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and carry them strong liquor and make the Indians
drunk and get their furs for a small matter, so that when
they get out of their drink, and see that their furs are
gone, they are mad and care not what mischief they do:
a ready way to bring on outrages and murders, if not
the war again."



144 HISTORY OF VERMONT

These very sensible observations were followed by the
suggestion that trading with the Indians should be pro-
hibited or regulated. Captain Kellogg already having
suggested the importance of establishing a trading post,
and having requested that such a post might be estab-
lished at Fort Dummer, or further up the Connecticut
River, the General Court agreed to the proposition. In
1728 Fort Dummer was selected as a suitable place for
a "truck house," and Captain Kellogg, in command of
the post, was made truck master. He was well quali-
fied, for his new duties, having learned the manner in
which the French conducted their trade with the West-
ern Indians, during a long period of captivity in Canada.

This trading post at Fort Dummer speedily became
a popular resort. The Indians found that they could
trade here to better advantage than at the French trad-
ing houses. Consequently they brought deer skins,
moose skins, tallow, and other articles of commerce in
large quantities.

The fort being found too small for the increasing
traffic. Captain Kellogg was authorized in April, 1729,
to erect a building near the truck house "for the recep-
tion of the Indians," and he was directed to build a boat
for the transportation of supplies. In July, 1731, other
improvements were made, and a storehouse was erected.

The soldiers at Fort Dummer received forty shillings
per month, and Captain Kellogg was allowed four
pounds per month as commander of the fort, and one
hundred pounds per year as truck master. He held the
position until the year 1740. The garrison varied from
nine to twenty men, and for a period of about ten years.



FORT DUMMER 145

ending in 1744, six Indian commissioners were stationed
here in order that trade might be conducted to the best
advantage, three of them being members of the Scati-
cook tribe, and three representing the Caughnawaga
tribe. In October, 1737, five Massachusetts commis-
sioners, John Stoddard, Eleazer Porter, Thomas WalHs,
Joseph Kellogg, and Israel Williams, met representa-
tives of the Caughnawaga Indians at Fort Dummer for
the purpose of renewing a treaty. Speeches were made,
the King's health was drunk, and blankets and weapons
were exchanged. A present of £70, 10 shillings, was
made by the Colonial commissioners on this ceremonial
occasion.

Rev. Ebenezer Hinsdill was appointed chaplain at
Fort Dummer in 1730 and held the position until 1743.
It is related that he was much beloved both by the
Indians and the English. A number of the savages
usually assembled on Sunday to hear him preach. In
1743 he erected a fort in what is now Hinsdale, New
Hampshire, and together with Josiah Willard, com-
mandant at Fort Dummer, he was appointed an under
commissioner for the northern portions of Massa-
chusetts and the adjacent frontiers.

In 1737 the truck house at Fort Dummer was burned.
In 1740 extensive repairs were made on the fort, as it
had fallen into a defenceless condition. Two bastions
were erected at opposite angles, and four Province
houses, so-called, two stories in height, and "comfort-
able and convenient," were erected within the fort.
Several small houses were also erected. The fort was
picketed, posts twenty feet high being driven into the



146 HISTORY OF VERMONT

ground and then sharpened at the top. Openings were
left through which guns might be fired. Sentry boxes,
twenty-five feet from the ground, were placed at opposite
angles of the fort, and several guns were added to the
ordnance.

A plan of Fort Dummer is in existence, drawn by
Matthew Patten, and bearing date of August 26, 1749.
This showed the south side to be somewhat narrower
than the north side. At the northwest corner was
Major Willard's house, twenty-two by seventeen and
one- third feet, and projecting four and one-half feet
beyond the wall of the fort. Just east of the house was
a building forty by sixteen and one-half feet in size.
Beyond this was a straight wall seventy-eight feet in
length, extending to the Province house, twenty-two feet
by eighteen feet in size, and projecting a few feet
beyond the wall of the fort.

Inside the wall, and just west of the Province house,
were two small houses occupied by Colonel Willard and
Lieutenant Butler. The east wall of the fort ran diago-
nally from the Province house to the southeast corner.
This corner was cut ofif and a watch or sentry box was
located here. In the middle of the south wall was a
gate thirty- four feet from the southeast corner of the
fort. At the southwest corner was Colonel Willard's
house, twenty-two by thirty-two feet in size, and project-
ing a few feet beyond the wall. From the gate to
Colonel Willard's house was a distance of forty-two feet.

Inside the fort, near the south wall, were two houses,
marked Colonel Willard and Samuel Ashley, respect-



FORT DUMMER 147

ively. A little south of the center of the parade ground
was a citadel fourteen and one-half feet square.

For many years a controversy had existed between
Massachusetts and New Hampshire over the location of
the boundary line between the two provinces, different
opinions being held concerning the meaning of the
Massachusetts charter of 1692. Finally the dispute was
referred to the King for adjudication, and in a decree
dated August 5, 1740, His Majesty fixed the boundary
more than forty miles south of the line claimed by
Massachusetts, and fourteen miles south of the boundary
claimed by New Hampshire. This decree deprived
Massachusetts of six hundred square miles, a portion of
which had been occupied by her citizens for two gen-
erations, and it was the cause of much embarrassment
and no little bitterness.

The new boundary line was run in March, 1741, by
Richard Hazen under the direction of New Hampshire,
Massachusetts declining to participate in the survey.
This line cut off a portion of the town of Northfield,
Mass., four miles and one hundred and ninety-seven
rods wide, but the Northfield property holders were not
deprived of their holdings north of the new boundary.

Massachusetts continued to maintain Fort Dummer
until the outbreak of war between France and England
in 1744, although the fort w^as in New Hampshire terri-
tory, according to the King's boundary decision. At
that time Governor Shirley of Massachusetts appealed
to the Lord President of the King's Council and to the
Duke of Newcastle, one of the Secretaries of State, de-
claring that the provincial government did not consider



148 HISTORY OF VERMONT

it a duty to maintain a fort no longer its own and urging
that New Hampshire, to which it belonged, should pro-
vide for its maintenance. The Governor argued that
the fort should not be abandoned, although Massa-
chusetts, with many other posts to maintain, was not jus-
tified in expending money in its defence, as it was only
three or four days' march from Crown Point, a resort
for hostile French and Indians. The Massachusetts
House of Representatives declared that if the fort should
fall into the enemy's hands "the enhabitants from Con-
tocook to Connecticut River (would) be all drove from
their settlements, notwithstanding the forces that are
maintained by the province within those limits."

The King in Council, on September 6, 1744, ordered
that Fort Dummer should be maintained, directing the
Governor of New Hampshire to call the attention of
the provincial Assembly to the necessity of providing for
its maintenance, and warning them that failure to obey
this order would result in a restoration of the fort
and "a proper district contiguous thereto," to Massa-
chusetts. As a matter of precaution, however, Gov-
ernor Shirley was directed to point out to the Massa-
chusetts Assembly the necessity of maintaining Fort
Dummer until an answer should be received from New
Hampshire, and the King's pleasure in relation to the
matter should be made known. In this order Governor
Shirley was quoted as saying that Fort Dummer was
"of very great consequence to all His Majesty's sub-
jects in those parts."

Taking into consideration the necessity of maintain-
ing Fort Dummer for the protection of the frontier set-



FORT DUMMER 149

tiers in the Connecticut valley, the Massachusetts Legis-
lature voted to provide for the enlistment of as many-
officers and men as were stationed at the fort during
the last war, and added to its defences two swivel guns
and two four pounders.

Governor Shirley wrote to Governor Wentworth of
New Hampshire on February 25, 1745, acquainting him
with the order of the King and the action taken by the
Massachusetts Assembly, and requested him to provide
for the maintenance of Fort Dummer. On May 3, 1745,
the New Hampshire Assembly declared that "the fort
(Dummer) was 50 miles from any towns which had
been settled by the government or people of New Hamp-
shire; that the people had no right to the lands which,
by the dividing line, had fallen within New Hampshire,
notwithstanding the plausible arguments which had been
used to induce them to bear the expense of the line,
namely, that the land would be given to them or else
would be sold to pay the expense; that the charge of
maintaining the fort at so great a distance, and to
which there was no communication by roads would
exceed what had been the whole expense of govern-
ment before the line was established; that if they should
take upon them to maintain this fort, there was another
much better and more convenient fort at a place called
Number Four, besides several other settlements, which
they should also be obliged to defend; and, finally, that
there was no danger that these forts would want sup-
port, since it was the interest of Massachusetts, by whom
they were erected, to maintain them as a cover to their
frontiers."



150 HISTORY OF VERMONT

Governor VVentworth thereupon dissolved the As-
sembly and called another, renewing his recommenda-
tions for providing for Fort Dummer, and that body
made provision for the enlistment or impressment of
twenty men for six months to perform garrison duty at
the fort. Governor Shirley was notified of the action
taken and was requested to withdraw the Massachusetts
garrison. In view of the fact that the appropriation
voted by New Hampshire for the support of the soldiers
was less than half that allowed by Massachusetts, and
fearing that once having gained possession of the post
New Hampshire would neglect it. Governor Shirley
decided to fall back upon the King's order to retain the
fort until His Majesty's pleasure should be known.
Therefore he countermanded his order to deliver the
fortification to the New Hampshire authorities upon
demand, and the fort was maintained by Massachusetts
until 1747, when Governor Shirley again sounded Gov-
ernor Wentworth in regard to the taking over of the
post by New Hampshire. In October, 1748, Governor
Wentworth expressed his unwillingness to bear the ex-
pense, and Governor Shirley's next move was to submit
to the British authorities a claim against New Hamp-
shire for the maintenance of Fort Dummer.

The committee to which the matter was referred on
August 3, 1749, approved the claim of Massachusetts,
and Governor Wentworth was directed to recommend to
the provincial Assembly that provision should be made
for the permanent maintenance of the fort. Neverthe-
less, the burden of supporting the garrison continued to
fall upon Massachusetts. Fort Dummer was too im-



FORT DUMMER 151

portant a part of the Massachusetts system of defence
to permit any relaxation of the vigilance maintained at
that post. The six Indian commissioners, who had
found this frontier fort an agreeable place of residence
during the years of peace, left as soon as hostilities were
threatened.

In the spring of 1747 Lieut. Dudley Bradstreet was
sent to Fort Dummer with forty men, it being consid-
ered necessary to strengthen the garrison, and he re-
mained in charge of the post from April 15 until the
September following, when Col. Josiah Willard resumed
command. During the winter that followed Massa-
chusetts maintained garrisons of twenty men each at
Fort Dummer and at Number Four, the garrison at
Fort Dummer being increased to thirty men before the
season was far advanced. During the year 1748 Rev.
Andrew Gardner, a somewhat eccentric clergyman, offi-
ated as chaplain at Fort Dummer.

From September, 1749, to June, 1750, a garrison of
fifteen men, later reduced to ten, was maintained at
this fort. Col. Josiah Willard, for a long period the
commanding officer, died December 8, 1750, and he was
succeeded by his son. Major Josiah Willard, who had
commanded the garrison at Ashuelot. In February,
1752, the General Court of Massachusetts reduced the
garrison to five men. Major Willard remained in
charge with this slender force until September, 1754,
although the General Court voted in January of that
year that "from and after February 20th next, no fur-
ther provision be made for the pay and subsistence of
the five men now posted at Fort Dummer."



152 HISTORY OF VERMONT

New Hampshire refusing to provide for the support
of a garrison at this post, Massachusetts decided that it
could not afford to permit its abandonment, and it was
determined to strengthen the fort and furnish it with a
few pieces of Hght artillery. On September 19, 1754,
Nathan Willard was given command of the fort, and
for the greater part of the year following, the garrison
numbered eight men, several of them having their
families with them.

In August, 1755, Captain Willard presented a me-
morial to the Massachusetts Legislature stating that the
enemy were lurking continually in the woods near the
fort, that during the past summer nineteen persons living
within two miles of the fort had been "killed or cap-
tivated," and he had been unable to render aid, having
only five men under pay. He declared that he could
see no reason why the fort should not be captured if
an attack were made. As a result of this appeal the
Legislature directed that six men should be added to the
garrison, to serve until October 1 of that year. In
October, 1759, there was still a garrison at Fort Dum-
mer, although the soldiers at the other blockhouses on
the frontier had been dismissed, the French having been
expelled from the Champlain valley.

With the surrender of Montreal in 1760, the peril
of French and Indian attacks vanished. The frontier
fortress at Fort Dummer, which had proved such a
strong bulwark of defence to the settlements in the Con-
necticut valley, no longer was needed, and the great
pine timbers which had sheltered many garrisons from
a savage foe gradually sank into decay. Other portions



FORT DUMMER 153

of the State may have seen brief settlements at earHer
periods, but this was the first outpost in the Vermont
wilderness that held its own until the little clearing
around the military post merged into the cleared fields
of actual settlers, who were the pioneers of a new com-
monwealth among the Green Mountains.

The part that was played on this somewhat obscure
historic stage, in its forest setting, lacked neither in
variety nor human interest. From its walls went forth
brave men on perilous scout duty, to watch from lofty
mountain outlooks for the smokes of Indian camp fires.
Northward along Indian trails, centuries old, they
threaded their way, up the river valleys, through the
mountain passes, and down the streams on the farther
mountain slopes to Lake Champlain. Around the walls
of this fort the Indian warwhoop echoed, and almost
within its shadow men were slain and scalped. In inter-
vals of peace the Canadian savages came hither to barter
their peltry and other wares at this important trading
post. With the passing of the need of this and other
military outposts there dawned a new era upon the con-
tinent of North America, making possible not only the
State of Vermont, but also the nation known as the
United States of America.

It is not possible to state with positive accuracy the
name of the first white child born within the present
limits of the State of Vermont. Some historians have
awarded this distinction to John Sargent, Jr., born at
Fort Dummer December 4, 1732, but later investigations
show that such a claim is not well founded.



154 HISTORY OF VERMONT

While lands within the present town of Vernon were
included in the early Northfield Grants, there is no evi-
dence to prove that homes were established north of the
present State boundary line between Vermont and
Massachusetts, prior to the erection of Fort Dummer in
1724. It is said that in the same year in which Fort
Dummer was built, 1724, a settlement was made on the
banks of the Hoosac River, in the present town of
Pownal, by eight or ten burghers of Rennsselaerwyck,
headed by Juria Kreigger, who occupied without any
legal title the region near the junction of Washtub
Branch with the Hoosac River, about four miles east of
the line twenty miles from the Hudson River, which
forms the western boundary of Connecticut and Massa-
chusetts. It is probable that children may have been
born to these Dutch squatters before any white children
were born in the Connecticut valley, but no record has
been found to prove such a claim.

The first white child born in Vermont, so far as exist-
ing records show, was Timothy D wight, son of Timothy
Dwight, the builder and the first commander of Fort
Dummer, the date of his birth being May 27, 1726,
according to the Dwight family records. This child
grew to be a man six feet, four inches in height, possess-
ing great physical strength. He was graduated from
Yale College in 1744 and became a prosperous merchant
in Northampton, Mass. He served as Selectman, Regis-
ter of Probate, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas,
and for many years represented Northampton in the
General Court of the Colony. When the Revolutionary
War began he became a Loyalist, though not an active



FORT DUMMER 155

and bitter one, and in the spring of 1776, with his sister,
the widow of Maj. Gen. Phineas Lyman, of Colonial
war fame, he removed to Natchez, Miss., where he died
June 10, 1777, his sister having died two months earlier.
He left an estate of £4,567.

On November 8, 1750, Timothy Dwight had married
Mary, daughter of Rev. Jonathan Edwards, the famous
theologian. Thirteen children, eight sons and five
daughters, were born to them. The eldest son of this
couple was Timothy Dwight, who was president of Yale
College from 1795 to 1817. A daughter, Elizabeth, be-
came the mother of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, presi-
dent of Yale College, 1846-1871. Another descendant
of Timothy Dwight and Mary Edwards, his wife, was
Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College, 1886-1899.
Thus the first white child born in Vermont, concerning
whose birth records are available, became the ancestor of
one of America's most distinguished families.

In 1736 the western part of the present township of
Vernon, not included in Northfield, Mass., was granted,
together with what is now the Massachusetts town of
Bernardston, under the name of Falltown. This grant
Vv^as made by the province of Massachusetts to Samuel
Hunt and others who were descendants of the men who
were in the "Falls fight" at Turner's Falls, in 1676.

In 1738 Josiah Sartwell built a fortified residence,
known as Sartwell's fort, two miles south of Fort Dum-
mer, in the present town of Vernon, Vt. It was con-
structed of hewn timbers, was thirt3^-eight feet long and
twenty feet wide, the upper story projecting so that from
portholes the inmates could guard the approach to the



156 HISTORY OF VERMONT

fort. The walls were of hewn timbers, and there was
an outer door of hewn planks. Sartwell had obtained
from the General Court of Massachusetts a grant of
one hundred acres, laid out on the west bank of the Con-
necticut River. As a result of the boundary decision
by the King in 1740, this fort was included in the town-
ship of Hinsdale, N. H. The fort stood almost one
hundred years, and when it was taken down in 1837
many of its timbers were used in building a farm house.

Fort Bridgman, about four miles south of Brattle-
boro, in the town of Vernon, was erected by Orlando
Bridgman, probably in 1737, although it may have been
in 1738, the same year that Fort Sartwell was erected,
which it resembled in dimensions and style of building.
Reference already has been made to the burning of this
fort in 1747, to its rebuilding on a more extensive scale,
and to its capture and destruction by Indians in 1755.

These little wooden forts were very humble, unpreten-
tious fortifications, but without their protection the
frontiers of civilization could not have been pushed for-
ward from the province of Massachusetts, up the valley
of the Connecticut, to the intervale meadows of southern
Vermont, where, in the vicinity of these blockhouses, the
first farms Avere won from the forest in the region known
a few decades later as the Green Mountain State.



Chapter VII
THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS



NATURALLY the earliest occupation of Vermont
was by means of military posts, the first
of these being erected by the French at Isle
La Motte, in 1666, and the second by soldiers repre-
senting the province of Massachusetts, at Fort Dum-
mer, near the present village of Brattleboro in 1724.
The first actual home building was begun in the Con-
necticut River valley, a few miles above the most
northerly of the Massachusetts settlements, at a time
when the region was supposed to be within the juris-
diction of that province. Although these first attempts
at building homes and cultivating fields were compar-
able to Judge Wendell P. Stafiford's characterization
of the building of Fort St. Anne, at Isle La Motte, "a
halting, hesitating step, a foot thrust out into the wild
and then withdrawn," it represented the next stage
beyond military occupation, the coming of the pioneer,
with all the hope and promise that such an enterprise
involved.

On January 15, 1735, the General Court of Massa-
chusetts ordered a survey of the lands between the Con-
necticut and Merrimac Rivers from the northwest corner
of Rumford, on the Merrimac to the Great Falls (Bel-
lows Falls) on the Connecticut; also the division of the
lands on the west side of the latter stream between the
Great Falls and the "Equivalent Lands" into two town-
ships six miles square, if the space would allow, and if
not into one township. This action was taken in re-
sponse to many petitions asking for the granting of
lands in this region. Eleven persons were appointed to



160 HISTORY OF VERMONT

have charge of the survey and the division of lands.
Township Number One, now known as Westminster,
was granted to persons from Taunton, Norton and
Easton, in Massachusetts, and to others from Ashford
and Killingly, in Connecticut.

The committee having the survey in charge were em-
powered to admit sixty settlers in each township, and
to require them to give bonds to the amount of forty
pounds each for the performance of their part of the
contract. Persons who had not received grants of land
for seven years past were given the first opportunity.
Each grantee was required to build a dwelling house
eighteen feet square and seven feet stud on their re-
spective home lots, "and fence in or break up for plow-
ing, or clear and stock five acres with English grass
within three years next after their admittance, and cause
their respective lots to be inhabited." The grantees
were also required within the space of three years to
build a meeting house and settle "a learned Orthodox
Minister."

Joseph Tisdale was empowered to call a meeting of
the grantees of Number One, in Taunton, January 14,
1737, and such a meeting being held, a committee was
appointed to visit the township and divide the lands. It
appears that Richard Ellis and his son Reuben built
a log house in Westminster (sometimes called New
Taunton) in 1734, and fitted five or six acres of land
for cultivation, being accompanied by Seth Tisdale and
John Barney. During the years 1739 and 1740 several
persons were engaged in laying out roads and in prepar-
ing the town for occupation. The records of a meeting



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Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 34)