Collection: History of Addison County Vermont

Biographical Sketch of Eldad Andrus

Eldad Andrus first settled on the farm now occupied by Mrs. T. B. Holly, and afterwards exchanged farms with Zechariah Benedict, whose pitch lay in the west part of the town bounding on Lemon Fair. His first house was built a few rods east of the present buildings. He was taken prisoner in May or June, 1778, by Indians and Tories, and carried across Lake Champlain to the British camp, where he was held for several months. Meanwhile the Indians frequently visited his house, consumed his provisions, destroyed his young fruit-trees, and stole his mare and her colt. It is said that two years later the mare and colt returned, accompanied by another colt, the young beasts being so well matched as to make Andrus a valuable team. Having discovered a chance to escape, he fled the British camp, but soon perceived that he was followed by an Indian. Whereupon, securing a heavy club, he hid himself under a huge log over which his pursuer must pass, and at the opportune moment felled him to the earth, and effected his escape unmolested. Among his descendants now living in town are his grandson, S. S. Andrus, and great-granddaughters, Mrs. James Tracey and Mrs. O. A....

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Biographical Sketch of William Samson

William Samson, from Londonderry; N. H., at a very early date pitched on the farm afterward known as the Benjamin Sherwood place, now occupied by H. E. Taylor, and built his first cabin near the site of the present dwelling. He had a large family, was an early deacon of the Congregational Church, and died in 1798, aged sixty-six years. L. J. Samson, Curtis H. Samson and Mrs. R. S. Foot are his...

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Biographical Sketch of Jonathan Eastman

Jonathan Eastman, who came to Bristol from Rupert, Vt., in 179l, was born in Norwich, Conn., in 1753. He removed to Rupert with his father, where he married a Miss Haynes, who bore him a daughter; and for his second wife a Miss Dean, who bore him five children. He was chosen as the town’s first justice of the peace, and first representative, in 1792, holding the former office seventeen years, and was again a representative in 1795; was town clerk eleven years and a selectman four years. He died December 6, 1816. Calvin, Oliver and Amos Eastman, brothers of Jonathan, were all respected residents of Bristol, the latter dying at a very advanced...

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Bristol Vermont – Proprietors’ Meetings

There is strong presumptive evidence extant tending to prove that proprietors’ meetings were held, and some measures taken towards allotting the lands in Pocock, previous to those appearing in the proprietors’ record-book. It is generally believed by authorities that, as early as 1784, John Willard, of Middlebury, Hon. Jonathan Hoyt, of St. Albans, and Captain Miles Bradley, of New Haven, at a meeting held in Canaan, Litchfield county, Conn., were appointed a committee to survey and allot the land in Pocock, though no record of such an event has been found. But deeds from the proprietors recorded in the Rutland county clerk’s office, to which county Pocock then belonged, speak of the “first division lots,” and describes them as numbered, and containing one hundred and twenty acres each. In the files of the Vermont Gazette, printed at Bennington, may also be found an article warning a meeting of the proprietors to convene “at the house of Benjamin Payn, in Addison, on the second Tuesday in May, 1788.” This warning proves that at least the third division had been made, for the fourth article reads: “To see if they [the proprietors] will proceed to lay out the fourth division, and lay roads.” The same paper also states that, “on the second Tuesday of May, 1788, the proprietors, in pursuance of the foregoing notice, held a meeting at the time and...

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Biographical Sketch of Capt. Gordon Munsill

Captain Gordon Munsill was born in Windsor, Conn., October 26, 1760, served all through the Revolutionary War, and soon after its close married Olive Carver, of Bolton, Conn., and came to Bristol with his wife and two children, arriving March 21, 1789. He had been in town the previous year, made some improvements and built a log house on his farm, purchased of Timothy Rogers, and now owned by E. C. Powell. He was appointed by the Legislature a collector of the first land tax in Bristol, was a selectman of the town seven years, a justice of the peace two years, and represented the town in the Legislature of 1796. He died on the old homestead November 15,...

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Biographical Sketch of Harvey Munsill

Judge Harvey Munsill, one of Captain Gordon Munsill’s eight children, long and favorably known in Bristol as a man of honor and ability, received his education in the district schools of Bristol, and at the Addison County Grammar School at Middlebury, and studied law with Hon. Daniel Chipman, of that town. Although reared a farmer, he inclined to the study and use of books. He succeeded to the ownership of the homestead, which he retained until about 1840. After the year 1820 he became prominently identified with the public affairs of the town, and his career as a public officer continued uninterruptedly from that date to a short time previous to his death. He was judge of probate for the New Haven district from 1836 to 1870; justice of the peace for over thirty years; trustee of the United States deposit money from 1838 to 1852; State senator for the years 1842 and ’43; deputy sheriff eight years, and county commissioner four years; represented the town in the General Assembly for the years 1829 and ’31; served as selectman three years; town clerk six months; constable two years; overseer of the poor one year; town agent thirteen years, and moderator of town meetings eleven years. He was appointed a captain in the First Brigade, Third Division, Vermont militia. As a Mason he was master of Libanus Lodge, No. 47,...

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Biographical Sketch of Harvey C. Munsill

Harvey C. Munsill was born in Bristol June 22, 1824. He hired his father’s estate, and has been somewhat prominently identified with the civil affairs and business growth of the town. He married, October 1, 1851, Charlotte M. Holley, daughter of John D. Holley, of Bristol, and they have three children: Newcomb H., born July 14, 1852, fitted for college at Bristol Academy, entered Middlebury College, and graduated from that institution in the class of 1877, taught in the graded school of Wallingford, Vt., four terms, studied law with Veazey & Dunton, of Rutland, later with Judge Albert Hobbs, of Malone, Franklin county, N. Y., and was admitted to the bar of the State of New York, and is now a member of the firm of Beeman & Munsill, of Malone, N. Y. He married, in 1880, Mary, daughter of Orrin Moses, of Malone, and they have two children, Arthur H. and Edith. Seraph L., the only daughter of Harvey C., was born May 17, 1863, and died August 20, 1865. Charles E. Munsill, the third and youngest of the family, was born May 27, 1867, and is now attending the Albany Business College. Mr. Munsill has been for the past four years town treasurer of Bristol; has held the office of deputy sheriff from 1851 to 1855; justice of the peace several years; moderator of town meetings several...

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Biographical Sketch of General Ezekiel Dunton

General Ezekiel Dunton, from Dorset, settled upon the farm now owned by Ezra Knowles, of New Haven. He held a commission as brigadier-general in the Vermont militia, and was at the battle of Plattsburgh. He served the town for many years as selectman, constable, representative and justice of the peace, and died here February 13, 1824, aged fifty-six years. He left two sons, Thaddeus, who went West, and Ezekiel K., who died September 20, 1837, aged thirty-four years. The latter was the father of Walter C. Dunton, ex-judge of the Supreme Court of Rutland, and William H. Dunton, also of...

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Bristol Vermont

THE town of Bristol lies largely upon the mountains, in the northeastern section of the county, and is bounded on the north by Monkton and Starksboro; east by Starksboro and Lincoln; south by Lincoln and Middlebury, and west by New Haven. It was originally granted by Benning Wentworth, the colonial governor of New Hampshire under King George III, “by his excellency’s command with advice of council,” June 26, 1762, to Samuel Averill and sixty-two associates, under the name of Pocock. This name, given in honor of a distinguished English admiral, was retained only a few years, however, and was changed to Bristol by an act of the Legislature passed October 21, 1789. The charter deed contained the usual restrictions incident to the Wentworth grants, and the usual reservation of public lands for the use of schools, propagation of the gospel, etc., and fixed the boundary lines of the new town as follows: “Beginning at the northeasterly corner of New Haven and thence extending south six miles by New Haven aforesaid to the southeasterly corner thereof; thence turning off and running east four miles and one-half to a marked tree; thence turning off and running north eight miles and a half to another marked tree; thence turning off and running west four miles to the easterly side line of Monkton; thence south by Monkton about half a mile, to an...

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Biographical Sketch of Robert Holley

Robert Holley, a native of New London, Conn., came from Hebron, N. Y., in 1795, and located on the east side of the highway, nearly opposite the place now owned by Joel Barlow. In 1808 he removed to the village, where he kept a public house several years. He served the town as constable and collector, represented the town in the General Assembly eight years; was a delegate to the constitutional convention in 1826; was a presidential elector, casting his vote for President Monroe, and was a justice of the peace twenty-eight years. He was the father of eight children, and died April 18, 1836, aged seventy-seven years. Mrs. H. C. Munsill, Mrs. Cornelia Smith, and Mrs. Titus B. Page are his grandchildren. One of his daughters, Samantha, married Dr. Joseph Needham, and several of their descendants now reside in the town. Samuel H., son of Robert, studied at West Point, was a lawyer and assistant judge of the County Court, and occupied the farm now owned by Frank Hines. He died March 21, 1858, aged seventy-five years. Willis R. Peak is a...

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Bristol Vermont – Early Settlements

The first permanent settlement was not begun in the present town of Bristol till the summer of 1786, twenty-four years after the charter was granted. John Willard and the others who formed the committee we have previously spoken of were prosceuting the duties devolving upon them here, in 1785, about a mile west of Bristol village they came across a rude habitation occupied by a Dutchman named John Broadt, as he stated. He had made that place his home, with no other company than a dog, for twelve years, seeing in that time no human face till met by the said committee. He came from Unadilla, N. Y., a fugitive from justice. Word was sent to his friends, informing them of his whereabouts, and subsequently he received pardon for his offense and returned to New York, after which nothing was heard of him. Thus this man may properly be said to have been. the first white inhabitant of the town., though he did nothing towards clearing or improving the land, but subsisted like a savage by hunting and fishing. Early in June Samuel Stewart and Eden Johnson, who married sisters, started out from Skenesboro (now Whitehall), N. Y., for the wilderness land of Pocock; Johnson traveling by land to drive their cattle, while Stewart took passage by boat up the lake with their household effects, his wife, Mrs. Johnson...

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Biographical Sketch of Benjamin Griswold

Benjamin Griswold came with his family to the town from the State of New York in 1787, locating on Bristol Flats, upon a part of the late Morgan estate. He remained only a few years, when he removed to Cambridge, Vt. His son Horace was the second child born in the...

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Biographical Sketch of Capt. Cyprian Eastman

Captain Cyprian Eastman was born in Norwich, Conn., in 1749, and removed with his father to Beckett, and subsequently to Bennington county, where he married Rosannah Nehon, and soon after, in 1787, removed to this town, locating on the flats. He was chosen one of the first selectmen of the town, and at the organization of a militia company, in June, 1791, was chosen its captain, and was also one of the committee elected to lay out the first division lots and survey highways. He died of small-pox May 23,1798, aged forty-nine years, leaving a family of ten...

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Biographical Sketch of Robert Dunshee

Robert Dunshee came from New Hampshire in 1787. He first located in the southern part of the town, but soon after removed to a part of the late Morgan estate, on the flats, where he erected a two-story house. Here he carried on the business of a saddler and harness-maker several years, then sold his house to Lewis Miller and removed to the mountain road, near the “Little Notch.” At the organization of the town he was chosen one of its selectmen. He resided here until his death, of cancer, at an advanced...

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