History of Orleans County, Vermont 

Transcribed and Contributed by Nancy Piper

Taken From "Gazetteer and Business Directory of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT. For 1883-84"; Compiles and Published by Hamilton Child, Syracuse, N.Y.; Printed at the Journal Office, July 1883

GAZETTEER OF ORLEANS COUNTY, VT,

Page 163-167

AFTER the division of the State into two counties, in March, 1778, as mentioned on page 29, no changes were made in the area of Cumberland county until 1781. The legislature of that year, however, divided it into three counties, viz.: Windham and Windsor counties, occupying about the same positions they do now, north of which the remainder of old Cumberland county was called Orange county. This latter tract nearly corresponded with the old New York county of Gloucester, organized by that province March 16, 1770, with Newbury as the shire town. On November 5, 1792, the legislature passed an act to divide Chittenden and Orange counties into six separate counties, as follows: Chittenden, Orange, Franklin, Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans. On the formation of Jefferson county, December 1, 1810, the name of which was changed to Washington county, November 8, 1814, Orleans was shorn of a portion of its territory, the limits of which had been definitely fixed by the legislature of 1797; and again, in October, 1835, by the erection of Lamoille county, Orleans lost the towns of Eden, Hyde Park, Morristown, and Wolcott.

As now constituted, Orleans county is the central one of the northern tier of counties of the State, lying about midway between the Connecticut river and Lake Champlain, between lat. 44° 28' and 45° north, and between long. 4° 19' and 5° 4' east, bounded north by the Province of Quebec, of Canada, east by Essex county, southeast by Caledonia county, southwest by. Lamoille county, and west by Franklin county. It is about thirty-three miles in length, and thirty miles in width from east to west on the Canada line, containing an area of 700 square miles, or 448,000 acres, divided into eighteen towns, as follows : Albany, Barton, Brownington, Charleston, Coventry, Craftsbury, Derby, Glover, Greensboro, Holland, Irasburgh, Jay, Lowell, Morgan, Newport, Troy, Westfield, and Westmore.

The physical geography of the county is diverse from that of any other portion of the State. N early the whole of its territory has a northern slope, situated within the "Y" of the Green Mountains, the western range of which divides it from Franklin county, and with the eastern range lying upon its eastern borders. Between these ranges there is considerable high land, though precipitous cliffs, and ledges are uncommon, except in the western part. Still, the scenic beauty of Orleans is unsurpassed. Points of beauty meet the eyes, turn which way you will, while the high altitude of most of the country and the pure mountain breezes that are wafted over it, render its climate proverbially healthful and exhilarating.

It is a singular fact that in. the northern part of Green Mountain range, where the highest peaks are found, three rivers, the Winooski, Lamoille, and Missisquoi, flow through mountain passes not more than five hundred feet above the sea, affording good opportunities for roads, and other passes of a similar character are found, while in the southern part of the range no such passes exist, and in order to go from the eastern to the western part of the State, one is obliged to go over the mountains, it being not unfrequent for roads to pass over the range at an altitude of two thousand feet above the ocean. This facility of access that nature has provided is another point of value the county possesses, for there its imports and exports are not confined to shipment in one direction, but can be sent to any point with equal convenience. From Hazen's Notch, in Westfield, to Jay Peak, the range is continuous, varying from 2,500 to 4,000 feet above tide water, the highest point in the territory being reached at the summit of Jay Peak, 4,018 feet above the ocean. The highest point in the eastern part of the county is Westmore mountain, in the northern part of Westmore, which has an altitude of 3,000 feet. Lowell mountain, in Lowell, is also a prominent elevation.

Jay Peak is worthy of more than a passing glance. Its summit cleaves the clouds at an altitude of nearly a mile above the ocean, affording a grand and extended view o'er the valleys of the St. Lawrence, Ottawa, and Lake Memphremagog. To the northwest the spectator beholds the level and fertile country surrounding Montreal, contrasting beautifully with the wild and rugged scenery at the north and northeast of him, where are seen thickly-studded mountain peaks, prominent among which are Sutton and Orford mountains, Sugar Loaf and Owl's Head. Between Sutton mountain, in Canada, and the beholder, is the deep valley of the Missisquoi river, which, like the Winooski and Lamoille, winds 'its way through a valley about 3,500 feet below the summits of the mountains on either side. Seemingly near its base peep out the beautiful villages of Montgomery, Richford, Berkshire, Westfield, Lowell, Troy, and others.' Hazen's Notch, which lies within a short distance to the south, is an object of interest, and gradually becoming more and more resorted to by lovers of grand and picturesque scenery. The fertile valley of the Missisquoi, which is confessedly one of the most productive as well as picturesque in the State, is within full view from the peak. The magnificent views thus afforded can, in a measure, be obtained from several other elevations in the county.

What is known as the upper valley of the Missisquoi, comprising the towns of Troy, Westfield, Jay, and Lowell, and a small portion of the Province of Quebec, lies between this western range of mountains, and the range of highlands dividing the waters of the Missisquoi from those of Black river and Lake Memphremagog. The western lines of Jay, Westfield, and Lowell, commonly extend a short distance over the summits of the mountains; but the east lines of Troy and Lowell do not generally extend to the height of land towards Black river and Lake Memphremagog. The length of the valley in a direct line from the Canada line to the south line of Lowell and the source of the Missisquoi, is about eighteen miles, The width of the valley from the summits of the mountains west, to the height of land on the east, is from six to ten miles.

Orleans also contains more picturesque streams and more beautiful ponds and lakes, some of which are possessed of peculiar charms and interest, than any other county in the State. The eastern and central parts are watered by Black, Barton, and Clyde rivers, with their numerous tributaries, the southern part by the Lamoille, and the western part by the Missisq uoi. These several streams have courses as follows:

Black river is formed in Craftsbury, by the united waters of Trout branch and Elligo and Hosmer's ponds, and taking a northeasterly course through Albany, Irasburgh, and Coventry, falls into South bay of Lake Memphremagog, in Newport. It is thirty miles in length and waters IS0 square miles of territory.

Barton river rises in Barton. One of its branches originates in Glover, from the fountains of Runaway pond, and extends northerly into Barton, while the other rises in two small ponds on the line between Sutton and Sheffield, and unites with the stream from Glover. Their united waters take a northerly course, and, just before reaching the north line of Barton, receive Willoughby river, a stream rising from Willoughby lake, in Westmore, and run westerly eight or nine miles through the southern part of Brownington and northern part of Barton. From Barton, Barton river continues a northerly direction, passing through the northeastern corner of Irasburgh, and eastern part of Coventry, into Lake Memphremagog, watering about 160 square miles of territory.

Clyde river has its source in Brighton, Essex county, and flows a north-westerly course through Charleston, Salem, and Derby, to Lake Memphremagog. Excepting a few short rapids it is a dead, still stream, until it arrives within a few miles of the lake. It passes through Pensioners pond in Charleston and Salem pond in Derby. It waters about 160 square miles of country.

Lamoille river formerly originated in Runaway pond. It is now formed by the union of several streams in Greensboro, and, after running south-westerly into Hardwick, pursues a northwesterly course till it falls into Lake Champlain, in the northwestern part of Cochester. In Johnson it is joined by Little North branch, and in Cambridge by Great North branch. The current of the stream above Cam bridge is in general slow and gentle, but between there and the lake are a number of good-sized falls. It is said to have been discovered by Champlain, in 1609, and called by him La Mouette, the French for mew, or gull, a species of water fowl that were numerous about its mouth. This name became corrupted into Lamoille.

Missisquoi river rises In Lowell, and, pursuing a northerly course through a part of Westfield and Troy, crosses into Canada, when it receives a large stream from the northeast. After running several miles in Canada it returns into Vermont, and taking a westerly course falls in Missisquoi bay, near the Canada line. Its name is derived from the Indians, and is spelled by various authorities in no less than twenty different ways. The river is seventy-five miles in length, and receives the waters from about 582 square miles of Vermont's territory. The falls on this stream in the northern part of Troy are exceedingly beautiful. The water precipitates itself over a ledge of rocks seventy feet in height, and above them projects a perpendicular rock over one hundred feet in height.

The principal lakes are Lake Caspian, in Greensboro, Crystal lake, in Barton, Willoughby lake, in Westmore, Seymour lake, in Morgan, and, last but not least, Lake Memphremagog, in Derby and Newport, extending north into Canada. Old Memphremagog has had its beauty sung by too many gifted pens for us to attempt an adequate description, and. its hold on the affections of the public is too well attested, by the hundreds of tourists who visit it each year, to need such a description even were we equal to the task. The lake is about thirty-three miles in length and from two to four miles in width, covering an area of about seventy-five square miles, one-fifth of which lies in Vermont. Its scenery is unsurpassed in beauty, and though it has not the scientific and historic interest of the famous Champlain, it still has clustered about it legends of the hair-breadth escapes of smugglers: and the marvelous feats of Indians, hunters and trappers, enough to charm the reader of romance. The Indian words from which its name was derived were Mem-plow-bouque, signifying a large expanse of water. From Prospect hill, about a mile southwest of the beautiful village of Newport, a grand and extensive. view of the lake and its environs may be obtained. To the north lie its waters, reflecting like a mirror its beautiful surroundings of rocks and trees, with verdant headlands jutting into it, and islands dotted upon its placid surface. To the left of it Owl's Head is seen towering to the height of 2,749 . feet above the surface of its waters, crowding close upon its western margin as if inviting one to ascend its rugged sides and from its summit view the picturesque surroundings. To the southeast, across and beyond the bay into which Barton, Clyde, and Black rivers empty their waters, is a lovely landscape, with -the strongly marked outlines of Pisgah and Hor rising abruptly, marking the spot where Willoughby lake is located. To the south no mountains intervene to cut off the view, but the eye ranges over gentle eminences that in the dim distance rise above each other, and there is outspread a broad area of country teeming with the fruits of the husbandman's honest toil.

Willoughby lake, in Westmore, is another beautiful sheet of water. It is about six miles in length by one and one half in width, lying between two mountains, the one on the east called Mt. Pisgah, and upon the west Mt. Hor. The summit of Mt. Pisgah is 2,638 feet above the surface of the lake, and 3,800 feet above tide water, affording a view that is wild, picturesque, and beautiful. The waters of the lake, which in some places are several hundred feet deep, are unusually clear and transparent, and in consequence of the bold and romantic scenery and interesting surroundings, the lake is becoming a place of great resort. On the margin of its shallow portions are walls composed principally of granite bowlders and pebbles, which in some places are so uniform and well proportioned as to appear like artificial structures. Other lakes and ponds throughout the county are exceedingly interesting, and will be described in connection with the towns wherein they are located.

Page 171-172

AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY

The first agricultural society organized in the county depended upon a membership fee for a revenue with which to meet expenses. Several annual fairs, of one day each, were held on level fields adjoining the several villages of the county, the society selecting each year the village that afforded the most encouragement in the way of yards, pens, sheds, etc. Finally a company was organized which fenced in a fair ground and made a half-mile track about a mile southeasterly from Barton Landing. Horse-racing was introduced as an attraction, and an admittance fee charged. The attendance, however, did not prove sufficiently large to warrant a permanent financial success, so the enterprise was abandoned. For about a dozen years previous to 1867, no active society existed and no fairs were held. During this year, however, after considerable discussion of the subject through the papers, a meeting was called to "consider the advisability of organizing a county agricultural society." This meeting resulted in the formation of a society, with Hon. Josiah B. Wheelock, of Coventry, president; Zenas E. Jarneson, of Irasburgh, secretary; and Hon. I. N. Cushman, treasurer, with a board of trustees, consisting of one member from each town.

The dominant feeling called for a fair that autumn, so with only about a month for preparation, a successful fair was held on the old fair-grounds near Barton Landing, the receipts of which amounted to a sum sufficient to meet the general expenses, pay -all premiums awarded, and leave about $130 in the treasury. The object of the society professedly was to promote agricultural interests, household manufactures and mechanic arts in the county. Accordingly, by advice of the directors, the secretary issued blanks to every school district clerk, asking questions the replies to which would give a very correct knowledge of the extent of all the products of the county, but only about seven hundred farms were reported. One item resultant, however, is worthy of mention: the average area of corn planted was less than one-half acre to each farm.

At the second election, Mark Nutter, of Barton, was chosen president, and the subject of a permanent location for the grounds was earnestly discussed. There were in the county, aside from the old fair-ground, a track and sheds enclosed as a trotting park on Indian Point, in Derby, and a track upon the grounds of Amasa Randall, in Craftsbury. While the directors were considering the respective merits of these localities, several citizens of Barton village, with commendable public spirit, organized a Fair Ground Company which offered to enclose a suitable plot with' a high board fence, make a track and erect all necessary buildings, and give their use and control to the society for holding a two days' fair each year for five years. The proposal was accepted by the society, and the site chosen for the ground was upon the west side of the river valley, about three-quarters of a mile from the village, a spot easily accessible, always dry and pleasant, and so under the lee of the hill as to be sheltered from the westerly winds, yet elevated sufficiently to afford a charming view of one of the most picturesque and fertile valleys in Vermont, a part of whose fertility was obtained, and a great degree of notoriety, when Runaway pond took its mad course over it.

The fairs and races at Roaring, Brook Park, for such it was named, gained an excellent reputation and were well attended; but after seven annual fairs were held, the society failed to make satisfactory terms for another. The Fair Ground Company, however, has continued the annual exhibitions until this time, constantly increasing their efforts to enlist the support and approval of the farmers of this county, and of the towns of Sheffield and Sutton, in Caledonia county. The expenses are paid from one treasury, though there are two full boards of officers. The president of the Fair Ground Company at the present time is Duncan McDougal. J. C. Oliver, of Charleston, is- president of the Agricultural Society, C. P. Owen, of Glover, secretary, and J. W. Hall, of Barton, treasurer. Among the attractions at different times have been two balloon ascensions and an oration by Horace Greeley.

Page 173

COURTS AND COUNTY BUILDINGS

It was not until 1799, that the legislature established courts in Orleans county, making Brownington and Craftsbury half shires, courts being held alternately in these towns, meeting in March and August. John Elsworth, of Greensboro, was appointed chief judge, and Timothy Hinman and Elijah Strong assistant judges. On the 20th of November, 1799, they met at the house of Dr. Samuel Huntington, in Greensboro, and properly organized the county by electing Timothy Stanley clerk, and Royal Corbin, treasurer. From this day dates the independent existence of Orleans county.

The first session of the county court was held at Craftsbury, March 24, I800, with Timothy Hinman, chief judge, and Samuel C. Crafts and Jesse Olds, assistants. Neither of these men, though they were educated, had been bred to the law; but on the second day of the session, Moses Chase was admitted to the bar, the first lawyer in the county. Timothy Stanley, of Greensboro, was the first county clerk; Joseph Scott of Craftsbury, the first sheriff; Joseph Bradley, first State's attorney; and Ebenezer Crafts, of Craftsbury, first judge of probate. Courts continued to be held at Brownington and Craftsbury until August, 1816, when they were held at Brownington for the last time, in the old town-house, the cellar of the house now occupied by Mr. Burroughs being then used for a jail. In 1812, the legislature passed an act constituting Irasburgh the shire town, providing the inhabitants of that town would erect a court-house and jail at their own expense. Nothing appears to have been done towards erecting the buildings, however, until 1815, when they were completed so that court was held there for the first time in 1816, where the supreme court still meets on the fourth Tuesday in May, and the county court on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in September; and first Tuesday in February.

In 1847, the old court-house was removed and a new one erected on its site, at a cost of $4,000.00, at the expense of the town. The first jail was built of logs or hewn timber, ceiled with three-inch hardwood planks. This structure did service until 1838, when it was taken down and a stone building erected on its site. This jail was eighteen feet square on the ground, two stories high. This building was after a time considered inconvenient and unsafe, so the legislature of 1861, authorized the county judges to borrow $3,000.00 for the purpose of erecting a new jail. Harry Hinman, Jonathan Elkins, and E. P. Colton were appointed a committee to erect the building. In 1862, the work was completed, giving the county a well-arranged granite jail 26 by 36 feet, two stories in height.

The county seems never to have been very prolific of crime, no serious outrages ever having disturbed the even tenor of its way.. On the 14th of June, 1846, a male child a year old was murdered by its mother, Hannah Parker, alias Stickney, by throwing the infant into the Black river, near the bridge that crosses the stream in the North neighborhood of Coventry. The women had been married once or twice, but there was considerable uncertainty as to the paternal parentage of the child, and as she had no home nor means of support, the child was an hindrance in the way of her procuring assistance or employment. These circumstances, it is supposed, overcame the maternal instinct and persuaded her to the murder of her offspring. She was arrested and committed to jail, and in due season was indicted, and, on the second trial was found guilty; but exceptions being taken to some of the rulings of the court, the judgment was reversed. After remaining in jail about eight years, she was allowed to go at large, the long confinement being regarded as as severe a punishment as public justice required to be inflicted on an offender, who, in great weakness of mind and extreme" desperation of circumstances, had committed crime.

Samuel Lathe was convicted of murder at Irasburgh, February 7, 1852, and sentenced to be executed after one year. His sentence was commuted by the legislature, in November, 1852, to fifteen years imprisonment, and he was finally pardoned by the Governor, November 24, 1856.

The following is a list of the assistant judges, State's attorneys, admissions to the bar, etc., since the organization of the county:

ASSISTANT JUDGES OF THE COUNTY COURT.

Samuel C. Crafts 1800-09

Jesse Olds, 1800-01

Timothy Stanley 1802-03

George Nye 1810-14

Nathaniel P. Sawyer 1814

Timothy Stanley 1815-23

Samuel Cook 18 I 5-20

Nathaniel P. Sawyer 1821-24

John Ide 1824

Samuel C. Crafts 1825-27

William Baxter 1825-26

Ira Ho Allen 1826-32

William Howe 1827

Jasper Robinson 1828-29

David M. Camp 1830-32

David P. Noyes 1833-35

Isaac Parker 1833

David M. Camp 1834-35

Portus Baxter 1836

Alvah R. French 1836-38

John Kimball 1837-38

Isaac Parker 1839-42

Charles Hardy 1839

John Boardman 1840-41

Jairus Stebbins 1842

A. R. French 1843

David M. Camp 1843

Elijah Cleveland 1844-46

Harry Baxter 1844-46

James A. Paddock 1847-48

John Harding 1847-48

Solomon Dwinell 1849-51

Loren W. Clark 1849-51

Nehemiah Colby 1852

William Moon, Jr 1852

John M. Robinson 1853

John D. Harding 1854

Sabin Kellam 1854

John W. Robinson 1855

Fordyce F. French 1855

Sabin Kellam 1856

Durkee Cole 1856

Emory Stewart 1857

John Walbridge 1857-58

Samuel Cheney 1858-59

Henry Richardson 1859

John D. Harding 1860-61

E. G. Babbitt 1860-61

Amasa Paine 1862-64

Simeon Albee 1862-63

William J. Hastings 1864-65

Josiah B. Wheelock 1865 -66

Benjamin Comings 1866-67

E. O. Bennett. 1867-69

James Simonds 1868-70

Lyman P. Tenney 1869-72

A. C. Joslyn 1870-72

Orrin Taylor 1872-76

Horace S. Jones 1872-76

Emery Cook 1876-78

David Hopkinson 1876-78

Levi Rowell 1878-80

George E. Bradley 1878-80

S. R. Fletcher 1880-82

N. C. Hoyt 1880-84

Amasa P. Dutton 1882-84

STATE'S ATTORNEYS.

Joseph Bradley 1800-01

William Baxter 1802-14

David M. Camp 1815

Joshua Sawyer 1816-23

Augustus Young 1824-27

E. H. Starkweather 1828-29

George C. West 1830-31

Isaac F. Redfield 1832-34

E. H. Starkweather 1835

Charles Story 1836-37

Samuel Sumner 1838

Jesse Cooper 1839

Samuel Sumner 1840-41

Jesse Cooper 1842

John H. Kimball 1843-44

Nathan S. Hill 1845-46

Henry F. Prentiss 1847-48

John L. Edwards 1849

Norman Boardman 1850

William M. Dickerman 1851-52

Samuel A. Willard 1853

H. C. Wilson 1854

John P. Startle 1855-56

J. E. Dickerman 1857-58

H. C. Wilson 1859

A. D. Bates 1860-61

N. T. Sheafe 1862-63

William W. Grout 1864-65

Lewis H. Bisbee 1866

J. B. Robinson 1867-69

B. F. D. Carpenter 1869-72

Walter D. Crane 1872-74

Lafforest H. Thompson 1874-76

William R. Rowell 1876-78

Theophilus Grout 1878-80

F. W. Baldwin 1880-82

C. A. Prouty 1882-84

COUNTY CLERKS

Timothy Stanley 1800-03

John Ellsworth 1803-16

Ira H. Allen 1816-35

Samuel C. Crafts 1835-39

Henry M. Bates 1839-50

Hubbard Hastings 1850-53

Sylvester D. Kimball 1853-54

George W. Hartshorn 1854-55

Norman W. Bingham 1855-61

Isaac N. Cushman 1861-81

Henry B. Cushman 1881

ADMISSIONS TO THE BAR

Moses Chase 1800

William Baxter 1801

Ezra Carter 1803

Jesse Olds 1805

Henry Works 1805

Hezekiah Frost 1806

Charles Reynolds 1806

Joseph H. Ellis 1807

Horace Bassett 1809

Rober G. Bulkley 1809

Joshua Sawyer 1810

John Wallace 1811

Peter Burbank 1812

Chester W. Blass 1813

William Richardson 1815

Nathaniel Reed, Jr. 1816

Salmon Nye 1817

David Gould 1818

John L. Fuller 1822

Samuel Upham 1822

John H. Kimball 1824

George M. Mason 1824

James A. Paddock 1825

Harvey Burton 1825

Isaac F. Redfield 1827

Daniel F. Kimball 1831

Carlos Baxter 1832

Franklin Johnson 1833

Elbridge G. Johnson 1834

Elijah Farr 1834

Charles W. Prentiss 1835

Timothy P. Redfield 1837

David Chadwick 1842

Edward A. Cahoon 1842

John L. Edwards 1843

William M. Dickerman 1844

E. Winchester 1844

To be continued

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