History of the Town of Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE VERMONT, located in the the extreme western part of the county, in latitude 44° 38′, and longitude 4° 7′, bounded north by Fletcher, in Franklin county, and Waterville, east by Johnson, Morristown and Stowe, south by Underhill, and west by Underhill and Fletcher, was granted Nov. 7, 1780, and chartered August 13, 178r, to Samuel Robinson, John Fassett, Jr., Jonathan Fassett, and sixty-four others. The town originally contained 23,533 acres, but two miles from the western part of Sterling were annexed to its area, Oct. 30, 1828, and again, November 1, 1841, all that portion of Fletcher which lay upon the south side of the Lamoille river was annexed, making in all, 9,184 acres, so that Cambridge now has an area of 32,717 acres.
In surface, the township is rough and uneven, having several prominent elevations, and lies at the base of Mt. Mansfield, which towers above it to an altitude of 4,389 feet. Owing to this roughness of surface, it is much better suited to grazing than grain raising, and, although grain of all kinds is grown to a fair percentage in certain localities, dairy farming is the principal occupation of the inhabitants. The soil varies from a fine intervale to clay bottoms, and is said to be much better on the uplands than on the intervales. The timber is that indigenous to the Green Mountain towns of this locality, with large quantities of maple, from which sugar is manufactured to a larger extent, it is said, than in any other town in the State.
The Lamoille river forms the principal water-course of the territory, flowing through the center of the town from east to west, and is joined by numerous minor streams from the north and south, some of which contain valuable mill-sites. Geologically, the formation of the town consists of talcose schist and gneiss, the former underlying the western, the latter the eastern part.
Unexcelled facilities for the transportation of exports and imports are afforded by the St. J. & L. C., and the Burlington & Lamoille railroads, the former of which enters the town from the north, extends south to Cambridge Junction, and there turns to the east, extending into Johnson, having a station at the junction. The latter road enters the town from the west, joining the St. J. & L. C. railroad at Cambridge junction, having stations at Cambridge Borough, Cambridge Center, and the Junction.
In 1880, Cambridge had a population of 1,750, and in 1882, was divided into eighteen school districts, and contained eighteen common schools, employing three male, and twenty-nine female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $1,583.00 There were 339 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $2,120.03, with R. L. Flagg, superintendent.
CAMBRIDGE BOROUGH (Cambridge p. o.), the oldest village in the town, located in the western part, on the Lamoille river, is a station on the B. & L. railway. It contains two churches, (Methodist, Episcopal, and Congregational,) one hotel, six stores, a saw-mill, and about forty dwellings. It is a thriving little place, and contains more wealth than most villages of its size.
The American House, a well-appointed hotel, located at the corner of Main and South streets, was built by Peleg Stearnes, in 1826. Charles B. Waite came into possession of the property in 1868, when he changed the name of the hotel from the “Eagle” to the “Boro’ House,” and in 1882, Thaddeus S. Whipple became the proprietor, and changed the name of the hotel to the one it now bears.
CAMBRIDGE CENTRE (Jeffersonville p. o.), located near the center of the town, has excellent railroad communications, being located near the junction of the St. J. & L. C., and the B. &, L. railroads. The village has one church (Union), two first-class stores, several shops of different kinds, and about thirty dwellings. Situated in the midst of a fine grazing country, the village becomes quite a market center, and ships a large quantity of butter each season.
In 18-, George and David C. Carleton purchased of David C. Griswold a large, never-failing spring, located on his property, and constructed a cement aqueduct from it to the village, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile, for the purpose of supplying the village with water. In 1877, the aqueduct, and control of the spring, were purchased by Alonzo Kinsley, who thus supplies about fifteen families with water.
PLEASANT VALLEY (p. o.) is a hamlet located in. the southern part of the town, about four miles distant from either of the business centers.
NORTH CAMBRIDGE (p. o.) is a hamlet located in the northwestern part of the town.
EAST CAMBRIDGE (p. o.) is a post office, located in a dwelling on road 6, in the extreme eastern part of the town, for the convenience of the inhabitants of that section.
Manufacturing in Cambridge
John M. Safford’s saw and planing-mill, located on road 19, was built by Macoy & Co., in 1865, and operated by them until 1868, when it was purchased by Mr. Safford. In 1877, the buildings were destroyed by fire, but were immediately rebuilt. Mr. Safford now manufactures about 1,000,000. feet of lumber, 500 sets of bent felloes, and a large amount of chair stock per annum.
Byron G. Macoy’s cabinet shop, located on road 19, was purchased by Mr. Macoy in 1870, and has since been conducted under his management. He manufactures about 40 coffins and a large amount of furniture each year.
Lucius A. Wheelock’s saw-mill, located on road 26, was built by him in 1877. It cuts about 100,000 feet of lumber per annum.
David C. Griswold’s tub-manufactory, located on road 26, was built by William Lathrop, about the year 1840, as an axe factory, and was purchased by Mr. Griswold in 1859, who converted it into a carriage shop, carrying on that business until 1882, when he commenced the manufacture of tubs, turning out about 50,000 per year.
Joel M. Wilcox’s grist and planing-mill, located on road 26, was built by D. D. Safford, in 1862, and was purchased by the present proprietor in 1876. The mill has every modern convenience, and does custom work.
W. M. Scott’s cabinet shop, located on Main st., at Cambridge Borough, was built by Mr. Burgess about fifty years ago. Mr. Scott manufactures from forty to eighty coffins and a large amount of furniture per year.
The Wallbridge Saw and Planing-Mill, located on Brewster river, near road 36, is one of the oldest mills in the town. In 1869, it was purchased by its present owner, Jonathan Lamplough. It has the capacity for cutting 10,000 feet of lumber per day, in addition to the planing done.
Early Settlers of Cambridge
John Spafford, the first settler in the town, came here from Pierpont, N. H. (Piermont, NH ??), in May, 1783, cleared two acres of land, which he planted with corn, and built a log house. In the autumn he harvested his corn, which was a poor crop, as most of it had been destroyed by an overflow of the Lamoille river, and returned to Pierpont in November for his family, consisting of wife and two children. During the next summer, Amos Fassett, Stephen Kinsley, John Fassett, and Samuel Montague, from Bennington, Vt., and Noah Chittenden, from Arlington, located upon farms adjoining that of Mr. Fassett. These settlers were joined by others from time to time, so that in 1791, the town had a population of 359.
The first proprietors’ meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Robinson, at Bennington, Vt., July 1, 1783, pursuant to a warning published in the Massachusetts Gazette. At this meeting John Fassett was chosen moderator, and Joseph Safford, clerk. It was voted to lay out the first division of lots, and Amos Fassett was appointed surveyor for that purpose. After this, adjourned meetings were held on August 28, March 26, and May 13, 1784. At this latter meeting it was voted to adjourn until the 2d day of September, 1784, to meet at the house of Amos Fassett, in Cambridge, at ten o’clock, A. M. The records show that proprietors’ meetings continued to be held up to April 21, 1795, when, with the record of a vote to adjourn until June 10th, following, the records cease.
On the first page of the town book of records, there appears the following notice:
” These certify that all the leaves before this in this book were filled with accounts, and were cut out in open town meeting, by order of said meeting, on the. 29th day of March, being the first town meeting ever held in Cambridge.
” Certified this 29th day of March, 1785, by me,
“JOHN FASSETT, town clerk.”
This meeting was held at the house of John Fassett, pursuant to a warning issued on the 15th of the same month. On the 29th of March, 1785, then, the town of Cambridge was organized, and the proper list of town officers chosen, which were as follows: David Safford, moderator; John Fassett, town clerk; Amos Fassett, Stephen Kinsley, and David Safford, selectman; John Fassett, treasurer; Noah Chittenden, constable; Samuel Montague, grand juror; Ezekiel Brewster, tything man; David Safford, sealer of weights and measures; John Brewster, and Noah Chittenden, surveyors of highways; and Silas Billings, culler of shingles. The first justice of the peace was Amos Fassett, appointed in 1786. Daniel Kinsley was the first representative, elected in 1785.
The first birth recorded is that of Samantha, daughter of Amos and Anna Fassett, November 14, 1784. She died at the age of twenty-two years. Daniel, son of Stephen Kingsley, was the second child born, in 1784. He lived until 1864. An infant of David Safford was the third, which died in infancy. Solomon Montague was the fourth. He died but a few years since, having for a long time enjoyed the title of the “oldest resident” in the town. The first death was that of Martha, a daughter of Robert and Thankful Cochran, April 13, 1788. The first grist-mill was built on Seymour brook, and owned by a Mr. Poor. As late as 1791, they came from Morristown to Cambridge to mill, a distance of twenty miles. In 1785, the first saw-mill was built, giving the settlers a chance for the first time to have regular floors and doors for their dwellings. Frederick Parker built the second saw-mill, at the junction of Bacon, Smedley, and Boardman brooks. The first arched bridge in town was built by Enoch Carleton and Joseph P. Hawley, in 1832. In 1786, the first school was opened, in a log house, by John Safford, who had a class of twenty-four scholars. The first deed on record is, under the date of April 2, 1785, Cambridge being then a part of Rutland county. In 1791, the town was set to Chittenden county, and in 1796, to Franklin county, and finally, in December, 1836, is the date of the first deed on record in the town since it was a part of Lamoille county. The date of the incorporation of these counties, of which Cambridge has been successively a part, may be found on page 29.
During the war of 1812, Cambridge did her full share in furnishing soldiers to defend our country, and were it available to us, we should like to print, a full list of those who served in the war. When the late Rebellion broke out, also, the town was prompt in filling the quota required of her, the first to enlist being Eli Ellenwood. The highest bounty paid by the town was $500.00. There were 45 enlisted men furnished, thirty-eight of whom were killed or died from wounds received, or from disease contracted while in the service.
The Congregational Church
The Congregational Church, located at Cambridge, was organized by Rev. Ithimar Hibbard, of Bennington, February 18, 1792, with twelve members The church building is a wood structure, built in 1805, being now the oldest church in Northern Vermont, and capable of seating about 300 persons. The society now has sixty-seven members, with Rev. Edwin Wheelock pastor, who has held the position twenty-seven years.
The Methodist Church
The Methodist Church, located at Cambridge, was organized in 1848, with thirty-nine members, by Elder Hiram Meeker. The first .pastor was Rev. Salsbury S. Ford. The church building was erected in 1849, and remodeled. in 1863, so that it is now a comfortable structure capable of seating 250 persons, and is valued at $3,500.00. The society has ninety-two members, with Rev. C. S. Vail, pastor.