VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE,
BY HON. HILAND HALL.
THE County of Bennington comprises seventeen townships, and is divided into two shires, each shire constituting a Probate District. The towns in the North or Manchester Shire are Arlington, Dorset, Landgrove, Manchester, Peru, Rupert, Sandgate, Sunderland and Winhall — those in the South Shire are Bennington, Glastenbury, Pownal, Readsborough, Searsburgh, Shaftsbury, Stamford and Woodford.
When the government of New York first claimed to exercise jurisdiction over the territory of Vermont, the lands in the present County of Bennington were claimed as part of the County of Albany. In 1772 that County was divided by Act of the New York Assembly and the County of Charlotte constituted, which embraced nearly the whole of of the present North Shire, being bounded southerly by the South line of the New York grant of Princetown, extended easterly across the mountain and North to Canada. The County Seat of Charlotte County was established at Skenesborough, now Whitehall.
Under the government of Vermont, which went into operation in March 1778 the State was divided into two Counties by the ridge of the Green Mountains, the Western part constituting the County of Bennington, and the County was divided into two Shires, the Southern embracing the whole of the present County being denominated the Bennington Shire.
By act of Assembly passed Feb. 13, 1781, the County of Rutland was formed out of that of Bennington the South line of the new County being identical with its present Southern boundary. At the same session an act was passed declaring the towns of Bennington and Manchester to be "half shires for holding courts in the County of Bennington, provided the town of Bennington complete a goal by the first day of June next and a Court House by the first of October next," the courts to be held alternately in the two shires and each constituting a separate Probate District. Court Houses and Jails were subsequently built in each of the Shire towns, and the legislative arrangement then made has continued to the present time. The County Court sits at Bennington on the first Tuesday in December and at Manchester on the First Tuesday of June in each year. The Supreme Court sits at Bennington every even year and at Manchester every odd year at each on the Second Tuesday after the Fourth Tuesday in January.
BY REV. F. A. WADLEIGH.
ARLINGTON, lying not far from the middle of Bennington County, is so rough and uneven that but a small portion of the town is fitted for arable purposes. A narrow strip of fertile land lies on the banks of the Battenkill,* which passes through the town by a south-westerly and westerly course. There is a somewhat wider strip on the east, between the Green Mountains and what may be called the Equinox range.
The Red Mountain, and the West Mountain, occupy by far the greater part of the town. These present a rugged barrier, almost impassable except by a gap, through which the river passes, apparently made by the rupture of the rocky strata, caused by the primitive upheaval of the mountains. The passage made the mountains slope more gently, and the valley widens until, near the line of the State of New York, it gets beyond the mountain system altogether.
The broken fragments of slate and limestone, which lie on all sides of these two mountains, have given origin to many sinkholes or natural wells; the greater part of which have now become choked, but several remain open.
* Battenkill is said to be a Dutch work signifying fertilizing stream.