The recorded arts of the pioneers in any locality
always bear a surpassing interest; and fortunate is the town or county
which has preserved them from the beginning. This is not the case in the
town of Rutland; still the existing records extend back nearly to the first
organization and public proceedings of the proprietors and town officers.
The first proprietors' meeting of which records are in existence
was held on the second Tuesday of October, 1773; this must have been one
of the earliest public meetings in the town, for it was but little more
than three years after James MEAD made his first settlement. It was at
this meeting that a vote was passed adding Joseph BOWKER to the committee
to find the center of the town, as stated a few pages back. It was held
in the meeting house, then recently erected on what was long known as "
Meeting-house hill " at West Rutland. At the same meeting it was "voted
that there shall be a proprietors' Meeting held at the Dwelling House of
James MEAD in said Rutland on the 3d Wednesday of November next at 12 o'clock
On this occasion Nathan TUTTLE was appointed moderator, and one
of the first votes was --
It will readily be understood that the proceedings of those earliest
meetings were generally very brief and on many occasions insignificant
in character; there were but thirty or forty families in town. As fast
as they came their lots were assigned, they settled down, and for a number
of years there was little public work to be done. This was particularly
the case at that period when the anxieties caused by the prospect of the
great struggle for freedom were uppermost, and during which the homes of
the county were almost deserted. At the meeting held in 1775 it was voted
Proprietors come to another Division of Land of One Hundred acres of land
to each Right." That they draw for their lots and for the pine timber land
and that each proprietor, after having laid out his lot, shall notify the
Proprietor next to him by draught, where they have made their pitch." In
that year the south line of the town was established. A vote was also passed
"that there shall be a Highway laid through the Town on a line known by
the name of COCKBURN's line, lying 3 rods on each side of the Line and
to begin at Joshua RAYNALS [REYNOLDS] Line, thence to Continue on said
line till it Meets the south line of the town."
out fifty acres to etch Rite," and that "we will begin to lay out by the
first Munday of April next; that one surveyor shall lay them all out, the
drafts of the fifty acres pitches."
Between the years 1775 and about 1780 there was little public business
of importance transacted. Rutland county was not organized (until 1781),
the town being a part of Bennington county, and almost every able-bodied
man was under arms against the tyranny of the mother country. Civil progress
was arrested and the land was filled with the troubled scenes of war. There
was, however, more or less done in transferring lands by the proprietors,
who had secured two hundred and fifty acres to each right, in the several
divisions. While there was heroic pioneer work done in the town anterior
and to some extent during the war of the Revolution, still the real progressive
settlement and growth of the community did not set in until peace took
up her gentle reign throughout the country.
The town officers of 1780, as given in the earliest town meeting
records now existing, were as follows: Town clerk, Joseph HAWLEY; town
treasurer. Joseph BOWKER; selectmen, Lieutenant Roswell POST, John SMITH,
1st, Lieutenant Moses HALE, Captain Zebulon MEAD and Reuben HARMON. These
officers took up the business of the town with commendable energy. Several
highways of more or less consequence had already been laid out and others
were projected. The work of establishing and opening roads has always occupied
a large share of the attention of pioneer officials; compared with this
feature of the early public work, the remainder was trifling. Roads were
almost the first necessity; without them progress was impossible; with
them neighbors could communicate with each other and reach whatever business'
centers existed; they could transport their household necessities to their
homes and carry away the few surplus products that could be spared; they
could reach the outer and older parts of the country. In the proceedings
of the meeting of 1780 one of the first measures adopted was to approve
of the action of the selectmen in laying out roads. A highway described
as having been laid out by the selectmen in this year was as follows: "A
highway 6 Rods wide in the Easterly part of the town Beginning at a Large
Rock Standing near the Northeast corner of Mr. REYNOLDS Meadow west of
the road, thence northerly as the Road now goes from Clarendon to Pittsford,
till its comes to where s'd road crosses East Creek, thence a northerly
course continued and upon s'd road till it comes to the north line of Rutland."
This highway was spoken of in early years as the Great Road.
Another highway was thus described: "A Road in s'd town viz.: Beginning
at Dennis BURGHE's House, then running easterly on the town line till it
comes to the Great Road, being two rods wide the town Line being the north
side of s'd Highway."
The records of highways continue through a number of years, from
one to a dozen being opened in each year.
A vote was taken at the meeting of this year on the acceptance of
a "bill from Mr. William ROBERTS of 2,000 feet of Boards which was Laid
in the Meeting-house." Williams ROBERTS was one of the large land-holders
of the town and bought and sold a large number of tracts, but we do not
find his name among the town officers; a fact accounted for, perhaps, by
his having a protracted suit with the town officials over the location
of a certain highway; for several years this contest was a source of much
annoyance to the town. In 1781 Benjamin WHIPPLE was empowered to "draw
out of the town treasury money to assist him and those connected with him
in carrying on his law suits against Wm. ROBERTS concerning a highway now
in dispute." ROBERTS finally won his action, upon which thirteen of the
prominent citizens protested that they would not pay "costs of court recovered
at the Supreme Court," in the suit. The matter was finally settled in 1785
by ROBERTS relinquishing thirty-five pounds of the judgment recovered by
him. At the meeting of 1780 another bill was accepted for the necessary
charges of Benjamin WHIPPLE, Roswell POST and Gershom BEACH for "attendance
upon A late Convention," amounting to "220 Continental Dollars." It was
also "voted that the town will Build 2 pounds, namely, one Near Coll. MEAD's
House and the other on the the Hill Near the East Side School-House." "Also
made choice of a key-keeper for each pound, Namely, Coll. James MEAD for
one and Isaac CUSHMAN for the other."
The next vote that engaged the attention of the meeting furnishes
a quaint comment upon the manner of punishment for small offenders that
found favor with the people of that day. It was "voted that the Selectmen
Shall without Delay Erect Stocks and Whipping Post in some convenient Public
Place." (See Chapter XVII.)
The following list of freeholders of the town appears in the records
for 1780, and may be presumed to embrace all or nearly all of the male
inhabitants of any prominence in the town at that time, as well as some
living in other localities:
Joseph BOWKER, William ROBERTS, Reuben HARMON, Benjamin WHIPPLE,
James MEAD, John SMITH, Roswell POST, Gershom BEACH, James CLAGHORN, Zebulon
MEAD, Silas PRATT, Benjamin BLANCHARD, John FORBES, Moses HALE, Daniel
SQUIRE, Jonathan CARPENTER, Amasa BLANCHARD, Benjamin JOHNSON, Gideon WALKER,
Thomas WRIGHT, John SMITH, 2d, M. WHITNEY, David HAWLEY, Benedic ALFORD,
Roswell POST, jr., Jehiel NORDWAY, Jonas IVES, Benajah ROOT, John SUTHERLAND,
Ebenezer ANDREWS, Abner MEAD, Ezra MEAD, Soloman PURDEE, Isaac CUSHMAN,
Rufus DELANO, N. WHIPPLE, Ebenezer PRATT, Asa FULLER, John STEVENS, Nathaniel
BLANCHARD, David RUSSELL, Nathan PRATT, Samuel WILLIAMS, Thomas HALL, Gershom
BEACH, jr., Oliver HARMON, John MOSES, John JOHNSON, William POST, Joseph
HAWLEY, Henry STRONG, Reuben POST, Zenas ROSS, Thomas LEE, Gideon MINOR,
William BARR, Ichabod TUTTLE, Joseph LEE, Nathaniel SHELDON, Phineas KINGSLEY,
Jeremiah DEWEY, Edward WATERS, Phineas SPAULDING, Asa HALE, David WHIPPLE,
Silas PRATT, jr., Grove MEEKER, Timothy BOARDMAN, Aaron REED, John DAGGETT,
Israel HARRIS, Daniel REED, Josiah HALL, Soloman BEEBE, Nathan PERRY, Isaac
CHATTERTON, Henry MEAD, Alexander BEEBE, Purchase BROWN, Jude MOULTHROP,
Colburn PRESTON, Wait CHATTERTON, Hugh BARR, Aaron PARMELEE, Jonah MOSES,
John MOSES, jr., Thomas MOON, Allen BEEBE, Christopher BATES, Nathaniel
GOVE, Reuben PITCHER, John HITCHCOCK, Amos PHELPS, Ezekiel BEEBE, Issacher
REED, John AUSTIN, Jacob RATTS, Elias MUNGER, John RAMSDEL, Samuel MURDOCK,
John CLAGHORN, Joseph PORTER, John COOK, Joel ROBERTS, Jared WATKINS, Benajah
G. ROOTS, Gabriel CORNISH, Jabez WARD, John A. GRAHAM, Elias POST, Samuel
CAMPBELL, jr., Ebenezer P. TUTTLE, Joseph CLARK, Lebeus JOHNSON, John KETCHAM,
Joshua PRATT, David STRONG, Jonathan REYNOLDS, Frederick CUSHMAN, Simeon
WRIGHT, John BISSEL, Elnathan MOSES, Joel POST, Miles BALDWIN, Clement
BLAKESLEY, Ephraim CHENEY, Isaac JONES, Daniel HAWKINS, Nathan OSGOOD,
William HALL, Adam WILLIS, James BUTTON, Matthew FOWLER, Samuel PRENTICE.
The annual meeting for 1781 was appointed to be held at the meetinghouse,
but was adjourned to the "store house in Fort Rainger" (Ranger). This was
the name of the fort erected at Center Rutland, as before described. The
selectmen were Captain John SMITH, 1st. Captain John SMITH, 2d, Colonel
James CLAGHORN, John JOHNSON, and Moses HALE. Joseph BOWKER was elected
town treasurer; John FORBES and Ebenezer PRATT, constables; Isaac CUSHMAN,
John JOHNSON and Roswell POST, listers; John FORBES and Ebenezer PRATT,
collectors of rates; Gideon MINOR and William ROBERTS, grand jurors; Asa
FULLER and Silas PRATT, leather sealers; William BARR and David KINGSLEY,
"tythingmen"; Henry STRONG and Nehemiah WHIPPLE, "haywards"; Jeremiah DEWEY
and Aaron MILLER, "horse branders." These quaint titles indicate that there
were numerous officers deemed necessary in that early day that have safely
been dispensed with since; not only this, such a record is a cheerful comment
upon the political situation in the last century, long before the unseemly
scramble for office had begun, and when there were scarcely enough freeholders
of real intelligence in the town to fill the offices, and a man possessed
of marked administrative ability could have at least two offices, if he
It was at this meeting of March 17, that "the Articles of Union
agreed upon Between the Committees of the Legislature of the State of Vermont
and the Committee of the Convention of the New Hampshire Grants at Windsor
in February, 1781." were accepted by vote. At the meeting held in June,
of this year, the citizens "proceeded to exhibit their accounts as individuals
against the town, which was read before the town and Each one objected
ags't, upon which the town [inhabitants] mutually agreed to Relinquish
all those Demands and Begin Anew in the World -- Which was confirmed By
Each Creditor signing a Receipt in full from the town." This was an act
probably without precedent at the time, and that has certainly seldom been
repeated since in any town.
A good deal of attention was paid to religious matters in that year.
Rev. Benajah ROOTS had, undoubtedly, ceased regular preaching before that
time, and we find that at a meeting held in July it was "voted that Esq'r
BOWKER and Mr. Gid'n MINOR Shall wait on Mr. Mitchell and thank him for
his Labours for the town the last Sabbath." It was also voted "to apply
to Mr. MITCHELL to come to preach among us as soon as his Circumstances
will Admit of it." A tax of one penny on the pound was voted "towards supporting
the gospel among us." To this early and active interest in the spread of
religion, coupled with a no less active interest in the cause of education,
how much of the intelligence and morality that pervades all Vermont communities
may be attributed ? One of the meetings of this year was held at the house
of John H. JOHNSON, "inholder in s'd town"; John SMITH, 2d, was made moderator
and it was voted "that Mr. Gid'n MINOR, John JOHNSON and Joseph BOWKER,
esq., shall act as a Committee To indeavor to provide a preacher of the
gospel for this town"; and in December it was "voted to hire the Rev. Mr.
BELL to preach in Rutland one 3d part of the present winter. "A wholesome
restraint was placed upon the millers of the town (although, let us hope,
it was not necessary), by a vote "that all Millers in this town that takes
more Toll than the law Directs, that the town will assist the authority
in prosecuting the same to effect."
In the land transfers of this year appear the names of David HAWLEY,
David PARKHILL, Asa EDMUNDS, Daniel SQUIRES, Miles BALDWIN, Thomas LEE,
Samuel BEACH, Jonathan CARPENTER, Samuel CAMPBELL, Eli BROWN, Jared WATKINS,
Reuben SACKETT, and some others, of whom little else now remains of their
The records describe the town boundaries as follows: "Beginning
at the northwesterly corner of Shrewsbury, thence north 4 deg., east 5
1/2 miles; thence west 40 deg. north (north 86 deg. west), 7 1/2; miles;
thence south 4 deg. east 5 1/2 miles to the northwesterly corner of Clarendon;
thence east 4 deg. south (south 86 deg. east) 6 3/4 miles on the line of
Clarendon to the first bound." These boundaries are more definitely described
in a later page.
The meeting of 1782 was held at the house of James MEAD. The officers
were: Town clerk, Joseph HAWLEY; town treasurer, Joseph BOWKER; selectmen,
Joseph BOWKER, Benjamin WHIPPLE, Roswell POST, James MEAD and Thomas LEE.
At the meeting of June 19, it was "voted that Colonel James MEAD shall
Repair the old meeting house and Charge the Town for the same." In November
it was "voted that the Selectmen shall go and view and Determine where
the road shall go from the Great Bridge crossing Otter Creek to Clarendon
line leading towards Joseph Smith's." Captain John SMITH, 1st, and his
son John, with Samuel WILLIAMS, were directed to assist in the work. Some
of the highways laid out were not satisfactory to the people; a fact that
is not strange when the difficulties attending the proper laying out of
a highway in a wilderness is considered, with the limited facilities then
in existence. As an example of dissatisfaction with a road, it was voted
in December of this year "to not accept a Road Running from the Road by
Colonel Mead's to Benjamin Whipple's Hogpen." If WHIPPLE's hogpen was the
real destination and end of this highway, it is scarcely to be wondered
at that it gave dissatisfaction. The building of bridges over streams in
the town was of little less importance in early times than the opening
of roads. The bridge across Otter Creek near James MEAD's we have alluded
to; it was built in 1776. At the meeting of July 29, 1783, we find that
it was voted "to Build 2 bridges across East Creek, one at or near the
fordway near Lieutenant HALE's and the other "Between Jonathan CARPENTER's
and Mr. BEACH's." A tax of one-half penny on the pound on the list of 1783
"to be paid in labour, grain, beef, pork or plank," was voted to pay for
these bridges. At the annual meeting of this year the selectmen were made
a committee to divide the town into school districts and it was voted "that
the selectmen shall erect stocks near the Meeting House." It was in this
year, also, that the inhabitants saw the desirability of having a better
house of worship, and in September a vote was passed "to Erect a Meeting
House Near where the Old Meeting House now stands, as shall be agreed upon."
A convention was held in 1783 for the consideration of the new county.
There seems to have been a difference of opinion among the various towns
as to the number of towns to be included in the county, and at the meeting
of October Rutland refused by vote "to comply with the Resolves of a convention
lately convened on county affairs: Concerning the number of Towns to be
included in the county." The meeting also voted to "comply with the resolves
of the afore-mentioned Convention concerning the place for the Court House
and Jail." The officers for 1783 were: Town clerk, Joseph HAWLEY; treasurer,
Joseph BOWKER; selectmen, Benjamin WHIPPLE, Thomas LEE, Jona CARPENTER,
John JOHNSON and Samuel WILLIAMS.
For the year 1784 the following officers were elected: Town clerks,
Joseph HAWLEY and Timothy BOARDMAN; treasurers, Joseph BOWKER and Asa HALE;
selectmen, Captain Z. MEAD, Captain Israel HARRIS, Ensign John JOHNSON,
Samuel WILLIAMS and Moses HALE. The most important action of the authorities
this year is indicated by the following in the proceedings of the May meeting:
"Voted that Ensign John JOHNSON and Mr. Benjamin BLANCHARD be Committee
to treat with Colonel James MEAD with Respect to ground for a Burying yard
and get a Deed of it." This action resulted in the procuring of the ground
now embraced in the old burial lot at Center Rutland, where many of the
fathers and mothers of Rutland sleep --too many of them in unmarked graves.
It is manifestly impossible for us to follow in detail the action
of the town authorities from year to year; nor would such a record bear
much of real interest, except the settlement of an occasional question
or the passage of a measure of importance. As for example, upon the question
of the division of the town into two parishes (or societies, as they termed
it), which came up in 1788. The people of Rutland voted on this subject
that "Samuel CAMPBELL be agent to oppose the Division of the town of Rutland
into two societies, before the General Assembly at the next adjourned session
at Bennington, and John JOHNSON, Timothy BOARDMAN and Andrew CROCKER be
a committee to draw a remonstrance or Petition for the agent to lay before
the House of General Assembly." In spite of this action, however, the town
was divided in October of that year.
The inhabitants had already accumulated considerable live stock
and saw the necessity of so branding animals that the property of the various
owners should not be lost. As early as 1784 we find the following as an
example of so-called "ear-marks," adopted in the towns:
recorded his ear-mark as "a Half crop the under side the Left Ear."
WILLIAMS' Ear-Mark is A Crop off from the Left Ear."
Ear-Mark is a half Penny on the upper side of the left Ear."
Hale's Ear-Mark is a Hole in the Right Ear."
Roswell Post's ear-mark is A Swallows Tail in the Right ear and a Half
penny the under side of Left Ear."
ear-mark is a slit in end of Right Ear and half Penny the upper side of
Many of the ear-marks stand on the records as simply rude drawings
with the owner's name attached. The necessity for these brands is shown
in the great number of "strays" that are described in the records. As early
as 1781 we find that Lieutenant "Moses HALE of s'd Rutland, took up A Stray
Heifer supposed to be two years old, With A Crop on the Left Ear, the Colour
being a Mixture of Red and White, of which the owner is not known.”
February 20, 1782, "Found Between Coll. James MEAD's and Lieut.
John SUTHERLAND's mills on the Bank of Otter Creek by David BUCKLAND of
Neshoba, a common fox steel trap which was hanging to his Dog's leg of
which the owner is not known." This entry indicates both the honesty of
the finder and the prevailing custom of placing on the town records the
various announcements for the public at a time when newspapers were scarce.
In September, 1784, it is stated that there was "taken up by Silas
PRATT a dark Rone Mare about 7 years old, No brand, a starr in her forehead,
a dark mane and Tail a shoe on one fore foot about 14 hand high Trotts
and Paces of which the owner is not known."
The meeting held in June, 1789, was one of considerable importance
through the adoption of one measure intimately connected with the final
adjustment of the land lines in the town. Briefly stated, a preamble was
presented at the meeting setting forth in substance, that on account of
the loss of the early records, it was found impossible to lay out lots
so as to do justice to all of the settlers in the town; therefore it was
resolved that twenty rights or shares of land be laid out together in the
northwest corner of the town, viz.: The original rights of Benjamin MELVIN,
Ephraim ADAMS, Oliver COLBURN, Elijah MITCHELL, Thomas BLANCHARD, Joseph
CASE, John HINE, John DANDLY, Thomas DAM, Reuben NIMBS, Nathaniel FOSTER,
Nehemiah HOUGHTON, Josiah WILLARD, jr., Abraham SCOTT, Joseph HAMMOND,
Michael MEDCALF, Sampson WILLARD, Solomon WILLARD, Prentice WILLARD, Samuel
WETTIMORE, "being their equal shares in the town except their rights in
the town platts."
It was further voted that fifteen rights be laid out together, viz.:
The orignal rights of John MURRY, Caleb JOHNSON, Nathan STONE, Wing SPOONER,
Joel STONE, Samuel STONE, jr., Abner STONE, Samuel STONE, Enos STEVENS,
Susanna JOHNSON, Elizabeth STEVENS, Joseph WILLARD and Aaron WILLARD; the
boundaries of this tract are as follows: " Beginning at the southeast corner
of the 20 rights, then running south 86 deg. east 856 rods 20 links to
or near the Governor's Lot, then north 4 deg. east, 1013 rods, 18 links,
thence north, 86 deg. west, 856 rods 21 links to the northeast corner of
the 20 rights, thence south 4 deg. west, 1013 rods 18 links to the beginning."
It was further voted that five rights or shares be laid out together,
viz: The original rights of Elijah HINSDELL, Samuel STEVENS, Joseph ASHLEY,
jr., Moses FIELD and Joseph ASHLEY, the boundaries of which were as follows:
Beginning at the northeast corner of the 15 rights, thence north 4 deg.
east, 357 rods 2 links, thence north 86 deg. west, 856 rods 21 links; thence
south, 4 deg. west, 357 rods and 2 links; thence south 86 deg. east, 856
rods 21 links, to the place of beginning."
It was further "voted that Timothy BOARDMAN, William POST, Thomas
LEE, Samuel CAMPBELL and Col. CLAGHORN be a committee to lay out 200 acres
of land, with an addition of 6 acres to each 100 acres for an allowance
of highways, to the original rights of all in the charter of the town of
Rutland whose names are not inserted in the above votes, including all
the public rights, and also to run the outlines of the above 20, 15 and
5 rights and make proper and legal surveys of all lands so laid out and
make a return of their doing at the next meeting."
Under this action, there were the three separate divisions made;
the first one into lots of two hundred acres each; the second of one hundred
and the third of fifty acres. Hence we find that at a meeting held in 1790
it was voted that a tax "of one pound be lade on each Right of land belonging
to the Proprietors of Rutland, public Rights excepted, to defray the charges
that have arisen for loting [lotting] out two Divisions, the first 200
acres and the 2d 100 acres to each right, and for making a plan of said
survey and other incidental charges." Although the third division to which
we have alluded is not mentioned in this vote, it was subsequently made.
At several of the meetings, beginning in 1790 the proceedings consisted
of almost nothing else than the voting of lands under these divisions,
thus conferring or renewing titles. The lots laid out under this survey
are shown on the old parchment map on file in the town clerk's office at
Rutland, and from which a large share of the names are obliterated. It
is probable that the first map was made on paper by Joel ROBERTS, as in
November, 1790, a vote was passed that "Joel ROBERTS be allowed one pound
ten shillings for assisting in completing the plan of Rutland." Thomas
r ROWLEY made the survey, which was not entirely finished until 1792; for
his service or a part of it (for it seems impossible so small a sum would
have fully paid him), he was voted one pound, thirteen shillings and six
pence In the same year (1792) Joel ROBERTS, Asa HALE and Jared WATKINS
were made "proprietors' agents to take cair of the undivided lands that
belong to the proprietors of Rutland, to see that the lumber is not Distroyed
or carried away and to prosecute those who trespass according to law."
In the voting of lands to the proprietors under these divisions, it was
almost the invariable rule to vote the lots to each person where he had
already made his settlement. Where the original settler had died, his heirs
were voted the land; such was the case with Nathan TUTTLE's lot. The undivided
lands of the town were ordered laid out in 1793, Simeon WRIGHT, Nathan
PRATT, and William MEAD being appointed to perform the work; James MEAD
and Joel ROBERTS were subsequently added to the committee, whose instructions
were to ascertain how much of the land remained and apportion it for the
best interests of those concerned.
By the year 1794 settlement had so far progressed and stock accumulated
that it was deemed necessary to order that sheep and swine should not be
permitted to run at large. Bridges had been built at Sutherland Falls and
Reynold's Mill and these were ordered repaired, if needed. One hundred
and twenty, pounds of powder, three hundred and fifty-four of lead and
four hundred and fifty flints were also ordered purchased; indicating that
the warlike spirit engendered by the Revolution was still abroad.
In 1795, among other things, the main road in the east parish was
ordered examined and incumbrances removed; the inhabitants to be given
time to remove fences and buildings.
In 1797 the "stage or post road leading from the court-house to
Vergennes" was surveyed.
In 1798 it was "voted that the selectmen agree with Frederick HILL,
esq., to make an exact copy of the plan of the Town on parchment. "This
was the parchment chart now on file in the clerk's office, to which reference
has already been made. Mr. HILL was postmaster of Rutland a number of years.
In 1799 it was "voted that the town and freemen's meetings be held
alternately hereafter at the Court-House in the East Parish and at the
Meetinghouse in the West Parish." It was also voted that "no Horse, Mule
or horse kind shall be permitted to run at Large on any common land or
Publick highway for the year ensuing." In the first year of the century
the general cause of harmony was promoted by a vote "that the sum of one
hundred dollars be paid out of the Town Treasury to pay for the encouragement
of singing" -- a measure which is, perhaps, unparalleled.
We need not further trace the records of the various meetings held
in the town for the transaction of public business; whatever is noted therein
of importance will appear as we progress. Eight years before the record
from which we last quoted was made, the first number of the first newspaper
in Rutland made its appearance. It was issued in the year 1792, and named
the Herald of Vermont; or, Rutland Courier. This title was out of all proportion
to the size of the paper. It was published by Anthony HASWELL. This sheet
lived but three months; but on the 8th of December, 1794, the first number
of the Rutland Herald came from the press, and its legitimate successor;
is still published in Rutland village. This was an event of more than ordinary
importance in that early period; the publication of a first newspaper is
an event of more importance in any locality than is often attributed to
it, for a. host of reasons into which we need not enter. A full account
of this long-lived journal has been given in the chapter devoted to the
press of the county; but some mention of its contents in early years cannot
fail to interest. A list of, letters advertised in January, 1795, gives
the names of Timothy BOARDMAN, Benjamin BLANCHERD, Rutland; Thomas HAMMOND,
Miss Mary HAMMOND, Pittsford; Abel SPENCER, Clarendon; General Isaac CLARK,
William WOODWARD, Castleton; Eber MURRAY, Orwell; Bela FARNHAM, Leicester.
Fred HILL was postmaster of Rutland.
It was a common occurrence in those days to advertise for runaway
boys. Apprentices were bound out for lengthy periods and their surroundings
were either less happy than those of tradesmen at the present day, or else
more attention was paid to their breaking their apprenticeship bonds; probably
both. The rewards offered were commonly of no account and intended to throw
ridicule upon the offender. For example, in March, 1795, Isaac HILL of
Mount Holly, advertised a runaway boy and offered "one peck of ashes" for
his apprehension. This is a fair sample of scores of similar announcements.
On the 1st of April there were letters remaining in the Rutland post-office
for William BARNES, Samuel BUELL, Matthew FENTON and Phineas KINGSLEY.
William BARNES lived in the north part of the town where Edgar DAVIS now
lives, and died in 1865 at the age of seventy-three years, and the man
of the same name for whom the letter was held was his father, who died
in 1824, aged seventy-one.
Phineas KINGSLEY came here from Beckett, Mass., in 1773 and settled
on the place where the OSGOOD family now reside. In the Revolutionary War
some of his relatives brought their families to Rutland from Sudbury, for
greater safety, and persuaded Mr. KINGSLEY to take them to Massachusetts.
He afterward returned to Rutland and died here. The late Gershorn C. RUGGLES
was a grandson of Mr. KINGSLEY.
The method of circulating newspapers at that period is shown in
the announcement of Abraham SPRAGUE, made in January, 1796, wherein he
stated that he had engaged to ride from the printing-office in Rutland
through Ira, Castleton, Fairhaven, Westhaven, Benson and Orwell, adding,
"he will set out every MORNING," and carry papers to subscribers. This
route was soon after taken by Oren KELSEY. Simeon LESTER was carrying the
mail in that year from Rutland to Albany.
Meanwhile the little village (if it can be thus designated),
along the main street of Rutland, was growing and before the beginning
of the century had assumed considerable importance, as will be detailed
in the subsequent municipal history.
In the year 1802-3 there was considerable danger in this locality
from the approach of smallpox, and the selectmen took action to secure
the "innoculation" of the inhabitants. At the meeting of April 1st, 1803,
it was voted, in substance, that the selectmen be authorized to license
one or more houses,
(under the act to prevent the spreading of the small-pox)
"for the purpose of innoculating persons for the small-pox until the 20th
day of April instant, at which time innoculation shall cease until the
first day of September next, when the said selectmen . . . shall be again
authorized to license such house or houses as they may think proper until
the 1st day of April next, under such regulations as they may think necessary
and proper," etc.
Major Gershom CHENEY, whose settlement here has been described,
kept a diary from the year 1793 to 1828, with some brief intermissions,
which is now in possession of Lyman S. CHENEY, of Rutland, and has been
kindly loaned us. While there are few entries bearing sufficient general
interest to warrant their publication in these pages, there are still several
references to important occurrences which, coming down through the years
with the stamp of absolute certainty on their face, are of deep interest
to the reader of today. The first entry in the little book is as follows:
"Moved from Londonderry, N. H., to Rutland in the spring of 1793." Then
follows an interval of ten years in which only some private memoranda were
made. The winter of 1803-4 is characterized by the writer as "a dredful
hard winter," while that of 1811-12 was "harder than that of 1803-4. Hay
at twenty dollars per ton; " and the next winter is noted as "dredful sickley;
the following persons died in Rutland: Jonathan WELLS, esq., died January
18; Esq'r Mathew FINTIN [FENTON] and wife 24th do; March 1st, Henry
REYNOLDS died; 18th do; Mason HATCH died 29th, Sally Jane CHENEY; 30th,
Lewis MEACHAM; 31st, Benjamin CHENEY died;" Daniel MCGREGOR and wife died
also in March. This disease which proved so fatal was a spotted or lung
It will be remembered that in the year 1811 occurred the most disastrous
flood in the history of the county; it is but barely mentioned in Mr. Cheney’s
diary, but it carried away three-fourths, or more, of the mills and bridges
in this town and was even more disastrous in other localities. The freshet
occurred in July, and its effects are noted in the town histories of those
sections where it wrought the most havoc. The day of the flood opened bright
and clear; but about nine in the forenoon black clouds arose in the west,
and the rain fell in torrents the greater part of the day. The greatest
destruction ensued, perhaps, in the towns of Middletown and Tinmouth, to
the histories of, which the reader is referred.
On the 21st of August, 1813, Mr. CHENEY noted in his diary that
"Benjamin CHENEY got home from the army at Burlington," which shows that
the inhabitants of the county had not forgotten their old spirit of patriotism
and were as ready to relieve their free institutions from oppression as
they were in Revolutionary days to win them, even at the muzzle of the
musket. In the same month Major CHENEY, as the diary informs, "left off
keeping tavern, after keeping eleven years." This tavern was located half
way between Rutland and Pittsford, and was very popular with travelers
from Vergennes to Boston.
In the same year appears in the diary the following quaint counsel:
" When you run a nale in your foot put on Beefs gall or burn black greased
wool and steam your foot and bind on the cinders, or put on a poltis of
wheat Brand and Vinegar, sum one of the above will cure your foot."
Under date of December 3d, 1813, is this entry: "At night David
OLIVER's house was burnt and five of his black children all to a crisp."
Relative to the murder of Joseph GREEN he wrote under date of February,
15, 1814, the "day that Joseph GREEN was murdered by James ANTHONY and
found in James ANTHONY's shop under a pile of wood on the 18th." Two months
later, April 15th, he continues: "James ANTHONY is condemned to be hung
between the hours of 1 and 3, but he disappointed ten thousand people
by hanging himself in the jail this morning."
Simeon IDE furnished a sketch of this crime for the Vermont Historical
Magazine, from which the following is condensed:
Returning to Major CHENEY's diary we find the following entry:
"Mr. GREEN was a young merchant and early in February
had made his usual preparations to go to Boston for more goods; the stage
on which he was to go started very early in the morning. He took leave
of his family in the previous evening, and with his valise and a considerable
sum of money, started to the hotel whence he was to board the stage. From
the evidence given on the trial it appeared that Mr. GREEN stopped at ANTHONY's
hat shop, and was there killed, stripped of his clothing and money and
his body concealed under a wood pile in the back part of the shop.
The next day it was discovered that Mr GREEN had
not taken the stage and later it began to be suspected that he had been
foully dealt with. It was said that ANTHONY met Mrs. GREEN the next morning,
greeted her pleasantly and asked after the health of her husband and children.
Excitement prevailed when it was found that Mr. GREEN had not gone on the
stage, and it is said that ANTHONY's face showed evidence of his having
had a struggle with some one, which fact probably led to his being suspected
of the crime. James D. BUTLER asked ANTHONY how his face became injured,
and he replied that he fell down stairs in the night. Elder MCCULLER, who
was present, was dissatisfied with the explanation, and ran his cane among
the wood in the shop where he felt something soft, and requested the removal
the wood. This led to the discovery of the body. ANTHONY was at once arrested.
He was found guilty and hung himself in his cell as stated above. In Mr.
IDE's diary he made the following entry: "April 14, 1814. This day attended
the execution of a dead man! The assemblage to witness the execution of
James ANTHONY was unprecedented in this part of the country, the village
was literally filled. I was called out to do military duty on the occasion.
About noon we were marched from the Green to the place of execution (in
the meadow), one or two hundred rods northwest of the old original framed
meeting-house . . . where the gallows was erected and the same exercises
performed that would have been, had not ANTHONY hung himself."
prisoners passed through Rutland between the 10th day of March and the
3d day of April, 1815 -- about 1,500 in three divisions -- they stole
all they could get their hands hold of; they were from Pittsfield on their
way to Cannada."
Our chief object in making reference to this old diary was the fact
of its containing a vivid and, of course, thoroughly authentic account
of the progress of what is still remembered as "the cold summer" (though
the unusual temperature continued through a part of two seasons, 1816-17).
The summer of 1816 shows the following entries, which tell the story in
is very cold and backward. 17th of May; snow on the ground and the ground
is froze hard enough to bear a man. 22d, planted the corn. 4th June; apple
trees are hardly in. full bloom, 5th, warm day. 6th, very cold with snow
squalls which we think this day the coldest that we ever knew in June –
men work with their great coats and woolling mittens on. 7th; this morning
ice as thick as winder glass. 8th; this day very cold, windy and cloudy.
9th, this day very cold -- eclipts on the moon this evening. 10th; this
morning ice 1 inch thick. 11th ; cold and very dry, the corn all that is
up is cut off by the frost. 12th, the weather is midling warm. 30th; this
morning the frost killed the corn and beans in low land. July 6th, this
day is vary windy and vary cold. 9th; this morning the ground is covered
with frost, the corn is all killed on low ground. I saw ice on a leaf in
the garden this morning as large as peas; corn not half spindled the first
day of the month and the driest summer we ever knew 22d; this morning a
hard frost, it killed many fields of corn. Aug. 29th; this morning the
ground was white with frost. October 18th, this morning the snow is six
inches deep; the springs not risen any yet. Feb. 14th, this is the coldest
clay that ever was in Vermont."
Thus ends the record for that year, as far as it relates to the
remarkable character of the weather. It will be seen that crops generally
were destroyed, and that at a period when they were greatly needed. The
country was suffering from the expenses of the war and a general scarcity
of provisions, and consequently the destruction of the crops caused a double
degree of distress. The frigid temperature extended throughout the Northern
States, rendering it impossible to look to other favored localities for
relief. Every person who had succeeded in raising part of a crop, felt
the necessity of keeping it for the next year's seed; while others, with
that selfishness often developed at such times, would not spare of their
store except at greatly advanced prices. To make matters worse, during
the summer of 1817 the cold weather continued to an extent not generally
known, except by the very few who can remember so far back. On the 20th
of May, according to the diary of Major CHENEY, "the ground was white with
frost. The 28th, this morning a very hard frost. 31st, this morning the
ground is froze, ice as thick as winder glass. June 8th, this morning a
white frost. 17th, this morning a white frost; I saw ice on potatoe tops."
A warmer period now intervened until the latter part of August.
On the 25th is the entry: "This morning a. white frost, but not to do damage,
the first since June. October 1st and 2d, hard frost, the first that killed
the corn. October 24th, some snow and very cold, the ground froze hard."
There was a good deal of suffering throughout the State; but probably
not nearly so much as in some regions more affected by unusual cold. The
general height of the cultivated lands of Vermont were in her favor, and
more of the crops were saved from frost than in many other sections.
A few more entries are found in the old diary of interest to the
local reader. On the 22d of February, 1818, is this: "At four o'clock this
morning John FENTON's house took fire and he was burnt to death. The house
took fire from ashes that was set in the back room in a tray; he was 68."
On the 24th of the same month it was considered of sufficient importance
for him to chronicle.; the fact that "Moses L. NEAL this day came to Rutland
with 3 loads of goods from Boston, 12 days gone."
Advancing to December, 1819, he wrote, "we have had a fine season
for corn as I ever knew; the summer has been very warm and fine. Pork $5
a 100; beef $4.50; corn 50 c. bushel; wheat $1 at Troy; cider $1 a barrel
at the press; a hard time for farmers to pay debts." In the same year he
records that "this summer built the new brick meeting-house in part --
300,000 brick: I have worked the most part of the summer and superintended
the building of the brick and timber. Ephraim W. BISBEE took charge of
the cornice of the house and up one tier of timber above the bell -- the
cost thus far has been about 7,000 dollars." The church structure progressed
and under date of August 19, 1821, we find this: "Carried on the sled to
the new meeting house 6 cherry pillars for the pulpit to stand on”; and
September 19 he wrote "Dedication of the new brick meeting house to-day;
about 1,000 people."
We conclude our extracts from the diary with the record of June
28, 1825: " La Fayette arrived at Whitehall this day; we heard the cannon
But little remains for us to record of the general history of the
town down to the railroad era of 1850, when a period of development began
which has continued to the present day, presenting one of the most remarkable
instances of growth in New England. The town officials inaugurated such
occasional public measures as the times seemed to demand, and, while there
were no spasmodic periods of advancement, the development of the various
agricultural, mechanical and mercantile interests was steady and healthful.
A proposal came up in the town as early as 1813 for the erection
of a public school-house "on the Green, so-called, in the East Parish in
Rutland"; but the selectmen promptly voted it down. In March of the following
year the selectmen were "requested to dispose of such of the town poor
as have become an annual charge, at public auction to the best bidder for
the interest of the town." This was in former years the method of providing
for the board and lodging of paupers, a method which seldom worked satisfactorily
and has fortunately given way to the present more humane provisions for
the destitute. Rutland was one of the first to see the injustice of the
former plan, and in March, 1815, it was "voted that the selectmen and overseers
of the poor for the town of Rutland be instructed to procure a poor-house
in which to keep and employ the poor of the town." This action was the
forerunner of the purchase of the town farm in 1831, at which time it was
"voted that $2,000 be raised by the town, payable in four equal installments
of $500 each year thereafter for four years, for the purpose of purchasing
or hiring a farm and suitable buildings for the support of the town poor."
The commissioners to carry out this measure were Robert TEMPLE, Francis
SLASON and George T. HODGES.
In pursuance of this action a farm was acquired by the town, situated
just east of the present West Rutland marble quarries. It is now the property
of H. H. BROWN. It contained about 150 acres and was purchased of Philip
PROCTOR in March, 1831, for $2,000.
In the year 1838 there was considerable agitation of the subject
of making different arrangements from those then existing for the care
of the town poor. Francis SLASON had been for a few years previously overseer
of the poor, and in March, 1838, it was voted in town meeting that the
town was willing to associate with not less than eight other towns, under
the act of October 31, 1837, -- the selectmen to learn what other towns
would join in the movement -- and all to submit to this town any arrangement
that may be recommended for the several towns to make in relation to the
poor. This agitation of the matter proved abortive. Francis SLASON was
at the same time appointed to take charge of the town farm; but this action
was rescinded in March, 1839, and the care of the farm remained with the
selectmen. In the same year Samuel GRIGGS and George T. HODGES were appointed
to appraise all property and adjust the accounts of the town farm and make
a report, of which 500 copies were ordered printed. Matters remained stationary
until 1841 when a committee of two, William Y. RIPLEY and Samuel GRIGGS,
was appointed to consider the expediency of building a new house or repair
the old one on the town farm; and in the same year a committee consisting
of Edward DYER, Moses PERKINS and Francis SLASON was appointed to sell
the farm and buy another, if deemed expedient; this was not done, and in
1842 the overseer was directed to provide for the poor elsewhere, if it
could not be properly done on the farm then owned.
There were no important changes made in the arrangements for support
of the poor until 1876, when the farm was sold to Lorenzo SHELDON, in January,
for $5,500. The present town farm was purchased the year previous to this
sale, and lies near the southwestern corner of the town. It contains between
400 and 500 acres of land, with appropriate buildings, the whole possessing
a value of about $12,000.
In the year 1884, according to the last published report, there
were forty-seven inmates of the poor-house, the expense of caring for whom
was $3,658.37 In the same year $5.506.82 were expended for the maintenance
of outside poor in the town. The inventory of property on the farm, outside
of farm and buildings amounts to almost $4,000.
The prosperity of this town, in common with that of other parts
of the county, was somewhat checked during the financial crisis of 1837-38,
as fully detailed in the preceding chapter on the financial interests of
the county; but this entire State suffered less from this cause than many
other regions; and the prosperity of Rutland county was too firmly grounded
in the thriving agricultural industry, the promising condition of her manufactures,
the conservative and judicious character of her business men generally
and the industry and frugality of all her inhabitants, to be permanently
or seriously interfered with, by even so general a crisis as that referred
to. General growth and advancement continued, though slower than many would
have been glad to experience, for want of rapid and adequate transportation
in and out of the county previous to the railroad era. Surplus products
had to be transported by teams to Whitehall (after the completion of the
Northern Canal in 1823), and mercantile goods and manufacturers' stock
must come in by the same slow and costly route.
But a day was at hand when all this would cease and such a period
of development be inaugurated as few, even of the most sanguine, dared
to hope for. The building of the railroads of the county and the wonderful
consequences to the various communities has been fully described in a preceding
chapter on the internal improvements of the county, and in subsequent municipal
history, and need not again be entered into here. Let it suffice to say
that the town of Rutland at once assumed a degree of commercial importance
not surpassed by that of any other in the State; especially was this the
case with the village of Rutland. An era of extensive building operations
began; the village grew phenomenally; manufactures multiplied; the great
marble industry doubled and redoubled, and the town entered upon a permanent
career of thrift and growth which now distinguishes it among all others
in the State.
Following are the present town officers of the town: --
Town clerk, Edward S. DANA; selectmen, John O'ROURKE, George E. ROYCE,
F. D. PROCTOR, S. W. MEAD, W. C. LANDON ; treasurer, H. F. FIELD; first
constable and collector, A. T. WOODWARD; second, P. F. O'NEIL; listers,
C. H. GRANGER, L. VALIQUETTE, jr., O. D. YOUNG, W. T. CAPRON, W. C. LANDON;
auditors, E. H. RIPLEY, P. M. MELDON, G. T. CHAFFEE; trustee public money.
W. H. B. OWEN; grand jurors, E. D. REARDON, D. N. HAYNES, T. W. MALONEY,
T. H. BROWN, E. D. MERRILL; fence viewers, J. G. GRIGGS, H. H. DYER, Michael
KENNEDY, Nahum JOHNSON, B. W. MARSHALL, J. W. LAMPHIER, George C. UNDERHILL,
John RALEIGH; Inspector leather, L. VALIQUETTE; pound-keepers, G. C. THRALL,
A. J. NEWTON; town agent, George E. LAWRENCE; superintendent schools, J.
J. R. RANDALL.
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 Rutland
by Karima, 2002