VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
BY REV. THOMAS GOODWILLIE, OF BARNET.
PREVIOUS to the American Revolution, that part of the country now known as "Vermont" was called "The New Hampshire Grants," and was claimed by New Hampshire and New York. The General Assembly of New York divided it into four counties, viz: Bennington and Charlotte on the west, and Cumberland and Gloucester on the east side of the Green Mountains.
Gloucester County was organized March 16, 1770, containing
"all that certain tract or district of land situate, lying and being to the northward of the county of Cumberland, beginning at the northwest corner of the said county of Cumberland, and thence running north as the needle points fifty miles, thence east to Connecticut River; thence along the west bank of the same river, as it runs, to the northeast corner of said county of Cumberland, on said river, and thence along the north bound of said county of Cumberland to the place of beginning." On the 24th of March, 1772, by an act "for the better ascertaining the boundaries of the counties of Cumberland and Gloucester," these limits were changed and Gloucester County was bounded "on the south by the north bounds of the County of Cumberland; on the east by the east bounds (Connecticut River) of this colony (New York); on the north by the north bounds thereof (Canada); on the west and northwest partly by a line to be drawn from the northwest corner of the said County of Cumberland on a course north, ten degrees east, until such line shall meet with and be intersected by another line proceeding on an east course from the south hank of the mouth of Otter Creek, and partly by another line to be drawn and continued from the said last-mentioned point of intersection, on a course north, fifty degrees east, until It meets with and terminates at the said north bounds of the Colony."
Newbury was fixed as the shire town of Gloucester County.
In a large map of the British province of New Hampshire (now before the writer), made by Blanchard and Langdon, and inscribed to the British "secretary of war and one of his majesty's privy council," October 21, 1761, the whole of Vermont is laid down as a part of that province. At that time none of the towns in this county were chartered, but many of the towns which were surveyed and chartered in 1762 and 1763 were laid down on this map with pen and ink. Only three towns in this county are so laid down, Barnet, Ryegate, and Peacham; the latter town being located west of Ryegate, which shows that Groton, which was charterted by Vermont, was surveyed long before Vermont became a State. In a large map of New York (now before the writer), constructed by order of Gen. Tryon, governor of that province, January 1, 1779, from surveys previously made, the whole of Vermont is laid down as a part of New York. On this map Cumberland County is bounded on the north by Canada and on the east by Connecticut River, separating it from New Hampshire, and on the other sides by a line beginning at the Connecticut River in Norwich, and running a little north of west to the Green Mountains, to a point probably in the town of Ripton; thence running northerly along the mountains to a point near Onion River, probably in the town of Duxbury; thence running northeast to Canada line, which it joins in Derby, a few miles east of Lake Memphremagog. The whole of this district is represented on this map as surveyed into townships, except some parts on the northwest.
Within the present limits of Caledonia County the towns of Barnet, Ryegate, Peacham, and Groton are laid down nearly according to the New Hampshire surveys. The most of the other parts of the county are surveyed into townships, which in number, form, and location are altogether different from the other towns now in this county.
On the Connecticut River, above Barnet, was a large township called "Dunmore," including the whole of Waterford and a considerable part of St. Johnsbury and Concord. Along the Barnet line a narrow tract of land was laid down, including parts of Waterford and St. Johnsbury, and which was inscribed "Lt, Cargills." North of Dunmore, on the Passumpsic River, was "Besborough," including the south part of Lyndon and the north part of St. Johnsbury. On the head branches of the Passumpsic was a large tract, including Burke and adjacent parts, in which was inscribed "Thomas Clark & Co." North of Peacham was "Hillsborough," embracing Danville and parts of Walden and Hardwick. These are all the towns in this county laid down on the New York map of 1779.
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The New York grants were abolished when Vermont became independent, and the grantees received a portion of the $30,000 which was given to New York, 1790, to quitclaim Vermont. Thomas Clark's share was $237.05, and John Galbraith's $99.81.
In 1777, the General Convention of Vermont declared "The New Hampshire Grants" independent, and adopted a constitution for the State. In February, 1779, the legislature of Vermont, in face of the opposition of New York, divided the State into two counties, and each county into two shires, viz: Bennington on the west, and Cumberland County on tho east side of the Green Mountains. Cumberland County was divided into the shires of Westminster and Newbury. In 1781, the legislature divided Cumberland into three counties, viz: Windham, Windsor, and Orange. Newbury was the shire town of the County of Orange, which embraced the northeastern part of the State to the Canada line. November 5, 1792, Caledonia County was incorporated from Orange County, including all that part of the State north of that county, and extending so far west as to include Montpelier and adjacent towns. But this county was not fully organized till November 8, 1796, when Danville was made the shire town. The whole State was divided into eleven counties in 1811, when the counties of Orleans and Essex were incorporated from Caledonia County. Four towns from this county were incorporated with Washington County in 1811, to which Woodbury was annexed in 1836 and Cabot in 1855. Caledonia County consists at the present time of sixteen towns. In 1856 the county seat was removed from Danville to St. Johnsbury, where new county buildings were erected. The court-house is a large, elegant, and commodious edifice.
The lands, therefore, in this part of the country were first of all in Gloucester County, New York; then in the shire of Newbury and County of Cumberland, Vermont; afterwards in Orange County, Vermont; and now in Caledonia County, Vermont,
The county is bounded on the north by Orleans County; on the east by Essex County; on the southeast by Connecticut River, which separates it from Grafton County, N. H.; on the south by Orange County; and on the west by Washington and Lamoille counties. It lies between N. lat. 44° 10' and N. lat. 44° 45', and immediately north of a line which if drawn east and west would divide the State into two equal parts. Its length from north to south is about forty miles, and its breadth from east to west about thirty. It contains about 700 square miles, with a population of 21,768, which gives 31 inhabitants to a square mile.
There are many flourishing villages situated in different parts of the county, containing fine churches,
It is well watered by many streams. The Connecticut River runs on the southeast side. The northern towns are watered by the head branches of the Passumpsic River, which is the largest in the county, and runs south and empties into the Connecticut River in Barnet. Wells, Stevens, and Joes rivers water it on the south, and the head branches of Onion and Lamoille rivers on the west. There are about twenty lakes and ponds in the county; the chief of which are Harvey's Lake in Barnet, Wells River and Lund's Ponds in Groton, Cole's Pond in Walden, Clark's and Centre Ponds in Newark, and Stile's Pond in Waterford. Fish of various kinds abound in most of the ponds and rivers. There are falls at different places on the Connecticut, Passumpsic, Wells, and Joes's rivers. Stevens's river, near its mouth, falls 80 feet in the distance of 20 rods. The water-power is improved by mills and factories built at the falls and other places on the streams.
The western part of the county is mountainous; but though the towns in that part are on high lands, they admit of successful cultivation. The eastern part is an excellent farming country. The intervales on the Connecticut and Passumpsic rivers are easily cultivated. From the tops of the mountains in different parts of the county extensive prospects may be obtained, and in some sites grand views of the White Hills of New Hampshire and of the Green Mountains of Vermont may be enjoyed. A mountain in Burke, whose height is 3,500 feet, is probably the highest in the county.
It is not certainly known at what time this part of the country was discovered by Europeans. It has been known to the New England settlers for more than a century. Prior to this period the Indians owned and occupied the soil, covered with the forest. The wilderness was the home and inheritance of these wild men of the woods. Here, they camped in its valleys, hunted on its mountains, and fished in its waters, over which they glided swiftly in their light canoes; and hence, they went forth to war, fighting with savage cunning and cruelty the foreigners who came over the great waters from the east, to dwell in their domains, converting the forests into fruitful fields. When it first became known to Europeans the St. Francis tribe of Indians roamed over this part of the country. They had an encampment at Newbury and cultivated "the meadows" on the Great Ox Bow. But their principal settlement was in Canada. St. Francis, a village on the south side of the River St. Lawrence, not far from the Three Rivers, was their head-quarters. The French employed them in their wars against the English colonies. With their acquaintance with the country and their deadly hatred of the English, they were formidable enemies. From none of the Indian tribes had the provinces of New Hampshire and Massachusetts suffered so much. They made their incursions along the River St.
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Francis and Lake Memphremagog, and thence down the Passumpsic and Connecticut rivers. This was their highway returning from the slaughter of the English, with their scalps, prisoners, and plunder. They were much distinguished by the slaughter and destruction spread among the advanced settlements, the enormity of their cruelties and barbarities, and the number of their scalps and captives.
In the spring of 1752 a party of ten of these Indians surprised a party of four New England settlers while hunting on Baker's River in Rumney, N. H. One fled, one was killed, and the other two were taken prisoners and carried captive into Canada, to their head-quarters at St. Francis. One of these captives was John Stark, afterwards the famous General Stark, who must have been one of the first of Europeans to behold this part of the country. One of his daughters lived and died in Ryegate, and some of her descendants now reside in Ryegate and Barnet. These two men returned from their captivity in Canada in the summer of 1752, and gave an account of the country through which they had passed.
No doubt later and fuller information of this part of the country was given by Major Rogers and his rangers upon their return in 1759, by the Passumpsic River and the Coos "Meadows," from their successful expedition against the St. Francis Indians in Canada. But the sad fate of many of these brave yet unfortunate men, which took place in our county, gives a melancholy interest to the early history of this part of the county.
General Amherst being at Crown Point on Lake Champlain, carrying on the war against the French colonies in 1759, determined to make these Indians, who continued to disturb and distress the frontiers, feel the power of the English colonies. For this purpose, on September 13, 1759, the very day that the English took Quebec, he appointed Major Rogers, a brave and experienced officer from New Hampshire, who had become famous for the number, boldness, and success of his enterprises, to conduct an expedition against this barbarous tribe, carrying the horrors of war unexpectedly into their head-quarters in Canada. The night after the orders were given he set out with two hundred men in boats and proceeded down Lake Champlain. On the fifth day after they left Crown Point, while encamped on the eastern shore of the lake, a keg of gunpowder accidentally exploded, wounding a captain of the royal regiment and several men, who were sent back to Crown Point, with a party to conduct them. This reduced Rogers's force to one hundred and forty-two men, with whom he proceeded to Missisco Bay, as ordered. Here he concealed his boats among some bushes which hung over one of the streams, and left in them previsions sufficient to carry them back to Crown Point.
According to orders he left the lake and advanced into the wilderness towards St. Francis village, having left two men to watch the boats and provisions, with orders that if the enemy discovered them, they were to pursue the party with expedition and give him intelligence. The second evening after he left the bay these two men overtook the party and informed him that four hundred French and Indians had discovered the boats and sent them away with fifty men, while the rest of the party went in pursuit of the English. Rogers kept this intelligence to himself, but sent away the two rangers with a lieutenant and eight men to Crown Point, to inform Gen. Amherst of what had taken place and request him to send provisions to Coos on Connecticut River, by which route he intended to return. Rogers, in order to outmarch his enemies if they pursued him, pushed forward towards St. Francis with all possible expedition. He came in sight of the village on the 4th of October at 8 o'clock in the evening. Ordering his men to halt and refresh themselves, he dressed himself in the Indian garb and took with him two Indians, who understood the language of the St. Francis tribe, and went to reconnoitre the town. He found the Indians engaged in a grand dance, without the least apprehension of danger. He returned to his men at 2 o'clock in the morning and marched them to a distance of about five hundred yards from the town. About 4 o'clock the Indians finished their dance and retired to rest. Rogers waited till they were asleep, and at break of day he posted his men in the most favorable situation and commenced a general assault. The Indians were completely surprised and soon subdued. Some of them were killed in their houses, and of those who attempted to fly, many were shot or knocked on the head by the rangers, who were placed at the avenues. Amherst ordered Rogers and his men "to take their revenge on the Indian scoundrels" for their "barbarities and infamous cruelties," but he ordered also that "no women or children be killed or hurt, though these villains have dastardly and promiscuously murdered the women and children of all orders." But the Indian method of slaughter and destruction was adopted on this occasion; and wherever Indians were found, their men, women, and children were slain without distinction and without mercy. As the morning light increased the fierce wrath of the rangers was inflamed to the highest degree when they saw the scalps of several hundreds of their countrymen suspended on poles and waving in the air. Under this new force and irritation of their feelings and passions, they put forth their utmost exertions to avenge the blood of their friends and relations by utterly destroying the village and all they could find of its inhabitants. The village contained three hundred Indians. Two hundred were killed on the spot and twenty taken prisoners.
The town appeared to have been in a flourishing state. The houses were well furnished, and
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any reasonable hope that we should escape a most miserable death by famine. At length I came to a resolution to push as fast as possible towards Number Four, leaving the remains of my party, now unable to march further, to get such wretched subsistence as the barren wilderness could afford, till I could get relief to them, which I engaged to do within ten days. I taught Lieut. Grant, the commander of the party, the use and method of preparing ground-nuts and lily roots, which being cleaned and boiled, will serve to preserve life. I, with Capt. Ogden and one ranger and a captive Indian boy, embarked upon a raft we had made of dry pine-trees. The current carried us down the stream in the middle of the river, where we endeavored to keep our wretched vessel by such paddles as we had made out of small trees or spires split and hewed.
"The second day we reached. White River Falls, and very narrowly escaped being carried over them by the current. Our little remains of strength, however, enabled us to land and to march by them. At the bottom of these falls, while Capt. Ogden and the ranger hunted for red squirrels for a refreshment, who had likewise the good fortune to kill a partridge, I attempted the forming of a new raft for our further conveyance. Being unable to cut down trees, I burnt them down and then burnt them off at proper length's. This was our third day's work after leaving our companions. The next day we got our materials together and completed our raft and floated with the stream again till we came to Otta Quechee Falls, which are about fifty yards in length. Here we landed, and by a withe made of hazel-bushes, Capt. Ogden held the raft till I went to the bottom, prepared to swim and board it when it came down, and, if possible, to paddle it ashore, this being the only resource for life, as we were not able to make a third raft in case we had lost this. I had the good fortune to succeed, and the next morning we embarked and floated down the stream to within a small distance of Number Four, where we found some men cutting timber, who gave us the first relief and assisted us to the fort, whence I dispatched a canoe with provisions, which reached the men at Cohasse four days after, which, agreeable to my engagement, was the tenth day after I left them. Two days after my arrival at Number Four, I went up the river myself, with other canoes loaded with provisions for the relief of others of my party that might be coming on that way, having hired some of the inhabitants to assist me in this affair. I likewise sent expresses to Pembroke and Concord upon the Merrimack River, that any who should straggle that way might be assisted, and provisions were sent up said rivers accordingly."
Having returned from his expedition up the river, Maj. Rogers waited for his men at Number Four, and having collected and refreshed a considerable part of his force, he marched to Crown Point, where he arrived December 1, 1759, and joined the army under Gen. Amherst. Upon examination he found that after leaving the smoking ruins of St. Francis he had lost three lieutenants and forty-six sergeants and privates.
This expedition, though it proved extremely dangerous and fatiguing to the men engaged in it, produced a deep impression on the enemy, carrying consternation and alarm into the heart of Canada, and convincing the Indians that the retaliation of vengeance was now come upon them. Newbury was chartered May 8, 1763, and settled in 1764. Some of the St. Francis tribe of Indians returned to the Coos, where they lived and died, and their families became extinct. One of these was Capt. John, who had been a noted chief of the St. Francis tribe. He was in the battle of Braddock's defeat, and used to relate how he shot a British officer, after the officer had knocked him down; and how he tried to shoot young Washington, but could not succeed. He was a fierce and cruel Indian, and had repeatedly used the tomahawk and scalping-knife upon the defenceless inhabitants of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. When excited by ardent spirits, he took a fiendish satisfaction in relating his cruel and savage deeds, particularly his bloody barbarities in torturing and killing captive females, whose cries of distress he imitated, to make sport. He was, however, a firm friend of the American colonies. During the revolutionary war he received a captain's commission, raised a part of a company of Indians and marched with the New England companies against Burgoyne. One of his sons, in 1777, fought near Fort Independence, under the command of Capt. Thomas Johnston of Newbury.
Captain Joe was another of these Indians. His disposition was mild. He hated the British, and rejoiced in the success of the American colonies. Accompanied with his wife, Molly, he used to hunt in this county. His name was given to Joe's Pond, on the western border of this county, and once belonged to it; and to the stream which issues out of it and empties into Passumpsic in Barnet, where it is sometimes called Merrit's River. Her name was given to Molly's Pond in Cabot, which until lately belonged to this county. During the revolutionary war, he with Molly visited Gen. Washington at his head-quarters on the Hudson River, and was received with marked attention. When he became old and unable to support himself, the legislature of Vermont granted him a pension of $70 annually.
The war with the French in Canada and the dread of the Indians retarded the settlements on the Connecticut River.
In 1760, no towns were chartered and no settlements made on that river north of Charlestown, N. H., 75 miles below this county. But after the courage and power of the Indians were destroyed by Rogers's daring expedition in 1759, and the termination of the war with the French colonies
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in Canada in 1760, the settlements on the Connecticut River rapidly increased.
In 1760, Samuel Stevens was employed by a land company to explore this part of the country, to find out the best lands for settlement. He, with a few others, began at the mouth of White River and proceeded up the Connecticut River till they came to the head branches of Onion River, which rise in the southern part of this county and not many miles from the Connecticut. Thence they went down Onion River to Lake Champlain.
Then beginning at the month of Lamoille River, they proceeded up that stream to its head branches in the western part of this county, through which they passed to the Connecticut River.
In 1761, no less than sixty towns on the west, and eighteen on the east side of the Connecticut, were chartered. After this period Elijah King, with a party, surveyed the towns north of Wells River.
The towns first chartered in this part of the county were New Hampshire Grants. Benning Wentworth, governor of that province, chartered Ryegate, September 8, 1763; Barnet, September 16, 1763, and Peacham, December 31, 1763.
Barnet was the first town in the county that was settled. Its first settlers were from the New England settlements. Jacob, Elijah, and Daniel Hall and Jonathan Fowler settled in Barnet, March 4, 1770. The first house erected in the county was built by the Halls, at the foot of the falls on the north side of Stevens River in Barnet. Sarah, daughter of Elijah Hall, was the first child born in the county, and Barnet Fowler, son of Jonathan Fowler, was probably the first male born in the county. In October, 1773, there were fifteen families in town, and in 1775 it began to be rapidly settled by emigrants from Scotland, who soon composed the great majority of the inhabitants. In 1773, emigrants from Scotland began to settle in Ryegate, having purchased the south half of the town. The most of the inhabitants were Scotch, who settled in different parts of the town. The first inhabitants of the town, however, were Aaron Hosmer and his family, who had camped on the Connecticut River, two miles above Wells River. In the spring of 1775, Jonathan Elkins came to Peacham, to the lot he had pitched in 1774. Danville was chartered October 27, 1784, and a few years afterwards was rapidly settled. Dr. Arnold, of St. Johnsbury, procured the charters of that town and Lyndon, Burke, and Billymead (now Sutton), and named them for his four sons, John, Lyndon, Burke, and William. John, however, was dead. His father sainted his name and called the town named for him St. Johnsbury.* Ryegate, Barnet, and Peacham, the towns first chartered in the county, were settled before the revolutionary war. The rest of the towns in the county were chartered by the State of Vermont between 1780 and 1790.
The first mills erected in the county were a sawmill and gristmill built by Col. Hurd of Haverhill, N. H., in 1771, at the Falls on Stevens's River in Barnet, by a contract with Enos Stevens, one of the grantees of the town, for one hundred acres of land lying on the Connecticut River, and running back half a mile and enclosing the Falls; Stevens, however, furnishing the mill-irons on the spot.
In 1774, a line was run from Connecticut River in Barnet through Peacham to Missique Bay on Lake Champlain, which was of great use to our scouts and to deserters from the enemy during the revolutionary war. On this line, in March, 1776, several companies belonging to Col. Beedel's regiment marched to Canada on snowshoes.
Early in the spring of 1776, Gen. Bailey of Newbury was ordered to open a road from Newbury in Orange County, beginning at the mouth of Wells River, which empties into the Connecticut River near the southeast corner of the county, to run through the wilderness to St. Johns, for the purpose of facilitating the conveyance of troops and provisions into Canada. He had opened the road six miles above Peacham, when the news arrived that the American army had retreated from Canada, and the undertaking was abandoned. But in 1799 Gen. Hazen was ordered to Peacham with part of a regiment for the purpose, as was said, of completing the road begun by Gen. Bailey, so that an army might be sent through for the reduction of Canada. But this was probably a feint for dividing the enemy and preventing them from sending their whole force up Lake Champlain. Gen. Hazen, however, continued the road fifty miles above Peacham, through the towns of Cabot, Walden, Hardwick, Greensboro', Craftsbury, Albany, and Lowell, and it terminated at a remarkable notch in the mountain in Westfield. He erected block-houses at Peacham and other places along the road, which to this day is called the "Hazen Road," and the notch where it terminated is known as "Hazen's Notch." This road was of great advantage to the settlers after the revolutionary war.
But it appears from a letter written by Gen. Whitelaw to his father and the company in Scotland, and dated Feb. 7, 1774, that a road from Connecticut River to Lake Champlain and Canada had been designed, and the opening of it had commenced at that early period, which was probably designed to facilitate the settlement of the country. As this letter was written soon after the settlement of the county had commenced, and as it contains many interesting particulars, we quote it at length.
"RYEGATE, Feb. 7, 1774.
"We have now built a house and live very comfortably, though we are not troubled much with our neighbors, having one family about half
* See St. Johnsbury chapter on this point. Ed.
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a mile from us, another a mile and a half, and two about two miles and a half, — one above and the other below us. In the township above us (Barnet) there are about fifteen families, and in the township below (Newbury), about sixty, where they have a good Presbyterian minister, whose meeting-house is about six miles from us. There is as yet no minister above us, though there are some few settlers sixty miles beyond us, on the river (Connecticut). There are no settlers to the west of us till you come to Lake Champlain, which is upwards of sixty miles. There is a road now begun to be cut from Connecticut River to the Lake, which goes through the middle of our purchase, and is reasoned to be a considerable advantage to us, as it will be the chief post-road to Canada. We are extremely well pleased with our situation, as the ground on a second view is better than we expected, and we live in a place where we can have a pretty good price for the products of the earth. The ordinary price of provisions are as follows: Wheat, four shillings per bushel; barley, the same; oats, rye, and Indian corn, from one to two shillings; pease four shillings and sixpence; all sterling, and all the English bushel; and the soil here produces these in perfection, besides water and muskmelons, cucumbers, potatoes, squashes, pumpkins, turnips, parsnips, carrots, onions, and all garden vegetables in the greatest plenty and perfection. They have also excellent flax, which they sell at four and a half pence sterling per pound, when swingled, which is sixpence lawful money, at Boston, in which they commonly reckon, as most of the trade here is with that part of New England. Beef sells here at one and three fourths pence per pound, pork at four and one half to sixpence, mutton from two to three pence, butter and cheese from five to six pence; all sterling and all by the English pound. These are the real prices of provisions here, and what we ourselves pay for all these articles; and as they have great demand for these things in the seaport towns to the eastward, the price will continue. This country seems to be extraordinarily well adapted to the raising of cattle, as it is all covered with excellent grass where it is cleared, and even in many places in the woods. As butter and cheese here sell at a good price, a good dairy here might be a very profitable business. Though this is a new country we have every necessary of life at the above prices. We have a gristmill within six miles of us, and a sawmill within two and a half. We know nothing of the hardships of settling a new place, for the first settlers in the town below, only ten years ago, had not a neighbor nearer than sixty miles, and no road but through the woods, and the nearest mill was one hundred and twenty miles down the river. The people here are hospitable, social, and decent, One thing I know, that here they are very strict in keeping the Sabbath. The winter here is far from being what I expected, for though it freezes sometimes pretty severely, yet it is not very cold. The weather is commonly clear and settled."
Barnet, Ryegate, and Peacham being New Hampshire grants, were involved in the controversy with New York, and took an active part in declaring Vermont independent, and establishing its government.
These three towns were settled but a few years before the revolutionary war commenced, no other towns in the county having been settled till some years after the independence of the United States was acknowledged by Great Britain. Though feeble frontier settlements, they contributed according to their ability to establish that independence. In 1777, when there was a general call on that part of the country for soldiers, they sent armed men to Saratoga, where they had the pleasure of witnessing the surrender of Burgoyne and his army. Afterwards they raised militia to guard the frontier, sent soldiers to the American army, and furnished provisions according to their ability.
The legislature of Vermont passed an act, Feb. 28, 1782, to raise three hundred able-bodied men for the ensuing campaign, and the men for Col. Johnston's regiment were to meet at his house in Newbury, March 1, 1782. The board of war, under this act, required two men from this county, — one from Ryegate and another from Barnet.
For tho support of the troops raised by Vermont during the revolutionary war, the legislature passed an act, October 27, 1781, to levy on the polls and ratable estate of that year a provision tax of twenty ounces of wheat flour, and six ounces of rye flour, and also ten ounces of beef, and six ounces of pork without bone except backbone and ribs; and in 1782 another act was passed to levy a provision tax on the towns, by which three towns in the county were taxed as follows, viz:—
Flour Beef Pork Corn Rye.
Pounds Pounds Pounds Bushels Bushels.
Ryegate, 1,800 600 300 54 12
Barnet, 750 250 125 24 12
Peacham 750 250 125 24 12
——— ——— ——— ——— ———
3,300 1,100 550 106 36
As these towns had not fully furnished these provisions, the legislature passed an act, Feb. 22, 1783, "to remit all the arrears of taxes (except land taxes) due from Peacham, Barnet, and Ryegate, and laid on said towns before the session in October, 1782, as these towns lie so detached from the firm citizens of this State, as that they cannot be said properly to have been within the protection and to have received the benefit of the government of the State." The other towns in this county began to be settled about the time of the formation of the Constitution of the United States, in 1787; and their settlement rapidly
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increased in 1789, when the first Congress met and Gen. Washington was inaugurated President; in 1790, when the long fierce controversy with New York was amicably adjusted, and in 1791, when Vermont was admitted as one of the United States. All the towns in the county were settled before the end of the century.
The county was called "Caledonia," — the ancient Roman name of Scotland, — out of regard for the emigrants from that country, who had purchased large tracts of land in the county, and had large and flourishing settlements in Barnet and Ryegate, and who were distinguished for their intelligence, integrity, enterprise, industry, and patriotism, as well as for their religious character. They favored the cause of American independence, and some of them served in the revolutionary army. They supported Vermont in the declaration of her independence and the formation of her constitution, in trying circumstances, which called for the highest exercise of the greatest wisdom, fortitude, and patriotism. They organized a church and settled a clergyman long before any other church was founded, or any other clergyman was installed in the county. Some of Caledonia's sons were appointed by the legislature of Vermont to high and responsible offices, which they held for many years, with credit to themselves and benefit to the State and county.
Rev. John Witherspoon, D.D., an emigrant from Scotland, owned a large tract of land in Ryegate, and his influence contributed largely to the early settlement of the county by his countrymen. He was a descendant of John Knox, the famous Scottish Reformer, by his daughter, the wife of John Welch, another reformer of Scotland. He was president of Princeton College in New Jersey, and was an able advocate of American independence. He was a member of Congress for six years, and evinced his patriotism by strenuously urging Congress to adopt the Declaration of Independence, which he himself readily signed. He was appointed by Congress on different important committees. He was a member of the committee appointed by Congress to repair to Vermont and endeavor to obtain a settlement of the matters in dispute between that State and New York, and came to Bennington, Vt., and had an interview with Gov. Chittenden immediately after his appointment. His able, humorous, witty, and sarcastic writings were greatly subservient to the cause of religion and civil liberty. That he was an eminent divine is shown by his excellent sermons, which he printed, and the admirable publications of Congress, calling on their constituents to seasons of fasting and prayer.
James, his eldest son, settled in the north part of Ryegate, where he remained nearly two years, but by his father's solicitation he joined the American army, in which he attained the rank of major. He was killed at the battle of Germantown. It is said that he was an aidecamp to Gen. Washington.
Gen. James Whitelaw, of Ryegate, was an emigrant from Scotland, being sent out as an agent to purchase a large body of land for "The Scots American Company" of Renfrewshire, composed of 140 members, most of whom were farmers, for whom he purchased, in 1773, the south half of Ryegate, from Dr. Witherspoon, at the price of "three shillings York money" per acre. He was a surveyor by profession, and was appointed by the surveyor-general of Vermont, deputy surveyor from 1778 to October, 1786. After his term he was annually elected by the legislature surveyor-general of Vermont till 1796. He surveyed a large majority of town lines in the State, and a number of towns he surveyed into lots, and drew the maps. By John Adams, President of the United States, he was appointed one of the five commissioners to execute, within the State of Vermont, an act of Congress, passed July 9, 1798, "to provide for the valuation of lands and dwelling-houses and the enumeration of slaves within the United States." In 1796, he published a large, beautiful, and correct map of Vermont, which he afterwards improved and republished.
Col. Alexander Harvey was another emigrant from Scotland, being sent as the agent of "The Farmers' Company, of Perthshire and Sterlingshire," to purchase a tract to be settled by them.
In 1774, he purchased for the Company 7,000 acres in the southwest part of Barnet, the price being fourteen pence sterling (about twenty-five cents) an acre. He took an active part in the declaration of the independence of the State, and the formation of its constitution and government, having been a member of the conventions of 1777, and all the sessions of the legislature, till 1788, and also a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1791. He was appointed Associate Judge of Orange County, in 1781, which office he held till 1794. The government gave him a commission to build a fort on Onion or Lamoille River, which he declined to accept.
The emigrants from Scotland, in Barnet and Ryegate, were distinguished for religious knowledge, being well acquainted with the Holy Scriptures. They observed daily the worship of God in their families, and were careful to bring up their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." They strictly sanctified the Sabbath, and loved the house of God. Feeling the want of the public ordinances of religion, they made strenuous endeavors, before and during the revolutionary war, to obtain them, and after repeated efforts they succeeded. During the revolutionary war and before and after it, several clergymen, most of whom were Presbyterians, and emigrants from Scotland came and preached in these two towns. Rev. Peter Powers, who was settled in Newbury from 1765 to 1784 was
COUNTY CHAPTER. 219
probably the first clergyman who preached in this county. Dr. Witherspoon visited Barnet and Ryegate two or three times and preached and baptized. On one of these occasions he rode the saddle on which his son sat at the battle of Germantown, and which bore the mark of the ball which killed him. The first visit was probably in 1775, and in 1782 he returned. Rev. Thomas Clark, of Salem, N. Y., preached here in 1775, and afterwards returned two or three times. Rev. Robert Annan, of Boston, Mass., preached in these parts first in 1784, then in 1785, in which year Rev. David Annan came and preached. Rev. John Houston, of Bedford, N. H., first visited these towns in the latter part of 1785, and returned in 1787, and remained a year. In 1784, the town of Barnet voted unanimously "to choose the Presbyterian form of religious worship, founded upon the word of God, as expressed in the confession of faith, catechisms, larger and shorter, with the form of Presbyterian church government agreed upon by the assembly of divines at Westminster, and practised by the church of Scotland." In 1787, the town and church of Barnet sent a joint petition to the Associate Presbyterian Synod in Scotland, for a minister, offering to pay the expense of his passage to this country. They were directed to apply to the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania, and informed that two clergymen had been sent out to that Presbytery, to which they made application, in consequence of which Rev. Thomas Beveridge, of Cambridge, Washington County, N. Y., came and preached in 1789, and returned in 1790. In consequence of application to that Presbytery, Rev. David Goodwillie came in the autumn of 1789, and continued his ministerial labors in Barnet and Ryegate till February, 1790, in which year a unanimous call was given to him to become their pastor, Ryegate receiving a sixth part of his pastoral labors. In this call the town of Barnet concurred. In September, 1790, Mr. Goodwillie returned and was settled as the minister of the town and pastor of the church. While yet a student in his native land, he was a friend to the American colonies struggling for their liberties. August 2, 1830, he died, honored and lamented, having labored successfully more than forty years in the county.
A Presbyterian church was organized in Peacham, by Rev. Peter Powers, January 22, 1784.
The Congregational Church in Peacham was formed April 14, 1794. Rev. Leonard Worcester was settled as the pastor of the church, Oct. 30, 1799, and continued his labors for many years. He was the second clergyman settled in the county.
At the present time there are different denominations of Christians in the county, the Congregationalists, Baptists, and Methodists being the most numerous.
Bible and missionary societies have existed in the county for many years, and many of the most honorable, useful, and influential persons have become members.
June I4, 1785, the legislature chartered the town of Wheelock, in this count, containing 23,040 acres, and granted it to the President and Trustees of Dartmouth College, and Moore's Charity School, at Hanover, N. H. The town was called Wheelock, in honor of Rev. John Wheelock, then president of the college.
The academy of Caledonia County was chartered and endowed by the legislature, and established at Peacham, Oct. 27, 1795. Alexander Harvey, James Whitelaw, Josiah L. Arnold, David Goodwillie, Daniel Cahoon, Horace Beardsly, Wm. Chamberlin, Benjamin Sias, and Jacob Davis were appointed trustees by the charter. The academy is a large, beautiful, and commodious edifice, in a fine situation, commanding a view of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and contains a good library, and an extensive philosophical apparatus. The institution, from its organization to the present time, has been in a prosperous condition. Flourishing academies exist also in St. Johnsbury, Danville, Lyndon, and Barnet, with large and elegant edifices.
The excellent system of common schools adopted by Vermont is in successful operation in all parts of the county.
The legislature of Vermont held its session in Danville, the county seat, from Oct. 10 to Nov. 8, 1805.
The first newspaper published in the county was printed at Peacham, by Amos Farley and Samuel Goss. It was called "The Green Mountain Patriot," and commenced in Feb. 1798, and continued till March, 1807. "The North Star," published at Danville, commenced the first week in January, 1807, and still continues.
For many years the Hazen Road, according to its original design, was the highway for settlers coming into the county. At an early period a branch from that road began at Col. Harvey's residence on the North side of Harvey's Mountain, in Barnet, and ran past the north end of Harvey's Lake, and through the centre of that town to the mouth of Joes River, and was afterwards extended up the Passumpsic to St. Johnsbury. At a later date another branch from the Hazen Road was made to Danville.
The Passumpsic Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1805. The construction of the road commenced in 1807 at Joes River, and in 1808 it was made to Ryegate line, and afterwards extended to Wells River.
The Connecticut and Passumpsic rivers Railroad was constructed from White River, through Ryegate, and Barnet, to St. Johnsbury in 1850, and was extended to Barton, Vt., in 1858.
The Agricultural Society of the county has been in successful operation for many years, and
270 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
its annual exhibitions show that agriculture is in a very flourishing condition. Indeed, the agricultural products of the county are greater than those of any other county in the United States, having no greater population. It is famous for cattle, sheep, horses, &c. The Scotch were early noted for making excellent butter. It is probable that no better butter is made in any other part of the world. Vast quantities are exported from the county every year, to Boston, where it always brings the highest price, and has repeatedly gained the highest premium.
For many years the nearest post-office to the county was at Newbury, Orange County, Vt. The mail was extended through Ryegate and Peacham to Danville, probably about the end of last century. In 1808, it was extended to Barnet and St. Johnsbury.
UNITED STATES AND STATE OFFICERS OF CALEDONIA COUNTY.
Hon. Wm. A. Palmer, of Danville, one of the judges of the supreme court in 1816, and senator in congress 1819-1825; was governor of Vermont, 1831-1834.
Hon. John Mattocks, of Peacham, one of the judges of the supreme court, 1833, 1834, and member of congress, 1821-1823, 1825-1827, 1841-1843; and was governor of the State in 1843.
Hon. Erastus Fairbanks, of St. Johnsbury, was governor of the State, 1852 and 1860.
Hon. William Chamberlin, of Peacham, a revolutionary soldier, who fought in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, and Bennington, and took an active part in the formation of the State government, was a member of congress, 1803-1805, 1809, 1810, and lieut.-governor of the State, 1813, 1814.
Hon. Wm. Cahoon, of Lyndon, was a member of congress, 1827-1831, and lieut.-governor of the State 1821, 1822.
Hon. Luther Jewett, of St. Johnsbury, was a member of congress, 1815-1817.
Hon. Benjamin F. Demming of Danville was member of congress, 1833-1835.
Hon. Isaac Fletcher, of Lyndon, was member of congress, 1837-1841.
Hon. Thomas Bartlett, of Lyndon, was member of congress, 1851, 1852.
Hon. Ephraim Paddock, of St. Johnsbury, was one of the judges of the supreme court, 1828-1830.
Hon. Charles Davis, of Danville, was one of the judges of the supreme court, 1846, 1847, and United States attorney for the District of Vermont, 1841-1845.
Hon. Luke P. Poland, one of the judges of the supreme court, 1848-1859, was chosen chief justice of Vermont, 1860, which office he now holds.
POPULATION OF CALEDONIA COUNTY
TOWNS. 1791 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860
———— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
Bradley's Vale — — — — 21 50 107 —
Barnet 477 860 1,301 1,488 1,704 2,030 2,522 2,002
Burke — 98 460 541 866 997 1,103 1,138
Danville 574 1,514 2,240 2,300 2,631 2,633 2,578 2,547
Deweysburgh 48 152 200 — — — — —
by Wheelock — — 64 105 — 142 183 230
by Plainfield — — — — — 44 32 20
Groton 45 248 449 595 836 928 895 951
Hardwick 3 260 735 857 1,216 1,354 1,403 1,386
Harris's Gore — — — — — 16 8 10
Kirby 20 311 312 401 520 509 473
Lyndon 59 542 1,090 1,296 1,822 1,753 1,752 1,695
Newark — 8 88 154 257 360 434 567
Peacham 365 873 1,301 1,294 1,351 1,443 1,377 1,251
Ryegate 187 415 812 994 1,119 1,223 1,606 1,100
Sheffield — 170 388 581 720 821 797 836
St. Johnsbury 143 615 1,334 1,404 1,592 1,887 2,758 3,470
Sutton — 146 433 697 1,005 1,068 1,001 986
Walden 43 153 455 580 427 913 910 1,102
Waterford 63 565 1,289 1,247 1,358 1,388 1,412 1,172
Wheelock 32 568 964 906 834 881 856 832
—————— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
2,039 7,207 13,914 15,361 17,990 20,451 22,043 21,768
The magnetic variation observed by Gen. Whitelaw on the north line of Vermont, 20 miles west of the Connecticut River in 1785, was 7° and 40' west; and by Dr. Williams, at the northeast corner of the State, in 1806, it was 9° west. At the present time it is very nearly 10° west in this county.
THE TOWNS OF CALEDONIA COUNTY, WITH THE DATE OF THE GRANTS, CHANTERS, AND SETTLEMENTS; THE NUMBER OF ACRES IN EACH; AND THEIR GRAND LIST FOR A.D. 1860.
TOWNS. Date of Date of Date of Number Polls Real Estate Personal
Grant Charter Settlement of Acres 1860 1860 Property
———— ————— ——————— ————— ——— ——— ———— —————
Barnet —— Sept. 16, 1763 Mar. 4, 1770 25,524 723 $514,740 $107,815
Burke —— Feb. 23, 1782 1794 23,040 510 234,550 58,550
Danville Oct 27, 1786 Oct. 31, 1786 1783 or '84 27,911 940 568,234 124,537
Groton Nov. 7, 1780 Oct. 20, 1789 1787 28,300 334 159,633 34,974
Hardwick Nov. 7, 1780 Aug. 19, 1781 Mar. 13, 1792 23,040 520 355,818 108,459
Kirby Oct. 20, 1786 Oct. 27, 1790 About 1792 11,264 188 127,346 14,761
Lyndon Nov. 2, 1780 Nov. 20, 1780 April, 1788 33,040 656 461,826 110,351
Newark Nov. 6, 1780 Aug. 15, 1781 1797 23,040 252 86,645 8,400
Peacham —— Dec. 31, 1763 1775 23,040 416 302,662 122,262
Ryegate —— Sept. 8, 1763 1773 21,492 370 275,134 92,918
St. Johnsbury Oct. 27, 1786 Nov. 1, 1786 April, 1788 21,167 1,518 826,097 283,156
Sheffield Nov. 7, 1780 Nov. 7, 1780 1794 22,607 300 122,466 420,325
Sutton —— Feb. 26, 1782 1790 23,040 414 171,229 40,926
Walden Nov. 6, 1780 Aug. 18, 1781 1784 23,040 412 242,925 33,685
Waterford Nov. 7, 1780 Nov. 8, 1780 About 1783 23,040 392 340,083 71,021
Wheelock June 14, 1785 June 14, 1785 About 1780 23,040 320 —— 15,321
——— ————— ——————
8,284 $4,786,388 $1,247,460
METEOROLOGICAL TABLES for the years 1858, 1859, and 1860, deduced from the daily Meteorological Observations taken with standard instruments, at St. Johnsbury, Vt., in N. lat. 44° 25' and W. lon. 70°, and 540 feet above tide water. These observations were kindly furnished by Franklin Fairbanks, Esq., to make these tables, which, had room in this work permitted, might have been extended, including some general observations on the clouds and winds. The thanks of the community are due to that gentleman for his diligence and care in taking these observations three times a day for years, making more than thirty daily observations to be recorded. He is one of more than five hundred regular meteorological observers in different parts of North America, taking daily observations, morning, noon, and night, for the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, to which their meteorological records are regularly returned. These observations, when properly discussed by that highly scientific institution, promise to produce, in process of time, results greatly conducive to the interests of agriculture and commerce. It is very desirable that the number of these observers were increased in all parts of the continent, and all the newspapers should publish monthly abstracts of their observations, as is done by the Caledonian, published at St. Johnsbury, and a few other papers in the country.
BAROMETER. THERMOMETER Rain Gauge
7 2 9 7 2 9 Rain
AM PM PM High Low AM PM PM High Low Snow Snow
——— ——— ——— ——— ——— — — — — — —— —
January 29 51 29.36 29.59 30.22 28.79 15 24 15 42 -8 1.41 11
February 29.45 29.39 29.40 29.78 28.28 2 17 9 51 -19 1.34 15
March 29.32 29.29 29.41 29.93 28.72 13 31 18 52 -27 1.61 9
April 29.29 29.32 29.26 29.80 28.88 34 45 35 59 21 2.51 9
May 29.47 29.44 29.40 29.97 28.90 45 58 45 77 33 3.15 —
June 29.45 29.42 29.42 29.68 29.20 60 74 59 90 40 4.36 —
July 29.45 29.43 29.45 29.44 29.11 58 73 60 86 50 5.72 —
August 29.48 29.46 29.77 29.81 29.12 54 72 59 82 40 5.42 —
September 29.52 29.47 29.44 29.90 28.69 47 66 52 87 26 4.58 —
October 29.54 29.52 29.54 29.99 28.86 38 51 42 70 23 5.78 1
November 29.35 29.26 29.42 29.85 29.04 26 34 26 48 -2 2.15 14
December 29.57 29.52 29.53 30.14 28.73 10 20 15 38 -25 2.19 17
——— ——— ——— ——— ——— — — — — — —— —
29.45 29.40 29.47 29.87 28.83 32 47 36 73 17 40.22 66
January 29.55 29.53 29.53 30.05 28.59 5 22 9 38 -40 2.77 22
February 29.45 29.42 29.44 29.78 28.60 9 26 19 40 -22 1.57 14
March 29.33 29.29 29.32 29.97 28.35 9 37 20 46 -19 4.91 10
April 29.28 29.24 29.31 29.73 28.64 31 46 36 68 20 2.42 9
May 29.56 29.42 29.55 29.84 29.17 50 67 51 87 32 1.78 —
June 29.50 29.45 29.46 29.80 29.11 53 67 54 92 38 3.23 —
July 29.48 29.06 29.48 29.88 29.06 56 75 58 90 40 1.21 —
August 29.49 29.44 29.47 29.72 29.16 58 71 59 83 43 1.78 —
September 29.49 29.44 29.50 29.88 28.82 49 61 50 75 32 3.59 —
October 29.37 29.34 29.40 29.92 28.87 28 47 38 75 18 1.59 —
November 29.56 29.53 29.51 30.09 28.74 29 40 32 62 10 3.84 16
December 29.49 29.49 29.53 30.20 28.83 2 18 10 46 -34 3.38 32
——— ——— ——— ——— ——— — — — — — —— —
29.40 29.42 29.45 29.90 29.84 31 48 36 68 19 32.07 104
January 29.35 29.46 29.43 29.95 28.88 8 24 7 46 -33 25 1
February 29.50 29.44 29.46 30.05 28.65 9 23 15 53 -25 .95 10
March 29.23 29.23 29.28 29.77 28.80 27 38 27 65 9 1.06 7
April 29.40 29.35 29.41 29.96 28.93 32 46 34 70 11 .61 —
May 29.49 29.36 29.38 29.76 28.64 — 68 — 77 53 .84 —
June 29.21 29.18 29.18 29.49 28.87 — 73 — 86 — 1.62 —
July 29.39 29.34 29.30 29.62 28.80 — 73 — 84 — 2.75 —
August 29.44 29.41 29.41 29.67 29.10 — 79 — 90 — 3.63 —
September 29.54 29.44 29.49 29.92 28.90 — 64 — 80 — 1.52 —
October 29.48 29.50 29.56 29.97 28.73 — 52 — 66 — 2.75 —
November 29.26 29.32 29.32 29.87 28.60 — 43 — 75 — 4.02 3
December 29.12 29.23 29.17 29.62 28.60 — 27 — 34 — .56 13
——— ——— ——— ——— ——— — — — — — —— —
29.36 29.37 29.37 29.80 28.79 .. 51 .. 68 .. 20.56 34
In the year 1859 rain fell on 95 different days.
" " snow " 83 " "
" " total fall of snow, 104 inches.
" " rain and melted snow, 32.7 in.
In order to obtain information of the early history of Caledonia County, the writer has examined the public records of all the towns first settled, and made diligent search for private letters, papers, and journals; and he has succeeded beyond expectation, having had the privilege of examining very many early written and highly interesting and important documents, which belonged to Gen. Whitelaw, Col. Harvey, Rev. D. Goodwillie, Enos Stevens, Esq., and others. He is indebted to Walter Harvey, Esq., of Barnet, for the letters, papers, charts, and journal of his father, Col. Harvey; to the daughter of Gen. Whitelaw, Mrs. Abigail Henderson of Ryegate, for the general's correspondence with his father in Scotland, Dr. Witherspoon, and Rev. Thomas Clark, and other clergymen who preached in the county at an early period, and for the sketch of her father's life written by herself; and to the general's grandson, W. T. Whitelaw, Esq. of Ryegate, for the use of his grandfather's journal, papers, deeds, charts, and business correspondence, which consists of thousands of letters and several folio volumes of answers to correspondents. One of the deeds is from Dr. Witherspoon, and is beautifully written on a large sheet of parchment.
Barnet, Vt., Jan. 1, 1861.