is a good township of land, productive of wool, grain and other northern
commodities. The River Missisco passes through the town, and Black
Creek, a branch of that river, gives Sheldon ample water power. The
village is a thriving place, both in its manufactures and trade . . . The
settlement of Sheldon was commenced about the year 1790 by Colonel Elisha
Sheldon, and Samuel B. Sheldon, emigrants from Salisbury, Connecticut.
The settlement advanced with considerable rapidity, and the town was soon
of Vermont, Hayward, 1840.
OF THE TOWN OF
Dr. H. B.
memories round me throng,
old manners, and old men. -- M. F. Topper.
Upon the map of the State, a township of pentagonal shape will be
observed occupying nearly the central portion of Franklin Co. That town,
originally called HUNGERFORD, was changed to Sheldon, Nov. 8, 1792. It
is embraced between 44° 54' N. 1st. and 4° 1' E. long. from Washington.
Highgate, Franklin and Enosburgh bound it on the N., Fairfield and Swanton
on the S., Enosburgh on the E., Highgate and Swanton on the W. It contains
23,040 acres, and is longest from east to west, being about 11 miles; and
4, at its widest part, north and south.
There are no ponds, marshes or bodies of standing water, of the
least extent, within its boundaries. The three principal streams are the
Missisquoi, Black Creek and Tyler's Branch.
The Missisquoi derives its name from the Indian words Missi meaning
much, and Kiscoo waterfowl, from the great number of cranes, herons and
ducks, that frequented, and still frequent, this stream and its branches
every season. Next to Otter Creek it is the largest and longest stream
in the State; (it has the width but not the depth of Otter Creek;) it is
about 80 miles long and drains a surface of 600 square miles. It enters
the town about a mile south of the N. E. corner, and about the same distance
below Enosburgh Falls. At the end of another mile, running a westerly course,
it is joined by one of its principal tributaries -- Tyler's Branch. Continuing
along, in graceful curves, gradually bending southward, it receives another
and its largest tributary-Black Creek. Here there is a general angle in
its course and it bends to the N. W., and after flowing a distance of 4
or 5 miles, making numerous curves and affording several fine mill-privileges,
it enters the town of Highgate; coursing, in its whole distance through
the town, nearly or quite 11 miles. To assert that it has as wild and picturesque
scenery-of foaming rapids and dashing cascades-as some of our mountain
streams would be incorrect ; but in placidity of surface, green, sloping
banks, gentle windings and flowing, graceful scenery, it is unsurpassed.
Black Creek, running through Fairfield, enters Sheldon on the south,
and empties into the Missisquoi 2 miles below. It has a good water-power
about a mile above its mouth, at Sheldon. village, which is thoroughly.improved.
Tyler's Branch, a stream of less size than Black Creek, enters the
town on the east. After running scarcely more than a mile northwesterly,
it adds its waters to those of the Missisquoi. Unlike the two former streams,
however, whose currents are moderate and waters scarcely translucent, Tyler's
Branch has a rapid flow, with a rippling, ruffled surface, and its limpid
depths are as puts and sparkling as the mountain springs from which it
flows. Besides these there are manor streams emptying into the Missisquoi
at different points, the principal of which are Goodsell and Morrow brooks.
There are several mineral springs situated in the western part of
the town, upon lands until recently owned by L. ADAMS, Esq. The principal,
or most noted, was discovered nearly 50 years ago by Moses KIMBALL and
Eleazer DRAPER, and has always gone by the name of Kimball Spring, but
came not into high repute until lately. Its waters are now considered a
cure for cancerous and scrofulous affections, particularly. It is now owned
by C. Bainbridge SMITH of New York City. Mr. SMITH himself was cured of
cancer on the tongue by use of the water, when all hopes .of relief from
the medical faculty had left him. The waters have been analyzed by a New
York chemist. The principal properties are chloride of sodium, carbonate
of sodium, chloride of magnesia, carbonate of magnesia, chloride of lime,
alumina, sulphate of lime, silica, carbonate of iron, carbonic sulphoric
acid, carbonate of manganese and hydro-chloric acid. It has no unpleasant
or peculiar taste common to most mineral springs; it is a clear, cold,
soft, spring water.
Three or four other springs have been "tubed" in the immediate vicinity,
all with different properties, but neither of them has yet been analyzed.
One of them is strongly impregnated with sulphur. It is believed that,
when tested, they will prove valuable acquisitions.
The Kimball or "Missisquoi ‘A' Spring," as it is called, has a rough
temporary bottling house erected over it, where thousands of bottles are
filled by improved machinery and forwarded to market.
Mr. SMITH, the proprietor, has recently purchased additional lands
about the springs, and intends, the present season (1867), to ornament
the grounds around them and erect a large hotel, near by, for the accommodation
of invalids and guests. The villagers, too, residing at a distance of two
miles are preparing for visitors; and Mr. WRIGHT, the proprietor of the
Central, has enlarged and is putting in order his house for guests.
The surface of the town is pleasantly diversified by broad valleys
and gentle rolling uplands. Bordering upon the Misssisquoi and principal
streams are wide and expansive intervals appearing like one unbroken garden
or field of cultivation. The quality of soil, too, is unsurpassed, if not
unequalled -- a deep, rich alluvial. The uplands, receding gradually in
most places north and south of ha Misssisquoi valley, are of a rich mellow
loam and very productive. Perhaps one of the best evidences of the high
estimation which is placed upon Sheldon, as a farming district, is the
fact that wealthy men from the cities have here purchased farms, considering
them valuable investments.
The higher lands are timbered with ash, beech, birch, maple, oak,
&c. In the vallies and bordering upon the streams, where they remain
uncleared, are tracts of valuable pine and hemlock, with a mixture of butternut,
elm, and other soft woods. The pine tract, originally and at present, predominates
in the western part of the town, where the soil is lighter and less productive.
Geologically there are three distinct general formations crossing
the town in lines nearly north and south with strikes almost parallel.
In the eastern and larger part, strata of slate, beds of chlorite, and
considerable talcose slate abound. The central formation is similar to
the former, having more of talcose slate. In the western part, marble formations
exist, together with magnesian and silicious limestone, and strata of magnesium
slate. It is in the eastern part of this formation that the mineral springs
are situated, and it is plausibly apparent that the properties developed
by Chemistry are stoutly and consistently substantiated by its elder sister-science
Geology. The dip of the rocks, in the eastern part of the town, is from
75 to 80 degrees, in the north and west, 60 to 65.
The town was originally called HUNGERFORD, from Samuel HUNGERFORD,
to whom, with 64 others, it was granted, in 1763. HUNGERFORD resided in
New Fairfield, Ct. Some of the other grantees lived in Greenwich, Ct. Among
them was Uriah FIELD, or "Daddy FIELD" as he was familiarly called, an
exemplary old quaker. In course of time he seems to have acquired, by purchase,
the greater part of the town. It was of him and Timothy ROGERS, living
in Ferrisburgh Vt., and who was one of the town's first surveyors that
the SHELDONs bought, and gave it their name. Year after year, for nearly
20 years, did "old daddy FIELD" and his two sons, wearing their broad-brimmed
hats and quaint suits of gray, visit Sheldon, riding all the way from Connecticut
on horseback, to receive their annual pay, which was in part beef-cattle,
which they drove to New York markets.
The first of the SHELDONs that visited the town was Samuel B., or
"Major Sam," as he was afterwards called. He and Elisha, Jr., and George
were sons of Col, Elisha SHELDON. It was in 1789 that Major Sam first came
to town. His object in coming was to look the township over and inspect
the soil previous to purchasing. Instead of approaching as the early settlers
afterwards did by the way of Fairfield, alone, unaccompanied by man or
beast, he ascended the Lamoille to Cambridge; passed through Bakersfield,
then an unfrequented wilderness, striking one of the branches that empties
into Tyler's Branch, which he descended until he reached the point where
the latter stream joins the Missisquoi, and, to him within the bounds of
the promised land. It being nightfall, he stopped here until morning, and
a large elm was long pointed out as the one beneath which be first slept;
(distant many a mile from any habitation or human being save, perchance,
the lurking red man,) with no covering or protoction -- nothing save a
"portmanteau for a pillow."
In the spring of 1790, George, the youngest son of Col. SHELDON,
accompanied by a sturdy old Scotchman by the name of MAC NAMARA and his
wife, together with several negro servants, came to town as "first settlers;"
their only means of locomotion being a yoke of oxen and sled. From the
town of Fairfield -- the nearest settled point for a distance of 10 miles,
they marked trees for a road through the dense wood to the Missisquoi,
Here, upon the north side of the river, opposite the outlet of Tyler's
Branch, and scarcely more than a stone's throw from old elm beneath which
Major Sam passed a: lonely night, the year previous, they constructed a
log house -- the first built in town by white men, and upon land now owned
by J. TOWLE, Esq.
Here also was the first tree felled, the first ground broken, and
the first seed planted.
lure their steps
desolation wraps them round,
forests, and unyielding earth,
men, who through the thickets peer
After the crops were harvested the negroes returned to Burlington
to pass the winter. George also started for home in Connecticut, leaving
MAC NAMARA and wife to keep watch and ward over matters at the settlement
until the return of spring. The sufferings and sorrows of the lonely settler
-- his trust and determination-have passed into tradition. Well does it
illustrate the stern, unflinching character of the pioneer, and none more
worthy than this resolute son of Caledonia -- it is this: on his way home
George had requested a Mr. HAWLEY, living in Fairfield, to visit MAC NAMARA
occasionally and see to him. HAWLEY agreed to, but failed to do so, even
once. Early the next spring George returned, and, when be learned that
HAWLEY had not seen him, he felt much concerned and hastened on. What was
his astonishment when he reached the settlement, to find that MAC NAMARA's
wife had died and that he had covered the body in a snow-bank near the
house. She was afterward buried on the south side of the river, about a
quarter of a mile distant, upon a "hemlock ridge," and there, alone, where
no monument nor tablet marks the spot, and where the exact place cannot
be indicated, for
gravestone is the seal,"
out the "bold, bald bluff" wherein lies buried the first known white person
that died within the town's limits.
Later in the spring, Col. SHELDON and his sons, Elisha, Jr., Maj.
Sam. and son-in-law, Elnathan KEYES, together with their families and that
of George, and their Negro servants, also James Herrick and James HAWLEY,
arrived in town. While on their way, as near as can be ascertained, at
the house of Daniel STANNARD, in Georgia, the first town organization took
place. Col. SHELDON, Elisha, Jr., Maj. Sam. and James HAWLEY were appointed
selectmen, and James HERRICK, constable. Settling at different points,
all parties began in earnest the clearing of lands and growing of crops.
Meanwhile others joined them and the settlement advanced, with considerable
rapidity, so that, in 1796, 33 votes were cast for Samuel HITCHCOCK, M.
C., and, undoubtedly, some did not vote.
The St. Francis Indians were a cause of no little apprehension to
the inhabitants for a number of years; even as late as the "last war."
The Missisquoi and its branches abounding with their favorite trout, and
the valleys and hills bordering affording much game, were to them a rich
hunting-ground; to which, until within a few years, they tenaciously held
claim. That large inland peninsula formed by the St. Francis, Missisquoi
and Richelieu rivers, was particularly claimed and reluctantly yielded.
Although they never did much injury to the settlers, they always appeared
sullen and angry and threatened vengeance in case of war; especially upon
the SHELDON's, for whom they Had an inveterate hatred, and on one occasion
burned a barn of theirs filled with grain But succeeding years of peace
and security ensued; and all thoughts of the tomahawk and scalping-knife
have been forgotten; to be remembered only by the searching antiquarian,
or the whistling plough-boy, as he exhumes at his feet the flint-beaded
arrow and stone hatchet -- sad mementoes of a peculiar and unfortunate
people, who have lived, flourished, and passed away,
their name is on your waters,
may not wash it out."
Wild animals of all kinds, common to northern Vermont, abounded
in town at the time of its settlement. Of the larger, there were moose
and bears, together with packs of wolves, and herds of deer. Wolves, in
particular, were a great annoyance, for a long time. Whole flocks of sheep
were sometimes destroyed by them in a single night. Fires had to be kindled
about the barns, and lights hung in the yards to frighten them away. Retiring
to the hills they would howl dismally through the night, while the hoarse
sound of "wolves! wolves!" would be shouted from house to house. So bold
were they, in some instances, that prints of their paws have been found
upon the snow-covered window-sills in the morning. For many years wolf-hunts
were organized, usually under the management of Capt. G. W. KENDALL, and
generally successful. Bears were so common and fearless that travelers
have been confronted by them and forced to take to the nearest tree. Such
an instance is truthfully related of S. B. HURLBUT, Esq., late of Sheldon,
deceased. When a young man, he had visited a neighbor, and, on his return
home, just after sunset, passing through a wood, he encountered a bear,
sitting in the foot-path in front of him, accompanied by her cubs. Although
young HURLBUT was an unflinching Democrat of the Jackson school and could
always substantiate his politics with sound argument, he could effect no
"Compromise" whatever with this unconditional champion Of "SQUATTER SOVEREIGNTY."
He, therefore, sought and climbed the nearest tree, where he hallooed "bears
bears! bears!" until the neighbors went to his assistance with lanterns,
and bruin beat a hasty retreat. Moose were plenty, at first, but the permanent
presence of the settlers forced them to take to other parts. The only'
one ever known to have been killed in town, was shot by Geo. SHELDON, not
far from the present residence of S. B. HERRICK, Esq. Deer never herded
in more congenial places than here, as evidenced by the tenacity with which
they clung to their old "runways." Long after a greater part of the forests
had been cleared, and, until within a few years, they have been seen coming
down from the eastern part of the county, where it is mountainous and wooded,
revisiting former scenes; like the solitary canoe of the St. Francis Indian,
that now and then is seen to descend the Missisquoi.
What would we of to-day, sitting at our ease, think of going nearly
40 miles to get a single bushel of grain ground, or twice that distance,
if we wished to send or receive a paper or letter; yet such was the ease
with the early inhabitants. The nearest flouring-mill was at Plattsburgh,
and post-office, at Middlebury. But a few years elapsed, however, before
the enterprise of the inhabitants caused a better state of things to exist.
In 1792 Major SHELDON built a saw-mill at the lower falls not far from
what is now known as Olmsted's Mills, about 2 miles from the present village
of SHELDON. It was built there on account of the great amount of pine lumber
in the immediate vicinity, A few years later, in 1797, be built a grist-mill
on the west side of the creek. In 1799, Israel KEITH built a furnace and
forge, and for a long time a flourishing business was done; employing,
much of the time, 100 men or more, to supply it with coal and iron. Quite
an extensive ore-bed was discovered and worked not far from the present
residence of Charles KEITH. On this account and the great amount of business
done by the furnace company, iron was long called " Sheldon currency."
In 1803 a carding-mill was built, and, the same year, a post-office established,
Dr. HILDRETH was appointed Postmaster; date of commission, Jan. 15, 1803.
Dr. H. was also first physician in town, and first tavern-keeper. The first
store was kept by Benjamin CLARK, who afterwards sold out to SHELDON, KEITH
and FITCH. The first fneeman's meeting was holden in the eastern part of
the town, at the house of Jedediah TUTTLE; S. B. SHELDON was chosen representative;
he was also first town clerk, and held the office till the time of his
death, 1807. Since that the town clerks have been: Ebenezer MARVIN, from
1807 to '13; Chauncey FITCH, from 1813 to '15; E. H. WEAD, from 1815 to
'16; Samuel WEAD, from 1816 to '18; E. H. WEAD, from 1818 to '19; Charles
GALLUP, from 1819 to '20; Samuel WEAD, from 1820 to '32; E. B. PECKHAM,
from 1832 to '35 Oliver A. KEITH, from 1835 to '41; Theophilus MANSFIELD,
from 1841 to '43 ; A. M. BROWN, from 1843 to the present time.
The first birth in town was a colored child; its mother, "Old Mary,"
was a servant of Col. SHELDON, who bought her in Connecticut where she
was sold for the commission of some crime. The second child born was Harry
DEMING, son of Frederick DEMING; the third, Louisa SHELDON, daughter of
Geo. SHELDON. Although the early history of Sheldon has much of peculiar
interest; there is no point, probably, around which so much of romantic
and historic incident clusters, as in the immediate vicinity of the outlet
of Tyler's Branch. Here, within the radius of a quarter of a mile, stood
the elm, beneath which first slept Major SHELDON; here was built the first
log-house and barn -- the latter of which was afterwards burned by the
Indians; here was born the first white female child in town; here, too,
was erected the first framed barn, which is still standing, owned by J.
TOWLE, though much unlike the original, from much repairing; here, too,
was a brick-kiln -- fragments of brick being still seen; here, also, the
first death and first burial.
Who first preached in town cannot definitely be ascertained, as
there was no church, consequently no church record. Rev. Messrs. PARKER
and WOOSTER, of the Congregational, and Rev. Stephen BEACH, of the Episcopal
church, commenced preaching here about the same year, 1807. Rev. Mr. HILL,
Methodist, preached here in 1812. These are the three principal denominations
in town; and the only ones that have erected houses of worship, and that
have, regularly, Sabbath and Sunday-School services. There are four church
edifices in town; one each of the Congregational, Episcopal and Methodist,
at Sheldon village, and one union house at East Sheldon, built mainly by
the Congregational and Episcopal societies. The first church built was
by the Episcopalians, in 1824. The present officiating clergymen, at the
above churches, are Rev. Geo. B. TOLMAN, Congregational, Rev. Albert H.
BAILEY, D.D., Episcopal, Rev. N. W. FREEMAN, Methodist. Rev. Mr. HIMES,
a Baptist, preaches occasionally at the union house, East Sheldon. Although
there is a small collection of houses at the latter place, there is but
one village in town, -- commonly called Sheldon Creek; being situated upon
Black Creek. Here there are 3 churches, a post-office, 3 stores, 2 hotels,
2 groceries, 1 grist-mill, 1 woolen factory, 1 foundry, 1 paper-bag mill,
1 sawestmill, 1 carriage-shop, 1 cabinet, 1 harness, and 2 blacksmith shops.
Here, also, was located Missisquoi Bank, with which there is connected
so much supposed mystery. It is a little more than a year since H. G. HUBBELL,
for many years the cashier, disappeared, a defaulter to a considerable
amount, and has not been heard from since. From its central position, the
county conventions and nearly all gatherings, pertaining to county affairs,
are here holden. A few years ago a strong effort was made by the town and
its friends, for the removal of the county buildings to Sheldon; but the
superior influence and wealth, and a better knowledge of "wire-pulling,"
gave them to St. Albans. In the western part of the town is the poor-house
farm, owned, and its expenses paid, in proportion to the grand list, by
the following towns: (each having the privilege of sending here their poor
irrespective of numbers): Berkshire, Enosburgh, Albans and Swanton. The
farm contains about 300 acres; upon it are 17 cows and 90' sheep.
The whole number of paupers, July 19, 1866, was 62 males 33 females 29;
the list from each town at that time is as follows:
There is a school taught the present season by a Miss TRAVERS, at
$1.50 per week; number of scholars 20. Altogether, for an establishment
of the kind, it does credit to the towns having its charge.
The roads in town are usually kept in good repair. Several fine
bridges span the Missisquoi at different points; but the immense amount
of teaming that passes over them, especially during the rains of Fall and
Spring, cut them up badly. Probably there is no valley in Vermont -- I
might say in New England -- where there is hauled, up and down, so much
freight, produce, goods, &c., as in Missisquoi valley. To obviate or
alleviate this in a measure, a few years since a plank road was built from
St. Albans to North Sheldon, a distance of about 12 miles, costing $50,000.
The bridge across the Missisquoi alone, cost $15,000. It has 4 arches,
5 piers, and is 640 feet long. For a number of years this was very much
used by loaded teams; but the plank wore out and, not being replaced, the
only resort was the old rough turn-pike. The thing most needed up the Missisquoi
valley, is a railroad connecting the Vt. Central and the Passumpsic.
The town is divided into 11 school districts, where schools are
taught during the Summer and Winter. There is also a graded school at Sheldon-creek,
in which there are three departments and as many teachers. The higher grade
is under the charge of Miss O. S. SMITH and has been highly. commended,
by state and town superintendents; it is attended by a goodly number of
scholars from a distance.
Dairying has long been the leading pursuit of the farmers of Sheldon.
Introduced by James MASON, who might appropriately be styled the "father
of dairying," in Franklin county at least, it has grown and developed from
year to year to its present important scale. Fairfield may produce more
butter, from its very much greater extent of surface, but all the production
of cheese, Sheldon, no doubt, leads the State. It has been estimated that,
upon an extent of territory 4 miles square, there are fed and milked nearly
1500 cows, or very near 100 to the square mile. There are 12 dairymen residing
in the eastern part of the town, south of the Missisquoi, who milk from
35 to 100 cows each, and, when we remember that for each cow $50 is not
an unusual average yield of the dairies, we estimate for 100 cows, $6000,
and for 1500 cows $75,000. From this we readily perceive the pecuniary
importance of the dairy, and the more encouraging is it to know that it
cannot but prove as lasting as it is prosperous.
Among the prominent professional men who have been townsmen, we
may mention the names of Dr. S. S. FITCH, Ex-governor S. ROYCE, Hon. J.
W. SHELDON, James S. BURT, J. J. Beardsley and others.
The Franklin Republican, a weekly paper, was published here
by J. W. TUTTLE, editor and proprietor, during the greater part of the
years 1837, 38, 39. It was a creditable affair, and would compare favorably
with some papers published in the State at the present time. The only vols.
known by the writer to be extant, are in the possession of J. H. STUFFLEBEAU.
The town of Sheldon is rich in traditions, but accounts of these
are conflicting, uncertain, and the first inhabitants and the second generation,
mostly, have passed away. We can only give a minor summary.
As the town was unsettled during and previous to the Revolution,
it had no "quota" to furnish; but among its settlers it had a goodly number
of heroes. Among them were Col. SHELDON, Col. Elisha SMITH, Capt. Elisha
SHELDON, Capt. Francis DUCLOS, Capt. Robert WOOD, and David SLOAN. During
the "last war," especially at the time of the advance of the British upon
Plattsburgh, the town was called upon and responded promptly, sending a
company to the scene of action. The following is a correct account of the
affair; Friday. Sept. 9 was spent in rallying the people and ascertaining
who would go. Saturday morning, early, the company was organized and started
on the march. Samuel WEND was appointed Captain, a Mr. WESTON Lieutenant,
and John ELITHORP, Ensign. At sunset they had reached Sawyers' Tavern,
on the western shore of Grand Isle, where they had to stop over night,
failing to secure a crossing. Early next morning (Sunday) while they were
procuring a boat, the British fleet appeared in sight, rounding Cumberland
Head ; and the action commenced, lasting about two hours, when the British
were defeated and dispersed.
Having secured a boat, Capt WEAD's company crossed over to Peru,
where they drew their arms and ammunition. During the night they were called
upon to guard the prisoners confined on Crab Island. The next morning,
they were ordered to Plattsburgh, where, when they arrived, news came that
the British had retreated, and the company had orders to return home, which
it did, after an absence of five days.
Again during the "Radical war," or Canadian rebellion, of 1837-38,
a company (volunteers) went to the border to aid in enforcing the neutrality
laws. Their term of service was very short -- owing to the following incident:
-- Sergeant F---s, now well known as Col. F----s, on arrival at headquarters,
reported to General WOOL, and awaited orders. The General, wishing to ascertain
if he could rely upon them, inquired whether they sympathized with the
government or radicals. Sergeant F----s unhesitatingly and with enthusiasm
replied: they were radical to a man. This was sufficient. The Gen. ordered
them to "right about face and march home." Never, however, until the breaking
out of the slave-holder's rebellion, in 1861, had the people in common
with the whole north, a distinct and appreciative idea of war, as it is.
But to each and all calls, Sheldon responded, fully and promptly and, in
almost every engagement of the Eastern forces, from the opening battle
of Big Bethel to the overthrow of the insurgents at Richmond, her sons
bore an honorable part.
The only advance made upon Sheldon, during the Rebellion, was Nov.
19, 1864. On that day about a score of “Rebel Raiders," or "robbers," led
by Captain YOUNG, rendezvoused at Saint Albans having their "base" in Canada,
but no very distinct lines of "retreat." After robbing the banks,
and shooting some of the unarmed inhabitants, they passed through Sheldon,
on their return to Canada; a route so circuitous was not their plan;-they
were wrongly guided. Being closely pursued by Captain CONGER's party they
set fire to the bridge that spans Black creek, at Sheldon, to prevent their
crossing, but the inhabitants extinguished the fire before it had done
The raiders attempted to enter Missisquoi bank, but fortunately
it was closed. Having appropriated to themselves horses and whatever they
could find that they wished, they hurried on, passing along the road on
the south side of the Missisquoi, until they entered the town of Enosburgh.
Here they crossed the river at Enosburgh Falls, and rode rapidly towards
Again, on Monday night, June 4, 1866, Sheldon was the scene of another
armed gathering. About 800 Fenians, (some computed them as high as 1100)
that had collected quietly and unobtrusively, in the town of Fairfield
among its Irish residents, and which composed nearly the whole of the Fenian
"right wing," passed through the town and village between the hours of
9 and 12 at midnight. They were accoutred and armed, and presented not
a poor idea of war as it is.
The first settlers and proprietors of the town of Sheldon, were
a branch of a popular stock in the early history of New England. Although
purely English, and of English descent, they had not the bigotry of the
Puritans, -- but were liberal; -- nor yet were they "tories," but determined
and active patriots of the Revolution.
Family tradition speaks of them as having a boasted heraldry. An
escutcheon still extant, and used by some of the SHELDONs of the present
day, as a seal, has the following devise and inscription : Upon the upper
part of the bearing is The form of a shell-drake -- Statant; upon a bar
crossing the design beneath, and resting upon a broad band, are two more
in the same position but with smaller contour; -- and still beneath another
like the two last. Encircling the whole underneath, is the motto -"Hope,
Sheldon to the last."
Tradition gives the origin, as follows: In the olden time a ship
was wrecked upon an island, and all on board perished excepting one Hope
SHELDON. Here he lived a long time subsisting upon the flesh of the Shell-drake
(which were so numerous that they were easily taken) till at last he was
rescued from the island
loneliest in a lonely sea,"
to his friends, From this alleged incident originated the above blazonry.
Three brothers, Isaac, John and William emigrated to America very
soon after the pilgrims -- precisely what year cannot be ascertained; but
Isaac, the elder brother, had two sons, John and Isaac. The latter was
born in 1629; a little more than 8 years after the arrival of the Mayflower.
He had a son Thomas, born in 1661. Thomas was father of Elisha, born 1709;
the latter is said to have been an eminent man, residing in Litchfield,
Ct. He bad a son Elisha, known throughout the Revolution as Col. SHELDON.
It was Col. SHELDON and his sons, Elisha, jr., Sam. B. and George,
that purchased the township and first settled in it.
COL. ELISHA SHELDON was born in 1741; he was generous-hearted, and
of a martial spirit. At the opening of the Revolution, he gave liberally
of his means, and offered his services to his country. Not long after its
commencement he was commissioned colonel of a regiment of cavalry, and
saw active service during the whole war. History speaks of him at different
times, Ethan ALLEN, in the Narrative of his Captivity, speaks of being
accompanied to Valley Forge-then Washington's headquarters -- after his
exchange, by Col. SHELDON of the Light Horse. Among the papers also, of
the traitor Arnold, (No. 10) found upon the person of the lamented Andre,
wherein the former gave a list or description of affairs at West Point,
is the following:
DRAGOONS on the lines, about one-half mounted."
The regiment at that time, (Sept. 13, 1780) had been reduced so
that it numbered only 142 men.
Gen. Washington and Col. SHELDON were firm personal friends. During
the dark days of 1777, when noisy malcontents were bent upon deposing Washington
and instituting Gates -- Gates, the fugitive at Camden -- Col. SHELDON
adhered to the support of Washington, and no where was the "Father of his
Country" more welcome than at the home of Col. SHELDON, where he occasionally
visited, during the early part of the Revolution.
After his removal to Vermont. Col. SHELDON took very little part
in politics or public affairs, preferring to live in peace and quiet, and
of him it is remembered, whether in the field or at the fireside, that
he was always the earnest patriot and courteous gentleman.
He died while on a visit at big daughters, in St. Albans, 1805,
and was buried in the old Sheldon burying-ground at Sheldon.
SAMUEL BELLOWS SHELDON, second eon of Col. SHELDON, was born at
Saulsbury, Ct., 1760. He had the sterling qualities combined, -- keenness
of perception -- a correct judgment -- and courteous address. Although
there was not as much of startling incident in his life, it is acknowledged
-- and only just of him to say -- that he was the principal moving, governing
character in the earlier settlement of the town. He possessed physical
and moral courage in the highest sense,--as evinced by his early visit
to the town when a dense wilderness. Another illustrative incident: During
the first years of the Revolution, when the principal events were transpiring
in Now England, and a spirit of war ran wild through the "colonies," Maj.
Samuel, then a lad of about 15, importuned and pleaded with his father
for permission to go with him to the front. To this the Col. always objected.
One day, however, he made his appearance at camp. His father was not a
little surprised, and reprimanded him sternly and warned him against a
repetition of the offence, telling him he should be put into the front
rank in case of an engagement.
Through life he manifested much interest in military affairs, and
took an active part in all of the military doings of his day. In fact,
the immediate cause of his death was traced to a severe cold caught while
addressing, bat in hand, a company of boys whom he had uniformed at his
own expense. This occurred is 1807, and in him, the town lost her leading
character, the popular and lamented Maj. Sam B. SHELDON.
GEORGE SHELDON, the youngest son of Col. SHELDON, was born in Saulsbury,
Ct., 1766. At an early age he showed an extreme fondness for the chase;
and, although his parents enjoined upon him a closer application to his
books, he often neglected their commands, and nothing delighted him more
than, gun in hand, to range the bills and valleys about the picturesque
Housatonic, in search of game. Perhaps the following incident will best
illustrate his love for sporting: Wishing to suppress his natural trait,
and create a desire for books, he was sent to school at Hudson, N. Y. Having
not been gone many days, he made his appearance at home, having with him
a hound which he had procured by exchanging for it a part of his clothing.
Col. SHELDON, being most of the time with the army, their affairs alternated
-- George, some of the time at work -- less at school -- much more on the
chase. On one occasion, he had the honor of drinking wine with Gen. Washington.
It was at his father's house; George was about 10 years old. In his 18th
year he was sent to the West Indies, having in charge a lot of horses,
shipped by his father to Havana. On its way out the vessel came near being
wrecked,-so near, in short, that the horses and much of the cargo was lost.
It was 6 months before he returned.
In March, 1786, he married Joanna, daughter of Jacob SMITH, of Saulsbury,
Ct.; here he followed farming until 1790, when he removed to Sheldon, with
Of the early inhabitants, there probably was no one of whom there
is related so much of exciting, pioneer incident as of George SHELDON.
But it would be out of place and only befitting a child's perusal to repeat
the tradition and somewhat uncertain stories related of him. That he was
a famous hunter, frequenting mountains and thickly-shaded glens, there
is no doubt. Abundance of game, moose, boars, wolves and deer, fell at
his unerring aim. But to state, as a fact of history, as some have done,
that he did, on several occasions, shoot -- or in more correct terms murder
-- certain Indians, is very much doubted, and lacks proper authentication.
It is well known that the Indians burned a barn belonging to the SHELDONs,
and caused them much anxiety, lurking about and threatening.
George, who was as tall and athletic as any red-skin, and had an
eagle eye, warned them of the consequences of disturbing the settlers --
him they feared, and, no doubt, but for him they would have caused much
To descend to particulars in his after years, is unnecessary; they
have become as "house-hold words.” He quietly spent the evening of his
days with his children, coming quietly and peacefully to its close in 1851.
JOSHUA WILLARD SHELDON
The following sketch we clip from the Vermont Transcript of March
16, 1866 -- we believe it is from the pen of Geo. F Houghton, Esq.
"Hon. Joshua Willard SHELDON, elder son of Major Samuel
Bellows SHELDON and Lucy (WILLARD) SHELDON, was born in Sheldon, Franklin
Co., Vt., March 27, 1799. He died at Sheldon near the cottage where he
was born; March 7, 1866, in the 67th year of his age. He studied law with
Judge ROYCE at very and studied law with Judge ROYCE at SHELDON and subsequently
at Saint Albans. He was admitted to practice at the September term of Franklin
County Court A. D. 1822. Rodney C. ROYCE, Esq., formerly of Rutland, and
long since deceased, and Hon. David READ, Recorder of the city of Burlington,
wore sworn in at the same time. Mr. SHELDON commenced practice at SHELDON,
in company with Hon. Augustus BURT, now of Highgate, and continued to practice
about 5 years, and then dissolving the copartnership practiced alone. After
practicing law a few years and until about 1833, be found the business
too irksome and left the profession to attend to his large farming interests.
He entered political life young. He represented the town of Sheldon in
the General Assembly in 1824, '25 and '26, and again in 1834-'35. He was
chosen a member of the Constitutional Convention from Sheldon in 1828.
After which time he could not be persuaded to take any public office which
would interfere with a proper attention to his private affairs and domestic
Mr. SHELDON, at the time of his death, was a widower, and leaves
one son, and a large circle of relatives and friends to mourn his death.
As a counselor, he had few or no equals. He was, in all his dealings, honorable,
high-minded and just. He was always social and hospitable, and in his address
and manners preeminently a gentleman. His funeral was largely attended
on Saturday the 10th inst., when a suitable discourse was preached by the
Rev. Albert H. BAILEY, Rector of Grace Church, Sheldon.
The world stands in need of more such sterling gentlemen, as in
his life-time was our worthy friend, the Hon. Joshua Willard SHELDON."
REV. GEORGE B.TOLMAN.
THE CHARTER, (the precise date of which not being given to the foregoing
account of the township of Sheldon, then HUNGERFORD,) is August 18, 1763.
The original document now (1869) 106 years old -- worn, and a good deal
patched, and yet in a very complete state of preservation, may still be
seen at the town-clerk’s office.
Among the privileges granted to the inhabitants of the township
we find the following:
town, as soon as there shall be fifty families resident and settled thereon,
shall have the liberty of holding Two Fairs, one of which shall be held
on the ____ day of ____, and the other on the day of ____. annualy; which
Fairs shall not continue longer than the respective ____ following
the said ____." [The dates here are none of them given.]
provides, that so soon as the above number of families should be in town,
"A Market may be opened and kept open, one or more days in each week, as
may be thought most advantageous to the inhabitants." Among the conditions
annexed to the grant we find the following.
white and other Pine Trees within the said township, fit for masting Our
Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that use, and none be cut or felled
without Our special Licence"
It provides, also, for the payment, after ten years, "yearly," of
"one shilling, Proclamation Money" for every hundred acres " owned, settled,
or possessed," and so in proportion for a greater or lesser Tract of said
any division of the Land be made among the Grantees, a Tract of Land as
near the Centre of the said Township as the Land will admit of, shall be
reserved and marked out for Town Lots! one of which shall be allotted to
each Grantee of the Contents of one Acre, yielding and paying therefore
to Us, our Heirs and Successors for the space of ten Years, to be computed
from the date hereof, the Rent of one Ear of Indian Corn only, on the 25th
day of December, annually, if lawfully demanded! the first Payment to be
made on the 25th day of December, 1763."
The style of the Charter is as follows:
of New Hampshire.
Grace of GOD-Of Great Britain, France and Ireland King, -- Defender of
the Faith," &c.,
and with the advice of Our Trusty and Well-beloved Benning Wentworth, Esq.,
Our Governor and Commander in Chief of our said Province." Sealed and witnessed,
the 18th day of August, in the year of our Lord Christ, one thousand seven
hundred and sixty three, and in the third year of Our Reign," and signed
by Gov. Wentworth, and attested by "P. Atkinson, jr., sec'y."
On the back
of the Charter, besides the names of the grantees, plan of the township
and certificate of record, we find the following almost illegible minute
by Mr. HUNGERFORD:
ALLEN, please to Record this, and send it Back again By the Bairer, and
also the Charter of Ferdinand which my Son Left with you some time ago.
The Organization of Sheldon (Hungerford) took place in A. D. 1791-the
month and day are not known. The following is the record in regard to it:
The meetings of the inhabitants, both for the transaction of town
business and for freemen's meeting, were held for some years at either
one of two places: "The dwelling-house of Elisha SHELDON, jun'r, standing
on the north side of the river, on the so called "Butler place," (now TOWLE's)
toward Enosburgh Falls -- or, at "The dwelling-house of Dr. Benjamin B.
SEARLS;" a "log-tavern" at the "Corners": oftener, it would seem from the
records, at the latter place. At the first freemen's meeting recorded (1793)
the whole number of votes cast for State officers was 45, as follows:
"In the year A. D. 1791 -- On application of a number of the inhabitants
of the Township of HUNGERFORD, to Daniel STANNARD of Georgia, a Justice
of the Peace within and for the County of Chittenden and State of Vermont,
to warn a meeting, agreeable to the Statute, for the aforesaid inhabitants
to meet and choose Town Officers, a Warning was issued by the said Daniel
STANNARD, Esq., for the Inhabitants to meet at the dwelling-house of Elisha
SHELDON, jun., at HUNGERFORD aforesaid, on the ----day of A. D. 1791; at
which time and place the inhabitants aforesaid met in presence of said
Justice, and proceeded to ballot,
choose a moderator to govern said meeting; when Mr. Elisha SHELDON, jr.
was elected, and took his seat.
to the choice of Town Clerk, when Samuel B. SHELDON was chosen.
Elisha SHELDON, Sen. and James HAWLEY and Elisha SHELDON, Jun'r Selectmen
to govern the prudential Concerns of Said Town.
Herric (k) Constable.
officers were sworn agreeable to law, in presence of said meeting.
adjourned without day.
-- Isaac Tichenor -- 45
governor -- Jonathan Hunt -- 41
governor -- Peter Shott -- 4
-- Samuel Mattocks -- 45
Maj. Samuel B. SHELDON was the first representative, and first magistrate,
Samuel B. SHELDON, 1791; Elisha SHELDON, 1792-1800; Samuel B. SHELDON,
1801-'07; Ebenezer MARVIN, jr., 1808-10; David SANDERSON, 1812; Chauncey
FITCH, 1813, '14; Stephen ROYCE, jr., 1815, '16; Samuel WEAD, 1817, '18;
James MASON, 1819-23 ; Joshua W. SHELDON, 1824-20; James MASON, 1827, '28;
Alfred KEITH, sen., 1829, '30; Levi HAPGOOD, 1831, '32; William GREEN,
1833, '34; J. W. SHELDON, 1835; F. W. JUDSON, 1836; Cyrus KEITH, 1837;
J. J. BEARDSLEY, 1838; Alfred KEITH, sen., 1839; Alanson DRAPER, 1840,
'41; Elihu GOODSELL, 1842, '43; Jacob WEAD, 1844; Lloyd MASON, 1845; 1846,
no election; William GREEN, 1847-49; Alfred KEITH, jr., 1850, '51; Milton
H. BLISS, 1852; F. M. MARSH, 1853; A. M. BROWN, 1854, '55; D. D. WEAD,
1856; Andrew DURKEE, 1857, '58; R. J. SAXE, 1859, '60; L. H. HAPGOOD, 1861;
F. M. MARSH, 1862, '63; John F. DRAPER, 1864, '65; N. G. MARTIN, 1866,
'67; William M. DEMING, 1868.
Samuel B. SHELDON, 1791-1806; Ebenezer MARVIN, 1806-13; Chauncy
FITCH, 1813; Epenetus H. WEAD, 1814-16; Sam'l WEAD, 1816-19; Charles GALLUP,
1819-21; Sam'l WEAD, 1821-32; E. B. PECKHAM, 1832-35; O. A. KEITH, 1835-41;
Theophilus MANSFIELD, 1841-43; A. M. BROWN, 1843, to the present time,
Richard A. SHATTUCK was constable from 1829 to 1868, with the exception
of the years 1853 to '54 -- 37 years.
The following are remembered lawyers; Ebenezer MARVIN, Stephen ROYCE,
jr., J. J. BEARDSLEY, Theophilus MANSFIELD. J. W. SHELDON, Augustus BURT,
A. E. SEARLES and Bryant HALL.
Benjamin B. SEARLES, Chauncey FITCH, (father of Dr. S. S. FITCH,
of New York City, and brother of Rev. Dr. Ebenezer FITCH, the first president
of Williams College,) ____ HILDRETH, Elisha SHELDON, F. W. Judson, A. M.
BROWN, H. H. LANGDON, S. W. LANGDON, Charles P. THAYER, N. R. MILLER.
Of others, prominent in the early history of the town, the following
are mentioned: Eldad BUTLER, Col. CLARK, Daniel SMITH, John GALLUP, Daniel
FISH, Elnathan KEYES, Gideon DRAPER, David FOSTER, Luke DEWING. Josiah
TUTTLE. Asa BULKLEY and Capt. Francis DUCLOS. These were all enterprising
business men, with a good common education, and, taken together, were in
advance of most pioneers.
Samuel WHITE, then a boy o£ 13 years, came to town with Mr.
KEYES in 1797, and, with the exception of 5 years, has resided here ever
since. Mr. KEYES, on coming to Sheldon, settled on the farm now owned by
Mr. Albert OLMSTEAD, and within a quarter of a mile of which Mr. WHITE
still (1869) lives.
Among the earlier "institutions" of Sheldon, was a blast-furnace.
This was built in 1798, by the brothers, Israel and Alfred KEITH, who came
here for that purpose from Pittsford, Vt. It was located on the east side
of Black Creek, just north of where HUNTER & Co.'s woolen factory now
stands. The iron was made from the ore; and, as this was one of the first
furnaces built in the State, the demand for the ware was quite active,
and especially for the so-called "potash kettles." At that time one chief
business, all through the country, was the manufacture of potash, and men
came to Sheldon, sometimes, for a distance of 200 hundred miles for their
The kettles were taken as fast as they could be produced -- parties
often waiting for their "turn," and loading them while hot from the mould.
They were very heavy, and of different sizes, holding, 45, 60 and 90 gallons
each. Stoves and hollow ware were also made, for which there was great
The elder brother, Israel, it is understood, furnished the capital
chiefly, while the younger, Alfred, managed the furnace; and much is said
of his energy and skill in working it; so that his advice and aid were
often sought for the benefit of other furnaces: and at one time the PARISHES,
from Ogdensburgh, N. Y., who had built a furnace at Rossie, near Ogdensburgh,
but had not succeeded in getting men who could work it successfully, came
to Sheldon and offered Mr. KEITH the entire use of the furnace, and all
he could make, if he would go over and run it for 3 months, and show them
how to make iron. Mr. KEITH accepted their offer, and made a very, handsome
thing out of it, besides showing his New York friends "how to do it."
The furnace was operated successfully for many years, on its first
location, and in 1822, '23, was re-built on the other side of the creek.
The first school-house in town was built by Maj. S. B. SHELDON,
on the west side of the Creek, where the present school-house stands. The
first sohool-teacher in town was Miss Betsey JENNISON, of Swanton. The
first framed house in town was built by Maj. SHELDON, on the ground where
the house of H. CARLISLE now stands.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH was organized in August, 1816: the precise
date is not remembered -- and there are no records now in existence farther
back than 1830. The meeting of the council for its organization was held
in the school-house standing on the west side of Black Crack, where the
present school-house on that side stands, The moderator was Rev. Benjamin
WOOSTER, of Fairfield; the scribe, Rev. James PARKER, of Enosburgh.
The following are the names of the original members:
Samuel WHITE, Mrs. Diana WHITE, Samuel SHELDON and Mrs. Samuel SHELDON,
Mrs. Isaac SHELDON, Bartholomew HULBERT, Mrs. Hannah HULBERT, Lucius COLTON,
Mrs. Rebecca COLTON, Amos JUDD, Mrs. Sylvia Judd, Philo N. WHITE.
Of these there are now (June, 1869) known to be living only Samuel
WHITE, still residing in SHELDON, and, with the exception of an absence
of 5 years (1830-35) his residence in town and connection with the church
have been continuous from the organization.
The clerks of the church have been: Samuel WHITE, 14 years; Alvin
FASSETT, 5 years; Hezkiah BRUCE, 21 years; D. D. WEAD, 7 years, and is
still (1869) clerk.
The deacons have been : Samuel WHITE, 14 years; Alvin FASSETT, 5
years; John SHELDON, 34 years ; Hezekiah BRUCE, 5 years, and Samuel M.
HULBERT, 10 years.
John SHELDON and Samuel M. HULBERT are still the acting deacons
of the church.
Of officers beside these, I find the following noticeable
record: “Sometime in the summer of 1829, Alvin FASSETT was chosen moderator
of the church." From this it would seem to have been -- sometimes, at least
-- the practice in earlier days when the church was, for a lengthened period,
without a pastor or stated supply, to formally choose some one of the brethren
to act as permanent moderator in their church and other meetings- The more
modern custom is, for one of the deacons to preside, without formal appointment.
For the first 10 years or more the church was ministered to by Rev.
Benjamin WOOSTER, of Fairfield, and by missionaries sent out for short
periods by the Connecticut Home Missionary Society. Mr. WOOSTER preached
at Sheldon at different times, regularly, half the time, He must have done
this for a number of years altogether -- three or four at least, according
to the remembrance of deacon WHITE. Of missionaries the names of WILLISTON
and ATWOOD, in particular, are remembered.
Since 1830, the time to which the records now in existence go back,
we find the names of the following ministers, as having supplied the church
at different times, for longer- or shorter periods:
James J. GILBERT, 1832-34; Phinehas KINGLEY, 1835-44; Preston TAYLOR,
1845-54; Calvin B. HULBERT, 22 Sabbaths in 1855; Charles DUREN, 1856-60
; Charles W. CLARK, 6 Sabbaths in 1861; George B. TOLMAN, 1862-69, The
last named is the first installed pastor the church has had, and the first
settled minister in town. He was ordained and installed July 10, 1862.
The sermon on the occasion was preached by the Rev. Nathaniel G. CLARK,
D. D., then professor in the college at Burlington, and now (1869) secretary
of foreign correspondence for the "American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions," Boston, Mass.; ordaining and installing prayer, by Rev.
This church and society aided largely, as is understood, owning
the larger share in both the so-called "Rock" house, built in 1830, and
the brick meeting-house still standing at the Corners, built in 1831; and
more recently have built and own the new house standing on the west side
of Black Creek, in which they now worship.
The present membership of the church is 55. The aggregate of contributions
made by the church and congregation during the last 13 years, or since
1856, for purposes entirely outside of the parish, is $2231.14, or an average,
annually, of $171,54.
The Rev, Calvin B. HULBERT, pastor of the Congregational church
in New Haven, Vt, was born in Sheldon, united with the church here, and
is still a member of it.
In 1865, a very commodious parsonage was completed; built and owned
by a few individuals of the society.
REV. A. H. BAILEY
It does not appear that there were many among the first settlers
in this town, who brought with them an attachment to the Protestant Episcopal
Church.. The disposition to organize a parish here is said to have resulted
chiefly from the influence and occasional ministrations of the eminent
missionary in St. Armand, U. C., the Rev. Charles James STEWART, afterwards
bishop of Quebec. This preparatory work may be reckoned as commencing about
The actual organization was begun by a compact of association for
the purpose, dated Aug. 12, 1816, and completed by the election of its
first officers on the 17th of the same month, and by the recognition of
the new parish by Bishop GRISWOLD on the 26th of the following month. Over
40 names, mostly of men, are subscribed to the compact, before any change
of date, among whom are found “Stephen ROYCE, jr." (the late and lamented
judge and governor,) then practicing law in this town, and his co-partner
in the law, "Joel CLAPP" (afterwards the Rev. Dr. CLAPP.) One of the most
valuable members of that period, and long after, was Madam Lucy [WILLARD],
the widow of Major Samuel SHELDON.
The parish had the ministrations -- generally in connection with
some other parish -- of the Rev. Stephen BEACH, 1816-22; the Rev. Elijah
BRAINARD a few months in 1823 ; the Rev. Joseph S. COVELL a short time
in 1825 ; the Rev. Moore BINGHAM, in 1826--28; the Rev. Anson B. HARD,
in 1830 and '32-'34; the Rev. Silas R. CRANE, in 1835-36; the Rev. Louis
MCDONALD, in 1837-40; the Rev. John A. FITCH, in 1844-50; the Rev. Jubal
HODGES, in 1853; the Rev. John E. JOHNSON, in 1855-59; the Rev. Robert
W. LEWIS, in 1862-63; and the Rev. A. H. BAILEY, in 1865 to the present
The number of reported communicants was 11 in 1816; reached its
maximum 92, in 1834, and has since varied from 55 to 88 ; the present number
being 71. Much of this apparent variation, however, is occasioned by reckoning
here, at different times, communicants of adjoining towns, and again omitting
them, when they had services in their own parishes. The present number,
embracing only actual communicants within the limits of the town, may compare
favorably with the past, if computed in the same way -- at least if the
diminished population of the town is regarded.
There have been ordained to the sacred ministry, from this parish,
the Rev. Dr. CLAPP, the Rev. John A. FITCH and the Rev. Charles HUSBAND.
The Rev. Ruel KEITH, D. D., a principal instrument in founding a theological
seminary in Alexandria, Va., spent his last days with his brother in this
parish, and his remains rest in the cemetery of this church.
The church edifice was first erected of wood in 1824, and consecrated
the year following; the larger part of the expense being borne by the elder
Alfred KEITH, Esq. It was re-built upon the same frame, with a brick exterior,
and being supplied with a bell and other furniture, was re-consecrated
in 1853. A parsonage was purchased in 1865, and as organ in 1869.
The church has been slightly endowed by the will of the late J.
W. SHELDON, Esq. ($800,) and by that of the late Mad'm Ruth (DEAN) WAIT
In the year 1813 the Rev. Isaac HILL, a Methodist local preacher,
came to Sheldon from Fair geld, and held meetings occasionally. Mr. HILL
formed the first class of 7 members, vis: Jacob Saxe and Rowena SAXE, Hannah
KEITH (wife of Alfred KEITH, Esq.), John POTTER, widow Axah DIMON, Mrs.
DOWNY and Mrs. Stephen KIMBALL. Soon after Revs. Gilbert LYON and Buel
GOODSIL, circuit preachers, came to Sheldon; and they remained 2 years,
preaching in Sheldon and adjoining towns. They were succeeded by Rev. Daniel
BRAYTON, in 1816, and a young junior preacher. A great revival of religion
was enjoyed that year, and most of the first inhabitants of the east part
of the town were converted, and joined the M. E. church.
At that time there was no stated preaching by any other denomination.
Some of those converts afterwards joined the Episcopal church, "Sheldon
circuit" consisted of Sheldon, Franklin, and all the towns east, in Franklin
The first house of worship in which the Methodists were largely
interested, was built in 1830 as a union-house, at the Rock, so called,
about 2 miles east of the village ; and, in 1831 a union-house was built
at the east part of the town. Probably at that time there were as many
members of the M. E. church, as at any time in its history.
For several years previous to 1858, Sheldon and Franklin were joined
as a circuit, and supported two preachers; and, afterward, Sheldon and
Enosburgh. The expenses of the circuit for two preachers, in 1856, was
In the spring of 1858 Sheldon was set off from Enosburgh, and made
a station, and undertook to support a minister, Rev. A. C. ROSE was appointed
by the conference as the first preacher to SHELDON. There was no house
of worship, and no parsonage. R. J. SAXE gave the use of a house the first
year, and he and a few others raised a subscription for a church --which
was built in the village in 1859, and was the first Methodist church-building
in Sheldon. The society at that time was quite small and weak, financially
-- probably about 60 members in town. Soon after a parsonage was bought,
and the church now (1869) numbers about 100.
Among the preachers who have been in Sheldon circuit, we find the
following: In the year 1829, Wm. TODD and Jacob LEONARD-in the year 1893,
Luman A. SANFORD and Stephen STILES. Jacob SAXE was class-leader from 1835
until his death in November, 1866, or 31 years.
Of clergymen from the membership of this church, we find the following:
Alfred SAXE (deceased 1842) and George G. SAXE (both sons of Jacob) Hiram
MEEKER, Cyrus MEEKER and B. O. MEEKER, (brothers) Solomon STEBBINS, ____
BROWN and F. C. KIMBALL (local preacher) -- all ministers in the M. E.
In Sheldon, the following are the principal mineral springs:
“The Missisquoi," 8 or 10 different springs within an area of half an acre;
proprietor, C. Bainbridge SMITH, Esq., New York City. “The Sheldon;" proprietors,
Sheldon Spring Co., S. S. F. CARLISLE, agent. "The Central;" proprietors,
Green & Co. "The Vermont;" proprietors, SAXE & Co.
The analysis of the Missisquoi A spring, ( he only one much used)
is given, so far as published already.
The ingredients are combined in the water forming: Sulphate of Potash,
Carbonate of Magnesia, Chloride of Sodium, Carbonate of Lime, Sulphate
of Soda, Carbonate of Ammonia, Silicate of Soda, Protoxide of Iron, Crenate
of Soda, Silicic Acid, Carbonate of Soda, Crenic Acid, &c.
Of the "Central" analyzed by F. F. MAYER, a prominent chemist of
New York City, the following is the statement of the properties contained
as a bi-carbonate: sulphate of lime, carbonate of lime, carbonate of magnesia,
carbonate of iron, carbonate of soda, carbonate of potassa; chloride of
calcium, sillicic acid, allumnis and phosphoric acid, organic matter, carbonic
acid, fluorine, manganese, baryta.
Of the "Vermont," analyzed by Henry KRAFT, a distinguished chemist
of New York, the properties so far as discovered, are: Chloride of sodium,
chloride of calcium, carbonate of soda, carbonate of magnesia, carbonate
of iron, carbonate of manganese, phosphoric acid, silicate of alumina,
sulphate of lime, carbonic acid, organic matter. In the sediment of the
spring are found: Silica, alumina, calcium, magnesia, manganese, peroxide
of iron, protoxide of iron, chlorine, fluoric acid, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric
acid. The phosphoric acid, present in the "Vermont" and also in the "Central"
is claimed to be an element of special medicinal value.
Of these different springs, only the "Vermont" is new. This was
discovered in 1867. The others have been known and used, more or less,
for 50 years.
They are located, with the exception of the “Central" quite near
the banks of the "Missisquoi river, and are included within a distance
of about 3 miles. They lie mainly to the north of the village; the farthest
being about 2 1/2 miles distant from it. The "Central" is in the village.
In connection with the "Sheldon" there is an elegantly furnished bathing-house.
There are a number of other Mineral springs in different parts of
the town, and in fact there is quite a strong impregnation of iron in very
many of the springs and wells, in common family use, but none have been
used medicinally, to any extent, except the above named. The water from
each of these is bottled and sent to all parts of the country.
The shipments of the "Missisquoi" particularly, have been very large-amounting,
in 1868, to 14,792 boxes of 24 qt. bottles each.
Of the "Vermont" during the months of August, September, October
and November, 1888, there were 1650 cases of 24 quart bottles each.
The specialty claimed for the waters of these springs is as a remedy
for cancer, scrofula and other diseases of the blood, and many of the cases
of benefit are very remarkable.
In consequence of the celebrity which these springs have reached
within the few years past, SHELDON has acquired considerable importance
as a summer resort.
For the two seasons past, a large number of visitors have been drawn
to the town from all parts of the country, very much overcrowding the accommodations,
in many cases finding board among the farmers, and riding a distance of
5 or 6 miles and back every day to the springs.
To meet the want for better accommodations for visitors, and in
view of the generally improved business prospects of the place, in consequence
of the projection of the Portland and Ogdensburgh R. R. through it, quite
extensive improvements have been undertaken, during the past year.
The principal new buildings erected recently, or in process of erection,
are the following: 2 stores, a grocery, a private hospital (by N. R. MILLER,
M. D.), 10 private dwelling houses and 6 hotels. Beside these, many private
houses and other buildings have been refitted and enlarged.
The hotels in town are the following: The "New Missisquoi" near
the Missiquoi springs; the "Sheldon" near the Sheldon spring; "Goodspeeds
" and "Langdons," near the Plank Road Bridge on the north side of the river;
the "Vermont" and the "Keith House" in the village, refitted ; the "Central"
and the "Mansion" in the village; the "Valley House" south side of the
river, below the bridge; and "Fish's," N. Sheldon.
Of these the "Missisquoi" is the largest, containing in the part
already erected, which is only one of the wings, 100 private rooms, and
is finished and furnished in the style of the first class city hotels.
Water and gas are carried to every room. The expense of furnishing, alone,
The scenery of Sheldon and vicinity is fine and adds much to its
attractiveness as a place for summer visiting. The surrounding mountain
view is varied and beautiful, from all parts of the town. About 15 miles
distant N. E., in Canada is the "Pinnacle," a single bold spur from the
Green Mountains, which is much visited, while "Dunton's Hill" only 2 miles
north of "the Missisquoi springs, and to the top of which carriages may
drive, gives a view which for extent and interest is hardly surpassed.
Montreal and the mountain beyond may be distinctly seen in a clear day,
70 to 80 church steeples counted, and the whole country from the Adirondacks
round to the most eastern ranges of the Green Mountains, in all its variety
of scenery -- mountain, lake and river-is spread out as in a picture, before
the observer. Grounds have recently been purchased for the erection of
an observatory on this hill, by G. W. Simmons, Esq., of Boston, Mass.
HON. JOHN R. WHITNEY, OF FRANKLIN.
Hiram Rawson WHITNEY, youngest son of the late Joel WHITNEY, Esq.,
and Lucy SHELDON his wife, was born in Sheldon, March 31, 1836, and died
May 4, 1868.
He early evinced an ardent love for books, and while quite young
devoted much close attention to history and classic study, which made him
familiar with the important events of the world, and great men of the present
and past ages.
His education was mostly obtained at the district school, and some
three or four terms at Bakersfield academy, and one or two terms at a similar
institution in Georgia; but his active mind was storing up knowledge by
books at home, when not otherwise employed on the farm.
He married the only daughter of Wade Hampden FOSTER, Esq., Sept.
8, 1859, who still survives him.
He was confirmed in the Protestant Episcopal Church, May 26, 1863.
He wrote an address after his health was so much impaired that it
was with difficulty that he could deliver it, on the words of the immortal
Lincoln: "Malice toward none -- charity for all," which was received by
a large, appreciative audience, at Enosburgh Falls. This was his last public
effort. From this time his health rapidly declined.
Some 2 years before his death he moved into the village of his native
town, and engaged in mercantile business, which was too much for his feeble
health. His business was not as successful as he anticipated, and probably
hastened his decline.
Late in the year 1864 he made arrangements to publish a Small volume
or his poems entitled "Heart Lyrics," which he inscribed to George F. HOUGHTON,
Esq., of St. Albans -- "the Christian, the Scholar and the Gentleman" --
but the volume did not make its appearance until after his decease, causing
his widow much anxiety and trouble. Only a limited supply were published.
Ho also wrote and prepared the history of the town of Sheldon, published
in Miss Hemenway's Vermont Gazetteer; but death put an end to his labors,
and other hands had to finish what he so effectively commenced. He leaves
an amiable widow, and two beautiful little girls, to cherish his memory,
and mourn his loss.
N. Y. -- Ed.
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