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Full text of "A monograph on the origin and early life of Brattleboro"

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974.302 
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17 71303 



REYNOLDS HISTORICAL 
GENEALOGY COLLECTION 



ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRAR^ 



3 1833 01096 2709 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center 



http://www.archive.org/details/monographonorigiOOgrou 



A MONOGRAPH 



I 

The Origin and Early Life of 



Brattleboro 



THE REV. LEWIS GROUT . 

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Brattleboro : 

Press of E. L. Hildrkth & Co. 

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THE OLDEN TIMES 



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For Sale Bv 

CLAPP & JONES AND W. R. GEDDIS, 

Brattleboro, Vt. 



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PREFACE. 



It has been well said that, "In gathering up the memorials of the fathers 
we best manifest our regard for posterity." The motto is full of force, 
truth and beauty; not unlike to which is another, that "He who is not 
proud of his ance.stors, either has no ancestors to be proud of, or else he is 
a degenerate son." But that this generation of ours is not wholly indiffer- 
ent to the memory of its ancestors, the early settlers of Col. Brattle's Bor- 
ough, might be shown in several ways, especially in the steadily increasing 
interest which so many are now taking in the earthly resting places which 
these early fathers set apart for themselves, their families, and for those 
who should come after them. During the past few years, much has been 
done — indeed, much is still being done to-day, to improve and beautify the 
sacred grounds in which the material parts of our kindred of the olden 
times, were lovingly laid, long ago, to rest. 

But to adorn and beautify the graves of those whose blood now tlows in 
our veins, is not the whole of our duty, or rather privilege, toward them. 
It is but a becoming, helpful, inspiring pleasure for us to know something 
of their worthy deeds, their toils, trials, struggles, the difficulties they 
encountered and conquered, the unique heroism with which not a few of 
their lives were crowned. To gather up, put on record and remember the 
various valuable facts that have regard to our old-time brave, self-denying 
fathers, and mothers too, is due alike to them, to the God they served and 
to ourselves, their children and children's children, for whom they lived, 
toiled and prayed. 

Indeed, it is not only a duty and a privilege, but natural as well, even a 
pure spontaneous delight in all the better minded, to have a desire, a taste, 
for looking into such things. For us of Brattleboro. and of this day, to be 
interested in the origin and early life of this Borough is but yielding to a 
general law of the race to which we belong. We are so made that both 
pleasure and profit invite to a study of the beginnings and early histor\- of 
things. Builders, authors, inventors, battlefields, birthplaces and wedding 
days have ever been regarded as objects of notable interest. Those who 
make great discoveries in physical science, or m other secular and material 
directions, are generally counted benefactors and held in honor. Yet in no 
way second to anything of this kind is the ground which we here and now 
have for a deep and abiding interest in the early families, the infant set- 
tlements, and the incipient stages of the civil, political and other institu- 
tions our fathers planted for us here in the Borough to which we belong or 
in which we have our home. 



5 

In the efforts which the writer made, some thirty years ago, to gather up 
needed material for preparing a history of the first church in Brattleboro. 
he went through all the "records" to be found at that time in Brattleboro. 
whether of the town, the covenanters, the church and society, or of other 
organizations, some in town and some out, and learned also what he could 
from books, pamphlets, papers, correspondence, diaries, and from the oral 
testimony of the then oldest inhabitants of the town :— in all which he found 
more or less about the origin and primary development of the civil, politi- 
cal, industrial and social life of the town itself and as a whole, in its earlier 
days. 

Since that time, much valuable information has come to light and been 
made available through other researches and sources, especially in the 
acquisition of certain historical facts, as gathered and made public, from 
time to time, in the "Vermont Phoenix," by a certain member of the legal 
profession— facts which the writer has found very helpful in preparing the 
following Monograph, and for which he is happy to take this wav of 
expressing his great obligation and sincere thanks to the distinguished 
author of those instructive articles. 

LEWIS GROUT. 

West Brattleboro, April 5, 1899. 



CONTENTS. 



^ 



PAGE 

I. Indians and Equivalent Lands 7 

II. Fort Dummer 8 

III. New Hampshire Charter 9 

IV. Boundaries, and New York Charter 10. 

V. Governor Wentworth's Farm, and the Greenleafs 11 

VI. Early Settlement s 13 

VII. Roads and Residences 15 

VIII. Meeting House Hill, and Census of Population i3 

IX. Land Controversy, and Dispute About Jurisdiction 21 

X. Industrial, Domestic, and Social Life 25 



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A MONOGRAPH ON THE ORIGIN AND 
EARLY LIFE OF BRATTLEBORO. 



I. Indians and Equivalent Lands. 

Previous to the year of our Lord 1687, all the region in which 
this goodly township of Brattleboro is situated, was the camp- 
ing, tramping and hunting ground of the Indians. Up to that 
date a tribe of that people, called the Squakheags, ha\-ing 
numerous wigwams and headquarters of their chief on the 
southeast of us, regarded all the country, from Massachusetts 
line to the Ascutney, as theirs. But at the above date the pro- 
prietors of Northfield, whose township was divided by the Con- 
necticut, bought of them all the land between that place and 
Wantastiquet or West river, on both sides of the Connecticut. 
and took a deed of it; within the limits of which were included 
about three-fifths of what afterward became the township of 
Brattleboro. 

Then again, at a later date, the Province of Massachusetts 
Bay, having found that, by mistake, it had made grants of land 
belonging to the Colony of Connecticut, soon made compensa- 
tion by turning over to that Colony an equivalent of land on the 
west side of the Connecticut; the north line of part of which was 
near the north line of Putney, and the south line of the same part 
about the same as the present south line of Brattleboro. These 
"Equivalent Lands," as they were called, being put on sale in 
17 111, found sixteen associated purchasers, who, being now o^^'n- 
ers in common, in June, 1718, agreed on a division and allotment, 
when the tract above described fell to four men, one of whom 
was Col. William Brattle of Cambridge, Mass., and another 
William Dummer, who soon became lieutenant-governor of 
Massachusetts, and from whom the entire above-named tract 
took, for a time, the name of "Dummerston." Here it was, in 



\r, rV\].: ■/ ■ 



! 

I that part of this tract, which was eventually chartered as Brat- 
] tleboro, that the first permanent Anglo-Saxon settlement was 

! made in what afterward became the State of Vermont. 
j 

II. Fort Dummer. 

For so it was, that, on the 27th of December, 1T23, hardly 
• more than five years from the above date, in order to secure the 
safety of all these regions against Indian depredations, the gen- 
eral court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, "Voted to build 
a block house above Xorthfield, in the most convenient place on 
the lands called the 'Equivalent Lands,' and to post in it forty able 
men, English and Western Indians, to be employed in scouting 
at a good distance up Connecticut river. West river. Otter creek 
and sometimes eastward, above great Monadnuck, for the dis- 
covery of the enemy coming toward any of the frontier towns; 
and that so much of the said 'Equivalent Lands* as shall be nec- 
essary for a block house be taken up, with the consent of the 
owners of said land, together with five or six acres of their 
interval land, to be broken up or plowed for the present use of 
the Western Indians, in case any of them shall think fit to bring 
their families hither." To fulfill the conditions of this vote, "a 
site was chosen in the southeastern part of the present town of 
Brattleboro, just south of the now Brattleboro village, upon 
what is now known as the Brooks farm. Col. John Stoddard of 
Northampton was ordered by Governor Dummer to superin- 
tend the building of the block house, the immediate oversight 
of the work being committed to Lieut. Timothy Dwight, who 
with a competent force, consisting of four carpenters, twelve 
soldiers, with narrow axes and two teams, commenced opera- 
tions on the 3d of February, 1T24. Before summer had begun 
the Fort was so far completed as to be habitable, and was named 
Fort Dummer, in honor of Sir William Dummer, then Lieuten- 
ant-Governor of Massachusetts." 

The fort was built of large, squared pine timbers, somewhat 
i after the fashion of a log house, an oblong, twenty feet high, 
with a watch box at one end. A committee of clergymen, being 
asked to procure a person of gravity, ability, and prudence for 
chaplain, made choice of Daniel Dwight of Northampton, who 
was not only to serve the fort as chaplain, but also do mission 



9 

work among the Indians round about. In 1730, Rev. Ebenezer 
Hinsdell became chaplain. At times the danger from Indian 
attacks was so great that entire families repaired to the fort for 
safety; indeed, some of the settlers were killed, and some were 
carried away captives to Canada. When Benning Wentworth, 
Governor of New Hampshire, gave Brattleboro her charter in 
the name of George II., his Majesty's Fort Dummer and fifty 
rods around it were reserved. The rest of the meadow, cleared 
and fenced, became private property. Nathaniel French and 
his son, William, who was eventually killed at Westminster 
Court House, were living here in the Fort in 1769, but moved 
to the French place near the Dummerston line the following 
year. Nor was it long after this before the fort was given up, 
coming, apparently, into the possession of Captain Willard, its 
ast commander, as private property. 

III. New Hampshire Charter. 

The town of Brattleboro was chartered by the Governor of 
New Hampshire, in 1753, to Col. Wm. Brattle, Cambridge, 
Mass. , and to his associates, and hence the name, Brattleboroiigh, 
in honor of the Colonel, whose name stood tirst among the 
grantees. The following is a brief outline and the substance of 
the charter, partly in the language of the charter, and partly in 
a much abridged and condensed form : 

"Province of New Hampshire — George II.. by the grace of 
God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of 
the Faith, etc. To all persons to whom these Presents shall 
come, — Greeting : — 

" Know ye that we, of our special grace and certain knowl- 
edge and mere motion, for the due encouragement of settling a 
new plantation within our said Province, By and with the advice 
of our trusty and well-beloved Benning Wentworth, Esq. , our 
Governor and Commander-in-chief of our said Province of New 
Hampshire in America, and of our council of said Province, 
have, upon the conditions and reservations hereafter made, 
given and granted, and by these Presents for us, our heirs and 
successors, do give and grant in equal shares, unto our loving 
subjects, Inhabitants of our said Province of New Hampshire 
and His Majesty's other governments, and to their heirs and 



nnailmlirlnifrTi 111 i i\i Mtm immtmi' fahMJiMMMi 



assigns forever, whose names are entered on this grant," a 
township, o}4 miles square, containing about •^0,000 acres, out 
of which are to be reserved SCO for Governor Wentworth, and 
200 for Oliver Willard in the southeast part of the township. 
The boundaries of the township and of the two reservations 
were here given in the charter, and all on certain conditions, 
such as having two fairs a year, and a market opened once or 
more a week, when the families should come to number fifty; 
the first meeting to be called by Josiah Willard, Esq. , for the 
choice of officers, etc. ; every grantee to plant or cultivate five 
acres of land within five years for every fifty contained in his 
share, on penalty of forfeiting his grant; all white and other 
pine trees fit for masting the Royal Navy to be carefully pre- 
served for that use, and none to be cut or felled without his 
Majesty's special license; and before any division of land be 
made among the grantees, a tract, as near the centre of the 
township as possible, to be reserved and marked out for town 
lots of one acre each, one of which shall be allotted to each 
grantee, he yielding or paying therefor to them, for ten years, one 
ear of Indian corn, annually; and others to pay each, annually 
and forever, one shilling Proclamation money for every 100 
acres he owns, in their Council Chamber in Porf^mouth, or to 
some other appointed officers. Witness, Benning Wentworth, 
Esq., our Governor, etc., the 26th day of December, 1753. 

The names of the grantees were William Brattle, Jacob Wen- 
dell, and about fifty others. In addition to the reserve of Fort 
Dummer and fifty rods around it. and SOO acres for Governor 
Wentworth, was a reserve of one share for the Society for Pro- 
pagating the Gospel, one share for the first settled minister of 
the town, and one for a glebe for the minister of the church of 
England. 

IV. Boundaries .\nd Nf.w York Chartkr. 

The boundary of Brattlcboro, as given in the charter, was 
essentially the same as now — on the north by Dummerston, 
on the east by the Connecticut river, on the south by Guilford 
and a small part of \'ernon, and on the west by Marlboro. 
This gives an area of about 21, TOO acres. The boundary of the 
800 acres, reserved for the Governor, which was •:'enerallv called 



"the Governor's farm," began at the rocks in the river at the 
lower end of the railroad yard, thence went up the river 2 10 rods, 
or near to Walnut street and the High School house, and was 
carried, that width westward, till it took in the Carroll farm and 
most of the Miner place — a tract which now includes a great 
part of the East village and Esteyville, all of Western avenue 
and Centerville. 

The first building erected on this tract of 800 acres seems to 
have been a grist mill, built by Governor Wentworth, in 1702, 
on Whetstone brook, near the bridge at the foot of Main street; 
nor does there seem to have been any other building on that 
tract till a saw mill was built at the same place in 1TG8. After 
all this region came under the rule of the New York Province, 
as it did July 20, 1764, Samuel Wells and nineteen others pro- 
cured from Governor Moore, of that Province, a grant of the 
township of Brattleboro; whereupon the nineteen others deeded 
their share and right to Mr. Wells, and he became the sole 
owner of the New York title, which included all of Governor 
Wentworth's reservation except that on which he had made 
improvements, which Judge Wells soon bought, tradition says, 
for five oxen; and then, in 1771, the Judge sold the whole tract 
of 800 acres to Stephen Greenleaf. 

V. Governor Wentworth's Farm and the Greenleafs. 

Mr. Greenleaf had been an enterprising merchant in Boston, 
but for some reason had become involved in business, and in the 
early part of 1771, had come to Brattleboro, and lived, for a 
time, a little south of the now so-called "Fair grounds." To 
him it was that Judge Wells sold his 800 acres for ^"1,200, about 
$5,000. In 1772, Mr. Greenleaf built a sawmill, the second in 
town, about where the factory now stands in Centerville, and in 
1776 built a dwelling house not far from Centerville, on the 
fifty-acre lot, now the Herrick place at "Elm Corners," a little 
south of the Miner place. When that house was burned in 
June, 1808, it was one of the oldest in town, having been built 
only some three years after that by Judge Wells, now the "Sum- 
mer Retreat" for women. Both the senior Stephen Greenleaf, 
who became Esquire in 1772, when the New York Governor 
made him justice of the peace, and his son. Major Stephen 



TV1-;'// -. 1 'V»ii> V 



Greenleaf, who lived at the top of the hill on what is now Green- 
leaf street, in West Brattleboro, were active and prominent in 
all good enterprises in their day. The father. Esquire Green- 
leaf, held a license from the government as Inn-keeper, was 
town clerk from 177G to 1783, and so the last clerk of the town 
under the jurisdiction of New York and the first under that of 
Vermont; and was both a member and the clerk of the first 
church. 

Out of the 800 acres which he bought of Judge Wells, Mr. 
Greenleaf, in 1772, sold a little more than twenty-six, in the 
northeast corner, to Samuel Knight, on which, about 1773. Mr. 
Knight, who held a commission as an attorney-at-law in "his 
Majesty's courts of record" in Cumberland county, built a com- 
paratively commodious dwelling house, just north of where the 
Free Library now stands, apparently the first dwelling of much 
size built in what is now Brattleboro village. The rest of the 
800 acres was soon mortgaged, August and September, 1773, 600 
acres of it, in the western part, to Judge Wells; and what 
remained, in the eastern part, to other parties; all which evi- 
dently soon passed out of Esquire Greenleaf's hands into the 
hands of others. He, however, owned the fifty-acre lot of the 
now Herrick's farm, near "Elm Corners," and went there, 
apparently in 1770, to live. At a later date, 1783, he bought 
twenty acres more, on his southern border, where he afterward 
had his home till he died in 1803. 

Esquire Greenleaf has often been spoken of as being the first 
merchant in Brattleboro, if not the first in Vermont, and is said 
to have opened a store in 1771, the same year he came to Brat- 
tleboro, at or near where Union block now stands on Main street. 
Some speak of it as having been at or near the mills at the foot 
of Main street; "The Tory's Daugliter" speaks of it, in lT7.i. as 
"resting on the Connecticut river," at the mouth of the Whet- 
stone. In 177t;, Mr. Greenleaf went to live on his little farm 
south of the Miner place; and in 1778 mention is made of cer- 
tain notes payable in wheat "at Esquire Greenleaf's house, or at 
the grist mill," by which is probably meant the grist mill owned 
by Seth Smith, which stood near what is now the south end of 
the red bridge near the Brattleboro creamery; all which would 
seem to indicate that he had no store at that time. 



13 

With his son, Major Greenleaf, the writer was somewhat well 
acquainted in the later years of the Major's life, living, as he 
did, next neighbor to him for a time, some sixty-five years ago. 
And then, at a later date, out of regard for his memory, and as 
a proper thing to be done, the writer suggested, and put up a 
board to that effect, that the road in West Brattleboro. which 
leaves Main street at the Rockwell place and goes up west, past 
the house at the top of the hill where Mr. Greenleaf used to 
live, be called in honor of his memory, "Greenleaf street."* 

For 44 years, subsequent to 1799, Mr. Greenleaf was town clerk, 
and ' 'his penmanship, in the old town books, for its uniformity and 
perfection, is the admiration of everyone who has ever examined 
it." He was what might be called a "self-made man."' By a 
diligent use of such means as came within his reach, in his 
earlier days, " he laid the foundation of such a character tor 
ability and virtue as won the well-deserved respect, love and 
confidence of three generations, then calmly and peacefully died 
in 1850, aged 92 years."! 

VI. E.^RLY Settlements. 

Though Brattleboro was chartered in 1753, yet almost no 
attempts at settlements within its borders were made, except 
under the protection of here and there a block house, as at Fort 
Dummer, till the French war was ended in 1760 by the capture 
of Montreal. Much less had any great highway been laid out 
and kept in repair, even here in Brattleboro, till after that 
event. And yet many of the enterprising, public-spirited men 
of New England had passed up and down the state from Massa- 
chusetts and Connecticut to the scenes of hostilities on Lakes 
George and Champlain, and had thus got some good idea of its 
fertile soil and abundant water power; so that the promise of a 
safe occupation being given by the conquest of Canada served 



•When the writer took up his abode, some twenty years ago, where he now reside*, 
he thou^jht the road which winds aloni? up the brook, which comes dancing and s::c- 
ing down from the beautiful valley south of the Mathers, Kinii^'s and town farm. o-<it 
to have a becoming name, and so had a board painted, and put up on the corner, near 
Main street, describing it as "Bonnyvale Road." 

tMajor Greenleaf, in marrying Mrs. Ryan for his second wife, became the m'ao^.- 
loved stepfather of two very youn;; and beautiful step-daughters; one of whom. Love 
C, became the wife of the late James l"ii.k, and by him, the mother of Mrs. George 
W. Hooker; while the other, Mary, became the wife of the late John W. Frost. 



I 

I ■ 
I 

14 

to kindle in many a desire to emigrate to the attractive territory 

which they found in this region. Hence the rapidity with which 

settlements were made here, for some years subsequent to 1T*)0; 

. though Brattleboro, by reason of its fort, had had a sprinkling 

i of emigrants previous to that date. But as yet, and for several 

1 years, all, except a small clearing at and around the fort, was a 

! dense forest of majestic trees. 

i It would seem that one of the first settlements made in town. 

I aside from what wa^ done at Fort Dummer, was that of Benia- 
i min Moor, in 1757, near where the "Retreat" farmhouse n-jw 
stands. Mr. Moor was killed by the Indians in 175S, and his 
wife and children carried captive to Canada, where they were 
redeemed by Col. Peter Schuyler in 1700, To Mrs, Moor 
Col. Josiah Willard gave a lot of fifty acres, in 17G;>, southeast 
of Meeting House Hill, where the late Gilbert Smith lived. 
Here she was married to Moses Johnson in 1764, soon after 
i which they sold their farm to Abner Scovil. Col. John Sar- 
j gent, son of Lieut. John Sargent, began a settlement in Brat- 
■_ tleboro in 17G'-i on the now road to Dummerston, north of West 
I river, where some of his descendants now live. It was during 
; the same year, 17<i2, that John Arms, who became Major, set- 
tled where the Retreat farmhouse now stands. The famous 
tavern, which he established and kept there till his death from 
the kick of a horse in 1770, stil] continued to be kept for many 
years by his widow, Susanna, and his son, Josiah, Samuel 
Wells, who became both Colonel and Judge, came to Brattle- 
boro, as did John Arms, from Deerfield, in 17»J'.J, and began a 
settlement in a log house west of where the Summer Retreat 
for women now stands; some ten years after which, about 1773, 
he built what is now the main part of that, Retreat, which is 
now thought to be the oldest house in town. Among other 
first settlers in this town was Ebenezer Fisher, the great-grand- 
father of P^zra and his brothers. He came here when there 
were as yet but fourteen others, and settled east of the ceme- 
tery, near where Mr. Brown now lives. Henry Wells, Brattle- 
boro's first physician and the first clerk of the town, came here 
from New York in I7G7, and settled on a farm of about a thou- 
sand acres, of which the late Gilbert Smith's was a part, south- 
east of the cemetery on Meeting House Hill. Here he built a 



15 

arge house, which stood almost unaltered till taken down by 
.VIr. Smith in 1875. 

VII. Roads and Residences. 

At first all the roads were hardly more than foot and bridle 
paths, till these were widened enough, by cutting away the 
trees on each side, for an ox-sled or cart to make its way; 
though it was long before all the stumps, roots, and big stones 
were removed. Previous to 1768 few, if any, well-defined 
roads were laid out and kept in proper repair; the paths and 
roads being extended from one settlement to another, here and 
there, as new emigrants came in and began new homes. The 
passing of people on foot or horseback up and down the Con- 
necticut, previous to 17'^, and before wagons had come into 
use in this region, made a track about where the road now runs 
from Hinsdale, now Vernon, via Prospect Hill Cemetery to a 
bridge near the mouth of the Whetstone. From this point tlie 
track was continued northward through the woods, near the line 
of the present Main and Linden streets, till it came to the great 
"Retreat meadows." When Governor Wentworth built his 
grist mill by Whetstone bridge, and Major Arms his Inn where 
the Retreat farmhouse now stands, as they did in 17<'»'2, this 
track began to put on the semblance of a highway, and to have 
a rapid extension toward the north, northeast, and northwest. 
Passing the Arms place, the road led on north and west to the 
Wells place (Summer Retreat), where it opened into two, one 
of which turned to the right and went down to West river, 
which it crossed by a ford and led on past the several Sargents 
and Frenches toward Dummerston, the only road from Brattle- 
boro in that direction till 17'.Mj; while theother branch contmued 
straight on westward, passing the Dunklee homestead. Oliver 
Carpenter's, Wicopy ("Wickopee") Hill, and eventually the old 
meeting house on Dummerston Hill, to Williamsville and New- 
fane Hill, thence to Chester, the shire town of Cumberland 
County, which embraced both Windham and Windsor when the 
state was under the rule of New York Province. Still 
another road struck out from near the Wells place, going, first 
south of west, then west, passing near Samuel Knight's place, 
then Pastor Reeve's, and Ebenezer Fisher's, and came, ni ITriS. 



i6 

upon Meeting House Hill from the north, past the now Doolittli 
place; whence, ev^entually, it went on westward, down across 
the northern part of the late Harry Miller farm to the S. S. 
Sargent place on Whetstone brook; thence across the country 
west to Abel Stockwell's on Ames Hill, now Bama Clark's, 
thence through Halifax to Albany. 

One and the same as the beginning of this road on the Hill 
was another which came west from the meeting house down 
through the now Miller, once the Reeve, pasture to the Pet- 
tee, once Reeve place.* From this, a road led across the 
Whetstone brook to the now Rockwell and Hayes comer; Wil- 
liam Harris having settled at the Rockwell place in 1T68; Israel 
Smith at the Stockwell place, by the Davenport store, two yeojs 
later; Rutherford Hayes at the Hayes place in 1TT>; and Wil- 
liam Ellas, where the old Academy stood, in ITT'2. From this 
Harris-Hayes centre one road went northwest, passing the hone 
of Capt. Nathaniel Blakeslee, who married Deborah Reeve and 
lived at the now Miller place; then to the home of Capt. James 
Blakeslee, who married another of Pastor Reeve's daughters 
and lived where Samuel Sargent now lives. Another road 
went up the hill, west, passing Major Greenleaf's, now ThtiT- 
ber's, soon after which it parted and went, one southward to the 
Warriner's, another westward to Marlboro. 

There was no village where West Brattleboro now is till after 
1784, though, some twelve or fifteen years previous to that date, a 
bridle path and then an ox-sled road led from the Harris- Hayes 
center, southeastward to the Hayes tavern, afterward known as 
Bixby's, Barrett's, Root's, Stewart's, Goodenough's and a dozen 
others, the last of whom was J. P. Sargent, who was in charge of 

♦When the provincial government of New Hampshire chartered this towTi :; made 
several reservations, one of which was a glebe of land for the first settled s::" s:er. 
This came, of course, to the Rev. .Vbner Reeve anj embraced what caaie. eve=t-i'."..r. 
to be known as the Shep.ird Rice place, near .Mr. Brown's, and now the propertv c: -.te 
Retreat, about a mile east fn^n the meetin< house. Here it was that Mr. Reeve ..virJ 
till after the new mcetinvj house was built in West Brattleboro vii'.agre. Here here-rid 
the younger portion of his large family, doing pulpit and parish work, and w:;h -.;« 
help of his sons, especially Silas, the youni^est, carrying on the farm to eke c-,;: bis 
small salary. Eventually, however, he made an exchange with a .Mr. Patters-,"":: a=!l 
obtained what used to be known as the " Reeve farm," which extenced from :L-e 
cemetery on the Hill down westward to Whetstone brook, and embraced the pre=.5*s 
since known as the Ranney, the Porter, the Bi>Umder, and now the Pette* place. 1= 
the summer vac.ition I'f the .\c.ideiny, in ivi;. the writer worked at "...lying cs tie 
Reeve farm for .Mrs. Rhoda Blakeslee Reeve, the widow of Silas, who died Jose IX 
IWJ, and for her son, John. 



1 



17 

t when, a few years ago, it was burned. From this the path went 
jouth to Ellas' by the old Academy, then east to a ford or bridge 
)n the Whetstone, near the now iron bridge, then to Lieut, Root's, 
ate Dea. Wilder's, now Thurber's. Here, about to turn to the 
left and go up the hill north, it met and took on another which 
came from Guilford via Benjamin Baker's, now Stafford's, on "Fair 
View Hill," then passed Greenleaf's, now Herrick's, then passed 
John Dickerman's, now Miner's, then crossed the Whetstone by 
Smith's grist mill, near the now red bridge, then turned to the 
left and went west to Lieut. Root's, where it joined the other, 
as above named, and with it went up the hill north past Lemuel 
Kendrick's and thus reached the common, meeting house, and 
cemetery on the Hill, about 1T74. It is thought that this road 
from Guilford and the brook to the Hill was that which Col. 
Ethan Allen took when he went with his soldiers and prisoners 
from Guilford to Brattleboro, September 10, 1782, and that his 
troops and the prisoners stopped for the night on the Hill, 
perhaps in the church, while he and his officers went on and 
stopped at the famous Major Arms Inn. From Lieut. Root's 
to w^hat is now the east village there was no direct road till 1785, 
the same year in which the meeting house on the Hill began to 
^ive place to the building of a new one in West Brattleboro. 

After 1774:, anyone going from the Harris-Hayes region to 
the east village region might go northeast to the Hill via the 
Toad up through the now Miller pasture; or, doubtless better, 
via Lieut. Root's to the Hill, and thence by a road going south- 
east past Abner Scovil's (the late Gilbert Smith's), to the 
^eat river road, which went up where Main and Linden streets 
now run, past the Retreat and crossed West river at the upper 
■end of the Retreat meadows. 

It is interesting to notice how, at the time of which we speak, 
and for ten or fifteen years later, nearly all the roads in town, 
"whether long or short, led to and from the Meeting Flouse Hill, 
that place being, at that time, not only well nigh geographically, 
but, for business, and in all other respects, the great center of 
the town.* Aside from the roads already named, there were 

•A chart of the original roads, as they came centering m from the four quarters, 
north, south, e.i->t und west, up >n the Hiil, with the several ilatestif their coming in and 
going out, also, of the site of the meeting house and of several graves, may be found 
In the writer's "Second Discourse" on the first church in Brattleboro. page 26. 



I8 

two Others leading from the Hill northward to the now Usca 
Ware and West Dummerston region. 

VIII. Meeting House Hill and Census of Population. 

When the proprietors of the New Hampshire charter of Brat- 
tleboro had the town surveyed and divided into lots, they made 
a plan of it, and on this plan five acres were reserved on the 
Hill for a cemetery and other purposes; and then, when this 
charter was annulled by the town's coming under the jurisdic- 
tion of New York, Judge Wells obtained a grant of it from thar 
Province; after which, July 30, 1TT4:, he conveyed essentially 
the same five acres to the trustees of the town for essentially 
the same purposes. The following is a description of the land 
and the uses to be made of it, as given in the deed: "Com- 
monly called and known by the name of fleeting House Hill, a 
part of which is used for a burying ground, bounded northerly 
by land belonging to David Church, westerly by a road or high- 
way, until the same enters into another road, which last men- 
tioned road runs through the hereby granted tract of land, and 
partly by lands now belonging to said Samuel Wells, southerly 
by lands now belonging to Abner Scovil, and easterly partly by 
part of the aforesaid road, which, turning its course, runs 
through the said hereby granted tract, and partly by lands 
belonging to Henry Wells; containing about si.K acres of land, 
be the same more or less: In trust, that in some convenient 
part or parts thereof on the north side of said road which p.isses 
through the said hereby granted tract, a building or buildings 
for the public worship of Almighty God be erected, and a con- 
venient part or parts around said building or buildings be applied 
for the purpose of a burying place or burying places, the 
profits of the said burying place or burying places, and all 
that part of the hereby granted premises, which lies on the 
north side of the aforesaid road, is hereby declared to be given 
and granted to the use of such minister or ministers respectively 
for the time being, as shall officiate there, and the other part of 
the said hereby granted premises, lying on the south side of the 
aforesaid road, which runs through the said hereby granted 
tract, to be applied for the use of building thereon any other 
public buildings, which shall at any time hereafter be found nee- 



19 

;sary for the service of said township of Brattleboro, and for 
aining- and exercising the inhabitants in the use of arms or in 
her useful or entertaining- exercise, and for any and every 
;her public use or service of the said township, and for no other 
ads, intentions, meanings or purposes whatsoever." 
It was here that, nine years previous, a portion of this land 
lad begun to be used for one of the purposes specified in the 
lead, when Elizabeth, a beloved daughter of the Judge and 
VIrs. Hannah Wells, was buried there in 17G5. When that 
ittle grave was made — probably the first in all that region — it 
was in the lone woods, amid primeval trees, the entire hill 
being then covered with one dense, unbroken forest. Here, 
too, in 17G8, was built the first meeting house, the site of 
which, after much search and study, has been but recently 
fixed upon and suitably marked by a gi-anite block,* eight rods 
nearly south from Elizabeth's little grave. The house was 
built by private enterprise, which at that time was a matter 
of no small account, the entire population of the town being as 
yet small — all the "grown men" numbering but seventy-five, 
and almost every one of these at his wits' end to know how 
and where to get the means to build his own house, extend his 
clearing, feed his pig, keep his cow and horse, and support his 
family. In those early days " the laws of Vermont required 
every town to have ' a good pair of stocks, with a lock and key, 
sufficient to hold and secure such offenders as shall be sen- 
tenced to sit therein,' to be set in the most public place; and 
in the same place, a sign-post, on which all notifications, war- 
rants, &-C., for meetings, &c., shall be set up. At a meeting, 
held September 14, 1781, the town, m compliance with this 
law of \'ermont — 

" Voted to build a pair of stocks and a sign post. 
"Voted to sett the sign post near the meeting house. 
"Voted to fitt the stocks into the sign post." 

♦This monument, the base of which consists of native RT.anite and the die of mill- 
stone granite from Connecticut, is about four feet hiffh by two and a half wide. " rock 
finish," beurinjs' this inscription : -'The First .Meetini; House in Brattleboro was built 
here, A. D, ITtls." On the riijht hand corner, near the base, are the initials. " E. E. F., 
18;i8," the letters beini,: understood to .stand for E.ra E. I'lsher, to whom uU are gieatly 
indebted for this work and for other expensive and important additions and improve- 
ments in these now memorable and sacred grounds. 



, ' The house was used for town meetings as well as for publ 
worship, being, as it was, the only public building in town f( 
some years. The land around it, save the cemetery on tl 
north of it, was used as a public common and a field for trail 
ing till 1785, when a move was made to build a meeting hoiii 
in what is now the West Brattleboro village. Having built 
j meeting house on the Hill, as they did in ITOS, the people ver 
I soon began a search and effort to obtain a suitable minister fc: 
! the pulpit and for other parish work; and to this end, in IT TO 
'; they formed themselves into a society called "the Covenanters.' 
I no less than seventy out of the seventy-five men of the town a*. 
j that time giving in their names as severally agreeing, cov- 
i enanting and promising to abide and stand by certain measures 
and articles for settling and maintaining a true gospel minister 
I in town. But, as a very full account of the first fifty years of 
the first church in Brattleboro and of its first three pastors, the 
Rev. Abner Reeve, the Rev. William Wells and the Rev. Caleb 
Burge, was given in the writer's two historical discourses per- 
taining to that subject, and published, the first, of thirty-two 
pages, Svo., in 18TG, the second, of thirty-one pages, in 1894, this 
phase of the early life of the town is omitted from the present 
historical sketch. 

At the time of which we speak, when the meeting house was 
built and a church formed, a census of the town put the number 
of "grown men" at seventy-five, and the entire population at 
403. The following are the names of the men and the localises 
in which they lived at that time: — 

"Josiah White, John White, Abijah White. Tilly Wilder. Tilly 
Wilder, Jr., Wildar Willard, Benjamin Nourse, Samuel Brown, 
and Willard King, who lived south of where the village is; 
William King, who lived up the hill above the cider mill at 
Mr. Thayer's, was furthest west; John Sargeant, Thomas Sar- 
geant, Benjamin Butterfield, Benjamin Buttcrfield, Jr.. Jesse 
Frost, Jacob Spaldin, Joshua Wilder, Lemuel Kendrick, Benja- 
min Gold, Nathan Gold, and Levi Baldwin above West hver; 
Samuel Wells, Elias Wilder, Elias Wilder, Jr., Isaac Earheart. 
Joel Atcherson, John Arms, Josiah Arms, Joseph Herrick. Jon- 
athan Herrick, William Nichols. Oliver Harris, Oliver Harris. 
Jr., Ephraim Knapp, Jonathan Church, William Ellis. Thoir.as 



1 



hilis, Samuel Knight, John Baldwin, Jonathan Hobs, and 
Fmiel Baldwin northwest of where the Retreat is; Timothy 
haurch, Nathaniel Church, David Church, William Cranny, 
yrael Field, Richard Prouty, Samuel Kent, William Goss, 

Jbenezer Knapp, John Pike, and Jacob Pike in the neighborhood 
)out Oscar Ware's; Dr. Henry Wells, Joshua Partridge, 
benezer Fisher, Alexander Youngs, John Campton, Jacob 
' 5all, Shadrach Ball, William McCune, Isaac McCune, and Elijah 
! i'j,-*routy in the neighborhood east and north of the common where 
j I the meeting house was built; and a Mr. Burnap, Reuben Bump, 
f Nathaniel Church, Eber Church, Jabez Davis, Edward King, 
Samuel Bennet, Thomas Cooke, Oliver Cooke, John Alexander, 
James Knapp, Jonas Knapp, and Sawyer Wright northwest of 
there toward Wicopee Hill."* 

IX, Land Controversy and Dispute about Jurisdiction. 

But during the years of which we have been speaking, espe- 
cially during the first decade of these years, by reason of the 
indefinite, ambiguous, and even conflicting boundaries of terri- 
tories claimed variously by New Hampshire, Massachusetts 
and New York, the seeds of much bitter controversy had been 
sown by an indiscriminate granting of lands to various parties 
in all this region — some by the Dutch at Albany, some by the 
French, and some by the several Colonies of Massachusetts, 
New Hampshire and New York. As early as 17G3 Benning 
Wentworth, acting under a royal commission as Governor of 
New Hampshire, and told by the king that the Province of 
New Hampshire extended westward till it met his other gov- 
ernments (that is, to a line extending from Lake Champlain 
south to the western line of Massachusetts), in the king's 
name had granted 138 townships west of the Connecticut river, 
which were now generally known as the " New Hampshire 
Grants." This being more than New York could brook, Lieu- 
tenant-Governor Tryon, of that Province, referred the settle- 
ment of the boundary ([uestion to George III., who, in Council 
of July *20, 1701, decided that the western bank of the Con- 
necticut river should thereafter be regarded as the boundary 

♦In looking at these names it will be seen that in no case is there a double or more 
than one given name; and that, out of the whole number of seventy- live, all but eigh- 
teen of tho Kiven names were, ori>;inally, taken from the Bible. 



■•'^"^^^— ^'- ^.■■U-!....^.^,..UJ,,^U.i.^i.^ 



line between the Province of New Hampshire and that of Xeal 
York. At this decision the colonists were much surprised ane 
displeased ; but, supposing- it meant nothing more than d 
change of jurisdiction, yielded at first a peaceful submissioid 
But soon finding themselves much mistaken, in that the Go\|- 
ernor of New York was ignoring their rights and claim^ 
making grants of their lands to others, or demanding enormou: 
patent fees for confirming the grants they held, they stouth 
demurred. Indeed, many of the towns soon entered upon «. V 
state of open rebellion. Attempts to eject farmers from lands 
they had paid for and from improvements they had made led 
to many a scene of personal violence. Some were kidnapped 
and carried to jail for attempting to protect and defend the 
farms the}- had paid for and the homes they had made. 

For a time, however, not a few, especially of the later set- 
tlers, who had their grants from New York, or had paid the fees 
required for a confirmation of grants already acquired, took 
sides with that state. When the boundary line was fixed at the 
Connecticut river, in 17G4, what is now Vermont became a part 
of Albany County. Then, in 1768, what are now Windham and 
Windsor Counties, were made into one and called Cumberland; 
and at a meeting of the Brattleboro freeholders, which was 
called for the first Tuesday of March, in accord with the time 
specified in the patent of the town, Brattleboro was organized; 
John Arms, Esq., being chosen moderator. Dr. Henn,- Wells, 
clerk, and other citizens appointed to other offices, such as were 
required by the Province of New York. As yet the proclivities 
of Brattleboro were toward New York. When Lieut. Leonard 
Spaulding, who had been confined in Westminster jail, on the 
charge of having uttered treasonable words against the king, 
was released, in November, IT 74, by a committee assisted by a 
concourse of frecborn neighbors and friends from Dunimerston, 
Putney andother towns, "without key or lock-picker," Brattleboro 
was not in it. But when those who regarded the demands of 
the new government as unjust and oppressive were to present 
their grievances to the court at Westminster, in March, ITTo, the 
high sheriff of the county, coming to Brattleboro for men to 
"assist him in keeping the peace and suppressing the rioters," 
easily found no less than thirty-five men ready to go back with 



23 

m to the court house. Nor was it long before one William 
rench, a freeborn citizen of Brattleboro, who, with the others, 
id come there to tell their grievances, was shot dead. And 
et again we see what were the proclivities of Brattleboro on 
his question in those days, in* that she had no delegate in either 
)f the two meetings of the general convention of the delegates 
)f the state, one, of fifty-one delegates, on July 24, ITT'J, at 
Dorset, and another, an adjourned meeting, on January 15, 
1777, at Westminster, where it was "voted, unanimously, that 
the district of land, commonly called 'New Hampshire Grants, ' be 
a new and separate state, and for the future conduct themselves 
as such." Nor yet again, when this meeting adjourned to meet 
in Windsor, the first Wednesday in June, and when met, re- 
commended to the people of the new state to assemble in their 
respective towns and choose representatives to meet at Windsor 
on July 2, to form a constitution and elect delegates to con- 
gress, did Brattleboro take any part, but rather on June 16, in 
full town meeting, voted not to accept or approve the proceed- 
ings of the late convention, July 2, at Windsor. And in 
August, when an attempt was made to take the sense of the 
voters as to the new state, the report from Brattleboro was. that 
out of a vote of lfi(5, all but one expressed a dissent from the 
pretended state of Vermont. 

So great was the opposition of Brattleboro and two or three 
other towns, that Brigadier General Ethan Allen came from the 
west side of the mountain with a goodly number of Green Moun- 
tain Boys, all armed and equipped to aid the civil officers of this 
region in their efforts to enforce the authority of the state of 
Vermont. Prosecuting this work, they arrested, among others, 
all but one of the military officers of Brattleboro, together with 
some in Putney and some in Westminster, took them as pris- 
oners to the court, then in session at Westminster, where they 
were tried, found guilty, and fined each from two to forty pounds 
sterling and costs, for their opposition to the state of Vermont. 
The general sentiment of the town now began to turn from 
New York and to set in favor of Vermont, though it was not till 
1781 that she sent delegates or representatives to the Vermont 
Assembly. The last town meeting under New York auspices, 
held the first Tuesday in March, 1781. simply chose a moderator 



24 

and a clerk, and then adjourned for a year; whereupon the loy 
local citizens of the new state called another meeting of tl: 
town, to be held March 27, 1781, at which time the town vote 
to accept the union that had been agreed upon and adoptei 
between the legislature of Vermont and the Committee of Con 
vention, and chose Samuel Warriner moderator, Esquire Stepher 
Greenleaf clerk, and all the other officers which the constitution 
of the state required. And so it was that Brattleboro became 
organized as a town under the jurisdiction of Vermont, and has 
so remained to this day. 

But, though jurisdiction had now passed from New York to 
[ 'Vermont, some of the people still adhered so stoutly to the 
; former state as to make it necessary to give the Governor power 
to raise men to assist the sheritis in their efforts, at times, to 
enforce the authority of the state. By his direction it was that 
General Ethan Allen came from the other side of the mountain 
with 250 men to ]\Iarlboro, September 9, 1782, where he was 
reinforced by nearly as many more from several of the neigh- 
boring towns. The next morning detachments of men were 
sent to Brattleboro, Halifax, and Guilford to arrest such York- 
ites as were leading the rebellion, and take them to headquar- 
ters. Allen himself, with the larger part of his force, went to 
Guilford, the stronghold of the offenders, where, towards the 
close of the day, the detachments came in with their prisoners. 
In the evening Allen, with his troops and prisoners, started for 
Brattleboro, hoping to arrive there that night, but had gone not 
far ere he was fired upon by a company of forty-six Guilford- 
• ites, who had stationed themselves in a hiding place by the side 
. of the road, over which the Vermonters would have to pass. 
Upon this, Allen forthwith returned to Guilford and made 
proclamation to the people that he would give no quarter to any 
man, woman or child who should oppose him; and unless the 
inhabitants of Guilford should peacefully submit to the authority 
of Vermont, he would lay their town as desolate as Sodom and 
Gomorrah; after which he was sutTered to go on his way to 
Brattleboro without further molestation. Starting the next 
day, with some twenty or more prisoners, from Brattleboro for 
Westminster, he gave orders to kill without quarter anyone 
who should fire on his men. Arriving at the court in Westmin- 



1771803 



'5 

ster, several of the prisoners, being tried by jury for treason, 
were condemned and sentenced to be imprisoned until the fourth 
of the next October in the county jail and then banished from 
the state, not to return on penalty of death; and that all their 
goods, chattels and estates be seized and sold as forfeited to the 
use of the state. 

After a little more of this kind of opposition, and a little more 
of this kind of punishment, by the first of March, 1784, about 
the last of the people were cured of their affinity for New York. 
The opposition and disturbances in Brattleboro had already 
come to an end. Nor was it long before peaceful submission 
prevailed in other places, and the authority of Vermont was 
generally acknowledged. 

X. Industrial, Domestic and Social Life. 

With this brief sketch of the early civil and political life of 
Col. Brattle's Borough, a few words concerning its industrial, 
domestic and social life must bring our Monograph to a close. 
Probably very few of this generation have much idea of the 
marvelous changes through which this town has passed since it 
came to be the habitation of civilized men, or much idea even 
of the changes that have come over it since the first half cen- 
tury of its life. Since those early occupants began to "lift up 
their axes upon the thick trees" that covered every acre when 
they began to come here, most of these acres have been 
"cleared" and become open fields, though some of them are 
now beginning to show signs of returning to their primitive 
condition. Instead of the general silence and slumber that 
reigned here when the white man came, save where it was 
broken by the whoop of an Indian, the hoot of an owl, or the 
song or the cry of other animal, we now have the music and 
the marchings, the grand achievements and great enterprises, 
of a high order of civilin;ation and Christianity. Often the emi- 
grant who was the pioneer of this change had to come here 
picking his way through the woods, with nothing save his ax, gun, 
ammunition, blanket and a basket or bag o( food. Reaching the 
section he was to occupy, his first move was to make for him- 
self a temporary shelter by setting up a few posts and poles for 
a frame, and using the boughs and bark of trees for a covering. 



26 

The next step was to cut. away the trees and clear a place lar^e 
enough for a log house of two rooms, with a big stone chimney 
in the center.* This done, he would go back for his wife and 
child, who would return with him on horseback — possibly on a 
pillion — or in an ox-sled. if\nd now his great work for a year 
— indeed, for several years — is to extend his clearing by felling 
the trees, cutting and piling them up, burning them, and gath- 
ering up the ashes for the potash factory! — if perchance there 
may be one in reach — meantime devoting his cleared fields to 
the growing of grain, vegetables and grass; and all the while 
working towards the building of a barn and the stocking of 
his farm. 

At first the house furnishings and farming tools of the emi- 
grant farmer and his wife are alike plain, simple and scant; 
but their mutual helpfulness, courage, energy and inventive 
genius, together with those magical sweeteners of toils and 
trials in every life, a strong faith and a high hope, all com- 
bine to make their new home a very happy one, and give them 
an inspiring expectation of ease and abundance in the not very 
distant future. Nor does the farmer's intelligent and cheerful 
housewife fail to be wonderfully successful in finding out and 
suggesting ways and means of increasing the capital, the com- 
forts and the pleasures of their unique home. 

The Rev. Dr. Dwight, president of Yale college, who made 
repeated tours of observation in different parts of Vermont and 
in adjoining states during the latter part of the last century and 
the earlier part of the present, came several times to this town; 
after which he published a series of valuable letters, among 
which are three especially devoted to the "character of the new 
settlers" in this and the other towns through which he passed. 
As a fitting continuance of thoughts and facts such as the fore- 



•The fireplaces in some of those chimneys were huvie affairs— suiTicient to take in a 
bivr back loj; four feet lonir, on which wouM be laid a smaller Ior, with a third on the 
andirons in front, over which would be laid two or three other sticks, with a plenty of 
kindlings between and underneath to start with in the morning. Fortunately, there 
was an abundance of wood near at hand in those days. 

tin the summer of ITVtl Dr. Green, of Windsor, Vt., sent 400 tons of potash to N'ew 
York. Potash refined into pearlaNh was worth ab.nit ftuO per ton, to make which 
would take about 70<» bushels of ashes ; and the quantity of ashes that might be gath- 
ered from an acre would vary from fifty to 100 bushels. 



I ! 

I 
\ I 



going, a few extracts are here made from the letters above 
named: "Among the enjoyments of these people, health and 
haidihood ought never to be forgotten. The toils, which they 
undergo; the difficulties, which they surmount; and the hazards, 
which they escape ; all increase their spirits and their firmness. 
A New England forest, formed of hills and valleys, down which 
the waters, always pure and sweet, flow with unceasing rapidity ; 
or of plains, dry and destitute of marshes, is healthy almost of 
course. The minds of these setttefs, therefore, possess the 
energy which results from health, as well as that which results 
from activity; and few persons taste the pleasures which fall to 
their lot with keener relish. The common troubles of Hfe, often 
deeply felt by persons in easy circumstances, scarcely awaken 
in them the slightest emotion. Cold and heat, snow and rain, 
labor and fatigue, are regarded by them as trifles, deserving no 
attention. The coarsest food is pleasant to them; and the hard- 
est bed refreshing. Over roads, encumbered with rocks, mire, 
and the stumps and roots of trees, they ride upon a full trot, 
and are apprehensive of no danger. Even their horses gain, by 
habit, the same resolution; and pass rapidly and safely over the 
worst roads, where both horses and men, accustomed to smoother 
ways, merely tremble and creep. Even the women of these set- 
tlements, and those of every age, share largely in this spirit. 
The longest journeys, in very difficult roads, they undertake 
with cheerfulness, and perform without anxiety. I have often 
met them on horseback, and been surprised to see them pass 
fearlessly over those dangers of the way, which my com- 
panions and myself watched with caution and solicitude. 
Frequently I have seen them performing these journeys 
alone. 

"Another prime enjoyment of these settlers is found in the 
kindness, which reigns among them universally. A general 
spirit of good neighborhood is prevalent thoughout NewEngland ; 
but here it prevails in a special degree. Among these people, 
a man rarely tells the story of his distresses to deaf ears, or asks 
any reasonable assistance in vain. The relief given is a matter, 
not of kindness merely, but of course. To do kind oflices is the 
custom, a part of the established manners. This is seen every- 
where; and is regularly experienced by the traveler; whom they 



i 



28 

receive as a friend, rather than as a stranger; as an object of 
good will, and not as a source of gain." 1 

Speaking of this town at a later date, 1803, he says: " Brat- 
tleboro, the next township, was settled not long after Vernon, 
and, like it, borders on the river. It has a softer and handsomer 
aspect than Guilford; yet it is uneven, and some of the hills are 
high and steep. A little collection of houses, often styled the 
village and sometimes the city, built on the southern limit of a 
plain immediately below the mouth of West river, is one 
of the prettiest objects of the kind and size within my 
recollection. If we did not mistake in counting them, they 
were now but ten in number; but with their appendages 
were remarkably neat. The town has a warm, rather than 
a rich soil. The inhabitants are all included within a single 
congregation, and amounted in 1790 to 1,589; in 1800 to 
1,867." 

And yet, at that time, the early settlers of Colonel Brattle's 
Borough were far from having come in sight of many things 
which the men and women of this day regard as essential, 
indispensable. Dr. Dwight's letter, from which the writer made 
his first extract, was written in 170S, just one hundred years 
ago, some thirty or forty years after Brattleboro had begun to 
be largely settled; and yet he and his companions all traveled 
on horseback, nor does he ever make mention of a carriage of 
any kind. Indeed, the writer of these lines can well remember 
when carts and wagons began to come into use in the region 
where he spent his early years. The men and women of those 
early generations were generally clad in fabrics of their own 
manufacture. All the woolen garments the writer ever wore 
before he went to college, sixty-one years ago, were made of 
wool grown on his father's farm, spun and wove, cut and made 
in his father's house. Neither the spinning wheels, one for 
flax, one for wool, nor the looms of a hundred years ago had, 
as yet, given place to the piano or the organ; nor had it, as yet, 
ceased to be one of the difficult, yet most valuable and worthy 
of the accomplishments of the young ladies, the daughter:, of 
those homes, to know how to draw a smooth and even thread 
from the distati of hatcheled flax, or from the roll of tow or 
wool, work the treadles, shoot the shuttle, or swing the lathe of 

I 



iiiMirttirt- 



mriiiiiii i 



29 

the loom.* Nor, yet again, could any instrumental music ever 
afford mothers the pleasure which the playing and the prattling 
of their many dear little ones gave them. 

The people of the days and years of which we speak never 
saw a sewing or a knitting machine, a steam engine or an elec- 
tric car, a bicycle or a baby carriage, mowing machine or horse 
rake, a lucifer match, gas or kerosene light, an India-rubber 
garment or a photograph; never used a steel or a gold pen. nor 
an envelope or a stamp for their letters; nor did every family 
have a plate for each at the table, much less a silver fork for 
anybody; never played croquet, lawn tennis or court tennis: 
never went to a meeting house warmed by artificial means, and 
never had communication with their friends at home or abroad 
by means of a telephone or a telegraph. Their newspapers 
were next to none; their books were few. When you have 
named the Bible, the Westminster Catechism, Perry's Diction- 
ary (1805), Webster's Spelling Book (1783), Murray's Grammar 
(1795), Pike's Arithmetic, an almanac, and the Bay Psalm Book, 
the first book ever published in New England, you have 
exhausted the more common list. And yet that list, meagre as 
it was, was not to be despised. To say nothing of the Bible 
and the Catochism, that Noah Webster Spelling Book, though 
small and apparently simple, was a work of wonderful interest. 
wisdom and worth. As the author of "Building the Nation," 
C. C. Cofifin, has said: — 



' On the week days girls were spinning; 
There were wheels for wool and linen, 
And they talked of 'chain and filling' 

And so many 'runs' a day; 
Till the yarn was ripe for weaving. 
Which, the busy loom receivin;:. 
Children watched the rtying shuttle 

Darting on its mazy way. 



But with all this bur.z and hurry, 
And with all this work and worry. 
Matrons found more time to visit. 

Long before the setting sun. 
Than in these, our days, so pressing. 
When more lime is spent in dressing. 
And the day is just beginning 

When the olden day w.is done." 



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30 

"It began with words of one syllable.* Its reading lessons 
were easy. They were about the great moral truths which 
are the foundation of character, inculcating thrift, indu5t:r>-, 
morality, yirtue, and happiness. It contained fables of his 
own making — delightful reading, illustrated with pictures. The 
first fable was about a boy who stole apples: 

' ' ' An old man found a rude boy upon one of his trees stealir:g 
apples, and desired him to come down; but the young sauce- 
box told him plainly he would not. "Won't you?" said the 
old man, " then I will fetch you down." So he pulled up some 
tufts of grass and threw at him; but this only made the young- 
ster laugh, to think the old man should pretend to beat him 
down from the tree with grass only. " Well, well," said the 
old man, "if neither words nor grass will do, I must try what 
virtue there is in stones." So the old man pelted him heartily 
with stones, which soon made the young chap hasten do\^-a 
from the tree and beg the old man's pardon. 

" ' MoRAi. — If good words and gentle uieans will not reclaitn 
the wicked, they must be dealt with in a more severe manner.' 

" In a short time it was the only speUing-book in use. Mil- 
lions of them were sold. The historian who would write a true 
history of the United States must not leave out Xoah Webster's 
spelling-book. It has been a great uplifting power. Many of 
the boys and girls fourscore years ago had time to master 
little more than the fables and the reading lessons of that book; 
but they never forgot the stories of the boy who stole apples. 
of the milkmaid who counted her chickens before they were 
hatched, and of the cat in the meal. The moral lessons which 
they learned laid the foundation of character — made them noble 
men and women, pioneers of a new civilization and founders of 
states " 

The early settlers of this town, like most of the other men 
and women of New England in their day, were a pet^ple of 
enterprise, enthusiasm, energy. They were the children and 
children's children of those who had left home, kindred, com- 
forts; crossed the sea, faced danger, endured hardship, for prin- 
ciples and privileges which, in the last analysis, they deemed 

••' N'o man may put oiT the law of God" was the first line of the first re.idinsj ^sson 
in words of one syllable, as the writer (L. G.), who was taught to study it out eighty 
years ago, well remembers. 



■mil j^'iiMIt-'- ■' ^^.-^^v^-i.^-....^- - -. --^-. ~ .-.■ . . .. -L^-^.Lit^-i.^>i>- 



3t 

dearer than life. And as the children of such parents, the 
heirs of such an ancestry, they naturally felt the same spirit 
a- burning in their own bones. So it was that with them life 
was real, earnest — meaning much for both the present and the 
future. They believed in three things — freedom, education, 
religion — and regarded the first and second as the handmaids 
of the third. To care for all these things, and all which these 
involved, support their families, maintain their liberties, and 
plant the needed institutions of church and state, made them 
thoughtful, industrious, energetic; and yet, in adjusting them- 
selves to their convictions and circumstances, they were withal 
a social, cheerful, happy people — their critics to the contrary 
notwithstanding. 

Though their advantages were limited and their habits sim- 
ple, yet their enjoyments were many, their pleasures pure and 
sweet. When the Sabbath came they put on their best clothes 
and went to meeting, some on horseback — husband, wife, and 
sometimes a child riding one and the same animal, for as to car- 
riages they had none. Reaching the meeting house, they 
dismounted upon the horseblock in front of it. Many, espe- 
cially of the younger and more vigorous classes, went on foot, 
some of them sometimes carrying their shoes and stockings in 
their hands, only stopping to put them on as they neared the 
end of their way. When the minister entered the house the 
congregation would rise, and stand while their much-loved 
pastor walked slowly up the aisle, graciously bowing his com- 
pliments this way and that till he reached the stairs which led 
up to the pulpit. At the morning service on communion Sab- 
baths the deacons occupied seats of honor, either by the side 
or beneath the pulpit, in face of the congregation. In those 
days they always had two services and a long sermon at each. 

During the hour's nooning, in summer, the people ate their 
luncheon of doughnuts and cheese, cucumbers or apples and 
gingerbread, standing or sitting and talking together in the 
house, or under the trees outside. In winter, they went into 
the neighbors' houses and warmed themselves, and sometimes 
had a prayer meeting. And when it came time to return to the 
meeting house, the women were always expected to replenish 
their foot-stoves with fresh coals from their kind neighbors' 



.„.^v.-iw.^^^^....^,..^..;x>'-..,|^f ,nj,lijjlHj,lii ^1 iiitiiflaffiT I in litifiiiliMini r nifil 



32 

good wood fire, which contributed much to their comfort during- 
the afternoon service. If the fire at their own homes chanced 
to go out while they were absent, they quickly rekindled it wiih 
a flint, a piece of steel and tinder, or by a flash of powder from 
the old gun. 

And so it was, that, with their religious meetings, secular pur- 
suits, family cares and social enjoyments, their lives were lives 
of commingled romance and reality, of toil, trial and triumph, 
profit and pleasure, usefulness and honor. Few as were their 
books; destitute of machinery as was the civilization of their 
day; clumsy, plain, simple, scant, as were their farming tools, 
their furniture, their wardrobe; humble as were their dwellings. 
and small their means; "they were rich in good habits, healih, 
industry and noble purposes. The first settlers were clear- 
headed, Bible-instructed, Sabbath-keeping, God-fearing, and if 
not pious, they were religious. Hence, it was natural that these 
who had been church members in the older states, and others :f 
like spirit, should want a church of their own in their new fron- 
tier home. This they sought and secured. " As has been already 
said, having built a meeting house as early as IT'iS, they 
formed a church in 1770, and then covenanted together, no less 
than seventy out of seventy-five of the men, to secure and sup- 
port a true gospel minister. 



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