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Bristol Vermont – Town Organization

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In the issue of the Vermont Gazette for February 14, 1789, the following notification, or warning for the first town meeting in Pocock, or Bristol, was published:

“These are to warn the inhabitants of Pocock to meet at the dwelling house of Justin Allen, in said Pocock, on the first Monday of March next, at 10 o’clock A. M., to act as follows: 1st, to choose a moderator to govern said meeting; 2d, to choose a town clerk; 3d, to choose selectmen; 4th, to choose a town treasurer; 5th, to choose a constable; 6th, to do any other business thought proper to do on said day. ELIJAH FOOT, J. P.

New Haven, February 14, 1789.”

Allen’s house was located about a third of the way up the steep hill, on the old Thomas Sumner place. Here the freemen of the town assembled at the appointed hour, and the legal organization of the town was effected by choosing Henry McLaughlin moderator, and then proceeding to elect the following town officers: Henry McLaughlin, clerk; Cyprian Eastman, Samuel Stewart and Robert Dunshee, selectmen; Amos Scott, treasurer; and Justin Allen, Constable. From this time down to 1854 the town meetings were held on the first Monday in March, annually, and since then upon the first Tuesday of that month. The second meeting, according to the records, was held at the house of Benjamin Griswold, and then for two years in a log house in the “Center District.” At a meeting held at the latter place on March 1, 1792, it was “Voted, that two bushels of wheat be taken out of the town treasury to pay town expenses.” Also, “Voted, that Jerusha D???? shall be carried off by the selectmen, firstly to her parents, and if she return from them, then carry her to the last place where they have gained a residence, and if there is no place where they have gained a residence, then carry her to the place of her nativity.”

From the school-house the place of holding meetings was removed to the dwelling of Henry McLaughlin, which was the meeting place till 1797. After this meetings were held as follows: The house of John Ketcham till 1804; Noble Munson’s till 1808; Oliver Eastman’s till 1810; Robert Holley’s till 1831; Methodist chapel till 1834; at the public house till 1848; school-house in Bristol village till September 3l,1857; and then the meeting was adjourned to meet in a room in the academy building in the village, the town having paid $600 towards the erection of the building for the “privilege of holding town and freemen’s meetings therein.” Here the meetings were held until “Holley Hall” was built, in 1884, at a cost of $11,300. The site for this fine structure was donated by Winter Holley and his daughter, Cornelia Smith, widow of Oliver A., a son of Charles L. Smith.

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