356 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
BY J. P. SMITH.
The history of this town contains little to interest that class of readers whose homes are among the thriving towns and villages of our state, surrounded by wealth and luxury, and who have little or no sympathy for the rough backwoodsman and hardy pioneer. Those, however, who cherish the memory of our forefathers, and sympathize with those who encountered so many difficulties and hardships in subduing the dense forests, and preparing a home for themselves and their descendants, will love to read their humble story, and draw the parallel between their own comfortable times, and those of their ancestors. This town is situated in the north or northeast part of the county, and was laid out in the form of a square, containing 36 square miles. It was formerly a part of Essex county. It was chartered August 15, 1781, to William Wall and others.
The first land that was cleared in its limits was near the boundary of Burke, in the year 1795. In September, 1797, James Ball came with his family, and settled upon the farm now occupied by his son, Mr. Perley Ball. In 1801, Eleazer Packer came and settled some two miles deeper still in the forest. Charles Palmer came in 1804. These were the first settlers. Others came in soon after, and the town was organized in 1809. These families suffered many privations. The nearest grist mill was at Lyndon, 12 miles away, and the cold summer of 1816 destroyed nearly all their crops. In the course of a few years, however, large tracts of forest land
were cleared of their timber, and bountiful harvests repaid the settler for his labors and placed his family in comfortable circumstances. The soil of this town is naturally fertile and well adapted to the growth of wheat. 40 bushels to the acre have been raised on the farm now owned by D. D. Hall, and from 30 to 40 bushels on fields of from 40 to 75 acres on the farm of Alpheus Stoddard. But the ravages of the weevil (or midge, as it is now called), has led to the cultivation of other crops to the almost total neglect of wheat. The present year (1860), however, the weevil has not made its appearance, and strong hopes are entertained by our farmers that wheat will yet be raised abundantly as in "days of old." The failure of the wheat crop turned the attention of our farmers especially to the raising of potatoes and herds grass seed.
The last named gentleman above who settled here in 1820, has cleared 600 acres of timbered land for this purpose. He has reaped some years 100 acres of grass for seed. The labor of clearing a heavy growth of timber from the soil, is immense; to engage in it extensively and successfully, requires men of muscle and strong constitutions. Among the enterprising farmers of this town who have added much to its wealth in this way, are Alpheus Stoddard, Henry Dolloff, Eleazer Davis, Marshall Stoddard and Samuel Gray. In 1852, M. Stoddard raised 8,600 bushels of potatoes, all upon newly cleared land; he has also reaped 100 acres of grass seed in a single year.
The township is well watered. Here the Passumpsic river takes its rise. The settlement has extended gradually. It is a post town, and has four school districts.
This town is also celebrated for its large productions of maple sugar. The original growth of timber upon two-thirds of its area, consisted of maple, beech and birch, maple being in the excess; many beautiful groves of this useful tree have been cut down, but many yet remain. The eastern slope of a mountain which extends from East Haven to the centre of the town (a distance of three miles), is covered for two miles or more with a continuous forest of sugar- maple. Many tons of sugar are made here annually. Another remarkable feature of the town, is the great number of perennial springs. There is scarcely a farm that does not contain one, and some six or seven. On the farm of Mr. A. P. Taft is a beautiful spring of clear water, which sends off from its fountain-head a stream sufficient to turn a saw mill. On the road from Newark to Island Pond is a mineral spring, the waters of which are supposed to run through a stratum of coal, as it is strongly impregnated with carbonic acid. There are three large ponds of water in the town, one of which is situated exactly in its centre, and is called Centre Pond. The manufacture of lumber is carried on to a considerable extent; there are 7 saw mills, I grist mill and 2 starch factories. The number of school districts is 9, and the population is 567.
One serious drawback to the interests of this town, has been its geographical position, though we trust the time will come when it will cease to be felt. It is divided by ranges of hills in such a manner that it is difficult to establish a central locality where the citizens may meet to transact their business. One palpable effect of this is, that the merchant in the adjoining towns receive the benefit of our trade. Another is, that though there are 3 religious societies in town, there is no meeting house. Several attempts have been made to erect one, but have failed by reason of disputes as to the location. A proposition is now before the town to build a town hall in connection with a church, which will probably succeed.
[The meeting house has been erected and dedicated the past season — Ed.]
Moved into Newark from — in 1812, and began clearing his land. He was a man of uncommon energy and industry; an excellent and skillful farmer. As a citizen, he was obliging and trustworthy; as a christian, he was of exemplary piety, and an invaluable member of the church. Practically benevolent, it was his custom when a subscription was in circulation in behalf of any religious enterprise to give a sum double that of any other contributor. He acted as class leader in the Methodist church for 40 years. He died in 1858, aged 72.
BY L. M. SLEEPER.
List of first town officers, 1809 — Eleazer Packer, James Ball, John Sleeper, selectmen; David Pike, treasurer; Miles Coe, constable.
First justice — Eleazer Packer, 1808, 20 years; others, Lauren M. Sleeper, 19; Amos Parker, 15; Philemon Hartwell, 13; and Miles Coe, 12.
First representative — Eleazer Packer, 1811 (1853).
358 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
First merchant — James Morse, 1832.
First teacher of common school — Ursula Newell, 1810.
First birth — Arnold, son of James Ball.
First death — Eleazer Jr., son of Eleazer Packer. April 3. 1806.
First marriage — Philemon Hartwell and Sally Hartwell, by Eleazer Packer, June 28, 1812.
The oldest person among the early settlers who has deceased, was Mr. Billings.
The oldest now living, is the same Eleazer Packer, who was at the head of the second family that moved into town. From the organization of the town till age demanded his retirement from public services, lie was among the first and foremost in all business transactions; he held many of the most important town offices year after year, and many times represented this town in the general assembly of the state; was justice of the peace until he refused longer to serve, and is a member of the Methodist church.
[About 21 years since, in the northeast corner of Newark, lived Calvin Hudson, first settler on the east road from Burke line to Brighton, which was then only brushed out. Here he and his brother, Kitridge Hudson, had bought a right of land, and Calvin had built a log house, and moved his family, a wife and 7 children, in the fall before. In the winter he made shingles. One morning his family being in want of "necessaries," he took his knapsack and started for Burke. Not being very well, he declined waiting for breakfast, and started before the family had risen. At Burke he made his purchases, and started for home. A storm came on, and the snow fell fast; at Seymour Walton's, last house in East Haven, still 5 miles distant, he stopped to warm, and again, not to be detained, pushed on homeward. Two days afterward (I had the narrative from the lips of his brother, and give it from memory), within 40 rods of home, he was found frozen by the wayside. Coiled up at his feet (the snow melted beneath the devoted animal), lay his own faithful little dog. And after the funeral several days — the family having been removed — some one visiting the deserted house, found this same affectionate creature had stayed behind and crawled beneath the blanket that wrapped the body of his dead master before the burial, and had been left upon the shelf in the entryway; and with difficulty was he coaxed from the sacred relic and solitary house. — Ed.]