Historical Society of Wilmington, Vermont

The Barber House, 5 Lisle Hill, Wilmington, VT 05363 

Wilmington History!

The following information was borrowed from:

Vermont Historical Gazetteer A Local History of

ALL THE TOWNS IN THE STATE Civil, Educational, Biographical, Religious and Military Volume V THE TOWNS OF WINDHAM COUNTY,

WITH HISTORIES OF SUTTON IN CALEDONIA COUNTY, AND BENNINGTON IN BENNINGTON COUNTY.

COLLATED BY ABBY MARIA HEMENWAY. Published by MRS. CARRIE E. H. PAGE,  BRANDON, VT.  1891

THE

EARLY HISTORY

OF

Wilmington,

1751 -1870.

BY REV. VOLNEY FORBES.

WILMINGTON.

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This township is in the west part of Windham County, on the east side of the Green Mountains in the valley of Deerfield River; the east and west branches of which unite in this town and run south through Whitingham into Massachusetts and empty into the Connecticut River at Deerfield. The township is 6 miles square. bounded, N. by Dover, E. by Marlboro, S. by Whitingham and W, by Readsboro and Searsburg, is 22 miles east of Benington, 20 miles west of Brattleboro.

Its surface is somewhat hilly, interspersed with vallies and intervales formed by the Deerfield and its tributaries. The soil is a rich sandy loam, and there is very little waste land, the hills being arable to their summits, furnishing excellent pasturage for stock. The soil is productive, yielding good crops of grass, oats, corn, potatoes and vegitables. The land is well-timbered with maple, birch, beech, ash, spruce, hemlock, firs; the sugar-maple being very abundant; from which, often a hundred tons of sugar is made in a season and is quite an income to the community. The mountains and hillsides give good, pure water. The Deerfield River, Beaver Brook and other smaller branches of the Deerfield, furnish an abundance of water-power, and in the east part of the town is a fine pond, or lake :

RAY POND,

about 2 miles long and half a mile in width, well stocked with pickerel and other fish. This pond empties into the east branch of the Deerfield River by a stream called Bill Brook, which furnishes several good sites for lumber mills.

Lumber is extensively manufactured for the market on most of the streams, spruce, hemlock, birch, maple and beech lumber finding a ready sale, and if we only had the much coveted railroad to transport it to market, it would cause wealth to flow in upon us and make our hearts glad.

In the N. W. corner of the township is Haystack Mountain, more familiarly called

"OLD HAYSTACK,"

one of the highest peaks of the Green Mountains, rising about 3000 feet, towerering considerably above the surrounding hills. About 1000 feet from the summit lies

SYLVAN LAKE,

a beautiful pond of 75 acres of clear, cold, deep water, containing no fish of any kind. It is fed by springs entirely. Its outlet is by a brook which tumbles over the rocks into Cold Brook, thence into the Deerfield.

This mountain is a great resort for the lovers of nature both wild and cultivated, the view being very beautiful and extensive. After climbing the almost perpendicular sides, the weary traveler finds himself upon the rocky summit where a scene of grandeur and sublimity bursts upon his view. Almost at his feet lies the little lake a thousand feet below, encircled by evergreens, its transparent surface glistening in the rays of the sun and reflecting the surrounding trees and rocks like a polished mirror.

Towards the east, the first object that attracts the eye is the neat, white village of Wilmington which is about 4 miles off though you seem to be looking down into it as if it were almost underneath you. The whole town lies curiously mapped out; every man's domain by itself, his nice residence and out-buildings, shade trees, orchards, meadows and woodland with the "cattle on a thousand hills."

Farther. in the distance the view embraces the whole of Windham County and part of Windsor in Vermont with, Cheshire County New Hampshire with Franklin County Massachusetts in the southeast and their various mountains rivers and villages. The north and west is a continual series of mountains, hills, values and forests, making in the whole, one of the most splendid panoramas in the country, which will compensate the admirer of nature for all the toil and fatigue which it costs to reach it.

THE GEOLOLOGICAL

formation of Wilmington is of a primitive azoic order, consisting of gneiss, mica slate and hornblend with detached masses of quartz and feldspar. In the west part of the town are quarries of limestone which are rather too sandy to make the best of lime, but is used for agricultural purposes; also, some iron ore is found.

In the west part there, is serpentine and some steletite. Deposites of clay are numerous and tertiary moraines are plenty along the streams. There is not any valuable minerals, although a thorough geological survey has never been made.

EARLY HISTORY.

The Town was chartered by Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire, April 29, 1751 to

GRANTEES:

Phineas Lyman, Samuel Kent, Jr., Abraham Burbank, Medad Pomeroy, Noah Pomeroy, Aaron Rising, Paul Kent, Joel Kent, Jonathan Underwood, Samuel Granger, Joshua Austin, Samuel Hathaway, Benjamin Kent, Jonathan Knight, S hem Burbank, Elihue Kent, Timothy Marther, John Leavitt. Samuel Harman, Joshua Kendall, Aaron Hitchcock, Lemuel Granger, Simeon Granger, Elijah Easton, Phineas Sheldon, Reuben Harman, Silas Kent, John Granger, Aseph Leavit, John Rowe, Jr., John Old, Isaac Hall, Joseph Forward, Pelatiah Adams, Samuel Dwight, Seth Dwight, Daniel Austin, Joseph Kent, Daniel Smith, Simeon Hathaway, Daniel Gilbert, Elijah Sheldon, Elijah Kent, Zephaniah Taylor, Asher Sheldon, Benning Wentworth, Esq., Theodore Atkinson, Esq., Ellis Husk, Esq., Richard Vibbard, Esq., John Downing, Esq., Sampson Shea, Esq., ---- most of whom were supposed to belong to Connecticut. They surveyed the town into lots and divided the lots among themselves.

But few of the original proprietors ever settled in the town, Daniel Austin and Elijah Easton are the only ones known to have done so.

DRAPER CHARTER.

A subsequent charter was granted, June 17, 1764 to other parties under the name of Draper. The town was never organized under that charter, but the conflicting claims of the two charters greatly retarded its settlement. The Wilmington charter finally prevailed, the settlers voting that they were not willing that anybody should settle under the Draper charter.

Settlers came in rather slowly; there were no roads and they had to find the way by marked trees and foot-paths, and many of the pioneers had to transport their provisions on their backs from Deerfield, Mass., Hoosie, N. Y. and other places.

A census of the town of Wilmington, Cumberland County, N. Y. was taken by order of Lord Dunmore, the Governor of New York in 1771, by Thomas Cutler, Deputy Sheriff. The names of heads of families were:

Leonard Mayo,

Micha Griffin,

Samuel Derby,

Elijah Alvord,

Ebenezer Davis,

John Davis,

Asa Davis,

Joseph Marsh,

John Davis, 2d,

Thomas Crowfort,

Jonathan Rodgers,

Nathan Davis,

David Davis,

Zephaniah Swift.

The number of inhabitants was 71.

The first child born in town, January 20, 1771, Zephaniah, son of Chipman Swift.

Very many of the early settlers were from Massachusetts and Connecticut and were men of patriotism, nerve and enterprise. Those who are known to have been

REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIERS:

Col. Wm. Williams, who had the command of a detachment of Windham County troops at the Battle of Bennington, and is mentiened in General Stark's official report as being with him.

Capt. Judah Moore:

Capt. Jonas Haynes :

Jonathan Johnson :

Ephraim Titus:

Jesse Fitch:

Jonathan Childs:

Stephen Forbes:

Medad Smith:

Barni Wing :

Benjamin Metcalf:

Jesse Swift:

Simeon Chandler:

Jesse Mooseman :

Jonah Lincoln :

William Haskell:

Levi Packard:

James Smith:

Israel Lawson:

Samuel Buel:

Jedediah Bassett:

John Marks:

Jonathan Witt:

Samuel Thompson :

Joseph Nye.

Jan 12, 1778, an order was issued by the Council of Safety to Captain Samuel, Robinson, Overseer of Tories to detach ten effective men under his command with proper officers to take charge of and march them in two distinct files from Bennington through the Green Mountains to Colonel William Williams' dwelling house in Draper, alias, Wilmington, within this State, who are to march and tread the snow in sd. road a suitable width for a sleigh or sleighs with a span of horses on each sleigh ; and order them to return marching' in the same manner with all convenient speed, ordered to take three days provision to each of such men, the same to be cooked this day, and to march at six o'clock tomorrow morning. Signed by Jonas Fay, Vice President."

"Oct. 24th, 1778, a resolve was passed by the General Assembly to make a road from Wilmington to Bennington.

The first town-meeting on record, was held at the house of Elijah Alvord.

Jan. 19, 1778, Caleb Alvord was the first town clerk.

The first vote taken was "to continue Mr. Chapin to preach with us," --- This vote was characteristic of the people, from that time to the present, they having all the time supported one to four ministers.

"March 2d, 1778, Chose Capt John Gibbs, Phineas Smith, Samuel Murdock, Elihue Bascom, and Lieut. Eleazer Bridgeman, Committee of Safety."

At a meeting held, Sept. 1, 1768, "Voted to send for a minister to preach with us on probation. Chose Capt. Josiah Locke, Capt. Chipman Swift and Edward Foster, Committee to look out for a minister."

Feb. 8, 1779, "Voted to dissolve the union between this State and sixteen towns on the east side of the Connecticut River," which they had formerly voted to accept.

The first freeman's meeting on record was held July 7, 1778, "Chose Wm. Miller to attend the election at Guilford as delegate.

"Sept. 1st 1778, Chose Elijah Alvord, representative to attend the General Assembly.

March 30, 1780, the town "Voted that John Rugg shall pay into the treasury the money and deliver the note he took of Capt. Josiah Lock for Phineas Fairbanks' place, when the committee of the court of confiscation calls for it."

"Voted that we will raise our soldiers for the future by a rate on the town. The quota of the town of provisions as ordered by the General Assembly to be provided for the troops employed in the service of this State for the year 1780 was 2338 lbs. of flour, 779 lbs. of beef, 389 lbs. of salt pork, 48 bushels of Indian corn, and 24 bushels of rye."

Nov. 29, 1780, the town "Voted to raise two hundred and fifty hard dollars to procure our part of a magazine of provisions for this State." --- They also voted the same year to raise £3000 for the highways, to be paid at £9 lbs. per day for work; which shows the value of paper currency at that time.

It was voted this year to build a log-meeting house in the centre of the town, which was done and occupied until the completion of a frame edifice near the same spot in 1786.

Aug. 31, 1780, they voted to give Mr. Packard a call to the work of the Gospel ministry. Then voted to give him £100 for a settlement among us to be paid if in time of war with beef at £1 4s. per hundred, or wheat at 5s. per bushel, or rye at 3s. and sixpence; Indian corn at 3s. per bushel. If in time of peace, Beef at one pound per hundred, wheat at four shillings and sixpence per bushel, rye at three shillings per bushel, Indian corn two shillings and sixpence per bushel - to be paid, one half at his ordination and the other half one year afterwards"

Then "Voted to give Mr. Packard for his salary, £30 for the first year, and to raise £5 a year until it comes to £65 a year, and to give him this salary so long as he remains our regular minister. which offer Mr. Packard accepted as will be seen hereafter.

OTHER PROMINENT SETTLERS.

Among the early settlers also whose names appear often on the records as town officers and were prominent citizens, were:

Gad Alvord, Andrew Haskell:

Adnah Bangs, Josiah Flagg :

Silas Axtell, John Rugg:

Rodger Burchard. Mr. Burchard was the first merchant In town:

John Marks, the first surveyor:

Capt. Dickenson, tavern-keeper

Jesse Marks, who was at last frozen to death by guiding a man by marked trees through the woods one cold winter day:

And, Oliver Wilder: His wife, Mary Marks Wilder, who was a very competent woman, lived to the great age of

103 YEARS

and died in 1857. She often described the men of this vicinity, hearing the firing at Bennington, hurrying past her house with old swords, pitch-forks and pikes, while she laughed at them, saying, "It would take better arms to fight with British regulars !"

The men of those times were hardy, resolute and persevering; and the women were fully their equals, helping to till the soil and tend the stock whenever necessary. The wives of Ephraim Titus and Joseph Nye who were neighbors, are said to have carried on their farms while their husbands were away fighting for independence.

An annecdote is told of Mrs. Titus, which shows the spirit of those days: Mr. Nye at the house of Mrs. Titus was boasting that no man in town could throw him. She sat weaving at her loom till tired of hearing him bragg, she left her seat and seizing him by the collar threw him upon the floor, telling him that if there was no man in town could throw him, there was one woman who had done it."

Mar. 15, 1790 the town "Voted that Matthew Long, Amos Fox and Morris Doty receive on the town rates, salts of lye at two pence per lb. sheep at one penny and a farthing per lb, butter and flax at sixpence a lb. thus showing what articles were used for currency then.

IN THE WAR OF 1812,

men were called for by detachments, volunteers and drafts to go north to defend the Canada lines. The town voted to pay the selectmen for providing provisions, camp-utensils, baggage wagon, &c. for the detached militia, Sept. 12, 1820, which is all the vote on record in regard to that war. The men known to have gone to that war:

James Smith, Goodwin Lincoln :

William Wilder, Ethan Smith:

Oliver Wilder, Abijah Petree.

Barney Hastings, James Harwood :

Gates Doty, Seth Hubbard:

Julius Alvord. Moses Cummings:

Samuel Fox, Chester Packard:

Lewis Haskell, John Hill:

Benjamin Parmelee, Robert Farrill:

Daniel Snow, Joseph Snow.

They generally had an easy time ; saw but little of the hardship of war and all returned safely to their homes.

A THUNDER STORM IN WILMINGTON.

(From "The Brattleboro Reporter.")

On the 15th Inst. (Oct. 27, 1818.) we had a terrible storm of wind and rain attended with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder that might appall the stoutest heart. Several buildings were struck by lightning, but with little damage except a large barn of Lemuel Ball, filled with the products of his industry the past season which was consumed to ashes. Two lads were milking in the barn: his son and a relative who lived with him -- about 16 years of age, who with the cow he was milking was struck dead. Mr. Ball's son, though struck down was not so stunned but that he effected his escape before the flames seized upon him and carried the awful news of the fate of his companion to his father. Ball flew to the barn, but the flames enveloped it, so fierce, he could not approach. The body was not rescued until almost destroyed. The charred remains were interred on the 17th when an affecting discourse was delivered to a large audience by Rev. Hollis Sampson from Job V. 6 to 9 inclusive.

In July 1822, a tornado, commencing in the south-west, passing towards the north-east, struck first the earth where the village now is, unroofing the house of old Mr. Allis, then proceeding about half a mile up the river took the roof from the dwelling-house of Jonah Lincoln and completely demolishing two of his barns, destroyed his orchard and crops ; struck a piece of woods a quarter of a mile beyond, prostrating the trees on several acres like grass before the scythe, passing off over the hills levelling trees, fences and crops for several miles, leaving a path of destruction even now visible.

ANNEXATION.

In the fall of 1858, a part of the town of Somerset was annexed to this town four miles long and two miles wide containing about 100 inhabitants. The same territory was set off and annexed to Dover in the fall of 1869, caused a decrease in the census from 1860 to 1870.

POPULATION.

In 1771, 71:

 1791, 645:

" 1800, 1011:

 1810, 1193:

" 1820, 1369:

 1830, 1369:

" 1840, 1296:

 1850, 1372:

 

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