Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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The Hoosac Valley

Elijah Dewey, eldest son of Parson Dewey, built the Wal-
loomsac Inn in 1 766. It is the oldest tavern to-day in Vermont
and has been doing duty for over one hundred and forty-five
years. Stephen Fay from Hardwick, Mass., also built

The Walloomsac Inn, built in 1766 by Landlord Elijah Dewey, eldest son of
Parson Jedidiah Dewey, First Mhtister oj the Old First Church, which stood east
of Dewey's Inn. Landlord Dewey was Captain of the West Bennington Com-
pany in the Battle of Bennington. The Walloomsac Inn is the oldest inn to-day
in Vermont. It has been doing duty as a tavern for over one hundred and forty-
five years.

the Green Mountain Inn in 1766. It became a rallying
place for Captain Fassett's Company of Green Mountain
Boys, organized in 1764. On May 14, 1766, it was decided
to lay out the Parade, and three acres were voted to widen
Main Street between the First Church and Deacon Samuel
Safford's Mansion, on the present site of Battle Monument
Park. A huge catamount was stuffed and mounted twenty-
five feet high on the sign-post of Fay's Green Mountain

Samuel Robinson and Historic Bennington 223

Inn, and it became known as the famous " Catamount
Tavern." The quaint hip-roofed building burned in 1871,
and on its site now stands a granite pedestal, surmounted

The Harmon Inn, built by Sergt. Daniel Harmon before the Revolution. It
is know?i as the " Old Yellow House " and is located two miles west of the Battle
Monument, near New York Line. Gen. John Stark and his officers are reported

' to have breakfasted at Harmon's Inn on their march doiun the Walloomsac to

■ meet Colonel Baum's Army, August ij, 1777.

by a bronze figure of a grinning catamount, facing west-
ward toward the Yorkers.

The Hendrick Schneider Tavern on Schneider's Patent,
New York, was built over two miles west of the site of the
First Church of Bennington in the spring of 1762. Later
Col. Samuel Herrick ran the place, and General Stark and his
army encamped in the field east of Herrick's Inn, between Au-
gust 9th and 13th, 1777, previous to the Battle of Bennington.
Herrick's Tavern was later known as Dimmick's Stand, now

224 The Hoosac Valley

the site of the residence of Otis Warren, a descendant of
Dr. John Warren, who married a granddaughter of Hen-
drick Schneider. The Harwood Tavern was built by Zac-
hariah Harwood on the site of the Battle Monument, known
later as Jonathan Robinson's State Arms House. It con-
tained a ''copious magazine" of the Provincial Army in
^111 ^ guarded by Capt. Eli Nobles's Company of Pownal
Boys. The Harmon Inn, known to-day as the "Old Yellow
House," two miles west of the Battle Monument, was built
by Sergt. Daniel Harmon before the Revolution. General
Stark, August 13, 1777, breakfasted at this tavern on his
march down the Walloomsac to his North Farm encampment.
The gaping windows and front door reveal quaint fireplaces
and a stairway unchanged except by ravages of time. The
Walbridge homestead at Walbridgeville and Tory Matthews's
State Line Tavern were built after the Revolution, about
1783. The portraits of Landlord Matthews and his wife
formerly hung upon the parlor wall. They were loaned for
an Historical Exhibition, and never returned to Charles
B. Allen, the present proprietor of the place.

Several inns stood between Bennington Centre and
Pownal Centre before the Revolution. Billings's Tavern
was built by Maj. Samuel Billings on the Old Road south of
The Poplars, known later as Lon Wagner's Inn and the
"Old Yellow House" until it was burned a few years ago.
The Brush Tavern, east of the site of Billings's Tavern, was
built by Nathaniel Brush, colonel of the regiment of Vermont
Volunteers. It is known to-day as the "Nichols Place,"
the residence of Samuel Jewett, owner of the serpentine
Jewett Brook. The Mallery Tavern, a mile north of Pownal
Centre Green, was built by Whittum Mallery and was sub-
sequently known as the Timothy Munson Stand. The
Pownal Centre Tavern, south of the First Baptist Church,
now Union Church, is similar to Col. Benjamin Simonds's

Samuel Robinson and Historic Bennington 225

River Bend Tavern in Williamstown. It was probably
built by his son-in-law, Ithamar Clark. Here his son,
"Billa" J. Clark, dispensed cider brandy over the bar to the
Pownal bumpkins until he became disgusted with his occu-


The State Line Tavern built by the Tory Matthews about 1783 is located in
three towns: White Creek and Hoosac in Rensselaer and Washington Counties in
New York Stale; and the tow7i of Shaftsbury in Bennington County in the Stale
of Vermont. The historic inn is now the residence of Charles B. Allen, a lineal
descendant of Geti. Ira Allen, nephew and adopted son of Ira Allen, Secretary of
the famous Council of Safety held at the Catamount Tavern during the Revolution.

pation and studied medicine with Dr. Caleb Gibbs. He
later moved to Moreau, N. Y., where, in 1801, he founded the
first Temperance Society in the United States and later
organized the Saratoga Medical Society, the first in the State
of New York. The Clark Tavern was afterwards known
as Willard Bates's Inn, now the Barber Thompson Place.
The Daniel Kimball Inn, on the comer of the Centre and
North Pownal roads, was built at a much later day and has
been occupied by the successive town clerks for nearly three

226 The Hoosac Valley

quarters of a century. The Pownal Charter, signed b^
Governor Wentworth in 1760, is the most ancient document
on file in the iron safe built into the fireplace of the south
room of the inn.

A weekly letter post was established between Boston,
Hartford, Salisbury, Williamstown, and Bennington as ear]\
as 1763, and Gov. Thomas Chittenden of Vermont organized
a regular postal servix:e between Albany and Boston to
Bennington, Rutland, Newbury, Brattleboro, and Windsor
in 1783 and 1784. Anthony Haswell came from Portsmouth,
Eng., in 1756. He was appointed postmaster-general in
1784. The post-office was located on the present site of the
Battle Monument, in the same building as the office of The
Vermont Gazette, which he edited. The printer, Nathaniel
Russell, issued the first copy of The Vermont Gazette, June 5,
1783. It was the first newspaper published in Vermont ns
well as in the Hoosac Valley, and Haswell's grandsons con-
tinued to publish the paper for sixty-seven years, until i84g,
when it changed hands and was issued under its present title.
The Bennington Banner.

Among the schools of Revolutionary days may be men-
tioned Clio Hall, incorporated November 3, 1 780, and built on
the comer south of the First Church. It was opened under
the rectorship of Eldad Dewey, Jr., a grandson of Parson Jedi-
diah Dewey. The most distinguished pupil was Zephaniah
Swift Moore, a son of Judah Moore of Wilmington, Vt.
He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1797 and became
President of Williams College between 1815 and 1821.
Clio Hall for boys burned in 1803. Elinor Read, a daughter
of the famous missionary-author. Read, from Chelsea, Mass.,
opened a school for girls in 1802 in the house south of the
Brick Academy. The Legislature in 1787 divided the towns
of the Green Mountain State into school districts. At the
opening of 1807 there were twenty-five grammar schools and

Samuel Robinson and Historic Bennington 227

academies incorporated in Vermont, including the Scientific
and Literary School established at North Bennington in
1805 by William S. Crandall, a graduate of Williams College.
One of the distinguished pupils proved to be Col. Olin Scott
of Bennington.

Safford's Mills, now Bennington Village, contained less
than twenty buildings in 1804 between Eldad Dewey's
house and Safford's Mill. The cabinet-maker, John Rich-
mond, opened a shop and christened the settlement "Al-
giers," He had been a sailor on a trading vessel off the coast
of Africa before the War of Algiers. Stark's Inn was built
about the same time near Searls's tailor-shop and Stephen
Pratt's house on Main Street and Captain Hill's Crow Tavern
at Hunt Place. A maple grove occupied the banks of the
Walloomsac, where crows assembled to hold their councils of
safety, from which arose the name "Crow Town" for the
hamlet. The Councils of Safety of the Green Mountain
Boys met at Crow Tavern during the War of 18 12 and until
the close of the Civil War in 1865.

Thomas W. Trenor arrived in Bennington during 181 1 and
purchased the blast furnace and iron works of Moses Sage
and Giles Olin. Sage moved to Western Pennsylvania and
built the first blast furnace in that State. Trenor was origin-
ally a ship-builder in Dublin and treasurer of the Society
of United Irishmen. He and other members were arrested,
July, 12, 1798, at Oliver Bond's house on Lower Bridge
Street, and lodged in Dublin Castle. All were hanged except
Trenor, who made his escape disguised as a dead man in a
coffin. After locating in Bennington he built his homestead
in Furnace Grove, to-day known as the "Shield Place," and
felled the forest about Camp Comfort and Trenor Meadow, in
the Glastonbury and Woodford passes, to feed his yawning
furnaces. The blacksmith, Captain Frye, Caleb More,
Matthew and Zerah Scott settled later at "Trenor Mead-

228 The Hoosac Valley

ows." Woodford, although chartered in 1753, remained
a dense forest dotted with lakes until Thomas W. Trenor and
J. S. Hollister developed the iron, clay, and ochre industries
at "Woodford City." Luther and Cynthia Pratt-Park
were also among the first proprietors and named their son
Trenor W. Park, after Thomas W. Trenor. He was destined
to become a distinguished jurist in California, and accumu-
lated a vast fortune. He returned later to his native Wal-
loomsac Valley.

At the time the dam of the first furnace was built in
"Woodford City," the horns of an elk weighing sixty pounds
were unearthed, proving that at some remote period both
elk and moose roamed through the Green Mountain passes,
where now wander the deer.

After the advent of Trenor in Algiers Village in 181 1 the
population increased. The tailor, Faxon, opened a shop near
Eldad Dewey's homestead; Captain Abell and Jos. Norton
operated cider brandy distilleries, and the latter opened a
pottery and manufactured chums, butter-jars, and other
earthern wares. Sandford and Brown established the first
foundry in the State, on the present site of Henry W.
Putnam's grist-mill, and Buckley Squires built the stone
blacksmith's shop still in use to-day.

After the outbreak of the War of 1812, the grandsons of
the veterans of the Battle of Bennington faced the British
at Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain. The cannonading was
faintly heard by the Benningtonians in 18 14, but the peace
of the Walloomsac and Hoosac was not disturbed, and hos-
tilities closed in 1815.

One of the oldest marked tombstones in English Hoosac
is that of Jan C. N. Lon, located in the centre of the front
tier of graves in the Pownal Centre Burial-field. He was
buried in 1742, eighteen years before the town was chartered
to the English in 1760. Lon was a Dutch burgher and

Samuel Robinson and Historic Bennington 229

evidently a kinsman of Landlord Lon Wagner of Billings's

In the Bennington Burial-field, east of the First Church,
lies the historic dust of the founders of the Green Mountain
Republic, including four of the governors: Moses Robinson,
John Robinson, Isaac Tichenor, and Hiland Hall. Near the
^,omb of Isaac Tichenor is located the grave of John Van Der
Speigal, the Dutch inventor of stoves and furnaces; and in
the centre of the cemetery m.ay be observed a granite pedes-
tal reared by the Daughters of the Revolution to mark the
last resting place of the wounded Hessian prisoners who died
after the Battle of Bennington. The epitaph of Parson
Jedidiah Dewey, first minister of Bennington, attracts the
wonder of hero worshippers. He was a Shakespearean
scholar, and his favorite and oft-quoted lines from a scene
of Richard II., were chiselled upon his tombstone:

Let 's talk of graves, of worms, and Epitaphs;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.




The thousand changes that thicken along the links of recollection, throw back
the origin of the nation to a day so distant as seemingly to reach the mists of time.

James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer.

German Lutheran Church — Schneider Patent — Witchcraft — Col. Francis J. Van
Pfister's White House Manor — Kreiggcr Rocks — Breese, Pool, and Fonda
Neighborhood — Rensselaer's Mills — Little Hoosac — Nepimore — Maple-
ton — Falls Quequick — St. Croix — Pcsth and Walloomsac Hamlets —
MiHtary Districts — Invasion of British, 1777 — Town-Meetings, 1789 —
Inns — Slaves — Baptist, Methodist, and Adventist Churches — Peters-
burgh — Grafton — Berlin — Tibbits's Mansion of Hoosac — War of 1812 —

AFTER the Fall of Quebec the Dutch Patroons of Hoosac
and Rensselaerwyck rebuilt their manorial buildings
and invited a mixed tenantry. The Brunswick Colony of
German Lutherans, located in the Hoosacs' Lake District
of Rensselaerwyck in 1760, included the staunch names:
Benn, Coon, Clum, Cropsey, Cross, Frett, Fischer, File,
Goeway, Hayner, Hardwick, Miiller, Gothout, Van Arnam,
Watson, and Quackenbosch.

Several of these Germans settled later about the junction
of the Hoosac with the Little Hoosac, and they founded the
first Lutheran Church ' during the Revolution on the south-
east comer of Hoosac Road, east of Petersburgh Four
Corners. The late Daniel Brimmer, as a child of seven,
attended school in the old meeting-house in 1805, taught

' A Dutch Reformed Church.


Old Hoosac Falls and Petersburgh 231

by Mrs. Thurber and Miss Davis. Many unmarked graves
were located around and beneath the church, all traces of
which were levelled by the plough over half a century ago.

The Old Dutch Church remained the only place of public
worship for the homesteaders of Hoosac and Rensselaerwyck
until long after the War of 18 12. The family Bible of Oldert
Onderkirk of Fort Half-Moon, traditionally printed in 1636,
descended to Jacob Onderkirk, occupying the farm, now
known as the C.E. Stockwell Place, a mile north of the "White
House Bridge." It is the oldest known Bible in Hoosac Val-
ley, and half a century ago descended to Mrs. C. W. Brown
of Hoosac Falls, a granddaughter of the Dutch burgher,
Jacob Onderkirk, and the English pilgrim, Elijah Wallace.

Several Dutch and German tenants of Rensselaerwyck
"squatted" in Pownal on N. H. Grants between 1724 and
1760, including: Hogg and Voseburgh (Vose) families on the
site of Green Brimmer farm; Best on the Ichobod Paddock
and Silas Eldred farms; Bastian Van Deel, Petrus Bovie,
and Pitt Van Hogleboom later on the Voseburgh farm,
known to-day as the Thomas Brownell Place near the State
Line Bridge. Juria Kreigger settled north of Kreigger Rocks
at North Pownal and built a grist-mill near the site of the
Silas Paddock residence. The Van Norman, Westenhouse,
and Varin families settled later in Kreigger neighborhood;
and the Fischer, Anderson, and Young famiHes located at
Three Corners and "Weeping Rocks" farther up the valley.

Daniel Brimmer remembered Juria Kreigger in 1805 as
a brick-burner and miller. In 1760, when Pownal was
chartered to the English, Henry Young, Schorel Marters
Watson, Long Andries, John Spencer, the Devoet and Van
Arnam families resided east of the adopted New York Line
in New England.

Hendrick Schneider (Snyder) of New Lebanon Flats, a part
of Stephentown, N. Y., together with John Watteck, Hendrick

232 The Floosac Valley

Lake, John Johnson, Garret Williamson, Nathaniel Archerly,
Benjamin Abbott, William Taylor, Martinus Voorheres of
New Jersey, and Daniel Hellenbeck of Albany, petitioned
Governor De Lancey, July 8, 1761, for 10,000 acres lying east
of Hoosac Patent, extending from Rensselaerwyck northward
to the Walloomsac Patent. Schneider's Patent was con-
firmed by Lieut. Governor Golden, March 24, 1762, and
Schneider proved the first settler. The Patent was bounded
on the east by "other vacant lands," as Lieut. Governor
Golden denied the validity of Governor Wentworth's char-
ters of the English towns of Bennington and Pownal.

Upon the arrival of Gapt. Seth Hudson, Gent., and other
proprietors of Pownal, a meeting was held in June, 1760,
when it was voted to grant the Dutch miller, Kreiggcr,
"one right." His son, Hans Kreigger, died five years later,
and the " intollerable inquisitiveness " and "unparalleled
volluability " of the Rhode Island Baptists charged widow
Kreiggcr with witchcraft. She was allowed the choice of
two tests to prove her innocence. She could choose between
climbing a tree or being immersed through the ice in the
river. If upon felling the tree or upon sinking to the river
bottom, she was not killed outright, she was promised her
freedom. She chose the latter test as the safer and was
finally recovered from drowning. The verdict of the Com-
mittee of Safety was that: "If widow Kreigger had been a
witch, the powers infernal would have supported her."
Her three sons, John, Peter, and William Kreigger, were
invited by the Williamstown proprietors, October 15, 1767,
to build a grist-mill near the junction of Hopper Brook with
Green River. They intermarried with the Young and
Deeming families and became members of the First Con-
gregational Church of Williamstown.

After the close of the French and Indian War, many
British officers and soldiers drew military grants. The Tory,

Old Hoosac Falls and Petersburgh 233

Francis J. Van Pfister, ' commissioned a lieutenant in His
Majesty's Sixtieth Regiment of Foot, September 18, 1760, by
Gen. Jeffrey Amherst, drew 2000 acres in Nepimore Vale.
He built his "White House " ^ near the present site of Tibbits's
lodge, west of the "White House Bridge." Several other
officers received grants overlapping Bennington and Shafts-
bury on the New Hampshire Grants.

Seventeen homesteaders of Hoosac and Rensselaerwyck
manors resided between Van Pfister's "White House" and
the junction of the Hoosacs in 1767. Jacob Onderkirk, a
staunch Whig, resided a mile north of Tory Van Pfister's
manor; and John Quackenbosch, Pieter Ostrander, William
Helling, John Potter, John Palmer, Benjamin Walworth,
Harper Rogers, John Ryan, Randall, James, and Samuel Cot-
terel resided on the east bank of the Hoosac, at Hoosac Four
Comers and Mapleton. Johannes De Fonda, Jan Huyck,
the Knott, Robert, and other families resided at the base of
De Fonda Hill, east of Barnardus Bratt's Mansion, near the
site of Petersburgh Station; and the Van Derrick manor,
half a mile south of Bratt's, was occupied by the Letchers',
known later as Joseph Case Place, now the Edward Green

The Breese and Pool neighborhood, known as Rens-
selaers' Mills during the Revolution, was located partly on
Hoosac and partly on Rensselaerwyck manors. Henry
I Breese from Greenbush built the Old Red Store in 1766,
opposite Cornelius Letcher's Tavern, now the site of Eldred's
Inn. Other tenantry of the hamlet included: Hendrick
Letcher, Johannes De Ruyter, Petrus and Hans Bachus,
Johannes McCagg, Hans Lautman, Barent Hogg, Johannes
George Brimmer, and Jacob Best.

' Cuyler Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, p. 264.

^ The White House Manor originally belonged to the Schuylers. It de-
scended to Colonel Van Pfister, who married a daughter of the Schuylers.


The Hoosac Valley

Peter Simons, chief farm-master of Rensselaerwyck, Jacob
O. Cropsey, and Godfrey Brimmer located on the upper
Little Hoosac in Berlin about 1765. Brimmer built a log-

. *.. - -.*»?."*£.

i i

4 1 i^t^ i I

Eldred Inn, on the site of the Cornelius Letcher Tavern, where the first Town-
Meeti?ig of Petersbiirgh was held, during Landlord Hezekiah Coons proprietor-
ship, in March, ijgi. The Letcher Tavern was built about 1766, when the
hamlet of Petersburgh Four Corners was known as the Breese and Pool Neigh-
borhood. During Revolutionary days it bore the designation of Rensselaers'
Mills, until incorporated Petersburgh in honor of Patroon Van Rensselaer's
chief farm-master, Peter Simons, in 1791.

cabin and shingled it with bark. He used linen-tow and
oiled paper for window panes and carpeted his earthern
floor with moonshine and ferns. Simons' s and Cropsey 's
farms occupied the present site of the Daniel Hull farm.
Between 1767 and the Battle of Bennington, Peter Simons's
Road led over Cherry Plains to the Patroons' Mills at East
Greenbush. At that time the Milk, Berry, and Douglass
families resided in the neighborhood, and the Tory, Reuben

I Old Hoosac Falls and Petersburgh 235

1 Bonesteel, and his six sons, three of whom were Whigs,
located near Godfrey Brimmer's farm in Berlin Hollow.

Daniel Hull and Paul Braman arrived in 1770 from Con-
necticut, and were the first English settlers in Little Hoosac.
They were followed by Joseph Green in Green Hollow, a
descendant of the Quaker, Gen. Nathaniel Green of Warwick,
R. I., who drove the British from Boston; Colonel Bentley,
Thomas Sweet, Daniel and James Dennison, Nathaniel
Niles, Peleg Thomas, Simeon Himes, Joseph Whitford, and
William Satterlee — pastor of the Seventh Day Baptist
Church — and Dr. John Forbes.

The Breese and Pool neighborhoods of Rensselacrs' Mills
were settled by Presbyterians, Baptists of the Warren
Society, and Adventists of the Hopkinton Society, including:
Simeon Odell, Tory Dayfoot and his six sons in East Hollow,
Stanton Bailey, Abraham and Augustus Lewis in Lewis
Hollow, William Reynolds, Ichobod Prosser, Stephen Card,
Gideon Clark, William Hiscox, Joseph Allen, James Weaver,
and others. After the Battle of Bennington Patroon Van
Rensselaer built a grist-mill on the site of the present mill
in South Petersburgh, and another half a mile above the
junction of the Hoosacs on the Alvin Brimmer farm in North

The Cornelius Letcher Tavern on the site of the Eldred
Inn, and John Woodburn Tavern on the site of William
Reynolds's residence, were the famous hostelriesof the North
Village of Rensselaers' Mills during the Revolution. An inn
on the site of the Aaron Worthington Tavern in the South
Village, and the Daniel Hull Tavern in Little Hoosac, now
Berlin, proved the headquarters for the Little Hoosac militia.

The Rensselaer and Hoosac military districts were organ-
ized, March 24, 1772. The boundary between Old Hoosac
and Old Cambridge military districts in Walloomsac Valley
remained indefinite until after the organization of the town-


The Hoosac Valley-

ships in 1789. The Scotch-Irish settlers of St. Croix, Pcsth,
Walloomsac, and Falls Quequick in Hoosac District included:
Deacons Waldo and Goff , Maj. John Potter, Ephraim James,
Samuel Clarke, John McClung, George Duncan, William
Gilmore, William Eager, William Selfrage, Samuel Ball,

The Old Red Mill of Little Hoosac Valley. The Mill is located midway h
tween the North and South villages of Petersbtirgh, and was probably
built during the Second Revolutionary days of 1812.

John Scott, David Sprague, Seth Chase, John Harrow
Thomas McCool, Simeon Fowler, John Young, Josia'
Dewey, John Rhodes, and the Buell and Beebe families.

In 1772, Elder William Waite and Deacons Waldo an
Goff from Rhode Island founded the First Baptist Churc
at Waite's Corners near St. Croix. The members included
Samuel Hodge, Peter Sur Dam, Obadiah and Levi Beardsle)
Isaac Bull, Mr. Biglow, Francis Bennett, Simeon Swee
Thomas Sickles, and John Corey. The latter was a soldie

Old Hoosac Falls and Petersburgh 237

at Fort Massachusetts and a lineal descendant of the Baptist
Elder, William Corey, of London, known as the "Father
of British Foreign Missions," and founder of a Christian
colony in India in 1798. Deacons Waldo and Goff objected
to the tune of Old Hundred and in 1805 moved to the Ohio
Valley to found a new church and sing new tunes.

The Nepimore Vale, now known as "Shingle Hollow," was
first settled by the hunter-scout, Joseph Guile, Samuel Still-
well, Thomas Brown, David Case, Jonathan Mosely, and
Silas Harrington. Once a Schaghticoke warrior attempted
to scalp Guile, but lost his own life. Guile died in 1809,
the same year that Nathaniel Bumppo-Schipman, known as
the hunter-scout, "Leather-Stocking," died at Falls Que-
quick. Guile's grave by the roadside near the site of his
log cottage is marked by two moss-grown boulders.

The Falls Quequick manor of Jacobus Van Cortlandt,

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