Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

 

 

 

886                         VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

 

 

 

 

UNDERHILL.

 

BY GAY H. NARAMORE, ESQ.

 

This township originally contained 36 square miles, but in 1839 one-third (i. e. 12 square miles) of the town of Mansfield was annexed. It lies in the N. E. corner of Chittenden county, and connects with four                       other towns, to wit: Westford, Fairfax, Fletcher and Cambridge.

1765, June 8, the town was chartered by the governor of New Hampshire to Joseph Sackett, Jr., and 64 others,* for $230,40, there being 71 shares in all.

Underhill was named after two brothers who held shares under the original charter. The first survey was made in 1785, and it is supposed that one Darius Post, in the same year, settled within the limits of this town, on the site of the present village of Under­hill Flats. Said Mr. Post was married to Miss Bostwick in 1788, but he must have soon removed as he did not attend the first town meeting, March 9, 1795, and does not appear after this date on the records.

The first permanent settlement was made by Moses Benedict and Abner Eaton about 1786. The last named lived for a number of years on the old post road, about half way between Underhill Flats and Cambridgeboro'. Here, five miles from any neighbor, he built a log house, and commenced clear­ing up the woods. This was a, desirable location at that time, on account of the beaver meadows which covered some 50 acres on either side of a small branch of the Lamoille. Sufficient wild grass and hay for the support of a yoke of oxen and a cow were readily obtained here without waiting the slow de­struction of the forest and the growth of tame grasses, hence the choice of this remote and comparatively sterile farm in preference to the rich bottom lands of Burlington, Es­sex, and Jericho, which then could have been bought at the same price.

The warning for the first town meeting was made by Jonathan Castle, Esq., justice of the peace, of Jericho, Feb. 23, 1795. The first town clerk and representative, William

—————

* Joseph Sackett, Jr., James H. First, Peter First, Joseph First, Edward Earle, Marmaduke Earle, James Jameson, Cornelius Low, Jr. Esq., Jona. Dayton, Jr., Jona. Heard, Andrew Anderson, James Anderson, John Yeats, Jas. Sackett, Sant. Sackett, Joe. Sackett, David Mathews Andrew Ten Eike. Jr., William Sackett, Joseph Savage, Daniel Vorhes, Micael Butler, Samuel Wall, Joseph Ball, Jeremiah Allen, Henry Allen, John Freeborn, Robert Freeborn, Samuel Browne, Carey Dunn, Wm. Sands, Benja. Underhill, Peter Allen, William Allen, Henry Franklin, Bishop Hadley, James Horton, Sen., Silvanus Horton, Underhill Horton, Maurice Salts, Lewis Riley, James Reid, Peter Ten Eike, Jr., Isaac Adolphas, Samuel Judea, Myer Myers, Solomon Marache, Jacob Watson, Joshua Watson, Silvanus Dilling­ham, William Butler, Robert Midwinter, John Midwinter, Derrick Amberman, Joseph Holmes, John Cokle, Jona. Copland Uriah Woolman, John Sears, Hon. John Temple, Theo. Atkinson, M. H. I. Kentworth, Dr. John Hale, and Maj. Samuel Hale. [From the papers of Henry Stevens.—Ed.]

 

 

 

                                                  UNDERHILL.                                                        887

 

Barney; constable, Caleb Sheldon , selectmen, A. Eaton, Archibald Dixon and Cyrus Stevens. The first born child was Polly Dixon, daughter of Archibald Dixon, Esq. The first death of adult person was the wife of the aforenamed Caleb Sheldon, Esq., about the year 1800.

Underhill lies on the western slope of the Green Mountains; Mount Mansfield, the highest land in the state, being near the N. E. corner. It is not wealthy, but it has some good land and much fine scenery. It has a population of 1637. Grand list $3478,10; and 14 school districts, though Thompson says only eight.

The first school-house was built of logs in Dist. No. 1 (North Underhill), about 1787. First teachers unknown.

No state criminals, and only five college graduates, viz.: Elon Olds Martin, after­wards settled as Presbyterian minister in Lowndes county, Ala.; Charles Parker, who is at present a Congregational minister in Vermont; William Richmond, late principal of St. Albans high school, St. Albans; Henry Thorp, now in the state of Oregon; and Gay H. Naramore. These are all that graduated in due course, and yet there is another name that should have a prominent place in this connection,—Joseph S. Gilley, lately removed to Williston academy, Wil­liston, but for a long period prineipal of select schools and academies both at Under­hill Flats and Underhill Center, has done more for the educational interest of the town than any other man. Truly an earnest, de­voted, successful teacher, and a noble man. In all the states, from Maine to California, are his pupils to be found. Many thousands remember him with gratitude and affection­ate esteem. He has lately received the hon­orary degree of A. M. from the University of Vermont. With no aids save text books and his own vigorous mind, he has excelled those with the greatest advantages.

The manufactures of Underhill are very limited. In 1825 Tower & Oaks built a starch factory, with a steam engine of ten horse power. From that time to 1850 they manufactured large quantities of starch, and a number of other mills were built, but they have since all gone to decay. There are some four saw-mills in the eastern valley, at the base of the mountains, which do a fair business. Spruce is the chief lumber. There is also a flouring-mill at Underhill Center and a firkin and box-factory above—on a branch of Brown's river.

The first church was built in 1804 or '05, on the highest point of land on the highway within the town.

A certain Mr. Campbell, about this time, opened a store near the church. J. H. Tower was the first merchant at the Flats village.

By the meeting-house was also that im­portant place called the parade ground, which, if not so large as the New York Central Park, was at the least 12 rods wide by 50 long, and had a very majestic whipping-post at the south end, near the church porch.

On one side of the above mentioned green or parade ground, in 1826, Cyrus Birge kept his store, and was appointed P. M., having the first postoffice in town. Here, then, was the first of everything in this large and important township, but alas for the wisdom of man! Time has upset all the cherished plans of our ancestors. The meeting-house has long since vanished without leaving so much as a trace of ruins, the whipping-post is hopelessly uprooted, and the green—the pride of patriotic lads and happy lasses—has been relentlessly fenced in for a plough-field. Nought remains as it was planned by our good fathers, save the old first Congregational church burying ground, as it is usually called.

 

"The deed rest there alone."

 

Underhill had her share of Revolutionary worthies, if the record is true. George Olds, Caleb Sheldon, Barnard Ward, David Birge, Oliver Wells and Chauncey Graves were for a long time pensioners.

Elijah Birge was captain of a militia company which was called into service during the war of 1812.

Underhill took no part in the Canada rebellion.

Lawyers have never thrived in this local­ity. Cheese making or horse raising is usually esteemed more honorable as well as lucrative.

In the year 1821, however, a young man by the name of Bacon tried to practice law here for a. short time, but gave it up soon and has not been heard of since. A. firm of Sawyer & Beardsley staid longer, but were not successful.

 

 

 

888                         VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

Physicians have succeeded better, so that the town has supported one or more of these dignitaries since the commencement of this century. Doctors Benedict and Burdick at present prevail. The latter is, I believe, a graduate of the medical department of the University of Vermont.

Sublime scenery abounds, and yet the good inhabitants have usually managed to keep their poetic ardor within bound, so that it should not cause an inky overflow. One exception, however; for tradition says that sometime between 1805 and '10, a certain Fisk, M. D. (who was also the first practicing physician) threw off a comic poem entitled "The Enchanted Vale." I think there is no fragment of it extant, and I cannot find as it was ever published.

Underhill does not seem to be more than moderately healthy. 100 years, which is often attained in a milder climate, is never known here. Being mountainous, the win­try winds are very severe in exposed situa­tions. Besides this, physiology and the laws of health and nature seem to be things of the smallest consequence, so that they are the very last things considered.

The oldest person living (1861) is Theophi­lus Haniford, born in 1767. Oldest person deceased, George Olds, who died in 1844, aged 97 years.

Underhill supports a fine academy in each village, only about two miles apart. The population scarcely gains at all of late years, owing to the continual exodus to California, the South and the "West." The Irish ele­ment is continually gaining on the American, so that it is safe to calculate that it will soon predominate.

Pasturage, the dairy and stock employ nearly all the capital as well as labor of the town.

 

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN UNDERHILL.

 

COMMUNICATED BY REV. SIMEON PARMELEE.

 

 

UNDERHILL, March 4, 1861.

 

The Congregational Church was organized in this town on the 29th of December, 1801, by Rev. Ebenezer Kingsbury of Jericho. The following individuals constituted the original company of which it was com­posed:

 

MALES.—"Adam Hurlburt, James Dixon, George Olds, Carey Mead, Herman Prior, John Coleman, Daniel Clark.

FEMALES.—Elenor Dixon, Judith Mead, Abigail Birge, Rachel Ward, Lidia Dixon, Permit Prior, Veelea Mead.

Rev. James Parker was the first settled minister in this town. His ordination oc­curred probably in November, 1803. I can find no record of the ordination, but I find a committee appointed to agree with Mr. Parker on conditions of settlement. In November and the first of January there is found the record of business done that showed that Mr. Parker had been ordained, but I find no date of the ordination. Mr. Parker was a man of substantial integrity and living piety. His education was limited, but his ministry was blessed while here and he was truly a devoted man, a spiritual preacher, and a devoted Christian. He was companionable, and rendered himself accept­able in every place, but especially in the pulpit.

There was a vein of humor that enlivened the conversation of Mr. Parker, and often something of the kind would make its ap­pearance in the pulpit. But still he always kept himself under, and held forth Christ and his religion as the great lesson to be taught. He was truly a faithful servant of the Most High God, who preached Christ and lived Him, and left behind him an hon­orable name, which is better than precious ointment.

I am now preaching to the church which is a continuation of the one over which he was ordained. The most of those who were then active members are gone the long journey, but those that live still revere the name of their first pastor.

Mr. Parker had two sons that were settled in the ministry. One was settled in Lower Canada, and the other in Maine. The former was named Ami, and the latter Benjamin Wooster. The former is a pioneer in Canada, and stands as a pillar in that land. I do not know that the other one is living.

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS UNDERHILL.

 

FROM BISHOP GOESBRIAND.

 

The church edifice of Underhill Center was built in 1856, and dedicated to God under the patronage of St. Thomas. It has been enlarged this year by the care of Rev. P. O. Carroll of Richmond. Its dimensions are 32 by 90. The congregation numbers

 

 

 

                                                  UNDERHILL.                                                        889

 

about 90 families. They are attended twice in the month on Sunday from Richmond by Rev. P. O. Carroll.

 

A SKETCH OF MANSFIELD.

 

An extract from "Mountaineering," by GAY H. NARAMORE.*

 

Mansfield, so called from its contour re­semblance to the face of humanity, is the highest land in Vermont, and a little more than half as high as the cap-stone of New England, Mount Washington. For all our early start the clouds were up before us, and looked frowningly down, you may imagine, as we toiled our weary way beneath; but they scattered before the fiercer sunbeams, and left each towering crag and "thunder-splintered pinnacle" as grand, and lone, and terribly sublime as ever. On the north-east woody hills banked upon hills loomed far away to the hidden sources of the Connecti­cut. On the south-east small clearings were visible—mere gardens in the wilderness, and, glittering in the sun, the largest one the tiny village of Stowe. Sleeping in listless beauty in the west, with its fair, young isles kissing the bright waves, and drinking in the sun­beams, lay the old Champlain, and beyond, as if wedged between its waters and the deep sky, and drowned in misty beauty, peered the Essex Mountains of New York. And nearer to our feet, away this side of these, leaning up against the beetling cliffs with rugged, careless ease was our old school-home, the (about-to-be) classic Underhill,— and Westford, and that paradise of felicity, Cambridge-borough, and Fairfax, and Milton, and seven more. Stephensville, com­posed partly of "houses and all the rest barns," where they have a "grist-mill to make shingles," and a peck measure factory, is not thought of in the above computation.

Mansfield's forehead is not very intellectual—his chin, like that of many others, be­ing the highest. He has a regular cave of a mouth, but terribly twisted, and opens far down on the north-east side, yawning and awful, with a breath that strikes a blight like that of angry winter. A hundred feet overhead trembles a vast rock of tuns weight, which seems each moment as if just ready to fall; yet it has probably hung there for thousands of years. We go about three rods on an antediluvian bank of ice and snow, and arrive at the well, or more properly, throat. We throw in stones; they go down, and down, and down—whack, whack, whack for some time, and then splash in deep waters.

It seems strange that this has never been explored, though probably the threatening rocks and stone above have deterred adventurers.

 

The nose is not Roman, as H. observed, but a right Yankee sneezer three hundred feet high. Our camp was at the foot of this, in right Indian style—rocks on three sides, boughs under and over us, with a huge spruce fire in the corner.

Twelve of us staid all night. What a glorious sunset. It was worth an age of toil and heart-sickness and woe, to behold just once that changing, deepening, glowing twi­light heaven.

 

MANSFIELD.

 

It was midnight by the shadows

That o'er Brown's wild fountains lie,

As we climbed the Mansfield mountains

Where they throne the deepest sky.

 

O, the rapture of that moment,

When we crowned the rock-built fane,

And looked down upon the lifeless

Shores and waves of Lake Champlain.

 

We the only lords in being—

But the next thought brought refrain,

For our journey lay before us;

Should we ever meet again?

 

Then the past came up before us,

All the varied scenes of years,

All our boyish sports together,

All our frolics, all our tears,—

 

All our Burnside, moonlight rambles

Where the Brown's wild waters fly,

All our bright plans for the future,

Friendships that could never die

 

We parted when the morrow

First lit up thy waves, Champlain;

For life's journey lay before us,

And we never met again!

 

 

DECEMBER AT UNDERHILL.

 

BY GAY H. NARAMORE.

 

Sadder and sadder the sad hours grow,

Fiercer and fiercer the frost-winds blew,

Deeper and deeper the dark nights flow

Over the pulseless world below;

And pallid spectres do ever go

Through the shades, singing wild songs of woe,

As they sow

And their pitiless laughter is oft heard–ah, wo

And all through the long nights they hasten, we know,

To scatter their storm-seed of hail and snow!

 

And still nights grow longer and deeper starred,

And longer old Mansfield's shadows are cast;

Later and later the sun is barred,

Till morning's smiles are all o'ercast;

And then, in a veil of frost and hail—

Say, dear Don, must it not be drear

To watch the very sun grow pale,

And O Sorrow, hear

No songs but dirges for the dead year,

And see no flowers but through death's veil!

 

No, oh! no, dear Den. Though it may seem queer, 

To you, nestling there Midst orange bowers,

 

—————

* Mr. Naramore has published two volumes at least of his poems. The first is very handsomely represented in the Poets and Poetry of Vermont. The latter volume was issued by a New York press—Carlton, we think—the past winter. But his own graphic, fresh, glowing style will best praise him.—Ed.

 

 

 

890                         VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.

 

These cold dark days are not at all drear,

      Nor nights long hours.

No, our farmers do never weep at all

At the wailing lays of the dying fall,

      Nor that Winter's frowns in dismal showers

Are o'er them cast;

To our farmer ears what says the blast?

Nothing sad at all. Not at all drear;

      Though to Southern ear

      It might whistle queer

Such songs as would make all tingle to hear,

Yet what care the sons of old Underhill?

To them Winter's form is not strange nor drear,

For he sleeps in their mountain caves all the year

So the jolly farmer but laughs to know

The winds are at play with the drifting snow,

And so he does nothing at all but laugh,

As he fans from the golden grain the chaff,

      At the dirges so drear

      For the old dead year.

 

Does nothing but laugh as he blows the chaff,

      Does nothing but laugh as the shadows rise,

Does nothing but laugh as the shadows fall,

      Does nothing but laugh at the stars in the skies,

And tell long stories of war withal,—

How wild hunters ambushed beneath wild trees—

      All of savage men and wildernesses,

Until each gaping youngster sees

      Hung in the dark the scalp's red tresses,

And on the earth, dark gory seas;

      And our old-thoughted grandam blesses

Her soul and mine, that, thanks! at last,

Those dreary, cruel days are past,

Does nothing but laugh as the hours fly fast,

      Unless it be to talk of the times

And the timely tension of truth, called news,

      Of Southworth's stories and Richmond's rhymes;

And how old Frank Pierce had the blues

When he told his soldiers to "push on the battle,

For he was sick"—(of the cannon's rattle!);

Unless to pile wood on the climbing fire,

And crack jokes and nuts as the flames climb higher;

Unless it be to pass hugest bowls

Of luscious apples and sparkling cider,

And wing bravest songs from bravest souls,

That each night grew braver and deeper and wider,

As the nights grew darker and snows more deep,

Does nothing at all but laugh and—sleep!

      And so, Don, why should I

Do nothing but weep?

O no, dear Don, my blithesome lad,

Though the world does weep, I'm not oft sad,

Though Time, with his sythe,

Draws nearer and nearer

As the wintry winds whistle drearer and drearer,

      Why my laughing fire

But grows dearer and dearer;

And so, (after walking abroad to see

How the snow-birds joy in the storm's company.

How the wily fox, awake before day,

In his rocky caves mocks the bloodhound's bay,

Till the skating school-boys from glassy pool

Are called by the morning bell to school,)

With my mind tuned anew to nature's thought,

I turn to my cozy room again,

And pore o'er my books till my task is all wrought,

And stern Sir Coke smiles at Kent and Montaigne,

      And early night comes down amain

      With an uncivil frown at my civil train.

There, don't go to sleep, but listen a minute

      (For the muse that's so hoarse now

May sing like a linnet).

Yes. The work is done. We can chat and laugh now;

No, don't say I'm old, that time's blanched my brow;

      Don't lead me back to the past so lone,

For the heart will ache as it loiters where

      Some rosebud of bliss was wantonly strown!

And the way seems so long where no light enchoers,

O'er what an ocean of sighs and tears,

Through what a journey of ages of years,

Of rough wild years—

And o'er what mountains of hopes and fears

Since the restless strife of life began

Why scan?

If the past is not fair Why wander there?

If day's labors are past,

If life's duties are done

And their guerdon won,

      Why longer aghast?

      For night's blest hours are flying fast, fast—

The hours so sacred to love and dreams.

      No, I'm not lone now—

Say, dost see those bright gleams

      Of golden light o'er our mountain's brow,

      Where the "pearly gates" are opening now

      And heaven is smiling on earth below?

There are forms of beauty and forms of light

      That smile on our poet's soul from each cloud

Which veils the beaming eyes of night;

      While angels crowd

The tremulous air to whisper delight;—

So you see it matters not how lone

The winds seem to moan,

How can your poet-heart be lone!

 

 

———————————————

 

WESTFORD.

 

 

BY REV. J. H. WOODWARD.

 

Westford is in the second tier of towns east of Lake Champlain, reclining on the western slope of the Green Mountains. It is bounded N. by Fairfax, E. by Underhill, S. by Essex, and W. by Milton. Its center is 16 miles N. E. of Burlington, and 16 miles S. E. of St. Albans. The town lies in a regular form, containing 36 square miles, and was chartered by Gov. Wentworth of New Hampshire, in 1763. The grantees were 65 in number. Its surface is broken, ledges cropping out here and there, and the whole diversified with luxuriant valleys and verdant mountain ridges. No part of it, however, is so rough or precipitous as to be uninhabitable, and the whole is well adapted to grazing purposes. Like other mountain­ous districts it is well watered. Its pastures are sweet, and its meadows and corn lands productive; nor is there any great amount of waste territory, although to a stranger it