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Baxter Family of Norwich Vermont

The Baxters of this town came here from Norwich, Connecticut, a town which their ancestors with others from Norwich, England, assisted in founding about the year 1632. Elihu Baxter, with his young wife, Tryphena Taylor, to whom he was married October 24, 1777, arrived in Norwich the same year, and here fifteen children (six daughters and nine sons) were born to them, twelve of whom lived to grow up and have families of their own. Mr. Baxter settled on the farm that subsequently became the home of Hon. Paul Brigham. He later removed to the farm where Orson Sargent lives, and there built himself a frame house, a part of which is now in use by the present owner of the property. Of his children: William Baxter, the eldest, born August 3, 1778, studied law with Hon. Daniel A. Buck of Norwich, and removed to Bennington, Vt., where he soon became the leading lawyer in that part of the state, and received many honors from his town and county. He married Lydia Ashley of Norwich, August 17, 1779, and died at Bennington October 1, 1826, aged forty nine years. Hiram Baxter settled in Bennington a little after 1800. Elihu Baxter, Jr., the third child, born in 1781, died at Portland, Me., in 1863, where he had been in the practice of medicine for many years. Chester Baxter, born in 1785, died at Sharon, Vt., in 1863. He married Hannah Root and they had one daughter who married, Deane. James Baxter, the sixth son, born in 1788, established himself at Stanstead, L. C., in 1817, where he became very prominent...

Free Masonry in Norwich Vermont

It does not appear that any Masonic Lodge has ever existed in Norwich. Quite a number of our citizens, however, as might be expected, have at different times belonged to lodges in adjacent towns. In the list of members of Franklin Lodge, established at Hanover, N. H., in 1796, we find the names of the following Norwich men, with the year of their admission: Reuben Hatch, Freegrace Leavitt (1798), William Sumner (1799), Thomas Brigham, Erastus Leavitt, and Moses Hayward (1800), Reuben Partridge, Andrew Dewey, William Little, Levi Richards, Aaron West (1801-1807), Lyman Lewis, Elijah Slafter, Simon Baldwin, Enos Lewis, Jasper Johnson, Noah Lewis (1808), Charles Hutchins, Sewell Gleason (1809), Ephraim Hall, George Olds, Jr., and Pierce Burton (1810), Manly G. Woodbury, Silas Morse, Ammi B. Allen, and Barzilla Bush, Jr. (1813-1820). The roll probably bears other Norwich names that we do not now recognize. The Franklin Lodge was moved to Lebanon in 1821, where it still flourishes. In 1807 and 1808, Doctor Thomas Brigham of Norwich was master of the lodge, who, on his sudden departure from town and abandonment of his family, was promptly expelled therefrom by notice published in the Vermont Journal at Windsor, in April, 1809, ”for immoral conduct unworthy a Mason and a gentleman.” Other Norwich Masons of that time, not of the Franklin Lodge, were Captain Calvin Seaver, Jeremiah Bissell, Ebenezer Spear, 2nd, Lyman Baldwin, and William Leconte. At the height of the Anti-Masonic agitation, about 1830, a great commotion was raised in the North Congregational Church, growing out of the refusal of the majority of the church, led by Deacon Israel Newton, to...

History of the Merchants of Norwich VT

Peter Olcott had a store near his residence at the Center, in the time of the Revolutionary War. Abel Curtis was for a time associated with him in this business. Stephen Burton, eldest son of Elisha Burton and a graduate of Dartmouth College in 1790, was probably the first to open trade at Norwich Plain, prior to the year 1800. Ichabod Marshall of Hanover, also a Dartmouth graduate in 1790, is understood as having been engaged in mercantile business in Norwich (possibly in partnership with Stephen Burton) for several years. Both these young men emigrated to the West early in the century, Burton to central New York where he died in 1812, and Marshall to Ohio in the year 1818. George Woodward kept store before 1799 in the building now occupied by Mrs. Gardner Davis as a dwelling. Oliver Hatch was in trade on the corner where F. W. Hawley is in business. In 1801 or 1802, he was succeeded by William Little, who came from Strafford and bought the store building and prosecuted business there till about 1816, part of the time in company with Jona Lovejoy from Boston. They dissolved partnership in 1809. About this time a store was kept by Charles Hutchins from Concord, N. H., in the building that in later years became the residence of the late Jas. S. Currier, just north of “Newton Inn.” Little and Lovejoy were succeeded by Waterman Ensworth and Rufus Hatch, Cyrus Partridge, not long after, becoming a member in place of Mr. Hatch. Capt. Ethen Burnap was a merchant in Norwich from about 1817 to 1828 or ’29,...

History of the Industries of Norwich VT

Although the products of the industries in Norwich have not been of great magnitude they have been quite varied in character. Such information in regard to these callings as we have been able to obtain we will present to our readers, though not in strict chronological order. Among the earliest establishments coming under this head was a grist mill established as early as 1770, by Hatch and Babcock on Blood Brook, on or near the site of the grist mill now operated by J. E. Willard, a short distance up the stream from where it empties into the Connecticut River. As has been stated in a previous chapter, it was voted at a proprietors’ meeting held September 17, 1770, to give to Joseph Hatch and Oliver Babcock the “tenth river lot on condition they execute a deed * * * * for upholding a grist mill where said gristmill now stands.” Since the ownership by Hatch and Babcock this property has been in the possession among others of Aaron Storrs, who sold it in 1793 to Doctor Joseph Lewis; Horace Esterbrook, who sold it to J. J. Morse; the latter to G. W. Kibling; Kibling to Crandall and Burbank; they to Doctor Rand of Hartford, Vt., and from the latter’s estate, J. E. Willard, the present proprietor, bought it. During Mr. Kibling‘s ownership of the property he had a department for making doors, window sashes, etc., in addition to a grist mill. In 1766, Jacob Burton built a saw mill on the north bank of Blood Brook, a little further down the stream than Messenger and Hazen‘s late tannery...

Geographical Names of the Norwich VT Locality

Of the little settlements in the township of Norwich which seem to be existing in the sunset of their former glory, may be mentioned Beaver Meadow, or West Norwich. This place presents a notable instance of that decline in population and decay of business interests in a rural community, of which Vermont affords many examples since the advent of railroads and the fever of western emigration set in. For more than thirty years population, wealth, and enterprise have been drifting away from that section of the town. Probably the settlement reached the height of its prosperity previous to 1840. During the decade that preceded this date two churches were built here, a Baptist church in 1835, and Methodist church about two years later. Regular meetings were held, and full congregations gathered from the immediate neighborhood. Large families of children filled the schools, to the number of sixty pupils of a winter, sometimes. The village had for many years its well-stocked country store, and a variety of mechanics’ shops. Intelligent and thrifty farmers cultivated the productive farms. Before 1850 the exodus commenced. The Baptist society had its last settled minister in 1869, and a few years later, the church having become nearly extinct, the meeting house was taken down, and the lumber used to build a parsonage for the Baptist church in Sharon village. Four years earlier the Methodists had their last regular appointment from the Conference, though regular preachers were had some portion of the time much later. Many farms tilled forty years ago are wholly abandoned as homesteads, and others are in process of abandonment. It is impossible...

Migration of Families out of Norwich VT

At the first enumeration of the inhabitants of eastern Vermont, as made by the authority of New York in 1771, Norwich was found to be the most populous of all the towns of Windsor County, having forty families and 206 inhabitants. Windsor followed with 203, and Hartford was third with 190. The aggregate population of the county (ten towns reported) was then but 1,205, mostly confined to the first and second tiers of towns west of the Connecticut River. Twenty years later, in 1791, Hartland led all the towns of the county with 1,652 inhabitants, Woodstock and Windsor coming next with 1,605 and 1,542 respectively. Exceptional causes made the little town of Guilford (now numbering scarcely more than one thousand inhabitants), till after the year 1800, the most populous town in the state. In Norwich, the great falling off in the size of families in recent years is seen in the fact, that in the year 1800, the number of children of school age was 604, out of a total population of 1,486, while in 1880 with a nearly equal population (1,471) it was but 390. In the removal of large numbers of the native-born inhabitants by emigration, we must find the principal cause of the decline of our rural population. Preeminently is this true of Norwich. The outflow of people began very early and now for more than a century there has been one unbroken, living stream of emigration pouring over our borders. Several families that had first located here became, before the close of the Revolutionary War, the pioneer settlers of Royalton, Tunbridge, and Randolph. Some of...

Postmasters and Postal Service in Norwich Vermont

It was fifteen years after the admission of Vermont into the Federal Union, and forty years after the settlement of the town, before Norwich had a post office. The first post office was established at Norwich Plain, July 1, 1805, and Jacob Burton was appointed postmaster. Postmaster Burton kept the office in his harness shop on the main street of the village, nearly opposite the present residence of Mrs. William E. Lewis. Probably the duties of the office were not so great as to interfere much with the prosecution of his trade. It is doubtful if Mr. Burton had more than two mails per week to distribute, and these were much smaller in bulk than either of the three daily mails now received at the village office. It is certain that less mail matter was then handled here in the course of a year than now in a week, although the territory accommodated at the office and the population of the town itself were each considerably greater than at present. It is safe to say, moreover, that the people now living in Norwich receive more letters and miscellaneous mail matter every year than did all the 150,000 inhabitants of Vermont in the year 1805. The post office is essentially a modern institution, whose importance and value increases year by year with cheaper postage and the general diffusion of cheap printed matter among the people. At the time of the admission of Vermont into the Union, in 1791, there were only five post offices in the State (at Brattleboro, Windsor, and Newbury on the Connecticut River, and at Bennington and...

Political Parties in Norwich Vermont

The strength of the great political parties that have divided the suffrages of the country almost since the union of the States under the Constitution has usually been pretty evenly balanced in Norwich. Elections have been sharply contested, and party feeling has frequently run high. Up to the formation of the Republican Party (1854 or 1855) a majority of the voters in town generally ranged themselves with the political disciples of Jefferson and Jackson, though on several occasions, notably in the Harrison campaign of 1840, their ascendancy was successfully contested by the Whigs. In the state election of 1854, the Democrats lost the hold upon the town which they had maintained with few interruptions for almost a quarter of a century. During the years that have succeeded, they have never, at any state or general election, succeeded in rallying a majority to the support of their candidates for office. Inasmuch as the history of a town, in the larger forms of governmental action, unites and blends with that of the State and nation, we give a brief survey of the changes of political opinion in Norwich, as shown by the votes of the freemen at successive elections. During the presidency of John Adams the old Federal and Republican parties took their definite shape. At this time, and until the second term of Jefferson’s administration the political bias of the town was decidedly Federal. As presidential electors were chosen by the legislature until 1828, there was no popular vote for president in Vermont prior to the election of that year. Isaac Tichenor was the Federal candidate for governor from 1797...

Narrative of the Captivity of Capt. William Hubbell – Indian Captivities

A Narrative of the desperate encounter and escape of Capt. William Hubbell from the Indians while descending the Ohio River in a boat with others, in the year 1791. Originally set forth in the Western Review, and afterwards republished by Dr. Metcalf, in his “Narratives of Indian Warfare in the West.” In the year 1791, while the Indians were yet troublesome, especially on the banks of the Ohio, Capt. William Hubbell, who had previously emigrated to Kentucky from the state of Vermont, and who, after having fixed his family in the neighborhood of Frankfort, then a frontier settlement, had been compelled to go to the eastward on business, was now a second time on his way to this country. On one of the tributary streams of the Monongahela, he procured a flat-bottomed boat, and embarked in company with Mr. Daniel Light and Mr. William Plascut and his family, consisting of a wife and eight children, destined for Limestone, Kentucky. On their passage down the river, and soon after passing Pittsburgh, they saw evident traces of Indians along the banks, and there is every reason to believe that a boat which they overtook, and which, through carelessness, was suffered to run aground on an island, became a prey to these merciless savages. Though Capt. Hubbell and his party stopped some time for it in a lower part of the river, it did not arrive, and it has never, to their knowledge, been heard of. Before they reached the mouth of the great Kenhawa they had, by several successive additions, increased their number to twenty persons, consisting of nine men, three...

History of Norwich Vermont Education

From the town records it appears that the first attempt to divide the town into school districts, was at a town meeting held November 19, 1782, when John Slafter, Elijah Brownson, Ithamar Bartlett, Joseph Loveland, Paul Bingham, Joseph Hatch, Daniel Baldwin, Abel Wilder and Samuel Brown, Jr., were made a committee for that purpose. Soon thereafter the committee reported that they “could effect nothing on the business of their appointment,” and were discharged. No further move in town meeting towards districting the town for school purposes appears to have been made until March 30, 1785, when, on petition of persons residing in the southeastern part of the town, the territory, to be described, was embraced in a district designated as the “First School District: Beginning at the southeast bound of Norwich; thence running on the line between Hartford and Norwich, two miles; thence northerly so wide as to include Benjamin Hatch and Benjamin Burton and Mr. John Knight; thence easterly so as to take into s’d district Nathaniel Brown, Esq., Esquire Elisha Partridge and the Rev. Lyman Potter; thence due east to Connecticut River.” At a town meeting held March 14, 1791, districts Nos. 1 to 12, both inclusive, were established; March 13, 1798, district No. 13 was organized; No. 14 (from the consolidation of districts 9 and 10) in 1818; No. 15 (Bicknell), in 1827; No. 16, March, 1828; No. 17, June, 1828; No. 19, March, 1834; No. 20, Oct. 20, 1834; No. 18 (Podunk), 1841. At a town meeting held in May, 1834, it was “voted to set off Ira Baxter, Isaac Partridge, Cyrus Partridge, and Calvin...
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