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Biography of Lieut. Benjamin Everest
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Lieutenant Benjamin Everest came with his father to Addison when he was sixteen years old; his father’s name was also Benjamin, and Zadock was his brother. He is said to have been a man of prowess and courage, and with his brother was conspicuous in aiding Allen and Warner to drive out the “Yorkers” from the county. On receipt of news of the battle of Lexington, Everest repaired to Allen’s headquarters, and was given a lieutenant’s commission. He was with Allen when he entered the fort at Ticonderoga, and went with Warner to the capture of Crown Point. After Allen was made prisoner Everest and his company was assigned to Colonel Seth Warner’s regiment, and took part in the battle of Hubbardton and also at Bennington, for his bravery in which he received the thanks of Warner. The account of his thrilling escape from a party of Indians is thus related by Colonel Strong:
“After the capture of Burgoyne, Everest obtained a furlough, with the intention of visiting Addison to look after his father’s property – his father having gone back to Connecticut with his family. Not knowing how matters stood in that section, he approached warily, keeping on the highlands between Otter Creek and the lake, intending to strike the settlement of Vergennes and then turn back to Addison. Arriving at the falls at dark he kindled a fire and lay down. About midnight he was awoke by the war-whoop, and found himself a prisoner to a party of Indians that were on their way to Lake Memphramagog, to attend a council of most of the tribes of Canada, New York and New England. He suffered much from the thongs with which he was bound at the first, but understanding the nature of the Indians very well, he so gained their confidence that they showed him more leniency afterwards. On the breaking up of the council he was brought back to the western shore of Lake Champlain, near Whallon’s Bay, where they encamped for the winter. He had been pondering in his mind for a long time various plans for escape, but concluded to wait until the lake was frozen. It was now December, and the lake had been frozen for some two or three days, the ice as smooth as glass; the sun shone out quite pleasant, and the air was comfortable. The Indians prepared for a frolic on the ice; many of them had skates and were very good skaters. Everest asked to be permitted to go down and see the sport, as he had never seen any one skate; they gave him leave to go, two or three evidently keeping an eye on him. He expressed his wonder and delight at their performances so naturally that all suspicion was lulled. After a time, when the Indians began to be tired, and many were taking off their skates, he asked a Young Indian, who had just taken off a very fine pair, to let him try and skate. This the Indian readily consented to, expecting to have sport out of the white man’s falls and awkwardness. Everest put on the skates, got up, and no sooner than down he came, striking heavily on the ice; and again he essayed to stand and down he fell, and so continued to play the novice until all the Indians had come in from outside on the lake. He had contrived to stumble and work his way sonic fifteen or twenty rods from the nearest, when he turned and skated a rod or two toward them, and partly falling, he got on his knees, and began to fix and tighten his skates. This being done, he rose, and striking a few strokes toward the eastern shore, he bent to his work, giving, as he leaned forward, a few insulting slaps to denote that he was off. With a whoop and a yell of rage, the Indians that had on their skates started in pursuit. He soon saw that none could overtake him, and felt quite confident of his escape. After getting more than half across the lake, and the ice behind him covered with Indians, he looked toward the east shore and saw two Indians coming round a point directly in front of him. This did not alarm him, for he turned his course directly up the lake. Again he looked and saw his pursuers (excepting two of their best skaters, who followed directly in his track) had spread themselves in a line from shore to shore. He did not at first understand it, but after having passed up the lake about three miles, he came suddenly upon one of those immense cracks or fissures in the ice that so frequently occur when the ice is glare. It ran in the form of a semi-circle from shore to shore, the arch in the center and up the lake. He saw he was in a trap. The Indians on his flanks had already reached the crack in the ice and were coming down towards the middle. He flew along the edge of the crack, but no place that seemed possible for human power to leap was there. But the enemy was close upon him; he took a short run backward, and then shooting forward like lightning, with every nerve strained, he took the leap, and just reached the farther side. None of the Indians dared to follow. Finding snow on the ice at Panton, he left it and made good his way to his regiment.”
In 1778 Everest commanded the fort at Rutland, and many other deeply exciting narratives of his experiences in those troubled days are related of him, for which we cannot spare space. He died a member of the Baptist Church and much respected in the county. His tomb-stone bears the following inscription:
Lieut. Benjamin Everest was born at Salisbury, Conn., Jan. 12, 1752, and moved with his father [Benjamin] to this town in 1768, and died here March 3, 1843, aged 91 years.
Thus lies the Christian,
The Revolutionary hero
And the Patriot.
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