located a little north of the central part of the county, in lat. 44º
53', and long. 4º 54', is a township of about thirty-five square miles
in area, being in form an irregular quadrangle, no two sides being of equal
length; and bounded northeast, six and one-quarter miles, by Newport and
Derby; southeast, four and three-quarter miles, by Brownington southwest,
five and three- quarter miles, by Irasburgh; and northwest, four and one-half
miles, by Newport. The charter was granted November 4,1780, to Maj. Elias
Buel,—in honor of whom the town was named after his birthplace,—and fifty-nine
others. The boundaries being defined in the charter deed, as follows:
“Beginning at a beech tree, marked Irasburgh
corner, September26,1778, being the northwesterly corner of Irasburgh,
and running north 36º east, six miles and sixty-three chains, to Lake
Memphremagog; then southeasterly on the shore of said lake about twenty-seven
chains, to a hemlock tree. marked ‘Salem Line, 1778’; then south 45º
west, two miles and two chains, to a great hemlock tree, marked 'Salem
West Corner, September 30, 1778'; then south 45º east, six miles and
twenty-one chains, in the southerly line of Salem, to a stake five links
northwest from a cedar tree, marked ‘Coventry Corner'; then south
36º west, four miles and four chains, to the north line of Irasburgh;
then north 54º west, five miles and sixty chains, to the bounds begun
Within these limits were supposed to be contained 16,767 acres,
or about twenty-six and one-fifth square miles. To make up the six miles
square usually included in a township, there were granted 2,000 acres directly
south of Newport, called Coventry Gore, which still belongs to the town,
and 4,273 acres in Chittenden county, east of Starksboro, called Buel’s
Gore. The northern part of Buel's Gore was annexed to Huntington in 1794,
and it all now practically belongs to that town. That part of Coventry
which bordered on Lake Memphremagog, being in the form of a slip, 108 rods
wide on the lake, and two miles, four rods long, was called Coventry Leg,
somewhat inappropriately, as it was narrowest where it joined the body
of the town, and widened as it extended north. In 1816, it was annexed
to Newport. Five rights were reserved by the charter, one for the benefit
of a college in the State, one for the benefit of a county grammar school,
one for the benefit of schools in the town, one for the first settled minister,
and one for the support of the ministry, as the inhabitants should direct.
November3,1841, the name of the town was changed to Orleans, and altered
back to Coventry November 1, 1843.
The surface of Coventry is somewhat uneven, though not mountainous,
with a very arable soil. Near the lake it is, in some places, clayey, and
on Black river it is somewhat sandy, but through the township generally
the soil consists of a deep, rich loam. The timber is mostly maple and
beech, with some elm, basswood, birch, hemlock, spruce, fir, cedar, etc.
Black river flows a northerly course through the central part of the town,
into Lake Memphremagog. Barton river flows through the eastern part, parallel
with the former, also emptying into the lake. These streams are from
four to eight rods wide and very deep near their mouths. They have several
tributaries, all of which united afford the town a number of good mill-sites.
The other waters of the territory are South bay of Lake Memphremagog, in
the northern part, and two small ponds, Bowley's and Daggett's, in the
western part. The geological structure of the town is composed of rocks
of the calciferous mica schist, limestone, and clay slate formations. The
two latter rocks being disposed in parallel ranges through the center of
the town from north to south. No minerals of importance have been discovered.
The products of this rich farming country, and also the manufactured goods,
are afforded a convenient mode of transportation in the Passumpsic railroad,
which extends through the eastern part of the town, with a station at East
In 1880, Coventry had a population of 911, and in 1882, was divided
into nine school districts and contained ten common schools, employing
two male and eighteen female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary
of $1,208.86. There were 232 pupils attending common school, while the
entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31, was $1,895.35,
with C. F. Branch, superintendent.
Coventry, a post village located in the southwestern part of the
town, on the falls of Black river, was commenced in the autumn of 1821,
by Calvin and Daniel W. Harmon, when all that part of the town was a dense
forest. It now contains two churches (Methodist Episcopal and Congregational),
a hotel, two stores, one tannery, a saw-mill, two blacksmith shops, a harness
shop, shoe shop, and about 150 inhabitants.
East Coventry (p. o.), a hamlet located in the eastern part of the
town, is a station on the Passumpsic railroad.
G.S. Hermon's saw-mill, located on road 15, is operated by water-power,
employs seven men, and cuts 1,000,000 feet of lumber annually.
Israel Trudo's Tannery, located at Coventry village, was established
by B. T. Hubert at an early day, and operated by him and Charles Hubert
until 1878, when it was purchased by its present proprietor. He employs
four men and tans 2,500 hides and 12,000 calf-skins annually.
Seymour Lanes flouring-mill, located at Coventry village, is managed
by Seth Eisber, who grinds about 15,000 bushels of grain annually.
Samuel Burbank's starch-mill, located on road 18, was established
Elijah Cleveland, in 1838, who carried on the business about sixteen
years, then sold out to the present proprietor. He manufactures seventy-five
tons of starch annually.
At the time Coventry received its charter Orleans county was destitute
of inhabitants and inaccessable by roads or thoroughfares of any kind,
so the lands were of no value except for speculative purposes. In September,
1799, Samuel Cobb and his son Tisdale visited the township with a view
to settlement, and, deciding favorably, proceeded to build a log house
and returned for their families. In the following March they brought their
families, making the first settlement in the town. Samuel’s family consisted
of his children, Samuel, Jr., Nathaniel and Silence. Tisdale had only his
wife. They started from Westmoreland, N.H., March 15th, traveling on horseback
as far as Brownington, which being the end of the road, they left their
horses, and made the rest of the journey on foot. Samuel pitched on lot
No. 11, the farm now occupied by Stillman Church. Tisdale located
on lot No. 12. In the following June, Samuel Cobb's wife, Silence
Barney, born February 21, 1756, and his younger children, who had remained
in Westmoreland while preparations were being made for their reception,
joined their father. As soon as the Cobb's had fairly established themselves,
they built a log-shop, in which they carried on blacksmithing. They were
the only men of the trade in the northern part of Orleans county, and so
had customers from all the region around.
There were no roads, no neighbors within two miles, no gristmill
nearer, than West Derby, and facilities for procuring the most ordinary
necessities, not to say comforts of life, were, scanty indeed. The young
men used to carry grain on their shoulders to Arnold's mills, in West Derby,
there being no road that could be traveled by horses. In the winter they
had an easier conveyance, by hand-sled on Lake Memphremagog. By most diligent
toil, in which all the members of the families bore their parts, each man
made a small clearing in the season of 1800, and raised grain and potatoes
enough to secure them from fear of actual want. Each family had a
cow which gained its living as best it could in the forest. It was the
work of the younger girls to find the cows at night, and drive them home
— oftentimes a laborious task requiring them to search the woods for miles
To provide for the cows during the winter was a problem of no easy
solution. No hay, was raised, but a scanty supply was brought from Barton,
and with the help of browse, which was abundant and close at hand, they
were comfortably wintered. So ended the first year of the infant settlement.
In 1801, Samuel Smith, of Brownington, built a saw-mill on Day brook.
This was a great convenience to the settlers, as it obviated the necessity
of going to Barton for boards and planks, or of using planks roughly split
from logs, which was not an unusual kind of flooring in the early days.
A grist-mill was lacking for some years longer, and, in the meantime, most
of the grain was sent to Arnold's mills at West Derby, it being floated
down Barton river and through South Bay, in canoes. At length David Kendall
built a grist-mill on Day brook. It was driven by an overshot wheel, and
as the brook was small and the supply of water sometimes insufficient,
the miller was occasionally compelled to supply the lack of water by treading
the buckets of the wheel after the fashion of a tread-mill. The stories
of this mill were made of the nearest granite, and as there was no bolt
in the mill, the meal which it made was of the coarsest kind.
Many of the former townsmen of the Cobbs came to visit them and
their new settlement, and several families were added to the little colony
in 1801 and 1802. Among those who immigrated from Westmoreland were Jotham
Pierce, Asa Pierce, William Estey, Simon B. Heustis, John Farnsworth, and
John Mitchell. All the settlers prior to 1803, in the strictest sense of
the phrase, “squatter sovereigns,” having no deeds of any kind, but taking
possession where they pleased, and procuring deeds when they could. Deeds
were executed to them early in 1803.
Jotham Pierce pitched on lot No. 15. He was a man of great energy,
and became an influential citizen of the town. He was the first captain
of militia, and magnified his office not a little, as was suitable he should
in those days, when a captain was of more consequence than a brigadier
general now is. William Estey pitched on lot No. 13, now owned by Luke
Day. Simeon B. Heustis located on lot No. 50, John Mitchell on lot
No. 51, and John Farnsworth on lot No. 52; Farnsworth brought with him
the first ox-cart ever seen in the town. Daniel B. Smith came in the autumn
of 1802, and made a clearing on lot No. 53, the first made west of the
Barton river. He took an active part in town affairs, but remained only
till 1805, when he sold to Samuel Boynton and removed. The first frame
house in the town was built by him.
About 1802, Joseph Marsh and Timothy Goodrich, both from Addison
county, made the first settlement in the western part of the town. A log
cabin was built by Jabez G. Fitch near the upper falls, and in this cabin
Goodrich resided, having as boarders Marsh and his family, and some other
persons, who like himself, were employed by Fitch in clearing and building.Timothy
Woodbridge, from Waltham, Vt., came in the autumn of 1802, and purchased
lots No. 23, 24 and 47. He was a son of Hon. Enoch Woodbridge, of Vergennes,
and married Lydia Chipman, daughter of Darius Chipman, and niece of Ron.
Nathaniel Chipman, one of the first settler's of Middlebury, Vt. After
a few years he sold his first purchase and bought a part of lot No.
156, on which he made a clearing and built a cabin, but in 1807, he sold
out and left the town.
Amherst Stewart pitched on lot No. 3, resided there a few years,
then removed to Brownington.
John Wells, Jr., began on what is now known as the Peabody farm.
He was the first justice of the peace appointed in the town. Perez Gardner,
from St. Johnsbury, came in 1802, and pitched on parts of lots No. 9 and
10. During this year the first hay made in Coventry was cut on lot No.
7, where Quincey Wellington, a son-in-law of Samuel Cobb, had begun a clearing.
He abandoned it the next year and it returned to wilderness, and so remained
till 1817, when Zebulon Burroughs reclaimed it, enlarged the clearing and
erected buildings. In June, 1802, John Ide, Jr., began a clearing, either
on lot No. 55, or 56, both of which he had purchased for $500.00. For many
years he was a leading man in the town and did much to give it form and
The settlers thus mentioned constituted the adult population of
the township in March, 1803, when it was deemed expedient that the town
be regularly organized. Accordingly, application was made to Luke Chapin,
Esq., of Newport, who issued a warrant for a town meeting to be held at
the residence of Samuel Cobb, Thursday, March 31, 1803. The meeting was
duly convened, when the town was organized by the election of the following
officers: John Wells, Jr., moderator; Joseph Marsh, clerk; Timothy Woodbridge,
constable; Samuel Cobb, treasurer; Samuel Cobb, Daniel B. Smith, and John
Ide, Jr., selectmen; Perez Gardner, John Wells Jr. and Joseph Marsh, listers;
Joseph Marsh, Samuel Cobb, John Wells, Jr., and Samuel B. Smith, highway
surveyors; and Perez Gardner, grand juror. The first justice of the peace
was John Wells, Jr., in 1802. Joseph Marsh was the first representative,
The town slowly increased in population till, in 1821, there were
about 300 inhabitants, many of whom were in comfortable circumstances.
But capital and enterprise were sadly lacking. At that date there were
only two saw-mills, and those quite dilapidated, and no grist-mill deserving
the name, no store, mechanic's shop, public house nor house of worship.
There was no semblance of a village except at the Center, where there were
four or five dwellings and a school-house, and the roads for forty rods
each way laid one rod wider than through the rest of the town. All the
trade went to Barton, Brownington, or Derby, occasioning great inconvenience
and labor, and much loss of time. But in 1822, Calvin Harmon and his brother
Daniel W., located where the village now is and immediately commenced operations
on an extended scale. A store was built and stocked with merchandise and
a saw-mill erected on the site of the present mill. A postoffice was also
established during this year, commencing business May 22, with Isaac Parker,
postmaster. In January, 1823, the first school-house was built in the village,
by voluntary contribution and labor of the inhabitants. The first cooking-stove
was brought to the town by Rev. Lyman Case, March 10, 1823.
The first birth in the town took place July 28, 1801, when a daughter
was born to Tisdale Cobb. Her original name was Harriet Fitch, bestowed
on account of a promise of Jabez G. Fitch to give a lot of land to the
first-born child; but he failed to fulfill his promise, and the name was
changed to Betsey. In the summer of 1803, a sawmill, the second in
the town and much better than the first, was built on the upper falls of
Black river, by Jabez G. Fitch. This and the adjacent cabin
of Goodrich and Marsh constituted a center of civilization in the western
part of the town, as the Cobb settlement did in the eastern part. The first
freemen's meeting was held September 6, 1803, when sixteen votes, the unanimous
vote of the town, were given for Isaac Tichenor for governor.
In 1804, the first birth of a male child, the first marriage, and
the first death took place. The birth was that of George B., son of John
Ide, Jr., February 17th. The marriage was that of Silence Cobb to
Col. David Knox, March 11th, solemnized by Elijah Strong, Esq., of Brownington.
The death was that of Mrs. John Farnsworth, December 4th. In
October and November, 1805 the first public roads were laid out. Until
that time the roads were mere paths cut through the woods, with reference
mainly to private convenience, and no wider than was absolutely necessary
for a single team,and not always as wide as that. When John Farnsworth
came into town with his ox-cart, the whole population had to perform extra
work on the road from Brownington, to allow the passage of so wide a vehicle.
In June, 1806, the first road from east to west was laid out. It extended
from the upper falls of Black river, through the center "to the west side
of Jotham Pierce's opening.” The first law suit in Coventry took place
in the winter of 1805. It was held at the house of D. B. Smith, Esq., who
was the magistrate in the case. William Baxter, Esq., of Brownington, was
plaintiff and attorney, and Joseph Marsh, Esq., of Coventry, was defendant
and attorney. The action was founded on a note payable to Perez Gardner,
and the defense was that the note was given for beef which proved not to
be sweet. But the plaintiff proved that Marsh took the beef, “for better
or for worse,” so the defense failed. In 1813, Abithar Dean, Jr.,
made eight sleighs, the first that were made for use in the town. The first
capital operation in surgery was performed February 27, 1825, by Dr. F.
W. Adams, of Barton, who amputated Jonathan Baldwin's leg, which had been
crushed the day before by a falling tree. Within less than a year from
that date Dr. Adams amputated three other legs in Coventry; one of Francis
Siscoe, a lad whose ankle had been crushed; one of Isaac Baldwin, on account
of a fever sore; and one of Nathaniel Dagget, February 14, 1826, on account
of a white swelling. The first lawyer was Samuel Sumner, from St. Albans,
who established himself here November 13, 1828. The person who attained
the greatest age was Timothy W. Knight, who died in June, 1882, aged ninety-six
years. One of the first frame buildings erected was a barn built by Ebenezer
M. Gray, the first shoemaker in the town, in 1812, which is still standing,
in good repair. The nails used in its construction cost twenty-four cents
per pound, and were paid for with butter at eight cents per pound. The
first hotel was kept by Heber Hamilton, on the site now occupied by the
dwelling of W. W. Frost.
John Mitchell, born at Boston, in 1780, came to this town in 1801,
and located upon the farm now owned by Samuel Parker. Here he worked summers
and returned to Westmoreland winters, until 1804, when he married Sarah
Walker and came to Coventry in January, 1805. From Brownington Mrs. Mitchel
came on horseback. When within a mile of her new home, while fording a
brook, she fell from the horse into the water. Notwithstanding the cold,
the lady was obliged to retain her wet garments until a fire could
be kindled in the log house whereby to dry them, for all her
other clothing had been left behind in Brownington. This was rather a cool
reception to her wilderness home, though she and her husband passed many
happy years therein. Two of their family of three children are now living,
Warren, of Coventry, and Nancy W., of Brownington. Mr. Mitchel died in
1867, aged eighty-seven years.
Ebenezer Willson, one of the early settlers of Coventry, was born
at Keene, N.H., in 1786, and when quite a young man assisted his father,
Aaron Willson, in erecting the first grist-mills in Glover, Vt. When "Runaway
pond" burst through its banks and emptied its waters into the valley below,
these mills, together with other improvements were swept, away causing
the financial ruin of his father. After this disaster he returned
to his native place, but soon located in Westminster, Vt., at which place
he married Lucy, daughter of Colonel Ichabod Ide, she being a cousin of
the first Baptist minister in Coventry, the Rev. John C. Ide, whose son,
Rev. George B. Ide, attained great prominence as an eloquent and talented
preacher in the Baptist church. In 1820, Mr. Willson, with his young family,
removed to Coventry, where he engaged in house-building, which, along with
other mechanical occupations, employed his time during a long series of
years. His skill as a mechanic was of great value to the early settlers,
as he could construct or repair anything made of wood from a violin to
an ox-sled. Later on he removed to the village of Barton Landing, where
he died at the advanced age of 92 years, forming one of a trio of aged
men, consisting of himself, Judge Parker and Col. Cyrus Eaton, who, having
been warm friends in their younger days, lived in close companionship until
the snows of ninety winters whitened their scanty locks. Death found him
ready for the change, and he passed away in 1878, respected and esteemed
by all his neighbors and friends.
Joseph Day and his son Luke, from Vergennes, Vt., made the first
settlement upon the farm now owned by Andrew L. McFarland.
Deacon Perez Gardner, from St. Johnsbury, Vt., made the first settlement
upon the farm now owned by Ralph Burroughs.
William and Anna Esty, from Westmoreland, N.H., came to Coventry
in 1803, and located on road 37. William died in 1843, aged eighty-three
years. Their family consisted of eight children, six sons and two daughters.
Deacon Jonathan True, from Andover, Mass., was among the early settlers.
He married Mary Cram and reared a family of eight children, Reuben, Daniel,
Bartlett, Levi, Moses, Rhoda, Hannah, and Nancy, of whom Moses is the only
one now living. George W., son of Daniel, and Silas R., son of Bartlett,
reside in Coventry.
Samuel Boynton, son of Joseph Boynton, was born at Westmoreland,
N.H., in 1777, where be resided until 1805, when with his wife, Clarissa
Gleason, he came to Coventry and purchased of Daniel Smith the farm now
owned by his son, Ira Boynton, on road 29. There was a small frame house
and a frame barn on the place. The barn is still in a good state of preservation.
Frederick W. Heermon, a German, while on a visit to England in 1776,
went aboard a man-of-war, when, with six others he was pressed into the
British service and brought to America. When near Portland he deserted
and joined the Americans, serving until the close of the war. In 1808,
he came to Coventry, and located upon the farm now owned by his son, Hartson
Isaac Baldwin, born in Westminster, Vt., in 1780, came to Coventry
in 1808, and, made the first settlement upon the farm now owned by Henry
F. Black, upon which he resided until his death, in 1838.
Thomas Guild, a native of Swanzey, N.H., born in 1786, married Keziah
Foristall, of Troy, N.H., and came to Coventryin 1808, making the first
settlement upon the farm now owned by Job Guild, on road 43. He reared
a family of seven children, of whom Dan, of Northfield, Vt., Job, of this
town, Ezra, of Coventry, and Sarah K. Alden, of Irasburgh, are still living.
When Mr. Guild came here he brought a back-load of boots and shoes to sell,
and was probably the first dealer in town.
Isaac Parker, born in Cavendish, Vt., in 1790, came to Coventry
in 1808, and located upon the farm now owned by Clark Morse, there being
at that time only a small clearing made on the place. Mr. Parker graduated
from Middlebury college with Silas Wright, married Arabella Cobb, daughter
of Samuel Cobb, and reared a family of eleven children, nine of whom are
living, and died July 30, __82, aged ninety-two years.
Timothy W. Knight, born in New Hampshire in 1786, came to Coventry
in 1808, and located upon the farm now owned by ____ Bailey, where he resided
until 1825, when he located where his daughter, Mary Niles, now resides.
He died in June, 1882, aged ninety-six years.
Dea. Ebenezer M. Gray, son of Joseph, was born in Townshend, Vt.,
in 1781. He learned the shoemaker's trade when quite young, and followed
boating summers, and worked at his trade winters until 1810, when he came
to Coventry and made the first settlement upon the farm now owned by G.H.Gorham.
Here he made a small clearing and erected a rude log cabin and returned
to Westmoreland, where, in the following year, he married Lavina Reed and
came back to Coventry. They reared a family of six children, four of whom,
Nathaniel W., Lavina Fairbrother, Azro, and Hubbard, are living. Mr. Gray
was a prominent citizen, a deacon of the Methodist church, and held many
of the town offices. He was the first shoemaker in the town, and
did all the work for four adjoining towns for many years. His death occurred
May 27, 1854, at the age of seventy-three years.
Zebulon Burroughs, a native of New Hampshire, was born August 11,
1794. He immigrated to Caledonia county with his father and in 1811 came
to Coventry and purchased the farm now owned by his son, Albert W. He married
Martha Reed by whom he reared a family of ten children, seven of
whom attained an adult age, and five are still living. His death occurred
in 1879, at the age of eighty years.
Winslow Berry, born at Westminster, Vt. in 1789, came to Coventry
in 1816, and purchased a hundred acre lot on road 32, where he died at
the age of thirty-nine years, leaving a family of five children to the
care of his eldest son, Jesse, who was then fifteen years of age. Jesse
remained here until 1851, when he removed to BartonLanding, where he died
a few years later. Mrs. Job Gould, of Barton Landing, and Kenelin W. Berry,
who occupies the homestead in this town, are the only surviving ones of
William Flanders, son of Philip Flanders, was born in Salem, Mass.,
in 1805, and while yet a small boy moved with his father to Brownington,
where he resided until 1819, when they came to Coventry and located upon
the farm now owned by B. W. Flanders. There was a frame house on the farm,
built by Jotham Pierce, which is still standing. Philip resided here until
his death, when the farm passed into the hands of William, who made it
his home until 1875, when he removed to Barton Landing, where he died September
Timothy Black, from Westminster, Vt., came to Coventry in 1822,
and purchased the farm now owned by Mrs. Black, on road 22. He married
Almira Baldwin and reared seven children, three of whom, Henry F., Ellen
A. Huntington, of Randolph, and Ann E. Babcock, of New York City, are living.
His death occurred in 1856.
Thomas Wells came fromNew Hampshire in 1807, and was one of the
early settlers of Troy, locating about a mile west of North Troy, upon
the farm now owned by H. C. Wilson, whose wife is a niece of Mr. Wells.
He represented Troy in the legislature several times, and held other offices.
His son, Thomas, Jr., was born in Troy, and in 1840, came to this town
and purchased a hundred acre lot overlooking South Bay on road 21, which
now forms a part of his home farm of 225 acres. At the age of forty-three
years he enlisted and served his country in Co. H, 15th Vt. Vols. His grandfather,
Samuel Wells, was a captain in the Revolutionary war, and died in Boston,
Dea. Loring Frost, born in Brattleboro, Vt., December 24, 1793,
married Abigail M. Bosworth, of Beekmantown, N. Y., November 24, 1817,
and came to Coventry in the winter of 1822-‘23, where he engaged in teaching
school, and passed the remainder of a long life. He organized the first
Sabbath school in Orleans county.
Asa Ryther came to this town February 12, 1839, and settled on road
9, where he died February 12, 1859, just twenty years from the time he
located there. Only one of his children, Charles V., is now living.
Daniel P. Walworth was born in Caanan, N.H., March 25, 1808.
In 1829, he located in Washington, Orange county, as a clerk, and after
two years became a partner in the firm of Dickinson & Stone. In 1834,
he sold his interest there and came to Coventry, opening a general store
at Coventry village, where he remained in trade, excepting two years, until
1876. Since that time he has not been actively engaged in business. He
represented the town in 1870-74, has been selectman and justice of the
peace several years, and is the present town agent, having held that position
a number of years. He married Mary Bartholomew, the union being blessed
with three children, though only one, Jennie E., is now living.
Hon. Elijah Cleveland, son of Elijah P. Cleveland, was born in Hanover,
N.H., June 29, 1795, and immigrated with his father to Waterford, Vt.,
when five years of age, where he remained until 1816, then removed to Passumpsic
village and remained until 1825, when he came to Coventry and engaged in
mercantile pursuits. He kept a store twenty-five years, built, the first
grist-mill of importance, where the present mill stands, and operated the
first starch factory for several years. He was one of the charter
members of the Passumpsic railroad company, and in 1848, was elected a
director of the same, which office he held twenty-five years, and in 1854,
was appointed secretary of the company, which office he still holds. He
was also president of the Bank of Orleans, at Irasburgh, ten or twelve
years, succeeding Ira H. Allen to that position. He was several times elected
a judge of the county court, and held most of the town offices, was one
of the presidential electors when Zachary Taylor was elected, was a member
of the State senate two years, and is now a wonderful well preserved man
of eighty-eight years. Our
engraving represents him at the age of fifty-five years, when he was
president of the bank and actively engaged in the railroad enterprise.
Two sons, Henry C., occupying the old homestead, and Charles B., of Newport,
are his only children now living, he having buried one son.
Rev. Pliny Holton White was a man too well known, not only in this
town, but throughout the State, to need an extended notice in this short
sketch of the good old town of Coventry. As a writer and historian he ranked
high and was widely known; but as a true man and a Christian, his memory
ranked still higher in the hearts of his townsmen. His forcible pen was
never idle, and to his excellent and ably written history of Coventry,
in Miss Hemenway's Gazetteer, we are largely indebted for the materials
of this sketch of the town. He covered all the points and exhausted all
the materials pertaining to the history of his adopted town, and no man
was better fitted for the task, or could have performed it in a more satisfactory
manner. He was born at Springfield, Vt., October 6, 1822, the son of John
and Bethia Holton White. At the age of three years he was left fatherless
and in poverty, and before he was fifteen was made an orphan. He had always
a predisposition to learning, and a great thirst for knowledge. His early
education was received at Limerick (Me.) Academy, where he was a student
from his eighth to his fifteenth year. He then spent a few years as a clerk
in a store at Walpole, N. H., his leisure hours being assiduously devoted
to reading and study, developing those peculiar traits of industry that
characterized his afterlife. He studied law with Hon. William C. Bradley,
at Westminster, Vt., and having access to his well selected library, he
was afforded excellent opportunities for the cultivation of his taste for
reading and literature, and the well known historical tastes of his
instructor probably gave direction and development to his own natural inclination
toward historical inquiry, wherein he became so justly celebrated. November
24, 1843, he was admitted to the Windham county bar, and practiced his
profession from April 15, 1844 until 1851, when he became editor of the
Brattleboro Eagle. He severed his connection with that paper in December,
1852, and in January, 1853, he removed to St. Johnsbury, engaging as a
clerk in the establishment of Messrs. Fairbanks, in whose employ he remained
until August, 1857. From St. Johnsbury he went to Amherst, Mass., where
he was connected, from August 15, 1857, to May 7, 1858, with the publication
of the Hampshire and Franklin Express. Having for a long time privately
pursued theological studies, he was licensed to preach, and preached his
first sermon at Westminster, Vt., April 18, 1858. After preaching a few
Sabbaths each at Bernardson, Mass., and Putney, Vt., he came to this town
and commenced his labors as acting pastor of the Congregational church,
August 8, 1858, and was ordained February 15, 1859, Rev. George N. Webber
preaching the sermon. He continued its pastor until his death, April 24,
1869. Mr. White also held several public positions connected with the general
assembly. He was second assistant clerk of the house of representatives
in 1851; was appointed secretary of civil and military affairs under the
first, administration of Gov. Fairbanks, in 1852 ; represented the town
of Coventry in 1862-'63; in November, 1862, he was appointed a member of
the board of education, and held the office for successive years until
1868; was chaplain of the senate in 1864-‘65, and '66; superintendent of
the recruiting service in Orleans county from 1863, to the close of the
war; and was superintendent of schools in St. Johnsbury in 1857, and in
Coventry from 1862 to 1864. Mr. White was also a valued correspondent
of all the papers of Vermont, and, in 1866, was elected president of the
Vermont Historical Society, a position ably filled until his death.
The military history of the town takes its date from September,
1807, when a company of militia was organized, and had its first training.
Ebenezer Hosmer, was chosen captain; Jotham Pierce, lieutenant; and Tisdale
Cobb, ensign. This organization was maintained till the, destruction of
the militia system by the statute of 1844. In 1856, a statute
was enacted permitting of volunteer and uniformed companies, and under
that statute a company, which took the name of "The Frontier Guards,"was
organized, December 16, 1857. The officers elected were Azariah Wright,
captain; HartfordHancock, Augustine C. West and John H. Thrasher, lieutenants;
and Dr.D.W. Blanchard, clerk. When the war of 1861, came upon us, the officers
of this company, and many of its members, did good service, either as recruiting
agents or as soldiers, or in both capacities. About the old guard, as a
nucleus, was formed another company of “Frontier Guards,” which,
under that name, went into service with full ranks, and formed a part of
the Third Vermont Regiment.
The Congregational church, located at Coventry village, was organized
by Rev. Seth Payson, with seventeen members, October 2, 1810, Rev.Lyman
Case being the first pastor. The church building was erected in 1829, a
wood structure capable of seating 400 persons. Its original cost was $2,750.00,
though it is now valued, including grounds at $6,000.00
The Methodist Episcopal church, located at Coventry village, was
organized by Rev. W. R. Puffer, in 1877. The building was erected during
that year, a wood structure capable of seating 300 persons, and is valued
at about its original cost, $2,400.00. The first pastor was Rev. 0. D.
Clapp. The society now has forty-two members, with Rev. Lucius E. Taylor,
of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884, Compiled and Published
by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page 227-229)
was provided by Tom Dunn.
–1884 Coventry Business Directory
–1884 Coventry Gore Business Directory
list of Pastors, Deacons and Members of the
Church, Coventry, Vermont
Karn has offered to do look-ups in the following:
1830 census of
1878 map of Coventry--this
map has people's names listed where their house is located.
Town Directory and Town History - from Gazeteer of Lamoille and Orleans
counties, VT 1883/84 by H. Child
Gazetteer -Coventry- by Abby Hemenway
History of Coventry,
by Pliny H. White