Early History of the Town of Barnet



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On the 16th of September, 1763, in his mansion at Little Harbor, near Portsmouth, in the third year of the reign of George the Third, King of Great Britain, Benning Wentworth, Governor of the Province of New Hamsphire, affixed his signature to the charter of the town of Barnet. Through that act, duly attested by his secretary, Theodore Atkinson, Jr, "a certain parcel of land", some 25,000 acres of wilderness, upon the Connecticut River, in the New Hampshire Grants, was constituted a township, which took its place thenceforth among the commonwealths of New England.

Barnet was granted to 67 men, of whom 9 were named Stevens. Tradition in the Stevens family is that their first American ancestor had migrated from Barnet in Hertfordshire, England. In England, Barnet means "a place cleared by burning". In 1774 the Company of Farmers of Perth and Stirling in Scotland purchased roughly half of the land in Barnet town.

Barnet lies on the Connecticut River, in the county of Caledonia, and is bounded on the south by Ryegate, on the west by Peacham, while Danville, St. Johnsbury, and Waterford are its northern neighbors. The river separates it from Monroe in the county of Grafton and State of New Hampshire.

The bounds of the town according to the charter are as follows:
Beginning at the north-westerly corner of Ryegate thence south, sixty-eight degrees east by Ryegate to the north-easterly corner thereof, being a tree standing on the bank of the westerly side of Connecticut River and thence up said river as that tends so far as to make six miles on a straight line, thence turning off and running north twenty-eight degrees west so far that a straight line drawn from that period to the north-westerly corner of Ryegate shall include the contents of six miles square or 23,040 acres and no more, out of which an alowance is to be made for highways and unimprovable lands by rocks, ponds, mountains and rivers one thousand and forty acres free according to the plan and survey thereof made by our said governor's orders and returned to the secretary,s office and hereto annexed.

The Passumpsic, which rises among the mountains in the northern part of the county and receives the waters of many smaller streams, empties into the Connecticut about two miles from the northeast corner of the town, at the foot of a long series of rapids, known as the Fifteen Miles Falls. These falls were obliterated in the early 1930s when the Comerford Dam was built.

In the southwest part of town, Harvey Lake, fed by streams descending from the hills and upland farms, covers more than 400 acres. Warden Pond, near the center of the town, is a beautiful and solitary sheet of sparkling water.

The surface of Barnet is broken, and great masses of hills rise from the streams which water the town. Along both the Connecticut and the Passumpsic are extensive intervales which are carefully cultivated. There are few terraces, such as are seen along the river in Newbury and Haverhill between the meadows and the hills. One such terrace is the one on which the village of McIndoes Falls is built. Only in two places do the uplands rise to any great height. On each side of Harvey Lake, the conical peaks of Roy and Harvey Mountains guard its waters and perpetuate the names of early and prominent settlers. Stevens River, issuing from the lake, flows through the center of the town southeasterly, discharging its waters into the Connecticut about midway between Waterford and Ryegate. About half a mile from its mouth, it falls 80 feet in a short distance, presenting a grand view at high water. Several branches of this stream come from the Peacham hills.

Joe's Brook, which is the outlet of Joe's Pond in Danville and Cabot, flows through the town from the northwest and enters the Passumpsic about a mile from its mouth. This stream and pond perpetuate the name of Indian Joe - sometimes called "Joe Indian" - a noted and faithful scout in the Revolutionary War, who lived in Newbury, and whose grave in the Oxbow Cemetery in that place is suitably marked.

Endrick Brook, now usually known as Water Andric, enters the Passumpsic about one mile above the mouth of Joe's Brook, and bears the name of a beautiful river in Scotland.

It is not recorded when or where the first meeting of the proprietors of Barnet was held, as the earliest records are lost and the first meeting of which we have any knowledge was held at the home of Walter Brock on the 23rd of August, 1785. At that meeting it was found that twenty-two shares had passed into the hands of Alexander Harvey; Enos Stevens held twelve shares; Willard Stevens held nine while a number of shares had been bought by men who had been actual settlers for some years.

The account of expenses rendered by Samuel Stevens for obtaining a grant of the charter was 219. The survey of the east part of town by Caleb Willard had cost 50. One hundred acres given by Colonel Hurd for building mills were valued at 50 and the mill irons at 30, while ten lots of land given to persons to settle were valued at 100. The survey of the town into lots of one hundred acres,in 1773, had cost 139.6, amounting to 586.6, the whole amount of interest being 241.11.4.

Rogers' Rangers Expedition

In the fall of 1759, Major Robert Rogers was ordered by General Amherst to proceed from Crown Point, New York with a force of two hundred men and destroy the village of the St. Francis Indians, the most cruel and destructive of all of the Indian tribes and the one from whom the English settlers had suffered most. This village was located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River not far from Three Rivers.

On September 11th, the very day on which Quebec was taken, he set out and proceeded down Lake Champlain to the mouth of the Missisquoi River. On leaving the lake, Rogers finding himself pursued by a large force of French and Indians, formed the bold resolution to outmarch his pursuers, destroy the village, and return by way of Lake Memphremagog and the Connecticut River. He sent men back to Crown Point to request General Amherst that provisions should be sent up the river from the fort at Charlestown to meet him as he came back down the river.

Rogers and his party of one hundred forty men reached the St. Francis village on October 21st and found the Indians engaged in a grand dance. Before daylight, they fell upon the village and inflicted a blow which struck terror in all the Indian tribes in Canada. Of the three hundred Indians in the village, two hundred were killed. Several white men found in the village were released.

Rogers and his men began their escape through the wilderness followed closely by the Indians. Near Lake Memphremagog their provisions ran out and Rogers split his men into several small hunting parties, the better to sustain life. Several of the men were captured by the Indians but most of them reached the Connecticut River between the Nulhegan and the Passumpsic rivers.

When the foremost parties reached Round Island at the mouth of the Passumpsic (near East Barnet), where they expected to be met with supplies, they found fires burning but no one with them. Lieutenant Samuel Stevens, later a grantee of Barnet, had been sent up with boats and abundant provisions, having remained a day or two, and hearing guns, supposed them to be fired by Indians, hurried down the river leaving the men to their fate.

November 1927 Flood

November 2nd through 4th in 1927 saw anywhere from 4 to 9 inches of rain throughout Vermont. Since October 1927 saw three time normal rainfall in Northern Vermont, the ground was already saturated and could not absorb this amount of water. Widespread destruction followed with more than 1200 bridges destroyed. Governor John E. Weeks declared Vermont to be back up and running by January 1928.

Following the flood of November 1927, the road from Wells River to Lyndonville was paved and was known for a time as "Indian Joe Trail".