HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF

VERNON

      VERNON is a small, irregularly outlined town, lying in the southeastern corner of the county, in lat. 42° 46', and long. 4° 28', bounded north by Brattleboro, northeasterly by the west bank of Connecticut river, south by Bernardston and Northfield, in Massachusetts, and west by Guilford. The township was originally a part of the old town of Hinsdale, which included lands on both sides of the Connecticut, and was granted by Massachusetts at a very early date, deriving its name from Rev. Ebenezer HINSDELL, or HINSDALE, who was probably one of the original proprietors. Even after the river had been declared the boundary line between the province of New Hampshire and New York, and the township had in this manner been divided, the different parts, although under distinct organizations, still retained their original name, and were thus known until the 21st of October, 1802, when the name of Hinsdale, in Vermont, was changed to that of Vernon. The date of the first grant is not accurately known. In a petition, still extant, from Samuel HUNT, by his attorney, Oliver WILLARD, which was presented to the provincial government of New York, on the 3d of November, 1766, it is stated that the tract of land comprised in this township, "was purchased of the native Indians, and granted by the province of the Massachusetts Bay, near one hundred years ago, and was soon afterwards cultivated and settled; and that it was afterwards found to be in the province of New Hampshire, and was then confirmed to the proprietors by power dated the 3d of September, 1753. The "power" referred to was the charter issued by Governor Benning Wentworth, by which the township of Hinsdale including land on both sides of the river, was regranted to Ebenezer ALEXANDER and ninety-four others. An alteration, however, was made in this charter, or a new one was issued, September 26, 1753, by which the grant was divided into two towns, the west bank of the Connecticut forming the line of separation, and each town retaining the name of Hinsdale until 1802, as before mentioned. Portions of what is now Vernon were also chartered by New York, under the name of Hinsdale and Fall Town Gore.

      A large portion of the territory is mountainous, with a dry, stony, thin soil; but in the eastern part, in the Connecticut valley, there is fine intervale land, where are located many excellent farms, with an arable, easily cultivated soil. The streams are all small, the largest being Fall river, which flows a southerly course along the western border of the town. Lily pond, a neat little body of water covering about 100 acres of land, lies in the southern part of the township. The rocks entering into the geological structure of the territory are principally of the hornblende-schist, clay-slate, and gneiss formation, the later underlying the eastern, and the two former the western and central parts.

      In 1880 Vernon had a population of 652, and in 1882 had seven school districts and six common schools, employing three male and eight female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $820.25. There were 111 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,112.57, with Thomas GOODWILLIE, superintendent.

      VERNON (p. o.), a hamlet located in the eastern part of the town on the New London Northern railroad, has one church (Universalist), an hotel, store, a saw-mill, grist-mill, and about ten dwellings.

      SOUTH VERNON is a hamlet located in the southeastern part of the town on the Massachusetts line. It has a depot and freight-house, hotel, grist and saw-mill, and about twelve houses. A postoffice (West Northfield) and a portion of the village are located just over the line, in Massachusetts.

      The South Vernon House is a well equipped hotel, built by the PRIEST Bros., in 1872. It has accommodations for about forty guests, with R. F. SMITH, proprietor.

      The Vernon Hotel, built in 1849, is a well-equipped summer hotel, with William A. SQUIRES, proprietor.

      The South Vernon grist and saw-mill, T. W. & W. D. JOHNSON, proprietors, has one run of stones and will cut 6,000 feet of lumber per day.

      W. A. FRANKLIN's cider-mill, located on road 4, has the capacity for making ten barrels of cider per day.

      Tyler L. JOHNSON's (of Guilford) saw-mill, located in the western part of this town, manufactures 100,000 feet of lumber per annum.

      H. W. FAIRMAN's grist-mill, located on road 9, has one run of stones and does custom work.

      Charles H. NEWTON's cider-mill, located on road 17, has the capacity for manufacturing 600 barrels of cider per annum.

      In a "narrative of the, controversy" between New York and New Hampshire, by Ethan ALLEN, reference is made to the early history of Hinsdale in these words:

"This township had first been granted by the government of the Massachusetts Bay, and upon the settlement of the boundary line between the Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, in 1739, it fell within the latter, and by that government was granted and fully ratified to the inhabitants and proprietors, who in addition to their title, had also the Indian right."
      The earliest inhabitants were emigrants from Northfield and Northampton, Mass. They encountered with spirit and resolution the dangers to which they were exposed from their enemies, the Indians, though of their names, etc., little is known except as given in the annexed biographical sketches. In 177I the town had a population of 107 souls. It was early organized, but the loss of the records by fire, in 1789, precludes the possibility of obtaining accurate data. By old deeds found, and re-recorded, however, it appears that John BRIDGMAN was town clerk as early as 1785, and was the first one elected, though probably some years previous to 1785. He served until 1803, the year of his death. Mr. BRIDGMAN was also judge of the county court many years. The first representative was Arad HUNT, in 1780, who was also the first justice of the peace, in 1786. At the Cumberland county committee of safety, in its sessions held from the 11th to the 21st of June, 1776, Mr. HUNT was also a delegate from Vernon, in company with John BRIDGMAN.

      In 1740 SARTWELL's and BRIDGMAN's forts were built, the former by Josiah SARTWELL, on what is now known as the HOWE homestead, and the latter by Orlando BRIDGMAN, just opposite the present HUBBARD farm, both of which are spoken of on page 60. On the 24th of June, 1746, a party of twenty Indians came to BRIDGMAN's fort, attacked a number of men who were at work in a meadow, killed William ROBBINS and James PARKER, wounded M. GILSON and Patrick RAY, and made prisoners of Daniel HOWE and John BEEMAN. HOWE killed one of the Indians before he was taken. In the autumn of 1747 they burned BRIDGMAN's fort, killed several persons, and made others prisoners. The fort was soon after rebuilt, on an enlarged and more secure plan. But on the 27th of June, 17 55, the most disastrous affair occurred. As Messrs. Caleb H. HOWE, Hilkiah GROUT and Benjamin GAFFIELD, who had been hoeing corn in the meadow, were returning to the fort a little before sunset, they were fired upon by twelve Indians, who had ambushed their path. HOWE was on horseback, with two of his young sons behind him. A ball; which broke his thigh, brought him to the ground. His horse ran a few rods and fell, and the two boys were taken by the savages. The Indians, then, coming up to HOWE, pierced his body with a spear, tore off his scalp, sruck a hatchet into his head, leaving him in this terrible condition. He was found alive the morning after by a party of men from Fort Hinsdale, N. H.; and being asked by one of the party whether he knew them or not, he answered "yes, I know you all." These were his last words, however, though he did not expire until after his friends had arrived with him at Fort Hinsdale. GROUT was so fortunate as to escape unhurt; but GAFFIELD, in attempting to wade through the river, at a place which was indeed fordable at that time, was unfortunately drowned. The families of the sufferers, who were in the fort, had heard the firing, but were ignorant of its cause. Anxiously awaiting the return of their companions, they heard, in the dusk of the evening, a rapping at the gate, and the tread of many feet without. Supposing by the signal which was given that they were to receive friends, they too hastily opened the gate, and, to their surprise and anguish, admitted enemies. The three families, consisting of Mrs. Jemima HOWE and her children, Mary and Submit PHIPS, William, Moses, Squire and Caleb HOWE, and a babe six months old; Mrs. Submit GROUT and her children, Hilkiah, Asa and Martha, and Mrs. GAFFIELD, with her daughter Eunice, fourteen in all, were made prisoners. After plundering and firing the place the Indians proceeded about a mile and a half and encamped for the night in the woods, then took their course by the way of Crown Point and Lake Champlain to Canada. Mrs. HOWE, after a series of adventures, was finally redeemed with three of her children, through the intervention of Col. Peter SCHUYLER, Major (afterwards General) Israel PUTNAM, and other gentlemen, who had become interested in her welfare on account of the peculiarity of her sufferings and the patience with which she had borne them. Of the children, the youngest died, another was given to Gov. de Vaudreuil, of Canada, and the two remaining ones, who were daughters, were placed in a convent in that province. One of these was afterwards carried to France, where she married a Frenchman named Cron LEWIS, and the other was subsequently redeemed by Mrs. HOWE, who made: a journey to Canada for the express purpose of procuring her release. Mrs. HOWE afterwards became the wife of Amos TUTE, who was for several years one of the coroners of Cumberland county. She died March 7, 1805, aged eighty-two years. At the close of three years' captivity Mrs. GAFFIELD was ransomed and went to England. The fate of her daughter Eunice is uncertain. On the 9th of October, 1758, a petition, signed Zadok HAWKS, was presented to the general court of Massachusetts, praying them to use their influence to obtain the release of Mrs. GROUT, the petitioner's sister. At that time she and her daughter were residing with the French near Montreal, and her two sons were with the Indians at St. Francis. It is probable that their release was not long delayed, as one of the sons, a few years later, was a resident of Cumberland county.

      John FAIRMAN came to Vernon from Somers, Conn., about 1788, and lived and died in the town. Of his family of ten children Elijah is the only one living. Joab, son of John, was born in this town and married Betsey CALDWELL, of Northfield, Mass. After her death he married Mary Ann SHELDON, of Bernardston, Mass. Of his family of ten children only one lives in this town, D. S., who resides on road 10.

      Isaac PRATT came to this town after the Revolution, in which he took an active part, and settled on the farm now owned by W. A. FRANKLIN, on road 4. He died in Sudbury, Mass. George, his son, married Tirzah THOMAS, of Hinsdale, N. H., and lived in that town for a few years. He then came to Vernon and settled on the farm now owned by Isaac EDDY, who married his daughter, Lucy S. Two of his sons, Lawren and Henry, live in Fitchburg, Mass., and another daughter, Cordelia S., who married Gilbert D. BUGBEE, lives in Boston.

      Nehemiah HOUGHTON was an early settler in Vernon. He located on the farm now owned by his grandson S. B. HOUGHTON. His son, Major Alba HOUGHTON, was born on the old homestead. He married Thankful STEBBINS, of this town, where he spent his life. He was a major in the militia, and an upright man. He died in 1873. His wife lives in Worcester, Mass., with her son, C. C. HOUGHTON.

      Ebenezer SCOTT was the first white male child born in Bernardston, Mass. He and his mother and two brothers were carried as captives by the Indians to Quebec and sold to the French, when he was eight years old. He returned to his father's home, and subsequently served in the Revolution, for which service he drew a pension. He came to Vernon at an early day and died here at the age of eighty-three. His son Eleazer was born in this town in 1788 and married Sarah STRICKLAND, of Gill, Mass., by whom he had six children, four of whom are living, Elvira, who married N. GREENWOOD, in Nashua, N. H., Alva E. and Eleazer G., the latter of whom married Sarah D. NOYES, of this town, in Vernon, and Lucinda, who married A. HOWLAND, in Albion, N. Y.

      Nathaniel BROOKS was an early settler in Vernon. He located on the farm now owned by his grandson, Lewis BROOKS, on road 10 1/2. He was a farmer, and died in the town. His son Nathaniel married Lizzie ROBINSON, of this town, and settled near him. He died here, spending his latter years where his grandson, George M. BROOKS, now lives. He had three children, Polly, who married Emerson Preston, Vinal, who died young, and Nathaniel, who was born in 1805, married Harriet LEE, and settled and still lives where his son George M. BROOKS now resides. Samuel, another son of the pioneer Nathaniel, settled on the farm now owned by his son Lewis, where he raised a family of eight children, of whom only one other besides Lewis is living, viz.: Sally, who married Levi BISHOP, and resides in Wisconsin. Lewis married Mary CLARK and had two sons, Addison L., who lives with his father, and Marshall C., who died in 1870. Samuel BROOKS Jr., married Lucretia PEELER, of this town and settled on road 10, where his son L. C. now lives, and where both he and his wife died. Three others of his seven children are living, -- Mary Ann, who married Edward FAIRMAN, Uriah, in this town, and Henry R., in Wisconsin.

      Sylvanus HARRIS, from Richmond, N. H., settled at an early day near the center of the town and cleared up a farm. Not one of his children is living. His son Ziba married Polly LEE, of Vernon, and raised five children, of whom Charlotte H., widow of Samuel CLARK, is the only one living. Sylvanus HARRIS, Jr., came to this town with his father when a child and lived and died here. His first wife was Rachel PEELER, and his second, Nancy JOHNSON, of Vernon, by whom he had nine children, six of whom are living. One son, Charles S., lives on road 10. He was born in 1813 and married Lovina COLGROVE, of Guilford. He had one child, Charles S., who enlisted in Co. I, 10th Regt. Mass. Vols., was taken prisoner at Fair Oaks and confined in Libby prison. He died after his release, at Newport News, Va., of disease contracted in prison.

      John LEE, son of Jesse LEE, married Polly PEELER and settled on the farm now owned by his son G. W. LEE, where he spent his days, dying at the good old age of ninety-six, and his wife at the age of ninety-seven. He had nine children who lived to maturity. Seven of them are still living, three of them in this town, viz.: George W., who married Harriet EHURE for his first wife and Edith E. ROOT for the second one, and resides on the homestead; Rachel, who married David STREETER; and Lucy who married J. G. WEATHERHEAD.

      Jonah TITUS came to Vernon from Sutton, Mass., in 1812. He carried on shoemaking and was also engaged in mercantile business at the center of the town. He died here. His son Capt. Sumner TITUS, was born in Sutton, Mass., in 1805, and came to Vernon with him. He, like his father, was a shoemaker, which business he followed for some time. He was also engaged in boating on the Connecticut river between Bellows Falls and Hartford. For several years he was a captain, and for some time a pilot. He was also captain of a militia company, and from this connection derived-his title. He was a justice of the peace for some years, and also held other town offices. He was twice married. His first wife was Marcia LEE, of this town, by whom he had seven children, six of whom are living. His second wife was Sophronia STEBBINS.

      Sidney S. MILLER, son of Ebenezer MILLER, was born in Dummerston, Vt., August 9, 1808, and came to Vernon in 1820, in company with his father, who settled on the farm on which Sidney now lives. Sidney S. MILLER has been selectman and lister for some time. He married Lucy BARBER of Northfield, Mass., by whom he had four children. His son, Marshall M., was killed by the cars at South Vernon, October 2, 1865. His daughter Augusta L. married John A. BUTLER, of Jamaica, and died in this town. Another son, Horatio S., lives in Fitchburgh, Mass., and a third, George B., in Springfield in that State.

      Ebenezer MILLER, son of Marshall MILLER, was born in Dummerston, Vt., and came to Vernon in 182o. He settled on road 19, on the farm now owned by his son S. S., where he was engaged in blacksmithing and farming. He died September 29, 1829. He married Anna FARR, who died February 13, 1866, having borne him eight children, of whom only one other besides the son named is living, viz.: Jerusha H., who resides with her brother.

      Col. Erastus HULBARD came to Vernon from Sullivan, N. H., in 1829, and settled on the Fort Bridgeman farm, where he died. He married Fanny FROST, by whom he had three children. His son, George H., was born May 1, 1843, and enlisted in Co. E, 11th Vt. Regt., or 1st Heavy Artillery, July 21, 1862. He was promoted to 1st corporal and subsequently to sergeant, in which capacity he served until the close of the war, when he returned to the farm on road 3. He has served two terms each as lister and selectman. He married Hattie, daughter of Chester W. FRENCH, and has two children, Walton G., an adopted son, who came to live with them when five years old, and E. G.

      Lewis E. RICE was born in Guilford, and came to Vernon in 1829, when nine years of age. He married Harriet M., daughter of Noah CLARK, who still lives in this town. He was drowned while fishing in the Connecticut river in 1851. But one child survives him, Estella J., who married D. S. FAIRMAN, and lives in Vernon.

      William HEARD came to Vernon from Montague, Mass., about 1830, and bought the farm on road 9, which was the place of residence of Gov. HUNT, He died in 18.75. Three children survive him: Jane, who married Henry HERRICK and lives in South Carolina; Sarah A., who lives on the homestead with her brother; E. M., who married Lilian E. DAVIS, daughter of Charles E. DAVIS, of Vernon, and has three children.

      Jarvis F. BURROWS, son of Amos, was born in Leydon, Mass., in 1812, and came to Vernon in 1836. He married Beulah M., daughter of Zadock WRIGHT, and settled on the farm now owned by his wife's father. He built the Vernon hotel, which was known as the Burrows House. He moved into it in 1850 and kept it for twenty-five years. He represented Vernon in the legislature several terms; he held most of the town offices, and was deputy sheriff for some years. He was widely known throughout the State. He died in 1875. His widow still lives in Vernon. Only one of his children lived to maturity, Hunt W., who married Isabella J. WARREN of North Bernardston, Mass., and died in 1874, leaving two boys, J. F. and W. W. H.

      Lewis F. GOULD was born in Bernardston, Mass., in 1813, and came to Vernon in 1836. He married Lucy STREETER of this town and settled on the farm on which he and his son now reside, on road 18. His wife died October 8, 1879. His son Gilbert F. married Aurora B., daughter of Nelson DUNKLEE, and lives on the old homestead. He has been selectman, lister and overseer of the poor.

      Charles E. DAVIS was born in Winhall, Vt., in 1835, and came to Vernon about 1853. He married Fanny F., daughter of I. W. JOHNSON, Jr., and has four children, Lilian E., Ada F., Charles I., and Alice J.

      Nelson DUNKLEE, son of Jonathan, was born in Marlboro in 1812. He married Sarah C. DOOLITTLE, of Townshend, and settled in that town. In 1856 he came to Vernon. In that year also his wife died, having borne him three children. His second wife was Martha A. FARR, who died in 1861, and his third, Orsaline K. HARVEY, by whom he has two children, who live at home.

      Alonzo NEWTON was born in Vernon and married Lavina FROST, of this town. He settled at the center of the town and carried on the business of shoemaking. His son William A., who resides on road 18, is the only member of his family who lives in this town. He married Sarah TYLER of Vernon and had four children, three of whom are living. For his second wife he married Celina COOK of Hinsdale, N. H., all of whose four children are living at home.

      Isaac EDDY, who married Hannah PARKER of Oxford, Mass., moved from that State to Newfane in 1803, and settled on the farm where Warren R. HILDRETH now lives. In 1861 he removed to Vernon, where he died the following year. His wife, who bore him six children, died in 1852. His son Artemas lives in Guilford, and Isaac, another son, on road 2 1/2 in Vernon, where he has resided since 1861.

      Wilder H. FAIRMAN, son of Zira K. FAIRMAN, who was born in Northfield, Mass., in 1817. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Capt. Benajah DUDLEY, and settled on the farm now occupied by Henry N. BROOKS. After a few years' residence there he removed to the farm now owned by Michael BAKER, on road 91, where he died September 11, 1876. He represented the town in the legislature in 1867-'68; was selectman and lister several times, and held other town offices.

      John Jacob PEELER came to Vernon among the early settlers. He was pressed into the English service, deserted, was retaken and whipped, and finally served the Americans in the Revolutionary war. Of his descendants in this town, Alexander resides on road 13.

      James STREETER, a blacksmith, came to Vernon among the early settlers, locating in the southern part of the town. His son Paul, born November 9, 1778, married Anna DRESSER, January 1, 1800, and reared twelve children, four of whom are living, Luther, in Chicopee, Mass., Noyes and Jerusha, in Vernon, and James P. in Massachusetts. Benjamin A., son of Paul, born July 14, 1810, married Mary GREEN and reared nine children, seven of whom are living, as follows: Mary L., B. A., Phebe A., Lovisa S., P. A., Hannah E., and U. N., only one, B. A., in this town.

      Stephen JOHNSON, from Southboro, Mass., came to this town at an early date, locating in the southwestern part, whence he subsequently removed to the central part of the town. He reared eleven children, and died in 1837. His son William married Harriet ALLIS, of Deerfield, Mass., and reared eight children, five of whom are living, viz: Mrs. Lucy E. SLATE, Leonora H. (Mrs. John HUNT), Mary J. (Mrs. H. H. DICKINSON), Sarah M. (Mrs. S. B. HOUGHTON), and F. W. The latter was born in 1834, married Thankful WHITE, of Wardsboro, and has three children, William F., Bertha H., and Guy C. He has held most of the town offices, and was representative in 1882-'83. His mother resides with him on the homestead. William represented the town in the legislature of 1854-'55, and in 1868-'69, and also held most of the town trusts. He died June 15, 1870. I. W. JOHNSON, son of Stephen, married Fanny ELMER and settled upon the farm now owned by his son Dwight. Four of his six children are living, I. W., Dwight, E. P., and Fanny (Mrs. F. BAKER). He died in 1869.

      The Second Advent church, located on road 20, was organized by its first pastor, Rev. Solomon COOK, with fifteen members, in 1874. The church building, erected in 1860, will seat 150 persons, and is valued at $1,600.00. The society has thirty-four members, with Rev. J. HEMENWAY, pastor.

      The Union Universalist church, located at Vernon Center, was organized by its first pastor, Rev. M. H. HARRIS, with twenty-nine members, July 27, 1879. The church building, a wood structure erected in 1845, will seat 300 persons and is valued at $3,000.00. The society now has thirty members, with Rev. E. W. WHITNEY, pastor.

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 304 [41]-304 [48]

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~2004