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BELVIDERE, a very mountainous, pentagonal shaped town, located in the northwestern corner of the county, in 44° 47′ north latitude, and in longitude 4° 19′ east from Washington,* is bounded north by Avery’s Gore, and Montgomery, in Franklin county, east by Eden, south by Johnson and Waterville, and west by Waterville. It was granted to a Mr. John Kelley, of New York city, March 5, 1787, and chartered by Vermont, November 14, 1791, by the name of Belvidere. The town originally contained an area of 30,100 acres, but was shorn of its limits November 15, 1824, when a portion of its territory was taken towards forming the town of Waterville, and again, October 30, 1828, 13,440 acres were annexed to Eden so that Belvidere now has an area of less than 20,000 acres.
In surface, the town is extremely broken and irregular, some of the mountains attaining an elevation of from 2,000 to 3,000 feet, so that for agricultural purposes it is of little value, though there are some good farms found along the streams, where the soil is principally a clay loam. To compensate for this deficiency, however, Belvidere has, aside from a variety of wild and picturesque scenery, many thousand feet of valuable timber standing in her forests. The manufacture of this timber into lumber, and into manufactured articles, butter tubs, sap buckets, etc., constitutes the principal occupation of the inhabitants, and is the source of the principal exports of the town. The higher peaks and ridges of the territory are covered with immense quantities of spruce and hemlock, while the lower portions abound with maple, white and yellow birch, etc. The maple yields an excellent quality of sugar, many thousand pounds of which find their way to market annually. North Branch. flows through the center of the town, from east to west, affording many excellent mill-sites, several of which are utilized. This stream forms the water-course of the town, and into it flow the waters of Rattling, Basin, Mill, and several other brooks. All of the streams are noticable for their clear, cold water, and are quite plentifully supplied with trout.
The geological structure of the town is composed of rocks principally of the talcose schist and gneiss formations. The former underlies the western half, and the latter the eastern half of the township. The large bed of schist is cut in several places by beds of steatite, or soapstone, many deposits of which bid fair to develop into quarries of value. Gold in alluvium is said to have been discovered in the extreme western portion of the town, though in very small quantities. A bed of saccharoid azoic limestone also exists, near the line of Bakersfield. Iron and led ores, too, have been discovered in limited quantities, yet sufficient to warrant the belief that mines of considerable value might be developed. Current tradition has it that an Indian at one time took one of the first settlers with him upon Belvidere mountain, and there cut from a ledge a chunk of very pure led ore, which he afterwards run into bullets. There were indications from the cuts in the ledge, so it is said, that there were large quantities of lead, and that the Indian had frequently been there before to procure it. The settler thought to mark the place with his eye, and his route back, so as to return, but the wily savage crossed and re-crossed his steps so many times on their return, that the man lost all traces of the spot containing the treasure, and was never able to find the place afterwards.
In 1882, Belvidere had a population of 400, was divided into five school districts, and contained five common schools, employing nine female teachers at an aggregate salary of $430.10. There were 509 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $466.10, with R. D. Whittemore school superintendent.
BELVIDERE, a small post village located in the southwestern part of the town, on North Branch, contains one church (Christian), one store, a saw and grist-mill, paint shop, etc., and about a dozen dwellings.
BELVIDERE CORNERS (p. o.) is a hamlet located at the junction of roads r, 2, 3, and 4.
Joel C. Hodgkin’s saw-mill, located on road 10, was built by Mr. Hodgkins in 1877. The mill is supplied with an excellent water-power, employs twelve men, and manufacturers about 3,000,000 feet of lumber per annum. This lumber is mostly spruce, and is marketed throughout Vermont and Massachusetts.
J. C. Hodgkin’s tub factory, located on road 10, was established by Harris Dennio, in 1868, operated by him about three years, then sold to Curtis Brown, and by him re-sold to Frank Lumbra & Co., and finally, in 1876, came into the possession of Mr. Hodgkins. The gentleman employs a number of hands, and manufactures about 40,000 tubs annually.
Brown & Fullington’s saw-mill, and butter-tub factory, located on Kelly brook, near road 13, was built by John Hunter, and, in 188o, was purchased by L. M. Fullington, of Johnson, and is now operated under the firm title as above. The saw-mill has the capacity for cutting 8,000 to 10,000 feet of lumber per day, and in the manufacture of tubs the firm employs ten men, who turn out about 40,000 tubs per year.
Thomas W. Shattuck’s grist-mill, located on road 16, was built by Oliver Potter, and operated by him for several years, then was owned by several parties in succession until 1864, when it was purchased by the present proprietor.
J L. Squire’s saw-mill, located on road 14, was built by Edmund Potter, about the year 185o, and, in the autumn of 1881, was purchased by Mr. Squires. The mill has a capacity of 4,000 feet of lumber per day, but depends upon the supply of water, which varies.
It was nearly twenty years after the granting of its charter, that the first settlement in Belvidere was commenced. The first settlers were Nathaniel Hodgkins, Moody Shattuck, Timothy Carpenter, John Fletcher, and others, in 1806, ’07, and ’08, who were joined by others so rapidly, that, in 1810, the town had a population of 217. The first town meeting was held March 21, 1808, pursuant to a warning issued by Sylvanus Eaton, justice of the peace, March 7, 1808. John Holmes was chosen moderator of the meeting, which was then opened in due form, and the following named gentlemen elected as the first town officers: John Brown, town clerk ; William Beal, John Hodgkins, and John Adams, selectmen; Jonathan Perham, John Adams, and Lemuel Warren, listers; Nathaniel Hodgkins, first constable; David Chaffee, grand juror; Jonathan Chaffee, Nathaniel Hodgkins, and Timothy Carpenter, surveyors of highways; John Holmes and John Adams, pound keepers; John Perham, David Chaffee, and Putnam Phelps, fence viewers; John Brown, sealer of leather; Nathaniel Hodgkins, sealer of weights and measures; Abel Raymore, tythingman; and Samuel and Jonathan Perham, haywards.
At a meeting held at the house of Enoch Dodge, on the first Tuesday in September, 1808, the first ballot for electing a person to represent the State in Congress, was taken, there being fourteen votes cast, ten of which were for Ezra Butler, and four for Martin Chittenden. The names of the voters were as follows: John Holmes, John Adams, John Hodgkins, Tavish Pulsafur, Sherebiah Leach, Samuel Perham, William Beals, Enoch Dodge, David Chaffee, Joel W. Perham, Jonathan Perham, Nathaniel Hodgkins, John Brown, and Moody Shattuck, being in all probability all the legal voters there were in the town at that time.
The Christian Church of Belvidere
The first preaching in the town was in 1810, when Elder Morris, of Hardwick, preached a sermon in the barn of Timothy Carpenter. After the war of 1812, meetings were held under the auspices of Elders Newland, of Hyde Park, and R. Dodge, of Stowe. The meetings resulted in the organization of a church of the Christian denomination, with the following list of members : Ebenezer Williams, Jerry Hodgkin, Chester Chaffee, Eliphalet Carpenter, Jesse C. Holmes, Joseph Perham, Fanny Hodgkin, and Nancy Russell. In 1851, a neat and substantial church was erected at Belvidere village, where the society now meets, presided over by Rev. R. D. Whittemore.
* As the whole county is in north latitude, and in east longitude from Washington, the terms north and east will hereafter be omitted.