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432                              VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

 

 

WHEELOCK.

 

 

BY HON. T. C. CREE.

 

This town embraces a territory of about six miles square. It lies about six miles from the line of the Passumpsic Rail Road. In 1785, the legislature of this state gave by charter, this town to Dartmouth College and Moors Indian Charity School, institutions situate at Hanover, N. H., one moiety to the college and the other moiety to the school. In the same instrument the town was incorporated, and named after President Wheelock, the first officer of the aforesaid institutions. In the charter it is provided that so long and while the said college and school actually apply the rents and profits of this land to the purposes of the college and school, the land and tenements in town shall be exempt from public taxes; so that the town have never been called upon to pay state taxes. This, in the mind of the writer, was a great oversight in the legislature, and it is doubtful whether such wholesale exemption from the public burthens is constitutional. The town en­joys all the rights and privileges of other towns, and yet pays but little of the expense of maintaining the state government. There being no list of the real estate returned to the legislature accounts for the smallness of the grand list reported.

The town was organized March 29, 1792. Abraham Morrill, first clerk; Dudley Swasey, Abraham Morrill, Joseph Venen, first selectmen; Gideon Leavett, first constable.

The settlements commenced about 1780. I am unable to ascertain the names of the first settlers; they were a hardy race of men and women, and were compelled to bear burthens and hardships that would now he insupportable to some of the "young America" of the town. For several years after the first settlement there were no roads to the older and adjacent towns, so that their grain for grinding had to be transported to Danville, a distance of 12 miles, upon their shoulders or upon handsleds, the route being indicated only by spotted trees.

The general surface of the town is rather uneven. One range of the Green mountains runs through the west part of the town, but is no where very steep or stony. Roads cross the summit in several places. The land upon the mountain is well timbered, and susceptible of cultivation to the summit; and what has been cleared affords some of the best grazing land in the state. The

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*Graduates.

 

 

 

                                                       WHEELOCK.                                            433

 

eastern part is more level, and all good land for farming purposes. Large quantities of hay, oats and lumber are carried from this town to Lyndon and St. Johnsbury, and large quantities of maple sugar are also an­nually manufactured here.

Miller's river runs through the north part of the town and empties into the Passumpsic at Lyndon. This river affords some excel­lent mill sites, and along its banks is some of the most fertile land in the country.

In November, 1796, the town voted to build a meeting-house — the first one in town. It was built the following year, was a large, two-story edifice, and, like others of its kind, was never finished. Enough was done, however, so that meetings could be held in it. It was never lathed and plastered overhead; a hail storm broke some of the windows in the upper story, which invited the swallow and wren to make it their abode. The writer occasionally at­tended meeting there in 1820-30; the monotonous tone of the preacher, the cheerful twitter of the swallow and the crying of the babies, that used then to be carried to meet­ing, formed rather a medley of sounds.

One curious vote was taken by the town in relation to this house, that I must not omit. It appears by the record that they had a town meeting for the purpose of selling the pews, and the first vote passed was as follows: "Voted that the town be at the ex­pence of rum for the vendueing off the meeting-house pews;" and from the subsequent bids it would appear that some of the pews were very valuable; however, I suppose it was then customary to have rum at all vendues to stimulate people to bid for that they did not want, and was thought to be well enough even in selling church property. It would hardly do now, in these temperance times, for even a town to furnish or give away rum to sell anything, particularly pews in a meeting-house.

 

MINERAL SPRINGS.

 

There are 2 in town; one in the village and one about 50 rods north. The waters have never been analyzed, but it is said by those who profess to know, that they are the strongest impregnated in the state. Their properties are the same as those at Alburgh and Newbury in this state. There is no doubt they possess medicinal qualities. The water of the one in the village is used for common drinking purposes by the whole village in the warm part of the year, and more or less at other times; and to this fact is attributed the unusual healthiness of the inhabitants. These springs are not affected by great rains or drouth, but the water flows at all times alike. Persons subject to headache, humors, and the like, have found relief and cure by drinking and bathing in the water.

 

THE VILLAGE

 

is situate near the northeast corner of the town, on the bank of Miller's river, and contains about 30 dwelling houses, 1 meeting house, 1 tavern, 1 grist mill, 2 saw mills, 1 machine shop, 1 tannery. 1 planing mill, 1 store and post office, 1 law office, 2 blacksmith shops, 2 shoe shops, and 1 starch fac­tory. The population in 1860, was 858. The town has been the home of a large number of soldiers of the Revolution and the War of 1812; the last of the former has now gone to his rest.

 

ECCLESIASTICAL.

 

The prevailing denomination of Christians is the Free-will Baptists. There are 2 socie­ties in town, one South, the other North; both have meeting houses. The South Church was organized about 1800, by Elder Joseph Boody of Stratford, N. H. Among the names of ministers who have had charge of this church may be mentioned Elders Benjamin Page, Robinson, Mainard, Gillman and Allen. The society do not support preaching all the time. The North Church was organized Feb. 11, 1831, Elder Jonathan Woodman. They or­ganized with 6 members; have 30 members; their house of worship is at the village. El­der J. Woodman is their present pastor.

There are quite a number of Congregationalists and Methodists in town, but no organized church or society of those denominations.

The town is divided into 10 school districts. All except one have summer and winter schools. Most of the districts have 3 months each term. Most of the school houses are poor; but a better feeling is manifest in re­lation to them, and it is evident, from some late demonstrations that better times are coming for the youth, as to good, commodious school houses — as one has been built at the village, worthy of the name.

 

[The reader will observe that no bio­graphic sketches appear in connection with the history of Waterford or of this town. The historian whose well written sketch ap­pears above, writes us, in extenuation of his seeming neglect, in connection with the mat­ter, that they have up there "neither presidents nor fools to write about." We have not received the "extenuation" of Waterford yet. — Ed.]