48 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
BY JAMES T. GOVE.
LINCOLN first embraced a territory about 6 miles square. In 1824, a strip of the eastern side, two miles in width, was joined to Warren, and an addition, 1 mile in width, made to the western side by the annexation of a part of Bristol, and in 1848 Avery's Gore was annexed on the south.
Potato Hill, an elevated peak of the mountain on the east, lies just within the limits of the town. This peak commands a fine view of the surrounding country, and is a place of frequent resort during the summer season. The surface of the town is rather uneven, the northern and southern parts being more elevated, descending by a gradual slope toward the New Haven river. This river flows in a N. W. direction into Lincoln, where it is joined by another considerable stream, and flows on through the central part of the town, into Bristol. This is a clear stream, having for the most part a stony channel, often broken by precipitous descents over ledges of rock. Its mill privileges are numerous. A stranger, on entering the town from the west, is forcibly struck with the romantic wildness of the
*A record of the year 1826; the unstudied effusion of a tried spirit yet in the furnace, — melted, but not consumed; written on the eve of Dec. 31, in a dreary inn at Barnwell, "in the midst of a wild and sterile region."
scenery. The land is generally rugged and stony, but not wanting in the materials of a good soil.
In 1790, the town was granted to Col. Beni. Simons and 64 associates, by a charter from the Vt. Government. Date of the charter, Nov. 9, 1790. In 1794, Dec, 10, a survey having been made, and lots numbered, each proprietor was assigned two divisions of 100 acres each; these divisions comprised about 3-5 of the grant; the remaining 2-5 were divided the next year.
The first settlements were made in the north part of the town, early in the spring of 1795, by Loren Orvis, Lawrence Delong, and Marcus Heading, who entered at nearly the same time, in the month of March. The only improvements that had been made previous to this time, consisted of one or two log-houses, and a road that had been cleared from the north toward the central part of the town.
In the year following, several new settlers took up their residence in the town. The privations and hardships incident to the country in the early periods of settlement fell to their lot. Being destitute of wagons, they used sleds both summer and winter. The nearest stores were at Middlebury and Vergennes, and the nearest grist-mill at New Haven. The want of passable roads, and of accessible places of business, the fierceness of wolves, and the general destitution of common conveniences, rendered their condition peculiarly hard and trying. It seems that in 3 years after the first settlement, the number of inhabitants was sufficient to render a town organization expedient. Accordingly, it was effected on the second Tuesday of March, 1798. Howland Delong, town clerk, Loren Orvis, Jed. Durfey, and Jas. Varney, selectmen, and Sam'l Eastman, cons.
A log schoolhouse was built near the old graveyard, and a school established as early as 1797, and was the only school for Lincoln, the south part of Starksboro', and a part of Bristol. It is said the first school was taught by Olive Durfey. Other schools were established in the course of a few years.
Most of the early settlers belonged to the Society of Friends, and meetings for worship were instituted among them at an early date; these were held for some time at private houses, until a log meeting-house was built on a piece of land now in possession of Hannah Brown. This branch of the Society of Friends was for many years in a flourishing condition. They are now few in number, but continue to hold meetings for worship, and for business. The first organization of the Society was July 16, 1801.
The Christian society organized Nov. 13, 1840; first No. of members, 20; present No. 86; Merritt W. Powers, first pastor; Milo Durfey, present pastor. The Methodists organized in 1836; their present number is 82. There was formerly a Freewill Baptist church, but they no longer exist as a religious body. The first recorded death, Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Eastman, Sept. 29, 1797; first recorded marriage, Samuel Meader and Phebe Delong, Dec. 10, 1801; first born, Harley Heading; greatest known longevity, Thomas Lee, 93 years, 13 days, died May 29, 1859; oldest person living in town, Mary Nichols, 95 in June, I859; first physician in town, Benj. Fober; post-office established July 23, 1835, Luther M. Kent first P. M.; first store kept by Joseph Blanchard, 1829; present No. of stores, 2, of school districts, 11, and population by census, 1850, 1,057. The year 1830 is celebrated by the occurrence of a severe and destructive freshet. On the night of the 26th of July, the rains of the two preceding days and nights had raised the principal streams to such a height, that trees, bridges, mills, forges, and dwelling-houses were swept away in its torrent. The soil and the crops in many places suffered the same destruction. The loss of property occasioned by this freshet is said to have been severe. Many narrowly escaped with their lives from the fury of its waters.
Lumber, wrought iron, maple sugar, among other productions, are exported to a considerable extent. Several saw-mills, and clapboard-machines are in active operation. There are two iron forges that manufacture large quantities of iron. The town is now in a prosperous condition, and has been rapidly improving in thrift and appearance within a few years.
From Lincoln we give the only specimen of versification obtained. For many years there resided in this town one of those eccentric beings, compounded of shiftlessness and oddity, spiced with a knack at extempore rhyming. One time McComber, our present hero, was lounging around a new tavern, recently fitted up from an old building where meetings had been formerly held. The landlord preferring his departure before dinner, plainly hinted his room would be better than his custom, whereupon, a waggish friend present, knowing McComber's talent, suggested that he should make a verse in honor of the new house, and the proprietor should give him a dinner. The landlord, having no objection to a poetical compliment upon his stand, consented to the arrangement; but demanded the verse before dinner. The poet claimed the dinner first. At length they compromised, — half the verse before dinner, and the other half after, and McComber at once recited, —
There swings a sign, — 'tis made of pine,
And hangs among the trees;
Adjourning the completion till he had devoured the waiting dinner, with a facetious smile, he readily repeated and concluded, —
There swings a sign, — 'tis made of pine,
And hangs among the trees;
This house was once a house of prayer,
But now a den of thieves.
50 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
ALONG the river road, from Bristol to Lincoln, is perhaps as wild and picturesque a highway as may be found in our
"Land of the mountain and the rock."
Great boulders are more numerous, and larger than elsewhere seen. Huge rocks, in one place, right and left, deep-bedded, extend into the road. The traveller rides beneath the shadow of the rock, and might shudder at the uplifted front of crushing weight, but the firm column looks too strong to totter, too solid to fall; even the slim mussing, and puny shrubs that struggle for existence in the slight fissures, give sense of security. The heart of the beholder only beats a little quicker, fuller, deeper.
Below this rocky pass, a few rods, the murmur of a waterfall draws away from the roadside, out upon a table rock. The New Haven river is noted for the beauty of several falls; but you feel none can excel this, nestled in the gorge of the mountains, outpouring from its broad-rimmed basin, down its wide and well-worn circular and gradually descending steps, a constant volume of clear water, whose uttered voice comes up like the pure alto in some tranquilly triumphant hymn. You long to be painter and poet there, but rather painter; for both the fall and its frame of scenery around, smile at the effort of words, and exceed the beauty of a pen-picture.*
* We do not know how Miss Torrence or our historian reconciles the statement of Hannah Bently, an infant on the raft, being the first born in the settlement, when Mr. Torrence and family settled in 1774, and Mrs. Torrence is here introduced with a child two years old in her arms.