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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...

List of the Principal Pioneer Settlers in Norwich Vermont

The counties of Cumberland and Gloucester had been organized by New York in 1766, out of the territory lying between the Green Mountains and Connecticut River. In the year 1771 a census of these counties was made under the authority of that province. All the towns in Windham and Windsor Counties, as now constituted, belonged to Cumberland County; the remaining portion of the state to the north-ward, then mostly unsettled, was called the county of Gloucester.1 By the census of 1771, the population of the two counties of Cumberland and Gloucester was returned as 4669, (Cumberland, 3947; Gloucester, 722). Norwich was found to contain 206 people distributed among forty families. In this enumeration the inhabitants were classified as to age and sex only. The number of males above sixteen years of age was found to be 66, the number of females 48. The number of males under sixteen was 53, the number of females 39. The number of children or young people under sixteen (92 out of a total of 206) is remarkable. Beckoning forty families in town, there would remain twenty-six unmarried men and eight unmarried women over sixteen years old in the new settlement. Using the results of this census in connection with the list of subscribers to the 1770 fund for the founding of Dartmouth College and with some help from the town records, we are able to ascertain with considerable certainty the names of each of the forty men, heads of families, living in Norwich in the year 1771. These are the names of the principal pioneer settlers of the town, and they may properly...

First Settlements in Norwich Vermont

Having glanced thus briefly at the action of the Norwich proprietors in opening a way to reach their new township in the wilderness, and in dividing up a portion of its surface into lots suitable to become the homesteads of future settlers, let us pause a moment and see what had meantime been done in the work of actual settlement. I am indebted to Rev. Edmund F. Slafter of Boston for an interesting account of what was unquestionably the first attempt at settlement made within the limits of the town. I quote from the Slafter Memorial: “Samuel Slafter [of Mansfield, Connecticut], the father of John Slafter, being an original proprietor, and being at the first meeting chosen treasurer of the corporation, took a deep interest in the settlement of the town. At his suggestion, his son John made a journey through the forests of New Hampshire in 1762, to examine the territory and report upon the advantages it might offer as a place of settlement. He found it pleasantly situated on the western banks of the Connecticut, with a good soil, but for the most part of an uneven, hilly surface. He reported it well watered, not only by the Connecticut but by several small, clear streams, and by one more important one called the Ompompanoosuc, an Indian name signifying ‘the place of very white stones’ whose waters emptied themselves into the Connecticut at the northeastern part of the town. As he was inclined to engage in the settlement of the new town, the next year (June 7, 1763) his father transferred to him as ‘a token of his...

The Proprietors of Norwich Vermont

The larger part of the names of the grantees of Norwich are names of Connecticut men then resident in Mansfield and neighboring towns. Captain Hezekiah Johnson, Samuel Slafter, Joseph Storrs, and William Johnson 3rd, are known to have lived in Mansfield; Amos Fellows, James West, Adoniram Grant, and Samuel Cobb were of Tolland; Ebenezar Heath, Captain Abner Barker and William Johnson of Willington, towns adjacent to Mansfield on the north. The last nine names are those of New Hampshire and Massachusetts men, several of them members of the provincial government in the former province. Major Joseph Blanchard was of Dunstable, Mass. He had executed in 1760, by direction of Governor Wentworth, the first survey of the townships lying along the river from Charlestown to Newbury. His name appears as proprietor in many town charters about this time. But few of the original grantees ever came personally to Norwich to settle. Many of them, it is probable, were people of considerable property, well advanced in life, whose years unfitted them to endure the hard-ships of pioneers in a new settlement. Such would naturally transfer their rights to their sons, or to the young and enterprising among their friends and neighbors. This is known to have been the case in several instances. But Jacob Fenton and Ebenezar Smith, both proprietors, were here in 1763. The former died on the 15th of July of that year, and was thus the first white man known to have died within the township. Captain Hezekiah Johnson emigrated to the town very early and settled near the mouth of Ompompanoosuc River. He was long a leading...

The Original Grantees of Norwich Vermont

The following is a list of men who received grants of land in the future town of Norwich Vermont on 5 July 1761. Most of these men resided in and around Mansfield Connecticut. Many of the men never set foot in the actual town of Norwich, choosing at some point not to accept Eleaer Wales Daniel Welch Abner Barker Ebenezer Wales Ebenezer Heath William Johnson ye 3d Gideon Noble James West Daniel Baldwin Calvin Topliff Samuel Johnson Elisha Wales Seth Wales Amos Fellows Jedidiah Brinton John Fowler Nathan Strong Robert Turner William Johnson Samuel Root Solomon Wales Joseph Blanchard Josiah Root Adoniram Grant George Swain Samuel Root junr Benja Jennings Moses Holmes Benjamin Sheapard Elisha Carpenter Lemuel Holmes Abner Barker Jr. Nathaniel Harriman Samuel Long Ebenezer Smith John Johnson Thomas Welch Joseph Storrs Samuel Cobb Judah Heath James Russell Hezekiah Johnson Jonathan Hatch Samuel Slafter Benja Whitney James Bicknall Jacob Fenton Moses Barnard AleazerWest Andrew Crocker Eliphas Hunt Stephen Palmer Eleazr Warner Abijah Learned The Hon. Theodore Atkinson Esq. Richard Wilbird Esq. Henry Sherburne Esq. Mr. Andrew Clarkson Clement March Esq. John Shackford Mesheck Weare Esq. Rev. Mr. Samuel Havem Peter Gilman...

Biography of Fred H. Fellows

Fred H. Fellows, one of Chichester’s representative men, was born in this town, December 18, 1859, son of John and Ursula M. (Webster) Fellows. His grandfather, John Fellows (first), learned the blacksmith’s trade in Chichester, and followed it in this town during the active portion of his life. John owned a small farm, which he also cultivated industriously. In politics he was a Democrat, and he served as a Selectman and in other town offices. He married Betsey Page, who bore him eight children, six of whom are living; namely, James B., Esther, Elizabeth J., Louisa, Frank J., and Octave. James B. married for his first wife Betsey Webster, who died leaving one son, Frank. For his second wife he married Lydia Severance, and by this union has one daughter, Hattie. Esther Fellows became the wife of George M. Warren, of Chichester; and her children are: Edwin, Charles, John, and James. Elizabeth J. married James W. Smith, of this town; and her children are: Mabel, Arvilla, and Dora. Louisa married for her first husband a Mr. Hill, by whom she had one child. By her present husband, Abraham Drake, she has had no children. Frank J. married Lizzie Upton, and has three children-Grace, Walter, and Nettie. Octave married Ann Barton, of Pittsfield, and has two sons-George and David. John Fellows (first) was for many years a Deacon of the Free Will Baptist church. He died at the age of seventy-three years, and his wife at seventy-seven. John Fellows (second), Fred H. Fellows’s father, was born in Pittsfield, N.H. At an early age he began to assist upon the farm....

Biography of Harrison Fellows

Harrison Fellows, who figured in business circles of Racine as a dealer in coal and wood and who was also identified with shipping interests as part owner of lake vessels, passed away on the 1st of April, 1887. He had scarcely yet reached the prime of life, his birth having occurred in Williamstown, Vermont, July 2, 1840, and he was a son of George D. and Louise (Olds) Fellows. The family is of English lineage although established in Connecticut at an early period in the colonization of the new world, representatives of the name living there before the Revolutionary war. In the fall of 1840 Mr. and Mrs. George D. Fellows left New England and came by team to Wisconsin, settling in Racine, where Mr. Fellows had previously lived for two or three years. He helped to build the first bridge at the foot of Main street, build a dock and operate a sawmill. He also owned some vessels and shipped wood to Chicago, continuing in active connection with the business interests of the city until his death, which occurred February 26, 1857, when he had reached the age of forty-four years, six months and twenty-four days. He was a Whig in his political faith until the dissolution of that party, when he joined the ranks of the newly organized Republican Party, and upon the incorporation of the city of Racine he was elected a member of its first board of aldermen. His widow survived him for only a brief period, passing away April 10, 1859. Harrison Fellows was educated in Racine and after his school days were over...

Biography of Col. Homer F. Fellows

In these days of money-making, when life is a constant struggle between right and wrong, it is a pleasure to lay before an intelligent reader the unsullied record of an honorable man. To the youthful it will be a useful lesson, an incentive to honest industry. Col. Homer F. Fellows is acknowledged by all to be one of Springfield’s most public-spirited and honorable citizens. He has been largely identified with the public enterprises of that city, is a promoter of its improvements and the real founder of one of the largest mechanical industries in this part of the State. He springs from old Colonial stock, and is of English-Puritan extraction, two brothers of that name, John and Drane, having emigrated from England in old Colonial times. John Fellows, grandfather of our subject, was born in the town of Canaan, Conn., where his ancestors had settled, and served in the Revolutionary War, fighting bravely for independence. His wife, whose maiden name was Edna Deibold, was a native of Canaan, and came of French extraction. After marriage this worthy couple moved to Luzerne County, Penn., and settling on a farm went actively to work to make many improvements in their new home. Indians were very plentiful at that time. About 1820 Mr. Fellows moved with his family to Tioga County, Penn., and there he passed the remainder of his days, dying at the good old age of eighty-three years. He reared a family of six children: Horace, Asahel, Erastus, Merritt, Eliza and Hulda. As a man of intelligence and as one of the first citizens of his town he was well...

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