BY ALFRED S. LAMB.
Several years elapsed after the settlement of the southern portions of the county before settlers were willing to locate within the wilds of the more northern towns. Hence so late as 1793, the dense forests of this town were still standing wholly unharmed by the woodman's axe.
this year, October 25, the town was chartered by the legislature of
the latter part of the following winter several families from
It is impossible at this day to form a just conception of the hardships encountered by early settlers, leaving the comforts and con‑
veniences of an older country, moving to a distant wilderness into dwellings insufficient to protect them from the wintry blast, and with but scanty fare; yet with unremiting toil they sought to clear them up a home. The first year proved favorable for the growth of grain, and as early as the 28th of July, they had wheat harvested and at the mill. At no time since, has wheat been harvested in town so early.
yet with all their industry and frugality, for the first few years they were
unable to raise sufficient provisions to subsist upon. Their corn had to be
brought from the river towns upon horses, a great part of the distance through
the forest, guided by marked trees. At one time being out of provisions
Jonathan Gray and a neighbor started for the
The first buildings erected by the settlers were rudely constructed log cabins, with a bark roof and stone chimney outside the house. The floors were of short, thick plank split from the bass, sometimes from other trees, and confined with wooden pins in place of nails. The doors were formed in the same rude manner, and all combined to give the cabins a unique and shaggy appearance. If they could secure a few panes of glass and a pound or two of nails, they considered themselves provided with a very convenient and tasty dwelling.
While the men were laboring in the field, their wives with commendable zeal were striving, what time they could well spare from other duties, to improve the condition of their cabins. The wife of Richard Jenness, unwilling longer to perform her cooking upon the hearthstone, with her own hands constructed an oven of stone, daubing it well with mud in lieu of mortar, and in this for several years she performed the baking for her family.
Although good crops of grain were raised the first year, yet they found it hard to procure sufficient fodder to winter their stock. At that time there was no English grass nearer than North Danville, but they fortunately discovered a beaver meadow in the western part of the town covered with a heavy growth of wild grass, which they cut and stacked, drawing it the following winter upon handsleds, four miles, through a dense forest, and thus were enabled to supply their cows with food through the rigors of a Vermont winter.
John Jenness worked at his trade as a tanner for several years, in the early settlement of the town, using for a vat a large trough dug from a tree with his axe, and pounding his bark for tanning purposes by hand. He built the first framed house in town.
following year Deacon Stephen Drown and wife moved in. Mrs. Drown is still
living, at the advanced age of 85 years. Her mental faculties are yet good, and
she recollects incidents which occurred in the early settlement of the town
distinctly. She says that when she first came into town the only covering to
their cabin consisted of strips of bark confined to the roof by means of large
timbers placed at right angles. A few plank were split out, upon which was
placed their bed; while two more pinned together served them for a door; and in
such. a dwelling, surrounded by wild beasts, and
exposed to the vicissitudes of a
The first male child born in town, was William Gray, July 28, 1794. He still resides in town. The first female, Hannah Jenness, born Oct. 15, of the same year — her death occurred April 4, 1860. The first marriage in town was that of Capt. Samuel
Twombly, to Miss Elizabeth Gray. Oldest person deceased in town, Samuel Drown, aged 96 years. Oldest person now living in town, Ward Bradley, Esq., aged 88. The first death in town, was that of a child of Richard Jenness, caused by eating pieces of isinglass. First school-house built in 1805, on land now owned by Sylvester Hall — Stephen Drown was the first teacher; present number of districts, nine. Three convenient school-houses have been erected quite recently. The remainder are wholly unfit for the purposes for which they were intended.
Heretofore there has been too little interest manifested in educational matters; but for the few past years the prospect has looked more cheering; public feeling has been roused somewhat to the importance of the subject, and it is sincerely to be hoped that this feeling will continue to be strengthened, until a subject of such vital importance shall receive that attention which it demands from every enlightened community.
town was first surveyed by Jesse Gilbert, a man well fitted to perform the
arduous duties of a surveyor. A beautiful tract of land situated in this town,
consisting of about 1000 acres, was named in honor of this surveyor,
The soil of this town is mostly of a loamy nature; some portions are quite stony, while others are entirely free from stone.
The town is well adapted to the raising of stock, and our farmers are beginning to see the importance of an improved system of farming.
town remained as it was originally chartered until Nov. 23, 1858, when a corner
consisting of 3000 acres was annexed to the town of
This elevation of land, unlike most mountain ranges, does not seem to penetrate the distant sky, nor is It characterized by craggy cliffs, abrupt precipices, or sharply pointed peaks, but rather by gently sloping sides, and rounded summits heavily wooded to the very top.
The town is watered by several brooks, which rising upon the mountains, unite a short distance north of the village and form a considerable stream, which flowing onward empties into the Passumpsic at Lyndon.
That portion of the town upon the other slope of the mountain is watered by streams that flow into the Barton river. But a small portion of the town lies upon the western side, and consequently no good mill privileges are found; but in the southern and central portions, water power is abundant.
In this town are several ponds romantically situated among our green-clad hills. At the outlet of one of these, years ago, when the country in that vicinity was all a wilderness, a man by the name of Bruce attempted to build a saw-mill, but after erecting the frame and getting his mill in running order, he suddenly abandoned his project, removed the machinery, and left the country. The ruins of the mill are still to be seen, a part of the timbers still standing. From this circumstance the body of water received the name of Bruce pond. Another pond, called "Duck pond," from its having been a favorite resort for wild ducks, has the appearance of once having covered a much greater surface than now, the position of the land and growth of timber denoting the place it once occupied. It appears gradually to be growing less; what occasions this dimunition of its waters is a mystery.
One feature of the town is the abundance of excellent springs which every where abound. Upon nearly every hill side, gushes forth the pure, limpid stream. The climate is healthful, although our winters are more rigorous than in towns situated upon large streams. There is one limestone ledge in the extreme western portion of the town, which has been worked but little.
Bears were numerous in the early settlement of the town, and often disturbed the settlers by their nocturnal visits. At one time, Hiram Jenness, then a lad of 12 years, was sent by his father to a bear trap which he had placed in the forest adjacent to his clearing. Not finding the trap sprung, the lad sauntered leisurely along through the forest, musket in hand, in search of game. Wandering on among the thickly wooded hills, he at last found himself several miles from home, and nearly to the summit of the mountain range which runs through the western portion of the town. Halting to view the scenery around, he espied a large
bear lying beside a log quietly gnawing a bone. As he stepped forward to reconnoiter, the bear, evidently considering this as an intrusion upon his rights, rose upon his hind legs and growled defiance at the invader. The boy, nothing daunted, cooly leveled his musket and laid the beast dead at his feet. The bear weighed upwards of 400 pounds. In conversing a few days since with Mr. Haines, an aged man, who resides a short distance from the writer, he related the following circumstance, which so strikingly exhibits the dangers to which early settlers were subjected that we are inclined to give it place in our columns, nearly verbatim, as related to us at the time.
He was then a young man just commencing in life. His family consisted of a wife and one child. They lived at the time in a rude log house, the door of which was without suitable fastenings. One night, weary with the labors of the day, they had retired to rest: when about midnight they were awakened by something traveling upon the outside of the bed.
They at first supposed it to be a dog, but upon looking up, they at once discovered that their visitant was in fact a full grown bear. They were terribly frightened, but Mr. Haines quickly springing upon his feet caught him by the hind leg, and endeavored to pull him from the bed, but Bruin, it seems, was as much frightened as the rest, for quickly extricating his foot from the grasp, he sprang from the bed, leaned for the door, and put for the forest with all speed. Our mountain streams were formerly a favorite resort for the beaver tribe. There are several meadows in town which were formed by these industrious little creatures, all of which produce a luxuriant growth of grass, and which from the earliest settlement of the town, until these lots were taken up and settled, was yearly cut, stacked and drawn to the barns upon sleds the ensuing winter.
Some of their dams still remain almost entire, but the greater part of them have been leveled by the plough of the farmer. Previous to the extension of the Passumpsic rail road from St. Johnsbury to Barton, stages ran regularly through the town, giving us a daily communication with other parts of the country; but since the building of the rail road we are obliged to content ourselves with a semi-weekly mail. In 1850, an accident of a serious nature occurred upon this line of staging, by which a Dr. Flanders of N. H. was instantly killed, and several other passengers were more or less injured. The accident was occasioned by the upsetting of a coach within the limits of this town. Blame was attached to the town at the time for not keeping a suitable railing beside the road at this place, and also to the driver for not exercising suitable caution; the night in question being extremely dark and foggy. Probably both parties were somewhat to blame, and a compromise should have been effected, and a settlement made with the friends of the deceased; but bitter feeling was engendered, and an expensive litigation entered into, which for intensity of feeling manifested has rarely been excelled in our courts.
Dense forests yet cover a considerable portion of the mountain range which passes through the town; and encircled by these timbered hills, lie several beautiful sheets of water. Tiny ponds half a mile in length, and perhaps half that distance in width, with their clear, sparkling waters now glistening in the sunbeams, then flowing in graceful ripples along the wooded shore. Nothing can be more pleasing to the student of nature, than to roam through these grand old woods and behold the diversity of scenery so wild and picturesque everywhere unfolded to view. It was a lovely morning in autumn, accompanied by a friend, we started upon such excursion. Not a cloud obscured the clear, blue sky, as the bright beams of the sun began to tinge every hill-top with a golden light, richly in contrast with the deep gloom of the vales below.
Moving leisurely along, we at last reached the confines of the most remote clearing, and climbing the brush fence which ran along its border, at once entered the forest wilds. Not a sound disturbed the surrounding stillness, save the joyous carol of some warbler as perched upon a slender twig, he poured forth his song of praise, or the merry chitter of the bright-eyed squirrel as he nimbly sprang from tree to tree, or peered forth from his sly retreat far up among the branches. All was lovely, and everything seemed fresh with the impress of Divinity.
Beauty, utility, and perfection, exist in nature's laboratory. She brings forth nothing but what is perfect. Now pausing to enjoy the romantic wildness of the scene, then pursuing a tortuous course through some winding vale, covered with its tangled growth of alders, and anon climbing some thickly wooded hill side, we, at last, reached one of those mimic lakes which lie embosomed among these green hills.
At its eastern extremity lies a tract of several acres, destitute of timber, covered with a rank growth of brakes and wild grass For a considerable distance around extends one unbroken wilderness. Standing upon a slight eminence near the center of this little clearing, we have a fine view of the surrounding scenery. Below lies the miniature pond with its pebbly shores and gleaming waters, while around far as vision sweeps, extend the huge forest trees that raise their heads reverently toward Heaven, and wave in silent praise, their bright foliage in the gentle breeze. We stood upon that gentle eminence, we looked down upon those limpid waters and beheld the dancing ripples as they broke upon the solitary shore. A thousand new beauties everywhere spread around us, we almost imagined ourselves in the primitive Eden, and could but wonder if any could be found so insensible to the influences of these exhibitions of beauty and grandeur as not to be led from this contemplation of nature to look away to nature's God.
This little tract of land was cleared by nature, in 1806, by a tornado passing through this section of country. Prior to this time, a road had been cut through the wilderness, now known as the Duck Pond road, to accommodate travelers passing between the northern and southern portion of the state. It was barely passable for wagons and a journey from the settlements of this town to Barton was considered quite tedious. At the time of which we are speaking, a gentleman and his wife were passing through the forest in the vicinity of Duck Pond; they heard the roar of the rushing blast, and its nearing approach, but escape was impossible. The tornado burst upon them in all its fury. The huge forest trees came crashing around in confused and tangled heaps, here piled and crossed in multitudinous confusion, there broken and crushed in one shattered mass; yet strange to narrate, our travelers, although so completely hemmed in by fallen timbers that it required considerable time, with all the assistance which could be procured to extricate their team from the tangled mass, were wholly unharmed. But we have wandered with our story. Let us return to the little eminence where we stood. We soon left this position and followed down the western shore of the pond, across a tract of land, dry, free from stone and apparently well calculated to reward the labors of the husbandman; and we venture to predict that at no very distant day we shall find in this section, a district of well cultivated farms. Following the little stream which forms an outlet to the pond which we had left behind, we soon reached another sheet of water somewhat smaller and occupying a much lower position, yet surrounded by the same wild beauty which characterized the former. This pond is situated less than a mile from the main road, and is not far distant from the dividing line between this town and Glover. But all days have their end, and we reached home as the gray shadows of twilight were fast deepening into night, feeling ourselves amply repaid for the toils and fatigues of the day.
All the wild land in this town is now taken up, yet there are several lots that have not yet been settled.
Perhaps it would be well to state before closing this cursory sketch, that General Hull once owned a large portion of the town, but previous to his disgraceful conduct in the war of 1812, he exchanged with Isaac McLellan, Esq., for lands in Newburyport, Mass. Lumber has for several years formed quite an article of export, and six saw-mills in different parts of the town, find abundant occupation during the sawing season.
Our little village is situated about one mile from the southern boundary of the town, in a pleasant and fertile valley through which flows a small creek designated as Millers run, which furnishes to the people all necessary water power, and adds much to the appearance of the place. The first trees were felled in this place by Jonathan Gray and Samuel Daniels, in 1794, near where the school-house now stands, on land then owned by Deacon Wm. Hawkins. The first house was built by Deacon Hawkins in 1794. In 1797 he also built a saw and grist-mill, upon the above mentioned stream, near where the mills now stand. The clothing mill was built by James Townsend, in 1822 the first hotel in the village, by Sewall Bradley, in 1832; though there were taverns kept in town as early as 1800; the first church in town was erected by the Freewill Baptist society, A. D. 1829; one store, one church, a school-house and several dwelling houses have been added quite recently. Old antiquated buildings have been repaired, or have given place to more elegant structures, and a spirit of improvement which is really commendable, seems at present to be manifested among our citizens. The village has 2 churches, 2 stores, 1 grocery, 1 saw-mill, 1 shoe shop, 1 starch factory, 1 carding mill,
1 hotel, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 school house, 1 town hall, and 21 dwelling houses.
The early settlers of this town were mostly of the Freewill Baptist persuasion, and they early began to hold religious meetings upon the sabbath. In 1800, six years after the town was first settled, the Baptists of this town and Wheelock united, and the first church was organized. The first monthly meeting was held October 6 of that year. The church at that time, counting the members from both towns, consisted of 77 members. Although destitute of a pastor, and with no suitable place to meet for public worship, yet they continued their meetings, preserved their discipline, and enjoyed frequent religions revivals, as the fruit of their labors, until 1829, when a church was built at the village, where they afterwards met for worship. They had occasional preaching, but no steady pastor until March 9, 1836, when they organized anew — the members of the different towns having become sufficiently numerous to render a separate organization expedient. The Rev. Zebina Young was this year installed pastor, being the first settled minister in town. To him consequently fell the right of land granted by the state at the time of the original charter. Since his removal, the church has enjoyed the labors of several different clergymen.
In 1850, Rev. Jonathan Woodman, the present pastor, was installed. He has the pastoral care of two churches, preaching alternately at this place and Wheelock. The society originally built their house without a steeple; but during the past season, they have caused some repairs to be made. The long wished for belfry has been added, and an excellent bell procured and placed therein.
The society now consists of 51 members.
We have not been able to procure the statistical facts in connection with this church, but will here insert what information we have been able to ascertain. The church was organized soon after the great revival of 1839, and made up mostly of people residing in the eastern part of the town. The Rev. Mr. Bugby was their first pastor. For several years they held religious meetings at a school house in that part of the town, but about 1850, erected a convenient house for public worship, and are now in a prosperous condition. The Rev. Mr. Hill is their present pastor. Number of members about 25.
BY REV. JOHN DOLPH.
the fall of 1854, the Rev. Mr. Hall, a Wesleyan Methodist minister, who was
then stationed on
Mr. Croker's stay of one year, he held a few meetings
in this town. In the latter part of the year he preached a few times in the
school-house on what is called Glover road, four miles from
We would here return our thanks to individuals who have furnished us with items of facts pertaining to the early history of the town, and especially are our thanks due to the Hon. John P. Ingalls and Dr. A. M. Ward, by whose efforts much of the material for this sketch has been collected.
This town has never been prolific in what the world denominates great men, yet many are deserving of an honorable mention.
One of the first settlers of the town, was born in Darringion, N. H. He married Hannah Burrill of the same place, and moved to this town with his family in the spring of 1794, There being no bridge across the river at Wheelock at the time, they crossed upon the dam, and passed on to their claim which was upon lot 36, now owned by Mr, Holmes. Mrs. Gray was the first white woman that ever came into this town. The following year Mr. Gray moved, and commenced anew upon the lot where Isaac Pearl now resides. Here he lived until a year before his death, when feeble in health, and bowed down with hard labor and the infirmities of age, he left to spend the remainder of his life with his son George, upon the place now owned by his grandson, L. M. M. Gray, Esq., and here he continued to reside until his death. His son Jonathan also came the same year with his father. To him belongs the honor of having felled the first tree in town.
The hardships incident to early settlers bore heavily upon Mr. Gray. At this time there was no gristmill near, and he was obliged to take his grain sometimes even to Newbury to be ground, and often for the want of a horse, he carried it upon his own back. Yet with all his labor and hardships he was healthy and vigorous, and lived to the good old age of 85 years.
Was born at
DEACON STEPHEN DROWN,
Son of Samuel Drown above mentioned, was born in
But they did not long remain in such circumstances. Industry and economy worked wonders in their case, and they were soon surrounded with plenty. Mr. Drown represented the town for several years in the legislature of the state, was years town clerk, and taught the first school in town. He experienced religion in 1800, was the first convert, and ever after one of the main pillars of the church. To him the people were indebted as to a pastor for visiting the sick, attending funerals, holding meetings, baptizing converts, and performing all other pastoral duties which devolved upon him. He lived an exemplary life, sustaining his Christian profession unblemished until death closed his labors.
Served in the war of 1812. It is said that in one engagement he slew with his own hand three British soldiers that had attacked him, and afterwards joined his company in safety. He continued in service until the close of the war, when he moved into this town and labored for several years at his trade, being the first blacksmith in town.
HON. JOSEPH H. INGALLS,
Father of the Hon. John P. Ingalls
of this town, was born in
At one time he owned nearly all the land where our village is now situated. He was one of the most influential citizens in the place, and for a long series of years held responsible offices in town.
He was a member of the Vermont Legislature 13 years, and of the senate one year. As a man of sound judgment and thorough business habits, he probably never had a superior in town. His decease occurred June 14, 1850, aged 16 years.
ELDER MOSES CHENEY.
BY S. P. CHENEY.
Moses Cheney was born in Haverhill, Mass., December 15, 1770, in an old "garrison house" still standing.
Mrs. Hannah Dustin, famous in our history for having killed the ten Indians that captured and carried her from Haverhill up the Merrimac river to where Concord, N. H., now is, was his great grandmother.
When he was 5 years old, the family moved to Sanbornton, N. H., where his father purchased 60 acres of wild land, and with much hard labor reared a family of 9 children.
was the second child, a weakly boy; kept in doors pretty much in childhood. He
sat on the split basswood floor by the side of his mother, and learned to read
of her while she spun linen. Their library consisted of the English Primer,
Now, then, he would go to church, and for the first time. He had even then, as ever after, a great taste for sabbath day meetings. He went to school a few days at different times, but it all amounted to pretty nearly nothing.
At the age of 17, when he had grown tall and had better health, his father gave him his time, and he went out to work on a farm. At 20, he went to learn the joiner's trade; and the next year, attended school during the winter, kept by Elder John Drew, as also to singing school, by Mr. William Penney of Goffstown, N. H. At the close of these two schools, his teachers give him the credit of having done very well; and the latter, as was his custom, to his best scholar, at the close of a winter's school, "gave Moses Cheney his pitch-pipe and singing book."
He was now a healthy and powerful man, stood 6 feet and an inch in his boots, broad-shouldered, with long and strong arms. He was a great chopper, and at one time, felled two acres of trees of heavy growth in two days, finishing the second day when the sun was two hours high. Moreover, he was not only strong, but remarkably quick, and could leap a line that he could walk erectly under with his hat on.
At the age of 24 he married Abigail Leavitt, eldest daughter of Moses Leavitt
Sanbornton, N. H., and pursued his trade with much ambition. But at the close of about three years of excessive labor, his health was gone, and in addition to this, within six months, they lost their two little children. In his own words, "he was at that time brought to a childless state — a healthless state — a comfortless state — a hopeless state — a sinful state — and a state of condemnation." He also adds, "When the breath left the body of our little boy, I lifted my right hand and said, I have now done with the happiness of this world, unless I find it in God."
He suffered much for about four weeks, when he was urged to go into social company; and he was inclined so to do; but a voice said to him, "What did you promise? It will be four weeks to-morrow, at 9 o'clock, since you made that promise — wait!" And he did. The morning came, and as the hour drew near he was impressed to go to a certain wood; he went and there sat as he felt directed, and took from his pocket a leaf of of the Bible, which he had secretly put there, and read: "This shall be written for the generation to come, and they shall praise the Lord." In an instant his sorrows were all gone, and he was leaping and praising God. He hastened home and told his wife of his happiness. Ran to neighbor Copp, who was mowing close by, and told him. He dropped his scythe and met him, and both rejoiced with great joy.
"After the turn about in my mind." he writes, "I applied myself to the Bible, being unable to do any work. The word of God became my meat and drink; I really thought I loved God's law. I thought I loved to pray. I thought I loved to praise. I thought I loved to speak, and I thought I loved to hear. I thought I loved to mourn and to rejoice — in a word, that I loved all that God loved, and hated all He hated. I attended all the meetings that I could, and I think I always had something given me to say."
The loss of his health brought him to think of the study of medicine, and the next spring he commenced it with Dr. Daniel Jacobs of Gilmanton Corners. At the same time he entered the academy for one term, and it was said he went ahead in both. He also taught a singing school in the academy. After that he taught town schools, and pursued the medical study for a while; but at length gave that up and taught summer and winter for four years.
But all this time he had "impressions" that he must preach, and one passage of Scripture followed him day and night for one year till he "did preach" from it, and then it was gone; but another took its place, and so on. He thought he could not preach, and after trying a few times, declared he would not. Then came terrible trials and temptations, all the while growing worse and worse, till a certain time, concerning which, let him speak for himself:
"It came to pass one day, as I was on the way to school, crossing a pasture, in a deep hollow, out of sight of all flesh, I came to a sudden stop, and stood still. I could not so much as turn to the right or to the left, nor could I go forward a single step, till the great question was decided about preaching. I stood, I know not how long; at length I began to repeat the following words: 'Lord, open doors and provide places for me to preach in — open ears to hear me, and give me food and raiment convenient for myself and family, and I am thy servant forever.' Never was there an agreement more thoroughly ratified. I believe the Holy Spirit was the editor on my tongue to print a word at a time until the whole was finished."
The next sabbath he preached, and from that time forward he continued to preach until his death. The first few years of his ministry he was with the Freewill Baptists; but a most singular vision caused him to leave them, and join the Calvinistic Baptists, to the principal doctrines of which sect he adhered through life.
We can not follow him through his long ministry; but it must be said that probably no man ever preached, prayed and sung more for 30 years than "Old Elder Cheney." He was a great Bible student, prepared his sermons well, but never wrote them. He was a natural, spirited, and gifted orator, always so plainly setting forth his ideas, that all who heard understood and were pleased. His large, white head, and proportionately large Roman nose, gave him a most dignified look. His voice was a pure tenor, and whether you heard him sing or preach, you could but feel that he possessed great vitality, and capability of most protracted vocal effort.
He was a man capable of the most deeply solemn feelings and looks; but he enjoyed a little fun at proper times, as well as any other man, and was capable of using sharp words, and was sometimes sarcastic, but never bitter. He used to say he was "sorry to have people laugh under his preaching, but they would sometimes." Yet tears were as common as smiles. A stranger to him
once told it about right, when she said, "Father Cheney, I heard you preach once, and I never laughed and cried so much in one sermon."
He was a most intense lover of music, and his musical talents were of great service to him. He imparted them to his children, all of whom could sing before they could remember. The family consisted of five sons and four daughters; four of the sons and one of the daughters were teachers of music, and at one time were known its the Cheney Family. The whole nine are still living.
In the early years of his ministry, he was accustomed a good deal of the time to go here and there, in a sort or missionary style, as he was invited, and so was from home a great deal. It was a singular fact, that if there was any trouble or sickness at he was informed of it, and that too, without any visible messengers; and many times he went home, when he had arranged far differently, because he "was impressed" to go; and sometimes he knew the precise nature of the cause that called him home. There is scarcely a town in all New Hampshire in which he has not preached, and ever after be was 40 years old he was familiarly known all abroad as "Old Father Cheney," or "Old Elder Cheney" — not because he was decrepid, for he had very little of that up to the last year of his life, but his hair was abundant and white at 40, having been red originally.
the summer of 1823, he moved to the town of
length he sold out at
For 20 or more of the last years of his life, he was free from all sectarianism; and ceased to be interested in the new movements of the Baptists, or to attend their associations. While he was living in Sanbornton, the Meridith Association to which he had belonged, held a meeting at New Hampton, which was close by him. The association appointed a committee "to go and visit Father Cheney, and ascertain where he was." They called on him and made their business known. He told them, very pleasantly, that they "might return to the association, and tell them that Old Father Cheney was away back behind, right in the middle of the road, with the good, old Bible under his arm" — and that was all they could get from him.
He believed, and made known his belief, that the Baptists had ceased to be the spiritual people they were when he joined them, and were "too much conformed to this world." He believed that a man, to be a true and genuine preacher of the Gospel, must verily "be called of the Spirit to preach," and when he was so called, "must go to preaching, and not to a theological seminary to learn to preach. He must preach and study, and study and preach, and God would take care of him." He claimed that the Scriptures sustained him in this belief; and could we, in this brief sketch, lay before the reader the thrilling accounts he has left on record of the numerous revivals of religion that followed his preaching, and the numerous churches that were built up from them, he might see other reasons why he should believe as he did.
In politics he was a thorough-going old fashioned Jeffersonian Democrat from first to last.
abhorred dishonesty in any man, and hated above all things to be cheated; we
give an anecdote to illustrate this: The Baptist Society in
boys to him, and said: "Here P., take this whip, and drive that cow back to where she came from, and tell Deacon Carpenter that your father says he will stand a law suit before he will take the gift of her." It was done as he commanded, as the writer of this personally knows, and that was the last of "the present" on both sides.
He was a high-tempered man, but usually kept that temper under his control, or as he used to say, he "kept down the Dustin blood." He was not in the habit of doing things hastily; but when it was necessary for any work of severity to be done, he was not the man to flinch.
Among other peculiar things in his history we may mention his numerous escapes with his life, when there seemed but a stop between him and death. He was once drowned till he "lay still." Once barely escaped from freezing, having fallen into the water on a very cold day, and having miles to go before he could reach a house. At two different times it was thought he must die with fever. His life was despaired of when he had the measles; and he was once thrown from a carriage and his neck nearly broken.
At about the age of 18 years he had an encounter with a cross bull, which so well sets forth his physical powers, and so well proves that the Dustin blood was "strong blood" even to the fourth generation, we are tempted to a description of it in his own words:
"I was requested by my employer to go to a certain pasture and drive said animal to the bars. I had heard, by the by, that he was cross, and drove his owner out of his barn yard only a few days before. I did not wish to discover cowardice; so not a word was to be said, but out into the large pasture I went in pursuit of the chap. But by the way, it looked proper enough to furnish myself with a tough beech sprout about six feet long. I thought it best to go at him as one having authority. At first he seemed to consider me so, and started off very peaceably; but suddenly, as we were rising a steep bank, he whirled and came at me with great fury. I voided out of his way, and flew to a large clump of bass bushes that surrounded a great stump. Round the bushes I went, and he after me, on the clean jump. I soon overtook him, and put on the cudgel the whole length of his back. Then he whirled again after me, and I after him, and as often as I overtook him he took six feet of beech. In this way we played circus till my antagonist gave a frightful roar, and took off for the bars. I was still at his heels laying on the beech, till I saw the battle was won. That was a terrible fight! It was both furious and long. I was very warm and rather short for breath; and as for curl-head, if he did not puff and blow and sweat, no matter! "
Last to be mentioned, but the first narrow escape he had, was in this wise: When a little boy, he went to carry his father his dinner, where he was felling trees. He had arranged a "drove of trees, so that by starting one, they would all go down. He did not see his boy approaching, until the trees had started. In an instant he cried out, "Run, Moses!" but Moses had no time to run. He was close to a large hemlock, when he saw his danger, and dropped between two large roots that had grown in such a way as to leave a cavity just large enough to receive him. The thick limbs fell all round about and over him. His father shrieked "I have killed my boy," but Moses was not hurt. His father cut away the limbs and took him out, and was so much affected, "he went home, related the story to the family and went to bed." The stump of that tree lasted many years, and Moses went often to visit it, while the family lived there, and he says: "After my father moved away, I was often back to visit the old hemlock stump. At length I sought in vain for any remains of it. I have not been there since." Then he wrote the following:
Farewell to the Old Hemlock Tree.
Old Hemlock, you're gone — ah how lonely I feel!
When I knew where you stood — then I knew where to kneel;
'Twas thither I flew, when no other could save;
And the tall evergreen saved the boy from the grave.
My God! didst Thou plant that strong-rooted tree
On the side of this hill, just to save one like me?
Yes, answers my Lord, when 'twas small as a hair,
I bid it stand there and watch and take care.
My Lord and my King! your command was obeyed,
When the fast falling trees threatened death o'er my head.
And the lad was secure by Eternal decree
Through the watch and the care of the Old Hemlock Tree.
ST. JOHNSBURY. 423
Old Hemlock, you're gone, yet I see where you stood
And pointed your green, spriggy hands up to God,
Ne'er shall I forget, with my heart full of joy,
How thou kept the command and protected the boy.
Old Hemlock, you're gone — 'tis a warning to all,
That just as thou didst, so must we all fall;
Farewell, then, old friend, but this pledge take from me,
I'll be kind unto others, as thou want to me.
Thus we have briefly considered a few of the leading incidents in the life of this singular, but natural and noble-hearted man. At no period of his life was he more interesting as a man and a Christian, than during his last illness. Through all that long and terrible ordeal of more than three months' suffering, he was never known to be impatient for moment, nor breathe a word of regret. At one time, he said to his daughter who was almost constantly with him, "if you see any symptoms of impatience about me at any time, tell me; and may God forbid that one who has tried to preach his word for half a century, should murmur at his will at last."
His disease was dropsy of the chest; but all its pains could not exclude him from moments of most ecstatic joy, and even at times he would wish he could be out of doors, that he might have more room to praise in. A brother minister asked him if he was happy? He replied, "Yes, but not all of the time; sometimes there is a cloud in the way; but I know who is behind the cloud." A few hours before he expired (his speech having been many days gone), his son Moses sung a portion of the "Dying Christian," commencing with, "The world recedes and disappears." Instantly his dying father seemed to be inspired; he had known the music and words long before the son was born, and when he came to the line, "Lend, lend your wings, I mount, I fly," he raised both hands, neither of which he had been able to move for more than a week, and beat the time throughout to the end; and when the last words "Oh death where is thy sting" were sung — shouted a loud and exulting "Amen!"
That was his last loud word; he expired without a struggle, and, as we trust, is now reaping the rewards of a long, thoughtful, and active Christian life.
BY JOHN BECKWITH, ESQ.
is a town on the north side of
was chartered by the name of Billymead, Feb. 20, A. D. 1782, to Jonathan Arnold
and his associates, by his excellency
Thomas Chittenden, then governor of the state of
are in the N. W. part of the town several ponds, which are well supplied with
fish, and are situated on an elevation where the waters divide, a part running
southerly to the Connecticut river, a part north to the St. Francis river. In
some places a few hours' labor would cause rills or brooks to flow to the St.
Lawrence river or
The natural timber was principally sycamore or sugar maple, with some beech, birch and ash; but along the streams are large quantities of spruce and white cedar. The soil is generally free from stone, and is well adapted to the raising of oats and grass. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture. There is a small village near the centre of the town, consisting of about 30 dwelling houses and about 200 inhabitants.
The Passumpsic rail road passes through the centre of the
town from Burke to Barton. There is but one mountain worthy of notice which is
in the northwest part of the town near
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE
BY REV. L. T. HARRIS.
the early settlement of the town, a few families from
Elder Colby, however, was so strongly impressed that the Lord would clear the way before him and assist him, that he resolved to build at his own expense. His engagements were such that he had only about one week to stay in town. During this time he selected a spot near the centre of the town, adjoining a grave yard, purchased the land, contracted for the lumber, nails, glass, &c., and also with a workman to complete the outside of the house by the 20th of June following. He then gave out an appointment to preach in the new house on the last Sabbath in the same June; while the timber was yet growing in the forest. At the day appointed he preached in the new house agreeable to his notice. This house has long since gone to decay, and in the year 1832 another neat and commodious house was erected by the society, which is still occupied. About the year 1833 or 1834, while the church was under the pastoral care of Rev. Jonathan Woodman, its name and policy were changed to correspond with the general Baptists in England, but did not meet with the favor of many members of the old church, and in October, 1837, it was again organized into a Freewill Baptist church, by a council consisting of Revs. D. Quimby, J. Quimby and David Swett. The church was now composed of 20 members, but soon large additions were made. Rev. J. Woodman, now of Wheelock, filled the pastorate of this church with marked ability and success for nearly 30 years. Rev. R. D. Richardson preached here some 10 or 12 years, and succeeded well as a preacher and pastor. The labors of several other ministers have been enjoyed by this church whose names are not here given. Rev. L. T. Harris is the present pastor. The church now numbers about 100.
We have a neat and pleasant parsonage in the village, a congregation of about 200, a prosperous sabbath school with about 600 volumes in its library. In the fall of 1859, the people were called out to pursue a bear which had been seen in the town. After a chase of two or three hours by about 40 men and boys, the bear was shot; after which the company were called together to determine in what way to dispose of the avails of the hunt. It was agreed, without a dissenting voice, to appropriate the money ($11) to purchase books for the Sunday school library.
GIANT BOY OF SUTTON.
Frank Rice, son of John M. Rice, was born April 19, 1854. When 5 years of age he weighed 105 pounds. In the fall after he was 3 years old a basket containing one bushel of potatoes was placed before him, which he readily raised from the ground by the ears of the basket. He is now 8 years old, and weighs about 130 pounds, not having grown as fast for two or three years past as formerly. His form is good, being in about the usual proportions. He is also much in advance of his years in intelligence and judgment. A few years since a caravan was exhibiting at the village, which drew out the usual crowd of people attendant upon the traveling menagerie and circus in the country town. Our little hero came down to the show — and the people from abroad, we are told by an eye witness, gathered around him with as much curiosity as they evinced for the wonders of the menagerie. Indeed, our reliable narrator rather carried the idea that the "big boy" eclipsed the caravan. — Ed.
THE HARRIS TWINS.
Wesley and Charles Wesley Harris, sons of Rev. L. T. Harris, born Sept. 11,