OF THE TOWN OF BETHEL
BETHEL, lies in the northwestern part of the county, in lat. 43°
50' and long 4° 21', bounded northerly by Randolph, in Orange county,
easterly by Royalton, southerly by Barnard, and westerly by Rochester,
enclosing an area of 23,040 acres, or a tract six miles square. The charter
of this town was the first granted by the State of Vermont, under the following
circumstances: On December 29, 1777, an association was formed at Hanover,
N. H., for the purpose of making a "settlement on White river and its branches,"
and in March, 1778, they petitioned the legislature of Vermont for the
grant of a township to be called Bethel. In this petition they say they
"understand that said lands were granted by the late governor of New York
counter to the royal proclamation, to certain persons, the greater part
of whom have now put themselves under the protection of the enemies of
the American States." This petition met with success and a grant was made
March 18, 1778, the township charter being issued to John PAYNE, John HOUSE,
Dudley CHASE and forty-three others, December 23, 1779.
The surface of the town is very broken and uneven, Paul's Peak and
Blueberry Mountain, in the central part, being the principal elevations,
though the soil is in general warm and productive. The timber on the highlands
is mostly hemlock and spruce, while on the lowlands it is principally beech,
birch and maple. The principal streams are White river, which flows across
the southeast corner, and its second and third branches. The second branch
but just touches upon the northeast corner. The third branch rises in Roxbury,
flows through Braintree and the corner of Randolph into this town, and
after flowing about four miles within this territory, joins White river.
Locust creek falls into White river in the southeastern part of the town.
Camp creek flows across the center of the town from west to east, joining
the third branch a little northwest of the center of the township. There
are also many other minor brooks and streams. Many good mill-sites are
afforded. The Central Vermont railroad crosses the northeastern part of
the territory, affording a convenient mode of transportation for the imports
and exports of the town.
Nearly the whole of this town, geologically speaking, is made up
of rock, of the talcose schist formation, though there is a considerable
bed of clay slate in the western part, and one or two small beds of granite
and steatite are found. Traces of gold have been discovered in the southeastern
part and in some other localities. On the farm of Albert G. MARSH are found
specimens of iron ore, green vitriol, and excellent slate, and in the eastern
part of the town Edwin KITTREDGE operates a good; granite quarry, operated
by in 1867.
Mr. E. A. MAXHAM, of Bethel, has a mounted specimen of the North
American panther, killed in Barnard, November 24, 1881, by Alexander CROWELL.
It measures seven feet six inches from tip to tip, and weighed, after losing
several pounds of blood, 1821 pounds. It is said to be the largest specimen
ever found in the country.
In 1880 Bethel had a population of 1,693, and in 1882 was divided
into twelve school districts, and contained twelve common schools, employing
three male and twenty-one female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate
salary of $1,815.80. There were 668 pupils attending common school, while
the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31, was $2,166.81,
with W. B. C. STICKNEY, superintendent.
BETHEL, a post village located in the southeastern part of the town,
on White river, is the central point for trade and travel from Barnard,
Stockbridge, Pittsfield and Rochester, and one of the most important railroad
stations on the line of C. V. R. R. between Essex Junction and White River
Junction. It has three churches (Episcopal, Congregational and Universalist),
a bank, two hotels, a graded school, an extensive flour and feed mill,
a tannery, carriage shop, harness shop, marble and granite shop, two livery
stables, about a dozen stores of various kinds, and between 500 and 600
is a small post village located in the northeastern part of the town. It
contains one church (Baptist), a hotel, about twenty houses and the usual
compliment of mechanic's shops, etc.
The Bethel Grist-mill, owned by Hiram H. GILSON, was built by Peleg
MARSH, in 1835. Mr. GILSON employs four men and does a large amount of
business. The mill has a water-power with an eight-foot head.
James MANNIX's blacksmith shop was built in 1880. Mr. MANNIX does
a large business in all kinds of blacksmith work.
J.B. ALLEY & Co.'s tannery, located at Bethel, employs thirteen
hands, turning out a large amount of work per annum.
Samuel H. BANK's tilt sloop, located on Main street, turns out a
large amount of work.
E.M. WESTON's carriage manufactory, located on Main street, was
built by D. & I. WESTON, and is now managed by the sore of the latter.
Messrs. HASCOM, BROOKS & BRIGHRAM, proprietors of the Bethel
Toy Manufactory, carry on a large business.
Hibbard PERKINS's carriage sloop, located on road fifty-four, was
built in 1858. This firm does a good business in custom work and repairing.
M.D. BROWN's grist-mill, located at East Bethel, is supplied with
three runs of stones. Mr. BROWN has also machinery for doing custom plaining.
The National White River Bank, located at Bethel village, was chartered
under the old State banking system, as the White River Bank, and commenced
business in February, 1851, with Charles BAXTER, president, and L. L, TILDEN,
cashier. In May, 1865, it was organized as it now exists, with a capital
of $125.00. Nelson GAY, of Stockbridge, is now president of the institution,
and M. Sylvester, cashier.
The settlement of the town was commenced by Benjamin SMITH, in the
autumn of 1779. The next year he was joined by Joel MARSH, Samuel PEAK,
Seth CHASE, Willard SMITH and David STONE, after which the settlement increased
quite rapidly. About the first thing the settlers did was to build a stockade
fort, as in the then troubled state of the country an Indian attack upon
the defenseless settlements might at any moment be expected. The fort stood
at the lower end of the village, as near as can be learned, precisely where
the railroad depot now stands. At the time the excavations were made for
building the railroad, some iron relics were dug up at this point, a gate
hinge, etc., tending to prove that this was the spot where the settlers,
with their wives, children and property, had gathered themselves together
for protection from the foe.
The wisdom displayed in building this fort was soon made apparent,
for on the 9th of August, 1770, a party of twenty-one Indians made a descent
on Barnard and made prisoners of Thomas M. WRIGHT. Prince HASKELL and John
NEWTON, also taking David STONE, of this town. Royalton had a small garrison
of soldiers, commanded by a Captain SAFFORD. This garrison was called upon
and was removed to the Bethel fort. This proved the salvation of Bethel,
but was most disastrous to Royalton; for only a little over two months
later a party of nearly 300 came on and totally destroyed the settlement
in the latter town, and Bethel would have shared the same fate had it not
been for its little fort and its garrison of brave and hardy men. This
body of Indians came up White river as far as the mouth of the second branch,
destroying every house but one, a log dwelling which stood north of the
branch on the meadow, and was not discovered by the Indians, the occupants
having extinguished the lights, and the savages feared to approach nearer
the fort at Bethel.
Early in August, 1781, an alarm was again spread, which caused the
commandant of the fort, Capt. John BENJAMIN, to seek assistance from the
neighboring militias. This alarm, however, proved to have no foundation
in fact; still, in obedience to the application, Capt. Bartholomew DURKEE;
on the 10th of the month, at the head of twenty-five of the stout men of
Pomfret, marched to his aid, and was joined by Capt. Elkanah SPRAGUE with
five men from Hartford. The readiness of the soldiers to fight, however,
was the only method by which they were permitted to evince their bravery
on this occasion. The sole record of the expedition which remains, is that
which preserves the names of the militia, the number of miles they traveled
and the days they were absent on service.
Lois, daughter of Dudley CHASE, and wife of Benjamin SMITH, was
a brave, noble woman. On the 6th of September, 1780, there was born to
her end her good husband a son, who was also named Asa, the first birth
on the town. Asa lived and died here, a quiet, unassuming, honorable gentleman,
loved and respected by every one. He was but a month old when the Royalton
massacre occurred, and his mother sought protection with him at the fort.
Mr. SMITH then lived in a log house on the meadow of what is still known
as the SMITH farm. It is said that when the family contemplated emigration
to this town, from Cornish, N. H., Lois opened her bible to read the first
verse her eye should rest upon, as a guide for her final conclusion, or
as a prophesy of her final failure or success. The verse that met her eye
was the fifth of the fifth chapter of Amos, -- "But seek not Bethel, nor
enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba, for Gilgal shall finally
go into captivity and Bethel shell come to naught." This sharp warning,
however, did not deter her, but after the burning of Royalton she insisted
that its name ought to be Gilgal. The mantle of prophesy seems to have
fallen on this family, for her father, Dudley, so it is related, came to
Bethel with a surveying party some time before the date of the charter,
and encamped one night on the stream in East Bethel, sleeping on the ground
with a stone for a pillow. In the morning, like Jacob of old; he said to
his companion, "This place shall be called Bethel, and who knows but that
this stone which has been my pillow shall be one of the foundation stones
of a church of God;" (Genesis xxxiii, 11, 18, 19, 22). In 1824 the Baptist
church was built on the very place where they encamped, and all the stones
in the immediate vicinity were gathered and used in the foundation that
the prophecy might be fulfilled. Solon S. CHASE, a great-grandson of Dudley,
now occupies the farm that Dudley gave to his son Simeon. The two adjoining
farms were also given by him to his daughters, Lois and Alice. Solon S.
was born here in 1813, and has resided on the old place seventy years.
The town was organized and the first town meeting held May 14, 1782,
when Barnabas STRONG was chosen clerk, Michael FLYNN, constable, and Joel
MARSH, John BENJAMIN and George SMITH, selectmen. Michael FLYNN was also
the first justice of the peace, holding the office from 1786 to 1814.
Simeon BROOKS came to Bethel, from Connecticut, in 1780 and located
upon the farm now owned by S. A. WEBSTER, who married his granddaughter,
Nancy. He reared a family of six children and died in 1825, aged fifty-four
Samuel PEAK, from Hartford, Conn., came to Bethel about 1780, locating
in the eastern part of the town, where he died in 1829. Four of his seven
children settled in the town and left a number of descendants.
Rev. Thomas RUSSELL, from Long Island, came to Bethel in 1785, receiving
the lot of land allowed by charter to the first settled minister. Only
one of his four children, Hannah R., widow of Seneca MARKS, is now living.
She was married in 1820. Two of her three children are living, one, Frederick
H., on road 17.
Michael FLYNN, from Connecticut, located in the northern part of
the town in 1782, reared a family of six children and died in 1827, aged
seventy-three years. Richard R., his first child, born in 1784; died here
in 1846. Charles C., fourth child of Richard has always resided in the
Peter WOODBURY, from Sutton, Mass., located in East Bethel about
1787, reared ten children, and died in 183-, aged seventy-eight years
Jeduthan ROGERS, from Connecticut, came here in 1787, locating upon
a farm at South Limpus, where he died in 1834. His only son, Isaiah, born
in 1774, resided here until fifty years of age, then removed to New York,
where he died in 1861, aged seventy-five years. Only one of his ten children
settled in the town.
Capt. Joel MARSH came to Bethel, from Hartford, Conn., at a very
early date, receiving a grant known as the "miller's right," consisting
of 400 acres, for building the first mill. Irene MARSH, daughter of Jonathan,
was born in 1808, married William ADAMS and reared three children, two
of whom, William R. and Rush M., now reside here. Albert L., third child
of Jonathan, born in 1810, has never been absent front the town over six
John BLAKE came to Bethel at an early date, from Massachusetts,
and died here in 1852. William, his second child, reared a family of thirteen
children, and died in 1874. Samantha, the fourth child of William, was
born in 1826, married James S. FREELEN, and has reared a family of five
Samuel WILSON came here with his father, from Connecticut, at an
early date, and settled upon a farm on Camp brook. He reared seven children
and died in 1836, aged seventy-nine years.
Ezra PUTNAM came from Sutton, Mass., at an early date, and settled
upon a farm in the southern part of the town, where he attained the great
age of ninety years. His six children also permanently located in Bethel.
Ezra, Jr., the fourth, born in 1792, reared seven children, three of whom
now reside here.
Reuben BROOKS, from Connecticut, came here at an early date and
located at Bethel village, and died in 1843, aged seventy-nine years. Two
of ten children permanently located here.
Oliver H. BROOKS, from New Hampshire, came to Bethel at an early
date, locating at East Bethel, where he worked at his trade of carpenter
and wheelwright, and for twenty-one years had control of the hotel, and
during that time was postmaster. He had two children, of whom Samuel H.,
the youngest, born in 1828, resided at East Bethel.
Reuben SPAULDING was a resident of Royalton at the time of the Indian
trouble in 1780, and was one of the prisoners taken to Canada. One of his
seven children, Edwin, is now living in Bethel. Charles, his third child,
born in 1810, died in 1858. Two of his family, Elbridge G. and Ellen, twins,
also reside here.
Seth CHASE came from New Hampshire to Bethel among the early settlers,
locating on road 30, near the present cemetery, the land comprising which
he gave to the town. He afterwards removed to Randolph, where he built
the first grist-mill in that town. His grandchild, Lucy CHASE, married
Abel BYAM, by whom she had eight children, six of them now being residents
of the town.
John WALLACE, a native of Connecticut, came to Bethel about 1790
and located on road 17, upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Elroy
E. He reared a family of thirteen children, all of whom lived to be over
sixty years of age, and two are now living. John, Jr., born in 1801, resided
here until his death, in 1872. Four of his children, Nelson H., Gardner
J., Laura E. and Elroy E., reside here.
Jeremiah MORSE, a Revolutionary veteran, came here from Massachusetts
in 1794, locating upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Alexander MORSE,
where he died in 1836. Four of his six children settled in the town.
Nehemiah NOBLE, from New London, Conn., came to Bethel in 1794,
locating upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Robert NOBLE. He served
in both the war of the Revolution and in the war of 1812, and died in 1826,
aged seventy years, having reared a family off ten children.
Zachary DEAN, from Connecticut, came to Bethel about the year 1800,
and with his son Zebulon located near the village, where he engaged in
shoemaking. Later they removed to the farm now owned by Hiram DEAN, who
makes the fifth generation of the family residing on that place.
Othnial DURHAM, from Newport, N. H., came to Bethel about 1805,
locating at Bethel village, where, with his brother Salmon, he commenced
the clothing business. Subsequently he removed to a farm on the river road,
where he died in 1870 aged eighty-two years.
William, Samuel, Isaac; James, John, Isabella and Mary McINTOSH,
children of John, came from Amherst, N. H., about 1810, locating in the
northwestern corner of the town, known as Gilead. Samuel located upon the
farm now owned by his son Samuel, on road 1.
John BIRD, from Ware, N. H., came to Bethel about 1812, locating
on South Hill. He died in 1871, aged eighty-seven years. Only one of his
eight children, A. Benjamin, became a permanent resident of the town.
Minot WHEELER, a native of Hollis, N. H., came to Bethel about 1812,
and died here in 1840, aged seventy-two years. Two of his six children,
Rebecca, widow of Joel DAY, and Gorden, are living.
Asa CURTIS, a native of Orange, came into Bethel in 1812, locating
in the northeastern part of the town. His widow, Lucy (FISH) CURTIS, is
still living, at the great age of 100 years. Only one son, Charles W.,
resides in Bethel, on road 31.
Reuben CHAPMAN, from New Hampshire, came to Bethel about 1812, locating
upon the farm now owned by his son, Nelson, when he died in 1875. Two of
his six children are living.
Abijah SHEER, from New Hampshire, located as a blacksmith at Bethel
village in 1816, and died in 1868, aged seventy-three years. He reared
a family of nine children, five of whom are now living, two in Bethel.
Calvin MORSE, from Orange county, came to Bethel about 1820, locating
upon the farm now owned by his sixth child, Edwin. Mr. MORSE has filled
with honor most of the town offices, and now, at the age of eighty-seven
years, resides here with his daughter Betsy.
Washington CHAMBERLIN, from Stockbridge, Vt., came to Bethel in
1822. He reared a family of nine children, three of whom settled in the
Thomas BUCK., from Portland, Conn., came to Tunbridge in 1830, and
subsequently removed to Bethel, where he died in 1862.
James MARTIN, from Pembroke, N. H., came to Tunbridge in 1834. James
P., his youngest child, resides in this town, on road 34.
Julius G., a son of George FASSETT, was born in Rochester in 1843,
and made it his home there until 1877, when he came to Bethel, engaging
in the hardware business.
Rev. S. A. PARKER, a Universalist clergyman, has been a resident
of Bethel for more than twenty years. He was born in Lempster, N. H., June
10, 1834, and was ordained in Stowe, Vt., August 25, 1859,-was pastor of
the Universalist church there three years. He came to Bethel in May, 1862,
and was pastor of the Universalist church sixteen years. For nearly five
years he has supplied churches in the vicinity that were without a rector.
He is now secretary of the Universalist Convention of Vermont and Province
of Quebec. He has been trustee of Goddard Seminary, at Barre, ever since
it was founded; was one of the charter members of White River Masonic Lodge,
being its first master, and served in that capacity for ten successive
years. His residence is in Bethel village.
Christ's Protestant Episcopal church, located at Bethel village,
was organized, with ten members, July 27, 1794, Rev. John C. OGDEN being
the first rector. The first church building was erected in 1823, and gave
place to the present structure in 1846. This building is a wood structure
capable of seating 200 persons; it cost $2,090.00, and is now valued, including
grounds, at $3,500.00. The society has at present 138 members, with Rev.
Moses Parsons STICKNEY, rector.
The East Bethel Baptist church was organized by a council of representative's
from neighboring churches, in 1812, it then having ten members, Rev. Benjamin
PUTNAM being the first pastor. The church building is a brick structure,
erected in 1824 at a cost of $1,000.00; it will seat 250 persons and is
valued at $1,200.00. The society now has fourteen members, under the pastoral
charge of Rev. O. J. TAYLOR.
The Congregational church, located at Bethel village, was organized
by Revs. Justin PARSON, Calvin NOBLE and Joel DAVIS, with thirteen members,
July 25, 1817, Rev. Benjamin ABBOTT being the first pastor. The old brick
church the society first erected is still in use, and will seat 250 persons.
Rev. R. J. BUGBEE is pastor of the society.
The Universalist church, located at Bethel village, was not organized
until Dec. 29, 1817, with thirty-six members, though they had stated preaching
many years before. Rev. Hosea BALLOU and others preached to them near the
beginning of this century. Rev. Kettredge HAVEN was the first resident
pastor; he commenced his pastorate in 182I and closed in 1828. Rev. S.
A. PARKER, the last resident pastor, commenced his pastorate in 1862 and
closed in 1878. The society is now supplied by Rev. J. B. TABOR, of Gaysville.
Their church edifice is built of brick and will seat 250 persons. It was
dedicated Dec. 24, 1816, having cost $5,000.00, a very substantial and
neat building. In 1853 it was remodeled and is now in keeping with the
age. This society has always been large and prominent, many of the early
settlers and many of the most respectable and influential people in town
have been supporters and members of it.
The Methodist Episcopal church of Bethel, located on road 48, corner
of road 50, at what is locally known as Limpus, was organized many years
ago, Rev. W. H. STODDARD being the first pastor. The church edifice was
built in 1841, a building capable of seating 175 persons, and valued at
$1,000.00. The society now has forty-five members, with Rev. H. K. HASTINGS,
of Gaysville, pastor.
and Business Directory of
County, Vt., For 1883-84
and Published By Hamilton Child,
N. Y. Printed January, 1884.
by Karima Allison ~ 2004