HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF

ROCHESTER

      ROCHESTER is a very irregularly outlined town located in the northwestern corner of the county, in lat. 43° 53' and long. 4° 15', bounded northerly by Hancock, in Addison county, and Braintree, in Orange county, easterly by Bethel, southerly by Pittsfield and Chittenden, in Rutland county, and westerly by Hancock and Goshen, in Addison county. It was granted by Vermont November 6, 1780, and chartered to Dudley CHASE and sixty-four others, July 30, 1781, containing 23,040 acres. This area, however, has been greatly augmented by annexations of territory from adjoining towns. This has been done for the reason that Rochester is the natural business center for a large tract of territory in this section, and the inhabitants dwelling therein, on the sides of the hills and mountains, whose natural modes of ingress and egress is by the way of White river valley, and whose business accommodations lie principally in Rochester, would, as a matter of course, be desirous of being included in the town. The first annexation was in 1806, when 1,175 acres were taken from Pittsfield. In 1814, 300 acres were annexed from the old town of Goshen, and comprise that portion of the town known as West Rochester. The other annexations have been as follows: 1,500 acres from Braintree and 85o acres from Pittsfield, in 1824; 160 acres from Hancock, in 1834, and 11,300 acres from Goshen in 1847, giving the town a total area of 38,325 acres.

      The surface is extremely uneven, affording a very pleasing landscape picture, but diminishing to a considerable degree the agricultural worth of the territory, though the valleys and hill-slopes afford valuable tracts of excellent farming and grazing land. This unevenness has also lent appropriate names to certain localities, as North, South and Middle Hollow, located as their names respectively designate. A ridge of highland, known as Rochester Mountain, extends north and south across the eastern part of the township, about three miles from the town line, east of which lies Little Hollow, a well-watered and productive locality. White river, with numerous tributaries, forms the principal water-course, flowing through the town from north to south. About half a mile south of the Rochester village it receives a large tributary having its source in Goshen. From Little Hollow, above mentioned, the streams flow south into Bethel. Some excellent mill-sites are afforded. The timber is mostly hard wood, interspersed with spruce, hemlock, etc. The principal rock entering into the geological structure of the township is of the talcose schist formation. Extending through the town from north to south, however, there is a bed of clay slate having a mean width of about a mile. In the eastern part are found beds of steatite, serpentine, granite, syenite and protogine In the western part there is a bed of saccharoid azoic limestone. No metals, except gold in small quantities, have been discovered.

      In 1880 Rochester had a population of 1,362, and in 1882 it was divided into sixteen school districts, and contained seventeen common schools, employing six male and twenty-six female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $1,599.15. There were 315 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,923.28, with George S. GUERNSEY, superintendent.

      ROCHESTER, a post village, lies in the central part of the town, in the picturesque valley of White river, shut in by hills on the east and west; which rise so abruptly as to make the spot remind one of Horatius' words:


In In yon straight pass a thousand
Might well be stopped by three. 
Now who will stand on either hand
And keep the pass with me?"
      Though located eighteen miles from the railroad, the village is one of the most enterprising in the county. Its residences have a tidy, well-kept appearance, and its places of business have a busy and prosperous air, while in 1883, the public spirited citizens established telephonic communications with Bethel, the nearest railroad station. The principal part of the village lies along one main street, about a little gear of a park. The postal and traveling facilities are TINKHAM & Sons' stage line to Bethel, and to Hancock, where connections are made for Middlebury, while transient and summer tourists are entertained at the well-kept Rochester House. The Methodist and Universalist societies each have a house of worship here, while the manufacturing establishments consist of a foundry and machine shop, a carriage shop, grist-mill, saw-mill, tin and harness shop, etc.

      WEST ROCHESTER is a hamlet located in the western part of the town.

      MILL VILLAGE is also a hamlet, located in the southern part of the town on White river.

      The Rochester House, M. L. FAULKNER, proprietor, located at Rochester village, is a large three-story building, erected in 1869. It came into Mr. FAULKNER's hands in 1882, and he, with a large experience as a traveling man, and by general courteous and pleasing manners, has added greatly to its popularity. The hotel contains about fifty well-furnished rooms, for the accommodation of all classes of summer boarders, and with the pleasant drives, healthful climate and many adjacent fishing grounds, no better place can be found to spend the summer. Parties coming by rail are afforded easy modes of conveyance from either Bethel or Brandon.

      Alonzo WORCESTER's iron foundry and carriage shop, located at the village, was built in 1872. Mr. WORCESTER does all kinds of work in his line, employing three hands.

      Fayette A. KEZER's saw and grist-mill, located on road 33, came into the hands of the present proprietor in 1869. He employs about ten men.

      Chester DOWNER's saw and clapboard mill, located on road 43, and operated by George E. AUSTIN, was built in 1880. He employs about twenty men, and turns out 9,000 feet of lumber and 8,000 feet of clapboards per day.

      J. O. ROBINSON's clapboard and grist-mill, located on road 43, was built by the ROBINSON Bros., in 1874, taking the place of the mill destroyed by fire August 23, 1872. The clapboard mill has the capacity for turning out 400,000 feet annually, while the grist-mill is for local accommodation.

      PIPER & MESSER's butter tub factory, located on White river, manufactures 15,000 butter tubs per annum, employing five men.

      H. H. BAILEY's saw-mill, located on road 6, was built in 1876, does only a small amount of business.

      The Rochester and Pittsfield Telephone Company, was organized June 20, 1883, for the purpose of establishing telephonic and telegraphic communications between Rochester, Pittsfield and Bethel. The line extends from Gaysville, via Pittsfield to Rochester, a distance of twenty miles, completed July 7, 1881. From Gaysville to Bethel the line of a company previously established is used.

      The first attempt towards the settlement of Rochester in 1780, by John SANGER, Joel COOPER, Timothy CLEMENTS, James GUGGIN and John EMERSON, who came on and erected a shanty on the east side of White river, near where the EMERSON bridge now crosses, and commenced chopping, working and boarding in company on what is now the farm of Gardner BRIDE. During the summer they returned home, intending to renew operations in the autumn; but hearing of Indian depredations in the vicinity, they did not return until the next winter. They left a horse they had brought on with them, a two-year old heifer belonging to Lieut. David CURRIER, and their cooking and camp utensils. Tradition affirms that the horse found his way through the woods back to Barnard. On their return to Rochester the next winter, the shanty was found much as they had left it, but the camp had been visited by Indians during their absence, and the heifer killed. An old bake-kettle left by them had been used by the Indians, and then broken. The fetus from the Heifer was fixed up in regular shape in an old tray, which was also left, and the tray and contents placed upon a shelf in the shanty, and upon the tray was written with charcoal this sentence “Eat hearty, men." The writing upon the tray led to the belief that the Indians were accompanied by Tories. The old tray was afterwards fitted up with rockers and became famous as a cradle.

      In 1781 work was renewed and a log house, long known as the "House Commons," was built near the east end of the bridge, the first house erected in the town. In 1 782 the first families moved in, viz.: David CURRIER, James GUGGIN, Timothy CLEMENTS, John SANGER and ____ Haskell. David CURRIER and family occupied the House Commons. During the season Daniel EMERSON with his family, consisting of his wife and four children, moved into town and pitched upon the farm now owned by AUSTIN Leonard. Some stakes were driven into the ground and a shanty erected, in which they lived. During the season, the family, through fear of the Indians, used frequently to leave the shanty at night, and taking such articles as they could for covering, hide themselves in the woods at the foot of the hill in the rear of the house, spending the night in the open air. Thus commenced the settlement of Rochester. The settlement increased quite rapidly, however, so that in 1791 the town had a population of 215 souls.

      The warning for the first town meeting was signed at Stockbridge, April 30, 1788, by Asa WHITCOMB, justice of the peace, to be held at the dwelling of Ebenezer BURNHAM, May 15th. At this meeting the town was regularly organized by electing Lieut. David CURRIER, moderator; Capt. Timothy CLEMENTS, town clerk; Capt. Timothy CLEMENTS, Enoch EMERSON and Aaron WILBER, selectmen and listers and layers out of highways; Moses CURRIER, constable; and Joseph BOICE, collector. There were also elected three highway surveyors, three tythingmen and three haywards. Enoch EMERSON was elected to represent the town in the legislature, and was also appointed a justice of the peace, a position he continued to hold for twenty-eight years.

      At a meeting of the proprietors held July 1, 1784, it was voted the first five women in the town, Rebecca CURRIER, Mrs. Ruth GUGGIN, Mrs. Eunice HASKELL, Mrs. Jemima CLEMENTS and Eunice SANGER should have one hundred acres of land each in the second division of one hundred acre lots. And also voted one hundred acres of land to Lieut. CURRIER's twins, Frederick and William, to be equally divided between them as the first children born in the town, and fifty acres to Dorcas CURRIER as a gift for her early attendance as a nurse in the town. The first saw and grist-mills were erected by Enoch EMERSON, in 1786 and 1787, on the Branch, not far from where Lyman EMERSON now lives. The first blacksmith was Ebenezer MORSE. His shop stood upon the meadow, near the river, on the farm now owned by Hiram HODGKINS. The method of shoeing oxen was to cast the ox with a rope, bind them thoroughly, and then proceed to set the shoes. The first sermon or religious meeting of which there is any account was a lecture by a Mr. BOWMAN, of Barnard, September 13, 1789. The first physicians were Drs. Retire TRASK and his wife, who practiced successfully together, some preferring the Doctress to the Doctor. They moved into the town in 1790, and the Doctor afterwards built the old Webbe house, at the top of the hill, at the south part of the village, and kept tavern awhile. They were the principal physicians in the town for nearly twenty-five years. The first goods brought into the town for sale were by FOSTER & STACY, in 1792, and a part of Mr. SELDEN's tavern, at the southwestern part of the common, was used for a store. The first school taught was in 1793, in the lower part of the town in the house of Enos MORGAN, Rev. Mr. HOWE being the teacher. November 3, 1795, was kept as Thanksgiving day, the first public celebration of the day in the town. The first clothing mill for dressing cloth was built in 1795, by Jonathan JEWETT, on the brook a little below the old ADRAS place.

      In 1805 a stage route was established from Hanover, N. H., to Middlebury, Vt., the stage being driven by a Mr. DEWEY. Previous to this the people were supplied by a post-rider, who distributed letters and papers from his saddle-bags. The first post-rider was Job SAUNDERS. The first postmaster was John FLINT, the post office being in SHELDEN's tavern. During the year 18o6 the first carding machine was brought into town by Oliver WILLS and Nathaniel DUNHAM, and was set in operation in the upper part of the grist-mill owned by Enoch EMERSON. The first leather tanned in town was by Esquire EASTMAN, on the old FOSTER place, in 1806.

      Caleb GOODNO, from Rockingham, Vt.. came to Rochester in 1784, and located in the western part of the town, upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Kittridge GOODNO. Two of his nine children settled in the town. William, the oldest, born in 1794, spent his life here, dying in February, 1852.

      Thomas HODSKIN, from Connecticut, came here in 1789 and located upon a farm in the southern part of the town, on the river. Three of his four children remained in the town, and left many descendants.

      Ora HUBBARD, son of Elisha HUBBARD, one of the early settlers, was born in 1788, and lived to an advanced age, rearing seven children. His youngest son, Benjamin F., now resides on road 42.

      Thomas MARTIN was one of the early settlers of the town and one of the most prominent citizens. Daniel, his fourth child, born in 1802, died in 1872. Two of his eleven children now live in the town.

      Ebenezer MARTIN, a native of Connecticut, came to Rochester as early as 1795, locating near the House Commons, and spent his whole after life there. Of his family of nine children, two now live in the town. Loman, the eighth child, born in 1808, died here in 1882. Of Loman's eight children, only one, Crosby G., now resides here.

      Rufus MARTIN, also a native of Connecticut, came to Rochester at an early date, locating at Little Hollow, building the first frame house in that part of the town. Four of eight children are now living. Henry, the fourth child, born in January, 1803, now resides within a quarter of a mile of the place of his birth. Three of his five sons now reside in the town.

      John AUSTIN came into Rochester among the early settlers, locating upon what is still known as AUSTIN hill. A number of his descendants still reside in the town. Joseph, son of Robert and grandson of John, born in 1809, has four sons living in the town: Truman D., Milan D., George E., and Adelbert J.

      Caleb SEGAR, from New Hampshire, came to Rochester at an early date and remained in the town until his death, leaving a number of descendants.

      Jonathan JEWETT, from Windsor, came to Rochester in 1790, located in the extreme northern part of the town. Subsequently he erected clothing works near the village, and finally removed to Mill Village, where he died in 1842, aged seventy-six years. Two of his four children now live in the town.

      Thomas BAILEY came to Rochester, from Westminster, Vt., previous to 1790, locating in North Hollow. Ora, the last of eight children, died in 1864, aged seventy-four years. Five of Ora's ten children are living, two, Lorenzo Dow and Clark, in Rochester.

      Lemuel RICHARDSON, a native of Cornish, N. H., came to Rochester in 1792, and located upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Gardner E. RICHARDSON. He was a farmer and also had a store, one of the first in the town. He was a deacon of the Congregational church, and held many of the town offices, and reared nine children. G. E. and Stillman, sons of Elias, and Makepeace RICHARDSON, are the only direct descendants in town. Of the family of Elias, five are living.

      William McCOLLOM, from New Hampshire, came to Rochester in 1795 and located upon a farm in North Hollow. He reared a family of nine children, three of whom now reside in the town, and died in 1827, aged forty-two years.

      Robert WILLEY, from Worchester, Mass., also settled in North Holland in 1795. Oren is the only one of his eight children now residing in the town.

      Elisha HUBBARD came to Rochester, from Putney, in 1798, and settled on road 5, upon the farm now owned by his grandson, William T. Two only of his fourteen children, George and Betsey (Mrs. David NICHOLS), are now living. Abel, who was nine years of age when his father came here, reared twelve children, of whom three reside in the town. William T., the eighth child, occupies the homestead.

      John CHAFFEE, second son of Amos CHAFFEE, born in 1778, came to Rochester at an early date, reared eight children and died in 1850. John, Jr., his sixth child, born in 1813, has always resided in town. Henry A., the eldest of his four children, was horn in 1840. He served four years in Company E., 4th Vermont Volunteers, and lost an arm at the battle of Cedar Creek.

      James WING, a native of Hardwick, Mass., came to Rochester about 1800 and settled in in the eastern part of the town, remained there a short time and then located at the village, engaging in blacksmithing. He reared a family of ten children. Henry M. WING, residing on road 42, occupies the farm that has been in the family over fifty years.

      Ezra WASHBURN, a native of Stafford, Conn., came to Rochester about 1800 and located at West Rochester, where he had many adventures with bears and wolves. He had a family of fourteen children. Ezra, Jr., resides on road 45.

      Leonard B. CHAFFEE, born in 1780, came to Rochester, from Athens, Vt., in 18o6, and located upon a farm in the center of the town, where he reared a family of seven children and died in 1866. John W., the second son of Leonard B., was born here in 1810, and two of his five children reside here. Gardner L., the sixth child of Leonard B., born in 1823, resides at the village.

      Robert B. TUPPER, from Massachusetts, came here at an early date and located upon a farm in the southern part of the town. Here he resided until his death, rearing five children. Royal H. TUPPER, his third child, born in 1810, died in 1881, aged seventy-one years. Two of his four children settled in the town. John R., his eldest, resides at the village.

      Lyman MESSER, who now resides on road 40, came here from New York in 1814. Julius C., the second of his seven children, born in 1840, resides on road 33..

      William BAKER, a native of Hillsboro, N. H., came to Rochester in 1816, locating upon the farm now owned by his son Philander. Five of his twelve children are living, four in this town.

      Dea. Joseph MORSE, a native of New Hampshire, came to Rochester on the "cold Friday" of 1817, with his family of wife and eight children, locating upon the place now owned by Oliver MORSE. He died in 1858, aged eighty years.

      John MARSH, from Bethel, came to this town in 1817, locating at what is now known as Jerusalem. He died in 1838, aged fifty-nine years. Joel, his second son, now resides here, having reared four children.

      Justin MORGAN, from Bethel, located at Rochester village in 1822, entering into mercantile pursuits. He remained only a few years, however, when he removed to Stockbridge, and died there in 1853. His son Charles, now resides on road 26.

      Dr. Daniel HUNTINGTON, from Royalton, came here in 1809, locating at the village, where he practiced medicine until his death, in 1854. Four of his seven children now reside in the town.

      E. MARTIN LATTEMER, who resides on road 37, came here in 1824.

      Dura KINSMAN, with his father, Moses KINSMAN, came here from Clarendon, Rutland county, in 1825, at which time he was seventeen years of age. His father purchased one hundred acres of land where road 50 now is, and was the first to locate in that part of the town. Six of his nine children are now living.

      Elijah WYMAN, Jr., came from Weathersfield, Mass., in 1834, locating upon a farm at what is now known as Jerusalem. Two of his four children remained in the town.

      Eber ANGEL, from Stockbridge, came to Rochester in 1837, also locating at Jerusalem, where he died in 1867, aged seventy-three years. Only one of his ten children, Gideon W., now resides here.

      Rev. George S. GUERNSEY came to Rochester in 1844, and commenced teaching school. He taught school two years and then commenced preaching, and has followed the same ever since. Although he has preached in thirty-three different towns, he has never changed his place of residence.

      Samuel G. HASKINS, from New Hampshire, came to Rochester village in 1847, where he has since carried on the tailoring business.

      During the war of the Rebellion Rochester furnished 197 men, 153 of whom were residents of the town, and $38,474.65 in cash. In 1868 the town erected a beautiful monument of Barre, Vt., granite, at the village, in honor of her brave sons who lost their lives in the war. The following is a list of the names engraved on the same:

Lieutenant. Colonel -- Henry A. Eaton
Lieutenant -- Ransom M. Towle
Lieutenant -- Charles G. Newton
Sergeant -- Varnum B. Whitney
Sergeant -- Erastus W. Ward
Corporal -- Charles C. Beckwith
Dexter CROSSMAN
Joseph HUNTINGTON
Norman A. BRINK
William H. JONES
Erastus S. AUSTIN
Jacob MESSER
Henry T. GOODYEAR
Delos PARMENTER
Theodore H. HALL
Franklin PILLSBURY
Fred RICHMOND
Williard J. BISBEE
Henry SIMONS
Alfred M. RICHARDSON
Ira A. STEVENS
Nelson J. THRASHER
Harry A. WASHBURN
Charles F. VAN GILDER
Edward MORSE
Charles E. ALEXANDER
Volney R. FLANDERS
Charles MORSE, Jr.
Elmer J. LEONARD
Stillman B. SMITH
Andre M. WASHBURN
Malcolm G. KINSMAN
George E. WHITCOMB
George S. LAIRD
John F. PEARSON
John O. WHITNEY
George ALLEN
Elbridge S. WILLIAMS
Charles J. BISBEE
Charles A. KEITH



Gazetteer of Towns
Gazetteer and Business Directory of 
Windsor County, Vt., For 1883-84
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child,
Syracuse, N. Y. Printed January, 1884.
Page 197-205.

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~ 2004