River enters the township from Canada, and, after taking a circuit of several
miles, and affording here some of the finest mill sites in the country,
returns again to Canada . . . This township was granted to William Goodrich,
Barzilla Hudson, Charles Dibble, and their associates, March 13, 1780,
and was chartered by the name of Berkshire June 22, 1781. The settlement
of this town was commenced in 1792 by Job Barber, Stephen Royce, Daniel
Adams, Jonathan Carpenter and Phinehas Heath, moved their families here
in 1793, and from this time the settlement advanced with considerable rapidity.
Elihu M., son of Stephen Royce, was born in 1793, and was the first child
born in town. The town was organized in 1794, and David Nutting was
first town clerk."
of Vermont, Hayward, 1840
OF THE TOWN OF
By Hon. Stephen
The township of Berkshire was a State grant of A. D, 1780. It was
chartered to contain six miles square, or 23,040 acres; but by a gross
error in locating the east boundary, it actually extends about seven miles
on the south line, and about six and a half miles on the north line, --
thus including over 2000 acres beyond its proper quantity as given by the
charter. It is bounded E. by Richford, S. by Enosburgh, W by Franklin,
and N. by the S. line of Canada. Missisquoi River passes through the S.
E, portion of Berkshire, where it receives the waters of Trout River, a
small stream from the Green Mountain. Pike river has its origin at the
N, line of this town, and by a circuit of several miles, acquires sufficient
volume at the village of West Berkshire to furnish valuable water power.
All the eastern portion of Berkshire is dependent, but without serious
inconvenience, upon mills and other water-works on Missisque river in Richford
and Enosburgh, and on Trout river in Montgomery. From the beds of the streams
before mentioned, and those of their numerous little tributaries- the town
rises into elevated swells or hills, But these are rarely so abrupt as
to prevent ordinary cultivation, and where they are so the land is still
well adapted to pasturage; indeed the soil throughout the town is almost
invariably strong and productive. This might be inferred from the timber
with which it was originally covered, it having been mostly hard wood,
in which the sugar maple was predominant. The town is not known to contain
any valuable mineral ores, except those of iron. These in the rock form,
and of rich quality, are probably inexhaustible; and a small amount of
swamp or bog-ore is also known to exist in the valley of Missisquoi River,
There is, so far as known, neither marble nor any variety of lime-rock,
or roofing-slate, nor granite, except of coarse and inferior quality. --
In 1789 the town was surveyed and allotted into three divisions by Col.
(afterwards Judge) David FAY, of Bennington; the lots in the first and
second division being mapped as 100-acre lots, and those in the third or
east division 140-acre lots. These were distributed to the Charter proprietors
by a regular draft. But there was great inaccuracy in the surveys, and
there is consequently great inequality in the lots.
The first permanent resident in Berkshire was Job L. BARBER. He
settled upon the west bank of Missisquoi River, and with his wife and one
child, lived through the summer of A. D. 1792, upon what is now the farm
lately occupied, enlarged and improved by William C. BROWN. During the
same season, two other improvements were commenced preparatory to permanent
settlement, -- one by Daniel ADAMS, about one and a fourth mile S. W. from
the great Pike Ricer, where the village of West Berkshire has since arisen,
and the other by Stephen ROYCE on the west bank of Missisque River, a mile
below BARBER's beginning. As winter approached, BARBER, with his family,
retreated temporarily among the few inhabitants of Huntsburgh (now Franklin),
but returned the next spring, soon after said ADAMS and ROYCE had removed
with their families to their respective places of future residence. Thus
there were three families in town from the latter part of April, A. D.
1793. Two of them were near enough to each other to be neighbors, but from
them to the only other family a distance of 7 miles, neither a tree had
been felled nor a bush cut, except what was necessary in opening a rough
From Mr. ADAMS' place it was 5 miles farther to the first inhabitant.
In other directions the distances to human habitations were still greater,
-- down the river it was 5 miles to the first inhabitants in Sheldon; to
the east it was 30 miles to those in Craftsbury, and up the river there
was none to its source, nor any in that direction nearer than the French
settlements in the interior of Canada,
In A. D. 1793, and the year following, a few additional inhabitants
arrived, among whom were Capt. Phineas HEATH and Capt. David NUTTING, Revolutionary
officers. They were in humble circumstances and with large families; but
possessing good natural talents, and improved by their associations and
experience in military service, were interesting men, and added much to
the little society of Missisquoi River valley in which they settled. About
this time Mr. Jonathan CARPENTER, a man of shrewdness and strong common
sense, moved into the town and began a farm on the high land rising westerly
from Missisque River, and a little to the N. E. of the present residences
of William SAMPSON and Gilman PRATT. James ADAMS also established himself
nearly three miles farther to the N. W. and about one mile and a half N.
of the present Berkshire Centre. Settlements now began to increase rapidly,
end within 10 years every considerable portion of the town had become dotted
with new openings and log houses.
The town was organized in A: D. 1795 or '96, and began to be annually
represented in the State Legislature. From that time onward it has kept
pace with the neighboring towns in population and improvements, -- leading
some, and surpassed by none, except where more available water-power, or
the meeting of important thoroughfares, have afforded them greater facilities
for the growth of villages. Berkshire being almost exclusively a farming
town, the population has a natural limit, at least, while emigration to
unoccupied regions, and fresh lands remains practicable without serious
difficulty or burdensome expense. For the last 30 years the number of permanent
residents in town has ranged over 1500, and now doubtless approaches quite
As all parts of the town are now settled, the aggregate length of
highways is necessarily great, the bridges to be supported are numerous,
including two covered bridges across Missisquoi River which are large and
expensive. Moreover, school-houses have long been built and sustained,
and teachers employed and paid, in the many districts into which the town
has been subdivided. The original log-cabins have long since disappeared;
and of the dwellings which have succeeded them, while none are gorgeous
and expensive, and but few exhibit superior taste, nearly all are respectable
in size and structure, and fit to be abodes of comfort and contentment.
These facts should be accepted as proof of no small thrift and advancement,
though they may have been gradual.
It has been said that the history of a country is substantially
that of its leading men. And if the remark is justly applicable to a state
or nation, it must be quite as much so to the little community of a town
-- even an obscure agricultural town like Berkshire. I shall therefore
proceed to mention some who, by themselves or descendants, contributed
above the average of settlers to the early growth and character of the
town. In doing so it will be convenient to group them, in part, as families
Mr. Elam JEWETT, an elderly man from Weybridge or New Haven,
in Addison Co., was one of the first who came into town with means and
strength to make himself and family at once felt as important accessions
to the infant settlement. He arrived about A. D. 1795, accompanied by two
sons, and was followed soon after by two others. -They were all industrious
and sensible men of unquestioned integrity. The oldest, Elam JEWETT, jr,
was an active and efficient man in conducting the business of the town
-- filling, in succession, most of the town offices, discharging that of
a magistrate, and occasionally serving as representative in the State Legislature.
Capt. Jared JEWETT was eminently an upright, humane and firm man, but more
domestic and less aspiring, as were also, the two other sons first mentioned.
Four brothers -- Hiram, Andrew, Francis, and John B. RUBLEE
-- settled in Berkshire shout the same time, and not long after the arrival
of Mr. JEWETT, Deacon Hiram RUBLEE, in every sense an excellent man, established
himself as a farmer on the main north and mouth road, about three-fourths
of a mile north of the present Berkshire Centre, where be continued to
reside till his death.* Capt. Andrew RUBLEE made for himself a farm on
Pike River; the same which was afterwards known as the Chaffee farm, and
is ranked among the most convenient, productive and valuable in Berkshire.
The Captain moved to Canada many years ago, and is now dead.
represented in town by only one of his several sons; the rest having sought
other locations. But this one, (a merchant at East Berkshire,) by capacity
intelligence and character, is quite competent, along to sustain the family
name untarnished. He was long a judicious magistrate, has been town representative
and state senator, and is now postmaster.]
Mr. Francis RUBLEE became a prosperous farmer in the northern
border of the town, but removed to the West about 20 years since, and there
died. The last of the brothers named settled a little east of what is now
West Berkshire village, and for some years was an efficient town officer
in the capacity of Constable and Collector. He died in rather early life.
Of these brothers there are numerous descendants in the State and elsewhere,
but few in Berkshire.
Deacon William SAMSON, from Cornwall, Vt., not far from A. D. 1800,
settled on the highland north-westerly from Missisquoi river, occupying
the ground where his grandson, William SAMSON, and Gilman PRATT now live.
His brother, Thomas SAMSON and Jonathan SAMSON, soon followed him, and
became his neighbor on either side. They were all industrious, thrifty
farmers, and at the same time men of devoted piety. William and Thomas
died within a few years after their settlement in Berkshire, while they
were in the vigor of middle life, and in the midst of their good influence
and usefulness. Of the many sons left by the former, two (William and Titus)
became physicians of much promise, but died young, when useful and successful
careers were just opening to their view. Only the descendants of his late
son, Darwin SAMSON, remain in town; but several other branches of the family
reside in neighboring towns. Thomas left a family of daughters, who,
as wives and mothers, have illustrated the pure principles in which they
were nurtured and brought up. Jonathan, after years of earnest, and in
good measure successful efforts to disseminate and establish principles
of pure and undefiled religion, exchanged his property in Berkshire, for
a residence in the far West, where he is reported to have ended his earthly
Soon after A. D. 1800, five brothers of this name -- John, Samuel,
Benjamin, George W. and James STONE -- from the western part of New Hampshire,
became fixed residents of Berkshire. The oldest, and first here named,
settled in the central or western portion of the town, but the others all
established themselves along the borders of Missisquoi River. They were
men of industry and enterprise, and materially strengthened the young and
yet feeble community among which they came to associate. Of these brothers,
the more conspicuous were John, who bore the name of Elder STONE, from
the fact that he often officiated as a Baptist preacher, and George W.
who had passed through part of a collegiate course of education. The former
was a plain, sensible and solid man, whose teachings, example and influence
were uniformly good. The latter strongly illustrated the fertility, variety
and flexibility of Yankee genius. He was ready at all things, a prompt
and rapid, but impartial justice of the peace, and a busy and active merchant,
in which business -- to complete the illustration -- he failed. Benjamin
was destined to be proudly represented in the talents and worth of his
As early as A. D. 1803 or '04, the town became strongly reinforced
by the arrival of Mr. Comfort CHAFFEE, from Clarendon, Vt. Resettled in
the N. W. part of the town, on the road leading north from the present
W. Berkshire village, and soon had a handsome and productive farm, with
good bullrings. For several years he kept a tavern, which was the quiet
and safe retreat of the traveler. Most of his sons were then minors, but
in due time they were active and energetic men, settling as permanent inhabitants
of the town. Nearly all of them became substantial farmers, at the same
time participating actively and usefully in the offices and business of
the town. One was long a proprietor and conductor in the works on Pike
River falls at West Berkshire, especially the excellent grist-mill which
was run there; whilst another, in addition to the management of his fine
and valuable farm on that stream, was a successful merchant and discharged
the duties of a magistrate. Jasper CHAFFEE, Esq., the person here
alluded to, has lately deceased, after having lived several years in comparative
retirement, enjoying the comforts of a highly respectable old age. In short,
the town of Berkshire is not a little indebted to the energy and perseverance
of the CHAFFEEs for her advance in wealth and improvement -- although,
contrasted with the progress of communities more centrally and fortunately
located, that advance has been moderate and limited.
The first resident minister in Berkshire was the Rev. John Barnet.
He was of the Presbyterian or Congregational order, and came from the south-eastern
part of New York. He was a taciturn and reserved man, but a sound scholar
and a man of unquestioned piety. His object in coming to Berkshire was
not to pursue his profession -- though he preached on special occasions
-- but to train his two young sons to the business of farming. With that-view,
he bought out Capt. NUTTING, and conducted what was afterwards long and
widely known as the WILLOUGHBY farm on Missisquoi River. He was a wise
and judicious man, but of plain and simple habits, and appeared to loathe
all show of ostentation. His wife was a sister of the great Judge Ambrose
SPENCER, of New York and was an accomplished, interesting and superior
woman. After a stay of three or four years, Mr. BARNET sold to Dr. Amherst
WILLOUGHBY, and after residing a year or two in Sheldon, returned to his
former residence in New York.
The Rev. Mr. RICHARDS, quite an aged gentleman from New Hampshire,
followed his two sons into the neighborhood of East Berkshire, and began
the farm on the east side of Missisquoi River, which was afterwards long
occupied, improved and enlarged by Benjamin STONE. He often preached in
the neighborhood until incapacitated by age and infirmity.
About A. D. 1807, the Rev. Mr. WARE a minister of the Baptist denomination,
became the first settled minister in Berkshire, claiming, however, but
a portion of the right of land to which the town charter entitled him.
He was a man of no eminent distinction, and remained in town but a few
years. -- Rev. William GALUSHA, also of the Baptist order, and a man of
modest, unpretending worth, was long a resident in the north western portion
of the town, and preached on special occasions.
The Episcopal Church in East Berkshire, was erected in 1823, and
was soon duly consecrated by Bishop GRISWOLD, Then, and for a few years
previously, the membership of that faith was relatively large. As early
as A. D. 1821, or '22, the parish had a resident rector, the Rev. Jordon
GRAY, who, in April, A. D. 1823, met a premature and greatly lamented death
by drowning in Trout River. After the church edifice was prepared for religious
services, a long succession of rectors officiated in it, dividing their
labors between the parishes of East Berkshire and Montgomery. The first
one permanently engaged for the parishes, after the death of Mr. GRAY,
was the Rev. Richard PECK, who remained several years, and finally died
in Sheldon. The Rev. Louis MCDONALD, from Middlebury, next followed, and
after a service of two or three years gave place to the Rev. Mr. OBEAR,
who labored in the parishes for a period somewhat longer, and until failing
health compelled him to go South.
Next came the Rev. Mr. CULL who fixed his residence in Montgomery,
while officiating in both parishes, as his predecessors had done. He labored
as rector for about two years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Ezekiel H.
SAYLES. His labors in the parishes were continued longer than those of
any other rector before or after him -- extending from the summer of A.
D. 1843, till after 1850. There was then a vacancy of a year or more which
was temporarily supplied by the Rev. Moore BINGHAM. After his admission
to orders in the Episcopal ministry, Mr. BINGHAM had already supplied some
vacancies occurring in the Berkshire parish, particularly that preceding
the arrival of Mr. CULL. His principal labors, however, had been in the
town of Hampton, New York. Having returned to East Berkshire -- the place
where his youth and early manhood had been passed -- he purchased and carried
on the farm begun by Mr. Job L. BARBER, as before mentioned. The farm being
finally disposed of, he removed to the far West, where he soon died.
In A. D. 1852 the Rev. John A. Fitch became rector of the parishes.
He stayed about two years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Richard F. CADLE,
who remained one year. There was then a vacancy for about six months, when
the parishes were supplied by the
Rev, Albert H. BAILEY. He continued his valuable labors till June,
A. D. 1860, when, in consequence of the death of his excellent wife, ho
was compelled to remove his family of young children to their relatives
in Rutland County. In Oct. of that year the rectorship of the parishes
was assumed by the
Rev. Joel CLAPP, D. D. This venerable divine, a native of Montgomery,
after long and distant service in various States, now returned to close
the clerical labors of his life in the field where, more than 40 years
before, they were commenced. The mutual and fond hope was cherished on
his part and that of the parishes, that long years of pleasant usefulness
were still before him. But before the first half year of his rectorship
had elapsed, when on a visit to friends in Claremont, New Hampshire, he
suddenly sickened and died there. His death was no less a shock than a
surprise and grief to his parishioners. Another vacancy of about 6 months
intervened, when the rectorship was filled by the Rev. Ezra JONES.
Rev. Ezra JONES -- This gentleman, a New Englander
by birth and education, came to Berkshire from Sumpter, S. C., where he
had preached some 2 years, but was obliged to come north on account of
his Union principles, -- the Rebellion having already culminated in open
and gigantic war. He labored in the parishes 2 years, when he removed to
All the reverend gentlemen here named were competent and faithful
pastors, as they were also acceptable preachers. More than this might with
much justice be said of some, but the invidious attempt to contrast their
respective talents, learning and professional qualifications will not be
A vacancy of more than 6 months again occurred, which in the Berkshire
parish was much relieved by the timely and very satisfactory ministrations
of the Rev. Charles FAY, D. D., of St. Albans, From about the first of
June, A. D. 1864, the charge of the two parishes has been held by the present
able and much esteemed rector, Rev. Frederick A. WADLEIGH.
While the events thus briefly sketched have been transpiring in
relation to the Episcopal church on the west side of the river, devoted
and faithful clergymen in a somewhat long succession, have diligently labored
in sustaining and advancing the interests of The Congregational Church
on the east side.
The first of those permanently employed was the Rev. Phineas BAILEY.
He began his ministry there about 1823, and officiated till 1832. Next
came the Rev. E. W. KELLOGG, who labored in the parish 3 years. He was
then succeeded by the Rev. Mr. BIRGE, who remained 2 years, and was followed
by the Rev. John GLEED, an English man, who continued his clerical labors
3 years, when the Rev. Preston TAYLOR assumed the pastorate, and filled
it with distinction for 3 years. Rev. Mr. BAILEY was then recalled to the
field of his early ministrations, and continued a devoted service therefor
seven additional years. The Rev. Waters WARREN, from Ludlow, Vt., was the
next minister of the parish, and discharged the duties of a faithful pastor
4 years. He was succeeded by the Rev. Elam J. COMINGS, a native of Berkshire,
and a grandson of the first Mr. JEWETT already mentioned. After an irreproachable
service of 3 years, Mr. COMINGS terminated his parochial labors at East
Berkshire, when a vacancy of several months occurred. For most of the last
2 years the present pastor, the Rev E, W. HATCH, has tilled the pulpit
and performed his other ministerial functions in a manner to give universal
satisfaction, so far as the writer is informed, and to afford promise of
much and lasting usefulness.
The House Of Worship At The Centre was built, and has been occupied,
as a Union House, -- the denominations contributing to its erection and
maintenance, holding services therein alternately in proportion to their
respective contributions. The Universalists, the Baptists and the Methodists
are supposed to be the principal and perhaps the only proprietors, No order
has yet had a settled or permanently resident minister connected with the
worship of that house.
The House At West Berkshire village has always been known as a Methodist
chapel, but how exclusively it has been devoted to the worship of that
order is unknown to the writer. The Methodists in the eastern section of
the town hold their ordinary worship in school-houses, but funeral and
such like occasions they have been freely admitted into the other churches.
The first regular physician who settled in Berkshire, was Dr. Amherst
WILLOUGHBY. He had practiced in Western New York a few years, and came
to East Berkshire in the spring of 1798, succeeding the Rev. Mr. BARNET
in the possession and ownership of an interval farm on Missisquoi river.
As the population of the town and surrounding region was then small, he
found time to devote considerable attention to the cultivation and improvement
of his inviting farm. And though the duties of his profession were promptly
and thoroughly attended to, he manifested a strong predilection for farming,
in which his paramount interest soon centered. In about 3 years he surrendered
his professional labors to Dr. Elijah LITTLEFIELD, and engaged ill mercantile
business at East Berkshire in connection with the management of his farm.
His wife's brother, Solomon BINGHAM, Esq., became his partner in the mercantile
business, and William BARBER, Esq., of Enosburgh, afterwards joined the
firm. The business soon became so extended that a branch was established
at Richford, where Dr. WILLOUGHBY himself resided for a few years, leaving
the store and farm at East Berkshire in the temporary charge of his partner
BINGHAM. This mercantile enterprise did not result in marked success, though
no absolute bankruptcy or failure followed it. After some 10 years Dr.
WILLOUGHBY resumed the control of his favorite East Berkshire farm, and
concentrated his energies to enlarge and improve it. This he successfully
continued, until age and comparative affluence induced him to entrust its
further care and management to tenants. Dr. WILLOUGHBY was as good a specimen
of the unadulterated Anglo Saxon as ever lived in Berkshire. True to his
convictions, rigid and unbending in his purposes, firm and outspoken in
defense of what he deemed the right, he was not a man to catch the ordinary
breezes of popular favor, though he twice represented the town in the State
legislature, and was a justice of the peace as long as he chose to hold
and execute the office. In early life he was an avowed disbeliever in revealed
religion; but he afterwards declared his full faith in Christianity, and
for a long course of years was not only an unflinching professor and communicant
in the Episcopal church, but, so far as such a nature was capable, a meek
and humble follower of the cross. Having no children, and but few needy
relatives, he left the bulk of his estate to religious and charitable purposes.
His widow, Hannah WILLOUGHBY, survived him a few years. Her brother, above
named, was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and, doubtless through his
instruction and encouragement in her youth, she acquired literary tastes
and accomplishments above the average of women in her day. She was a model
housewife, and being of a social temperament she did much to enliven and
refine the society in which she moved.
DR. LITTLEFIELD, the immediate successor of Dr. WILLOUGHBY in medical
practice, settled on the east side of Missisquoi river, near the present
residence of Mr. Dolphus PAUL. He remained in town nearly 10 years, and
was a judicious, successful and popular physician. In 1806 and 1809 he
represented the town in the State legislature. He went from Berkshire to
Manchester, and died there many years ago. About the time of Dr. LITTLEFIELD's
arrival in town, Dr. Benjamin B. SEABLE from Sheldon, settled at West Berkshire,
about three-fourths of a mile north of the present village. He was said
not to have passed through the regular course of medical instruction, and
never claimed, as I think, to have received a diploma, but by natural sagacity,
observation and experience, and doubtless by considerable reading, he made
himself a useful and acceptable physician. His practice was somewhat extensive;
and while he was able to continue it, not a few, both near and distant,
preferred his treatment to that of other physicians. He educated one of
his sons to his own profession; and he (Dr. Sheldon SEARLE, now deceased),
was long recognized as a physician of approved learning and skill.
Next came Dr. Wm. C. ELLSWORTH, who also settled at West Berkshire,
not far from 1810. He was a regularly bred physician, and of decided promise
from the outset. The public expectation was not disappointed, and for full
50 years Dr. ELLSWORTH held high rank among the able and scientific of
his profession. In addition to a flattering patronage in his special vocation,
he soon received substantial tokens of favor as a public man. He went often
to the legislature as town representative, and held, till recently, the
office of jusice of the peace, from a date almost beyond the reach of living
memory. Not ambitious for extensive wealth, he was satisfied with an ample
competency-and this he secured and retained from an early day. Dr. ELLSWORTH
has but recently gone to his rest, closing a useful life of about 90 years.
One of his sons was bred a physician, but resides at the West ; another,
bred to the law, still lives at West Berkshire, Since Dr. ELLSWORTH became
incapacitated by age and infirmity, the profession has been filled at West
Berkshire by Dr. Sherman GOODRICH. At East Berkshire the vacancy caused
by the removal of Dr. LITTLEFIELD, in the autumn of 1811, was soon after
supplied by young Dr. Samuel L'HOMEDIIEU, who manifested every indication
of much usefulness, But after a brief period of successful and increasing
practice, he died of one of the malignant fevers which attended and outlasted
the war of 1812. In a year or two after this lamented event, Dr. Samuel
S. BUTLER established himself at East Berkshire. Like his contemporary
Dr. ELLSWORTH, he at once secured general confidence and patronage. And
marrying the estimable widow of Dr. L'HOMEDIEU, he became fully settled
in an extensive, profitable and useful practice which, for half a century,
has rendered his name familiar and highly respected through a wide extent
of country. He educated to his own profession a son of Dr. L'HOMEDIEU,
who is a man of wealth and distinction, but whose home is not in Vermont.
He did the same by two of his own sons, one of whom became eminent, but
died as he was approaching middle life, and the other did not live to enter
fully upon his intended professional course. Dr. BUTLER yet lives, but
he, like the writer of these notes, more properly belongs to an age and
generation that have passed. Other physicians, as Dr. Friend M. HALL, John
PAGE, Caleb N. BURLISON, and G. M. HULBERT, also practiced for short periods,
at East Berkshire, but not to the serious interruption of Dr. BUTLER. Indeed,
the two last named acted in a business connection with him. Dr. Oscar F.
FASSETT commenced practice at East Berkshire some 15 years ago, and by
his assiduity, skill and success, has raised himself to high estimation
and rank in his profession. Ho has lately transferred his residence to
St. Albans, where, if life and health are spared him, he will doubtless
attain still higher degrees of professional standing and reputation. Dr.
Chapman C. SMITH, of Richford, followed Dr. FASSETT in a successful practice,
but after about 2 years and a half returned to Richford. The present practitioner,
Dr. C. C. WOODWORTH, is a native of Berkshire, who gives fair promise for
The first of that profession who settled in Berkshire was Solomon
BINGHAM, Esq., a man of towering height, of commanding presence, and great
power of voice. He has been mentioned as a mercantile partner of Dr. WILLOUGHBY,
and was at the same time a practicing lawyer, well grounded in all the
more familiar principles of haw, and a man of decided strength as a reasoner
and debater. And with the further advantage of a good classical education,
he might doubtless have gained an enviable distinction at the bar, had
he not chosen to practice his profession in back towns, and comparatively
obscure locations. He was so generally regarded throughout the community
as a man of superior ability, that he was finally promoted to the office
of chief judge of Franklin County Court. About 50 years ago he heft the
State, and settled within the border of Canada. He did not, however, secure
the standing and influence in that country to which his talents and acquirements
entitled him. One of Judge BINGHAM's sons became an Episcopal clergyman,
and has been already noticed. His youngest son, Solomon BINGHAM, jr., a
native of Berkshire, was in all respects a worthy and promising youth,
and became an accomplished printer in the office of Col. Jeduthan SPOONER
at St. Albans. But like very many others at the time, he became most deeply
interested in the Greek cause, as that people awoke from their national
slumber of 2000 years. And his enthusiasm for the immediate restoration
of Greece to her ancient splendor induced him to take a printing press
and go out to that country, about the time that Lord Byron sacrificed his
life there to the like enthusiasm. But though Greece was permitted to assume
the attitude of an independent nation, yet, with the Ottoman power on one
side, and the despotisms of Russia and Austria on the other, she could
by no means be allowed to set up and maintain a government with any large
infusion of popular rights and influence,-such a government as would be
calculated to excite and cherish that rapid development of talent and genius
which was so fondly looked for by her champions and sympathizers. By cold
and suspicious foreign diplomacy she was manipulated into a small and obscure
kingdom, and of course required to move in the old and deep-worn ruts of
monarchy as existing in the adjacent portions of eastern Europe. Overwhelmed
with chagrin and disappointment, and finding the climate destructive to
his health, young BINGHAM managed to got back to this country, wrecked
in fortune and constitution, and after a few years died, a victim to ill-judged
and overstrained efforts to hasten the amelioration and advancement of
society among a distant race.
Stephen ROYCE, Jr. also practiced law at East Berkshire for two
years, in A. D. 1809, '10, '11. In the beginning of 1823 Joseph SMITH,
Esq., from Washington County, opened a law-office at East Berkshire, and
for almost 20 years did a lucrative business. He was at different times
town representative in the State legislature, and a judge of Franklin County
Court. He also held, for a few years, a responsible position as a deputy-collector
of customs under the general government, at the important point of Island
Pond. For a long period he superintended the management of his large and
profitable farm in Richford, though continuing to reside in East Berkshire.
He has lately disposed of all his real estate in both towns, and is now
strictly a gentleman of leisure, in a vigorous old age.
About A. D. 1838, Thomas CHILD, JR., Esq., commenced practice as
a lawyer at East Berkshire, as the successor of Judge SMITH, whose time
had become much engrossed by his own property and affairs. Mr. CHILD conducted
the business with ability and success for some six or seven years, with
good prospects of increasing reputation and distinction, when ill health
determined him to change his employment and location. He accordingly left
the professional business with Homer E. ROYCE, Esq., his previous partner,
and removed to the city of New York. There he succeeded well in certain
branches of trade, was once elected to Congress from that city, and now
lives in style and affluence on Staten Island.
In the hands of Mr. ROYCE the business continued to increase, involving
him in almost constant labors and consultations in his office, or in attendance
upon justice courts, audits, references and the like; or before the county
and supreme courts at their sessions within the county. In the meantime
he had been two years State's attorney, twice a representative to the legislature,
and three years a member to the State senate. At the end of about 10 years
he became a member of Congress from the third district, thereupon suspending
the practice of his profession, which has not yet been resumed. He served
in Congress for two terms or four years; and has been town representative
for one year more, recently.
Waldo BRIGHAM, Esq., continued business in Mr. ROYCE's office for
four or five years, establishing a character for sound judgment and strict
integrity, and then removed to the county of Lamoille. He has there become
more widely known as a legislator and politician.
At West Berkshire, Jasper RAND, Esq. opened the first law office
more than 20 years ago. He was at once recognized as a young gentleman
of ability, industry and integrity, and steadily grew in public estimation;
so that for a long time he has ranked among the prominent men of the county.
On becoming a resident of St. Albans, he was succeeded in business at West
Berkshire by his son-in-law, M. J. HILL, Esq.
It remains to speak of some as individuals merely; who, though not
grouped in numerous families, nor connected with any profession, yet contributed
above the average of inhabitants to the growth or character of the town.
But in the meantime it should be noted that the original and first
settler, Joe L. BARBER, before mentioned, though a man of courage, great
industry and personal endurance, did not succeed in establishing that pleasant
and lasting home for himself and family, nor in acquiring that generous
competency which bad been fondly anticipated. He passed through a hard
and laborious life; and in old age was dependent upon his pension as a
Revolutionary soldier, as the means of keeping him from actual want. He
finally died full of years and infirmities, within some two miles of the
spot where he had made the first permanent impress of civilization in the
town of Berkshire.
Capt. HEATH died when little turned of 50. A daughter of his married
a son of Mr. Jonathan CARPENTER already mentioned; and from that union
a somewhat numerous and very respectable race has sprung. One of the sons,
Orson CARPENTER, Esq., though beginning life as a boot and shoemaker, attracted
such notice for his business capacity that he was soon taken into the executive
department of the county, in which he held for several years the office
of deputy sheriff, and as many or more, that of high sheriff of Franklin
County; discharging all his duties with ability, fidelity, and to public
satisfaction. Within the last few years he died at East Berkshire, leaving
a worthy and interesting family of daughters.
Another son of Mr. CARPENTER, and the oldest son of Capt. HEATH,
passed their lives from early manhood in Richford, and their memories deserve
honorable notice in the history of that town.
Capt. NUTTING lived till nearly 60. His oldest son, David R. NUTTING,
was the only member of his family who remained permanently in Berkshire.
He was a man of more than ordinary ability, but, his mind being wholly
undisciplined by early culture, he indulged in some peculiarities and eccentricities
of opinion. He was a self-taught carpenter, bridge builder and surveyor.
Was for some years an energetic and widely known custom-house officer,
had a strong proclivity to the management and discussion of controversies
before justice courts and arbitrations, and was probably the most able
and prominent pettifogger in the county. His residence was at West Berkshire,
and for a time he was a large proprietor in the water privileges there
on Pike river, and of course exercised much influence upon the business
of that rising village. He died of consumption in A. D. 1823, and, in accordance
with his dying injunction he lies buried in the apex of a steep and cone-like
gravelly hillock a little south of the present residence of Asahel DEMING,
Esq. Mr. NUTTING left two sons, both of whom adopted the legal profession.
The elder, L. H. NUTTING, Esq., was fast rising to marked distinction when,
like his father, he sank in consumption. The younger son also died soon
after, of the same disease.
A little before A. D. 1800 CHESTER WELD, from western New Hampshire,
settled on the Centre north and south road in Berkshire, near the line
of Enosburgh. He was universally esteemed a very valuable citizen; repeatedly
town representative, a sensible and conscientious magistrate; and for several
years held the office of town clerk, proprietors' clerk, collector of one
or more land taxes, and such like trusts which especially required honesty
and truth in the inner man. Some of his descendants still live in town,
and are respectable and useful citizens. His estimable wife was a COMINGS,
and two of her brothers, Samuel and Andrew COMINGS, soon followed from
New Hampshire and became permanent settlers in Berkshire. Samuel was a
domestic man and a thrifty farmer. He is represented in town by a son who
is a more prominent man and equally a successful farmer. Andrew was a man
of much energy in business, and after clearing up one farm, established
himself in a more eligible location upon Trout river. He became a magistrate,
took a lively interest in the civil and religious affairs of his town and
neighborhood, and was a leading citizen He left four highly respectable
and prosperous sons-a worthy clergyman being of the number. -- Only one
of them remains in town, living on the paternal homestead, which lies both
in Berkshire and Enosburgh.
Abel JOHNSON, Esq. is chiefly remembered as the pioneer and founder
of works on the great falls of Pike river at West Berkshire. He built mills
there as early as A. D. 1800, was a justice of the peace, and represented
she town in the legislature held at Burlington m A. D. 1802. From his beginning,
that village has risen to its present growth in business, wealth and population.
David BREWER, from Tinmouth, was among the early settlers. He began
the farm on Missisquoi river where that stream enters Berkshire from Richford,
and on which those much esteemed people, Mr. Samuel B. S. MARVIN and his
family, now reside. Mr. BREWER was long an active and useful town officer,
chiefly as first constable and collector, and was afterwards for many years
an efficient and trustworthy deputy sheriff, being widely known and respected
in that capacity. He finally removed to Enosburgh where he died, leaving
behind him several sons and daughters, all much respected and valuable
people. One of his sons has represented that town in the legislature, and
is among its most exemplary, wealthy and leading citizens.
Asa SYKES was a brother-in-law of Mr. BREWER, and settled next below
him on the river. His forte was persistent, earnest and judiciously directed
industry as a farmer. Of course, he soon secured for himself an ample competence.
At the same time he was a liberal, public-spirited and pious man. One of
his sons owns and has much improved, the large paternal homestead, and
another owns and skillfully conducts a farm adjoining. They are among the
prosperous and solid men of the town as well in moral influence as in property.
Nathan HAMILTON from Tinmouth soon followed BREWER and SYKES, and
settled near, but not on the river. He came as a tanner and boot and shoe-maker,
but soon combined farming with those trades, and by gradual purchases acquired
a tract of desirable land embracing several hundred acres. His sterling
sense and capacity were early discovered, and made available for the public
benefit. He was long a magistrate, held about all the town offices he would
consent to fill, and at different times through a period of nearly 30 years
was town representative in the State legislature. He died a few years since,
and his fair possessions were divided among several daughters.
Hon. Martin D. FOLLETT live just within the border of Enosburgh,
but his business and neighborhood associations were almost wholly with
the south-east part of Berkshire and the north-west part of Montgomery,
More than 60 years ago he began the beautiful interval farm on Trout river,
which, with additions, is now owned by the wealthy Harding ALLEN. Esq.
A social, kind, pleasant and agreeable man, patient under privations, Mr.
FOLLETT was remarkably fitted to mitigate the hardships and smooth the
asperities incident to the settlement of a new country. His uprightness
and sound judgment brought him much into requisition as the pacificator
of disputes and contortions, as also in the settlement of estates of deceased
persons, and generally, where such qualities existing in an eminent degree
are sought and appealed to. He was often a town representative in the legislature,
and his well appreciated worth finally advanced him to the dignity of a
county court judge.
A son of Judge FOLLETT settled in Berkshire on the east side of
Missisquoi river, upon the high' land overlooking the valley of that stream.
He, too, was a much esteemed and valuable citizen, and once represented
the town in the legislature. Several years since, he removed to the far
Next below Henry FOLLETT, Esq., the gentleman last spoken of, lived
his father-in-law Mr. Ezekiel POND. He was a quiet, industrious and sensible
man, and became remarkable for his longevity, being 85 years old at the
time of his death. His posterity fitly represent the Revolutionary patriarch
who is gone. A worthy son of ample means, and some promising grandsons
occupy the extensive interval and up-land homestead which be left.
As in the case of Judge FOLLETT, also in those of Deacon Samuel
TODD and Mr. John PERLY, very early settlers. Their farms were within the
limits of Enosburgh, but in proximity with East Berkshire, overlooking
the valley of the river for a long distance. They were resolute, efficient
farmers, and opened wide improvements which greatly help to render the
view of the Enosburgh hills so attractive from the East Berkshire valley.
The numerous and robust sons and grandsons of. Mr. PERLY have added materially
to the agricultural and manufacturing wealth and products of their section,
While Deacon TODD was a pillar in the Congregational Church on the east
aide of the river, several of Mr. PERLY's sons were and still are, pillars
in Calvary Church, on the west side.
Dolphus PAUL came early into the vicinity of East Berkshire as a
blacksmith. He first settled in the north border of Enosburgh, but after
a few years he moved down into the valley, and made for himself a fine
farm on Trout river. With this and the earnings of his shop which was kept
in operation, he soon became a man of property and influence- He finally
changed his residence to the village on the West side of Missisquoi river
where he ended his days. One of the prominent characteristics of Mr. PAUL
was the accuracy of his judgment in matters relating to property and business.
He seemed rarely, if ever, to be disappointed in his calculations, though
they might be long and slow in their accomplishment. All his operations
were evidently guided by a far-seeing sagacious mind. And he was not less
marked for the constancy and firmness with which he adhered to any course
taken from principle and a sense of duty. This was illustrated by his active
and unremitted efforts for the well being of Calvary Church, in whose concern
he was first officer (senior warden) for many years, and of which he and
his highly meritorious consort were exemplary and almost life-long members.
Beside some interesting daughters he left one son, who has evidently inherited
the shrewdness and capacity of his father, and is probably destined to
surpass him in wealth and distinction.
The next two notices are copied from a manuscript history
of Calvary Church by a lady.
Augustus CRAMPTON, "At an early day Mr. Augustus CRAMPTON became
a resident here. He afterwards became a magistrate and bore the name of
Esq. CRAMPTON. Coming from the ministry of Rev. Bethuel CHITTENDEN in Tinmouth,
Vt., and perhaps imbued with something of his spirit, we find him enrolled
as a member of the Episcopal Society at its beginning, subsequently communicant,
and for many years an officer in the church. He was a substantial, sensible
and consistent man in all things, and was greatly respected. He died in
David COBURN. Among those most worthy of memory is Mr. David COBURN,
born in New Hampshire, he came to Berkshire when a young man, and by his
sterling integrity and worth as well as by his warm attachment to the church,
and zeal in advancing her interests, won a name and a place that will not
soon perish. He too was an efficient officer in the church for 21 years.
In 1842, his earthly career closed. Only four hours intervened between
his death and that of his estimable wife. One grave received them, and
deeply were they mourned."
Mr. COBURN, though beginning with nothing, and dying when scarcely
past middle life, had managed by honest industry, sound judgment and due
economy, to accumulate a property which afforded a handsome little portion
for each of his children. Two sons and three daughters remain with us,
to quicken and preserve the remembrance of their excellent parents.
Robert ANDERSON should also be remembered among the venerable and
useful men who have lived and died in Berkshire. He settled on Trout river
about 50 years ago; and if not himself a farmer above the average class,
he raised a somewhat numerous family, who have essentially helped to advance
as well the material prosperity, as the refinement and religious tone of
the society in which they have lived. Three sons and one daughter yet remain
inhabitants of the town.
John M. WOODWORTH, Esq., who settled on the original and main road
about one and a half mile South of Berkshire Centre, at an early day, and
who became a magistrate and was a leading citizen, left four sons, two
of them twins -- named George Washington and Alexander Hamilton -- who
all settled in town, and are among its intelligent, thrifty and prosperous
farmers. They add much as well to the resources as to the solid and stable
character of our limited community.
Oliver AUSTIN was a very early settler on the west side of the central
road, and opposite the present farm of Mr. Orson THAYER. He was succeeded
in his somewhat spacious possessions by his two sons, Oliver and Raymond
AUSTIN, who made of the same two good farms, and respectively owned, occupied
and improved them through their lives. They were conspicuous and influential
men. Some of the posterity and name are still prosperous and worthy farmers
Penuel LEAVENS, Esq, settled a short distance south of the Centre
about 50 years ago, and soon became a man of marked prominence and a leading
citizen. he filled most of the important town offices, was a magistrate,
and repeatedly represented the town in the legislature. His two sons have
ably represented him, uniformly evincing that strength of character which
distinguished their father. One has long been a magistrate, at the same
time most acceptably filling the responsible office of town clerk, and
the other an able town officer in different capacities, and occasionally
town representative and State senator.
Harvey CLARK is a name long to be had in respectful remembrance
in the town of Berkshire. His servie as a town clerk (which office he held
for an age) were deemed so invaluable, that he steadily received the annual
appointment, without serious opposition, through all the bitter party-strifes
and political changes by which the town was agitated. -- He also for many
years discharged the duties of a magistrate, and several times represented
the town in the legislature. But one of his sons remains in town, and he
is a sensible, competent business man and valuable citizen.
John LEWIS, Esq. was an early settler at the Centre, and was long
an inspector and receiver of customs under the general government. Promising
descendants of his are living in the town and county, and one or more at
Mr. Aaron CHAPLIN should be named among those who co-operated
efficiently in the settlement of Berkshire. He commenced, cleared up, and
brought to its present high state of improvement, the handsome and desirable
farm now owned and occupied by Mr. Nelson AUSTIN. His family was mostly
composed of daughters, who have all become intelligent, useful and much
Cromwell BOWEN, Esq., long the intelligent, attentive and pleasant
landlord at the Corners, a little north of the Centre, and his son Harrison
BOWEN, a merchant there, were in all respects useful and valuable citizens.
They have been dead for 20 years or more.
Elijah SHAW, Esq. was quite an early settler in the N. W. corner
of the town. He was greatly respected as a magistrate and a citizen, and
was for a few years town representative in the legislature. None of his
sons have been residents in town for a long period, though some other descendants
are still here.
Robert NOBLE was among the first who settled in the N. W. part of
the town. He must have commenced his farm at the parting of the road from
West Berkshire to Frelighsburgh (Canada) and East Franklin, before the
close of the-last century. Active, enterprising, and an accurate judge
of property, he was a prosperous and independent farmer almost from the
start as well as at all times a kind, generous and just man-such a man
as any community would greatly regret to lose. He reached a great age,
having been dead but a few years. His posterity are also prosperous, as
well in property as in character and influence. As Robert NOBLE was the
prominent and efficient agent in subduing the N. W. corner of the town,
Reuben ROUNDS was emphatically such in the N. E. corner. Strong
in mind and muscle, strong and persevering in purpose, he entered that
wild section of the town nearly 60 years ago, and by dint of hard blows
diminished the forest, and soon brought into cultivation extensive and
fair fields -- thus opening to settlement one of the handsomest farming
tracts in town. That region has now long been covered by inviting terms.
He raised a numerous family of willing and powerful workers. Though by
no terms a boastful man, Mr. ROUNDS once incidentally remarked, in presence
of the writer, that he thought he might safely pit himself and his sons,
for a day's work on a farm, against any other man and his sons (the Mormons
were then but little known.) And being asked what force he could bring
to such a trial, he replied that he was less than 60 years old, and could
still do as large a single day's work as he ever could; and that he should
lead out 10 eons, any one of whom could do at least as much as he himself
could. This useful man died within the last few years at the West.
STEPHEN BOYCE AND FAMILY.
B. H. SMALLEY
This history of Berkshire required for its entire completion but
a biographical sketch of the writer's own family, -- left by him with his
characteristic modesty, to form the last of those-notices, and some account,
which be intended to add, of the destructive fire in the spring of 1868,
that laid the village of East Berkshire in ruins. The able pen which contributed
that history to this point, is laid aside forever, and it remains for other
hands to finish what his own -- had Divine Providence permitted -- would
have accomplished in a far more appropriate and perfect manner.
It is a touching incident, that the latest effort of his long and
useful life was devoted to preparing this record of his beloved town of
Stephen ROYCE, the father of him whose name has been in a great
measure identified with the judicial and civil history of Vermont in later
years, was born in Cornwall, Conn., July 8, 1764. His father, Major Stephen
ROYCE, was an officer in the army of the Revolution, and came from Cornwall
to Tinmouth, Vt., in 1774. He was-one of the delegates from Tinmouth to
the Convention which met at Cephas KENT's in Dorset, in July, 1774, to
declare Vermont a free and independent State. Stephen ROYCE, the subject
of this notice, served in the same army; but in what capacity, or for how
long a period, it is impossible now to determine. On Dec. 8, 1785, he married
Minerva, daughter of Hon. Ebenezer MARVIN (who was also an officer in the
Revolutionary army), at Tinmouth, Vt., where they resided until 1791, when
they removed to the new town of Huntsburgh (now Franklin), in Franklin
In 1792, Stephen ROYCE began a clearing on his farm in Berkshire,
the third one that was commenced in the town; he made a small opening in
the forest and erected a log-house on the bank of Missisquoi river, into
which he removed his family on the 25th of April, 1793. The route from
Franklin to Berkshire, indicated by marked trees, lay through an unbroken
forest. Their few household goods were transported on ox-sleds, and Mrs.
ROYCE rode the entire distance of 16 miles on horseback, carrying her son
Stephen, then in his 6th year, behind her on the same horse. For several
years after they settled in Berkshire, they were compelled to send 20 miles
to mill and to procure necessary household supplies. It is hardly possible
for the descendants of those hardy pioneers who conquered our stubborn
primeval forests, and effected the first settlement in bleak and unpromising
regions, to estimate the privations and hardships attending the process.
In 1799 Mr. ROYCE erected a frame-house -the first that was built
in the town-in which he resided until his death, and which has been the
home of his oldest son, the honored and lamented Stephen ROYCE, until his
death on the 11th of November, 1868, All the men in Berkshire and from
three of the adjoining towns, were occupied two days in raising the frame
of this house. For many years it was almost the only place, in that part
of the county, where the weary hunter or traveler could obtain comfortable
shelter, refreshment and rest. These were always accorded in the spirit
of frank hospitality which characterized the early settlers in Northern
Vermont; and the custom thus early established, has not been permitted
to become obsolete in this instance, but has happily lingered with the
old family mansion, in most agreeable freshness, down to the present time.
In this house, also, public worship was held at intervals, until the town
was so far advanced as to provide other places for that purpose.
Stephen ROYCE was very active in promoting, and mainly instrumental
in procuring the organization of the town of Berkshire, in 1794. He was
the first representative to the General Assembly from that place in 1796.
In subsequent years he frequently represented Berkshire in the State legislature.
He held nearly all the offices in the gift of the town, by repeated elections,
and was always active and faithful in the discharge of all duties pertaining
to them. His real in advancing every scheme for the public weal of his
State or town, is still held in grateful remembrance; while his heart and
hand were ever open to the appeals of misfortune.
His perceptions of right and wrong were so quick and discriminating
as to appear more like intuitions, than the mature deductions of thought
and reason, and they were supported and made effective by the aid of the
most invincible moral courage. If a popular hue and cry was raised in support
of any project which he deemed subversive of the public good, he never
hesitated to face it boldly, opposing reason to clamor, and, if this failed,
overwhelming and vanquishing his opponents with an onslaught of ridicule
and satire. On the other hand, when a good cause was urged with such intemperate
zeal as to endanger success, he could wield an influence on the side of
moderate measures, that was potent in sustaining the equilibrium necessary
to insure its triumph. He never followed the multitude or was led by them,
but he bravely and constantly followed what he believed to be the right.
This is tantamount to saying that he was not a politician of the modern
stamp-and it is true; but his course secured the respect and confidence
of all, and the men are rare who have so many friends and so few enemies.
In political opinion, he was a moderate Federalist of the early times,
-- in later days, a Whig.
Of Stephen Royce it maybe truly said, that he was one of the representative
men of the times. Possessed of a strong and vigorous intellect, untiring
energy, and an integrity of character and firmness of purpose, that, disdaining
all subterfuge marched directly and openly to the point he had in view.
Remarkable for his fund of ready wit, the pungency of which, as has been
said, often assisted in the discomfiture of big opponents in debate, while
its playfulness formed the great charm of his social circle, he was --
taken all in all -- a man of no ordinary mark.
Nor was he deficient in culture. Though the means furnished for
this, in the times and circumstances of his early years, were meager indeed
compared with those of our days, yet with the aid of big singularly retentive
memory, and diligent use of his scanty opportunities, he succeeded in making
himself-for all practical purposes -- an eminently well educated man. Few
men of our day have a wider knowledge of English literature, or are more
familiar with the works of English poets -- from which he could repeat
pages. His quotations from Shakespeare are well remembered as strikingly
forcible and apt, while his use of the English language, "unmixed and undiluted,"
was marvelously effective and powerful.
Stephen and Minerva ROYCE had three sons and three daughters, who
attained maturity. Only one of them, Mrs. Mary H. HULL, now survives. Stephen
ROYCE died at Berkshire, July 13, 1833, aged 69 years.
It would be a richer benefit than the possession of golden mines
or untold treasures to the good people of Vermont, if they could be persuaded
to pause in their wild career of speculation, their headlong scramble after
wealth, and call to mind deliberately and thoughtfully the examples of
their fathers. He would be their best benefactor indeed, who could win
the present and rising generation to cherish grateful recollections of
the spirit of sacrifice that gave efficacy and success to the struggle
for American Independence, and-when that act of the drama closed in the
achievement of a nation's liberty -- went forth with the successful actors
into new scenes, animating them to subdue the wilderness regions of the
country they had helped to liberate; to create homes in the boundless solitudes,
and to plant society upon the eternal basis of justice and right. Such
memories could not fail of awakening earnest desires to light a small taper,
at least, of true patriotism at the blazing lamp of our fathers.
But a more tender chord in our hearts vibrates with thrilling power
to the reflection, that our mothers bore their full share of the, burdens
imposed by the exigencies of those rough and troublous times. Deeper emotions
are stirred as we recall what they encountered in their devotion to their
country, their husbands and their little ones. The unflinching fortitude
with which they encouraged their nearest and dearest to perseverance in
the great conflict, and nerved their own gentle womanly hearts to hush
the utterance of yearning anxieties, to face the terrors of impending perils,
and to endure with patient cheerfulness the toils, the hardships, and the
privations of their lot, with desire for no other guerdon than the modest
one-that the deeds of their husbands might secure a nation's applause and
gratitude, and cause them to he "known in the gates as they sat among the
elders of the land."
All this, and the fact that to their heroic domestic virtues we
owe as large a share of the blessings we now enjoy, as to the more public
efforts of our fathers, should never be forgotten.
Among the distinguished women of our State, few have borne a more
noble part than the subject of this notice
Mrs. Minerva ROYCE was born in Sharon, Conn., Feb. 9th, 1766.
She was therefore in her 11th year when the Declaration of Independence
was made. Her father, Ebenezer MARVIN, was active in advancing preparations
for the approaching struggle, and contributed largely from his own private
means towards the prosecution of the contest. The excited state of the
public mind, and the constant agitation and discussion of questions of
great and solemn import, to which the young Minerva was an attentive and
intelligent listener, awakened prematurely, as it were, the energies of
her powerful mind. While yet but a child in years, she had seized with
the clear and comprehensive grasp of a mature and intellectual woman, the
full merits and bearings of those questions, and had formed earnest conceptions
of the claims her country held to the best exertions of all. Her father
was a physician, and early in his professional career had removed his family
from Sharon to Stillwater, N. Y. When the war of the Revolution broke out
he joined the movement at once -- first as captain of a volunteer company
-- raised and fitted out at his own expense -- to aid Ethan ALLEN and Benedict
ARNOLD at Ticonderoga, and afterwards as surgeon in the continental army.
He was untiring in his devotion to the duties of this latter position,
in which his wife assisted him with enthusiastic zeal, often calling in
the aid of her young daughter to supply the deficiency of older nurses.
During the day and night of the last battle of Stillwater (Saratoga),
Oct. 7, 1777, the house in which he attended the wounded soldiers was so
near the scene of action, that he did not dare to expose his wife and daughter
to the flying bullets. A trap door in the floor of the room in which he
officiated, opened into the cellar, where he placed them. There they prepared
lint and bandages through the day and night, passing them up to him through
the floor by the hands of a soldier in attendance. On the morning of the
8th -- the day after the battle-Mrs. ROYCE's oldest and favorite brother
Ebenezer MARVIN was born.
As it might he necessary for the American troops (after the defeat
of Burgoyne on the 7th) to move on suddenly to some other point, it was
judged best to send the women and children to Connecticut for safety from
strolling parties of hostile Indians. Accordingly Mrs. MARVIN, with her
infant of a few days on a pillow in her lap, and her eldest daughter, Minerva,
behind her on the same horse (her younger daughter, afterwards Mrs. SQUIER
of Bennington, being placed under the care of a neighbor in the company)
joined the party on horseback, and proceeded, under escort of a few soldiers,
through the wilderness by marked trees to Connecticut. The journey was
not accomplished without great perils from wild beasts; and straggling
hostile Indians, who threatened, but were not in sufficient numbers to
venture an attack. The fall rains were prevailing, and, after being drenched
through the day, they had to "camp out" in the woods at night. It is difficult
to form an adequate conception of all the fatigues and discomforts to which
they were exposed.
As has been mentioned in the notice of Stephen ROYCE, he married
Minerva MARVIN in Dec., 1785, at Tinmouth, Vt., her father having removed
to that place in 1781. In 1791 Mr. ROYCE removed to Franklin, and subsequently
in 1793 settled in Berkshire.
The startling events transpiring around her early life, and the
trying scenes through which she passed, undoubtedly left an indelible impression
upon the mind and character of this gifted woman. To the influence of these
she may perhaps have been indebted, in some measure, for the acquirement
of a thoroughly disciplined and chastened spirit, which controlled all
her thoughts, words and actions, and imparted a dignified calmness to her
manner. The tender benevolence of her heart illuminated her countenance,
and was expressed in deeds of kindness to all around her. In conversation
upon grave subjects her language was clear, logical and forcible, exercising
a wonderful power over her auditors. An indescribable charm was thrown
over her more familiar communications, by her remarkable talent for delineating
character, and depicting incident, combined with a wealth of genial quiet
humor, and a quick sense of the ludicrous and grotesque. Her piety was
unpretending, hut warm and sincere, manifested more by her works than by
From a manuscript history of Calvary Church, East Berkshire, from
which extracts have already been made in the history of Berkshire, we take
mentioned, Mrs. Minerva ROYCE, is warmly remembered. Not only was she the
first to suggest and promote the formation of an Episcopal society, but
for several years the was the only communicant of the church here -- having
received confirmation at the hands of Bishop Mountain in 1812. In 1781
her father, as has been stated, removed to Tinmouth, Vt. There the subject
of this notice received her first knowledge of the Episcopal church under
the ministry of Rev. Bethuel CHITTENDEN. In future years her clear, strong,
logical mind found ample scope in the interesting field of church history,
from its treasures enriching many an inquirer, especially in the infancy
of the church in Berkshire."
Mr. and Mrs. ROYCE had, at a very early day, chosen a site for
a church edifice; and when, in 1831, the work of building was commenced
by the Episcopal society, a donation of a highly valuable lot containing
two acres was made by Mrs. ROYCE. It was completed and consecrated by Bishop
GRISWOLD in 1823.
In the history before referred to, we find it spoken of thus: "It
is a very plain, unpretending structure, nor has it ever been rebuilt or
thoroughly repaired, yet within its walls are garnered memories dear and
sacred to many hearts." And of Mrs. Royce: "Long was she permitted to sit
under the shadow of the vine she had assisted to plant, and no one more
sincerely rejoiced in its growth and prosperity."
Her declining years were soothed and cheered by the attentions of
her son Stephen, who made Berkshire his home after his father's death,
and of her grandchildren, one of whom -- the orphan daughter of her son
Elihu -- devoted herself especially to the care of her grand mother --
relieving her, for some years previous to her death, from all household
cares, and exerting herself to make her home cheerful and pleasant, with
the same gentle assiduity that has marked her attentions to her uncle in
later years. Thus attended by the grateful devotion and respect of her
family and friends, this beloved and distinguished woman passed serenely
down the vale of years, and departed on the 24th of November, 1851, in
the 86th year of her age.
Stephen Royce, born at Tinmouth, Vt., Aug. 12, 1787, removed with
his parents to the then wilderness-town, of Huntsburgh (Franklin), March,
1791, and again from Huntsburgh to the adjoining, and still newer town
of Berkshire, April 25, 1793.
In the history of that town the fact has been mentioned, that at
this time only two other permanent settlements had been made in town. One
the previous year, on a farm immediately north of Stephen ROYCE's, by Job
L. BARBER, and one by Daniel ADAMS, about 11 mile S. W. of the present
village of West Berkshire.
No school was organized in Berkshire during the boyhood of Stephen
ROYCE, and his only opportunities for mental culture, aside from parental
instruction, previous to 1800, were obtained by resorting during a part
of two or three winters, to schools established in towns of earlier settlement
in the county. With such a parentage as his, however, his home-culture
was not meagre or of slight utility. His father's talent for imparting
information and making it interesting, was remarkable, and exercised to
the utmost in every interval of leisure he could snatch from numerous and
pressing occupations, for the benefit of his son and he has often been
heard to say of his mother, that she was unwearied in her exertions to
supply the deficiencies of their position in this respect, by imparting
the rudiments of knowledge. There can be no doubt that their united efforts
served to awaken in his young mind a thirst for further acquirements, together
with desires and aspirations which were destined to find their fruition
in the eminence of his future attainments.
During the year 1800 he was placed to attend a common school in
his native town, Tinmouth. Such was the rapidity of his improvement here,
that during the following year he entered upon an academical course of
study at Middlebury, under the tuition of Chester WRIGHT, subsequently
a clergyman of considerable note. Owing to the ill health of his father,
it became necessary for him to spend the summer of 1802 in laboring upon
the farm is Berkshire. His parents united their strenuous efforts to the
utmost extent of their means, to aid him in acquiring an education, and
were ready to make any personal sacrifice to that end.
In the winter of 1802-03 he returned to Middlebury, and during the
latter year entered the college there; but he was again called back to
the farm for some months, and could not resume his studies until December,
1803, when he started on foot from Berkshire for Middlebury, carrying,
as on a previous occasion, a package of furs, which he had secured with
great toil and care from the wilderness surrounding his home, and with
the avails of which he purchased the books necessary for his collegiate
He was one of those men of strong native capacity, who never despond,
though encountering impediments at every step, but by force of intellectual
power overcome difficulties valiantly, and vanquish obstacles with ever-increasing
success. The strongest evidence that can be given of his perseverance,
zeal and industry as a student, is the fact that notwithstanding these
interruptions, and other very discouraging circumstances; he graduated
with his class in 1807. That class is said to have contained more eminent
men, in proportion to their number, than a single class in any American
college can boast. He taught a large district school in Sheldon the winter
after he left college, the only instance in which he was engaged in teaching
he also prosecuted study of the law during that winter with his wonted
energy, in the office of his uncle Ebenezer MARVIN, jr. In 1809 he was
admitted to practice as an attorney in the county court, He then commenced
business in Berkshire, and for 2 years was occupied in attending justice
courts in that and adjacent towns, end in such other professional employments
as that new and retired section of the country afforded. At the expiration
of 2 years he returned to Sheldon, and practiced there a year with his
favorite uncle, E. MARVIN. At the close of that year, his uncle removed
to St, Albans, the shire town of the county, and 3 years later left Vermont,
and settled in St. Lawrence county, N. Y, Mr. ROYCE remained in Sheldon
5 subsequent years, his business steadily increasing and improving in character
and importance, during his 6 years of practice in that town. While residing
in Sheldon; he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme court of the State,
and to that of the circuit and district courts of the United States. In
the first he practiced regularly and successfully as the terms cease round,
and in the others occasionally. In 1815 and 1816 he was elected to represent
the town of Sheldon in the State legislature; was also chosen State's Attorney
for the county of Franklin, and bald the office 2 years, when he declined
it in favor of a competent and worthy successor.
In 1817 Mr. ROYCE removed to St. Albans, Here he pursued his profession
with increasing diligence and success until the autumn of 1825, when he
was elected a judge of the Supreme Court. The town of St. Albans had chosen
him as their representative to the legislature in 1822, 1823 and 1824:
and also as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1823.
He held the office of judge during 1825 and 1826, and declining a reelection
in the fall of 1827, returned to the practice of his profession until the
fall of 1829, when he again accepted the appointment of judge, which he
held by successive elections up to 1352, a period of 23 years, during the
last 6 years of which he was chief justice of the Court. In 1852 he closed
his judicial labors by declining to be again elected Judge. Without any
political effort on his own part, or that of his friends, be was elected
governor of Vermont for the years 1854 and 1855, since, which time he has
held no official position.
The marked ability, firmness and impartiality with which he held
the scales of justice; the mildness, urbanity and courtesy, which characterized
his intercourse with his associates at the bar and on the bench, will cause
his memory to be held in affectionate veneration, as long as justice, integrity,
sincerity and truth are respected by the people of Vermont.
The public career and services of this great and good man, have
now been briefly and imperfectly sketched. It remains to present a picture
of the rare excellencies which distinguished his domestic and private life
-- a far more difficult task! So delicate, modest and hidden, yet so exquisitely
perfect, was his exercise of all domestic virtues, sympathies and courtesies,
that it seems like intruding upon holy ground to lift the sacred veil,
in the shadow of which he delighted to rest, even for the purpose of presenting
to our State and to the world, an example as rare as it is noble and edifying.
It may be said of him, that the principles of benevolence and veneration
were those which governed all the relations of his whole life, but this
will not convey an idea of the thousand invisible channels through which
they flowed to enrich, to relieve, to comfort and to bless, not only his
own, but all who came within the reach of their fertilizing influence.
Nor will it portray-what indeed it is impossible adequately to describe-that
touching filial devotion, that tender reverence, that knightly courtesy,
which from his earliest years characterized all his conduct as a son. It
will not reveal the wealth of fraternal affection, hidden from all but
those upon whom it was bestowed, of which his heart was the golden mine.
Neither will it tell of his quick and active sympathies with all human
woes, of the countless deeds of kindness and charity, of which his left
hand was never permitted to know what his right hand performed, and the
sum of which is entered upon the records of that High Court alone, which
will decree his great and eternal reward.
Judge ROYCE was never married, After the death of his father in
1833, at the request of his widowed mother, he made his home with her in
Berkshire, when not absent on official duty. A considerable portion of
the year 1831, and the summer and autumn of 1832, he passed in the family
of B. H. Smalley, of St. Albans, whose mother-in-law was the widow of his
uncle E. MARVIN who resided with her son-in-law. During these two years
his health was so very infirm as to cause the most serious apprehensions
among his friends for the result. In the summer of 1832 -- the season of
the first appearance of cholera in America-he was ill for many weeks with
a lingering nervous fever, which was greatly aggravated by his distress
at the ravages of this fearful scourge in the country, and his sympathy
with the sufferers.
At the close of his official course in 1855, Judge ROYCE retired
to his paternal home, and passed the remainder of his life in the calm
seclusion most congenial to his retiring tastes and habits, receiving the
devoted attentions of his nephew, Hon. Homer E. ROYCE who resided near
by, and of his niece, the sister of that gentleman, and taking a pleasure
scarcely short of delight, in the daily visits of his nephew's intelligent
and beautiful children. Here he exercised the most cordial hospitality,
and entertained his friends in a delightfully genial though simple style.
The treasures of information, the fund of anecdote and personal
adventure, and especially the amusing and comical scenes in and about courts
(in which his experience has been so wide and varied), with timid, bashful
and frightened witnesses; with raw and inexperienced jurors; with men unaccustomed
to chancery proceedings, and wild with horror at the charges preferred
against them in a bill in equity, and with "the profession" in all its
phases, -- garnered in his retentive memory, were here unlocked and produced
for the entertainment of his guests arrayed in his own inimitable garb
of quiet humor.
At the period of his retirement from public life he was in the full
possession of his intellectual powers. It is seldom, indeed, that a man
who has shared so largely and so long in public honors can, in the unimpaired
vigor and energy of his mental abilities, lay aside all the distinctions
of worldly renown like a garment, and retire with the grace and contentment
which characterized this great man to another sphere, widely different.,
but not less useful, though hidden from the world. In truth the garment
was always irksome to his modest and retiring nature, and he was never
so entirely himself as when finally relieved from its embarrassing weight.
While Rev. Dr. BAILEY was rector of Berkshire, Judge ROYCE received
confirmation at the hands of Bishop Hopkins in Calvary church, and was
ever after an honored and active member of that society. He was for some
years a member of the vestry, and took a deep interest in all the affairs
of the church. As the infirmities of age gathered around him, his nephew
Hon. Homer E. ROYCE, assumed the charge of his business. Thus relieved
from all worldly cares, he passed his declining years in the enjoyment
of better than worldly aspirations. Occasionally, after his retirement,
he visited his friends and relatives in St. Albans, Swanton and Highgate,
and these were always seasons of unalloyed enjoyment and social delight
to them all.
In January, 1868, soon after the death of Bishop HOPKINS, Hon. Norman
WILLIAMS, and Hon. Samuel ADAMS of Grand Isle, we passed some days with
him, prolonging our visit beyond the time we had fixed, at his urgent invitation.
He spoke of the departure of these, and several other leading men in the
State, whom he had long known, and of himself as standing almost alone
among the graves of his associates, with deep emotion and solemnity.
Though glimpses of his former self were revealed at intervals, and
gleams of his own peculiar light would flash upon us, yet we could not
divest ourselves of the sad consciousness that the shadow of the pall was
gathering over that noble intellect, not to benumb or enervate, but to
hush its powers into preparation for the great change that was stealing
Our last visit was made in company with Judge ALDIS -- American
Consul at Nice -- while he was in Vermont in the summer of 1868- We reached
the gate of his residence on the morning of a beautiful day in August,
and while Mr. S. stopped to give some directions about the horses, Judge
ALDIS and I slowly ascended the hill, on the summit of which the old family
mansion stands. As we were approaching, our venerated friend came out and
stood under the old elm in front of the house, his tall form slightly inclined
towards us, and his hand extended with his own peculiar gesture of cordial
welcome, the singular significance of which will never be forgotten by
those familiar with him. My companion stopped me a moment exclaiming,
"What a striking picture! That venerable grand
old man, his white locks waving gently; in the summer breeze, the benevolence
of his heart beaming like a ray from heaven on his face, the old tree with
its drooping branches forming a frame as it were to the tableau, the old
house in the back ground-what a noble picture!" It was, indeed, one that
will never fade from my memory.
I passed two
days with him at that time, during a portion of which my husband and Judge
ALDIS were absent at Richford.*
a singular and noticeable physical peculiarly of Judge ROYCE that during
his long life, and accustomed to use his eyes early and late in reading
and writting as he was, he never had occasion to use glasses or any aid
to his eyesight. At the time of our Last visit, I noticed that he was reading
books in fine print, and newspapers, in the evening as well as in the daytime,
without the slightest apparent effort or difficulty.
He was feeble and had to depend much upon the use of tonics, remarking
to me that their effect was but a temporary support -- when it failed the
end would be near at hand. He recalled many interesting reminiscences of
my father and other members of the family, retracing vividly many scenes
of the past of which I had retained but an indistinct remembrance, and
alluding to friends and relatives in a tone of deep affection and respect.
I noticed that when speaking of the destructive fire by which the
village of East Berkshire was laid in ashes the previous spring, he was
more agitated than I had ever seen him. He spoke with trembling solemnity
and earnestness, and scorned to regard it as an irreparable calamity; was
especially moved when speaking of the ruinous losses sustained by individuals,
-- of the destruction of the church edifice, so dear to his mother and
to himself, alluding to the touching fact that the bell "tolled its own
knell;" of the singular preservation of his own and nephew's house from
the devouring element, adding, as if in soliloquy, "It was a great wonder,
almost a miracle, that no lives were lost or serious personal injury sustained.
We have great reason to be thankful for that!" Noticing the emotion awakened
by allusion to the distressing scenes of the fire, I could not but attribute
much of the debility under which he was then suffering to the great excitement
attending them. It was a fearful invasion upon the even tenor of his peaceful
and quiet life, and although he maintained his usual composure throughout
so entirely that the family were surprised at his calmness, yet I cannot
doubt that the distress he experienced contributed somewhat towards hastening
the event we so deeply deplore. He continued to decline gradually from
that time, suffering but little except from extreme debility, until the
great change came, that released a spirit as noble as any that ever animated
and guided to the perfect performance of every duty pertaining to earth,
or lifted the hopes and aspirations of its possessor from this "earthly
tabernacle" to the one "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." It
was fitting that the departure of such a spirit should be thus tranquil,
and the hearts which mourn in the shadow of a bereavement that can never
be supplied, in the presence of a vacancy that can never again be filled,
should recall gratefully the tints of that gentle sunset, and repose with
him in the bosom of that "peace which passeth all understanding."
Aluding to the circumstances attending the compilation of Judge
ROYCe's history of Berkshire in a letter to me, the writer, to whom, as
well as to her brother, Hon. H. E. ROYCE, I am indebted for much aid in
collecting materials for the foregoing sketches of the family -- adds:
"Only four days before the fire my uncle kept the 75th anniversary of the
removal of his parents to this farm, and ever after the two events seemed
to be associated in his mind. It was his intention in completing the history
of the town, to give some particulars of the calamity that has desolated
our little village. That intention I will now endeavor to carry out by
a brief account of the event."
On Apr., 29, 1868, at 5 o'clock, p. m., the fire broke out from
the roof in the attic of the hotel in that pleasant village, well-known
for many years in all parts of the county as the "Brick House." The wind
was blowing a gale, and the fire spread with such amazing and hopeless
rapidity, through the ranges of wooden structures on both sides of the
street, that before midnight 36 buildings, including Calvary Church, were
reduced to ashes. The street was so wide that hopes were entertained for
a time that the fire might be prevented from reaching the west side, and
goods, furniture, &c. -- taken hurriedly from the burning buildings
on the east side of the street-were piled up all along the opposite side:
these were in part consumed in the rapid progress of the devouring element.
The means at command for arresting that progress were entirely insufficient.
Especially was the scanty supply of water, in consequence of the long previous
drouth, a most discouraging circumstance. The inhabitants made superhuman
exertions, without which -- though unavailing as to the business part of
the town -- it is not probable a building could have been preserved in
the village on the west side of the river. There was no insurance on the
Episcopal church, and the loss was a desolating blow to that little parish.
The rector, Rev. Mr. WADLEIGH, was absent at the time, and it was supposed
his house must be destroyed. -- While some were draping it in drenched
carpets, others were hastily conveying its contents to a place of safety,
and his valuable library consisting of 1200 volumes wise scattered about
the fields and somewhat injured. His house wag saved, but the damages he
sustained were very considerable.
The whole loss by the fire was estimated to be over $18,000 beyond
the amount covered by insurances. It was a heavy blow to the business prospects
of so small a place, but its favorable location furnishes good reasons
for the hope now entertained that it may before many years recover from
the calamity. Some of the greatest sufferers by the fire have set themselves
about repairing its ravages with an energy and courage that commends their
zeal and enterprise to the imitation of others.
of B. H. SMALLEY, Esq.
in the Franklin County Supreme. Court, at a meeting of the Bar in St. Albans,
Jan. 19, 1869-after the customary Resolutions.
IT PLEASE THE COURT :
Since the last session of this Court in Franklin County, it has
pleased an all-wise Providence to take from our midst a distinguished member
of the Bar and Bench; one of the most noble among those who have ever defended
the cause of right at the one, or administered justice from the other.
The Hon. Stephen ROYCE died at his residence in Berkshire, on the
11th of Nov. last, and I appear before your Honors, at the request of the
Bar of Franklin County, to present to the Court the resolutions of the
Bar, expressing their veneration and respect for the memory of the late
Chief Justice of this Court., and ask to have them enrolled in the archives
of the same, as a proper tribute to the memory of a great and good man.
It is not my purpose on this occasion to enter into a minute biographical
sketch of the deceased; that belongs to the page of history among the worthies
Stephen ROYCE was born in Vermont, in 1787, admitted to the bar
in Franklin County in 1809, was a practicing lawyer in Franklin and adjoining
Counties 20 years; 25 years one of the Judges of' this Court; 2 years Governor
of the State, and retired to private life in 1855.
It was his singular good fortune to have passed 74 pears of his
life during the palmy days of the Republic, an era which will land forth
on the page of history as the brightest and happiest period that God's
Providence has ever vouchsafed to any nation, with whose history we are
I deem myself fortunate in having been familiarly acquainted with
him from 1818 to the time of his death. 1 studied my profession in the
same building where he kept his office, and after I was admitted to the
bar in 1820, I occupied an office in the same building with him, until
he was placed on the Bench of the Supreme Court. While he was on the Bench,
he was a member of my family several years, when he was not absent on official
duty. I mention these circumstances to show that I had abundant opportunities
of forming a just estimate of the public and private character of the deceased,
if I had sufficient capacity to do so.
That character, public and private, has become the property of the
Nation in general, and of Vermont in particular; and it is well to set
forth its virtues as the proud heritage of our State, and an example to
the rising generation.
In all his relations in life he was guided and controlled by the
highest principles of moral rectitude. Not that rectitude which is said
to make a man "honest within the statute." It had a larger scope, a more
solid basis, than any mere human law, in his own strong, intuitive sense
In his personal transactions, where there was any doubtful matter,
he always gave the benefit of the doubt to his opponent, more anxious to
do entire justice to all others, than to exact it from them for himself,
In person he was tall and erect, with a vigorous and well proportioned
physical frame, of a commanding presence, and a serene, majesty of manner
which was singularly effective while he was on the bench, in suppressing
and controlling all stormy ebullitions of excitement at the bar, during
the most heated debates. His face was noble, expressive, and strongly marked.
The gleam of his mild gray eyes illuminated countenance, and revealed every
emotion whether grave or gay that was passing within, moving the looker-on,
by a sort of magnetic influence, to sympathize with him. Always neat in
his personal attire, he was never over-dressed but preserved the medium
which characterized his well balanced nature in every other respect. In
manners, always courteous and polite, he presented a gentlemanly deportment
and appearance which were not the result of any artificial training in
the customs of polished society, but emanations from his innate benevolence
of feeling towards the whole human family.
He was economical and unostentatious in his tastes and habits; moderate
in all charges for professional services, and acquired a very handsome
fortune untainted with over-reaching, oppression or usury; while hie exercised
through life the most generous liberality in support of religion, and of
every public charity; and the appeals of the unfortunate never failed of
opening his heart to sympathy, and his hand for, their relief.
Though possessing an ample real estate, the demands upon his purse
were often so numerous and pressing, as to compel him to ask indulgence
and delay at the hands of his creditors, but no Shylock ever presumed to
ask an usurious consideration for such delay; even the greedy thirst for
gold was subdued by his presence.
At the bar he was with and of a race of intellectual and professional
giants. His compeers were such men as ALDIS, SWIFT, TURNER and WETMORE,
of Franklin County; FARRAND, VAN NESS and ALLEN, of Chittenden; EDMUNDS,
PHELPS and Bates, of Addison; WILLIAMS, of Rutland; BRADLEY of Windham;
MARSH and HUBBARD of Windsor; PRENTISS AND UPHAM of Washington; MATTOCKS
and BELL, of Caledonia, and CUSHMAN, of Essex County. Intellectually and
professionally he was the equal of any among them.
As a lawyer practicing the highest duties of his profession by protecting
the weak and resisting the strong, he adopted at an early period of his
professional career, some rules for the government of his own conduct,
which may not be unworthy of consideration by the young gentlemen of the
profession by whom I am now surrounded, and to which I beg leave to call
The first rule he established for himself was that hie would never
be retained in the defense or prosecution of any suit that he believed
to be unjust or unfounded; and if he should unconsciously be retained in
such, that he would compel his client to settle it, or abandon the case
as soon as he discovered its character. The second rule was that he would
never refuse to be retained on account of the applicant's poverty, if he
was well satisfied that the claim for defense or prosecution was meritorious,
though he might never receive any compensation for his services. This latter
rule brought to his office a multitude of applicants. to whom litigation
became a necessity, growing out of the disturbed state of our land titles,
and the confusion occasioned by the war of 1812. To these be never turned
a deaf ear, but examined their cases with laborious care and great skill,
and if found just, he would advance the money to pay court, jury and witness
fees, and prosecute the claim or defense with more apparent vigor and energy,
than he usually bestowed upon the cases of his wealthy clients. As a jury
advocate ho was the equal of any at the bar. He had the capacity of so
stating the case to the jury that the simple statement was often more effective
than the most elaborate argument of his opponents In analyzing and presenting
the evidence to the jury, his quick eye and keen perceptions enabled him
to detect distinctions and shades of difference that often escaped the
notice of his opponents, and served to expose a dishonest witness, and
to frustrate the most cunningly devised schemes of fraud. His manner was
pleasing, grave and serious; his language strong, measured and temperate,
not designed to amuse by sallies of wit, or to startle by paradoxes, but
to instruct and convince. His premises were well considered and sustained
by the evidence, his conclusions, logical and usually irresistible. Invariably
considerate and courteous to the parties, witnesses, bar and bench, he
never lost his self-possession, though it would sometimes be discerned
by the flash of his countenance that he was highly excited; and many of
his arguments on such occasions would compare favorably with the most splendid
efforts of forensic eloquence at the American Bar.
As attorney for the government, he never allowed the innocent to
be convicted, and the guilty rarely escaped.
In discussing questions of law before the court, he rarely read
books, and did not often refer to cases. He was not ambitious of the reputation
of a "case-scavenger," but acted upon well settled general principles,
and by logical and wall reasoned arguments drawn from those principles,
endeavored to bring the case before the court within their scope.
Notwithstanding the high reputation which he sustained among his
brethren at the bar, it is in his judicial capacity that his character
has become most widely known, and that his services have been and will
continue to be, the most beneficial to his State and Country.
His singular modesty and diffidence sometimes produced a hesitation
in forming and expressing his legal opinions, that was attributed by less
acute minds to the want of an apprehension of the importance and difficulties
of the questions before him. It was because he did comprehend those difficulties
in all their bearings, that he paused and doubted. He usually looked much
farther and more clearly into them, than those who were prepared to express
a dogmatic opinion the moment the questions were stated. To such an extent
were these doubts sometimes expressed, that his brethren on the bench frequently
named him the "Doubter," after Lord Eldon.
In presiding at Nisi Prius, he usually made the result of the trial
square with the substantial justice and equity of the case. Not that he
bent or moulded the rules of law to any supposed equity, but he made such
an application of general rules and principles to the ease before him,
as usually produced an equitable result. He had no ambition to exhibit
the majesty of the law by working injustice is individual cases. He never
intimated an opinion to the jury, as to the weight of evidence before them;
but would, in his charge, so present the case to their consideration, that
they would naturally arrive at the result which ho desired. His capacity
to do this was superior to that of any Judge to whom I ever listened. Sheer
pettifogging and ad captandum arguments were at a discount in his Court;
for he had the last discussion before the jury, and such matters were quietly,
but effectually laid out of the case.
When presiding at a jury trial he would riot allow the witnesses
to be interrupted for the purpose of giving counsel an opportunity to write
down all the witness said; and never, himself, interrupted the witness,
in giving his testimony in chief, in order to write out every word. When
the witness was through he would sometimes ask him to repeat what he had
said on a particular point if he thought his notes were not sufficiently
full to enable him to state the testimony substantially. He adopted
the opinion that jurors had the power of memory to a reasonable extent;
and, inasmuch as they could not have the minutes of the Court or counsel
to aid them, it was more important for them to hear and understand the
witness, than it was that the Court or counsel should write down all that
was said -- that, if the witness was frequently interrupted, he would not
understand himself, and if he did not, there was small chance of his being
understood by the jury.
To the younger members of the profession, especially if a little
timid and embarrassed, he was always polite, kind and encouraging, and
would never allow them to be thrust aside by their more impudent and overbearing
brethren. If they made mistakes in their papers or pleadings, he would
not permit their clients to be injured thereby, if be could prevent it,
but furnished them with suitable and necessary suggestions, to assist them
in placing their papers in proper order before the Court. This kindness
and consideration on his part was, I am happy to say, duly appreciated
by the profession, and he has left more warm personal friends than any
member of the bar or bench with whom I have ever been acquainted.
As Chancellor, in hearing cases on the equity side of the Court,
he exhibited marked ability and skill in analyzing and properly appreciating
the relative force and importance of the evidence before him, and would
draw correct conclusions from conflicting statements with great acuteness.
Though he usually formed an opinion on the merits of the controversy at
the bearing, he always gave the evidence and the law of the ease a careful
revision before he pronounced a decree, and in so doing would often detect
facts and circumstances which had escaped the notice of counsel at the
bar, and which would sometimes entirely change his opinion upon the merits
of the case. He was profoundly learned in the principles of equity and
common law, though he never ostentatiously exhibited that learning. His
extreme modesty and want of self-confidence often deterred him from expressing
legal opinions very emphatically, while, as to himself, he entertained
no doubt on the subject agitated.
Some men have read more books-few have profited so much by their
reading. He aimed to make himself master of the author he read, and the
ideas of that author, if adopted, were incorporated into his own mind,
as to become, as is it were, a part of himself. When he expressed legal
opinions, he gave his own thoughts, not merely the sayings and doings of
others. His written opinions will be received as authorities upon legal
questions, and appreciated as the most perfect specimens of judicial literature.
In delivering opinions, he said all that was necessary for deciding the
case before him, and nothing more. His written opinions never degenerated
into essays upon the law at large and he was careful to confine his language
to the matter before the Court. He stated the legal principles applicable
to the case, and seldom referred for authority to books. In that respect
he resembled the late Chief Justice CHIPMAN, and Chief Justice MARSHALL,
two distinguished jurists for whom he had a high respect
It has been said of him that he did not perform his judicial duties
properly by sending his written opinions to the reporter, in all the cases
upon which he had pronounced the decision of the Court. That he did not
do so is undoubtedly true, but he withheld them from the highest sense
of official duty. After his opinion was delivered in court, when he reviewed
the case to prepare it for the reporter, if he was not satisfied that it
was correctly decided, he would not report it; alleging as a reason, that
it was sufficient grief to him to have assented to a possibly erroneous
decision, and thereby done in justice to an individual, without sending
it out to the world as a precedent, whereby greater injury might be wrought
in the future, than had been in the past. He refused, also, to report that
class of cases in which no new principle was involved, or no new application
of an old principle, and had been repeatedly decided and reported in our
own State Reports; entertaining the opinion that legal principles were
not barred by the statute of limitations, and that it was not necessary
to re-affirm them every: year, to prevent their becoming obsolete.
On account of these omissions in reporting cases, the Legislature
retained a portion of his salary for some time.
His firmness in this matter demonstrated perfectly the character
of the man. No legislative power could move him, upon any pecuniary consideration,
to perform what he deemed a foolish or unjust act.
He retired from public and professional life with his intellectual
powers unimpaired, and had an opportunity to review the past and contemplate
His declining years passed serenely in the home of his childhood,
surrounded by his relatives, who, with affectionate solicitude, repaid
the care he had bestowed on their childhood.
The shades of the invisible world have taken from our view a great
and good man. May the rising generation profit by his example, and imitate
lightly on his ashes, ye men of genius, for he was your kinsman. Weed clean
his grave, ye men of goodness, for he was your brother."
Elihu Marvin ROYCE was the first child horn in the new settlement
of Berkshire, July 19, 1793. He married Sophronia PARKER, daughter of Rev.
James Parker -- long and -widely, known as a Congregational minister in
northern Vermont -- at Enosburgh, Oct. 20, 1816. He had one son and two
daughters. The oldest daughter, a beautiful and intelligent girl, died
in her 16th year. His son, Hon. Homer E. ROYCE, has been a lawyer in Berkshire
for some years, and is mentioned in the notice of the lawyers of that place.
The youngest daughter, Ednah M., resided with her grandmother, Mrs. ROYCE,
for some years previous to her death, and has taken charge of Judge ROYCE's
household ever since that event. Elihu M. ROYCE filled many of the town
offices most acceptably, and was considered a very skillful and competent
manager of the town business. His talents were of a high order, and gave
promise of eminent success in the future. It was but the promise, for he
was cut down in the full vigor of his young manhood by a fever, which proved
fatal within a week after the attack, on the 17th of March, 1826, before
he had completed his 33d year.
He possessed a full share of the genial and social qualities for
which his family was distinguished, and which made him a most agreeable
companion and friend. But it was in his home circle that these attributes
of his character were displayed most perfectly, throwing a charm around
it that fascinated all who came within its influence, and the memory of
which lingered long in the hearts not only of his own family but of his
neighbors and friends.
Rodney C. ROYCE -- born in Berkshire, July 28, 1800 -- studied law
with his brother Stephen, at St. Albans; was admitted to the bar in 1822;
practiced law first in Pownal about 2 years; then removed to Rutland, where
he married Miss Betsey M. STRONG, oldest daughter of Hon. Moses STRONG,
of Rutland, and had one son and three daughters. His oldest and youngest
daughters died in infancy. The other daughter, Mrs. MORSE, resides in Rutland.
His son, Moses S. ROYCE, was graduated at the University of Vermont in
1843. Soon after he left college he went to Nashville, Tenn., where he
studied theology under Bishop Otey, and was ordained an Episcopal clergyman.
He married a southern lady and resides in Tennessee. Rodney C. ROYCE died
at Rutland, May 8, 1836, aged 36 years. No delineation of his character
is attempted, here, inasmuch as it more properly belongs to the history
of Rutland, where he was long a conspicuous member of the bar as well as
an esteemed and beloved citizen.
Embracing A History of Each Town,
Ecclesiastical, Biographical and Military."
II, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille & Orange Counties.
Also The Natural History of Chittenden County.
and Published by Miss Abby, Maria Hemenway.
by Karima Allison 2004