WATERVILLE, an irregular outlined town lying in the northwestern part of the county, in latitude 44 33′, and longitude 4° 11′ bounded north by Belvidere, east by Belvidere and Johnson, south by Cambridge, and west by Bakersfield and Fletcher, in Franklin county, was chartered by Vermont to James Whitelaw, James Savage, and William Coit, Oct. 26, 1788, by the name of Coit’s Gore, with an area of 10,000 acres. On October z6, 1799, a part of this Gore was annexed to Bakersfield, and again, November 15, 1824, an act was passed by the legislature, “forming a new town out of the towns of Bakersfield, Belvidere, and Coit’s Gore, in the county of Franklin, by the name of ” Waterville,” as follows:
WHEREAS, It appears to this assembly that it is inconvenient for the inhabitants of the southeast corner 0f Bakersfield, and that part of Belvidere called the “Leg,’ to attend town meetings, and transact town business in their respective towns, and that Coit’s Gore ought to be incorporated and form a part of a new town, etc.”
Then follows the boundary lines of the new town, as at present established, and the signatures of the proper officials.
The surface of the town is varied, a large portion being rugged and mountainous. The soil is generally sandy and much better adapted to dairying than grain raising, though good crops of corn, rye, potatoes, and oats, are easily raised. Wheat is not so successfully cultivated. The timber is that common to most Green mountain districts, mostly birch, maple and spruce, interspersed with hemlock and elm. Large quantities of an excellent quality of sugar is made each season from the maple. Formerly, considerable attention was given to the cultivation of the, apple. Extensive orchards were planted, and many hundreds of barrels of cider were manufactured, but of late years, this branch of farming has been more and more neglected, and many of the original trees have been cut down. Fletcher mountain lies in the western part of the town, while Round mountain, rising to an altitude of 3,500 feet, is in the eastern part. To the south and east are located hills of lesser altitude. The principal stream is the North branch of the Lamoille river, a stream that in its course through this town is characterized by a series of falls and rapids, which, if utilized, would render the town noted in whatever branch of industry they were directed, but as it is, but a small part of this natural water-power is used. Numerous brooks and streams of minor importance spring from the mountain and hill sides throughout the territory.
Waterville abounds in beautiful scenery and extensive views, not the least prominent of which may be mentioned the Green Mountain spring, a mineral spring located on road 18. About twenty-five years ago Osgood McFarland erected an hotel here. In 1894, Samuel Miller leased the property, and finally, during the following year, purchased it. Since that time Mr. Miller has instituted many improvements, rendering this spot a delightful and healthful resort for summer tourists. He has accommodations for about thirty-five guests.
Geologically, the town consists of two large beds of gneiss and talcose schist. In the western part are found one or two small beds of serpentine and clay slate. Upon the farm of Orrin A. Thomas there is an excellent freestone or talc quarry, which was opened ‘as early as 1820. The stone is valuable for manufacture into fire-bricks, foot-stones, fire arches, etc., as it possesses the peculiar quality of imperviousness to damage by heat.
In 1880, Waterville had a population of 547, and in 1882, was divided into six school districts and contained six common schools, employing one male and twelve female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $540.85. There were 152 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $608.21, with Mark Stevens, superintendent.
WATERVILLE, a post village, is beautifully located in the southern part of the town, on the Branch, where a natural waterfall affords opportunities for unlimited mill power. The village contains two churches (Methodist and Universalist), three stores, a rake factory, saw-mill, a tin shop, a sheep-skin legging and belt-lace manufactory, and about fifty dwellings.
Daniel Dingwall’s saw, shingle, and grist-mill, located on road 13, was purchased by the present proprietor in 1882. Mr. Dingwall has had much experience in the lumber business, and controls the timber on several thousand acres of land. He intends shortly to extend the capacity of his mill so that he will be able to cut upwards of a million feet of lumber per annum.
Kelley & Son’s sheep-skin leggings and belt-lace manufactory, located at the village, was established in 1881. Their superior methods of tanning, and the excellent quality of their goods, has rendered their wares already quite noted.
George W. Mann’s knife factory, located at the village, was established by him in 1871. He employs from ‘three to six hands, and turns out about 1,500 dozen knives per year.
Lucius Hayes’s feed and saw-mill, located on road 13, was built about the year 1842, by Amos Fassett, and purchased by the present proprietor in 1868. He manufactures about 25,000 feet of lumber and grinds 3,000 bushels of grain per year.
About the year 1800, Mr. Rice built a saw-mill on Stony brook, in the eastern part of the town. Soon after a blacksmith shop was erected nearby, and also several dwellings. The site on which these buildings were erected presented a very desirable location for a village, and it is probable that the intentions of the early proprietors of this section were to build up a large and thrifty place of business. But, however sanguine might have been their expectations, it is certain they have never been realized. The mills and the shops have all long since been among the things of the past.
The first town meeting was petitioned for by Sylvanus Eaton, Joseph Rowell, Ezra Sherman, and Jesse C. Holmes, November 29, 1824, and was duly warned by Moses Fisk, justice of the peace, the following day. The meeting was held in the school-house near the mills, December 13, 1824, with Sylvanus Eaton, moderator. The following list of officers was elected Moses Fisk, town clerk , Jesse C. Holmes, Antipas Fletcher, and Luther Poland, selectmen , Sylvanus Eaton, constable , Stephen Leach, grand juror , and William Wilbur, tithing man. The first justice of the peace was Thomas Page, appointed in 1803. The first representative, Luther Poland, in 1828. The first child born in the town was Ira Church, August 16, 1789.
During the late civil war Waterville furnished ninety-one enlisted men as her mite towards preserving our country’s unity.
Congregational and Methodist societies were formed in the town about the year 1820. In 1839, the two societies united their funds, and built the union meeting-house, which still does service. Previous to this the people had been obliged to meet for worship in barns and private dwellings. The town now has a Congregational, Universalist, and Methodist society, the latter being the most popular, with Rev. G. L. Story, pastor.