HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF 

HALIFAX

      HALIFAX lies in the southern part of the county, in lat 42° 47' and long. 4° 20', bounded north by Marlboro, east by Guilford, south by Coleraine, in Massachusetts, and west by Whitingham. The township has an area of 23,040 acres, and was the second town in the State to receive a charter from New Hampshire, being granted May 11, 1750, to Oliver and Samuel Partridge and fifty-seven others. At the instance of Oliver PARTRIDGE the township was divided in sixty-four equal shares, and the lot of each owner was marked at the corners with "lasting boundaries." In the center of the town was a large space of hexagon shape taken froth the surrounding lots for public uses.

      The surface of the town is very rough and uneven, though there are no elevations of sufficient altitude to warrant their being designated as mountains. Although there is much land unfit for purposes of cultivation on account of this brokenness, there are still many fine farms and a large amount of land possessing a rich, arable soil, while the soil in general is well adapted to the production of grass, making the town a fine grazing territory. The timber is mostly beech, birch, maple, ash, hemlock and spruce. The principal streams are North and Green rivers. The former flows a southeasterly course through the southwestern part of the town, and the former flows an easterly course through the northern part of the township. Branch brook flows a southerly course through the center of the town, uniting with North river. These streams have several tributaries and afford a number of good mill-sites. On Branch brook is a succession of cascades extending about one hundred rods along its course, each of which is from fifteen to twenty feet in height, and are overlooked by the projecting rocks on the right in ascending the stream, presenting a wild and beautiful scene. On North river is a cavern which is often visited by the curious. It is called Woodard's Cave, or Dun's Den, and is about twenty-five feet in length, five in width, and the same in height, the sides and top being formed of solid rock. The rocks entering into the geological structure of the territory are of gneiss, talcose schist, and calciferous mica schist formation. The first is found in the northern part, the talcose in the western part, and mica in the eastern part.

      In 1880 Halifax had a population of 852, and in 1882 its thirteen school districts contained thirteen common schools, employing seven male and eighteen female teachers, at an aggregate salary of $1,494.43. There were 189 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,780.90, with A. C. JONES, superintendent.

      HALIFAX, commonly called Halifax Center, is a post village located just south of the geographical center of the town. It has one church (Baptist), a store, and half a dozen dwellings. Like most of the older villages it is located on a hill-top. There was once a flourishing select school taught here. The telephone line from Shelburne Falls connects with the line from Brattleboro at this village, and good stage conveniences are afforded east and west.

      WEST HALIFAX is a post village located on North river, about a mile and a half from the western border and four miles from the southern border of the town. It contains two churches (Universalist and Baptist), two or three stores, an extensive tannery, blacksmith shop, grist-mill, etc. The village has telephone connections with Brattleboro, Shelburne Falls, and westward by the way of Jacksonville, while daily stages connect with Brattleboro and North Adams.

      SOUTH HALIFAX (p. o.) is a hamlet located on the Massachusetts line where North river leaves the town. It is connected by daily stage with Shelburne Falls and Jacksonville.

      GROVE is a new postoffice lately established, located at the intersection of roads 43 and 44, in the southeastern part of the town. Daniel S. Worden is the postmaster.

      REID HOLLOW is a hamlet located in the northeastern part of the town, on Green river.

      A. J. TUCKER's tannery, located at West Halifax, was established by Nathan W. HALLIDAY, about 1836, though it has been re-built five times. The present owner came into possession of the property in 1860. He employs fourteen men and tans 400 sides of leather per week, manufacturing upper leather extensively: The establishment is operated by both steam and water-power, using 500 to 600 cords of bark per annum.

      Elias STONE's saw-mill and chair-stock factory, located cor. roads 37 and 37 1/2, is operated by an excellent water-privilege. The mill was formerly used as a grist and carding-mill and cloth dressing factory, and was converted into its present use by Mr. STONE in 1845. He turns out about $6,000.00 worth of chair-stock per annum.

      W. A. & W. DENISON's saw-mill and chair-stock factory is located on road 26. It is operated by water-power, afforded by a branch of Green river.

      Alonzo F. and Frank B. STONE's saw and cider-mill and chair-stock factory, located on road 37, was built by William Morey. It has the capacity for manufacturing 4,000 feet of lumber per day.

      Lewis W. SUMNER's saw and grist-mill is located off road 3 2, in the southwestern part of the town.

      Albert L. THURBERr's saw-mill and chair-stock factory is located on road 14.

      Albert M. V. HAGAR's saw-mill and chair-stock factory is located on road 54.

      Settlements were commenced in the town during the year following the issue of its charter, in 1751, but those who undertook them were not able to prosecute their plans on account of the hostility of the Indians. But after the reduction of Canada, the proprietors of more than forty lots renewed their exertions "with good proficiency," and although the town consisted almost entirely of "mountainous lands," and was then heavily “loaded with timber," yet the proprietors were sanguine that their settlement would at some future period "prove beneficial to the public." Abner RICE commenced a settlement in 1761, he being from Worcester county, Mass. He was joined by others from Coleraine and Pelham, Mass., in 1763, and the settlement was soon in a fairly prosperous condition, so that in 1771 it was one of the most populous towns in the county, the census enumeration for that year being as follows: One hundred males under the age of sixteen years, eighty-three between the ages of sixteen and sixty, and four over sixty; seventy-four females under sixteen years of age, and sixty-eight over sixteen, making a total of 329 souls. In 1791 the population had increased to 1,309 souls, or about 457 more than the town has to-day. The first town meeting recorded was held March 3, 1778, at which it was voted to "accept the constitution of the State of Vermont," and at which James GRAY was chosen town clerk; William HILL and Amos PEABODY, constables; and Hubbel WELLS, William HILL, and Isaac GUILDE, selectmen. The first justices were Benjamin HENRY and Edward HARRIS, in 1786. The first representatives were Edward HARRIS and Hubbel WELLS, chosen in 1778. The first birth was that of Sally PRATT, February 7, 1767, who died in October, 1850.

      Joseph TUCKER was an early settler of Halifax, locating on road 29, corner 39. He married Abigail EMERSON, by whom he reared five children, Abigail, James, Stephen, Calvin and Lucy.

      Oliver NILES came to Halifax, from Stonington, Conn., at an early date, in company with his four brothers, Samuel, Henry, Sands, and Jesse. They purchased 450 acres of land in the southwestern part of the town, on North river. In the division of the land Oliver received 150 acres, Samuel 150, Henry 100, Jesse 50. Sands sickened and died soon after their settlement. David, the father of the brothers, was a soldier in the war of the Revolution, and was killed at the battle of White Plains, in 1776. Oliver married Lydia PLUMB, and reared eight children, five of whom, Oliver, Jr., James, Stephen, Nathaniel, and Lydia, settled in the town. Oliver, Jr., married Mary McKNIGHT, reared six children, and died in December, 1878. Three of his children are now living, of whom James M., resides on the old homestead. Oliver P., the oldest son, born April 23, r815, married Louisa B. FISH, and now resides at Brattleboro.

      James SCOTT was an early settler in Halifax, locating here in the summer of 1781. He brought with him his wife and five children, Clarissa, Thomas Abel, Asahel, and Joel, there being born to him after he located here, five more, James, Henry, Sally, Ruby, and Elijah. The family originated in England, the tradition of the emigration being as follows: A small boy in England was sent on an errand by his parents, was kidnapped, forced on board a vessel, and brought to America, where, in accordance with the practice then in vogue, he was hired out, or sold, for a given time to pay for his passage. This was the progenitor of the SCOTT family in America. Numerous descendants are now residing in different parts of the county.

      The HARRIS family was also an early family in the town. Their ancestors are supposed to have been of Welch descent, sons of those who preferred freedom in the wild mountains of Wales, to Saxon oppression. The first of the family to come to America, was Mary, widow of Walter HARRIS, and her son Sabile, who came to New London, Conn., from Monmouthshire, Eng., in 1756. The next known ancestor was Job, who was born February 10, 1753, then Joshua, born in 1770. When sixteen years of age Joshua, in company with his brother John, left Connecticut and came to Halifax, where they commenced to clear the land which has ever since been the home farm of the HARRIS family in Windham county. In 1791, Joshua married Clarissa SCOTT, by whom lie had eleven children. Joshua, Jr., was born June 16, 18o I, married Nancy MINER in 1825, and settled upon the home farm, where seven children were born to him. Six of whom obtained a mature age. He died in 1876, aged seventy-seven years, leaving a widow and four children, three of whom are now living.

      Francis PHELPS served as a soldier in the Revolutionary war seven years, then came to Brattleboro, married Anna S. PRATT, settled in Marlboro, remained there five years, and then came to Halifax, locating where Joseph HALE and son now reside. He married, for his second wife, a Mrs. FESSENDEN, and died at the age of eighty-four years. He was for many years a deacon of the Baptist church.

      The FISH family, so far as can be ascertained, sprang from an ancient Saxon root, referred to in the records of the German nobility as "FISCH." At a very early date a branch of the original stock is found in England, and upon the colonization of New England three persons of that name, Nathaniel, John and Jonathan, came to this country and settled at Lynn, Mass. Little, however, is known of these brothers. John is the first known ancestor of the family, he being one of the first settlers of Groton, Conn., found there as early as 1655. The next ancestor was Samuel, born in 1656, whose name occurs in the patent of New London, in 1704, the year prior to the incorporation of Groton. He was the second townsman in Groton on its organization, and was re-elected to this position many years. In the French and Indian wars he bore a captain's commission. After Samuel came Nathan, born in 1699, then Nathan, born in 1727, and Samuel, born in 1751. In 1780 or 1781, Samuel left the town of Groton, Conn., to seek a new home in the wilds of Vermont. He and his young wife and two little children, on horseback, traveled through the almost trackless wilderness, and at length reached a place in Halifax, where he cleared away the trees, built a log cabin, planted a few patches of corn, potatoes, and beans, and set about the earnest work of providing for himself and family. It was in this home that the third Samuel was born October 13, 1788. Assisting in carrying on the farm and the tanning business, he enjoyed the limited means of education common in those days, and was early a disciple in the school of Christ, as he professed religion in June, 1808, and joined the church in the east part of Guilford. In speaking of it he said: "I obtained a hope about the first of May, at a meeting one evening; I was irresistibly impressed to speak, so I arose, opened my mouth, and all my fears and trouble subsided at once, and I felt at peace with God, and all the world. I have used my mouth ever since. I took a text for the first time on a Sabbath day, in the year 1813, in a school-house on Green river in Guilford." From that time he preached, either occasionally or habitually, in Halifax, Guilford, and Leyden, but mostly in Coleraine. He was first invited to preach in his native town in 1820. In June following he was engaged as stated supply for one year. On July 15, 1822, he was set apart to the ministry by solemn ordination. During the next few years one hundred and twelve members were added to his church. He continued to preach in Halifax until December 25, 1867, when he moved to Guilford, where he preached until April, 1869. He then returned to Halifax, where he remained until he finished preaching, on the second Sunday in June, 1871. He preached ten thousand sermons, five hundred funeral sermons, baptized more than two hundred converts, and married about two hundred couples. Five of those baptized by him became ministers, and one a missionary to Burmah. Henry C. FISH, D. D., formerly of Newark, N. J., and son of Samuel FISH, was one of the five ministers. During his ministry he worked five and sometimes six hours of the day in the field or shop, and preached three times on the Sabbath. In regard to salary lie said: "There was no stipulated salary, I was a volunteer. Pay was the last thing I thought of." He was twice married, and had fifteen children, eleven of whom lived to maturity. They were all, with one exception, baptized by their father. After the completion of his ministry he lived for a short time with his son James, in Guilford, and March 1, 1872, removed to Brattleboro to live with his daughter Louisa (Mrs. O. P. NILES), where he remained until his death, January 25, 1883, at the age of ninety-four years and three months. His funeral took place at Brattleboro, January 27th, and services were also held at Halifax the next day, in the church over which he was so long a pastor. From there his body was caned to its last resting place, in the family burial ground near his birth place. His funeral sermon, at his request, was preached by John S. SHEPHERDSON, of Greenfield, Mass. He had made arrangements for his funeral, and the text, "I shall he satisfied when I awake in thy likeness," was his own selection. At the present time only three of his children are living in Vermont, James P. FISH, in Halifax, and Louisa (Mrs. L. E. NILES), and Sarah (Mrs. L. E. HIGBY), in Brattleboro.

      Gen. Jonathan SMITH, son of Jonah SMITH, was horn in Halifax in 1783. He married Lucy WHITNEY, of Marlboro, settled there and kept a hotel for several years. This marriage resulted in the birth of five children, and by his second wife, Amanda STONE, of Windsor, Vt., who is still living at West Brattleboro, he had no issue. Mr. SMITH died in June, 1851. Only two of his children are living, Benjamin F., in Chicago, and Henry F., at Brattleboro.

      Sylvester WORDEN was one of the early settlers in Halifax. He had two sons and a brother, Ichabod, who served in the Revolutionary war. After the war they settled in Halifax. Peter, another brother, married Rachel HALE, of Bernardston, Mass., and settled and died here. Asa, James and Samuel, other brothers, also located here. Peter, Jr., married Barbara STAFFORD, and reared eleven children, eight of whom are living, as follows: Lewis A., in Guilford; Peter H., in Halifax; Mary (Mrs. D. CARPENTER), in Brattleboro; Emily A. (Mrs. D. WEATHERHEAD), in Brattleboro; Malinda (Mrs. W. A. DENNISON), on the old homestead; Alsena (Mrs. E. THAYER), in Sherburne Falls, Mass.; Lucy R. (Mrs. S. LEONARD), in Conway, Mass.; and Marcus, in Guilford.

      Matthew, James and George CLARK, brothers, came from Scotland at an early day, settling in Pelham and Petersham, Mass., and from there removed to Coleraine, Mass. Matthew was killed by Indians during the French and Indian war. James came to Halifax in 1797, locating upon the farm now owned by Joseph WORDEN. He lived the remainder of his life here, rearing seven children. John and George, two of his sons, served in the French and Indian war. George was killed at the defeat of Gen. BRADDOCK, and John died of camp fever. James, Elisha and Asa came with their father to this town. Asa, son of James, removed to Jefferson county, N. Y., with his four sons, Archibald, Asa, Elisha and Elias. Four sons of George, 1st, settled in the town. The CLARK family is now widely scattered throughout the country.

      Dea. Israel JONES, from Connecticut, came to Halifax previous to 1788, locating in what is now known as Reid Hollow, on Green river. He died at the age of ninety-nine years. His son Daniel, born here September 30, 1788, married Caroline GRAVES, March 4, 1810, and died January 13, 1857, at the house of his son Calvert. Ansel G., an older son, died unmarried. Betsey, an older daughter, married Daniel BIXBY; of Guilford. Calvert married Emily A. FARNUM and had two sons born to him. Ansel C., now a resident of Wilmington, and Cyrus M., occupying the old homestead, on road 29.

      George PLUMB, son of James, came to Halifax, from Stonington, Conn., about 1797, and in 1798 or '99 James came on, with his third wife, Eunice MINOR, by whom he had eleven sons and three daughters, having had five children by his first wife and nine by his second.

      Elias STONE, from Coleraine, Mass., came to Halifax about 1800, locating on road 50, upon the place now known as the SMITH farm.

      Benjamin GREENE came to this town, from Stonington, Conn., in 1804, locating on road 44. He married Mary A. PROUTY, who bore him five children, of whom Sarah, Elijah P., Amos and Elliott B., reside in the town.

      Jesse WHEELER, from Stonington, Conn., came to Halifax when a young man, about 1814. He served a short time in the war of 1812, receiving a government land warrant in acknowledgement of his services. He married Prudence GREEN in 1815, and spent the remainder of his life on the farm now owned by his son William, dying in April, 1869, aged seventy-seven years.

      The churches of Halifax are a Baptist church, at Halifax village, with no regular pastor; a Baptist church at West Halifax, with Rev. Horace FOWLER, pastor; and the Universalist church, at West Halifax, with no stated supply.

Gazetteer and Business Directory of 
Windham County, Vt., 1724-1884.
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child,
Printed At The Journal Office, Syracuse, N. Y., July, 1884.
Page 216-222.

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~2004