WESTHAVEN the most westerly town in Rutland county, lies just east of Lake Champlain, and is bounded on the north by Benson, on the east by Fairhaven, and on the south by the Poultney River, separating it from Whitehall, N. Y.

      The surface of this town is rough and broken, the various ridges which cross it extending generally north and south. Bald Mountain, occupying the entire southern extremity of the town, contains about 4,000 acres of land which by its rough and irregular elevation renders it almost impossible of cultivation. The town is separated from Fairhaven by a natural barrier called the Great Ledge, which is not, however, so high nor steep as to offer any serious obstacle to highway travel. The country is drained by several small streams, of which the largest are Hubbardton River and Cogman's Creek, the former entering the eastern part of the town from the north and flowing into Poultney River about a mile west of Carver's Falls, while the latter flows in a parallel course about two miles farther west.

      The territory of Westhaven was originally included in the town of Fairhaven, chartered by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, October 27, 1779. The warning for the March meeting in 1792 proposed for the people, among other considerations, "to see if they will agree to petition the Legislature of this State to divide this town into two, and to see if they can agree on a dividing line." James WITHERELL and Lemuel HYDE were constituted agents to present the petition to the Legislature. At another meeting, on the 22d of the same month, on the question as to the location of the dividing line, the vote stood against placing it at "Mud Brook" forty-eight to nine; Hubbardton River, forty-eight to nine, and in favor of the present line from Poultney River to a line on the hill parallel with the west line of Brooks's lot, thence along the Great Lodge to Benson, forty-eight to seven. At an adjourned meeting on March 27, it was voted that this part of the territory be called Westhaven. By an act of the Legislature, approved on the 20th of the following October, the separation was confirmed.

      The petition of Messrs WITHERELL and HYDE to the Legislature, convened at Rutland on the 8th of October, contained the following reasons why the division should be effected: 


" 1st, Because the public road goes more than 16 miles from the northwest to the southeast corner, at which extremes the town is inhabited.

" 2d, Because it is 13 miles from the southwest corner to the east side of the town. 

" 3d, Because there is a 'Great Ledge,' which nearly divides the east from the west part.

" 4th, The west part of the town having better land than the east part, yet a large share of it remaining in a state of uncultivation; and the east part having natural accommodations for water works, and great roads through it, makes it consider its future importance; -- so that each part has its expenses while not considering the expenses of the other part, they cannot agree on a center as one town, yet when divided there is not the least difficulty, each being ready to agree on a center for itself.

" 5th, The town being longer than a 6 mile square town, the inhabitants have always expected to be divided, and although at times they might disagree about the place where to divide, yet each extreme has scarcely ever failed of wishing to get rid of the other, which has at times created difficulties which we do not wish to mention."
 

      Against this petition the following persons protested that "they think the town so small that a division will be injurious, the Grand List being only (pound sign)2283 and 10s the number of freemen not exceeding one hundred, and the land on the west of the line of a vastly superior quality, therefore they pray that the town may not be divided:  -- but if it is to be, that the dividing line may extend so far westward as to take in one-half of the whole number of acres in the town, and so far as to Hubbardton River": Samuel STANNARD, Alexander MCCOTTER, John HOWES, Isaac TURNER, Abraham UTTER, Jonathan ORMS, John WARREN, Amos LAY, Russel SMITH, Ansel MERRITT, Martin MERRITT, James MERRIT; Daniel CUSHMAN, Philip PRIEST, Timothy GOODRICH, Daniel MUNGER, Peter CRAMER, Henry CRAMER, jr., Dan SMITH, Joel HAMILTON.

      The two towns, however, continued jointly to elect one representative to the General Assembly until 1823, since which time the elections have been separate.

      The settlement of Westhaven is contemporary with that of its sister town. It may be inferred from the language of the charter of Fairhaven and from the general disturbance of affairs at the time, that during the War for Independence the territory of the town was not extensively occupied or improved. 

     "Along the shore of the lake and the borders of the bay and rivers there were a few settlements commenced, as will be seen by subsequent records, but mainly the town was a wilderness, inhabited by wild beasts and traversed by hunters' trails. We hear of bears and wolves in the town after it began to be settled, and it is probable that the deer had within our ancient borders many a favorite haunt and runway." [A. N. Adams’ History of Fairhaven.] 

      Major Ebenezer ALLEN, of Tinmouth, and Captain Isaac CLARK, of Castleton, had a "hunting camp" on one of the ledges in Westhaven, not far from the Benson line from which paths radiated in various directions, before the town was chartered. The proprietors met at this camp on the 21st of August, 1780, to begin the survey of the proprietary pitches. They allowed Major ALLEN the privilege of covering with a proprietary right a tract in the north part of this town which he had purchased of Joseph HYDE; and Benoni HURLBURT a similar privilege with a lot, on the bank of East Bay, which he sold in July, 1784, to Luman STONE, of Litchfield, Conn. Carver's Falls seem to have derived their name from one Joseph CARVER, who, together with Joseph Haskins, Jonathan HALL and John VANDOZER, claimed to have been unjustly deprived of possessions in the vicinity which they had improved, "having fled" from southern New England to this State to "resume its liberties and promote its interests." He does not, however, seem to have effected a permanent settlement here. Samuel STANNARD, afterward a resident of Fairhaven, resided for a time in the western part of Westhaven. In 1872 Beriah MITCHELL came from Woodbury, Conn., to Westhaven by the way of Castleton, and settled on the farm now occupied by Mrs. Adelaide HITCHCOCK and her son, Willard. He was constable in 1784, and a leading man. He returned to Connecticut in 1786. The place passed from his hands into his brother's. Ichabod MITCHELL, who came here about 1783, and kept a public house at the corner of the road.

      James BALL and Perley STARR, together, bought the original right of John FASSETT, jr., near where Rodney FIELD lives, and early began improving the same. They left in a short time.

      Sometime before April, 1783, Captain Eleazer DUDLEY and Abijah PEET, both from Woodbury, Conn., settled in town, the former on or near the old school lot about where Mrs. Maria ABELL now resides, and the latter farther north. Thomas DIXON came from Castleton about this time and settled on the Benson line, next north of Mr. PEET's. John HOWE, of Woodbury, Conn., Elijah TRYON, of Granville, Mass. and Elisha FRISBIE, John and Henry CRAMER, lived in the east part of the town. Timothy LINDSLEY and others came the same year from Connecticut and were closely followed by Heman BARLOW, Cornelius BROWNSON, David SANFORD, Samuel LEE, Amos and John MCKINSTRY and others. John HOWE occupied the present farm of John MOON, and Elijah TRYON settled on the place still occupied by his grandson, Cyrus W. TRYON. In 1786 Benjamin and Cooley WELLER and Benjamin CHIPPANN located on the west side of Bald Mountain on the place since known as the Benjamin farm. James MCCOTTER, from Pennsylvania, came this year and erected the first grist-mill on the place now owned and occupied by Michael BLAKE. The first sawmill stood on the lower fall on Hubbardton River, and is now known as the Hunt mill.

      In the early part of 1785 Charles RICE came to Fairhaven from Brookfield, Mass., and was first constable in that town in 1793 and 1794. Late in 1795 he removed to Westhaven and kept a tavern on the place occupied a few years ago by Nathaniel Fish, and now occupied by Mrs. Maria ABELL. His wife, Abigail, sister to Isaac CUTLER, of Fairhaven, died June t9, 1820. He died in Canada, whither he had removed before the War of 1812. His tavern sign read:


" Nothing on this side, and nothing on t'other;
Nothing in the house, nor in the stable either."

      Dr. Simeon SMITH came from Sharon, Conn., in 1787, being compelled to retrieve his declining fortune in a new country. He built a saw-mill on Hubbardton River, and operated a forge on the Falls, afterwards owned by General Jonathan ORMS. He leased the lot owned by Captain Eleazer DUDLEY, and erected there the house afterwards occupied by Major TILLY GILBERT, across the road from Dr. SMITH. He was selectman for the old town of Fairhaven in 1789, '90 and '91; representative in 1789, 1792 and 1797; was the delegate for the town to the State Convention at Bennington in January, 1791; in 1788 was elected one of the assistant judges of the Rutland County Court, and in 1792 was probate judge for the district of Fairhaven. At his death, on the 17th of February, 1804, at the age of seventy years, he bequeathed to the town of Westhaven the then generous sum of $1,000, to be kept at interest for sixty years, and afterwards devoted to the following uses: "To have one good grammar school kept in Westhaven near the village where I now live, the over-plus for the benefit of other schools and the support of a gospel minister, well educated and regularly instructed in the ministry, and if any over for the support of the poor and needy in the said town of Westhaven, under the direction of the civil authority and the selectmen of said town."

      William J. BILLINGS, a hatter, came from Greenfield, Mass., in 1810, and resided in town until 1834, when he removed to Fairhaven to live with his daughter, Mrs. Joseph SHELDON. He died December 30, 1850. He had descendants now living in this vicinity.

      On the 30th of June, 1780, Oliver CHURCH, from New Marlboro, Mass., bought of Samuel ALLEN, of Tinmouth, the right of Nathan CLARK in the old town of Fairhaven, but did not settle until about ten years later. In 1801 he removed to the farm first settled by Hiram BARLOW, where he remained until his death in 1826. He married Lucy BARKER in 1800, who survived him until 1859. He represented the sister towns in 1803, '06, '07, '10, '11 and '19; and held the office of justice of the peace many years. Descendants of his are  still living in town and in different parts of New York. Harvey CHURCH; of Fairhaven, was his nephew. 

      Samuel ADAMS came from Suffield, Conn., in 1792, with his wife, daughter and four sons, and settled on the place which has remained in the family ever since. His son, Horace ADAMS, came into possession of the place upon his father's death, and became an influential citizen, representing the town for three years. He died March 28, t 866, at the age of eighty-two years, leaving the property to his son Samuel.

      Oliver HITCHCOCK, born at Bristol, Conn., March 12, 1776, came to this town from Great Barrington, Conn., in 1816; went back in 1818, and in 1820 returned and stayed. He soon came to be well known as the proprietor of the "Gleason stand." Willard, Miriam, Oliver F., Alman and Rollin, all his children, resided in town for years, the first named coming in 1832 and establishing a salesroom for the "Terry mantel clock" near the Apollos SMITH place. The only one now remaining in town is Rollin, who was born on the farm he now occupies September 24, 1822.

      Nathaniel DICKINSON, who came to Fairhaven as early as 1790 from Massachusetts, and kept store and tavern -- the old Lyon tavern -- there, resided in Westhaven, near Dr. Simeon SMITH's, as early as 1809, and died there in July, 1811. His wife was Sally GILBERT, only sister of Major Tilly GILBERT, of Fairhaven.

      Stephen FISH, born in 1787, came to Fairhaven, about 1810 to reside with his uncle, Joel HAMILTON. He shortly afterward removed to Westhaven, where he carried on the old MINOT farm until 1827, residing meanwhile at the foot of the long hill on the old turnpike, where he kept the turnpike gate. In September, 1819, he purchased, in company with Heman STANNARD, too acres, which he afterwards owned in full and which he sold to Otis Hamilton in May, 1835. He died December 3, 1849.

      Asa GOODRICH resided at an early day near Jonathan ORMS's mill. He had three sons, Erastus, Ansel and Alvin, the first of whom was an apprentice of General ORMS, the second a tanner, and operated the old Beriah ROGERS tannery in Fairhaven, and the third was drowned at seven years of age near Carver’s Falls about 1799.

      Major Tilly GILBERT, who came to Fairhaven in 1788, and became prominent there, removed to the old MINOT house, so called, in this town, in 1832, and remained until his death, September 5, 1850, at the age of seventy-nine years. Among his descendants is his son Benjamin Franklin GILBERT, still living in Fairhaven at the age of eighty-nine years.

      The Minot farm before mentioned is so called from Christopher MINOT, who resided there as early as 1805, and afterwards owned a strip of land in Fairhaven, including the site of Ira C. ALLEN's marble dwelling-house. In 1806 he presented the town of Fairhaven with the bell which still swings in the belfry of the village school-house. He died in Westhaven, August 22, 1824, in his seventy-first year. His wife, who survived him, was Catherine CUTLER, widow of Dr. Simeon SMITH. His son-in-law, John THOMAS, afterwards kept a store here.

      General Jonathan ORMS, a carpenter and mill-wright, came from Northampton, Mass., about 1788, by the way of Pittsfield, Vt. He first engaged in building a forge for Dr. Simeon SMITH on the west side of the falls, which he afterwards purchased, and on which he erected the saw-mill and grist-mill known so well as "Orms's Mills." He was employed by Solomon CLEVELAND, in 1796, on Lyon's mills in Fairhaven. About 1790 he married Eunice HINES, at the house of Timothy GOODRICH, and removed to Westhaven, on the ground lately owned by Seth HUNT, building the two-story dwelling which still stands there, in 1804. He afterwards resided on the south side of the highway in Fairhaven. During the War of 1812 he was appointed general-in-chief of all the militia in Vermont, having his headquarters at Burlington. His wife died in Westhaven March 27, 1824, and was buried in the cemetery just north of his house. He was afterwards twice married. In 1842 hie removed to Castleton Corners, where he died August 8, 1850, aged eighty-six years, and was buried beside his first wife in Westhaven. His descendants, who are numerous, reside in Whitehall and Jamestown, N. Y., Cleveland, O., and elsewhere.

      Dan SMITH, nephew to Dr. Simeon SMITH, was born January 28, 1759, in Suffield, Conn., and came from Sharon, Conn., to Westhaven as early as 1787. He resided near the town line. In the summer of 1801 he leased the iron works in Fairhaven village; in July, 1803, he purchased them, and in October, 1807, sold them to Jacob DAVEY. During the War of 1812 he built a forge and nail factory on the falls in this town, and also made nails on the Fairhaven side of the road, opposite the old Smith tavern, now Ransom WOOD's. He died in Panton, February 15, 1833. 

      Apollos SMITH, senior, a brother of Dan SMITH, removed from Sharon, Conn., to Troy, N.Y., and thence to Westhaven about 1787, where he opened the celebrated "Smith Tavern," kept for so many years by his son, Apollos, and now kept by Ransom WOOD. He was born in Suffield, Conn., December 5, 1756; married Anna GAY, December 3, 1778, and died February 25, 1810. His children were: Augustus, Apollos, Simeon, Horace, Augustus 2d, Cornelia, Henry G. and James.

      Upon the division of the old town of Fairhaven this town was immediately organized, with William WYMAN first town clerk. The other officers are not known, as the records cannot be found. At a meeting held in "March ye 10 day 1800," Oliver CHURCH was chosen moderator, William WYMAN, town clerk; Oliver CHURCH, Isaac HOWE, Joel DICKINSON, selectmen; John HOWE, town treasurer; Artemas WYMAN, constable; John BARNE, Elijah TRYON, William WYMAN, listers; Noah "PREAST," grand juror; Hezekiah HELER, Isaac STEVENS, Samuel ADAMS, jr., Barnabas LERDIE, Simeon DOWNS, Isaac HOWE, David B. PHIPPONEE and Elisha ORTON, surveyor of highways; Ebenezer STEVENS and Person KELSY, fence viewers; Lemuel HYDE and Clement SMITH, pound-keepers; Ashel CONE, sealer of leather; "Captain" Dan SMITH, sealer of weights and measures; Joel JONES, tythingman.

      At the same meeting a tax of one cent on a dollar was laid to hire preaching.


BUSINESS INTERESTS

      Aside from the forges and mills on the falls already mentioned, there has never been any very extensive manufacturing interests in this part of the town; owing, no doubt, to the proximity of Westhaven to the thriving village of Fairhaven, with its vastly superior privileges, and, since the opening of the railroad, its additional shipping facilities.

      About 1790 the first store in town was started on the knoll northeast of the residence of J. G. BRIGGS, by Smith & WOODWARD; the business being afterwards continued by Charles RICE and Bohan SHEPARD, and earlier still by "SHIPHERD," RICE & HIGGINS.

      Lemuel HYDE and John BRONSON also kept a store near the present residence of Mrs. Adelaide HITCHCOCK. Previous to 1800 this firm was dissolved, and the trade continued by John VAN ALLEN and others for a few years.

      About the year 1802 Erastus COLEMAN established a carding-machine and clothing works on the upper falls of Hubbardton River. This business he continued for about thirty years, when he erected a woolen factory on the same site, and operated it until 1844.

      Rollin HITCHCOCK is authority for the following account of former business operations in town:

      The saw-mill now operated by J. Y. HUNT was built for a woolen factory about 1834 by Isaac NORTON, of Benson, and Hiram COLEMAN, son of Erastus, of Westhaven, and served the purposes of its construction about twenty years, William EASTWOOD succeeding Mr. NORTON not far from 1850, and afterward owning the entire interest. The building was then unoccupied for a time, until a Mr. VOWERS, of Warren county, N. Y., converted it into an ax-helve and spoke factory. J. P. HUNT went in with him, and bought him out about twelve years ago.

      The public house now kept by Ransom WOOD was first opened by Apollos SMITH, sr., before 1790, and afterwards kept by his son, Apollos, jr., until near the middle of the present century. One Fayette SMITH then succeeded him, remaining only five or six years, and followed by a Mr. BOOTH. Ransom WOOD came into possession of the property about thirty years ago.

      The first saw-mill in town, as before stated, "the Hunt mill," was erected on the lower fall of Hubbardton River in 1785. There have been three other saw-mills on that stream in town; the first being a saw-mill erected by Erastus COLEMAN about one and one-half miles above the HUNT mill; Quartus TORREY operated one between the spoke factory site and the Coleman mill, and Isaac NORTON ran one between the Torrey mill and the spoke factory.

      There used formerly (about 1850) to be a union store kept at what is called the village. Before that and as early as 1828 or 1830 Harry PALMER kept store there, being followed by QUINTON, CHURCH & TORREY four or five years. Afterwards CHURCH & QUINTON failed.

      HUNT's cheese factory, T. G. HUNT proprietor, was built in 1875, and manufactures over 40,000 pounds of cheese per annum.

      J.&A. ADAMS & Co.'s boat yard, located on East Bay, was established more than thirty years ago. They manufacture from one to six canal boats every year, and employ from five twenty-five men.

      The grist-mill and saw-mill of Nelson O'DONNELL has been in operation for ten or twelve years; L. B. COOK is the present proprietor of the spoke factory.


POST-OFFICE

      It is probable that the post-office in Westhaven was established in the first quarter of the present century, with Apollos SMITH, jr., as first postmaster. The office was then in the old Smith tavern, where Ransom WOOD now lives. It was then moved into the neighborhood of its present location, and kept by Ransom ARMSTRONG for about fifteen years. John ADAMS and E. F. BAKER followed successively, for about five years each. When James FIELD was appointed the office was removed to about a mile east of the residence of Mrs. HITCHCOCK. In about a year Moses FIELD succeeded James and brought the office back to its former site. Newton SAWYER succeeded Moses FIELD and remained in the office about eight years; Perry W. SMITH followed him about one year, when the present incumbent, Rollin HITCHCOCK, was appointed in the spring of 1884.


PROFESSIONAL

      There are no physicians in town at present, though in times past such able physicians as Drs. HELER, ARMSTRONG, SANFORD (now of Castleton) and PALMER, have had extensive practice in town. The only attorney at present in town is Hon. R. C. ABELL, who was born on the 17th of October, 1831; studied law with William BARNES, of Albany, N. Y., and admitted in March, 1856. He has always practiced in Westhaven and vicinity.


MILITARY

      In the Revolutionary War the territory of Westhaven, embraced within the limits of the original town of Fairhaven, was too thinly peopled to furnish any conspicuous chapters to the history of that war. In the War of 1812 the inhabitants actively interested themselves on the side of their country. It is probable that the town united with Fairhaven, which started a body of troops for Plattsburg. They were informed before they had reached their destination that the battle had been fought. In the last war, the Rebellion, the following names are accredited to Westhaven, sufficiently illustrating the readiness with which the inhabitants responded to the several calls for men: 

      Volunteers for three years, credited previous to the call for 300,000 volunteers of October 17, 1863. -- Oscar O. COOK, Henry F. DAVIS, co. C, 11th regt.; William EDWARDS, co. B, 9th regt.; Timothy W. LAMPHERE, 11th regt.; Frederick MAYHEW, co. I, 11th regt.; Norman PRATT. co. C, 11th regt.; Edgar W. SAGER, co. B, 5th regt.; Willard J. SISCO, co. B, 9th regt.

      Credited under call of October 17, 1863 for 300,000 volunteers and subsequent calls. Volunteers for three years. -- Dorwin A. FORBES, John GRANT, 9th regt.; William JONES, co. I, 17th regt.; Thomas MARLBORO, 8th regt.; Lewis F. MONTGOMERY, cav.; Doran H. ORMS, 9th regt.; John W, OWENS, co. F, 4th regt.; Shepard C. PARKER, co. E 8th Theodore R. SMITH, 9th regt.; Frederick PLUMTREE, 9th regt.; Lewis B. VANANDEN, co. C, 11th regt.

      Volunteers for one year. --  Charles ALLARD, Harvey W, HARRINGTON, 11th regt.; John HUMPHREY, co, C, 7th regt.; James JOHNSON, 9th regt.. Matthew M. KELLEY, co. C, 11th regt; Daniel REARDEN, co, C, 7th regt.; Francis Rivers, 11th regt.; Joseph RIVERS, Joseph WHITE, 9th regt.

      Volunteers re-enlisted. -- Frederick MAYHEW, Edgar W. SAGER.

      Volunteers for nine months. -- Henry J, ADAMS, Windham H. EASTWOOD,
Samuel A. FISH, John Q, GILBERT, George D. HUNT, Eugene S. LEE, George OFFENSEND, Herbert C. RICE, Samuel B. RICE, Gardner S. ROBERTS, Theodore R. SMITH.

      Furnished under draft and paid commutation. -- Walter C. BROCKWAY, Andrew B. COLE, Emery Wood.

      The present officers of the town of Westhaven (1885) are as follows: Volney N. FORBES, town clerk and treasurer; Rodney C. ABELL, John S. MOORE, Isaac JAKWAY, selectmen; W. L. HITCHCOCK, William PRESTON, Edward ADAMS, 2d, listers; Charles INGALLS, constable; Willard HITCHCOCK, Henry J. ADAMS, David OFFENSEND, auditors; James KELLEY, Orville O. HITCHCOCK, fence viewers; Robert DOIG, David OFFENSEND, Justus BRIGGS grand jurors; Rodney C. ABELL, town agent; W. L. HITCHCOCK, superintendent of schools; James KELLEY, overseer of the poor.

      The population of the town has varied according to the following figures: 1791, 545; 1800, 430; 1810, 679; 1820, 684; 1830, 724; 1840,774; 1850, 718; 1860, 579; 1870, 713; 1880, 492.


ECCLESIASTICAL

      The First Baptist Church of Westhaven was organized in 1803, with a membership of nine persons. William Ellis PATTERSON was their first pastor. The society now has a membership of between thirty and forty, with no pastor. The church edifice was erected in 1831 at a cost of $2,000, and has a seating capacity for 200 persons. The property is valued at $5000.
 
 
 

History of Rutland County Vermont: with Illustrations & 
Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
Edited by H. Y. Smith & W. S. Rann
Syracuse, N. Y.
D. Mason & Co., Publishers 1886
CHAPTER XLIII.
History of the Town of Westhaven
(Pages - 859 – 867)

Transcribed by Karima 2002


Childs' Business Directory of the Town of Westhaven, Rutland County, VT., 1881-82
Childs' History of the Town of Westhaven, Rutland County, VT., 1881-82