Historical Gazetteer

a local History of

all the Towns in the State,

Civil, Educational, Biographical, Religious and Military.

Vol. V.

The Towns of Windham County.


Collated by

Abby Maria Hemenway.

Published by

Mrs. Carrie E. H. Page,

Brandon, VT.




Transcribed as it appears in the book with the exception of the last names changed to all CAPS.


HALIFAX.  by Rev. H. Eastman.  Pages 408 - 422.


Halifax, is a post-town in the south part of Windham county.  It lies 25 miles east from Bennington, and nine southwest from Brattleboro.  The town was chartered May 11, 1750, by Benning WENTWORTH to Oliver PARTRIDGE and 63 others, Mr. WENTWORTH himself being one of the grantees.


The settlement of the town was commenced in 1761, by Abner RICE from Worcester Co. Mass.  He was joined by others from Massachusetts in 1763.  The time the town was organized is not precisely known, but was about the year 1770.  The first town clerk of whom any information has been obtained, was Samuel WOODWARD, and the first representatives, Hubbell WELLS and Edward HARRIS. 


The following is a copy of the records of the first town meetings held in Halifax of which we have any knowledge; "at a Town Meeting Regularly Warned and held at Halifax, on tuesday, the third Day of March, 1778, Chose Capt Hubbel WELLS, moderator.  it was Put to a Vote whether the town would Accept the Constitution of the State of Vermont.  It Pased in the affirmative.  Chose Capt. Hubbell WELLS and Ens. Edward HARRIS to Represent the town at a General Court at Winsor.

     Attest:  James GRAY,

                 Town Clerk.

  at a meeting of the freemen of the town of hallafax, legally warned and Held in Hallifax, aforesaid, on the 9th Day of April, 1778, Chose Capt Hubbel WELLS moderator, Chose Lieut. John THOMAS as a Delegate to Cary the votes for a Judge of Probates to Gilford.  Voted to adjourn this meeting to the third Tuesday in June at 11 o'clock in the fournoon. * * * June 16, 1778, the freemen of this town met according to adjurnment.  Chose James GRAY, tow Clerk.  Chose Capt Hubbel WELLS doct., William HILL and Mr. Israel GUILD, selectmen.  Chose Jas. GRAY, town treasurer. Chose Mr. Amos PEBODY and Doct. Wm. HILL Constables."  There are many other town officers of minor importance which we do not give.


The religious denominations formerly were Congregationalists and Baptists.  A Congregational church was organized in 1778, and a meeting-house built in 1782.  Their first settled minister was Rev. David GOODALL, who was the first settled minister in the town.  He was settled in 1781, and dismissed in 1796.  Their second minister was Rev. Jesse EDSON, who was installed over the church Nov. 23, 1796, and died Dec. 14, 1805.  He was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas H. WOOD, who was ordained Sept. 17, 1806.  Several other ministers afterward served this church for longer or shorter periods, but the church has ceased to exist as a regularly organized body, and for many years preaching has not been sustained.  The meeting-house, which is situated at West Halifax, is not occupied one-half the time by the Universalists.



The first minister who preached in town was a Mr. EVANS, a Baptist minister.  Mr. EVANS was succeeded by Elder WARREN.  The Baptist church was organized in 1793, and its first settled minister was Abner BEMIS, in 1796.  He was succeeded by Paul HOLMES, and Mr. HOLMES by Samuel FISH, in 1821.


Mr. FISH was born in town, Oct. 13, 1788, and is now (1870) 82 years of age, and is the only settled minister in Halifax.  Since his settlement in 1821, he has preached in town up to the present time, with the exception of nearly tow years spent in Guilford, and adjoining tow, making a pastorate of about half a century over the same society.  This venerable and much respected minister is enjoying a serene old age, calmly awaiting the Master's call.  The Baptists now have the meeting-houses about two miles apart, and two small societies in town.  The Methodists have never had any organized society in town, by have had a few resident members and occasional preaching.


Perhaps no town of the same population has raised up and sent out more ministers of different denominations than this.  At least 22 have gone out, some of them quite eminent men, such as Elijah PLUMB, D. D., Rev. Sumner EVERETT, missionary to Constantinople; and Rev. Chas. SCOTT, Congregationalists.  Rev. Appleton DANFORTH, missionary to Burmah; H. C. FISH, D. D., of Newark, N. J.; Rev. Ross BURDICK, and Rev. Judson TUCKER, Baptists.  Rev. Hosea BALLOU, Universalist.


No town perhaps has been more famous for rum selling and rum drinking in a by-gone days, but for the last 30 years no merchant, or inn-keeper has sold alcohol as a beverage in town. 


Widow SCOTT, R. CROSIER'S daughter, one of the first settlers, now living within one mile of where she was born, has always lived in town, is now 94 years of age, and is able to give some statistics of the history of the first settlers.  Widow SCOTT'S mother, one of the first settlers, lived in town, and died aged 105 years, 5 months.  Three brothers by the name of CROSIER were among the first settlers in the year 1762 or '63.  The first female born in town was Dea. Moses LEONARD's wife, named PRATT.


The first physicians were, Drs. HILL, RANSOM, RICHARDSON, COBB, etc. In 1795 Judge Darius BULLOCK was chosen town clerk and served the town 37 years, until he died.  He often represented the town in the Legislature, and always held offices of trust.


About the year 1812 a Mr. RICE died here, aged 112 years.  The years 1805, 1812, and 1813, were the periods of the most remarkable mortality. 


In August, 1788, there was a terrific hurricane which prostrated the woods to a very great extent.  This accounts for the numerous little mounds or hillocks in different parts of the town.  This township is watered by North and Green rivers.  The former runs through the western and southern part, and the latter through the northeastern  They are both large and commodious mill streams, and the mill privileges age numerous.  In the branch of North river, on the farm of Henry NILES, is a succession of cascades extending about 100 rods.  The falls are from 15 to 20 feet each, and are overlooked by the projecting rocks on the right in ascending the stream.  The place is visited by the curious, and the scene which presents itself is rugged, wild and romantic.  The surface of the township is uneven, but there are no mountains worthy of notice.  On the margin of North river is a cavern called WOODARD'S cave or DUN'S den.  It is 25 feet in length, five in width and the same in height.  The sides and top are of solid rock.  This is also a place of resort for the curious.  The soil is generally of good quality, well adapted to the production of grass, and much attention is devoted to the raising of cattle and the keeping of dairies.  The people are mostly industrious and wealthy.  The timer is principally beech, maple, birch, ash, hemlock and spruce.  The town is divided into 14 school districts, with as many school houses.  At the centre is a handsome brick school house, 42 by 24 feet on the ground, in which the languages and higher branches of literature have usually been taught a part of the year.  There was also formerly a school for young ladies, in which the higher branches and drawing, painting and music were taught.



II Kings 4:13  "I dwell among mine own people."


When Cannan was first settled by the Israelites, a certain portion of land was given to every citizen, who had the right to transmit it to his heirs.  By no act of his could this land be forfeited to the family longer than till the next jubilee which occured every fifieth year.  This arrangement gave permanency to the location of families.  It was characteristic of a Jew to entertain a peculiar attachment to his own nation, his tribe and kindred; and especially to the old estate where his fathers had lived for many successive centuries.


When the Shunammite woman was enquired of by the servant of Elijah, how her kindness to the prophet should be rewarded - asking if she would not "be spoken for to the king; or to the captain of the host," that some royal or distinguished favor might be bestowed upon her, such, perhaps, as would elevate her rank in society; she made this simple hearted but significant reply, "I dwell among mine own people."  She dwelt among her kindred, among a people with whom she sustained the same rank in life; who were of similar customs and like sympathies with herself.  With them she wished to still to dwell, to continue in the same sphere in which she had been accustomed to move, and for which her habits were formed.  She has associated with those who were of the same faith, and were cheered by the same hopes.  Interwoven as the Jewish religion was with the whole structure of society, mingling with all the civil and social affairs and relations of life, their country, in the estimation of the Jew, would have been the best on the earth, even if their hills had been comparatively barren hills, and their valleys far less fruitful than they were. 


Great care was taken in Ancient Israel to preserve the history of families, as well as of the several tribes, and of the nation.  Accurate genealogies were kept of seperate families, important events were noted, and whatever of interest was not put on record was preserved by tradition.  The frequent narration of the important incidents which had been accumulating for many generations must have been attended with no small degree of interest, especially to the younger members of the family.


It might be supposed that in an age of so much reading as ours, and where there is no end to the demand for the making of books, that the history of separate communities would be carefully preserved, so that the people might be well informed in the history of their own immediate neighborhood.  But in this respect we are sadly deficient.  The records of this town throw but little light upon its early history, and the generation that was conversant with the first settling of the town has passed away with the exception of a single individual, now upwards of 105 years of age, so that the sources of information are not very abundant.  Such information, however, in relation to the history of the town as I have been able to glean from different sources I shall present in this discourse. 


Before entering upon the history of the town, I will briefly allude to the early history of Vermont.  The first settlement in Vermont was about a mile below Brattleboro, made under the supervision of the government of Massachusetts in 1724.* [at the bottom of the page in the book we find in smaller type] *Becley's History of Vermont, pp. 65, 66.  An egregious mistake. We let it stand as example when a mistake has gone into history how hard it is to eradicate it.  See First settlement at Chimney Point, in the history of Addison by Hon. Jh. W. STORY, vol. I., page --.  See paper by Hon. David READ, vol. II, on Fort Ann and First Settlement in Vermont.  By incontrovertible record in history the first settlement appears to have been in the little County of Grand Isle in the bosom of the Champlain. - Author.


But New Hampshire claimed jurisdiction over the territory now embraced in the State of Vermont, and was invested with authority by the British Crown to extend her laws over the district, give grants of townships, superintend and direct in their settlement.  When she had exercised this authority to some extent for several years, the government of New York laid claim to Vermont as their province, and in 1763 this claim began to be urged with forcible measures, ejecting from their lands in several instances, settled upon the New Hampshire grants, and under the patronage of her government, because they would not purchase their lands of the government of New York. 


This brought Vermont into collision with New York, New Hampshire, and to some extent with Massachusetts during a series of years, embracing the period of the Revolutionary war.  These claims were all yielded in favor of Vermont in 1789; and in February, 1791, she was received into the Union as one of the Federal States.


The town charter of Halifax was given by the government of New Hampshire, May 11, 1750.  The township embraces in its charter a territory of 6 miles square.  This was to be divided into lots three-fourths of a mile square consisting of 360 acres in each lot.  One of these lots was assigned to each of the 62 grantees, reserving two lots, one for the first settled minister and one for the benefit of schools.


The charter provides "that before any division of the said land be made to and among the grantees, a tract of land as near the centre of the said township as the land will admit of, shall be reserved and marked out for town lots, one of which shall be allotted to each grantee of the Contents of one acre."  This reserved land at the geographical centre of the town, was designed to serve the purposes of a garrison in case there should be was with the Indians.  Here each grantee might erect his block-house to which he might retire with his family on short notice, in case of danger while the country was new, having an acre of ground which he could cultivate as a garden.  But the Indians gave no trouble to the early settlers of Halifax and the land reserved for purposes of defence has long since been otherwise disposed of.


The charter required the payment of one ear of Indian corn by the grantees on the 25th of Dec. (Christmas) "if lawfully demanded."  And for the space of ten years, commencing with 1750.  Also commencing with 1761 it required of every land holder, "One shilling proclamation money for every hundred acres he owns or settles, or possesses, and so in proportion for a greater or less tract of the said land, which money shall be paid by the respective persons above named, their heirs or assigns, in our own council chamber in Portsmouth, or to such officer or officers as shall be appointed to receive the same, and this to be in lieu of all other rents or services whatsoever."  Deducting the highways and other public lanes exempted by the charter from taxes, the proclamation money would have constituted an annual revenue to the Crown of about $20.


It was also required by the charter that five acres of land should be planted and cultivated "with in the term of five years for every fifty acres" owned as individual property.  In case of failure on the part of any grantee to fulfill this condition, his whole share was forfeited to the Crown.  This condition could not have been fulfilled as no settled in the town for ten years after the charter was given.  Nor is it known that the claims of the grantees were ever questioned on this account.


It was demanded also by the charter, "that all white and other pine trees within the said township fit for masting our Royal Navy be carefully preserved for that use, and none to be cut or felled without His Majesty's especial license, upon the penalty of the forfeiture of the right of such grantee."  This condition probably has never been violated to any great extent.


When there should be fifty families settled in the town they were to "have the liberty of holding two Fairs."  The time of holding them was to be the last Mondays in the months of April and September, and not to continue longer than the Saturday of the week upon which they were held.  These fairs were designed to be occasions when buyers and sellers of all kinds might meet at a certain place for the purposes of trade.  If such a custom had been introduced, a week in the Spring and also in the Fall of the year would have been convenient season.  The people could then have accomplished most of their trading in stock and many other things for the year on those occasions.  The custom of holding such fairs has prevailed extensively in England and other European countries.  We have county and State fairs, but they are rather for exhibition than for trade. 


When the number of families had increased to fifty, the charter requires that "a market is similar to that of the fair, though less extensive in its design.  The custom of having a market-place has been in vogue for many centuries in England in towns of considerable size, and in other European countries.


The original grantees chiefly resided in Hatfield and Deerfield, Mass., together with the adjacent towns.  A few resided in the State of New Hampshire, Oliver PARTRIDGE, Esq., of Hatfield, was the principal actor in obtaining the charter.  It is thought that Mr. PARTRIDGE became the actual original proprietor of nearly one-half of the town, many of the signers of the charter never having been personally interested in the enterprise, only permitting their names to be used.  Mr. PARTRIDGE was constituted by the charter the moderator of the first meeting of the proprietors which he was to notify on the first Wednesday of August, 1750, at such time and place as he might thinks most convenient.  The grantees held meetings for business for several years, at such times an places as they saw fit to appoint.  No connected record of proceedings of those meeting is in the possession of the town.


The survey of the town cost £50,7:6; the platting of lots cost £155,5: the obtaining of the patent £73,19: total expense, £279,11:6, or about $865.


To defray these expenses the proprietors vote, Nov. 28, 1750, to raise a tax of £5,5 "upon each lot except the Governor's two, and the two public lots," the surplus of which money was to be retained in the treasury.  From this vote it appears that Governor WENTWORTH, the then acting Governor of New Hampshire was in the enterprise, and the proprietor of two lots; and also the magnanimity, or policy, of the other grantees - possibly their respect for magistrates (?) - relinquishing the taxes of the Governor in the expense of laying out the town. 


The geographical centre of the town is three-fourths of a mile north of what is now known as the Centre.  The frame of a meeting house was erected within a few rods of the geographical centre previous to 1780.  But a few enterprising citizens established the business of the town at the place now called the Centre, so that the original frame of a meeting house was abandoned, and the present Congregational meeting house at the business centre was erected in 1782, but was not completed till several years afterwards, though it was occupied as a place of worship.


The land upon which the meeting house stands and three or four acres of the common, together with the adjoining cemetery grounds, were deeded to the Congregational Society by Deacon MC QUILLIS of Colerain.  That part of the Common south of the road was given to the Congregational Society by Dr. Richardson. 


In the original grant of the town one lot of 360 acres was appropriated for the benefit of schools.  This lot is in the northeast corner of the town, commonly called Thomas Hill.  The land is sold with the reserve, that the interest of two dollars a year per acre shall be annually paid into the town treasury in the month of __ for the benefit of the schools.  The sum of $43.20.               


Abner RICE was the first settler.  He came about the year 1761 and settled in the easterly part of the town. As nearly as can be ascertained, in the early part of the year 1766, there were but four families in the town.  Mr. RICE in the east part, Capt. John PANNEL and a Mr. GAUGHT in the southwest part (PANNEL Hill) and a Mr. PRATT, who settled on the farm since occupied by Robert COLLINS.  From the year 1766 the population of the town increased rapidly, so that in March, 1778, when the town was organized, there were recorded upon the town records the names of 140 freemen, and this was but 13 years after there were but four families in the town. 


PANNEL Hill was first settled by people from Colerain, Mass., who were soon joined by several families from Connecticut and from Princeton, Mass.


The southeast part of the town was also settled to a considerable extent by families from Colerain.  The TAGGETTS and some other families came from Londonderry, N. H.


The northeast part was settled by people from Rhode Island, among whom were the families of WILCOX and THOMAS.


The centre was settled mostly by families from Massachusetts.


In the early part of the present century the number of inhabitants was something more than 1700.  What the number was in 1790, when the first census was taken, I have not been able to learn, but it was probably about as large as at any time since.



The party felling between the adherents to the New Hampshire and the New York claims was never so strongly developed in this town as in some of the adjoining towns.  The New Hampshire party always held the predominance in this town.  Some little vexatious matters occasionally transpired.  As an instance;  A man by the name of FRAZIER was sued for debt from spite by a Yorker.  His cows were attached and some other property, and his person was seized for imprisonment.  As soon as the condition of Mr. FRAZIER was known, the alarm was given throughout the town, and the New Hampshire men rallied for his rescue.  Joseph WILLIAMS seized a horn and from the hill north of the place, afterwards occupied by Solomon BASCOM, blew a blast that brought to the aid of FRAZIER the west part of the town, and some from Whitingham and Wilmington, who with others already on the track pursued the party who had taken FRAZIER to Westminster for imprisonment, and with the assistance of a company from Westmoreland, New Hampshire, succeeded in his rescue.  This is spoken of as the most important affair between the New York and New Hampshire parties in this town.  There were other occurrences which showed the party feeling.  Mr. ORR, a Yorker, who kept a public house on the place where Deacon WILLIAMS now resides, was visited by two Hampshire men, who sought admission to his house, and being refused, they entered by force, and seizing Mr. ORR, demanded of him that he should say New Hampshire and despairing of help otherwise from their firm grasp, he cried out New Hampshire to their satisfaction.



The first dwelling houses in the town, as is the case in all new countries, were log houses.  It is, however, the testimony of some who commenced their residence here in the midst of all the inconveniences and hardships of a new country, who lived to occupy commodious dwellings with the conveniences of living multiplied a hundred fold, that their happiest days were when they lived in their log hut, and a small plot of ground cleared around it with but few of the conveniences they afterwards enjoyed.


The first house that was shingled in town, was built by a Mr. SABIN on the ground now occupied by Capt. Abel SCOTT'S house.  The shingles were attached to the roof by wooden pegs instead of nails.



The following incident may illustrate the kind of neighborly feeling that prevailed when the conveniences of life were few.  Three families who came into the town while it was yet a wilderness, Deacon Hubbel WELLS', Ebenezer SABIN'S and one other, had between them but one needle with which for several years all the sewing for the three families was performed.  The are said to have been times when neighbors were always glad to see each other, each one seeking to render himself the most obliging. 



A Mrs. WOODWARD, the mother of Titus and Israel, wishing to weave a web of cloth, was under the necessity of going on foot three miles to Dea. MC CLURE'S.  After she had performed the work of her family in the morning and having spent the day at the loom, she returned at night to do the work of her house.  This practice she continued till she had completed her web. 


The late Widow LEARNARD, born in 1766, is thought to have been the first child born in town.  Her father, Mr. PRATT, located on the farm now occupied by Robert COLLINS, when there were but four families in the town.  Their nearest neighbor was Captain PANNEL who lived on PANNEL Hill four miles distant.  Mr. PRATT had occasion to leave his wife and two small children at home in his absence of 10 days.  The first or second night of his absence the fire went out.  Mrs. P. had no means of obtaining fire but from her neighbors.  She took her two children, one in her arms, leading the other, and started for Captain PANNEL'S  through a dense forest guided by marked trees.  When she had gone a little distance from her home she roused a bear who ran up a tree.  With self-possession she took her apron and tied around the tree, and hanging her bonnet upon a stake she place it against the tree and passed on.  Captain PANNEL returned with her and shot the bear, which had been kept upon the tree by the bonnet and apron.  Those were days of female courage as well as hardship, innured as they were to life in the wilderness.


Mrs. LEARNARD, the infant whom Mrs. PRATT carried in her arms to Captain PANNEL'S, was married to Dea. Moses LEARNARD in 1786.  Two years afterwards her husband being taken sick in the night, she had occasion about midnight to go some 40 rods from the house to get water from a spring.  In the morning she went to the same spring and found fresh tracks of a bear and his prints where had wallowed in the mud that same night.


Pastures not being inclosed cows were suffered to run at large in the woods.  It was often with difficulty that they were found.  Mrs. PRATT on one occasion in searching for her cow just as night was setting in, became completely bewildered more than a mile from home in a dense forest.  Not knowing which way to direct her course she sat down and wept.  Soon the thickening clouds began to pour down rain, and there was every appearance of a cold, stormy, October night.  At this juncture, while she was casting about to know how she should spend the night, she heard the voice of her husband, of whose return she had known nothing, calling her name from a distance.  She at once responded to the call and attempted to make her way in the direction of the distant sound, but being bewildered she took the wrong course and went in the opposite direction form the voice,  Her husband perceiving that her voice grew fainter and fainter by distance, called upon her to stop till he could come to her.  But she, confident that she knew the course she was taking quickened her speed, thinking that she might save him the trouble of coming all the way to her.  She was overtaken at last in the border of Whitingham near where Mr. BARRINGTON now lives on North river, at more than twice the distance from home than when she first made answer to the call of her husband.  They then took dark forest and drenching rain.  Returning to their quiet home in their snug log-cabin, they doubtless rejoiced together, with their little ones, in the favorable issue of the enterprise, more fortunate than one of her neighbors, who in hunting her cow was compelled with her two children to remain in the woods during the night, taking their position upon the trunk of a tree that had fallen by the wind.



The first apple tree and the first currant bush were brought from Colerain by a Mr. CLARK, and set our on the farm now owned by Joseph HENRY, Esq., near the geographical centre of the town, known as the WOODWARD farm.  The orchard on that place, a part of which is still standing, is probably the oldest in the town.



The first saw-mill was built on the place, or near where Mr. FISHER'S saw-mill now stands.  This mill was built previous to 1780, as the mill was conveyed that year by deed to a Mr. STACY.  There was afterwards a grist-mill put up the same privilege, which was the first grist-mill in the town.



The first person who died in the town was Samuel GAUGHT, a lad of three years, a brother of the widow CROZIER.  He was buried in Colerain.


The first cemetery that was opened was on PANNEL hill.  The second was near the geographical centre of the town, now overgrown with large trees, and long since abandoned.  A few rough stones mark the places of the early dead of the town. 


The third cemetery was opened at the business centre of the town.  The first person buried in it was a daughter of Deacon CONANT. The second was Cornish STACY, who was drowned in attempting to cross North river on a log near where the bridge now is, on the road that passes Israel WOODWARDS'S.  A Mr. UNDERWOOD from PANNEL hill was afterwards drowned at the same place on returning from a military training. 


Captain GAUGHT, a grandson of the original settler upon PANNEL hill, just as he left the store of HAMILTON & MUZZEY, in an attempt of some of his company to honor him by firing according to the custom of those days, was shot through the head, a part of his skull hitting the door of the store.


John PANNEL, a grandson of Captain PANNEL, was killed by the fall of a tree in 1773, which was the occasion of the following lines: 

"Mr. John PANNEL, killed by a tree,

In seventeen hundred and seventy-three,

When, his father did come,

He said, Oh my son,

Your glass is run.

Your work is done."


Mr. Abner RICE, the first settler in the town, was shot for a bear while watching a field of grain in company with others.  He sat under an apple tree at the time he was shot.  Jesse RICE, a cousin of Abner RICE, died at the age of 113.


A tornado occurred in August, 1788.  It was the most destructive of any since the settlement of the town.  It swept the town from west to east, leaving scarcely any timber standing on some farms in its course.  The day on which it occurred was still and foggy up to the time the heavy wind struck.  There were no premonitions of its approach.  There was no roaring heard 'till just as the main force came, upturning trees, leaving devastation and destruction in its track of nearly two miles in width, passing on through other towns to the east.



The Congregational church of Halifax was organized July 24, 1778, consisting of 5 males and 5 females. 


Rev. David GOODALL, the first settled minister in town, was installed over the church and society in 1781, about 3 years after the church was organized.  He was the pastor of the church about 15 years, being dismissed in 1796.  During his ministry 58 were added to the church, 8 of whom were received by letter.


Mr. GOODALL was a native of Marlboro, Mass.  He was a graduate of Dartmouth College.  He was a logical thinker, Calvinistic in  his benefactions.  He had the respect and esteem of the people.


In the original grant of the town, a lot of 360 acres was appropriated for the first settled orthodox minister in the town.  This fell to Mr. GOODALL.  The claim was disputed by Elder EWEINGS, a Baptist minister, who had resided in the town a few years previous to Mr. GOODALL'S settlement.  The matter was adjusted by Mr. GOODALL'S quit-claiming to Elder EWEINGS 100 acres.  This arrangement was entered into previous to Mr. GOODALL'S settlement.  After his dismission, he disposed of his real estate in Halifax and remove to Littleton, N. H., where he spent the remainder of his days chiefly in agricultural pursuits.  He lived to and advanced age.  He visited the place but once after his removal.  As evincing a regard for the people of his former charge, a few years before his death he made a donation of $100 to the church, with instructions that the interest should be appropriated for the furnishing of the communion table.  But a few years after the donation was received in trust, at the hands of his son, it was appropriated to the payment of arrearages in the society. 


The following call extended to Mr. GOODALL by the church to settle with them in the ministry, is taken from the town records: 


"The Church of Christ, in Halifax, to the Rev. David GOODALL, greeting;


Rev. and Beloved: -We, being by the appointment of Divine Providence, situated in the wilderness where we have ever been destitute of the stated ministrations of the word and ordinances of the Gospel, after application being made to you by the town in general to preach with us on probation for settlement, and your complying with our request, and thereby giving us convenient opportunity to judge of your ministerial qualifications, which are great in our esteem, by the concurrence and assistance of the town, by their vote, and of a friendly religious society, formed for the purpose of enjoying Gospel privileges, we do unitedly, unanimously, and earnestly call and invite you, dear sir, to take the ministerial and pastoral care and charge of said church and society, and labor with us in word and doctrine, administer the sacraments of the New Testament, and perform all other duties and offices properly belonging to a Gospel minister.


Your compliance with our request herein, will lay us, dear sir, under voluntary obligation to yield to you that subjection, honor and support that is properly due from a people to their pastor.


And for your encouragement to undertake the work of the Gospel ministry and pastoral office among us, you will upon your installment into said office, be entitled to. and become possessed of in fee simple the land by the charter granted and reserved for the first settled orthodox minister in this town, being lost No. 28, excepting 100 acres thereof on the southerly side, which the town have alienated, to which hundred acres we hereby desire and expect you will give a quit-claim upon your inauguration into the ministry and pastoral office.  And that you may be decently and honorably supported while attending to the work of the ministry among us, we freely and unanimously agree and vote to give you a salary of the sum of forty pounds a year for the first year, and to raise five pounds a year until it amounts to fifty-five pounds in silver, at six shillings eight pence per ounce, which sum of fifty-five pounds shall be paid you annually, and for each and every year so long as you continue our minister."  $183.33.



Rev. Jesse EDSON was ordained and installed over the Congregational church, November 23, 1796, and died in 1805, being the pastor about nine years.  During his ministry 99 were added to the church. 


Mr. EDSON was a native of Buckland, Mass., and graduate of Dartmouth College.  He commenced his ministry with this people.  As a preacher, he was sound in doctrine.  His preparations for the pulpit were made with readiness.  He interested himself in the young people of his charge, and was accustomed to preach to them one sermon a year.  His only production published was a sermon entitled, "An Address to Young People."  Mr. EDSON'S salary was a hundred pounds.  He died at an early age.



installed September 17, 1806, was pastor a little more than 36 years.  For three or four of the last years of his life, his health was feeble, and he was engaged but little in is accustomed labors.  During this time, the pulpit was supplied by several ministers, each for a longer or shorter period.


Mr. WOOD was born in Norwich, Conn., in that portion of the town now comprised in Bozrah, in 1772.  He removed with his parents to Hawley, Mass., in 1775, where he resided till he commenced his studies preparatory for college.  These he pursued whit Rev. John GROUT, of Hawley, and Rev. Preserved SMITH, of Rowe, Mass.  He entered Williams College in 1795, and graduated in 1799, at the age of 27.  After leaving college, he taught a year in Northampton, Mass., and then commenced the study of theology with Dr. Joseph LYMAN, of Hatfield.  Previous to his ordination, he preached in Oxford, Mass., and in Lebanon, N. Y.  He was ordained as an evangelist, at Amherst, Mass., May 2, 1804, and went with the Rev. Mr. GOULD, afterwards of Southampton, Mass., to Maine as a missionary;  and also to the State of New York, with Rev. Mr. WILLISTON, of Easthampton.  He came to Halifax in the month of February, 1806, and was installed the following September. 


The education of young men received his special attention, nine of  whom from his own society fitted for college with him, besides several from adjoining towns.  Six entered the ministry under his pastorate.  Of the young men from abroad who studied with him, were Dr. Jonas KING, of the Greek Mission, Dr. Nathan BROWN, of the Baptist Mission in Burmah, and Abner HAZELTON, who was afterwards a member of congress.  Mr. WOOD is remembered among his people as a faithful and beloved pastor. 


Mr. WOOD was married twice;  had six children who lived to adult years, four by his first wife and two by his second.  He died December 26, 1842, at the age of  70, having survived all the ministers in the county of his own denomination, who held the pastoral office at the time of his installation.



was ordained and installed as associate pastor, with Rev. Thomas H. WOOD, November 11, 1841.  In the summer of 1844, the Congregational Society built a meeting house in the valley, two miles west of the old house, which was dedicated in the early part of October of the same year.  Not coinciding with this movement, 6 males and 22 females left the original church, and were organized anew the following winter.  A new society was also formed, which together with the church, occupy the former house, taking the name of the Central Church and Society of Halifax. 



Elder William EWEINGS was the first minister who preached statedly in the town.  Very little is known of him.  He came to the town previous to 1778, and probably remained two or three years.


After Elder EWEINGS left, Elder WARREN gathered a church of a small number in the northwest part of the town.  A few joined it from Wilmington.  They were accustomed to meet in school-houses and dwelling-houses.  The church was afterwards dissolved. 


The present Baptist church was organized July 26, 1793, consisting at first of 11 members.



the first pastor, was settled in 1795, and remained with them till his death in 1809.  A goodly number were added to the church under his ministry.



was settled Nov., 1813.  His pastorate continued seven years.



commenced preaching in the fall of 1820, and was ordained August 15, 1822.


The meeting house was built in 1808, previous to which time meetings were held in school-houses and private dwellings. 


It is matter of gratitude to God that the institutions of religion were early planted in this town; that the benign influences of the Gospel have been enjoyed, and have had their effect in moulding the character of this community from the beginning. 


  *  *  *


Among the early settlers of Halifax, we find five families of the name of HALL.  There were five brothers that came from East Endfield, Conn., between 1776 and 1780.  In tracing the emigrant ancestors bank, we find in 1636, Edward HALL of England came to Rehoboth, Mass.  His wife’s name was Esther.  Their children, 1st, John; 2d, Esther; 3d, Samuel; 4th, Jeremiah; 5th, Thomas; 6th Preserved; 7th, Andrew; 8th, Benjamin.  Samuel, the third child, born in Rehoboth, Oct. 24, 1656, married, April 7, 1686, Elizabeth BROWN; settled in Taunton, Mass.  Their children, 1st, Elizabeth; 2d, Remember; 3d, Nicholas; 4th, Mary; 5th Nathaniel; 6th Mahitable; 7th, Enoch, he settled in Northfield, Mass.; 8th, Ichabod; 9th John, born 1705, settled in East Enfield, Conn., married Hannah GUIlD.  Children, 1st, Israel; 2d, John; 3d, Joel; 4th, Levi; 5th, Asariah; 6th, Daniel; 7th, Hiram; 8th, Keziah.  Of those children John, Joel, Hiram, Levi and Azariah settled in the northwest part of Haliax.  While at one time they nearly all had large families, at present but a few families represent them.  Of the family first John HALL married Alice BUSH.  Children, 1st, Erastus; 2d John; 3d, Alice; 4th, Louisa, 5th, Rhoda; 6th, Susunnah; 7th Rufus.  Erastus married Hulda MATHER.  Children, John; graduate of College.  Died soon after.  Clarissa married Nicholas CLARK of Clarksburgh, Mass.  Settled in Halifax; he died some years ago.  Have one son now living in West Halifax, George CLARK.  There is now Lemuel and Abigail descendants.  John HALL is now in West Halifax.  5th, Azariah HALL, married Keturah PEASE.  He died in 1832, aged 83 years; she in 1835.  Children, 1st, Mary, married Jeremiah KINGSBURY.  There are now some of their descendants living in Whitingham.  Fourth, Azariah, married Esther ORR; took quite a prominent part in town matters.  Children, Sarah Ann, Maria, George.  It  [in]1836 moved to New York state.  Fifth, Richard, married Betsey ALLEN; have one son.  Richard HART married Mary CROWLEY, now living in Athens, Vt.  Third, Joel HALL, married Elizabeth BUSH.  He died in 1843 aged 96 years.  She died in 1830, aged 78.  Children, 1st, Hannah; 2d, Joel, jr.; 3d, Justus; 4th, Israel; 5th, Loten; 6th, Asa; 7th, Elizabeth; 8th, Martin.  These all left tow but Justus and Loten.  Fifth.  Loten married  Rhoda NICHOLS of Guilford, Vt.  Children, 1st Lucinda, married Elliott HIGLEY, now living in south part of the town; 2d, Joel; 3d, Elizabeth; 4th, Annis, married Hiram CHASE, now lives in Marlboro, Vt., 5th, Esther; 6th, Gratia; 7th, Obed, married Susan EVERETT.  Now lives in Stamford, Vt., is one of the associate judges of Bennington county; 8th, Charles.




One of Chicago’s brightest professional men, Mr. James L. STARK, died at his residence, No. 168 Cass street. Mr. STARK was born in South Halifax, Vt., on the 6th of February, 1823.  His father, Judge Stark, was an eminent lawyer, and the blood of the Revolutionary STARKS flowed in his veins.  He adopted the profession of the law, and was admitted to practice in Bennington county, Vt., and his ability and energy were recognized by the people, who elected him to the State Senate in 1858.  He served with distinction one term, and became the recognized leader of his party in the Senate.  In 1859 he came to Chicago, and, ignoring politics, devoted his entire attention to the law.  He was very successful, securing many clients by his devotion to business, and acquiring considerable property.  His residence on the North Side was destroyed by the great fire, and he was the first man who rebuilt a substantial home in that portion of the “burnt district.” 


Mr. Stark was a practical and emphatically a self-made man, and, being modest, did not appear above the surface in many enterprises in which the people of the North side were interested.  He was very active, however, in a silent way, in promoting improvements, especially the lake shore drive and the planting of trees to beautify the northern division.  His advice was always accepted, and his labors were appreciated by those having cognizance of them.  The death of so estimable a man will certainly be regretted in the community, and the vacancy caused by his death will not be soon satisfactorily filled.  He leaves a wife and two children.  -Chicago Tribune.




Among the most prominent and influential of the early residents of Windham county Vt., was


the grandfather of the subject of the sketch.  A graduate of Yale college, and a lawyer, he remove from Litchfield county, Conn., to Halifax, Vt., in 1792, where he became eminent in his profession and was in active practice until his death.  He married Abigail CAMP, a lady with great beauty and dignity of presence.  They had six children.  The oldest was James Landon.  He graduated at Yale, in the class of 1814, then studied law in the office of his father, and when admitted to the bar, practiced law in Halifax until he was elected judge, which office he held for many years.  He was also repeatedly elected to represent his town in the General Assembly.  He was a man of much talent, fine legal mind and imposing presence.  But though occupying various offices of trust and confidence , agricultural pursuits were more congenial with his tastes.  To them the later portion of his life was devoted.  He spent more than 50 years on his farm in South Halifax, where he died March 14, 1868, in his 76th year.  His wife was Sybel SMITH (daughter of Asa SMITH, who married Submit SEVERANCE.)  They had nine children.  Joshua Leavitt, Jedediah, Royal Houghton, James Landon, Harriet, George Washington, Sybel Livania, Sereno, Horace Goodrich.


The fourth child, James Landon STARK, was born in Halifax, Feb. 6, 1823.  The most of his minority was spent at his father’s home, assisting in farm duties, attending the district schools and a few terms at an academy in Whitingham.  Judge STARK having conceived some prejudice to college education and professional life, persisted in his efforts to make farmers of all his sons, and James was denied those early advantanes which were always regretted by him. 


As a lawyer, Mr. STARK was well-read, especially in equity, and had a clear, logical mind.  His natural diffidence, modesty and want of early training, often made him appear to disadvantage until aroused sufficiently to forget himself, when he became clear in statement, powerful in argument and impassioned in eloquent in delivery.


The late Dr. DEWEY of Montpelier, once told the writer that he never met a man who could use the English language with such vigor, directness, and point, as did Mr. STARK when fully aroused.  As a politician, Mr. STARK was earnest and unselfish.  From the first caucus to the last hour of the election he worked in defatigably for the side which he though was right, though always declaring there was no office he himself would or could afford to accept.  His nature prompted him to look out for his friends, and to nomination was made in his ward, for years, to which he did not lend his strong sense and active aid.



James L RIDGELY Lodge, No. 15, I.O.O.F., was instituted at West Halifax, Feb. 17, 1882, by Charles WOODHOUSE of Rutland, Grand Master, assisted by members of the order from Brattleboro, Readsboro, and Shelburne Falls, Mass.  The charter contained eleven names:  Jeremiah GIFFORD, Crosby A. PERRY, William W. FOLLETT, Warner W. STOWE, Add. C. NILES, William R. BROWN, Francis KINGSLEY, Henry F. WHEELER, Henry B. STOME, John ANDERSON, and Eli S. COOK.  The first officers were:  N. G., W. R. BROWN; V. G., W. W. FOLLETT; Sec., A. C. NILES; Treas., E. S. COOK; P. G., J. GIFFORD.  The lodge at one time had a membership of 21.  It has paid out quite a sum of money for the benefit of its members, is out of debt and prospering.



This is an occurrence that has long been forgotten, but was received by a person interested in such matters, reading the lines upon his grave-stone in the cemetery in School District No. 1.  An item was placed in the papers, and the following was taken from the Gazette and Courier of Dec. 26th 1887:

“Mr. Editor:  I noticed in a late issue of you paper a request from a Halifax, Vt., correspondent, for information concerning the tragic death of Capt. GAULT in 1778.  I am now in my 93d year, but remember well an account of the circumstances as related to me by my father, Jonathan KELLOGG of Halifax, who served as lieutenant in the company of which John GAULT was captain.  The company were accustomed to meet a Halifax Centre for training.  On one occasion, after the men were dismissed, the officers gathered at the tavern for a social drink.  One of their number was absent, whom they wished to summon.  Being informed that he could be found at the house across the street, the Captain says, “I will go and call him,” and started with a double hop towards the door.  It was the custom of those days to honor an officer by firing over his head.  Accordingly, as Capt. GAULT passed out at the door, a soldier standing near discharged his musket, but at that instant the Captain gave a hop that brought his head in range of the charge, which entered it, wad and all, killing him instantly.  The event naturally caused the greatest excitement throughout the community.  Still further.  After a suitable time had elapsed my father called the company together to choose another captain, but, himself being anxious to get clear of training duty, declined being a candidate for the office.  This caused a choice to be made from those below him in rank, and he being “jumped” as they called it, obtained his discharge which cleared him from further duty during life. 

      Asa KELLOGG,

           Greenville, Mass.




Charles P. CLARK Corps. No. 55, W. R. C., was instituted Aug. 20th, 1889, by Mrs. HERRICK of Brattleboro, with 11 charter members.  The officers were as follows:  Pres., Mrs. Sarah B. THURBER; S. V., Mrs. S. Jennie CLARK; J. V., Miss Lilla DE WOLFE; Secy., Mrs. Ella M. WINN; Treas., Mrs. Mary A. BALLOU; Chap., Mrs. Elvira M. BATES; Con., Mrs. Elanor MINOR; Guard, Mrs. Ellen D. POWERS; Asst. Con., Mrs. Lucinda HILL; Asst. Guard, Miss Viola HUDSON.  Being a recent acquisition, not much can be said of it, except that it is working for a very praiseworthy object.


Charles P. CLARK Post No. 103, G. A. R., was named from Serg. Charles P. CLARK, son of Nicholas and Clarissa CLARK, who enlisted in Co. F., 16th Reg., Vt. Vols.*, and who died in the hospital at Camp Vermont, near Fairfax Seminary, Dec. 13th, 1862.  This Post was instituted June 30th, 1889, Col. H. E. TAYLOR of Brattleboro, mustering officer.  The charter members were:  D. D. BARNES, H. C. BELL, E. E. GATES, H. W. GRIFFIN, A. A. HILL, F. T. MINER, Thos. MINER, Milton POWERS, Israel Stowe, H. B. STONE, E. H. THURBER, Harrison WILLIAMS, J. C. WINN, F. L. WOODARD.  The first officers were:  Commander, J. C. WINN; S. V. Com., F. T. MINER; J. V. Com., A. A. HILL; Adjt., F. L. WOODARD; Q. M., H. W. GRIFFIN; O. of D., H. WALLINS; Chap., Milton POWERS; Surg., E. E. GATES; O. of G., H. C. BELL; Q. M. S., E. H. THURBER; S. M., D. D. BARNES; SENT., H. B. STONE.


The Halifax Library Association was established in August, 1874, with 55 members.  The officers were:  J. M. EAMES, Pres.; M. WICKS, Secy.; Oscar HOWE, Treas.; and L. M. TUCKER, librarian.  The association now have 250 volumes in the library.


Aaron LEONARD, whose buildings stood near the bridge north of the Methodist chapel, Ried Hollow, was frozen to death April 6, 1815.  His wife being away for a few days, he in company with some of the young men in the neighborhood, planned to have a good time on Fast day, which would occur on the 7th.  Accordingly, he with his little boy started for Marlboro, where he procured a jug of rum.  He started for home about dark in a snow storm.  The little boy becoming cold lagged behind, and his father, tipsy and stupefied, stumbled and fell.  The boy passed him and on getting home, supposing that his father had gone to bed, retired also.  His cronies arriving next day, search was made for him, and the body found about one-half mile from the house of David NILES, (which is now gone.)  The body was brought to the house and a coroner’s inquest held, eliciting the above facts.


There has been a large number of saw-mills in town, the immense water power on the several streams affording facilities for manufacturing excelled by but few towns in the State.  There are seven mills now in town.  Frank B. STONE, manufacturer of chair stock and lumber; STONE & CLARK, manufacturers of lumber, chair stock, baby carriage hubs, perambulator handles, etc.; W. DENNISON, lumber; L. W. SUMNER, lumber and shingles.  He also runs a grist-mill with his other business.  A. L. THURBER. Lumber and chair stock.  He has lately added steam power.  And two mills in district No. 11, Gillman WARREN & SON, lumber, chair stock, and cider jelly; and J. E. GATES, lumber and cider jelly.


There have been stores in town as follows:  One in school district No. 1, one in district No. 3, one in district No. 6, six different places in district No. 7, one in district No. 10, two in district No. 11.  At the present time there is one store at Halifax Center, Watson DE WOLF, proprietor; at West Halifax, George L. CLARK and Oscar HOWE, each general assortment stores; J. M. NILES, boots and shoes; L. W. SUMNER, flour, feed and oats.  These with the Grange store in district No. 10, are all the stores in town at the present time.



The rocks of the town abound in minerals; among which iron and copper are most common, also sulphur.  Mineral springs abound, but little is known about their medicinal virtues.  There is much timber and wood in town, and it is also noted for its fruit;  also for its maple sugar and horses.



Among the noted people born in town may be mentioned Chipman SWAIN, high sheriff; Stephen NILES, high sheriff, representative; Sanford PLUMB, senator and representative; Rev. Samuel FISH, who preached I town over fifty years.  He was father of Rev. Henry C. FISH of Newark, N. J., who acquired quite a reputation as a doctor of divinity, author and traveler, and of Warren FISH also of New Jersey, the inventor of the porcelain shade lamp; also grandfather of Geo. H. NILES of Brattleboro, inventer of the NILES self-regulating electric dynamo, and of Mrs. Will CARLTON, wife of the famous poet of that name, who in her earlier days was, in company with her first husband, the Rev. Sabin T. GOODELL, engaged in missionary work in Burmah.  The STARKS, father and son, Landon & Jed, noted lawyers, together have solemnized over 2,000 marriages.  Other lawyers who have lived in the town were Mr. BARBER, W. H. FOLLETT, and C. F. BOYD.  There have been many different physicians in town among whom the most noted have been Drs. WILLIAMS, MILLER, JOHNSTON, and HARRINGTON.  Frs. O. A. WHEELER of California, and J. M. CLARK, of North Adams, Mass., were natives of this town.  Prof. C. W. EMERSON, president of the Boston School of oratory, preached in this town several years.  The Rev. L. W. BRIGHAM, past grand master of the I. O. O. F. of Wisconsin, once lived in this town, and married his wife here. 


During the war Halifax furnished one hundred and nine men, and fifteen paid commutation.  She lost three in battle, and sixteen others did in the service.  She paid $18,450.85 as bounty to volunteers, and $3,400 for substitutes for enrolled men.*


The first mention we find of Halifax was at the meeting at Dorset of delegates from the various towns in New Hampshire grants in September, 1776, Halifax then being represented by Col. Benjamin CARPENTER; Edward HARRIS, 1778 TO 1783; Joseph TUCKER, 1784; Hubbel WELLS, 1785 to 1789; Benjamin HENRY 1790 TO 1798; Darius BULLOCK 1799; B. HENRY, 1801-2; Mr. BULLOCK, 1803 TO 1811; Stephen OTIS, 1812 to 1817; Darius BULLOCK, 1818; Russell AVERY, 1819; D. BULLOCK, 1820-’21; B. HENRY, 1822; George BOARDMAN, 1823-’28; James L. STARK, 1829-’30; Sanford PLUMB, 1831; D. BULLOCK, 1832; Sanford PLUMB, 1833; Benj. WOODARD, 1834; James l. stark, 1835-’36; B. WOODARD, 1837-’38; Isaac WORDEN, 1839; James L. STARK, 1840-’41; Rufus K. HENRY 1842; William H. STARK, 1843; B. WOODARD, 1844; Nicholas CLARK, 1845; William PLUMB. 1846; Stephen NILES, 1847-’48; Jonas SCOTT, 1849; Joseph HENRY, 1850; Amos TUCKER, 1851; Jonas SCOTT, 1852; Elisha HAGER, 1853; Isaac WORDEN, 1854; Martin SCOTT, 2d, 1855-’56; Alpheus H. STONE, 1857; A. H. TUCKER, 1858-’59; Stephen NILES, 1860; Martin SCOTT, 2d, 1861-’62; Charles ROWLER, 1863-’64; A. H. TUCKER, 1865-’66; Albert J. TUCKER, 1867-’68; Almon BALLOU, 1869; A. H. STONE, 1870; this year the biennial sessions began.  In 1872, Charles F. GRIFFIN; 1874, A. H. STONE; 1876, Albert M. V. HAGER; 1878, J. L. HARRINGTON; 1880, L. W. SUMNER; 1882, L. M. WOODARD; 1884, George L. CLARK; 1886, L. M. WOODARD; 1888, Luther ADAMS; 1890, George L. CLARK.


In regard to the town clerks the records are very incomplete.  DEMING’S “Vermont officers” gives Samuel WOODARD as the first town clerk, chosen about 1772.  BEER’S “Windham County Atlas” says the same.  A diligent search of the records in the town clerk’s office shows a record of birth attested to by James GRAY, clerk, October 27, 1773.  The books contain various entries consisting of land records, church membership, ear marks, agreements, etc. of earlier dates, but all were attested by justices of the peace, pastors, deacons, county surveyors, where they contained any signature.  The rest is a record of an “Annual town meeting” at which James GRAY was chosen clerk, 1778; 1779, Hubbel WELLS; 1787, Nathan FISH.  The next year he was succeeded by WELLS.  Mr. FISH also served again, also Hubbel WELLS and Darius BULLOCK.  He was also very prominent in town affairs.  Rufus K. HENRY, 1834; Whitney J. HITCHCOCK, 1852; Charles FOWLER, 1854; J. L. HARRINGTON, 1867; L. M. TUCKER, 1868; Mr. HARRINGTON, 1869; 1881, H. R. STONE; Millard                 WICKS, 1882, and still in office.



Transcribed by Sue Downhill, List Manager,

This is a work in progress, town histories will be submitted as time allows.   Thank you to RootsWeb for hosting this site.  You may use the information provided on these pages for your personal genealogical use.  No part of these pages may be harvested and sold for profit.  Copyright 2001, Sue Downhill