COURTS AND COUNTY BUILDINGS

CALEDONIA COUNTY



      Court House at Danville.— When Caledonia county came into existence as a political division there was the usual rivalry among the towns to secure the county offices and buildings. Peacham and Danville were the strongest in presenting their claims, and Danville secured the prize. Two of her citizens, Mr. DOW and Mr. HARTSHORN, offered to give land for a site for the buildings and a common, and therefore they were placed where "Danville Green" village now is. The line separating DOW's and HARTSHORN's land passed north and south through the village. The original court-house was erected upon the corner or the streets northwest of the common, and was constructed of wood. It contained a large room in which court sat, and two smaller rooms for the accommodation of jury and lawyers. The precise date of its erection we have been unable to learn; but the county court docket of January 7, 1797, the first court term held in the county as then existing; records that they "met at the court-house in Danville, Monday, January 7, 1797 and adjourned to Daniel SMITH's," from which we may understand that it was then unfit for occupancy. The next record concerning the court-house which we find is an order of the court, January, 1801, accepting the court-house, "provided it is painted and a stove procured by January term next." Various records appear showing the appropriation of money at subsequent dates for the repair of the court-house, and some years before the county seat was changed to St. Johnsbury the building was removed back to its present position and raised up, giving tbe town a ball on the ground floor, while tbe court-room was fitted up above, and the pillars on the front were added. A "gaol" was built and accepted by the court at the January term, 1799, which also fixed the limits of the gaol-yard wherein persons arrested for debt could remain. It is remarked by persons who lived in the early part of this century, that parties who became amenable to the law regarding delinquent debtors, that they paid their debts by taking up their residence within the jail limits, which were extended in 1810 to "one mile north, east, south and west from the gaol." This gaol was of logs, hewn square, and notched at the ends so as to interlock with each other, and pinned together. The docket of the January term, 1807, records the drawing of orders for $3,000.00, in favor of David Elkins, for building tbe gaol. This is understood to have included the jail house in which the keeper was to live. 

      The second jail was built by subscription, and cost about $2,000.00. It was built of immense granite stone, some of them twenty feet in length, quarried in Danville, hewn and dowelled together. The notorious counter-feiter "Bristol Bill," was once confined in this jail, and tried here and it is said that the authorities at Boston sent an officer to Danville to warn them of his desperate character, and get him sent to Boston for safe confinement, who, after inspecting the jail, returned, saying he was safer here than there. When he came to trial, Bliss N. Davis was state's attorney, and "Bristol Bill" became so enraged at him that he stabbed him in the throat, and barely missed taking his life, as is more minutely mentioned in another place. The stone jail was built under the supervision of Mr. Ira BRAINARD, who now lives in Barnet, at the age of eighty-four years, and who is authority for these statements. It went into disuse when the present one at St. Johnsbury was built, and when the North Congregational church at St. Johnsbury was erected, the old jail was demolished, and the material used in the foundation of the church. It was customary for the committee or grand jury, when called upon to inspect the jail, regularly to report it as “insufficient," as a measure of relief to the jailer if any prisoner should escape. It was ordered by the court, in 1838, that a "picket post " fence should be built around the jail, and, accordingly, a solid fence of plank was built about ten or twelve feet high, each plank sharpened to a point at the top. 

      At the December term, 1842, the court ordered the appropriation of $1,000 to purchase land and erect a building for the office of the county clerk and the safe keeping of the records. This appropriation augmented by others to amount to $1,390.00, was used in building the brick structure which stands just west of the court-house; and since the removal of the courts, has been used as a library building. 

      The growth of St. Johnsbury, the construction of the railroad through the town, and other causes, made it desirable that it should be made the shire town, which was done, and the court-house in St. Johnsbury was erected and first occupied by the court in the December term, 1856. The contract to construct it was taken by the Fairbanks firm, and the expense was shared by the town, which has a commodious hall on the ground floor, and the county, which has its court room and jury-rooms upon the second floor, and county clerk and judge of probate offices, with vaults for the records, upon the ground floor. This court-house is of red brick, tastefully and conveniently built, heated by furnaces, and is in every respect a credit to the county. The voluminous growth of the records must soon necessitate an increase of the storage capacity of the vaults for their accommodation and protection against fire. The court-house is finely located in Court square, at the corner of Eastern avenue and Main street, upon the brow of the steep bluff which descends eastward, overlooking the eastern portion of the village. The entrance to the building is at the north end, and directly before the door, about forty feet distant, has been erected the beautiful soldiers' monument, bearing the names of St. Johnsbury's sons in the civil war. The county jail, on Cherry street, is a substantial building, well suited for keeping in custody those who transgress the laws of the commonwealth. The Supreme Court holds its sessions at St. Johnsbury on the second Tuesday in May, and the county court on the first Tuesday in June and December. The following lists give the principal officers of the county from its organization to the present time, with the years in which they served:—
 
 

Supreme Court of Judicature

CHIEF JUDGES

Nathaniel Chipman
1797, 1814-15
Samuel Prentiss
1830
Israel Smith
1798
Titus Hutchinson
1831-1833
Enoch Woodbridge
1799-1801
Charles K. Williams
1834, 1836-39, 1841-43, 1845
Jonathan Robinson
1802-1805
Stephen Royce
1835, 1848-52
Royall Tyler
1808-1813
Isaac F. Redfield
1853-57, 1859-60
Asa Aldis
1816
Milo L.Bennett
1858
Richard Skinner
1817, 1823-29
Asa O. Olds
1861-1866
William A. Palmer
1817
James Barrett
1867-71, 1880
Dudley Chase
1818, 1820-1821
 John Pierpoint
1872-1875
Cornelius P.Van Ness
1822-1823
~

ASSISTANT JUDGES

In the following table, the numbers separated by a dash indicate the first and last date when the individual named is shown upon the Supreme court docket of Caledonia county: 
Lot Hall
1797-1801
Samuel S. Phelps
1836-1838
Noah Smith
1799-1801
Isaac F. Redfield
1837-1852
Royal Tyler
1802-1805
Milo L Bennett
1839-1857
Stephen Jacobs
1802-1803
William Hebard
1843-1846
Theophilus Herrenton
1804-1813
Charles Davis
1847-1848
Jonas Galusha
1808-1809
Luke P. Poland
1849-1850
David Fay
1810-1813
Pierpont Isham
1852-1857
Daniel Farrand
1814-1815
Asa O. Aldis
1858-1860
JonathanH. Hubbard
1814-1815 
John Pierpoint
1858-1866
Richard Skinner
1816 
James Barrett
1858-1878
James Fisk
1816-1817 
Loyal C. Kellogg
1860-1866
William A. Palmer
1817 
Asahel Peck
1861-1874
Joel Doolittle
1818-1825 
William C. Wilson
1867-1870
William Brayton
1818-18l2 
John Prout
1868-1869
Charles K. Williams
1823-1833 
Hoyt H. Wheeler
1870-1875
Asa Aiken
1824-1825
Timothy P. Redfield
1871-1883
Samuel Prentiss
1816-1828
Homer E. Royce
1871-1884
Titus Hutchinson
1826-1829
H. Henry Powers
1875-1886
Bates Turner
1828-1829
W. C. Dunton
1877-1878
Stephen Royce
1826-1846
Wheelock G. Veasey
1880-1886
Ephraim Paddock
1829-1831
Jonathan Ross
1880
Nicholas Baylies
1832-1833
Russell S. Taft
1881-1885 
Jacob Collamer
1834-1842
T. W. Rowell
1884-1886
John Mattocks
1834-1845
William H. Walker
1885-1886

 
     From 1797 to 1826 the presiding judge and two assistant judges constituted the bench. As now constituted the Supreme bench of Vermont consists of the chief justice and six assistant justices, of whom not less than three have been present at each Caledonia county term since 1826.

Caledonia County Court

CHIEF JUDGES

William Chamberlin
1797-1804, 1814-15
Charles Davis
1847
David Wing. Jr.,
1804-1806
Hiland Hall
1848
Reuben Blanchard
1807-1808
Luke P. Poland
1848-1865
Cyrus Ware
1809-1811
Benjamin H. Steele
1865-1870
John Cameron
1812-1814
Jonathan Ross
1870-1886
Isaiah Fisk
1815-1823
Asahel Peck
presided part of December
term 1854 and 1870
Samuel Sias
1823-1825
T. P. Redfield
presided part of 
December term 1871
Stephen Royce Jr.
1826, 1827, 1831, 
1833, 1835, 1847
Homer Royce
presided part of December
term 1872
Samuel Prentice
1826-1828
Henry H. Powers
presided part of December
term 1874 and through 
December term 1886
Ephraim Paddock
1829-1831
~
Nicholas Baylies
1832
~
Jacob Collamer
1833-1834
~
Isaac F. Redfield
1835-1845
~
Daniel Kellogg
1846
~

ASSISTANT JUDGES
Benjamin Sias
1797-1801
T. Jefferson Cree
1848-1851
David Wing, Jr.
1797-1803
Walter Harvey
1849-1850
John W. Chandler
1801-1806
Jas. D. Bell
1849-1850, 1856-1858
Joseph Muffett
1804-1807
Alden E. Judevine
1850-1852
John Cameron
1807-1811
Andrew McMillan
1851-1852
Isaiah Fisk
1808-1813
A. W. Burroughs
1852-1854
Wm. Cahoon
1812-13, 1814-1820
Orra Crosby
1852-1854
Luther Jewett
1814
Harry Moore
1854-1856
John W. Chandler
1814-1817
Daniel Aiken
1854-1856
John Rankin
1817-1819
Charles C. Newell
1856-1858
John W. Dana
1819-1821
William Chase
1858-1860
Samuel Sias
1821-23, 1826-1829, 1833
Thomas  Wason
1858-1860
Pres West
1820-1821
Sereno Montgomery
1860-1862
Joseph Morrill 2d
1822-1824
Ezra A. Parks
1860-1862
Timothy P. Fuller
1823-1824, 1827-1832,
1835-1836
John C. Tebbetts
1862-1864
Augustine Clarke
1824-1825
Jonathan D. Abbott
1862-1864
Samuel A. Willard
1824-1826
Adolphus Holton
1864-1866
William A. Palmer
1827-1828
William B. Palmer
1864-1867
Jacob Blanchard
1832-1834
F. R. Carpenter
1866-1868
Sylvanus Hemingway
1833-1835
Peter Buchanan
1867-1869
Benjamin Conner
1835-1837
Charles Rogers, Jr.
1868-1870
~
Jonathan R. Darling
1869-1872
Marcus O. Fisher
1836-1840
Harvey Perley
1870-1873
G. W. Denison
1837-1841
John Bacon, 2d
1872-1875
Ezra C. Chamberlin
1838-1841
N. P. Bowman
1873-1875
Isaac N. Hall
1841-1845
C. T. A. Humphrey
1875-1878
Epaphras B. Chase
1839-1843
M. R. Gray
1875-1878
James Gilchrist
1843-1846
E. W. Church
1878-1882
Calvin Morrill
1843-1846
Joel Trull
1878-1880
John P. Ingalls
1844-1845, 1847-1848
Charles D. Brainard
1880-1882
Moses Kittridge
1846-1847
Jabez Smith
1882-1884
Lucius Denison
1846-1847
John H. George
1882-1886
Robert Harvey
1847-1849
Jacob G. Hovey
1884-1887
~
Cloud Harvey
1886-1887

SHERIFFS
John Rankin
1797-1800
Sargent Field
1849-1850
David Elkins
1801-1807
Hiram Perkins
1850-1851
Joseph Armington
1808
George Ide
1851-1854
Israel P. Dana
1809-1813 
Horace Evans
1854-1856
Adam Duncan
1814-1815
Orenzo Wakefield
1856-1858
Jude Kimball
1815-1817
Xerxes C. Stevens
1858-1860
Nathan Fuller
1817-1827
Emerson Hall
1860-1862
Silas Houghton
1828-1831
Wm. L. Trussell
1862-1864
Charles Roberts
1832-1836
Daniel Coffin
1864-1866
John Currier
1836-1841 
David Trull
1866-1868
James Roberts, Jr.
1841-1843
Nathan Pike, Jr.
1868-1870
Alexander Harvey
1843-1844
Charles F. Weeks
1870-1872
Joseph Preston
1844-1847
Isaac M. Smith
1872-1874
O. H. Freeman
1847
Wm. H. Preston
1874-1878
Jonas Flint
1847-1848
Lorenzo Sulloway, Jr.
1878 to present time.
Hiram Perkins
1848-1849
~

STATES ATTORNEY
William Mattocks
1797-1803
Samuel W. Slade
1856-1857
Wm. A. Griswold
*1804, 08-1813
Oliver T. Brown
1858-1860
William Mattocks
1814
George W. Cahoon
1860-1862
William A. Griswold
1816-1819
Jonathan Ross
1862-1865 
Isaac Fletcher
1820-1828
Andrew Willard
1865-1867
Charles Davis
1829-1834
Henry C. Belden
1867-1869
George C. Cahoon
1835-‘37, 1848
Charles H. Davis
1869-1872 
Charles Davis
1838
Elisha May
1872-1874 
Thomas Bartlett. Jr.
1839
Walter P. Smith
1874-1876 
Theron Howard
1842-1845
H. C. Ide
1876-1878 
Bliss N. Davis
1843-‘44, ’48-1850
Heman E. Carter
1878-1880 
Mordecai Hale
1846-1847
H. C. Bates
1880-1882 
Joseph Potts
1850-1852
Harry Blodgett
1882-1884 
H. S. Bartlett
1852-1854
Marshall Montgomery
1884-1886 
Edward A. Cahoon
1854-1856
Alexander Dunnett
1886 to present time.
*We are unable to learn to a certainty who was state's attorney in 1805, 1806, 1807, 1815, 1840, 1841.

PROBATE JUDGES
John W. Chandler
1797-1800
Samuel B. Mattocks
1837-1838
Samuel Chamberlin
1801-1804
George B. Chandler
1839
Reuben Blanchard
1805-1806
S. B. Mattocks
1840-1845
John W. Chandler
1807
Charles Davis
1846
William A. Palmer
1808
Charles S. Dana
1847-1848
John W. Chandler
1809-1810
George B. Chandler
1849
William A. Palmer
1811-1817
Theron Howard
1850-1851
John W. Chandler
1818-1821
Charles S. Dana
852-1857
Benjamin F. Deming
1822-1833
Asa L. French
1858-1882
Samuel Sias
1834-1836
Walter P. Smith
1882 pres. incumbent

REGISTERS OF PROBATE

     The duties of this office, as far as they appertain to recording the business transacted, have been for the most part performed by the judge of probate, but for special purposes a register has been appointed, The following comprises the list as far as obtained:—
Lemuel Dana
1797-1798
Samuel B. Mattocks
1826-1831, 1833-1836, 1839 
Reuben Blanchard
1799, 1807, 1810, 1815, 1818, 1819, 1821
Amos Paul
1832
David Dunbar
1801-1803
Theron Howard
1837, 1840, 1849
Wm. A. Griswold
1804-1817
Henry Mattocks
1838 
John W. Chandler
1805-1806
Henry W. Palmer
1843 
Caleb Fisk
1808
Charles J. Davis
1845 
George Rich
1811
Norman Davis
1846-1847 
George B. Shaw
1822
Pliny N. Moore
1848 
George C. Cahoon
1823-1825
~

 

     Henry French acted as register during the term of Asa L. French as judge, and Andrew E. Rankin now acts when the services of a register are necessary.

TREASURERS
Samuel C. Crafts
1797-1798
Joseph Morrill, 2d
1814-1822
John W. Chandler
1799-1800 
Joseph Morrill, 2d
1824-1849 
Asa King
1801-1805
Augustine Clarke
1822-1824 
Ephraim Paddock
1806-1801
Samuel B. Mattocks
1850-1856 
Isaac A. Porter
1808-1811
Barron Moulton
1856-1874 
Joshua Beede
1812-1814
David Boynton
1874-1877
Wm. S. Boynton
1877 to present time
~

COUNTY CLERKS
David Dunbar
1797-1804
Amos Paul
1833-1834
Elkanah Phelps
1804-1807
Samuel B. Mattocks
1835-1848 
William A. Palmer
1808-1816
Gustavus A. Burbank
1848-1856
Curtis Stanley
1816-1818
Charles S. Dana
1856-1865 
Benjamin F. Deming
1819-1833 
Andrew E. Rankin
1865 to present time

COUNTY SENATORS
1836-1837
William A. Palmer
John Beckwith
1860-1862
Alden E. Jeudevine 
Isaac Hall
1837-1838
William A. Palmer
Joseph H. Ingalls
1862-1864
George Cowles
T. Jefferson Cree
1838-1840
Robert Harvey
Andrew McMellen
1864-1865
Jonathan D. Abbott
Charles S. Dana
1840-1841
Walter Harvey
Elias Bemis
1865-1866
Jonathan D. Abbott
George Ide
1841-1843
Thomas Bartlett, Jr.
Daniel Aiken
1866-1867
William Sanborn
George Ide
1867-1868
William Sanborn
John Phillips
1841-1845
George C. Cahoon
Gates B. Bullard
1845-1846
William Sias
Welcom Bemis
1868-1869
Harley M. Hall
Gates B. Bul1ard
1846-1847
James D. Bell
Welcom  Bemis
1869-1870
Harley M. Hall
Horace Fairbanks
1847-1848
Samuel B. Mattocks
SewallBradley
1870-1872*
Jonathan Ross
John. Martin
1848-1849
Samuel B. Mattocks
Isaac N. Hall
1872-1874
Calvin Morrill
Charles Rogers, Jr.
1849-1850
Ephraim Chamberlain
John McLean
1874-1876
P. N. Granger
Charles Rogers, Jr.
1850-1851
David Goss, Jr.
John McLean
1876-1880
S. S. Thompson
H. C. Belden
1852-1854
Joshua Stevens
Mordacai Hall
1880-1882
Elijah D. Blodgett
Jonathan R. Darling
1854-1856
George H. Page
Charles D. Brainard
1882-1886
Henry C. Ide
Asa L. French
1856-1858
Edward A. Cahoon
Henry Walker
1886-
Henry C. Bates
Charles A. Bunker
1858-1860
Bliss N. Davis
Albert G. Chadwick
~
*Since 1870 the general assembly meets in the even years, on the first Wednesday in October.


ADMISSIONS TO THE BAR
(From official records)

Asa King
Sept. 1799 
Samuel A. Chandler
Mar. 1832
William Mattocks
Sept. 1799 
Isaac W. Tabor
Mar. 1832
John Mattocks
Sept. 1799 
John R. Skinner
Mar. 1834
Samuel B. Goodhue
Sept. 1799 
Bliss N. Davis
Mar. 1834
Jonathan Ware 
Sept. 1799 
Joseph A. Swett
Mar. 1835
William A. Griswold
Sept. 1800 
 N. H. Joy
Mar. 1840
Cyrus Ware
Sept. 1802
John Beckwith
Mar. 1842
Barnes Buckminster
Sept. 1805
Charles B. Fletcher
Mar. 1844
William A. Palmer
Sept. 1805
William Mattocks, 2d.
Mar. 1844
Augustine Clark
Sept. 1806
David Chadwick
Mar. 1845
Nathaniel Goodhue
Sept. 1806
Edward A. Cahoon
Mar. 1845
Samuel Prentiss
Sept. 1806
Andrew M. Blair
Mar. 1846
Ezra Carter
Sept. 1808
Timothy P. Fuller
May, 1848
Ephraim Paddock
Sept. 1811
George W. Roberts
Aug. 1851
John M. Foster
Sept. 1811
Oliver T. Brown
Aug. 1858
Azor Wetherbee
Sept. 1812
Andrew J. Willard
Aug. 1858
Augustus Young
Sept., 1813
Jonathan Ross
Aug. 1858
Isaac Fletcher
Sept. 1814
B. B. Clark
Aug. 1858
Peter Burbank
Sept. 1816
Edwin Harvey
Aug. 1858
Humphrey Bennett
Feb. 1821
George W. Cahoon
Aug. 1858
Moses Hall
Sep. 1821
Gustavus A. Burbank
Aug. 1863
Charles Story
Sep. 1821
Henry C. Bates
Aug. 1863
James Bell
Sep. 1821
Henry C. Ide
May, 1880
David Gould
Sep. 1821
Hemon E. Carter
May, 1880
George B. Shaw
Sept. 1824
Alexander Dunnett
May, 1880
George C. Cahoon
Jan. 1826
Charles H. Willard
Oct. 1880
Samuel B. Mattocks
Mar.  1829
~
Joseph P. Fairbanks
Mar.  1830
~
George B. Chandler
Mar.  1830
~
Theron Howard
Mar. 1830
~
Mordecia Hale
Mar. 1830
~

 

*Previous to 1~2 there seems to have been no established rule governing the admission of individuals to practice law before the county court, and some were allowed to practice who had never pursued the regular course of legal study, but at the December term of the county court, 1822, a series of rules was adopted, the tenth rule being that "any person applying for admission as an attorney of this court, having devoted three years if he have had college, and five years if an academical education, exclusively to the study of the law, the last year of which having been in this county, in such case the court will appoint a committee of the members of the bar to assist in the examination of the qualifications of such candidate, and if qualified he shall be admitted."

PRESENT MEMBERS CALEDONIA COUNTY BAR

L. P. Poland
St. Johnsbury 
Benjamin B.Clark
"
A. J. Willard
"
A. E. Rankin
"
Elisha May
"
Walter P. Smith
"
Henry Clue
"
Harry Blodgett
"
H. C. Bates
"
M. Montgomery
"
Alex Dunnett
"
A. F. Nichols
"
W. P. Stafford
"
C. H. Hosford
"
E. C. Hoyt
Danville
L. D. Hathway
Hardwick 
W. A. Dutton
"
George C. Cahoon 
Lyndon
George W. Cahoon
"
Samuel B. Mattocks
"
C. M. Chase
"
*J. T. Gleason
"
E. H. Hoffman
"
F. M. Page
Groton
J. P. Otis
West Burke
   *Not practicing

 
 

 

Transcribed and provided by Tom Dunn, 2003.

Source: 
Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex, Counties, VT., 1764-1887,
Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Pages 5-124.