Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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British that Congress refused to recognize Vermont's Inde-
pendence or admittance to the Federal Union. Beverly
Robinson's letter, therefore, proposed negotiations with the



Ethan Allen and the Allen Family 375

commander of the British army for the purchase of the
"Green Mountain Republic." Ira Allen was sent to hold
a conference with the Crown's officers, then encamped on
lower Lake Champlain, and after seventeen days he won a
verbal armistice. The British commander agreed upon the
cessation of hostilities of his army of 10,000 troops within
the borders of the Republic of Vermont.

Ira Allen's military strategy, founded as it was upon
treasonable grounds, therefore crippled the British army
in the North and led to General Washington's victory
over Cornwallis at Yorktown, Va., in the South, October
19, 1 78 1, and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Paris
in September, 1783.

After the close of the Revolutionary War, Col. Seth War-
ner passed into a physical decline and returned to Irish
Corners, now Riverside, in Bennington, and later removed
to Woodbury, Conn., where he died on December 26, 1784.
Warner's military skill ranks superior to that of Ethan Allen,
although the latter, owing to that "original something,"
as Washington put it, won a more permanent place in the
hearts of hero worshippers than any other Patriot during
the Revolutionary period. The State of Connecticut
erected near Col. Seth Warner's grave, an heroic monument
twenty -one feet in height, with appropriate tablets, and
Capt. John Chipman, the famous scout, wrote an account
of his life.

Little is recorded of Col. Samuel Herrick, commander
of the regiment of Vermont Rangers. After the Revolution
he moved from Bennington to Springfield, New York.

Col. Ethan Allen's marriage to Mrs. Fanny Buchanan, a
daughter of the noted Tory, Creon Brush of Westminster,
took place on February 21,1 784. During the spring of 1 787 he
located on the Cornelius Van Ness farm in Burlington, Vt.
They had two sons, Ethan A. and Hannibal Allen, and one



376 The Hoosac Valley

daughter, Frances Allen. Colonel Allen, however, after
visiting his cousin, Col. Ebenezer Allen on South Hero
Island, in Lake Champlain, February 12, 1789, was stricken
with apoplexy and died. The Hero of Ticonderoga was
buried, February i8th, with military honors, by his vet-
eran Green Mountain Boys, in Green Mount Cemetery.

Ethan Allen's Burlington cottage is slightly altered to-day,
and a boulder on his farm, near the spot where he died, bears
a bronze tablet placed there by the Daughters of the Revo-
lution. His sons, Ethan A. Allen and Hannibal Allen,
subsequently became distinguished officers in the United
States Army and resided in Norfolk County, Virginia until
their death; and his daughter, Frances Allen, entered the
Roman Catholic Convent, at Montreal, Canada. Her life
and conversion are described by the Rev. M. Faillon in a
book entitled. Vie de Mille Mance; also by A'Becet in the
first volume of Appleton's Catholic Encyclopedia, issued in
1907. She was the first American woman to take the
veil.

The late Ethan A. Allen, a great grandson of Col. Ethan
Allen, was the author of Drama of the Revolutioji in blank
verse. He died in 1909.

Ira Allen, the youngest brother of Ethan Allen, did more
to advance the civil government and settlement of the
Green Mountain Republic for the fifteen years previous to
the State's admittance to the Federal Union in 1791, than
did any other man of the Revolutionary period. President
Washington and Congressman William Smith on August 30,
1790, visited Gov. Moses Robinson and Isaac Tichenor at
Bennington Centre, in order to hasten Vermont's admit- j
tance to the Union. At that time Washington was aware '
of the influence of Ethan and Ira Allen's diplomacy inj
bringing about the cessation of hostilities of the British '
on the Vermont-Canadian borders. On January 6, 1791,



Ethan Allen and the Allen Family 377



- a«ir.



following Washington's Bennington visit, the vote of
Vermont's officers proved to be 105 yeas to 3 nays for a
final application
for the State's ad-
mittance to the
Union. Four days
later, the Assem-
bly met at Ben-
nington Centre,
and on January
I 8th the Hon ,
Nathaniel C h i p-
man and Lewis R.
Morris, Esq., were
appointed commis-
sioners to negotiate
with Congress for
the admission of t he
State to the Union.
On February i8th,
Congress passed
an Act by which
on March 4th,
"the said State,
by the name and
style of the State
of Vermont, shall
be received into
this Union as a new
and entire member
of the United States




Ira Allen of Bennington and Burlington, Ver-
mont, the famous Secretary of the Vermont Council
of Safety during the Revolution before the Battle of
Bennington. The leading Diplomatist of the Green
Mountain Republic, Major-General of Vermont's
Militia and Founder of the University of Vermont
at Burlington. He died in Philadelphia, where he
was buried in the Friends' Free Quaker Burial-
ground, January 75, 18 14. His grave is unknown
and unmarked.



of America."

During 1791, after Col. Ethan Allen's death, Ira Allen
was chosen Major-General of Vermont's militia. On Octo-



378 The Hoosac \'alley

ber 19,1 793, he presented the land upon which the University
of \'ennont now stands, in Bnrhngton, and endowed it with
£4000. The building was occupied as a military' station
during the War of 18 12. The comer-stone of the present
building was laid by General La Fayette, in 1825.

Governor Chittenden sent Maj.-Gen. Ira Allen to England
in December, 1 793, to purchase State Arms. As Treasurer
of \'ermont, Ira Allen mortgaged 45.000 acres of his estate
in Champlain \'alley to Gen. WilHam Hull of Watertown,
Mass., in order to loan the State the stmi to buy the necessary
artillery-. The French Revolution was raging at the time
he arrived in London, and it proved to be an inopportune
time for Vermont's officials to negotiate for artiller\- or for
Ira Allen's proposed scheme of building the Champlain and
St. Lawrence Canal. In May, 1796, he \"isited Paris and
purchased Si 20,000 worth of muskets, bayonets, and twenty-
four cannon. This cargo was loaded on the ship, Olive
Branch, from Ostend, bound for Xew York.

Off the coast of Ireland . however, the Olive Bra nch was seized
by a British cruiser. The ship was considered the lawful
prize of the captors by the Court of Admiralty, although the
cargo was proved to be neutral arms bound for a neutral
port. Ira Allen, through his attorney. Lord Erskine, laid
the case before the King's Bench. Three years later he was
compelled to \'isit Paris to procure e\'idence. Through con-
spiracy he was arrested for want of proper passport and
lodged LQ a French prison for six months, where he became
dangerously iU. He did not return to England imtil Octo-
ber, 1800. In 1804, eight years after the seizure of Vermont's
militar}- arms, Ira Allen won his case and recovered the
then valueless cargo of the Olive Branch.

Meanwhile, during those eight years. Ira Allen's vast
estate in Vermont had been plundered and sold for taxes,
and his good name defamed by those whom he had ser\-ed.



Ethan Allen and the Allen Family 379

Upon his return he was ejected from his home by the land-
pirates and he fled to Philadelphia, Pa., where he died in the
almshouse, January 15, 1 8 14, at the age of sixty-seven.
Francis Olcott Allen discovered a certificate of the burial of
Maj.-Gen. Ira Allen among the records of the Board of
Health in Philadelphia a few years ago, proving that one
of the greatest diplomatists of the Revolution was in-
terred in the Free Quaker Burial-ground. His grave, how-
ever, is unknown and unmarked to-day by appropriate
monument.

Ira Allen was the author, also, of State Papers, including
Miscellaneous Remarks on the Proceedings of the State of New
York against the State of Vermont. His Natural and Politi-
cal History of the State of Vermont was published while he
resided in London in 1798, He once said to the Green
jMountain Boys: "As I view it, we are probationers to act
not only for ourselves but for posterity, even as in some de-
gree it was with Adam in his original purity. Each man is
accountable to his Creator for the part he now takes, for
on the conduct of the present age depends the liberties of
millions yet unborn."

The first heroic statue erected in the Green Alountain
State was that of Ethan Allen, by the sculptor Kinney of
Burlington, unveiled in the State Capitol at Montpelier in
1852. In November, 1855, the Legislature passed an Act to
erect a statue of Ethan Allen, to mark his tomb in Green
Mount Cemetery, overlooking Winooski's Falls. The statue
sculptured by the Boston sculptor, Stephenson, represents
the hero in the act of demanding the surrender of Fort
Ticonderoga.

A monumental group of Ira AUen together with Dr. Jonas
Fay and Dr. Thomas Young, the framers of Vermont's
Declaration of Independence, together with statues of Ethan
Allen, Seth Warner, Samuel Herrick, and Remember Baker



380 The Hoosac Valley

should be placed on the brow of Mount Anthony when it
becomes a State Park Reservation.

Their memory then should ever be
Dear to our hearts as liberty;
And while our country has a name
Let us preserve our Allen's fame.



CHAPTER XX

FREE SCHOOL OF WILLIAMSTOWN AND WILLIAMS COLLEGE

I785-I912

It were as well to be educated in the shadow of a mountain as in more classical
shades. Some will remember, no doubt, not only that they went to the college, but
that they went to the mountain. — Thoreau, Week on the Concord and Merrimac
Rivers.

Free School of Williamstown, 1790 — Williams College, 1793 — Pres. Ebenezer
Fitch, 1793-1815 — Amos Eaton, Henry Dwight Sedgwick, and Robert
Sedgwick — Chester Dewey — Samuel J. Mills, Jr. — William Cullen
Bryant — Pres. Zephaniah Swift Moore, 1815-1821 — Williams College
Removal Case — Pres. Edward Dorr Griffin, 1821-1836 — Girls' Depart-
ment — Mark Hopkins — David Dudley Field — -Albert Hopkins — Pres.
Mark Hopkins, 1 836-1872 — Astronomical and Meteorological Observa-
tories — Garden, Chip, Mountain, and Gravel Days — Natural History
Expeditions — William Dwight Whitney — John Bascom— James Abram
Garfield — Bryant and the Alumni Association, 1863 — ^Pres. Paul Ansel
Chadbourne, 1872-1881 — Pres. Franklin Carter, 1881-1901 — Centennial
of Williams College, 1893 — Pres. Henry Hopkins, 1902-1909 — Pres. Harry
Augustus Garfield, 1909.

THE white-steepled village of Williamstown was con-
sidered "like a day-dream to look at" by Nathaniel
Hawthorne in July, 1838, and he thought the students ought
to be "day-dreamers," all of them. Thirty years later the
Scotchman, President James McCosh of Princeton, thought
of the classical hills of Williams, surrounded by imposing
mountains, as a place at which the Last Judgment might be
held, with the universe assembled on the encircling slopes.

The early history of Williamstown turned predominantly
upon a clause penned in Col. Ephraim Williams's Will ' at

' Perry, Origins in Williamstown, pp. 479-483.

381



382 The Hoosac Valley

Albany, July 22, 1755, for the founding of free schools in
Williamstown and Adams to educate the children of the
pioneer founders of English Hoosac towns. Thirty years
later his executors, Col. Israel Williams of Hatfield and Col.
John Worthington of Springfield, reported a fund of $9157
to the General Court for founding the donor's Free Schools
according to his Will and desires.

A legislative act passed March 8, 1785, created a corpora-
tion known as "The Trustees of the Donation of Ephraim
Williams, Esq., for maintaining a Free School in Williams-
town." Nine Trustees were appointed, including the Rev.
Seth Swift, Judge David Noble, and Thompson Joseph
Skinner of Williamstown; Esquire Israel Jones of Adams;
the Rev, Daniel Collins of Lanesboro; Deacon William
Williams of Dalton, son of Col. Israel Williams; the Rev.
Woodbridge Little of Pittsfield; Judge Theodore Sedgwick
of Sheffield and Judge John Bacon of Stockbridge, a former
pastor of the Old South Church of Boston. Deacon William
Williams was later chosen president and the Rev. Seth
Swift, treasurer; Esquire Israel Jones and Thompson Joseph
Skinner were appointed a committee of finances.

A year later, the inhabitants of Adams presented a peti-
tion to the Supreme Judicial Court, showing that Ephraim
Williams's Will and desire "for the benefit of the East Town,"
now Adams and North Adams, had been set aside. That
procedure delayed the building of the Free School of Wil-
liamstown. On August 19, 1788, the Trustees met at land-
lord Samuel Kellogg 's Mansion House in Williamstown and
voted to build the Free School building of brick. The com-
mittee received £500 of the bequest to begin levelling down
the site of West College and to purchase the rights of Capt.
Lemuel Stewart's spring beneath the Willows.

A lottery ticket advertisement appeared in the Massachu-
setts Sentinel of Boston on May 22, 1790, to raise money to



Free School of Williamstown 383

aid in completing the Free School. It proved only a method
of taxation upon the Hoosac Valley folk and netted the
Trustees about $3500. On May 26th, Col. Benjamin
Simonds was invited to join the building committee, and
a brick-kiln was opened at the northern base of Mansion
House Hill.

The dimensions of the Free School building were 82 x 42
feet. It was four stories high, with a bevel roof surmounted
with a tower. The walls were built very thick and the
interior finished in solid white oak. The chapel occupied the
second and third floors on the south end of the building;
and the thirty- two dormitories, the front of the second and
top floor. In 1793 Judge David Noble presented a bell for
the tower which was to announce the time for prayer and for
recitations. The belfry and dormitories were not changed
when the building was remodelled in 1854.

The Seal of the Free School was chosen after the completion
of the building in October, 1 790, and consisted of the device
of a tutor surrounded by three boy pupils and the legend :
E. Liberalitate E. Williams Armigeri. A committee,
including President WilHam Williams, the Rev. Seth Swift,
and Judge John Bacon, was appointed to engage a tutor
at £120 annually. Ebenezer Fitch of Yale, a gentleman
thirty-five years of age, was engaged. He arrived at
Williamstown in April, 1 791, and Judge David Noble
presented an acre of land to the School Trustees, upon
which Tutor Fitch's house was built. The site is now
occupied by the Mark Hopkins Memorial Hall.

The Free School was opened, October 20, 1791, and the
first free class consisted of sixty pupils, recruited from the
higher classes of the district schools of the town. The pay
class under Tutor Fitch consisted of sixty young gentlemen,
who paid an annual tuition fee of thirty-five shillings each.

Tutor Fitch and Councillor Daniel Dewey on May 22,



384 The Hoosac Valley

1792, however, presented a petition to the Trustees, showing
that WilHamstown was "pecuHarly favorable to a seminary
of a more pubHc and important nature." They expressed
a hope of "seeing Massachusetts the Athens of the United
States of America, to which young gentlemen from all parts
of the Union might resort for instruction in all branches of
useful and polite literature." They further suggested that
the Free School of Williamstown be incorporated as Williams
Hall by the Commonwealth.

A legislative act passed on August 6, 1793, changed the
Free School corporation to that of ' ' The President and Trus-
tees of Williams College,"' only thirteen months after the
opening of the Free School of Williamstown. As additional
Trustees to the original nine of the Free School were elected :
President Ebenezer Fitch, the Rev, Stephen West of Stock-
bridge, Col. Elijah Williams — half-brother of the founder
Ephraim Williams, of Stockbridge — and Henry Van Schaick
of Pittsfield. In 1794, were elected: the Rev. Job Swift of
Bennington, John Bradstreet Schuyler — the son of Gen.
Philip Schuyler of Schuylerville, N. Y., — Stephen Van
Rensselaer of Rensselaerwyck — the son-in-law of Gen. Philip
Schuyler — and the Rev. Ammi Ruhamah Robbins of Nor-
folk, Conn.; making seventeen Williams College Trustees
in all. John Bradstreet Schuyler died in August, 1795, and
his name, therefore, was not printed in the General Catalogue.

Williams College was first advertised in the Stockbridge
newspaper and opened in October, 1793. Samuel Mackay
from Chambly, Canada, — undoubtedly a descendant of the
Williamstown proprietor, ^neas Mackay of lot 62 — was
engaged as Professor of French. He induced several Cana-
dians to attend Williams. The first class, that of 1795,
included only four graduates from Stockbridge, and their

' The College Seal consisted of a globe, a telescope, pile of books, sur-
mounted by an inkstand and a twig of ivy or laurel.






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Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 26 of 41)