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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 Vermont were granted. For purposes of reference we insert here a copy of those charters, in blank, and will omit them in subsequent town histories:
[L.S.] By the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith, &c.
To all persons to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: – Know ye, that We, of Our special Grace, certain knowledge, Mear Motion, for the due encouragement of settling a New Plantation within our said Province, by and with the advice of our trusty and well-beloved BENNING WENTWORTH, ESQ., our Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Our Province of NEW HAMPSHIRE, in New England, and of our COUNCIL in the said PROVINCE, HAVE, upon the Conditions and Reservations, hereinafter made, given and granted, and by these presents for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, do give and grant in equal shares unto our loving Subjects, Inhabitants of Our said Province of New Hampshire and Our other Governments, and to their Heirs and Assigns forever whose names are entered on this Grant, to be divided to and amongst them into sixty-eight equal shares, all that tract or parcel of Land situate, lying and being within our said Province of New Hampshire, containing by A measurement, Twenty-Eight Thousand Eight Hundred Acres, which Tract is to contain something more than Six Miles square, and no more, Out of which an allowance is to be made for highways and unimprovable Lands, by Rocks, Ponds, Mountains and Rivers. One Thousand and Forty acres free, according to a plan and survey thereof, made by our said Governor’s order, and returned into the Secretary’s Office and hereunto annexed, butted and bounded as follows, viz.: –
* * And the Inhabitants that do or hereby shall Inhabit the said Township are hereby to be enfranchised with and entitled to all and every the privileges and Immunities that other towns within Our Province by Law Exercise and Enjoy: And further, that the said Town as soon as there shall be fifty families resident and settled thereon shall have the liberty of Holding Two Fairs, one which shall be held on the — and the other on the — annually, which fairs are not to continue longer than the respective — following the said — and that as soon as the said Town shall consist of fifty families a Market may be opened and kept, one or more days in each Week, as may be thought most advantageous to the inhabitants. Also, that the first meeting for the choice of Town Officers agreeable to the laws of our said Province shall be held on the first Tuesday in January next which said Meeting shall be notified by — , who is hereby also appointed the Moderator of the said first Meeting which he is to notify and govern agreeable to the laws and Customs of our said Province and that the Annual Meeting forever hereafter, for the choice of such Officers of said Town, shall be on the second Tuesday in March Annually.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said Tract of Land as above expressed, together with all the privileges and Appurtenances, to them and their respective Heirs and Assigns, forever, upon the following conditions, viz:
- That every Grantee, his Heirs and Assigns, shall plant and
cultivate five acres of Land within the term of five years, for every fifty
acres contained in his or their share or proportion of Land in said
Township, and continue to improve and settle the same by additional
Cultivations on penalty of the Forfeiture of his Grant or share in said
Township, and of its reverting to Us Our Heirs and Successors, to be by Us
Regranted to such of our subjects as shall effectually settle and Cultivate
- That all White and other Pine Trees within the said Township, fit
for Masting Our Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that Use, and none to
be cut or felled, without Our Special License for so doing, first had and
obtained upon the penalty of the forfeiture of the Right of Such Grantee,
his Heirs and Assigns to Us, Our Heirs and Successors, as well as being
subject to the penalty of any act or Acts of Parliament that now are or
shall hereafter be enacted.
- That before any Division of the land be made to and among the
Grantees, a tract of Land as near the Center of said Township as the Land
will admit of, shall he reserved and marked out for Town Lots, one of which
shall be allotted to each Grantee, of the contents of one Acre.
- Yielding and paying therefore to Us Our Heirs and Successors for
the space of ten years, to be computed from the date hereof, the rent of one
Ear of Indian Corn only, on the Twenty-fifth day of December annually, if
lawfully demanded, the first payment to be made on the Twenty-fifth day of
- Every proprietor Settler or Inhabitant shall yield and pay unto
Us Our Heirs or Successors, yearly and every year forever, from and after
the expiration of ten years from the above said Twenty-fifth of December,
namely, on the Twenty-fifth day of December, which will be in the year of
Our Lord 1771, One Shilling Proclamation Money, for every hundred Acres he
owns settles or possesses, and so in proportion for a greater or less Tract
of said Land, which Money shall be paid by the respective persons above
said, their Heirs or Assigns in our Council Chamber in Portsmouth, or to
such Officer or Officers as shall be appointed to receive the same, and this
to be in Lieu of all other Rents and services whatsoever.
In testimony whereof we have caused the Seal of our said Province to be hereunto affixed.
Witness, BENNING WENTWORTH, ESQ.,
Our Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Our said Province, this 14th day of October in the year of our Lord CHRIST, One Thousand Seven Hundred Sixty-one, And in the Second Year of Our Reign.
By his EXCELLENCY’S Command
with Advice of Council.
Theodore Atkinson, Sect’y.
The charter has also this endorsement, together with a list of the grantees:
His Excellency, Benning Wentworth, Esq.
A Tract of Land to contain Five Hundred Acres, marked B. W. on the Plan, which is to be accounted two of the within shares.
One whole share for the incorporated Society, for the propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts.
On’ share of the Glebe for the Church of England, as by law established. One share for the first settled Minister of the Gospel, and one share for the benefit of Schools in said Town. Province of New Hampshire,
November 3d, 1761.
Theodore Atkinson, Sect’y.
The history of the town of Addison extends farther into the past than that of any other town in the county. In the winter of 1690 a party of French and Indians came up the lake on the ice, crossed over and burned Schenectady, an incident of fire and suffering that has passed into general history. The English pursued the marauders as far as Crown Point, where the French and Indians took to their skates. A portion of the pursuers overtook some of the French and killed twenty-five. On the 26th of March of that year the authorities of Albany county gave to Captain Jacobus D’Narm [The documentary history of New York gives this name as “De Warm,” but it is probably an error] orders to take seventeen men and pass by way of “Schuytook,” and take from thence twenty savages and Dick Albatrose and proceed to Crown Point. A little later, and in April, Captain Abraham Schuyler was ordered to the mouth of Otter Creek with nine men, “to watch day and night for one month, and daily communicate with Captain D’Narm.” At the same time D’Narm’s orders were so changed that he had to seek a new post, which led him to what became known as Chimney Point, near the southwestern point of the town of Addison. Here he began his watch and erected a small stone fort; this was the first possession or civilized occupation of territory within the State of Vermont, if we except the fort built on Isle la Motte by the French in 1664. In August of the year last mentioned Captain John Schuyler, on his retreat from La Prairie (opposite Montreal), noted that he stopped in this vicinity “at the little stone fort,” which was undoubtedly that of D’Narm.
At a little later period a large tract of land in Addison county, and including the present town of the same name, was claimed by the Mohawk Indians and by them granted to Godfrey Dellius, the Dutch minister at Albany in1694. Two years later his title was confirmed by Charles II, who afterwards revoked the title; but this revocation was not recognized by the thrifty Dutchman, who sold his alleged right to his successor, Lydius. In the year 1730 the French built a small fort on Chimney Point (Point a la Chevelure, as they termed it), and probably repaired the work of D’Narm. In 1743 the king of France granted to Hocquart (intendant of New France) a seigniory of four leagues front on the lake by five leagues deep; the south line of this tract was about half a mile south of the present south line of Addison, and the north line near the site of Adams Ferry in Panton.
The next record we find of Chimney Point is that of Kalm, the Swedish naturalist, who visited the locality in 1749. He says of it: “I found quite a settlement, a stone wind-mill and fort in one, with five or six small cannon mounted; the whole enclosed in embankments.” According to the writings of the late Hon. John Strong (from which we must draw liberally), there was “within the enclosure a neat church, and throughout the settlement well cultivated gardens, with some good fruit, as apples, plums, currants, etc. During the next ten years these settlements were extended north on the lake some four miles; the remains of old cellars and gardens still to be seen (about 1860) show a more thickly settled street than occupies it now.”
The stirring events that occurred between 1750 and the granting of the charter of Addison county as before noted, are emblazoned on the living pages of history. Crown Point, Ticonderoga and their immediate vicinity constituted battle-fields the history of which was to be overshadowed only by that of the more heroic and bloody struggle of the succeeding Revolution. In 1759, after the taking of Ticonderoga by General Amherst, the French burned their fort at Crown Point and Chimney Point, and the settlers abandoned their farms and fled with the troops to Canada. The habitations went to ruin; weeds and trees grew up in the gardens and cellars, and the lands that had seen the thriving homesteads of the French returned to nearly their primitive wildness.
In the year 1763 (April) Hocquart deeded to M. Michel Chartier de Lotbiniere all of his seigniory north of Hospital Creek; the latter petitioned the British government from time to time to be reinstated in his lands. Finally a similar seigniory in Canada was granted him as a substitute. In October of the same year a grant of land was made by the then governor of New York to Colonel David Wooster, beginning near the south line of Addison, running east to Dead Creek and north to D. V. Chambers’s land; another tract to Colonel Charles Forbes, extending from Wooster’s to Potash Bay; another to Lieutenant Ramsay, lying north of the bounds of Addison. Directly east of Forbes’s and Ramsay’s tracts was a grant made to J. W. Hogarty, and east of Wooster’s one to Sir John Sinclair. These grants will be further alluded to on another page.
At about the time Addison was chartered, Panton also was granted to the first proprietors. But the grant as defined extended over the northern boundary of the town of Addison about four miles along the lake; hence some of the first settlers of this town supposed they were locating in Panton. This state of affairs led to protracted trouble and litigation between the two towns, which was not finally settled until May 17, 1774; Addison held her territory according to her charter, by right of priority of grant ; but she gave up to Panton 8,000 acres of the disputed territory, “for a reward for duties done in settling said tract.” (See history of Panton.) On the 22d of October, 1804, 2,000 acres were taken from the southern corner of the town and annexed to Weybridge, and three days later a tract was annexed to Waltham.