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in 1772 by Andrew Spear, who brought his family from
Walpole, N. H., and for several years this was the only
family in town.

Settlements were begun in 1773 in Burlington, Lon-
donderry, Peru, Ryegate, Wallingford, Whiting and

Burlington — The names of the proprietors of Bur-
lington appear to have been chiefly those of New York
men, perhaps entirely so, with the exception of a few of
Governor Wentworth's favorites, to be found at the end
of almost every list of grantees attached to his charters.
The town was surveyed by Ira Allen in 1772. The first
settler was Felix Powell, who came here in 1773. He
had been one of the earliest settlers in Pittsford, and
the first settler in Dorset. In 1774 Powell bought a
tract of land of Samuel Averill, one of the original pro-
prietors, who lived in Litchfield county. Conn. This
tract was in the vicinity of Appletree Point, and extended
nearly to the Winooski River. A portion of the land
on the point was cleared and a log house was erected.
In 1774 land was purchased by settlers of Remember
Baker and the Aliens, and during that year and the next


clearings were made in the northern part of the town
on the intervale, and opposite Allen and Baker's set-
tlement in Colchester, near the lower falls of the Wi-
nooski. These settlements were abandoned during the
Revolutionary War.

Londonderry — The first settlement in Londonderry
was made in 1773 by settlers from New Hampshire,
some of them coming from the township of London-
derry, in that province. They were descendants of
members of a Presbyterian colony which emigrated to
America from the north of Ireland, about 1738. This
township was chartered by New York in 1770, under
the name of Kent, and later it was regranted by Ver-

PtRV — This town was chartered by Governor Went-
worth under the name of Bromley. The first settlement
was made in 1773 by William Barlow of Woodstock,
Conn. Most of the early settlers were from the vicinity
of Westminster, Mass.

Wai^lingford — Capt. Eliakim Hall and others of
Wallingford, Conn., secured a grant of this township in
1761 and the town was surveyed in 1770 by Remember
Baker and his assistants. They found a small clearing
occupied by Ephraim Seeley, who supposed he was in
Tinmouth. Abraham Jackson and family made the first
legal settlement in 1773, coming from Cornwall, Conn.
The town was settled slowly before the Revolutionary

Whiting — At a proprietors' meeting, held at Wren-
tham, Mass., in October, 1772, John Wilson of Upton,
Mass., was authorized to make a survey of the town


of Whiting, which he did before the end of the year.
In the summer of 1773 Wilson and several others settled
in the town. Probably not more than fifteen families
came into Whiting before the beginning of the Ameri-
can Revolution. Most of the early settlers came from
Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Windham — Edward Aiken, Jonas McCormick and
John Woodburn were the first settlers of Windham,
coming into the township in 1773. Aiken was taken ill
nine miles from the nearest neighbor. He was able to
send a message to his wife at Londonderry, N. H., and
taking her youngest child on horseback, she rode almost
one hundred miles, much of the way through the wilder-
ness, to reach her husband, whom she nursed back to
health. Aiken returned to his New Hampshire home
for the winter, but came back to Windham in the spring,
accompanied by a son of ten and a daughter of twelve
years. He left these children alone at his Windham
cabin and was absent for six weeks, returning from Lon-
donderry, N. H., with his family arid several other
families which settled in the new township.

TiNMOUTii — The exact date of the settlement of Tin-
mouth is uncertain. The town was organized March
8, 1774, and before that time a considerable number of
inhabitants had built houses for themselves here. It
is said by Thompson, in his sketch of the town, that the
first settlement was made about 1770, and that Thomas
Peck and John McNeal were among the first settlers.

The settlements begun in 1774 included Barnard,
Cornwall, Hinesburg, Jericho, Leicester, probably Mid-
dletown, Monkton, Salisbury, and Williston.


Barnard — Jonas Call came into Barnard in 1777,
made a clearing, and left in the autumn. Several fami-
lies came into town in 1775, and they are generally recog-
nized as the first settlers.

CoRNWALiy — Nearly all the original proprietors of
Cornwall appear to have been residents of Litchfield
county. Conn. The settlement was begun in 1774,
fourteen "pitches" being made that year. Other settlers
followed in 1775. As in most Vermont towns, the
greater part of the settlers came from Massachusetts
and Connecticut. Twenty-six years after the arrival of
the first settler the town was fully settled.

HiNESBURG — This town was named for Abel Hine,
proprietors' clerk. Andrew Burritt was the only pro-
prietor who became a resident of the town. A consider-
able number of the grantees appear to have been New
York men. Isaac Lawrence of Canaan, Conn., and Abner
Chafifee came here before the American Revolution,
probably in 1774 or 1775. On June 10, 1775, the pro-
prietors voted Lawrence one hundred acres of land for
labor performed by him and expense incurred in building

Jericho — The settlement of Jericho was begun in
1774 by the families of Azariah Rood of Lanesboro,
Mass., Roderick Messenger of Claverack, N. J., and
Joseph Brown of Great Barrington, Mass. The settle-
ment was broken up during the Revolutionary War.

Leicester — The first settlement in Leicester was
made as early as 1774, and possibly in 1773. Jeremiah
Parker and Samuel Daniels of Massachusetts were the
first men to bring their families here. They had fitted


and tilled the land for two or three summers previous
to this time. One of Parker's sons remained alone
through the winter to care for the cattle, with no neigh-
bors nearer than Middlebury and Pittsford.

MiDDLETowN — This townsliip was not incorporated
until 1784, but the first settlement within its present
borders was made shortly before the American Revolu-
tion, probably in 1774. Soon after this time mills were

MoNKTON — The original proprietors of Monkton
appear to have been chiefly New York men. The town
was settled in 1774 by Barnabas Barnum, John Bishop,
John and Ebenezer Stearns, but was abandoned during
the Revolutionary War.

Salisbury — John Everts of Salisbury, Conn., was
engaged by a number of persons in that town and vicin-
ity to go to Portsmouth, N. H., and secure from Gov-
ernor Wentworth charters for two townships in the New
Hampshire Grants. The intention, it is said, was to
locate these townships where Clarendon and Rutland are
situated. This region having been granted a few days
previous to Everts' application, and being acquainted
with the Otter Creek valley as far north as the location
of the present city of Vergennes, he decided to ask for
the grant of three townships instead of two. As a re-
sult of his application charters were secured for Salis-
bury, Middlebury and New Haven. Probably Salisbury
was named in honor of Everts' Connecticut home.

In the spring of 1774 Josiah Graves and his son Jesse
came here from Arlington, cleared a few acres of land,
and built a log house. In the winter of 1775 the Graves


family moved into town. Amos Story and his son Solo-
mon came here from Rutland in September, 1 774, erected
a small log house, and began the task of making a clear-
ing. A few weeks after beginning his labors. Story was
killed by a falling tree. Mrs. Story being a woman of
remarkable force of character and great physical
strength, decided to take up her husband's unfinished
task. She could wield an axe as well as a man, and in
the latter part of 1775 she moved to the log cabin in
Salisbury built by her husband, being accompanied by
her three sons and two daughters. Aided by her sons,
she cleared land and raised crops. During the Revo-
lutionary War her home was a place of frequent resort
for friends of the American cause.

WiivLiSTON — This town was named for Samuel Wil-
lis, one of the grantees. Samuel Willis, Jr., was a
Quaker of Hempstead, Long Island, in 1756. Presum-
ably the father also was of this faith. The first set-
tlers were Thomas Chittenden, destined to be the first
Governor of Vermont, and Jonathan Spafford, both of
Salisbury, Conn., who purchased a tract of land in the
valley of the Winooski River, comprising, it is said,
several thousand acres. Most of the early settlers of
Williston came from Connecticut or western Massa-
chusetts. The settlement was abandoned soon after the
beginning of the American Revolution.

The settlements begun in 1775 included Hubbardton,
Peacham, Richmond and Weybridge.

Hubbardton — This town was chartered to Thomas
Hubbard and others. The Aliens made surveys in town
and were large proprietors in the early period of the


town's history. Samuel Churchill of Sheffield, Mass.,
bought three thousand acres of land in Hubbardton.
This tract was surveyed in 1774 and in 1775 he moved
his family here.

Peacham — The first meetings of the proprietors of
Peacham were held in Hadley, Mass., and it is probable
that a majority of the original proprietors lived in Had-
ley or its vicinity. Jonathan Elkins of Hampton, N. H.,
made a clearing in Peacham in 1775 or 1776, and a few
other settlers probably came here just before the begin-
ning of the Revolutionary War.

Richmond — This town was not organized until 1794,
but the settlement of the region included in the present
town limits was begun in 1775 by Amos Brownson and
John Chamberlain, with their families, in the VVinooski
valley. The settlement was abandoned during the Revo-
lutionary War.

WeybridgK — The settlement of Weybridge was begun
in 1775 by the families of Thomas San ford and Claudius
Brittell. About the same time the families of David
Stow and Justus Sturdevant came in boats up Otter
Creek and settled on the south side of the stream, in a
part of the town then in New Haven.

OrwKll — This town was one in which New York
men were the principal proprietors. John Carter
lived here several years before the beginning of the
American Revolution, and commenced a clearing in the
vicinity of what was known later as Mount Independence.
The exact date of settlement is unknown.

Saint Albans — The first settler of St. Albans was
Jesse Welden, a former resident of Salisbury, Conn.,


who came here from Sunderland. He settled on Ball
or Bald Island in Lake Champlain in 1774, and after-
ward located at St. Albans Bay. Three other men came
here before the beginning of the American Revolution
but the settlement was abandoned when hostilities

Sudbury — A few settlers came into Sudbury before
the beginning of the American Revolution, but the exact
dates of settlement are unknown.

BarnET — The first settlers in Barnet were three
brothers, Daniel, Jacob and Elijah Hall, and Jonathan
Hall, who came into this town in 1770, this being the
first settlement within the present limits of Caledonia
county. Enos and Willard Stevens of Charlestown,
N. H., are said to have been the principal proprietors in

In the spring of 1774 Alexander Harvey and John
Clark, agents of a company of farmers in the Scottish
shires of Perth and Sterling, appointed to select and pur-
chase a tract of land in America for settlement, sailed
for New York, arriving at that port in July. From
New York they proceeded to Albany, going from there
to examine lands near Schenectady, but they were un-
able to purchase in that locality as large a tract as they
desired. Proceeding by way of Ballston, Saratoga,
Salem and Cambridge, N. Y., they crossed the Green
Mountains to Charlestown, N. H., and came by way of
Newbury to Ryegate, half of which town had been pur-
chased by a Scotch company, and arrived at Barnet
August 27, 1774.


The agents examined land in the southwest part of
the town. Colonel Harvey's Journal recorded the fact
that they found six or seven settlers in that portion of
the town lying. in the Connecticut River valley, and a
few more in the western part of the town. Returning
by way of Albany to New York, they went to Philadel-
phia, examined land in the Susquehanna and Schuylkill
valleys, and returned to New York in October. There
they found Samuel Stevens, representing the proprietors
of Barnet. He had been employed by a land company
to explore the country from the White River to the
sources of the Winooski and Lamoille Rivers, in order
to find the best land for settlement. The agents offered
Stevens one shilling per acre. He demanded sixteen
pence, and on November 8 they compromised on four-
teen pence, purchasing a tract of seven thousand
acres in the southeastern part of the town, paying
£408, 6s, 8d.

John Clark sailed for Scotland in December, 1774.
Harvey bought tools and furniture for the company,
hired some persons to work, and with five fellow coun-
trymen he went to Hartford and New Haven, Conn.,
bought provisions, and the party came up the Connecti-
cut valley to Barnet. Land was cleared and the next
season crops were planted. Later five thousand acres
in dift'erent parts of Barnet were added to the company's
holdings. Harvey became a prominent man in Ver-
mont, and a body of water was named Harvey's Lake,
in his honor.

Rye:gaTe: — "Of the ninety-five grantees of Ryegate
not one became an actual settler, and in only one instance


did a son of a grantee settle in the town," says F. P.
Wells, in his '^History of Ryegate." The only one of
the grantees who ever visited the town was Joseph
Blanchard, an officer in the French and Indian War
and a surveyor, whose name appears as a proprietor in
the charters of twelve Vermont towns.

Most of the grantees of Ryegate were merchants and
business men, who lived near Portsmouth, N. H. All
their rights were sold by Col. Israel Morey of Charles-
town, N. H., to John Church of the same town for one
thousand pounds, and Church sold the southern half of
the township to Rev. John Witherspoon, D. D., presi-
dent of Princeton College. In order to make his title
perfectly secure, Mr. Church applied to the New York
authorities for a charter, which was granted to nineteen
men, all but two being residents of New York City.
They conveyed their title to Mr. Church, receiving five
pounds each for their services.

Ryegate and Barnet are the only Vermont towns which
were settled by colonies organized in other countries.
In the days when Vermont was being settled, there was
little opportunity for persons not connected with the
aristocracy to acquire land in Scotland. Conditions of
life were hard, and opportunities for betterment were
few. Returning soldiers told of the new country they
had seen in America, and they aroused a strong desire
to seek this land of opportunity, where ownership of
property was a possibility even for the humblest person.
Many towns in Nova Scotia, New York, Pennsylvania
and the South, were settled by associations or companies
organized in Scotland, says Wells.


On February 5, 1773, at Inchinnan, in Renfrewshire,
Scotland, the Scotch-American Company was organized,
its articles of government being signed by one hundred
and thirty-seven persons. James Whitelaw and David
Allan were chosen commissioners. Whitelaw was a
young man, tw^enty-four years old, and an excellent sur-
veyor. Allan was ten years his senior and was reputed
to be a good judge of land values.

The original manuscript of Whitelaw's Journal is the
property of the Vermont Historical Society. From this
record it appears that the two commissioners left home
on March 19, 1773, and sailed from Greenock, March
25. On May 24 they arrived at Philadelphia. It is re-
lated that at the house where they stayed they acci-
dentally met President Witherspoon of Princeton Col-
lege, who informed them that he had a township of land
called Ryegate, in the province of New York, on the Con-
necticut River, which he w-as willing to sell if it w^as
found suitable. Very properly he urged the commis-
sioners to examine other tracts, and not to be too hasty
in making a bargain, advice creditable to a clergyman
and college president, who also possessed many of the
qualifications of a shrewd business man, found more
often in college presidents in modern times then in
Doctor Witherspoon's day.

After staying in Philadelphia for a few days, White-
law and Allan proceeded to New York, and thence to
Albany. From Albany they went to Schenectady and
Johnstown, where Sir William Johnson had lands to
sell. The next stage of the journey was through Sara-
toga, to the valley of the Battenkill, with a stop at Man-


Chester, Then following a trail, the Green Mountains
were crossed to Chester and the journey continued to
Charlestown, N. H. The next few days were devoted
to a stop at Ryegate and to the examination of lands
in that township. Mr. Whitelaw observed that all the
way from Ryegate to Charlestown, a distance of seventy-
two miles, the country was filled with new settlers.

The commissioners returned to New York by way of
the Connecticut valley, going thence to Philadelphia.
In pursuance of their duty they visited southern Penn-
sylvania, the Ohio country, Maryland, Virginia and
North Carolina. After all this journeying they re-
turned to Princeton and closed a trade with President
Witherspoon for half the town of Ryegate. At New
York arrangements were made to send a man with chests
of tools and provisions to Hartford and thence to Rye-
gate. Whitelaw and Allan left New York on October
19 and arrived at Newbury on the first day of November.
The southern part of the town fell to the Scotch-Ameri-
can Company, and in recounting its advantages of good
soil, good mill privileges, etc., Whitelaw added: "We
are within six miles of a good Presbyterian meeting."

Whitelaw's report to the company contained some
observations which furnish an excellent word picture of
conditions prevailing in the New Hampshire Grants just
before the outbreak of the American Revolution. In
the report he said : ''The ground here produces Indian
corn, and all kinds of English grain to perfection, like-
wise all garden vegetables in great plenty, and they
have very promising orchards of excellent fruit. Many
things grow here in the open fields, which the climate of


Scotland will not produce, such as melons, cucumbers,
pumpkins and the like. Salmon and trout and a great
many other kinds of fish are caught in plenty in the Con-
necticut River. Sugar can be made here in abundance
in March and April from the maple tree, which grows in
great plenty. In short, no place which we have seen
is better furnished with food and the necessaries of life,
and even some of the luxuries, or where the people live
more comfortable than here.

''There is a good market of all the produce of the
ground at the following prices: Wheat from 3/6 to
4/6 (three shillings, sixpence, to four shillings, six-
pence) the English bushel. Oats and Indian corn from
1/6 to 2 shillings. Butter 6 d. the English pound.
Cheese A^A d. Pork 4}4 d., all sterling money. The
country produceth excellent flax, which sells when
swingled from AYz to 6 d. the pound. Considering the
newness of the country the people here are very pros-
perous, and we think that any who come here, and are
steady and industrious, may be in very comfortable cir-
cumstances within a few years. Clearing land seems
to be no great hardship as it is commonly done for from
5 to 6 dollars per acre."

The settlement of Ryegate began, according to the
usual reckoning, with the taking possession of the
southern portion of the town by Whitelaw and Allan, in
November, 1773, although Aaron Hosmer and Daniel
Hunt had lived in town some time without any title to
the lands they occupied. John Hyndman had also set-
tled there.


Several recruits for the new colony arrived from
Scotland in May, 1774. In August David Allan re-
turned to Scotland, and on the first day of October, that
year, several families arrived from overseas. It is
thought that about forty emigrants from Scotland had
arrived in Ryegate early in the year 1775. The out-
break of the American Revolution naturally checked
immigration, which promised to be sufficiently large
to interfere with the cultivation of the lands of the
Right Honorable Lord Blantyre of Renfrew, from
among whose tenants many of the Scottish settlers of
Ryegate came.

The plans of the company for a city, with streets,
squares and market places, a city in which land owners
might reside while tenants cultivated their farms, was
not found to be well adapted to the New England mode
of life, and it was abandoned by force of necessity.
This company continued to exist until the year 1820.
James Whitelaw became Surveyor General of Vermont
and a prominent man in public afifairs. The name of
the county in which Barnet and Ryegate are situated
was named Caledonia in recognition of the Scotch set-
tlers of these towns, an element which still exists in
family names and racial characteristics in Caledonia

President Witherspoon invested quite extensively in
Vermont lands, an investment which, it is said, eventu-
ally resulted in financial loss. In 1774 he purchased
six hundred acres of land in Ryegate for his oldest son,
John, who came to this town, probably in 1775, and
began to clear land. A little later he enlisted in the


American army, served as aide on General Washing-
ton's staff, and was killed in the battle of Germantown.

Early in 1776 John Church sold to Doctor Wither-
spoon twenty-eight lots in Ryegate, containing two
thousand, seven hundred and sixty acres, and a little
later sold five thousand, two hundred and twelve acres
to John Pagan, a Glasgow merchant. Mr. Pagan
owned eight hundred and thirty-three acres in Newbury
and two thousand acres in Cavendish. Doctor Wither-
spoon owned twelve thousand, fifty-seven acres in Nova
Scotia. In 1792 he exchanged his Nova Scotia lands
for the Pagan holdings in Vermont. President Wither-
spoon visited Ryegate and Barnet several times, and
officiated here in the capacity of clergyman. He was
active in public affairs in New Jersey, and was one of
the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Including the few towns in which settlements were
begun before the outbreak of the French and Indian
War, it appears from what has been set forth regard-
ing the activities of the pioneers in the New Hampshire
Grants, that in approximately ninety towns now included
in the State of Vermont, attempts had been made at the
beginning of the American Revolution to build houses
and to clear farms. Some of these attempts were feeble,
and the opening of hostilities threatening a recurrence
of the old peril of attacks on outlying settlements, with
Indian incursions a possibility, not only checked the de-
velopment of the region, but also caused the abandon-
ment of many townships on thefrontier.

When the French and Indian War began, every foot
of what is now Vermont either was on the frontier, or


part of a wilderness lying beyond it. In 1775, the
frontier line had been pushed forward, so that about
one-third of the present State, measuring from the
Massachusetts boundary line to the Canadian border,
might have been included as a part of the settled com-
munities of New England.

Thompson, in his "History of Vermont," estimates
that at the beginning of the American Revolution the
population of the New Hampshire Grants was at least
twenty thousand, and that approximately thirteen thou-
sand persons had come into this region between the
years 1771 and 1775, notwithstanding the fact that the
controversy between the settlers and the New York
authorities Had had a tendency to discourage emigra-

A study of the history of more than four score settle-
ments made in the Green Mountain country before the
revolt against British authority was begun by the
American colonies, reveals a similarity of motives and
methods that help the reader to form a mental picture
of the conditions that prevailed during this pioneer

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 34)