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                                     VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

 

 

 

SHAFTSBURY .

 

BY MARTIN MATTISON.

 

Shaftsbury, a post town in the western part of Bennington Co., is bounded N. by Arlington, E. by Glastenbury, S. by Ben­nington, and West by Hoosic and White Creek, N. Y. It lies 97 miles from Montpe­lier, 31 E. of Troy, N. Y., and 40 W. of Brattleboro. It was chartered Aug. 20, 1761, containing 23,040 acres. The original proprietors were 61 , few, if' any, of' whom became settlers, and none of their descendants are now to be found residents in town. The settlement of the town was commenced about the year 1763. Among the early set­tlers may be mentioned Charles Spencer, Cole, Willoughby, Clark, Doolittle, Waldo, Burlingame, Andrus, Bearsley, Downer, and several families of Mattisons. In the early settlement, quite a little colony emigrated from the State of Rhode Island and located in the N. E. part of the town; which settle­ment took the name of Little Rhode Island, and has retained its name and designation down to the present time. The town was organized some time before the Revolution, and Thomas Mattison was first Town Clerk, which office be held more than 40 years, succeeded by Jacob Galusha, and Hiram Barton, the present incumbent. In the year 1781 the town of Shaftsbury received an order from Col. Herrick for 31 men to serve as militia-men or soldiers for the ensuing campaign: a meeting of the town was called at which Gideon Olin. presided as Moderator: when the following business was transacted, to wit:

"1st. Voted unanimously to raise a bounty, and our quota of state troops for the ensuing campaign on the list of the polls and ratable estate of the town.-2nd. Voted to repose, and do hereby repose the trust of enlisting our quota of troops for this campaign in the hands of Capt. Wm. Dyer, Capt. Jonas Galusha, Capt. B. Law- rence and Lieut. David Galusha, and to allow one dollar in hard money for enlisting each man, — 3rd. Voted to give Mr. John Olin and Peter Mattison twenty shillings each for collecting said tax in the compass of Capt. Galusha', company, and David Cutter thirty shillings for collecting in the bounds of Capt. Lawrence's company, and they are hereby appointed for said purpose. — 4th. Voted to give twenty dollars to each soldier and 12 shillings more for bounty. — 5th. Voted, a tax of seven hundred dollars in hard mon­ey or continental, at the currant exchange, to be raised forthwith for the above purpose."

At another meeting of the town in the same year, Maj. Gideon Olin was chosen Moderator; when an animated debate was held regarding a previous tax, and the following was the conclusion by vote.

"That each man shall be taxed his equal pro­portion according to his List, of the beef, pork, flour, corn and rye to be assessed. The meat to be delivered at Capt. Waldo's, the flour and grain at Capt. Galusha's, inn-keeper;" "and 87 bushels of wheat to be granted by town for the purpose of purchasing salt and barrels." "And if any person or persons shall neglect to bring in his quota of the provisions, the selectmen shall issue their warant against the estate of such person," or persons, " to the amount of 6 sufficient sum of money to purchase said provis­ions together with the damage for such neglect or neglects."

At another town meeting, in the same. year, (1781) Nathan Leonard, Moderator, (and here I will follow the record even in orthography,) it was

Voted, "to Chuse a Committee to take charge of and store the provisions which the town will

 

 

 

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raise to answer to the act of assembly and to re­tain the same as town property." — Voted, "to have Two places to store said Provision." — "lchabod Cross shall be one of said committe and to store at his own house" — "Bliss Willoughby the second committe man his house the store" —"Freegift Cole a third committee man and Parker Cole's house the store." — "Voted To Chuse a committee of three, Sir. John Burnam jr., David Gilinth and Doct Huntington to Lay before the general Assembly respecting the expenditure of the provision raised by the town this year, and public land." — Jan. 1782, 1st Mon­day, "Voted To Chuse a Committee of three to inspect the Collectors Bills and make report at the Next march meeting what remains yet out­standing. Chose Major Gideon Olin, David GaIusha and Thomas Mattison said Committee." — "to inspect the State of the sixty Pound Tax granted in November 1780, and the state of the Bounty Tax Granted to Raise our soldiers in the year 1781." — At a Town meeting in 1782, Gideon Olin Esq, Moderator, "Voted, to direct the committee who have Reviewed the provision al­ready Collected for our troops for the year 1782. To Deliver the same to the Comissary General of this state, or his order." — "Voted to Chuse a Committee of Three, Gideon Olin, David Galusha, Nathan Leonard, To inform his Excellency of the forwardness of this town in raising his Cota of Provision the Last year and the Disad­vantages which we seem to Labor under in the present year in Collecting our Cota on account of the Current Report that so great a Number of other towns which did the last year So much neglect To Collect their Cota. And Said Com­mittee make report to the Selectmen of this, Town." — "Bennington March 15, 1782. Received from the Selectmen of Shaftsbury Twelve Thousand five hundred and fifty nine Pounds of flour. Three Thousand eight hundred and eighty four Pounds of Beef, One thousand nine hundred and forty five Pounds of pork, Three hundred and fifty four bushels of corn, as a part of the quota for said town assessed by order of Assembly at their session Oct. 1780.

Received prime.

Francis Davis

for

Joseph Farnsworth C. G.

 

The above records, from old scraps of paper, worn, soiled, rolled up and laid aside, and written when books of record were not in use, bear evident and conclusive testimony, that in the stirring times of the Revolution, Shaftsbury was not inactive nor her heroes asleep; but was ready to furnish her quota of men and provision to feed them. The moral atmosphere was rather too warm for tories; but four were found in the town who favored the enemy, John Munro, Ebenezer Wright, Abram Marsh, and Elisha King. These were driven away and suffered the con­fiscation of their lands. One of this beauti­ful quartette, JOHN MUNRO, deserves particu­lar notice. He had settled in the west part of the town, in Shaftsbury Hollow, near the New York line, on land which he claimed under a New York grant, and was, in fact, an agent of and in close correspondence with Duane and Kemp, the great New York land jobbers. These friends had procured for him from the Governor, a commission as Justice of the Peace for the County of Albany; and being a bold, active and meddling individual, he was quite troublesome to the New Hamp­shire settlers. A reward had been offered by the Governor of New York for the apprehen­sion of a rioter, Remember Baker of Arling­ton, one of the leaders of the Green Moun­tain Boys, and Munro determined to arrest him. He gathered 10 or 12 men, and before daylight on the morning of the 22nd of March 1772, proceeded to Baker's house. Baker, his wife, and son, 12 years of age, were se­verely wounded. Baker was in the hands of his captors en route for Albany, transported in a sleigh driven at full speed. The news of his capture was sent express to Bennington; 10 men immediately mounted their horses for the purpose of intercepting the banditti, and rescuing Baker. They came upon Munro and his party just before they reached the North River, who, on the first appearance of their pursuers, abandoned their prisoner and fled. Baker was found nearly exhausted by his sufferings and the loss of blood. Having re­freshed him and dressed his wounds, they carried him home to the no small joy of his friends and the whole settlement. An ac­count of this transaction was afterward sent to the Governor of New York by Munro, in which he represents the conflict at Baker's house as very desperate, and says, "he has reason to he thankful to Divine Providence for the preservation of his life and that of his party." He further says that "he should have succeeded in carrying Baker to Albany, if he could have had 10 men, who would have taken arms and obeyed his orders; but that they all ran into the woods, when they ought to have resisted. In his expedition to Ar­lington, Munro succeeded in carrying off and retaining Baker's gun. Soon afterwards Seth Warner (for whom also a reward had been offered by the New York Governor) with a single companion rode to Munro's house, and in the name of Baker demanded the return of the gun. Munro refused to deliver it, and seizing Warner's horse by the bridle commanded a constable and several other by­standers to arrest him. Warner immediately drew his cutlass, and striking the pugnacious magistrate over the head, felled him to the ground, and then rode off without further molestation. For this exploit, Warner was complimented by the proprietors of Poultney with a pitch of 100 acres of land in that town­ship. The vote is still on record, declaring it to be "for his valor in cutting the head of Esquire Munro the Yorkite." From this time Munro was so threatened and frightened by the New Hampshire men that he became very quiet. He fled to the enemy on the ap­proach of Burgoyne in 1777, and his property

 

 

 

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was confiscated by the authorities of the State. It appears from a long and very mel­ancholy letter which he wrote to his friend Duane, from Springfield in December 1786 that he was then on his return to Canada from England where he had been prosecuting his claims on the British government for his services and losses as a loyalist, but that the greater part of his claim had been rejected, because of "the New Hampshire claims cov­ering the most part of his property;" that he was, in consequence, returning to his family penniless, without money, friends or inter­est," and he appealed strongly to his old partner and friend for sympathy and aid. With what success doth not appear.

 

GIDEON OLIN

 

was born in Rhode Island, in 1743, and re­moving to Shaftsbury in 1776, became one of founders of the State; was appointed Major of a militia regiment under Col. Herrick and Lieut. Col. Ebenezer Walbridge June 6, 1778, and was afterwards in actual service as such, on the frontiers, on several occasions, during the war; was one of the Councilors of State in 1793, '94, '95, and '96: being chosen and serving 4 years in succession; represented Shaftsbury in the General Assembly in 1778, and onward for 15 years with but 2 or 3 intermissions; was Speaker of the House through 7 sessions of Legislature; Assistant Judge of the Bennington County Court in 1781, and onward for 20 years in succession, with the exception of 1798 and '99; in 1807, '08, '09, and '10, was Chief Justice of the County Court; was Representative in Con­gress two terms, from 1803 to 1807. Gideon Olin was one of the firmest supporters of the State; and in the hours of political darkness, not a star of lesser magnitude; possessed great natural talents, an intuitive knowledge of mankind, was nobly free in his opinions, and decided in his conduct. He died at Shaftsbury in January 1823.

 

JONAS GALUSHA

 

was Captain of a militia company in Shafts­bury from 1777 to 1780, and was in Benning­ton battle. He was Representative to the General Assembly in 1800; member of the State Council in 1793, '94, '95, '96, '97, and '98, and again in 1801, '02, '03, '04, and '05; Sheriff of the County from 1781 to 1786; Judge of the County Court in 1795, '96, '97, and again in 1800, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, and '06, and was elected Governor in 1809, '10, '11, and '12, and again in 1815, '16, '17 '18, and '19. Jonas Galusha possessed a mild, benevolent and philosophic turn of mind, and a comprehensive understanding. He was not a dealer in many words, gave his reasons with openness and candor, and al­ways made them plain to the meanest capac­ity. Like Cincinnatus, he delighted to retire from the toils of war and labors of State, to return again to the comforts of society and follow his plough.

 

JEREMIAH CLARK

 

was Chief Judge of the Special Court for the Shire of Bennington in 1778, and a member of the State Council from 1778 to 1780. Mr. Clark pronounced sentence of death on Da­vid Redding, the first man executed under sentence of law in this State. Mr. Clark was a man of iron will, strong resolution, always pursuing a fixed purpose to its accom­plished end; possessing just the right points of character for the times in which he lived, times that tried men's souls.

 

ISAIAH CARPENTER

 

was one of the first settlers in Shaftsbury, under the New Hampshire grants, and a con­spicuous character in the difficulties between the Green Mountain Boys and the Yorkers. Mr. Carpenter was a near neighbor to Judge Olin. The Yorkers had driven him from his cabin and little clearing of a few acres, and put one of their own grantees in possession. One day while the new comer was busy with his axe felling a tree, he heard the report of a gun, and with it, a bullet whistled past his head. Supposing it to be some hunter of for­est game, he resumed his occupation; but very soon the report was repeated, and a bul­let lodged in the tree just over his head. That day the interloper departed with his family, bag and baggage. And Mr. Carpen­ter returned to his premises without further molestation. A short time after this inci­nent, his neighbor Gideon got out of meat, went to Bennington and purchased a steer, and came home and shot it. Mr. Carpenter, hearing the report of the gun, came running through the clearing with his musket on his shoulder, inquiring of Judge Olin, "Where are the Yorkers?"

Shaftsbury was the theatre of many nota­ble events of the above mentioned character, situated as it is in the southwestern part of the State. The Yorkers in making their raids on the settlers in more northern towns, would necessarily pass through Shaftsbury, and the industrious settlers were subject to continued interruptions, and became habitu­ated to sleeping on their arms, with one eye open.

 

GEORGE NILES,

 

was one of the early settlers, and lived to the ripe age of 105 years. On the day that made

 

 

 

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him 100 years old, the venerable patriarch took his scythe, walked out into the meadow and mowed a swath, and then standing erect, said, "There boys is a pattern for you!" Mr. Niles retained his intellect, powers of mind and erect form throughout. And many were the legends and anecdotes that fell from his lips, amusing, instructive, and historic of past generations.

 

DAVID MILLINGTON,

 

a descendant of one of the "Green Mountain Boys," was the first inventor of wax graft­ing. Previous to his invention, there was no other method but the application of mud, swingling tow and rags; after some years of study and experience he perfected the system, and for very many years, Shaftsbury, in the months of April and May, was almost depop­ulated from the exodus of grafters, — from 40 to 50 teams, and from 80 to 100 men going annually in every direction throughout the New England and some of the western States. Gov. Hall, when a boy, learned the art of grafting of Mr. Millington, being in fact his first apprentice, and although most of his time since then has been spent at the bar, the bench, in the halls of Congress, a Com­missioner in California, and in the guberna­tional chair, yet he has not forgotten how to make good pippins grow on a crab-apple tree.

 

DR. DANIEL HUNTINGTON

 

was the only practicing physician for many years. Since his removal West, his profess­ional successors have been but transient resi­dents.

This township lies between the Battenkill and Walloomsock rivers, and consequently has no large streams. Some tributaries of each of these rivers rise here, which afford several mill privileges. West Mountain lies partly in this town, and partly in Arlington. It extends into Shaftsbury about 3 miles, and is about 2 miles in width. This mountain is timbered with chestnut, oak, maple and birch. The soil is generally of a good quali­ty, and in the southwestern part, is probably not exceeded in fertility by any in the State. The timber on the high lands is mostly chest­nut and oak. There is a small tract here which was formerly covered with a beautiful growth of pine, of which nothing now re­mains but the stumps. The minerals are iron ore of an excellent quality, of which large quantities were conveyed to Bennington fur­nace; and a beautiful white marble, which has been extensively quarried. The town is divided into sixteen school Districts all now in a flourishing condition. There are 2 meeting houses 2 rist mills, 3 stores, one paper-mill, 10 saw-mills, a square factory to which is attached a bedsteaed factory, both of which are driven by a combination of steam and water power; this last is the prop­erty of Judge Dennis J. George, and is one of the largest manufacturing establishments, in the County. The inhabitants are mostly agriculturists. Products are corn, rye, oats, wheat, barley, potatoes, flax and hay. Stock consists mostly of sheep, some of which are as good as any in the State, more pains hav­ing been taken in their breeding, than in horses and cattle. Nathan Draper was the first male child born in town.

 

MINISTERS AND CHURCHES.

 

JOHN MILLINGTON, the first ordained minis­ter, left town soon after his ordination. The Baptists are the most numerous religious de­nomination, and have one church at present. The first Baptist church organized in Ver­mont, was the "First Shaftsbury," called West Church, for many years, and was constituted in 1768. So far as can be ascertain­ed, this was the first church of the Baptist faith and order, in all that region between the Green Mountains and the Hudson River. The second or East Church, was organized from this, in 1780, as its records still certify. It was with this oldest church that the Asso­ciation was formed, and held a number of its earlier meetings; the first of which was held in the barn of Dea. Thomas Mattison. For quite a number of years this ancient church had no settled pastor, but accepted the labors of Cyprian Downer and Dea. James Slye, two pious and devoted lay preachers.

In the year 1804, the REV. ISAIAH MATTISON was ordained pastor of this church, and con­tinued such until the year 1844, a period of 40 years: when the church experiencing some difficulties from its dinastic rule, it was dis­banded by a vote of its members, to reorgan­ize in a thriving village half a mile south in Bennington. The old meeting house for some years stood solitary, silent and alone: a mon­ument of pure gospel preaching, primitive simplicity and puritan manners. In 1856 the old meeting house was taken down, and its timbers converted into an elegant school house. And now, where the walls once ech­oed and re-echoed from the voices of holy men, another generation are being educated for the pulpit, the bar, the forum or the gallows.

The second Baptist church. organized from the first, remained in existence until 1839 when it became extinct by many of its mem­bers taking letters and uniting with the Third Baptist church, in the center of the town. This church was organized in 1789. The

 

 

 

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REV. CALEB BLOOD was its pastor from its infancy till the year 1807. This eminent divine died in Portland, Me., in the year 1814. This church, (the only one now in Shaftsbury,) since the removal of Mr. Blood, has had for its successive pastors, the Rev's Isaiah Mat­tison, (who died in Illinois in 1859,) Elon Galusha, Samuel Savory, Daniel Tinkham, Cyrus W. Hodges, Wareham Walker, Har­mon Ellis, J. W. Sawyer, Israel Keach, Lan­sing Bailey, Arthur Day, Rev. Mr. Adams, and Mr. Chase, present pastor. The church has taken down their old house, erected a new one, and are in a flourishing condition.

 

MANCHESTER, April 18, 1860.

MARTIN MATTISON, ESQ.,

MY DEAR SIR: I learn by Gov. Hall, that you are looking up the early history of Shafts­bury — a work which may not pay, except it be in the gratitude and thanks of the numer­ous descendants of that Heroic Band of Men, who settled, not only your town, but our County and State, who are now scattered far and wide through the land. Inquiry was al­so made by Gov. Hall about Jereimah Clark, my grandfather, one of the first settlers.

Upon the death of my father, Henry Clark, of Hoosic, N. Y., in 1800, I was put, a child, 10 years of age, into the family of my grand­parents where I lived 6 years. During this period I learned some facts and incidents which may be of interest.

It was in 1767, I think, that Jeremiah Clark, of Preston, Ct., came to settle on the New Hampshire Grants. He came to Ben­nington, which was somewhat settled, and was induced by what he learned there, and by an inspection of the country north, which he made from the top of a tree on the summit of Mount Anthony, to make his pitch in West Shaftsbury, where he lived for the succeeding 50 years — many of which to the set­tlers were years of great peril and hardship.

As to his public character and labors, you will find all that is known, probably, in "Slade's State Papers." He was between 40 and 50 years of age during the most trying period of our history — from 1770 to 1780 — and living near the west line of the Grants had his full share in the New York troubles. He was a member of the first Council of Safe­ty, which exercised all power, till the organization under our first constitution in March, 1778, and which up to this time sat many months in succession: [See their Records and President Thomas Chittenden's procla­mation. See also Slade's State Papers, pp. 81, 197, and onward.]

He was a member of the first Convention of Delegates from the towns, who met at the Inn of Cephas Kent, in Dorset, in July, 1776; a Judge of the first Court, and a member of the first Executive Council for some years.

In 1777, he was in service, as Major, but under what authority his commission was is­sued I cannot state. That year, (the most trying and doubtful to our State and whole country, during the Revolutionary War,) made great inroads in the family circle of my grand-sire. In the spring campaign of this year, his eldest son, James, a youth of 20 years, died of sickness in the northern army. A dear friend, a former member of his family, Henry Walbridge, fell in Bennington battle, and his only brother, Capt. David Clark, of Plainfield, Ct., fell at Still­water, at the head of his company, in the battle of the 17th of Sept., of that year.

But it was not so much as a public or mili­tary man that he chose to be known, as that of a conscientious and religious one; for in the 6 years of my boyhood, when I was in his company more or less almost every day, I rarely heard him speak of his civil or milita­ry services, while he was wont to speak, and in glowing terms, of the protection and deliv­erances he had experienced, which he deemed providential. In speaking of Bennington battle, in which himself and eldest living son, a youth of 16 years, who bore his father's name, participated, he never failed to men­tion an incident that must have come to his knowledge on his return to his home, after that successfull struggle.

His wife, my grandmother, as was rather common in those troublous times, with her domestics, and her female friends and neigh­bors (it being harvest time,) were at work in her harvest field, at the southwest corner of the farm, about 2 miles in direct line from the battle ground, at 3 o'clock, when it begun. At this distance, one can hardly conceive the horror and anxiety that was felt in the com­pany of wives, mothers and daughters. With one consent they came together, near a stone wall, and held a prayer meeting while the battle raged, and truly that field was a place of strong crying and tears, through the day, till at night fleet messengers from the field of carnage, brought news of the victory and safety of husbands, sons and brothers.

This incident he used to relate as an in­stance of prevailing intercession.

Born in Preston Ct., 1733. Died in Shaftsbury, 1817 aged 84 years.

I am with kind regards,

                                                       Yours truly,

                                                    MYRON CLARK,

 

 

———————————————

 

 

ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHY.

 

BY HON. HILAND HALL.

 

Hon. NATHAN H. BOTTUM was born in Shaftsbury Jan. 24, 1793. He received a ve­ry good common school education, and early stored his mind with knowledge acquired by both reading and observation. His home business was that of a farmer, but possessing a clear and investigating mind and sound, discriminating judgment, and undoubted integrity, he was for a considerable portion of his life, called upon to transact business abroad, in the capacity of executor and trus­tee of estates, commissioner, auditor, referee, Insurance and Bank director, &c., and in the service of the town and State in official posi­tions. He was Representative of the town

 

 

 

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for three years prior to 1828, twice a delegate to Constitutional Conventions, and was ap­pointed Judge of the County Court, and Judge of Probate for several years, and for ten years County Treasurer.

He was long an active and exemplary mem­ber of the Baptist Church and was eminently in all respects a true and useful citizen, possessing the confidence and esteem of all. He died deeply lamented Aug. 4, 1855.

Hon. JOHN H. OLIN, son of Gideon Olin, was born in Rhode Island Oct. 12, 1772; came to Shaftsbury in his father's family in 1776, and died here June 17, 1860. He was an up­right, intelliegent man, and for many years occupied a prominent position in the affairs of the County. He was two years Judge of Probate and eight, from 1817 to 1825, Judge of the County Court. Both his mental and physical powers continued in great vigor to the last. A few days before his death, in his 88th year he visited his daughter in Benning­ton, and also his old friend Samuel Fay Esq,, who still survives, and is a few months the elder.