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History of Addison County Vermont

Probably the first European to gaze upon the green peaks of Vermont was the French navigator, Jacques Cartier. On the 2d of October, 1535, he was conducted by an Indian chief to the summit of Mount Real, which now overlooks the city of Montreal, and there “in that bright October sun” was opened to his enraptured gaze the beautiful country for many miles around. Before him the mighty St. Lawrence, coming solemnly from an unknown land, rolled on majestically toward the ocean; the distant horizon was bounded by the lofty mountains of Vermont, crowned with perpetual verdure; while illimitable forests, robed in the gorgeous hues of autumn, were spread out before him in every direction. Donnacona, the Indian king who conducted him to the summit of the mountain, informed him that he might sail westward on the great river for three moons-passing through several immense lakes– without reaching its source; that the river had its origin in a sea of fresh water to which no limits were known. Far to the southwest, he continued, there was another great river (Ohio River), which ran through a country where there was no ice or snow; to the north, there was an inland sea of salt water (Hudson’s Bay), extending to a region of perpetual ice, while southward there were rivers and smaller lakes, penetrating a beautiful and fertile country, belonging to a powerful and warlike nation called the Iroquois-including within its limits the present territory of Addison county. Before we proceed to the narration of the historic events directly connected with this locality, however, we will turn back and briefly review...

Addison Vermont – Early Settlements

One of the soldiers of Amherst was named Benjamin Kellogg, from Connecticut. It is said that while stationed at Crown Point he frequently visited the Salt Licks, near where the mansion of General John Strong was subsequently built, to procure venison for the officers of the army. It is believed that the clearings made by the French, and the promising character of the locality, made an impression upon his mind, and that when lie returned he told his acquaintances of the advantages of the place for settlement. He returned to his old hunting grounds in the fall of 1762, and likewise in the two succeeding years; in the latter year some of the Panton proprietors came with him. In the spring of 1765 Zadock Everest, David Vallance and one other settler came on and began a clearing about three miles north of Chimney Point. In September Benjamin Kellogg came back for his fall hunt, and with him came John Strong in quest of a home in the wilderness. The two last-named men visited the place where Everest and Vallance were at work, remained a few days and helped get in their fallow of wheat, and then traveled as far east as the site of Middlebury; they were probably the first white men to reach that locality. On their return to the lake Strong decided to build a house there, which he did with the help of the other men; he selected the site and cellar of one of the ruined French houses as the foundation. It was the first house built by an English settler north of Massachusetts. The...

Addison Vermont

THE town of Addison lies on the shore of Lake Champlain, in the western part of Addison county, and is bounded on the north by Panton; east by Waltham and Weybridge; south by Bridport, and west by Lake Champlain. The surface of the town is level or with a gradual slope towards the lake, except the extreme eastern part, which becomes hilly or mountainous, the highest elevation being Snake Mountain (or Grandview Mountain, as it is now called; this elevation rises to a height of 1,310 feet above sea level, and is the highest point in the county west of the Green Mountains). The soil is principally clay or marl, mixed to some extent with loam, and in the mountains a strong loam prevails. The principal streams are Otter Creek, which forms the eastern boundary between this town and Waltham, Hospital, Ward’s and Dead Creeks; the latter is formed by what are known as the east, middle and west branches, which flow in a northerly course from the town of Bridport, Dead Creek continuing northward into the town of Panton. Ward’s and Hospital Creeks flow through the southwest part of the town. There is no valuable water power in the town and no manufacturing of importance is carried on. The town was originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, of which pine, cedar, maple, basswood, oak and elm were the principal varieties. The town of Addison was chartered on the 14th day of October, 1761, by Benning Wentworth, then governor of New Hampshire, to the original proprietors, by the same form of charter under which other towns in...

Biography of Amos Smith

Amos Smith came here in 1788, locating upon the farm now owned by Olin A. Smith. He died soon after, leaving a family of eight children, four of whom, Henry, Daniel, Rufus and Russell, located in the eastern part of the town. The four eldest sons were all at the battle of Plattsburgh, and were prisoners of the War of 1812. Truman, son of Henry, aged over eighty years, is still a resident of the town. Olin is a son of Daniel. Henry Smith, son of Amos, was born in Cheshire, Mass., October 6, 1769. He married Anna Blanchard, daughter of Seth Blanchard, of Adams, Mass., February 7, 1790, and moved with his father’s family to Addison in the spring of 1790, and settled on the farm, a part of which is still owned by his youngest son, Truman Henry Smith, better known as ‘Squire Smith, was a prominent citizen of his day, having been justice of the peace nearly fifty years, represented the town in the Legislature during the years 1833-34, and at different times held all the offices within the gift of the people of Addison. His family consisted of three sons and two daughters. His oldest son, Amos, was born November 27, 1794; married Barbara Westcott, daughter of Stukely Westcott, of Charlotte. He purchased the farm joining his father’s on the south, at the time of his marriage, in 1819; he owned and occupied this farm until his death, which occurred in November, 1874. His family consisted of two sons and two daughters. His youngest son, Stukely, survives him and resides on the homestead. Stukely W....

Biographical Sketch of Ebenezer Merrill

Ebenezer Merrill and his sons, Aaron and Correll, were early settlers in the northeastern part of the town. He died here March 8, 1827, aged eighty-two years. Correll reared a family of eight children, of whom Charles is the only one now living, and died August 29, 1849, in his eighty-third year. Hiram Merrill is a son of...

Biographical Sketch of Peleg Whitford

Peleg Whitford, the founder of the Whitford family in Addison, was born in Rhode Island in 1744, and after three months’ schooling was apprenticed to a tailor. He married in the town of Coventry, and removed to Lanesboro, Mass., living for a short time near a place called “Cheshire Meeting-House,” and since known as “Whitford’s Rocks.” In the spring of 1781 he again moved, this time to Shaftsbury, Vt., where he remained until February, 1802, when he sold out and came to this town, and resided here until his death, at the age of eighty-eight years. His only son, William, was a resident of the town many years, served in the War of 1812, and left a family of ten...

Biographical Sketch of Asa Willmarth

Asa Willmarth, one of the five brothers of John Willmarth, and the progenitor of the Willmarth families now in Addison, was born in Providence, R. I., April 27, 1746, and married Chloe Peck, September 20, 1770. They resided in North Adams, Mass., for a time, then immigrated to Addison in 1788, locating in the eastern part of the town. The country was then nearly an unbroken wilderness, the road to Vergennes being simply a bridle path marked by blazed trees. Asa died February 8, 1830. At the time of his wife’s death, October 22, 1829, they had lived together fifty-nine years and raised a family of ten children, eight of whom became the heads of families. Five were sons, who settled about the old homestead so closely that their farms adjoined. The daughters married and moved away, two of them to Canton and one to Farmington, N. Y. A representative of each of the brothers now resides on the respective homesteads. Asa Willmarth, sr., erected a framed dwelling modeled after the style of those times, east Of which there were but three others in the township; but this was subsequently remodeled into the present comfortable and handsome residence. The farm descended to George, and from him to Asa, the present proprietor. George was a public-spirited man; represented the town in the Legislature; was a justice of the peace many years, and served in the War of 1812. Asa has in his possession several interesting relics, among which is a powder-horn which was used at the battle of Bennington, a pair of knee-breeches worn by his grandfather, and the old...

Biographical Sketch of Levi Meeker

Levi Meeker came to Addison from Elizabethtown, N. Y., in 1806, locating in the southeastern part of the town upon the farm lately owned by Horace Meeker, deceased, and now the property of his nephew. He held various town offices, and died at the age of seventy-eight...

Biographical Sketch of Jonah Case

Jonah Case located in the northeastern part of the town, on the old “‘Squire Arzah Crane place,” where William J. Conant recently resided. The old brick house is still standing, built by him in 1780 – the first brick dwelling erected in the county. Here he kept a public house for a long time, and the county courts were held here for several years. It is said that Case first built a log house but while putting on the roof the building was blown down, and that he then built the present house of brick manufactured on the farm. In the masonry at each corner of the building was placed a pint of liquor and a piece of silver, that the occupant “might never be without whiskey nor...
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