WHEELOCK, CALEDONIA, VT

(Source: Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties, VT.; 1764-1887, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page 381-388]

WHEELOCK lies in the northwestern part of the county, in lat. 44° 33' and long. 4° 50', bounded north by Sheffield, east by Sutton and Lyndon, south by Danville, southwest by Stannard and west by the county line. It is very irregular in outline and contains an area of about six square miles. The circumstances which brought it into a corporate existence are peculiar, and are lucidly set forth by Hon. T. C. Cree, in Hemenway's Historical Magazine, as follows:-

“In 1785 the legislature of this state gave, by charter, this town to Dartmouth College and Moors Indian Charity School, institutions situate at Hanover, N. H., one moiety to the college and the other moiety to the school. In the same instrument the town was incorporated, and named after President Wheelock, the first officer of the aforesaid institutions. In the charter it is provided that so long and while the said college and school actually apply the rents and profits of this land to the purposes of the college and, school, the land and tenements in town shall be exempt from public taxes; so that the town has never been called upon to pay state taxes. This, in the mind of the writer, was a great oversight in the legislature, and it is doubtful, whether such wholesale exemption from the public burthens is constitutional. The town enjoys all the rights and privileges of other towns, and yet pays but little of the expense of maintaining the state government. There being no list of real estate returned to the legislature accounts for the smallness of the grand list reported.”

The general surface of the town is rough and uneven, though there are no elevations of sufficient altitude to warrant their being designated as mountains. Still there is much land unfit for the purpose of cultivation on account of brokeness. In the southern part of the town there are many fine farms, and a large amount of land possessing a rich, arable soil, while the soil in general is well adapted to the production of grass, making the town a fine grazing territory. The timber is mostly beech, birch, maple, ash, hemlock and spruce. The principal streams are Rapid brook, Miller's run, Fall brook and West brook, which, with their tributaries, form a perfect drainage system. The first mentioned is in the northwestern part of the town, while the other three are in the eastern half, flowing an easterly direction into the town of Lyndon. A continuous chain of hills extends from north to south across the western part of the town, about one sixth of the township lying west of this range. There are two ponds, Wheelock pond, in the southwestern part of the town, and Chandler pond, in the southeastern part.

In 1880 Wheelock had a population 829. In 1886 the town had nine school districts and nine common schools, employing two male and thirteen female teachers, who received an average weekly salary, including board, of $6.33 and $4.15 respectively. There were 190 scholars, eleven of whom attended private schools. The entire income for school purposes was $1,575.51, while the total expenditures were $1,422.04, with Miss S. E. Rogers, superintendent. WHEELOCK is a post village located in the northeastern corner of the town, on the stream known as Miller's run. The Caledonia county sulphur springs in this village were once quite noted for their medical properties. The water contains a large per cent. of sulphur. The village has one hotel, one church, a store, machine shop, carriage repair shop, two blacksmith shops, and about thirty dwellings. Samuel Weeks built the first house in Wheelock village, where C. Rogers now lives, also the first saw and gristmill on the same site now occupied, receiving a right of land which included the site of the Present village, for establishing the mills. The brothers Joseph, Erastus and Thaddeus Fairbanks established the first store here, and sold to Ward Bradley.

SOUTH WHEELOCK (p. v.) is a hamlet located in the southern part of the town. It boasts of no village population, but is surrounded by energetic farmers, whose farms are far superior to those in the northern part of the town. W. H. Jones's saw-mill was built by its present proprietor in the fall of 1878. It is located on a small stream which flows from Chandler pond into West brook, at the corners of roads 51 and 50. Two mills have been built on this site previous to the present one, the first about 1795, by Isaac Stanton. The present mill is fitted with a board saw only, doing custom sawing. It employs three men.

S. G. Cree's machine shop was erected by himself in 1867. He purchased, in 1865, the business of Osborn Ward, who, about 1852, began the manufacture of threshing machines, in Wheelock village. Mr. Cree manufactures the Wheelock threshing machine, horse-powers and wood-sawing machines, does job work, lumber dressing, etc., employing two men. The shop is fitted with three lathes, iron planer, wood planer, sawing machine and blacksmith outfit. Water power from Miller's run.

The town was originally surveyed by Ebenezer Hill, Archelaus Miles, Archelaus Miles, Jr., and Timothy Chamberlin, and in 1790 the first settlement was made, by Joseph Page, who was joined soon after by Abraham Morrill and Dudley Sweasey. The first town meeting was held March 28, 1792, when Dudley Sweasey was chosen moderator; Abraham Morrill, town clerk; Dudley Sweasey, Abraham Morrill and Joseph Venen, selectmen; Gideon Leavitt, constable; David Pillsbury, tythingman; Thomas Dow, grand juryman, and James Glines, Samuel Sargent. Samuel Leach and Ephraim Nichols, surveyors.

In the records of this meeting, also, we find the following:-

“Chosen, Dudley Sweasey, James Glines, David Pillsbury, John Venen and Joseph Venen, a committee to look out a road through said town of Wheelock, where it will best convene said town, and to say where and on what road Abraham Morrill shall do the work that he is to do agreeable to an obligation he gave the Honorable John Wheelock, Esq., president of Dartmouth College, respecting cutting roads and building bridges in said town of Wheelock; and furthermore, said committee is to say when said road is done agreeable to said articles, and also to say when the grist-mill and saw-mill that said Morrill is to build in said town are completed agreeably to the conditions of settling said town, which was signed by said Wheelock."

In the records of the town-meeting under date of March 11, 1793, we find the following:-

“Voted to choose a committee to look out a place as near the center of the town as can conveniently be had, of about two acres and a half of land, for a burying-place and public parade, and to see how and at what price it may be had for; and to make a return at the adjournment of this meeting. Chose Dudley Sweasey, Abraham Morrill and Thomas Noyes as a committee for the above purpose of looking out a place for a burying-yard and parade, agreeably to the above vote.”

Under date of April 8, 1793, we find as follows:-

"The committee which was appointed for the purpose of looking out a spot of land suitable for a burying-place near the center of said town made report that they had looked at two places, one on the east and one on the west end of Mr. Samuel Sargent's land, where he lives. A vote passed in favor of the place on the east end near a great brook, but after further talk and consideration on the subject the above was reconsidered, and whereas it was thought that a road four rods wide would be laid out between Mr. Sargent's and two lots of land, that the place for a burying-place should be on said road near the middle from east to west, and that the place should contain two acres on the south of said road eight rods wide and twenty rods long on said road, and another piece on the opposite side of said road, four rods wide, so that taking the roads will make the piece twenty rods square each way.”

The first physician in town was Dr. Griffin, the next Dr. Thomas Peach, then Dr. John Meggs. The latter's office was in the south part of the town. The first blacksmith was Joseph Harris. He lived where Welch Brothers now live, on road 15. The first grist-mill in town was built at South Wheelock, by a Mr. Chamberlin. It was a grist-mill and a liquor distillery combined. Abner Hoyt was the first postmaster. He had an office at South Wheelock, on road 55, near the corner of road 54. It was established about 1803. Mr. Hoyt came to this town about 1800 from Canterbury, N. H. Their household effects were brought into town on a hand-sled, Mrs. Hoyt coming on horse-back.

John Chase, from New Hampshire, moved to this town in 1806. He and a man by the name of Edward Gilman were the first to commence operations in the village. They both moved into a rude log house built in the spring of 1806, but by the following fall they had each erected frame houses. In the spring of 1807 Mr. Gilman, being a clothier by trade, fitted up a room in his house for dressing cloth. In the following fall Mr. Chase became his successor and carried on the business for nearly twenty-five years, when a woolen factory was erected by a stock company. This company did quite a business, at one time employing over forty hands; but owing to some dissatisfaction among its owners, the machinery was sold to parties in Barre, Vt., and the building torn down. The company did business for about seven years.

James Sherburn was the first of this family to come to this town. He moved here from Greenland N. H., when there were only about a dozen families residing in town. He first located on road 24. Several descendants of the family are still living in this locality.

David Bean moved into the town at an early date. He cleared the farm where J. Donnelly now lives, on road 59, and died July 29, 1881. His son William W. is a resident of this town.

Obel and Simeon Shattuck came to this town soon after 1790, from Fitchburg, Mass. Obel commenced operations as a farmer where his grandson Samuel F., now lives. He married Polly Farley, rearing a family of fifteen children, all of whom are deceased. He died December 27,1823, aged fifty-three years. Simeon settled on the place now owned and occupied by M. S. Mathews. He married Lucy Chandler, rearing six children, and died May 20, 1826, aged fifty-seven years.

Peter W. Cofran was born in Northfield, N. H., September 14, 1771. He married Rebecca Howett, and came to this town in the summer of 1792, bringing his household effects the entire distance in an ox cart. At that date there were but few families in town and they were obliged to go to Peacham to mill and to buy goods. He first settled on road 25. He died September 22, 1856, and Rebecca, his widow, died November 20, 1857.

John Love married Sarah Emerson, of Concord, N. H., and moved to this town from Londonderry, N. H., in 1796, first settling on road 12, where S. D. Gray now lives. Mr. Love moved here the first of November, having previously engaged a man to fell one acre of trees for him and build a house. When he got here the trees were felled but the house was not built. Consequently he moved into the house of Jacob Guy, where they lived through the winter—J. Guy, wife and child, and four in the Love family. Early in the spring a small framed house was erected, with a stone fireplace and a covering of bark. Inside the house there was a ladder leading to the chamber. Betsey, a little girl of Mr. Love's, in attempting to climb this ladder fell from it into a kettle of hot embers and was so severely burned that she lived only a short time. Mr. Love lived here until 1827. The following incident is related by one of Mr. Love's daughters, now living: In the fall of 1799, Mrs. Love, on going to the door of their cabin in the evening and hearing a rustling in the field near by, told her husband that she thought a bear was in the cornfield. Mr. Love shouldered his gun and started to route master bruin. Arriving at the cornfield, he could see a large object moving among the corn, so he at once fired at the animal, and returned to the house. The next morning he went out to investigate the effects of his night's adventure, when he discovered that he had killed his own horse, which had wandered from the pasture into the cornfield.

Ebenezer Chandler was born at Canterbury, N. H. in 1755. He married Sarah Sargent, of that place, and moved to this town about the year 1798, settling near what is now known as Chandler pond, where he resided until his death, which occurred June 12, 1842. He was a member of the Freewill Baptist church, and among the foremost in promoting its interests, being one of the committee who erected the church edifice in the southern part of the town. He reared a family of nine children, as follows; Submit, Sarah, John, Hannah, Elijah, Patty, Theophilis, Comfort and Ebenezer. John was born in 1785, married Marion F. Darling, and settled where his son Moses D. now lives. He reared four children, and died February 1, 1875. Theophilis was born in 1796. He was a farmer and followed the vocation with zeal for those pioneer days. He married Ruth Hoyt, October 17, 1824. After their marriage he built the house where his son Thomas now lives, and where he resided until his last illness. He died in Herman, Ill., September 16, 1871, he, at that time, being in the west visiting relatives. His wife, Ruth, died May 14, 1866.

Abner, Thomas and Barnard Hoyt, three brothers, from Canterbury, N. H., were early settlers in Caledonia county; Abner at South Wheelock, Barnard a mile north, and Thomas in Danville. From these have descended the Hoyts of Lyndon and the other towns surrounding. Abner had four sons, Thomas, Samuel, Walter and Abner, all of whom settled in Lyndon.

Nathaniel Hart came to this town about eighty-three years ago. He was a native of New Market, N. H. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade, but followed farming after coming to this town. He reared a family of seven children. His son Nathaniel was born in this town, and always lived on the "Hart farm," so-called, with the exception of one year, which was spent in Waterbury, Vt. He followed the vocation of farming. He died in the fall of 1865, at the age of sixty-two years. Of his five children, only two are living; Lavina D., wife of Bradley Ingall, in Sheffield, Vt., and William, who lives on the homestead, on road 27.

Hon. Thomas Jefferson Cree was born in New Boston, N. H., October 28, 1806. January 1, 1834, he married Anna Stone, daughter of Deacon Moses Stone, at Cabot, Vt., and on the same day moved to Wheelock, where he resided till his death, November 9, 1880. In 1834 he was appointed post-master, the first in Wheelock Hollow, holding the office till 1848, when he resigned. He was sheriff of the county in 1840-41, and associate judge two years before the county buildings were removed from Danville to St. Johnsbury, represented the town in 1848 and 1849, was senator for the county in 1862 and 1863, and had repeatedly served the town in all its offices. He also acted as agent for Dartmouth college many years, as collector of rents on lands in town owned by that institution, and finally bought a large share of said lands himself. Mr. Cree was a practical surveyor, had run almost every farm line in the town, and was always appealed to in determining disputed boundaries between his townsmen. While sheriff he gave considerable attention to the study of law, and afterwards continued to study with John Beckwith, of Sutton. In 1847 he was admitted to the Caledonia county bar, and had a good practice until his last sickness. In his early life he was a house carpenter, and first came to Wheelock, before his marriage, with the contractor who erected the churches in this town. All through life he was an industrious, hard working man, very public spirited, possessed excellent judgment on all questions, and was most highly esteemed by all who knew him.

John Heath was a son of Benjamin. He was born in Canterbury, N. H., and moved to this town about 1801, first locating on the farm where F. Darling now lives. He married Submit P. Chandler, and reared a family of seven children, all of whom grew to maturity, four of whom are still living, John and Alonzo in Albany, Vt., and Ebenezer P. and Lauritine, wife of Thomas Chandler, in this town.

Thomas Noyes was a native of Canterbury, N. H., and came to this town in company with his brother, about 1800, both settling in the southern part of the town.

Moses Darling was a native of Holderness, N. H., and a soldier in the Revolutionary war. He settled in this town about 1800, and reared a family of fourteen children. His son Mesiach was about ten years of age when he came with his parents to this town. He married Sarah Carter, rearing a family of three children, Ferdinand, John and Lucy. John Sulloway was born in Bow, N. H., July 22, 1777, and came to the eastern part of this town, and purchased about sixty acres of land in the spring of 1800. Here he erected a rude log house, with fire-place of stone, spruce bark for a floor, and covered with the same material as was customary among the early settlers. In about three years he returned to Bow, married Rachel Eastman, and again returned to this town. His efforts being seconded with success, he erected a commodious house, about the year 1825, where Eli E. Hammond now lives. He reared a family of six children, two sons and four daughters.

Israel Porter and his brother Abijah were natives of Danvers, Mass., and came to this town in 1801. Israel took up a tract of land on road 56. He was born March 27, 1773, married Sally Nourse, and died March 24, 1842. His widow died March 8, 1862. Of their fourteen children, only one is living—Mrs. Asa B. Hubbard, in this town. Benjamin Morgan was born in Sanbornton, N. H., in 1798, and when about seven years old he moved to this town with his father, Stephen Morgan. Stephen first settled on road 9, where he erected a log house and commenced clearing the forest. He married Annie Gibson, of New Hampshire, and died in 1860, his wife having died in 1850. His son Benjamin, born in 1791, married Abigail Nelson, in 1835. He died February 2, 1880.

Ward Bradley came to Wheelock in 1800, from Corinth, where he had been a clerk in a store. He opened a store for himself near the center of the town-ship with a stock of goods worth about thirty dollars. He after a few years (five or six) moved down to where Wheelock village now stands, and bought the store of the Fairbanks's, which stood where the hay scales now are, and until the spring of 1851 he and his sons Sewall and Hial conducted the business. Ward Bradley built the first tannery of importance at Wheelock village. He was the father of two sons and four daughters. Two of his daughters still live in Sheffield, Mrs. Charlotte Ingalls and Mrs. Harriet Eastman. Sewall Bradley had a family of seven children, was representative, town clerk, etc., in Sheffield, and at the time of his death president of Lyndonville National bank. He died in September, 1885. Three of his children are still living.

Samuel D. Gray is a son of Eliphalet Gray, who was a native of Barrington. N. H. Samuel D. was born in this town, May 13,1813, being one of a family of fourteen children. He married Elvira Keniston, and has reared a family of three children, one of whom, Isaac K., lives in this town.

Jesse G. Gray, son of Eliphalet and Polly (Allard) Gray, was born in Wheelock, in 1833. His life has been spent in farming, dealing in cattle, and trafficking. He has been lister, selectman, representative 1870-72, justice or the peace, notary, deputy sheriff eight years. He married Eliza A. Twombly, and has one daughter. He is now proprietor of Wheelock Hotel. His grandfather, Jeremiah Gray, moved to Wheelock, from Gilmanton, N. H., about 1810, with a large family, and settled near the Sheffield line.

Charles Mathewson was born in Rhode Island, August 26, 1794, and moved to this town in 1815. He married Sarah Williams, settled on road 17, corner 19, and reared a family of eleven children. His son E. C. married Lucy E. Marsh, and lives on road 19.

James Home was born in Middleton, N. H., July 5, 1790. He married Nancy Ellis, September 12, 1812. In the spring of 1819 he moved to the eastern part of Goshen Gore, now Stannard, where he lived only about a year, when he moved to the southern part of this town, where his son James G . now lives. He was a man marked for good habits and integrity. He died August 5, 1869, aged seventy-nine years, and his widow died September 15. 1870, aged eighty-two years.

Hon. Charles Rogers was born in Alton, N. H., in 1824. His father, a native of Rochester, N. H., married Mary Hurd, of Rochester, who bore him nine children, all of whom are now living. He came to Wheelock with his family in 1829, where he spent his after life engaged in farming. He died in 1876, aged ninety years, and his wife died in August, 1881, aged ninety-two years. Hon. Charles Rogers is a farmer and land surveyor. He has represented Wheelock in the legislature of 1852-54, 1861-62, 1818-79-80-81, served as assistant judge 1869-70, senator 1872-74, and has been town clerk, treasurer and agent since 1873, justice about twenty years, and held every office in the gift of the town. He married Mary H., daughter of Hiram and Caroline Melvin, of Wheelock, in 1852, has three daughters living, buried two infant sons and one daughter, Carrie J., aged nineteen years.

The following is a list, as far as known, of those that volunteered from the town in the War of the Union: — Asa Allard, Clark Willey, Oscar Rogue, William H. Jones, John F. Kelley, William J. Ramsey, Daniel S. Jones, John Wines, Asa Miles, Robert Alston, Artemas C. Whitney, James Highly, Edwin C. Clement, Chester A. Larnard, Stephen O. Elkins, Levi A. Smith, Stephen S. Cree, Walter W. Chase, Isaac K. Gray, Spencer Drake, Jr., S. R. Willey, Hiram M. Thomas, William L. Ayer, John Sheldon, Norman W. Caswell, John Gadley, Milo Blodgett and Reuben Kelley.

The Freewill Baptist church, at South Wheelock, was organized by Elder Joseph Roody, their first pastor, with nine members, in 1800. In November, 1796, the town voted to build a meeting house—the first one in town. It was built the following year, was a large two story edifice, and, like others of its kind, was never finished. Enough was done however so that meetings were held in it. It was never lathed and plastered overhead. Their present wooden structure, which will seat 150 persons, was built in 1884, and is valued at $1,800.00. The society now has thirty-eight members, with Elder R. J. Russell, pastor. Among the names of ministers who have had charge of this church may be mentioned Elders Page, Robinson, Mainard, Gilman and Allen.

[End of the complete Wheelock]

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