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THE early history of this town or city is incorporated in the histories of Panton, Ferrisburgh, and New Haven, the adjacent corners of which towns were set off by the legislature of Vermont, Oct 23, 1788,* and incorporated with city privileges. The town was organized, March 12, 1789, Sam'l Chipman, Jr., Esq., first town clerk, and first representative; Durand Roberts, constable; Eben'r Mann, Alex. Brush, and Richard Burling, selectmen. The organization, under the city charter, was effected July l, 1794, and Enoch Woodbridge, Esq., afterwards chief judge of the Supreme Court, was chosen first mayor and representative, and Josias Smith, first city clerk.
The territory is 480 by 400 rods. The distance from Lake Champlain is 7 miles. Otter Creek, which passes through the city, is navigable from the Falls to the lake, for large vessels, and there is a regular line of boats between this place and Buffalo, and New York, and the facilities for shipbuilding are as good as any in the State. Here was fitted up the flotilla which the victorious Mc'Donough commanded in Plattsburgh Bay, Sept. 11, 1814. The Falls of Vergennes represent Nature as a handmaid to Industry, — her strong and beautiful forces tributary to the useful. During the non-intercourse and War with England, the active blast furnace, air furnace, rolling, grist, saw, and falling mill, wire factory, and busy forges, clustered fast around this vast reservoir of water-power, and not less than 177 tons of shot, for the war, were cast here. Since the renewal of a friendly intercourse with England, and the opening of the Burlington railroad, business has declined; still, upon the bridge that spans the Otter, the continued hum of machinery, modulated by the grand water-chorus, from three distinct sets of falls, blends pleasantly upon the ear; momentarily two spirits strive with the arrested traveller, Labor and Worship. The white, ever-boiling waves, rolling and tossing like a brave spirit, with a grandeur, swollen by the forced plunge, call out from their depths beneath, — "Lay thy offering upon our altar." "Tarry and worship at our shrine." But anon, the stirring voice of Labor tunes in with quickening energy, —
"Life is real; life is earnest;"
and the arrested worshipper passes over and on, with a firmer step and heart reassured, impressed, and saying within himself, — "O Nature, thou art grand and worshipful; but labor is noble, imperative, and sanctified." "What thy hand findeth to do, do with thy might." The three distinct falls are formed by an island at their head, dividing the river into three channels. Their height,
* "The journals of the Legislature, Oct. 28, 1788." We give credit to Thompson, Hall, Demming, Swift, &c., for facts embraced in this sketch.
or descent, is 37 feet. The location of Vergennes is handsome, and the principal street has quite a city look; though we think a stranger upon visiting the place is uniformly disappointed in the size, for our "Little City" is outsized by quite a number of our larger villages
CHAMPLAIN ARSENAL. The buildings of the establishment occupy 28 acres, the principal of which are the arsenal, officers' quarters, and magazine, built of stone, and slated. The estimated value of the grounds, buildings, ordnance, and stores, Thompson gives to be $107,576.83. Lieut. Washington was the first commandant. Capt. J. Sherman is the 11th, and present commandant. "The establishment belongs exclusively to the United States; but by special permit from the Secretary of War, Vermont is privileged to store, in one of the apartments, some 4,300 muskets and rifles, and 3 six-pounders, property of the State, valued at $31,500."
The other buildings of most note, are the Congregational, Episcopal, and Methodist churches, erected in 1834, 1835, and 1842, the Vergennes bank, iron foundries, the handsome Scale Factory upon the Falls, and the Home and Agricultural Implement Factory, upon the opposite side of the river, &c. The Stevens Brothers keep a genteel public house, and the stores have the appearance of establishments that do a fair trade. But we may not, in our survey of present thrift, pass unheeded by one architectural relic of revolutionary fame. Vergennes enshrines the old McIntosh house, within whose slow, but sure-decaying walls historic memories brighten, till again we almost see brave Colonel Seth, and Ethan, and Smith, Eli Roberts, and Torrence, and Painter, and others of those hardy and resolute Green Mountain heroes, who met and counselled here, "in days that tried men's souls." Good old house! even the lowly roof that sheltered her patriots is endeared to Vermont!
The churches are the Congregational, organized Sept. 17, 1793, Rev. Dan'l C. Sanders, first pastor; succeeding pastors, Rev. John Hough, Rev. Alex. Lovell, and Rev. H. F. Leavitt, ——— settled August 31, 1836; the Episcopal society, organized in 1811, Rev. Parker Adams, first rector; succeeding rectors, (after a reorganization, in January, 1832, by the name of St. Paul's Church,) Rev. Messrs. C. Fay, A. T. Twing, J. H. Putnam, Z. Thompson, N. W. Monroe, Mr. Greenleaf, Mr. Hickock, and ——. Of the Methodist Society at Vergennes we have had no statistics furnished; we but know they have a chapel, regular preaching, and are reported "in good condition." The "VERGENNES CITIZEN" is published weekly by Mr. Carpenter, "author of several novels, &c."
Since writing the above, we have been informed that the "regular line of boats" mentioned by Thompson does not exist between Vergennes and New York and Buffalo. We would also remark, we regret not having been able toprocure a more complete history of this place; but trust, with the cordial co-operation of the citizens, a competent historian may yet be secured, who shall prepare an acceptable chapter before we close the volume.
DONALD MCINTOSH, the first settler in the present limits of Vergennes, was a native of Scotland; was in the battle of Culloden, and came to America in the army of Gen. Wolfe, during the French war, and settled here about 1766-7. The first child born is supposed to be a daughter of his, about 1770. He died July 14, 1803, aged 84.
GEORGE W. GRANDY, well known in our legislative halls, is the present popular mayor of the city.
"HON. JOHN PIERPOINT, associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Vermont, a man of ability and integrity, has long resided here."
GEN. SAM'L P. STRONG, whose residence occupies an elevated position in the southern extremity of the city, is the son of GEN. SAMUEL STRONG, so generally known by his command at Plattsburgh, (relative to which we give extracts from his letters in Swift), who died in 1833, leaving large landed estates, the principal of which are still owned by his son.
PLATTSBURGH, N. Y., Sept. 10, 1814.
. . . . . I have been up the river this morning, five or six miles, which was lined with the enemy on the north side. They have made several attempts to cross, but without success. This is the line that is to be defended. I have ascertained to a certainty the number of militia from Vermont, now on the ground, well armed, is 1,812; from New York, 700, regular troops under General Macomb, he says, 2,000. He treated me very friendly. . . . We have strong expectations of 2,000 detached militia, ordered out by Gen. Moores, arriving soon. . . . I hope you and our friends will send four or five thousand to our assistance as soon as possible.
Sept. 11, 1814.
We are now encamped with 2,500 Vermont volunteers, on the south side of the Saranac, opposite the enemy's right wing, which is commanded by General Brisbane. We have had the satisfaction to see the British fleet strike to our brave Commodore McDonough. The fort was attacked at the same time, the enemy attempting to cross the river at every place fordable, for four miles up the river. But they were foiled at every attempt, except at Pike's encampment, where we now are. The New York militia were posted at the place under Gens. Moores and Wright. They were forced to give back a few miles, until they were reinforced by their artillery. The General informed me of his situation, and wished for our assistance, which was readily afforded. We met the enemy, and drove him across the river, under cover of his artillery. Our loss is trifling. We took 20 or 30 prisoners. Their number of killed is not known. We have been skirmishing all day on the banks of the river.
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This is the only place he crossed, and he has paid dear for that. I presume the enemy's force exceeds the number I wrote you. What will be our fate to-morrow, I know not; but I am willing to risk the consequence attending it, being convinced of the bravery and skill of my officers and men. . . .
THE INVALID'S WELCOME TO SPRING.
MARY S. ROBERTS, born at Vergennes, Aug. 21, 1829; married to Benj. F. Young, July 30, 1845; died in her native village, July 31, 1854.
HAIL, beautiful Spring! thou art with us once more;
And we joy that the reign of stern Winter is o'er;
And the glance of the sun on valleys and hills
Melts their vestments of snow into glittering rills.
And soon from the soil that they nourish shall spring
A verdure to drape every beautiful thing;
Sweet music shall gladden our bleak northern home,
For "the time of the singing of birds is come."
Man, too, shall partake of the joy these inspire;
Fresh hopes with ambition his bosom shall fire!
The seed will be sown that in promise shall yield
Rich, plentiful harvests from each golden field.
And the wakening earth will bring gladness to me!
Once more its green fields and fair flowers I shall see!
Breathe again the pure air, 'neath the glowing blue sky,
Though my lot is to suffer, — it may be to die.
Perhaps, when the soft, fragrant breezes once more
Float around me, their healing fresh life will restore.
'Tis a hope, like the many I've clung to in vain;
It may fail, — but its failure will bring not a pain.
Ah, no! if my spirit its summons must hear,
Disrobed of this form, before God to appear;
I will hope that this grace to my prayer may be given,
To go when earth's flowers strew the pathway to Heaven!
M. S. R. YOUNG.
SWEET HOME OF MY CHILDHOOD.
BY MRS. BETSEY A. WEBSTER.
For 28 years a resident of Vergennes, now of Le Roy, Wisconsin.
SWEET home of my childhood, how dear are thy scenes,
Thy towering "Green Mountains," and cool crystal streams;
Thy lakes, dotted over with steamers and sails;
Thy rich, verdant meadows; thy sweet, flowery vales.
From the land of my sojourn, my heart turns to thee;
The land of all lands thou art truly to me;
Where my sunny bright childhood and youth sped away,
As fleet as the dewdrops that shine on the spray.
O Otter, loved Otter! in fancy once more
I sit 'neath the willows that stoop to thy shore;
Where oft I have lingered, in youth's gala-day,
And listened, enraptured, to love's witching lay.
How smooth o'er thy waters the tiny boat glides,
And the brisk little steamer, how swanlike she rides!
While the stars and the stripes float abroad on the air,
And Freedom's proud eagle stands sentinel there.
Flow on, gentle river, all gladsome and free;
The hum of thy waters was music to me —
Where wave after wave glides so gently along,
'Twould gladden my heart like some dear olden song.
THE NOTELESS GRAVE.
BY SUSAN GRANDY,
A native of Vergennes, now residing at Rutland.
MANY graves I see rearing their white monuments towards heaven. On some are written only a name, on others are carved beautiful flowers. But here, in this lone corner, is one that especially draws my attention; not on account of tombstone, or flowers planted around; for it is destitute of earthly adornment. It is the grave of a child, — unnoted! Ah, it may have been the child of some widowed mother, who depended upon her own hands for bread for her little ones; who, when the "death-angel" had scaled those ruby lips, even then, was not allowed time to mourn; who, while other little mouths were crying, "Mamma, give me food!" quickly as possible, made arrangements to bury the little dead boy, silently praying God to give her strength to bear her grief meekly, and mayhap deeply sighed, when she thought no tombstone could mark her Willie's grave.
Sigh not again, mother. This dust shall all be gathered up when God shall make up his jewels; then shall rise this, thy darling, clothed with all the habiliments of heavenly splendor. Yea, he will be among the number who shall sit around the Throne.