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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...

Biographical Sketch of Capt. Gordon Munsill

Captain Gordon Munsill was born in Windsor, Conn., October 26, 1760, served all through the Revolutionary War, and soon after its close married Olive Carver, of Bolton, Conn., and came to Bristol with his wife and two children, arriving March 21, 1789. He had been in town the previous year, made some improvements and built a log house on his farm, purchased of Timothy Rogers, and now owned by E. C. Powell. He was appointed by the Legislature a collector of the first land tax in Bristol, was a selectman of the town seven years, a justice of the peace two years, and represented the town in the Legislature of 1796. He died on the old homestead November 15,...

Biographical Sketch of Harvey Munsill

Judge Harvey Munsill, one of Captain Gordon Munsill’s eight children, long and favorably known in Bristol as a man of honor and ability, received his education in the district schools of Bristol, and at the Addison County Grammar School at Middlebury, and studied law with Hon. Daniel Chipman, of that town. Although reared a farmer, he inclined to the study and use of books. He succeeded to the ownership of the homestead, which he retained until about 1840. After the year 1820 he became prominently identified with the public affairs of the town, and his career as a public officer continued uninterruptedly from that date to a short time previous to his death. He was judge of probate for the New Haven district from 1836 to 1870; justice of the peace for over thirty years; trustee of the United States deposit money from 1838 to 1852; State senator for the years 1842 and ’43; deputy sheriff eight years, and county commissioner four years; represented the town in the General Assembly for the years 1829 and ’31; served as selectman three years; town clerk six months; constable two years; overseer of the poor one year; town agent thirteen years, and moderator of town meetings eleven years. He was appointed a captain in the First Brigade, Third Division, Vermont militia. As a Mason he was master of Libanus Lodge, No. 47, from 1828 to 1866, and held the charter during the anti-Masonic movement. He was a man of strong political convictions, always founded upon a basis of what in his best judgment seemed just and for the public good, and was...

Biographical Sketch of Harvey C. Munsill

Harvey C. Munsill was born in Bristol June 22, 1824. He hired his father’s estate, and has been somewhat prominently identified with the civil affairs and business growth of the town. He married, October 1, 1851, Charlotte M. Holley, daughter of John D. Holley, of Bristol, and they have three children: Newcomb H., born July 14, 1852, fitted for college at Bristol Academy, entered Middlebury College, and graduated from that institution in the class of 1877, taught in the graded school of Wallingford, Vt., four terms, studied law with Veazey & Dunton, of Rutland, later with Judge Albert Hobbs, of Malone, Franklin county, N. Y., and was admitted to the bar of the State of New York, and is now a member of the firm of Beeman & Munsill, of Malone, N. Y. He married, in 1880, Mary, daughter of Orrin Moses, of Malone, and they have two children, Arthur H. and Edith. Seraph L., the only daughter of Harvey C., was born May 17, 1863, and died August 20, 1865. Charles E. Munsill, the third and youngest of the family, was born May 27, 1867, and is now attending the Albany Business College. Mr. Munsill has been for the past four years town treasurer of Bristol; has held the office of deputy sheriff from 1851 to 1855; justice of the peace several years; moderator of town meetings several years; grand juror, and agent for the Vermont Mutual Insurance Company for twenty-six years past. He has dealt extensively in real estate and has made several creditable additions to the village plot of...

Biographical Sketch of General Ezekiel Dunton

General Ezekiel Dunton, from Dorset, settled upon the farm now owned by Ezra Knowles, of New Haven. He held a commission as brigadier-general in the Vermont militia, and was at the battle of Plattsburgh. He served the town for many years as selectman, constable, representative and justice of the peace, and died here February 13, 1824, aged fifty-six years. He left two sons, Thaddeus, who went West, and Ezekiel K., who died September 20, 1837, aged thirty-four years. The latter was the father of Walter C. Dunton, ex-judge of the Supreme Court of Rutland, and William H. Dunton, also of...

Bristol Vermont

THE town of Bristol lies largely upon the mountains, in the northeastern section of the county, and is bounded on the north by Monkton and Starksboro; east by Starksboro and Lincoln; south by Lincoln and Middlebury, and west by New Haven. It was originally granted by Benning Wentworth, the colonial governor of New Hampshire under King George III, “by his excellency’s command with advice of council,” June 26, 1762, to Samuel Averill and sixty-two associates, under the name of Pocock. This name, given in honor of a distinguished English admiral, was retained only a few years, however, and was changed to Bristol by an act of the Legislature passed October 21, 1789. The charter deed contained the usual restrictions incident to the Wentworth grants, and the usual reservation of public lands for the use of schools, propagation of the gospel, etc., and fixed the boundary lines of the new town as follows: “Beginning at the northeasterly corner of New Haven and thence extending south six miles by New Haven aforesaid to the southeasterly corner thereof; thence turning off and running east four miles and one-half to a marked tree; thence turning off and running north eight miles and a half to another marked tree; thence turning off and running west four miles to the easterly side line of Monkton; thence south by Monkton about half a mile, to an angle thereof; thence west by Monkton aforesaid about two miles to another angle thereof; thence south by Monkton aforesaid four hundred and twenty rods to the northerly side line of New Haven; and thence south seventy degrees east one mile...

Biographical Sketch of Jonathan Eastman

Jonathan Eastman, who came to Bristol from Rupert, Vt., in 179l, was born in Norwich, Conn., in 1753. He removed to Rupert with his father, where he married a Miss Haynes, who bore him a daughter; and for his second wife a Miss Dean, who bore him five children. He was chosen as the town’s first justice of the peace, and first representative, in 1792, holding the former office seventeen years, and was again a representative in 1795; was town clerk eleven years and a selectman four years. He died December 6, 1816. Calvin, Oliver and Amos Eastman, brothers of Jonathan, were all respected residents of Bristol, the latter dying at a very advanced...

Bristol Vermont – Proprietors’ Meetings

There is strong presumptive evidence extant tending to prove that proprietors’ meetings were held, and some measures taken towards allotting the lands in Pocock, previous to those appearing in the proprietors’ record-book. It is generally believed by authorities that, as early as 1784, John Willard, of Middlebury, Hon. Jonathan Hoyt, of St. Albans, and Captain Miles Bradley, of New Haven, at a meeting held in Canaan, Litchfield county, Conn., were appointed a committee to survey and allot the land in Pocock, though no record of such an event has been found. But deeds from the proprietors recorded in the Rutland county clerk’s office, to which county Pocock then belonged, speak of the “first division lots,” and describes them as numbered, and containing one hundred and twenty acres each. In the files of the Vermont Gazette, printed at Bennington, may also be found an article warning a meeting of the proprietors to convene “at the house of Benjamin Payn, in Addison, on the second Tuesday in May, 1788.” This warning proves that at least the third division had been made, for the fourth article reads: “To see if they [the proprietors] will proceed to lay out the fourth division, and lay roads.” The same paper also states that, “on the second Tuesday of May, 1788, the proprietors, in pursuance of the foregoing notice, held a meeting at the time and place appointed, and chose Justin Allen, moderator, and Henry McLaughlin, clerk; and without doing any other business adjourned.” There was also a meeting held, it appears, on the same day and at the same place, “by adjournment from Pocock,” at...

Biographical Sketch of Robert Dunshee

Robert Dunshee came from New Hampshire in 1787. He first located in the southern part of the town, but soon after removed to a part of the late Morgan estate, on the flats, where he erected a two-story house. Here he carried on the business of a saddler and harness-maker several years, then sold his house to Lewis Miller and removed to the mountain road, near the “Little Notch.” At the organization of the town he was chosen one of its selectmen. He resided here until his death, of cancer, at an advanced...

Biographical Sketch of Henry McLaughlin

Henry McLaughlin, who figured extensively in the early transactions of the settlers, was born in Ireland, and came to America with Burgoyne, serving as drummer boy, and remaining with the army till it marched from Ticonderoga. For a few years following he engaged in teaching school at Williamstown, Mass. He married Mary Dunton, of Dorset, Vt., sister of Ezekiel Dunton, and soon after, in March, 1787, came to Bristol, and located upon the farm now owned by Dorus S. Parmelee. He was the first proprietors’ clerk, first town clerk, and one of the committee for laying out the first division, moderator of the first town meeting, and represented the town in the Legislature of 1793, ’94 and ’97. In 1800 he built the first brick house erected in the town, about a mile west of the village, which he kept for a time as a public house, and in which, in 1803, was opened the first post-office. In the spring of 1805 he re moved to St. Lawrence county, N. Y., though both he and his wife died in Bristol, while on a visit in...
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