Hamilton Child.

Gazetteer of Orange County, Vt., 1762-1888 online

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for said Orange county on the second Tuesday of June, Anno Domini one
thousand seven hundred and eighty-one. Gen. Bayley was not a lawyer and
apparently had never given much attention to matters pertaining to courts
and trials. He held this position until and including 1791, excepting the
years 1783 and 1784, when that position was filled by Hon. Israel Smith, of
Thetford. Gen. Bayley died March i, 1816.

Israel Smith, the second chief judge of Orange County Court, was one of
the original proprietors of Thetford named in the charter of the town which
was granted August 12, 1761. He came into Thetford in 1766, but where
from we have been unable to ascertain. At the first session of Orange County
Court, held at the tavern of Capt. William Heaton, in Thetford, on the
second Tuesday of June, 1781, the court consisted of Jacob Bailey, chief
judge; Israel Smith, Noah White and Thomas Russell, assistant judges, and
Davenport Phelps, clerk. Judge Smith was assistant judge from 1781 to
1792, except two years, and chief judge of the Orange County Court for
1783 and 1784, and from 1793 to 1796 inclusive. October 27, 1781, he was
commissioned judge of probate for the district of Thetford in Orange county,
by order of the governor and council. He represented Thetford in the Gen-
eral Assembly in 1784, 1790, '91, '93, '98 and '99. At the February session
of the General Assembly he was one of a committee with such men as Isaac
Tichenor and Matthew Lyon, to make " provision for quieting antient set-
tlers, and that the laws be opened for land trials." At Bennington, January
25, 1 791, the legislature granted to Israel Smith, Alexander Harvey and
James Whitelaw, as a committee, in trust, the township of Bradford, with
authority to settle disputes as to claims respecting titles and boundaries, and
to execute conveyances to actual settlers and real owners. This authority
was renewed November 6, 1792, and again October 16, 1795. Very many
of the conveyances of the land in Bradford during that year, executed by
said committee, are on record in the Bradford Land Records. Judge Smith
also held offices under the state of New York from 1770 to 1777. He was
commissioned a justice of the peace by the Province of New York, March
16, 1770, and on the next day was commissioned assistant justice of the
Inferior Court of Common Pleas by the same authority.

Dr. Jonathan Arnold, of St. Johnsbury, was the third chief judge of Orange
County Court, and served in that capacity from 1792 until his death, February
I, 1793. He was born in Providence, R. I., December 14, i74i,and was
descended ftom one of the first settlers. He was a member of the Assembly



BENCH AND BAR,



45



of Rhode Island in 1776. In the war of the Revolution he commanded the
independent company of grenadiers of Providence, and was a delegate from
Rhode Island to Congress under the old confederation. He was educated a
physician, and chosen by his native state, in the Revolutionary war, director
of its hospitals. After the war he removed to St. Johnsbury, in this state.
and was its first town clerk. He was one of the Governor's council in 1790,
'91 and 92. Judge Arnold had a rare taste for music and poetry, and was
himself a proficient in both. He was a man of broad education, and a
patriot in the times that tried men's souls. When he was judge of Orange
County Court, that county included St. Johnsbury within its limits.

Cornelius Lynde was not a lawyer, but he was the fourth chief judge of the
Orange County Court, in 1797 and 1798, and assistant judge from 1793 to
1796, inclusive. He was born m Leicester, Mass., August 16, 1751. His
parents died when he was young, and he was bound as an apprentice to the
clothier's trade, and remained with his master till he was twenty-one years of
age. After that, by his own exertions, he fitted for college and entered
Harvard, where he remained until his feelings of patriotism prompted him to
enter the Revolutionary army, where he was soon made a lieutenant, and
before he left the service a major. At the close of the war he took up his
abode in Williamstown, Mass., and in 1785 removed to the Vermont town of
the same name. In 1788 he married Rebekah Davis, daughter of Col. Jacob
Davis, of Montpelier. Judge Lynde held many offices. He was elected town
clerk in 1787, and held the office until 1797, with the exception of one year,
being the first town clerk that was elected ; was also the first postmaster of
the town, receiving his appointment in April, 1804 ; represented the town in
the state legislature from 1791 to 1794, and again in 180S. He was elected
a representative in 1794, but was transferred to the Council, and was in that
body until 1799; was also a delegate to the Constitutional convention of
1 791, and died at Williamstown in 1836, in the eighty-fourth year of his age..

Hon. Jedediah Parker Buckingham was the fifth in order of the chief judges
of Orange County Court, serving from 1799 to 1805, and again the tenth in
order, serving another term from 1813 to 181 5. He was probably a native
of Connecticut, and came into Orange county quite early, settling first in
Fairlee, according to Judge Child's account of him in Heinenways Gazetteer.
He graduated at Dartmouth college in 1779, and October 17, 1788, by
special act of the legislature then m session at Manchester, was admitted as
an attorney in the county of Orange. In the record in the proceedings of
the Governor and Council the editor has put in brackets after his hame [of
Thetford]. Judge Child says that he was in Fairlee at that time, and re-
moved to Thetford March 26, 1791. Abijah Howard, who prepared the
sketch of Thetford for Hemenway s Gazetteer., says that he came to Thetford
in 1 781. Possibly he has made a mistake of ten years. He was a large
land owner, conveying 1,200 acres at one time to General Israel Morey for
^170. He was a justice of the peace while in Fairlee. After his removal



44 ORANGE COUNTY.

to Thetford he resided there until his death, September i, 1840. He was an
able man in his profession and represented Thetford in the General Assembly
in 1800, 1804 and 1805 ; was register of probate from 1786 to 1790 ; judge
of probate for the Thetford district from 1797 to 1800, and was a member
of the Governor's council from October, 1808, to October, 1809.

Moulton Morey, the third son of General Israel Morey, and the sixth in
order of the chief judges of the Orange County Court, held that position from
1806 to 1808. He was born in Hebron, Conn., July 4, 1765, was educated
at Dartmouth college and graduated at that institution in 1789. He married
Patty Frizzell, November 10, 1793. He studied law and practiced his pro-
fession with a good degree of success for many years in. Fairlee. Judge
Morey represented his town in the state legislature during the years 1824 and
1825, was one of the assistant judges of the County Court prior to being its
chief judge, from 1803 to 1805, inclusive, and was also an associate justice
•of the Supreme Court from i8o6 to 1808. He died in Fairlee in the early
part of the year 1854.

James Fisk vvas the seventh chief judge of the Orange County Court and
held that position in 1809, having been assistant judge in 1802. At this
time the town of Barre, in which he resided, was one of the towns of Orange
county. Hon. E. P. Walton, in the Goverjior and Council, says of him that
he was "born about 1762, (probably in Worcester county, Mass.,) was self-
educated, chose the law for his profession, and distinguished himself both as
a lawyer and a Democratic politician. He represented Barre in the General
Assembly from 1800 until 1805, in 1809 and '10 and 18 15, and as a delegate
to the Constitutional convention of 1814 ; was judge of Orange County Court
in 1802 and 1809, and of the Supreme Court in 1815 and '16; representative
in Congress from March, 1805, until March, 1809, i8ii to 1815, and United
States senator in 181 7 and '18. resigning that post to accept the coUectorship
for the district of Vermont, which he held eight years. President Madison
appointed him judge of the territory of Indiana in 1812^ and he was con-
firmed, but he declined the office." Judge Fisk was admitted to the bar of
Orange county June 21, 1803; to the Supreme Court at its session in Orange
county in June, i8[5, and died in Swanton, December i, 1844. He was
both a personal and political friend of President Monroe, and at Montpelier,
on the morning of July 24, 181 7, at eleven o'clock, he had the pleasure of
■delivering the address of welcome in behalf of the citizens of Montpelier and
vicinity to the President on reaching Montpelier on his tour through the New
England states.

Elisha Hotchkiss was the eighth chief judge of the Orange County Court,
serving in that capacity during the years i8to and 181 1, and was state's at-
torney in 1812 and 1813. He graduated from Dartmouth college in 1801,
was admitted to the Supreme Court in Orange county at the August term,
1807, and resided and practiced law in Chelsea for a number of years. He
represented that town in the state legislature in 1807, 181 1, 1812, and 1813.



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45



How much later than that he resided in that town we are not informed.
He died in Aurora, Indiana, June lo, 1858.

Daniel Peaslee, the ninth chief judge of Orange County Court, was born
in Plaistow, N. H., February 28, 1773. He came to Washington, Orange
county, in 1795, and was for many years a merchant and tavern keeper in
that town. He was a prominent man in town affairs and representative in
the legislature in 1805, 1806 and 1807, a member of the Methodist society,
and his daughter thinks he was a Federalist in politics. He held the office
of sheriff of the county for five years, from 1807 to 1811, inclusive, and,
although not a lawyer, he was made chief judge of the County Court in 18 12.
The assistant or side judges that year were Flon. Josiah Dana, of Chelsea,
and Hon. John H. Cotton, of Bradford. He died December 3, 1827, at
Washington, in the prime of life. By his first wife he had two children.
The son, James Peaslee, graduated at the University of Vermont in 1822,
and died at the age of twenty-two. He married Lucy Pepper for a second
wife, who survived him six years, leaving three children, two girls and a boy,
who bore his father's name. The son married Miss Lucia M. Stevens,
daughter of Hon. Tappan Stevens, of Newbury, and died several years ago,
leaving his widow and a son surviving him. The eldest daughter, Lucy Ann^.
married B. F. Dickinson, Esq., for a long time sheriff and deputy sheriff in
Orange county, but now deceased. The second daughter, Laura Ann,
married Rev. Alonzo Webster, an eloquent preacher of the Methodist de-
nomination. They lived for a long time in South Carolina, but arebo'.h now
deceased.

Hon. Josiah Dana, the tenth chief judge of the Orange County Court, was
a descendant of Richard Dana, a French Huguenot who' settled in England
in 1629, and in Cambridge, Mass., in 1640. Judge Dana was born in Barre,
Mass., probably in November or December of the year 1772, as the parish
records of that town show that he was christened December 13, 1772. His
father was a Congregational minister for a long term of years in Barre, said
to be fifty years. Judge Dana left home early and engaged in trade at West-
minster, Vt., in company with John Bellows, father of the late Rev. Henry Bel-
lows, of All Souls church in New York city. Before i S03 he removed to Chelsea
in this county. The ground had just been broken in that township by a few
former settlers of limited means, and Judge Dana was the first man to go in
there with capital. In politics he was a Jeffersonian Democrat, and was an
intimate friend of Governor Van Ness. The two men were of like character-
istics and similar antecedents, making allowance for the difference between
New York and New England, and were in sympathy politically. The Judge
was not college bred and never studied law. He represented the town of
Chelsea in the General Assembly in 1803, 1806, 1808 and 1809 ; was a dele-
gate in the Constitutional convention in 1814; was assistant judge of Orange
County Court in 18 12, chief judge for four years from 1816 to 1S20, and
presidential elector on the John Quincy Adams ticket in 1828 with Jonas



46 ORANGE COUNTY.



Galusha, Asa Aldis, Ezra Butler, John Phelps, William Jarvis and ApoUos
Austin. He was a member of the Governor's council in 182 1 and 1826, and
died in April, 1841. Judge Dana married for his first wife Lucy Chandler, of
Pomfret, Ct., sister of Perley Chandler, by whom he had a daughter who
married Russell Jarvis, a relative of the late Consul William Jarvis, of Weather-
field. Mrs. Jarvis died in Clearmont, N. H., where she resided with her hus-
band, leaving a daughter, Caroline, who made it her home with her grand-
father, Judge Dana, for several years. She is now the wife of John H. Uhl,
Esq., of Yonkers, N. Y. His second wife was Desire Lathrop, of Sharon,
N. Y. Few men in Chelsea manifested a more marked character than Judge
Dana.

Hon. William Spencer, the eleventh and last judge of the Orange County
Court, like many of the leading men of the state in the first part of this cen-
tury, was born in Connecticut, in the city of Hartford, August 6, 1781. His
father's name was Ashbel Spencer. What his early education was we have
not the means of knowing, but he did not commence the study of his pro-
fession until he came into Vermont, where he entered the office of Samuel
Miller, Esq., of Middlebury, and completed his legal studies in the office of
the late Judge Mattocks, of Peacham. In 1804 he was admitted to the bar of
the County Court, and at the August term, 1807, to the Supreme Court, and
in the former year established himself in the practice of law in Corinth, where
he always resided. He was chief judge of Orange County Court from 1820 to
1824, inclusive, when the system of courts then in vogue was abolished and
one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the state was assigned to hold the
nisi prius courts in the counties. He was one of the assistant judges of the
court held in the county under the new system from 1825 to 1830, inclusive,
and held the office of judge of probate for the district of Bradford from 1824
to 1839. Judge Spencer was a very useful man in his town, holding many
important places of public trust therein. He was postmaster for several years,
was town representative in the state legislature, and was a trustee of Brad-
ford academy from its organization. He took great interest in public aff"airs,
and for more than sixty years in succession cast his vote at freemen's meeting.
He died January 19, 187 1, in his ninetieth year.

Major John Taplin, the first sheriff" of Gloucester county, was the son of
Col. Taplin, the first judge of the county, and was born in Marlboro, Mass.,
in the year 1748. In about 1764 he removed with his father to Newbury,
Vt., and soon after to Corinth, of which town his father was one of the origi-
nal proprietors. After receiving a fair common school education, he was,
from the age of twelve to fifteen years, out with his father in the French and
Indian war, being generally stationed at Crown Point and Ticonderoga.
After Col. Taplin had been appointed judge of the courts in Gloucester
county his son was appointed sheriff", by the governor of New York, and was
commissioned March 17, 1770, when he had but just attained his majority.
He held two other commissions of the same office, dated respectively Oc-



BENCH AND BAR. 47



tober 6, 1772, and November ig, 1774. All of these commissions of course
emenated from British colonial authority. The court ordered their young
sheriff to build a jail at the county seat, in Kingsland, which he promptly
did, of logs, and made return to the court accordingly. This log jail, then
probably the only structure for habitation in town, was situated a mile or
more southeast of the present village in Washington, near the source of
what, for that reason, is now called Jail Branch. D. P. Thompson, in his
history of Montpelier, says this jail was never occupied ; but Judge White,
in his account of the town of Washington in Hemenway's Gazetteer, writes :
"Tradition says that at a session of the New Hampshire court at Newbury,
a man was convicted of an offense against the laws of New Hampshire, and
sentenced to solitary confinement in the Kingsland jail, and the sheriff exe-
cuting the warant committed the prisoner to the log jail, the prisoner taking
with him a few potatoes to sustain life until an opportunity might present
itself for his deliverance. Soon after the officer left, the prisoner broke jail;
but being a very benevolent man, planted the pDtatoes he brought with him,
before the jail, that the next offender might receive the benefit of his labor.
It is said the potatoes thus planted grew spontaneously for years." Col.
Taplin having retired to Canada during the Revolution, his son. Major
Taplin, remained on the paternal farm in Corinth, where he resided many
years after Vermont had become a state, and was so much esteemed by his fel-
low townsmen as to receive from them two elections as their representative in
the legislature. So says Thompson; but Major Taplin is not mentioned as a
representative in the list given in the account of Corinth in Hemenway's
Gazetteer. In the summer of 1787 he removed to Berlin and became the
iirst representative of that town. At the age of twenty Maj. Taplin married
Miss Catherine Lovell, daughter of Col. Neheraiah Lovell, of Newbury, who
was grandson of the celebrated hero of the Lovell Pond Indian battle. And
this wife dying in 1794, he married for a second one, the following year,
Miss Lydia Gove, of Portsmouth, N. H. By his first wife he had twelve
children, and by his last, nine, making twenty-one in all, and what is more
remarkable, they all, except one who was accidentally scalded to death in
infancy, lived to reach years of maturity, marry and settle down in life as the
heads of families. He died at Montpelier, m the family of one of his sons,
in November, 1835, aged eighty-seven years. His memory was for many
years warmly cherished, not only by his numerous descendants, but by all who
remembered his tall, comely person, the mild dignity of his deportment and
the never varying amenity of his manners towards all classes of persons.

Col. John Peters, the clerk of the first court held in Gloucester, now
Orange county, and judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in the same
county, was born in Hebron, Conn., m 1740. He was the son of John
Peters, Jr., who was born in Hebron in 17 18, and of Lydia (Phelps) Peters,
who was a direct descendant of John Phelps, secretary to Oliver Cromwell,
and he was the father of Andrew B. Peters, who was for many years town clerk



ORANGE COUNTY.



of Bradford, Vt. Col. Peters married Ann Barnet, and by her had eight sons
and one daughter. He emigrated from Connecticut in 1765 to Thetford, and
from that place to Mooretown, now Bradford, in or about the year 1771. He
built the first grist-mill in Bradford in 1772, and was moderator of the first
town meeting of which the record has been preserved. He was appointed by
New York a justice of the peace, March 16, 1770, and also October 26, 1774;
a commissioner to administer oaths, March 17, 1770, and again April 10,
1772 j assistant judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and county clerk,
March 17, 1770 ; and he was the clerk of the court which set out on snow-
shoes, as related elsewhere, with Judge John Taplin and Sheriff John Tap-
lin, Jr., to hold Gloucester County Court in Kingsland, now Washington,
February 25, 177 1. He was made judge of the Inferior Court of Common
Pleas, October 26, 1774; and county clerk again March 5, 1772. He was a
most devoted Loyalist or Tory, while his brother. Gen. Absalom Peters, a
graduate of Dartmouth, and some or all of his sisters, were decidedly in favor
of the independence of the colonies. This set the two brothers in strong op-
position to each other, and caused an unpleasant division in the family. In
consequence of this state of feeling, near the commencement of the war. Col.
Peters with his family emigrated to Nova Scotia; and on account of his zeal
and energy as a Loyalist, he received a commission as colonel of a regiment
styled the Queen's Loyal Rangers, whence his military title. After the war
was over, leaving his family at Cape Breton, he went to England, to prose-
cute his claims on the government, and died there, at Paddington, near
London, of gout in the head and stomach, January 11, 1788, in the forty-
eighth year of his age. His property was confiscated. A notice of him con-
cludes thus: " Rebellion and Loyalty are alike fatal to some families and
alike prosperous to others."

Hon. Davenport Phelps, of Orfjrd, N. H., was the first clerk of the Orange
County Court held at Thetford, Vt., the second Tuesday of June, 1781. At
this time Orford was one of the towns on the east side of the Connecticut
river that had been annexed to the state of Vermont. He had been a mem-
ber of the conventio.i of delegates from forty-three towns of the New Hamp-
shire Grants held at Charlestown, January 16, 1781, and was made one of a
committee to confer with the Assembly of the state of Vermont on the sub-
ject of a union of certain towns in New Hampshire with Vermont. After
the union was consumated, Mr. Phelps was chosen to represent the town of
Orford in the Assembly of Vermont, and at Windsor, Vt., on the 6th day of
April, 1781, he appeared before the Assembly with thirty-five others, pro-
duced his credentials and took the necessary oaths to qualify him to a seat in
the House and forthwith took his seat.

Aaron Hutchinson was the state's attorney for Orange county up to the
June term, 1783, as appears by the portion of the records of the court given
in the sketch of Mr. Daniel Buck. " The late settlement of the boundaries
of this state," undoubtedly refers to the time when the sixteen towns now in



BENCH AND BAR.



49



New Hampshire and bordering upon the Connecticut river, were set back to
New Hampshire from whose allegiance they had withdrawn in 1778. Amono-
these towns were Lyme, Orford, Piermont and Haverhill, and undoubtedly
Mr. Hutchinson was from one of the towns last named, but from which one
cannot be ascertained. His name appears as counsel, in cases for several
terms after he ceased to be state's attorney.

LAWYERS OF ORANGE COUNTY.

The first lawyer admitted to practice within the territory of what is now
Orange county, so far as the records of the court show, was John Grout, Esq.,
who was admitted at a session of the court held at Newbury, in and for the
county of Gloucester on the last Tuesday of August, A. D., 1772, on his
own motion. The record is as follows: —

"Mr. John Grout moved the court to be admitted an attorney here, and
produced his license from the Governor and Commander in Chief of this
province (the province of New York). The court admitted him said Grout
attorney of this court, and he was duly sworn accordingly and the court ordered
that a record thereof be made."

The next day —

" A motion was made to the Court by Mr. Grout that the comiion rules for
filing declarations in ten actions be entered. [Then follows the titles of ten
cases,] and representing that a writ on each of these actions had been sued
forth, all which were returned by the sheriff, that he had the persons sued in
his custody ; which writs so being produced it appeared that they were all
subscribed with the name of him the said Mr. Grout as attorney, and it like-
wise appeared by a license under the hand and seal of the Gov'r and Com'r
in chief of this province appointing him the said Grout an attorney of the
Court previous to his suing forth and subscribing these writs, but that the
same writs were sued forth before the said Grout was admitted and sworn
here, the Court declare that the same writs issued irregularly, as they were
not sued forth, endorsed or subscribed by any attorney then admitted and
sworn in this Court, nor by any attorney of the Supreme Court, and that the
Court will not take any further cognizance of those writs, or allow any dec-
laration to be filed thereon, but that the sheriff set at liberty all persons now
in his custody by virtue of any of those writs."

Thomas Sumner, Esq., one of the judges, being defendant, and said Mr.Grout
having been at this term now regularly admitted and sworn as an attorney
of this court, he moved that the court make the following rule, viz.: That
no writs for the future, other than such as shall be sued forth, endorsed and



Online LibraryHamilton ChildGazetteer of Orange County, Vt., 1762-1888 → online text (page 6 of 99)