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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...

Norwich Vermont an Independent Township

In America the germ of political organization is the Township, older than the County, older than the State. In New England we find towns established as independent communities, endowed with distinctive rights and privileges, as early as the middle of the seventeenth century. It is to these town governments that we must look for the foundation of republican liberty, to the town meeting, where all citizens meet on a plane of equality to choose their local officers and manage their local affairs. Here is the firm basis upon which all free institutions can rest. Ralph Waldo Emerson once proposed that the records of a New England town should be printed and presented to the governments of Europe, to the English nation as a thank-offering and as a certificate of the progress of the Saxon race; to the continental nations as a lesson of humanity and love. De Tocqueville said that the government of a New England township was the best specimen of a pure democracy that the world has ever seen. The town charters granted by New Hampshire conferred upon the inhabitants of each township, from its first organization, the right of self-government in town meeting, by the election of town officers and general ejection of town affairs. Such, also, had long been the practice in Connecticut, from whence a large proportion of all the early settlers had immigrated to their new homes in the New Hampshire Grants. The royal decision of July 20, 1764, which extended the boundary of New York to the west bank of the Connecticut River, soon resulted in the practical relinquishment by New Hampshire...

Biographical Sketch of Elias Thatcher

Elias Thatcher was born here, and, with the exception of a few years spent in Swanzey, resided here until his death, in February, 1879, at the age of eighty-six years. His son, Elias A., was born here, and remained in the town until about twenty-three years of age, when he removed to Vermont, and from there to Massachusetts, though he has been a resident of the town since...

Biographical Sketch of Benjamin Thatcher

Benjamin Thatcher, one of the early settlers of the town, subsequently removed to Swanzey, where he died. Benjamin, Jr., born here, made the town his home until twenty-one years of age, then removed to Keene, and finally to Swanzey, where he passed the remainder of his days His son George, born in Keene, has spent most of his life in Marlboro, and now resides on School...

Biography of Henry M. Thatcher

Throughout the greater part of his life Judge Henry M. Thatcher has resided on the Pacific slope, and as one of the honored pioneers of this section of the country has been prominently identified with its development, progress and up-building from an early day. He was born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, October 17, 1833, and is of German lineage. His grandfather, Samuel Thatcher, was born in Germany, and when a young man emigrated to the United States, settling in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, where he married Miss Hannah Smith. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 and lived to the advanced age of ninety-three years. Enos Thatcher, the father of the Judge, was one of a family of three sons and five daughters. He married Miss Artemesia Case, also a native of Susquehanna County, and in 1837 they removed to Illinois, locating at Ottawa, LaSalle County, where the father entered land and, in connection with agricultural pursuits, conducted a hotel. Both he and his wife were Congregationalists in religious belief, and for many years Mr. Thatcher served as chorister of his church and took an active part in other branches of the work. He lived to be seventy-eight years of age. The mother of our subject died in the fifty-first year of her age, leaving two children, Henry M. and Elizabeth, who is now Mrs. Deckerd, of Albany, Oregon. After the death of his first wife the father married again, and by that union had two children. Judge Thatcher was reared on the old homestead in Illinois, and in 1850 crossed the plains from LaSalle County to Placerville,...

Biography of Charles A. Thatcher

Identified with pioneer life in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, Charles Albert Thatcher figured long and prominently in the development and progress of the northwest and in the events which form its history. He lived an honorable, upright life, won prosperity through determined purpose and indefatigable energy, and at all times enjoyed the esteem of his fellow men, by reason of those sterling qualities of manhood which in every land and every clime awaken admiration and regard. Mr. Thatcher was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, July 24, 1826, and was a representative of an old American family. He acquired his education in Harford University and in Oberlin College, at Oberlin, Ohio, but, his health failing him, he was obliged to abandon his studies before the day of graduation arrived, and spent two years in the pine forests of Wisconsin. He was much benefited by his sojourn in that state, and afterward engaged in teaching school in Pennsylvania and Ohio. In 1852 he crossed the plains to Oregon, starting early in the season with a party en route for the Pacific coast. They were fortunate in escaping the cholera and attacks from the Indians, safely reaching their destination after some months of travel. The following year the territory of Washington was organized and Mr. Thatcher was made its first school superintendent. He formed the first school districts, and filled that office for nine years, during which time he placed the educational system of the state on a firm basis and gave it a progressive impetus whose influence is still felt. Thus he engraved his name deeply on the record of Washington’s...

Biography of John B. Thatcher

John B. Thatcher, assessor and tax collector of Bannock county, and the owner of a valuable ranch on Bear river, where he carries on general farming and stock-raising, was born in Clark county, Ohio, October 22, 1834, being of English and German descent. At an early epoch in the history of Virginia, his ancestors, having braved the perils incident to ocean voyages at that day, took up their residence in the Old Dominion, and representatives of the family fought for the independence of the nation in the Revolutionary war. The parents of our subject, Hezekiah and Alley (Kitchen) Thatcher, were both natives of Virginia, and the father was an industrious and substantial farmer. He lived to be sixty-nine years of age, and his wife passed away at the age of eighty-two years. They were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and were people of the highest integrity of character. In their family were thirteen children, eight of whom reached years of maturity, while five are still living. John B. Thatcher was the fourth child and is now the eldest surviving member of the family. He was reared and educated in Illinois and in Salt Lake City, Utah, and afterward engaged in mining in El Dorado County, California. On the 1st of January 1858, he returned to Salt Lake City. In 1860 he went to Logan, Utah, where he engaged in clerking in the Mercantile House, being there employed for fifteen years. In the fall of 1881 he came to Idaho and purchased three hundred and sixty acres of land, upon which he has since...
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