THE FRENCH WAR. TOWN SETTLEMENTS.
Command of Fort Dummer given to Nathan Willard — Complaint against him — Indians in ambush — Attempt to construct a Military road from Charlestown to Crown Point — Rangers at Hinsdale's Fort — Capt. Burk — Incursion at Charlestown — Capture of Mrs. Moore of Brattleborough — Robert Rogers, the distinguished Ranger — Events at the close of the French war — Destruction of St. Francis — Sufferings of Rogers's party on their return — Land route from Connecticut River to Lake Champlain — Conquest of Canada by the English — Peace restored — Grants by Governor Benning Wentworth — Westminster charter renewed — Settlement of Towns on Connecticut River — Putney — Halifax — Marlborough — Wilmington — New Fane — Rockingham — Townshend — Hinsdale.
ALTHOUGH hostilities had been continued in the provinces during the year 1755, war was not formally declared between England and France until the beginning of the year 1756. Several expeditions were partially planned, yet little was done during the campaign in the way of regular warfare. Means were taken as in former years to defend the settlements along the Connecticut. Small forces were posted by Massachusetts at Charlestown and on Ashuelot river in New Hampshire, also at Northfield, Greenfield, Deerfield, Fort Massachusetts, and at the stations in the Massachusetts cordon. The garrison at Fort Dummer having become reduced to three men, Capt. Nathan Willard, who was stationed at that post, made known his condition to the Massachusetts Legislature, and asked for aid. By a vote of the House, passed April 8th, nine men were placed under his command, and an allowance was made for their support from the funds of the province. Besides the garrison, the fort was at that time inhabited by several families. No sooner had Willard obtained an increase of his force, than he commenced a pitiful persecution against these families whom he had been appointed to protect. They, unwilling to increase the disturbance by resistance, endured his conduct in silence for a
82 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1756.
reasonable time, but finding that he was not inclined to change his treatment towards them, except for the worse, they, on the 17th of May, memorialized the General Court of Massachusetts, in these words :—
"The command being given to Nathan Willard — we will a little acquaint your honours of the managements and carryings on in said fort, and that in several articles, and,
"First; as to all the Willards' swearing against the province in favour of New Hampshire.
"Secondly; as to their selling the province stores, both of powder and lead to Hampshire forts, as also to Hampshire soldiers.
"Thirdly; as to the province guns lying about in ye said fort, the locks in one place and the barrels in another, and two or three of them that are half eat up with rust.
"And as your honours have been pleased to allow nine men to that fort until ye 10th day of next June, under the comand of Captain Nathan Willard, he has put in Oliver Willard, Wilder Willard, William Willard, and as there are four large Province Houses in ye fort, these four Willards have each of them an house.
"And as Capt. Nathan Willard has a large province house to himself, and has turned all the rest of the families into two small rooms, in which families are five soldiers; — for by repairing the province houses a little, makes them their own.
"And as there are four acres of land allowed in ye Hampshire charter for the benefit of ye said fort, they keep all the land to themselves, and will allow but a small garden spot to the rest of the soldiers, — as their treatment is so hard of ye soldiers, and ye distressed inhabitants who are obliged to flee thither for shelter in these distressing times, with us, we have thought fit to make ye above representation of facts, which we are ready to prove true.
"Our distresses are great for which we begg your honours compassionate consideration, and relief, and as in duty bound shall ever pray."*
There is no doubt that this petition was answered to the satisfaction of those who presented it, for Massachusetts was ever
* This memorial was signed by Capt. Fairbank Moore, Benjamin Moore, Fairbank Moore Jun., Robert Cooper, Anson Cooper, John Kathan, John Kathan Jun., Daniel Shattuck, Daniel Shattuck Jun., Joshua Cooper, Gideon Shattuck MSS. in office Sec. State, Mass., lxxv. 547
1756.] CONTINUED ASSAULTS OF THE INDIANS. 83
generous in defending not only her own frontiers, but those of other provinces; and at this period especially, the fear of external foes admitted not the toleration of any internal enmities or jealousies.
The necessity of preparation was soon after made evident by the commencement of the annual incursions of the Indians. In June they took Josiah Foster with his wife and two children from Winchester, New Hampshire, and not many days after, Lieut. Moses Willard was killed, and his son wounded near the fort of Charlestown. During the summer several acts of hostility were committed in the neighborhood of Fort Massachusetts, and in the majority of cases, the plans of the Indians were attended with success. At a place called the Country farms in the north part of Greenfield, they attacked a party of five men on the 12th of August, while at labor. Of these only one escaped, two of the others being killed, and two captured.* On the 20th of the same month, as Zebulon Stebbins of Hinsdale, and Reuben Wright were returning from Northfield on horseback, they discovered a party of Indians in ambush, who fired on them, and wounded Wright. The two men then retreated some distance, but the Indians still pressing on, Stebbins turned upon them, received their fire, and returning it wounded one of them. This checked their pursuit, and enabled both Wright and Stebbins to make their escape. A good result was effected by this event, as it placed the people in the vicinity on their guard, and prevented the capture of several persons for whom the Indians were lying in wait. Many depredations were committed in the frontier towns before the close of the season, and the inhabitants of those places most exposed, were kept in a state of continual alarm by the reports of Indian vindictiveness and cruelty, which were constantly saluting their ears, and which in some instances were corroborated by the scenes they had witnessed.
Early in the spring of this year, the government of Massachusetts had been engaged in discussing the feasibility of constructing a road between a point on the right bank of Connecticut river, opposite Charlestown, and a point on the right bank of Lake Champlain opposite Crown Point, for the purpose of facilitating military operations in that quarter. As the result
* A detailed account of this event and of others similar is given in Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 284, 285.
84 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1756.
of these deliberations, the following vote was passed in the House of Representatives on the 10th of March, and met with the approbation of the Governor and Council. "Whereas it is of great importance that a thorough knowledge be had of the distance and practicability of a communication between Number Four on Connecticut river and Crown Point; and that the course down Otter creek to Lake Champlain should be known — therefore voted, that his Excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby desired as soon as may be, to appoint fourteen men upon this service, seven of them to go from said Number Four, the directest course to Crown Point; to measure the distance, and gain what knowledge they can of the country; and the other seven to go from said Number Four, to Otter creek aforesaid, and down said creek to Lake Champlain, observing the true course of said creek, its depth of water, what falls there are in it, and also the nature of the soil on each side thereof, and what growth of woods is near it. Each party of said men to keep a journal of their proceedings and observations, and lay the same, on their return, before this Court. They to observe all such directions as they may receive from his Excellency. One man in each party to be a skillful surveyor, and the persons employed, shall have a reasonable allowance made them by the Court for their services."
A plan was also proposed during the summer for building a strong fort on the high lands, between the sources of Black river and Otter creek. A military post at that place was deemed important, as it would afford an opportunity of hindering the enemy in their advances from Lake Champlain, facilitate operations against them at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and afford a convenient station for scouting parties from Connecticut river.
The route which had engaged the attention of the government of Massachusetts, had not escaped the notice of Lord Loudon, the commander-in-chief of the English forces, who also desired that it might be carefully surveyed and marked, and the result reported to him. Col. Israel Williams, upon this request, drew up a topographical sketch and description of the country, compiled from the journals and notations of officers who had traversed it at the head of scouting parties. This survey he communicated to his lordship. In order to carry out the provisions of the General Court, Williams was further directed to make a more accurate examination of the country
1756, 1757.] BURK'S RANGERS. 85
with the assistance previously voted, and to give such additional information as might seem to him necessary. Owing to the number and hostility of the Indians in that region, the attempt proved too hazardous for accomplishment. Surveys were, however, made as far as the height of land, but the construction of the road, and the design of building a fort at a point so remote and so little known, was abandoned.*
Massachusetts had learned that her best policy was to raise the usual forces at the commencement of the year, without waiting the requests of defenceless towns and almost abandoned garrisons. Such was the course she pursued in the year 1757. In addition to the garrison troops, "one hundred men were employed on the eastern frontier, and forty-five under a captain and lieutenant, on the west side of Connecticut river, to range the woods north of Falltown." The latter company — known as Rangers — under the command of Capt. John Burk,† were stationed at Hinsdale's fort, on the east bank of the Connecticut. During the month of March they made frequent marches through the neighboring country for the purpose of discovering concealed Indians. Their course was sometimes along the main stream of West river, and again by its south or west branches. Not unfrequently they ascended to the top of West river mountain, there to watch for the smoke of the enemy's camp fires. Orders were given to the Commissary General to provide these scouting parties with snow-shoes and moccasins, the better to enable them to perform their toilsome labor.
The most important incursion of the enemy on the western frontier during the year, was made at Charlestown in the spring. A body of French and Indians attacked the mills in that place, and captured Samson Colefax, David Farnsworth, and Thomas Adams. The alarm having been given by the firing, the inhabitants repaired to the mills, but finding the enemy too numerous for them, retreated without venturing a blow. The
* Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 286, 287. Mass. Court Records.
† Captain Burk was present at the siege of Fort William Henry in August, 1757, and belonged to the Massachusetts regiment, commanded by Col. Frye. After the capitulation, "he was seized, and after a violent struggle, was stripped of the whole of his clothes, and afterwards escaped into the woods. Straying in various directions, he was overtaken by darkness in the margin of a morass, and, unable to direct his course, lay down in the thick grass and passed the night, covered only by the damp vapor of the swamp. The next day he renewed his march, and fortunately arrived safely at Fort Edward." — Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 292.
86 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1758.
enemy then burned the mills and departed, taking with them, in addition to the other prisoners, Thomas Robbins and Asa Spafford, whom they met returning from hunting. Farnsworth and Robbins, after being in Canada some time, returned; the others died there. About the same period, a man was wounded near Rice's Fort, in Charlemont. With these exceptions, the frontiers remained in comparative quiet. But the English were, nevertheless, suffering in another quarter, for the surrendry of Fort William Henry to the French — that deadly and decisive blow of the campaign — afforded them a melancholy subject of contemplation. For many years, scarcely able to maintain what was deemed justly their own, they, by this event, lost one of their most important posts, and the flower of their soldiery.*
At the beginning of the year 1758, the British government, in order to repair the disasters of the preceding campaign, determined to employ a formidable force against the French, both by sea and land. The provinces of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, voted levies to the number of fifteen thousand men; and this army, increased by a fleet and a large land force from England, aroused the spirits of the colonists, by the confidence which power and skill inspire, and awakened within their breasts the expectation of success. For the defence of her own frontiers, Massachusetts made the usual provision, while New Hampshire, changing the method upon which she had so long acted, voted men and supplies for the protection of the forts within her own boundaries, which had before been maintained by the magnanimity of the Bay Province. The incursions on the frontiers were not so frequent this year as on former occasions, but commenced early in the season. At midnight, on the 6th of March, a party of Indians attacked the house of Capt. Fairbank Moore, situated on West river, in the township of Brattleborough. Having surrounded the building, they burst in the door, and killed and scalped Capt. Moore and his son, but not until one of their number had been slain, and several wounded. Mrs. Moore, the wife of the son, and the mother of four children, the youngest of whom was but three or four weeks old, aroused by the yells of the savages, and scarcely knowing what she did, sprang from the bed, and
* Accounts of the capture of Fort William Henry by the French, are given in Hutchinson's Hist. Mass. Bay, i. 315; Williams's Hist. Vt., i. 376-401; Life of Putnam in Humphrey's Works, pp. 259-266; Carver's Travels, pp. 181-186; Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 288-295; Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 298-300.
1758.] CAPTIVITY OF MRS. MOORE. 87
hastily drew on three pairs of Capt. Moore's long stockings, which in the event were the means of preserving her life. Snatching up the baby, and the child next in age, she endeavored to escape, she knew not whither, by taking a sled-path in which her husband had been drawing wood the day before. She had gone but a short distance, when the Indians overtook her and brought her back. They then searched for portable provisions, and having found a quantity of beans, mixed them with about twenty pounds of tallow, and boiled them in it. This compound being cooled, was put in sacks, and served them for food on the road. Mrs. Moore was then provided with snow-shoes, her babe was committed to her own care, the house was burned, and the party set out on their long march, the children being led or carried by the Indians. They reached Fort Ticonderoga in safety, on the tenth day after their departure, having crossed the Green Mountains in the most inclement season of the year. Thence Mrs. Moore and her children were taken to Montreal, where they remained in captivity until the year 1762, when they were all redeemed, and returned to their friends.*
On the 20th of the same month, the enemy appeared at Colrain, wounded John Morrison and John Henry, burned a barn, and killed several cattle. In the following September, Major Bellows discovered a party of Indians numbering about two hundred crossing Connecticut river above Brattleborough, and advancing towards Ashuelot. No incursions were made at this time in the immediate vicinity; but soon after Asahel Stebbins was killed at Charlestown, his wife and Isaac Parker, a soldier, taken captive, and a number of cattle feeding in the adjacent woods, slaughtered.
* Hoyt notices this transaction as having occurred in the month of September; another account says February. Hoyt locates Mr. Moore's residence in Hinsdale; another account near Fort Dummer. The relation given in the text is, however, believed to be correct. The farm on which Mr. Moore lived, is now occupied by Newman Allen, Esq. To an account of this transaction, which appeared in the columns of the Vermont Phoenix in the year 1849, is appended the following note: "Mr. Moore and his son, alluded to above as having fallen victims to the Indians, are supposed to have been buried near the side of their log-house which was burnt. On Monday last, bones believed to have been theirs were found in Mr. Allen's barn-yard, covered with about one foot of earth and a board over, but apparently with no coffin or box around them. One of the skulls contained an ounce bullet, which was undoubtedly the cause of death."
Mrs. Moore was a daughter of Capt. John Kathan of Putney
Consult Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 302. Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 296.
88 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1758, 1759.
In regard to the operations of the English on Lake Champlain, great had been the anticipations of success at the opening of this campaign. The result, however, not only fell far short of what had been deemed as almost certain, but for a time brought disgrace and ridicule on the soldiers and generals of the Crown. Abercrombie was defeated at Ticonderoga by a force far his inferior, and it was only the opportune victories of Amherst at Louisburg, Bradstreet at Fort Frontenac, and Forbes at Fort du Quesne on the Ohio, which availed to restore in the provinces that confidence, which, in the spring, had looked forward to the defeat of the French, as an event hardly admitting of a doubt.
On their own frontiers, the governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire still retained in their employ the scouting parties which had so long been the defence of those provinces. Although the ranging service brought not the honor acquired in a regular or provincial corps, yet it was in this service that Robert Rogers, the most celebrated of rangers, learned the details and minutia of Indian warfare which enabled him to conduct the expedition against the village of St. Francis, in the following year, with the most triumphant success; it was in this service that the mind of John Stark received its lessons of brave soldiery and heroic daring, and his arm gained that strength which, during the Revolution, was so manfully exerted in defence of the liberties of his country on the field of Bennington.
Although it was confidently hoped, at the beginning of the year 1759, that the western frontiers would be relieved from the depredations of the Indians by the prowess of the English, the theatre of whose exploits was to be in Canada and along the borders of Lake Champlain, still Massachusetts, early in the year, voted supplies for the defence of her settlements. Her ranging parties, and those of New Hampshire, were soon climbing the mountain, fording the stream, and threading the valley, in search, not of deer or wild fowl, but of the human denizens of the forest. On the 21st of March, the Indians appeared at Colrain, and captured John McCoun and his wife. The latter was sacrificed to the cruelty of her captors on the second day's march. A party of militia, led by Major Hawley of Northampton, started in pursuit, but the enemy were soon at a safe distance, and the troops proceeded no further than Greenfield.
An attempt was soon after made to centralize the regular forces. A company of one hundred regulars, that had been stationed at Charlestown during the preceding winter, were re‑
1759.] LETTER FROM MAJOR ROGERS. 89
moved thence to the army assembled on the Hudson; but their places were, on the 4th of May, filled by the same number of provincials taken from the regiment of Col. Israel Williams, in the county of Hampshire.
The evacuation of Ticonderoga and Crown Point by the French, which relieved the western frontiers of Massachusetts and New Hampshire from the depredations of the Indians to which they had been for years exposed, spread joy throughout the provinces; and the destruction by Major Rogers, on the 5th of October, of the village of St. Francis, situated at the head of the river of the same name, completed what had long been the ardent wish of the English, and to the accomplishment of which their efforts had been earnestly directed. To these victories, the surrendry of Quebec and Niagara added, made this the most glorious campaign ever conducted by the English on the shores of America.
After the destruction of the village of St. Francis,* Rogers, to avoid his pursuers, determined to return to Crown Point by the way of Number Four or Charlestown. Having reached Lake Memphramagog, and provisions becoming scarce, he divided his detachment into small companies; and having ordered them all to assemble at the mouth of the Upper Amonoosuck river, where he expected to find food, sent them on their march. After a journey of several days, he and his party reached the point of meeting which had been agreed on ."It is hardly possible," wrote he to Gen. Jeffrey Amherst, "to describe the grief and consternation of those of us who came to Cohasse Intervales. Upon our arrival there, after so many days' tedious march over steep rocky mountains, or through wet, dirty swamps, with the terrible attendants of fatigue and hunger, we found that here was no relief for us, where we had encouraged ourselves that we should find it, and have our distresses alleviated. Notwithstanding, the officer I dispatched to the General, discharged his trust with great expedition, and in nine days arrived at Crown Point, which was an hundred miles through the woods; and the General, without delay, sent Lieut. Stephens to Number Four with orders to take provisions up the river to the place I had appointed, and there wait as long as there was any hopes of my returning, yet, the officer that was sent being an indolent fellow, tarried at the place but two days when he re‑
* An account of this event may be found in Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 302-306. Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 302-305. Williams's Hist. Vt., i. 428-433.
90 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1759.
turned, taking all the provisions back with him about two hours before our arrival. Finding a fresh fire burning in his camp, I fired guns to bring him back, which guns he heard, but would not return, supposing we were an enemy.
"Our distress upon this occasion was truly inexpressible. Our spirits, greatly depressed by the hunger and fatigues we had already suffered, now almost entirely sunk within us, seeing no resource left, nor any reasonable ground to hope that we should escape a most miserable death by famine. At length I came to a resolution to push as fast as possible towards Number Four, leaving the remains of my party, now unable to march further, to get such wretched subsistence as the barren wilderness could afford,* till I could get relief to them, which I engaged to do within ten days. I, with Capt. Ogden, one Ranger, and a captive Indian boy, embarked upon a raft we had made of dry pine trees. The current carried us down the stream in the middle of the river, where we endeavoured to keep our wretched vessel, by such paddles as we had made out of small trees, or spires split and hewed. The second day we reached White River Falls, and very narrowly escaped being carried over them by the current. Our little remains of strength, however, enabled us to land, and to march by them. At the bottom of these falls, while Capt. Ogden and the Ranger hunted for red squirrels for .a refreshment, who had the good fortune, likewise, to kill a partridge, I attempted the forming of a new raft for our further conveyance. Being unable to cut down trees, I burnt them down, and then burnt them off at proper lengths. This was our third day's work after leaving our companions. The next day we got our materials together, and completed our raft, and floated with the stream again till we came to Wattockquitchey† Falls, which are about fifty yards in length. Here we landed, and by a weath‡ made of hazel bushes, Capt. Ogden held the raft till I went to the bottom, prepared to swim and board it when it came down, and, if possible, paddle it ashore, this being our only resource for life, as we were not able to make a third raft in case we had lost this. I had the good fortune to succeed, and the next morning we embarked, and floated down the stream to within a small distance of Number Four, where we found some men cutting
* Note by Major Rogers: "This was ground nuts and lily roots, which, being cleaned and boiled, will serve to preserve life, and the use and method of preparing which, I taught to Lieut. Grant, the commander of the party."
† Otta Quechee.
1759, 1760.] GENERAL AMHERST'S PLANS. 91
timber, who gave us the first relief, and assisted us to the fort, whence I dispatched a canoe with provisions, which reached,. the men at Cohasse four days after, which, agreeable to my engagement, was the tenth day after I. left them.
"Two days after my arrival at Number Four, I went with other canoes, loaded with provisions, up the river myself, for the relief of others of my party, that might be coming on that way, having hired some of the inhabitants to assist me in this affair. I likewise sent expresses to Suncook and Pennacook,* upon Merrimack river, that any who should chance to straggle that way might be assisted; and provisions were sent up said rivers accordingly."†
Having returned from his expedition up the river, Major Rogers waited for his men at Number Four, and having collected a part of his force, marched for Crown Point. On reaching that station, on the 1st of December, he found that he had lost by exposure and in other ways since leaving the ruins of St. Francis, three lieutenants and forty-six sergeants and privates.
General Amherst, the English commander, having informed Governor Pownal of Massachusetts, that his operations would effectually protect the frontiers from further incursions of the enemy, Col. Israel Williams, by the governor's orders, in the month of October, discharged the smaller garrisons along the Massachusetts cordon, and on the Connecticut river. The troops at Charlestown having gone with General Amherst, that post, not being deemed liable to an attack, was left undefended. Forts Dummer and Massachusetts, and the post at West Hoosac, were the only stations on the north-west frontiers of the province where garrisons were retained.‡
Although the strength of the French in Canada had been broken, yet the remainder of the season was too short to effect the total subjugation of that province. In the summer of 1760, General Amherst, in order to bring about this result at one blow, laid his plans for approaching Montreal by three different routes. The men under the command of Col. John Goffe, who had been raised in New Hampshire for the service of this year, having met at Charlestown, instead of being ordered to Crown Point by the way of Albany, were commanded to cut
* Now Pembroke and Concord.
† Letter to General Jeffrey Amherst, November 5th, 1759, in Journals of Major Robert Rogers; London, 1765, pp. 146-158.
‡ Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 307.
92 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1760.
a road across the present state of Vermont, thus opening a direct .communication by land between Connecticut river and Lake Champlain. The road began at Wentworth's Ferry, two miles above the Fort at Charlestown, and was laid out twenty-six miles in the course of Black river, as far as the present town of Ludlow, where commenced a path which had been made the year before by Lieut.-Col. Hawks.* In this they passed over the mountains to Otter creek, thence along the borders of that stream in a good road previously constructed, to Crown Point. Their stores and baggage were conveyed in wagons the first twenty-six miles of the route, and from the point where the wagon-road ended, on pack-horses, across the mountains to the place of destination. By the same course, a drove of cattle for the supply of the army, were removed from Charlestown to Crown Point, during the campaign. While the New Hampshire regiment were engaged in cutting the road, the trails of Indians were occasionally seen in the adjacent woods, but no hostilities followed. The last incursion of the Indians on the frontiers of New England during the war was at Charlestown, whence the family of Joseph Willard were taken and carried to Montreal, a short time previous to its investment by the English.
Affairs in the colonies began now to wear a more cheerful aspect. The Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor of Canada, finding it impossible to resist the combined forces of Generals Amherst and Murray, and of Col. Haviland, offered to capitulate, and the whole province of Canada, on the 8th of September, became the possessions of Great Britain. Thus ended the war in America, and for the first time since the year 1689, when "King William's war," as it was called, began, was there a prospect that peace would be long in its duration and protective in its character. Those who had deserted their settlements at the breaking out of the war, now returned to them, and fields which had for a long time lain uncultivated, began once more to wave with luxuriant harvests.†
The fort on the Great Meadow, which had been rebuilt in the year 1755, and which had been occupied as such, since
* In the "Memoir of General Stark," Concord, 1831, P. 180, it is said, that in the spring of the year 1759, Capt. John Stark "was employed with two hundred Rangers in cutting a road from Ticonderoga to Charlestown, N. H." It is probable that Hawks and Stark were employed on different portions of the same general route.
† Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 306, 307.
1750—1770.] GRANTS BY GOVERNOR WENTWORTH. 93
that period, was now turned into a dwelling, as were other posts in the vicinity, similarly constructed; but the defences being allowed to remain, these buildings were easily convertible to their original use. Nor were precautions of this nature entirely useless. Although the enemy did not again appear in any considerable force, yet during the two or three following years the settlers were occasionally alarmed by reports of their proximity, and found protection from danger, sometimes, it is true, more imaginary than real, in their old fortifications.
Governor Wentworth, who, on the 3d of January, 1749, had chartered the township of Bennington, and from that time until the 6th of April, 1754, had made grants of fourteen other townships within the present limits of Vermont, now commenced a course similar but more extensive, by granting the township of Pownal, on the 8th of January, 1760. Before the close of the year 1764, so actively had he been engaged in prosecuting his designs, that he had named and sold one hundred and eighteen townships, and had given fourteen thousand acres of land to reduced officers. This territory included the richest and most valuable portions of the land over which New Hampshire claimed jurisdiction, and left but little of it ungranted. The governor's official fees, and a reservation in every township of a certain portion of land for his own use and benefit, made him one of the richest men in his own province, and put him in possession of an abundance of good land, for which he rendered no compensation.
For the purpose of resuscitating the settlement at Westminster which had been abandoned, Col. Josiah Willard Jr., formerly of Fort Dummer, obtained a renewal of the charter of that town, on the 11th of June, 1760, and notified to the proprietors* a meeting. In accordance with this notice, "a legal meeting of the proprietors of the township of Westminster, in the province of New Hampshire," was held on the 4th of February, 1761, "at the house of Mr. John Averill, in said Westminster," at which Benjamin Bellows, of Walpole, presided as moderator. Means were taken to apportion the land satisfactorily, and preparations were made for permanent settlements on the broad and fertile plains which now constitute so much of the beauty of that village. At a subsequent meeting held May 6th, several valuable lots of land were voted to Col.
* See Appendix F.
94 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1750-1770.
Willard, in addition to those he then held, provided he should build a saw mill and a grist mill within the limits of the town. At the same time a tax was laid on the proprietors, in order to raise a fund from which to reward him for the various services he had rendered them. These efforts to multiply inducements to settlers from the older provinces were not without success, and before the close of the year 1766, more than fifty families were located in Westminster.* According to the census of 1771, taken by the order of Governor Dunmore of New York, this town was the most populous in that part of the province, the whole number of actual residents being four hundred and seventy-eight. The charter of Westminster was confirmed by the government of New York, on the 16th of March, 1772.
The charter of the township of Putney had been given by Benning Wentworth, governor of New Hampshire, to Col. Josiah Willard arid others, and bore date December 26th, 1753. Settlements had been made on the "Meadows" in Putney, as early as the year 1744, and although they had been broken up by the Cape Breton war, yet they had been renewed about the time of the granting of the charter. The return of peace again gave an impulse to this almost abandoned settlement. Pleasantly diversified with the meadow-land and the hill-country; with woods whose recesses were rendered dark at midday by the towering pine, and the less tall but more expanded oak, butternut, and elm; with streams whose devious courses afforded a secluded home for the timid trout, or whose waterfalls promised encouragement to enterprise — Putney attracted the attention of the adventurer winding his way along the Connecticut, and gave him an abode among her woodland retreats.
* MS. Westminster Records under Massachusetts.
The conditions on which the settlers agreed to release to Col. Willard certain lands in the township of Westminster, are stated in the following language in the MS. volume above named :— "Provided he shall Build a Good Saw Mill and Grist Mill in sd Town, and saw and grind at the usual Price of sawing at the Neighbouring Mill, and Grind Likewise at the same Toll Taken at the Neighbouring Mills. The Saw Mill to be built by the first Day of October next, and the Grist Mill in two years if the Town should Desire the same, and [he to] keep the said Mills in Repair ten years or Longer or Deliver up sd stream for the use of the sd Proprietors after ye ten years, if he Refuses to Continue to keep sd Mills in Repair. And it is to be understood that if the stream that is in sd land be not sufficient for Constant Water for a Mill, then the said Town is to Provide a stream for sd Mill to be built upon, and Land for the Conveniency of building sd Grist Mill on, or the said Willard to be Exempted from building sd Grist Mill."
See also Land Papers in Office Sec. State, N. Y., vol. xix., under date October 1st, 1765; vol. xxi., under date June 25th, 1766.
1750-1770.] SETTLEMENT OF PUTNEY. 95
Early in the autumn of 1762, Lieut. Joshua Hide purchased in Putney a tract of land lying in the east part of the town on the river, comprising twenty-eight hundred acres, and in December following removed his family, and settled them in a house situated about fifty rods south of the spot where Westmoreland bridge has since been erected. At this time, with the exception of the families on the meadow, there were only two other families in the place — those of John Perry, and Philip Alexander, who lived not far from the river. There was no saw nor grist mill in town, and the grain for their daily bread was for several years carried for grinding either to Northfield, Massachusetts, or to Chesterfield or Westmoreland, New Hampshire. In 1764, Joshua Parker purchased land in Putney, and soon after drove the first cart which had ever appeared in town, through the main street to the north end of it, where he had fixed his residence. Although he removed his family from Canterbury, Connecticut, in October, yet he located them for the winter in Westmoreland for the convenience of mills, and did not settle permanently in Putney until March, 1765. A saw mill and a grist mill were soon after put in operation, and the settlers were thus relieved from several of their greatest embarrassments. Meantime, Henry Walton, James Cummings, and Moses Johnson had erected dwellings on the street, and Benjamin Hutchins and Samuel Skinner in the eastern part of the town. Before the middle of the year 1765, the number of families had increased to fifteen.
Few though they were in numbers, yet they forgot not the worship of God; and meetings for this purpose, held for several years at the house of Joshua Parker, by whom they were conducted, or in the barn of James Cummings, and afterwards, when the settlers had become more numerous, in more convenient places, served to cherish in their breasts the spirit which they had brought from their native provinces — a spirit derived from the Puritan, but pruned of the severity, dissimulation, bigotry, and intolerance, which were too often manifest among those who bore that venerated name. In 1768 Noah Sabin of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, afterwards distinguished in the annals of Cumberland county, removed to Putney. The town was chartered by New York on the 14th of November, 1766, and on the 8th of May, 1770, it was organized, and town officers were chosen.*
* From two MS. "Historical Sermons," preached at Putney, by the Rev. E. D.
96 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1750-1770.
The township of Halifax, the second in the state granted by New Hampshire, was chartered on the 11th of May, 1750. At the instance of Oliver Partridge, one of the principal grantees, it was divided into sixty-four equal shares, and the lot of each owner was marked at the corners with "lasting boundaries." In the centre of the town was a large space of a hexagon shape taken from the surrounding lots for public uses. Settlements were commenced in 1751, but those who undertook them were not able to prosecute their plans on account of the hostility of the Indians. After the reduction of Canada, the proprietors of more than forty lots renewed their exertions "with good pro‑
Andrews, on a Fast-Day, in the year 1825, which have afforded the materials for the paragraphs in the text relative to that town, the following additional particulars are extracted:— "In the year 1768 there were on the street, besides the families before named, William Wyman's, settled near the house now occupied by Captain Ash; Charles Kathan's, near Dr. Campbell's place; and Amos Haile's. West of the street there were but three families, viz. John Butler's, where Peter Blood now lives; Michael Law's, where Aaron Houghton now lives; and Dennis Locklin's, on the farm now owned by the Hon. P. White, forty or fifty rods in the field south of his farm-house. East of the mouth of Sackett's Brook there were four families, viz. Jonas Moore's, where Abel Hubbard now lives; Leonard Spaulding's, near B. Reynolds's; Fairbank Moore's, on Timothy Underwood's farm; and Samuel Allen's, on the farm of Jonas Keyes Jr. At that time there was no road from the Great Meadow to the street, except on the bank of the river as far as Kathan's ferry, and thence up to the street. The valley through the middle of the town was then chiefly a wilderness.
"In 1768 the Hon. Noah Sabin built the first framed house, on the ground nearly opposite Deacon Taft's; and the building is now a part of the store of Leavitt and Crawford, The same year Amos Haile built a framed house, opposite the house now occupied by the Hon. Theophilus Crawford. James Cummings built the house where Abel Haynes lives, and Charles Kathan also built on the spot where Mrs. McLellan lives, near Dr. Campbell's. Not long after, Moses Johnson built the first two story house on the street — the house now occupied by Elijah Blake, thirty rods north of the meeting-house. The first saw-mill was built on the site of the paper-mill in 1765 or 1766. The first grist-mill was built by Deacon Minott, where Minott's mills now stand, in the year 1766. The second grist-mill was built by Jonathan Houghton about the year 1769. It was situated fifteen rods east of the paper-mill, on the site where Newell Moore's blacksmith shop now stands. The first clothing-works were built in the east part of the town by Capt. Roswell Parker in the year 1785. The first blacksmith, who worked in town, was Capt. Daniel Jewett. He commenced about the year 1773. The first store was opened about the year 1770, by Peter Wilson, a little west of the house of the Hon. John Noyes, and here was the first tavern. The second store was opened by Charles Chandler, twelve rods south of the meeting-house, about the year 1783. The first meeting-house was built in 1773."
Many changes have taken place since the Rev. Mr. Andrews collected these minute details of the early settlement of Putney, but it was supposed they might still possess some interest to those curious in preserving the grains of local history, and for that reason they have been here inserted.
1750-1770.] SETTLEMENT OF MARLBOROUGH. 97
ficiency," and although the township consists almost entirely of "mountainous lands," and was then very heavily "loaded with timber," yet the proprietors were sanguine that their settlement would at some future period "prove beneficial to the public."
The township of Marlborough, after having been chartered by New Hampshire by that name, on the 29th of April, 1751, and again on the 21st of September, 1761, was chartered as New Marlborough, on the 17th of April, 1764. The prefix being disliked, was dropped by the consent of most of the inhabitants, the original name only being retained. The first two charters were granted to Timothy Dwight of Northampton and his associates, the third to Charles Phelps and his associates. Phelps, as the principal grantee, was directed to call town-meetings in accordance with the conditions of the third charter. Under the first charter the outside lines of the town were run and the corners set in 1752, but owing to the French war the grantees were unable to comply with the requisitions of their charter, and for this reason it was forfeited. On the renewal of the charter means were taken to effect a settlement, and in May, 1762, the town was laid out by Joseph Allen Jr., surveyor, and Eliphaz Clap, Oliver Brigham, Joel Strong, and Timothy Parsons, chainmen.*
The first actual settler was Abel Stockwell, who, in the spring of the year 1765, removed with his family from West Springfield, Massachusetts. Entering by the road passing through Brattleborough, he established himself in the eastern part of the town, on the farm since occupied by Luther Ames. The first tavern in town was opened and kept by Stockwell.† Francis Whitmore with his family from Middletown, Connecticut, commenced the second settlement. He came in by the way of Colrain and Halifax, and chose for his location the farm which was afterwards occupied by his grandson, Levi Barret. Although his entrance succeeded that of Stockwell but a few weeks, yet the two lived nearly a year within a few miles of
* Petitions from Oliver Partridge and others, dated November 12th, 1764, October 7th, 1765, and August 5th, 1766; also from Charles Phelps and his associates, dated October 15th, 1765, and October, 1766, in Land Papers, in office Sec. State, N. Y., vols. xvii., xx., xxi. Records in Town Clerk's office, Marlborough.
† The first birth in Marlborough was that of Aaron Stockwell, son of Abel Stockwell Jr. and Patience his wife, which took place July 9th, 1768. Abel Stockwell Jr. was the son of Abel Stockwell, the first settler.
98 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1750-1770,
one another without becoming acquainted, each supposing that his own family was the only one in the town. On account of their distance from other settlements, the families suffered severely from the want of the necessities and conveniences of living. Capt. Whitmore was accustomed to bring all his grain on his back, through the woods, from Deerfield and Colrain, a distance of from twenty to thirty miles. With difficulty a cow was kept through the first winter, upon browse and wild grass gathered in the preceding summer. During another winter, Capt. Whitmore supported his oxen with the hay he had previously cut from a beaver meadow.* To this spot he drove his oxen at the commencement of the cold weather, built for himself a camp, and there remained performing the duties of an oxherd until the following spring. The winter of the year 1765 was a lonely one to Mrs. Whitmore. Her husband pursuing his calling as a tinker, was absent in the older settlements, earning something for the support of his family. During the short unpleasant days, and the long, cheerless nights of that dreary season, she saw no human being but her little daughter. Once, it is true, a. party of hunters visited her dwelling in their wanderings, but the shortness of their stay only added to her loneliness. In this situation she displayed that force of mind, and power of contrivance, which in a more public situation would have earned for her the name of a heroine. Her hands were not employed in performing simply the lighter duties of the household. In order to supply her fire with fuel she felled the trees of the forest, and on the twigs which the branches afforded she supported her little stock of cattle. She procured water for them, and herself, and daughter, by melting snow, it being easier to pursue this method than to seek for the springs through the deep snow. In this manner she spent the winter, and although her sufferings were occasionally severe, yet constant employment left her but little time for unavailing complaints.†
* This meadow is now covered with a mill-pond. It is situated about half a mile north of the meeting-house, on the west side of the New Fane road.
† "Mrs. Whitmore was exceedingly useful to the early settlers, both as a nurse and midwife. She possessed an uncommonly strong constitution, and frequently travelled through the woods upon snow-shoes, from one part of the town to another, both by day and night, to relieve the sick and afflicted. On one occasion in the night, she went on show-shoes through the woods, keeping the path by the assistance of blazed trees, from her own house to that of Col. William Williams, situated at the mills known as the Underwood mills, a distance of not
1750—1770.] TOWNSHIP OF NEWFANE. 99
In 1764, the year following the arrival of Stockwell and Whitmore, Charles Phelps, a lawyer from Hadley, Massachusetts, removed with his family to Marlborough. He and his sons Solomon and Timothy, though men of eccentric mental conformation, bore a prominent part in the history of the country, and their names will be frequently met with on these pages. A beginning having been made, the population of the town increased gradually, and before the close of the year 1766, the number of settlers amounted to twenty-seven.*
The town of Wilmington was chartered by New Hampshire, by that name, on the 29th of April, 1751, to Phinehas Lyman and fifty-seven others. As the conditions of the grant were not fulfilled by the grantees, the charter, by its own provisions, became void. When the town received its second charter from New Hampshire, on the 17th of June, 1763, its name was changed to Draper, and its proprietors were His Excellency Francis Barnard and sixty-six others. The name Draper being disliked, the old name of Wilmington was subsequently revived by the common consent of the inhabitants, and has been retained to this day. Before the close of the year 1765, seven families had become inhabitants of the township, and others not yet residents had cleared and improved many acres of land. Although these inceptive measures gave promise of enterprise and activity, there were but seventy-one inhabitants in the town, in the year 1771.
By the name of Fane, the township now known as Newfane, was granted by New Hampshire on the 19th of June, 1753, to Abner Sawyer and sixty-seven others, his associates, many of whom were inhabitants of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Attempts were made in the following year to comply with the terms of the charter, by clearing a certain amount of land and allotting it in severalty, but the state of the times forbade a successful prosecution of the work, and the charter was forfeited, A new charter was issued by New Hampshire, on the 3d of
less then six miles. Capt. Whitmore died May 31st, 1790, aged about seventy years. Mrs. Whitmore was afterwards married to Isaac Pratt, an early settler, from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. She died after a lingering sickness, May 24th, 1814, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. During her life she officiated as midwife at more than two thousand births, and never lost a patient." MS. History of the Town of Marlborough, by the Rev. Ephraim H. Newton, written in 1824.
* Thompson's Vt. Gazetteer, p. 174. Thompson's Vt., Part III., pp. 110, 111. Appendix to Deming's Catalogue, p. 159.
100 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1750-1770.
November, 1761, to Benjamin Flagg and sixty-four other grantees, and its present name was given to the town.* In May, 1766, a settlement was commenced by Deacon Jonathan Park, Nathaniel Stedman, and Ebenezer Dyer, who emigrated from Worcester county, Massachusetts. "For several years, they suffered all the hardships and privations incident to the settlement of a new country. Without roads, horses, or oxen, they were under the necessity of conveying, by their own strength, all their provisions from Hinsdale, a distance of twenty miles, through a pathless wilderness." Lucy, a daughter of Deacon Park, whose birth took place on the 15th of August, 1769, was the first child born in the town.
That the township which now bears the name of Rockingham was first granted by Massachusetts, is not a fact establish‑
* On the 10th of July, 1765, Ebenezer Morse, Ephraim Doolittle, and Job Cushing, a committee of the proprietors of the township of New Fane, sent from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, a memorial to Lieut.-Governor Cadwallader Colden, of New York, containing an account of the situation of the township of New Fane. Referring to the second charter issued by New Hampshire, they said: "Your petitioners have, agreeable to the demands of said Charter, made all possible efforts in order effectually to settle said Lands so granted, and have already expended Six Dollars upon Each Right or Share, in making Publick Roads, and in other Publick Services; and cleared upon the several Lots in said Township more than fifteen hundred acres of Land (as we judge), and were vigorously prosecuting the settlement of said Township, When Your Honor Issued a Proclamation, Laying Claim to all the Land West of Connecticut River (then chartered out by the Governor of New Hampshire) as belonging to the Government of New York." They also stated that the doubts which had arisen in their minds in regard to the validity of the New Hampshire charter, had retarded the settlement of the township. In order to remove all obstacles, they asked for a confirmation grant; and that they might not be compelled to pay more than the usual fees, they prayed that the confirmation might be made before the stamp act should become obligatory. For a long time, no notice appears to have been taken of this petition, and when, finally, the attention of the Governor was directed to the subject, instead of confirming the New Hampshire charter, he, on the 11th of May, 1772, made a grant of the township to "Walter Franklin and twenty other persons, principally residing in the city of New York." On the day following this transaction, Franklin and his associates conveyed their right to Luke Knowlton and John Taylor of Worcester county, Massachusetts. The titles to all the land in Newfane are by consequence derived from the New York charter. In the conveyances which were made to Knowlton, allowance was, without doubt, made for the lands which he then owned in the township. That his title to a portion of the lands antedated that derived from Franklin, appears by a memorial presented to Governor Moore of New York, dated Jan. 28th, 1767, in which it is stated, that at that time New Fane was partially settled and improved, and that Knowlton held land there of which he had got possession, by deed. — New York Colonial MSS., Land Papers, May 2d, 1765, vol. xviii. ; July 10th, 1765, vol. xix.; January 28th, 1767, vol. xxii.; Thompson's Vermont, Part III., p. 126.
1750-1770.] THE OLD TOWNSHIP OF HINSDALE. 101
ed beyond dispute. There is, however, a strong presumption that at the time when Westminster was granted, by the name of "Number One," Rockingham received similar privileges from Massachusetts, under the name of "Number Two." Previous to the year 1750, the township was known as Goldenstown. A charter having been obtained from New Hampshire on the 28th of December, 1752, a settlement was commenced in the following year by Moses Wright, Joel Bigelow, and Simeon Knight, who emigrated from Massachusetts. Like other towns, similarly situated, it was deserted during the war which soon after followed, and on the restoration of peace was organized about the year 1760. "The attention of the first settlers was principally directed to fishing for salmon and shad, which were then taken in great abundance at Bellows Falls. For this reason, agriculture was, for many years, much neglected, and the settlement advanced very slowly." Notwithstanding these drawbacks, Michael Lovell and Benjamin Bellows Jr., two of the principal proprietors, declared, in the year 1765, that there were at that time twenty-five families settled in the town, and further, that they had made sufficient improvements to fulfil the conditions of their charter.
Townshend, although chartered by New Hampshire on the 20th of June, 1753, was for many years unvisited and uninhabited. In the year 1761, the first settlement was commenced by Joseph Tyler of Upton, Massachusetts. He was soon joined by John Hazeltine, and others from the same town; but of the progress which they made in reducing the wilderness and in advancing the growth of the new settlement during the six years succeeding the close of the war, there are no means of judging.
The old township of Hinsdale,* which included lands on both sides of the Connecticut, was granted by Massachusetts at a very early period. Even after the river had been declared the boundary line between the provinces of New Hampshire and New York, and the township had in this manner been divided, the different parts, although under distinct organizations, still retained their original name, and were thus known until the 21st
* It derived its name from the Rev. Ebenezer Hinsdell or Hinsdale, who was probably one of the original proprietors. This excellent man, of whom an account has already been given, served for many years as chaplain to the neighboring garrisons, and by his sound judgment and excellent counsels, wielded a healthful influence over all with whom he was brought in contact.
102 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT, [1750-1770.
of October, 1802, when the name of Hinsdale, in Vermont, was changed to that of Vernon. The date of the first grant is not accurately known. In a petition, still extant, from Samuel Hunt, by his attorney Oliver Willard, which was presented to the provincial government of New York on the 3d of November, 1766, it is stated, that the tract of land comprised in this township, "was purchased of the native Indians and granted by the province of the Massachusetts Bay, near one hundred years ago, and soon afterwards cultivated and settled; and that it was afterwards found to be in the province of New Hampshire, and was then confirmed to the proprietors by power dated the 3d of September, 1753." The "power" referred to, was the charter issued by Governor Benning Wentworth, by which the township of Hinsdale, including land on both sides of the Connecticut, was regranted to Ebenezer Alexander and ninety-four others. An alteration was made in this charter or a new one was issued on the 26th of September, 1753, by which the grant was divided into two towns. The west bank of the river formed the line of separation, and each town was known as Hinsdale. Portions of the town since known as Vernon were subsequently chartered by New York, under the names of Hinsdale and Fall Town Gore.
In a "Narrative of the Controversy" between New York and New Hampshire, by Ethan Allen, reference is made to the early history of Hinsdale in these words: "This township had first been granted by the government of the Massachusetts Bay, and upon the settlement of the boundary line between the Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire in 1739, it fell within the latter, and by that government was granted and fully ratified to the inhabitants and proprietors, who, in addition to their title, had also the Indian right." The earliest inhabitants were emigrants from Northfield and Northampton, Massachusetts. They encountered with spirit and resolution the dangers to which they were exposed from their enemies, the Indians, and some of the incidents in which they were participants have already been recorded. Previous to the King's decision of the boundary line between New York and New Hampshire, which decision was made on the 20th of July, 1764, the Rev. Bunker Gay was settled at Hinsdale, in the "work of the gospel ministry." As "an encouragement" to him in his labors, "the inhabitants of Hinsdale, then living on both sides of Connecticut river, voted" to give
1750-1770.] THE REV. BUNKER GAY. 103
him three hundred and fifty acres of land. Whether the zeal of his parishioners became cool as their worldly prospects brightened, or whether they deemed it wrong for a servant of heaven to be a landholder on earth, does not appear. The land, however, was not allotted; and when there appeared no prospect of a better state of affairs, Bunker Gay prayed the government of New York for the gift of a thousand acres in the west part of the town, in lieu of the old promise, on which he had ceased to rely. No records have yet shown the fate of his petition.