HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF 
WESTMINSTER

      WESTMINSTER lies in the northeastern part of the county, in lat. 43° 5' and long. 4° 32', bounded north by Rockingham, east by the west bank of Connecticut river, south by Putney, and west by Brookline and Athens. The town was originally granted by Massachusetts, about 1735. The circumstances leading to this grant, and the history of the early settlement, are well detailed by Hall, in his “History of Eastern Vermont,” as follows:

     "Many petitions having been presented to the general assembly of Massachusetts, in the year 1735, praying for grants of land on the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers, that body, on the 15th of January, 1735 or '36, ordered a survey of the lands between the aforesaid rivers, from the northwest corner of the town of Rumford on the latter stream to the Great Falls on the former, of twelve miles in breadth from north to south, and the same to be laid out in townships of six miles square each. They also voted to divide the lands bordering the east side of Connecticut river, south of the Great Falls, into townships of the same size; and on the west side, the territory between the Great Falls and the Equivalent Lands into two townships of the same size if the space would allow, and if not into one township. Eleven persons were appointed to conduct the survey and division. Twenty-eight townships were accordingly laid out between the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers, and on the west bank of Connecticut river, township NumberOne, now Westminster, was surveyed and granted to a number of persons from Taunton, NORTON, and Easton, in Massachusetts, and from Ashford and Killingly in Connecticut, who had petitioned for the same.

     "The terms upon which the grant of Number One and of the other townships, was made, were these: Each settler was required to give bonds to the amount of forty pounds as security for performing the conditions enjoined. Those who had not within the space of seven years last past received grants of land were admitted as grantees; bit in case enough of this class could not be found, then those were admitted who, having received grants of land elsewhere within the specified time, had fulfilled the conditions upon which they had received them. The grantees were obliged to build a dwelling house eighteen feet square and seven feet stud at the least, on their respective house lots, and fence in and break up for ploughing, or clear and stock with English grass five acres of land, and cause their respective lots to be inhabited within three years from the date of their admittance. They were further required within the same time to build and furnish a convenient meeting-house for the public worship of God, .and settle a learned orthodox minister. On failing to perform these terms their rights became forfeit, and were to be again granted to such settlers as would fulfill the above conditions within one year after receiving the grant. Each township was divided into sixty-three rights -- sixty for the settlers, one for the first settled minister, another for the second settled minister, and the third for a school. The land in township Number One was divided into house lots and `intervale' lots, and one of each kind was included in the right of every grantee. As to the remainder of the undivided land, an agreement was made that it should be shared equally and alike by the settlers when divided.

     "Capt. Joseph TISDALE, one of the principal grantees of Number One, having been empowered by the general assembly of Massachusetts, called a meeting of the grantees at the school-house in Taunton, on the 14th of January, 1736 or '37. A committee was then appointed to repair to the new township for the purpose of dividing the land, according to the wishes of the grantees. They were also required to select a suitable place for a meeting-house, a burying-place, a training-field, sites for a saw-mill and a grist-mill, and to lay out a convenient road. The proprietors held a number of meetings, sometimes at Capt. TISDALE's, at other times in the old school-house, and not infrequently at the widow Ruth TISDALE's. A sufficient time having elapsed, the allotment of the sixty-three rights was declared on the 26th of September, 1737, and proposals were issued for erecting a saw-mill and a grist-mill at Number One, which was now familiarly called New Taunton, in remembrance of the town where the majority of the proprietors resided. At the same time, a number of the proprietors agreed to undertake the building of the mills, and by the records of a meeting held July 8, 1740, it appeared that the saw-mill had been built, and that means had been taken to lay out a road from it to the highway. Other improvements were made at this period by Richard ELLIS and his son Reuben, of Easton, who, having purchased eight rights in the new township, built there a dwelling house, and cleared and cultivated several acres of land. Some of the settlers were also engaged at the same time in laying out roads and constricting fences, who, on their return to Massachusetts, received gratuities for their services from the other proprietors.

     "The grantees were preparing to make other improvements, having in view particularly the constriction of a road to Fort Dummer, when, on the 5th of March, 1740, the northern boundary line of Massachusetts was settled. On finding by this decision that Number One was excluded from that province, they appointed an agent on the 5th of April, 1742, to acquaint the general assembly of Massachusetts of the difficulties they had experienced, and of the money and labor they had expended in settling their grant, and to ask from that body directions by which they might firmly secure their rights, although under a different jurisdiction. The meeting at which this-appointment was made, was probably the last held by the proprietaries under Massachusetts, and there is but little doubt that the settlement was abandoned upon the breaking out of the Cape Breton War, [in 1744.]"

      In the spring of the year 1751 John AVERILL, with his wife, and his son Asa, moved from Northfield, in Massachusetts, to Number One. At that time there were but two houses in the latter place. One of these, occupied by Mr. AVERILL, was situated on the top of Willard's or Clapp's hill, at the south end of Main street. The other below the hill, on the meadow, and unoccupied, was probably the house built by Mr. ELLIS and his son in 1739. In the house into which Mr. AVERILL moved there had been living four men, one woman and two children. The men were William GOULD and his son John, Amos CARPENTER and Atherton CHAFFEE. Of these, GOULD and CARPENTER moved their families from Northfield to Number One during the summer of the same year. The first child born in Westminster was Anna AVERILL. Her birth took place in the autumn of 1751.
“On the 9th of November, 1752, Governor Benning Wentworth, of New Hampshire, regranted Number One, and changed its name to Westminster. The first meeting of the new grantees was held at Westminster, New Hampshire, in August, 1753, at the house of Major Josiah WILLARD, whose father, Col. Josiah WILLARD, of Fort Dummer, was at the time of his death, by purchase from the original Massachusetts grantees, one of the principal proprietors of Number One. A subsequent meeting was held at Fort Dummer, in the same year, at which permission was given to those proprietors who had purchased rights under the Massachusetts title and then held them, of locating their land as at the first. Further operations were suspended by the breaking out of the French war, and the families above enumerated were the only inhabitants of Westminster until after the close of that struggle."
      In 1760, for the purpose of resuscitating the settlement of the town, Col. Josiah WILLARD, Jr., formerly of Fort Dummer, obtained a renewal of the charter, on the 11th of June, and warned a proprietor's meeting. In accordance with the warning a meeting was held on the 4th of February, 1761, at the house of John AVERILL, in Westminster, at which Benjamin BELLOWS, of Walpole, N. H., presided as moderator. Means were taken to apportion the land satisfactorily, and preparations were made for permanent settlement on the broad and fertile plains, which now constitute so much of the beauty of the village. At a subsequent meeting, held May 6th, several valuable lots of land were voted to Col. WILLARD, in addition to those he then held, provided he should build a saw-mill and a grist-mill within the limits of the town. At the same time a tax was laid on the proprietors, in order to raise a fund from which to reward him for the various services he had rendered them. These efforts to multiply inducements to settlers from the older provinces, were not without success, and before the close of the year 1766, more than fifty families were located in Westminster. According to the census of 1771, taken by the order of Governor DUNMORE, of New York, the town was the most populous in what is now Windham county, and, indeed, in this part of the Province, the whole number of actual residents being 478. In 1791 the population had increased to 1,601 souls, or about 224 more than it has today. It is unknown when the town was organized. Elkanah DAY was town clerk, and Medad WRIGHT, constable, in 1777, however, and there is traditional proof that they had been such for a number of years. October 19, 1787, the town was divided into two parishes, Westminster East Parish, and Westminster West Parish, and by a stipulation it was agreed that the town clerk should be changed yearly to the other parish. The first justices of the peace appointed by the State were John NORTON and Elijah RANNEY, in 1786. The first representative was Nathaniel ROBINSON, chosen in March, 1778. The erection of Westminster into a shire town, the removal of the court-house to Newfane, etc., have all been mentioned in connection with the chapter on courts and county buildings, on page 31.

      The surface of the town is, in general, quite rough and mountainous, though there are large tracts of level land with an arable soil, especially in the vicinity of Westminster village. This brokenness of surface, though it in many places precludes profitable cultivation, greatly enhances the picturesqueness of the scenery, which is proverbial for its beauty. There are no streams of importance in the territory, though there are many brooks and minor streams, making the town a well watered district. In the western part of the town the streams flow both to the north and to the south, while those of the eastern part find their way in an easterly direction to the Connecticut. The timber is that common to the towns throughout the county. The rocks entering into the geological structure of the town are calciferous mica schist and clay-slate, lying in two parallel ranges, the former underlying the western, and the latter the eastern portions.

      In 1880 Westminster had a population of 1,377, and in 1882 it had eleven school districts and twelve common schools, employing two male and seventeen female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $1,623.80. There were 257 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $3,230.01, with John B. MORSE, superintendent.

      WESTMINSTER, a handsome little post village located in the eastern part of the town, has one church (Congregational), three stores, a carriage shop, blackSMITH shop; school-house, and about fifty dwellings. It lies almost entirely on one broad street, though its limits occupy a plain about a mile in diameter, lying thirty or more feet above the Connecticut, one of the beautiful terrace formations of a former geological epoch, common along this stream. The "street" mentioned was laid out in the reign of King George II., in 1737, and was called the "King's Highway." It was originally ten rods wide, though now but six, and two miles in length, and was designed and used as a training-ground for the early military companies of this section. About this street, now so quiet and restful, are clustered some of the most rare and striking legends of Vermont's historic lore. Here the first newspaper in the State was published, and it was here that, January 16, 1777, was held the convention that declared the New Hampshire grants a "free and independent State." Here the old church still stands, built in 1770, which in its early days housed a generation of worshipers who bore a prominent part in the struggle of the State and Nation for independent. Near the northern end of the street lies the old burying-ground which entombs the bones of the fathers, and among them those of the young and ardent patriot, William FRENCH, to whom history accords a place as the first martyr of the Revolution. A few rods distant from the cemetery, almost at the brow of a gentle hill, is the site of the old court-house where FRENCH was shot, in 1775, and where, two years later, the memorable convention above named was held. One prominent historic relic, the famous Tory Tavern, was demolished a few years since, to make room for another building. This tavern was the rendezvous for the Tory faction who came here to attend court, and in it was performed the ceremony which united in marriage Gen. Ethan ALLEN and Mrs. BUCHANAN, Mrs. BUCHANAN, strange to say, being the daughter-in-law of the arrant Tory, Crean BRUSH. A one-sided glimpse of this lady's character may be caught from her indignant reply to a bantering query of the Tory Tavern proprietor, as to whether or not she would marry Ethan ALLEN, if an opportunity should arise: "What, marry the devil and become queen of Hell? No!"

      About a mile from the site of the Tory Tavern may still be seen, with its weather beaten sides and gambrel roof, the public house of the other faction, the People's Tavern. The old church mentioned above is well preserved, as it has, within a few years, been entirely remodeled inside and converted into a commodious town hall, the pulpit and a square pew and seats being removed to an upper portion of the building, where they are preserved as historic relics.

      The facts relative to the famous massacre of 1775, though doubtless familiar to all, are briefly as follows: The stated session of the Cumberland county court was to be held at Westminster, March 13, 1775. Much dissatisfaction prevailed in the county because New York had refused to adopt the resolves of the Continental congress, and exertions were made to dissuade the judges from holding the court. But, as they persisted in doing it, some of the inhabitants of Westminster and the adjacent towns took possession of the courthouse at an early hour in order to prevent the officers of the court from entering. The court party soon appeared before the court-house, armed with guns, swords and pistols, and commanded the people to disperse. But, as they refused to obey, some harsh language passed between them, and the court party retired to their quarters. The people then had an interview with Judge CHANDLER, who assured them that they might have quiet possession of the house till morning, when the court should come in without arms, and should hear what they had to lay before them. But, contrary to this declaration, about eleven o'clock at night, the sheriff, with the other officers of the court, attended by an armed force, repaired to the court-house. Being refused admittance, some of the party fired into the house and killed one man, William FRENCH, and wounded several others. The wounded men they seized and dragged to the court-house cells, with some others who did not succeed in making their escape. By means of those who escaped the news of this massacre was quickly spread, and before noon the next day a large body of armed men had collected. A jury of inquest brought in a verdict that the man was murdered by the court party. Several of the officers were made prisoners and confined them in the jail at Northampton, in Massachusetts. But, upon the application of the chief justice of New York, they were released from prison and returned home.

      These proceedings aroused the spirit of opposition to New York throughout the grants on the east side of the mountains. A meeting of committees from the several townships was held at Westminster, April 11, 1775, at which a number of spirited resolutions were adopted relative to the "late unhappy transactions." Among other things it was voted, "That it is the duty of the inhabitants, as predicted on the eternal and immutable law of self preservation, wholly to renounce and revisit the administration of the government of New York, until such times as the lives and property of the inhabitants may be secured by it." A committee was also appointed, of which Ethan ALLEN was one, to remonstrate to the court of Great Britain against that government and to petition his majesty, "to be taken out of so offensive a jurisdiction and to be either annexed to some other jurisdiction, or incorporated into a -new one." This was the inception of the sturdy stand taken at Lexington and Bunker Hill, resulting in our glorious Union. In November, 1872, an appropriation was made by the Vermont legislature to erect a monument to the memory of William FRENCH. The monument was erected and the original slate slab that stood at the head of his grave, now occupies a niche in the interior wall of the "Old church." Upon it is traced the following inscription :


"IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM FRENCH,
SON TO MR. NATHANIEL FRENCH, WHO
WAS SHOT IN WESTMINSTER, MARCH YE 13TH
1775, BY THE HANDS OF CRUEL MINISTERIAL TOOLS
OF GEORGE YE 3D IN THE CORTHOUSE AT a 11 O'CLOCK
AT NIGHT IN THE 22D YEAR OF HIS AGE.

"Here William FRENCH his Body lies.
For Murder his Blood for Vengeance cries.
King George the third his Tory crew Tha
with a bawl his head Shot threw. For
Liberty and his Country's Good He Lost
his Life his Dearest Blood."

      The FRENCH family and their early settlement in Brattleboro is spoken of on page 177. In addition we would say, F. F. FRENCH, who now occupies a part of the old homestead, married Sophia S. DOOLITTLE, of Vernon, and has three sons, Willis F., Percy E. and Edward F. Jesse FRENCH, brother of William, served in the Revolution and died of disease contracted in the service August 22, 1777. In the same cemetery where lie the bones of the patriot FRENCH, also are buried the bones of judge Thomas CHANDLER, whose duplicity proved a large factor in provoking the trouble. From that time forward he slowly sank into obscurity, and was finally imprisoned for debt in the old court-house cells, where he died, and where his body was left, owing to some legal technicality, until in a loathsome condition, and then thrown into a rough box, dragged to the jail wall and thrown into a hole that was dug in a slanting direction into the cemetery.

      WESTMINSTER WEST is a post village located in the western part of the town. It has one church (Congregational), a school-house, several mechanic shops, etc., and about a dozen dwellings.

      WESTMINSTER STATION (p. o.) is located in the eastern part of the town on the Vt. V. R. R., and has a depot, postoffice, and a few dwellings.

      Sidney GAGE & Co.'s saw-mill and basket shop, located on road 11, gives employment to about thirty hands, turning out 250,000 feet of lumber per year and fifty dozen baskets per day.

      The Forest Woolen Company's mill, located on road 11, employs ten hands manufacturing shoddy flock.

      The Fall Mountain Paper Co.'s saw-mill, on road 9, employs thirteen hands and manufactures 1,000,000 feet of lumber per annum.

      Ira SMITH's saw-mill, on road 37, operated by Peter MAYO, cuts 30,000 feet of lumber per annum.

      H. G. HARLOW's saw-mill, on road 40, the only one in the West parish, cuts about 100,000 feet of lumber per year.

      Peter MAYO's gristmill, on road 37, has two runs of stones, and grinds about 6,000 bushels of grain per year.

      Joseph F. WARD's brick yard, on road 30, employs ten men and has the capacity for turning out 1,500,000 bricks per year.

      John McCLURE's brickyard, on road 35, turns out about 300,000 bricks per annum.

      The Westminster carriage factory, Byron F. ATCHERSON, proprietor, turns out about $4,000.00 worth of carriages and sleighs per year.

      Horace E. WELLMAN, on road 39, manufactures about 200 sleighs per annum.

      Capt. Azariah WRIGHT came to Westminster from Northfield, Mass., about 1762, and located on the place where Mr. NEWCOMB now lives. He was a captain in the Revolutionary war, and fought bravely for the rights and privileges which his descendants now enjoy. His son Joseph came with him and lived in the town till his death in 1805. He left four children, of whom only one, Joseph H., is now living. He resides on road four and is in his eighty-third year.

      Elihu WRIGHT came here from Massachusetts some time between 1760 and 1770. He died in 1832, on the farm on which Joseph H. WRIGHT now lives.

      Medad WRIGHT came from Northfield, Mass., previous to 1770 and took up land where his grandson Daniel C. WRIGHT now lives. He held a lieutenant's commission at the time of the massacre at the court-house. He carried on farming and shoemaking, and was obliged to carry his grain to a mill in Northfield, Mass. He died in the town. His son Hollis was born February 22, 1780, and spent his life upon the homestead, where he died at the age of eighty-three. His son Daniel C. now occupies the homestead on which he was born, and has built a fine residence on the site of the home of his ancestors. He married Sarah CRAGIN, of Westminster, and has two sons and a daughter. He has been selectman and justice of the peace.

      John MORSE came to Westminster, from Massachusetts, sometime previous to 1770, and lived at East Westminster, where the Congregational church now stands. He was a member of the convention which framed the constitution of Vermont. He died here in 1843. He raised five sons, two of whom are now living, one, John R., who was born in 1813, in this town, where he has always resided. He now lives with his son, on road 23, where they own about a thousand acres of land. He had two children, only one of whom is now living.

      Charles RICE was one of the first settlers in Westminster. He came here with a family named BURKE, at the age of three years, and died here many years ago. His son Eliakim was born in Westminster, and resided in this town and Rockingham till his death, in 1868. He had six children, only three of whom are living, all in this town, one, Luke L., on road 25; another, Porter, on road 44; and the third, Mrs. Evaline MORSE, at Westminster street.

      James RICHARDSON came to Westminster, from Haddam, Conn., about 1770, and settled on road 42, about two miles from the Connecticut river. He died in 1819, aged seventy-five years. He married Molly DODGE, by whom he had nine children. His son John was born in 1770, and resided in this town till his death, in 1836. He took an active part in town affairs, and was honored with town trusts. He married Betsey GOODRIDGE, and had four children, of whom John C., who was born in 1807, and now resides at Westminster street, is the only survivor. Nathaniel D., another of James's sons, was born in Westminster in 1778, and died here. He married Sally COLBURN, and had one child, Delastus, who was born in 1797, and always lived in Westminster. In 1821 he married Eleanor LANE, by whom he had eight children, four of whom are living, Lewis C. and Mrs. T. W. WILEY, in this town, and the other two, John D. and Mrs. J. S. Fish, in Charlestown, N. H. One son, Ithamar, was accidentally shot while gunning, when thirty-two years old; and one daughter, Amarilla, died in 1861.

      Francis and Charles HOLDEN, brothers, came to this town from Shirley, Mass., in 1754, and were the first settlers in the west part of the town, on the farm now owned by Jerome HOLDEN. Francis served three years in the war for independence, and took part in the battle of Bennington. He raised a large family of children, and died in the town. His son Timothy was born in 1781, and resided here till his death, in 1853. He was a soldier in the war of 18r2. He was twice married, and had eight children, three of whom are now living. One son, Jerome, now owns the old homestead, and is engaged in breeding Merino sheep, Durham cattle, &c.

      Edward R. CAMPBELL was born in Westminster, about 1765. He was a physician, and resided in this town till his death, in 1830. He married Anna NORTON, and had seven children, two of whom are still living. One son, Sidney, resides in Chesterfield, N. H., and a daughter, Matilda, widow of Grant W. RANNEY, resides at Westminster West. His son Edward R. was born about 1790. He was a farmer, and married Clarissa CHAMBERLAIN, by whom he had seven children, who lived to maturity. He died of cholera, in Pittsburgh, Pa. His eldest son, Charles C., who was graduated from Yale college in 1838, resides at Westminster street. He has been engaged in teaching, and in mercantile business, and in farming in Mississippi. In 1871 he returned to his native town. Another son, Daniel, is a physician at Saxton's River, and a third, Collin, resides in Texas. His daughter Mary is the wife of Clark S. LAKE, of Saxton's River. Another daughter, Sophia, is the wife of Wendell WILLIAMS, of Rochester, Vt. Another son became the Hon. George CAMPBELL.

      Ichabod IDE was the first occupant of the farm on which Freeman GORHAM now lives. He came here about 1771. None of his descendants of that name now reside in the town.

      John GOOLD, from Massachusetts, was one of the first settlers in Westminster. He located in the East parish, and raised a large family of children. His son Aaron was born, lived and died in the town. He had eight children, four of whom are living, two in this town, Reuben C., who resides at Westminster West, and a daughter, Mrs. Zenas LORD, who lives in the east part of the town.

      Ephraim RANNEY came to Westminster, from Middletown, Conn., some time previous to the Revolution. He came up the Connecticut river in a log canoe, and settled near that stream in the east part of the town, in which locality he became one of the most prominent residents. When Mr. RANNEY first came here there was no grist-mill nearer than Northfield, Mass., and thither he took his grain to mill in a canoe. He was one of the first deacons of the Congregational church. He had eight or nine children, some of whom filled important niches in social, business and official circles. Two of his sons settled in the east part of the town, and two in the west part. One son, Ephraim, was a prominent man in the town, and was a justice of the peace for many years. Another son, Elijah, settled in the south part of the West parish, and was at one time the wealthiest man in that part of the town. He was a successful farmer, and a deacon of the Congregational church. Two of his sons, like their father, were men of great prominence, and were honored with important town trusts. One, Elijah, was a deacon of the church for many years; the other, Joseph, was for many years a justice of the peace. A number of their descendants are still living in the town. A daughter of Ephraim RANNEY married Deacon Ebenezer GOODHUE. Three of her sons are living here. The second wife of Squire Ephraim RANNEY was a very daring and athletic woman. When the first bridge was being built across the Connecticut river, she tripped across upon the stringers. It is also said that she could lift a barrel of cider by the chimes, and drink from the bung-hole.

      Jabez GOODELL came here from Chapell, Conn., previous to the Revolution, and settled in the north part of the town, where lie died in 1799. His son Asahel resided in this town during his life, and raised eleven children, three of whom are living. His son Asahel was born in Westminster, in 1799, and spent his life in this town, where he died in 1875. He had three children, all of whom are living, two, a son and daughter, E. R. and Gracie E., in this town.

      Silas BURK came to Westminster at an early day, previous to the Revolution, it is thought. He lived on the farm now owned by Joseph CLARKE, and which had been previously owned by his father, whose name could not be ascertained. He died in 1825. He had eight children, all of whom are dead. His daughter Sarah. married Timothy CLARKE, of Rockingham, and had ten children, three of whom are living, Joseph, who has lived on the BURKE homestead for forty-four years; Albert, who lives in Rockingham ; and Benjamin, in Iowa.

      John GROUT was born in Spencer, Mass., March 14, 1765, and married Elizabeth UPHAM of the same place. He came to Westminster, probably before the Revolution, in which he took part, and settled in the southwest part of the town. He had thirteen children. Sylvester settled in Westminster. John, who was born in Westminster in 1788, married Zuba DUNKLEE, of Brattleboro, and settled in Newfane. In 1847 he moved to West Brattleboro, where he died October 16, 1851. He had eight sons and one daughter, six of the former of whom are living, -- Rev. Lewis, in West Brattleboro; Sylvester B. and Chester B. are farmers in Kansas; Isaac, a fruit grower in California; Henry M. is a Congregational minister in Concord, Mass.; and John M. is a traveling salesman, living in Medford, Mass.

      Calvin CHAFFEE was born in Westminster, in 1780, and when thirty years old married Elizabeth HALL and went to Hartford, N. Y., where their children, Calvin C., Jane, and James C. were born. They then returned to Westminster, where Susan, Roxana, Chester and Charles were added to their household. Calvin CHAFFEE died in 1853. Dr. Calvin C. CHAFFEE is a resident of Springfield, Mass., from whence he has been sent to congress three terms. Jane (Mrs. Nathan ROBBINS) and James C. are residents of Townshend. The latter married Luceba SMITH, of Westminster, in February, 1842, and has three sons and a daughter in the West, and a daughter in Townshend.

      Elisha HITCHCOCK came to Westminster from Springfield, Mass., about 1776, and settled in the northwest part of the town, on the farm on which his granddaughter, Ruth M. HITCHCOCK; now lives. He died in 1839, aged eighty-six. His son Amos was born on the farm on which he settled in 1784, and resided here till his death in 1878, with the exception of a few years spent in Westfield, Vt., about 1811. Six of his eleven children are living, two in this town, William H., on road 17, and Ruth M., on road 18.

      Levi PECK was born in Wrentham, Mass., April 14, 1757, and lived there till the commencement of the Revolutionary war. He served as a soldier about three years in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and came to Vermont from Providence, in the latter State, about 1780. He taught school in Brattleboro, Windsor and Weathersfield. September 27, 1785, he married Hannah Stoddard, of Westminster, and settled on and cleared the farm now owned and occupied by Thomas ASHWELL. He died September 17, 1835. He had five children. His son Shubal was born on the farm on which he settled, in 1795, and lived thereon till his death in 1872. He married Thirza WHEELER, by whom he had six children, five of whom are living. Three, Orestes F., Charles C. and Mrs. Thomas ASHWELL, reside in Westminster; Sanford L. lives in Elkader, Iowa; and Mrs. Lester Woodford, in Bloomfield, Conn.

      Seth ARNOLD came to Westminster from East Haddan, Conn., soon after the Revolution, in which he took part, and settled on road 30. He died in 1849, at the advanced age of one hundred and one years. He had four sons and four daughters, only one of whom is living, Phebe, wife of Isaac HOLTON, in Illinois.

      Eleazer MAY came to Westminster in 1789 and opened the first store in the town in the front part of his dwelling. He built and occupied the brick, store now occupied by Austin GOODRIDGE, in which he also kept a bank. He continued the mercantile business till his death, in 1845. He married Cynthia HOUSE, of Connecticut, and had ten children. His son James was born in this town in 1797, and was associated with his father in the mercantile business. He died April 13, 1877. He married Eveline MOORE, of Bath, N. H., and had two children, James, who died September 13, 1863, and Belle, who resides with her mother on the old homestead.

      Levi WILDER came here from Massachusetts about 1790 and settled in the southwest corner of the town, on the farm now occupied by Mr. REED. He died about 1856. He had four children, all of whom are dead. His son Hiram was born in Westminster in 1800, and lined in the town, many years. In 1844 he removed to Rockingham and resided there till his death, in 1882. He had five sons, all of whom are living, one, Leman A., in this town, and three in Rockingham.

      Joel PAGE was born in Westminster in 1791, and married Rebecca CLAWSON in 1812. He had seven children, five of whom are living. Three sons, Michael G., Henry and Bradford P., reside in this town. One daughter, Mrs. Sarah SPENCER, lives in Weathersfield, and another, Mrs. Harriet HADWIN, in Worcester, Mass.

      Samuel CHIPMAN came from Connecticut in 1794, and in 1797 built the house in which his daughter Sophronia now lives. He had twelve children, only two of whom are living. Charles lives in Wisconsin. Samuel CHIPMAN died in 1860, aged eighty-eight.

      Capt. Matthias GORHAM came here from Yarmouth, Mass., in April, 1798, making the journey with three yoke of oxen in thirteen days. He crossed the Connecticut river into Putney at ROBINSON's ferry, and thence proceeded to Westminster, arriving on the 2d day of May. For the farm on which he settled he paid $4,000.00 in gold and silver. The farm has since remained in the GORHAM family, and is now owned by Freeman GORHAM. Capt. GORHAM's son David was eleven years old when they came to Westminster. He lived on the homestead farm and died there January 25, 1882, aged ninety-five. He took an active part in town affairs and held various offices. He had eight children, three of whom are living. Two reside in this town, Freeman on the homestead, and D. C. off road 38. Freeman has been selectman and has held other town offices. D. C. is a selectman at present.

      Matthew MILLER settled at Westminster street at an early day. He was a cabinet maker by trade, and died in Rockingham. Only one of his six children is living, viz., William, in Chester, Vt. A grandson, James M., lives on road 23 in Westminster.

      Capt. John BRALEY, who was a sea captain, came to Westminster from Rhode Island at an early day and settled in the West parish. When he came the bears were so numerous that he had to chase them away from his calf pen with a fire brand. His son John was born in Westminster in 1780, on the farm on which his father settled, and lived in the town during his life, with the exception of a few years spent in Rochester, Vt. He died in 1853. His son William was born here in 1810 and resided here till his death in 1881. Three of William's children reside in this town and one in Putney.

      Thomas RANNEY, from Connecticut, was an early settler in the southwest part of the town. His sons Thomas and William, who came with him, and Stephen, who was born here, spent their lives in the town. The latter had eight children, five of whom are living, one, A. F., who was born in 1817, and has spent his life in the town, off road 60.

      Nathaniel ROBINSON came to Westminster at an early day, and reared a large family here, though none of them now reside in the town. His son Titus married Susannah GIBBS and also reared a large family. He was a carpenter by trade and died at New Orleans, La., while there at work on a church building, in 1820. Only one of his family is now living, Anna, wife of Christopher CROWELL, of Walpole, N. H.

      Capt. Levi CROWELL came to Westminster about 1800, locating in the West parish, where he reared a family of seven children, and died in 1848. Three of his children are now living, Surviah, Betsey, and Christopher, the latter in Walpole, N. H.

      Ebenezer GOODELL, from Connecticut, came to Westminster with his father some time prior to the Revolution, and settled in the northwest part of the town. His son Alvin, who was born here in 1801, and resided here till his death about 1863, took an active part in the affairs of the town, which he represented four times in the legislature. He was a constable for twenty years and a selectman for many years. Four of his six sons are living, two in Westminster, Loren A. and Charles C. Cyrus, another of Ebenezer's sons, was born in this town and spent most of his life here. He died in 1856, aged fifty. Both of his children are living, one in Ohio, and the other, F. H., on road 56 in Westminster, where he is extensively engaged in farming.

      Zadock HITCHCOCK came here from Brookfield, Mass., at an early day, and located on the farm now occupied by Roswell POWERS, whose wife is his daughter.

      David WELLS, from Hatfield, Conn., was an early settler near the central part of the town. His daughter Saloma resides in Keene, N. H. His son David, who was born here in 1805, and resided here till his death in 1875, had two children, both of whom reside in this town, Henry A., on road 42 corner of road 43, and Mrs. A. S. WATKINS, on road 30.

      Scott CLARK came early from Cape Cod and settled in the central part of the town. His son Perez came with him and lived on the same place till his death about 1855. The latter's son Fessenden was born here in 1801, and resided here till his death in 1877. He had ten children, only three of whom are living, two in this town, and one in New Jersey. One son, J. Hunt, lives near Westminster West.

      Joseph FAIRBROTHER came to Westminster at an early day and died about 1843. His son Eliakim came with him and resided here till his death, in 1881. Two of the latter's sons reside in this town, George H., on road 1, and Dighton H., on road 45.

      Jonathan A. PHIPPEN was an early settler on road 42, on the farm now owned by John E. ELLIS. He came with an elder brother and married a daughter of Asa AVERILL, who was an early settler at Westminster street, and built the house now occupied by Moses MOULTON. Mr. PHIPPEN had seven children, one of whom, Samuel, now lives in Burke, Vt. Another son, David A., was born in Westminster in 1798, and resided on the farm on which his father settled, till his death in 1865. Only four of David's eight children are living. Two of them, Mrs. John L. COLLINS and Mrs. Sidney A. SPENCER, reside in Westminster. Nearly all of AVERILL's descendants are gone.

      Capt. Michael GILSON, who served in the Revolutionary war, came to Westminster at an early day and lived where Bradford Page now resides. He died in 1823, aged ninety-two years. None of his descendants bearing his name are left in the town.

      Calvin DUNHAM came from Mansfield, Conn., to Walpole, N. H., and from thence to Westminster previous to 1800. He spent the remainder of his life here. His son F. O. DUNHAM, who was born October 8, 1808, and has been engaged in carriage making, is still residing in the town.

      George SMITH came to Westminster from Rhode Island about the beginning of the present century, and was engaged in farming in the north part of the town, where he reared a large family and died about 184.3. Otis and Curtis SMITH, who were born in Rhode Island, and were youths when the family came here, bought the farm near their father's, now owned by Joseph SMITH. Otis is still living, at Saxton's River, in his eighty-fifth year. Three of his sons, Joseph, Jonathan E. and Ira, live in Westminster. One, Judson C., lives in Chester, Vt.; another, Ransom E., at Saxton's River; while a daughter, Mrs. Lyman C. ALDRICH, also lives in this town. Curtis married Lydia WRIGHT, who bore him eight children, all of whom are living, and six of whom have families. He died in 1852, aged fifty-six. His widow is now the wife of Ralph WHITNEY, of Brookline. Of his children, Fannie (Mrs. Samuel WOOD), resides in Charlestown, N. H.; Ora F., in Rhode Island; Luceba (Mrs. J. C, CHAFFEE), in Townshend; Clara (Mrs. F. WILEY), in Rockingham; George, in Athens; Mary (Mrs. H. LOVEING), in Marlboro, N. H.; and Roderick R., in Westminster.

      Ira GOODHUE, the third son of Dea. Ebenezer and Mrs. Lydia (RANNEY) GOODHUE, was born at Westminster, December 20, 1803. He is also a grandson of Rev. Josiah GOODHUE, the first settled minister of Putney, and a great-grandson of Dea. Ephraim RANNEY, who emigrated from Middletown, Conn., at an early day, and settled in Westminster. The father of Ira GOODHUE was a farmer, settled in the West Parish of Westminster, and the subject of this sketch has always resided therein, and followed the same occupation, as his principal business. He had the privileges of the common schools in his boyhood, and also two terms at Chester academy, Vermont. At eighteen years of age he commenced teaching school, teaching thirteen terms in all. In 1832 he married Miss Almira SAWYER, of Heath, Mass. He has held nearly all the town offices, such as school superintendent, selectman, justice of the peace, etc., for many years, and has also settled quite a number of estates, being frequently chosen guardian of minor children. He has been a member of the Congregational church sixty years, senior deacon thirty-seven years, and was a member of the Congregational council at Boston in 1865. He served the town as representative in the general assembly of Vermont in 1843, '45 and '47, was a State senator in 1852 and '55, and in 1859 was elected one of the assistant judges of Windham county court, holding the office five years; was a member of the council of censors to revise the State constitution in 1861; was elected county committee in 186o, under the prohibitory liquor law of the State, holding the office seven years. He is now (1884) over eighty years of age and still hale and hearty, and able to attend to his own farming business, though business for others was given up by him several years since. The children of Ira and Almira S. GOODHUE, are as follows: Henry A., a graduate of Dartmouth college and Andover seminary, and pastor of the Congregational church in West Barnstable, Mass., over twenty years; Martha E., wife of Mr. Reuben MILLER, a well-to-do farmer in Westminster; Charles E., formerly a merchant of Townshend, and who was a 1st . lieutenant in the 6th Vt. Regt., and died in 1865, of disease contracted in the service; Wayland P., formerly a merchant in the city of Polo, Ill., now secretary of the Northwestern Manufacturing and Car Co., of Stillwater, Minn.; and Julia A., a graduate of Mt. Holyoke female seminary, and a teacher therein, also at Sackville, N. B., and Drew seminary, N. Y. She is now the wife of Prof. S. H. TROWBRIDGE, of Glasgow, Mo.

      Homer GOODHUE, son of Dea. Ebenezer GOODHUE, was born at Westminster, March 4, 1811. He worked on his father's farm until he was twenty years of age, when he went to Charlestown, Mass., and was connected with the McLean asylum for the insane for twenty-one years, the most of the time as supervisor. He returned to Westminster in 1853, was married here in 1855 to Miss Delyra TUTHILL, of Westminster. He was town clerk and town treasurer several years; was elected town representative in 1863 and '65; was elected to the State senate in 1866, and re-elected in 1867, and also held the office of county commissioner for several years; was appointed by the legislature as commissioner of the insane in 1866, and reappointed in 1867. In 1882 he was chosen one of the board of supervisors of the insane, whose duty it is to visit the hospital at Brattleboro every month, which office he holds at the present time.

      Horace GOODHUE, another of Deacon Ebenezer GOODHUE's sons, was born in Westminster in 1805 and has always lived in this town. In his younger days he was a school teacher, but latterly he has been engaged in farming. He now resides on road 38.

      Eldad H. HARLOW, whose father, Levi HARLOW, was one of the early settlers of the town, was born in Westminster in 1803. He lived here during his life, and died October 17, 1883. His son H. G. resides on road 40.

      Charles CHURCH, who was a soldier in the Revolution and served three and a half years in the colonial army, came to Westminster from Westmoreland, N. H., in 1807, and settled on road 10. He purchased 700 acres of land, which was heavily timbered with pine, and engaged in lumbering and farming. He built three saw-mills and did an extensive business. His farm, now known as Riverdale farm, is one of the best in the town. The house now occupied by M. W. DAVIS was built by him. He died in 1836. He was twice married and had twenty-three children, only three of whom are living, -- T. W., in Westminster, where he was born in 1888; James C., who lives in Townshend; and Emma, wife of Lyman HAPGOOD, of Bellows Falls. His son Harmon was born February 15, 1799, and died February 7, 1877. His widow, Betsey, daughter of John FARNSWORTH, Jr., was born in Coventry, Vt., in 18o6, and still resides in Westminster. Five of his eight children are living-Martha, Mary, and Rebecca, with their mother on road 10, Charles on road 13, and Frances, wife of Charles E. WATKINS, in Walpole, N. H. Charles has been engaged in breeding Merino sheep since 1869, and thoroughbred short-horn cattle since 1879. He is one of the prosperous farmers of the town.

      Zaccheus COLE came to this town from New Hampshire, in 1808, when seventeen years old. He married Annis, widow of Giles MARVIN, and settled on the farm now owned by Benjamin F. RICHMOND, who married his daughter Frances. He was a silver plater by trade, and carried on that business for many years. He died October 12, 1882, aged ninety-one and one-half years, and his wife, September 3, 1877.

      George CAMPBELL was born in Westminster in 1818 and always lived on the homestead now occupied by his sons, Fred G. and Charles H. He was largely engaged in sheep breeding and took the premium at the world's fair at Strasburg. He married Adeline WILCOX, of Westminster, and had four children. He died in 1882, and his wife, July r, 1883. His son Edward resides near Fort Edward, N. Y., and a daughter is the wife of C. Horace HUBBARD, of Springfield, Vt.

      William WHITTLE was born in Claremont, N. H., where his father, Samuel WHITTLE, was one of the first settlers, December 24, 1783. When a young man he moved to Walpole and carried on the wheelwright business there. He was a resident of Westminster for over fifty years. He built a saw-mill and grist-mill one and one-fourth miles west of the village. He was a captain of the militia. He married Electa RUGG, of Swanzey, and had nine children, five of whom are living, -- George W., Hannah E. Kimball, and Abby A., wife of Moses S. MOULTON, in Westminster; Phineas R., in Shelburne Falls, Mass., and James C., who carries on the carriage business in Keene, N. H. He died in May, 1871, and his wife, in November, 1847.

      John MINARD, whose father, Isaac MINARD, was an early settler in Rockingham, was born in that town in 1798. He came to Westminster some fifty years ago and settled on the farm now occupied by his son John B., who is a lister of the town. He took an active part in town affairs and held the offices of selectman and lister. He died in 1882. Five of his six children are living.

      Levi KIMBALL came to Windham from Amherst, N. H., about 1820, and to Westminster about 1835, locating on the farm now occupied by his son Harry H. He had ten children, none of whom are living. He died about 1870.

      John B. KEECH was born in Westminster in 1840, and is now living on road 37. He enlisted in Co. F, 1st Vt. Cav., and served about a year. He was disabled by paralysis, caused by a fall from his horse, which fell upon him.

      Roswell Powers was born in Athens about 1808, and came to Westminster about 1845, locating where his son Joseph M. now lives. His father, Stephen POWERS, was an early settler in Athens, to which town he removed from Chesterfield, N. H., and resided there till his death, about 1811.

      Peter MAYO was born in Milton, Chittenden county, in 1815, and came to Westminster in 1843. He now resides on road 37, and is engaged in milling.

      Prof. LaFayette WARD was born in Wardsboro in 1824, and graduated from Dartmouth college in 1847. He taught successfully at Saxton's River, Bellows Falls and Westminster, and at Bernardston, Mass. He was superintendent of schools at Northampton, Mass. He made his home in Westminster from 1853 until his death, in 1882. He represented his town in the legislature, and was a member of the board of education. His widow and son reside on road 34.

      Pliny FISHER was born in Townshend, September to, 1803, and resided there till 1860, when he came to Westminster and settled on road 31. He married Mary A. FARR, who died June 30, 1880. His three children are O. L., who resides with his father; Rollin B., who lives in Boston; and Ellen M., wife of Clark CHASE, who resides at Bellows Falls.

      M. W. DAVIS, son of Micha DAVIS, was born in Athens, March 30, 1822, and resided there until 1862, when he settled on road 10, in Westminster, on the farm he now occupies, which is known as Riverdale farm, and is one of the finest in the town. It was first settled by the Church brothers. Mr. DAVIS has been a surveyor for the last forty years. He represented the town of Athens in 1856, and has been a member of the State board of agriculture for the last four years. He married Mary S. CROWELL, of Westmoreland, and has three children living, Sherman M., in Kankakee, Ill., Seymour A., in this town, and Flora A., also in this town with her father.

      George W. NEWCOMB was born in Bernardston, Mass., February 22, 1800. January 1, 1824, he married Martha BURROWS, and raised a family of twelve children, nine of whom are living. He was once an extensive and prosperous farmer in this town. He died here March 27, 1884.

      Ephraim SPENCER was born in Westminster, his father having come to this town from England some time previous to the Revolution. Ephraim lived near the Connecticut river, on the farm now occupied by Morton A. SNOW, and died about 1856. He was twice married and had thirteen children. His son Mark was born in this town in 1807, and resided here till his death, about 1853. Five of his seven children are living. One son, Sidney A., resides on road 49, in Westminster.

      William B. CUTTING was born in Guilford, November 20, 1827, and came to Westminster in 1871. He has filled different town offices, and in 1882 was elected State senator. He married Mary A. RANNEY, by whom he has six children. His grandfather, Jonah CUTTING, came to Guilford, from Massachusetts, and settled near Green river. He built an oil mill, which he operated for a time. Samuel CUTTING, father of William B., was in Guilford in 1791, and carried on business at Green river, having a paper-mill, store, and farm. He died at the age of fifty-one.

      Henry F. BOND, who resides on road 11, came to Westminster in 1872. He is engaged in the business of slate roofing, and also deals in furs of all kinds, giving employment to five men.

      George R. HARLOW was born in Westminster, and went to Massachusetts in 1860, returning to this town in 1867. He enlisted in Co. E, 39th Mass. Vols., and served in the army two and one-half years. He was in the battle of the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, and at Gettysburg. He represented the town of Westminster in 1882-'83.

      Jonathan HOUGHTON came from Bolton, Mass., and settled on the farm on which A. D. Kerr now lives. He was a farmer and a noted hewer of timber. He was a Revolutionary soldier and was wounded in the battle of Bennington. His son Asa spent his life on the homestead. The latter's son, F. J. HOUGHTON, was born and still lives in the town.

      Nathan G. PIERCE was born August 19, 1810, and has spent most of his life in this town. He was left an orphan at an early age, and lived with his, maternal grandfather PIERCE. He has been a prominent citizen and is widely" known as a propagator of seed corn.

      Robert MILLER settled in the west part of the town near where D. C. GORHAM now lives. He was a farmer and had eleven children, only three of whom are now living, all in the West. He died in 1830, at the age of seventy-seven. Mary, his wife, lived to the age of one hundred and one years. His son John was born in Westminster in 1786, and lived in the town most of the time till his death, in 1867. Three of his seven children, a son and two daughters, are living, all in this town. Reuben, the son, resides on road 62, on what is known as Maple Wood farm.

      Jethro and Asa COOMBS, brothers, came to Jamaica from Cape Cod. The former died in New Hampshire in 1876. His son Talman T. COOMBS was born in Jamaica in 1820, and now resides on road 54, in Westminster. He served in the late war. 

      Rev. William N. WILBUR was born in Griswold, Conn., in 1825, and was graduated from Madison University in New York in 1856, in which year he removed to Saxton's River and engaged as a teacher in the seminary in that place. At the expiration of fifteen months he became pastor of the Baptist church, which relation he sustained for fifteen years, when he became the financial agent of the Vermont academy, a position he occupied for ten years. He has retired from public life to engage in agricultural pursuits. He has lately removed to Newport, Vt.

      Rev. Timothy FIELD, brother to David Dudley FIELD, Cyrus W. FIELD, and Judge Stephen FIELD of the Supreme court, was born in Guilford, Conn. After preaching seven years at Canandaigua, N. Y., he came to Westminster West, where he served a thirty years pastorate of the Congregational church He died about 1843. He was twice married and had six children, five whom are living. His son William now resides on road 17, in Westminster-'

      The Congregational church in Westminster, East Parish, was organized June 11, 1767, with nine members, Rev. Jesse GOODELL being the first pastor. The first church building, erected in 1869-'70, is still standing, as previously mentioned. The present structure, built in 1835, is a fine, comfortable edifice, capable of seating 300 persons. The society now has 108 members with Rev. John L. SEWALL, pastor. This was the third Congregational church organized in the State, the only older ones being those of Newbury and Bennington.

      The Second Congregational church of Westminster. -- This church, located at Westminster West, was organized as the Second Congregational church of Westminster, October 31, 1799, by twelve members from the first church in Westminster. The first pastor was Rev. Reuben EMERSON, ordained February 18, 1800. The second pastor, Rev. Timothy FIELD, was installed in 1807. The third pastor, Rev. Preston TAYLOR, was installed March 31, 1835. The fourth pastor, Rev. Jubilee WELLMAN, was installed March 6, 1838. The fifth pastor, Rev. Alfred STEVENS, commenced his labors with the church April 20, 1842, and was ordained February 22, 1843. Rev. Amos FOSTER, of Boston, preached the sermon. Mr. STEVENS is the present pastor. He is the son of Nehemiah and Deborah (GOODELL) STEVENS, born at Waterford, Vt., July 30, 1810. He worked twenty-one years with his father, on the farm, fitted for college at Kimball, Union, and Peacham academies, and was graduated at Dartmouth college in 1839, and at Andover Theological Seminary, 1842, receiving the honorary degree of D. D., in 1874. He is still the pastor, after forty-two years of ministerial work with the church. He has officiated at all the funerals in the parish in that time, with only four exceptions. So far as the ministry is concerned, he is responsible for the religious and moral character that has gone from the parish for forty-two years. He has followed to the grave more of his parishioners than there are living in the parish at the present time. He has preached the "old Calvinistic doctrines." He has never attempted to change or improve the church as he found it in 1842. It is as good as new to-day. God has blessed the church work during all its history. A large number of professional men have left the parish in the mean time, that are well know as clergymen, lawyers, and physicians in this and foreign lands, and professors in colleges and other higher institutions of learning; and many daughters of the parish are now the virtuous women in a multitude of the homes in the land. He has never quarreled with his deacons, or with the singers. He has never asked his parish to increase his salary. He has had forty-two years of very pleasant history in his parish. He has reason to know that he has been appreciated, as a citizen. For twenty-five years he was the superintendent of the schools in town, and knew all the children in town by name, and in 1872 was, by the vote of the town, honored with a seat in the State legislature. The fortieth anniversary of his ordination was observed February 22, 1883, with thanksgiving and praise to God for his great blessings upon the pastor and people. The good times of the past were talked over, and greetings from those that have been taught from the pulpit and in the Sabbath-school, and gone out into the world, were received to cheer his old age. With the assurance that he is not forgotten. He was married first, August 11, 1844, to Eliza W. FARRAR, of Troy, N. H.; second, June 23, 1846, to Mary Ann ARNOLD, of Westminster; third, August 25, 1858, to Harriet N. WOOD, of Millbury, Mass.; fourth, May 28, 1876, to Mrs. Catharine (MILLER) SLATE, of Brattleboro, Vt.

      The first church building of this society was erected about 1775, which gave place to another in 1827, and that in turn to the present structure in 1876. It will seat about 300 persons, cost $4,300.00, and is now valued, including grounds at $5,000.00. The society has eighty members, and is in a flourishing condition.

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 [57] – 304 [76].

  Westminster History and Genealogy
  Westminster Historical Society