left them. After enduring untold sufferings, the subject of this notice
secured an opportunity of working his passage home, which he seized upon
In October, 1749, he married Miss Elizabeth MEIGS, a young lady
of congenial tastes and education, of a strong constitution and an independent
mind, who paid little regard during her whole life to the distinctions
of rank and wealth, and treated all that were well disposed with the same
courtesy and hospitality. They lived for twenty-four years in Salisbury,
Conn., where Thomas CHITTENDEN was early a leading man. He was always interested
in town affairs, represented the town in the Legislature for six years,
was colonel of militia, and held other minor offices. He steadily pursued
his farming business for an employment, and as a natural consequence of
his industry and economy acquired a handsome property. During his residence
in Salisbury he began the custom of granting out new townships in Vermont,
or the "New Hampshire Grants," which resulted from the cessation of hostilities
between the two belligerent countries -- France and Great Britain. Appreciating
the advantage of these opportunities, Thomas CHITTENDEN, with his friend,
Jonathan SPAFFORD, purchased two tracts of land on Winooski or "Onion"
River, the farm of Thomas CHITTENDEN embracing the present estate of the
late Hiram CLARK, of Williston. The first shelter which he erected for
his family was a hut covered with bark and hemlock boughs, which sufficed
until he completed his more comfortable log house -- his family of children,
numbering ten, besides the several workmen which accompanied him. They
had four sons and six daughters. The sons were Noah, Martin, Giles and
Truman. Noah was a farmer, and lived not far from his father, in Jericho;
he was first sheriff of Chittenden county, judge -of the County Court,
fudge of probate, town representative and councilor. Martin was graduated
from Yale College, and settled on a farm in Jericho, near his brother Noah;
he was for several years town representative, clerk of the court, judge
of the County Court, member of the corporation of the University of Vermont,
ten years member of Congress, and two years governor of the State. Giles
was a farmer and passed his days upon the intervale on the Williston side
of the river, below his father's farm; he was town representative and colonel
of militia, but was not so much in public office as were his father and
brothers. Truman, the youngest son, was also a farmer, and settled on the
place adjoining his father's farm on the west; he was justice of the peace
thirty years, judge of' probate eleven years, judge of the County Court
seven years, State councilor twelve years, town representative for four
years, and twenty-six years a member of the corporation of the University
of Vermont. The eldest daughter, Mabel, married Thomas BARNEY, as before
stated; Betsey married James HILL, of Charlotte; Hannah married Colonel
Isaac CLARK, of Castleton; Beulah was first married to Elijah GALUSHA,
of Arlington, who died in about two years, and she was afterward married
to the famous Matthew LYON, of Fairhaven; the fifth daughter, Mary, was
married to Jonas GALUSHA, of Shaftsbury; Electa became the wife of Jacob
SPAFFORD, of Richmond, son of Jonathan SPAFFORD.
When Thomas CHITTENDEN came to Vermont in 1774 the controversy with
the province of New York was fairly begun, and the bitterest of the struggle
was yet to come. The details of this controversy are set forth in Chapter
IV, and nothing need be stated here, except a few brief references to the
part taken by Governor CHITTENDEN in the matter. In two years the Revolution
burst upon the colonists. It has been estimated that there were at this
time about forty families along "Onion River " and the lake shore, and
a small blockhouse in Jericho, on the opposite side of the river, below
Colonel CHITTENDEN's, had been erected and garrisoned. Upon the advance
of the enemy up the lake, however, the garrison became alarmed and abandoned
the fortification, leaving the settlers no alternative but that of fleeing
south for protection among their friends. Colonel CHITTENDEN, with his
wife and ten children, traveled on foot by marked trees to Castleton, carrying
their provisions and other effects upon two horses, except the heavy iron-ware,
etc., which was sunk in the duck-pond before leaving. They lived in Arlington
most of the time until their return in 1787 to Williston.
Colonel CHITTENDEN was strongly in favor of the measure which then
began to be discussed, of making the grants a free and independent jurisdiction,
the more effectually to settle to their own satisfaction the dispute between
New Hampshire and New York as to which of those colonies or States was
entitled to the controverted territory. In 1776 he was elected a delegate
to the convention at Dorset, convoked to consider the propriety of this
measure. At this convention he was chairman of the committee which drew
up and presented the first governmental compact ever acted upon by a convention
of the people of this State, which was unanimously adopted and signed by
each member of the convention. At an adjourned meeting, held at Westminster
on the 15th of January following, he was one of a committee chosen to present
a form for a declaration of independence; and on the morning of the 16th
they made their report, proclaiming the declaration of independence of
"New Connecticut, alias Vermont," which was unanimously adopted. Colonel
CHITTENDEN was also a member of the convention that adopted the first constitution
at Windsor, July 2, 1777. He was president of the Council of Safety, which
held its first meeting at Manchester July 15, 1777. At the general election
which took place under the new constitution on the 3d of March, 1778, when
the first State officers of Vermont were chosen, Thomas CHITTENDEN was
elected by a large majority; at the second general election, on the second
Tuesday of the following October, he was again elected governor, and was
afterward annually re-elected to that high office to October, 1797, excepting
one year. During all the embarrassing and dubious situations of the State
while he was its chief executive, resulting from the complications of the
difficulty with New York, with New Hampshire respecting the towns in Eastern
Vermont, and with Congress respecting the admission of this State into
the Union, Governor CHITTENDEN was ever found equal to the tasks which
the duties of his office placed upon him, and, by the rare union in his
character of caution and independence, of the general and the diplomat,
contributed probably as much as any one man in Vermont to secure the object
for which her people had so long struggled.
The domestic habits of Governor CHITTENDEN were of the most simple
and unaffected nature. Agriculture was his favorite occupation. He regarded
the "blandishments of dress" and the punctilious formula of etiquette as
certain evidences of human weakness. He was a keen observer of men and
things. The secret of his peculiar abilities and of his pre-eminent success
in all the relations of life was, it has been well said, that "his mind,
heart and judgment all centered upon one point, and that point was justice."
He died on the 25th of August, 1797, a few weeks after his resignation
of his office as Governor, because of his last sickness. His remains rest
in the little cemetery at Williston village.
OF THE TOWN
The first town meeting of Williston was held on the 28th day of
March, 1786, and was presided over by John CHAMBERLIN, moderator. The records
of these early meetings are unfortunately very meager, not even all of
the first officers being named in them. Robert DONELLY was the first town
clerk, and Joel BROWNSON was the first constable. No other officers are
mentioned until the second annual meeting,. March 27, 1787, which was governed
by Amos BROWNSON, moderator. Robert DONELLY was again chosen clerk; Jonathan
SPAFFORD, Deacon David TALCOTT. and Asa BROWNSON were elected selectmen;
Nathaniel WINSLOW, constable; Lemuel WINSLOW and John CHAMBERLIN, grand
jurors; Felix AUGER and Lemuel WINSLOW, tithingmen; Lemuel WINSLOW, Jonathan
SPAFFORD and Robert DONELLY,. listers. At this meeting forty pounds was
voted to use in improving and laying out roads. On the 25th of March, 1788,
the selectmen were constituted a committee to "provide a place to bury
the Dead." At another meeting, held at the house of Colonel SPAFFORD on
the first Friday in October, 1788, it was voted that the roads be four
rods "wyde," and a tax of two pence on the pound was levied, to be paid
in grain, wheat at six shillings per bushel, and corn at three shillings.
On the 24th of March, 1789, it was voted "to find the center of the town
of Williston," and Felix AUGER, Amos BROWNSON David TALCOTT, Joel LEONARD
and Nathan ALLEN were chosen to ascertain the spot. Governor CHITTENDEN
was one of the selectmen in 1790, and his yard, with that of David TALCOTT,
was constituted a pound for that year. At the March meeting for 1790 Solomon
MILLER, Lemuel WINSLOW and David TALCOTT were appointed to agree with some
person for a burying-ground in the west part of the town; and further,
John PORTER, Joel BROWNSON and Joshua CHAMBERLIN were chosen a committee
"to agree with Jesse EVERTS for land for a burying place, and to see it
During the War of 1812 Williston took an active part in furnishing
troops for the Americans, a partial list of whom will be found in the company
mentioned in the history of Richmond.
At only one period in its history has this town been more populous
than it was from 1825 to 1830, viz.: in 1850, when according to the United
States census the population numbered 1,669. In 1825 the population was
not far from 1,600. The most prominent men in town will be gathered from
the paragraphs immediately following. At the annual meeting held on March
15, 1825, Martin CHITTENDEN was chosen moderator of the meeting; Chauncey
BROWNELL was made town clerk; Jeremiah FRENCH, Martin CHITTENDEN, and Roswell
MORTON, selectmen; Timothy M. BRADLEY, treasurer; Truman CHITTENDEN, Calvin
MORSE, and Zadock COLEMAN, listers; Samuel SMITH, first constable and collector;
John WRIGHT, grand juror; John BROWN, town grand juror; Truman CHITTENDEN,
Milo WINSLOW, Caleb MUNSON, Philip WALKER, Jotham H. HALL, Jeremiah FRENCH,
Hezekiah MORTON, Josiah N. BARROWS, James TALCOTT, Martin CHITTENDEN, Alexander
LEE, David A. MURRY, Solomon MORTON and Samuel SMITH, surveyors of highways;
Nathan JOHNSON, Zadock COLEMAN, Zachariah HART, fence viewers; Jonathan
G. TALCOTT and John L. CORNING, pound-keepers; Josiah N. BARROWS, sealer
of leather; Samuel SMITH, sealer of weights and measures; and Rufus CHAPIN
and Leonard HODGES, tithingmen.
There was only one village in the town. There were a good many taverns,
a natural result of the geographical situation of the town on the old turnpike
road, and as the center of a number of stage lines. Among the more prominent
taverns were: one kept by Isaac FRENCH at what was called the Four Corners,
in the western part of the town ; one kept on the opposite side of the
street on the south side of the turnpike, by Calvin MORSE, the building
still standing. These were both old fashioned, and managed to obtain their
share of transient patronage. There were two taverns at the west end of
the village, one kept by Epaphras HULL and the other by Mr. Arnold. Linus
ATWATER had one in the center of the village. The site of the Methodist
Church was then occupied by a large tavern kept by Benjamin GOING, and
afterward by David FRENCH and others. It was called the Eagle Hall. Isaac
MORTON kept a tavern on the road to Hinesburg, in the southwest part of
the town. There were a number of distilleries, most of the merchants being
interested in them and taking grain for their distilleries in payment of
debts. John BRADLEY and afterward John WASHBURN operated a "still" on the
site of the house now occupied by William MILLER. Another one stood in
the west part of the town, on the east side of Muddy Brook. John and William
BRADLEY had one in the northwest part of the town, and one of the ISHAMs
ran a cider-brandy distillery in the southwest corner of the town. There
was one tannery here then, the one formerly owned by Luther LOOMIS, but
in 1825 in the hands of John and Harry BRADLEY. Willard MOORE operated
a saw-mill at the east end of the village, afterwards owned by Hiram WINSLOW
and others. Another one stood on Muddy Brook near the town line. At a later
day Samuel BROWNELL built and operated a saw-mill in the northwest part
of the town on Winooski River. At this time the carding-mill of Caleb B.
SMITH, before mentioned, was running at the east end of the village below
Eagle Hall was kept about 1830 by David, brother of William H. FRENCH,
and afterwards by Eli, son of Giles CHITTENDEN. It burned about 1850, while
James HURLBURT was keeping it. It was for many years one of the best hotels
in the county. Four and six-horse teams and stages passed very frequently
along the turnpike road, and the passengers and drivers were accustomed
to stay over night at Eagle Hall. About 1840 the house now occupied by
George BROWNELL was a hotel under the management of William BROWN. The
house now occupied by the widow of John FORBES was in 1840 a hotel kept
by Captain LATHROP. The other village, North Williston, was not in existence
until after the opening of the railroad, when John WHITCOMB and R. B. FAY
built it up.
The store building now occupied by George L. PEASE & Co. was
erected not far from 1835 by A. J. FULLER, who had previously traded for
a time in the house now occupied by Mrs. E. R. CRANE. After Mr. FULLER's
failure in business this building remained vacant for a short time, the
next occupant being James W. HURLBURT, who remained eight or ten years
and failed. For a number of years after this a union store was conducted
here very successfully, the goods being sold by George MORTON. In 1864
Mr. MORTON bought out the union store, and for about eight years, in company
with his son Henry, conducted a very successful mercantile business. Hon.
Smith WRIGHT then purchased the property and traded in the building for
about two years, followed by his son-in-law and associate, E. C. FAY. The
goods were soon sold to Carl MACOMBER and the building to L. A. BISHOP,
the former trading there for a short time. From 1881 to July, 1883, Smith
WRIGHT and his son-in-law Gilbert HARRIS carried on a mercantile business
here, and at the latter date were succeeded by George L. PEASE and Jason
CLARK, who still trade under the firm name of George L. PEASE & Co.
The building now occupied by Charles D. WARREN was erected about
1840 by George MORTON and Philo CLARK, whose successors have been as follows
James and Henry HURLBURT, three or four years; A. B. SIMONDS, about fifteen
years; Smith WRIGHT, two years; E. R. CRANE, for some time; George MILLER,
George BUTTON, Henry S. JOSLIN, and since September, 1885, Charles D. WARREN.
Mr. WARREN carries a stock of about $3,500.
At the north village R. B. BROWN, the present merchant, began in
the spring of 1886, succeeding John WHITCOMB. The building was first used
for a storehouse, and opened as a store about 1865 by Frederick SIMONDS.
His successors have been H. W. THOMPSON, J. R. TALCOTT and John WHITCOMB.
For a history of the refrigerator and cold storage buildings of
Smith WRIGHT, see the sketch of his life in later pages.
WHITCOMB & FAY's steam mill at North Williston was originally
established by Hiram J. FAY, in 1862 or 1863. In 1866 he took Roswell B.
FAY and Almon ROOD into partnership with himself, and the new company enlarged
the saw-mill and built a grist-mill. The whole was destroyed by fire in
1871. A stock company was soon after formed, under the title of the North
Williston Mill Company, which soon erected the present buildings. The business
is now in the hands of John WHITCOMB and R. B. FAY, who manufacture about
850,000 feet of lumber per annum.
The North Williston machine shop, started by R. B. FAY, E. F. WHITCOMB
and Addison M. FORD in 1872, did a good business for a number of years
in the manufacture of chair stock, but is not in operation at the present
The cider-mill of George PATTEN was started about fifty years ago,
and has been continued to the present time.
E.R. Cole's blacksmith shop at North Williston was built for its
present use more than thirty years ago, and has been occupied by Mr. COLE
for about seven or eight years.
The North Williston cheese factory was erected in 1868 by E. R.
CRANE and Mr. BROWN, who after a year or two sold it to L. E. DUNLAP. It
now receives milk from about three hundred cows. The property is owned
by Smith WRIGHT.
Lewis H. TALCOTT, who has the largest dairy farm in the State, owns
and operates a cheese factory which receives the milk from about seven
The private cheese factory of H. S. JOHNSON was built several years
ago, and manufactures into cheese the milk from about one hundred cows,
about sixty of which are his property.
T.L. FRARY, at North Williston, started several lathes in JONESville
in 1876 for the manufacture of spools, bobbins, etc., and in June, 1882,
removed to his present place.
The town farm, consisting of about two hundred acres of land in
the northwestern corner of the township, is owned jointly by the towns
of Williston, Essex, Jericho, Shelburne and Hinesburg. It was established
to its present uses about 1856.
There is no lawyer and but one physician in town. Dr. A. L. BINGHAM
was born at Fletcher, Vt., on the 26th of June, 1853; was graduated from
the medical department of the University of Vermont in 1875, and from the
Medical University of New York in 1880, after which he came at once to
The exact date of the establishment of a post-office at Williston
is not known, though it must have been very soon after the admission of
the State into the Union in 1791. One of the earliest postmasters in town
was Eben JUDSON, who held the position in 1804. Since about 1824 the succession
has been as follows: To 1828, David FRENCH; to 1844, Horace L. NICHOLS;
to 1846, A. V. HOLLY; to 1850, Jonas G. CHITTENDEN; to 1854, James W. HURLBURT;
to 1870, Truman A. CHITTENDEN; to 1873, E. R. CRANE; to 1885, SMITH WRIGHT;
and the present postmaster, Jason CLARK.
The office at North Williston was established about 1865, by the
appointment of F. H. SIMONDS, who retained the place until 1868. His successors
have been: To 1873, H. W. THOMSON; to 1879, J. R. TALCOTT; since which
time the present postmaster, John WHITCOMB, has served.
The officers elected for the year 1886 are as follows: Charles D.
WARREN, town clerk; Dr. A. L. BINGHAM, Obed WALSTON, A. C. FAY, selectmen;
George W. PATTEN, William B. DOUGLASS, D. I. TALCOTT, listers; Jason CLARK,
treasurer; L. W. FRENCH, overseer of the poor; L. J. CHAPIN, constable;
E. WHITNEY, S. A. Caswell, J. E. METCALF, auditors; Enos TAFT, Oras BRADLEY,
C. W. BROWN, fence viewers; L. W. FRENCH, poor-farm director; Smith WRIGHT,
town agent; Mrs. J. C. DRAPER, superintendent of schools.
For a history of Williston Academy, see Chapter X, by Professor
J. E. GOODRICH, of the University of Vermont.
The early settlers of Williston felt the same difficulty in obtaining
the means for public worship that was common throughout the State. Money
was so scarce that it was almost impossible to support a minister, unless
he could be induced to accept his salary in farm produce. The first church
edifices were barns, for even the houses were too small to accommodate
the thirsting worshipers that crowded to hear the occasional sermon of
an itinerant preacher of some or of no particular denomination. The earliest
mention of the subject found in the town records appears under date of
March 25, 1788, when Amos BROWNSON, Jonathan SPAFFORD and Asa BROWNSON
were constituted a committee to "see if we can join Jerico and Essex in
hiring a minister," the instructions being to hire the minister for six
months with the other towns, or for three months independently, "the committee
to hire a minister with country produce." The outcome of this is not known.
On the 24th of March, 1789, it was voted to "hire a minister on probation
for settlement;" also that "meetings, particularly when we have preaching,
shall be holden at the house of Nathan ALLEN the one-half and at the house
of Mr. WALSTON, or in Mr. AUGER's barn the other half." On the 10th of
September, 1790, it was voted to build a meeting-house to accommodate the
whole town. The division of the ecclesiastical society, formed in conformity
with the laws of the State, consequent upon the change of the town boundaries,
delayed the execution of this purpose for several years; and though it
was voted in 1793 "to draw logs to the mill this winter for boards for
a meeting-house," and in 1795 the site was chosen "on a knoll southerly
of Dr. WINSLOW's barn," the building was not commenced till 1796. It was
50 x 57. feet, and built in the style of "ye olden time," with galleries
upon three sides, square pews, and a lofty pulpit standing upon a single
shaft. The preaching of the gospel had been enjoyed as yet only during
brief periods. In 1791 we find the curt record, "Voted to discontinue Mr.
Abiel JONES as minister in this place." Mr. BRADLEY was "hired on probation"
in 1792. Mr. Hutchinson "preached two Sabbaths " in the winter
The Congregational Church was organized on the 23d of January, 1800,
with the following members: David BATES, David TALCOTT, Beriah MURRY, Jabez
DART, Daniel SHAW, Edward TAYLOR, Eben BRADLEY, Lemuel WINSLOW, Enoch JUDSON,
Daniel SHAW, jr., John TAYLOR, Rhoda SHAW, Elizabeth WINSLOW, Diantha BRADLEY,
Lovine ALLEN, Neony BRADLEY. David BATES and David TALCOTT were the first
deacons. Six days after the organization of the church Rev. Aaron C. COLLINS
was installed its first pastor.
Mr. COLLINS was dismissed "otherwise than by death" May 4, 1804.
In 1813 the church was reorganized, as the only means of eliminating certain
heresies which had crept in. Rev. James JOHNSON became its pastor in 1818.
The present church edifice was erected in 1832 and rebuilt in 1860.
The present pastor is the Rev. James BATES, who has been here about three
years. The present membership is about seventy-two. The average attendance
at Sabbath-school is about fifty-five. William MILLER is one of the deacons
and clerk. The pastor is the Sabbath-school superintendent.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was also organized in 1800, under
the pastorate of the Rev. Stephen RANDALL. The present house of worship
was erected in 1843 and rebuilt in 1868. It will accommodate 500 persons,
and together with the parsonage and other church property is valued at
about $14,000. The present pastor, the Rev. S. D. ELKINS, succeeded the
Rev. Robert W. SMITH in 1883. The present church membership is about sixty;
the average attendance at Sabbath-school is about sixty-seven. Following
are the present officers: Stewards, Jason CLARK, Leet A. BISHOP, Hiram
PHELPS, Hiram WALSTON, Watson CADY, Marion W. CLARK, A. C. LAMSON, James
BRYANT, Loyal FOSTER, Joseph PINE, Wesley H. METCALF and Jairus METCALF.
The class leader is Theodore CADY. Wesley H. METCALF is the Sabbath-school
superintendent. The church is free from debt and is firmly established
on a solid basis of prosperity, with an indefinite prospect of growth.
The Universalist Society was organized in February, 1844, with a
membership of fifty-one. The first pastor was the Rev. Eli BALLOU. At first
they worshiped in the town hall, but in 1859 began their neat and commodious
church structure, and dedicated it to divine service in 1860. The society
contains many of the most liberal-minded and charitable people of the town,
and has well fulfilled its stated mission of "sustaining the preaching
of the gospel, and promoting the cause of truth, righteousness, humanity,
liberty and charity." The present pastor of the society is Miss Myra KINGSBURY.
of Chittenden County, Vermont
and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
By W. S. Rann, Syracuse, N. Y.
& Co., Publishers, 1886
by Karima Allison ~ 2004