Search billions of records on





Moretown lies a little west of the center of Washington county, in latitude 44° 15' and longitude 4° 19', and is bounded northerly by the Winooski river, which separates it from Middlesex and Waterbury, easterly by Berlin, southerly by a part of Northfield and Waitsfield, and westerly by Duxbury.

      This township was chartered June 7, 1763, by Gov. Benning Wentworth, of New Hampshire, is about six miles square, and contains 23,040 acres.

      Moretown is mountainous and quite broken in surface, but contains many good dairy farms and sugar orchards. It is well watered by numerous mountain streams and springs. Mad river is the principal water-course, which enters the town from Waitsfield, about a mile from the southwestern corner, and traverses in a northeasterly direction entirely across the township, and falls into the Winooski. This stream affords some of the best water-powers in the state. Moretown also boasts of several good mineral springs.

      The rocks that form the geological structure of this territory are principally the talcose schist formation. Beds of saccharoid azoic limestone have been discovered, and one of steatite.

      The settlement of the town was commenced about 1790. In that year Ebenezer HASELTINE came from Lunenburgh, Mass., and commenced to clear a farm on the Winooski river about a mile and a half from Duxbury line. Mr. HASELTINE found that he had a neighbor who had preceded him. Seth MUNSON was then living near where Mr. HASELTINE made his pitch. 

      Those who did not resort to the stump-mill, an immense mortar constructed by burning a large and deep cavity in the top of a solid stump, in which the corn was placed and reduced to meal by pounding with a huge pestle, went down the Winooski, with their corn, to a mill in Burlington, carrying both the skiff and corn past the Bolton falls. Col. Jacob DAVIS erected a grist-mill at Montpelier in the summer of 1789. If the above statement is authentic history, as given by a descendant of Mr. HASELTINE, and also found in Hemenway's Gazetteer, we conclude that the inhabitants of Moretown preferred the easy water-course to Burlington, with the exception of Bolton falls, to the probable rough and rugged road to Montpelier. Possibly there was no road at all as early as 1790.

      The town must have settled quite rapidly the next two years, for the town records show that, March 9, 1792, Joseph HASELTINE, Seth MUNSON, David PARCHER, and Ebenezer HASELTINE petitioned Richard HOLDEN, a justice of the peace of Waterbury, to call a meeting of the voters in Moretown, to be held at the house of Joseph HASELTINE, for the purpose of electing officers for More. town. The inhabitants met in accordance with this warning, March 22, 1792, and proceeded to elect the following list of town officers: Daniel PARCHER, moderator; Seth MUNSON, town clerk; Joseph HASELTINE, Daniel PARCHER, and John HEATON, selectmen; Phillip BARTLETT, treasurer; Joseph HASELTINE, constable; John HEATON and Ebenezer HASELTINE, listers; Joseph HASELTINE, collector; and Joseph PARCHER, highway surveyor.

      In those early days the robust wives and daughters of the pioneers not only spun, wove, and made the clothing for their families, but they also assisted in the field work. Mrs. Ebenezer HASELTINE and Aunt Judith HASELTINE gathered sap on snow-shoes, and caught quantities of trout from the Winooski.

      The first school district in town was organized in the Haseltine neighborhood. The first birth in town was probably that of Polly Phemia MUNSON. Paul KNAPP, who was killed by a falling tree, was the first person who died in town. Rev. Mr. BROWN (Universalist) was the first minister who settled in town, and deeded to the town, for the benefit of its schools, the lands reserved for the first settled minister. Moretown was first represented in the legislature by Luther MOSELEY, who was chosen by seven voters.

      WINSHIP & THORNTON were the first merchants, and opened their store in 1815, and their first load of goods was brought from Burlington by Cephas CARPENTER. In 1822 Mr. STEVENS commenced business as a merchant, and built a distillery and made whiskey. His death, which occurred about two years later, was considered a loss to the town. Martin L. LOVELL and Francis LISCOMB built a starch factory in 1833, and operated it about five years. It was then converted into a tannery by Jesse JOHNSON, and burned three or four years later. Joseph SAWYER built the first hotel in town, in 1835. The first physician was Dr. Stephen PIERCE. He was a successful, skillful, and highly respected physician, and died in Barnard about 1864. Soon after the young Doctor located in the town the neighbors were discussing his merits, and one gave as his opinion that he had a very good theory of physic, but he lacked the practice. Very soon after this Mr. A. MARCH, who had a sick child, called on the Doctor and asked for some "theory of physi " to administer to his child. The Doctor supplied him, and often related the joke to his friends.

      In 1840 Moretown had a population of 1,128, and in 1880, 1,181. In 1888 the town had eleven school districts and supported twelve schools,. taught by one male and twenty female teachers, at a weekly salary of $6.67 for the male, and an average weekly salary of $4.31 for the females. The whole number of children in town who attended school was 226, of whom seven attended private schools. The total income for school purposes was $1,811.63. The whole amount expended for all school purposes was, $1,571.31. U. P. CHILD was superintendent.

      Owing to the mountainous condition of the township it is divided into, several separate neighborhoods, which prevents building up any large village within its borders, and many of the farmers market their produce in Waterbury, Montpelier, and Northfield.

      MORETOWN village and postoffice is located in the southwestern part of the town, on Mad river. It contains two general stores, a hardware store, two grist-mills, two saw-mills, two blacksmith shops, an hotel, an undertaker's and carriage shop, one box factory, two churches (Roman Catholic and Methodist), and a population of about 200.

      The grist-mill now owned and operated by I. D. ROBINSON & Son is located at Moretown village, and was built by Charles HOWE in 1831. It has four runs of stones, and does custom work. In connection with the grist-mill I. D. ROBINSON & Son are proprietors of a saw-mill, which was built in 1874 by I. D. ROBINSON. The mill cuts from 100,000 to 200,000 feet of lumber and about 200,000 shingles annually.

      Messrs. PARKER & GILLETT''s saw-mills are located at Moretown village, and were built by Charles HOWE. The property was purchased by Mr. PARKER in 1873, and in 1885 Mr. GILLETT became his partner. This firm now turns out annually from 200,000 to 300,000 feet of lumber and about 200,000 shingles.

      Orville H. RICHARDSON's lumber and clapboard-mills are located on the Winooski river, opposite the village of Middlesex. Mr. RICHARDSON purchased the property in 1883. He turns out annually about 1,000,000 feet of clapboards and other lumber, and employs six men.

      The saw-mill, butter tub factory, and cider-mill of C. A. STEVENS are located on Jones brook, corner of roads 17 and 15. This property was purchased by Mr. STEVENS in April, 1884. He manufactures about 20,000 feet of coarse lumber, 12,000 butter tubs, and 1,000 barrels of cider annually. He also manufactures, as a specialty, stone boat or drag plank.

      The carriage and undertaking shops of LOVEJOY & TOWLE, at Moretown village, were built by Calvin FOSTER in 1850, and became the property of the present owners in 1867. This firm does undertaking, and manufactures carriages, wagons, and sleighs, and does general repairing in their line.

      H.O. Ward's box factory and grist-mill, at Moretown village, on Mad river, gives employment to six men, and manufactures about 1,000,000 feet of ,lumber into boxes annually. An old mill was burned on this site May 15, 1887, and J. B. Farrell and his wife, who lived in one part of it, perished in -the flames. Mr. Ward's mill was built in the ensuing fall. Charles H. Dale -operates the grist-mill, and grinds from 20,000 to 25,000 bushels of grain per year. Mr. Ward resides in Duxbury.

      Joseph M. Brown & Son's saw and planing-mills, on road 33, are run by water-power and a forty-horse-power steam engine. This firm employs four men, and turns out from 600,000 to 800,000 feet of lumber annually.

      G.S. & P.A. Chapman's saw-mill is located on road 33, in the eastern part of the town. It is run by water-power, and cuts about 200,000 feet of lumber annually.

      John Foster, from Bridgewater, Vt., settled in Moretown on the farm where his grandson, Charles A. Foster, now lives. He reared a numerous family, and died in 1842. His son John was born in Moretown, in 1793, where he died in 1837. He married Ruth Rich, and they were parents of four children, all of whom are living, viz.: Charles A., Ruel S., John R., and Harriet J. (Mrs. N. K. Herrick), of Middlesex. Charles A. Foster, who resides on the old homestead, as before mentioned, has held the office of selectman of his town, and has been justice of the peace the past sixteen years. He married Huldah A. Hathaway, of East Montpelier. Their seven children now living are Mrs. F. M. McElroy, of Middlesex, Mrs. E. A. Drew, of Barre, Mrs. Ernest Crown, of Manchester, Vt., John E., of Bridgeport, Conn., Charles F., of Taunton, Mass., Arthur C., of Hartford, Conn., and Jesse J., of Pittsfield, Mass.

      Ebenezer Haseltine came to Moretown from Lunenburgh, Mass., and settled on the banks of the Winooski in 1990. He was elected lister at the organization of the town, March 22, 1792. At the same meeting his brother Joseph, who probably came to Moretown about as early as he, was elected selectman, constable, and collector. Joseph Haseltine and six of his brothers served as soldiers in the Revolutionary war. Ebenezer, son of Ebenezer, resides on the farm where he was born, in 1813.

      Alleduren Stowell, from Connecticut, was a pioneer of Moretown, and one of the earliest settlers. He located at the Common, where he cleared a farm and reared a large family, all now deceased. He died about 184o. His daughter Polly was the wife of John Howes, whose son George resides on road 26. He represented Moretown in the legislature of 1878. John Howes settled in the town at an early date. He died in 1846. His son John was born in Moretown, and here resided until his death, in x881, aged sixty-one years. He was selectman, and held other town offices. Five of his children reside in Moretown.

      Amos HOLT and his father, Humphrey HOLT, came from New Hampshire to Montpelier at an early date. They made the shingles that covered the first State House. Amos HOLT was a man of good abilities. His wife, Hopy, daughter of Abraham HOWLAND, one of the first settlers of Calais, lived to the advanced age of ninety-four years. Their son David C., a school teacher, carpenter, and surveyor, served as fifer one year in the late war, in Co. G, 6th Vt. Regt. Amos HOLT died in Moretown.

      Abner CHILD, a native of Thompson, Conn., came to Moretown from Sharon, Vt., in 1805, and settled on the farm where his son Roswell now lives. He cleared the farm and reared to maturity a family of six children, of whom Dennis, residing in Wisconsin, and Roswell, before mentioned, residing on the old homestead, are living. Mr. CHILD was interested in the welfare of his town. He was captain of the militia and clerk of the town many years, and one of the foremost in prominence and influence. He died in 1860.

      David BELDING, from Swanzey, N. H., came to Moretown about 1810. He was a farmer, and settled on Mad river. He resided awhile in Duxbury, but died in Moretown in 1860, aged seventy-four years. Mr. BELDING took an active part in the affairs of his town, and officiated as justice of the peace, lister, and selectman, and represented his town several terms in the legislature. Three of his children reside in Washington county, viz.: Mrs. MARSHALL and David BELDING in Moretown, and Eben Belding in Duxbury.

      Barnabas MAYO came to Moretown from Acworth, N. H., in 1812, and settled on the farm where his son Barnabas now lives. He was a man of considerable influence and represented Moretown in the state legislature several terms. He died in 1847.

      Osgood EVANS, a native of Weare, came to Moretown from Bow, N. H., in 1827, and settled on a farm where Thomas GRANDFIELD now lives. He was an influential citizen and served as representative in the legislature, and held other positions of trust. He died at the village in March, 1886. His wife, Mary P. (BAILEY) EVANS, still survives, and resides with her son George in Moretown. Their other surviving son, M. O. EVANS, is an enterprising merchant of Waterbury.

     Moses P. HEATH, a native of Concord, N. H., came to Moretown about 1834, and died here in 1876. He was justice of the peace over twenty consecutive years, and filled acceptably other town offices. His son Ephraim A. was born in Lincoln, Addison county, in 1846, and was admitted to the bar of Washington county, September 25, 1869. He began the practice of law in Montpelier, where he remained one year, and then returned to Moretown, where he has since resided and practiced his profession.

      Roger G. BULKELEY came into Vermont from Colchester, Conn., where he was born May 6, 1786. After being in Yale College awhile he commenced the study of law in his native state, but completed his studies in the office of Charles BULKELEY, at Montpelier. He was admitted to the bar in Orleans county, August 8. 1809, and immediately commenced practice in Williamstown, where he remained until the War of 1812. He enlisted and served through the war, and returned holding the warrant of a non-commissioned officer. His home was in Washington a part of the time through the war and until 1817. At that time he moved onto a farm in Duxbury, and finally moved to Moretown, where he resided until his decease, February 2, 1862, and was a pensioner at the time of his death. Mr. BULKELEY was justice of the peace, town agent, lister, selectman, and an active member of the Constitutional Convention of 1857. He married Sally TAYLOR, of Berlin, about 1808, and they were parents of twelve children who lived to mature age, five of whom are now living, George, Harry, and Lucy (Mrs. Austin G. PRENTISS) in Moretown, Charles in Clinton, Conn., and Rowland T. in Illinois. George BULKELEY has held the positions of lister, town agent, and selectman, and was representative in 1863. Harry has represented Duxbury in the legislature several terms, and is now the agent of Moretown.

      Lester KINGSLEY, M. D., the venerable doctor of Moretown, was fifty-two years in active and successful practice here. He settled in town in 1827, and died January 4, 1881, aged seventy-six years. Dr. KINGSLEY was elected town clerk in March, 1832, and held the position continually thereafter until his death, a period of nearly forty-nine years. He was postmaster from 1837 for the ensuing twenty-five years, and represented his town in the legislature of 1841 and 1842.

      James HAYLETT, M. D., was born in North Hero, Vt., in 1844. He studied medicine with Dr. G. N. BRIGHAM, of Montpelier, and graduated from Hahnemann Medical College, of Philadelphia, in 1869, and located that year in Moretown, where he has built up a fine reputation and a successful practice. Dr. HAYLETT succeeded Dr. KINGSLEY as town clerk, in 1881, and holds the position at the present time (1888). He was elected to represent Moretown in the legislature of 1886.

      The following account of a most extraordinary thunder-storm was written by the late Hon. D. P. THOMPSON, of Montpelier:

"The most remarkable instance of a sudden and great fall of water, which was ever known in this region, occurred about thirty years ago [now about fifty or sixty], round the sources of Jones's brook, a small mill stream that rises in Moretown Mountains and empties into Winooski river three miles below Montpelier. The mountains round the source of this stream rise to the height of about 2,000 feet, with unusual abruptness, and, at the same time, so curve around as to leave the intermediate space in the form of a deep half basin, down the precipitous sides of which a sudden shower descends almost as rapidly as water rushing down the steepest roof of a house, and, collecting, at the bottom, pours in a raging river down the valley to the outlet of the stream. It was over this mountain-rimmed basin that burst the extraordinary thunder-storm which I have undertaken to describe, and which passed among the inhabitants under the mame of the bursting of a cloud.

"The inhabitants of the basin, when the storm burst upon them so suddenly and unexpectedly, were struck with astonishment and alarm at the unwonted quantity of water that descended upon them, from the seemingly flooded heavens. A settler who lived nearest the foot of the mountain described the rain as 'coming down in bucketsful.' I was in a field a short distance from my house when it struck, and was so astonished at first I knew not what to do. But the rain, if it could be called rain, coming thicker and faster, I ran with all my might for the house, but was almost drowned before I got there, and then it was only to find the water gushing into the house on all sides till it was nearly knee deep on the floor. And so with all the inhabitants of the basin. No place afforded them any protection; rivers were within all their houses, and rivers, rising into seas, were all around them without; and they looked on with mute consternation at that tremendous outpouring of the clouds. But they were the first to be relieved. The rain, after a brief duration of less than half an hour, ceased as suddenly as it came, and the inhabitants ran out of their drenched houses just in time to behold the numerous uniting streams, that had come pouring down the encircling mountain, gathering into a mighty river that swept away shanties, fences, old trees, logs, lumber, and everything in its path, and bearing them in wild confusion on its surface, went foaming, trembling, and roaring like a cataract, with amazing force, down the valley towards the outlet three or four miles below.

"But the principal scene arising from the destructive and fatal progress occurred at the saw-mill of Oren CLARK, and situated about a mile from the mouth of the stream. Mr. CLARK and his hired man were at work in a field near the mill, and being warned by the appearance of the clouds that a flood would soon be down upon them, ran to the mill to make some necessary protection for its safety. While thus engaged, they were aroused by a deafening roar, that burst suddenly upon their ears from the stream but a short distance above the mill; when looking up they beheld, to their astonishment and alarm, a wild, tumultuous sea of commingling flood-wood and turbid waters, with a wall-like front, ten feet high, tumbling and rolling down upon them with furious uproar, and with the speed of the wind. They attempted to secure a retreat over the log-way which extended from the mill to the high ground five or six rods distant. Over this they made their way with all possible speed. But such was the velocity of the on rushing torrent, that they had not proceeded half way before the mill came down, with a crash, behind them, the log-way was swept from beneath their feet, and they were struggling for their lives in a flood a dozen feet deep, foaming, boiling, and so filled with trees, timber, and all sorts of ruins, that it did not seem possible for a human being to be borne along in the frightfully whirling mass and live a single minute.

"Mr. CLARK said, 'I saw EASTMAN once more when I rose to the surface after the first plunge. He was struggling desperately to get his head above the flood-wood. But I saw him no more. The next moment a raft of logs swept over me, and I was whirled onward, sometimes with my head above and sometimes below the water, until I neared the wooded bank down and on the opposite side of the stream, when I came within reach of a small tree which I grasped, which about as soon came up by the roots, and I was again plunged into the flood. I struggled on and soon was so fortunate as to grasp another sapling, and drew myself ashore, and fell down half dead from bruises and half drowned.'

"The remains of poor Eastman were found next day near the mouth of the stream."

      A Congregational church was the first religious society organized in Moretown. The meeting for its organization was held in the first log school-house.

      The members that composed it were Reuben HASTINGS, John STOCKWELL, Samuel EATON, Mrs. Eleazer WELLS, and Mrs. STOCKWELL. Deacon Nathan BENTON and Philemon ASHLEY were among its early and prominent members. The school-house and afterwards the town house at the village were used as places of worship. This church continued a separate organization until some time between 1836 and 1840, when the membership was so small that the church was dissolved and merged in the Congregational church at Duxbury.

      The Methodist Episcopal church of Moretown is located in. the village of Moretown. Rev. Amasa COLE was probably the first one of that order who preached in this tour. In 1809 Joshua LUCE, a local preacher, settled in town, and was the pioneer of Methodism here. By his efforts, aided by his wife and daughter, a Methodist class was organized. They held meetings in barns and school-houses. Moretown became a part of the old Barre circuit, and for several years had no resident pastor. Their first meeting-house was built on the Common in 1832, and was occupied until 1854, when their present church edifice was erected at the village. It is a wooden building, will comfortably seat 250 people, and with grounds and all other church property is valued at $4,000. Rev. William H. DEAN is the pastor, and the church has sixty-two members.

      The first Catholic priest who officiated in Moretown was Father Jeremiah O'CALLAGHAN, and he is said to have been the first resident Catholic priest in Vermont. In 1853 Col. MILLER, of Montpelier, and Frank and Peter LEE gave to the Catholic society here the site for a church and land for a buryingground. In 1860 Rev. Z. DRUON built their present church edifice, a little more than a mile east of the village. Previous to this time the mission had occasionally been visited by Rev. Fathers O'CALLAGHAN, DALY, DROLET, MALONEY, and COOPMAN. The number of Catholic families in this mission is forty or fifty, mostly farmers. They are attended now by Rev. J. BRELIVET, from Northfield.

Gazetteer Of Washington County, Vt. 1783-1899, 
Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child,
Edited By William Adams.
The Syracuse Journal Company, Printers and Binders.
Syracuse, N. Y.; April, 1889.
Pages 399-406

Transcribed by Karima Allison, 2003