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 312                             VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

 

 

 

DANVILLE. — TO 1860.

 

BY M. T. C. ALEXANDER.

 

PART of that tract of country now known as Danville, and granted by New York, was origi­nally called Hillsboro'* — a name at once apt, and descriptive of its most prominent natural fea­tures, being for the most part a high, elevated, and withal a notoriously hilly region, lying along the base of a still more elevated and broken range of country to the westward, known as Cow Hill, Walden Mountain, &c., and which range extends far into the northern portion of the State. The exact limits and boundaries of old Hills­boro' cannot at this time be ascertained with any degree of certainty. It was most probably given to a certain tract running north and south, and embracing all that the original State grant of 1786 covered, and also some of the western por­tion of St. Johnsbury. From some cause equally obscure, the old name, of Hillsboro' on the issu­ing of the charter of 1786, or even before, was set aside, and in these latter years has, we pre­sume, been entirely forgotten. During the early struggle of the then New Hampshire Grants for a separate state existence, the efforts of E. Allen and associates were encouraged and assisted by the French consul then at Boston, Hector St. John Crevecœur. Allen and associates, wishing to show their appreciation of these timely ser­vices, named several townships in honor of dis­tinguished Frenchmen. Danville, in accordance with this noble intention, was named in honor of the distinguished French Admiral, D'Anville. His name is neither written on pillars of brass

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*A name never put on record in the town.

 

 

 

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or towers of stone, but fastened to the eternal hills, which are his monument.

Spring of 1783 or '84, Charles Hackett, the pioneer of this mountain region, opened a spot for his cabin just south of the house now occupied by Peter Bovee, on what is now called the "Isaac Morrill Pitch." This improvement was bought by Isaac Morrill, who subsequently set­tled on the farm. Mr. Hackett made a second pitch upon a spot just north of this first, now called the "Charles Sias Pitch." This improve­ment was bought by Capt. Charles Sias, for which he gave a cow. Mrs. Hackett was the first woman who came into this town; but, dread­ing the severity of the winter, remained only through the summer, and returned to Peacham.

1784, March. Capt. Charles Sias, with his family, made the first actual settlement here. His wife was the first white woman who dared to breast the long and dreary winter of this deep, unbroken wilderness. Mr. Sias drew his family and effects into town from Peacham on a hand-sled. Mr. Sias brought with him 10 children, seven sons and three daughters, as follows: Solomon, Joseph, Charles, John, James, Nathan, Samuel, Sarah, Polly, and Abigail. The snow was very deep, and the way was trackless. No mark was there to guide them, save the long line of spotted trees leading away into the dark for­ests. The father, with Solomon, Joseph, Charles, and John, and the three daughters, made the first company. Mr. Sias, with two men to assist, went forward on snow-shoes, and drew the sled, loaded with the girls and some goods, the boys following.

They reached their log cabin early in the after­noon, dug it out from beneath the snow, which had nearly buried it, left John and the sisters to take care of themselves through the night, — the others returned to Peacham. John was but 11 years old, and was the first male child that ever slept in Danville. The next day, came the mother with the other children, on the hand-sled. In three days more the effects were all removed, and the lone family began their hard labors upon the wilderness. They commenced by tapping the maples, which stood thick around them in the most beautiful groves, affording them sugar in abundance, and supplied, in a great degree, the lack of other food. Thus was settled the first family in this town. The father, Charles Sias, was the first captain of the first military company in town, and was one of the first members of the Calvinist Baptist Church in Danville.

In this year, Sargent Morrill commenced chopping in town.

1785. During this year, or in the spring of 1786, some 50 emigrants from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, Essex Co., had settled here as "squatters." The first settlers in Danville were Charles Sias, Sargent Morrill, Daniel Wheeler, Daniel Cross, Abraham Morrill, Jer­emiah Morrill, Abner Morrill, Paul Morrill, Joseph Magoon, Timothy Batchelder, E. Howard, James Kiteridge, and Israel Brainard. In Gen. Bailey's list, of some years after, among the Pro­prietors' Records, the number of settlers was 54.

1786, Oct. 27. This township was granted. Oct. 31, of same year, the town was chartered to Gen. Jacob Bailey, Jesse Leavenworth, Moses Lit­tle, John McKisson, Luke Knowlton, James Whitlaw, Alexander Harvey, Ira Allen, and Thomas Chittenden. The grant covered 73 rights, of 300 acres each, which, with 17 settler's rights, and 4 public rights of same amount, gave an area of about 28,000 acres. At the approach of winter, all those that came into town during the past year or two, except Charles Sias and Daniel Cross, returned to their former homes.

1787. Those that left in the fall of 1786, re­turned in the spring. During the winter, 40 additional families joined the settlement, and from this time the ingress was very rapid. March 20, the town was organized, the meeting being holden at the house of Daniel Wheeler, near the centre of the town. The following is a list of the first town officers of Danville:— Sargent Morrill, Moderator; Abraham Morrill, Town Clerk; Charles Sias, Israel Brainard, Jeremiah Morrill, Selectmen; Daniel Wheeler, Constable; Zebediah Parker, Tythingman; Abner Morrill, Charles Sias, James Kiteridge, and Joseph Magoon, Surveyors of Highways; Samuel Fuller, —— Hayward, Timothy Batchelder, Fence Viewers.

The first child born in town was named Dan­ville Howard, (sometimes in the records spelled Hayward). The date of his birth was in the summer of 1787. The conch which was blown at his birth, is still in existence somewhere in Ohio. The grant of land which the first-born was to receive, was never deeded, as the child was not long-lived, — not more than 3 years.

1788. Dec. 25, was married, by Abraham Morrill, Esq., Joseph Page to Abigail Morrill. This was the first marriage in town.

1789. Six years before this, a solitary man sat himself down among these wooded hills. Now, so rapidly has emigration been pouring in during these few years, it is estimated that there are no less than 200 families in town. The re­sult of so rapid an increase of population, and the consequent increased drain upon the limited means of the settlers, accompanied with a severe drought, was a great scarcity of provisions, The sufferings of that time were very severe. Maple sugar formed the chief article of food. Like the manna of the ancient Hebrews, it was really a providence in the time of hunger and famine. No doubt, those stern old fathers blessed the for­est trees that gave them food and life.

Large quantities of corn and other provisions were brought from Essex County, Mass., whence many of the settlers had emigrated, a distance of nearly 200 miles, and over roads barely passable. 1790. Improvements had been commenced

 

 

 

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on nearly every lot in town. About this time, John Webber opened the first store in town, on the farm now owned by Gen. Stephen Dole, near the centre of the town, and near the site of the present Centre District schoolhouse.

1792, Oct. 29. Walden Gore, containing 2,828 acres, and situated in the western part of the town, was annexed to this township.

When Caledonia County was established from a portion of old Orange, there arose quite a strife between the towns of Peacham and Danville, as to which should be the shire town. Finally, the difficulty was adjusted by Danville's being made the shire, and Peacham's taking the grammar school. 1795.

1796, Sept. Aaron Hartshorn and Thomas Dow, for and in consideration of £30, deeded to the County a parcel of land containing 4 acres, situated in Danville Green Village, to have and to hold the same so long as the Public Buildings should remain at Danville.

1802. Soon after this township was granted, difficulties began to arise between the settlers and the several grantees, respecting the quantity of land to which they were entitled. Settlers' meetings were holden, and committees chosen; there were proprietors' meetings and conferences; but, seemingly, all to no purpose. Finally, the matter was referred to the General Assembly. Commissioners were appointed, the grounds of difference investigated, and a report made. The result of these investigations and deliberations was, that the General Assembly decided on issu­ing, and did accordingly issue, a new or "quieting charter" to the proprietors, November 12, 1802.

The first survey of this township was made by Eben Thompson, who came here as early as 1787, and was one of the first who settled in the north part of the town. Joshua Stevens sometime after made a re-survey, altering the former lines in certain cases, clipping certain lots, and adding to others. His survey was considered the most correct; and the lines as established by him are still adhered to in all latter transactions touching the partition of lands.

1805. The General Assembly convened here. The House met in the old Court House hall; the Council met in the hall of the hotel. The old Court House at that time stood on the west side of the Green, nearly opposite the Bank. The Jail stood on the east side of the Green, opposite the Court House,

Deweysburgh was a tract of 5,310 acres, lying between Danville and Peacham, from its shape called the Boot, and chartered to Elijah Dewey and associates, Feb. 28, 1782. It was organized as a town, and represented in the General Assem­bly four years.

1810, Nov. Was divided by act of the Legis­lature, and the southern half annexed to Peacham, and the northern half to Danville, making the area of Danville to be 33,483 acres, or over 50 square miles.

1812. During the war, a company was raised here to serve six months. This company was stationed near the line. Joseph Morrill was the captain; John A. Stanton, lieutenant; Luther Bugbee, ensign; Harvey Kelsey, Luke Swett, Plummer Sawyer, (who had already served in the war of the Revolution), Samuel Langmaid, Solomon Langmaid, John Bickford, Peter Heath, William Heath, Asa Glines, Moses Varney, Ja­son Wilkins, Samuel Long, James Watson, Leavitt Daniels, Stutson West, Ephraim Harts­horn, Jerry Walker, Josh Otis, Noah Willey, who was stationed at Portsmouth, N. H. At the expiration of the six months, Captain Morrill's company was discharged. He then raised a volunteer company of "years men," who served till peace was declared. Solomon Langmaid served as a dragoon at the battle of Plattsburgh. He is still living in New York, as ready to fight against tyranny as ever. Hiram Kelsey raised a company, but was not called out.

During the winter of 1812, there were two com­panies of Kentucky Dragoons quartered here, commanded by Captains Hall and Butler. One company was quartered on the Charles Sias Pitch, and one at the old "Mears" house, about a mile south of the Green. They came from Burlington here on account of the abund­ance of forage and provisions. Among them was a big, burly bully, who considered himself in­vincible in all rough-and-tumble fights, and was continually annoying all who came in contact with him, One day, at Cash's Tavern, in the Village, sitting before the huge fireplace, was a young man by the name of John Wilson, who had just returned from a season's work at rafting on the Canadian rivers. He was a tall, powerful man, all brawn, and sinews like whip-cord, and weighed when in "fighting trim" some 240 or '50 pounds. As Wilson was composedly sit­ting there, Mr. Bully took a chair, and deliber­ately sat down in front of him, (W.), and be­tween him and the fire. Wilson raised his foot, and with tremendous force sent him sprawling into the fire. Bully leaped up, and made at Wilson, who met him with a blow that would have stunned an ox. Two of Bully's friends then essayed to help, but Wilson, backing into a corner, knocked them clown as often as they came within reach of his arm. Wilson's sledge­hammer blows soon decided the day in his favor. "Now," says Wilson, "I have two brothers at home, and we three will be here on such a day, (naming it), when we will engage to whip the whole regiment of you." They came on the ap­pointed day, but their antagonists did not see fit to appear.

1826. The Bank of Caledonia, located in this town, was chartered, with a capital of $50,000, since increased to $75,000.

 

 

 

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1813. Erysipelas, in its most malignant form, raged here, carrying off some 30 or 40 persons, mostly young persons and women at childbirth.

During the early history of the town, it had a marked influence in the councils of the State; and for many years, even up to and during Anti-Masonic times, (from 1828 to 1835), stood among the foremost in the State for its wealth and pro­ductions, the energy and public spirit of its peo­ple. Its citizens were the recipients of the high­est honors in the gift of the people. Many causes, however, both physical and moral, which we have not space to detail, have operated seri­ously to lessen her influence and popularity. Old Danville has settled down at length into a quiet, staid old town, shorn of her honors, and forgotten of those who once were glad of her protection.

1855. The General Assembly, setting at naught its former guarantees and obligations of 1795, and against the express wishes of a large portion of the county, removed the public build­ings to St. Johnsbury.

1860. Danville generally, the northern and eastern portions especially, is not surpassed in the northern portion of the State for its depth and richness of soil, the abundance and quality of its productions. It is well watered and well timbered. There are three medicinal springs in town, strongly impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen gas and iron. One is near North Danville Village, one about a mile east of Dan­ville Green Village, the third is by the bank of Joe's Brook, a short distance below Greenbank's Village. The three are in a direct N. and S. line. There are five villages here. The oldest in point of time, and largest in size, is Danville Green Village, very pleasantly situated on ele­vated land, near the centre of the town, and in the midst of a fine farming country. It com­mands a surpassingly beautiful view of the far-famed White Hills and Franconia Notch, which loom up majestically against the eastern sky.

North Danville Village, five miles north of the Green, is on Sleeper's Brook, a tributary of the Passumpsic River, and is in the immediate vicinity of some of the finest land in town. Samuel Chamberlin was the first to make im­provements at this point, having removed here from his former location on what is called the old Trescott Place, some one and a half miles north of the Green, in accordance with the sug­gestion and advice of Gen. Chamberlin, who came from Peacham on a visit. West Danville Village, Harvey's Hollow, and Greenbank's Vil­lages, are on Joe's Brook, and have fine mill-privileges. Jesse Leavenworth, one of the orig­inal grantees of the town, settled in town very early, on or near the old Hazen Military Road, which runs through the western part of the town, and he erected the mills at West Danville Vil­lage, at the mouth of Joe's Pond. Joe's Pond covers about 1,000 acres, and was once famed in the land for the abundance and superior quality of its trout; but now, alas! containing only the voracious pike, sucker, and other of this ilk. Some 25 or 30 years ago, some very public-spir­ited and benevolently-minded scamp transported a quantity of these destroyers from afar into Ly­ford's Pond, whose waters connect with Joe's Pond, and has been rewarded ever since with the curses of every decent man in the country.

 

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CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.

 

BY HON. A. MCMILLAN.

 

This church was organized Aug. 7, 1792; 20 persons then became members, some by letter, some by profession, and others belonging to dif­ferent denominations. The Rev. John Fitch was then invited to take its pastoral charge, and on the 30th of Oct., 1793, was ordained and in­stalled as their first pastor, — salary $275 per annum. His ministry extended to Oct. 1, 1816, a term of 23 years, when his pastoral relation with the church and society ceased.

Rev. Jeremiah Flint succeeded him, and was settled as their pastor July, 1817, and in March, 1818, was dismissed. Rev. Edward Hollister was settled March 26, 1823, and, on account of ill health, dismissed May 7, 1826. He was suc­ceeded by the Rev. Elderkin J. Boardman, set­tled Jan. 3, 1827, and dismissed Oct. 9, 1833; 120 were added to the church during his pasto­rate. Rev. David A. Jones, from England, was settled March 25, 1835, and at the close of his 4th year dismissed. In the beginning of the year 1840, Rev. R. C. Hand commenced his ministry in Danville, and after about 1 year was installed as pastor. Mr. Hand was dismissed Sept. 16, 1840, after an acceptable and useful ministry of 5¾ years. Rev. David Perry was settled in Feb. 1847, and dismissed April, 1850. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Dudley, as stated supply, for the term of 6 years. The Rev. John Eastman is now acting pastor, hav­ing acceptably supplied the pulpit for the last 4 years.

While the church has had in its communion 600 members, the whole membership at present is but 140. Four meeting-houses have been built by the church and society since its organ­ization, and their present house of worship, built in modern style, is a large, beautiful edifice, with bell, organ, and clock.

 

 

METHODIST CHURCH.

 

BY JUDGE HOWARD OF DANVILLE.

 

The first records of the Methodist Church at Danville Station show the first quarterly meeting was holden Oct. 1-2, 1803, and Elder Lewis Bates the first minister, or one of the first, as Phineas Peck appears to have been there about the same time.

Samuel Bachelder was steward in 1803, and, for anything that appears of record, the only steward at that time. Danville circuit, as early

 

 

 

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as 1806 and probably as early as 1803, embraced within its bounds the towns of Danville, Barton, Burke, Cabot, Greensboro', Hardwick, Kirby, Lyndon, Peacham, Sutton, (then called Billy­mead,) Walden, and Waterford. These towns were probably visited and supplied with Metho­dist preaching at stated periods, as the itinerants passed around the circuit.

Aaron Bickford was baptized by Elder Joseph Crawford, Sept. 30, 1803, and is probably the first person baptized on this circuit. Nathaniel Hart and John Bachelder were baptized Oct. 1, 1803, by the same elder, which were the only per­sons baptized on the circuit that year. In 1804, there were some 20, or more, baptized; and among the number appears the name of Solo­mon Sias, as receiving that ordinance July 22, and Wilbur Fisk, on the 9th day of Sept. Archelaus Sias was baptized Dec. 21, 1805, and his wife Jan. 5, 1806, both by Joseph Fairbanks, circuit preacher, and were received into the church, Jan., 1806. Solomon Sias was received into the church, and "licensed to travel and preach," in 1805, and in a very few years be­came quite a popular preacher, and for many years exerted a very favorable and controlling influence throughout New England. Archelaus Sias became a local elder, and spent his days in Danville, where, by his uniform, pious and con­sistent life, he has exerted an influence in favor of religion worthy of the man and of Methodism.

The Methodist church at Danville had no meeting-house in which to worship until the year 1822; that year they built a chapel 40 by 55 feet, on land given to the church by the Hon. B. F. Deming. It was a neat, plain house, in a pleas­ant location, and cost not far from $2000.

In 1825, the church built the present parson­age, with a small barn attached. A new barn has since been built, and the parsonage repaired.

In 1842-3 the chapel was moved back a few feet and raised up, and enlarged by 22 feet addi­tion in front, with a cupola ,upon it, and a base­ment story underneath. The house is finished inside in a very neat style, all new pews, and a pulpit of a more modern height and form than the old one, all of which cost nearly, or quite, $2000.

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[Of the Baptist church or churches in Danville, we have, as yet, received no account; but ear­nestly request them to send in their record for the next number. — ED.]

 

PHILLIPS ACADEMY.

 

BY HON. A. MCMILLAN.

 

This institution was chartered by an act of the Legislature of Vermont, Oct. 1840.

By the will of Paul D. Phillips, Esq., a citi­zen of the town of Danville, the sum of $2000 was bequeathed and given its inhabitants, pro­vided they, or any part of them, should forth­with erect and finish a suitable and substantial building near the Green, to be distinguished and known as "Phillips Academy;" and also pro­cure from the Legislature an act of incorporation.

Through the generous contributions of a few of the inhabitants of the said town, the pro­visions of the will were complied with, a beautiful and imposing edifice erected; and in Oct. 1841, the institution went into successful operation, under the charge of the Rev. A. Fleming. Its success up to the present day gives evidence of its usefulness.

 

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TOWN STATISTICS OF 1800.

 

FURNISHED BY JUDGE MCMILLAN.

 

Population, June 1, 1860, 2547.

 

Productions of the year preceding June 1, 1860.

Potatoes, 58,188 bushels.

Butter, 114,980 pounds.

Maple sugar, 165,925 lbs.

Hay, 8,272 tons.

Horses, June 1, 1860,                  795.

Cows,       do.       do.                 1,234.

Other cattle,        do.                 2,290.

 

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BIOGRAPHICAL.

 

[We here resume Mr. Alexander's MS. — ED.]

 

ELI BICKFORD

 

Was born in Durham, N. H., Sept. 29, 1754. His early life was spent on the farm with his parents; but, during his 21st year, war having broken out with England, aroused at once the spirit of independence and resistance against oppression. Being of a bold and adventurous spirit, he soon enlisted as a private in his coun­try's service. Several months, however, having elapsed, and being called into no engagement with the enemy, loginging for more exciting scenes, he embarked on board a vessel privately cruising on the north-east coast. During their first engagement with an English man-of-war, he, with the rest of the crew, were taken prisoners, and for a time confined on board the "Old Jersey." Soon, with others, he was sent to England, where for more than four years he was kept in close confinement. Many pleasing anecdotes are re­lated by him, concerning this period of his life. Having found a piece of the hinge of a door, the prisoners formed a plan to escape, by digging a passage under ground sufficient to admit of their egress. One morning the keeper came into the prison and said, "Well, Bickford, I hear that you are digging out; how soon will you be ready to go?" "To-morrow night," was the reply. "Oh, that is only some of your nonsense," was the rejoinder of the keeper. To which Bick­ford replied, "However, this is our intention;" and when the time came the keeper found it true. After digging a passage for some distance under ground, concealing the dirt in their hammocks, made into bags for this purpose, coming under an adjoining house, they took up the brick floor,

 

 

 

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unlocked the door, and passed out. After con­cealing themselves for a time, hoping by some means to escape from the Island, but being un­able to do so on account of the vigilant watch which was instituted, they finally made a con­tract with a man who should return them to the prison, and give them one half of the reward of 40 shillings sterling which was offered for their recapture. So successful was this game that it was afterward played several times, whenever their empty purses needed replenishing. At length, when peace was declared, an exchange of prisoners being made, he was set at liberty, and returned to New Hampshire, where he was soon married to Abigail Rand, of Deerfield. Owing to the depreciation in value of Continental money at this time, his entire property, personal and real estate, amounted to the sum of $7, one of which went to pay the parson's fee.

In 1792 and '93, many settlers emigrated to Northern Vermont; and he among the rest, with his wife and 4 children, found a hone in what was then an almost unbroken wilderness. Selecting a location in the eastern part of Danville, he at once commenced the arduous work of clearing up a farm and erecting a log house. Scarcely had he commenced his labors before he was pros­trated by a fever, and the strong man was laid low. Dark was the prospect which opened be­fore him. A long, cold winter had already com­menced. The settlers, it is true, were kind; but they, too, were poor, and so few in number that Mr. Bickford has frequently said that he has seen all the men in town sit on one log. Added to this, his house was not yet completed. One day, us a neighbor listened to his delirious vaga­ries and fearful forebodings while his reason was wandering, the man remarked that "this house must be finished." The neighbors immediately rallied, the house was completed, and Mr. B. and his family entered upon its occupancy. Of­ten has he remarked that never was he so happy in his life as when he first took possession of his new home. With untiring energy he toiled on, until he had acquired a competency for himself and 9 children, causing his wilderness home to bud and blossom as the rose. When in after years his sons and daughters left their paternal home to go forth into the wide world, his feet still lingered around the old homestead, where were associated so many pleasant scenes of the past; and when the snows of more than 50 winters had sprinkled the brow of his youngest born, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered in the old homestead, his cheerful laugh and pleasant voice was heard recounting the scenes of the long ago, — the freshness of youth that still lingered about his heart rendering him a fit companion for every age; but when a century had passed, and left him still tossed upon life's billows, thought left the busy present and wan­dered back to the bright scenes of the past. The old man was a child again. On the 5th of May, 1856, at the advanced age of 101 years 7 months and 6 days, he peacefully passed up to the Saviour whom he had long loved.

 

HON. ISRAEL PUTNAM DANA

 

Was born in Pomfret, Vt., April 13, 1774, and from thence came with his family to Danville in 1805. He was the fifth of a family of 12 chil­dren of John Winchester Dana, one of the first proprietors and settlers of that town, who came from Pomfret, Conn. His mother was Hannah, eldest daughter of Gen. Israel Putnam, of Rev­olutionary fame. She inherited and transmitted much of her father's spirit to her large family. It will illustrate the hardships which were en­countered in the early settlement of Vermont, if we here put on record the narrative of an authentic tradition, that at the birth of Israel Putnam his father had to draw the midwife 6 miles over the hills and through deep snows, on a hand sled. So exhausting was the labor, that, stopping to rest for a moment at the sugar-camp of his neigh­bor, Abidah Smith, he sank down insensible, and Mr. S. went on with the doctress; thus ren­dering an important service to his future son-in-law, — the child then born, — who twenty-four year after became the husband of Sarah Smith.

During his residence in Pomfret, Mr. Dana was engaged chiefly in trade. The native elements of character which marked him so decisively for a leader in whatever sphere he moved, had se­cured for him the rank of Colonel in the Vermont militia, which at that period merited and com­manded respect. On his removal to Danville, he kept for 3 or 4 years the tavern on the old stand, near the present location of the Bank. He soon also resumed his mercantile pursuits, in which he continued during his active life. As a merchant he was enterprising and successful, and his store was for many years an important and well-known centre for a wide region.

He was elected high sheriff for Caledonia County, A.D. 1808, and held the office 5 years. In 1809, he took the first company of prisoners to the now state prison at Windsor, and the old-fashioned whipping-post was employed in dispensing justice to offenders no longer.

In the war of 1812, he was an earnest sup­porter of the national administration, and active in measures for the prosecution of the war. At one time he made two journeys to Boston and back, a distance of more than 160 miles, on horseback, in 12 days, using the same horse through the entire trip. He was much employed in raising volunteers for the service and in fur­nishing the commissariat for considerable num­bers of the soldiers quartered from time to time in Danville. In 1814, he raised a company, and was on his way with them to Burlington as com­mander, when he was met at Montpelier by intelligence of the decisive battle of Plattsburg. After the war he was appointed collector, for a large district of Northern Vermont, of the direct

 

 

 

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tax levied by the United States government, to defray the expenses of the war, and in the dis­charge of this office found much arduous employ­ment.

In later years, he was for a considerable period member of the Governor's Council, before that organization gave place to our present Senate, and in this position he exerted a wide and important influence on the legislation of the State. He was prominent in the formation, and for several years the first president of the Vermont Mutual Fire Insurance Company. The Bank of Caledonia was also largely indebted to his agency in securing its eharter and organization.

Colonel Dana was a man decided in his opinions, firm in his convictions, yet always charitable to such as differed from him, and generous to an opponent. He possessed that enterprise, public spirit, courage, and discretion, which, united in any person, make their mark on a community, and exert a signal influence, especially in the development of a new settlement. It was the habit of his mind to look below the surface; to trace tho underlying currents of larger, wider influences; to plant himself upon and never take his departure from sound principles. He had an eye keen to discern the right thing to be done in critical or perplexing circumstances; and, as he often said, made it a rule to act from first impressions, and that instanter. Though never inclined to protrude himself, but rather marked by a true modesty of disposition, he was, however, always ready to act, wherever he could do so wisely. Indolence or timidity did not tempt him to wait on the leadership of some more efficient mind. The town and the county owe much for the development of their institutions and resources to his agency and inspiration, and his name must fill a conspicuous place in any just estimate of their early history.

His mind was essentially reverent. He al­ways held firmly, as he was early taught, the truths of the Christian religion, and he found them practically powerful and precious in his own experience. For 30 years he was an efficient and consistent member of the Congregational church in Danville, carrying his native zeal, courage, and prudence in counsel into his religious activity. His love for the cause, at home and abroad, was strong and ardent, and his house a home for ministers of the gospel and the early missionaries who labored in this part of the State. To the American Board, of which he was an early and fast friend, he con­tributed for the support of its foreign missionary enterprise. His eldest daughter, Frances, became the wife of Rev. Austin Hazen, whose pastoral life of more than 40 years was spent in Hartford and Berlin. Her surviving children, Allen and Sophia, became missionaries of the Board; the former in India, the latter in Persia, as the wife of Rev. David S. Stoddard.

Col. Dana died June 22, 1848, at the age of 74. The wife of his youth survived him five years.

It may be of sufficient interest to add, that the Rev. Judah Dana, of Fryeburg, Me., for some years U. S. Senator, and enjoying the confidence of Gen. Jackson, was an older brother.

 

HON. JOSEPH MORRILL

 

Was born at Brentwood, N. H., in December, 1775, and had he lived till the next December, would have been 84 years old. When about 21 years old he came to Danville, and in a year or two afterwards became a resident of our village, where he has always resided. He served in the war of 1812, was a recruiting officer, held a captain's commission, and at one time was stationed on the Canada frontier near Derby Line. At another time he recruited a company of soldiers in this town, was appointed captain, and served with them several months near Lake Champlain.

In 1822, Mr. Morrill was elected a member of the Legislature, and also, we believe, represented the town another year. In 1823 and 1824, he held the office of County Court Judge, and sub­sequently, for many years, held the place of County Treasurer. The best years of his life were devoted to active business pursuits. For many years previous to his death he lived in quiet retirement, in the enjoyment of his religious faith, that of the Methodist denomination, of which church he was a constant and devoted member. All men speak well of the dead. — "North Star."

 

EBENEZER EATON

 

Was a prominent and highly respected citizen. He was prominently known, not only in his own vicinity, but throughout the State, as the founder, and for many years the editor, of the North Star. He first came to Danville, with his family, in the autumn of 1806. He was then about 30 years of age. The town, prior to that period, had been established as the county seat, and the village had commenced to grow rapidly. Previous to this time, also, a newspaper had been established at Peacham, and, we believe, was still being published at the time it was determined to estab­lish the Star at Danville. The paper at Peacham, however, was soon after discontinued. At a meeting of several leading citizens of Danville the name to be given the new paper was fully can­vassed; and after various names had been suggested, Mr. Aaron Porter finally proposed that "The North Star" be the title, which suggestion was at once unanimously adopted.

The first number of the Star was issued the first week in January, 1807. It was a small-sized sheet, but well filled with political and mis­cellaneous reading. Its politics were clearly defined, as being Republican, in opposition to the then styled Federal party. For more than 30 years, Mr. Eaton was the principal editor of the Star; and during this period, his writings and

 

 

 

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the selections for his paper exerted a marked in­fluence upon the public mind. During part of the time, the paper had a very large circulation, probably larger than any other political journal in the State. In several of the party contests of that day, it had also a wide and commanding influence. As a political writer, Mr. Eaton was frank, fearless, and honest in the expression of his opinions. In short, he was a good editor, and continued actively in that capacity until 1841, when his son, N. H. Eaton, became the principal editor and proprietor of the Star, which is still published by him at Danville. Up to the close of Mr. Eaton's life, however, he was asso­ciated with his son as nominal editor of the Star.

Personally, no man was more highly respected, yea, beloved, by all classes, than Ebenezer Eaton. Though not rich in this world's goods, yet he was rich in the honor and regard extended to him by his fellow-townsmen, and all who knew him by personal acquaintance. He was kind, social, generous, and ever compassionate to the sick and afflicted. As early as 1818, Mr. Eaton became a member of the Congregational Church; and from that time until the hour of his death, ever exemplified the character of a sincere, devoted, liberal-minded Christian. He manifested this character in all the daily walks of life; and especially during the 18 years prior to his death, when, released from the cares and perplexities of active business, his Christian light shone pre­eminent. It had a marked and salutary effect on those around him. Every one loved and honored "Father Eaton." He retained his physical and mental faculties until within about two months prior to his decease. He died, calm and happy, at his residence in Danville, January 31, 1859, at the ripe age of 82 years.

 

HON. WM. A. PALMER

 

Was born in the town of Hebron, Ct., Sept. 12, 1781, He was the son of Stephen and Susannah Palmer, who emigrated from England before the Revolution, and was the fourth son of a family of 4 sons and 4 daughters, who all came to the age of 80 years and upwards, except the subject of this notice.

At an early age during his minority, he met with a casualty in falling upon the ice with an axe, by which he lost a part of one of his hands. This occurrence seemed to be the means of de­termining his future course of life. By being measurably precluded from manual labor, he re­solved on the study of a profession, and soon entered, with this view, the law office of the late Hon. Judge Peters, of Hartford, Ct. He remained hero for a time; when he resolved to seek his fortune in the new State of Vermont, about which, at that time, considerable was said as being a good place to emigrate to. Following up the Connecticut River, he finally found his way to Chelsea, Vt., where he entered the office of Daniel Buck, Esq., with whom he remained for some time, perfecting himself more fully in the practice of his profession.

Thinking himself tolerably well qualified for the practice of law, he applied for admission to the bar of Orange County, and was admitted in due form soon after. He then very soon started on a tour of observation northward, travelling as far as Brownington, stopping a short time in the office of Wm. Baxter, Esq., who at that time and subsequently was a lawyer of considerable eminence in that place. He afterward went to Derby with a view of locating himself there, but not liking entirely his situation there, returned as far as St. Johnsbury, where he made a stand and opened an office for the practice of law. This was about the year 1805 or thereabouts.

He remained at St. Johnsbury for a term of 2 or 3 years, when he was elected to the office of Judge of Probate for Caledonia County, and removed to Danville, the then county seat. He held this office quite a number of years, and also dining this time was County Clerk, — in the mean time being frequently elected to represent said town in the Legislature. He was elected Judge of the Supreme Court of Vermont in 1815 (I think). Holding this office for about 2 years, he resigned the same. In 1817, he was elected as Senator in Congress for 6 years, and also 1 year to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of James Fisk (I think). He took his seat in Congress in December, 1818, serving in this capacity for 7 years, which terminated in 1825. For the next 2 or 3 years he held no office, ex­cept, perhaps, representing Danville 1 year in the Legislature, where he was instrumental in getting passed the charter of the Bank of Caledonia, located at Danville, — devoting himself during this time to his favorite pursuit of agriculture. In 1830, he was nominated for the office of Governor, but failed this year in the election, Hon. Samuel C. Crafts being the successful candidate. He was, however, elected Governor in 1831, holding the office 4 years, bringing it down to 1835.

This may be said to have terminated his public life, although he was chosen as delegate afterward once or twice to the Constitutional Convention of the State, — the last time in 1848. Soon after this period his health became impaired, so much so as to withdraw him from all direct or active participation in affairs of a political or public character. He continued in a state of slow decline for upwards of 10 years, only be­ing confined for a short period before his death, which took place December 3, 1860.

Gov. Palmer was a man of strong natural abil­ities, possessing a decided and penetrating mind. His heart and hand were ever open to the calls of want and distress, and if he erred at all in this direction, it was in being too benevolent, loving his neighbor better than himself. He was re­markable for his intelligence, high social qual‑

 

 

 

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ities, and unpretending simplicity of manners. In politics, he commenced as a Jeffersonian dem­ocrat, adhering through all the phases of party to the democratic side, supporting every dem­ocratic administration from Jefferson to Bu­chanan.

He helped make in Congress the famous Com­promise line, and voted for the admission of Missouri into the Union with the constitution with which she presented herself. He always contended that his vote was cast honestly for that measure, and as he believed to be in accord­ance with his oath. He was, however, much censured at the time and afterwards for his vote on that occasion, but he lived long enough, how­ever, to see that line done away by the action of the party that was mainly instrumental in its creation.

Gov. Palmer was an honest and just man in all his business transactions, a most affectionate husband and father, and in all his relations of life an estimable man. His departure was la­mented by a wide circle of friends.

 

DR. ELDAD ALEXANDER.

 

At a very early period, anterior to the Revo­lution, three brothers, named Alexander, emi­grated from Scotland to this country and settled at Northfield, Mass. One of the brothers, Thom­as, was a captain in the war of Independence, on the side of the colonies. A son of one of them, named Eldad, from his father, studied med­icine and resided in Hartland, Vt., and prac­tised his profession until his death, 1829. His son Eldad, the eighth of 9 children, and the subject of the present sketch, was born May 22, 1798, in Hartland. He graduated at Yale Medical College, and yet while in his minority com­menced the practice of his profession. He came to Danville in 1821, where he resided until his death, in Feb., 1859. He attained a high rank in his profession, and up to his last illness had an extensive practice. He became specially em­inent as a surgeon, and probably was regarded as the most skilful in surgery of any in this whole section of country. He was much attached to his profession, making it the main business of his life; and, being a profound thinker and a great reader, added to his acquired knowledge a thorough practical experience in medical and surgical science. Personally, he was highly respected, ever maintaining the character of a good citizen, a kind neighbor, an obliging friend, and died in full hope of realizing the Christian's reward. His loss is justly regarded as a public one.

 

HON. BENJAMIN F. DEMING.

 

Digested front an obituary published at the time in the "North ,Star," by M. T. C. A.

 

Mr. Deming entered public life early. He was first chosen County Clerk for Caledonia County, in 1819. He was subsequently Judge of Probate and Councillor of the county for several years, which latter office he was peculiarly well fitted for. Several other minor offices he also held with honor to himself and the satisfaction of the public. November, 1832, as the anti-Masonic candidate, by a handsome majority, he was elected member of Congress from this, the 5th Congressional District of Vermont. He was not, however, permitted to serve his constituents but one session in the councils of the nation. Contracting, at Washington, a disease of the bowels, he started for his Northern home, in hope of benefit from the change of air and water, but only arrived at Saratoga Springs, N. Y., where he lingered a few days, and died at the Union Hall, Friday, July 11, 1834, aged 44 years. He left a wife and young family, to whom he was affectionately devoted. In what­ever light we consider Judge Deming, his char­acter will appear alike conspicuous. With more than ordinary talent, and a naturally calm and deliberative mind, quick of perception, he was well fitted for public stations and legislative as­semblies. His business capacity and dealings, in which he was prompt, apt, correct, and emi­nently upright, have been before alluded to. As a man and citizen, he was social and winning; equanimity of temper and habits characterizing his whole general deportment. It is written of him, "He was good to the widow and the father­less, and the poor he never sent empty away." Last, not least, he was one to whom religion was above everything else, and to whom all other things came in as of minor consequence; who was thus enabled, on his dying bed, to review his past life, and exclaim, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of glory."

 

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[A notice of Hon. S. SIAS we have not yet been able to obtain. — ED. ]

 

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THE WICKET GATE.

 

'Mid the fast falling shadows,

Weary and worn and late,

A timid, doubting pilgrim,

I reach the wicket gate.

Where crowds have stood before me,

I stand alone to-night,

And in the deepening darkness

Pray for one gleam of light.

 

From the foul sloughs and marshes,

I've gathered many a stain;

I've heard old voices calling

From far across the plain.

Now in my wretched weakness,

Fearful and sad, I wait;

And every refuge fails me,

Here at the wicket gate.

 

And will the portals open

To me, who roamed so long,

Filthy and vile and burdened,

With this great load of wrong?

Hark! a glad voice of welcome

Bids my wild fears abate;

 

 

 

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Look! for a hand of mercy

Opens the wicket gate.

 

On to the palace Beautiful!

And the bright room called Peace,

Down to the silent river,

Where thou shalt find release;

Up to the radiant city,

Where shining ones await;

On, for the way or glory

Lies through the wicket gate.

JULIA A. EASTMAN.

 

 

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