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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...

Biography of William Joseph Fortier

William Joseph Fortier, of Franklin village, a retired hat manufacturer, was born December 8, 1824, in Gentilly, Quebec County, Canada. His father, Dr. Thomas Fortier, who was a very prominent physician of Quebec, and later of Gentilly, was a member of Parliament for fourteen years. Dr. Thomas was twice married, first to Eliza Hannah, November 15, 1819, when he was twenty-four years of age. By this union there were seven children, born as follows: Thomas E., September 27, 1820; Mary Ann Emily, May 29, 1823; William Joseph, the subject of this sketch; Edward F., September 30, 1825; Mary L., January 4, 1827; Francis, January 7, 1828; and George Edward, March 7, 1831. Mary L. Francis was drowned in 1840. The Doctor’s second marriage was made with Leocadie Gronden, of Gentilly, who bore him five children-Adeline, Georgiana, Sarah, Artanse, and Thomas. Having taken an active part in the troubles of 1837, Dr. Fortier was reduced to poverty. He remained in Gentilly for the remainder of his life, and died there at the age of eighty-four years. William Joseph Fortier, in common with his brothers and sisters, was educated in the select schools of Canada. At the age of fourteen, his father having lost his property, he started out in life for himself. He walked to Irasburg, Vt.; and there he lived with Dr. George Pierce, employed by the latter, but also attending school for a time. He then served an apprenticeship of three years with Deacon Seth Cole, a hatter of Coventry Falls, Vt., and continued in Deacon Cole’s employment as a journeyman for three years longer. About 1842 he...

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