IRA is a triangular tract of land about three miles broad at its widest part, and eight miles long, and is situated nearly in the central part of the county. It is bounded on the east by Pittsford, Rutland and Clarendon, on the south by Tinmouth and Middletown, and west by Middletown, Poultney and Castleton. The original boundaries of the town have twice been changed, a part of the town being taken from Ira to form the town of Middletown, October 28, 1784, and in 1854 a portion of the territory of Clarendon being annexed to it.

     From all that can be ascertained concerning the origin of the town, it is thought to have been chartered by Benning WENTWORTH about the year 1761. The original charter was lost when the capitol at Montpelier burned.

     The greater part of the surface is so broken by the Taconic range of mountains as to be incapable of cultivation. In some of the principal valleys, and notably in the interval formed by Ira BROOK, are found a few farms which afford excellent grazing facilities, and give the town its principal wealth. The highest peak is Herrick Mountain, in the center of the town, which is 2,661 feet above tide water, and the most noted peak is Bird Mountain, peculiar by virtue of its composition, which is quartz conglomerate.

     The lumber business, and the various industries collateral to it, have never prospered here, because the streams, though numerous enough to drain the soil, are not large enough to offer good mill privileges. The largest stream is Ira Brook, which uses in the south part of the town, flows in a northeasterly direction, and adds to the volume of Tinmouth River in Clarendon. Castleton River flows westerly through the north part of the town.

     The following, being the persons who took the freeman's oath on the 31st of May, 1779, are undoubtedly the earliest settlers in town: Isaac CLARK, George SHERMAN, jr., Nathan LEE, Nathaniel MALLORY, Cyrus CLARK, Solomon WILDS, Amos HERRICK, Nathan WALTON, Benjamin RICHARDSON, David ADAMS, Benjamin BAGLEY, jr., Cephas CARPENTER, John COLLINS, Thomas COLLINS, Benjamin BAGLEY, Leonard ROBBERTS, Joseph WOOD, Ebenezer WOOD, Asahel JOINER, Thomas MCLUER, James MCLUER, Philemon WOOD, Gamaliel WALDO, Silas REED, David HASKINS, Isaac RUNNELS, Isaiah MARIN, David WOOD, George SHERMAN, Reuben BAKER, James COLE, John BAKER, Abraham WHITE, Joseph WOOD, jr., James MARTIN,. Thomas MARTIN, Hezekiah CARR, Thomas OBRIENT, John WALTON, Henry WALTON, Cornelius ROBERTS, Purchas ROBERTS, Samuel NEWTON, Joseph BAKER, John BURLINGAME, John BALY, Isaac BAKER, Nathaniel MASON, Jason NEWTON, Elijah MANN, Oliver EDDY, Nathan COLLINS; fifty-two in number.

     The first birth of which there is a record was that of Olive, daughter of George and Olive SHERMAN, September 5, 1773. The first marriage was Isaac CLARK and Hannah CHITTENDEN, daughter of Governor Thomas CHITTENDEN, who performed the ceremony on the 5th of September, 1779. The first death on record is that of Hannah BAKER, daughter of John BAKER, February 24, 1785.

     About the earliest families that came into town were the LEEs, who settled not far from 1770 in Ira Hollow, and owned three hundred and twenty-four acres of the best land in town. John LEE sympathized too fervently and openly with England in the Revolutionary difficulty with the mother country, and was consequently obliged to leave town under penalty of the "beech seal," while his farm was confiscated February 28, 1779, by James CLAGHORN, commissioner of probate of Rutland and Bennington counties, and sold to Thomas COLLINS, of Lanesborough, Berkshire county, Mass.

     Isaiah MASON came to Ira from Berkshire county, Mass., in 1780. Jason NEWTON came in 1782, from the same county. Preserved FISH was born on the 5th day of November, 1770, at Massachusetts Bay, and immigrated to this town in 1790. He began to work at masonry. He served as justice of the peace for more than forty years and represented the town thirteen years. It is also related that he was foreman of the grand jury a great many times, even the boys being so familiar with the fact, that they circulated the by-word "A true-bill, P. FISH, foreman."  He married Abigail CARPENTER in August, 1791, and by her had twelve children, eleven boys and one girl, all but one of whom became of age and married. Numerous descendants still reside in town. Nathaniel WILMARTH settled here as early as 1793. David PARKER came soon after. Peter PARKER came some years later. These two men were great story tellers and rhyme makers. Peter PARKER especially manifested great pride in his physical powers. Some of the boys in Ira thought to frighten him by making an effigy of a man by stuffing some old clothes with straw and hanging it from a tree over the road just east of Bird Mountain, where Parker would have to pass in the evening. But Peter did not scare. On the contrary, he stalked up to the specter of straw, and with the emphatic interrogatory, "Who are you, God, man or the devil?" laid it at his feet with a blow from his fist. He then threw away the straw, appropriated tile clothing, which was better than his own, and continued his way with serenity.

     Captain Isaac CLARK, the old "Rifle Clark," of Revolutionary fame, came here at a very early day, but moved a short time afterwards to Castleton. Cephas CARPENTER was the first to settle on the farm now owned by Captain Enos FISH. Wilson CARPENTER followed him a short time after, and settled in the south part of the town. Caleb WILLIAMS moved to Ira at an early date and resided here until his death in 1872. Justus COLLINS was another early settler. “He cleared the farm now occupied by his son, Harry COLLINS, who is now an extensive blooded stock-breeder. Salmon KINGSLEY came here about 1776, and afterwards removed to the West, where he died in 1828.

     The town was organized on the 31st day of May, 1779. The first officers elected were: George SHERMAN, moderator of the meeting; Isaac CLARK, town clerk; Nathaniel MALLORY, constable; Nathan LEE, Amos HERRICK and Isaac CLARK, selectmen. Isaac CLARK was chosen the first representative of the town in the following fall.


Photo by Jerry Brogren

     The pioneer settlers of Ira were frequently exposed to the raids of the Indians and the depredations of the British soldiers during the Revolution, and at an early day took measures for self-protection. For example, on the 20th of August, 1780, a special town meeting was held in the house of Joseph WOOD, and among other measures the following vote was carried: "Voted that the town raise for three months, two men to scout in the frontier, except sooner discharged, that the town pay said men for their services two pounds per month, that each man pays according as he stands in the list. Test, Joseph WOOD, town clerk." Feeling also ran very high here against the Tories, as witness the forcible expulsion from the community of the outspoken John LEE.

     The War of 1812, too, brought six minute men, volunteers from Ira: Jason NEWTON, jr., Seth RUSSELL, David JOHNSON, Hosea GOODSPEED, Nathaniel TOWER, James HUNTER. The following either went to or started for Plattsburg when the call was made for men: Matthew ANDERSON, Edmund WHITMORE, Thomas C. NEWTON, John MASON, Russell FISH, Leonard FISH, Leonard MASON, Jacob BUTLER, Abel SPENCER, Noah PECK, Barton COLLINS, Nathan COLLINS, jr., Smith JOHNSON and Freeman JOHNSON; Edward CARPENTER, Israel CARPENTER, John HALL, Isaiah MASON, Nathaniel WILMARTH, Wilson CARPENTER and Omri WARNER. Preserved FISH received a dispatch one Sunday to start immediately for West Clarendon and notify the people of the call for soldiers. He found most of the inhabitants at meeting, but on receiving the news they at once dispersed and made so active preparations that on Monday morning they started with stores of provisions for Plattsburg.

     The epidemic of 1813 smote the families of Ira with as hard a hand as was laid upon any of the afflicted towns in the county, sixteen or seventeen being carried over to the majority with it.


ECCLESIASTICAL

     The Baptist Church of Ira was organized in the summer of 1783, by the Rev. Thomas SKEELS who had preached here occasionally for eight years previously. He was the first pastor. Cephas CARPENTER was the clerk, and Reuben BAKER the first deacon. Mr. SKEELS left in the spring of 1785, and was succeeded in February, 1786, by Rev. Amasa BROWN. His residence here continued only until the following January. Deacon Reuben BAKER was licensed to preach on the 20th of May, 1788, and ministered to the church for several years, but was never ordained. Rev. Thomas SKEELS was again settled in the pastorate on the 15th of November, 1791, but died in one year, and for several years the church was again without a pastor. From December 31st, 1801, to 1812, Rev. Joseph CARPENTER was pastor; from 1813 to November, 1815, Rev. Leland HOWARD; from 1815 to 1819, Rev. William MCCULLER; from July 10, 1822, to 1825, Rev. Lyman GLAZIER; 1825 to 1827, Rev. John PECK; 1828 to 1830, Rev. Artemas ARNOLD; 1832 to 1836, Rev. Joseph PARKER; 1836 to 1837, Rev. John CANNON; 1838 to 1842, Rev. Elias HURLBUT; 1843 to 1844. Rev. Jacob P. HUNTINGTON; 1847 to 1852 Rev. Levi SMITH; 1854 for a great many years, Rev. Norman Clark.

     The remarkable revivals, together with the number added to the church, have been as follows: 1753 a great many professed their awakening; in November, 1808, 225 were added to the membership, but on the 18th of June, 1812, the membership was diminished by the establishment of a church at West Clarendon; in 1816, forty persons joined the church; in March, 1837, about 100 accessions were made; in 1838 thirty new members were received; in 1858 between twenty and thirty were added. The church edifice was erected in 1852, at a cost of about $2,000. Leonard Moses, Bradley Fish and John Jones, were the building committee.

     The present pastor of the church is Rev. Joseph B. LEWIS, who has been here about four years. The officers are as follows: Deacons, L. W. FISH and Simeon L. PECK; clerk, Simeon L. Peck; Sabbath-school superintendent, Simeon L. PECK. The church membership at present numbers about 100 persons.

     The following citizens of Ira participated in the late civil war. Volunteers for three years credited previous to the call for 300,000 volunteers of October 17, 1863. -- John L. BACHELDER, co. I, 7th regt.; William COAGLE, co. B, 2d regt.; Henry T. DAVIS, co. G, 5th regt.; Henry FLAGG, co. B, 9th regt.; Silas Giddings, co. F, 1st s. s.; Edward HALEY, John HALEY, John HUNTER, co. G, 5th regt.;
 Benjamin MANN, jr., co. B, 9th regt.; Joseph W. PARKER, co. G, 5th regt.; Charles W. PECK, Harrison J. PECK, co. F, 1st s. s.; Collamer PERSONS, co. H, cav.; Henry H. PETERS, co. D, 7th regt.; Levi PLUMLEY, co. I, 7th regt.; Rollin RUSSELL, co. B, 2d regt.; Sylvanus L. WHITMORE, co F, 1st s. s.; Mansur W. YOUNG, co. B, 9th regt.

     Credits under call of October 17, 1863, for 300,000 volunteers and subsequent calls. -- Volunteers for three years : Cornelius P. CURTIS, co. C, 11th regt.; Janus H. FOWLER, cav.; Thomas FARY, Aaron A. SAVORY, co. C, I 11th regt.; Henry F. TOWER, 2d bat.; William H. WALKER, cav.

     Volunteers for one year. -- James S. FOX, Horace H. WHEELER, co. F, 9th regt.

     Volunteers re-enlisted. -- Henry T. DAVIS, co. G, 5th regt.; Henry H. PETERS, co. D, 7th regt.; Levi PLUMLEY, co. I, 7th regt.

     Volunteers for nine months. -- Charles P. BATEMAN, co. K, 12th regt.; Lawson E. BARBER, John T. BOUR, George BROWN, Gilbert HANLEY, Aaron HINKLEY, Arthur E. MORGAN, Cyrus RUSSELL, Emmett M. TOWER, co. H, 14th regt.; Henry C. TOWER, James E. WETMORE, co. H, 13th regt.

     Furnished under draft.  -- Paid commutation, Smith JOHNSON, J. W. THORNTON, George W. TOWER, Thomas A. TOWER.

     The present officers of the town of Ira, elected March 3, 1885, are as follows: Town clerk, Simeon L. PECK; selectmen, Charles C. CRAMTON, Smith JOHNSON, John HART; treasurer, Lyman W. FISH; overseer of the poor, Lyman v W. MANN; first constable and collector, Simeon L. PECK; listers, Leonard FISH, Leonard W. DAY, Patrick MULLIN; auditors, George BROWN, Elbert L. WHITE, George CLARK; trustee of surplus money, L. W. FISH; fence viewers, George BROWN, F. L. DAY, Charles D. MANN; town grand jurors, Harry COLLINS, L. W. FISH, S. L. BECK, George CLARK; town agent, Bradley FISH; superintendent of schools, F. L. DAY; petit jurors, Leonard FISH, C. C. CRAMPTON, Henry FISH, George BROWN, Patrick MULLIN, A. E. DAY, S. JOHNSON, Silas GIDDINGS, Bradley GILMORE. 

     Miss Mary GILLMORE has been postmistress here for about twenty years past.

     The only industry of any importance is the lime kiln of A. E. & S. W. Day, which was started about fifteen years ago.

     The following figures show the population of the town at different dates in its history: 1791, 312; 1800, 473; 1810, 519; 1820, 498; 1830, 442; 1840, 430; 1850, 400; 1860, 422; 1870, 413; 1880, 479

History of Rutland County Vermont with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
Edited by H. Y. Smith & W. S. Rann
Syracuse, N. Y., D. Mason & Co., Publishers  1886
Chapter XXVIII., History Of The Town Of Ira
(pages  630- 635)

Transcribed by Karima ~ 2002 


Childs' Gazetteer of the Town of Ira, Rutland County, VT., 1881-82
Childs' Business Directory of the Town of Ira, Rutland County, VT., 1881-82