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      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 noon."

      On this occasion Nathan TUTTLE was appointed moderator, and one of the first votes was --

"that the 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."
      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 

"to lay 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 wanted them.

      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 memory.

      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: 

"John SMITH recorded his ear-mark as "a Half crop the under side the Left Ear."

"Samuel WILLIAMS' Ear-Mark is A Crop off from the Left Ear."

"Asa Fuller's Ear-Mark is a half Penny on the upper side of the left Ear."

"Thomas Hale's Ear-Mark is a Hole in the Right Ear." 

"Lieutenant Roswell Post's ear-mark is A Swallows Tail in the Right ear and a Half penny the under side of Left Ear."

"John Johnson's ear-mark is a slit in end of Right Ear and half Penny the upper side of the same."

      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 fever.

      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: 

    "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."

      Returning to Major CHENEY's diary we find the following entry: 

"The British 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 detail: 

"This spring 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 very plane."

      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. 

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
History of the Town of Rutland
Chapter XIX.
(pages  337-353)

Transcribed by Karima, 2002