16 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

 

 

BRIDPORT.**

 

1761. Bridport, a post town of 42 square miles, was chartered Oct. 10, 1761, to 64 proprieュtors, mostly of Massachusetts, of whom Eph. Doolittle and Benj. Raymond were active in the early settlement. The first attempt to settle the town was made in 1768, but abandoned or account of difficulties that arose from the New York claims. The first permanent settler was Philip Stone, who, at the age of 21, came from Groton, Mass., purchased a lot of land, and commenced clearing it. Mr. Stone was afterward the first Colonel in the county. Two families, Richardson and Smith, settled about the same time under New York titles, and three, Towner, Chipman, and Plumer, under New Hampshire titles.

1772. Ethan Allen, having been declared an outlaw by the New York government, and a bounty offered for his apprehension, called, in company with Eli Roberts, of Vergennes, at the house of Mr. Richards, of this town. In the evening came also 6 well-armed soldiers from Crown Point, and determined to secure the bounュty; but as Allen and his companion were also well armed, they concluded to defer their attempt at capture till after they had retired to their slumュbers. Mrs. Richards overheard their arrangeュments to take Allen, but kept her own counsel till bedtime, when, opening a window, they silently made their escape. All remained quiet, till the soldiers, anxious to secure their prisoners, proceeded to the sleeping apartment, and found the game had flown, the room vacant. Very angrily they reprimanded Mrs. Richards, who adroitly replied, "It was for the safety of my house. Had they been taken here, the Hampュshire men world have torn it down over our heads."

There are other versions of this story. The following we find in Mr. Goodhue's history of Shoreham, in which manuscript of Mr. Goodュhue we first find Eli Roberts's name given as the companion of Allen, and then erased and that of Seth Warner substituted.

 

MR. GOODHUE'S VERSION.

In 1772, Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, of Vergennes, put up at the house of Mr. Richards, in Bridport. In the evening, six soldiers, from Crown Point, all armed, as were Allen and Warュner, stopped also for the night, having come with the intention of apprehending them, and securing the bounty offered by the governor of New York. Different versions of the escape have been given. One is, that on being lighted to bed, they passed out at a window; the other, that Mrs. Richards set the guns of Allen and Warner by the side of

 

 

** To Thompson's Gazetteer, Demming's Vermont officers, and the Rev. Mrs. Olmstead of Bridport, we are indebted for the material, considerable of which is rendered verbatim, from which this chapter is colュlated.

BRIDPORT. 17

a window, with their hats on them. While the lady was busy about house, and the company engaged in conversation, Allen stepped out withュout hat or gun, and in a short time Warner followed, without attracting attention. When missed, the Yorkers remarked, "They havn't their hats, they havn't their guns," and fell to talking again; but as they did not return, they examined into the matter, and found both hats and guns were gone. This is the version of the story given by Moore's family, in Shoreham, to whose house they immediately fled.

This year, 1772, was born Rob. Hamilton, Jr., first born in town.

1773. Nov. 25, Samuel Smith, from New York, moved his family into town, the second permanent settler here. This same day was also noted for the first marriage in town, that of Philip Stone the first settler, to a Miss Ward, of Addison whose family had recently moved into that town from Dover, N. Y., and the ensuing winter Mr. Victory came with his family. There is a melancholy account of his death. Taking his son, a lad of fourteen years, with him, he had gone up Lake George in a skiff, where, seized with an inflammatory fever, too sick to lift and ply a homeward oar, he landed on a solitary island, and, alone with this young son, who could only bathe his fever-parched lips with cool water from the lake and sorrowfully hold his dying head, he fainted by the way, was stricken in the wilderness, and died on the lonely isle of the lake. The affectionate son could not leave his dead father, perchance to some beast of prey, but stayed by the lifeless form till providentially a boat came so near he hailed it. The men landed, drew near, and, touched by the sight they saw, buried the body tenderly and decently as they could, without coffin or shroud, and took the fatherless boy off from the island.

The families of the settlers were liable, at any time, to be subjected to the most dreaded of all visitors, Indian parties of plunder. At one time the house of Mr. Stone was thus visited, Mr. Stone having just time to escape to the woods. These savage plunderers first stripped the house of everything of value, then their leader, San-hoop, put on as a frock, the best shirt he could find, and led his party out to the sty, where he selected the best, and officiated as chief butcher; and while his followers, whooping and dancing, carried off the butchered pig to their canoe, he stood flourishing his bloody sleeves. At another time, a party creeping stealthily up the bank toward the house, were discovered by Mrs. Stone in season to throw some things which she knew they would be sure to carry off, if found, out of a back window into the weeds, and, concealing some valuables in her bosom, sat down to carding beュfore they came prowling in. The Indians, not satisfied with what they found on the premises, drew near Mrs. Stone, who had been sitting, during this fearful visitation, with her children around her, carding all the while, apparently as unconcerned as though surrounded by friends, inュstead of Indians and thieves. One young savage, suspecting she had some things concealed about her person, attempted to run his hand into her bosom, whereupon she so dexterously cuffed him in the face with the teeth-side of her card, that he quickly recoiled from the invasion. Another young Indian flourished his tomahawk over her head; but an old Indian, struck with admiration at the coolness and bravery of the woman, laughュing in derision at the defeat of his companion, ejaculated heartily, "Good squaw! good squaw!" when he interfered and led off the predatory party, and Mrs. Stone kept quietly carding on, till quite sure they had made good their deュparture.

1775. The war of the Revolution commenced. A Tory, who was a tenant in the house of a Mr. Prindle, set fire to the house and left, implicating Mr. Stone in the robbery and burning. Mr. Stone, anticipating mischief, secreted himself among the bushes on the bank near his house, where he was discovered by the British, who fired upon him; but the volley of grape-shot struck among the trees above him. They also fired upon his house, and some of the balls entered the room where his family were. They then sent a boat on shore, captured Mr. Stone, and took him to Ticonderoga, where he remained three weeks. Mrs. Stone, expecting he would be sent to Queュbec, that she might again see her husband before his departure, shut up her two little children alone in their cabin, bidding the elder, which was but four years of age, to take good care of the baby till mother came back, who was going to take poor papa his clothes, went in a canoe to carry them, a distance of 12 miles, accompanied only by her brother, a lad of ten years. After she arrived, in order to gain admittance to her husband, she must remain over night. The mother thought of her babes alone in the cottage in the woods through all the long night; but could she turn from the door of her husband's prison, and perhaps see him no more? No, her babes the tender mother committed, in her heart, to the Good Father, and tarried till the morning; and upon her return found her little children safe, the elder having understood enough of her directions to feed and take care of the younger.

1784. Bridport was organized March 29th of this year. John N. Bennet, first Town Clerk; Constable, M. Smith; Selectmen, John Barber, Moses Johnson, Daniel Hoskins, Isaac Barrows, and Marshall Smith.

1786. The town was first represented by Naュthan Manly.

1790. June 30, the Congregational church, of 12 members, was organized by Rev. Lemuel Haynes, from W. Rutland; and Feb. 26, 1794, Rev. Increase Graves was installed, who officiaュted as pastor 25 years, and died strong in the faith in which ho had lived and preached, at his own

18 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

home in Bridport, Dec. 24, 1827, aged 79. The last three years his colleague, Rev. Mr. McEwen, bore the burden of the whole charge. Rev. Dana Lamb was pastor from 1831 to 1847. Rev. F. W. Olmstead, present pastor, was installed July 11, 1848. In 1842, the church numbered 200; present number, 101. Their meeting house stands in the village, and was erected in 1813. The Methodist church was organized in 1800, in 1853 consisted of 60 members; their house of worship, in the village, was built in 1821; and there has also been a small society of Protestant Methodists here. The Baptist church organized in 1804; numbered 80 in 1853. Their meeting-house stands about a mile from the lake.

1813. This was the most mortal year; 50 died of' the prevailing epidemic. The next moat fatal year was 1822, in which 25 died of dysentery. There are 12 school districts. Justice Miner is recorded as holding the office of justice 39 years. Hon. Calvin Solace (father-in-law of John G. Saxe) has been Justice 32 years. The oldest person deceased in town, General Whitney, aged 98. The oldest persons now living in town are Wm. Baldwin, 90; Mrs. Clure, a sister, 87 1-2; and Mr. and Mrs. Walker, 90 and 92. There is also a celibate family, which consists of an aunt, two nieces, and a nephew, their respective ages 91, 63, 60, and 61.

The surface of the town is very level; the soil generally brittle marl or clay; the hills a loam and red slaty sandstone, a range of shelly blue slate extending through the town for the most part a little below the surface. The timber is in the east part, mostly maple and beach, and in the west, oak, with white and some Norway pine along the lake border. Many of the springs are impregnated with Epsom salts, and water for famュily use is obtained by large cisterns set in the ground to preserve the rainwater. Of the water from these brackish springs, some of which at low water will yield a pound of salt to a pailful of water, cattle are extremely fond; and salt has been formerly, considerably manufactured here. The town has also its medicinal spring, impregュnated with sulphuretted hydrogen. There are several landing places for boats on the shore. The population, in 1850, was by census 1393. The people may be styled shepherd farmers, as the raising of sheep is the chief occupation of the people. And here, too, is the home of David Hill, the owner of the famous Black Hawk, which some 12 or 15 years since began to attract so much notice through the country for his superior fleetness and beauty, and whose bones, we are told, are now preserved in the Boston Museum, and whose history is, or ought to be, written among the annals of the noblest of American steeds.

The village is small, but pleasantly located, and has a neat, trim look. The view from the common, of the mountains and lake scenery, is truly fine. And there are several handsome views on the stage-road between Middlebury and Bridport. The first and only time we ever visited this town, we took the stage in the edge of the evening at Middlebury. It so happened, our only lady-travelling companion was a sensible, thoughtful woman, of middle age, with whom we gradually fell into conversation, and found one who loved the night with its silent worship, its altars of stars and shadows, with the same grand preferュence we had ever given the darker part of day. The calm, earnest way in which she unveiled this sentiment, attracted us instinctively toward her; we recognized each other, and without formal inュtroduction were acquainted. With the familiarity of one who knew, like a well-read book, the localities around, she pointed out the wayside pictures, talking quietly, slowly on in that delicious underュtone, where the lips unconsciously measure the heart-heats below. "I love to journey very much, and gather up, as I pass by, little landscape picュtures. There is nothing in the world so beautiful to me as these inimitable pictures." Slowly the stage crept through a wooded defile, where jutting hills on either side, with rock and tree, shaded the narrow road-way. "See," said our friend, "the most beautiful picture we shall see to-night; the most picturesque view between Middlebury and Bridport. I never pass through without admiring" God's pictures are beautiful, and that was one. The shadows of nature's walls deepened to the carriage-side, but there was a bright curtain of stars straight up, and the soft moonlight touched the tree-tops far above, and silvered the vista that opened and widened in front as the stage rumbled on, and left only its daguerreotype to memory and us.

 

覧覧覧覧覧

 

THE SPRING ALREADY HAS APPEARED.

 

The Spring already has appeared, in robes of richest green;

In every leaf and blade of grass is heavenly wisdom seen;

The growth of plants, the springing grain, and openュing beauties rife,

Show vegetation's mighty heart heat with renewed life.

 

The light and heat of nature unfolds the budding dower,

And vital life appears renewed by every gentle shower;

And, had man remained Immortal, and never known of sin,

This world so very beautiful, had still an Eden been!

 

Snob scenes of wondrous beauty here, forever meet our view,

And day by day doth knowledge add, in varied forms and new;

Yet all that is must beautiful, we daily see in this,

Are but the faint foreshadowings of that purer world of bliss.

 

CHARLOTTE R. COOK.