BY HON. DAVID READ.
The Isle La Motte, in the
In 1664, M. de Tracy, then Governor of New France, entered
upon the work of erecting a line of fortifications from the mouth of the
This fortress was not only built but occupied, doubtless, for a long period of years by the French as a garrison; and the island itself was occupied by them for near a century. In January, after the construction of the fort, M. de Courcelles quartered there with his troops, consisting of some 500 men preparatory to his expedition up the lake on snow shoes, to attack the Mohawks then the most powerful tribe of the Iroquois with whom the French and their Indian allies the Algonquins, were at war. To show, moreover, that a garrison was kept up at Fort St. Anne, it appears that the next spring two French officers and a party of ten or twelve men, who were out from the fort hunting deer and elk, were surprised by the Mohawks and slain, whereupon Capt. de Sorel, with some 300 men, left the fort to chastise the "barbarians." And afterwards it appears that de Tracy the governor, with an army of 1200 men, under his own immediate command, embarked from Fort St. Anne, with 300 bateaux and birch canoes, with their small arms and two pieces of artillery, to carry fire and sword up the valley of the Mohawk, and through the villages of the Iroquois, in western New York.*
I have mentioned these things to show the time as well as the nature and extent of the occupancy at the Isle La Motte; and by comparing dates it will be seen, that the building of Fort St. Anne at the Isle La Motte, was but 45 years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth; 25 years before the erection of the little stone fort at Chimney Point in Addison, by Jacobus de Warm;** and 59 years before the occupancy of Eastern Vermont was commenced, by the building of Fort Dummer, upon the west bank of Connecticut River, in the County of Windham,which has erroneously crept into the several histories of the State, as "the first civilized establishment in Vermont."
In 1690, after the opening of the first French war, which brought the French and English colonies into collision, Capt. John Schuyler, with a party of "christian Indians," passed from Albany through Lake Champlain, into Canada; and, after destroying many cattle, firing barns and houses, and taking 19 prisoners and 6 scalps, in the neighborhood of La Prairie, set out on his return. The first day they reached their boats on the Chambly River, the second day they came up the lake to Fort La Motte; the third day (being Aug. 25th), they reached Colchester Point, then called Sand Point, where they shot two elk; the fourth day they reached the little stone fort at Chimney Point; the fifth, Canaghsione, (Ticonderoga) where they shot 9 elk; and the sixth they reached Wood Creek, at the head of the Lake.
Capt. Schuyler does not speak of any fortifications or works at Colchester Point, but it is a fact well known, by persons of the highest respectability now living, that the remains of a fortification of some sort, and of other works and buildings, were found on the Point, when the town was first settled under its present charter. Some of these remains are still visible; and it is represented, when the first settlers came on, they then had the appearance of great antiquity. On the farm now occupied by Mrs. Johnson, better known as the Porter place, an old chimney bottom and the remnants of the walls of
* Documentary History of
** It is noticed that the name is called de Narm in
the history of
Doc. Hist. of
The venerable Horace Loomis, of
some buildings were then there. Also the appearance of a garden once there as red and white currants (old decayed looking bushes), evidently planted in rows, were found there. Benjamin Boardman, the father of Mrs. Henry Boardman, first settled on that place.
On the south beach of the extreme point, on the farm owned by Messrs. Spears, may still be seen the bottoms of two ancient works, about 10 rods apart, where various relics, such as leaden bullets, Indian arrows, partially decayed materials of iron, and pieces of silver and copper coin, are still found; and the bones of animals, in evidence that it was once occupied as a camp. And this very year, two human skeletons have been washed out of the earth near by from the action of the lake at high water, and were gathered up and reinterred by Messrs. Spears, who reside on the place. Mr. Loomis was familiar with these old works soon after the town was first settled speaks of the currant bushes, the bottom of the old fort, and other structures; and says, they then had every appearance of being very ancient. Mr. and Mrs. Boardman corroborate the above and speak in addition of an ancient clearing on the Spear place (near the present dwelling-house) which was there when the place was first settled.
There is no written or traditionary account when, or by
whom, these things came there. It is not improbable, that the French, when they
extended their line of fortifications into
There is a fact of record, which may have some connection with these relics on Colchester Point, and is worthy of notice. On the first English map of Lake Champlain and its borders, published after the close of the French war, and afterwards republished by Gov. Tryon of New York, both Colchester Point and the Point at West Alburgh are set down under the name of Windmill Point. Now it is difficult to see any reason for attaching this name to either point on the map, unless it arose from the fact that a mill of that sort then, or had before, stood there; and it is a fact well known, that the French at that early day, in Canada, and wherever their settlements extended upon the lakes, ground their grain with windmills. Hence one of the old bottoms on the sand beach at the point is perhaps of a mill of this kind, and the other a block-house built for defense and for a store-house.*
It was the purpose of the French to hold
* By a line from Hon. John W. Strong, received since the
above was written, this view of the subject is corroborated. He writes in
substance as follows: "Dr. E. Tudor, a native of East Windsor, Conn.,
grandfather of my wife, and also of Emeline Tudor, wife of Mr. Hard, of
Ferrisburgh, was commissioned as a surgeon (under the rank of Lieutenant) in
the 43d Regiment of foot in 1759; and remained in the British service until
1770 spending most of his time in England. He retired upon half pay, which he
received until his death, in 1826. He was with Wolfe at the capture of
Dr. Tudor said there was a block-house at
There was, however, when the first settlers came on, a
clearing of considerable extent, on the meadows between Pine Island and the
river, evidently made by artificial means to which the settlers gave the name
of Indian fields but from its position and soil, it is more likely that it
was the place where the Indians planted their corn, than the remains of a
French settlement. It was a condition in all those grants, that a settlement in
a limited time, should be commenced under them; and the grant to Capt. de la
Peirere was declared as forfeited to the Crown of France, for not fulfilling
this condition; but the grant to Gen. Raimbault was afterwards (Sept. 27th,
1766,) conveyed by his heirs, who resided in Montreal, to Benjamin Price,
Daniel Robertson and John Livingston, for the consideration of 90,000 livres.
This purchase was made after the conquest of Canada, and subsequent to the
cession of that vast country and its dependencies to the British Crown, as
confirmed by the treaty of Paris in 1763, and while the question as to the
validity of the titles to these French seigniories was pending before the King
and Council of England for decision.
Colchester was one of the New Hampshire grants. It was chartered June 7th, 1763, to Edward Burling and 66 others, in 70 shares, as a six miles square township, 23,040 acres. There is however, but 20,000 acres of land, aside from the waters of Mallet's Bay, which extends from the western range of the town.
* The first naval engagement between the English and French on the waters of Lake Champlain, took place off the shore of Shelburne or Charlotte, on the 8th of July, 1756, between five whale boats or bateaux, commanded by Captain Robert Rogers, and two lighters of the French. Rogers, by order of Maj. Gen. Shirley, on the 20th of June, left the head of Lake George to reconnoiter the French posts on Lake Champlain, with his boats and 50 men. He proceeded down Lake George, landed upon the east shore some miles above the outlet, hauled his boats over the mountain to South Bay about six miles, where he arrived on the 3d of July. He concealed his boats and men by day on the east shore of Lake Champlain, and felt his way along by night thus passing both Ticonderoga and Crown Point, which he found strongly garrisoned by the French. Numerous boats were seen passing and repassing in the service of the French forces. At 1 o'clock, A. M., on the 8th of July, they went ashore "upon a Point on ye east side of the Lake," 25 miles north of Crown Point. A schooner was discovered at anchor about a mile north of them, and Rogers lightened his boats, and prepared to board it; but meanwhile two lighters were seen coming up the lake "which (says Rogers) we found intended to Land in ye Place Where we Were which Vessels we fired upon immediately and afterwards hailed them and offered them quarters, * * * but instead thereof they put off in their boats to ye opposite shore, but we followed them in our Boats and Intercepted them and after taking them found twelve men three of which were killed and two wounded. One of the wounded Could not March therefore put an end to him to Prevent Discovery. As soon as ye prisoners were secure we employed our Selves in Destroying and sinking Vessels and Cargoes Which was Chiefly Wheat and Flour Rice When and Brandy excepting Some few Casks of Brandy and Wine which we hid in very secure Places with our Whale boats at Some Distance on ye opposite Shore. Prisoners with us * * * set forward on our Return ye morning of the 8th Currant and pursued our March till ye 12th when we arrived on the West Side of Lake George * * * and ye 15th at two of the Clock we arrived safe with all my Party and Prisoners at Fort William Henry."
(See Letter of Robert Rogers to Sir William Johnson in Doc. Hist. of New York, Vol. IV, p. 285.) We are indebted to Judge Strong of Addison for calling our attention to the above interesting fact.
** The beech seal.
ship east, about two and a half miles, towards the center. There were 10 grantees in the charter of the name of Burling; and as this town and Burlington was chartered the same day, it is supposed that by some mixing up of clerks or papers, our neighbor got the name that belonged to us. The town is located upon Lake Champlain, and is bounded upon the south by Winooski River, which separates it from Burlington and it is 36 miles up this stream to the capital of the State. The name of this river has been changed several times. It was first called Ouynouski, and then French River; which latter name it doubtless received from the fact that the chief highway of the Indians, from the lake to Connecticut River, was along its border; and afterwards became the route of the French and their Indian allies, in their attacks upon the English frontier settlements. It was along this stream that the barbarous Rouville went and returned when he sacked and burned Deerfield. Here with "noisy pomp" on their return they brought along the old church bell of that devoted settlement the first probably that ever uttered its sounds in the valley of the Winooski. Here, too, they led along, with their bloody hands, the 112 captives that had survived the massacre, among whom was their pastor the venerable John Williams half clothed and half starved, wading through the deep snow, on their way to Canada. And it was through this valley, after the first settlement had been made in Colchester, that the party took their route to burn and destroy the settlement at Royalton. While used as the warpath of the French and their savage allies, it was called French River, but after it came into the possession of the English it was known by the name of Onion River; which is the English of Ouynouski, or Winooski as at present spelt, signifying the land of leeks or onions: Winoos, leeks, ki, land.* It is now generally known by the latter name, which was restored by the good taste of Prof. Thompson, who adopted the original Indian name, in all his historical wrtings where he had occasion to speak of the river. Ouynouski was also the Indian name of the bay (now Mallet's Bay) as well as the river.
The La Moine River passes through the north-west corner of the town into the lake; and between this and the Winooski, are Mallet's Creek, Indian Creek and Sunderland Brook. There are two small ponds in the township; one containing about three acres, located upon the level plain in the south-east part of the town; it is very deep in the center, and fed by subterranean springs, which pass off by a running stream from the surface. The other lies in the east part of the town in a picturesque situation, between two elevated ridges, and contains about sixty acres. At its outlet, the works of the beaver are still visible; and the remains of a grove of chestnut trees of native growth twenty or so of large size, are still standing on a ridge near by which (says Mr. Bates the owner) uniformly bear and ripen their fruit. At the first settlement of the town, there was a large grove of them.
The soil of Colchester is quite variegated. It has a portion of sandy loam, originally covered with white and pitch-pine forests, adapted to the raising of Indian corn, rye, buckwheat, and roots for stock and culinary purposes. The main part of its soil, however, is a gravelly and slaty loam, intermixed with clay in some localities, and originally covered with hard wood timber, beech and maple, oak, walnut, basswood, elm, birch, and in some places intermixed with hemlock. These lands lie for the most part in low ridges, with a rolling surface, are very fertile, and well adapted to grazing, wheat, oats, potatoes, &c. The town, as a general thing, is also well suited to the growth of the fruits of our climate such as the apple, pear, various kinds of grapes, plums, when not destroyed by the curculio, cherries, and the various small fruits especially upon the bay and lake shore. And the whole border of the Winooski is lined with rich alluvial flats, some of great breadth, that produce large quantities of hay and grain.
The flora of Colchester is remarkable. It not only abounds in many rare trees and shrubs, but is one of Nature's most profuse flower-gardens which no doubt, to a considerable extent, may be attributed to the variety of its soil. There has been collected by a resident of Colchester a well informed naturalist, James M. Read, who kindly furnished the following list of plants no less
* Prof. Thompson's Vermont, Part III, p.197.
See original French Map in the Doc. Hist. of New York.
Near the month of this stream are the remains of an ancient Indian village and burial place.
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than 590 varieties of plants and flowers, besides grasses and sedges, during the past year. These were mostly found in the vicinity of the High Bridge, and at Mallet's Bay; and they embrace a large share of the plants found in New England, except such as are peculiar to the seacoast. In this collection are many that are noted as very rare, and assigned in botanical works to but few localities, and some of which have not hitherto been noticed in the natural history of the State such as the Anemone Hudsoniana, Phaca Robinsii, Pterospora Andromedea, Puederota Virginia, Gymnadenia tridentata, Trillium grandiflora, Cypripedium Arietinum, Rosa blanda, &c. Among the shrubs and trees, are the Snow-berry (Symphoricarpus racemosus), found on Mallet's Head growing on the bluffs among the oaks and cedars; the the Bladder-nut tree (Staphylea trifolia), found there also: the Overcup oak (Quercus Macrocarpa) and the Box-elder (Negundo aceroides), both of which are common at the West, though seldom found in the Eastern States; the Vermont poplar (P. Candicans), which is peculiar to western Vermont; Fraser's Spruce (Pinus Fraseri), the Chestnut (Castanea vesca), which is in this town believed to be at the most northerly point of its indigenous growth. The Pogonia verticillata and Draba arabizans have also been found here by Mr. Oakes, and noticed in his work, they are seldom found.
Colchester is also an interesting field for the geologist. Could the "testimony of the rocks," within its chartered limits be fully taken, it would make a rare chapter in natural history and geology.
Along the eastern section of the town, we have an extensive deposit of the white and dove-colored limestone, cropping out at several places, with a dip of about 12° to the N. of E. It forms the bed of the river just above the High Bridge, and rises abruptly on both banks of the stream, where it is extensively manufactured into a superior article of quick-lime; there are also kilns near the center of the town. From 100,000 to 150,000 barrels are annually manufactured in this town alone from this deposit.
Next west of this and parallel to it, is a range of silicious limestone, which is found by experiment to make a good article of water-lime or cement. In the construction of the aqueduct and large woollen factory at the Falls, it was manufactured and used for that special purpose. In the western part of the town, bordering upon the lake shore, we have the red sandstone and dove-colored limestone jointed and seamed with calcareous spar, variegated marble, argillaceous slate, suitable to work, Utica slate and Hudson River shale. If we have not our coal formation, wherein the flora of the carboniferous period and the rude insect fauna that fed upon its leaves and branches are changed into stone and preserved in their various and delicate forms, we have our lower Silurean rocks, to show the remains of an earlier race, in the great scale of animal existence where earlier "footprints of the Creator left their unmistakable impressions." I have now before me a specimen of the Trenton limestone, not larger than the palm of my hand (picked up on the Lake shore) on the surface of which there are nineteen distinct specimens of the Orthis testudinaria; and four of that species of the trilobite, Trinucleus concentricus, with their cephalic shields, apparently as beautiful and distinct as when worn by the living animal, before the Old Red Sandstone period: which period none of the race survived.
The only slate deposit I have noticed, underlies the dove-colored limestone and marble strata on Mallet's Head, and forms its western bank. Roofing-slate may be quarried from this deposit, which forms the water barrier from the north end of the point, about half a mile south presenting a vertical face of 30 to 40 feet in height. In alternate sections along its whole range, but more especially at the extreme north end of the Head, the stone has been so much bent and twisted by natural forces, that it is unfit for working; but other portions of the strata might be worked to advantage.*
The dove-colored limestone lies above the slate, and underlies the marble, it makes a good quick-lime, but has not been worked to any extent. The marble lies upon the sur‑
* There is a large pot-hole upon the summit of a high bluff, some sixty feet above the level of the lake, and just east of the gravelly beach on the northern extremity of Mallet's Head, which is worthy the attention of the curious. Its diameter is from twenty to twenty-five feet, and depth unknown as it is partly filled with logs and trees that have fallen into it, filling it to about ten foot below the surface of the bluff. The escarpment or wall around it, is nearly perpendicular, and evidently worn and smoothed by the action of water moving detached stone or bowlders within it, grinding off the face of the wall, and leaving it in irregular form. Its size and position will furnish to geologists a fine chance for speculation, as to how or when this interesting cavity was worn down to such depth into the solid rock.
face, and forms an interesting feature in the geology of this section of the town. This remarkable deposit has no exact parallel in its composition and the variety of its shade, figure, and color, as yet known in this country, or perhaps on the continent.* The range of this rock crosses Mallet's Bay at its outlet, and is about half a mile in breadth. Its most perfect formation seems to be in the vicinity of the bay, where its texture is found to be the finest, and its colors the most brilliant. As it extends to the north and south, it becomes more coarse and granular, and consequently more difficult to polish; and its colors become more dim.
A. D. Hager, Esq., our assistant State Geologist to whose energy and perseverance so much is due in carrying out the geological survey of the State in his address on the subject of Marbles, before the Historical Society in 1858, says of the Winooski marble :
"In no place is it so well developed as at Mallet's Bay, in Colchester. The strata at this point are nearly horizontal and in many places form the bank of the Lake. One of the best quarries is so situated that a vessel can be brought along side, and loaded with blocks, with as much ease as they are usually loaded upon carts or cars at inland quarries. The marble occurs in beds or strata, varying in thickness from one to six feet; and being a good marble to split across the bed or grain, blocks of any required size can very readily be obtained.
"The marble is susceptible of a high polish, and will resist, in a remarkable degree, the corroding influence of atmospheric agencies. Its composition, as determined by an analysis by C. H. Hitchcock, Chemist of our Geological Survey, is, carbonate of lime, 35.31, carbonate of magnesia, 42.23, silica, 10.30, alumina and iron, 12.25. Like the serpentine and the variegated of Plymouth, this marble is hard to be worked, and consequently, when polished, is hard to deface by scratches or acids, and this fact of its hardness should attach to it additional value.
"Its color seems to admirably fit it to the purpose of ornamental work, for pier and center tables, and no marble can excel it in beauty and durability. The rich colors of the rosewood or mahogany frames do not exceed in beauty, or variety, those to be found in a slab of the Winooski marble."**
There are but few minerals in town of value, as yet developed. Brown hematite has been quarried to some extent in the N. E. section of the town and taken across the lake to mix with the ore of that region; but for some years the quarry has been abandoned. Magnetic iron-ore, in the form of sand, is found in large quantities on the beach north of Clay Point; and a bed of bog-ore, on the farm of Mr. Spear near the new bridge, was discovered and worked in the early settlement of the town; but has long since gone out of use.
In connection with its geology, it may be proper to notice some points of natural scenery that are so rich in beauty and interest in this town. One of these points is the broad expanse of intervale below the Falls, where the eye can sweep over some three thousand acres of rich meadow at one view. This lies partly in Colchester and partly in Burlington, the Winooski dividing it as it winds its way along to the lake. The whole is surrounded by a high bank, which abruptly rises and forms the face of the elevated plain above, save the narrow gates where the river enters and debouches from the basin. Viewed in summer, when the meadows are clothed with their rich green and the face of the plains and the low hills beyond are verdant with sunshine and showers, it makes up a landscape of great beauty, and it is equally beautiful when the green of summer gives place to the red and gold of autumn.
The deep gorge at the high bridge presents another interesting view of the wild and picturesque. Here the busy current of the Winooski has cut through the solid rock 90 feet in depth and 70 in breadth, forming irregular perpendicular walls upon each side, from which an arched bridge is suspended over the chasm. The sinuous course of the stream above, winding through the intervale marked by lines of the white maple upon its banks, when contrasted with its rough course below, where it rushes through its deep rocky channel, makes the view from the bridge highly graphic on the one hand, and from the hill above peculiarly pleasing on the other where the eye never tires. It is the resort of many admirers of natural scenery, and
* This deposit was not discovered as a marble until 1851: when the writer of the above article, in passing across the open field north of Mallet's Bay, noticed the peculiar appearance and texture of the stone. He sent blocks of it to New York and Boston, to test its qualities for polishing, and procured some small tables to be manufactured from it. Since then it has been wrought into chimney pieces, tables, &c. It will doubtless some day be extensively worked.
Specimens of this marble may be seen in the State Cabinet at Montpelier. It was named "Winooski Marble," because it lies on the bay (Mallet's Bay), having originally that Indian name. The bay should still go by the name of "Winooski Bay" Author.
** See Geological Reports of Vermont, Vol. II, p. 773.
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has often been sketched by the hand of the artist.
The scenery at Mallet's Bay, however, surpasses all for its picturesque combination of the wild and beautiful. A view from the head, overlooking the bay and its points and islands, is not easily matched in this or any other country. It presents a continuous change, as you move about, like the kaleidoscope, and furnishes one of the most attractive points of natural scenery on Lake Champlain. From the difficulty of approach it has been but seldom visited; but it will become in time, no doubt, a favorite place of resort for such as delight to commune with nature, and have an eye to discern the richness and glory of her works.
Having made these general remarks in relation to the natural history of the town, we will now proceed to give some account of its settlement.
The first persons who took possession under the present charter of Colchester were Ira Allen and his uncle Remember Baker. In the fall of 1772 Allen, having just passed the age of 22 years and full of the spirit of the times, resolved to explore the country on Onion River, and if found desirable for settlement to head the New York grantees in that section. He enlisted the cooperation of his uncle Baker in the enterprise, and they, with five men whom they had employed to go with them, embarked in a small boat at Skeensborough Falls (Whitehall) with their baggage, provisions, one gun, a case of pistols and cutlass. After some three or four days hard rowing down the lake, they arrived at the mouth of the river and came up the stream to the lower Fall. On arriving here they found, to their surprise, a boat laden with provisions and two men who were with a surveying party from New York. They made prisoners of the men, placed them under guard, and took possession of the boat. Early the next morning they discovered two boats coming up the river and making direct for their camp. One had the New York surveying party a Capt. Stevens and five men and the other contained 13 Indians armed with guns. Stevens and his men landed and showed fight; but the Indians learning from one of Allen's men, who understood a smattering of their language, that the quarrel was about the lands here, very wisely concluded that they had no occasion to fight for Stevens, as they owned the land themselves, whereupon they made off, and left Stevens to fight his own battles. Without bloodshed he surrendered to Allen and Baker, who permitted him to leave with his party under the pledge that they would never be seen here again, which pledge it is believed they faithfully kept.
After exploring the country up the river and making some surveys, Baker with one of the men returned in the boat to Skeensborough, leaving Allen and the other four men to continue their explorations who, soon finding themselves short of provisions, started through the wilderness for Pittsford, 70 miles distant, then the most northerly settlement. After traversing mountains, swamps and rivers, with but one dinner and three partridges on the route, they reached Pittsford the fourth day more starved and dead than otherwise.
Early in the spring of '73, Allen and Baker returned to the Falls. Baker brought his family along with him, consisting of his wife and three children, which was the first English family that ever settled in Colchester of which we have any account. Allen was young, unmarried and lived with them, and at this time may properly be regarded as a member of the family.
As a means of protection against Indian depredations, and defence against the "Yorkers," the first thing they did was to construct a block-house or fort. This was built on the north bank of the river, close to the river side, on the highest ground, from 6 to 8 rods east of the present Falls bridge the greater part of the ground on which it stood is now slid off and washed away. It was constructed of hewed timber, two stories high, with 32 port-holes in the upper story, and was well furnished with arms and ammunition, and called Fort Frederick. And the same year they cut out a road from Castleton to Colchester, about 70 miles.
At this time there were no settlements in Burlington or any other part of the county, except some "Yorkers" who had got onto Shelburne Point, and who were suffered to remain on the promise that they would behave. This same summer, however, a surveying party from New York were discovered up the river. Allen started out from the fort with three men after them, but the party getting wind of the movement made their
escape and did not return to molest the settlement.
Things now looked favorable a proprietors' meeting was held at Fort Frederick June 1, 1774, the first ever held in town a clearing was made about the fort, in which Baker and his family resided; two other clearings were made on the intervals below the Falls, supposed by Joseph Fuller and Henry Colvin; one at Mallet's Bay, on the farm now owned by Mr. Newton, by a man of the name of Monte; and one by Joshua Stanton (1775) on the intervale above the narrows; and Abel Hurlbut, Consider Hurlbut, Abel Benedict and Capt. Thos. Darwin had all made purchases of farms on the intervales below the Falls. In the meantime a mysterious creature of the name of Mallet, a Frenchman, resided on Mallet's Head but who he was and where he came from, and when and by what authority he settled there, we have no account. But that he was there before the Revolution, and had been there for many years before, is evident "He died (says Mr. Loomis) in 1789 or '90, and the clearing about his house had the appearance of being very ancient." He was an old man when he died and had passed over ample time in the period of his life to have gone on to the Head, under the old French grants, before the conquest of Canada and the close of the French war. Or he might have squatted on the Head while the French jurisdiction extended over the country, and found no occasion to give up his safe retreat on change of masters. His improvements must have been earlier than those under the charter; but all that remains of him is the old cellar end the name he left to the point and bay where he lived.
It will be noticed that all the above settlements were made either before the Revolution, or about the time it commenced, and the gathering storm cast its shadow over this little community as well as over Lexington and Concord. Its peace and safety, however, was not disturbed until the retreat of Gen. Sullivan from Canada left the frontier defenceless and open to the plunder and mercy of its enemies. Indeed, the Indian allies of the English followed up the retreat and commenced their attack upon this and the other settlements just started on the river above, and all were obliged to flee for safety. This was in the spring of 1776, and for the next 7 years the town was destitute of inhabitants save the venerable Capt. Mallet, as he was called, who, for any thing that appears, remained undisturbed by British or Indians, acknowledging allegiance to no one, keeping tavern for spies and smugglers, and fearing neither principalities or powers. Colchester, however, during this period of her depopulation was nominally represented the councils of the state, both before and after her declaration of independence, by one of the most active and energetic spirits of this little testy republic of the Green Mountains.*
In 1783, when the storm of the Revolution had passed, Ira Allen and most of the former settlers returned and resumed their labors at the Falls. Allen, to promote the interests of the place and give value to his large landed estate which he had acquired in this town and vicinity, commenced an active business on his return. This induced many people to come in as laborers and settlers, and in the course of five or six years it assumed the appearance of an active business place. He built the upper dam, two saw-mills, one at each end of the dam; a grist-mill, where the cotton factory now stands; two forges with a furnace, on the low ground between the present furnace and the river; brought iron ore from the Spear place and the opposite side of the lake; made bar-iron, mill-irons, forge-hammers, for the works across the lake, and anchors for vessels upon it; kept up a ferry across the millpond to the point of rocks above the dam and built a flat bottomed schooner on the river below the Falls, near where the railroad bridge now in. During these operations John M. Lane, in 1787, purchased and went onto the Spear place, at the and of Colchester Point, and John Law lived with him, who afterwards purchased the farm and what is now called Law's Island, where he made an improvement, planted corn, raised wheat, potatoes, &c. Benj. Boardman came to the Falls in 1789, and resided there until he purchased the Porter place on the Point, where he settled, as before seen. William Munson also came about the same time. Aaron Brownell, the father of our respected townsman Thos. Brownell, Esq., came to the Falls in '92, and lived where the cellar is now seen just west of the brook and south of ????? ????? and worked in the forges. John B???? lived
* Ira Allen.
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just south of him. Ichabod Brownell came to the Falls in '93, was a blacksmith, and his shop stood where Mr. Horton's shop now is; he built the back part of the stone tavern-house, the only building extant put up in those times, where he kept tavern until about 1811. Ira Allen's house stood about three rods east of Mr. LaClear's store, where the remains of the stone and brick work are still to be seen. Mrs. Allen's garden extended east from the house to the brook, and the large apple trees now standing there were planted in the east end of the garden by her. Says Mrs. Sackett, now past 90 years of age, and also Mrs. Henry Boardman. "her garden was a paradise of fruits and flowers." The first county court ever held in this county was at Ira Allen's house in November, 1785, at which time Colchester and Addison were half-shires of the county of Addison, which then extended from the county of Rutland to Canada line.
In these times a man of the name of Maxfield settled where Mr. Richardson now lives, and one Dan'l Wilcox, a ship carpenter, on the south beach where Mr. Barstow lives, where he built a sloop. Thomas Butterfield, who married the widow of Remember Baker, was the first representative of Colchester, chosen in 1785, before the organization of the town. Joshua Stanton, chosen in 1793, was the first representative after its organization, which was in '91. The first town meeting of record was March 18, 1793, when Joshua Stanton was chosen moderator, Joshua Stanton, Jr., town clerk; Joshua Stanton, John Law and Thomas Hill, selectmen; Joshua Stanton, treasurer; and William Munson, constable. Phineas Colver was the first settled Minister over the Baptist church and society at the center of the town. Judge Colver, of Brooklyn, N. Y., the ingenious, popular orator, is his son, and is a native of this town.
In times past the Falls, now better known by the name of "Winooski Falls," has suffered much by loss from fire. On the south side of the river, "on the 21st of December, 1838, an extensive block factory, a large satinet factory, a paper-mill and saw-mill, were consumed in one conflagration." since then, saying nothing of the fires that happened before, the grist and flouring-mill both have been destroyed and rebuilt three times; cotton-mill once, saw-mill once, an extensive cooper's shop once. And on the north side of the river the machine shop has been burnt three times, and saw-mill three times. In addition, the bridge and dams were swept off by the great flood of July, 1830, and at the same time the oil-mill, grist-mill, carding-machine, saw-mill and dam, erected by Judge Buel of Burlington, at a cost of about $30,000. These stood on the north side of the river, about three-fourths of a mile above the Falls, at the bottom of the deep gorge, opposite the point of land between the railroad bridges they were raised by the flood some 30 feet from their foundations, and after playing round for a few minutes in the whirling and trembling eddy, were dashed down the narrow channel between the island and the high bluffs that form the shore. This flood, the most remarkable since the settlement of the country, rose some 50 feet in height over the intervals above the high bridge and swept off several buildings.
One barn, on the Mayo farm, was chained to the branches of a large elm tree, and thus saved from being dashed in pieces at the narrows below.
The population of Colchester in 1791 was 137; in 1800, 347; in 1840, 1739; and in 1860, 3041. At the Centre village there are 2 church edifices; one occupied by the Congregationalists and Baptists, and the other by the Methodists;* a town-house (which is used also for an academy), two stores and a post-office; at Winooski village, on the Colchester side, there are 2 church edifices (Congregationalist and Methodist), 7 dry goods, 2 clothing, 3 grocery, 2 druggist, 3 tin and hardware-stores, and two of millinery goods; one shoe-store and manufactory, 1 iron-foundry, extensive machine-shop and several shops and manufactories of various mechanical work. Also a wooled-factory, employing about 325 hands consuming annually some 1,000,000 pounds of wool, and employing a capital of about $500,000, owned and conducted by Messrs. Hardings, to whose energy and skill as well as liberality the village is indebted, to a great extent, for its growth and present prosperity. There is a union school here, numbering in the several departments about 160 scholars; a railroad depot two sets of falls, 2 dams, and a local‑
* A new Baptist church at the Centre has been erected since the above was written.
ity which, together, furnish the finest water power in the vicinity or perhaps in the state. On the south side of the stream, which is here spanned by an arch-covered bridge of 2 piers, it may be proper to mention that there is a flouring and custom mill, wagon-shop, cotton factory and saw-mill.
1793 to 1797, Joshua Stanton., Jr.,
1797 to 1806, Aaron Brownell,
1806 to 1807, Wm. Munson,
1807 to 1817, Heman Allen,
1817 to 1822, Jabez Penniman,
1822 to 1825, Samuel Smith,
1825 to 1832, Noah Woolcott,
1832 to 1845, Jos. E. Rhodes,
1845 to 1861, Geo. P. Mayo, the present Town Clerk.
1785, Thomas Butterfield,
1786 to 1792, Ira Allen,
1793, John Law,
1794, Ira Allen,
1795 to 1800, Joshua Stanton,
1801 to 1802, John Law,
1803, Joshua Stanton,
1804, Benj. Boardman,
1805, Simeon Hine,
1806, William Munson,
1807, Simeon Hine,
1808, Francis Childs,
1809, and '10, Simeon Hine,
1811, Roger Enos,
1812 to 1816, Heman Allen,
1817, Nathan Bryan.,
1818, William Hine,
1819 and '20, Jabez Penniman,
1821, William Hine,
1822 to 1824, Nathan Bryan,
1825 and '26, Jabez Penniman,
1827 to 1830, Noah Woolcott,
1831, Udney H. Penniman,
1832, No choice,
1833, Udney H. Penniman,
1834, J. W. Weaver,
1835 to 1837, Thos. Brownell,
1838 and '9, Arad Merrill,
1840, John Lyon,
1841 and '42, John S. Webster,
1843 and '44, Joseph E. Rhodes
1845 to 1847, Jacob Rolfe,
1848, Amos C. Richardson,
1849, Andrew J. Merrill,
1850, No choice,
1851, No choice,
1852, Geo. P. Mayo,
1853, A. J. Merrill,
1855 and '6, Roswell Newton,
1857, Charles Harding,
1858 and '59, L. B. Platt,
1860, James H. Edwards,
1861, Simeon Hine.
Colchester has its interesting subjects of biography as well as history the one so closely interwoven with the other that the chapter cannot be completed without some notice of the men who once resided here and were more or less engaged in public life, but who have long since departed. In addition to the two indomitable spirits who first broke into the wilderness, and to whom I shall mainly direct my attention, there were several to whom a passing notices should be extended.
was 3 years chief judge of the county court in the county of Chittenden one of the men who liberally aided in establishing the University of Vermont, and 9 years a member of the corporation being one of the original corporators in its charter. His son, Joshua Banton, Jr., was two years second judge of the county court, and also a liberal patron of the University. Joshua Stanton, Sr., built the Penniman house, now occupied by Mr. Freeman, and opened it as a public house.
the eccentric individual who settled on the Point, came from New London, Conn., was a man of liberal education, fine talents, but too liberal and high-minded to be otherwise than poor. In 1793 he was sent as a delegate from this town to the State Convention at Windsor, to consider the proposed amendments to the Constitution; and was 6 years 2d Judge of Chittenden county court.
was a man of enterprise, and very successful in business. He came into town at an early day, with his hands for his capital first tended saw-mill for Ira Allen, bought him a small farm, went into lumbering business, purchased and cleared up lands; made a large property, and added much to the general improvement of the town.
came into town at a later period, and spent the last 30 years of his life in Colchester. He formerly resided in Westminster, where he married the widow of Ethan Allen, who was then residing at that place. He was appointed by Mr. Jefferson Collector of Customs for the District of Vermont; which office he held during the two presidential terms of that eminent statesman. On receiv‑
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ing this appointment, he removed from Westminster to Swanton; where he resided during the exercise of his official duties. He then purchased his well known residence at the High Bridge, where he spent the remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits. In the meantime he served as Town Clerk of Colchester, and Judge of Probate for the County of Chittenden, for several successive years. He was a gentleman of the old school, and much respected.
Mrs. Penniman as above noticed, was the widow of Ethan Allen, and married to Dr. Penniman at Westminster, Vt., Oct. 28th, 1793.
She was a woman highly esteemed, of brilliant mind, and a highly cultivated taste; and possessed those qualifications that made her an agreeable companion. She took great delight in the management and cultivation of a garden which she would stock with rare varieties of flowers. The cultivation and improvement of wild flowers attracted her attention; and she made the study of botany a favorite amusement. She was born April 4th, 1760, and was married to General Allen, at Westminster, on the 9th of February, 1784.*
It is well understood, that she always exerted a very decided influence over her brave yet eccentric husband so much so, that her advice and good admonitions were held by him in a sort of submissive yet manly reverence. She often gave him gentle reproof, and reminded him of his faults; and especially desired to reform him from the habit of being out late at night with dissipated company to which he was inclined.
It is related of her, on one occasion, that she adopted a very ingenious method of restraining him in this matter. After having had a good time, she rebuked him in good earnest; and, instead of admitting the justice of her reproof, he expressed doubts as to the truth and correctness of her remarks. "I will find out," she says, "whether you come home drunk or sober;" and thereupon she drove a nail pretty well up in the wall of the bed room, and said to him: "There, Ethan, when your watch is hanging on that nail in the morning, I shall know that you came home sober." "Agreed," says the old hero.
He however found it rather a difficult job to prove his good behavior, at all times, by this severe test. When he had taken a drop too much, as many did in those days, he would make a dash at the nail, but it would dodge him, and the watch ring hit one side but he would brave up his resolution and nerves and make another rally, and the floor would now give way, or perhaps his knees get out of joint; yet not discouraged, he would stick to it and work up to the nail, until he got the ring of his watch fairly hooked, when he would retire satisfied that all would he right with Fanny this time. If she had a word to say in the morning, he would point his finger to the watch, "Fanny do you see that? I came home sober last night."
After the death of Ethan Allen, which occurred February 12th, 1789, his widow returned to Westminster, and resided there until she married Dr. Penniman. There is a fine full length portrait of Mrs. Penniman and one also of her mother, at the house of her son, Hon. Udney H. Penniman, of Colchester. These are oil paintings, drawn by Copley; and taken when Fanny was but ten years old. They present the unique costume of that day, and are regarded as highly finished works of art.
the son of Heber Allen, who died at Poultney, was, at an early age, adopted into the family of his uncle, Ira Allen, of Colchester. He was Town Clerk of Colchester from 1807 to 1817; Sheriff of the County of Chittenden in 1808 and '09; Chief Judge of the County Court in 1811 and the three succeeding years; Marshal of the State under the first term of Mr. Monroe's administration; and afterwards, in 1823, was appointed by President Monroe, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Government of Chili, where he remained through the succeeding administration of John Quincy Adams. After his return from Chili, he resided in Burlington and Highgate and died at the latter place in the year 1852, from whence his remains were removed and buried in the Allen cemetery at Burlington.
MAJOR GENERAL ROGER ENOS,
father of Mrs. Ira Allen, spent the latter part of his life in Colchester. He was an officer and patriot of the Revolution, and one of the bold spirits that effected the independence of Vermont. He was a Colonel and commanded the rear division of Arnold's army of
* This is the date as recorded in Mrs. Penniman's family bible. Mr. Thompson has the date the 16th of February, 1784, as recorded by Ethan Allen in his "Oracle of Reason;" and Mr. Hall states the marriage "sometime previous to 1784."
1100 men who entered upon the daring project of passing through the wilderness from the Kennebec River in Maine to Quebec. The party consisted of one company of artillery, three companies of riflemen from Pennsylvania and Virginia, under the brave Col. Morgan, and ten companies of infantry from New England. Arnold was selected by Washington as the man best suited to take the command of an expedition so hazardous and the greater the danger, and the seeming impossibility of success, the better he liked the enterprise. They ascended the Kennebec in bateaux, which they carried on their shoulders, or dragged over the rocks and rough way, as they passed the falls and rapids; the men sometimes hauling them up the rapid current, as they marched along the channel and plunged through the water. At one point between the Kennebec and Dead River, they carried their boats, camp equipage and artillery, 15 miles upon their shoulders; before which some hundred and fifty of the party had been left behind, either from fatigue, sickness, or desertion. But the chief labor and suffering of the expedition, had but just begun. They encountered rains and storms; the floods at night swept away their tents and boats; and at one time 7 of their boats were upset, and a large amount of clothing and provisions lost.
They still had thirty miles to travel over the snowy mountains that separated the head waters of the Kennebec and the Chaudiere, before they reached the latter stream and, after being a whole month on the way, had not made half their distance, and had but 12 days provision left. Sickness prevailed to an alarming extent; and not the glory of the battle-field, but an ignominious death from certain starvation seemed to await them. A council of war was held, but Arnold was not discouraged the times suited him. He ordered Col. Enos, whose party was some distances in the rear, to bring up his strongest men, and leave the sick and feeble to return, alias to perish. But Enos, seeing no hope for the lives of any of his command but in a sudden retreat, disobeyed the orders of Arnold and made his way back. Arnold pushed on with his famishing army, who preserved their lives, until food could be obtained, by devouring their dogs, and making soup of their boots and shoes, moccasins and leather sacks. Enos returned to Cambridge, where he met the displeasure of the officers of the army for his retreat; but was acquitted in the eyes of the world, as humane and justifiable, under the extreme necessities of the case.
Afterwards, in 1781, Gen. Enos had the command of the Vermont troops stationed at Castleton; and was in the secret of the negotiations, which at that time so adroitly controlled the action of the British Army on the lake, then under the immediate command of Gen. St. Leger. St. Leger was quartered at Ticonderoga with a large force, and Enos and the whole frontier was entirely at his mercy; but through the good management of Chittenden and the Allens, the British returned to Canada into winter quarters, and the Vermont troops to their homes.
It was at this time that Sergeant Tupper, who commanded one of Enos' scouts, was killed by coming in contact with a scout from St Leger's camp. Whereupon, it will be recollected, St. Leger sent the uniform of Serg't Tupper to Gen. Enos with a letter of apology for killing him.* The letter was not sealed, and happened to be read before delivery to Enos; and it was a wonder among his patriotic troops, why the clothes of an enemy killed in battle should be sent back with a letter of apology for killing him. They smelt treason, and got up an excitement it went to the people, and to the Legislature, then in session. And to quiet the excitement, Gov. Chittenden and others in the secret, made up false letters, purporting to be written by Gen. Enos and his two Colonels, and had them read before the Assembly. This succeeded in allaying suspicion; and the secret of the negotiations, and safety of the frontier were preserved.
Gen. Enos died at Colchester, Oct. 6th, 1808, in the 73d year of his age; and was buried near the Ethan Allen monument which so appropriately overlooks the home of the Allens, and the historic field so intimately associated with their names.
closed his eventful life while an inhabitant of Colchester. He was one of those brave and hardy pioneers that seem to have been fitted for the times in which he lived, wherein he seldom found repose; but personal incident and daring adventure was his lot, until
* This letter was addressed to Gov. Chittenden.
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the tragic close of his life relieved him from further agitation and trial.
He was born at Woodbury, Conn., about 1740. The date of his birth is not definitely given. His parents were persons of respectability; but his father died when young Baker was a child having been accidentally shot by a hunter. The young lad, thus left an orphan, was put to the care of a master to learn the joiners' trade; where he also learned to read and write, and the use of figures. He seems not however to have been content with his situation, for we learn that in 1756 or '57, he enlisted as a private soldier among the provincial troops, designed for the invasion of Canada. No details of his adventures in this expedition are given; but in '57 he was doubtless stationed at Fort William Henry at the head of Lake George, among the provincial troops at that post; and must have been engaged in some form, in the stirring events of that year, in which so much blood was spilt about Lake George, resulting in the capture of Fort William Henry by Montcalm, and the deliberate butchery of about 1600 of the garrison after its surrender.
The next notice we have of Baker he is enlisted a second time in the expedition of Gen. Abercrombie, in his attempted invasion of Canada, in 1758. He now appears as a non-commissioned officer in the provincial service in Col. Wooster's regiment from Connecticut. There were 9000 provincials enlisted on that occasion, and 7000 British regulars and this army of 16,000 men embarked at the head of Lake George, July 5th, 1758, with 900 bateaux and 135 whale boats. As they left the shore of the lake, near the ruins of Fort William Henry, which the year before had been devastated by Montcalm, and where the bones of their murdered countrymen lay bleaching upon the ground, they felt that the time was near at hand, to take vengeance upon their enemies for this wholesale work of savage barbarity. They embarked at daybreak; the morning was quiet and still; the day was warm and pleasant; and the breeze hardly sufficient to raise a ripple upon the water. As they pass down that romantic lake, with over a thousand boats in a single train, moving onward in regular defiles, the scene is represented as one of the most grand and imposing. And it would not be surprising if our youthful hero, but 18 years of age, then drank in something of his heroic spirit. As the flag of Old England, and the shrill notes of the bugle, rose from the head of every defile, and the gleam of British bayonets and uniform flashed along the line, he could not, if he would, keep down the congenial impulses of his own adventurous soul.
The next morning, July 6th, the army of Abercrombie moved in four divisions from the foot of Lake George towards Ticonderoga. In front of the right center division, a little band of 100 men, under the immediate command of Major Putnam, and accompanied by the lamented Lord Howe, proceeded in advance to reconnoiter the movements of the enemy Baker was one of this party. Soon the firing of musketry was heard on the left of the English lines; and Lord Howe inquired of Putnam what the firing meant. "I know not." said Put, "but with your lordship's leave I will go and see." Howe, in spite of Putnam's remonstrances, insisted on going also; and they filed off for the scene of conflict. They soon engaged the left flank of the advanced party of the enemy, consisting of 500 men, and the first exchange of shots proved fatal to the "gallant young nobleman" the idol of the British army. Putnam and Baker, and their brave men in whose midst he fell, resolved to avenge his death; and, with the fury of tigers, cut their way obliquely through the French ranks, then turned and charged them in the rear, and with the aid of some others who rushed to their assistance, slew some 300 of the party on the spot, and captured 148 prisoners. This closed the events of that day the British forces fell back to restore their order, and the French took shelter within their line of entrenchments.
The intrepidity and courage of young Baker on the above occasion, gained him much applause in the army; but the renewed display of his bravery, two days after, when the brave old English general resolved to storm the works, and marched up to the French lines, gained him no less honor and applause. This awful conflict was to be commenced by the piquets, and supported by the British grenadiers hence Putnam and his guard had the perilous duty assigned them to join in opening the attack, with orders "to rush upon the enemy's fire, and not give theirs until they were within the
enemy's breast-works." On they went followed by the grenadiers in double quick time; and the grenadiers in their turn supported by the numerous battalions of the army. Soon they encountered the formidable abatis, which the enemy had skillfully flung around their breast works; and the gallant charge was checked by the fatal entanglement of the troops among the sharpened and interwoven limbs of the fallen trees and the thick underbrush. For four hours they resolutely struggled to cut their way through these obstructions, while they were swept down by showers of musketry, and of grape and canister from the French artillery. They were resolute, and the sickening carnage did not check them; and once the gallant piquets overcome every obstable, and mounted the parapets but they could not be sustained. The struggle was now over; and the shattered remains of Abercrombie's proud army fell back to their encampment, with 1900 of their number slain and left upon the field of carnage.*
The stirring events of this campaign gave to Baker some well-earned experience of the soldier's life; and that character for heroic bravery which he never after belied. He continued in the service the year following, when the command of the Champlain department was assumed by Gen. Amherst. During that year both Ticonderoga and Crown Point on the approach of Amherst were abandoned by the French; and our young hero had not the opportunity of adding new laurels to his brow. But Amherst, while awaiting the result of Wolfe's siege of Quebec and Prideaux' expedition to Niagara, employed his troops in the reconstruction of the forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and preparing a fleet to command the lake.
At the close of the year 1759 Baker left the army; and the next we learn of him he had married and settled at Arlington, on the New Hampshire grants in 1764. (This was after the Governor of New Hampshire had issued his charters of these townships, and the same year that the King and Privy Council, by a fraudulent representation to them, that the settlers under the New Hampshire titles wished the jurisdiction of New York to he extended over them, established the west bank of the Connecticut River as the eastern boundary of that Province.) Supposing that this decision only affected the jurisdiction of the two States, and not the titles to their lands, which they had once bought in good faith and paid for, the settlers rested quietly under the decision; but no great length of time elapsed before they were called upon by land jobbers, claiming under New York titles, to abandon their lands or purchase them anew.
This at once created a storm they refused to surrender up their farms, or pay for them a second time. The courts of New York, without ceremony, rejected all evidence of title, except under their own state; and gave judgment against the settlers under New Hampshire, in all cases that came before them. Ethan Allen, who acted as their agent at Albany, indignant at, the evident pre-judgment of the court, without regard to law or justice, replied to their judgments, "that the gods of the valleys are not the gods of the hills."
With this declaration of war, Allen returned to Bennington, where the people at once called a meeting, and resolved to defend their titles by force "as both law and justice had been denied them." This bold resolve, it will be recollected, was passed by a little community numbering, all told, only some 300 men, against the New York colony, already a numerous and wealthy people. As a crisis was at hand the settlers, in the mean time, organized themselves into a military band and chose Ethan Allen Colonel commanding, and Seth Warner, Remember Baker, and some others, Captains. Scenes of aggression and resistance soon followed, in which Baker was found a troublesome opponent of the New York authorities, and the Governor of New York, by proclamation, offered a reward of £150 for Allen, and £50 each for Baker and other "rebellious leaders," declaring them outlaws, and withdrew his protection from them.
On the issuing of the above proclamation, one John Monroe, to secure the offered reward, collected a bandit of some twelve or fifteen Yorkers and came at break of day (March 22, '72,) to Baker's house and took them by surprise, as the family, consisting only of Baker and his wife and three small children, were not suspecting any danger of the kind. They broke down the door and treated Baker and his family with great severity cutting and wounding both him
* The French accounts say 4000.
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and his wife with their cutlasses in an inhuman and savage manner, One of Mrs. Baker's arms was so severely hacked that she never recovered the use of it to her death; and after they had cut and hacked up Baker and taken him prisoner, they attempted to strike off his right hand with a sword, but only succeeded in slashing his wrist, striking off his thumb and severing the cords upon his hand. He was then pinioned and put into their sleigh but partially clad, and threatened with instant death if he made any noise. In this condition he took his adieu of his wife and children, as he expected not to see them again and the infamous Monroe taunted them with the idea that he would be executed at Albany and never return, which greatly increased their distress.
At this particular juncture two men, Caleb Henderson and John Whiston, neighbors, discovered what was going on at Baker's house and armed themselves to rescue him. But the party was too large they took Whiston, bound him and carried him off with Baker, but Henderson escaped to Bennington and gave the alarm. By 12 o'clock at noon ten of the settlers at Bennington had mounted their horses and were after Monroe, determined to rescue Baker or die in the attempt. They struck for the ferry on the Hudson, about 30 miles distant, where they arrived about 3 o'clock, P. M. Finding that the party had not crossed the ferry, they wheeled back on the road north and soon saw Monroe approaching with his prisoners and a party now augmented to about forty.
Monroe made the remark, in Baker's hearing, that a rescuing party were at hand; and faint from loss of blood and nearly dead as he was, he seemed to wake up with new hopes just then his friends gave a shout of victory and he answered it; while Monroe's party ran in fright before the furious Green Mountain boys, and, leaving their prisoners behind, made their escape. In the mean time Baker's wounds were dressed, and he was returned to his home.*
Things now remained quiet for a while Baker recovered from his wounds, and the Governor of New York proposed to hear the complaints of the settlers, with a view to a reconciliation. A correspondence. was entered into, and the memorable document addressed to the Governor of New York of June 5, 1772, by Allen, Warner, Baker and Cochran, setting forth the grievances of the settlers, was drawn up and dispatched. But, while these negotiations were going on New York privately sent a surveyor, of the name of Cockburn, to make "further locations in the district of the New Hampshire Grants." Warner and Baker, not regarding this movement in exact harmony with the friendly negotiations proposed, took a few men and went in pursuit of Cockburn. After following him about 130 miles through the wilderness, they at length cornered him up in Bolton, from whence they marched him down to Castleton, tried him by a court martial, broke up his tools, and sentenced him to banishment from the grants, "on pain of death if he ever returned."
While in pursuit of Cockburn, Warner and Baker dispossessed a settlement of Yorkers at Otter Creek, who had previously drove off the Vermonters and taken possession of their farms and mills at New Haven Falls, now Vergennes; and the controversy, instead of being adjusted by the friendly negotiations of New York, were only aggravated by their continued efforts, in the meantime, to drive off the settlers under New Hampshire and seize upon their lands. It was this same fall, 1772, with a view to head the New York claimants, that Ira Allen and Remember Baker, with their five men, came down the lake and up the Winooski river to the lower falls, where they afterwards constructed the fort or blockhouse, as before related. In this block-house we next find Baker and his family located; and he and Allen made it their first purpose to erect mills and Baker, before the outbreak of the Revolution, had commenced their construction.
It was after Baker removed to Colchester that the Legislature of New York, March 9, 1774, passed the notorious act in which they declared that Allen, Warner, Baker, and others therein named, (ringleaders as they were styled) should be regarded as convicted of felony in case they refused to surrender themselves to the authorities of New York within 70 days, and on such refusal they were to suffer death without benefit of clergy. Upon which Gov. Tryon issued his proclamation offering large rewards for the men named in the act.
* See Arlington, pp. 124, 125.
In reply to this tyrannical act Ethan Allen, Warner, Baker and others, sent a most sarcastic and bitter document addressed to Gov. Tryon, well knowing that the law was too wicked and absurd to command the respect of any human being. They said to the Governor of New York, "that printed sentences of death were not very alarming," and proceeded to notify the Governor, if he sent his executioners, they only had to try titles to see who should prove to be the criminals and die first; and if the authorities of New York "insist upon killing us to take possession of our vineyards, come on, we are ready for a game of scalping with them." Such was the defiant language used by those insulted outlaws against the proscriptive statutes of New York: and to complete the argument, they employed Tom Rowley, then the Poet Laureate of the Green Mountains, to write those well known doggerel verses, for the purpose of sticking on to the above public document, which have become a part of the history of those days* wherein, with his peculiar wit and sarcasm and hudibrastic style, he humorously ridicules the
" Act which doth exact
Men's lives before they're try'd.
This notable state paper was signed by Ethan Allen, Baker and others, and in contempt and derision of the New York authorities, transmitted to Gov. Tryon. Thus the glove was flung down by those fearless pioneers, and the challenge given to New York for a trial of right, to be decided by a trial of strength. But these men knew that it was not the people of New York who were their enemies, but the speculators and the public functionaries they had corrupted.
This controversy, however, which seemed to grow more and more violent, and just upon the point of a bloody civil war, was suddenly arrested by the more absorbing matters of the Revolution, which were now rapidly developing, and indeed soon the battle of Lexington took place and the whole country was aroused. Baker was a friend to liberty, equality and justice, and was one of the first, on the opening of that great contest for human rights, to enter the lists of patriots. Two days before the capture of Ticonderoga, a messenger arrived in Colchester from Ethan Allen, with orders to Baker to come with his company and assist Capt. Warner in the capture of Crown Point, which formed part of the programme in Allen's mission to Ticonderoga. Baker, without delay, collected as many of his men as he could, went up the lake in boats, and on his way met and captured two small boats that were escaping from Crown Point to give the alarm to the British garrison at St. Johns. After securing the boats he hastened on, "and he and Warner appeared before Crown Point nearly at the same time the garrison, having but few men, surrendered without opposition.** This was May 10, 1775, the same day Ticonderoga was captured by Allen.
But the tragic end of Baker's checkered life was now near at hand. He had accompanied Allen to St. Johns at the time he took possession of that place; but soon returned to Crown Point, where it is probable he remained in charge of the fort until the arrival of Col. Hinman's regiment from Connecticut, who had been ordered to repair to Ticonderoga and Crown Point, to relieve the men in those garrisons. After the arrival of Col. Hinman's regiment, and Montgomery had assumed the command of the garrison, Capt. Baker was detailed by Gen. Montgomery, August, 1775, with a party of men to go down the lake to watch the movements of the enemy. When he arrived about four miles south of the Isle Aux Noix it being in the night he landed in a bay and ran his boat up a small creek to secrete it. Early in the morning he passed round with his men on to a point beyond his boat to reconnoiter, and be sat down upon the point to sharpen his flint. Just then be noticed that some Indians had got possession of his boat and were approaching the point where he was on their way north. He placed his men behind trees with orders not to fire until he did, and as the Indians came near he hailed them, and ordered them to return the boat or he should fire upon them, but they refused. He then took to a tree, raised his musket, but the flint he had sharpened hitched on the pan and his firelock missed. Instantly one of the savages fired upon him and the shot took effect in the head, and he fell and expired. His men, too late, returned the fire and wounded some of the
* See State Papers, p. 54.
** Ira Allan's History of Vermont.
See Arlington, p.133.
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Indians; but they were soon beyond reach, and the men made best their retreat to Crown Point.
After a short time the Indians came back to the point, plundered the body of its equipage, cut off Baker's head, raised it upon a pole and carried it in triumph to St. Johns, where the British officers, out of humanity, bought it from the savages and buried it, and also sent up to the point and interred the body.
Nor did the wily savage who shot Baker long survive his triumph; for, in October fallowing, he too was killed by some American soldiers, and Baker's powder-horn, with his name engraven upon it, retaken from him. This trophy was presented by Capt. Hutchins, into whose possession it came, to Col. Seth Warner, Baker's old companion in arms, to hand over to his (Baker's) son, as a token of remembrance of his brave and esteemed father.
Thus fell Capt. Baker at the age of 35, in the full vigor of his life and usefulness, and the first death of an inhabitant of Colchester, and the first life sacrificed in the cause of the Revolution in the northern military department. Had he lived through the events of the Revolution and participated in them, as he doubtless would, his courage and patriotism would have left his name not merely to be remembered in his own town, but engraven upon the page of history among the heroes and patriots of his country. He, too, like Green, or Putnam, or Marion, might have risen from his obscure life of industrial labor to have graced the annals of the Revolution. As an officer and soldier he was cool and deliberate, yet firm and resolute; as a man, kind and benevolent; and as a gentleman, respected and esteemed by all who knew him. He left a son who was an officer in Gen. Wayne's army, in his energetic campaign against the Indians north-west of the Ohio in '95, but of whose subsequent history we have no knowledge.
MAJ. GEN. IRA ALLEN,* though last, is by no means least in our biographical history of Colchester, nor indeed of our state. He was born, at Cornwall, Conn., April 21, 1751. His father was Joseph Allen, and his mother Mary Baker, the sister of Remember Baker, who were married March 11, 1736. Ira was the youngest of six sons, and Ethan the oldest. He was a man of middle stature, thick set, a ruddy lively countenance, large black eye, fine form, genteel in manner, naturally social, and a ready writer. He was the chief diplomatist during the struggle of Vermont for her independence, and in her skillful negotiations with the British commanders in Canada, during the Revolution.
He married Jerusha Enos, daughter of Gen. Roger Enos, and had three children Zimri Enos, Ira H., and Maria Juliet. Zimri died in Colchester, Aug. 22, 1813, aged 21 years. Ira H., our esteemed and well known cotemporary, still lives at Irasburgh, in this state, where his mother removed from Colchester, after her husband's death, and where she died May 16, 1838, aged 74 years; and Maria Juliet died at St. Albans, Aug. 18, 1811, aged 17 years.
Ira Allen, in 1771, when 21 years of age, came to Vermont. He made some purchases of lands near Onion river, and he and Baker, as before seen, came on the next year (1772) to survey the lands and get ahead of the New York claimants in the occupancy of this section of the country. Ira and his brothers, styling themselves the "Onion River Land Co.," and consisting of Ethan Allen, Remember Baker, Heman Allen, Zimri Allen, and Ira Allen, afterwards purchased large tracts of land, covering some 300,000 acres, lying between Ferrisburgh and Canada line upon the lake shore and embracing most of eleven townships. Ira was the chief manager of the business and ultimately owned the main part of the property, and located himself permanently at the Falls in Colchester, which he made the seat of his operations although the war of the Revolution and his public duties and active business life necessarily kept him away for a large portion of his time.
On the return of the settlers, at the close of the Revolution, his efforts and success, in promoting the settlement and business at Winooski Falls were unparalleled in the history of any other section of the state. He not only called out the natural advantages of the place to a large extent, by the erection of mills and factories, but sought to promote the educational and social intermits of the settlement. As proof of this, we have only to notice that by his liberality and
* Credit is due to Henry Stevens, Esq., late President of the Vt. Historical Society, for many facts contained in this memoir of Ira Allen, furnished from his papers.
efforts the University of Vermont was established on the beautiful site it now occupies between the falls and the lake. He drew rip a memorial to the legislature of the state, in 1789, accompanied by his own private subscription of £4,000, which resulted in its location here, and in its endowment of lands from the state.
In addition to these local improvements, at that early day, he projected a canal from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence river, and by his application to the Governor of Canada Gen. Haldiman obtained a survey and level of it to be made by Capt. Twist, the engineer of that province, in 1785. He also wrote and published a history of Vermont, printed in London in 1798, and wrote and published several other books and pamphlets having relation to public and private affairs.
But to know Ira Allen we must look into his political history, which, though incorporated in a fragmentary way into the history of the state, must, nevertheless, be seen in a more condensed form to get a fair view of the man; and yet, in the limit of this notice, but a very imperfect view can be taken.
Young as he was when he entered into public life, his was the active spirit that managed the affairs of Vermont in the days of her weakness and darkest trials. It will be recollected that, very soon after the commencement of the Revolution, Ethan Allen was taken into captivity, Baker killed, and Warner and Cochran had joined the continental army. This left the New Hampshire grants stripped of four of its active leaders, and its councils now mainly fell upon Thos. Chittenden and Ira Allen. At this particular time, 1775, the difficulties with New York had assumed greater intensity than ever, and the death of Gen, Montgomery and retreat of the American army from Canada, which soon followed, exposed the inhabitants on the grants less than the present population of Chittenden county all told to the mercy of a hostile foreign enemy and the more bitter and dreaded hostility of a domestic foe.
In the meantime there was no foreign government or laws recognised by the people of the grants as binding upon them; nor had they, as yet, organized themselves under any prescribed government or laws of their own; but, in truth, its government and laws were mainly found in the absolute dictatorship of Thos. Chittenden and Ira Allen not exercised to destroy, after the fashion of despots, but to preserve the liberties of the people. It was then resolved upon by these men, in view of the peculiar situation of the grants, that the only effectual way of ending the controversy with New York and settling the title to the lands in the disputed territory, was to declare and maintain its own seperate state jurisdiction and independence. This was a large work for so small a people to undertake against the most powerful colony in America, and the most efficient empire in the world, with both of which powers they found themselves in a state of war. Yet the inhabitants of the grants were true to the objects of the Revolution, and sent their commissioners to Congress, then in session at Philadelphia, to say to that body that they desired to share in the common defence of the country, and were ready to contribute their mite in arms, men and supplies, and do their part of the fighting in the great struggle for freedom.
And when the convention of delegates from the several towns afterwards met at Dorset, at their meeting Sept. 25, '76, to consider the proposition of state independence, Ira Allen, who was recorded as the member from Colchester, had his resolutions drawn up and ready to lay before theme expressing the unqualified opinion that the territory of the New Hampshire grants ought to be free and independent which resolutions were passed unanimously, and Ira Allen and Wm. Marsh were appointed a committee to visit the counties of Cumberland and Gloucester, then embracing the east side of the mountain, to point out to the people there the advantages of a free state and prepare them for the measure.
This work they faithfully performed, and at the next meeting of the convention, holden at Westminister, Jan. 15, '77, at which Ira Allen was appointed clerk, after fully debating the subject, passed a declaration that the New Hampshire grants "ought to be and is forever hereafter to be considered a free and independent jurisdiction and states." This declaration was forwarded to Congress, and it refused to countenance their proceedings, upon which Ira Allen published and circulated a pamphlet showing the right of the people to form an independent state, which
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was supported by a series of letters published by Dr. Thos. Young, of Philadelphia. A constitution was drawn up* and the people chose new delegates to meet at Windsor, July 2, '77, in convention, to act upon its adoption. In the meantime Ira Allen and three others had been appointed a committee to wait upon Gen. St. Clair, who commanded at Ticonderoga, and consult with him respecting the defence of the frontier, and while thus in consultation Gen. Burgoyne appeared on the lake and rested his army at Crown Point.
Notwithstanding this critical state of affairs the convention met at Windsor, July 2d, as appointed, and while deliberating upon the new constitution, "the news of the evacuation of Ticonderoga arrived." This produced great consternation, and all were for leaving at once to look after their families and homes. But the thunder-storm, under the influence of which it has been said our constitution was adopted, kept the members in the house, and, while waiting for the angry elements to subside, they proceeded to read and adopt it, "paragraph by paragraph for the last time," and before they adjourned appointed a committee of safety, of which Ira Allen was one. Thus the first constitution of Vermont was formed and adopted in convention, but it was never ratified, though acquiesced in by the people.
The helpless condition of the frontier, with a large force of the enemy in their midst, now absorbed everything else. There was, as yet, no organized state government, no money and no organized state military force. At this juncture Ira Allen, July 15th, as secretary of the council of safety, wrote to Massachusetts and New Hampshire for aid of troops for defence. The Governor of New Hampshire replied at once that a draft of men would be made, placed under the command of Brig. Gen. Stark, and forthwith sent to their aid. At this time a portion of Col. Seth Warner's regiment (which was attached to the regular service), after his bloody conflict at Hubbardton, had passed on with the army of St. Clair to Fort Edward, and another fragment to Manchester, under Maj. Safford, and, just at that time, there was not a soldier to be seen in Vermont but Safford's, as the others had not then returned to Manchester from Fort Edward. Without a dollar in the hands of the state to buy arms and munitions of war, or pay men, and private means exhausted, with no state officers appointed under the new constitution, and without power or credit as a state, the inquiry was every where made, what could be done?
In this state of affairs the council of safety met and deliberated day after day, without discovering any mode of relief. Just as they were to adjourn at night, without hope of success and in despair, one of the board moved "that Ira Allen, the youngest member of the council, be requested to discover ways and means to raise a regiment and report at sunrise in the morning." This proposition was voted by the council, and the next morning Allen, after racking his brain through the night, made report "that the property of all persons (Tories) who had or should join the common enemy, should be sequestered and sold at public auction to furnish the means of defense." The council at once acquiesced; property was sequestered and sold; in 15 days a regiment was raised and placed under the command of Col. Herrick, and the officers and men paid their bounty; and, after another 15 days, Col. Herrick and his men, with the intrepid Stark, were carrying by storm the breastworks of Col. Baum at Bennington.
How much this financial measure, proposed by Allen and carried out by the council of safety, contributed to the fatal blow given at Bennington to the prospects of Burgoyne may be easily determined. Without the raising of Col. Herrick's regiment in the short time it was so wonderfully effected, the victory at Bennington could not have been gained; Burgoyne would have obtained supplies for his army, and the people in the northern military department would not have had their hopes and courage renewed by the heroic triumph and evident advantage they had gained, which resulted in the defeat and surrender of Burgoyne's entire army. It is proper here to notice, in addition, that Ira Allen and Thos. Chittenden further aided in this result by corresponding with Gen.
* There is no certain evidence who drew up the original constitution. It has been imputed to Dr. Young, but from the well-authenticated fact that Ira Allen drew up the declaration of Vermont's independence and also the declaration of rights, as a part of the constitution, and there being no proof to the contrary, but some evidence that he drew it up, arising from his account presented to the legislature for his services in so doing, it is probable that he was the one who also prepared and wrote that model state paper.
Stark on his way to Bennington, and kept him advised as to his proper route and the movements of the enemy, and in the mean time furnished him with supplies and urged him forward.
After the excitement produced by Burgoyne's invasion and defeat had passed, the people of Vermont returned to the work of organizing their own state government. A convention was called and Ira Allen was appointed to publish and distribute the new constitution, and provision was made for the election of state officers under it, and for the meeting of a legislative assembly. Thos. Chittenden was elected governor; Joseph Marsh, lieutenant governor; 12 councillors, among whom Ira Allen was one he was also elected treasurer, and appointed by the legislature surveyor-general of the state. Thus organized, Vermont occupied the dignified position for the next 13 years until admitted into the federal union of an independent sovereignty, acknowledging allegiance to no other human power.
During the next two years Allen was sent three times, as commissioner from Vermont, to New Hampshire to negotiate the difficulties with that state; once to each of the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, to lay before those states the claims of Vermont to her independence; and twice to Congress, at Philadelphia, on the same business. It was on one of these occasions that he and Stephen R. Bradley, his associate, by their skillful management, avoided the dilemma of submitting the claims of Vermont to the arbitrament of Congress, unless they were admitted as members upon an equal footing with other states, and this being denied them, that they drew up their memorable remonstrance to Congress by which they declined to listen, as mere spectators, to an ex parte trial, involving the vital interests "of the free and independent state of Vermont," and, after submitting their proposals to Congress in writing, left for home. About this time, July, 1780, a letter was mysteriously handed to Ethan Allen, in the street in Arlington, from the notorious Beverly Robinson, evidently designed for treasonable purposes. The council of safety at once determined to avail themselves of the opportunity it afforded to neutralize the hostile attitude of the British forces on the frontier, in which they admirably succeeded. The matter was reached, under ostensible negotiations for a cartel, for the exchange of prisoners; and in this skillful system of operations Ethan Allen, Ira Allen, Thos. Chittenden and Jos. Fay were the chief actors though Ira Allen was the active manager in carrying out the ruse. By arrangement, Allen and Fay met two British commissioners on the lake, and, after some days spent in talk, they parted with the understanding that another meeting should take place in Canada this was late in the fall of 1780. Soon after this meeting upon the lake the world were astonished to see the militia of Vermont quietly returning to their homes and the British forces in command of the lake returning to Canada into winter quarters but this arrangement was for the time being only,
Early the next spring, in April, the British had 10,000 troops in Canada ready to pounce upon and devastate the frontiers. Ira Allen, by the solicitation of the governor and others in the secret, was accredited to the British commander to effect another cartel, and, if possible, settle upon an armistice with the British authorities, as the only protection to the people of the state. It was a ticklish matter, and for safety it was decided that one commissioner only should go, as the public attention at home and the jealousy of the British had both been excited, and the whole state was alive with spies both from Congress and Canada.
On the 1st of May, Allen set out and soon arrived at the Isle Aux Noix, where he was kindly received and met the two British commissioners. In proper time they proposed to Allen to make Vermont a colony under the crown, and Allen replied that the people of Vermont would sooner subject themselves to the British crown than to the state of New York, that they were weary of the war and longed for safety and repose, but how to obtain these ends they knew not. Allen wrote to Gen. Haldiman, the British Commander-in-chief, at Quebec, and he sent his reply with his Adjutant-general to meet Allen at the Isle Aux Noix, and he and the two British commissioners and the Adjutant-general held several private conferences in a remote part of the island. It was proposed to Allen to give his terms in writing this he declined for prudential reasons; but proposed to give his views verbally, and the
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Adjutant-general might put them down and safely transmit them to Gen. Haldiman. This was done a cartel was concluded upon and, after 17 days talk, an armistice was also verbally agreed upon, resulting in the cessation of hostilities with Vermont, and the parties separated in good friendship.
The legislature met in June following, and every body were upon the qui vive about Allen's mission to Canada. The spies from both sides of the line flocked about the legislature, thinking they would surely discover something there; but the legislature was as ignorant on the subject as the rest of the world, save Governor Chittenden and a part of his council. Soon, however, the subject was brought up in the House, and the governor and council were invited to join the house in the investigation of so strange and important a matter. Gov. Chittenden, out of courtesy, was of course first called on to give his views respecting it. He stated he had authorized Mr. Allen to go to the Isle Aux Noix, to make an arrangement for the exchange of prisoners, and very gravely said that he had been there and, after much difficulty, had arranged the business; that Mr. Allen was present, who could best inform them and to whom he referred them on the subject. Whereupon Allen was called upon, and he made a statement to the joint assembly with such adroitness that he satisfied every body the legislative assembly, the governor and council, the spies on both sides, and the people and they all believed him true to their own wishes, and went away content.
In the meantime the two Allens, Chittenden and Fay kept up a constant intercourse with the British authorities, and the armistice was kept alive and extended. And that same session of the legislature Ira Allen, Fay and Woodward were sent as commissioners to Congress, in pursuance of a resolution of that body, to consider the subject of the admission of Vermont into the Union. But now the news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis arrived, which event broke the British arm in America, and Vermonters no longer had occasion to continue their negotiations for subjecting their territory to the British crown. They had accomplished their work. During a most helpless and critical period of time they had disarmed the enemy, lost but one man, and incurred no expense to defend their frontier.
But the close of hostilities with England only served to open afresh the difficulties with New York and New Hampshire. Vermont was now assailed, both upon the west and upon the east, from those states, and Ira Allen was again delegated to both of those states and also to Congress to effect a reconciliation, but without success. He advised the raising a military force to defend her borders (which was adopted), and this energetic measure averted the purpose of an armed invasion from those states, and, as it proved, settled it forever. Things now went on without molestaeion; and, after the peace of '83 was concluded and ratified, Ira Allen was appointed by the governor and council to proceed to Canada to make provision for opening a commercial intercourse with that province presenting little Vermont in the interesting attitude of nationality, with her diplomatic agents abroad.
Allen had now returned to Colchester, and was prosecuting his business matters here upon a large scale. The state rapidly increased in strength and population who rushed in from other states; and New York, no longer hoping to resume her jurisdiction over it, honorably yielded the point and passed an act appointing commissioners to establish the boundary between the two states, and favored the admission of Vermont into the Union; and Ira Allen and six others were appointed commissioners on the part of Vermont. They met and settled upon the boundary as previously proposed by Allen to Congress, and as it now is. And Feb. 18, '91, Congress unanimously passed an act admitting Vermont into the Union, after the 4th of March then next following; and, through her delegates of whom Ira Allen was one, she ratified and adopted the Constitution of the United States and became a member of the national Union.
But new complications and a new destiny were opening before Ira Allen, sad in the recollections of a man so brilliant and enterprising. Not content with the most eminent prospect before him of any man in Vermont, so far as honorable position and vast possessions and wealth were concerned, his ambition led him forward to new schemes of enterprise. As has been already noticed, one of his favorite projects was to open a ship-canal from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence. This he very justly considered would
enhance the value of his large landed estate upon the lake, and enrich the country by making the lake itself a great commercial highway and center. Seeing the advantages that such a work would afford to both countries, he believed that he could secure the means and the necessary privileges from the English government to carry the measure into effect, and resolved to cross the Atlantic and make the experiment.
At that time he held the appointment of major-general of the militia of Vermont, and, by request of Gov. Chittenden, he took upon himself the purchase of arms and other implements of war in Europe, for the purpose of equiping the militia; for which, as commanding officer, he felt an interest and pride. He believed, at the same time, that he could obtain them on such terms as to make it a fair business transaction for himself and supply the militia at a much cheaper rate than they could otherwise be obtained. He pledged 45,000 acres of his best lands to Gen. Wm. Hull, of Watertown, Mass., to raise the necessary funds for the purchase of these arms and accouterments, and sailed from Boston for London in December, 1795.
On his arrival in England, he made application to the Duke of Portland, then his majesty's principal secretary of state, for leave and also for aid from the British government for building his projected canal; but the government, on account of its great expenditures in carrying on the war with France, in which it was then engaged, declined to enter into the project, and he was unable to effect his long-cherished arrangement. Thus he was obliged to give up the project for the time being, although it was a favorite measure of his during his whole life. Learning that he could obtain his military equipage cheaper in France than in England, he passed over to France in May, '96, and made a purchase of 20,000 muskets and bayonets, 24 pieces of brass cannon, and some other materials of a smaller kind. He placed the main part of them on board the ship Olive Branch at Ostend, from whence he sailed for New York. A British cruiser fell in with the Olive Branch, after she had passed the coast of Ireland, and learning that she had sailed from an enemy's port and laden with arms, captured her and took her into Plymouth as a lawful prize, and the captors brought the case before the court of Admiralty for condemnation of the cargo.
It was contended, on the part of the captors, that France had supplied these arms and munitions of war to Allen for the purpose of carrying on an insurrection in Canada, which, unfortunately for him, was just at that time in progress under the lead of one David McLane or, if not foe that special object, for some other purpose hostile to Great Britain. Allen, on the other hand, claimed the cargo as his private property, purchased for the sole purpose of supplying the militia of Vermont, by order of the governor of that state, and produced the depositions of Gov. Chittenden and of a score of other witnesses to substantiate the facts he contended for making his case clear beyond dispute, if his evidence was to be believed. He also showed that the vessel was neutral and bound to a neutral port.
But against all this evidence, and when there was not a particle of proof offered by the captors, the court of admiralty found a way of deciding the case against him. Allen appealed for redress to the court of king's bench. He had four able counsellors, among whom was the late Lord Erskine. On the other hand it was managed by the king's attorney-general, Scott, and two assistants, and the case managed with great ability on both sides. In addition to this Allen applied to his own government to interfere, and the American minister at London, by order of Mr. Adams, then president of the United States, laid the matter before the British government, and the British minister wrote home from here favoring the restoration of the cargo. But Lord Granville, then prime minister of England, declined to interfere, and determined to leave it to the decision of the tribunal before whom it was pending.
After the case had been two or three years in progress Allen went over to France, to procure further evidence, and while there was arrested and put into prison, where he lay about six months, suffering much from sickness and privation. The ostensible cause of his arrest was that he came from a belligerent power without proper passports. But he always contended that it was effected by a conspiracy that had been formed against him. In October, 1800, he returned to the United States, and left his suit in England in the hands of his counsel, which continued in
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court four years longer, making eight years in all, before it was decided. In the end he recovered his property, but it was more than sacrificed in expenses.
On his return he found his business here, so prosperous when he left, substantially broken up. Tax titles had been obtained, in every way possible, upon his lands; numberless suits had been brought against him, some of which were fictitious, and prosecuted to judgment, and a wholesale system of robbery and plunder, as well as defamation, was in progress against him. That his garments might, with more plausibility, be divided among the conspirators, they sought to ruin his character under every false pretense, and to turn his misfortunes into crime; and the old story, which these very persons indorsed, about insurrection in Canada with a view to stimulate the suspicions of the court of admiralty in England against him was reiterated here, and a false public prejudice manufactured against him, so long as he had any property to plunder. By such selfish and wicked means his splendid estate, which was worth more than a million of money, was placed beyond his reach and control and substantially lost to him and his descendants.
There is not space here to go into the details of this matter; it is enough for us, on this part of the subject, to have presented such general facts as to show the difficulties that beset him, and the advantages that others took of his misfortunes. His eminent services for his state and people were requited by ingratitude and the foulest schemes of avarice a striking instance surely of man's selfish nature and the fallibility of earth's brightest hopes. Suffice it to say, he was obliged to give up all and leave the state the independence and prosperity of which he had done so much to establish to escape from the persecution of his pursuers. This alternative became necessary to secure his own personal liberty against the malicious suits that were brought against him, to harrass and drive him from his property. He went to Philadelphia, where he resided several years in poverty and distress, and where he died, Jan, 7, 1814, in the 63d year of his age and there his remains were deposited in the public grounds; and there is no stone, or record, or living witness left, to point out to friend or foe his humble grave.
As Vermont has erected a monument to ETHAN ALLEN, in honor of her first military chief and hero, she should not forget her obligation to IRA ALLEN, as the first and foremost of her early statesmen and founders.
COLCHESTER, June, 1861.
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN COLCHESTER.
BY REV. JOHN K. CONVERSE, OF BURLINGTON.
In 1775 Joshua Stanton commenced clearing a farm on the Colchester side of Winooski river, about one mile above the Falls. In 1776 the town was abandoned until the close of the war, when some of its former inhabitants with others returned and recommenced the settlement at Winooski, which soon presented the appearance of a considerable village.
The town was not organized until 1791, at which time it contained some 14 families and about 75 souls. It is not known whether any of the first settlers were professors of religion, or members of any church, or whether there was any preaching in the town previous to 1795 or '96. Rev. Chauncy Lee preached to the settlers in Burlington a part of these years, and tradition says that he held occasional services in Colchester. About the year 1792 emigrants began to come into the town from Connecticut, and among these were several heads of families who were professors of religion.
The first Congregational church was organized Sept. 14, 1804, in a school-house which stood on the farm now owned and occupied by Dea. Cyrus Farrand. The church was gathered and organized by Rev. Benjamin Wooster, who had been sent by the Connecticut Missionary Society to labor in these parts. It consisted of 8 members, Timothy Farrand, Friend Farrand, Nathan Wheeler, Polly Deming, Elizabeth Wheeler, Desire Wolcott, Lydia Austin and a Mrs. Downing. Most of these persons were from New Milford and Derby, Conn. Nathan Wheeler was chosen deacon, and held the office until his death, in 1806. Edward Griffin succeeded him, and was the only deacon in the church until his removal from the town in 1812. The church was then without either pastor or deacon for the period of 10 years, when, in 1822. David Rising was elected deacon and clerk, which offices he held until he removed from the town in 1829. Again, for
the period of 10 years, the church was without a deacon till 1839, when Cyrus Farrand and Joseph E. Rhodes were elected deacons, and are the present deacons of the church; the former is also the clerk of the church.
This little church has now existed 57 years; its whole membership during this period is only 106, of whom 36 have died, and 25 have been dismissed to other churches, leaving the present membership 45. I find on the records no instance of excommunication.
No church edifice or house of worship existed in the town until the summer of 1838. The church at first held its Sabbath worship in a school-house, or, when a larger place was needed, in a barn, until 1814, when the town, in connection with the central district, built the "stone school-house" (so-called) to be used not only for a school but for town purposes and public worship. In the summer of 1838 the Congregational society united with the small Baptist society and erected a commodious brick church, which the two societies have occupied harmoniously on alternate sabbaths for near a quarter of a century. During the last summer (1861) the Congregational society have purchased the Baptist interest and repaired the house, at an expense of about $1000. They now have a very neat and tasteful place of worship, and are supplied with regular preaching by Mr. Lewis Francis, a recent graduate from Andover.
Among the ministers and missionaries who have preached in North Colchester at different periods are the following: From 1803 to 1815, Rev. Messrs. Davis and Turner, from Connecticut; Rev. Benjamin Wooster, Rev. Mr. Swift and Rev. Mr. Marshall labored there a few weeks or months each, embracing Colchester as a part of a wide missionary field; Rev. Simeon Parmelee, D. D., (now of Underhill) and father Osgood performed occasional services there about the same period, Dr. Parmelee preaching there for a year or two (if we are rightly informed) every fourth Sabbath.
From 1815 to 1834, a period of nearly 20 years, the church was without stated preaching most of the time, and had sermons on the sabbath or on other days only occasionally from neighboring pastors. About 1835 and '36, Rev. Marshall Shedd (now of Willsboro', N.Y.) preached half the time for a year or more; Rev. Chauncy Taylor, Rev. John Scott and Rev. Daniel Warner subsequently supplied their pulpit for half the time for a year or more each.
In 1845 Rev. Ansel Nash, for many years pastor of the church in Tolland, Conn., was installed pastor of this church. He continued his labors about five years, when, on account of age and feeble health, his mind became impaired and, at his own request, he was dismissed in 1849. Soon after the close of his pastorate Mr. Nash became decidedly insane and was sent to Brattleboro', where he died, August, 1851. His remains were brought to Colchester and interred in the graveyard near his church. His widow, Mrs. Eunice Nash a woman of great excellence deceased Jan. 5, 1860, and lies buried by his side.
After Mr. Nash's pastorate Rev. John K. Converse, principal of the female seminary, Burlington, supplied the pulpit, on alternate sabbaths, from June, 1849, to June, 1854. Rev. Buel W. Smith preached in like manner from 1854 to 1858.
Several seasons of more than ordinary religious interest have encouraged and blessed the church with considerable accessions to its strength and numbers, as in the years 1823, 1835 and 1842. Rev. Abram Baldwin, a missionary, preached a few months in 1823, and his labors were blessed. The writer of this sketch, while a pastor in Burlington and since, has officiated in receiving to the Colchester church some 20 members or more.
This church has reared and sent forth five ministers of the gospel, including one candidate for the ministry who graduated at the University of Vermont in August, 1860, viz.: Rev. John Scott, Rev. Joseph Scott, D. D., Rev. William H. Rhodes,* Rev. John Bates, and Mr. David F. Hicks, which is one minister to every 21 of the whole membership of the church from its origin.
For 57 years, more than three-fifths of that time existing without preaching or pastoral care, except occasionally 20 years without even a deacon, they have sustained through this period public worship statedly on the sabbath; and, under the obligations of a somewhat peculiar covenant, have maintained regularly a monthly meeting for mutual improvement in the Christian life.
Prominent among the members connected
778 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
with this society, who have illustrated the annals and
doctrines of Congregationalism, was the late Mr. William Scott, a native of
* There are three other churches in
To this Baptist and this