The first framed house in Fane was built in the summer of 1768 by Jonathan Park, in the yard in front of what we term the old Parks house, just north of the Fayetteville hotel. The ground was so thickly wooded at the time that when the sills were laid there were several stumps within the space they enclosed. The frame is still in existence in the house of Mrs. Orison Johnson. Its original cover was hemlock bark.
We have not been able to learn the date when Nathaniel Stedman left Fane hill and took up his farm near Fayetteville, but it was not until after Park had taken the land on which the village stands. His first log house stood a little northeast of the barns occupied by his grandson, Mr. Wm. A. Stedman, who has pointed out the spot to us. A few traces of the old foundations being still discernible.
Thomas Higgins, Artemas Bruce, Ephraim Fuller, and Thomas Green were among their early neighbors. Fuller settled on the first farm north of the village, now owned and occupied by M. O. Howe. Green came from Worcester and built his cabin on the hill about half a mile west of Park, upon land now owned by W. A. Stedman, and known as the Judge Allen farm. This farm has long since been vacated, nothing now remaining but the foundation of the old buildings.
Artemas Bruce came September 22, 1776. He built the first saw mill in this part of the town, of which we find any authentic record, on the brook just south of his house. Of his family we find but little reliable information. Yet it would seem that there were at least three sons; Ephraim, Artemas Jr., and Elijah, from the latter of whom Mansfield Bruce, the Baptist divine, is a descendant. Samuel, a son of Ephraim, a carpenter by trade, built a dam and first occupied the privilege, where now stands F. O. Burditt's cabinet shop, about 1820. He rented a portion of the shop to a clothier.
From them the line of occupancy descended to Ide, Kid‑
der and Burditt. About 1815 Thomas Cook built a dam and trip-hammer shop near the bridge south of the village. From him it passed to Newman & Newton, scythe manufacturers. And from them to Joseph Green, in 1823, who continued the scythe business until 1839. In 1840 he erected a grist mill with a sash and blind shop on the second floor. From him it passed to its present owner, E. C. Walker, in 1851. The county buildings were located on the Parks flats, so called, in 1825, Mr. Park giving the land to the county for a common so long as the buildings remain here. It was proposed to call the place Parkville, but Mr. Park was decidedly opposed to the plan, and at the suggestion of Gen. Field it was named Fayetteville, in honor of Gen. Lafayette, who visited this country for the last time in 1824. As a matter of economy several houses in the village on the hill were taken down, moved and rebuilt here. The Fayetteville hotel and the Dr. Olds house, now standing on the right hand of Main street, fronting the common from the south, were among the number. Also, the two houses standing south of the Dr. Olds house, and one now owned by Mrs. S. K. Holland on the west side of the street, south of the Field place.
During the early growth of the village, religious meetings were held for several years in the court house. About 1830 the several religious sects united under the following title: "The Liberal and Charitable Christian Society of Newfane," and erected the Union church, in 1831. One of the articles of the association provided that each sect should have the right to occupy the desk, in proportion to the number of slips said sect owned in the house. This union was dissolved in 1838, and the Congregationalists erected their new house in 1839. The Universalists continued to occupy the old house until about 1853, when they found themselves unable to sustain a pastor. From that time the house began to decay, and in 1872 it had reached that stage that it must be repaired, or sink to utter ruin. It was repaired and remodeled into a hall by a public subscription and is now called Union Hall.
In 1845 the enterprising farmers of the county organized and established the Windham County Fair at this place,
and with the exception of a year or so at Brattleboro, and six at Westminster, it has remained here, and as a whole been a successful and prosperous society. The Windham County Savings Bank was chartered in the fall of 1853. Upon its organization the Hon. Austin Birchard was chosen treasurer, the duties of which position he faithfully discharged for twenty years, retiring January 1, 1874, at the advanced age of eighty, leaving the institution with a capital of $184,500, in round numbers; he and his brother Roger Birchard were the first merchants in Fayetteville.
In the further tracing of our business interests we find the following interesting facts in regard to the history of our post-office:
Daniel Kellogg was the first postmaster, and began to render accounts at Newfane on the first of October, 1811. It is probable, therefore, that the office was established during the summer, or early in the fall of 1811, but the exact date is not known. The following lists give the names of the several postmasters at each office, together with the dates of their appointments, as found in the record books of the P. O. Department at Washington, D. C.
NEWFANE, WINDHAM COUNTY, VERMONT.
The office was established, probably, in July, 1811.
Daniel Kellogg, appointed postmaster, July, 1811.
Jonathan Nye, " " February 24, 1812.
Adolphus Wing, " " October 23, 1815.
Henry Kellogg, " " June 2, 1817.
Martin Field, " " November 2, 1818.
David W. Sanborn, " " 17, 1819.
Charles K. Field, " " June 21, 1825.
On the twenty-fifth of November, 1825, the name of the office was changed to Fayetteville.
Charles K. Field, appointed P. M., November 25, 1825.
Roswell M. Field, " " May 1, 1826.
Ira McCollom, " " April 26, 1830.
Dexter Holbrook, " " November 25, 1831.
Wright Pomeroy, " " " 4, 1834.
Jacob Dunklee, Jr., appointed P. M. December 27, 1837.
Franklin Sawyer, " " May 10,1841.
Jacob Dunklee, Jr., " " May 16, 1845.
Jobn P. Warren, " " September 29, 1849.
Jacob Dunklee, Jr., " " October 20, 1853.
Samuel P. Miller, " " August 5, 1861.
Chandler Wakefield, " " October 26, 1864.
Amherst Morse, " " " 24, 1865.
Francis W. Fairbanks, " January 6, 1868.
William H. Goodnow, " " August 26, 1868.
Elliott W. Blodgett, " " February 12, 1874,
who is the present incumbent.
It is so common to speak of every severe storm or other unusual feature of the weather, as being the highest or unlike anything that ever occurred before, that we think it proper to make the following notes on high water:
October 5, 1869, the New England states, and especially the Connecticut River valley, was visited by one of the severest and most extensive freshets ever known since the country was settled. The damage in this town to roads and bridges was immense, to say nothing of the loss sustained by individuals. Smith Brook overflowed all known bounds, and, for the first time within the memory of man, came flowing over the highest point in the road above Fayetteville, in a depth of from six to ten inches, into the village, occasioning a good deal of alarm, and not a little dismay. West River was many feet higher than it had ever before been seen, coming up and striking the Brookline covered bridge its entire length, and extending into the meadow some twenty rods or more, entirely surrounding an oak tree that stands in Mr. Albee's meadow, upon the side of one of the ancient river banks.
May 24, 1875, Fayetteville was visited with the most terrific thunder shower ever known, raising Smith's and Bruce's brooks several inches higher than in 1869, the water flowing down the street and covering the east side of the common. The shower did not continue more than two hours. A cloud broke over the head waters of these brooks and caused the unusual flood.
Smith brook is a short and rapid stream. In the early days when its hillsides were covered with timber it furnished a stable and abundant water power, but as the forests have been cleared away it has become unreliable, and consequently our manufacturing interests have failed to keep pace with those of our sister village. At one time Anthony Jones conceived the idea of erecting a woollen factory here, and sought to increase the flow of the stream by drawing the waters of the Kenney pond this way, and opened a canal for that purpose, the course of which is still plainly visible in land now owned by J. J. Green. Mr. Jones was a man whom some of the wise heads called visionary. But it is only simple justice to his memory to say that he had higher hopes for the future prosperity of this place than almost any other man, and bent all his energies toward bringing about a full realization of those hopes, building, as he did, not only several private dwellings, but the long building, the Fayetteville hotel and the Exchange, the latter of which stood upon the site now owned by L. I. Winslow. It was the largest building ever erected in town and was designed for a store and hotel ; in this enterprise he over-stepped his mark and failed. About 1844 he gathered up the remains of his shattered fortune, and broken in health and spirit sailed to Sicily, in the employ of a brother-in-law, Mr. Chamberlin, of New York city, from whence he returned to Rochester, N. Y., where he died soon after.
Thus we have noted the origin and growth of our village, with its incidents of flood, and the natural causes that have prevented it from becoming a prosperous manufacturing center, and perhaps we cannot better close this sketch than by appending hereto a list of those who have represented the mercantile interests of this part of the town. The date when the first store and hotel were opened can only be approximated at about 1780. The tavern was kept by Luke Brown, and the store by Luke Knowlton. They united in trade under the firm name of Knowlton & Brown, but soon dissolved, and Knowlton took, as a second partner, Ezekiel Knowlton. Then followed, as near as can be ascertained, in the following order: John Holbrook, from 1785 to '90,
Capt. Adams, Dr. Brooks, Oliver Chapin and Zatter Butterfield, under the firm name of Chapin & Butterfield, Joseph Ellis, David W. Sanborn and Anthony Jones. In 1822 the firm of A. & R. Birchard opened a store on the hill and continued business until 1825, when they began business here, dissolving in 1836, then it was A. Birchard, alone, until 1841 ; then Birchard & Sawyer until April 1, 1850, when Mr. Birchard retired from business, selling his interest to S. P. Miller. The firm of Sawyer & Miller dissolved in the spring of 1853. Franklin Sawyer then took a partner, Geo. Smith, and continued the business until 1858, when they dissolved and Sawyer removed his goods into the Jones Exchange, and carried on business alone until 1861, when he sold to F. D. Sawyer and Chas. Goodhue ; upon the expiration of their lease, F. Sawyer took the business again and kept it until the spring of 1869, when he sold to Winslow & Park. In 1871 they sold to Holbrook & Co., who sold to the Winslow brothers, in 1873. In March, 1874, L. I. Winslow bought out his brother's interest and the first of April following, the building, the original of the Jones Exchange, was destroyed by fire. Mr. Winslow re-built in the summer of 1875, and kept a store until the spring of 1877, when he sold his goods and rented his store to N. M. Batchelder, the present occupant. Thus we have noted the line of trade established by the Birchard brothers, and now we will trace the competing line founded by Anthony Jones, who began trade very soon after the Birchards. He was succeeded by Geo. A. Morse ; in 1833 came Phelps & Sanford ; in 1835 it was Sanford & Baker ; from 1836 to 1840 Baker & Merrifield ; then H. E. Baker alone until 1847, who sold to Wm. L. Williams ; in 1849 the Eager brothers purchased his stock ; in 1851 it was Dunklee & Lamb; in 1853 S. P. Miller, whose dissolution with Sawyer has already been noted, took up the line and continued business until 1864, when he sold to Goodnow & Morse ; in 1865 this firm dissolved and W. H. Goodnow kept the business until 1874, when he sold to the present owner, E. W. Blodgett.