The History of Belvidere
BELVIDERE VERMONT, a very mountainous, pentagonal shaped town, located in the northwestern corner of the county, in 44° 47′ north latitude, and in longitude 4° 19′ east from Washington, is bounded north by Avery’s Gore, and Montgomery, in Franklin county, east by Eden, south by Johnson and Waterville, and west by Waterville. It was granted to a Mr. John Kelley, of New York city, March 5, 1787, and chartered by Vermont, November 14, 1791, by the name of Belvidere. The town originally contained an area of 30,100 acres, but was shorn of its limits November 15, 1824, when a portion of its territory was taken towards forming the town of Waterville, and again, October 30, 1828, 13,440 acres were annexed to Eden so that Belvidere now has an area of less than 20,000 acres.
In surface, the town is extremely broken and irregular, some of the mountains attaining an elevation of from 2,000 to 3,000 feet, so that for agricultural purposes it is of little value, though there are some good farms found along the streams, where the soil is principally a clay loam. To compensate for this deficiency, however, Belvidere has, aside from a variety of wild and picturesque scenery, many thousand feet of valuable timber standing in her forests. The manufacture of this timber into lumber, and into manufactured articles, butter tubs, sap buckets, etc., constitutes the principal occupation of the inhabitants, and is the source of the principal exports of the town. The higher peaks and ridges of the territory are covered with immense quantities of spruce and hemlock, while the lower portions abound with maple, white and yellow birch, etc. The maple yields an excellent quality of sugar, many thousand pounds of which find their way to market annually. North Branch. flows through the center of the town, from east to west, affording many excellent mill-sites, several of which are utilized. This stream forms the water-course of the town, and into it flow the waters of Rattling, Basin, Mill, and several other brooks. All of the streams are noticeable for their clear, cold water, and are quite plentifully supplied with trout.
The geological structure of the town is composed of rocks principally of the talcose schist and gneiss formations. The former underlies the western half, and the latter the eastern half of the township. The large bed of schist is cut in several places by beds of steatite, or soapstone, many deposits of which bid fair to develop into quarries of value. Gold in alluvium is said to have been discovered in the extreme western portion of the town, though in very small quantities. A bed of saccharoid azoic limestone also exists, near the line of Bakersfield. Iron and led ores, too, have been discovered in limited quantities, yet sufficient to warrant the belief that mines of considerable value might be developed. Current tradition has it that an Indian at one time took one of the first settlers with him upon Belvidere mountain, and there cut from a ledge a chunk of very pure led ore, which he afterwards run into bullets. There were indications from the cuts in the ledge, so it is said, that there were large quantities of lead, and that the Indian had frequently been there before to procure it. The settler thought to mark the place with his eye, and his route back, so as to return, but the wily savage crossed and re-crossed his steps so many times on their return, that the man lost all traces of the spot containing the treasure, and was never able to find the place afterwards.
In 1882, Belvidere had a population of 400, was divided into five school districts, and contained five common schools, employing nine female teachers at an aggregate salary of $430.10. There were 509 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $466.10, with R. D. Whittemore school superintendent.
BELVIDERE, a small post village located in the southwestern part of the town, on North Branch, contains one church (Christian), one store, a saw and grist-mill, paint shop, etc., and about a dozen dwellings.
BELVIDERE CORNERS (p. o.) is a hamlet located at the junction of roads r, 2, 3, and 4.
Manufacturing in Belvidere
Joel C. Hodgkin’s saw-mill, located on road 10, was built by Mr. Hodgkins in 1877. The mill is supplied with an excellent water-power, employs twelve men, and manufacturers about 3,000,000 feet of lumber per annum. This lumber is mostly spruce, and is marketed throughout Vermont and Massachusetts.
J. C. Hodgkin’s tub factory, located on road 10, was established by Harris Dennio, in 1868, operated by him about three years, then sold to Curtis Brown, and by him re-sold to Frank Lumbra & Co., and finally, in 1876, came into the possession of Mr. Hodgkins. The gentleman employs a number of hands, and manufactures about 40,000 tubs annually.
Brown & Fullington’s saw-mill, and butter-tub factory, located on Kelly brook, near road 13, was built by John Hunter, and, in 188o, was purchased by L. M. Fullington, of Johnson, and is now operated under the firm title as above. The saw-mill has the capacity for cutting 8,000 to 10,000 feet of lumber per day, and in the manufacture of tubs the firm employs ten men, who turn out about 40,000 tubs per year.
Thomas W. Shattuck’s grist-mill, located on road 16, was built by Oliver Potter, and operated by him for several years, then was owned by several parties in succession until 1864, when it was purchased by the present proprietor.
J L. Squire’s saw-mill, located on road 14, was built by Edmund Potter, about the year 185o, and, in the autumn of 1881, was purchased by Mr. Squires. The mill has a capacity of 4,000 feet of lumber per day, but depends upon the supply of water, which varies.
It was nearly twenty years after the granting of its charter, that the first settlement in Belvidere was commenced. The first settlers were Nathaniel Hodgkins, Moody Shattuck, Timothy Carpenter, John Fletcher, and others, in 1806, ’07, and ’08, who were joined by others so rapidly, that, in 1810, the town had a population of 217. The first town meeting was held March 21, 1808, pursuant to a warning issued by Sylvanus Eaton, justice of the peace, March 7, 1808. John Holmes was chosen moderator of the meeting, which was then opened in due form, and the following named gentlemen elected as the first town officers: John Brown, town clerk ; William Beal, John Hodgkins, and John Adams, selectmen; Jonathan Perham, John Adams, and Lemuel Warren, listers; Nathaniel Hodgkins, first constable; David Chaffee, grand juror; Jonathan Chaffee, Nathaniel Hodgkins, and Timothy Carpenter, surveyors of highways; John Holmes and John Adams, pound keepers; John Perham, David Chaffee, and Putnam Phelps, fence viewers; John Brown, sealer of leather; Nathaniel Hodgkins, sealer of weights and measures; Abel Raymore, tythingman; and Samuel and Jonathan Perham, haywards.
At a meeting held at the house of Enoch Dodge, on the first Tuesday in September, 1808, the first ballot for electing a person to represent the State in Congress, was taken, there being fourteen votes cast, ten of which were for Ezra Butler, and four for Martin Chittenden. The names of the voters were as follows: John Holmes, John Adams, John Hodgkins, Tavish Pulsafur, Sherebiah Leach, Samuel Perham, William Beals, Enoch Dodge, David Chaffee, Joel W. Perham, Jonathan Perham, Nathaniel Hodgkins, John Brown, and Moody Shattuck, being in all probability all the legal voters there were in the town at that time.
Sketches of Early Settlers of Belvidere
Nathaniel Hodgkins, from New Hampshire, came to this town in 1806. Of his family of eleven children, two spent their lives in the town. Stickney, the third child, was born in 1791, and was a resident of Belvidere from 1806, until his death, in 1864. He served in the war of 1812, took a leading part in town affairs, representing his townsmen in the legislature of 1840, and his death was generally lamented. He reared a family of fourteen children, of whom Harriet, the seventh child, became the wife of Heman L. Fletcher, in 1854. Mr. Fletcher died in the service of his country during the late civil war, and his only son, Heman S., now occupies the old homestead, on road 10. Joel C., the ninth child of Stickney, also resides on road l0.
Moody Shattuck settled in the northeastern part of the town in 1807, coming from Athens, Vt. He filled several of the first offices of the town, represented his townsmen in the legislature several times, and served in the battle of Plattsburgh, ranking as captain. His brother, Jeremiah, came to Waterville soon after he located here, and subsequently removed to this town, locating on road 14, where he followed the occupation of a farmer and shoemaker. Chauncey, a grandson of Moody, now resides in Waterville, on road 7, and Thomas W., the eighth child of Jeremiah, born in Belvidere, in 1812, still resides here, on road 16.
Martin Shattuck, son of Randall, the youngest son of Moody, was born in this town in 1842, and resided here until twenty-two years of age, then removed to Waterville to act as clerk in the store of E. H. Shattuck. He subsequently engaged in mercantile pursuits for himself, and, May 12, 1871, removed to Eden, where he carries on business on road 21 corner 22.
Timothy Carpenter, from the southern part of the State, came with his family to Belvidere in 1808, and located in the southern part of the town, where he died in 1814, aged forty-three years. He had a family of five children, all of whom resided in the town. Phineas, a grandson of Timothy, born here in 1815, now resides on road 6, owning one of the finest places in the town.
John Fletcher, who is one of the oldest citizens of the town, came here with his father, Artemas, on an ox-sled, from North Adams, Mass. Shortly after entering the town he located where he now resides, on road 13. He is a pensioner of the war of 1812, having served at the battle of Plattsburgh. Two of his children also reside in the town, James H., on the old homestead, and Artemas, on road 11. Elias J., the youngest son of Artemas,. served in Co. H., 9th Vt. Vols., and died here in October, 1881, aged forty-six years.
David Chaffee, from Athens, Vt., came to Belvidere among the early settlers, but, after a few years residence here, he removed to Boston, Mass. Alva, the second of his nine children, born in 1796, remained in the town, continuing a resident until his death, in 1868. He reared a family of nine children, and took an active part in town affairs. One of his sons, Alva J., who now resides on road to, represented the town in 1864, and has filled other offices of trust. Nason, another son, represented the town of Waterville in 1870, and held the office of high sheriff in 1874-75.
Amos K. Whittemore, from Litchfield, N. H., located in Eden in 1802, and from there removed to this town, in 1835, and subsequently took up his residence in Bakersfield, where he died, in 1871, aged eighty-nine years. He reared a family of fourteen children, two of whom, Lewis and Robert D., now reside in the town, on road 17.
Norman M. Cheeney, the second son of Joseph Cheeney, an early settler in Waterville, was born in 1820, and has resided in Belvidere about twelve years, during which time he has held most of the town trusts.
Sylvanus Brown, from Orleans county, came to this town in 1838, and located near the central part, where he died, in 1867, aged sixty-eight years. Curtis, his third child, born in 1826, has represented the town two years, held other town offices, and is reckoned one of the most expert hunters in the State. He has killed upwards of one hundred bears during his life, three of which he shot during the winter of 1882.
Charles B. Weston was born in Franklin county, in 1805, and came to Belvidere in 1852, since which time he has been a resident of the town. He represented his townsmen in the legislature of 1874, and has held most of the other town offices.
Eugene L. Chappell, from Canada, came to Belvidere in 1857, being the third to locate in that part of the town called the Basin, since which time, with the exception of three years spent in the service of his country during the late war, has resided in the town. He married Miss Amelia St. John, in 1861, and has a family of three children.
The Christian Church of Belvidere
The first preaching in the town was in 1810, when Elder Morris, of Hardwick, preached a sermon in the barn of Timothy Carpenter. After the war of 1812, meetings were held under the auspices of Elders Newland, of Hyde Park, and R. Dodge, of Stowe. The meetings resulted in the organization of a church of the Christian denomination, with the following list of members : Ebenezer Williams, Jerry Hodgkin, Chester Chaffee, Eliphalet Carpenter, Jesse C. Holmes, Joseph Perham, Fanny Hodgkin, and Nancy Russell. In 1851, a neat and substantial church was erected at Belvidere village, where the society now meets, presided over by Rev. R. D. Whittemore.