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Waterville, an irregular outlined town lying in the northwestern part of the county, in latitude 44º 33', and longitude 4º0 11' bounded north by Belvidere, east by Belvidere and Johnson, south by Cambridge, and west by Bakersfield and Fletcher, in Franklin county, was chartered by Vermont to James Whitelaw,  James Savage, and William Coit, Oct. 26, 1788, by the name of Coit's Gore, with an area of 10,000 acres. On October 26, 1799, a part of this Gore was annexed to Bakersfield, and again, November 15, 1824, an act was passed by the legislature, “forming a new town out of the towns of Bakersfield, Belvidere, and Coit's Gore, in the county of Franklin, by the name of "Waterville," as follows:— 

       "WHEREAS, It appears to this assembly that it is inconvenient for the inhabitants of the southeast corner of Bakersfield, and that part of Belvidere called the "Leg," to attend town meetings, and transact town business in their respective towns, and that Coit's Gore ought to be incorporated and form a part of a new town, etc." 

       Then follows the boundary lines of the new town, as at present established, and the signatures of the proper officials. 

       The surface of the town is varied, a large portion being rugged and mountainous. The soil is generally sandy and much better adapted to dairying than grain raising, though good crops of corn, rye, potatoes, and oats, are easily raised. Wheat is not so successfully cultivated. The timber is that common to most Green mountain districts, mostly birch, maple and spruce, interspersed with hemlock and elm. Large quantities of an excellent quality of sugar is made each season from the maple. Formerly, considerable attention was given to the cultivation of the apple. Extensive orchards were planted, and many hundreds of barrels of cider were manufactured; but of late years, this branch of farming has been more and more neglected, and many of the original trees have been cut down. Fletcher mountain lies in the western part of the town, while Round mountain, rising to an altitude of 3,500 feet, is in the eastern part. To the south and east are located hills of lesser altitude. The principal stream is the North branch of the Lamoille river, a stream that in its course through this town is characterized by a series of falls and rapids, which, if utilized, would tender the town noted in whatever branch of industry they were directed; but as it is, but a small part of this natural water-power is used. Numerous brooks and streams of minor importance spring from the mountain and hill sides throughout the territory. 

       Waterville abounds in beautiful scenery and extensive views, not the least prominent of which may be mentioned the Green Mountain spring, a mineral spring located on road 18. About twenty-five years ago Osgood McFarland erected an hotel here. In 1874, Samuel Miller leased the property, and finally, during the following year, purchased it. Since that time Mr. Miller has instituted many improvements, rendering this spot a delightful and healthful resort for summer tourists. He has accommodations for about thirty-five guests. 

       Geologically, the town consists of two large beds of gneiss and talcose schist. In the western part are found one or two small beds of serpentine and clay slate. Upon the farm of Orrin A. Thomas there is an excellent freestone or talc quarry, which was opened as early as 1820. The stone is valuable for manufacture into fire-bricks, foot-stones, fire arches, etc., as it possesses the peculiar quality of imperviousness to damage by heat. 

       In 1880,  Waterville had a population of 547, and in 1882, was divided into six school districts and contained six common schools, employing one male and twelve female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $540.85. There were 152 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $608.21, with Mark Stevens, superintendent. 

       Waterville, a post village, is beautifully located in the southern part of the town, on the Branch, where a natural waterfall affords opportunities for unlimited mill power. The village contains two churches (Methodist and Universalist) three stores, a rake factory, saw-mill, a tin shop, a sheep-skin legging and belt-lace manufactory, and about fifty dwellings. 

       Daniel Dingwall's saw, shingle, and grist-mill, located on road 13, was purchased by the present proprietor in 1882.   Mr. Dingwall has had much experience in the lumber business, and controls the timber on several thousand acres of land. He intends shortly to extend the capacity of his mill so that he will be able to cut upwards of a million feet of lumber per annum. 

      Kelley & Son's sheep-skin leggings and belt-lace manufactory, located at the village, was established in 1881. Their superior methods of tanning, and the excellent quality of their goods, has rendered their wares already quite noted.

       George W. Mann's knife factory, located at the village, was established by him in 1871. He employs from three to six hands, and turns out about 1,500 dozen knives per year. 

       Lucius Hayes's feed and saw-mill, located on road 13, was built about the year 1842, by Amos Fassett, and purchased by the present proprietor in 1868. He manufactures about 25,000 feet of lumber and grinds 3,000 bushels of grain per year. 

       Timothy Brown and wife, Meredeth Ward, were the first settlers in the town, coming from Westmoreland, N.H., in the year 1797. He bought 450 acres of land on West hill, embracing the Stephen Leach farm and adjoining lands. Here he lived until 1829, when he removed to Ohio, where he passed the remainder of a long life.  Four children survived him, Timothy, Bartlett, Rhoda, the wife of Thomas Potter, and Asenath, the wife of Stephen Leach, all of whom attained a ripe old age. The first two died in Ohio, the last two, in Waterville. 

       The year before Mr. Brown came to town, Amos Page built a log house without covering it, near where Orrin Tillotson now lives. There was no clearing there at the time, nor was the house occupied by anyone for years after the settlement by Mr. Brown. The second family that located in the town was that of Abiathar Wetherell, who came from Westmoreland, N.H., in 1798.  In 1803, there came from the same place Zephaniah Leach and his four sons, Stephen, Nathan, William, and Jacob. He first settled on East hill, above where Nathan Page now lives; but afterward removing to the village, in connection with his son Nathan he built the first saw and grist-mill in town. 

       The Leachs are the descendants of a McLeach family, of Scotland. Three brothers McLeach came to this country from the Highlands of Scotland about 250 years ago; and settled at Cold Run, Mass. They afterwards removed to Westmoreland, N.H., where, nearly 125 years since, the name was changed, on petition to Parliament, from McLeach to Leach. One of these brothers, Josiah McLeach, whose wife was Sarah Brittain, of Wales, was the grandfather of Zephaniah Leach, the early settler of Waterville. 

       Osgood McFarland, a son of Major Moses McFarland, of the revolutionary war, a Scotch-Irish immigrant, together with his wife, Mary Bartlett, came to town from Haverhill, Mass., in 1809. A few years afterwards he removed to Marietta, Ohio. He remained there seven years, when, on account of his health, he returned to Vermont, driving his own team the whole distance, as he had done on the outward journey. On his second coming to Waterville he located upon the farm on East hill, known as the "Tobin place," whence he removed, after a few years, to West hill, and tilled the farm now owned and occupied by Samuel Brown. During his long and useful life, which closed in 1865, at the age of eighty-four, he served his townsmen acceptably as a member of the legislature, and in other offices of trust and honor. His children were six sons and six daughters, of whom six are now living—Osgood and Eunice in Minnesota; Francis in Massachusetts; Nathan in Hyde Park; and Louisa and Moses in Waterville. 

       Moses McFarland was born in Marietta, Ohio, June 25, 1821, coming to Waterville when about three years old, where he has since resided. He married Livonia, oldest daughter of Stephen and Asenath Brown Leach, and settled upon the home farm. In 1854, he removed from West hill to the village, his father and mother accompanying him, where he was successively engaged in manufacturing, hotel-keeping, and farming, always putting that energy into whatever he did that roused all other business of the village into renewed and greater activity. In 1861, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Eighth Vermont regiment, serving to the end of the war, and returning as captain of Co. A. He removed from the village to the Stephen Leach farm, on West hill, in 1874, where he has since resided. 

       About the year 1800, Mr. Rice built a saw-mill on Stony brook, in the eastern part of the town. Soon after a blacksmith shop was erected near by, and also several dwellings. The site on which these buildings were erected presented a very desirable location for a village, and it is probable that the intentions of the early proprietors of this section were to build up a large and thrifty place of business. But, however sanguine might have been their expectations, it is certain they have never been realized. The mills and the shops have all long since been among the things of the past. 

       The first town meeting was petitioned for by Sylvanus Eaton, Joseph Rowell, Ezra Sherman, and Jesse C. Holmes, November 29, 1824, and was duly warned by Moses Fisk, justice of the peace, the following day. The meeting was held in the school-house near the mills, December 13, 1824, with Sylvanus Eaton, moderator. The following list of officers was elected: Moses Fisk, town clerk; Jesse C. Holmes, Antipas Fletcher, and Luther Poland, se1ectmen; Sylvanus Eaton, constable; Stephen Leach, grand juror; and William Wilbur, tithing man. The first justice of the peace was Thomas Page, appointed in 1803. The first representative, Luther Poland, in 1828. The first child born in the town was Ira Church, August 16, 1789. 

       Abithar Codding, one of the earliest permanent settlers, came here from the southern part of the State, in company with his, a Mr. Fletcher. They settled on adjoining farms, on road 9. Mr. Codding reared a family of eight children, six of whom are now living. Joel B. Codding, residing on road 9, is a son of Jonas, and grandson of Abithar. 

       Jesse C. Holmes, from Petersboro, N.H., came to Waterville at an early date, and located where the village now is. Here he resided until 1860, then went to live with his son-in-law, Ober D. Rogers, on road 13, where he died in April, 1876, aged ninety years. Mr. Holmes was among the first advocates of the "free soil" issue in the town, which claims the honor of sending the first "free soil" representative to the legislature. 

       Amos Page, from Massachusetts, was an early settler in this town. He located in the eastern part, where he died in 1840, aged eighty-four years. His family consisted of four sons, one of whom, Aaron D., settled in Waterville. Several of Amos's descendants now reside in the town. 

       James Cheney, from Hanover, N.H., located in the northern part of this town at an early date, where he resided until his death, in 1810. He reared a family of seven children, three of whom remained in the town. 

       Isaac Tillotson, from Massachusetts, came to Belvidere at an early date, remaining until his death, in 1857, aged ninety-eight years. Isaac was a revo1utionary soldier, and reared a family of eight children. His son, Eben, was born in 1783, reared a family of nine children, and died in 1848. Chauncey, youngest son of Eben, born in 1834, has been a resident of this town since 1862. Richard, the third son of Isaac, was born in 1798. His family consisted of six children, of whom the second, Orrin, has always been a resident of Waterville. He has held many of the town offices. 

       William Thomas, from the southern part of the State, came to the eastern part of this town about the year 1800. He was a Baptist clergyman, and held services in houses, barns, etc. Amos, a grandson of William, born in July, 1800, still manages a farm in Belvidere.  George B., the oldest son of Amos, born in 1824, now resides on road 5. 

       Jonathan Hemenway, from Walpole, N.H., came to this town in 1800, and located on road 5, upon the farm now owned by O.A. Thomas. Two of his children are now living on the same road. 

       Joel Brown came from New Hampshire about the year 1808, and located in Underhill, where he remained about fourteen years, then removed to Cambridge, where he died in 1858.  Samuel H., the second of his eight children, born in 1815, has been a resident of Waterville since 1854. 

       Jacob Locke, from New Hampshire, settled in the central part of the town in 1808, where he remained until his death, in 1854. He reared a family of ten children, two of whom settled in the town. Thomas J., his third child, born in 1808, is now among the oldest inhabitants of the town. 

       Theophilus Potter came to this town from Bakersfield, in 1815, and located in the western part, where he followed the carpenter and joiner trade. Six of his twelve children are now living. 

       Solomon Manchester, from Barnet, Vt., came to Waterville in 1839, and located in the southern part of the town, on road 16. He has had a family of six children, three of whom now reside in the town. 

       During the late civil war Waterville furnished ninety-one enlisted men as her mite towards preserving our country's unity. 

       Congregational and Methodist societies were formed in the town about the year 1820.  In 1839, the two societies united their funds, and built the union meeting-house, which still does service. Previous to this the people had been obliged to meet for worship in barns and private dwellings. The town now has a Congregational, Universalist, and Methodist society, the latter being the most popular, with Rev. G. L. Story, pastor. 

(Source: Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page  143-146)

This chapter was provided by Tom Dunn.


1883 –1884 Waterville Business Directory