HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF FERRISBURGH.
FERRISBURGH is the most northeasterly town in the county, and is bounded on the north by Charlotte in Chittenden county; east by Monkton and New Haven; south by New Haven, Waltham, Vergennes and Panton, and west by Lake Champlain. On the 24th of June, 1762, it was granted by New Hampshire to Daniel Merrill and sixty-six others in seventy shares, and contained, according to charter, 24,600 acres. On the 23d of October, 1788, about one square mile of its territory went toward the formation of Vergennes. Except in the northeastern part, which is quite hilly, the surface is level, and even low along some of the streams, while the soil is various in character, from a heavy clay to a rich mould, and all kinds productive of abundant crops. Upon the uplands the timber is chiefly maple, beech, basswood and butternut, and on the level and low lands pine and cedar, interspersed with oak, walnut, etc.
The line of the lake shore is very sinuous, and indented with bays, some of which constitute the best natural harbors on the lake. Otter Creek is navigable to Vergennes, a distance of eight miles, and but for the falls there and at Middlebury could be navigated by the smaller craft as far as Sutherland Falls. The drainage of the town consists of Otter Creek, which enters from Vergennes, flows in a northeasterly course, and is discharged into the lake near the center of the west line of the town; Little Otter Creek, which enters from Monkton, near the south line of the town, and flows northeasterly into the lake about three miles north of the mouth of the Otter; Dead Creek, which enters from Panton, in the western part of the town, and flows north into Otter Creek; and their small tributaries. The western and central parts of the town cover an immense bed of Chazy and Black River Limestone, which affords excellent quarries for building purposes, and material for a good quality of lime. East of this the rocks are disposed in narrow ledges extending entirely across the town from north to south in the following order: Trenton limestone, Utica slate, Hudson River slate, and red sandrock. In the northeast part of the town is found an excellent quality of black marble which has been worked to some extent.
“Before the middle of the last century the French king had granted large tracts on Lake Champlain to several of his subjects, and, according to an old French map of 1748, what is now Ferrisburgh was partly or wholly included in the seigniory of Mons. Contrecceur fils. In 1772, after the conquest of the French possessions in America, the grantees under the French crown petitioned that their claims might be confirmed by the English government, but as the seigniory of Contrecceur had been reunited to the crown lands of France because of the failure of the grantors to fulfill the conditions of their deed, their claim was invalidated. In the ‘Ordinance of the governor of New France, reuniting to His Majesty’s Domain all seigneuries not improved,’ mention is made of a ‘remonstrance of Seiurs de Contrecceur, in which they set forth that they have done everything to settle their grants; that it was impossible to find individuals willing to accept lands, though they had offered them some on very advantageous terms, and were willing to give even 300 livres to engage the said individuals. . . . . That they intend to do all in their power to find persons to settle said seigneuries, and they hope to succeed therein; requesting us to grant them a delay on the offers which they make to conform themselves herein to His Majesty’s intentions.’ Hence it appears that there were no early French settlers in what afterwards became Ferrisburgh.
“In an English map of later date a part of Ferrisburgh is within the limits of military grants to Captain Williams and Lieutenant Cuyler, but there is no evidence that there were any settlers under these grants.”
The settlement of that part of the original town of Ferrisburgh which now forms a part of the city of Vergennes, beginning in 1769, will be found in the history of Vergennes herein.
The year following the issue of the charter (1763) Benjamin and David Ferris, surveyors for the proprietors, came on, surveyed the township, and divided it into lots. The proceedings of the proprietors, subsequent to this date, cannot be ascertained, as their records were destroyed by fire on the 3d of October, 1785, while in the possession of Timothy Rogers, proprietors’ clerk. Let Mr. Rogers tell the story himself:
A Copy of the Account of Timothy Rogers having his Ritings Bornt.
Know all men by these presens that yesterday which was the sekont day of the 10 month I timothy Rogers of ferrisburgh was a moving from Botin bay in ferrisburgh to letill orter crik forls and as I went by wartor I did not git up the Bay till about mid nite and my wife and five childorn and one woman peggy smith by name and one child was all in an open bote and it was a dark rany time we landid about a quartor of a mild from the hous som of the hands went up and got fir when they got down agane the fire was so rand out we cindild some fir by the side of a tree. To lite barks that the famaly mite se a litill to walk up to the house for my wife was sik I led her by the hand this morning Being the 3d day of the 10 m 1785 about son rise one of my men came and told me the tree by which the fir was kindled was bornt down and bornt up a large chist of droys that was packd as full it cold be off cloths and Ritings of grate importune I sepose I had about forty deeds for about Six Thousand acors of land som on Record and som not notes and bonds for about two thousand dolars and all the proprietors Records of ferrisburgh som other gods was bornt with all the cloths only what we had on these whoughs names who air here sind ar setain witnesis to the same for they helped me move and seen the fire of the same this 3d of the 10 m 1785 likewise they sen the heaps of Riting in their proper straps bornt to ashes.
Mrs. Betsey Gage, an old lady nearly eighty-one, says that her father, Zuriel Tupper, a brother of Charles Tupper, was the first settler in Ferrisburgh after the close of the Revolution. He came in the autumn of 1783, and in March, 1784, brought his wife and three children to Ferrisburgh. During his previous visit he had built a bark shanty for their accommodation, and this they occupied until the completion of their log house. Mrs. Gage, who was then five years old, says that she well remembers seeing the sun shining down through the roof of their primitive abode. At the same time Mr. Tupper had prepared a small plot of ground and sowed some apple seeds, and to him belongs the honor of raising the first apples from the seed in town.
Mrs. Gage’s mother was five and one-half months in her new home without seeing another woman; then Abel Thompson and family came, and soon after three others–Tupper’s brother Absalom, Nathan Walker, Isaac Gage–and others came.
During the Revolution, as already indicated, all those who had come to Ferrisburgh felt constrained to depart, though others had the hardihood, if so it may be called, to settle here before the cessation of hostilities, as follows: Ananias Rogers, Uriah Crittenden and Judge Thompson in 1778; Abraham Rogers and James Saxton in 1779; Noah Porter, Joseph Burroughs and Timothy Dakins in 1780, and Joshua Barnes in 1781. Zuriel Tupper came in 1783, Theophilus Middlebrook in 1784. By this time settlement had made considerable progress, and new arrivals were so frequent as to attract far less notice than formerly. On the heels of the declaration of peace, and before the opening of the nineteenth century, came Cornelius Hurlbut, Benjamin Carpenter, Thomas Robertson, Ashbel Fuller, Asa Carpenter, Obadiah Walker, Samuel Tupper, Wing Rogers, Nathaniel Austin, John Huff, Ira Tupper, Absalom Simeon Miller, George Gage, Solomon and William Kellogg, Sylvester Jaquesways, Benjamin Ferris, Solomon Dimick, Stephen Fish, Abner and Stephen Perry, John Frazier, William Beard, William Walker, J. Hines and Archibald Collins. In school district No. 6 were Joseph Burroughs, Anthony, Stephen, Benjamin and George Field, Theophilus Middlebrook, Benjamin Ferris, Asa Carpenter, Joseph, Benjamin, Joshua and Lewis Barnes, Solomon Dimick, Elnathan B. Beers and Jonathan Keeler.
The first person born in town was Eunice Webster, March 22, 1773. The first public house in town was that of Zuriel Tupper; the house just east of the railroad station at Ferrisburgh village, known as the “old Frazier house,” was the first framed house built in town, and was long known as the Blue House.
The following facts have been ascertained concerning the early settlers, with the assistance chiefly of R. E. Robinson, before quoted:
Abel Thompson came to Ferrisburgh in 1778, and settled on the farm now occupied by D. M. Tappan. He afterward held many offices of trust, was the first justice of the peace and first representative. He built the first house on this farm, and afterward sold to Daniel, son of John Marsh. On a hill not far from the dwelling of M. Tappan is a marble slab bearing the following inscription: “Abel Thompson, born in 1741, died in 1808; settled in Ferrisburgh, 1778.
As early as when the city of Vergennes contained but three houses, John Field located on the place now occupied by George W. Kellogg, erected a log house in 1780, and not long after replaced it with a block-house. He had fourteen children. He died November 19, 1827, in the sixty-second year of his age; his wife Frances died March 13, 1843, in the seventy-seventh year of her age.
Timothy Hatch, from New Hampshire, was one of the early settlers in the west part of the town. He had a family of eight children. He died in the War of 1812, and in that struggle his eldest son, Martin, was wounded.
John Marsh came to Ferrisburgh at an early date and settled in the vicinity of Marsh Hill. His son Daniel two years later located on the same place formerly settled by Abel Thompson.
Archibald Collins, born in 1764, in Guilford, Conn., married Rhoda Bates in 1787, and soon after settled in the east part of Ferrisburgh, on a farm still in the hands of his descendants. He died in 1842. He was the father of eleven children, of whom Elias D. Collins, sr., is the only one remaining in town. Archibald Collins was a tanner and shoemaker.
William Webster settled early in the southwest part of the town, near Button Bay, where George C. Spencer now lives. His father was captured by the British at Arnold’s Bay, in Panton, and taken to Canada, whence he never returned.
The vicinity of Basin Harbor was first settled, before the Revolution, by Platt Rogers, who came from Dutchess county, N. Y. Here he was joined by Jared Pond, whose grave is still to be seen on the farm now owned by the Winans estate. According to the inscription on his stone, he died in 1817. Platt Rogers brought with him a female slave named Millie, who was followed by another slave, her lover. He agreed with Mr. Rogers that after a certain period of labor he and his affianced should be set free. In pursuance of this agreement they were freed, and married, afterward living happily for years in a house built for them by Mr. Rogers, on the place still known as “Negro Orchard.”
James I. Winans, after fulfilling an agreement with the government for the survey of Northern New York, settled at Basin Harbor with his brother. They were ship-carpenters, and built the first steamboat that ever plowed the waters of Lake Champlain. It was commanded by James I. Winans. The widow of Martin Winans, son of James I., now occupies the old homestead.
Stephen Beach, from Connecticut, settled on the farm now owned by his son, Allen P. Beach. He had a family of nine sons, two of whom died in infancy, after which not another death occurred in the family for sixty-two years. Steven Beach died in 1859, aged eight-two years. It was on this farm that the family of John Field removed their goods at the time of the battle of Fort Cassin.
James Blakely, from Essex county, N. Y., first cleared the farm now owned by David Brydia, and built the first house and barn thereon.
Obadiah Allen, a blacksmith, was the first settler on the farm of Putnam Allen, which has never left the possession of the family. The present stone house replaced in 1835 the old block-house built there more than a hundred years ago.
Nathan Walker settled in 1790 on the farm now owned and occupied by his great-grandson, J. O’Walker, the farm having ever remained in the family. Nathan died October 19, 1823. His son Obadiah was born November 2, 1770, and died January 13, 1813. Zurell, son of Obadiah, was born May 27, 1801, and died January 13, 1873. He represented the town in 1832, ’33 and ’34, was State senator in 1848 and 1849, justice of the peace twenty-five years, and town clerk thirteen years.
Joseph Rogers, from Danby, Vt., settled on the farm now occupied by Mrs. Susan N. Rogers. He was a Quaker. In 1811 he moved and repaired the house still standing on the place, which was originally built near its present site by Timothy Rogers; though if the shade of the departed Timothy were now to view his lasting handiwork on earth, he would scarcely recognize this house, which has suffered the changes of time and improvement. Henry Rogers, son of Joseph, was born in 1804, and died in 1875, having passed all his life but two years on this homestead, and having borne a prominent and active part in the affairs of the town. His widow, Susan N., and daughter, Phebe H., now occupy the farm.
Benjamin Carpenter, from Shaftsbury, located on the farm now owned by Daniel B. Collins. He had three children. He was living in Shaftsbury at the time of the difficulties between Ethan Allen and the “Yorkers,” and left for Brandon, where he stayed until the trouble was over. Luther Carpenter, his son, now living here, was born in town on the 25th of March, 1795, on the farm now occupied by his nephew, Oren Carpenter. His sister Lucy, born May 19, 1804, the widow of Wheelock Thompson, now lives with her niece, Lucy Day, in Addison.
Luther Carpenter is the oldest man in town. He married Lydia Ann Davis on the 7th of December, 1836, who is living with him yet. In the fall of 1836, perhaps in honor of his approaching marriage, his fellow townsmen sent him to the Legislature. They have had two children, one of whom, Mrs. Eliza A. Collins, now lives in town. The other, a son, was born in 1840 on the 9th of January, and died on the 22d of the same month.
Elnathan B. Beers, from Trumbull, Conn., came to Ferrisburgh after a brief residence in Monkton, and settled in the east part of the town. He died in Monkton at the age of eighty-seven years. His son, Ransom Beers, now lives in town.
Robert Hazard, from Rhode Island, came here very early and settled on the farm now owned by Ezra A. Hazard. He built the house which now stands there. The old log house which stood formerly on the bank of the creek, west of the present building, was put up by a Mr. Chase. Robert Hazard, it is thought, built the only grist-mill now in town, and operated it for years. He went to Canada early in the present century and returned in 1816. His son, Thomas Hazard, was the father of Rufus Hazard, now living in Ferrisburgh village, who was born June 15, 1808, in Oxbridge, near Toronto, Canada. For more than thirty years he carried on the farm now occupied by Isaac Mosher. Of his three brothers, Robert is dead; Seneca lives in Ferrisburgh, and Dennis, the youngest, lives at Charlotte Four Corners.
Alvin Ball, from Bennington, Vt., with his two brothers, located south of where George E. Ball, his grandson, now lives. Although without property when he arrived, he acquired in a few years a handsome competence. Of his six children, Ansel, Alvin, and Stephen are now residents of the town.
Joseph Burroughs settled at an early day on the farm now occupied by the widow of Joseph Burroughs, his grandson. He had two children, Ethan and Betsey. Ethan built the house now standing on the place in 1811.
Jonathan Locke, from Providence, R. I., was an itinerant settler here in early days. He lived for a time on the farm now owned and occupied by George G. and R. E. Robinson.
Jonathan Keeler came to Ferrisburgh from White Plains, N. Y., and settled in the south part of the town. He was a carpenter and joiner, and aided in the erection of many of the houses now standing here. He had a family of eight children, and died in 1842, aged seventy-eight years.
Noah Porter, from New Hampshire, located in 1780 near the site of the depot in the village, and soon after purchased forty acres of land in the west part of the town, near Fort Cassin. He was a soldier of the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars, and originally came to Ferrisburgh for the purpose of hunting and trapping. His descendants, some of them, are living in town now. George W. Porter is his grandson.
Daniel Nichols was an early settler in Vergennes and lived afterward on the place now occupied by his grandson, Joseph R. B. Wilkins. He died in 1847, aged seventy-five years.
Thomas R. Robinson, a Quaker, from Newport, R. I., settled in Vergennes in 1792, and after a few years’ residence there removed to the farm now owned by G. W. Latham, being the old Nathan Keese place. He had two children, Abigail and Rowland T. Abigail married Nathan C. Hoag, and had a family of nine children. Rowland T. became a prominent man in town; was an early and uncompromising abolitionist. In 1857 he was appointed town clerk, and that office has never been out of the family, his son George G. being the present incumbent. His eldest son, Thomas R., was born in 1823, and died in 1853. The second, George G., was born March 4, 1825, and is unmarried. The youngest, Rowland E., was born May 14, 1833; married Anna Stevens, of East Montpelier, in 1870, and has three children, Rachel, Rowland T., and May. Thomas R. Robinson’s wife was Charlotte Satterly, of Ferrisburgh. They had two children, William G., now a physician in New York, and Sarah, wife of William Harmon, of Shelburne.
Timothy Dakin, from Quaker Hill, Conn., came to Ferrisburgh in 1792, locating on the farm now owned by his children, Isaac and Judith, both in the evening of life. He was a shoemaker.
Stoddard Martin, a carpenter and joiner, came to Charlotte from Lanesborough, Mass., as early as 1791, when he was four years of age, and remained there until after his marriage, when he took up his residence in Ferrisburgh. He served the town as justice of the peace for fifty years, and arranged a court-room in his hotel, in which all the justice’s business was transacted. He died in his eighty-fourth year. He married Abigail Squier, of Charlotte, by whom he had fifteen children, of whom five are living, viz.: Solomon S., now of Madrid, St. Lawrence county, N. Y.; Medad, of North Ferrisburgh; Leonard, of Birnham, Wis.; John W., of Middlebury, and Carlos C., also of North Ferrisburgh. Stoddard Martin married a second time, his second wife, Olive Wheeler, taking with him the matrimonial oath when he was in the seventy-fourth year of his age. She survived him four years. He built the Martin Hotel, as will appear in a subsequent page.
Albert W. Meade came from Stamford, Conn., and settled on the farm now owned by his son Albert W., jr. He was a blacksmith.
Robert Sattley (spelled also Satterley) settled at an early day on the bank of Little Otter Creek, where Robert P. Sattley now lives, choosing that location that he might the more conveniently carry his grain to mill at Crown Point by boat. He had a family of six boys and six girls. He died in 1844. He came originally from England, having been impressed into British service and brought to New York city in 1770 on the ship Ambuscade, where he left the ship without asking leave of the British powers that were.
John Marsh was the first settler on the place now owned by John Birkett. Joseph Birkett, of English birth, came to Ferrisburgh in 1802, and in 1816 married Martha Beers. He died in 1854, aged seventy-five years. John and Joseph Birkett and Mrs. Martha Byington are his children.
Loren Orvis, said to have been the first settler in the town of Lincoln, settled at an early day on the farm now owned by his son Lorenzo. He had a family of nine sons and four daughters, Lorenzo being the survivor of them all. Loren Orvis died October 5, 1859, aged ninety-one years.
Charles Newton, from Dutchess county, N. Y., settled in the west part of the town in 1800, on the place now owned by John Newton.
Russell Rogers, from New London, Conn., came to Middlebury soon after the Revolution with his father, Jabez, and in 1812, removed to Ferrisburgh, He died at Vergennes in 1858, aged seventy-four years. He was a brick-mason. His son Jabez now lives in the southeast part of the town.
Benjamin Warner came to Ferrisburgh in 1802 and settled on the farm now occupied by the widow of Benjamin B. Warner. He had a family of five children, and died in 1838, aged sixty-eight years.
John Gregory, a native of North Carolina, and a soldier of the War of 1812, came to this town in 1814, settling on the farm now owned by James Gregory. When a boy he ran away from his father’s home in North Carolina. He was twice married, and had a family of twelve children. He built the first house on the homestead, which is standing yet.
As early as 1794 William Gates was mine host in the old tavern still standing near the residence of Dr. Cram.
Allen Adams came to Starksboro from Connecticut, and afterward removed to Charlotte. In 1816 he came to this town, and located on the Keese place, so called. He had six children. James, his only son, lived for years where George M. Adams now lives, until his death in 1870. Allen Adams lived until he was ninety-one years of age.
Charles Hawley settled near the lake shore in 1810. His son Daniel was born in 1811 and died in 1878. Charles had a family of eight children. During the battle of Plattsburgh his family remained hidden for two days in the swamp, burying their goods in the driftwood.
The following reminiscent statements were given the writer by John W. Martin, of Middlebury, the owner of the hotel property here, and a son of Stoddard Martin, before mentioned. It is all given, notwithstanding the risk of repetition. Of the early settlers whom he remembers are Theophilus Middlebrook, who lived in the southwest part of the town and was town clerk for many years, and Abraham Rogers, who lived in the east part of the town, about two miles south of Martin’s Hotel. Noah Porter lived toward the lake, in Porter’s Borough. Joseph Burroughs lived about half a mile southwest of Theophilus Middlebrook. His brother Stephen lived in the same neighborhood. Joshua Barnes lived on a back road about two miles from the old stage road. Cornelius Hurlburt lived near him.
Ashbell Fuller was father to the second wife of Stoddard Martin first.
Wing Rogers was a very eccentric man. When his wife had company that he did not like he would take a cart-load of pumpkins up-stairs and roll them down again, bursting open the door, and making it impossible for any visiting to be done. Every door in his house had a little glass window in the center for a ‘meek-hole.” One of these old doors now swings in the Martin Hotel. Rogers lived about a mile and a quarter south of the hotel.
John Huff lived at the time of his decease near the depot on the Ball farm. He married Alvin Ball’s widow when he was an old man.
Ira Tupper lived west of the main road about one and a quarter miles from Vergennes. His son Absalom occupies the same place now.
Simeon Miller lived at North Ferrisburgh, where some of his descendants are living yet. His family were noted for their peculiar given names. It is related that when Seneca Hazard was a lad he was living with Thomas Robinson, who at one time entertained some Quaker Friends from Philadelphia, and in the course of their visit he called to Seneca somewhat in the following manner: “Now, Seneca, I want thee to give the names of the Miller family.” which the lad reluctantly responded: “Old Sim, Young Sim, Daniel, Jack, John and Sally; Pop, Almi, Sheldon and Harry,” to the no little amusement of the Friends.
George Gage lived in the west part of the town about a mile from Ira Tupper’s. Solomon and William Kellogg, brothers, lived on Basin Harbor.
Sylvester Jaquesways, a large, fleshy man, lived about two miles south of the hotel. He worked out. Benjamin Ferris lived in the east part of the town. Solomon Dimick lived in Porter’s Borough. Stephen Fish lived near where the Robinson brothers now live, on part of the old Keese place.
John Fraser lived at Fraser’s Falls, near the Center.
William Beard lived west of the Center.
William Walker, father of Zuriel, lived west of the Center two miles.
Organization.–The town was organized on the 29th of March, 1785. Jonathan Saxton was chosen town clerk; Jeremiah Reynolds, constable; and Abel Thompson, Isaac Gage, and Silas Bingham, selectmen.
The principal business of the inhabitants of Ferrisburgh has ever been agricultural. The excellent water power in a vicinity so near as Vergennes was inimical to the establishment and development of many large mills or factories in this town at an early day. The following account of the mills, forges, etc.; in the town was collected by R. E. Robinson, and constitutes all that can now be learned on the subject.
There was a forge on Little Otter Creek a little above where the Monkton road crosses the stream. I cannot learn by whom it was built or operated. Just below the bridge was a forge bullt by Major Richard Barnum, longer ago than Mr. Luther Carpenter–who was born in the neighborhood, and is now in his ninety-first year–can remember. In 1805 Major Barnum sold property here to Caleb Farrer, and he sold in April, 1807, to Perkins Nichols, of Boston. Nichols sold in the same year to Bradbury, Higginson, Wells and others, all of Boston. A coal-house, forge, and saw-mill are mentioned in the deed. The Monkton ore bed was sold to the Bostonians about this time, and I have heard one who worked in the forge then tell how, one by one, thirty silver dollars were slyly thrown into the furnace while the bloom was smelting, which was to prove the quality of the ore. The result was iron so excellent that the bargain was at once closed. Then or a little later there was a wool-carding and cloth-dressing establishment there; a blacksmith shop, a store, and nine dwelling houses near by. The ore was of poor quality and the forge was soon abandoned by the Monkton Iron Company. All the works there soon went down, so long ago that scarcely a trace of any of them remains to-day.
At Walker’s Falls, a mile or so down stream, there was in the first quarter of this century a saw-mill belonging to William Walker. He built a tannery there, but little was ever done in it, and only the foundations of it and the sawmill are to be seen now. About forty rods below was a forge, built by some of the Barnums and worked by them. Also a small nail factory, where nails were cut and headed by hand, and another where axes were made by hand; and Giles Hard fulled and dressed the home-made cloth of the farmers. All traces of these are gone. This place was long known as “Dover.”
A mile above the mouth of the Cronkhite Brook, which empties into Little Otter below where these works were situated, William Palmer had a saw-mill that endured but a little while, and its place is almost unmarked.
Further down the stream of Little Otter, at Birkett’s Falls, Walter Birkett had a little wheelwright shop, making mostly ox-carts. Just above was a “potash,” the owner now unknown. Afterward there was a cider-mill in the building where Walter Birkett made carts, or on the site of it. That, too, long ago passed away.
At the lower falls on Little Otter Creek, long known as Fraser’s Falls, there was a grist-mill early in the century, though I can find no mention of it in any deed. It stood about half way between where now is the railroad bridge and the place where George Campbell built his saw-mill in 1824. The old stones, two of them, are still in existence. It is said to have had two run of stones. The water was brought down in a flume or spout to an overshot wheel. There was a saw-mill on the north side of the stream, opposite J. R. Barnum’s present saw-mill. As nearly as can be ascertained, it was the first saw-mill built on these falls. The Daggetts came into possession of the land where it stood, in 1825. In the description of the bounds a “potash place” is mentioned, and it must have been within forty rods of the falls, north. Daggett sold this mill to John Fraser in 1831. Fraser’s saw-mill was further up stream, above the bridge on the left bank. There is nothing to establish the date of its building. George Campbell built his saw-mill, now owned by J. R. Barnum, probably in or about 1824, as in that year he bought the privilege of John Fraser. Charles Campbell, his son, sold it to J. R. Barnum in 1858. Joseph R. Barnum built a grist-mill adjoining it in 1860, with two run of stones, for grinding meal and provender. This was discontinued five years later. J. R. Barnum is now, February, 1886, repairing his saw-mill. J. R. Barnum owned the upper sawmill when it was burnt in 1875.
About 1850 James B. Fraser, son of John, built a grist-mill on the right bank of the creek, opposite his saw-mill. It had three or more run of stones, and was a well-appointed and expensive mill for a country place. He sold it and the saw-mill to Charles Campbell in 1854. Campbell sold to Asa Hawkins in 1858, and the next year the property was bought by Perry & Hurlburt. C. C. Martin became a partner afterward, and in 1875 it was burnt, taking fire from the railroad bridge, when that, the road bridge (covered), the two mills, and a dwelling house belonging to the mill property were all destroyed.
Sixty or seventy years ago Daniel Nichols had a hemp factory on the flat below J. R. Barnum’s mill. It was destroyed by fire almost as long ago.
These, with the exception of some unimportant transient industries, are all the works that have ever been on Fraser’s Falls, so far as I can learn.
At the upper part of the falls, at Ferrisburgh “Hollow,” there was a forge early in this century, owned by one of the Fullers. This was on the “minister’s lot.” In 1822 Robert B. Hazard leased of the Baptist Church a portion of it thereabout, and built a woolen factory, which afterward came into the possession of his brother, William Hazard, who in 1832 leased it to Theodore D. and Edmund Lyman. Theodore D. Lyman leased the factory to Edward Daniels in 1864. In 1884 it was burnt, while run by John Vanduysen under a lease from Daniels.
The site of the grist-mill and saw-mill, near the bridge, was deeded to Spencer & Hills by Thomas Champlin in 1806. One acre, previously deeded to Peet T. Titus, was excepted. The saw-mill was probably built before this date. Spencer and others deeded the property to Thomas R. Robinson, with the exception of Titus’s acre and William Lamson’s “privilege for a machine,” in 1811. The grist-mill was probably built previous to this date, but is not mentioned in the deed. In 1817 T. R. Robinson leased a privilege below the bridge to Robert B. Hazard for carding wool and dressing cloth. In 1824 T. R. Robinson deeded the mill property and privileges he owned at this place to his son, R. T.
Robinson, who rebuilt the grist-mill in 1828, and sold to John Van Vliet in 1833. Van Vliet sold the grist-mill to Henry Miles in 1838, and H. Miles to Haskell & Wicker in 1842, and in 1843 George Hagan, H. Miles’s brother in law, bought it. After G. Hagan’s death it was sold to Sylvanus Humphrey, and in 1863 Humphrey sold it to C. C. Martin, and in 1866 C. C. Martin sold to Philo D. Percival, and N. J. Allen became a partner with him not long afterward. It is now leased by M. F. Allen and Medad Partch. The mill property at this place was so divided after Van Vliet’s purchase that it is almost impossible to trace the different ownerships.
There was a potashery at one time, many years ago, some rods east of the grist-mill, nearly where John Dakin’s house is.
West of the mills, near the road, and on the bank of the intervale, Robert B. or William Hazard built a distillery. I cannot fix the date of its erection, but it was in full operation about 1830. Carpenter & Lorely were running it at one time, and Rowland T. Robinson was sued by them for refusing to grind grain in his mill for the purpose of distilling. They gained their suit, but he held to his determination and the business was soon given up.
A part of the property at the lower falls of Lewis Creek was bought by Samuel Strong of Daniel Fish in 1790 and in 1815 he bought a part of Heman Barney. “The old grist-mill and saw-mill on said premises” are named in this deed. John Burt appears to have owned here before D. Fish. Heman Barney had a wool-carding and cloth-dressing establishment south of the saw-mill, and the grist-mill was north of the saw-mill, Medad Martin says. Nathaniel Martin’s tannery was just below these mills, and all were on the north side of the stream. Nathaniel Martin’s bark-mill and tannery were there in 1824, and for fifteen years or more after that time. In 1835 E. D. Woodbridge and wife (heirs of S. Strong) leased all the land lying upon Lewis Creek about the bridge on the main road, with use of all irons and machinery on said premises,” to Perly W. Frost and Ezra Wardwell for twelve years. Frost and Wardwell built or ran a pail factory on the south side of the creek, just below the bridge. In 1837 they leased it to Frederick B. Nims. There was never much done at pailmaking, and some years later the building was destroyed by fire. Of these buildings the saw-mill was standing last, about twenty years ago. The others were gone long before, and no vestige of any now remains. The embankment of the old dam, extending out upon the narrow intervale, is all that is left to show that there were ever mills here.
Joseph R. Barnum says the Banyea brick-yard was established by William M. Gage, and was worked at least forty-eight years ago. It may have been worked longer ago.
Heman Barnum had a brick-yard about a mile west of the Center, near the cemetery, in 1838 or thereabouts. It was worked six or eight years, and the brick for the Union Church were made there.
Thomas Dimmick had a brick-yard, at the same time and later, three miles west of the Center.
The part that the town took in the Revolutionary War can scarcely be told or understood, because the population at that time was very sparse, and nearly all the inhabitants fled on the prospected approach of the enemy. Many of the settlers undoubtedly enlisted and bore an active part in the struggle for independence.
The War of 1812 came upon the country at a time when the Champlain valley had become more thickly peopled, when homes had been built up which their founders were determined to defend at the risk, if necessary, of their lives. The inhabitants of Ferrisburgh, and all the towns in the valley, poured out in bodies when the signals were given for the battle of Plattsburgh. But the test of the patriotism and spirit of abnegation was reserved for the War of 1861-65. Then were aroused the energies of a peace-loving people to meet the exigencies of the most terrible war of modern times. The following men were enlisted in Vermont regiments in the support of the Union during that fearful struggle.
Volunteers for three years not credited previous to call for 300,000 volunteers of October 17, 1863:
L. J. Allen, I. B. Austin, B. Bailey, W. A. Baldwin, J. Baldwin, P. B. Ball, L. Brooks, J. O. Carpenter, H. R. Chase, C. S. Curtis, J. Farrill, E. W. Gale, C. F. Hall, G. Harrington, L. L. Harrington, S. Hazard, W. B. Hazard, C. H. Higgins, J. J. Horan, L. Hurlbut, C. B. Kent, W. M. Martin, J. W. Mignault, S. Morse, F. Pecu, J. Pecu, W. Pecu, H. A. Phelps, A. Ploof, G. W. Porter, jr., H. H. Porter, jr., L. Porter, jr., S. H. Porter, A. Sorrell, H. M. Sorrell, C. Stone, P. M. Thompson, J. A. Taggart, G. F. Williams, G. B. Worcester.
Credits under call of October 17, 1863, for 300,000 volunteers, and subsequent calls:
Volunteers for three years.–A. M. Ball, L. S. Beach, J. Devine, S. W. Diggles, J. Duprey, J. Farrell, A. N. Freeman, J. Galvin, J. Garrow, G. Harrington, J. Leguire, C. Lamay, L. W. Langley, N. C. Langley, F. Larrow, L. S. Mallory, E. H. O’Neil, W. H. Palmer, F. A. Peck, C. Porter, R. N. Preston, H. Sears, J. W. Sears, J. Sinnow, J. Sorrell, G. Stanlew, N. Stinehowe, J. Stone.
Volunteers for one year.–J. J. Bartley, W. J. Conant, P. Cunningham, H. Curler, jr., L. D. Curler, I. F. Hatch, F. A. Joslin, M. McKeogh, F. M. Moulton, W. Pecu, S. Preston.
Volunteers re-enlisted.–L. J. Allen, D. Clark, S. B. Flanders, A. Sorrell.
Enrolled men who furnished substitute.–B. F. Field, A. W. Meade.
Not credited by name.–Two men.
Volunteers for nine months.–T. Agin, O. W. Allen, H. B. Allen, F. Armel, C. E. Baldwin, H. J. Ball, J. Butler, W. Caxton, S. Diggles, J. Gregory, C. H. Hitchcock, W. M. Kellogg, W. S. Labore, T. C. Middlebrook, F. M. Moulton, A. Peck, E. Pecue, H. Perry, D. E. Rollin, S. M. Southard, T. Tambling.
Furnished under draft.–Paid commutation, O. Arnold, J. S. Benedict, H. Hawkins, R. W. Hazard, H. Martin, G. G. Robinson, R. Wilkins. Procured substitute, A. Collins, A. W. Conkrite, D. E. Field, J. Field.
Post-office.–No post-office was established in town until about 1838, the reason being that Vergennes and Charlotte were conveniently near, and all attempts previous to that date to secure the establishment of an office in one part of the town were successfully resisted by other sections, on the ground of its not being a central situation. In 1838 Stoddard Martin, who was then keeping the stage-house and hotel in North Ferrisburgh, gained the assistance of Stephen Haight, of Monkton, at that time member of Congress, and succeeded in securing the appointment of first postmaster at North Ferrisburgh. After he went out of the proprietorship of the hotel in 1841 his son, John W. Martin, became his successor, and remained in the office about fourteen years. After his term have been successively Aaron B. Webb, Calvin Martin, Benoni Thompson, Absalom Wheeler, Martin F. Allen, and, since the fall of 1885, James Mooney, the present incumbent.
Henry Rogers was, it seems, the first postmaster at the Center, and was followed by Rowland T. Robinson, Dr. George E. Stone, John Bell, Mrs. Betsey Colter, and the present postmaster, George Field, who has been in the office several years.
Hotel.–The only hotel now kept in town (Martin’s Hotel) was first opened to the public in 1830 by Stoddard Martin, his father, Reuben, being with him. In 1841 John W. and C. C. Martin, sons of Stoddard, contracted for the purchase of the property and became absolute owners at their father’s decease. John W. Martin owns it still, though it is well conducted by his son Stoddard.
Grist-mill.–The grist-mill at North Ferrisburgh, now operated by M. L. Partch, J. P. Kenyon and M. F. Allen, under the firm style of Partch & Co., was operated some years before the beginning of the present century by Robert Hazard, as before stated. On the 19th of March, 1811, Thomas R. Robinson bought the property of Gideon Spencer, Gideon Spencer, jr., and Stephen Spencer. Afterward his son, Rowland T. Robinson, acquired title, and in 1828 substantially rebuilt the mill. In March, 1833, John Van Vliet bought it. In more recent years P. D. Percival operated the mill, and for a number of years preceding March 23, 1885, Allen and Percival ran it. The mill has a capacity for grinding about four hundred bushels per day.
Mercantile Interests.–The oldest mercantile business now in town is the store of J. L. St. Peters. The business was started in 1837 by C. W. Wicker. In 1877 the present proprietor, who had been his clerk for eight years, succeeded him. He carries about $4,000 stock. Mr. St. Peters came to Ferrisburgh from Charlotte.
The store of M. F. Allen & Brother dates its establishment as far back as 1845, when N. J. Allen, father of the present proprietors, and A. L. Wheeler began under the title of Allen & Wheeler. Since then the firms have been Wheeler & Allen, M. F. Allen & Co., and since April 1, 1883, the present firm. The present building was erected on the site of the old one in the summer of 1885. This store also carries about $4,000 stock.
C. H. Mallory bought the store property which he now owns of C. W. Wicker December 7, 1857, and began working at cooper work. From this he gradually established a trade in various articles until he was compelled to abandon the cooper work and devote himself to his mercantile business.
L. B. Fuller began in the fall of 1885 the business of pressing hay for exportation, and has already built up an extensive business. He has been a dealer in hay in town, however, about fourteen years.
Manufacturing Interests.–The oldest saw-mill in town is the one now operated by J. R. Barnum, which now has a circular saw and cuts from 100,000 to 500,000 feet of lumber annually.
Mahlon Kingman’s barrel factory was first operated in 1850. He employs about five hands.
John Banyea’s brick-yard was established as early as 1806. He employs ten hands, and manufactures about a million brick per annum.
The cider-mill of George B. Kimball was established in 1844 by Daniel Kimball, father of the present proprietor. Four men are kept during the cider season.
Stephen Ball also operates a cider-mill (near the Kimball mill), which he started about twenty years ago.
Oliver Danyow started his cider-mill at Little Otter Creek Falls in the summer of 1884.
The population of the town since the taking of the first census in 1791, has varied according to the following figures : 1791, 481; 1800, 956; 1810, 1647; 1820, 1,581; 1830, 1,822; 1840, 1,755; 1850, 2,075; 1860, 1,738; 1870, 1,768; 1880, 1,684.
Congregational Church.–The Congregational Church was organized in Ferrisburgh January 26, 1824, in the town house, where its meetings were held up to the time of the building of the Union Church there. The members numbered at that time forty-four. Mrs. Luther Carpenter thinks Abraham Baldwm was the first minister, and preached in Ferrisburgh and Monkton. Allen Adanis was the first deacon. The first Sabbath-school was organized at the “Gage school house” (district No. 8) about 1828, by William Bixby, William Roberts, and another gentleman, all of Vergennes. The first Sunday-school superintendent was James Hodge. The Congregational Church in this town has never had a pastor, but has been “supplied.” In 1840 the “Union Church” was built by all denominations, at a cost of $2,200. Until the building of the Congregational Church at the Center in 1869, the meetings of the Congregationalists were held in the Union Church. The number of members now is about fifty-two-C. W. Wicker, deacon, J. Q. Adams, Sunday-school superintendent; average attendance at Sunday-school, forty. Mr. Harris (not ordained) preaches to the church at present. The church building cost $7,000.
Of the Baptist Church all that can be learned is that the Rev. John A. Dodge was set apart to the Baptist ministry as pastor over the church and congregation in Ferrisburgh November 15, 1821; a certificate whereof is recorded in the Ferrisburgh Records, volume ten.
September 14, 1827, William Walker, Benjamin Carpenter and Elam Hall, committee of the Baptist Church in Ferrisburgh, “in consideration of the love and affection they bear unto John A. Dodge, quit-claim unto him the whole of the right of land drawn to the first settled gospel minister.”
Meetings were sometimes held in the second story of the tannery building at Walker’s Falls, where Mrs. Ransom Beers remembers hearing Elder Dodge preach. The society never had a meeting-house in town; has but few members, and no minister residing here.
Friends, commonly called Quakers.–“At a Quarterly Meeting held at nine partners [N. Y.] The 14 & 15 of 11 mo. 1792, the Request respecting a Meeting of worship & a Preparitive meeting at Pharisburg on Concideration thereon is united with & establishes these Meetings and Directs that those meeting of worship be held on the First and Fifth days of the week, and those Preparitive be Held on the 2 Fifth Day in each mo. Extraced from the minutes by aaron hill, Clark.”
“According to the Direction of the above minutes have met this 10. Day of 1 mo. 1793, & opened our Preparitive meeting.”–(From records of the Society.)
Sarah Barker was the first clerk of the women’s meeting, whose name I find in the records I have had access to. I cannot ascertain the number of members at the time the meeting was established. Child’s Gazetteer says about one hundred, and that they erected a meeting-house that year. Both statements are doubtful. It does not seem probable that there were so many members then, and about that time a marriage ceremony was performed, according to Friends’ usage, in a log barn that stood a little south of the house now occupied and owned by Susan Rogers. If there was a meeting-house then, why was the marriage not in it? On the 5th of 12th month,’1811, “Cornelius Halbut [Hurlburt], of Ferrisburgh, and Timothy Rogers, of the town of Markham, on Duffin’s Creek in Upper Canada, deeded to Nathan C. Hoag, of Charlotte, and Jonathan Holmes, of Monkton, one and one-half acres of land for the sole use, benefit and behoof of the Monkton Monthly Meeting of Friends.” This is where the old Friends’ meeting-house stood, built, perhaps, some years before the land was deeded. It was a barn-like, two-storied structure with shingled sides, if I remember right, with a partition running through the middle, having movable shutters, that were closed during the progress of “meetings for business,” while the men-Friends and the women-Friends, always sitting apart, transacted the business belonging to either sex. The building was bought by the Orthodox Friends and utilized by them in the construction of their meeting-house in 1860. The rough old door-stones still lie in their old places among the many unmarked graves of past generations of Friends. There is nothing on the records that I have examined as to who were “recommended ministers” at this time. Whoever was “mbved by the spirit” preached, and it was not uncommon for meetings of worship to be held in perfect silence. Joseph and Huldah Hoag and Clark Stevens were some of the early preachers of the society here. One day, while at work in his fields, Joseph Hoag beheld a “vision” of dire calamities that were to befall this country. It was thought by many then, and is by some now, to have been truly prophetic. Thomas R. Hazard, a prominent Spiritualist, has had it republished several times in the newspapers.
About 1818 a controversy arose concerning matters of Scriptural belief, and was attended by all the bitterness of spirit that religious dissensions usually are. It resulted in a separation. Of the members of this meeting two hundred and eighty-two took the orthodox side, one hundred and ninety-two the “Hicksite,” so called because Elias Hicks was the most prominent preacher of its unorthodox doctrine. It is not to be understood that there were nearly so many Friends resident here, but all were members of this meeting; some lived as far south as Shoreham, some as far north as Canada, some in Lincoln and Starksboro, some in Monkton and Charlotte, and all minors were enumerated, being “birthright members.” Both parties held to the fundamental principles of early Friends, the attendance on the “inner light,” non-resistance, plainness in speech and dress, testimony against hireling ministry, etc. Simply stated, the orthodox Friends were Trinitarians, the others were Unitarians. The latter continued to hold their meetings in the old meeting-house till 1843 or a little later, when their numbers had dwindled to a handful. Thomas Whalley was their last minister. The orthodox Friends built a meeting-house on land afterward, in 1831, deeded to them by Abraham Rogers, and situated near his dwelling house. It was a low and rather long structure, and from its peculiar shape, and perhaps from its holding “the salt of the earth” on First and Fifth-days, was sometimes called the “salt-box.” It is yet standing, but unused. Nathan C. Hoag, son of Joseph and Huldah, was a prominent minister among the orthodox Friends, and so were some of his brothers and at least one sister.
The Society numbers now sixty or more members, still holding to the name of Friends, but not to the forms, and hardly in the spirit that was adhered to and professed by early Friends. Their meetings are regularly held in their meeting-house on the main road, a little south of Lewis Creek lower falls. It was built in 1860 at a cost of $1,000. Seneca Hazard and Elizabeth Dakin are the oldest ministers.