OF THE TOWN OF
STOCKBRIDGE lies in the northwestern part of the county, in lat.
43° 45' and long. 4° 18', bounded north by Bethel, east by Barnard,
south by Sherburne, and west by Pittsfield, the latter two towns in Rutland
county. It contains an area of 28,100 acres, chartered by New Hampshire,
July 21, 1761, to William DODGE and sixty-one others, in seventy-two shares.
It was also granted by New York to William STORY and others, in 1761, the
first Vermont grant made by that province, though it is doubtful if the
charter was ever made out, at least it is not in existence now.
The surface of the township is very uneven and in portions mountainous,
though in the valleys of the several streams, and in some other localities,
there are large tracts of level, arable land. Taken as a whole the town
makes a fine farming and grazing country, producing all the grains and
grasses indigenous to the latitude. White river, flowing through the northern
part of the town, forms, with its numerous tributaries from the south and
north, the watercourse of the township. Tweed river and Stony brook, from
the south, are the principal tributaries of the stream. Several excellent
mill-sites are afforded. The rocks entering in the geological structure
of the territory are of the talcose schist and clay slate formation, the
latter extending across the town from north to south in ledges about one
mile in width. Gold in considerable quantities has been found along White
In 1880, Stockbridge had a population of 1,124, and in 1882 the
town was divided into nine school districts and contained ten common schools,
employing two male and twenty-two female teachers, to whom was paid an
aggregate salary of $1,179.08. There were 260 pupils attending common school,
while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st,
was $6,934.40, with E. L. SAWYER, superintendent.
GAYSVILLE is a pleasant little post village located in the northwestern
part of the town, on White river. It has three churches, (Congregational,
Methodist and Universalist,) one hotel, four general stores, a fine school
building, a knit goods factory, a saw and grist-mill, blacksmith shop,
harness shop, furniture shop, and about fifty dwellings. The river at this
point is compressed into a channel but a few feet wide, affording an excellent
mill privilege, and was formerly known as the "Great Narrows." Daniel and
Jeremiah GAY established a factory here for the manufacture of cassimeres,
giving the name of Gaysville to the village.
STOCKBRIDGE is a small post village located in the northeastern
part of the town. It has one church (Union), a grist and saw-mill, tub
factory, blacksmith shop, carriage shop and about thirty dwellings.
The Gaysville Manufacturing Co. was organized January 1, 1880, the
firm being Nelson Gay and F. P. Holden, of Gaysville, A. A. Brooks, of
Bethel, and Chester Downer, of Sharon. The company manufactures gentlemen's
knit underwear, employing seventy hands and turning out about $125,000.00
worth of goods per annum.
Isaac T. JONES's saw-mill, located on road 25, is operated by water-power
and is supplied with an upright saw, bench saw, planer, etc., doing mostly
Mrs. M. L. RICHARDSON's grist and sate-mill and batter tub factory
is located on road 12. The grist-mill is adapted for grinding meal and
feed, and does only custom work. The saw-mill has an upright and bench
saw, and does cutting work. The tub factory turns out about 4,000 butter
tubs per annum.
The Stony Brook Lumber Co.'s steam saw-mill is located in a corner
formed by the towns of Stockbridge, Barnard and Bridgewater, called "No
Town," it never having been chartered, organized with any town nor taxed.
The mill is fitted with circular, board and bench saws, planing, matching
and clapboard machinery, etc., having facilities for turning out 10,000
feet of lumber and 6,000 feet of clapboards per clay.
Charles O. DURKEE's soapstone manufactory is located at Gaysville,
where Mr. DURKEE does a large business in the manufacture of all kinds
of soapstone goods.
The settlement of Stockbridge was commenced by Asa WHITCOMB, Elias
KEYES, John DURKEE and Joshua BARTLETT, with their families, in 1784-'85.
The settlement increased slowly, the town only having one hundred inhabitants
in 1791, when the first census was taken. The town was organized and the
first town meeting held, March 27, 1792, when Elihu HOLLAND was chosen
town clerk; Branch WHITCOMB, constable; Joseph DURKEE, John WHITCOMB and
Samuel WILEY, selectman; and John WHITCOMB, representative. The first child
born in the town was Joseph WILEY, May 3, 1784.
Hon. Elias KEYES was born in Hampton, Conn., in 1757, and died in
Stockbridge, Vt., July 9, 1844. All trace of his boyhood is lost except
that he entered the Continental army as the servant of some officer, early
in the war of the Revolution, and is said to have been in the ranks subsequently,
because he was a sergeant-major when discharged. He seems to have married
and made his way to Barnard, Vt., about 1780 or a little later, for when
the Indians raided that town it is said he and others followed them to
Stockbridge, or beyond, and then saw the land in this town which he afterward
took up and lived on for the most of his life. The proprietors had offered
400 acres of land to any man who would build a grist and saw-mill, and
Mr. KEYES accepted the offer. Tradition says that in 1784, John DURKEE
came into town, cleared some land and prepared for a crop, and that in
the spring of 1785 eleven families came and settled in various parts of
the town, and in great hardship and much deprivation endured the trials
and perils of the wilderness until they could make roads, clear fields,
raise produce, build houses and enjoy the necessaries of life. Tales are
told of men taking a bushel of corn on their backs and going to Woodstock
to mill, twenty-five miles, and other devices to obtain supplies were ingenious
and laborious. The inhabitants endured as those who see a great reward
in the future, and hazarded, and doubtless shortened their lives by the
effort to make a home or themselves and their posterity. Mr. KEYES is reported
to have taught the first school in town, and it is quite certain that the
demand of the patrons for attainments in the teacher must have been in
accordance with the times, in which the three "R's" had a very limited
definition. Whatever might have been the case in reference to education,
however, he did erect and maintain the requisite mills on the Branch, by
which he obtained his land and by which inhabitants were called into town
and furnished with some means of building and sources for making bread.
He was early made judge of the county court and officiated in that high
capacity for a number of years, perhaps as much to the amusement as for
the benefit of the people of the county; but he must have secured their
confidence to a great extent by some means, by Revolutionary fame or by
judicial excellence, by legislative acumen or by party preference he was
elected to the seventeenth congress, in 1820, and served, with how much
acceptance let the records of that day answer. Here was the pinnacle of
his fame. By the loss of a suit at law with Justin MORGAN, and by the loss
of mills built at the mouth of the Branch of the river Tweed, he became
disaffected and embarrassed, sold his homestead and principal property
and removed to Norfolk, N. Y. By unfortunate investments, and shrewdness
or fraud of partners in business, he soon found himself without means,
and returned to remnants of property left in Stockbridge, pursued by sheriffs
and creditors, by whose legal processes he was confined to the limits of
the debtors' jail for many years.
From the time of his return from New York, he managed to renew his
mills on the Branch, and near them lived and died. His eccentricities were
the laugh of his neighbors, and the wonder of many; but Judge KEYES had
much humor, considerable wit, a beneficent spirit and not a little enterprise,
and did something to make his name remembered. One of his last acts was
to give to the town for the benefit of the poor a large tract of wild land
which at the present time has value. He was very diligent himself and strove
to make others so. Blessed with a prudent wife whose worth will long be
remembered, he was enabled to prosecute designs that he could not otherwise
have accomplished, and no inconsiderable share of his reputation was doubtless
the product of her influence.
Lot WHITCOMB came from Massachusetts, and began a settlement in
Barnard previous to 1780; but becoming frightened by the Indian attack
of that year he returned to Massachusetts. A few years later he came back
to Vermont, locating in the northern part of Stockbridge, upon the farm
now owned by E. TWITCHELL. He had at this time eight children, six of whom
were sons, who, with the exception of Justin, all located in the town and
reared families, and many of their descendants are still living here. Reuben
S. WHITCOMB, who now resides on road 18, aged eighty years, is a grandson
of Lot, and has owned his present farm sixty-one years.
John DURKEE, one of the first settlers, bought five hundred acres
of land where his grandson, William H. DURKEE, now resides. He reared a
family of seven children, all of whom attained an adult age. Orrin, one
of his four sons, was captain of a company in the war of 1812, and served
all through the war. He married Philena RICH and reared nine children,
as follows Nelson, Lyman, Luther, Seneca, William H., Harris, Joseph P.,
Charles O. and Mary E.
Charles GREEN, who now resides with L. B. MOREY, aged eighty-nine
years, is the oldest man in the town. He was born at Williamstown, Vt.,
and came to Stockbridge at an early date. Uncle Charley, as he is affectionately
called, is something of a poet and his verses have frequently been in demand
at town gatherings, etc. He married Mary BOWEN, of Bethel, and has reared
five children. One, Edwin P., is a lawyer of Akron, Ohio. Alfred F. is
a large dairyman of Middlebury, Col., Julius C. is a county sheriff, residing
in San Francisco, Cal. Uncle Charley was a soldier in the war of 1812,
and held several of the town offices.
Nehemiah CHANDLER was the first settler upon the farm now occupied
by G. P. HASSAM. He came from New Hampshire about 1809, having at that
time a wife and one son, Enos, and subsequently had born to him three sons
and six daughters. Enos became an active member of the Congregational church,
married Mary HOLLAND, and located upon the farm now occupied by his widow,
who was his second wife. Augustus L., the eldest of his three sons, married
Emily A. SMITH, in 1856, and in 1860 purchased the farm first located upon
by his grandfather. Asa CHANDLER, of Pittsfield, and Eli, on road 30, are
the only children of Nehemiah now living.
Isaac JONES, from Hillsborough, N. H., came to Stockbridge with
his parents in 1811, locating upon the farm now occupied by Frank THAYER.
He married Deborah NORRIS, and reared a family of seven children, six of
whom are living.
John WHITCOMB, from Gardiner, Mass., was an early settler in Ludlow,
and about 1821 came to Stockbridge, locating on road 21, where he died
July 13, 1848, aged eighty-three years. Abel WHITCOMB, one of his youngest
sons, now occupies the homestead, aged seventy years.
Jeremiah WILSON was an early settler in Norwich. One of his eleven
children, Peter, came to Stockbridge in 1821 and located near Gaysville.
He married Anna BINGHAM in 1800, and had five children when he came here.
The fourth of these, Jeremiah, now occupies the homestead, aged seventy-one
Richard KIMBALL, son of John and Jerusha (MEACHAM) KIMBALL, was
born in Pomfret, Conn., August 21, 1762, married Susannah HOLDEN, of Mendon,
Mass., February 7, 1788, and had born to him thirteen children. Eight of
these died young, while the others reared families and two are now living.
Richard took his young wife to Royalton, immediately after marriage, in
1788, and cleared a farm in the northwestern part of the town. About 1797,
however, he removed to Randolph, where he died, November 23, 1828, aged
sixty-six years. John Holden KIMBALL, the eldest of Richard's children
who grew to manhood, was born in Royalton, May 1, 1796, married Catharine
WILLIAMS, June 11, 1828, and reared seven children, all of whore arrived
at maturity. About 1836 he settled in Gaysville, where four of the younger
children were born. He was a wheelwright and cabinet maker by trade, held
the office of justice of the peace a long time, and died August 5 1873,
aged over seventy-seven years. Hiram A., his eldest son, has made his name
noted as an inventor, and now resides in Philadelphia, Pa. Hiram was the
first man to enlist from Stockbridge, during the late war. Elbert B., the
second son, is engaged here in mercantile pursuits, and is also a member
of the firm of GAY, KIMBALL & GAY, button manufacturers, of Rutland.
George H., the third son, born at Gaysville, April 23, 1843, enlisted in
the 6th Vermont Vols., and was discharged for sickness, December 12, 1862.
He now resides in Gaysville, and has six children.
Daniel GAY, who with 'his brother, Jeremiah, built the brick factory
at Gaysville in 1832, had seven children, viz.: Dwight, Daniel, Jr., Paul,
Herrick, Juliana, Eunice and Harriet. Dwight and Paul represented the town
in the legislature, and finally removed to Ohio. Daniel was a farmer, and
at one time kept a hotel at Gaysville. He also served as a representative.
He married Sally BAKER and reared five children, Daniel E., Emily, Willard,
Juliana and Myron. Daniel E., Dwight and Juliana still reside in Stockbridge,
and Myron in Randolph. Merrick married Sarah M. WHITCOMB and reared six
children, of whom Harvey D., Nelson, Charles M., Jennie (Mrs. H. H. GILSON),
Fred and Minnie are living. Merrick became a merchant and manufacturer,
secured the establishment of the post office at Gaysville, was postmaster
nearly thirty years, four years a member of the legislature, and two years
in the State senate, and town clerk twenty-two years. He died in 1866,
aged sixth-four years. Nelson early became associated with his father in
business, and is now president of the National White River Bank at Bethel.
He has been town clerk twenty-six years and has also held most of the other
town offices. Jeremiah GAY, the other of the two original settlers, reared
a large family, most of whom have disappeared by emmigration.
The Congregational church of Gaysville was organized by Elijah LYMAN
and Zimri NOBLES, with twenty-seven members, October 8, 1827, Rev. Gilman
VOSE being the first pastor. The present church building was built in 1863.
It is a wood structure capable of seating 300 persons, and valued, including
grounds, at $4,500.00. It now has forty members, with Rev. T. S. HIBBARD,
The Methodist church of Gaysville and Stony Brook was organized
by Rev. Lemuel POWERS, the first pastor, with ten members, in 1862. The
society has two churches, the Stony Brook church, on road 27, built in
1863, and the Gaysville church, built in 1877. They are both wood structures,
and unitedly valued at $4,700.00. The society has 101 members, with Rev.
H. R. HASTINGS, pastor.
The Universalist church of Stockbridge, located at Stockbridge village,
was organized by its first pastor, the Rev. Moses MARSTON, with thirty-one
members, March 13, 1867. Their house of worship is the Union church, built
in 1836, and they also own an interest in the Union church at Stockbridge
Common. The society now has fifty-seven members, under the pastoral charge
of Mrs. Ruth A. D. TABOR.
The First Universalist church, located at Gaysville, was organized
by its first pastor, Rev. Moses MARSTON, with thirty-two members, March
19, 1867. The church building comfortably seats 200 persons and is valued
at $2.500.00. The society has forty-five members, with Rev. Mrs. R. A.
D. TABOR, pastor.
and Business Directory of
County, Vt., For 1883-84
and Published By Hamilton Child,
N. Y. Printed January, 1884.
by Karima Allison ~ 2004
VTGenWeb ~ History - Genealogy
Cemetery in Gaysville