History of Windsor County, Vermont

Windsor County is without doubt one of the most historic of the sub-divisions of the State of Vermont. During the period of ten years immediately preceding the Revolution, and for fourteen or so years after that outbreak, many of the stirring events of State history were enacted within the borders of this county, and at the village of Windsor; therefore it has been found necessary in this work to furnish at some length a narrative of the events of that period, notwithstanding the fact that they were of general rather than local importance and bearing. But a recital of the early history of Vermont, wherever the events may have occurred, is a thing of which the average citizen never tires, and in which every native of the State has reason to feel a just pride.

On account of its geographical location in the State, Windsor county happened to become peculiarly prominent in the affairs of the commonwealth during the period of the somewhat noted controversy with New York; and when were formed the unions with the New Hampshire towns, east of the Connecticut River, this county was made to embrace a much larger area than it at present contains, and was the chief seat of operations in the political history of the State during that time. The village of Windsor was the place in which the important transactions occurred, from which fact the reader will observe that a general outline of the early history of the State becomes a proper subject for discussion in this volume.

In the preparation of the "History of Windsor County" the editors have had access and reference to such of the standard works of State and local history as are extant at the present day; there have been occasions on which they have made free use of the language as well as the thoughts of past writers, and not always have they been careful to disfigure the present pages with quotation marks. More than this, the writers have also to acknowledge the generous assistance of a number of the well known residents of the county, among whom may properly be named the Rev. E.N. Goddard, of Windsor; Jay Read Pember (county clerk); Mrs. Doton; the librarian of the Woodstock Library, of Woodstock; William R. Adams, of Bethel; and others, some occupying official positions and others not, all of whom have contributed to the accomplishment of the arduous task of editing and compiling this volume. Added to the above list, there may be mentioned collectively the persons who have likewise given this work their hearty and unrestrained support; who have made its publication not only possible but a fact; and to whom, with all others who have taken an interest in its preparation, directly and indirectly, are due the thanks of the editors and the publishers.


Table of Contents.

Early Explorations and Discoveries — Cartier and Champlain in Canada — John Smith in New England — Dutch Settlements in New York — Their Conquest by the English - The English in Virginia, Maine and New Hampshire — The Puritans in New England — The French Jesuits among the Indians — English Manner of Treating the Savages — Causes of Indian Hostilities 17

The Iroquois Confederacy — Indian Traditions — War Among the Indians — Tribes Inhabiting the Region of Vermont — The Canadian Indians — Wars Between England and France — Their Effect upon the Colonies in America — Various Peace Treaties — Expeditions and Battles in and near Vermont — Erection of Fort Dammer — The First Civilized Settlement in Vermont — Bridgman and Startwell's Fort at Vernon — Its Destruction by Indians — Final War Between England and France — Settlement in Vermont Unsafe — Overthrow of French Power in America 21

The New Hampshire Grants — Charter Rights Granted by Governor Wentworth - Claims of New York — Correspondence Between the Governors — Early Grants Made by Governor Wentworth of Towns of Windsor County — Proclamations Issued — The Royal Decree — New York Violates the King's Order — Lands Regranted — Uprising of the Settlers — The Green Mountain Boys — Counties Organized by New York — Chester Named as the County Seat of Cumberland County — Changed to Westminster — Gloucester County Created — Sentiment Divided — The Situation in Cumberland and Gloucester Counties — Counties Formed East of the Mountains — Boundaries of Albany and Charlotte Counties 29

The Controversy with New York — Means Employed to Overcome the New Hampshire Grantees — Change of Sentiment East of the Mountains — Allegiance to New York Disclaimed — The Massacre at Westminster — Death of William French — Meetings held at Westminster — The Settlers Formally Renounce Allegiance to New York — The Commencement of the Struggle for State and National Independence — The Conventions at Dorset — Towns East of the Mountains Asked to Send Delegates — The Conventions at Westminster — Independence of the State Declared — Named New Connecticut — Changed to Ver- mont — Conventions at Windsor — State Constitution Adopted — Paul Spooner of Hartland 34

"The Pingry Papers" — A Chapter Devoted to the Proceedings of the Committees of the Counties of Cumberland and Gloucester from June, 1774, to September, 1777; Together with Such Other Records of Events as will be of Interest to the Present and Future Generations of Readers of this Work — The Narrative, with Explanations, Comprises Extracts Taken from the Book Entitled" Governor and Council," Volume 1, Appendix A, No. 1 46

The Period of the Revolutionary War — The Cause of the People on the Grants Becomes United — Allen's Exploits at Ticonderoga and on Lake Champlain — Singular Situation of Vermont — Military Organizations Formed at the Dorset Convention — Seth Warner Elected Colonel — The Rangers Organized East of the Mountains— New York Authority Prevails — First Convention at Windsor^ Battles at Hubbardton and Bennington — Toryism in Cumberland County — President Chittenden's Proclamation — Council of Safety — Effect of Burgoyne's Surrender— Exposed Condition of the Vermont Frontier — The Haldimand Correspondence— Negotiations with Canada — Their Effect Upon Vermont and the County— Indian Depredations — Attack Upon Barnard— Burning of Royalton 61

The Controversy with New York Resumed — The Situation — Petition to Congress — Its Reception — Governor Clinton's Proclamation — Ethan Allen's Vindication of Vermont— New Hampshire Towns Seek a Union with Vermont — The Union Effected — Protest by New York — Disaffection in Cumberland County — Withdrawal from the Vermont Legislature— Threatened Union with New Hampshire — The Union with New Hampshire Towns Dissolved — Congress Sends a Committee to Vermont — Unsatisfactory Results — Vermont's Appeal to the Candid and Impartial World — Agents Sent to Congress — Union with New Hampshire and New York Towns — Congress Takes Favorable Action — General Washington's Letter — Conditions of Vermont's Independence — The Eastern and Western Unions Dissolved — Compensation Made to New York — Vermont Admitted to the Union 69

A Brief Resume on Divisions of the G-rants into Counties — Courts Established — County Seat at Chester — Changed to Westminster — Erection of Cumberland County by Vermont— Officers Appointed — Some Personal Sketches — County Lines Defined — Windsor County Formed — New Hampshire Towns Annexed to this County — Locating the County Seat — Woodstock Selected — Windsor Temporarily a Half-Shire Town — Judges of the County Court — The First Court-House — Its Destruction by Fire — The Second Court-House also burned — The Present County Buildings — Civil List — Officers of the Ancient County of Cumberland — Officers of Windsor County 80

Town Organizations — Not Affected by Vermont's Admission to the Union — Character of Town Government — Dates of Organization both by Vermont, New Hampshire and New York— From 1791 to the War of 1812-15— Events of the War — Peace Restored — An Era of Prosperity — Increase of Population — Subsequent Decrease — Causes of the Decline — Emigration Westward 101

Windsor County During the War of 1861-65 110

The Bench and Bar of Windsor County 177

The Medical Profession — Institutions and Societies of Windsor County 193

The Press of Windsor County 207

History of the Town of Woodstock, and the Incorporated Village of Woodstock — The Seat of Justice of Windsor County 225

History of the Town of Windsor, and of the Incorporated Village of Windsor 275

History of the Town of Hartford 332

History of the Town of Hartland 358

History of the Town of West Windsor 373

History of the Town of Reading 380

History of the Town of Plymouth 391

History of the Town of Springfield 406

History of the Town of Norwich 477

History of the Town of Cavendish 501

History of the town of Ludlow 528

History of the Town of Bethel 558

History of the Town of Barnard 574

History of the Town of Stockbridge 587

History of the Town of Bridgewater 601

History of the Town of Andover 620

Hi.story of the Town of Weston 636

History of the Town of Rochester 646

History of the Town of Chester 663

History of the Town of Weathersfield 697

History of the Town of Baltimore 723

History of the Town of Pomfret 726

History of the Town of Sharon 746

History of the Town of Royalton 761

Biographical 785

Old Families 933


Read the Book - Free

Download the Book - Free ( 66.1 MB PDF )

In the year 1609 Captain Hendrick Hudson, a Dutch navigator in the service of Holland, entered New York Bay, and thence sailed up the river to which he gave his own name, Hudson River, by which it is known to the present day. But it was not until some five years after Hudson's voyage that the Dutch made permanent settlements in the country explored by their navigator. The first Dutch colony was planted on Manhattan Island, now the city of New York, and others soon followed at various places to the northward, up the river as far as Albany and Schenectady. The Dutch have ever been known as a thrifty and prolific people, and their settlements grew and prospered, and spread out over a considerable region of country; and it is stated on good authority that they made settlements and improvements east of the Hudson River, and so far as to reach the territory of the present State of Vermont, to a number of the streams of which they gave the names by which they are still known. But the Dutch were not destined to long enjoy the fruits of their colonization in the New Netherlands, as their new settled country was called, for they became involved in a dispute with the English over the right to the possession, which resulted in the overthrow and surrender of the Dutch power in America, and the name of their principal city, New Amsterdam, was changed to New York. This occurred during the year 1664, and by it, the extinction of Dutch power in America, there remained only the two great nations of England and France to contend for the supremacy.

But in the connection of early settlement and colonization in America there remains at least one other worthy of mention here, and this by the people, although of English nationality, known as the Puritans of New England. They who comprised the band of Puritans were English subjects that had, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, left their native land and taken refuge in Holland, that they might without annoyance or persecution conduct themselves according to the strict laws of their religious belief, which privilege had not been freely granted them in England. In the year 1620, after having remained in exile in Holland for a period of about twenty years, the Puritans left Europe for America, and arrived in the latter country late in the fall of the same year, and at a point three hundred miles from that at which they in- tended to land, and far from any of the settled colonies. After many trials and hardships the Puritans founded the town which they called New Plymouth, in Massachusetts, but which is now known as Plymouth. Being frugal, patient and industrious, the Puritans became a prosperous people and soon extended their settlements through various parts of New England.