which forms with Pawlet and Mount Tabor the southern tier of towns
in the county, is bounded on the north by Tinmouth and Wallingford; on
the east by Mount Tabor; on the south by Dorset, in Bennington county,
and on the west by Pawlet. It is a trifle more than six miles square, containing
24,960 acres. The surface is broken by mountains, and indented with valleys,
which unite the various water-courses so plentifully distributed throughout
the town. The Danby or Spruce Mountains intersect the town north and south
and at nearly right angles with the Dorset Mountains on the southern boundary.
The principal streams are Mill River, which is formed by the concourse
of many small brooks in the southwestern part of the town, and flows east
into Otter Creek in the town of Mount Tabor; and Flower Brook, which is
formed in a similar manner in the northwestern part of the town and flows
southerly and then westerly into Pawlet River in the town of Pawlet. These
streams and their tributaries have afforded the inhabitants unsurpassed
mill privileges. Like all the towns in the county, it was originally covered
with a luxuriant mantle of forest trees, which were a source of wealth
to the earlier inhabitants.
The original design for
the settlement of Danby was conceived, and the plan adopted, in Nine Partners,
N. Y. The charter was granted by Benning WENTWORTH, governor of New Hampshire,
on the 27th of August, 1761. The following persons were the grantees: Jonathan
WILLARD, Samuel ROSE, Matthew FORD, Lawrence WILLSEE, Benjamin PALMER,
James BAKER, Jonathan ORMSBY, Joseph SOPER, William WILLARD, Joseph MARKS,
Daniel MILLER, Daniel DUNHAM, John NELSON, Aaron BUCK, Asa ALGER, Joseph
BROWN, John SUTHERLAND, jr., Joseph BROWN, jr., Thomas BROWN, Jeremiah
PALMER, Benjamin HAMMOND, William BLUNT, Israel WELLER, Benjamin FINCH,
Noah PETTIBONE, Samuel SHEPARD, John WELLER, David WELLER. Nehemiah REYNOLDS,
Jonathan PALMER, William T. BARTON, jr., John PARTILOW, Joseph ALGER, Hugh
Hall WENTWORTH, Samuel ALGER, Jonathan WELLER, Lucius PALMER, Ephraim REYNOLDS,
John DOWNING, Captain John CHAMBERLAIN, Moses KELLOGG, Reuben KNAPP, David
WILLOUGHBY, Isaac FINCH, William BARTON, Gideon ORMSBY, John WILLARD, Samuel
HUNT, jr., Eliakim WELLER, Noah GILLETT, Colonel Ebenezer KENDALL, Samuel
HUNT, Nathan WELLER, William KENNEDY, Nathan FELLOWS, Lamson SHEAH, John
EDMUNDS, Daniel FORD, Richard JOSLIN, William SHAW.
The first meeting of
the proprietors was held, in pursuance of the provisions of the charter,
at the great Nine Partners, Cromelbow precinct, Duchess county, N. Y.,
and Jonathan WILLARD, through whose efforts, chiefly, the charter was obtained,
was the moderator of the meeting. The second and subsequent meetings were
held at Nine Partners, N. Y., until the spring of 1763, and committees
were repeatedly appointed for the purpose of surveying the new township,
dividing it into shares, laying out roads, etc. The first road was actually
laid out in the fall of 1763, or spring of 1764, and led from Bennington
to Danby, and is now used for a highway across the mountain from Danby
to West Dorset. It was first worked in the summer of 1764, and those who
performed the work were to receive their pay in land. Although at first
a mere bridle-path, it was the only road to the town for some time, and
was consequently the avenue of the original settlements.
The first settlements
in Danby were effected in the summer of 1765, when Joseph SOPER, Joseph
EARL, Crispin BULL, Luther COLVIN and Micah VAIL established homes in the
wilds of the new township. Joseph SOPER came with his family from Nine
Partners, N. Y., finding his way by marked trees, and bringing his worldly
goods on horseback. He made a clearing and erected a log cabin on the farm
now occupied by Benjamin M. BAKER. The cabin stood there until about 1800.
Joseph EARL, also from Nine Partners, began a clearing west of SOPER and
near the present residence of John HILLIARD. In the following year, it
seems, he erected a log cabin, and was joined by his family. Crispin BULL
settled near the present residence of Richard STONE, but afterwards made
the first clearing in the east part of the town, and erected a cabin a
little south of the school-house. Luther COLVIN came from Rhode Island
and pitched on the farm now owned by John HILLIARD and occupied by Eli
WELLINGTON. Micah VAIL's settlement was on the farm owned by A. B. HERRICK,
south of the Corners. These five families constituted the population of
Danby in 1766.
The hardships and privations
which these rugged and daring pioneers suffered cannot be depicted, but
a faint idea is already given in the tragic deat of the first named. Joseph
SOPER was frozen to death a few years after his arrival here, and before
the breaking out of the Revolutionary War. There being no grist-mill in
town, the settlers had habitually either pounded corn in bowls, or hollowed
stumps of trees, or gone to Manchester, fourteen miles away, for their
grist. SOPER had gone on an errand of this kind, and on his return had
stopped at the house of a brother in Dorset. It was already dark, and the
night was bitter cold. A fierce snow storm, and a heavy wind were raging.
SOPER resisted the importunities of his brother's family and pursued his
way alone across the menacing mountain. His family waited for him all night
in vain, and his brothers, fearing that some disaster might have befallen
him, came to Danby on the following morning. They found the team, and near
by the lifeless body of SOPER against a tree, where he had been overcome
by the cold, less than a mile from home. He was buried in a hollow log
on the ground that witnessed his death, the land being now owned by John
HILLIARD, nearly opposite the residence of Harvey HARRINGTON. Joseph EARL
left town during the Revolutionary War. Crispin BULL was one of the first
board of selectmen, chosen in 1769. He received from the proprietors sixty
acres of some of the best land in town for sixty days' work building roads.
It is now owned by George W. and Stephen W. PHILLIPS. He died in 1810 at
the age of seventy years. His father, Timothy, was a Quaker, and settled
in 1767, a little southwest of the residence of Harvey HARRINGTON.
Luther COLVIN found his
way here by marked trees. His log cabin had but one room and no windows
or doors. It is said that he brought the first stove into town, and built
the second framed house. He also joined the Quaker society. He was an enthusiastic
hunter and trapper. He died in 1829 at the age of about ninety years. Captain
Micah VAIL was very prominent in the town and State. He was moderator of
the annual town meetings in 1773 and 1774; was one of the selectmen in
1770 and 1775; was a firm friend of Ethan ALLEN, Seth WARNER, and an unwavering
opponent of the New York land jobbers. He represented Danby in the convention
which assembled at the house of Captain KENT, in Dorset, in 1776, and pronounced
the New Hampshire Grants "a free and separate district." He and his wife
both died on the same day in 1777, and were buried in the same grave.
In the year 1766, Seth
COOK, then twenty-six years of age, came to Danby from Rhode Island and
settled on the since well-known "Cook farm," now occupied by the widow
of the late Seneca SMITH, south of the Corners. The town then contained
but seven families. He was one of the first board of selectmen in 1769,
and was unjustly suspected of entertaining royalist ideas. He died in 1801.
Nathan WELLER came from Nine Partners, N. Y., in the spring of 1767, and
settled on a portion of the farm now owned by Harris OTIS. He was a prominent
man in the early history of Danby, having been selectman eleven years from
1770, town treasurer in 1772, and lister four years.
Captain Stephen CALKINS
came from Connecticut in 1768, and settled on the present farm of C. G.
HERRICK. He purchased the right of an original proprietor, and was thus
the first to clear a farm north of the Corners. He was the first selectman
elected in town. He was captain in the Revolutionary War, and took part
in the siege of Yorktown, when the British surrendered. He built the first
grist-mill in town. He died in 1814, at the age of eighty-three years.
Thomas ROWLEY came to Danby from Hebron, Conn., in the same year with Captain
CALKINS and settled near the residence of the late A. C. RISDON, and was
surveyor for the town and proprietors' clerk for a number of years. He
was town clerk from 1769 to 1782 inclusive, was one of the town's committee
of safety; was elected representative in 1778 and again in 1782. He opposed,
with CHITTENDEN, ALLEN and WARNER, the pretensions of the New York land
jobbers. He was the poet of the Green Mountain Boys. In 1768, also, Jesse
IRISH, from Nine Partners, settled on the farm now owned by Nelson COLVIN.
He had seven sons, some of whom, like himself, bore the reputation of being
Tories. It is related that his property was confiscated because of his
active sympathy with the British. He remained in Danby until his death,
some years after the war.
The year 1770 witnessed
a considerable immigration of settlers. Among others that came that year
was William BROMLEY, sr., who settled on the present homestead of Ira H.
VAIL, and erected his rude log cabin on the site of the present framed
house. He was town clerk from 1776 to 1780; proprietors' clerk in 1786;
one of the committee of safety in 1777; selectman in 1781, and town treasurer
from 1783 to 1785. He died in 1803, at the age of eighty-four years. Abraham
CHASE also came in 1770, from Nine Partners, and established a settlement
near the recent residence of A. C. RISDON. He owned and kept the second
tavern in town in 1774. After a few years he removed to Plattsburg, N.
Y. Captain William GAGE came the same year (1770) and kept a tavern on
the site of the poor-house. He held many prominent positions of trust in
the town; was especially active against the claims of the "Yorkers " to
Vermont territory; joined the army during the invasion of Burgoyne, and
participated in the battle of Bennington. He remained in town some years
after the close of the war.
Wing ROGERS came from
Mansfield, Mass., in 1770, and came at once into possession of broad acres,
including the farms now owned by J. E. NICHOLS and F. R. HAWLEY. He was
a Quaker and one of the founders of that church in Danby. He was a man
of great force of character and peculiar eccentricities. He was the first
"hog constable," being elected in 1777; was selectman four years, and a
member of the Legislature from 1790 to 1793 inclusive. He died after 1800
in Ferrisburg, Vt. His brother, Stephen, settled also in 1770, on the farm
now owned by the H. P. TABOR estate. He was a Quaker. In 1790, he erected
there the first two-story house built in town. He died in 1835, at the
age of eighty-five years.
Israel SELEY came from
Rhode Island in 1770; participated in the Revolution and died in 1810,
advanced in years. Ephraim SELEY, a brother, came here about the same time
and built the red tavern at the Corners. He opposed the New York land grants.
He removed to Canada. Walter TABOR, another immigrant of 1770, came from
Tiverton, R. L, and settled on the ground afterward covered by the woolen
factory, near the A. C. RISDON place. He fought in the Revolution, and
after the war was over became the associate of Micajah WEED in the tanning
business. In about 1792 he removed to Mount Tabor, where he died in 1806.
Abel HASKINS, sr., came
from Nine Partners, N. Y., in 1772, and lived here until his death in 1820,
at the age of eighty years. Ezekiel BALLARD, a Quaker, came from Rhode
Island in 1775, and settled on the north part of the farm now owned by
A. A. MATHEWSON, and afterward on the farm now owned by the H. P. TABOR
estate. In the same year Joseph WING came from Dartmouth and settled on
the farm now owned by William H. BOND. He died at the age of ninety in
In 1776 Joseph ARMSTRONG,
of Bennington, took up a temporary residence in the northwest part of the
town. He afterwards settled in Pawlet. In the same year Governor Thomas
CHITTENDEN, to avoid the dangers of the exposed condition of the frontier,
came to Danby by the way of Middlebury and Castleton, and took up his abode
on a farm at the foot of the mountain, presumably near the residence of
the late A. C. RISDON. On the evacuation of Ticonderoga in July, 1777,
he went to Pownal, and later to Arlington and to Williamstown, Mass. At
the close of the war he returned to Williston. Stephen WILLIAMS was the
first settler on the present farm of Frank GOODWIN, and after a residence
of a number of years here, during which he was honored with various town
offices, he removed to Concord, Erie county, N.. Y. Bethuel BROMLEY came
from Preston, Conn., in 1777, and founded a settlement on the farm of the
late Hiram BROMLEY. He was a brother of William BROMLEY, sr. About the
time of his arrival, Oliver HARRINGTON, from Rhode Island, settled in the
little village, where he resided until his death in 1839, aged eighty-one
years. Elihu BENSON came from Rhode Island as early as 1778, but probably
did not establish a residence here until several years later.
Obadiah EDMUNDS came
the same year from the same State. Although a man of peaceable disposition,
he bore a share in the War of the Revolution. He died in 1809. Elisha FISH
also came from Rhode Island in 1778, and began the clearing of the farm
now occupied by Freelove FISH. At the time of his death, in 1845, when
he had reached the age of eighty-three years, he had acquired what was
then deemed to be a considerable property. Charles LEGGETT, one of the
first school teachers in Danby, lived here from 1778 to 1806, when he removed
to Chester, N. Y. Anthony NICHOLS came to Chittenden, Vt., from East Greenwich,
R. L, his native place, in 1776, and two years later commenced the farm
now occupied by Isaac J. NICHOLS and sisters, in Danby. He was a Quaker.
He introduced about the second stove in town, the "Abbott stove." His death
occurred in 1822, when he had attained the age of seventy-one years. His
brother, Charles, accompanied him on his arrival in Danby, and settled
at Scottsville, near where his grandson, Charles, now lives.
The name of Dr. Ebenezer
TOLMAN, the first physician in town, first appears on the roll of 1778.
He was a prominent man in town until he went away in 1800, and was succeeded
in practice by Dr. Adam JOHNSON. John H. ANDRUS came from Colchester, Conn.,
in 1780, and established a home in the west part of the town. He held many
prominent public positions, having been one of the judges of the County
Court in 1811 and 1813, a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1814,
and a councilor in 1820. He was also selectman eleven, and representative
nine years. He died in 1841, aged seventy-three years, in Pawlet, whither
he had removed in 1822. Another settler of 1780 was Henry FROST, who kept
tavern near the residence of the late A. C. RISDON, and ran the first store
in town. He was selectman two years. Thomas HARRINGTON, sr., came from
Gloucester, R. I., in the same year. He brought considerable money with
him and became an extensive land-owner. He was selectman four years and
town surveyor for a long time. Thomas NICHOLS, sr., the earliest known
ancestor of the NICHOLS family who came to Danby from Greenwich, R. I.,
in 1780. He was of Welsh descent. He died at an advanced age in 1798. Jonathan
SELEY, who subsequently became one of the largest land-owners in town,
came from Rhode Island about the year 1780. He was constable in 1784, selectman
five years, lister five years and justice of the peace ten years. He removed
to St. Lawrence county, N. Y., and afterwards to Ohio, where he died. Rev.
Hezekiah EASTMAN, the first settled minister and the first Baptist clergyman
in town, was ordained at the house of Stephen CALKINS on the 11th of October,
1781. He received the benefit of the share of land reserved by the charter
for the first settled minister of the gospel. Although his education in
the schools was limited, he had great natural ability, a thorough knowledge
of the Bible and of men and affairs. He preached in nearly all the surrounding
towns, often traveling long distances, both on foot and on horseback, to
meet his appointments. Services were usually held in log buildings. He
remained here until about the year 1800.
Captain Amos BROWN, of
Gloucester, R. I., settled in 1782 on the farm now owned by his grandson,
Daniel BROWN, and is entitled to the credit of having been the first to
make a clearing in the west part of the town. He afterwards settled on
the farm now occupied by his grandson, John BROWN. The present dwelling
house he erected in 1793. He died in 1843, at the age of eighty-six years.
Lemuel GRIFFITH came also in 1782, on the farm now owned by R. E. CASWELL,
and soon became one of the most extensive land-owners in town. The apple
orchard that he planted is there yet and the site of the old house is marked
by the cellar, still visible. The first buildings were removed in 1839.
He died in 1818, at the age of seventy-three years. He has no sons or grandsons
in town now, but many more remote descendants. J. C., C. W. and S. L, GRIFFITH
Joseph BUTTON and Daniel
PARRIS, both worthy of mention, came in 1785; the former, from Rhode Island,
settled on what is still known as the "Button farm," now owned by Howell
DILLINGHAM. He was a Quaker, and possessed great wealth and energy. He
kept a store and manufactured potash. He died in 1829, at the age of eighty
years. Daniel PARRIS came from Williamstown, his native place, and built
a house on the farm now owned by his grandson, John S. PARRIS. He died
on the 17th of February, 1822, aged sixty-two years.
The principal arrival
in 1787 was that of Caleb SMITH, who first resided on the farm now owned
by A. D. SMITH. The site of the old log cabin is marked by a single apple-tree.
Like so many others of these early inhabitants, he was a Quaker. The house
which he built in 1798 is still occupied by his grandson. Captain Alexander
BARRETT, who came in 1788, was a prominent Methodist here in early days,
and a man of wealth and social position. He died in 1849, in his eighty-second
year. In the year 1789 came three brothers from Scituate, R. I., viz.,
Benjamin, Benoni and Reuben (sr.) FISK. Benjamin settled on the present
farm of Anthony HALEY, and remained here until his death in 1866, when
he had attained the unusual age of ninety-five years. Reuben FISK, sr.,
who cleared a part of the farm now occupied by P. W. JOHNSON, had the power,
it is said, of healing b. manipulation. He removed to Holland Purchase.
In about the year 1790
Stephen BAKER from Rhode Island came here, worked a while for Daniel PARRIS,
and in 1804 settled in the little village, having returned to Rhode Island
and married in the mean time. He went to Rhode Island again, then to Mount
Holly in 1814 and from there came here in 1828 and took up his residence
near Scottsville, where his son, Orean, now lives. He died in 1858, aged
eighty years. He has four sons, Benjamin M., Orean, Austin S., John F.,
and two daughters, Elizabeth and Philena S., wife of Simeon E. HARRINGTON,
now in town. The year of his arrival here witnessed also the settlement
of Bradford BARNES, of Plymouth, Mass., near what has been known as "the
borough " or, Danby village, on the Rowland STAFFORD farm, now owned by
A. S. BAKER. He kept a tavern here until about the year 1802. He died in
1816 at the age of sixty-nine years. In 1790, also, John BUXTON, from Rhode
Island, established a residence on the farm now owned by N. CLARK. He died
in 1845, being then eighty-five years of age. James SOWL first lived here
about 1791, when he settled on the farm which his father, Wesson SOWL,
had previously cultivated to some extent. He died at Westport, Mass., the
home of his father. He had been a seafaring adventurer in his earlier days.
Dr. Harris OTIS, a native
of Scituate, Mass., came to Danby in 1793. Although a finely educated physician,
he withdrew by degrees from the practice of medicine and devoting himself
entirely to farming, accumulated a handsome property in land and became
especially noted as a dairyman. He resided where his son William now lives;
the farm is carried on by Harris F. OTIS, his grandson. He was a leading
Quaker. He died on the 8th of August, 1847, in the seventy-third year of
In 1795 Jacob BARTLETT,
from Rhode Island, settled near the present farm of Michael CUNNINGHAM,
his birch-pole house then being on the old road, since discontinued. He
was a blacksmith and a member of the Quaker society. His death occurred
in Granville, N. Y., in 1837. Caleb BUFFUM came here in 1797, from Providence,
R. I, and after carrying on the blacksmithing business until 1806, purchased
the trip-hammer and shop of Samuel DOW, and remained there about twelve
years. From 1818 to 1841, he resided in Mount Tabor. Then he returned to
Danby and kept the tavern several years. He died in 1857, at Rutland, being
seventy-six years of age.
Elkanah PARRIS, a Quaker
from Pembroke, Mass., came in 1797, to the west part of the town and remained
until his death, in 1813. Abner BARTLETT, of Rhode Island, came in 1798,
and built a log cabin on the hill a little east of Erastus KELLEY's, and
in 1799, a framed house still farther east. He worked at blacksmithing
part of the time with his brother, Jacob, until 1801, when he died of smallpox.
Dr. Adam JOHNSON, of Norton, Mass., established a residence near the site
of the old Quaker meetinghouse, and afterwards bought out Dr. TOLMAN about
a quarter of a mile west of the Corners, as before noted. He had formerly
been physician on board a privateer; had been a prisoner six months in
the tower of London, and when liberated found that he had been robbed of
all his earnings. He died in 1806, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.
The most prominent arrivals
in 1800 were Elisha BROWN, Asa BROWN, Rufus BUCKLIN and William GREEN.
There were, of course, in the interim between the first settlement in Danby
and 1800 a great many homes founded here which have not been mentioned.
Among these other immigrants were John ALLEN, who settled where Michael
CARLEY now lives; Gideon BARNUM, Benjamin BROWNELL, John BROCK, Captain
John BURT, Dennis CANFIELD, Joshua COLVIN, Jonathan CRANDALL, Jacob EDDY,
Dr. Ira M. FRAZER, John HART, Roger WILLIAMS, Henry HERRICK, sr., Henry
HERRICK, jr., Abel HORTON, sr., Nicholas JENKS, Benjamin KELLEY, William
LAKE, Jesse LAPHAM, Henry LEWIS, Peter LEWIS, James LINCOLN, Elisha LINCOLN,
Darius LOBDEL, Rev. Jared LOBDEL, James MCDANIELS, Gideon MOODY, Lieutenant
John MOTT, John PALMER, Caleb PHILLIPS, Benjamin PHILLIPS, Israel PHILLIPS,
John PRIEST, William ROBERTS, Nathan SAULSBURY, Daniel and Elihu SHERMAN,
Henry SIGNOR, Wesson SOWL, Rowland STAFFORD, Abraham Staples and Elisha
Meanwhile the population
had drown to the number of 1,487 souls, over two hundred more than the
town possesses today. The forests had not, it is true, been felled as they
have been since. The houses, many of them, were still built of logs, and
everything presented the aspect of a new and opening country. The town
had been organized about thirty-one years, the first town meeting having
been held at the house of Timothy BULL on the 14th of March, 1769. The
first officers were: Timothy BULL, moderator; Thomas ROWLEY, town clerk;
Stephen CALKINS, Seth COOK and Crispin BULL, selectmen; Daniel VANOLENDO,
constable ; Nathan WELLER, treasurer; Peter IRISH, collector; John STAFFORD,
surveyor; Joseph EARL, Stephen CALKINS and Seth COOK, committee to lay
out highways. In the fall of that year it was voted to lay out five new
roads, the first being from the Notch in the mountain to Joseph EARL's
(near the site of John HILLARD's present residence); this was the first
road in town; thence it was to continue to the house of Micah VAIL. Two
roads were to start at Micah VAIL's, one to lead north and the other east.
The fifth road was laid out from the house of Jesse IRISH, in the northern
part of the town, to the house of Nathaniel FISK, in the eastern part.
These were times, indeed,
"that tried men's souls." Perpetual struggle, unremitting warfare, from
year to year. First the bitter hardships that had to be endured, the obstacles
that had to be surmounted or removed, in gaining a livelihood in the wilderness;
then, the strife between the inhabitants, who almost universally claimed
under New Hampshire grants, and the "haughty land-jobbers of New York,"
as Ethan ALLEN described them. While at the same time, for years, raged
the battles between tyranny and independence, between the British invaders,
with their hireling Hessians, and their blood-thirsty Indian allies on
the one side, and the sturdy resisters of oppression on the other; a people
whom Burgoyne described as being the most active and most rebellious race
on the continent, which "hangs like a gathering storm on my left." The
citizens here felt the most bitter hatred against the Tories, who were
found here in some numbers, and who were sometimes shot down at their own
doors or hanged on the nearest tree. During Burgoyne's invasion a company
of militia was organized here. Some of the residents participated in the
battle of Bennington.
Thirty years of peace
intervened between the close of the Revolutionary War and the breaking
out of the War of 1882. Twenty-two of the citizens of Danby took an active
part in this war, of whom thirteen were drafted, while there have been
forty-seven of its citizens who served in the Revolution.
Among the curious customs
of these times may be mentioned that of warning the inhabitants who were
exposing the town to cost, without owning real estate, by the service of
a mandate upon the constable commanding the unwelcome residents to leave
the town within a specified time. According to the records, twenty-one
families were warned out of town during the eight years following 1778.
It was a custom initiated by the passage in 1779 of a law requiring it,
for each town to elect annually a "horse brander," whose duty it was to
brand every horse belonging in town. The letter for Danby was "I." But
this custom fell into disuse when horses became a subject of general speculation
and trade as much as a beast of burden. In 1784, at a special town meeting
held on the 26th of January, it was voted to erect a whipping-post and
stocks near the house of Abraham CHASE. This was done in pursuance of an
act passed by the Legislature in 1779, for the purpose of punishing delinquents
and exhibiting notifications, warrants, etc.
In 1791, when the population
was 1,206, framed houses had been erected largely in the place of the rude
log cabins of earlier days, in consequence of the building by Stephen CALKINS
of a saw-mill; schools had been started in the several parts of the town,
and roads had been opened sufficiently to render travel to and from any
part of the town an easy matter. By 1800, when the population had increased
two hundred and eighty-one persons, great progress had been made in the
clearing of the land, and nearly every farm in town was under cultivation.
Three saw-mills had been built, two churches erected, while two stores
and three hotels were in operation. At that time, and, indeed, until the
opening of the railroad through the "borough," the "Corners" was the most
thickly-settled part of the town. "Dutch Hill," "Ox-Bow," "Bromley Hollow"
and "South America" had all been settled. In 1810 there were at the "Corners”
two stores, kept respectively by James MCDANIELS and James WEEKS.
Danby suffered in common
with a hundred other towns in New England and New York from the cold season
of 1816, and the famine that followed in the ensuing year. Grass and the
grains were a complete failure. Many of the inhabitants were reduced to
the last extremity, and but for the succor of willing and more able friends
must, perhaps, have perished of want. The population diminished after 1810
until 1840, when a slight increase was shown over the previous census report,
which, in 1830, was 1,362, and in 1840, 1,379. The next ten years witnessed
a very decided growth, but since 1850 the number of inhabitants in town
has gradually fallen off. The condition of the town in 1840, as given in
Gazetteer, was as follows: A society of Friends or Quakers had then
a meeting-house in the east part of the town, while the Separatists, or
Orthodox Friends, had another in the north part. A society of Methodists,
one of Baptists, and one of Universalists, owned, jointly, three houses
of worship, in the central, south and east parts respectively. There were
several marble quarries in the southeast part, and in the east village
three mills for sawing marble. The town was divided into thirteen school
districts. There were two grist-mills, five saw-mills, five stores, two
taverns, two tanneries, and one trip-hammer in town.
Town in the Civil War
When the war of 1861-65
was ended, Danby's war debt was wholly paid, notwithstanding that her bounties
aggregated $18,625, ranging each from $100 to $1,200. The quotas required
under the several calls of the president were promptly filled. Under the
president's call for 500,000 men on the 18th of July, 1864, the town has
the following record: Number enrolled, 137; quota, 24; excess of credit
from previous calls, 18; number to be raised on July 31, 1864, only six.
The town furnished the
following named soldiers in the last war: Aaron H. BAKER, first and second
enlistment, co. E, 5th regt.; Albert A. BAKER, co. E, 5th regt.; Henry
J. BAKER, co. F, 6th regt.; Holden D. BAKER, Joel C. BAKER, co. B, 9th
regt.; Elias S. BAKER, John F. BAKER, co. B, 14th regt.; Luman A. BALLOU,
Co. G, 7th regt.; William H. BOND, first and second enlistment, co. A,
2d regt.; Chester BRADLEY, first and second enlistment, co. D, 7th regt.;
James W. BROMLEY, first and second enlistment, co. B, 2d regt.; Erwin E.
BROMLEY, co. E, 1st cav.; Henry BROMLEY, co. B, 14th regt.; P. A. BROUGHTON,
co. I, 7th regt.; George A. BUCKLIN, co. H, 10th regt.; Elisha BULL, first
and second enlistment, co. B, 7th regt.; Bernice M. BUXTON, co. D, 7th
regt.; Thomas BURNETT, U. S. N.; Job H. COLVIN, co. C, 10th regt.; Alonzo
N. COLVIN, co. K, 14th regt.; Charles A. COOK, George M. COOK, first and
second enlistments, Co. D, 7th regt.; William S. COOK, co. E, 2d s. s.;
Morris H. COOK, co. I, 7th regt.; John COOK, co. B, 14th regt.; William
COREY, co. C, 10th regt.; Albert CRANDALL, co. H, 1st cav.; his second
enlistment, co. B, 14th regt.; Evarard CRANDALL, co. I, 7th regt.; William
CRANDALL, co. H, 1st cav.; Francis E. CRAPO, co. K, 14th regt.; Daniel
V. CROFF, co. B. 14th regt.; Ezra CROFF, co. B, 14th regt.; Israel T. CROFF,
co. H, 10th regt,; Alonzo E. DOTY, co. H, 1st cav.; Henry DENVER, co. D,
7th regt.; Benjamin F. DAWSON, co. K, 14th regt.; Gary H. EMERSON, Orange
G. EMERSON, Hiram R. EDGERTON, first and second enlistments, co. E, 2d
s. s.; Caleb P. FISK, co. B, 14th regt.; James FITZPATRICK, U.S.N.; Martin
FLANAGAN, co. D, 7th regt. ; Edwin M. FULLER, George GARDNER, William GARDNER,
first and second enlistments, co. F, 6th regt.; Warren GIFFORD, co. B,
2d regt.; Danforth B. GILMORE, co. 1, 7th regt.; Spencer GREEN, co. B,
9th regt.; Smith GREEN, Gardner F. GRIFFITH, co. B, 14th regt.; Hiram P.
GRIFFITH, co. I, 7th regt.; Julius C. GRIFFITH, co. B, 14th regt.; John
E. HAGAR, co. F, 6th regt.; Henry M. HALL, co. F, 1st s. s.; Enos HARRINGTON,
jr., co. B, 14th regt.; Sewall T. HOWARD, co. E, 2d s. s.; George E. KELLEY,
co. B, 7th regt.; John KELLEY, first and second enlistments, co. F, 6th
regt.; David H. KELLEY, Isaac W. KELLEY, co. B, 14th regt.; Daniel H. LANE,
co. B, 14th regt.; second enlistment, co. E, 17th regt.; Lysander B. LORD,
co. B, 14th regt.; John MAKER, co. F, 6th regt.; John MCINTYRE, co. H,
1st cav.; John MYLOTT, first and second enlistments, co. D, 7th regt.;
James C. MOORE, co. F, 6th regt.; John MURPHY, U. S. N.; Joel T. NICHOLS,
first and second enlistments, co. D, 7th regt.; Jared L. PARRIS, co. H,
2d s. s.; John J. PARRIS, co. E, 2d s. s.; Foster J. PARRIS. Co. B, 14th
regt.; Isaac PORTER, co. F, 1st regt.; George W. POTTER, co. G, 7th regt.;
Gustavus REED, cc. B, 2d regt.; George P. RISDON, co. H, 10th regt.; Charles
A. ROBERTS, co. G, 7th regt.; Elbert SHERMAN, co. C, 9th regt.; William
W. STIMSON, co. B, 14th regt.; Richard STONE, co. G, 1st cav.; George STULTS,
co. I, 7th regt.; Elisha SWEAT, co. K, 14th regt.; Francis SYLVESTER, U.
S. N.; Charles H. TARBELL, first and second enlistments, co. F, 6th regt.;
Abner W. TARBELL, James M. TARBELL, first and second enlistments, co. E,
2d s. s.; George F. TAYLOR, co. B, 9th regt.; John C. THOMPSON, co. B,
14th regt.; James THOMPSON, U. S. N.; Thomas VAN GUILDER, co. D, 7th regt.;
Henry H. VAUGHAN, co. B, 14th regt.; Orsemus W. WEAVER, first and second
enlistments, co. D, 7th regt.; Merrick G. WILKINS, co. C, 11th regt.; Moses
O. WILLIAMS, co. F, 5th regt.; Martin V. WILLIAMS, co. B, 14th regt., second
enlistment, 6th regt.; John C. WILLIAMS, William WIGHTMAN, co. B, 14th
regt.; Moses O. WHEELER, co. I, 7th regt.; Alonzo WHITE, co. E, 2d s. s.;
Harvey S. WOODARD, co. I, 7th regt.; Daniel WOODS, co. C, 10th regt.; three
The following persons
who were drafted in August, 1863, paid commutation, $300 each: Oliver G.
BAKER, Joseph FISK, Lyman FISK, jr., Lemuel HARRINGTON, Simeon E. HARRINGTON,
Erastus KELLEY, Jeremiah RAGAN, Edward J. REED, and Henry G. THOMPSON.
Procured substitute: Oratus KELLY. Entered service: Isaac PORTER.
The earliest manufactured
products of the town were maple sugar and potash. Woolen factories, grist-mills,
saw-mills and tanneries have also been erected and operated at various
times. Jonathan BARRETT built the first woolen factory about the year 1810,
a mile and a half south of the Corners. He operated a carding-machine in
connection with it. BARRETT failed and the factory closed forever in 1821.
That same year David YOUNGS built another in the East village, or "the
Borough," which he ran until it burned in 1837. A third one was built about
the same time at Scottsville and operated by Joseph BROWNELL. John BISHOP
ran a cloth-dressing and fulling-mill at an early day, just west of the
site of Erastus KELLEY's saw-mill. This business has been extinct in town
for nearly forty years. The first grist-mill in town was erected and operated
by Stephen CALKINS as early as 1780, and continued many years. Andrew WHITE
built one near the east village, in 1795. The first saw-mill was built
about 1790, by Stephen ROGERS, near the George F. KELLEY place. Soon afterward
Stephen CALKINS erected one on the site of Erastus KELLEY's present mill.
Still another one was built at a very early day by Henry FROST, near the
residence of Mrs. Mary Ann BULL, and afterwards rebuilt by Jazaniah BARRETT.
The first tannery was built by Micajah WEED near the present farm of Mrs.
W. M. PARRIS. Daniel SHERMAN erected one about the same time (1800) where
Albert MATHEWSON now lives, and Isaac NICHOLS operated another for a long
time on the site of the present residence of Isaac J. NICHOLS. In 1810
Peleg NICHOLS, Hosea WILLIAMS and Bradford BARNES built a tannery at the
east village. Two years later Daniel HEALY started one at Scottsville,
which he subsequently sold to Job SCOTT. It remained in SCOTT's hands nearly
thirty years. Adin GREEN built the next one at the east village and was
succeeded by Amasa BANCROFT, and he by O. B. Hadwin, who four or five years
ago converted it into a grist-mill and runs it as such now. Joseph, Jesse
and Elisha LAPHAM built a tannery in 1821, on the site of D. E. GORTON's
place. Others of a smaller capacity have been at various times operated
by John VAUGHAN, Anthony COLVIN, Thomas NICHOLS. There is no tannery in
town now. There have been in town two trip-hammers used in the manufacture
of edged tools. Samuel Dow built the first one at the east village, in
1795, and Savid BARTLETT and Isaac SOUTHWICK built the other in 1810, near
the residence of Henry B. KELLEY. Benjamin PHILLIPS also erected a furnace
very early near the present residence of Edwin STAPLES, and carried on
the business many years.
The marble industry has
been prominent in Danby until within a few years, but owing to the inferior
quality of the product, as compared with the Rutland marbles, the business
has gone down. Previous to 1840 James LINCOLN and others gained a livelihood
here by hewing gravestones out of the native marble. The first mills were
erected at the east village, one by William, Alfred and Albert KELLEY,
and the other by Moulton FISH, Elisha FISH and Allen CONGOR. In 1841 Aaron
and Elisha ROGERS and Seth GRIFFITH built the third. In 1845 John T., GEORGE
and Gardner GRIFFITH built one, and continued it for a number of years.
In 1848 another mill was built and operated by William HASKINS and Hiram
KELLEY. Aaron ROGERS, jr., William STIMPSON and Hannibal HOPKINS began
sawing marble in 1850. The opening of the railroad stimulated this industry,
as it did all industries in the east village. George F. KELLEY erected
a mill soon after the road was completed, which was subsequently operated
by Albert and Alfred KELLEY. John H. VAIL, who acquired the property, disposed
of it to the present owner, James CONNOR. The mill is disused. Other firms
and corporations were organized, but lasted only a short time.
The first tavern in town
was kept on the site of the poor-house as early as 1775 by Captain John
BURT. Abraham CHASE kept an inn from about 1778 to 1800 about a mile south
of the Corners, near the house of the late Alvah RISDON, and was followed
until 1810 by Henry FROST. The building was then converted into a store.
About the year 1800 Elisha BROWN built the first tavern at the Corners,
and remained there for years. He was followed by Henry HERRICK, jr., who
kept tavern in town, in all, twenty-one years. He built and for several
years attended the famous "Red House," being succeeded by Nicholas JENKS,
who remained until 1823. The old Red House still stands though unoccupied.
Barton BROMLEY built a public house at the west end of the Corners about
1830, out of the old Methodist meeting-house. Arwin HUTCHINS first ran
it, and Nicholas JENKS followed him. The first inn at the east village,
or Borough, was built by Rowland STAFFORD in 1795, near the site of the
present hotel, and was followed in 1802 by Samuel DOW. Bradford BARNES
kept one just north of the village, on the farm now owned by Austin BAKER,
in 1800. Abraham ANTHONY also kept tavern at an early day where where the
PHILLIPS brothers now live. The hotel which stood on the site of the present
hotel was built in 1804, by William WEBBER, who was followed, four years
later, by Dr. MCCLURE. Elisha SOUTHWICK then kept it a short time and was
succeeded by Augustus MULFORD, during whose proprietorship it burned, in
1812. MULFORD immediately rebuilt on the same ground the present hotel.
Hosea WILLIAMS followed him, and was succeeded by Rufus BUCKLIN, jr., who
remained until 1820. Caleb BUFFUM kept the house from 1841 to 1847, and
then Levi BARRETT until 185 1. For a number of years after that the landlords
remained only a year. The present proprietor, William H. BOND, succeeded
Lytle VANCE about the year 1869.
The first store in town
was opened by Henry FROST in 1790, in connection with the tavern. Jazaniah
BARRETT, his successor, remained until about 1810. Elisha TRYON opened
a store in 1805, and about the same time Isaac SOUTHWICK kept one near
the present residence of C. G. HERRICK. James MCDANIELS succeeded the former
and contemporaneously with James WEEKS engaged in the first mercantile
business at the Corners in 1810. They were followed by many others. S.
& N. J. SMITH built a large store in 1830and conducted the business
many years. Miner HILLIARD built one soon after, and some time later was
followed by CROFT & BATES, Mr. BROWN, and finally by P. HOLTON &
Co. Mr. HOLTON is now in New York, and the only store at the Corners is
kept by William F. OTIS. The old MCDANIELS store, after being occupied
by various merchants, came at last into the hands of BUCKLIN & VAIL.
Three or four years ago it was destroyed by fire.
There is no store at
present at Scottsville, though Jobb SCOTT started one there about 1825
and remained in the business more than thirty years. S. E. HARRINGTON was
the last merchant there. The first store at the east village was built
and opened by Oliver ARNOLD in 1803, near the site of Frank BROMLEY's residence.
His successors were Robert GREEN and David YOUNGS. About the same time
Elisha and Jesse LAPHAM built a store on the farm now owned by D. E. GORTON.
Hosea WILLIAMS built one in 1808, on the site of the present hotel, and
which forms the ell of that building. Jesse LAPHAM, who followed him, remained
until 1812, when he erected a new store on the site of James FULLOM's house.
Isaac and Platt VAIL afterwards kept it. Jesse LAPHAM erected the store
now kept by William PIERCE in 1836 and conducted the business for years.
Since then H. G. LAPHAM, R. J. VAIL, R. A. VAIL & Co. (about 1840),
William SPERRY, C. M. BRUCE (about ten years), A. SMITH and J. B. LAPHAM
have kept there. William PIERCE followed Bruce about 1868. Since 1810 EGGLESTON
& YOUNGS, Seth GRIFFITH, Caleb BUFFUM and others have kept store in
the east village.
About 1855 a union store
was established, Daniel BROMLEY and J. C. THOMPSON being agents. W. H.
BOND afterwards occupied it as a tin and hardware store. It burned in about
1867. The store building west of the east village, occupied by L. S. WALDO,
was erected soon after the opening of the marble industry by William KELLEY.
The store now occupied by C. H. & W. B. GRIFFITH was built by S. L.
GRIFFITH in 1862. The present occupants, brothers of the builder, went
in there about 1865. The store now occupied by O. A. ADAMS was built in
1867, by C. M. BRUCE, who was succeeded by J. C. GRIFFITH; after he went
out the building remained vacant a short time. Then A. S. ADAMS & Co.
occupied it four or five years, going out in the spring of 1880. After
a vacancy of five years, O. A. ADAMS occupied it in the spring of 1885.
The hotel store, now occupied BY MCINTYRE & GRIFFITH, was built by
Wm. H. BOND in the spring of 1880 and leased at once to A. S. ADAMS &
Co. On the first of April, 1885, Eugene MCINTYRE and S. L. GRIFFITH succeeded
them. The first hardware store in town was kept by NICHOLS & BUTTON,
and afterward by J. B. NICHOLS. In 1865, William H. BOND succeeded NICHOLS
and still remains in the business. W. D. SMEAD opened his tin shop four
or five years ago.
The grist-mill now owned
and, operated by Henry B. JENKINS was built in 1846 by Nathan L. BAKER,
and Joseph BARTLETT. The latter soon sold his interest to Mr. Baker, who
in 1864 transferred it to H. B. JENKINS. The saw-mill of Erastus KELLEY
was built by Stephen CALKINS, probably before the year 1800. Mr. KELLEY
succeeded his father, Nelson, more than ten years ago and rebuilt the mill
in 1878, the old one having burned. E. MINETT manufactures cheese boxes
in connection with wagon-making. He succeeded his father, Henry, about
1866. S. L. GRIFFITH started a wagon shop here in 1880, in which he manufactured
most of the wagons for his own use, and did work for others. (See History
of Mount Tabor.)
The Otter Creek News
was started at the Corners about 1865 by John C. WILLIAMS, the author of
an exhaustive and excellent history of Danby. He published the paper only
two or three years ; the printing being done in Rutland. About 1868 A.
S. BAKER & Son (Charles S.) took the paper and had the printing done
Bennington. The enterprise was abandoned about 1872.
The first postmaster
at the east village is not positively known. Adin H. GREEN kept the office
as early as 1836. Joseph R. GREEN and A. R. VAIL then held it about four
years each. Andrews EGGLESTON was postmaster eight or ten years. A. R.
VAIL, S. L. GRIFFITH, C. M. BRUCE, James FISH and J. C. GRIFFITH have all
had the office here for a time, the last named holding it nearly twelve
years. He was succeeded by the present incumbent, O. A. ADAMS, in the summer
of 1885. The present postmaster at the Corners, William F. OTIS, succeeded
J. C. WILLIAMS about ten years ago. P. HOLTON held the office seven or
eight years before that, having succeeded G. J. LOCKE. LOCKE's predecessor
was Jeptha FROST.
There are at present
no lawyers in Danby. The medical profession is ably represented by Drs.
E. O. and F. E. WHIPPLE. Dr. E. O. WHIPPLE was born at Athens, Windsor
county, Vt., on the 20th of June, 1820. He studied medicine with Professors
S. W. THAYER at West Randolph, and P. D. BRADFORD, finishing with the latter,
in Bethel, Vt. He was graduated from the Castleton Medical College in June,
1847, and opened an office in Danby in September of the following year.
Dr. F. E. WHIPPLE was born March 12, 1857, at Danby. He studied medicine
with his father and was graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College,
March 10, 1881. He began to practice at once in Danby. (For further particulars
of the two professions in this town, see Chapters XVI and XVII.)
The variation in population
of Danby since the first census of 1791 is shown by the following figures:
1791, 1,206; 1800, 1,487; 1810, 1,730; 1820, 1,607; 1830, 1,362; 1840,
1,379; 1850, 1,535; 1860, 1,419; 1870, 1,319; 1880, 1,202.
The present officers
of Danby are as follows: W. F. OTIS, jr., clerk and treasurer; E. J. REED,
I. W. KELLEY, J. N. PHILLIPS, selectmen; W. HILLIARD, constable; Mrs. I.
C. ADAMS, superintendent of schools; Elkanah PARRIS, D. C. SMITH, H. J.
FISK, listers; C. G. HERRICK, overseer of the poor; J. N. PHILLIPS, town
As has already been observed,
a large portion of the early settlers of Danby were Quakers, and a society,
formed at an early day, held their meetings at first in a log house on
a hill west of the residence of Howell DILLINGHAM. In 1785, the first regular
edifice was erected on the southeast corner of the present farm of James
E. NICHOLS. Another church was built in 1805 not far from the present residence
of Howell DILLINGHAM. The Friends at this time outnumbered all other denominations.
The Hicksite division of 1827 separated this body in Danby, and the orthodox
Friends built about 1830 a church near the residence of C. G. HERRICK.
The last church was built in 1845 in the east part of the town; but the
society has now entirely run out. Spiritualism has to a large extent
taken the place of Quakerism.
The Baptists formed a
society here in 1781, and appointed Rev. Hezekiah EASTMAN their first pastor.
Thomas ROWLEY, Abraham CHASE, William BROMLEY, sr., John STAFFORD, Nathan
ROWLEY, Roger WILLIAMS, Joseph FOWLER, Stephen CALKINS and Abel HASKINS
were among the first members. Mr. EASTMAN left here about 1800 and the
church discontinued. It was reorganized in 1826 under Elder Joseph PACKER.
The church went down about 1850.
The first church edifice
was erected by the Methodists in 1795, and stood west of the Corners near
the burial ground. It was torn down in 1822 and meetings were thereafter
held in the brick school-house. The Methodist Church and society flourished
here until within a short time. Within a year a new Methodist Church has
been organized at the Corners. G. F. EDDY fills the pulpit there usually.
In 1838 the church building
now used by the Congregationalists was built by a union society composed
of Episcopal Methodists, Close Communion Baptists and Friends. The church
south of the Corners was finished in 1839. The building at the Corners
was completed about 1840.
The present Congregational
Church at the east village was instituted in 1869 by Rev. Aldace WALKER,
D. D. It had first but twelve members. The pastor was Rev. James P. STONE.
The present pastor is Rev. L. D. MEARS. The church property is valued at
of Rutland County Vermont with Illustrations and Biographical
of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
by H. Y. Smith & W. S. Rann
Mason & Co., Publishers 1886
of the Town of Danby
notable native of Danby was John Grant Otis, Congressman from Kansas.
John Grant, a Representative from Kansas; born near Danby, Rutland County,
Vt., February 10, 1838; pursued an academic course at Burr Seminary, Manchester,
Vt.; attended Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., and the law department
of Harvard University; was admitted to the bar of Rutland County, Vt.,
in 1859; moved to Topeka, Kans., in May 1859 and commenced the practice
of law; assisted in recruiting the first black regiment of Kansas in 1862;
paymaster general of the Governor’s military staff from February 1863 to
1865, with rank of colonel; engaged in agricultural pursuits and in the
dairy business near Topeka; was State agent of the Grange 1873-1875; State
lecturer for the Grange 1889-1891; elected as a Populist to the Fifty-second
Congress (March 4, 1891-March 3, 1893); unsuccessful candidate for renomination
in 1892; engaged in his former business pursuits until his death in Topeka,
Kans., February 22, 1916; interment in Topeka Cemetery.
Directory of the United States Congress.
Gazetteer of the Town of Danby, Rutland County, VT., 1881-82
Business Directory of the Town of Danby, Rutland County, VT., 1881-82