136 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
BY HON. HILAND HALL.
Bennington is situated near the S. W. corner of the state, about thirty miles from the city of Troy, with which it is connected by the Vermont Western and the Troy & Boston Railroads. It is rich in its agricultural, mineral, manufacturing and mechanical productions, and was for many years the largest and most wealthy town in the state. In 1781 its taxable property was more than double that of any other town (excepting Pownal and Shaftsbury) and it continued to exceed that of any other until after the year 1820, when Rutland, Windsor and Burlington, began to compete with it.
The early importance of the town in the state organization is shown by the fact that of the provision tax assessed by the legislature in October, 1780, for supplying the troops of the state for the next year, more than one fourteenth part was levied upon Bennington. So of a body of 300 men raised for permanent service in 1782, twenty-four, — more than one thirteenth of the whole were furnished by this town. It may be here mentioned that the provision tax for Bennington in 1780, consisted of 82 barrels of flour, 26 of Beef, 13 of Pork, 413 bushels of corn and 200 bushels of rye, and that this was merely for victualing the troops, leaving the cost of transportation, the munitions of war and the monthly pay of the officers and men to be otherwise provided for. There is no data from which to determine with certainty the population of the town at any period prior to the census of 1791, when the number of inhabitants was 2377. It seems probable that the population at the beginning of the revolution in 1775, was about 1500, and that it had increased to some 2000 by the close of the war in 1783. The number of inhabitants at each succeeding census after that of 1791 was as follows, viz: in 1800 — 2243, in 1810 — 2524, in 1820 — 2485, in 1830 — 3419, in 1840 — 3429, in 1850 — 3923, and in 1860 — 4392. In 1830 the population of Bennington was greater than that of any other town in the state, except Burlington, in 1840 it was only exceeded by Burlington and Montpelier, and in 1850 by Burlington alone. Now it is surpassed by Burlington and Rutland, only.
Though the situation of Bennington near the corner of the state prevented its entering into serious competition with other more central towns to become the seat of government, yet several sessions of the legislature were formerly held here, viz: in June 1778, February 1779, October 1780, June 1781, January 1782, February 1784, February 1787 and in January 1791; and the convention which adopted the constitution of the United States, and assented to the admission of Vermont into the Union assembled here January 6, 1791. The United States Circuit Court also held its sessions here in June 1791, 1792 and 1793, and in May 1794 and 1796; after which Rutland was substituted for Bennington as the place for holding that Court.
Soon after the admission of Vermont as a member of the federal union, this town became and long continued to be a recruiting station for the army. In the spring and summer of 1792, Gen. Wm. Easton, afterwards distinguished in the war with Tripoli, then a Captain, recruited a company here, and at its head marched to Pittsburgh and joined the army under General Wayne, then preparing for his campaign against the Indians. Men were also enlisted here for the army and marine service during the administration of the elder Adams, on the apprehended war with France. It was also a recruiting station during the war of 1812, and in 1813 the 30th regiment of U. S. infantry under Col. Elias Fassett was mustered and drilled here preparatory to joining the army for actual service. The agricultural productions of the town are such as are common in other parts of the state, for which a ready home market is found in its manufacturing villages. Iron ore is found in several places in this town, and also manganese. Yellow ochre, a rood article for common use is also found and prepared for and sent to market in large quantities. The town is watered by the Walloomsack, a branch of the Hoosick, which issuing from various sources among the Green Mountains, flows in a north western direction through the town, affording many places for the convenient use of water power, which is extensively used.
Bennington has three principal Villages, First, Bennington proper, formerly designated as Bennington East Village, second, Bennington Center, and thirdly, North Bennington.
BY N. B. HALL, ESQ.
That portion of the town embraced by the corporate boundaries of Bennington village, now the most populous and important village in the S. W. section of Vermont, was for the earliest period of the history of the town its most inconsiderable and unsettled part.
Like most of the early settlers of New England, the men who came first to Bennington selected their homes and built their houses
upon the higher lands, avoiding the low grounds where the streams from the Green Mountains find their way westward to the Hoosick.
But if these men did not appreciate the natural advantages of the place to the extent of later times, they were not entirely unmindful of them, and the grain which was grown upon the fertile fields of other portions of the town and the logs out of which their lumber was manufactured were brought to the mills erected here the second year of the settlement of the town, to be ground and sawed for use, as maybe seen by reference to the proprietors records of the town of Bennington for the year 1762.
At a proprietors meeting held March 31st, 1762, it was "voted to give Esq. Samuel Robinson and Deacon Joseph Safford five acres of land with the privilege within the said five acres to build a corn mill on, and forty dollars in case it be built by the first day of August next," also "voted to give forty dollars to any on the east side of the town that should build a saw mill by the first day of September next."
The same records inform us that these two enterprising men had completed the saw mill by the 16th of June following, and on that day the proprietors voted forty dollars to Esq. Samuel Robinson and Deacon Joseph Safford "to build a grist mill where they have built a saw mill, and they are to have it done by the first of September, next, thus extending the time for building the grist mill one month from that limited in the first vote.
This Deacon Joseph Safford was the father of Gen. Samuel Safford and the grandfather of the Samuel Safford who died in 1851 and "who is doubtless remembered by most of the inhabitants of Bennington. They were all worthy men and lived and died respected by all. The blood of Deacon Joseph Safford has flowed in the veins of a large number of descendants and has mingled with that of many other families. It was of good quality and the mixture will not be found deteriorated by it.
Though built by the two men named, the mills were called the Samuel Safford mills by the proprietors in 1766, in referring to them as the eastern terminus of the road from Bennington center.
Here then, upon the banks of the stream which now turns so many wheels for this people, near where the South paper mill of Benton & Jones stands, was the power of water first employed to perform the labor and do the drudgery of civilization in Bennington.
The grist mill stood where the South paper mill now stands and the saw mill was upon the opposite bank of the stream.
The grist mill had the extraordinary privilege of taking three quarts toll to the bushel, being one pint more per bushel than was allowed to other mills.
While other portions of the town were being settled and improved this part continued unaltered until about the year 1800, with the exception of the accession of three or four families which selected sites remote from each other for their homesteads.
Eldad Dewey, son of the Rev. Jedediah Dewey, about the year 1775, erected a house upon the site of the present residence of his son Jedediah Dewey, Esq. and he continued from time to time to improve and build upon his farm which covered a large part of the village. He built a grist mill upon the stream near his house about the year 1785, and the next year leased for 21 years a piece of land 70 or 80 rods farther down the stream to one George Keith, who erected a forge upon it and brought from the center village a part of the Hessian barracks out of which he constructed a house where he lived. This was the first forge in the vicinity of Bennington and it continued in operation within the present century.
At the time of the Battle of Bennington many of the inhabitants to the northward, had abandoned their homes and a considerable number had stopped with their families in this town, where they were furnished with the best accommodations that could be afforded them. Some of' them were at the house of Eldad Dewey, and obliged to take lodgings upon the floor. Mrs. Dewey used to relate some characteristic conversation which she overheard while up with a sick child the night before the battle. One woman plead very earnestly with her husband to let others fight the battle, and to fly with her and the family to a place of safety. The fond wife more affectionate than patriotic used all the arguments her ingenuity could suggest, to induce him to desist from his purpose of forming one of the band which was the next day, to meet the enemy at Walloomsac; but the stout hearted patriot told her that even though he should be killed, she and the children would be better off than to have a husband and father who deserted his country in time of need and he painted to her in colors so vivid the disgrace which would ever attach to their names if he should then show the white feather, that she at length gave up all hopes of prevailing upon him to alter his purpose.
The reverse of this picture was presented in another part of the same room, where a husband was complaining to his wife of a
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severe cholic, which he feared would prevent his going on in the morning. Her woman's wit told her it was not so much the cholic as cowardice, and she told him the neighbors would always fling it in his face that he was a coward. The man's reply showed that he had courage to brave such taunts, and he still insisted that he should be upon the sick list the next morning, until his wife declared in a tone and with on emphasis that convinced her spouse he might rely upon what she said, that unless he went out to meet the foe with the rest, she would exchange clothes with him and go herself. This argument proved so effective that he promised to go on, cholic or no cholic.
At the commencement of this century there were less than 20 buildings, exclusive of barns and sheds, scattered over the territory included within the limits of this village. There were no indications of a village at this time. Only two roads, one running North and South the other East and West. At this period the road to Woodford instead of passing directly by the Safford place, now M. C. Morgan's, went South and then turned to the east after passing the grist mill near Asahel Howard's house and so on bearing to the south of the present road came out into it near Colvin and Rockwood 's oil mill.
The country East of the Safford Grist Mill, except a clearing near the present East knitting factory where then stood the log house and blacksmith shop of Capt. Frye, was unbroken wilderness.
Going from the grist mill and saw mill, the latter of which continued to be used, though only for a short time in the present century, we next come to the house of John Richmond, the sailor who has the honor if such it be of christening the place "Algiers." This man carried on the cabinet business, and lived near where Isaac Crossett now resides. Richmond had been a sailor, was a talking man, had been about the world more than his neighbors, had visited Algiers and other contiguous places, and without, perhaps, thinking the place would really go by the name he gave it, he called it Algiers. For several years thereafter this name was applied to the village, especially by those whose local interests were affected unfavorably by its growth and prosperity. A little west from Richmond's house on the opposite side of the road that of the tailor Searls, whose shop was in his house. Then, on the same side, the small building now in front of Grover & Harrington's furnace. A small house where Lauren Peck resides; the Ebenezer Chase house where Thos. Riddle lives; the Roger Booth house where is E. S. Pratt's; the Joseph Norton house, where Alva Hawk's lives; the building where O. F. Northup lives; Stephen Pratt's house being part of the Stark house; around the corner North, Capt. Hill's Tavern; Mr. Faxon, a tailor, lived in a house not far from Harris's store. Then comes Eldad Dewey's house, grist mill and forge. North street had one house before reaching the Hunt place. — Where now are the other streets of the village were sugar orchards and pastures. No stores, no post office, no lounging places and no loungers, except such as may assemble at Capt. Hill's tavern in the evening to learn whether a traveller had honored the new hotel with a call, or to try the Captain's liquor and discuss the news which some one has brought from the centre village, then, and for many years afterwards, the centre of business of all kinds for miles around.
The commencement of the present century, however, is directing increased attention to the east part of the town, and in 1804 Capt. Moses Sage has erected a saw mill and several houses and his furnace, two miles east of this village, and nearly to Woodford line. A blacksmiths' shop is erected near the Joseph Norton house; a few small buildings upon either side of the street, at such distance from each other that our neighbors hens will not trouble us, are put up, a tannery is started where Buckley Squires subsequently carried on the business, and now, in 1817, Union Academy is incorporated, and a building with a steeple and a large room suitable for religious meetings, and for balls, is for the first time to be found in this place.
In 1824 there were 60 buildings exclusive of barns or sheds in the bounds of the corporation, and Algiers is beginning to be called "East Village" by the Algerines and Algiers in earnest by the more wealthy and elevated village one mile west. From this time forward its growth has been continued, although it has had much to contend with, and to-day there are about 400 buildings in the village with the same exclusive of barns and sheds. Its population by the late census is 2070. — Among the buildings are 38 stores of different kinds of business; 4 meeting houses that will compare favorably with those of any village of its size in New England; 2 paper mills employing 50 hands; 2 knitting factories employing 50 hands in and about the mills, and out side of the mills 150 more; 2 furnaces with from 15 to 25 hands each; the largest wadding factory in the country; a stone ware pottery employing 30 hands; an extensive pottery known as the United States pottery, which has for the time suspended business, but which gives employment to 200 hands, when in operation; also another pot‑
tery which manufactures porcelean ware; a large tin shop, employing 50 hands; 2 grist mills; an oil mill; a saw mill; 2 planing machine buildings; several machine shops; a large fire brick factory, and the usual number of smaller shops found in New England villages.
The principal post office is here, and the village bears the name of the town, the prize, however, of a protracted, though successful struggle between this and the center village, remarkable for the vigor and tenacity with which it was prosecuted on both sides. The feeling which distinguished that contest has long since passed away and the utmost harmony prevades the town so far as local interests are concerned.
This village is the southern terminus of a branch which leaves the W. Vt. R. R. at North Bennington, and its inhabitants paid largely towards its construction both by voluntary subscribtions to stock and by involuntary payment of an undue proportion of the debt of the Company, in order that the road might be operated.
[We here resume the Historical account of Governor Hall.]
Bennington Center was the first settled part of the town, where the first meeting house was erected, where the town meetings were held and all public business transacted until quite a late period. It was the head quarters of the Green Mountain Boys in their controversy with the Yorkers, and of the fathers of the state, during the revolutionary struggle, as it will be more fully seen hereafter.
It now has the Court House and Jail, the Meeting House of the first Congregational Church, a flourishing Seminary, a Post Office, 4 merchants stores, several mechanics shops, and by the census of 1860 contained about 400 inhabitants. It is very pleasantly situated for residences; but being on a hill without the advantage of water power a large portion of the business which formerly centered here has passed to more favored locations, on the streams.
The village of North Bennington is situated on the Western Vermont Railroad at its junction with the Bennington branch. It is about a mile and a half east of New York line and extends North to Shaftsbury line, from which the railroad depot is about 20 rods distant.
The village was early and long known as "Sage's City," named from Capt. Moses Sage, one of its first settlers, and long its principal proprietor. In a local news paper of Dec. 12, 1828, is found an article as follows:
"A new Post Office is established in this town in the North West Village commonly known as Sage's City. Its official appellation is North Bennington. Daniel Loomis, Esq., is appointed Post Master." From this date the Post Office name gradually became that of the village, and has long since been fully established.
The village by the census of 1860, contains a population of 600 inhabitants, and is a place of considerable business. It has a Baptist Meeting House, an academy, 2 cotton factories, one of them belonging to Robinson & Parsons, running 5000 spindles and 108 power looms employing 100 hands and making 28000 yards of print cloth, weekly. The other factory is owned by Trueman Estes, runs 2400 spindles, 64 looms, employs about 50 hands and makes weekly 12000 yards of cloth. It has also the paper mill of Thatcher & Welling, employing 20 hands, and in which are made from 3 1-2 to 4 tons of paper weekly. The village has also 4 merchant's stores, a shoe store, and mechanical work of almost every kind is extensively carried on. Suitable grounds for the County Fair, have lately been enclosed and fitted up here for permanent use. About a mile south of the village at Irish Corners, is the extensive wadding and batting factory of Jeremiah Essex.
A branch of the Walloomsack rising in the easterly part of Shaftsbury called Paran Creek, runs through the village in a southerly direction, furnishing convenient water power, which has long been used. A saw mill was erected here as early as 1775, perhaps earlier, and was for several years owned and occupied alternately by several of the neighboring settlers in Bennington and Shaftsbury. It eventually became the sole property of Mr. Sage.
In 1776 or 1777 a grist mill was built on the present site of Thatcher and Wellings' paper mill. One Joseph Haviland appears to have had some connexion with the mill, and in 1777, it was by order of the council of safety sequestered as his property, to the use of the state, he, having on the invasion of Burgoyne become a tory and fled to the enemy. But in June 1778, the General Assembly sitting in this town, after full investigation found that William Haviland, Moses Sage and James Rogers, were the real builders and owners of the mill and it was accordingly restored to them. They continued the joint owners for a few years when Haviland sold to Sage, and he because the sole owner sometime before the year 1800. A fulling mill had also been erected prior to 1781, which was like‑
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wise owned by Sage. Blacksmithing and wagon and carriage making constituted an important part of the village business from an early day. Mr. Sage also erected and opened a store, on the site lately occupied by the Union company.
In the Spring of 1805, Sage sold his mills and other property in the village, to Daniel Rogers of Hoosick, and removed to the east-part of the town. Mr. Rogers placed two of his sons-in-law in possession of the property, under whose administration the business of the village was much enlarged. One of them, Wm. S. Cardell, soon opened a store filled with a large assortment of goods, and for several years commanded an extensive trade from this and other towns. In 1811 or 12, he erected works for sawing marble, where Estes' factory now stands, and for several years carried on the business of quarrying and preparing it for market. The marble was, however, found not to be of the first quantity, and its manufacture was abandoned about the year 1816.
In 1811 a cotton factory was erected where that of Robinson & Parsons now is, by an association of individuals residing principally in Bennington, Shaftsbury and Hoosick, who soon afterwards became incorporated under the name of the Paran Creek Manufacturing Company. In this factory cotton cloth was made in considerable quantities until after the close of the war in 1815, when the business became unprofitable and ceased to be carried on by the corporation. The property many years afterwards came into the hands of, Asa Doty, who after carrying on the business for a considerable time sold to P. L. Robinson, one of the present proprietors. The old site of Cardell's marble mill came into the possession of Mr. Estes in 1825, and has since been occupied for a cotton factory. The gristmill with other property formerly belonging to Sage and afterwards to Rogers was purchased by E. M. Welling in 1824, who in 1853, after the injury of the mill by the flood, turned it into the paper mill before mentioned. The growth of the village has been somewhat increased by the opening of the Railroad, and has for several years past been gradual and healthy.
Two or three of the former inhabitants of the village deserve at least a passing notice. Captain Moses Sage was a native of Norwich Ct., and came to this town during some of the first years of the revolutionary war, and settled in this village. To his enterprise and energy of character it owes not only its first distinctive name, but its early growth and business. His business operations were not, however, confined to this village. For several years he had been either the sole or part owner of the blast furnace situated on what is still called Furnace Brook, two miles north of Bennington village, and in 1804 he erected what was then called the new furnace east of that village. This in 1811, was sold to Thomas Trenor, and in 1814 Mr. Sage removed to Chatauque Co., N. Y., and died in 1817. Several of his descendants still remain in town.
Wm. S. Cardell, for several years (from 1805 to 1816) occupied a leading position in the business affairs of the village. His principal business was that of a merchant and marble manufacturer. He too was born in Norwich, Ct., Nov. 27, 1780, and was educated at Williams College, and though he was married too early to become a graduate, his scientific and literary acquirements were of a high order. He was fond of literary pursuits and took pleasure in imparting instruction and promoting a taste for learning to the youth of the village and neighborhood; by some of whom his kind notice and attentions are still remembered with gratitude. Mr. Cardell's business operations in the village proved finally unsuccessful, and about the year 1816, he removed from town and afterwards became a teacher in French and English in Troy and New York City, and died in Lancaster Penn., Aug. 10, 1828. He was the author of several works of merit, connected with the subject of education, among which were an "Essay on Language," "The Moral Monitor," "The Happy Family," and "Jack Halyard the sailor boy."* This last was a very entertaining as well as instructive book and had a very extensive sale as a popular school book, for many years.
Mr. Cardell was half brother to the Holt Reuben H. Walworth, late chancellor of New York, who in 1805, prior to his commencing the study of law, occupied the position of clerk in the store in this village. John Walworth an elder brother of the chancellor was a partner of Cardell in the mercantile business from 1806 to 1808 when he was appointed a lieutenant in the army, in which he served until after the close of the war with England, and was in the battle at Little York and at the capture of Fort George. He afterwards resided for several years at Plattsburgh, but removed to New York City on receiving the appointment of Register in chancery, where he died Aug. 6, 1839, aged 55.
The Rev. Hiram Bingham, one of the first missionaries to the Sandwich Islands in 1819, was a native of this place. He continued a
[*We shall endeavor to secure hereafter, some specimens from this and several other Bennington County writers. — Ed.]
missionary there nearly 20 years and is the author of a history of the Islands. He is one of seven brothers all born and reared here, and all now living, (1860) their united ages being 519 years, and their average age 74. On thanksgiving day in December 1855, the seven brothers from five different states had a family meeting here with their three surviving sisters. Kinsley Scott Bingham, formerly Governor of Michigan, and now, a Senator in Congress, from that state, is a son of Calvin, one of these seven brothers, his mother being a sister of the late Col Martin Scott.
The following account of an extraordinary calamity which happened to this village Feb. 11, 1852, is taken from the Bennington Banner of the succeeding week.:
"TERRIBLE INUNDATION AT NORTH BENNINGTON — Immense Loss of Property — Loss of life. — On Wednesday afternoon last, the 11th instant, our thriving sister village, North Bennington, was visited by a destructive and terrible inundation, which swept away a large amount of property, and tore the center of the village completely out. The water, which did the immense damage, broke from a pond just above the village, which pond has but lately been filled. The dam was formed by the Western Vermont Railroad, which crosses the stream at this place, and was composed of frozen dirt and mud, dumped in as a fill for the grading of the track of the railroad, and was 30 to 40 feet in depth. The amount of water set back by this large dam was vast, and covered, at a depth of from five to twenty-five feet, thirty to thirty-five acres of land.
On Wednesday morning last, water found its way through the mud and sand, which had till then impeded it; and in spite of laborious exertions to prevent it, continued to work a larger passage until 1 o'clock in the afternoon, when all efforth to staunch the flood ceased, and in a short time the entire mass of water rushed through the opening it had formed, and precipitated itself upon the village below carrying with its resistless current 12 to 15 buildings, a woman and a child, and every description of property to an immense amount. The avalanche of water followed the course of the river until it reached the heart of the village, where it spread across and down the streets, tearing buildings from their foundations, and hurling them and their contents into a vortex of surging water that tore them to pieces with a power and velocity truly terrific.
Although notice of the impending danger was given to the citizens before the breaking of the dam, they had not prepared for so great a rush of water, and 10 or 12 families were driven from their buildings to witness the destruction of everything they owned in the world, and to rejoice at their own deliverance from so fearful a death as seemed inevitable would overtake them. When the current reached Truman Esty, Esq.'s pond, it had gained such a power and was confined in so narrow a space, that its force was perfectly irresistible. Two large double houses were carried away from here, and not the slightest vestige left to mark their previous location. One of these houses was occupied by Wm. Dutcher and Ansel Kane.
Mrs. Dutcher, at the first alarm, stepped out of the door to see how near the flood was, leaving her child fourteen months old, sleeping in the cradle. Before she could return, the house was floating on the fierce current. Mrs. Kane being in the house, floated off with it. The building held together until it went over or through the first dam below; here it careened and broke. Mrs. Kane having hold of the rafters, threw herself upon the roof, which parting, soon left her to take refuge upon the floating fragments and timbers floating past her. Upon these she supported herself until by almost superhuman effort she gained the shore, neaely a mile from where she started, alive, but almost chilled through. The body of the child was found the next morning, tangled in the fence, about half a mile from where the house started.
The damage done by this sad occurrence cannot be correctly estimated at present. It cannot be less than $50,000. Mr. Esty loses largely; he must have been damaged to the amount of $15,000. E. M. Welling, Hawks, Loomis & Co., P. L. Robinson, Jones & Richardson (who lose a woolen factory and its contents,) P. E. Ball, Drs. Bruce and Ranny, Mrs. Christie, Hiram McIntyre, Rufus Bangs, B. F. Fay, George Clearwater, Chas. Cameron, Geo. Harwood, Wm. Dutcher, Ansel Kane, and John V. Colvin, are among the principal losers.
The loss to the town, by the destruction of bridges, roads, &c., is large. The railroad company also lose a considerable amount. There is not a water privilege now available in North Bennington. All the dams are gone, and the wheels, factories and shops that are standing are filled with mud and water, and are deserted.
Fragments of machinery, broken furniture, tattered remnants of clothing, and articles of every description, indiscriminately piled together, mark the course of this disastrous inundation through one of the most thriving villages in the State.
Mr. Welling's stone gristmill was submerged in part, its rooms filled, and their contents grain, flour, &c., buried in sand and water, Jones & Richardson's Woolen Factory is parted and ruined, its machinery gone, no one knows where, and the stock on hand gone after the machinery. Bangs's Square shop has vanished entirely. Ball's Blacksmith shop ditto. Jones', Welling's, and Esty's dams are gone, and the embankments so injured as to retard the progress of rebuilding. The water entered the counting-room, on the sales room floor of Hawks, Loomis & Co.'s store, hurled a safe weighing 4 or 500 lbs., through the stout pannelling of an enclosed desk, and carried it to the opposite side of the room. The water also entered the counting-room of P. L. Robinson, Esq., on the same floor, saturated his books, soaked his papers,
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ravaged his safe, and left its filthy insignia four or five feet from the floor on the ceiling of the room. Drs. Bruce & Ranney suffered severely. The mass of water which entered their residence, broke through the floor, precipitated their furniture, a valuable parlor organ, and their household fixtures, into the cellar beneath.
BENNINGTON, PRIOR TO THE REVOLUTION
Bennington was the first town that was settled in Vermont west of the Green Mountain, and its charter is the oldest in the state, The grant was made by Benning Wentworth, his majesty's governor of New Hampshire, and appears to have been ordered by advice of his council, January 3, 1749. It was of a township 6 miles square, lying 6 miles north of the Massachusetts province line, and 20 miles east of Hudson's river, divided into 64 shares, and was to be called Bennington after the baptismal name of the Governor. In conformity to the governor's order it was surveyed in November 1749, and the charter was issued the March following, bearing the before mentioned date of the original grant. The township is described in the charter according to the survey in the following words, viz;
"Beginning at a crotched hemlock tree marked W. W. six miles due north, or at a right angle from said province line, said angle commencing at a white oak tree in said line marked M. † † O. I. T., which tree is twenty-four milts east from Hudson's river, allowing one chain in thirty for swag, (which allowance is made through the whole following survey) and from said hemlock tree west ten degrees north four miles to a stake and stones, and from said stake and stones north ten degrees east six miles to a stake and stones; and from thence east ten degrees south six miles to a stake and stones, and from thence south ten degrees west six miles to a stake and stones, and from thence west ten degrees north two miles to the hemlock before mentioned."
It is deemed proper to be thus particular in giving the charter position of the town, in order to contradict a statement put forth under the direction of the New York authorities in a narrative of the proceedings of the settlers under New Hampshire, published in 1773, and within a few years past, copied into one of the news papers in this state, in which it is declared that the charter was of a township 24 miles east of Hudson river and that the inhabitants, finding it upon a mountain, "by no better authority than a vote of their town meeting presumed to extend it westward within 17 instead of 24 miles from that river." It may be added that the average distance of the west line of the town from the Hudson is not less than 20 miles, though the N. W. corner is something short of that distance.
Of the 64 shares into which the town was divided, only two were for public purposes, viz: one for schools and one for the first settled minister. Benning Wentworth was named as the grantee of' two shares and the remaining sixty were to that number of different individuals. Immediately after the grants the proprietors met at Portsmouth, where most of them resided, and made a plan of the township, by which after laying out 64 lots of one acre for each proprietor, near the center of the town, in conformity with a provision in the charter, they divided the residue into 64 parts, which they distributed among themselves by lots. Under this division and distribution the different rights were conveyed and have since been held.
The charter was issued in the name of the king, he being the party purporting to make the grant, and there was reserved to him "all the white and other pine trees fit for masting our royal Navy;" and also a yearly rent for the first ten years of one ear of corn if demanded, and after the expiration of that time a rent of one shilling proclamation money for every 100 acres, payable at the council chamber at Portsmouth, on the 23d of December, annually.
The charter also conferred on the future inhabitants of the township the powers and authority belonging to New Hampshire corporation towns, and appointed the last Wednesday of March in each year as the day for forover holding their meetings for the choice of town officers. It may be here stated that this requirement of the charter was faithfully and uniformly observed until within a few years past. It has latterly been found more convenient to hold the meeting on an earlier day in the month, and as there is now no power but the state government to complain of the violation of the charter, it does not seem probable that the town is in any great danger of losing its corporate privileges by the change.
No attempt appears to have been made to settle the town until after the close of the French war which terminated by the conquest of Canada in 1760. Previous to that time the whole territrry comprising the present state of Vermont was substantially an uncultivated wilderness. The men of the New England provinces, who had participated largely in that war had frequently passed over it in there expeditions against the French and Indians, and becoming well acquainted with its soil, had imbibed a strong desire to settle upon it. And no sooner was the territory opened for safe occupation by the favorable result of than war, that the tide of em‑
igration set strongly towards it from the New England provinces.
Tradition informs us that the selection of Bennington for the first settlement on the west side of the mountain was in this wise. Samuel Robinson of Hardwick, Mass., had served during several campaigns as Captain in the army in the French war. His returning route from Lake George lay up the Hoosick river to William's town, thence across the mountain to the Connecticut. But on one occasion mistaking one of the branches of the Hoosick for the main stream, he, and a few companions, found themselves approaching the mountain without passing the Hoosick Forts. They had in part ascended the Walloomsack instead of the Hoosick, and were within the limits of Bennington where they encamped over night, and the next morning pursued their way southerly to Williamstown. Capt. Robinson being much pleased with the land he had thus accidentally passed over, returned home with a determination to begin a settlement upon it. He repaired to New Hampshire and made purchases of a considerable portion of the township rights and sought among his friends and acquaintances for associate emigrants to the new country.
The settlement was commenced in the spring of 1761. The most advanced posts at this time in New England, west of the Green Mountains, were two small forts called East and West Hoosick, one situated about two miles west of the present village of North Adams and the other near the site of the Colleges in Williamstown. They had for a few years given partial protection to some families in their immediate neighborhood, but during the war, had afforded insufficient security against the French and Indians, to induce extensive settlements. There were also to the west of Bennington along the banks of the Hoosick, some Dutch families, a few of which had seated themselves as far up the river as Pownal.
The first emigration to the town consisted of the families of Peter Harwood, Ebenezer Harwood, Leonard Robinson, and Samuel Robinson Jr., from Hardwick, and of Samuel Pratt and Timothy Pratt from Amherst. The party including women and children numbered twenty-two. They came on horseback across the mountain by the Hoosick forts and through Pownal, bringing on their horses all their household goods, and arrived in town June 18, 1761. The first child born in town was Benjamin, son of Peter Harwood, January 12, 1762, who became a very worthy and intelligent citizen, and died January 22, 1851, aged 89. During the summer and fall of 1761, other families to the number of twenty or thirty, came into town, among whom were those of Samuel Robinson, Senior, James Breakenridge, John Fassett, Ebenezer Wood, Elisha Field, Samuel and Oliver Scott, Joseph Safford, John Smith, Joseph Wickwire, Samuel Montague, Samuel Atwood, John Burnham and Benajah Rood. The settlers were all purchasers under the original grantees, none of such grantees having even removed to the town. There is some difficulty in ascertaining the precise time when many other of the early and permanent settlers came to the town.
In October 1764, a military company was formed in the town, of which an authentic roll has been found among the papers of the late Capt Elijah Dewey, by his grandson E. D. Hubbell, Esq. It is as follows, viz:
"Muster Roll of the first Company of the town or Bennington, organized October 24, 1764:
John Fassett, Captain.
James Breakenridge, Lieutenant.
Elisha Field, Ensign.
Leonard Robinson, 1st Sergent
Samuel Safford, 2d do
Ebenezer Wood, 3d do
Henry Walbridge 4th do
RANK AND FILE.
Benj. Whipple, 1st Corporal.
John Wood, 2d do
Samuel Pratt, 3d do
Peter Harwood, 4th do
MUSIC, Benajah Story, Drummer.
MILITARY COMPANY, 1764.
Timothy Abbott, Abm. Newton,
John Armstrong, George Pengry,
Libbeus Armstrong, Timothy Pratt,
Samuel Atwood, Silas Robinson,
John Burnham, Moses Robinson,
W. M. Burnham,' Joseph Richardson,
John Burnham, Jr., Daniel Rood,
David Barnard, Benajah Rood,
Levi Castle, David Safford,
Nathan Clark, Joseph Safford,
Nathan Clark, Jr., Jonathan Scott,
Asa Clark, Matthew Scott,
Nathan Clark, 3d Moses Scott,
Isaac Clark, Oliver Scott,
Cornelius Cady, Phinehas Scott,
Johnson Cleveland, Samuel Scott,
Robert Cochran, John Smith,
Samuel Cutler. Daniel Scott.
Isaac Davis, John Smith, Jr.,
Elijah Dewey, Joseph Smith,
Enoch Eastman, Thos. Smith,
David Fassett, Elijah Story,
John Fassett, 2d, Thos. Story,
Jonathan Fassett, Samuel Tubbs,
Josiah Fuller, Joseph Wickwire,
Thos. Henderson, Samuel Wright.
SAMUEL ROBINSON, Clerk."
The obove list is supposed to embrace all the able bodied men then in town between the ages of 18 and 60.
In the 4th volume of the Documentary
144 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
History of New York, at page 585 is a printed list of the persons settled in Bennington prior to June 1 1765, prepared from recollection by Samuel Robinson, Esq., in New York city, in December of that year, and furnished the governor of that province, Mr. Robinson then being in New York, as the agent of the settlers.
This list contains the following names not found on the foregoing Military roll, viz:
George Abbott, Samuel Montague,
Hezekiah Armstrong, Jedediah Merrill,
Elkanah Ashley, John Pratt,
Benjamin Atwell, Silas Pratt,
Benjamin Brownson; Samuel Robinson, Esq.
Eliphalet Collins, Ebenezer Robinson,
Rev. Jedediah Dewey, Joseph Rudd,
Jonathan Eastman, Stephen Story,
Barnabus Harman, Gideon Spencer,
Simeon Harman, Samuel Sweet,
Eleazer Harwood, Benjamine Warner,
Jacob Hyde, Daniel Warner,
John Holmes, Seth Warner,
John Holmes, Jr., Benj. Whipple.
Of these Samuel Robinson, Esq., Samuel Montague, and perhaps two or three others, were among the earliest settlers, but who from age or for other reasons had not been enrolled in the military company. The residue were doubtless new comers.
On a petition of the settlers to the king, dated November 1766, are found the following names not on either of the previous lists, viz:
"Joseph Barber, Robert Cochran, Jr., Jonathan Carpenter, Nathaniel Dickenson, M. D., Stephen Fay, Nathaniel Holmes, Nathaniel Holmes, Jr., Samuel Hunt, Elnathan Hubbell, Israel Hurd, Weight Hopkins, Stephen Hopkins, Daniel Mills, Joseph Robinson, Nathaniel Spencer, Henry Walbridge, Jr., Joseph Willoughby."
On a petition to the Governor of New Hampshire, dated October 1769, the following new names are found among the Bennington petitioners, viz:
"Ebenezer Allen, Cornelius Cady, Jr.. Reuben Colvin, Brotherton Daggett, Elijah Fay, Benj. Fay, Joseph Fay, Nathaniel Fillmore, Jesse Graves, Simeon Harman Jr., Jacob Hyde, Jr,, Daniel Harman, Simeon Hatheway. Thomas Jewett, Ebenezer Lyman, Josiah Noble, Seth Porter, Joshua Reynolds, Jona Scott, Jr., John Stewart, Azel Warner, Reuben Warner, Isaac Warren, Elijah Wood."
There were other inhabitants of the town whose names are not found on either of the foregoing petitions. The following appear on the town records, viz:
"In 1768 Jonas Fay, Robert Cochran, second, in 1769 Samuel Herrick, in 1770 Ebenezer Walbridge, in 1771 Charles Cushman, in 1772 Elnathan Hubbell, Jr., David Haynes, Moses Hurd, Roswell Mosely, and in 1774 Jesse Tinney, Zepheniah Branch, Benjamin Webb and Eleazer Hawks."
Many others were here prior to the commencement of the revolution in 1775, among whom were the following: Thomas Abel, Nathaniel Brush, Samuel Blackmer, Jeremiah and Calvin Bingham, John Brackett, Eleazer Edgerton, Wm. Henry, Joseph Hinsdill, John Kinsley, and John Weeks. Besides these several of the sons of the early emigrants to the town had grown from children to manhood and become active members of society, viz: of the Robinsons, Saffords, Deweys, Harwoods, Hubbells, Harmans, Walbridges, and others.
The year of 1761 was one of privation and hardship to the settlers. Their first business on arriving in town was to provide themselves with shelter from the weather. Boards for building houses were out of the question. Huts with logs for walls, poles and brush or bark for the roof and earth for the floor were speedily erected. As much land as possible was cleared and sown with fall grain, the seed being brought on horseback many miles. Preparations were made for more extensive sowing and planting the ensuing spring. But to make the grain they hoped to raise available for bread, a mill to grind it was necessary. To remedy this, the proprietors of the town at a meeting held March 31st, 1762, voted to give Samuel Robinson and Joseph Safford 5 acres of land and $40,00 for building a corn mill by the first of August, the time being afterwards extended to the first of September, when it was completed ready for use at the place now occupied by the paper mill of Benton Co. It was also voted at the same time to give the like sum to any one who would build a saw mill on the east side of the town, and the same for building one on the west side by the first of the ensuing September. Messrs. Robinson and Safford built the saw mill by the 18th of June, on the opposite side of the stream from the gristmill. It is also believed that James Breakenridge and Thomas Henderson built the sawmill within the specified time on the stream west of the Island at Paper Mill Village, for the west part of the town. The proprietors also taxed themselves heavily for making highway's, which were laid out north and south, and east and west through the town and in other directions as necessity or convenience required.
The first town meeting was held March 31, 1762, at the house of John Fassert, when the following officers were chosen, viz: Samuel Montague, Moderator; Moses Robinson, Town Clerk; Samuel Montague, Samuel Scott, James Breakenridge, Benajah Rood, and Joseph Wickwire, Selectmen; Dea. Jo‑
seph Safford, Town Treasurer; Samuel Robinson, Jr. and John Smith, Jr., Constables; Dea. Safford, and Elisha Field, Tithing men; Peter Harwood and John Smith, Jr., Haywards, Samuel Atwood and Samuel Pratt, Fence viewers; Timothy Pratt and Oliver Scott, Deerifts.
These officers were such as were then authorized and required by the laws of New Hampshire, the duties of those last named relating to the preservation of deer during the season in which the killing of them was prohibited. Thus the settlement became organized into a little republic acknowledging fealty to New Hampshire, by which its existence as a part of the province had been recognized, not only by granting its land, but by the appointment of Capt. Samuel Robinson as a justice of the peace, his commission bearing date Feb. 8, 1762.
Among the acts of municipal legislation performed at this first meeting of the town was that of offering a bounty for the destruction of venomous serpents, recorded in the following words, viz: "Voted that any rattlesnake that is killed in Bennington shall be paid two coppers, the persons bringing in the tail." From the language of this vote it would seem that the rattlesnake was to have the coppers, though it may perhaps be reasonably presumed that they were intended for the person who killed him.
This is rather a rare specimen of inaccuracy of language in our town records, they having in general from the beginning been kept, not only in a fair hand but in plain intelligible style, and without very frequent violations of grammatical propriety. They remain down to the present time in a good state of preservation.
The years of 1762, '63, and '64, were years of success and prosperity with the settlers. At the first meeting of the proprietors Feb. 1, 1762, a committee had been appointed to look out a place to set the meeting house, and at an adjourned meeting on the 26th of the same month, the place was agreed upon, and measures soon after taken to provide for erecting it. The Rev. Jedediah Dewey had been settled as minister of the church and congregation in the fall of 1763, and stated and regular religious worship provided for. By the year 1765 a large portion of the town had become occupied by industrious settlers from Massachusetts and Connecticut, who had cleared much of the land, erected dwelling houses and barns, with mills, opened and worked highways and established schools for the instruction of children, and youth, and were living in a comfortable and thriving condition. Settlements had also been made to the northward as far as Danby, and extensive preparations were making for occupying other townships, as well as for extending the settlements in those already commenced — the tillers of the hard New England soil being then, as they have often been since, swarming for emigration to new and uncultivated lands. In this state of things the settlers in the spring of 1765, were surprised by a proclamation from Lieut. Governor Colden of New York, dated April 10th, furnishing a copy of an order of the king in Council, of the 20th of July preceding, by which the western bank of Connecticut river was declared to be the boundary between the provinces of New Hampshire and New York, and notifying all his majesty's subjects in the province "to conform thereto and govern themselves accordingly." There is no doubt that this change of jurisdiction made without the knowledge of the settlers, was contrary to their wishes, and quite distasteful to them. The people of New England were not favorably inclined towards the institutions and government of New York. A large portion of the lands in that province had been granted in very extensive tracts, the tillers of the soil occupying the position of tenants to their landlord owners, who were dignified with the lordly title of patroons. This tenancy was looked upon by the independent farmers of New England, as a species of degrading servitude. The government of New York was also of an aristocratic and central character, in which the body of the people had but little participation. All the officers from the highest to the lowest — from the Judges of the Supreme Court down to constables and superintendants of highways, were appointed either directly or indirectly, by the central executive authority in New York City. The town meeting, that school and nursery of republican equality, in which the men of New England had been accustomed to elect all inferior officers, and to consult and legislate upon their local affairs, was an institution hardly known in that province.
But notwithstanding the aversion of the settlers to the New York system and laws, there is no doubt that the new jurisdiction would have been quietly submitted to, if nothing more had been demanded. Rumors, however, soon began to prevail that the king's order in council was to be construed in New York, not only as providing new governors and laws for the settlers, but also as annulling the titles to the lands they occupied. These rumors became confirmed, in the course of the summer and fall, by the appearance among them of numbers of men from the metropolis of the province having with them surveyors
146 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
employed in running and marking lines by trees in the woods and setting up stakes and other land marks in the cleared fields, and also by their making direct claims to lands under New York patents.
Becoming thus alarmed for the security of their property the settlers of the several towns in this part of the territory which had been annexed to New York, appointed agents to apply to the governor of the province to protect them in their possessions. These agents, Samuel Robinson of Bennington, and Jeremiah French of Manchester, accordingly repaired to New York City for that purpose in the month of December 1765. But on making known their errand to the governor, they found the city speculators had been altogether too fast for them, that the largest and most valuable portions of their land had been already granted; and that for the poorer land that remained the enormous patent fees which were demanded, would be fully equivalent to the actual value of the soil.
Among the lands which had thus been granted, there may be mentioned as characteristic of the others, a grant of 26,000 acres by the name of Princetown to John Tabor Kempe, James Duane and Walter Rutherford, being a tract some 12 miles in length by about 4 in breadth, and embracing the whole of the rich valley of the Battenkill which is included in the townships of Manchester and Sunderland and the largest part of that in Arlington; and a grant of 10,000 acres to Crean Brush, covering considerable portions of the southwesterly part of Bennington and the northwesterly part of Pownal. The persons who have been named, for whose benefit these grants were made were all New York City lawyers, Kempe, the first named, being Attorney General of the province. It was well known in New York that these lands had long been granted by the province of New Hampshire, and were actually occupied under such grants, and the patents were procured in utter disregard of the rights and claims of the settlers. Such was the general character of the early New York grants. They were made by Lieutenant Governor Colden to his favorites and friends for mere purposes of speculation, the grantees in their turn gratifying him by the payment of the patent fees, which they expected speedily to realise, with enormous additions, from the avails of the land.
The controversy occasioned by the granting by New York of the lands that had been previously granted by New Hampshire, which resulted in a revolution that severed the territory from the jurisdiction of New York, belongs rather to the history of the state of Vermont than to that of any single town. The people of Bennington, however, took a leading and important part in the controversy, and a brief notice of the grounds of the dispute seems indispensable to a right understanding of subsequent events with which they were connected.
The king's order in council of July 1764, declaring "the western bank of the river Connecticut to be" the eastern boundary of New York was construed by the ruling authorities of the province, as not only asserting what its boundary should be in future, but as affirming what it always had been; and hence they held that the grants of the governor of New Hampshire, having been of lands not within his province, were absolutely null and void. But they did not rely wholly or indeed, mainly upon this doubtful construction of the king's order. They claimed that the Connecticut river was the original boundary of New York, under and by virtue of the charter of king Charles to the Duke of York in 1764, and that such had ever continued to be its rightful extent. The language of the charter, though confused and unintelligible as a discription of any definite territory, seemed nevertheless to favor the claim, and indeed, unexplained by the lights of history and cotemporaneous exposition, to give it an air of strong plausibility. It is not, however, intended to discuss this question of legal right. It is deemed sufficient for our present purpose to state that prior to the king's order of July 1764, New York had never for a single moment exercised jurisdiction to any part of Connecticut river, that New Hampshire had been repeatedly recognized by the king and his ministry as extending westward to Lake Champlain and to a line running southerly from that lake to the north-west corner of Massachusetts, the present western boundary of Vermont; that in all the English and American Maps of the period, and they are numerous, New York is represented as bounded on the east by the last mentioned line, and that such line was universally understood both in Old and New England to be the boundary between the two provinces of New Hampshire and New York.
But even if it should be found that the title of the settlers to the lands they occupied was not a strictly legal one, no question can be made but that it was in a high degree equitable. The lands had been granted in the name of the king by one of his royal governors, having apparent jurisdiction over them, and had been purchased in good faith by the settlers, and made valuable by their improvements, they fully believing in the validity of their titles. It would be mani-
festly unjust and oppressive, and indeed a palpable fraud in the Crown, for him to allow another of his subordinates to deprive them of property thus acquired, or to require them to purchase it of him a second time. Yet such oppression and fraud was attempted and earnestly sought to be consumated by the governor and council of New York, and as we have already seen from base and sinister motives.
The situation of the people of Bennington at this time is so fairly and pleasantly stated by Mr. Bancroft in his history of the United States, (Vol. 5 p. 291) that we cannot forbear to quote it. Refering to a letter of Gov. Hutchinson to Gov. Pownal, of July 10, 1765. Mr. Bancroft says:
"Men of New England, "of a superior sort,' had obtained of the government of New Hampshire a warrant for land down the western slope of the Green Mountains, on a branch of the Hoosick, twenty miles east of Hudson river; formed already a community of sixty-seven families, in as many houses, with an ordained minister; had elected their own municipal officers; formed three several public schools; set their meeting house among their primeval forests of beech and maple; and in a word enjoyed the flourishing state which springs from rural industry, intelligence and unaffected piety. They called their village Bennington. The royal officers at New York disposed anew of that town, as well as of others near it, so that the king was known to the settlers near the Green Mountains, chiefly by his agents, who had knowingly sold his lands twice over. In this way the soil of Bennington became a fit battle field for independence."
On the first of November 1765, the famous stamp act went into effect, and the stamps which Lieut. Gov. Colden received from England, having been forcibly wrested from him by a general rising of a patriot mob of New York city, and placed beyond his reach, he was unable to authenticate his patents, and the granting them was consequently suspended until the news of the repeal of the act was received in June 1766. In the meantime Lt. Gov. Colden had been succeeded in the administration of the government of the province by Sir Henry Moore. He issued patents less rapidly and with somewhat more regard to the claims of the grantees under New Hampshire than Mr. Colden had done. Still the dangers of the settlers from the patents already issued as well as from new grants, were imminent, and they resolved to apply directly to the Crown for relief. Petitions stating the grievances under which they labored were accordingly prepared and extensively signed, and Samuel Robinson of Bennington, was appointed their agent to present them to the king. He reached London early in the year 1767, and so far succeeded in his mission as to obtain an order from the king in Council under date of July 24, 1767, forbidding the governor of New York in the most positive terms from granting any more lands in the disputed territory until his majesty's further pleasure should be made known. But while Mr. Robinson was still seeking for relief from the grants which had already been made, his mission was unfortunately terminated by his sudden death. (See biographical sketch.)
The order of the king prohibiting further grants, accompanied and followed as it was by severe reprimands from the ministry of the New York governors for their selfish and unfeeling treatment of the New Hampshire grantees, seems to have greatly discouraged the claimants under the former patents, and governor Moore respecting and obeying, at least, ostensibly, the king's order, the settlers were left in comparative quiet during the remainder of his administration; which, however, terminated by his death in September 1769. He was succeeded by Lieut. Gov. Colden, and new attacks upon the settlers immediately commenced. Within a few days the Lieut. Governor procured the formal advice of his council to the effect that the king's order forbidding grants had been wrongly understood by Gov. Moore, as applying to the whole territory which had been annexed to Now York, whereas, it should only apply to such lands within it, as had been actually granted by New Hampshire. He accordingly proceeded at once to issue new patents to the speculators as fast as they were ready to furnish the fees, paying no regard, whatever, to the distinction made in the advice of his council; but granting indiscriminately, as well the lands which had been previously granted by New Hampshire, as those which had not. The claimants under Colden's former patents taking courage from his countenance and decisive conduct made formal demands of the settlers for the surrender of their possessions, and on their refusal to comply, commenced actions of ejectment against them before the Court at Albany.
It is proper to mention here that there was a tract of land in the northwesterly part of Bennington, which stood upon a somewhat different footing from that of any other New York grant, being embraced in a patent issued prior to the charter of the township by New Hampshire. It was included in a patent of 12,000 acres called Walloomsack, which had been granted in 1739. It began in the province of New York near the present village of North Hoosick and in order to embrace the windings. of the stream and the rich land
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along its banks was very irregular in form, having not less than ten angles or corners. It was in fact very much in the shape of a short legged boot, the toe of which reached up into Bennington, covering the farm of James Breakenridge. Breakenridge was the first occupant, and it was not until he had been in possession several years and had made extensive improvements that he was aware of the existence of this adverse claim.
The New Yerkers considering this as a favorable patent under which to carry on their attacks upon the settlers, not only demanded the possessions of Breakenridge and served him with a writ of ejectment but procured the appointment of Commissioners under the Quit Rent law of the province, for the purpose of dividing his land among the New York claimants. The Commissioners, with surveyors and chainmen made their appearance on his possessions Oct. 19, 1769, where they found a considerable number of men collected, some of them armed but mostly engaged in harvesting corn. The Commissioners and their attendants not relishing the presence of so great a number of people, called on them to disperse, which request not being complied with Esquire Munro, of whom we shall learn more hereafter, advanced and read to them the riot act, but without much effect. No actual violence appears to have been offered, but the New York party having cause to apprehend resistance if they continued their survey became intimidated and gave up their undertaking. They made a report of their proceedings to Lieut. Gov. Colden, who issued his proclamation for the apprehension of the offenders as rioters, naming as "the principal authors and actors in the riot" James Breakenridge, Rev. Jedediah Dewey, Samuel Robinson, Nathaniel Holmes, Henry Walbridge and Moses Robinson. They were soon afterwards indicted as rioters in the Court at Albany, but none of them were ever arrested, or brought to trial.
The next June (1770) came on the Ejectment trials at Albany. The court took judicial notice that the province of New York had always extended eastward to Connecticut river, and holding the New Hampshire charters produced by the defendants to be null and void, refused to allow them to be read to the jury. Verdicts were consequently very readily obtained for the plaintiffs.
Ethan Allen is first heard of on the New Hampshire grants, in connexion with these trials. He had resided in Salisbury, Connecticut, and came to Bennington about this time, was a proprietor under some of the New hampshire charters, and assisted the defendants in preparing the cases for trial. It is related of Allen that after the trials were over attorney General Kempe, with two or three other gentlemen interested in the New York grants, called upon him and advised him to return to his Green Mountain friends and persuade them to make the best terms they could with their new landlords, intimating that however fair their claim might be it had certainly now become desperate, and reminding him of the proverb "that might makes right." To this proposal Allen merely replied "that the gods of the valleys were not the gods of the hills." This laconic figure of speech he left to be interpreted by his visitors, adding only when an explanation was asked by the king's attorney, that if he would come to Bennington the meaning should be made clear to him."
Among the judgments in Ejectment which had been recovered at Albany were two for lands in Bennington, one against James Breakenridge, who resided towards the north west part of the town, about a mile from New York line, at the place now occupied by his grandson, John Breakenridge. The other judgment was against Josiah Fuller whose house and farm were in the southeasterly part of the town, a little to the eastward of the present residence of Thomas Jewett. Dr. Fuller, the defendant had been settled on the farm for several years when it was granted by Colden to one Slaughter, under date of May 30, 1765, before the occupant could possibly have had an opportunity to apply for a confirmation of his New Hampshire title.
On the return of the defendants and their friends to Bennington, a meeting of the settlers of the town was called to determine what should be done. It was plainly a matter in which their all was at stake. By the decision of the New York judges their titles were all declared to be invalid, and the only alternative left them was to surrender their property to their mercenary enemies, or bid defiance to the process of the court. After duly considering the consequences of whichever course they should take, they resolved upon the latter. They accordingly voted to take the farms of Breakenridge and Fuller, under the protection of the town, and to defend them against the New York officers at all hazzards.
Encouraged by the success of the Albany trials the New York claimants of the Walloomsack patent made a second attempt to divide the lands of Mr. Breakenridge, between them, but met with quite as decided opposition as before, whereupon Lord Dunmore, then governor of the province, issued his proclamation for the arrest of the "rioters;" Simeon Hatheway, Moses Seott, Jonathan
Fisk and Silas Robinson, being designated "as the principal authors and actors in the riot and breach of the peace." These persons with twelve others were indicted as rioters, and the sheriff of Albany county, with his under officers aided by John Munro, soon afterwards succeeded in arresting one of their number. This John Munro had seated himself on Little White Creek just within the limits of the town of Shaftsbury, under the patronage of Duane and Kempe the noted New York speculators, with whom he kept up an active correspondence. He had been commissioned as a justice of the peace for the county of Albany, and was not only ready to exercise his judicial functions against the New Hampshire settlers, but also, when occasion offered, to act in the capacity of constable or sheriff's assistant in arresting them. Silas Robinson, one of the party indicted, resided on the main road about two miles north of the Bennington village, at the place now occupied by Stephen Robinson. Early in the morning of the 29th of Nov., the sheriff and his party went to his house and coming upon him when he was off his guard, succeeded in taking him prisoner; and by returning with great speed before notice could be given to his neighbors they were enabled to carry him off to Albany, where he was detained in jail for several months. He is believed to have been the only settler in the grants whom the Yorkers, as they were styled, were ever able to arrest and punish as a rioter, though great numbers were accused and indicted as such.
Now came on the great trial at Bennington that was to determine the strength of New York laws, and the fate of the settlers. Several attempts had been made by the Sheriff of Albany to execute writs of possession against Breakenridge and Fuller, but he had been so effectually threatened and opposed that they had all proved unsuccessful, and there seemed no other way for the plaintiffs to acquire the possession of the farms of the defendants, than for the sheriff to call to his aid the power of the county. This was accordingly resolved upon, and great preparations made to ensure its success.
Sheriff Ten Eyck made a general summons of the citizens of Albany, and when he left the city for Bennington, on the morning of the 28th of July, 1771, he found himself at the head of between two and three hundred variously armed men of different occupations and professions; among whom, of the gentry of the town were the Mayor, and several Aldermen, and four eminent counsellors of the law, viz: Messrs. Sylvester, Robert Yates, Christopher Yates and Mr. Bleecker. The party halted for the night at Sancoik just below the present village of North Hoosick, and having received some addition to its numbers by new levies on the way, took up its march the next morning for the residence of Mr. Breakenridge, some 6 or 7 miles distant. The settlers had received notice of the approach of the sheriff and his posse, and had prepared themselves for their reception. Mr. Breakenridge's house was situated about a mile from the New York line at the foot of a slight ridge of land running east and west, then covered with woods; along the southerly side of which ridge ran the road past the house, and by which from the west, the posse would naturally come. In this woods so far behind the ridge as to allow only their heads and the points of their muskets to be obscurely seen among the trees from the road, were posted nearly 100 well armed men. Across a cleared field to the southeast of the house in sight and within gun shot of it, was another somewhat smaller body of armed men. The house itself had been prepared against an assault by strong barricades for the door, and loopholes in the walls from which to fire upon assailants, and within it were 18 resolute men, well supplied with the proper means for defence, and provided with a red flag to be hoisted from the chimney, to notify their friends without whenever their assistance should be needed. The family of Mr. B., had taken up their temporary abode at a neighbors, and in this condition the settlers calmly waited the approach of their adversaries.
When the advanced party of the Sheriff's posse reached the bridge (now the Henry bridge) half a mile to the north-west of Breakenridge's they found it guarded by "six or seven men in arms who said they had orders to stop them." However after some conversation it was agreed that a few of the party might pass for the purpose of seeing Mr. Breakenridge, upon condition that no more should cross until their return. These, headed by Mayor Cuyler, were then conducted near Mr. B's house where they found him in company with some 20 or 30 others. On being inquired of why so many men were assembled with the apparent design of opposing the Sheriff. Mr. B. gave them for answer that he had no further concern with the farm "but that the township had resolved to take the same under their protection, and that they intended to keep it." This the Mayor told him was a mere evasion which would not excuse him from the consequences that might ensue; "but that whatever blood should be spilled in opposing the King's writ would be required from his hands." After more discourse
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it was agreed that Mr. B. should have some further communication with his friends; that the Mayor and his party should return to the bridge where they should be informed in half an hour of the result of his conference.
At the end of the half hour the Sheriff who had now reached the bridge with his whole party, was notified by a message from the settlers that the possession would not be given up, "but would be kept at all events." Whereupon the Sheriff gave order for the posse to march forward to the house. But not more than twenty or thirty could be persuaded to cross the bridge and most of those with much apparent reluctance. The men comprising the sheriff's party had by this time obtained an inkling of the kind of reception they were likely to meet with, and were unwilling to expose their lives in a cause in which they had no interest, and of the justice of which they were not well assured. In fact a majority of them disapproved of the conduct of the speculators, and sympathized with the settlers in their defence of their property.
The Sheriff and those who accompanied him, on approaching the house held a parley with the leaders of the settlers in which counsellor Robert Yates used many ingenious arguments drawn from his knowledge of legal lore to convince them that the New York claimants had a very clear right to deprive them of their farms and appropriate them to their own use. But the arguments proving much less successful then when they had been offered to the New York judges, the Sheriff siezed an axe and going towards the door of the house, threatened to break it open. Immediately the party in the field perceiving his movements presented their pieces towards him, upon which he very suddenly came to the conclusion that "discretion was the better part of valor" and retired. On returning to the bridge the Sheriff thought proper (probably to save himself from censure) to make a formal request of the posse to accompany him five miles further into the township of Bennington to aid him in taking possession of the farm of Mr, Josiah Fuller, but as no one seemed inclined to venture further in that direction, that part of the programme of the expedition from Albany was concluded to be omitted, and "the power of the county" was, allowed to evaporate, — the men comprising it, dispersing with all commendable speed to their several homes, thus leaving the settlers in quiet occupation of their property, and illustrating the truth of the quaint apothegm put forth by Allen after the trials at Albany, "that the gods of the valleys were not the gods of the hills."*
It is scarcely possible to over estimate the importance, in the New York controversy, of this discomfiture of the sheriff and his posse. It not only gave confidence to the New Hampshire claimants in their ability to defend their possessions, but served to convince their opponents that the feelings of the body of their own people were in unison with those of the settlers, and that any attempt to gain possession of the disputed lands by calling into public action the civil power of the province would necessarily prove unavailing. This defeat of the New York claimants was the entering wedge that eventually severed the people of the New Hampshire Grants from a province to which they had been unknowingly annexed by the arbitrary will of the Crown. Here in fact, on the farm of James Breakenridge, was born the future state of Vermont, which struggling through the perils of infancy had by the commencement of the general revolution acquired the activity and strength of adventurous youth; by its close reached the full stature of manhood, and not long afterwards had become the acknowledged equal of its associate American republics.
From the time of the retreat of the Sheriff's posse from Bennington the forcible opposition to the New York patentees took a more definite and systematic form throughout the several townships on the west side of the Green Mountain, being more fully regulated by conventions and carried into effect by a military association which had been organized for that purpose. One company of this military organization was formed in Bennington of which Seth Warner was Captain, and other similar companies were organized in other townships, the whole when acting together to be commanded by Ethan Allen, to whom the title of Colonel was given. In defiant contempt of a reported threat of the governor of New York that he would "drive the opposers of his government into the Green Mountains," this military body assumed for themselves the name of Green Mountain Boys, which eventually became an honorable appellation for the hardy freemen of the territory they inhabited. This name was not,
*This account of the expedition of the Sheriff and his posse is prepared from a comparison of that by Ira Allen, in his History of Vermont, with sundry others of members of the posse found in the 4th volume of the Documentary history of New York, and with a manuscript letter of Robert Yates, Esq, written to his friends Messrs. Duane & Kemp, immediately on his return from Bennington, and dated July 20, 1771. This letter is more particular in details than any of the other accounts.
however, readily recognized by the New Yorkers as a proper designation of their antagonists, who shared the common lot of all early opposers of government oppression, of being stigmatized as "rioters," "conspirators," and "wanton disturbers of the public peace." These and other opprobrious terms were applied to them when spoken of individually. Collectively they were usually styled "the Bennington Mob," continuing to be called by this name in the New York correspondence and official accounts of them, long after Bennington and its vicinity had ceased to be the place of their active operations.
But the New York claimants and government officials did not enjoy a monopoly in the calling of hard names. They in their turn were commonly designated by the New Hampshire settlers as "Yorkers" as "Yorkites," and were not unfrequently called "unfeeling speculators," "land jobbers," 'land thieves,' "land pirates," &c., &c.
But the New York controversy, more especially from this period, belongs to the history of the state rather than to that of a town, and cannot with propriety be pursued further in our sketch of Bennington. It may, however, be stated that the head quarters of the opponents of New York continued for a long time to be at Bennington; the place where the councils of the leaders were held where their plans were devised and matured, being at the Green Mountain tavern kept by Stephen Fay, the sign of which, was the stuffed skin of a Catamount, with teeth grinning towards New York. When Allen, Baker and Cochran, in daring mockery of a proclamation of the governor of New York for their apprehension, issued printed handbills over their signatures offering a reward of $15 for James Duane, and $10 for Attorney General Kempe, "those common disturbers of the public peace," as they were styled, were required to be delivered "at Landlord Fays, in Bennington."
The house where this then famous tavern was kept and which was subsequently occupied by the council of safety during the trying period of the revolution, is still standing, being the second dwelling north of the Court House on the same side of the highway. It is now occupied by Samuel Fay, Esq., a grandson of the original proprietor, a venerable and worthy representative of the olden time, now in the 89th year of his age, having been born Aug. 16, 1772. He was consequently just five years old on the day of Bennington battle of which he has a clear recollection. He also distinctly remembers Gov. Thomas Chittenden, Gen. Ethan Allen, Col. Seth Warner, and other notables in the youthful days of Vermont. He served as deputy to Sheriff David Robinson for 14 years from 1793 to 1811, and from that time for 12 years until 1823 as Sheriff of the county, the duties of which offices he performed to the entire satisfaction of all. Long may he live in the continued enjoyment of the respect and affection of his large circle of acquaintances and friends.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
The opening of the revolutionary war found the people of Bennington nominally under the jurisdiction of New York but substantially independent, obeying only the decrees of committees and conventions, and of their own town meetings. In none of the proceedings of the town was the authority of New York ever recognized. The warnings of their meetings up to the year 1770 are headed "Province of New Hampshire," after that date no province is specified. The people of the town had been prepared to enter actively into the contest for American liberty, by sharing in the general hostility to the arbitrary measures of the British crown and ministry; by sympathy with their friends in Massachusetts and Connecticut from whence they had emigrated, by deep distrust of a monarch who had permitted his greedy servants in his name to grant his lands twice over and to persecute his first grantees as felons and outlaws; by the hesitating and tardy manner in which their old enemies of the province of New York had seconded the patriotic measures of the other colonies, and finally by the massacre by the king's New York officers of one of the inhabitants of the New Hampshire grants at Westminster.
The people of Bennington were well aware of the importance of the post of Ticonderoga in the approaching contest and early in March 1775, their committee had agreed with John Brown, an agent of Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren of the Massachusetts committee that the Green Mountain Boys would hold themselves in readiness to seize that fort whenever they should learn that hostilities had been commenced by the king's forces in that province. When, therefore, a few days after the battle of Lexington, messengers arrived from Connecticut, accompanied by Brown, for the purpose of collecting a force to make an attack upon that place, they found here a body of men with minds already prepared for the expedition. The old military corps which had done effectual service in guarding the territory from the intrusion of the Yorkers, and occasionally administering rather sharp punishment to some of the most incorrigible of them,
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was speedily mustered and on their way to the lake, the town of Bennington furnishing the Commander and two of the Captains, Warner and Herrick, as well as a considerable portion of the other officers and men. But the details of this expedition and also its important consequences belong to general history. The immediate result of it was the well known surrender of the fortress on the demand of Allen, to a two fold authority, one of which, that of "the Continental Congress" had perhaps never before been heard of by the garrison and the other — it has been rather uncharitably suggested was probably not much better known to them.
The news of this unanticipated event came upon the friends of the king like a clap of thunder in a clear sky, and seemed a melancholy presage of the future. Lieut. Governor Colden who was then administering the government of New York, and devoting all his energies to sustain the odious measures of his royal master, in giving a doleful account of the great misfortune to Lord Dartmouth the English Minister, seems to seek for some consolation in the fact, that the king's loyal and order loving subjects in the old colony of New York, were not concerned in it, "The only people of this province" he says in his dispatch, "who had any hand in this expedition, were that set of lawless people, whom your lordship has heard much of under the name of the Bennington Mob."
Neither the prescribed limits of this sketch nor the time permitted for its preparation will allow of a detailed account of the part taken by the town of Bennington as such, or its people as individuals in the revolutionary struggle. Only some of the most prominent matters can be noticed and most of those must be hastily passed over.
In the regiment of Green Mountain Boys which was raised under the advice of the Continental Congress in the summer of 1775 for service in Canada the town of Bennington was represented by Seth Warner as its Lieut. Col. and Commandant, Samuel Safford as Major, Wait Hopkins as Captain, and John Fassett, Jr., Lieutenant, and by many others in different capacities. Among the important services performed by this regiment was the decisive defeat of Gen. Carlton at Longuiel, which prevented his furnishing relief to St. Johns, and caused its immediate surrender, and also the abandonment of Montreal to the American forces under Gen. Montgomery.
The year 1776 opened with the gloomy in telligence of the defeat and fall of Montgomery before Quebec, and with a strong appeal from General Wooster in Canada for re-enforcements from the Grants. Colonel Warner, whose regiment of Green Mountain Boys had been but a few weeks honorably discharged, again beat up for volunteers and was in a few days at the head of another regiment which immediately marched to Quebec, and endured the hardships and perils of a winter campaign, bringing up the rear of the retreating American army the ensuing spring. No list of either the officers or men comprising this regiment has been found. A fragment of a pay roll merely shows that Gideon Brownson of Sunderland, was Captain of one of the companies of which Ebenezer Walbridge of this town was Lieutenant as well as adjutant of the regiment.
The continental congress was so well satisfied with the services in Canada of the men from the New Hampshire Grants, that a resolution was passed on the 5th of July 1776 for raising a separate continental regiment of regular troops, of which the officers were appointed from that territory. Of this regiment; which continued in service through the war — Seth Warner the Colonel, Samuel Safford, Lieut. Colonel, Wait Hopkins, Captain, Joseph Safford, Lieutenant, Jacob Safford, Ensign, and Benjamin Hopkins, Adjutant, were from Bennington.
By the retreat of the American forces from Canada the northern portion of the Grants became exposed to the invasions of the enemy, and at a town meeting held Sept. 23, 1776, it was voted to raise $90, "as an encouragement for those that may enlist into the service of guarding the frontier towns in the grants," to be appropriated in bounty of "forty shillings per man." It was also voted, "to raise a sufficiency of money to pay those that went from this town last June or July to guard said frontier if the continent dont pay them."
In October upon notice from Gen. Gates, then in command on the lake of an expected attack upon Ticonderoga, the Militia of Bennington and the neighboring towns under Col. Moses Robinson turned out en masse and marched to his relief. At the same time Mr. Yancey, the commissionary of that department addressed a letter to the chairman of the committee of the town of Bennington informing him that an immediate supply of flour was necessary for the subsistence of the army, and urging the committee in the most pressing terms to collect and froward at once all that was in their power. The next day after the receipt of this requisition Nathan Clark the Chairman of the Committee returned for answer that 1000 bushels of wheat had been collected and was being
ground at the mills and would be forwarded as fast as possible but saying "that the militia having left us almost to a man, renders it very difficult to furnish assistance to convey what we have already on hand," and suggesting the propriety of discharging some of the militia for the purpose of having them employed in that service. For their promptness and energy in this matter the Committee not only received the very warm thanks of the Commissionary, but also a dispatch from Deputy Adj. Gen. Trumbull, in which he says, "The general has seen your letter to Mr. Yancey, and directs me to return you his most cordial thanks for the zeal you expressed for the service of our insulted country. Agreeable to the request of the Committee he has ordered one of the Companies from your town to return for the purpose of assisting in a work so necessary for the good of the army." The alarm for the safety of Ticonderoga passed over and Colonel Robinson's regiment of militia were discharged early in the month of November. On dismissing them from service the general addressed to Col. Robinson a testimonial of their service as follows:
TICONDEROGA Nov. 9, 1776.
TO COL. MOSES ROBINSON :—
SIR, — I am to return to you and the officers and men of your regiment my sincere thanks for the spirit and alertness yon have shown in marching to the defence of this important pass, when threatened with an immediate attack from the enemy. I now gentlemen dismiss you with honor. I also certify that neither you nor any of your officers have received any pay from me for your services on this occasion. That I leave to be settled and adjusted between your state and the general Congress of all the United States. With sentiments of gratitude and respect.
I am Sir your most
Obedient humble servant,
A roll of one of the companies from Bennington which was in service on this occasion has been found among the papers of Captain Elijah Dewey who commanded it. The following is a copy:
"Pay Roll of Capt. Elijah Dewey's, company in Col. Moses Robinson's Regiment of the Milita in the service of the United States of America Mount Independence 1776.
Elijah Dewey, Capt., Ebenezer Walbridge, 1st Lieut, Thomas Jewett, 2d Lieut, Nathaniel Fillmore, Ensign, — Joseph Rudd, Daniel Harman, John Fay, Sergeants, John Smith, Jedediah Merrill, Thomas Story, Corporals. [Privates] Samuel Cutler, Ezekiel Harman, Joseph Wickwire, Daniel Kinsley, Jonathan Parsons, Andrew Weaver, Abner Marble, Phineas Scott, Aaron Haynes, Silas Harman, Joseph Robinson, Ezekiel Smith, Seth Porter, David Powers, Hopestill Armstrong, Joseph Willoughby, Samuel Hunt, Joshua Carpenter, Othniel Green, Philip Matteson, Roswel Moseley."
The people of Bennington took an active and patriotic part in the stiring events of the year 1777.
Anxious to complete the regiment of Col. Warner, which was to represent their town and the New Hampshire Grants in the regular continental army, the town at a meeting held the 14th of April, voted to raise £240 lawful money, ($800) to he paid in bounties of $40 to each man from the town that should enlist in such regiment.
In the month of June on the advance of Burgoyne up Lake Champlain, the militia regiment of Col. Moses Robinson, which among other companies included two from this town, was called into service and was at Mount Independence, when that fort together with Ticonderoga was evacuated by St. Clair, July 6, 1777. At this time the Convention for forming the Constitution of the state was assembled at Windsor; but on receiving the alarming news of the loss of these posts, they hastily adjourned, appointing a Council of Safety to administer the government until the meeting of the legislature under the constitution. This Council of Safety met at Manchester the 15th of July, and soon afterwards adjourned to Bennington, where it continued in permanent session until after the close of the campaign by the surrender of Burgoyne in October following. The room which this body occupied during this trying period is still to be seen in the ancient tavern house of "Landlord Fay," with the words "Council room," cut in olden time on the mantle piece.
The battle of Bennington which occurred a few weeks after the evacuation of Ticonderoga is doubtless an event which from its character and consequences appropriately belongs to general history, though the part taken in it by the people of Bennington as clearly belongs to that of the town. It would be impossible to make the latter reasonably intelligible without giving some general outline of the engagement and of the circumstances preceding and attending it. This will be done with as much brevity as shall be found practicable.
The progress of Burgoyne towards Albany had been so retarded by the natural difficulties of the route, and the obstructions thrown in his way by the Americans that it was nearly a month before he had reached the Hudson river. Here he found himself so deficient in provisions and also in cattle and carriages for
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transportation that he was greatly embarrassed about the means of advancing further. The articles he most needed had been collected in considerable quantities at Bennington as a convenient depot from which to supply the American forces. These Burgoyne resolved to seize for the use of his own army. He accordingly detached for that purpose a select body of about 500 German regulars, some Canadians, a corps of Provincials and over 100 Indians, with two light pieces of artillery, the whole under the command of Col. Baum. To favor their operations and to furnish assistance in case of necessity, a detachment of the British army was posted on the east bank of the Hudson, opposite to Saratoga, and another detachment of five or six hundred Germans under Col. Breyman, was advanced to Battenkill. Baum set off with the force under his command, for Bennington on the morning of the 12th of Aug., and arrived that day at Cambridge, about 15 miles N. W. from Bennington.
On the evacuation of Ticonderoga by Gen. St. Clair, Cols. Warner and Frances, in charge of the rear guard, were overtaken at Hubbardton by a greatly superior force of the enemy, and after a severe action were defeated. The remnant of Warner's regiment reduced to but little above 100 effective men, assembled at Manchester, where it was stationed until the day before the battle of Bennington. In order to aid in arresting the progress of Burgoyne, a brigade of militia had been mustered and sent from New Hampshire under the command of Gen. John Stark. Crossing the mountain from Charlestown (No. 4) he reached Manchester the 7th of August. — Finding that a considerable body of the enemy, which had been for sometime at Castleton, threatening Manchester and to cross over to the Connecticut river, had marched to the Hudson, Gen. Stark with his Brigade passed on to Bennington where he arrived the 9th of August. His troops encamped about two miles west of the meeting house near the then residence of Col. Herrick, more lately known as the Dimick place, where they remained for five days, Gen. Stark in the mean time collecting information in regard to the position and designs of the enemy, and consulting with the Council of Safety and with Col. Warner, who was also at Bennington, in regard to future operations.
On the 13th, Isaac Clark and Eleazer Edgerton, two scouts from this town in the service of the council of safety, brought information that a party of Indians were at Cambridge, and Gen. Stark sent Lieut. Col. Gregg of his brigade with 200 men to stop their progress but during the following night he was advised that a large body of troops with a piece of artilery, was in the rear of the Indians, and that they were advancing towards Bennington. On the morning of the 14th Stark moved with his brigade and such other militia as could be rallied, to the support of Gregg, and about 5 miles from Bennington, met him retreating before the enemy. Stark drew up his men in order of battle, but Baum perceiving the Americans to be too strong to be advantageously attacked, halted on a commanding piece of ground, commenced throwing up entrenchments and sent back an express for re-inforcements. Stark unable to draw him from his position fell back about a mile and encamped; the place of his encampment being four miles north westerly from the village of Bennington on the farm now owned by Paul M. Henry, Esq., to the north east of his dwelling house, a considerable portion of the camp ground being now occupied by old apple trees.
The well chosen position of Baum was on the summit of a hill which rises abruptly some three or four hundred feet from the west bank of the Walloomsack with somewhat lower hills to the north and west of it, and a large plain then partly covered with woods across the river in front. The Walloomsack which is a crooked fordable branch of the Hoosick, after running a northerly direction for half a mile beyond the encampment of Stark turns gradually to the west, and then again suddenly to the south, in which direction it passes the encampment of Baum, and then takes a westerly course by Sancoik, which is about two miles below the position of Baum. The encampments of the two hostile armies were about two miles from each other, and the road from Bennington by Sancoik to Cambridge passed both of them, but by reason of the bend in the river, crossing it twice between them. On the hill of which Baum had taken possession, which was covered with woods he immediately began throwing up entrenchments of earth and timber, and continued thus to strengthen his position until the attack upon him commenced on the afternoon of the 10th. He had been joined on his way from the Hudson and at his encampment by a considerable body of loyalists of the vicinity. Among these was Francis Pfister, a retired British officer of the French war, who resided on what is now known as the Tibbetts place, half a mile west of Hoosick Four Corners and was familiarly known as Col. Pfister. These loyalists, together with Peter's corps of provincials, were posted on the other side of the river three-fourths of a mile to the S. E. of Baum and upon a hill considerably lower than that oc‑
cupied by him. Here also was erected works of defence of earth and logs designated by the Americans as "the Tory Breastwork."
Tradition in the vicinity assigns the immediate command of this post to Col. Pfister, and there seems no room for doubt that he occupied a prominent position there as an officer, If he was not in its actual command. The road crossed the river about midway between these two posts, where on the west side of the river on the brow of Baum's hill sufficiently high to overlook the road and plain to the eastward were placed the two brass field pieces of the enemy. This point of crossing is at what has been latterly known as the Barnet place, and is at the second railroad bridge in passing from North Bennington to Troy. Between the two bridges the Baum hill, covered with woods, may be seen by the traveller from the cars to the right and the place of the "tory breast work" in a cleared field to the left.
The force under General Stark consisted of 3 regiments of New Hampshire militia respectively commanded by Cols. Hubbard, Stickney and Nichols, a small body of militia from the east side of the mountain, under Col. Wm. Williams of Wilmington, a corps of Rangers then forming under the authority of the Vermont Council of Safety, commanded by Colonel Herrick, a body of militia from Bennington and its vicinity made Col. Nathaniel Brush, of which there were two companies from Bennington, the one commanded by Capt. Samuel Robinson and the other by Capt. Elijah Dewey, and Stark was afterwards joined by part of a militia regiment from Berkshire county under Col. Simmons, — his whole force probably amounting to about 1800 men.
On the night of the 14th after taking up his encampment, Stark called a council and it was resolved to attack the enemy the next morning. But the 15th proved so rainy as to prevent a general action; but the exact position of the enemy was ascertained by scouts and skirmishers and the plan of attack fully matured. The morning of the 16th opened bright and clear, and to the Americans closed no less brightly. But we prefer to allow Gen. Stark to give an account of the battle in his own words. This was done by him in a letter addressed to General Gates, of which the following is an accurate copy.
General Stark to General Gates.
BENNINGTON, August 22, 1777.
I received yours of the 19th instant, which gave me great pleasure; I beg to be excused for not answering it sooner, I have been so sick ever since that I could not write, neither am I well yet. But General Lincoln has written and I joined with him in opinion on the subject of his letter.
I shall now give your honor a short account of the action on the 16th instant. I was informed there was a party of Indians in Cambridge on their march to this place; I sent [Lt.] Colonel Gregg of my brigade, to stop them, with two hundred men. In the night I was informed, by express, that there was a large body of the enemy on their march in the rear of the Indians. I rallied all my brigade and what militia was at this place, in order to stop their proceedings; I like wise sent to Manchester, to Col. Warner's regiment that was stationed there; also sent express for the militia to come in with all speed to our assistance, which was punctually obeyed; I then marched in company with Colonels Warner, Williams, Herrick and Brush, with all the men that were present. About five miles from this place I met Colonel Gregg on his retreat, and the enemy in close pursuit after him. I drew up my little army in order of battle; but when the enemy hove in sight, they halted on a very advantageous hill or piece of ground. I sent out small parties in their front to skirmish with them, which scheme had a good effect; they killed and wounded thirty of the enemy, without any loss on our side; but the ground that I was on did not suit for a general action. I marched back about one mile and encamped, called a council, and it was agreed that we should send two detachments in their rear, while the others attacked them in front; but the 15th it rained all day, therefore had to lay by — could do nothing but skirmish with them.
On the 16th in the morning was joined by Col. Simmons, with some militia from Berkshire county. I pursued my plan, detached Col. Nichols, with two hundred men to attack them in the rear; I also sent Colonel Herrick, with three hundred amen in the rear of their right, both to join, and when joined to attack their camps [Baum's] in the rear; I also sent Col's Hubbard and Stickney, with two hundred men in their right, [Tory Breastwork,] and sent one hundred men in their front, to draw away their attention that way; and about three o'clock we got all ready for the attack. Col. Nichols begun the same which was followed by all the rest. The remainder of my little army I pushed up in the front, and in a few minutes the action begun in general, it lasted two hours, the hottest I ever saw in my life — it represented one continued clap of thunder, however, the enemy was obliged to give way, and leave their field pieces and all their baggage behind them. They were all environed with two breast works with their artillery, but our martial courage proved too hard for them.
I then gave orders to rally again in order to secure the victory, but in a few minutes was informed that there was a large reenforcement, on their march, within two miles. — Lucky for us, that moment Colonel Warner's regiment came up fresh, who marched on and began the attack afresh. I pushed forward as many of the men as I could to their assistance. The battle continued obstinate on
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both sides till sunset; the enemy was obliged to retreat; we pursued them till dark, but had day light lasted one hour longer, we should have taken the whole body of them.
We recovered [in the two actions] four pieces of brass cannon, seven hundred stand of arms and brass-barreled drums, several Hessian swords, about seven hundred prisoners, two hundred and seven dead on the spot, the number of wounded is yet unknown. That part of the enemy that made their escape marched all night and we returned to our camp.
Two much honor cannot be given to the brave officers and soldiers for gallant behavior, they fought through the midst of fire and smoke, mounted two breastworks that were well fortified and supported with cannon. I cannot particularize any officer, as they all behaved with the greatest spirit and bravery. Colonel Warner's superior skill in the action was of extraordinary service to me; I would be glad if he and his men could be recommended to Congress. As I promised in my order that the soldiers should have all the plunder taken in the enemy's camp, would be glad your honor would send me word what the value of the cannon and other artillery stores above described may be. Our loss was inconsiderable; about forty wounded and thirty killed. I lost my horse bridle and saddle in the action.
I am Sir your most devoted and most obedient humble servant,
Gen. Gates, Albany.
The part taken by Col. Seth Warner in the battle of Bennington, though well authenticated by cotemporaneous accounts, has been strangely misunderstood, and consequently misrepresented by several subsequent historians. Ira Allen, in his "History of Vermont," prepared from memory, and published in London in 1798 without access to written materials, gives a general, and in some respects, an erroneous account of the battle; in which he represents Col. Warner as arriving on the battle-ground with his regiment after the first action was over. Dr. Williams, in his History, published ten years after, follows Ira Allen in regard to the time when Col. Warner first came into the battle.
Now, no historical fact is more certain than that Warner was with Stark at Bennington for several days previous to, and remained with him until after the battle, assisting him in planning the first and in conducting both actions; although his regiment only reached the ground in time to participate in the second engagement. The mistake has doubtless arisen from assuming without inquiry, that Warner came in person with his regiment from Manchester, where it had been stationed; whereas, it was marched from that place under the command of Lieut. Col. Samuel Safford. Warner himself having been for some time at Bennington.
That Warner was with Stark at Bennington, prior to the attack upon Baum, and not with his regiment at Manchester, clearly and distinctly appears from Stark's official account of the battle above given. Speaking of events that occurred on the 13th and 14th, he says: "I likewise sent to Manchester, to Col. Warner's regiment that was stationed there; also, sent expresses for the militia to come in with all speed to our assistance, which was punctually obeyed: I then marched with Col. Warner, Williams, Herrick and Brush, with all the men that were present." Stark then gives an account of his proceedings on the 14th and 15th and of the engagements on the 16th, representing Warner's regiment as coming up fresh after the first action, without intimating that Warner came up with it. After his account of all the events of the day, he says: "Col. Warner's superior skill in the action was of extraordinary service to me," as it undoubtedly was.
Gordon in his "History of the Revolution," (vol. ii., p. 539,) also states that "Stark marched with Warner to meet the enemy on the morning of the 14th of August," and Dr. Thatcher in his contemporaneous journal, says, that "on the 16th Stark, assisted by Warner, matured his plans for the battle;" (p. 93.) These statements would seem to make it very certain that Col. Warner participated in both engagements.
It may be further stated in addition, that without knowing what Stark himself had written on the subject, the writer of this sketch had as long ago as 1828 noticed the discrepancy between the accounts of Gordon and Williams, and had set about ascertaining from the mouths of living persons how the fact really was. Again in October 1833, on receiving a letter of inquiry from Edward Everett, who was then preparing a life of Stark for Spark's American Biography, (See Vol. 1 p. 88) the writer of this again renewed the investigation and now has before him the statement of several intelligent and truthful survivors of the battle reduced to writing on those occasions all confirming the fact that Warner was here, at Bennington, with Stark, before and during both engagements.
Among the statements are three which may be mentioned, viz, Jacob Safford, who was lieutenant in Warner's regiment (see "Journals of congress," for Nov. 18, 1779,) and marched with the regiment from Manchester, under the command of his brother, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Safford, and well remembered that Warner was absent from Manchester, and was at Bennington for some time
previous to the battle. He gives a particular account of the march from Manchester, and of the part taken by the regiment in the battle, and states the causes of the delay of its arrival on the battle ground. Solomon Safford, another brother of the lieutenant colonel, belonging to one of the Bennington companies of militia, was left in charge of the baggage, at an out post, when the troops marched for the attack in the morning of the 16th, and was passed and spoken to by Stark and Warner, who were riding side by side to the battle-field. Gov. Isaac Tichenor, who was an assistant commissary, under the authority of Congress, came to Bennington in June, 1777, and distinctly remembers that after Stark reached Bennington, he applied to him for a guard for a drove of cattle he had purchased and was taking to Albany, that on Stark's declining to provide it, he applied to Warner, who procured the guard for him from the Vermont Council of Safety, then in permanent session, and that after taking the cattle to Albany he returned to Bennington by way of Williamstown, and reached there at evening, on the 16th of August, just after the battle was over. He also, from his intimacy with the officers engaged in the battle, knows that Warner was of great assistance to Stark in planning the attack of Baum, that he went into the first action with Stark and was by his side all day, and that it was contrary to the first impression of Stark, and on the earnest appeal of Warner that the reinforcement of Breyman was immediately resisted instead of ordering a retreat to form the scattered forces in regular order of battle.
Warner's residence was at Bennington; he was familiarly acquainted with every rod of ground in the neighborhood of the posts which had been occupied by Baum, and their approaches; he was a Col. in the Continental army, superior in rank to any officer in the vicinity, and he had already acquired a high reputation for bravery and skill; — all which naturally made him the chief counselor and assistant of Stark in his deadly struggle with the enemy. Thus much it is deemed proper to say in order to clear up a point in the history of the battle which seems to have been rather extensively misapprehended.
The body of 300 men under Col. Herrick, mentioned by Stark as having been sent in the rear of Baum's right was composed of Herrick's Rangers and part of Col. Brush's regiment of Militia, a portion of which was from this town. An authentic roll (a copy of which is hereto appended) of the men of Capt. Samuel Robinson's company who were in the battle, has been preserved and has on it 77 names. If Capt. Dewey's company contained an equal number, and there is no reason to suppose that it was much, if any less, the men of Bennington would make up fully one-half of that detachment, especially as some of Herrick's volunteer Rangers were from this town.
The five weeks which had followed the evacuation of Ticonderoga had been to the people of Bennington a period of great anxiety and alarm. The settlers along the lake and as far down as Manchester had either submitted to Burgoyne and taken his protection, or were abandoning their possessions and removing to the southward. When it became known that an army of Hessians and Indians was approaching the town the people from the borders flocked to the center, as did also numbers from other towns; bringing with them such of their most valuable property as could be hastily collected and transported. The more timid and prudent passed on beyond while others making such preparations as they could for a sudden removal, waited further events. On the day of the battle the old village and its vicinity was crowded with women and children, whose husbands, fathers and brothers had gone out to meet and encounter the enemy. Here the heavy sound of musketry and cannon was plainly heard, furnishing evidence that a deadly conflict was in progress. Any attempt to describe the painful anxiety which during that long summer day was felt for the result of the struggle and for the fate of the dear friends engaged in it would be fruitless. That as well as the gush of overflowing joy and exultation which followed the news of the defeat of the enemy, can only be imagined. The victory was indeed a noble and proud one to the town and also to the country, an ominous presage of the future overthrow of Burgoyne.
But the joy of the people of' Bennington was not unmixed with sadness. Four of its most respected citizens had fallen on the field of battle. They were John Fay, (a son of Stephen,) Henry Walbridge, (brother of Ebenezer,) Daniel Warner, (cousin of the Colonel,) and Nathan Clark, (son of Nathan, and brother of Isaac, afterwards known as "old Rifle.") They were all in the prime of life, and all heads of families; leaving widows and children to mourn their sudden bereavement. The grief for their loss was not confined to their immediate relatives, but was general deep and sincere.
Among those of' the enemy who lost their lives in the action were the commander of the expedition, Col. Baum, and the leader of the tories, Col. Pfister. They were both mortal‑
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ly wounded and separately brought a mile and a half this side the battle ground to a house still standing opposite the papermill of Messrs Hunter & Co. They both died within twenty-four hours and were buried near the bank of the river a few rods below the paper mill. There is nothing to mark the spot and the precise place of their interment is not known.
Of the relics of the battle remaining in town there is a broad sword which was taken from Col. Baum on the field of battle by Lieut. Thomas Jewett of Capt. Dewey's company. It was afterwards purchased by David Robinson and used by him as a Captain of cavalry, and subsequently as a field and general officer of the militia and is still in the possession of his grandson, George W. Robinson.
One of the two persons who captured the wounded Col. Pfister was Jonathan Armstrong,* a volunteer from the vicinity of Bennington, and into whose hands there fell, as the spoils of war, a portion of his baggage, among which was found his commission, on parchment, as "Lieutenant in his Majesty's Sixtieth or Royal American Regiment of Foot," dated Sept. 18, 1760, and signed by Sir Jeffery Amherst; a set of draughting instruments, and a map of the rout from St. Johns through lakes Champlain and George, and along the Hudson to New York. The map is in three parts for the convenience of folding and use, the whole being about 4 feet long by 10 inches inside. The lakes and rivers are colored and the whole is so neatly and accurately done with a pen as to be scarcely distinguishable from a fine engraving. These relics are in the possession of the Hon. L. B. Armstrong of Dorset, a grandson of the soldier into whose hands they fell on the battle field.
Two of the four brass field pieces taken in the battle, are now in the Capitol at Montpelier, with the following inscription, of ancient date, engraved on each, viz:
"Taken from the Germans at Bennington Aug. 16, 1777."
Tradition furnishes many anecdotes of the individual prowess and adventure of men engaged in the battle, and also of female exertion and courage connected with its approach and progress which it might be interesting to relate, but which for want of space must be passed over. For the same reason we forbear to mention the subsequent exertions made by the people of Bennington to aid in stopping the progress of Burgoyne, other than to say that they were continued both in men and means fully up to their ability until the Campaign was ended by his surrender at Saratoga the 17th of October following. The 16th of August has ever since the battle been a holiday in Bennington and its vicinity, being usually observed in a similar manner with that of the fourth of July in other parts of the country. The first Anniversary day in 1778, was celebrated with appropriate patriotic demonstrations, an oration being delivered on the occasion by Noah Smith and a poem by Stephen Jacob,** both of which have been preserved and are creditable to the authors. Both these gentlemen are believed to have then just graduated at Yale College, both were afterwards lawyers by profession, and both became prominent men in the "new state," to which they were emigrating.
Copy of Capt. Samuel Robinson's Roll.
August 16, 1777 — were in battle
Robert Cochran, Joseph Fay,
Gideon Spencer, John Clark,
William Henry, Jehosephat Holmes,
Henry Walbridge, Moses Rice,
Rufus Branch, Benj. Whipple, Jr.,
John Larned, Silas Robinson;
Thomas Abel, John Weeks,
Nathan Lawrence, Moses Scott,
Josiah Brush, Alpheus Hathaway,
David Fay, (Fifer,) Solomon Walbridge,,
Leonard Robinson, Ebenezer Bracket,
Daniel Biddlecome, Jehiel Smith,
Levi Hatheway, Asa Branch,
Abram Hatheway, Phinehas Wright,
Reuben Colvin, John Smith,
Eliphalet Stickney, Jesse Belknap,
Daniel Rude, Silvanes Brown,
Benj. Holmes, John Forbes,
James Marivater, Stephen Williams,
Mr. Alger, William Post,
Ammie Fuller, David Safford,
Jonah Brewster, Jared Post,
George Dale, Jeremiah Bingham,
John Marble, Samuel Slocum',
Ephraim Marble, Josiah Hurd,
Aaron Hubbell, Ezekiel Brewster,
Samuel Safford, Jr., Solomon Leason,
Aaron Smith, Thomas Selden,
Ephraim Smith, John Rigney,
Samuel Henry, Elisha Smith,
Edward Henderson, Solomon Safford,
Jonathan Haynes, Joseph Roe,
Archelaus Tupper, William Terrill,
Daniel Warner, Noah Beach,
Lt. Simeon Hathaway, Simeon Sears,
Aaron Miller, David Robinson,
John Fay, Joseph Safford,
Elijah Fay, Isaac Webster.
Although the capture of Burgoyne and his army in the fall of 1777, was a most fortunate event in the revolutionary struggle, yet it left Lake Champlain and the strong fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point in the possession of the enemy, and Vermont, during the remaining 5 years of the war, constantly exposed to their incursions. The occupation of these forts by a strong British force, also gave countenance and encouragement to the
* See Dorset biographical department.
** We shall have to reserve literary specimens from Bennington and several other towns for our supplement number, in order to give place for the Historical in this County.
loyalists in Northern New York and Vermont, and kept the inhabitants of Bennington and its vicinity in a state of almost continual apprehension and alarm.
In the spring of 1778 the effective but undefined authority of the Council of Safety ceased and gave place to a regular government under the state constitution. The first State Legislature assembled at Windsor on the 12th of March, and after a session of two weeks adjourned to meet at Bennington on the 4th of June following.
On the evening of the last day of May, four days before the meeting of the Assembly, Col. Ethan Allen returned to Bennington from his captivity after an absence of nearly 3 years, and the next day was one of great rejoicing. The people flocked into town to welcome him, and the old iron 6 pounder which in 1772 had been transported from the Fort at East Hoosick, for defence against an apprehended invasion by Gov. Tryon of New York with a body of land claimants and British regulars, was brought out, and notwithstanding a great scarcity of powder, was fired fourteen times "once for each of the thirteen United States, and once for young Vermont."
Allen returned to find his old friends as unreconciled as ever to British rule, and if possible, still more hostile to tories than they had formerly been to Yorkers. They were at that time under great excitement in regard to a tory by the name of David Redding who had been detected in going back and forth to and from the enemy on the lake, and finally in clandestinely taking and carrying off for the use of the tories a number of guns from the house of David Robinson where they had been lodged for safe keeping. For these acts he had been charged with the crime of "enemical conduct," and in pursuance of the demand of public opinion had, upon satisfactory evidence, been convicted and sentenced to be hung on the 4th of June, the day appointted for the meeting of the Legislature. After the Governor and Council had met it was shown to them by John Burnham attorney for Redding that he had been tried by six jurors only, and that the common law required a jury of twelve, upon which the Council on the morning of the day appointed for his execution in order that the Assembly might have time to act on the case, granted him a reprieve "until Thursday next, at two o'clock, in the afternoon," adding in their order. "This Council do not doubt, in the least, but that the said Redding will have justice done him, to the satisfaction of the public." The reprieve had been granted too late to prevent the assembling of a large concourse of people to witness the execution of one whom they, as well as the court, had already condemned as a traitor and spy; When the multitude found that the execution was not to take place they were clamorous at their disappointment, and there were some indications that another tribunal, since personified as "Judge Lynch" might take the matter in hand. Whereupon Ethan Allen suddenly pressing through the crowd, mounted a stump and waving his hat, exclaiming "attention the whole" proceeded to announce the reasons which produced the reprieve, advised the multitude to depart peacably to their habitations and return the day fixed for the execution in the act of the Governor and Council, adding with an oath, "you shall see somebody hung at all events, for if Redding is not then hung I will be hung myself." Upon this assurance the uproar ceased and the crowd dispersed.
Redding, in accordance with Allen's prediction was hung on the 11th of June, the day to which his execution had been postponed by the council, he having on the 9th been tried and convicted by a jury of twelve. Allen, by appointment of the Governor and Council acting as attorney for the state. The place of execution was in a field west of the road and opposite the tavern house of "Landlord Fay." For want of a jail Redding had been confined in the saddle room of the tavern house shed and had once for the want of sufficient care of one Sackett, his keeper, escaped and fled as far as Hoosick, where he had been retaken. For Sackett's negligence he was required by Sheriff Benjamin Fay, to drive the wagon with Redding to the place of execution.
Although public opinion seemed to be uniform in demanding the execution of Redding, yet after the excitement in regard to him had subsided the propriety of the sentence was sometimes called in question. The writer of this sketch recollects when a small boy, of hearing the matter discussed by a group of old ladies round a kitchen fire. Considerable sympathy was manifested for the deceased offendor, and one old lady seemed to think she had put a clincher to the argument in his favor by declaring "that Doctor Jonas Fay had the anatomy of Redding locked up in a closet in his house, and that he could never make the bones come together right," which she thought plainly showed that he ought not to have been hung.
During the remaining period of the war the state was under the necessity of maintaining a permanent guard on the border of the territory, to which the people of Bennington contributed their full proportion of men and means. They were also subject upon alarms of invasion by the enemy, which were
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sometimes made and often apprehended, to be called to march in a body to the frontier. But contributions and services of this character though onerous and important, must in this sketch be passed over without further notice.
Although the town of Bennington for a considerable period after the close of the revolution, continued to occupy a prominent and leading position in the affairs of the state, it is not deemed advisable in this sketch to pursue its history further in the consecutive order of events. Such matters as it is deemed proper to notice will be treated either in a disconnected manner, or by grouping together those of a kindred character at whatever period they may have occured.
Until about the year 1830, there was but one house for public worship in town, that of the Congregational Church in the Center Village. Now there are seven others, viz: two for Baptists, two for Methodists, one for Episcopalions, a second Congregational Church and one for Roman Catholics.
The first emigrants to Bennington were Congregationalists, and it is related of Samuel Robinson the largest proprietor that when persons came to purchase land, it was his practice to invite them to his house over night. In the course of the evening he contrived to ascertaine their religious views. If he found they did not correspond with his, he persuaded them to settle in Shaftsbury, in which he was also a proprietor. By this means the settlers of Bennington were nearly all of one religious faith, and they continued so, with come exceptions for many years. This attempt to preserve uniformety of sentiment was doubtless designed to promote the harmony and consequent happiness of the town, though it probably did not have that effect. It is quite certain that while there was but one organized church in town the bickerings connected with religious matters were much more frequent and bitter than they have since been.
On the 2d of December 1762 a church was organized which by vote on the same day adopted the Cambridge platform, with the exception of such parts as admitted the aid of civil magistrates in enforcing the support of the ministry, and their coercive power in other matters. This action of the church, as well as the evidence of tradition would indicate that its members belonged to that small class of Congregationalist whose notions of religious freedom were in advance of those of their brethren, and which had acquired for them the name of separatists. This doctrine was, indeed, in those days peculiar to minorities, and it is worthy of remark that this church when it was afterwards clothed with sufficient authority by the laws of the state, departed from it by insisting upon supporting their minister and building their new meeting house by a town tax. This forgetfulness of their early principles under the temptation of power, ought not perhaps to be matter of great astonishment. For even now, in 1860, when it would seem that the principles of religious freedom ought to be fully understood, there are not wanting worthy christians in the state, and even christian ministers who do not seem to have any very clear idea that people who differ from them can possibly have consciences, especially if they belong to a hated sect, and who think it very hard that they cannot be clothed with the authority of law to compel their neighbors to have their children taught a faith which both parent and child believe to be false.
At the first meeting of the proprietors of the town of which there is any record, in February 1762, a site for a meeting house was fixed upon, but the building was not erected and ready for use until 1765.
In the fall of 1763 the REV. JEDEDIAH DEWEY of Westfield, Massachusetts, in consequence of a call from the church and society removed here and became their pastor. In addition to the encouragement given him by voluntary subscription, the proprietors of the town voted him "the Ministers Right" of land which was situated near the center and was valuable. He was much beloved and confided in by the people of the town, and is believed to have exerted no small influence in their secular as well as spiritual affairs. He held a correspondence with Governor Tryon of New York in relation to the grievances of the settlers, and once had the honor of being indicted with others, as a rioter by the court at Albany; though no attempt was ever made to arrest or bring him to trial. In fact he was never engaged in any violent act whatever against the Yorkers, though it is quite probable he may have counseled resistence to the oppressive measures of New York, as he afterwards did to those of the mother country. He died Dec. 24, 1778 universally lamented. He had been twice married and left a large number of children, and has numerous descendants residing in town, who are among our most respectable inhabitants.
The REV. DAVID AVERY succeeded Mr. Dewey as pastor, and was settled May 3, 1780. He had been a Chaplin in the army and resigned that situation when he received a call from this church. He brought with his family to
town a colored woman, whom he insisted on his right to hold as a slave, which created much dissatisfaction in the church; and this, with other objections to him, occasioned his dismission at the end of three years, in May 1783.
The REV. JOB SWIFT, D. D., was next in charge of the church and congregation, and was settled Feb. 27, 1786. He remained their pastor over sixteen years, and his labors gave great satisfaction until about the close of that time, when dissentions arising, growing out of the bitterness of party politics, he thought proper to ask a dismission, which took place June 7, 1801. He afterwards removed to Addison in this state and was settled over the church in that town, and died October 20, 1804 at Enosburgh, where he had gone on a mission by the consent of his people, aged 61. He was eminent as a christian and a clergyman; but as he was not a native of this town and was not a resident here at the time of his decease, this does not seem to be the place for a more extended notice of him.
After Mr. Swift left, the pulpit was supplied during a considerable portion of the years 1803 and 1804 by the Rev. Joshua Spaulding, though he was not regularly settled.
In March 1805 the Rev Daniel Marsh became the settled clergyman and continued in charge of the church and congregation until April 1820, when he was dismissed. He soon afterwards removed from town and has since deceased. He was a worthy christian minister and enjoyed the confidence and respect of the community.
The Meeting House had been built by voluntary subscription, and for nearly thirty years the ministers had been supported in the same manner; the method adopted to raise the sum required being to assess the same upon the tax lists of those who gave their consent to the contribution. But in March 1790 an article was inserted in the warning for the town meeting, as follows, viz: "To see if the town will adopt a certain law of this state entitled an act for supporting and maintaining the gospel ministry," and at the meeting it passed in the affirmative.
By the act thus adopted, the salary of the minister was to be assessed upon the polls and ratable estate of the inhabitants of the town and collected in the same manner as other town taxes; and no person was to be exempt from its payment unless he lodged with the town clerk for record, the certificate of some minister or officer of another church that he agreed in religious sentiment with the signer thereof.
This vote created considerable dissatisfaction in the congregation, and Nathan Clark, one of the fathers of the town denounced it in severe terms, in an article published in the Gazette, over his own signature. The practice thus initiated in 1790, of supporting the ministry by town tax does not seem to have been abandoned until the repeal of the law on the subject in October 1807.
The tax for the support of the Minister, amounting usually to $450 per annum, appears to have been submitted to with a considerable degree of patience, but the attempt to apply the law to the building of a new meeting house, which would require more than a ten fold greater tax, roused a very serious opposition. Those however, who were in favor of thus erecting the house were sufficiently strong to carry a vote in the town meeting, held December 12, 1803, to raise a tax of 5000 dollars for that purpose. At the same meeting a committee consisting of Isaac Tichenor, David Robinson, Moses Robinson, Jr., Thomas Abel and Jesse Field, were appointed a building committee, and the house was afterwards erected under the special superintendence of Moses Robinson, Jr., the acting agent of the committee.
In 1801 the law providing for the support of the Gospel ministry and the erection of houses of worship was so far modified by the legislature that any tax payer could be relieved from contribution by lodging with the town clerk a certificate signed by him in the following words, viz: "I do not agree in religious opinion with a majority of the inhabitants of this town." And soon after the vote of the meeting house tax, the names of 136 of the tax payers, owning a considerable portion of the property in town were found in the clerk's office attached to such a certificate.
When the house was completed in December 1805, it was found to have cost $7743,28, and that only the sum of $2290,97 had been collected of the 5000 dollars which had been assessed. It was finally agreed to sell the pews at public auction to raise the money to pay for the house, and that persons not purchasing should have the money they had paid refunded them.
The house was dedicated January 1, 1806, the sermon being preached by the Rev. Mr. Marsh. The house was believed at the time to be the best in the state. It has since been modernized by the substitution of slips for pews and by other improvements, and will now compare favorably with most of the churches in country towns.
The old meeting house was torn down and removed in the autumn of 1805. It was a wooden unpainted building without a steeple and stood on the common between the present
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house and the tavern stand opposite, the north and south road passing each side of it. The REV. MR. MARSH was succeeded in the ministry of this church by the REV. ABSALOM PETERS, who was ordained July 5, 1820. He was released from his charge Dec. 14, 1825, on becoming Secretary of the Home Missionary Society.
The REV. DANIEL A. CLARK was pastor from June 13, 1826 to October 12, 1830. He was succeeded by REV. EDWARD W. HOOKER, who was pastor from Feb. 22, 1832 to May 14, 1844. The REV. J. J. ABBOTT was ordained August 1845 and remained here two years. The REV. R. C. HAND was settled Jan. 20, 1848 and dismissed Nov. 26, 1852. He was succeeded by the REV. ISAAC JENNINGS, June 1 1853, who is the present minister. The present number of members of this church is 242.
The second religious society which was formed in this town was what is now designated as the First Baptist Church. It was organized April 11, 1827, its first meeting house being erected in the East Village in 1830 and dedicated July 7th of that year. The pastors of this church have been the following, viz: The Reverends F. Baldwin from June 1828 to October 1830, Thomas Teasdale until February 1832; Jeremiah Hall for three years until April 1835; Samuel B. Willis for one year ending in June 1836; Stephen Hutchins from 1836 to 1841; Wm. W. Moore for one year ending in 1843; Cyrus W. Hodges from the fall of 1843 to the fall of 1848; Edward Conover from 1849 to 1852; Mr. Conover was succeeded by Rev. A. Judson Chaplin, and he by the Rev. Warren Lincoln, the present minister.
When the church was first organized in 1827 it consisted of 32 members. It now numbers 150.
The Methodist Church in the East Village was organized in May 1827, and its meeting house erected in 1833. The following named clergymen have been stationed here, with the church since May 1827, each for two years, viz: the Reverands Cyrus Prindle, John M. Weaver, Wright Hazen, Henry Burton, Henry Smith, —— Hubbard, C. R. Wilkins, Jesse Craig, J. W. Belknap, H. B. Knight, R. Wescott, C. R. Wilkins, Merritt Bates, H. R. Smith, Ensign Stover, 1856-7, J. E. Bonner, 1858-9, C. R. Morris. The present minister is the Rev. S. P. Williams. The present number of members 200.
An Episcopal Church was organized here July 24, 1834, by the name of St. Peters Church, under the ministry of the Rev. Nathaniel O. Preston, and a church edifice built of brick in 1836, which was consecrated July 22, 1839.
The Rev. Mr. Preston continued in charge of the parish until the fall of 1844, and was succeeded by Rev. C. I. Todd for one year, and by Rev. E. F. Remington for a few months. The Rev. George B. Manser, D. D. became Rector in February 1850, and still continues in that relation. In 1850 the church consisted of less than thirty communicants. It now has over 120.
In November 1834, a portion of the old Center Congregational Church formed themselves into a new church, adopting the Presbyterian form of government, and in 1835 erected a neat stone house for worship, at Hinsdillville, a mile south of the North Village. The Rev. Mr. Kenny, the Rev. Mr. Johnson, and the Rev. Mr. Nott, were successively pastors. The church ceased to hold meetings in October 1842, and the members, who originally numbered 75, mostly returned to the Center Church from which they had formerly separated. The house was sold to a Methodist Society in 1858.
The Second Congregational Church being a colony from the old Center Church, was formed April 26, 1836, and soon afterwards the Rev. Aretas Loomis became its pastor. He continued in charge of the church and congregation until Nov. 6, 1850, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, the Rev. Andrew M. Beverage, for a short time. The Rev. C. H. Hubbard was settled in 1851, and still continues here. The church numbers 150 members.
In the year 1836 a Universalist Meeting House was erected in the North Village. The Reverands G. Leach, Mr. Bell, Warren Skinner, and others, successively officiated as clergymen. In 1849 the building was purchased for an Academy and has since been occupied as such.
In July 1844, a Baptist Church was organised at the North Village, called the Second Baptist Church in Bennington, and in 1845 a neat and convenient house of worship was erected. The Rev. Justin A. Smith became pastor in 1844, and continued in that relations for nearly five years, until July 1849. He was in a few months succeeded by the Rev. J. D. E. Jones, who continued in charge of the church until the spring of 1855. The Rev. Wm. Hancock was then pastor for one year and the Rev. Jay Huntington for four years, from the spring of 1856 to 1860. The present clergyman is the Rev. Jireh Tucker. The church now numbers 102 members.
In the Spring of 1858, a Methodist Church was organized in the northwest part of the town, and the old house of worship, built in 1835, for the Presbyterian congregation, was purchased and repaired and well fitted up for
their use. The Rev. J. E. Bowen was stationed there during the years 1858 and 1859. The present preacher is the Rev. Mr. McChesney. The church numbers about 100 members. As long ago as 1836 a small chapel had been built about half a mile from the present church edifice which was supplied by preaching in connexion with another society in Hoosick — among the clergymen who thus officiated here were Reverends A. A. Farr in 1840, F. D. Sherwood in 1841-2, C. Barber in 1843-4, William Henry in 1845, A. Jones in 1846-7 and I. Sage in 1848 and 1849. After this regular preaching was suspended until the new organizasion in 1858.
For some years previous to 1850 father O'Callighan, residing at Burlington, held occasionally Roman Catholic meetings in the Court House in this town. He was succeeded by priest Daley who came regularly at stated times. He was followed in 1855 by priest Druon who resided here and under whose administration a convenient church building was erected the same year. He remained here about two years, when the meetings were held by priest Bayden from Rutland, until January 1859, when he was succeeded by Mr. Cloarec the present resident priest. The congregation which embraces the towns of Shaftsbury, Bennington and Pownal, numbers about 175 families.
Several Missionaries to foreign countries have gone from this town.
Rev. Hiram Bingham went to the Sandwich Islands in 1819, in the first missionary company that visited those Islands, where he remained about 20 years. He is the author of a history of the mission.
The Rev. William Harvey and the Rev. Hollis Reed and his wife, Caroline Hubbell Reed went together from here as missionaries to Burmah in 1828, where Mr. Harvey fell a victim to the Asiatic colera a few years afterwards. After Mr. Harvey's death Mr. Reed and wife were from failing health obliged to return to this country. All these were sent out under the patronage of the American Board of Foreign Missions.
In 1834 the Rev. James M. Haswell, son of Anthony Haswell, went to Burmah under the direction of the Baptist Missionary Society, where he he still remains. A son of his, Rev. James R. Haswell, born in Burmah and sent home for education, was during the past year ordained as a Missionary and has sailed for Burmah to join his father.
The subject of Education received the early attention of the inhabitants of the town. In January 1763 the proprietors voted a tax on their lands for building a school house, and in the following April it was voted in town meeting to raise a tax to support the schools in "three parts of the town." As the settlements extended new schools were opened and they have been ever since kept in all parts of the town; so that a convenient opportunity has at all times been afforded to all the children and youth within its limits to obtain instruction in the common English branches of education.
In November 1780 an Academy was incorporated in this town by act of assembly under the name of "Clio Hall," and a convenient building for that purpose was soon afterwards erected on the site now occupied by the Center meeting house. In this Academy the languages and higher branches of English education were taught by various individuals at different periods until early in 1803, when the building was destroyed by fire. The school was sometimes prosperous but does not appear to have been steadily and continually kept. About the year 1816 "Union Academy" in the East Village was incorporated, and a building erected in which academical studies were for a time pursued. It did not, however, succeed as a permanent institution.
In 1821 a brick building was erected in the Center Village in which the higher branches were successfully taught for many years. In January 1829 a difficulty arose between James Ballard, the principal, and the committee or trustees, in regard to his authority over the scholars while out of school, he insisting upon regulating their "amusements and holidays," and the committee that the parents should be allowed the control in these matters, or at least that no scholar should be excluded from the school by the teacher for being thus engaged in amusements which were approved by his parent, "without his first obtaining the consent of the committee." To this Mr. Ballard refused to assent and he was dismissed from the school, and another teacher employed. The clergyman, the Rev. Daniel A. Clark, and a majority of his church (then the only one in town) taking sides with the dismissed teacher, a violont and bitter quarrel ensued which divided the village, the church and the town for several years.
Mr. Ballard immediately opened a separate school in the village, and his friends erected for him a new Academy building with a boarding house attached, to which the name of "the Bennington Seminary" was given,
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Thus two rival institutions were in operation in the same village, both being zealously supported by their respective partizans and friends. Both schools continued in apparent successful operation nntil the winter of 1837, when that of Mr. Ballard's was unexpectedly stopped, and the example was very soon followed by the other. The people had in fact become weary of their extra exertions to maintain their favorite schools, and were mostly quite willing to see them both suspended.
The bitter animosity with which the war of the Academy began had been gradually modified, and it finally gave place to something like kind and christian feeling, the village eventually uniting in the desire for the establishment of a single literary institution. It was, however, a longtime before a permanently flourishing school could be again put in operation.
In the year 1856 the Seminary property was purchased by Mr. George W. Yates, who has since conducted a successful High School, which for literary as well as moral instruction and training will compare favorably with other similar institutions in the country.
About the year 1833, a High School was begun in the East Village, and a new Academy building erected. It enjoyed the patronage of the Baptist denomination of the town and vicinity, and was for several years in a flourishing condition under the successive charges of Messrs. Adiel Harvey, Horace Fletcher, Justin A. Smith, Wm. G. Brown, and others. It has been discontinued for several years and the building appropriated to other uses.
In 1859 Miss Eliza M. Clark and sisters opened a young ladies boarding school in the East Village, in which are well taught all the various branches of education usual in the highest female Seminaries. The school has thus far been a decided success.
In 1849 a building which had been erected for a Universalist Church in North Bennington, was purchased by the citizens of the place and fitted up for an Academy. A High School has been kept there for the past year by Professor A. M. S. Carpenter, which is well approved and patronized by the inhabitants of the vicinity.
Not much has been ascertained in regard to the early physicians of the town.
DR. JOSIAH FULLER was in Bennington in 1762 and died here in July 1806. He is believed not to have been regularly educated as a physician, though he practiced as such at an early period. He resided in the South East part of the town, half a mile east of the present residence of Thomas Jewett. He was one of the defendents in the ejectment suits at Albany in 1770, against whom judgments were recovered. He, however, appealed to the stronger tribunal at Bennington and kept his farm. He was surgeon at Ticonderoga for a short period after its capture by Allen in 1775.
Dr. NATHANIEL DICKINSON came here as early as 1766, and removed from town about the year 1790. His residence was at the place now occupied by the widow of the late Capt. Stephen Pratt.
DR. BENJAMIN WARNER, father of Col. Seth Warner, came to Bennington in the spring of 1765, and remained here about three years when he returned to Connecticut. His son Reuben who lived here many years later, also had the title of Doctor, though it is believed that neither the father or son were regularly educated as physicians.
DR. JONAS FAY settled here about 1766, and practiced medicine many years. (See Biographical sketches.)
DR. MEDAD PARSONS was in town as early as 1784 and had a large practice until about the year 1802 when he removed to the northward. He resided in the west part of the town at, the place now occupied by Wm. Weeks.
DR. GAIUS SMITH is believed to have settled here during the revolution. He resided half a mile east of Dr. Parsons at what has since been known as the Young place. He was for many years in extensive practice and removed to Burlington. N. Y. in 1804.
DR. BENJAMIN ROBINSON, son of Col. Samuel Robinson, born Feb. 11, 1776, was educated as a physician and practiced here for a short time about the year 1800. He soon after removed to Fayettville, N. C. where he became eminent in his profession and as a citizen. After an extensive practice for about half a century in his adopted state, he died there in 1857.
Dr. NOADIAH SWIFT, son of Rev. Job Swift was born at Armenia, Duchess Co., , N. Y., Nov. 24, 1776, and came as one of his father's family to Bennington in 1786, from which time until 1801 his father was pastor of the Congregational Church in this town. After receiving a common school education he pursued academical studies under the instruction of his father, and stucied medicine with Dr, Medad Parsons. He married Jennett Henderson, May 23, 1802, having a short time before commenced the practice of his profession in this town. His prompt and kind attentions to the calls of his patients, together with their confidence his skill and integrity
soon acquired for him great popularity, and an extensive and lucrative practice. This practice he retained over 50 years and until near the time of his decease, which occurred March 21, 1860.
His personal popularity was such that his political friends sometimes insisted on making him a candidate for office, and when brought forward he was generally successful. He was 3 years a representative to the Assembly, and twice, in 1840 and 1841, elected to the State Senate.
Dr. Swift became a member of the First Congregational Church in 1831, and soon after one of its deacons, in which relation he continued until his decease. His moral and religious life was always exemplary. Indeed, few men have been engaged so long in such extensive and varied business, who have uniformly sustained an equally unblemished and spotless reputation.
Dr. Swift died in the city of New York, where he was temporarily residing in the family of his son, Edward H. His remains were brought home to Bennington and intered beside those of his wife who had gone a few years before him. His children were the son before mentioned, and a daughter married to the Hon. Pierpoint Isham.
Dr. HEMAN SWIFT, a younger brother of Dr. Noadiah, was born in Bennington, Sept. 30, 1791, and graduated at Middlebury College in 1811. He commenced studying for the ministry at Andover, but his health failing he was obliged to leave that institution. He afterwards studied medicine and begun the practice in this town in 1821 in company with his brother. He sustained a high professional reputation and was in active practice until it was suddenly terminated by his death the 30th of January 1856. He had long been a member of the Congregational Church and was much respected; and his death was extensively and deeply lamented. He married Ruth Robinson in 1818, who survives him. Among his children was
Dr. H. SEDWICK SWIFT born June 16, 1827. He was a graduate of Williams College, and after receiving a thorough education its a a physician and surgeon, acquired great practical knowledge and skill in the hospitals of New York and other cities. He was author of several treatises which were published in the Medical Journals, some of which were translated into German and French, and by which he acquired much credit and distinction. He was a young man of great moral worth, as well as of extraordinary professional promise: but died of a disease of the lungs, Sept. 23, 1857, at the early ago of 30 years.
ATTORNEYS AT LAW.
Only a brief notice can here be given of the deceased lawyers who have resided and practiced in Bennington.
The name first known in this town in connexion with the practice of law was that of JOHN BURNHAM, who appeared before the Governor and Council June 4, 1778 with a copy of Blackstone's Commentaries, which he had then recently purchased, and obtained a new trial for David Redding who had just been sentenced to be hung, after a trial by a jury of only six men. He does not appear to have ever been admitted to the bar, but was a man of strong intellect and was justly entitled to the credit of being a very "respectable pettifogger." He was born at Ipswick Mass., and came to Bennington with his father in 1761, at the age of 19. He resided a portion of the time in Bennington and a portion in Shaftsbury, until 1785 when he removed to Middletown, where he died Aug. 1, 1829. He was a member of the convention that framed the constitution of the state, and a representative from Shaftsbury in 1778 and 1779.
NOAH SMITH is believed to have been the first lawyer to commence the practice in this town. There is extant a printed address, styled "a Speech," delivered at Bennington Aug. 16, 1778, the year after the battle in commemoration of that event "by Noah Smith A. B." The address is brief and chiefly of a historical character breathing a patriotic spirit, and is quite creditable to the author, who was doubtless just out of College. At the first session of the County Court in 1781, Mr. Smith was appointed States Attorney, which office he held for several years, and in 1789 and 1790 he was a judge of the Supreme Court. He built and resided in the house now owned by Henry Kellogg, Esq., and is believed to have removed to Milton in this state about the year 1800 and to have died a few years afterwards.
ISAAC TICHENOR was admitted to the bar of the County Court in April 1785,; JONATHAN ROBINSON in June 1793; and DAVID FAY in June 1794. (See Biographical sketches.)
NATHAN ROBINSON, son of Gov. Moses, and father of Gov. John S, was born March 4, 1772, admitted to the bar in 1797 and died Sept. 27, 1812.
ANDREW SELDEN was born at Hadley, Mass., when young removed with his father to Stamford, represented that town in the General Assembly for six successive years from 1790, came to Bennington about 1797, studied law with Jonathan Robinson, was admitted to the bar in December 1800, was Register of
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Probate several years, and died September 1825, aged 63.
JONATHAN E. ROBINSON, son of Jonathan Robinson, admitted December 1800. (See notice of his father.)
DAVID ROBINSON, JR., son of Gen. David Robinson, born July 12, 1777, admitted to the bar December 1800, and died in March 1858. He was in reputable practice for many years.
SAMUEL B. YOUNG was born at Stockbridge, Mass., and was admitted to the bar in this county in December 1803. He commenced practice with brilliant prospects and a good business which, however, he gradually lost together with the confidence of the community. He was afterwards noted for his full drab quaker dress, and his keen wit and satire in bar-room story telling. He died in the fall of 1820.
ORSAMUS C. MERRILL was born June 18, 1775, came to Bennington about the year 1800 and was admitted to the bar in June 1804. He is still living, yet his advanced age and retirement from the cares of life is thought to make it not improper to say that he long enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens of the town and state. He was for several years Post Master, a Lieut. Colonel in the army during the war of 1812, a member of Congress in 1817-18 and 19, and was afterwards a member of the State Council for 5 years, a representative to the Assembly and judge of Probate.
CHARLES WRIGHT, son of Solomon Wright of Pownal, was born in 1786, graduated at Williams College, studied law with Chancey Langdon of Castleton, and was admitted to the bar of Rutland Co. in 1807. He soon after commenced the business of his profession in Bennington, in which he continued until his decease, Feb. 15, 1819. At the time of his death he had the largest and most lucrative practice of any lawyer in the county, and sustained a high reputation for professional talent and integrity.
JAMES HUBBELL, born in Bennington, Oct. 17, 1775, was admitted to the bar in December 1806. He resided in the city of New York for a considerable period, and held the office of magistrate under the appointment of Gov. DeWit Clinton, which gave him active and responsible employment. He afterwards returned to Bennington and died here April 21, 1840,
TRUMAN SQUIER came to Bennington to reside in 1810. He was born at Woodbury, Conn. in January 1764, was in the practice of law at Manchester for several years prior to and after the year 1800, where he held the office of States Attorney 2 years, Judge of Probate 3 years from 1798, and was also Secretary to the Governor and Council for several years. He was a good lawyer and an upright man, and died in the respect and confidence of all, May 21, 1845.
THOMAS J. WRIGHT, a brother of Charles Wright before mentioned, was admitted to the of the County Court in June 1812 and died in 1813.
MARSHALL CARTER, a young man of much talent and professional promise, born in Charlemont, Mass., studied law with Charles Wright, and was admitted to the bar in 1817. He was long in feeble health and died Sept. 5, 1820, aged 31.
DANIEL CHURCH came from Arlington to Bennington to practice law, in the year 1820 or 1821 and remained here until about 1830, when he removed from the state and died soon after.
The following Biographical Sketches embrace only deceased persons who were inhabitants of Bennington. Those deceased individuals who were considered most prominent in their professional characters have been mentioned under the respective heads of Ecclesiastical history, Physicians and Attorneys at Law. These sketches are necessarily mere skeleton notices. If time and space had permitted, most of these might have been made much more interesting and instructive by fuller and more characteristic details.
Although living residents of the town have been excluded from our biographical notices, it may not perhaps be improper to mention the names of some individuals who were natives or descendants of Bennington inhabitants, who have acquired distinction abroad. Those of missionaries have been already named in our account of ecclesiastical affairs.
Among the natives of this town may be mentioned ANN C. LYNCH of literary and poetic celebrity, now the wife of Professor Botta of New York. The distinguished clergyman and orator Ray. E. H. CHAPIN is a son of Bennington.
THEODORE S. FAY a popular author and now resident minister of the United States in Switzerland, is a descendant of Stephen Fay, and by the female line of the Rev. Jedediah Dewey two of the early prominent inhabitants of this town.
The father of PRESIDENT FILLMORE (Nathaniel Fillmore) was born in Bennington April 19, 1771. He married here and emigrated to Western New York about the year 1798, and is still living at Aurora, Eric Co. Nathaniel
Fillmore, the grandfather of the President, an early and reputable inhabitant of this town was Ensign in Capt. Dewey's company in the battle of Bennington. One of his sons and many of his descendants are still living in town.
The parents of the HON. KINSLEY SCOTT BINGHAM, formerly Governor of Michigan and now Senator in Congress from that state, were both natives of Bennington, the mother being a sister of the late. Col. Martin Scott, who lost his life in the Mexican war.
The HON. REUBEN H. WALWORTH, late Chancellor of New York, once had his residence in this town.
JOHN LOVETT who was aid to Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer on the Niagara frontier in the war of 1812, and afterwards until 1817 a member of Congress from the Albany district, a man of decided talent, resided in this town as a merchant for 3 or 4 years ending in 1807, when he removed to Albany. He was a graduate of Yale College and had also studied the profession of law. He was not successful as a merchant, but is kindly remembered here for his interesting and amusing conversational powers and his genial wit. One of his brief poetic effusions, exhibiting a coarse phase of human vanity, has come down to us as follows:
I sing the Indian, great Bob Konkepot
That used to swear he'd rather fight than not,
'Cause't made folks talk Konkepot
Great much, great deal, —
Dis make Bob Kenkepot great man, big feel.
There are doubtless other natives or descendents of Bennington who might properly be noticed here.
SAMUEL ROBINSON, SENIOR.
CAPT. SAMUEL ROBINSON was born at Cambridge, Mass., in 1705, removed to Hardwick about 1735, and emigrated to Bennington in 1761, the acknowledged leader of the band of pioneers in the settlement of the town; and he continued to exercise almost a controlling authority in the affairs of the town during the remainder of his life. He had served as Captain in the troops of Massachusetts in the French war during several campaigns and was at the head of his company in the battle of Lake George, September 1755, when the French were defeated by Generals Johnson and Lyman. He was commissioned as Justice of the Peace by Gov. Wentworth of New Hampshire Feb. 8, 1762, being the first person appointed to any judicial office within the limits of this State.
In the summer of 1764 a controversy in regard to jurisdiction arose in Pownal between claimants under New Hampshire, and others under New York, in which the authority of Esquire Robinson as a magistrate seems to have been invoked. Mr. Robinson being at Pownal was together with Samuel Ashley a New Hampshire sheriff's deputy and two other persons arrested by the New York sheriff and his assistants and carried to Albany jail. This collision of officers produced a correspondence between the Governors of the two provinces, which appears to have resulted in a sort of compromise by which Mr. Robinson and those with him were released on moderate or nominal bail, and though indicted for resisting the New York officers, were never brought to trial.
In December 1765 when it was ascertained by the settlers under New Hampshire that their lands were being granted from under them by Lieut. Gov. Colden, Mr. Robinson was deputed by those of Bennington and the neighboring towns to go to New York for the purpose of trying to persuade him to save their possessions from the grasp of the city speculators, but his efforts were unavailing. He was the next year appointed by the whole body of the settlers and claimants, their agent to repair to England and present their petitions for relief to the king. He left for England late in the fall of 1766 and reached London early in February following. In conjunction with William Samuel Johnson, then in London as the agent of the Colony of Connecticut, and with the aid of "the Society for the Propogation of the gospel in Foreign Parts," he so far procured the ear of the crown that Lord Shelburne on the 11th of April 1757 addressed a letter to Sir Henry Moore, who had then become governor of the province of New York, forbidding him in the most positive terms from making any new grants of lands in the disputed territory, and from molesting any person in possession under a New Hampshire title. On the 20th of July following, upon a hearing before the king in council an order in council was made prohibiting the governor of New York, "under pain of his majesty's highest displeasure," from making any such new grants. While Mr. Robinson was still prosecuting the business of his mission, he unfortunately took the small pox and died in Landon October 27, 1767.
Mr. Johnson in communicating the intelligence of his decease to his widow under date of Nov. 2 1767, says of him: "He is much lamented by his friends and acquaintances, which were many. You may rest assured no care or expense was spared for his comfort and to save his life, had it been consistent with the designs of Providence. * * * After his death as the last act of friendship to his memory, I took care to furnish him a decent funeral at which General Lyman and
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other gentlemen here from America attended with me as mourners. He is intered in the burial ground belonging to Mr. Whitfield's church, where he usually attended public worship." * * *
Capt. Robinson was an intelligent enterprising and energetic man of exemplary moral and religious character, and well suited to be the leader of a band of emigrants to a new country. His loss was deeply felt and deplored by the whole body of settlers on the New Hampshire Grants. Capt. Robinson left six sons and three daughters who were all born at Hardwick, all emigrated to Bennington, and all became heads of families. His descendants are very numerous, some of them are to be found in almost every state and territory in the Union. Of the sons Leonard, the oldest and Silas, the fourth, removed from Bennington to Franklin Co., and died there. Marcy, the eldest daughter married Joseph, son of Deacon Joseph Safford, Sarah, the second daughter married Benjamin son of Stephen Fay, and after his death Gen. Heman Swift of Cornwall Connecticut. — Anna, the youngest married Isaac Webster of Bennington. The other children were Samuel, Moses, David and Jonathan, who will require separate notices.
COL. SAMUEL ROBINSON.
COL. SAMUEL ROBINSON, son of Samuel Robinson, Senior, was born at Hardwick, Mass., Aug. 15, 1738, was one of the first company of settlers who came to Bennington in 1761, married Esther, daughter of Dea. Joseph Safford, and died in Bennington May 3. 1813. He was an active man in the New York controversy and in the other early affairs of the town; in 1768 was chosen town committee in place of his father deceased, commanded one of the Bennington companies of militia in Bennington battle, performed other important military services during the war, and rose to the rank of Colonel. In 1777 and 1778 he had charge as "overseer," of the tory prisoners and in 1779 and 1780 represented the town in the General Assembly and was for three yearn a member of the Board of War. He was the first justice of the peace appointed in town, under the authority of Vermont in 1778, and was also during the same year one of the judges of the Special Court for the South Shire of the County, and in that capacity sat on the trial and conviction of Redding. Col. Robinson was a man of good natural abilities and of much activity and enterprise in early life; upright and honorable in all his dealings, possessing undoubted personal courage, and beloved by all for the kindness, generosity and nobleness of his nature and conduct. He left numerous worthy and respectable descendants, some of whom reside in this town, and others in different parts of this and the United States.
GOV. MOSES ROBINSON.
MOSES ROBINSON, son of Samuel, Senior, was born at Hardwick, Mass., March 26, 1741, married Mary, daughter of Stephen Fay, and after her death Susanah Howe; and died at Bennington May 20, 1813. He was chosen Town Clerk at the first meeting of the town March 1762, and held the office 19 years until March 1782. In the early part of 1777 he was Colonel of the militia and was at the head of his regiment at Mount Independence on its evacuation by Gen. St. Clair. He then became a member of the Council of Safety, which held continued sessions for several months afterwards, and was succeeded in his military rank by Col. Nathaniel Brush of Bennington. On the first organization of the Supreme Court in 1778 he was appointed Chief Justice; which office he held (with the exception of one year) until 1789, when there being no choice of Governor by the people be was elected by the Legislature to that office, but was succeeded the next year by Thomas Chittenden, the former governor. He had in 1782, attended the Continental Congress as one of the agents of Vermont and on the adjustment of the controversy with New York was in January 1791 elected one of the Senators to Congress, (Stephen R. Bradley, being the other.) Gov. Robinson was a political friend of Jefferson and Madison, and when in Congress united with them in their favorable views of the French revolution and government, and in their hostility to Jay's treaty with England. He not only voted against the treaty in the Senate in June 1795, but after its ratification by that body, was instrumental in procuring its condemnation by a Bennington town meeting, and by a convention of the county, in order, in connexion with similar demonstrations in other parts of the country, to induce Congress to withhold the necessary appropriations for carrying the treaty into effect. In June 1791 Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of State and Mr Madison a member of the House of Representatives, in making a horseback tour through New England, stopped in Bennington and spent the Sabbath with Gov. Robinson, who had then been recently elected to the Senate. Gov. Robinson was a zealously pious man and scrupulously exact in the performance of his religions duties, while his visitors, especially Mr. Jefferson, were accused of not only sympathising with the
French republicans in politics, but also in religion, or rather in the want of it. This visit of these distinguished gentlemen, in connexion with the subsequent political course of Gov. Robinson was afterwards made the occasion of sundry newspaper squibs of the opposite party, particularly in reference to his intercourse with his guests during the Sabbath. According to one of them, Gov. Robinson, who was a little proud (as Bennington people are still apt to be) of the performance of the choir of singers, insisted upon having their opinion upon its merits and especially how it compared with the church music in other places, upon which it was said both of them were obliged to confess, that they were no judges of the matter, neither of them having attended church before in several years!
Another rather characteristic story was told of him by his political opponents. It ran in this wise: At the close of the session of Congress in which he had voted against the appropriations for Jay's treaty and had given other votes which it was thought indicated hostility towards Washington's administration, he rode on his way home from Philadelphia in a carriage in company with a portion of the Connecticut delegates, among whom was Uriah Tracy, then a member of the house, long noted for the sarcastic keenness of his wit. In the course of the journey to New York, Governor Robinson as was his wont fell to discoursing upon religious matters and particularly upon doctrinal points, insisting with great earnestness upon the truth of the doctrine of total depravity. — Tracy's patience being somewhat tried he suddenly broke in upon him with the question "Gov. Robinson do you think you are totally depraved." The Governor appeared somewhat confused, but after a little hesitation felt obliged to answer that be thought he was. To which Tracy promptly replied — "I know that your friends have thought so for some time past, and I am glad you have become sensible of it yourself." This sharp reply is said to have changed the subject of conversation. Gov. Robinson though sustained in his political views by his neighbors of the town and county, found himself in a minority in the state, and accordingly resigned his office of Senator in October 1796, a few months before the expiration of his term, and was succeeded by Isaac Tichenor. He represented the town in the General Assembly in 1802, and was not afterwards in public life.
Gov. Robinson was a man of exemplary moral and religious character, intelligent and upright in the performance of all his duties, both as a public man and private citizen, always possessing the confidence and esteem of all who knew him. He died May 26, 1813, in the 73d year of his age, and was extensively lamented.
By his first wife, Mary Fay, Governor Robinson left six sons, Moses, the eldest was a member of the Council in 1814 and was several times in 1820 and afterwards representative of the town in the General Assembly. He died January 30, 1825, aged 62. Aaron, the second son, was Town Clerk seven years, in 1815 and afterwards, a justice of the peace 23 years, a representative to the Assembly in 1816 and 1817, and Judge of Probate in 1835 and 1836, and died in 1850, aged 83. Samuel Robinson, the third son was clerk of the Supreme Court for the County, from 1794 to 1815. He died January 7, 1820, aged 53. Nathan Robinson, another son, was a lawyer by profession; represented the town in 1803 and died Sept, 27, 1812, aged 40. The other sons were Elijah and Fay.
GENERAL DAVID ROBINSON.
GEN. DAVID ROBINSON (son of Samuel Senior) was born at Hardwick, Mass., Nov. 22, 1754, and came to Bennington with his father in 1761. He was in the battle of Bennington as a private in the militia and afterwards rose by regular promotion to the rank of Major General, which office he resigned about 1817. He was Sheriff of the County for 22 years ending in 1811, when he was appointed United States Marshall for the Vermont district, which office he held for 8 years until 1819. Gen. Robinson was a very active energetic man, and well fitted for the executive offices he was called upon to fill. He sustained through life an unexceptionable moral and religious character, and died. Dec. 12, 1843, at the advanced age of 89.
By his wife Sarah, a daughter of Stephen Fay, he had three sons who became heads of families, viz: David, a lawyer by profession, who died in March 1858, aged 81, Stephen who was successively a member of the Assembly, for several years, a Judge of the County Court, and a member of the Council of Censors in 1834, and died in 1852, aged 71, and Heman, who died Feb. 26, 1837, aged 50. —
The two latter left numerous descendants.
JUDGE JONATHAN ROBINSON.
JUDGE JONATHAN ROBINSON (the youngest son of Samuel Senior) was born at Hardwick, Mass., Aug. 11, 1756, and same to Bennington as one of his father's family, in 1761. He was admitted to the bar in June 179? and was early in public life; was Town Clerk 6 years from 1795, represented the town 13
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years prior to 1802, was chief judge of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1807, when he was chosen Senator to Congress to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Israel Smith then elected governor of the state, and was also Senator for the succeeding term of 6 years which expired March 3, 1815. In October 1815 he became Judge of Probate and held the office for 4 years, and in 1818 again represented the town in the General Assembly. He died Nov. 3, 1819 in the 64th year of his age.
Judge Robinson was a man of pleasant and insinuating address, and by his talent and political shrewdness occupied a leading position in the republican party of the State for many years. While in the Senate be was understood to have the ear and confidence of President Madison, and to have a controlling influence in the distribution of the army and other patronage of the administration within this state, which in consequence of the war with England was then very great.
He married Mary, daughter of John Fassett, Senior — His children were Jonathan E. who was a lawyer by profession, was Town Clerk 9 years, Judge of the County Court in 1828 and died April 27, 1831, Henry, who was successively paymaster in the army, Clerk in the Pension office, Brigadier General of the Militia and for 10 years Clerk of the County and Supreme Court, and died in 1856; a daughter, Mary married to Col. O. C. Merrill, but now deceased, and another son Isaac T. Robinson, is still living in Bennington.
GOV. JOHN S. ROBINSON.
GOV. JOHN S. ROBINSON was son of Nathan and grandson of Gov. Moses Robinson, and was born at Bennington, Nov. 10, 1804. His great grandfather, Samuel Robinson, served several campaigns as captain of Massachusetts troops, in the vicinity of lakes George and Champlain, in the French war which terminated in the conquest of Canada; was leader of the band of pioneers in the settlement of Bennington, and died in 1767 in London, while on a mission to implore the aid of the crown in behalf of the New Hampshire settlers, against the oppressions of the New York government.
Mr. Robinson, the subject of this brief notice, graduated at Williams College, in 1824, was admitted to the Bennington County Bar, in 1827, and was in the active practice of his profession in his native town during the remainder of his life.
He was twice elected a representative of Bennington in the General Assembly; was twice a member of the State Senate, and in 1853, on the failure of an election of Governor by the people, he was chosen to that office by joint ballot of the two houses. Mr. Robinson belonged to the Democratic party, and was frequently supported by his political friends for Member of Congress, Governor and other important offices, but his party being generally in the minority, he was unsuccessful except as before stated.
In April, 1860, he attended the National Democratic Convention at Charleston, South Carolina, was Chairman of the delegation from Vermont, and died in that city, of apoplexy, on the 24th of that month.
The legal attainments and high order of talent of Mr. Robinson placed him at an early day in the front rank of his profession, which position he always maintained. Generous of heart, amiable in disposition, and with integrity undoubted, he, by his uniform courtesy and kindness, endeared himself to all with whom he had business or intercourse. His remains were brought for interment to his native town, where his funeral was attended by the members of the bar in a body, as mourners, and by a large concourse of acquaintances and friends — an impressive funeral discourse being delivered by President Hopkins, with whom he had received his college education.
Gov. Robinson was married to Julietta Staniford, in October, 1847, then widow of Wm. Robinson, who survives him. He left no children.
CAPT. JOHN FASSETT AND FAMILY.
Among the settlers in Bennington of 1761, was the family of John Fassett, at whose house the first town meeting was held in March 1762. He resided about half a mile south of the meeting house near what has been lately known as the Doctor Swift place. He kept a tavern and the town meetings were at the house of "John Fassett Innholder" until 1767, when they were at the meeting house. In October 1764, Mr. Fassett was chosen Captain of the first military company formed in the town, by which title he was afterwards distinguished. He was one of the two representatives of the town chosen to the first state legislature which was in March 1778. He died at Bennington Aug. 12, 1794, in the 75th year of his age. He had a numerous family of children, among whom were the following, viz:
John Fassett, Jr. was born at Hardwick, June 3, 1743, came to Bennington with his father in 1761, married Hannah, daughter of Dea. Joseph Safford, and removed to Cambridge, Vt., in 1784, where he died. He was
one of the two representatives from Arlington in 1778, and was elected one of the Council in 1779, which office he held with the exception of the years 1785 and 1786, until 1795 and he was also a Judge of the Supreme Court for 8 years from 1778 to 1786. He was father of Elias Fassett who was Colonel of the 30th Regiment of United States Infantry in the war of 1812. Col. Benjamin Fassett was born at Hardwick, and came to Bennington with his father Capt. John Fassett, in 1761. He was a Commissary in the war of the revolution, and served in other capacities in military and civil life, was an active business man and died in Bennington many years since leaving numerous descendants.
STEPHEN FAY came from hardwick to Bennington about the year 1766, kept a public house in the center of the town, known in the language of the time as "Landlord Fays." The house built by him is still standing and occupied by his grandson Samuel Fay. It was the usual place of meeting of the settlers in their early contest with the Yorkers, and known as their head quarters. Ethan Allen made it his home for a great portion of the time for several years from 1770, when he first came to the New Hampshire grants. Mr. Fay occupied an influential position among the early inhabitants of the town, and died in 1781. He had ten children in the order of their ages as follows, viz:
John, the eldest who was killed in Bennington Battle Aug. 16, 1777, aged 43. He left a widow and children and many of his descendants are now living in the northern part of this State. Jonas, the second son;— Stephen, who died at Charlestown, Mass. — Mary, married to Gov. Moses Robinson; Sarah, married to Gen. David Robinson; Elijah died in Bennington July 5, 1835, aged 85; Beulah married to Samuel Billings of Bennington; Benjamin, born Nov. 22, 1750, was the first Sheriff appointed in the County and State and held the office from March 26, 1778 until October 1781, and died in 1786. He left several children among whom was Samuel Fay above mentioned, born Aug. 16, 1772, and who has been more particularly spoken of in the sketch of the town. The other children of Stephen Fay were Joseph and David.
DR. JONAS FAY,
son of Stephen Fay, was born at Hardwick Mass., Jan. 17, 1737, and removed to Bennington in 1766. He occupied from an early day a prominent position among the settlers on the New Hampshire Grants, as well in the contest with New York as in that with the mother country, and also in the organization of the state government. In 1772 when Governor Tryon invited the people of Bennington to send agents to New York to inform him of the grounds of their complaint, he, with his father, was appointed for that purpose. He was clerk to the convention of settlers that met in March 1774, and resolved to defend by force, Allen, Warner and others who were threatened with outlawry and death by the New York Assembly, and as such clerk certified their proceedings for publication. At the age of 19 he had served in the French war during the campaign of 1776 at Fort Edward and Lake George, as Clerk of Capt. Samuel Robinson's Company of Massachusetts troops, and he served as Surgeon in the expedition under Allen at the capture of Ticonderoga. He was continued in that position by the committee of the Massachusetts Congress who were sent to the lake in July 1775, and also appointed by them to muster the troops as they arrived for the defence of that post. He was also surgeon for a time to Col. Warner's regiment.
In January 1776, he was clerk to the convention at Dorset that petitioned Congress to be allowed to serve in the common cause of the country as inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants and not under New York, and also of that held at the same place in July following. He was a member of the convention which met at Westminster in January 1777, and declared Vermont to be an independent State, and was appointed chairman of a committee to draw up a declaration and petition announcing the fact and their reasons for it to Congress, of which declaration and petition he was the draughtsman and author. He was secretary to the convention that formed the constitution of the State in July 1777, and was one of the Council of Safety then appointed to administer the affairs of the State until the Assembly provided for by the constitution should meet; was a member of the State Council for seven years from 1778, a Judge of the Supreme Court in 1782, Judge of Probate from 1782 to 1787, and he attended the Continental Congress at Philadelphia as the agent of the State under appointments made in January 1777, October 1779, June 1781 and February 1782.
Dr. Fay was a man of extensive general information, decided in his opinions and bold and determined in maintaining them. His education was such as to enable him to draw with skill and ability the public papers of the day, of many of which, besides the declaration of independence before mentioned.
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he was the reputed author. In 1780 he in conjunction with Ethan Allen prepared and published in their joint names a pamphlet of 30 pages on the New Hampshire and New York controversy which was printed at Hartford, Conn. Dr. Fay was on terms of friendship and intimacy with Gov. Thomas Chittenden the Allens, Warner and other founders of the State. He was twice married and has left numerous descendants. On the occurrence of the birth of twin sons, Jan. 12, 1779, he named one of them Ethan Allen and the other Heman Allen, after his two friends of those names. The latter, Major Heman A. Fay, graduated as a cadet at West Point in 1808 and was appointed a Lieutenant in the army in which he served through the war of 1812, and soon afterwards became Military store keeper at Albany, which office he held until within a few years past, when he returned to Bennington, where he now resides.
Dr. Fay resided in Bennington in a house that stood on "the blue hill" a mile south of the meeting house until after the year 1800 when he removed to Charlotte for a few years, and afterwards to Pawlet, but returned again to Bennington where he died Marsh 6, 1818, aged 82.
COL. JOSEPH FAY.
son of Stephen Fay, was born at Hardwick about 1752, and came to Bennington a member of his fathers family in 1766. He was Secretary to the Council of Safety and of the State Council from September 1777 to 1784, and Secretary of State from 1778 to 1781. He was the associate of Ira Allen in conducting the famous negociation with Gen. Haldimand by which the operations of the enemy were paralyzed and the northern frontier protected from invasion during the three last years of the revolutionary struggle. He was a man of very respectable talents and acquirements, of fine personal appearance and agreeable manners and address, and well calculated to manage such a diplomatic adventure with adroitness and ability. He built and resided in the house now occupied by the widow of the late Truman Squier, next north of the Court House; but removed to New York City in 1794, where he died of the yellow fever in October 1803. Theodore S. Fay well known as a popular writer, and now Minister of the United States to Switzerland, is a grandson of Col. Fay.
JUDGE DAVID FAY.
DAVID FAY, youngest son of Stephen Fay, was born at Hardwick, Mass., December 13, 1761, and came to Bennington as one of his father's family in 1766. He was in the battle of Bennington, though less than 16 years old, his name being found on the roll of Capt. Samuel Robinson's company, designated as "fifer." He was admitted to the bar in June 1794 and was States Attorney for four years previous to 1801, was United States Attorney for the Vermont District under Mr. Jefferson, Judge of the Supreme Court for 4 years from 1809, Judge of Probate in 1819 and 1820, and a member of the Council for 4 years ending in 1821. He died June 5, 1827, leaving no descendants.
GEN. EBENEZER WALBRIDGE.
GEN. EBENEZER WALBRIDGE was born at Norwich, Conn., Jan. 1, 1738, and came to Bennington in 1765. He was early in military service. He was an officer in Col. Warner's regiment of Green Mountain Boys in the winter campaign of 1776 in Canada, and from the fragment of an original muster roll still in existence, it appears that on the 3d of March of that year he was before Quebec a Lieutenant in Capt. Gideon Brownson's company and adjutant of the regiment. He also served as adjutant in Bennington battle, where his brother, Henry Walbridge was killed. In 1778 he was Lieutenant Colonel in the militia, and in 1780 succeeded Col. Herrick, in command of the Bennington regiment and afterwards became Brigadier General. He was in active service on the frontiers at several periods during the war, and in December 1781 when troops were called out by both New York and Vermont to sustain their respective claims of jurisdiction over "the Western Union," as it was called, Col. Walbridge commanded those of this state. But for the decided superiority of the Vermont force, and a disposition to forbearance on the part of the Vermont authorities, it seems probable an actual military collision would have occurred. The matter was, however, compromised for the time being, through the mediation of Gen. Stark, who was then in command at Saratoga, and the troops on both sides were withdrawn. The correspondence of Col. Walbridge with the New York authorities, which is creditable to his intelligence and decision of character, as well as forbearance, is preserved among the papers of Gov. Clinton, in the State Library at Albany. Gen. Walbridge also served the state faithfully and well in civil life. He was a representative of the town in the General Assembly in 1778 and 1780, and a member of the State Council for 8 years from 1786 to 1795. He was an active and enterprising businessman. In 1786 he was joint proprietor with Joseph
Hinsdill in the first paper-mill erected in the state, he having built a gristmill some 4 years previously. These mills were at what has since been called Paper Mill Village, near his then residence, now occupied by his grandson Stebbins D. Walbridge. He died Oct. 3, 1819.
NATHAN CLARK was a resident of Bennington is early as September 1762, but the place of his birth or that from whence he emigrated has not been ascertained. He was a leading man in the controversy of the settlers with the New York land claimants, and his name appears in nearly all of their public proceedings prior to the revolution, generally as chairman of their committees and conventions. He is said by tradition to have been "a pen and ink man," and to have been the draughtsman of many of the published papers of the early time. He was chairman of the committee of safety of Bennington in 1776, and as such held correspondence with Gen. Gates, then commander, at Ticonderoga, rendering him substantial and efficient aid in collecting and forwarding supplies for the army. He was representative from the town in the first legislature held in the state which met at Windsor in March 1778, and was Speaker of the Assembly. He is said to have been a man of decided energy of character, and of verb respectable talent. One of his sons, Nathan Clark, Jr., died of a wound received in Bennington battle. He had other sons in the battle, one of whom, Isaac Clark, was afterwards known as "Old Rifle," and served as Colonel in the war of 1812. Nathan Clark died at Bennington April 8, 1792, aged 74, leaving many descendants.
JAMES BREAKENRIDGE came to Bennington in the fall of 1761, and settled in the northwesterly part of the town, being the owner by purchase of several rights of land. He was of Protestant Irish descent and there afterwards settled about him the families of Henderson, Henry and one or two others of the same ancestry, which gave to the neighborhood the name of "the Irish corner," and which it has ever since retained. Mr. Breakenridge was a man of quiet and peacable disposition and habits, though his property being covered by the old patent of Walloomsack, necessarily placed him in a belligerent attitude towards the New York claimants. Although indicted as a rioter and outlawed with Allen, Warner and others by the New York government, he does not appear to have over taken any part in their active proceedings.
He was sent to England by a convention of the settlers with Jehiel Hawley of Arlington, as his associate in 1772, to ask relief from the crown against the New York claimants and government, but the ministry were too much absorbed with their project of taxing America to give their attention to the matter. Mr. Breakenridge was chosen Lieutenant of the first military company formed in Bennington in 1764, and is therefore frequently designated in the records of the town by that title. He was a man of exemplary moral and religious character, and died April 16, 1783, aged 62, and has left numerous descendants.
COL. SETH WARNER.
COL SETH WARNER was born in Roxbury, then Woodbury, Conn., May 17, 1743, came to Bennington to reside in January 1765, and remained here until the summer of 1784, when being in failing health he returned to his native town where he died the December following, being in the 42d year of his age. The life of Warner has been written by Daniel Chipman and by others and is too well known to justify any detailed notice of him in this sketch. As a military leader he was honored and confided in above all others by the people of this state, and his bravery and military capacity appear to have been always appreciated by the intelligent officers from other states with whom he served. In the disastrous retreat from Canada in the spring of 1776 he brought up the rear, and he was placed in command of the rear guard on the evacuation of Ticonderoga, by which he was involved in the action at Hubbardton. At Bennington he was with Stark for several days before the battle, and was his associate in planning the attack upon Baum and in carrying it into execution, and it was by his advice and contrary to the first impression of Stark that Breyman was immediately opposed, without first retreating to rally the scattered American forces. Stark in his official account of the battle was not the man to overlook the valued services of his associates. In his letter to Gates he says that Warner marched with him to meet the enemy on the 14th, and of the battle on the 16th, "Warner's superior skill in the action was of great service to me." Cotemporaneous histories confirm the account given by Stark. Gordon in his history of the revolution takes a similar view of the services of Warner on that occasion, and Dr. Thatcher in his Journal, in commencing his account of the actions, says, "On the 16th Gen. Stark assisted by Col. Warner matured his arrangments for the battle," and then describes it as was done by Stark.
It is to the credit of the state of Connecti‑
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cut, that its legislature have caused a neat and substantial granite monument to be erected over Warner's remains at Roxbury. It is an obelisk about 21 feet in height with appropriate base, plinth die and mouldings, with the following inscriptions:
East (front) side — "Col. Seth Warner of the army of the revolution; born in Roxbury, Conn., May 17, 1743; a resident of Bennington, Vt., from 1765 to 1784; died in his native parish Dec. 26, 1784."
North side — "Captor of Crown Point, commander of the Green Mountain Boys in the repulse of Carlton at Longueil and in the battle of Hubbardton; and the associate of Stark, in the victory at Bennington."
South side — "Distinguished as a successful defender of the New Hampshire Grants; and for bravery, sagacity, energy and humanity, as a partisan officer in the war of the revolution."
West side — "His remains are deposited under this monument, erected by order of the General Assembly of Connecticut, A. D. 1859."
Col. Warner came to Bennington a single man in 1765, was married within a year or two afterwards to Hester Hurd of Roxbury, and settled in the northwesterly part of the town. He was a near neighbor of James Breakenridge, his house being on the corner opposite the present school house at "Irish Corner." It was lately known as the Gibbs place, and the house erected by him was standing, though in a dilapidated condition, until the fall of 1858, when it was destroyed by fire. This residence of his was within three quarters of a mile of New York line, on the outskirts of the settlement, where he appears to have lived in security throughout the New York controversy, notwithstanding numerous indictments were found against him as a rioter and large rewards offered for his apprehension. This freedom from attack is to be accounted for by the terror with which his boldness and resolution and that of his brother Green Mountain Boys inspired his land claiming enemies, coupled with the well known fact that the great body of the inhabitants of the bordering county of Albany sympathized with him in his hostility to the unjust demands of the speculators, and would sooner aid in his rescue than in his arrest.
ETHAN ALLEN came to the New Hampshire Grants about the year 1769, and made it his home in Bennington while within the territory until he was taken prisoner at Montreal, Sept. 25 1775. After his return from captivity in the spring of 1778, he was at Bennington for a time, then at Arlington, then again at Bennington from about 1784 to 1786 when he removed to Burlington.*
GOVERNOR ISAAC TICHENOR
was born at Newark N. J., Feb. 8, 1754 and educated at Princeton College, then under the presidency of the celebrated Dr. Witherspoon, for whom and whose memory he always had the highest veneration. He graduated in 1775 and while pursuing the study of law at Schenectedy, N. Y. he was early in 1777 appointed assistant to Jacob Cuyler, Deputy Commissary General of purchases for the Northern department, having for his field of service an extensive portion of the New England States. In this service he was obliged in behalf of his country to incur great pecuniary responsibilities, which occasioned him serious embarrassment for many subsequent years. In the performance of his official duties he came to Bennington the 14th of June 1777, and was here superintending the collection of supplies for the army during the principal part of the summer of that year. On the 13th of Auguest be left Bennington with a drove of cattle for Albany, and returned the 16th by way of Williamstown, arriving on the battle ground about dark just as the fighting had ceased. From this period his residence was in Bennington when not in actual service in the Commissary department. Not long after the close of the war he commenced the practice of law and soon became active and prominent in public affairs. He represented the town in the General Assembly in 1781, 2, 3 and 4, and was one year speaker of the House. He was agent of the state at Congress in 1782 and was the same year appointed by the legislature to visit Windham Co. and advocate the claims of the state with the Yorkers in that section, in which mission he appears to have met with considerable success. He was a member of the State Council for 5 years from 1787, a judge of the Supreme Court from 1791 to 1796, the two latter years holding the position of Chief Justice: a member of the Council of Censors in 1792, and again in 1813, was one of the Commissioners of the state for adjusting the controversy with New York in 1791, and in 1796 was chosen Senator in Congress to supply the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Moses Robinson, and also for the ensuing 6 years, which place he resigned on being elected governor in October 1797. He held the office
[*We reserve a description of the Monument erected by the Legislature to the memory of Allen, which followed this paragraph, for the Burlington chapter. — Ed]
of governor for 10 successive years until October 1807 when Israel Smith was his successful competo r. He was, however, elected again in 1808, making his whole term of service in the executive chair 11 years. In 1814 he was again chosen Senator in Congress, which office he held until March 3, 1821, when he retired from public life.
Gov. Tichenor was a man of good private character, of highly respectable talents and acquirements, of remarkably fine personal appearance, of accomplished manners and insinuating address. His facinating personal qualities early acquired for him the sobriquet of "Jersey Slick," by which he was long designated in familiar conversation. He was a federalist in politics, and his popularity was such that he was elected governor for several successive years after his party had become a minority in the state. His peculiar talent in commending himself to the favor of others, is alleged to have been, sometimes used with considerable effect for electioneering purposes. He is said to have had remarkable tact in discovering and lauding the extraordinary good qualities of the farms, horses, cattle and other property, and even of the not very promising children of those whose support he desired to obtain. Many anecdotes in relation to this matter were formerly told of him, one of which may serve as a characteristic specimen. While travelling in a distant part of the state he contrived to pass the residence of a farmer of great influence in his town, who had formerly supported him for governor, but who was now supposed to be wavering. On his approach to the place he discovered the farmer at some distance building stone wall by the road side. Leaving his carriage the governor began to examine the wall with great care and earnestness, looking over and along both sides of it and exhibiting signs of excessive admiration. On coming within speaking distance the governor exclaimed with much apparent emotion, "Bless me friend what a beautiful and noble wall you are building — I don't believe there is another equal to it in the state." "Yes, governor," was the reply of the farmer, "its a very good wall to be sure, but I can't vote for you this year."
Gov. Tichenor was very fond of hunting and fishing and continued to range the mountains and streams in these pursuits, generally with some friend, until quite late in life. — He was very unwilling to come off second best in either of these sports. On one occasion when going out trout fishing with one of his neighbors they laid a small wager that each would catch the largest. On weighing the fish at landlord Dewey's the governor was found to have lost the bet, which he readily paid, though considerably disappointed. "I don't see" said he to his friend M., "how your trout should weigh the most. Mine certainly looks the largest, and besides I filled it full of gravel stones." "Ah governor," said his friend, "I was too much for you this time, I stuffed mine with shot."
Gov. Tichenor was in easy pecuniary circumseances and during the latter years of his life was in the receipt of an officer's pension for revolutionary services. He continued to the last to enjoy the confidence and esteem of all who knew him, and died Dec. 11, 1838, aged 84. He was married early, but survived his wife many years, and left no descendants.
GEN. SAMUEL SAFFORD
was born at Norwich, Conn., April 14, 1737, and was one of the early settlers of Bennington. He took an active part in the land title controversy with New York, and on several occasions represented the town in conventions of the settlers for defence against the Yorkers and also for forming the territory into a separate state. When the committees of the several towns met at Dorset in July 1775 to nominate officers for the battalion of Green Mountain Boys recommended by Congress, he was named as Major under Warner as Lieut. Colonel, and served in the corps with him in Canada. And when Warner's Continental regiment was raised in 1776, he was commissioned by Congress as Lieut. Colonel, and served as such in the battles of Hubbardton and Bennington and throughout the war. — After the war he became a General of the Militia. He was a representative of the town in 1781 and 1782 and in 1783 was elected a State Councillor and served as such for 19 years in succession, and for 26 successive years ending in 1807, he was Chief Judge of the County Court for Bennington Co. He was an upright and intelligent man of sound judgment and universaly respected. He died at Bennington March 3, 1813, and some of his descendants are now inhabitants of the town.
CAPT. ELIJAH DEWEY.
son of Rev. Jedediah Dewey, was born at Westfield, Mass., Nov. 28, 1744, and came to Bennington with his father in the fall of 1763. His name is found among the privates in the first military company formed in town in October 1764, he being then under 20 years of age. He was Captain of one of the Bennington companies early in the war of the revolution, was at Ticonderoga with his company in the fall of 1776 and again at the
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evacuation of that fort by St. Clair in July 1777, and he was at the head of his company in the battle of Bennington Aug. 16, 1777. He was also in service at Saratoga on the surrender of Burgoyne in October following.
Capt. Dewey also served the public in various stations in civil life. He represented the town in the General Assembly in 1786, '7 and '8, in 1796 and again in 1812 and 1813, and was a member of the Council of Censors in 1792. Capt. Dewey was a federalist in politics and headed the list of Presidental Electors of this state in 1797 and also in 1801, voting on both occasions for John Adams. Capt. Dewey was a man of sound and discriminating judgment, and of undoubted integrity, who did well and faithfully whatever he undertook. He was uniformly respected, and died Oct. 16, 1818.
COL. SAMUEL HERRICK
was an active and prominent man in the early military affairs of this state. He came to Bennington prior to March 1769 at which time his name is found on the town records, but from what place and what had been his previous history, is not known. He left the town soon after the close of the revolution, removing to Springfield, Montgomery Co., N. Y., and in regard to him since that time, nothing has been ascertained. His residence here was in the west part of the town at what has lately been known as the Dimick place. He served as Captain at the taking of Ticonderoga in 1775, and on the evacuation of that fort by St. Clair in 1777 he was appointed Colonel of a Regiment of Rangers raised by the Council of Safety of this state. At the head of these and of the militia of this town and vicinity as a separate detachment, he led the attack on the rear of Baum's right in Bennington battle, and was distinguished for bravery and skill in both engagements of that day. Gordon in his history in giving an account of the battle, speaks of the "Superior military skill" of Cols. Warner and Herrick as being of great service to General Stark. Col. Herrick was subsequently in command of the regiment of militia of this vicinity, and in that capacity as well as at the head of his corps of Rangers was in active service on several occasions during the war.
whose memory deserves a much more extended notice than can be given in this sketch, was born at Portsmouth, England, April 6, 1756. He came to Boston when about 13 years of age, and served his apprenticeship as a Printer with that veteran of the type Isaiah Thomas. He established the Vermont Gazette in Bennington in 1783, the first number being issued June 5, of that year. The publication of this paper was continued by Mr. Haswell, with occasional brief interruptions, during his lifetime, and afterwards by members of his family until it was finally discontinued by his son John C. Haswell in 1849, having a much longer life than any other paper ever printed in the state. In 1784 the Legislature passed an act establishing Post Offices at Bennington, Rutland, Brattleboro, Windsor and Newbury; under which Mr. Haswell was appointed Post Master General with extensive powers, his commission under the official signature and seal of Gov. Chittenden is now in possession of his son, Wm. Haswell, Esq., bearing date March 10, 1784. This office he is believed to have held until the admission of the state into the Union in 1791.
In the summer of 1792 Mr. Haswell started a paper in Rutland, called the "Herald of Vermont" of which the 13th or 14th number was printed ready to be distributed the ensuing Monday, but a fire on Sabbath evening of Sept. 21, destroyed the office and most of the papers. The Legislature which met in Rutland a few weeks afterwards granted him a lottery by which he was allowed to raise $200, as a compensation for his loss, from which, however, he never derived any pecuniary benefit.
In March 1794 Mr. Haswell commenced the publication of a periodical entitled "the Monthly Miscellany or Vermont Magazine." It was printed in double columns of the ordinary Magazine size and type of that period, each number containing 56 pages, almost exclusively of selected matter. Again in January 1808 Mr. Haswell commenced another Monthly Magazine called the "Mental Repast" which was similar in character and size with the former, though containing more original matter, some of which would still be of an interesting character. Its publication was, however, found to be unprofitable and was discontinued at the end of the first half year.
Mr. Haswell for many years had a share of the public printing of the state it being devided into equal portions between his and a press established at Windsor about the same time that he commenced his paper in this town. Numerous books and pamphlets were published by him on various subjects, some of which were reprints of valuable works, and others from original matter. Among the latter may be mentioned an interesting Memoir of Capt. Matthew Phelps of 300 pages, of which Mr. Haswell was himself the writer. Mr. Haswell in the course of his life furnished
much matter for the news paperpress, on moral, religious and political subjects, both in prose and verse, some of which might now be re-read with pleasure and profit. He wrote, or rather composed with great facility, for most of his printed matter was that of thoughts set up by himself in type, as they flowed from his mind without having them first committed to paper.
Mr. Haswell early imbibed the principles of the old republican party, and was active and zealous in their defence and promulgation. He was a man of strong feelings and impulses and was censured by his opponents as a violent partizan. During the existence of the sedition law he published an article in relation to the imprisonment of Matthew Lyon under that law, and another on the conduct of President Adams in making appointments to office, which though manifesting considerable warmth of feeiing, would not now be noticed as possessing a criminal character. For these he was indicted before the United States Circuit Court, and in 1800 at Windsor was sentenced by Judge Patterson to two months imprisonment and to pay a fine of two hundred dollars and costs. He was allowed to serve out his term of imprisonment in the jail in this town, which term expired the 9th of July. The celebration of the anniversary of the declaration of independence was postponed until that day, when his fine and costs being paid, he was liberated from jail amidst the roar of cannon and the acclamation of his neighbors and political friends. He was by a large portion of the community considered as a martyr in the cause of freedom and his prosecution instead of strengthening the adminstration in this state, served greatly to increase the number and zeal of its opponents. The fine and costs have within the last 20 years been refunded to his descendants by act of Congress.
Mr. Haswell was a kind and obliging neighbor, and a warm, ardent and faithful friend. He was through life active and zealous in the discharge of his moral and religious duties, and died May 26, 1816. Mr. Haswell was twice married and left numerous descendants who are now to be found pursuing different avocations and professions in almost all parts of the world.
HON. WILLIAM HENRY
deserves to be mentioned among the worthy and useful inhabitants of the town who have passed from the stage of life. He was son of William one of several families of Scotch Irish descent who came from Massachusetts and settled at an early day in the northwest part of the town, from whom the neighborhood took the name of "Irish Corner," which it still retains. William the younger was born Oct. 5, 1760.
He represented the town in the General Assembly for 7 successive years from 1805, and was a Justice of the peace for 39 years in succession ending with the year 1840, being for a longer period than the office has ever been held by any other person in town. He was also Judge of Probate for 2 years, and being familiar with legal forms of business was the draughtsman of most of the deeds, contracts and wills of persons in his quarter of the town for many years. He was a man of sound judgment and of undoubted integrity, and was universally respected. He died May 11, 1845, and has many descendants, a portion of whom reside in town.
COL. MARTIN SCOTT,
son of Phineas Scott, one of the early settlers of Bennington, was born here Jan. 18, 1788. His youth was spent on his father's farm during which he received only a common school education. He was fond of hunting from his boyhood and in early life became an expert and noted marksman. He was always accustomed to aim at the head of game, and considered it disgraceful to make a wound in the body. He would drive a nail into a board part way with a hammer, and then taking the furthest distance at which his eye could distinctly see it, drive it home with his unerring bullet. His skill with his rifle was such that be was excluded from the common sport of turkey shooting, no owner of a turkey being willing to risk his shot for any sum short of its full value.
In April 1814 he was appointed second Lieutenant in the army, become Captain in 1828 and afterwards rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, always sustaining the character of a brave and active officer. From about the year 1820 he was for 12 or 15 years stationed at Green Bay, Prairie du Chien, and other military posts on the Western frontier. Here he had great opportunities for indulging in his favorite amusement and became famous in all that region for his extraordinary success in the pursuit of all kinds of game. Like all hunters from Nimrod down he was fond of relating his field adventures, which he often did to the great entertainment of his hearers. One of his stories must be repeated here, though it loses much of its interest in attempting to put it on paper.
He said that many of the wild animals throughout the forests he frequented had become so well acquainted with his skill as a
178 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
marksman that they would surrender on being introduced to him, without requiring the waste of any powder, and that this was particularly the case with raccoons. When he discovered one on a tree he would hollo to it. "Coon come down!" to which the animal would say, "Who is it that's calling me?" His answer would be, "I am Martin Scott." "What," the coon would inquire, "Captain Martin Scott of the army?" "Yes," would be the answer. "Well Captain Scott," says the conquered animal, "you needn't fire, I'm a gone Coon, and may as well come down," and down he would come at once.
Col. Scott lost his life in the Mexican war at the Sanguinary battle of Molins del Rey, and his remains were brought to Bennington and intered in the old center burying ground beside those of his own family relatives. A neat marble column has been erected over his grave, with the following inscription, which is but a just tribute to his memory.
"Col. Martin Scott, born in Bennington January 17, 1788. Died in Mexico Sept. 8, 1847."
Brevet Scott, Col. of the 5th Regiment of Infantry, was thirty-three years in the service of his country, on the western frontier, in Florida — in Mexico at the battles of Palo Alto, Reseca de la Palma, Monterey, Vera Cruz, Cherabusca, and was killed at Molina del Rey. He commanded his regiment in nearly all these engagements and received two brevets for gallant conduct. No braver or better officer fell in the Mexican war."
Col. Scott was married in 1840 to Miss McCracken of Rochester, N. Y., who survived him, but was lost in the steamer Artic on her return from a voyage to England.
"TWO FOR ONE CHENEY."
About the beginning of the present century there resided in Bennington one William Cheney who had a very extensive notoriety as a cheat and swindler. He lived with his family for several years in the northwest part of the town, in different tenant houses, possessed of but little visible property, but seldom appearing wholly destitute of money. He was known as a horse jockey and idler, and was suspected of almost every kind of iniquity and crime.
One of his devices was to apply to some close fisted avaricious man for the loan of a small amount of money — informing him he had an opportunity of secretly making a large sum by the use of it for a few days — so much that he could well afford to return him double the sum for it by a certain short day which he named. Having obtained the loan he was prompt to repay the double amount at the day appointed. After a while he would apply for and obtain from the same man a rather larger sum for which double the amount would be refunded, as before. Having thus acquired the confidence of the greedy lender, he would go to him again in great want of a much larger sum on the same terms, from which he said he was sure to obtain an immense profit in a few days. This larger sum thus obtained Cheney would be as sure to forget to return as he had been to remember the others. This mode of operation which was believed to have been practiced on many individuals acquired for him the name of "Two for one Cheney," by which he was extensively known.
He was supposed to be the ring leader of a gang of thieves and counterfeiters, but the mystery in which his shrewdness enabled him to involve his transactions for a long time prevented his detection and punishment.
He was generally bold and defiant towards his accusers, daring them to do their worst. On one occasion, which may serve as a specimen, he was brought before Esquire S., a dignified magistrate who calling upon him to stand up, said to him with great solemnity and emphasis, "William Cheney, you are brought before me on the suspicion of having tools in your possession for counterfeiting money," to which Cheney promptly replied, I don't care a d—n for your suspicions if you have any proof bring it on." The proof failed and Cheney was consequently discharged.
Justice, however, overtook him at last. — He was arrested for crime in the state of New York, tried and convicted at Troy in the spring of 1802 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment in the state prison, but lived to serve out only a portion of his time.
March 1778, Nathan Clark,
October 1778, Ebenezer Walbridge,
1779, Nathan Clark,
1780, Samuel Robinson,
1781-2, Samuel Safford,
1783-4 Henry Walbridge,
1785, Jonathan Robinson,
1786-8, Elijah Dewey,
1786-95, Jonathan Robinson,
1796, Elijah Dewey,
1797-1801, Jonathan Robinson,
1802, Moses Robinson,
1803, Nathan Robinson,
1804, Martin Norton,
1805-11, William Henry,
1812-13, Elijah Dewey,
1814, Noadiah Swift,
1815, Stephen Robinton,
1816-17, Aaron Robinson,
1818, Jonathan Robinson,
9, Moses Robinson,
1820, Moses Robinson,
2, O. C. Merrill,
3, Moses Robinson,
5, Noadiah Swift,
6, C. H. Hammond,
7, Hiland Hall,
8, Noadiah Swift,
9, John Norton,
1830, Samuel H. Blackmer,
1, Jedediah Dewey,
2-3, John S. Robinson,
4, John Norton,
5, Jedediah Dewey,
6, Stephen Dewey,
7, George Briggs,
8, Samuel Robinson,
9, Elijah Fillmore,
1840, Isaac Weeks,
1, Asa Doty,
2, Perez Harwood, Jr.,
3, Calvin Gilson,
4, Elijah D. Hubbell,
5, Norman Blackmer,
6, Perez Harwood, Jr.,
7, James P. Godfry,
8, Morton Brock,
9, Paul M. Henry,
1850, Henry G. Root,
1. Silas Wilcox,
3, Luman Norton,
4, Sanford M. Robinson,
5, Dwight Corkins,
6, Thomas Jewett,
7, Henry G. Root,
8, Benjamin R. Sears,
9, Elijah D. Hubbell,
1860, Abm. B. Gardner.
Moses Robinson, Elected March 1762
Nathaniel Brush, " 1782
Jonathan Robinson, " 1795
Jonathan E. Robinson, " 1802
William Hawks, " 1811
Orsamus C. Merrill, " 1812
Aaron Robinson, " 1813
Jonathan E. Robinson, " 1815
Aaron Robinson, " 1816
William Haswell, " 1821
Samuel H. Brown, " 1849
Henry R. Sanford, " 1850
David N. Squires, Elected Aug. 23, 1850
Mr. Squires still continues Clerk.
THE SMALL POX.
At the time of the settlement of this town and for many years afterwards the Small Pox was a great scourge to the country. The disease was very fatal, and was so readily and often so mysteriously communicated that none could consider themselves entirely safe from its contagious attack. It is difficult at this day to appreciate the suffering and loss of life occasioned by its ravages, or to conceive of the terror and alarm which the dread of it inspired. Although it had repeatedly been shown by experiment that the malignity of the disorder could be so modified by inoculation, as to be scarcely considered as dangerous, it was a long time before that remedy was generally resorted to.
The first mention of the disease on the town records is in March 1773, when some cases of it occuring, a meeting was warned "to see whether the town will give liberty to inoculate for the Small Pox, with suitable restrictions, and upon a vote being taken, it passed in the negative."
In the year 1776 the disease had prevailed among the American troops in Canada, largely contributing to the unfortunate result of the expedition to that province, and it threatened to become general throughout the country. By this time the efficacy of inoculation had become generally acknowledged, and at a special meeting held on the 10th of February 1777, it was voted to establish a Pest House, and to place it in charge of a committee appointed for that purpose. To prevent the spreading of the disease it was declared by vote that any person who should presume to have the infection on either of the several main roads through the town, should be liable to a penalty of twenty pounds, and any person who without a license from the committee should give or take the infection, or having taken it should go more than thirty rods from the Pest House he should forfeit the like sum of $20, the penalties to be for the use of the town, to be paid on conviction before any three or more of the selectmen, who "are authorized to act in said affair by giving their warrants to levy on goods and chattels and make sale thereof for the above said fines and costs accruing."
In March 1783 similar regulations were made in town meeting in regard to the disease.
Provision was soon afterwards made by a law of the state to prevent the spreading of the Small Pox, the matter to be managed in the several towns under the direction of the selectmen.
In November 1794 at a special town meeting it was voted to recommend to the selectmen to give liberty to Capt. Hutchins to inoculate for the disease till the 15th of March, "under the most rigid and careful restrictions, such as they should think proper."
In persuance of this vote Pest Houses were opened in different parts of the town, — one about half a mile south of the Center Village Seminary, another towards the foot of the mountain south of the present residence of Aaron L. Hubbell, and another in the N. W. part of the town in a dwelling standing in the rear of the house now occupied by Paul M. Henry, all in retired positions.
Again in November 1800 leave was given by vote of the town for inoculation and Pest
180 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
Houses was established in the N. E. part of the town under the charge of Zachariah Harwood, who, though not a regular physician was believed to have peculiar skill in the management of the disease. Several hundred persons both old and young were inoculated with the disease on three different occasions, from which only one or two deaths occured, and those were understood to have happened from extreme imprudence in the patients.
It was at this period that vaccination was first introduced into this town. Dr. Benjamin Robinson, a young physician, son of Col. Samuel Robinson, advertised in the Vermont Gazette, under date of Dec. 17, 1800, that he was "inoculating for the Kine or as it is commonly called the Cow Pox," and stating "that he has the best European authority for warranting him in publicly declaring, that when a person has once had the Kine Pox, he is forever after infallibly secure against catching the Small Pox by any possible exposure," and he stated in some detail the evidence on which his declaration was founded. In a publication in the Gazette of the 2d of Feb. following Dr. Robinson among other proofs of the efficacy of the Kine Pox, states that he had inoculated Russell Haswell, Heman Robinson, and Samuel Follett, lads fron 13 to 17 years of age, with the Kine Pox, — that after having it they had entered the Pest House, and been inoculated by Mr. Harwood with the Small Pox, and "were exposed to the contagion of ten or twelve persons, in the various stages of the disease," and that not one of them was in the least degree affected with the Pest House disease.
After this the use of Vaccination as a substitute for the Small Pox, took the place of inoculation for that disease; but from the neglect of vaccination or from the imperfect manner in which it has been performed, the disease has occasionally prevailed to a limited extent, yet it has ceased to excite a very considerable degree of alarm, and to be a general scourge.
EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH OF HON. HILAND HALL, IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES IN JUNE 1842, ON THE VIRGINIA BOUNTY LAND CLAIMS.
[ NOTE. These claims, amounting to several of dollars, were resisted by Mr. Hall as chairman of the committee on Revolutionary claims upon the ground that they were unfounded and fraudulent. For this he was assailed on the floor of the house by several of the Virginia delegation and more particularly in an offensive manner by Gov. Gilmer, who had been appointed agent by Virginia to prossecute the claims and who was to receive a percentage on the amount allowed. His remarks elicted the reply from which these extracts are taken.]
"For the performance of what I believed to be my duty in regard to these bounty land claims — a duty imposed on me, in some degree, by the House — the gentleman from Albemarle (Mr. GILMER) has thought proper to represent me as acting the part of a hyena, prowling among the tombs of the Virginia revolutionary dead, seeking to expose their remains to the public gaze. Sir, it is not I who have sought to disturb the rest of the quiet dead. No, sir, no. It is the gentleman himself who has violated the sanctity of the tomb. It is the claimants and speculators who, encouraged by his course of action, have gone into the graveyards of Virginia, raked from the tombs the bones of their ancestors, and brought them here to barter away for money and land. They have done more. Like the venders of relics in the days of the crusades, they have sold the bones of the Saracen, declaring them to be bones of saints. They have conjured from the tomb the ghosts of men who knew nothing of military service, and, having clothed them in revolutionary uniform, have sworn them to be revolutionary officers. They have marshalled their army of ghosts around this hall, and, in imitation of the miserly loyalist described by Patrick Henry as going into court, crying beef, beef, beef! they have taught these ghastly spectres to make this hall ring with their sordid screams of pay, pay, commutation pay, half pay, bounty land, bounty land! What I have done, sir, is to turn upon this host of imaginary men, strip from them their stolen apparel, and bid them down, down, to their rest in quiet."
"But the gentleman, not content with assailing me personally, thought proper to make an attack upon my State. For the purpose, I suppose, of making manifest the validity of the Virginia bounty land claims, he ventured a sneer at the revolutionary history of Vermont. Where was Vermont at this period, he inquired; and then went on to say that her people were few, that her territory was claimed by the surrounding States, that her constitution was formed under an alias, she calling herself at that time Vermont, alias New Connecticut. Well, sir, I admit that Vermont at that period was weak in numbers, but she was strong in the justice of her cause, in nerve, and in patriotism. With a population at the commencement of the war of less than twenty thousand, and at its close of not more than thirty thousand, her territory claimed by the adjoining States, herself a frontier against the common enemy, and almost too young, as the gentleman intimates, to have a name, she nevertheless taught all her foes that,
"Though she was young, a little one,
Yet she could speak, and go alone."
By her virtues and valor she maintained her independence as a State, and established, and has hitherto continued in healthy and vigorous action, a Government more purely republican than any other on the face of the globe.
Sir, were this a proper occasion to go into the revolutionary history of my native State, it would be my pride and pleasure to do so
but I am aware it is not. I must, however, be allowed to remind the House that the very day on which the revolutionary Continental Congress first assembled in Philadelphia — the 10th of May, 1775 — that the twilight of the morning of that day found Ethan Allen, at the head of a body of Vermonters, proclaiming the authority of that Congress to a conquered enemy within the walls of Ticonderoga. From that morning until the evening of the last day of the Revolution, the Green-mountain boys, whenever an enemy appeared, were always found foremost in the attack, last in retreat. In 1775 Vermont sent a regiment to Canada, whose exploits at Longueil, and elsewhere in that province history has recorded. In 1776, when the continental army was formed, Vermont furnished a regiment which, under Colonel Warner, served throughout the war. Its history is also written. She kept in constant service other troops and when invaded her whole population were in arms. But I forbear. I summon as witnesses for my State, Ticonderoga, Longueil, Hubbardton, Bennington, and Saratoga. — With their testimony I cheerfully and proudly commit the decision of her cause to the impartial tribunal of history."
AUGUST 16, 1818.
ANNIVERSARY OF BENNINGTON BATTLE.
BY ALMIRA SELDEN.
A native of Bennington, who published in 1820, a, 16 mo. Vol. 152 pp. entitled "EFFUSIONS OF THE HEART, CONTAINED IN A NUMBER OF ORIGINAL POETICAL PIECES ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS."
No Lethean draught can ever drown
The memory of that day of fear
When the wild echo of farewell
From, parent, husband, child and wife,
Seemed sadder than the funeral knell,
That tells the certain flight of life,
Yet Freedom spake, Faith raised her rampart pure
And holy confidence gave victory sure.
Then firmer than the native pine
That tops thy mountains evergreen,
Led by Almighty smiles divine,
Facing their foes thy sons were seen,
As when the livid lightning keen
Tears from the pine some stem away,
Yet still unmoved the trunk is seen—
Thus Stark stood victor of the day,
And while the voice of triumph met his ear,
He for the dying foe shed pity's tear.
THE HUDSON RIVER HIGHLANDS.
'By wooded bluff we steal, by leaning tower,
By palace, village, cot, a sweet surprise
At every turn the vision looks upon;
'Till to our wondering and uplifted eyes
The Highland rocks and hills in solemn grandeur rise.
Nor clouds in heaven, nor billows in the deep,
More graceful shapes did ever heave or roll;
Nor came such pictures to a painter's sleep,
Nor beamed such visions on a poet's soul!
The pent-up flood, impatient of control,
In ages past here broke its granite bound,
Then to the sea hi broad meanders stole,
While ponderous ruin strew'd the broken ground,
And these gigantic hills forever closed around."
THEODORE S. FAY.
From Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution.
BY MRS. A. C. L. BOTTA.
Anna Charlotte Lynch a native of Bennington edited in 1841 the Rhode Island Book; in 1853 published an Illustrated Volume of Poems; in 1855 was married to Prof. V. Botta of New York City, where she has since resided. The last work of Mrs. Botta is the Hand Book of Literature, published in 1860, and entitles the author to a handsome place among the prose writers of America.
Our patriot sires are gone,
The conqueror Death lays low
Those vetrans one by one,
Who braved each other foe;—
Though on them rests death's sable pall,
Yet o'er their deeds no shade shall fall.
No, ye of deathless fame!
Ye shall not sleep unsung,
While freedom hath a name,
Or gratitude a tongue;
Yet shall your names and deeds sublime
Shine brighter through the mists of time.
Oh, keep your armor bright,
Sons of those mighty dead,
And guard ye well the right,
For which such blood was shed!
Your starry flag should only wave
O'er freedom's home or o'er your grave.
THE WOUNDED VULTURE.
A kingly vulture sat alone,
Lord of the ruin round,
Where Egypt's ancient monuments
Upon the desert frowned.
A hunter's eager eye had marked
The form of that proud bird,
And through the voiceless solitude
His ringing shot was heard.
It rent that vulture's plumed breast,
Aimed with unerring hand,
And his life-blood gushed warm and red
Upon the yellow sand.
No struggle marked the deadly wound,
He gave no piercing cry,
But calmly spread his giant wings
And sought the upper sky.
In vain with swift pursuing shot
The hunter seeks his prey,
Circling and circling upward still
On his majestic way.
Up to the blue empyrean
He wings his steady flight,
Till his receding form is lost
In the full flood of light.
Oh wounded heart! Oh suffering soul!
Sit not with folded wing,
Where broken dreams and ruined hopes
Their mournful shadows fling.
Outspread thy pinions like that bird,
Take thou the path sublime,
Beyond the flying shafts of Fate,
Beyond the wounds of Time.
Mount upward! brave the clouds and storms !
Above life's desert plain
There is a calmer purer air
A heaven thou, too, may'st gain.
And as that dim ascending form
Was lost in day's broad light,
So shall thine earthly sorrows fade,
Lost in the Infinite