Brighton is situated in the western part of the county, in lat. 44º45' and long. 5º 6'. It is bounded on the northwest by Charleston and Morgan, in Orleans county, on the northeast by Warren's Gore, Avery's Gore and Lewis, on the southeast by Ferdinand, and on the south by Newark and Westmore.  It was chartered August 13, 1781, to Joseph Nightingale, and sixty-five associates, of  Providence, R.I.   It was first named Random, by the Hon. Joseph Brown, it being a “random” purchase from an agent sent to Providence from Vermont. November 3, 1832, the name was, changed to Brighton, this name being preferred by its inhabitants. 

      The township is quite mountainous, but only a few rise so abrupt as to prevent the cultivation of the land. It is heavily timbered the western portion with hard, and the eastern with soft timber. There are eight ponds or lakes in this township, the largest, formerly called Knowlton lake, a name given it by Mr. Knowlton, one of the first surveyors, but latterly called Island Pond, from having near its center an island containing an area of twenty-two acres, which also gives the name to the post office at the outlet.  It is about two miles long, and about one and a half broad; the water is very clear and deep, the whole surrounded by mountains which slope gradually, giving it the appearance of an immense basin, covered to the shore of the pond with a mixture of hard timber and evergreen, forming, altogether, one of the most beautiful landscapes to be found in New England. The pond lies about 1250 feet above the level of the sea, and is the height of land between Memphremagog lake, on the west, and the Connecticut river, on the east. 

      The waters of the pond find their way into the lake on the west, and the principal branch of the Nulhegan takes its rise but a few rods from the pond in the east, so, near it that a short excavation would turn the waters of the pond into the Connecticut. There are three rivers in the town, viz.: the Clyde, Pherrin's river and the Nulhegan.  The Clyde, which is the outlet to Island pond, was named by one of the early surveyors, Mr. Whitlaw, from his partiality to a river of that name in Scotland. Pherrin's river, which empties into the Clyde about a mile below the outlet, frequently rises quite suddenly, swelling the waters of the latter so as to change its current and cause it to run into the pond with great force for ten hours or more, until the pond is full, or the water subsides below, when it will again change and rush out. 

      In 1880,  Brighton had a population of 1691.  In 1876 the township adopted the town system of schools, and in 1886 it had thirteen schoolhouses. There were 536 scholars, taught during the year by three male and fifteen female teachers, to whom was paid an average weekly salary, including board, of $22.00 to the former, and $6.00 to the latter. The entire income for school purposes was $3,319.47, while the total expenditures were $4,905.88, with Austin H. Hall, superintendent. 

      Island Pond is a pleasant post village, located near the central part of the town, on the northern shores of Island pond, from which the village derives its name. It has four churches (Methodist, Congregational, Episcopal and Roman Catholic).  Its principal streets are Main, Cross, South, Mountain and Derby. The latter contains many fine residences, while nearly all the others are remarkably neat and tidy. The business portion is mostly located on Main and Cross streets. Within its limits are nearly a dozen stores and several hotels, the finest of which, is the Stewart House, W.A. Richardson, proprietor, also one large steam saw-mill, various mechanic shops, etc. The village is located on the half-way place between Portland and Montreal, of the Grand Trunk railroad, which was built through here in 1853, and contains the United States and Canadian custom houses, depot, and other buildings connected with the road, which were built at a cost of over $65,000.00, and money paid employees at this point amounts to over $35,000.00 per annum. The village was visited by a disastrous fire in 1856, consuming a large unfinished block owned by John A. Poor, of Portland, Me., a portion of which was used as a store by A. J. Green.  From thence the fire communicated to the Green Mountain House, a large hotel occupied by J.D. & S.N. Gilkey, entirely consuming it, together with all the barns and out-buildings, and an unoccupied new dwelling house; thence to a store occupied by Howard, Hobart & Chamberlin, destroying property amounting not far from $30,000.00. The stores of G.E. Clarke and A. Bartlett & Co., are now on the burnt district. 

      East Brighton is a post village and station on  the Grand Trunk railroad, located in the southern part of the town.  It contains one large steam saw- mill, one store, a blacksmith shop, and about thirty dwellings. 

      Masonry in Brighton.  On the 14th of January, 1858, this town having no social centers. and society being in that mixed condition characteristic of all newly settled towns, a charter was asked for, and granted to Thomas O. Gould, N.P. Bowman, Edward Fennessy, A.S. Gove, L. Williams, G.W. Lord, David Pratt and Mark S. King, for a Masonic lodge. Directly a very prosperous one sprang up under the name of Island Pond Lodge, NO. 44, F.&A.M. The want of a social and formulating element, which that supplied, was felt and intensified by the crude condition of society, so that the organization took hold of its work with a zest worthy of the cause. In a very short time its membership reached one hundred. Its total membership has been one hundred and sixty-four, and it now numbers ninety-five members. It has a well furnished hall and its present officers are: W. M., E.J. Parsons; S. W., Charles Gonya; J. W., Charles E. Corruth; Treas., A.H. Hall; Sec'y, W.H. Bishop; S. D., N.E. Bonney; J. D., M.L. Dyer; Chaplain, A.H. Bonett; Marshal, E.F. Johnson and is in good working order. Its unity has always been maintained through all the dismembering influences incident to such an institution; and what is still more noticeable, it has steadily moved on in its work and influences, undisturbed by divisions in society, and the varying changes and natural groupings which are always occurring in a young town. It has never been embarrassed by political, sectarian or class influences, and has ever been true to its principle of universality. It has done as much as any other one thing to make the town homogeneous. It has performed, perhaps, the most useful and beneficial offices in the unity and good fellowship of the people which have been exercised at all; and has been in the van in smoothing the rugged ways of the pioneers of this enterprising village. The acacia blooms at the head of the graves of one-half the founders of this lodge, but its work and associations survive and grow more effective and benign with the coming and going years. The Keystone Chapter of R. A. Masons, formerly working at Barton,Vt., was removed to this town in 1885. Since its removal from fifteen to twenty former members of the order have affiliated here, and the Chapter is in good working condition. 

      Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  In the progress and development of this town, a want was felt of more social and eleemosynary association, and several of its young men, attracted by the active, practical and direct benevolence, as well as the romantic traditions of the order, began to desire to experience the benefits of a system which has ripened their wishes into a real, warm, good fellowship, and completely fulfilled the desire of their hearts in the formation of Essex Lodge, No. 13, I. 0- 0- F. Its charter was granted March 21, 1881, to C.M. Dyer, L.F. Bigelow, A.O. Dechene, Z.W. Clark, D.C. Foss, Edward Davis, George E. Horr, M.H. Davis, A. Cabana, R.P. Bickford, J.M. Butters, C.E. Carruth; and the lodge was instituted April 5, 1881. It immediately went vigorously to work, so that now, only in the fifth year of its existence, the number of its members exceeds one hundred, and it possesses a fund Of $3,000.00, including property and lodge furniture, while its benefits and charities have been freely exercised whenever occasion required; and, as much as the statement implies, it is confidently asserted that its work is hardly second to that of any other lodge in the state.  Its present officers are E.M. Bartlett, N.G; J.W. Thurston, V. G.; E.J. Parsons, Sec'y; G.E. Clark, Treas. The good offices performed by this lodge as educator, counsellor, peace maker and almoner, seem almost indispensable to the condition of the place, and will warm the hearts of its beneficiaries as, long as memory or gratitude to a wise Creator lives, 

      David A. Haynes's grist-mill is located on road 1, on Pheriin's river. It was built by its present proprietor in 1882. It has only one run of stones and does custom work. 

      W.B. Rosebrook's saw-mill is located on road 6.  It was built in 1882, cutting 10,000 feet per day, furnishing employment for sixteen men. 

      James M. Butters's steam saw-mill.  This mill was built in 1882, by J.M. Butters, on the site where Horace Stewart's mill was burned in 1878. The mill cuts about 20,000 feet per day, furnishing employment for fifty hands. 

      The first proprietors’ meeting was held in Concord,Vt., March 29, 1804. James Whitelaw was elected moderator, and Nathaniel Jenks, proprietors' clerk. The settlement was commenced in 1823, Enos Bishop being the first permanent settler. Among those who soon followed were John Stevens, John Kilby, Seneca Foster and Phreeland Rosebrook. The town was organized in March, 1832. William Melendy was the first town clerk, Timothy Cory, first representative, and John Bishop, William Washburn and John Stevens, selectmen. 

      The first saw-mill was built in 1830, by John Currier, on Pherrin's river, about twenty rods above where Haynes's grist-mill is now located. Miss Lucy M. Kilby taught the first school, in the summer of 1829. 
 

(Source:  Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties, VT.; 1764-1887, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page 397-400)

This excerpt was provided by Tom Dunn @ tomdunn_haha@comcast.net

 


Brighton Town Records, Volume 2A ~ 1832-1865
U.S. Federal census records for Brighton  ~ 1830, 1840, and 1850