HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF 

STOCKBRIDGE

      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 river.

      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 custom work.

      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 years.

      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, pastor.

      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.

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 236-241.

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~ 2004


Stockbridge VTGenWeb  ~ History - Genealogy

 
Abbott Cemetery in Gaysville