CHAPTER XXXII
HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF 
WILLISTON

      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.


EARLY 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 Canada.

      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 in Williston.

      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 resident here.

      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 with alacrity.

      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.


ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWN 
AND EARLY PROCEEDINGS

      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 cleared," etc.

      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.


WILLISTON IN 1825

      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 the saw-mill.

      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.


PRESENT BUSINESS INTERESTS

      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 writing.

      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 hundred cows.

      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 Williston. 


THE POST-OFFICE

      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.


PRESENT TOWN OFFICERS

      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.


ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

      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.

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 670-684.

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~ 2004