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Plan of Fort Diimmer



THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS 161

held July 8, 1740, indicate that a sawmill had been
built.

In 1742 the proprietors, finding that their grants were
within the jurisdiction of New Hampshire, according to
a decision rendered concerning the northern boundary
of Massachusetts, appealed to the General Court of the
latter province for directions as to the course to be fol-
lowed in securing thefr rights. In 1744 hostilities began
between France and Great Britain, and apparently the
settlement was abandoned for a time.

In 1751 several families from Northfield, Mass.,
moved into this town. On November 9, 1752, Governor
Wentworth granted this township as Westminster,
under the jurisdiction of New Hampshire, but the pro-
prietors who had purchased lands here under the Massa-
chusetts grant were given the privilege of establishing
their holdings as they were laid out in the original sur-
vey. Indian incursions began late in the summer of
1754, James Johnson and family being captured at Num-
ber Four (Charlestown, N. H.). As only a few
pioneers had settled at Westminster, and they were with-
out adequate defence, they removed to Walpole, N. H.,
immediately following the attack on Number Four, being
cared for at the home of Col. Benjamin Bellows until
October, when they returned to Westminster. The
situation, however, was a dangerous one, immediately
preceding and during the period of conflict known as
the French and Indian War, and the settlers who had
returned to Westminster did not find it prudent to re-
main there many months. With the declaration of
peace the danger of invasion from the north was removed



162 HISTORY OF VERMONT

and on June 14, 1760, the charter of the town was re-
newed, the proprietors being Josiah Willard, Jr., a son
of a former commander at Fort Dummer, and others.
Lands were allotted and before the close of 1766 about
fifty persons had settled here. In 1771 the population
had increased to four hundred and seventy-eight, and
Westminster was the most populous town in this region.

As early as 1740 Joseph Stebbins settled in what is
now Vernon. It is to be presumed that lands were
cleared and fields were cultivated in the vicinity of
Forts Sartwell and Bridgman. It is recorded that soon
after the French and Indian War began the settlers in
what is now Vernon sought shelter in the forts nearby,
or in Northfield, Mass. It is reasonable to suppose that
some settlements were made at an early date in Brattle-
boro, in the vicinity of Fort Dummer. In 1766 there
were a sufficient number of people in Brattleboro and
vicinity to organize a regiment.

In 1732 merchants of New London, Conn., sent men
to the Great Meadow, in what is now the town of Put-
ney, to cut mast timber from the magnificent growth of
yellow pines which occupied that portion of the Con-
necticut River valley. In 1733 seventy men came to
this spot to cut timber, and a shipload of it was pre-
pared. In 1742 or 1743 Nehemiah Howe of Grafton,
Mass., William Phips, and Daniel Rugg, of Leicester,
Mass., with their families, also Robert Baker and others,
made a clearing at the Great Meadows in Putney. In
the center of the clearing a fortification known as Fort
Hill was erected. Within two or three years a consider-
able stock of cattle had been gathered there. That the



THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS 163

fields were cultivated is shown by the fact that William
Phips was captured by the Indians July 5, 1745, while
hoeing corn on the Great Meadow. The fort here was
still occupied in the spring of 1746, but apparently it
was abandoned soon after that time.

In 1753, Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire
chartered the town of Putney to Josiah Willard and
others. It is not known precisely when the town was
reoccupied, but when the Averill family removed from
Westminster to Putney in 1755, they found three fami-
lies established there. During the year 1755 the in-
habitants of Putney, Westminster, and Westmoreland,
N. H., united in building a fort on the Great Meadow
in Putney for mutual protection. This fort was about
one hundred and twenty by eighty feet in size, and was
built of the excellent yellow pine timber of that region,
hewed six inches thick and laid up ten feet high. Like
the blockhouse at Fort Dummer, dwellings were erected
within the enclosure, the inner wall of the fort forming
the rear wall of the houses. Each house had a ''salt-
box" roof slanting upward to the top of the wall of the
fort. These houses numbered fifteen. Watch towers
were placed at the northwest and southwest corners of
the fort, and a great gate opened to the south toward
the Connecticut River. In the center of the enclosure
was a hollow square.

When the fort was completed several persons from
Westmoreland, N. H., joined the garrison. At this time
not more than half the Great Meadow was cleared.
The settlers were accustomed to work their fields in com-
panies of several persons, carrying their guns with them



164 HISTORY OF VERMONT

to guard against a possible surprise by French and
Indian enemies. No attack was made on this fort dur-
ing the French and Indian War, although Indians ap-
peared in the vicinity, and an unsuccessful attempt was
made to ambush the settlers.

In 1762 Lieut. Joshua Hyde purchased two thousand,
eight hundred acres in this town and removed his family
here. In 1764 Joshua Parker came from Canterbury,
Conn., and drove through the main street the first vehicle
that had appeared in Putney. Before the middle of the
year 1765 there were fifteen families in town. About
the year 1766 a sawmill and a gristmill were erected.

The town of Dummerston, named, as was Fort Dum-
mer, for Lieut. Gov. William Dummer of Massachusetts,
included within its limits a portion of the "Equivalent
Lands," which were parcelled out on the afternoon of
the first Wednesday of June, 1718, at the Green Dragon
Tavern, in Boston. Originally all the ''Equivalent
Lands" were known as Dummerston. In 1750 Joseph
Blanchard of Amherst, N. H., surveyed this region, and
the original proprietors holding a Massachusetts title
petitioned the Governor of New Hampshire for a grant
of it. Accordingly the "Equivalent Lands," together
with considerable additional territory, were divided into
the three townships of Fulham, Putney and Brattle-
borough. Later the name Fulham was changed to
Dummerston.

The first settler was John Kathan, who emigrated
from England to Massachusetts in 1729. He settled in
Dummerston in 1752, having associated himself with
others in the purchase of a part of the town from the



THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS 165

proprietors, and in 1754 he moved his large family to
their new home. According to an account written by
himself he did "actually clear and improve above 120
acres, and built a good dwelling house, barn and all
necessary offices, and also a sawmill and a potash
works." In order to protect his property he was "at
considerable expense in building a fort round his house,"
and was "under the disagreeable necessity of residing
therein during the course of a tedious and distressing
war."

Kathan's eldest daughter was captured by the Indians,
and for two and one-half years he did not know whether
she was dead or alive. At the end of that period she
returned home, having been ransomed by Col. Peter
Schuyler. Mary, the younger daughter, married John
Sargent, born at Fort Dummer, incorrectly styled by
some writers the first white child born in Vermont.

In 1752 ferries were established between Dummer-
ston and the New Hampshire towns of Westmoreland
and Chesterfield. Although the settlement here was
disturbed by the French and Indian War, it was not
abandoned. During the first years of Kathan's occupa-
tion of Dummerston he took his corn to Deerfield, Mass.,
to be ground, and he brought from Worcester, Mass.,
the first apple trees set out in town. The township was
laid out in 1767 by the heirs of Lieutenant Governor
Dummer.

As early as 1740 a settlement was made at Charles-
town, N. H., better known as Number Four. This was
an important military post during the period of Colonial
wars, and from this fort many a scouting party fol-



166 HISTORY OF VERMONT

lowed the Indian trails across the Green Mountains.
The first settlement in Springfield, on the Vermont side
of the Connecticut River, opposite Number Four, was
made in 1752 by John Nott, who built a log house on
the intervale meadow. During the next year, 1753,
eleven men settled here, although they had no legal title
to the lands they cleared, but they held their possessions
during the French and Indian War. The Governor of
New Hampshire granted this town in 1761, most of the
original proprietors being residents of Northampton,
Mass.

The town of Rockingham was granted by Governor
Wentworth of New Hampshire in December, 1752, and
its settlement was begun in 1753, when three men from
Northfield, Mass., began clearings. Within two years
they were compelled to return to Northfield, their situa-
tion being made perilous by the outbreak of the French
and Indian War. When peace was declared settlers
came in rapidly, and in 1771 an enumeration showed a
population of two hundred and twenty-five.

The shad and salmon fisheries at the Great Falls,
which had drawn hither the Indians from time imme-
morial, proved an attraction to the pioneers, and it is
related that in the early history of the town agriculture
was neglected for fishing. Only eight of the fifty-nine
grantees were actual settlers.

The most influential man among the original pro-
prietors of Rockingham was Col. Benjamin Bellows, in
whose honor the waterfall and village of Bellows Falls
were named. He was the founder of Walpole, N. H.,
and through his efforts the Rockingham charter was



THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS 167

granted. He secured considerable tracts of land in
several townships in New Hampshire and in the New
Hampshire Grants, so that he became the largest land
holder in that region, holding title at the time of his
death in 1777 to eight thousand or nine thousand acres.

The town of Halifax, the second granted under the
seal of New Hampshire within the present limits of
Vermont, was chartered May 11, 1750. Settlements
were begun in 1751, but the menacing attitude of the
Indians compelled the first settlers to withdraw until the
French had surrendered Canada to Great Britain.

The town of New fane was granted as Fane by Gov-
ernor Wentworth, June 19, 1753, to sixty-eight persons,
many of whom were residents of Shrewsbury, Mass.
During the year 1754 attempts were made to clear a por-
tion of the township and allot it, but the danger of in-
vasion from Canada made settlement impossible. As
a result the charter was forfeited, but it was renewed
in 1761. It appears, therefore, that prior to the passing
of French authority in Canada, in 1760, and the re-
moval of the danger of Indian invasion, actual settle-
ments had been made in eight of the towns now compris-
ing the State of Vermont, namely: Westminster, Ver-
non, Putney, Brattleboro, Dummerston, Springfield,
Rockingham and Halifax, but only in the towns of Put-
ney, Dummerston, and Springfield, and perhaps in the
vicinity of Fort Sartwell in Vernon and Fort Dummer
in Brattleboro, did the settlers remain throughout the
period of the French and Indian War. During the
fifteen years that followed, so great was the emigration
into the New Hampshire Grants, that the year 1775,



168 HISTORY OF VERMONT

made notable by the outbreak of the American Revolu-
tion, saw settlements begun in more than ninety town-
ships.

Midsummer of the year 1754 saw the withdrawal of
the French army from the valley of Lake Champlain,
the abandonment and partial destruction of the forts at
Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and the occupation of
those important posts by British troops. Gen. Jeffrey
Amherst, the British commander, arrived at Crown
Point on August 4, and proceeded to lay out a new
fortress of great strength, at a cost of two millions of
pounds sterling. He also turned his attention to the con-
struction of a road from Crown Point over the Green
Mountains to Charlestown, N. H., or Number Four, the
most northerly of the British military posts in the Con-
necticut valley.

On March 4, 1756, the Governor of Massachusetts re-
quested the provincial Assembly to appoint fourteen
men to measure the distance between Crown Point and
Number Four, and to gain what knowledge they could
of the country. This request was heeded, and the route
was surveyed. Only a little more than a week after his
arrival at Crown Point, General Amherst wrote Gov-
ernor Wentworth of New Hampshire, telling him that
the construction of the road was begun, and explaining
the benefits to be derived from it. In this letter he
said: "Since I have been in possession of this ground
one of my particular attentions has been to improve the
advantages it gives me of most effectually covering and
securing this country and opening such communications
as will render the access between the provinces and the



THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS 169

army easy, safe and short; accordingly I sent to explore
the Otter River, in order to erect such posts on each side
of it as will obstruct all scalping parties from going
up that river to annoy any of His Majesty's subjects
that may now choose to come and settle between No. 4
and that. And for the easier communication of your
two provinces (New Hampshire and Massachusetts)
with this post, I have already for these some days past
had a number of men in the woods that are employed in
cutting a road between this and No. 4, which will be
finished before you receive this."

Unless the letter was delayed long in transmission,
General Amherst erred in his prediction regarding the
completion of what was known in later years as the
Military Road. In the building of this road three able
American officers were engaged. The work was begun
by Capt. John Stark of New Hampshire, who was des-
tined to win fame at a later day in another portion of
Vermont. With two hundred Rangers he began at
Crown Point, and opened a part of the road. In
October of the same year Maj. John Hawks, who had
defended Fort Massachusetts so heroically against a
French attack in 1746, was directed by General Amherst
to take axes for felling trees and implements for making
roads, and with about three hundred New England
troops to begin work where the Stark expedition had
abandoned the task. An old diary preserved in Deer-
field, Mass., shows that Major Hawks and his party left
Crown Point on Friday, October 26, 1759. Apparently
the Hawks expedition built the road up to or over the
summit of the Green Mountains, and a peak between



170 HISTORY OF VERMONT

the towns of Baltimore and Cavendish bears the name
of Hawks Mountain, Hawks having camped on the slope
of this eminence. Early in the year 1760, Lieut. Col.
John Goffe, a military leader of prominence, with a regi-
ment of eight hundred New Hampshire men, was ordered
to complete the road. Beginning at Wentworth's Ferry,
two miles above the fort at Number Four, a blockhouse,
which was enclosed with pickets, was erected near the
mouth of Black River. Forty-four days were spent in
cutting a road twenty-six miles long to the foot of the
Green Mountains, and twenty-six mile posts were
erected. Colonel Goffe's regiment reached Crown Point
July 31, 1760, with a drove of cattle, having completed
their task in time to embark with Haviland's army for
the final campaign against the French in Canada. An
epidemic broke out while the eastern section of this road
was being built, and several men died, and were buried
near the road in Springfield. Evidently it was unneces-
sary after the French had surrendered Canada to erect
the forts along Otter Creek, which General Amherst had
planned for the protection of the settlers from *' scalping
parties."

This Military Road, or Crown Point Road, seems to
have followed a part of the ancient Indian trail used
both by war parties and by traders who came to the
truck house at Fort Dummer, but avoided swamps and
low lands, keeping on the higher ground. Starting at
Chimney Point, opposite Crown Point, in the present
town of Addison, or at a point a little farther south,
the exact place of departure being somewhat in doubt,
the road passed through Bridport, touched the north line



THE FIRST HOME BUILDERS 171



of Shoreham, and running southeast crossed the Lemon
Fair River, proceeded through Whiting to Sudbury, to
Otter Creek, crossing that stream, and through the west-
ern part of Brandon. The road then followed near the
present highway west of Otter Creek in Pittsford to
Florence. Taking an easterly course to the ford over
the Otter known as Pitts' ford, the road turned south-
easterly, and proceeded by way of the terrace on which
the village of Pittsford is now located, a little west of
the village. Its course was between the present roads
from Pittsford to Rutland, thence to a ford at Rutland,
and passing south to Clarendon it proceeded in an east-
erly direction to Shrewsbury Center, through Mount
Holly and Plymouth, and perhaps a corner of Ludlow,
to Twenty-Mile Camp in Cavendish. From this camp
the road passed around Mount Gilead on the southwest
side, and passing near Amsden crossed the Weathers-
field line into Springfield, skirting the southern part of
Sketchewaug Mountain, and reaching the Connecticut
River near what is known as the Cheshire bridge.

A log camp built in Cavendish gave the names to
Twenty-Mile Camp and Twenty-Mile Stream. As set-
tlements sprang up along this route the more difficult
portions of the road were abandoned, but for many years
the old Crown Point Road was a favorite route of travel
from northern Vermont to Boston, and many taverns
were erected along this ancient highway.



Chapter VIII
THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GRANTS



NEW Hampshire became a royal province in 1741,
thus making that year an important date in New
England history. Previous to that time the
Governor of Massachusetts had acted also as Governor
of New Hampshire.

The first royal Governor was Benning Wentworth, a
merchant of Portsmouth, a member of one of the most
distinguished families of the province, a popular citizen
who had represented his town in the provincial Assembly
several terms, and had been advanced to the post of
King's Councillor. He was the son of John Wentworth,
Lieutenant Governor of the province from 1717 to 1730,
and he was named for John Wentworth's mother, Mary
Benning. After graduating at Harvard, he was asso-
ciated in business with his father and his uncle. A man
of fine presence, he looked the part of a royal Governor,
and he dispensed generous hospitality in the spacious
mansion at Little Harbor, which he had caused to be
erected.

A touch of romance is given to his career by his
second marriage, which occurred in the Wentworth man-
sion on his sixtieth birthday, the bride being Martha
Hilton, his beautiful serving maid. This episode is
celebrated in verse by the poet Longfellow in his "Tales
of a Wayside Inn." In 1766 Governor Wentworth re-
signed, and in 1776 he died. This brief sketch will in-
troduce a man who occupies a conspicuous place in the
early history of the region now known as Vermont.

One of the outstanding features of the British occupa-
tion of America was the diligence with which that nation
pursued its projects of colonization. As the older colo-



176 HISTORY OF VERMONT

nies became settled in certain portions it was expected
that this policy would be carried forward by issuing
grants of land in unsettled portions to settlers who would
extend the frontiers of civilization. Although the evil
of land speculation sometimes interfered with the success
of colonization and delayed actual settlement, it did not
defeat it.

About eight years after his appointment as royal Gov-
ernor of the province of New Hampshire, Benning
Wentworth, in pursuance of the policy of subduing the
wilderness, made his first grant of land within the pres-
ent limits of Vermont on the eleventh day of January,
1749, and the new township was named Bennington, in
honor of the Governor who made the grant. This
town was supposed to be six miles square, and was
laid out by Matthew Clesson, Surveyor. It was granted
to Col.. William Williams, a prominent citizen of New
Hampshire, and fifty-nine others. In this town, as in
most of the towns granted under the authority of New
Hampshire, a tract of five hundred acres, accounted as
two shares, was set aside for Governor Wentworth, and
in many towns this tract is still known as "The Gov-
ernor's Right." In most instances provision was made
for one share for the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel in Foreign Parts, one share for a glebe for
the Church of England, one share for the first settled
minister, and one share for the benefit of a school.

Among the grantees of Bennington were Theodore
Atkinson, secretary of the province, and some of the
members of the provincial Council, whom the Governor
usually remembered in making these grants. The name



THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GRANTS 177

of Samuel Robinson, the founder of Bennington, and ten
persons bearing the name of Williams, appear in the list
of grantees.

The form of charter used for Bennington was fol-
lowed substantially in all the other townships granted by
New Hampshire, and read as follows:

"George the Second by the Grace of God of Great
Britain, France and Ireland King Defender of the faith
&c—

''To All Persons to whom these Presents Shall come,
Greeting

"Know ye that We of our Especial Grace, Certain
Knowledge & pure Motion for the Due Encouragement
of Settling a New Plantation within our Sd Province
By and with the Advise of Our Trusty & well beloved
Benning Wentworth Esq our Governour & Com'ander
in Chieff of our Said Province of New Hampshire in
America And Of Our Council of the Said Province
Have upon the Conditions & reservations herein after
made Given & granted — And by these Presents for us
our heirs & Successors Do give And Grant in Equal
Shares unto our Loveing Subjects Inhabitants of our
Said Province of New Hampshire And his Majesties
Other Governm 'ts And to their heirs and Assignes for
ever whose names Are Entered on this Grant to be
Divided to and Amongst them into Sixty four Equal
Shares All that Tract or Parcell of Land Scituate Lying
& being within our Said Province of New Hampshire
Containing by Admeasurement Twenty three thousand
& forty Acres which Tract is to Contain Six Miles
Square & no more Out of which An Allowence is to be



178 HISTORY OF VERMONT

made for high ways & unimproveable Lands, by Rock,
Ponds Mountains & Rivers One thousand And forty
Acres free According to a Plan and Survey thereof made
by our Said Governour's order by Mathew Clesson Sur-
veyer returned unto the Secretarys office And hereunto
Annexed Butted and Bounded as follows viz — ". Then
follows a description of the boundaries of the town.
''Begining at A Crotched Hemlock Tree".

The Charter then continues : — "And that the same be
& hereby is Incorporated into a Township By the Name
of Bennington and the Inhabitants that do or Shall here-
after Inhabit the Said Township Are hereby Declared to
be Enfranchized with and Intituled to All & Every the
Previledges & Imunities that Other Towns within Our
Province by Law Exercize & Enjoy and further that
the Said Town as Soon as there Shall be fifty families
resident And Settled thereon Shall have the Liberty of
Holding two Fairs One of which Shall be held On the
first Monday in the Month of March and the Other on
the first Monday in the Month of September Annually
which fairs Are not to Continue And be held Longer than
the respective Saturdays following the Said Mondays
And that As Soon as the Said Town Shall Consist of
fifty Families A market Shall be Opened & kept one or
more Days in each Week as may be that most Advan-
tagious to the Inhabitants Also that the first Meeting
for the Choice of Town officers Agreeable to the Laws
of Our Said Province Shall be held on the Last Wed-
nesday of March next which Said Meeting Shall be noti-
fied by Call William Williams who is hereby also Ap-
pointed the Moderator of the Said first Meeting which



THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GRANTS 179

he is to Notify & Govern Agreeable to the Laws & Cus-
tom of our Said Province And that the Annual meeting
forever hereafter for the Choice of Such officers for
the Sd Town Shall be on the Last Wednesday of March



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