Charleston, an oblong town in the eastern part of the county, in lat. 44º 51', and long. 4º 57', bounded northeast by Morgan, southeast by Brighton, in Essex county, southwest by Westmore and Brownington, and northwest by Derby, was granted by Vermont November 6, 1780, and chartered November 10th of the same year, to the “Hon. Abraham Whipple, his shipmates" and others, containing 23,040 acres. Commodore Whipple was a distinguished naval officer in the Revolutionary war, and named the town Navy, in honor of the American navy. This name was retained until November 6, 1825, when it was altered to Charleston. 

       The surface of the town is somewhat uneven, some portions being very low. Clyde river is the largest stream. It rises in Spectacle pond, in Brighton, thence flowing through Island Pond into this town, in a northwesterly direction nearly through its center. Some falls of importance are found on the stream, especially the Great falls in the western part of the town, where the descent is more than a hundred feet in forty rods; but its current is generally slow. The principal tributaries of the Clyde are Ferrin's river from the north, and the waters of Suke's pond through a brook; then the waters of Cole's Copper brook, Morgan Gull brook, also, the stream from Cole's pond in Brighton; next Buck's brook from Brighton, Mad brook from Westmore, and Echo pond brook at the East village; next Fenner brook from Westmore, then the Nutting brook from Broadway pond, and Toad pond brook from Toad pond. These all flow into Clyde river above Pensioners pond in this town. Echo pond, situated in the easterly part of the township, receives the waters of Seymour pond in Morgan, and through that the waters of Holland pond. Echo pond is a beautiful sheet of water one mile from the East village, whose mill-privileges are supplied by its waters through the brook which is its outlet.  It is one mile and a half long and one mile wide. General Whitelaw gave it the name of Echo pond from the fact that when any sound was produced in its vicinity it was reverberated in various directions, producing a series of echoes. Pensioners pond is the next in size, and was so named by Abner Allyn, on account of the pension of Mr.Varnum, a revolutionary soldier, being used to build a mill-dam and saw-mill in 1820, near the Great falls, by his son, George Varnum.  Toad pond is above Pensioners pond, near the great swamp on the Brownington line. Broadway pond is near the Morgan line. 

       The soil of the territory is a rich loam, capable of producing excellent crops. The  alluvial flats along the Clyde are extensive, though many of them are too low for cultivation, but improve as years pass by. In the southeast part is a bog meadow containing over 500 acres. The climate is considered exceedingly healthful. The geological structure is principally rocks of the calciferous mica schist formation. The northwestern part is made up of hornblende schist, and the southeastern of granite. 

       In 1880, Charleston had a population of 1,204, and in 1882, the town was divided into twelve school districts and contained twelve common schools, employing three male and seventeen female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $1,349.91. There were 275 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,446.53, with D.I. Quint, superintendent. 

       West Charleston, a post village located in the western part of the town, on Clyde river, contains two churches (Congregational and Baptist), academy, hotel, four stores, one tin shop, one furniture shop, grist-mill, tub factory, saw-mill, emery wheel manufactory, two blacksmith shops, and about 300 inhabitants. 

       East Charleston, a post village located in the eastern part of the town, contains one church (Union), one hotel, two stores, two groceries, a saw and shingle-mill, two carriage shops, a grist-mill, two blacksmith shops, and about 100 inhabitants. 

       The West Charleston Academy was incorporated by the legislature in 1859, though the academy building was erected in 1857. The trustees of the institution are E.0. Bennett, E.H. Robinson, and 0.F. Aliton. The school now has about sixty scholars, with Lydia Hinman, principal. 

       E.W. Green's tub factory, located at West Charleston, was built by Daniel 0. Parlin about 1850. Mr. Green came into possession of the property in February, 1882, and manufactures about 5,000 tubs and buckets per year. 

       J.E. Wilson, at West Charleston, manufactures about 1,000 butter tubs per year and does a general cooper business. 

       Lemuel R. Allbee's flouring-mill, located at West Charleston, was rebuilt in 1860, by Charles Cummings and purchased by Mr. Alibee in 1883. He deals largely in grain and does a general custom business. The mill has four runs of stones and grinds about 30,000 bushels of grain per year. 

      Perley B. Rand’s carriage shop, located on road 7, manufactures fifteen lumber wagons and fifteen sleighs per year, in addition to a general repair business. 

       L.D. Barron's saw-mill, located at West Charleston, cuts about 150,000 feet of lumber per year. 

       B.D. Clark's furniture shop located on road 2, manufactures about $1,000.00 worth of furniture and caskets per year. 

       O.C. Reed's saw-mill, located on Clyde river, is operated by G.W.D. Reed, and cuts about 500,000 feet of lumber and 1,000,000 shingles per year 

       S. Cook's woolen mill, located on road 17, was established by him in 1852. He manufactures 2,000 yards of cloth and 10,000 pounds of wool per year.

       A.J. Lang's saw-mill, located on Mad brook, was built by Erastus Buck in 1860. It cuts about 1,000,000 feet of lumber per year. 

       The Vermont Emery Wheel Co., located at West Charleston, was organized in 1874.   It is a stock company, with Charles Carpenter as treasurer and managing director. The business was originally established by E.C. Merrill, in 1870. About $15,000.00 to $20,000.00 worth of emery wheels are manufactured per year. 

       J.A. Lancier's saw, shingle and clapboard-mill, located on the outlet of Echo pond, cuts about 2,000,000 feet of lumber, 400,000 feet of clapboards and 1,200,000 shingles per year, employing twenty-five men. 

       Willard & Goodwin's carriage shop located on road 46, manufactures two wagons per day in addition to a general repair, painting and blacksmith business. 

       M.C. Davis’s saw-mill and carriage shop, located at East Charleston, cuts 200,000 shingles and manufactures twenty-five wagons per year.  He also leases a mill of R.P. Stevens which cuts 150,000 shingles and 60,000 feet of clapboards per year. 

       Charles E. Carruth’s flouring-mill, located on road 38, has three runs of stones and grinds 15,000 bushels of grain per year. 

       None of the original grantees ever resided in the town, and but three, John L. Chandler, and Elisha & Andrew Brown, were ever known to visit here. The most of them lived in Cranston, Providence and Johnson, R.I.  One of them, Charles Murray, lived in London, England, and never saw America. Samuel Knight, one of the voters of the organization of the town, settled in 1806, on a part of No. 5, 1st division of the right of said Murray. Some time after, others began to settle on the same lot. Murray then brought a suit against them and was acknowledged by the court as the rightful owner, as original proprietor of all the lot, excepting what said Knight had gained by possession. A few of the descendants of the original proprietors came here about 1831, and settled on their grandfather's "rights." 

       General James Whitelaw surveyed the town into ninety-eight lots, making each lot 196 rods in length, and 192 rods in width, receiving $256.00 for his services. According to this first survey the town was fourteen lots long and seven lots wide, the longest way of the lots being lengthwise of the town. Afterwards sixty-nine of these lots were made by draft at Providence, R.I. into first division lots, each containing 236½ acres. Abner Allyn surveyed the second division into sixty-nine lots, making each just one-third as large as the first division lots. The third division was surveyed by Charles Cummings into sixty-nine lots, each containing ten acres and thirty rods. A first, second and third division lot, consisting of 325 acres and fifty-six rods, constituted a share or "right."

       For the benefit of the settlement of the town, thirteen of the proprietors gave fifty acres of land on each of the following lots, viz- . Nos- 4, 8, 12, 14, 24, 31, 44, 46, 53, 58 and 94 of the first division, and Nos. 9 and 23 of the second division. The first three roads were located by the proprietors according to written contract, for the benefit of these lots and the settlements thereon; the first from Brownington to Holland; the second, called the Westmore county road, passed from Burke through Westmore and the center of this town, on the west side of Echo pond, thence by Seymour pond and Morgan Four Corners, to Barnston, C.E.  The third road from No. 4, on the Browington and Holland road, passed through Nos. 11, 17, 24, 31, 44, 73, 80 and 94. These three roads united the settlements of the town.  In 1816, the fishermen and hunters, who were accustomed to come into the town, drawn thither principally by the abundance of muscalonge and other fish found in Echo pond, discovered that their route might be shortened from Mr. Wellman's, two miles north of Burke Hollow, on the Westmore road, through Charleston on the east side of Echo pond, connecting with said Westmore county road south of Z. Senter's, in said town. Through their efforts this new county road was laid, which was a great help for both East and West Charleston. 

       The proprietors and agents, together with the settlers on the gift land, entered into a written contract agreeing to have two sets of mills, one in the east, the other in the west part of the town. Col. Christopher Olney, of Providence, R.I., who owned two rights of land here, gave fifty acres on lot No. 9, second division, as an inducement for building the first grist-mill at West Charleston, provided he could have for the benefit of the settlement of East Charleston his pitch on No. 33, second division, instead of a draft—said lot containing the mill privilege—and also have the pine lot No. 88 left out of the draft of the second division. By this means the first mills in both East and West Charleston were erected some years after. 

       The first settlement was commenced by Abner Allyn.   In June, 1802, he felled the first trees in the town, On lot No. 4, first division, and planted potatoes the 5th of August, which he brought on his back from Barton, a distance of twelve miles. He had a good yield of large potatoes, which were well preserved in an out-of-door cellar until the next spring, when he planted them and had early potatoes, and also sowed grain. In July, 1803, he moved his family here from Barton, where they had lived preparatory to their more pioneer life in the wilderness. During his residence in Barton, he had been an active citizen in all that pertained to the public good, and was first town clerk of that town, He moved into a log house in Charleston, the floor of which was made of hewed logs, and the roof covered with bark. Andrew McGaffey moved his family into town, from Lyndon, in the summer of 1803, a few weeks before Allyn moved his here; but Allyn being here one year previous, made the first clearing and raised the first crop. McGaffey having seen No. 11, adjoining No. 4, found an arm on the great swamp from Brownington line, on the line between No. 4 and 11, containing twenty-five acres of swamp.   Here he took John L. Chandler, one of the original proprietors, and kept him in the swamp nearly all day, thus succeeding in making him suppose that such was the face of the greater part of the lot, and he sold to McGaffey his whole right for an old $30.00 horse. McGaffey's wife was sick with consumption when they moved into the  town, and died in October, 1803, the first death in the town. Before the snow fell that year, McGaffey moved back to Lyndon, leaving Abner Allyn for the two succeeding years with no neighbor nearer than Judge Strong, in Brownington, four and one-half miles distant. 

       Joseph Seavey moved his family into town in 1804, locating on No. 58, first division, two miles from the Westmore settlement, and five miles from Allyn's.   In 1805, Orrin Percival moved his family on to lot No. 12, one mile from Abner Allyn's. Robert H. Hunkins moved on to lot No. 7, in 1806.  On March 31st, of that year, the town was organized by Elijah Strong, justice of the peace from Brownington. The voters then were Abner Allyn, Joseph Seavey, Orrin Percival, Lemuel Sturtevant, Robert H. Hunkins, Samuel Morrison, Amos Huntoon, Jonathan Richards, and Samuel Knight. The following officers were chosen, the meeting being held at the house of Robert H. Hunkins: Amos Huntoon, moderator; Abner Allyn, town clerk; Robert H. Hunkins, Amos Huntoon and Jonathan Richards, selectmen; Robert H. Hunkins, treasurer; Abner Allyn, Orrin Percival, and Lemuel Sturtevant, listers; and Orrin Percival, constable. 

       The first justices were Abner Allyn and Robert H. Hunkins, in 1807. Mr. Allyn was elected representative that year. Lemuel Sturtevant and Stephen Cole built the first gristmill at West Charleston, in 1810. Stephen Cole also built the first frame house at West Charleston, 1811. The first saw-mill at East Charleston was erected by Jonas Allen in 1824. Stephen Cole put a small run of stones in the lower part of his saw-mill in 1827. John Cushman built a good grist-mill here in 1834. The first saw-mill at West Charleston was built by Jonas Warren, in 1809. The first hotel at West Charleston was erected and kept by Ira Richards, in 1822. The first hotel in the eastern part of the town was kept by John Cushman, in 1827. The first carding-machine and clothing works were erected at East Charleston in 1831, by Harvey Holbrook, and run by Harvey H. Cloud, both of Waterford, Vt.The first merchant was Ira Richards, in 1822.

       Lewis C. Bates was the first merchant in the eastern part of the town, in 1831. The first physician in West Charleston was Ezra Cushing, in 1822. The first physician in East Charleston was Cephas G. Adams, in 1855. The first lawyer was F.C.Harrington, who was also editor of the “North Union,” the first newspaper printed in town. The first military company was formed in 1822, with Ira Richards, captain. The first blacksmith was Timothy Hazeltine, who moved into East Charlestonin 1828. The first shoemaker was Chauncey Fuller, who moved into West Charleston in 1824. The first two marriages were of Ebenezer Bartlett and Eunice Cole, and Elisha Parlin and Elizabeth Warren, February 3, 1815, by Ira Levens, justice of the peace, of Morgan.  The first birth was that of Orrin Percival, Jr., about 1803.  The first school was kept in Orrin Percivals’s barn.  The first school-house was erected in 1822, where the west village now is. 

       Philip Davis was an early settler, locating where Milo Gay now resides. He paid twenty-five cents per pound for nails to build his first house. He died in 1868. 

       Martin Barney, from New Hampshire came to this town about 1825, and located on road 34, where his grandson, Curtis Barney, now resides. He resided here about twenty-five years, then returned to New Hampshire. Nelson Barney came here with his father, being then about twenty years of age. He married Fanny Stacy by whom he reared nine children, five sons and four daughters, and died January 1, 1869. His widow resides on the old homestead. James Barney, brother to Martin, came here several years subsequent to Martin's settlement. He married Nancy Reed and had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, William N., married a daughter of Nelson, and now resides on road, 32. 

       Michael Bly came to Charleston, from Westmore, in 1825, and located on the farm now occupied by Oscar Elwood. He had a family of six children and died in Derby in 1873. Two of his children, John and Mrs. George W. Pierce, reside here. John married Ann Catharine, and has five children. 

       Theodore L. Tripp, from Maine, came to Charleston in 1826, and located upon the farm now owned by his son, B. F. Tripp. Seven of his ten children are living, one only in Charleston. 

       David Royce, many of whose descendants now reside here, located in the western part of the town in 1828, coming from Lyndon, Vt. One of his sons, Clark Royce, is one of the present selectmen of the town. 

       Samuel Waltham, from New Hampshire, located near West Charleston in 1829, and died here in 1879, aged seventy-eight years. Only one of his four children, C. F. Waltham, resides here. 

       Emerson Wolcott, from Barnet, Vt., came in 1829, and located on road 34, where George Pierce now resides. He had a family of nine children, of whom William and Hiram reside on road 34, near the old homestead. Mr. Wolcott came here two or three years before he moved his family on, and built a small frame house, which is now occupied by the present incumbent of the farm.  He died March 27, 1860. 

       James G. Barnard came here, from Wethersfield, Vt., about 1830, and settled at West Charleston, where he carried on the blacksmith business until his death. Five of his eleven children are living, though but one, Rufus H., resides in this town. Rufus married Eunice Ruggles, who died in 1877, and has six children. 

       Jasper Robinson, from Brownington, located at West Charleston about 1830. He had a family of eight children, only one of whom. Mrs. Philander Balch, is living. One of the sons, John M., father of E. H., was a merchant here and died in 1870. Another son, Elijah, was a physician here for many years. 

       Daniel Streeter, from Concord, Vt., located near East Charleston about 1830, and died in 1872. Three of eight children are living, S.C., in this town. 

       William Sawyer, from Waterford, Vt., located in the eastern part of the town in 1831, where he cleared a farm and reared a family of five children. He died April 28, 1874. 

       Calvin Dunton came to Charleston from Littleton, N.H., in 1832, and located upon the farm he still occupies, at the age of seventy-three years. 

       Alvin Shedd, father of Lewis Shedd, of this town, settled in Derby about 1837, and was engaged in tanning until his death, in 1842. He reared a large family of children, of whom one son lives in Derby, and Lewis in this town. Mrs. Shedd is living in California. 

       Loren W. Clark was born in Wethersfield, Vt. in 1807, and came to Charleston in 1839, and established himself in the mercantile business at West Charleston. Mr. Clark was one of the most active business men of the town until about six years ago, when he received a shock of paralysis. He has been a justice of the peace thirty-nine years, represented the town twice in the legislature and was assistant judge eight years, being now seventy-five years of age. He has had a family of six children, three sons and three daughters. One son, William, was killed at Spotsylvania, July 2, 1864; George is in Portland, Oregon; and Charles died in this town. The daughters, Mrs. E. C. Bennett, Mrs. A.T. Whipple, and Mrs. W.A. Leland, are living. 

       Charles Carpenter, youngest son of Chester Carpenter, was born in Derby, Vt.. October 7, 1828. He attended school at Derby academy, and when eighteen years of age went to Burlington, and entered the store of Sion E. Howard, remaining seven and one-half years. In 1853, he came to Charleston and opened a store, remaining in trade until 1874, since which time he has been treasurer and managing director of the Vermont Emery Wheel Co.  Mr. Carpenter is a deacon of the Congregational church, represented the town in the legislature of 1872-73, was State senator in 1876, and has held other offices of trust. He was married in 1854, to Miss Betsey Hinman, a granddaughter of Hon. Timothy Hinman, an early settler in Derby. 

       The following pensioners of the Revolution have resided in the town: William Sawyer, David Streeter, Samuel Spaulding, and Martin Barney. Parker Langmayd was a pensioner of the Mexican war. During the late civil war Charleston furnished 121 enlisted men, thirty-five of whom were killed in action or died from the effects of wounds or disease contracted while in the service. 

       The Baptist Church of West Charleston was organized by its first pastor, Rev. Joseph Whittemore, June 7, 1863, with fourteen members. Their church edifice, a granite structure, was built in 1842, at a cost of $2,000.00, about its present value. The society now has sixty members, with Rev. D.I. Quint, pastor. 

       The Union Church, located at East Charleston, was built in 1856. It is a wood structure capable of seating 250 persons and valued at $2,000.00. 
 
 

(Source: Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page  220-225)

This excerpt was provided by Tom Dunn.
 
 

1883 –1884 Charleston Business Directory