Surname: Burton

Postmasters and Postal Service in Norwich Vermont

It was fifteen years after the admission of Vermont into the Federal Union, and forty years after the settlement of the town, before Norwich had a post office. The first post office was established at Norwich Plain, July 1, 1805, and Jacob Burton was appointed postmaster. Postmaster Burton kept the office in his harness shop on the main street of the village, nearly opposite the present residence of Mrs. William E. Lewis. Probably the duties of the office were not so great as to interfere much with the prosecution of his trade. It is doubtful if Mr. Burton had...

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Political Parties in Norwich Vermont

The strength of the great political parties that have divided the suffrages of the country almost since the union of the States under the Constitution has usually been pretty evenly balanced in Norwich. Elections have been sharply contested, and party feeling has frequently run high. Up to the formation of the Republican Party (1854 or 1855) a majority of the voters in town generally ranged themselves with the political disciples of Jefferson and Jackson, though on several occasions, notably in the Harrison campaign of 1840, their ascendancy was successfully contested by the Whigs. In the state election of 1854, the Democrats lost the hold upon the town which they had maintained with few interruptions for almost a quarter of a century. During the years that have succeeded, they have never, at any state or general election, succeeded in rallying a majority to the support of their candidates for office. Inasmuch as the history of a town, in the larger forms of governmental action, unites and blends with that of the State and nation, we give a brief survey of the changes of political opinion in Norwich, as shown by the votes of the freemen at successive elections. During the presidency of John Adams the old Federal and Republican parties took their definite shape. At this time, and until the second term of Jefferson’s administration the political bias of the...

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History of Norwich Vermont Education

From the town records it appears that the first attempt to divide the town into school districts, was at a town meeting held November 19, 1782, when John Slafter, Elijah Brownson, Ithamar Bartlett, Joseph Loveland, Paul Bingham, Joseph Hatch, Daniel Baldwin, Abel Wilder and Samuel Brown, Jr., were made a committee for that purpose. Soon thereafter the committee reported that they “could effect nothing on the business of their appointment,” and were discharged. No further move in town meeting towards districting the town for school purposes appears to have been made until March 30, 1785, when, on petition of...

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Norwich Vermont in the Civil War

During the four years of war for the suppression of the Rebellion, Norwich furnished 178 different men for the armies of the Union. There were seven re-enlistments, making the whole number of soldiers credited to the town 185. By the census of 1860, the number of inhabitants was 1759. It appears, therefore, that the town sent to the seat of war rather more than one in ten of its entire population, during the four years’ continuance of hostilities. About the same proportion holds good for the state at large, Vermont contributing, out of an aggregate population of 315,116, soldiers to the number of 34,555 for the defense of the Union. Of the 178 men enlisting from Norwich, twenty-seven laid down their young lives in the service of the country. The soil of every southern state, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, was moistened by the blood or supplied a grave to one or more of these. The town paid the larger part of these men liberal bounties, amounting to about $32,000, in addition to their state and government pay. All calls for men upon the town by the national authorities were promptly and fully met. The patriotic response of our people to the expenses and sacrifices of the war was, in general, hearty and emphatic; and yet candor and the truth of history compels us to confess that...

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Norwich Vermont in the War of 1812

In the spring of 1812, war with Great Britain again seemed imminent. Causes of complaint against the aggressions of the British government had existed for a long time, and the irritation was now increasing on all sides. It did not seem possible that actual war could much longer be postponed, although public opinion in the United States was still far from unanimous for an immediate appeal to arms. Norwich, as had been her wont in Revolutionary times, again let her voice be heard when great public and national interests were being agitated before the people. At the close of a town meeting held June 18, 1812, a paper was presented to the meeting containing the preamble and resolutions which we copy below. On account of the great length of the preamble, we are obliged to abridge it considerably. The document was obviously drawn up with much care by some person familiar with the political history of the country. After some debate the clerk was directed to read the paper. A spirited discussion ensued, and the preamble and resolutions were finally adopted by a large majority, as true in their statement of facts and expressive of the sense of the town on the question at issue. It was voted that the same be put* on record in the town clerk’s office. A final clause appended to the fourth resolution denouncing...

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Norwich Vermont in the Revolutionary War

The sources of information in regard to the part taken by the town in the Revolutionary struggle are few and scanty. The earliest allusion in the town records to this important epoch of the country’s history is found in the election of a Committee of Safety at the annual town meeting, March 11, 1777. This committee was five in number: Deacon Joseph Smalley, Samuel Hutchinson, John Hatch, Captain Hezekiah Johnson and John Hopson. There is much reason to believe, however, that this was not the first Committee of Safety that acted for the town; but was a new committee selected to conform to a recommendation made to the towns in Cumberland and Gloucester Counties by the Convention at Westminster which declared the independence of Vermont the preceding January. 1Governor and Council, Vol. I, p. 47. It is pretty certain that a company of militia was organized in Norwich as early as the year 1774 or 1775. Of this company Peter Olcott was chosen Captain and Thomas Murdock, Ensign, doubtless by the votes of the men enrolled in the same. The company was probably a purely voluntary organization of patriotic young men, in Colonel Seth Warner‘s regiment of Rangers in 1775, in the continental service. Colonel Timothy Bedell, of Haverhill, N. H., also raised a regiment the same year for service in Canada. Fresh regiments were enlisted early in the...

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Church History of Norwich Vermont

The great achievement of the first generation of Norwich settlers was the building of a meeting house. More than any other event of the time, with the possible exception of the accomplishment of the national independence, this was an undertaking that enlisted the energies and taxed the resources of our forefathers. The building of a meeting house in a New England frontier settlement a century ago was regarded a matter of public concern, to be supported by the whole community without regard to sect or party, like the opening of roads or any other public charge. In less than ten years from the time the first clearing was made in Norwich, the preliminary steps were taken to provide a meeting house to be used for the accommodation of the whole people in the public worship of God. The question of the location of this building was sharply agitated, re-resulting in a keen competition between different sections of the town for the coveted distinction, inasmuch as the location of the house was supposed to fix the site of a possible future village where much of the business of the town would be transacted. When it became apparent that no agreement could be reached, a locating committee of three men from out of town was chosen and summoned upon the ground to decide where the meeting house should stand. The formal...

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The Ministerial Act of Vermont

“The Ministerial Act,” as it was called, for the building of meeting houses and the support of preaching by a tax upon the property and polls of the inhabitants of towns, was passed by the legislature of Vermont at its session at Westminster, in October, 1783. The Norwich meeting house had been built, as we have seen, wholly by the voluntary contributions of the people. It was decided, however, in the fall of 1785, that the cost of the building should be assumed by the town, under the provisions of this law, and so become the town’s property. At a special town meeting held for that purpose, on the first Tuesday of October, it was accordingly voted: “That the sum of £694, Lawful Money, be raised by a Tax on the Polls and Rateable Estates of the inhabitants of the town of Norwich, upon the List of 1784 (excepting those who are of a Different Sentiment from those who meet at this House for Public Worship); which Tax as aforesaid shall be paid in hard money, wheat at five shillings per bushel or other grain equivalent, pork or beef at the market price, or certificates from the Committee who have had the care of building the Meeting house, that they have paid such sums as are specified in s d certificates, for pews and seats in said House which...

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History of the Bridges Between Hanover NH and Norwich VT

The earliest form of transportation across the Connecticut River between Norwich and Hanover of which we have any information was the canoe of Nathan Messenger, who sometime in the summer of the year 1765 established a hunting camp near the bank of the river, a few rods south of where the west end of Hanover bridge now is. In this canoe the family and household goods of John Hutchinson were brought over from the Hanover side in the late fall of the same year, at the completion of their long journey from Ashford, Conn., to their new home. This...

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Norwich Vermont and Dartmouth College

Notwithstanding the fact that Norwich had for many years within its borders a collegiate institution of its own, founded and directed by its most distinguished son, the relations of their people towards Dartmouth College on the opposite bank of the Connecticut were always intimate and friendly.

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Norwich Vermont in the Controversy with New York

The contest with New York in regard to land titles was the first of a series of political commotions that arose to disquiet and vex the settlers on the New Hampshire Grants, to turn their thoughts and energies away from the improvement of their little properties, and check their growing prosperity. In this contest the inhabitants of the upper valley of the Connecticut in general took no active part. They all held their lands under New Hampshire Grants, and as New York never re-granted the same lands to other parties, or attempted to dispossess them or molest them in any manner in the quiet enjoyment thereof, they had personally no cause for controversy with the authorities of that province. The town records of Norwich contain no allusion to the vexed questions that occupy so large a space in contemporary history on the west of the Green Mountains, nor do the words “New York” once occur on these records, except in conveyances of land from one person to another, where the property is described as lying in the “Province of New York.” The authority and jurisdiction of New York were for the most part quietly ignored. No active partisans of her claims are known to have resided in town, nor did the town “in apprehension of future loss of their landed property,” procure at a heavy expense a new charter...

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List of the Principal Pioneer Settlers in Norwich Vermont

The counties of Cumberland and Gloucester had been organized by New York in 1766, out of the territory lying between the Green Mountains and Connecticut River. In the year 1771 a census of these counties was made under the authority of that province. All the towns in Windham and Windsor Counties, as now constituted, belonged to Cumberland County; the remaining portion of the state to the north-ward, then mostly unsettled, was called the county of Gloucester. 1In the first organization of eastern Vermont into counties by New York, Norwich belonged to Cumberland County. In March, 1772, a change of boundary was made which placed the town in Gloucester County. In the new division, which was thenceforth maintained, the north line of the county of Cumberland began at the southwest corner of Royalton, and ran thence on a course of South 60 degrees East to Connecticut River. By the census of 1771, the population of the two counties of Cumberland and Gloucester was returned as 4669, (Cumberland, 3947; Gloucester, 722). Norwich was found to contain 206 people distributed among forty families. In this enumeration the inhabitants were classified as to age and sex only. The number of males above sixteen years of age was found to be 66, the number of females 48. The number of males under sixteen was 53, the number of females 39. The number of children...

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The Founding of Dartmouth College

The founding of Dartmouth College at Hanover in 1769 was an event of great interest and importance to the early settlers of Norwich. Besides the advantages it promised for the convenient higher education of their children, advantages to which they were fully alive, as shown by their liberal subscriptions in land and money to its endowment, the building up of such an institution in the immediate neighborhood created an instant demand for labor and supplies of every kind. The president, Doctor Wheelock, through his Indian pupil, Samson Occum, and other agents, had collected in England and Scotland several thousand pounds to be expended in the establishment and support of a new college in the wilderness. The effect of this expenditure could not fail to make money more plenty and to contribute in various ways to the material prosperity of the vicinage. The conversion and education of the Indians was the leading purpose that animated Doctor Wheelock in thus setting up his college on the very borders of civilization. And surely no pious brotherhood of priests, no lonely mission of French or Spanish Jesuits, by western lake or river, ever planted an institution of learning or religion into wilder scenes and surroundings. The location of the college at Hanover was decided upon early in the summer of 1770, after Doctor Wheelock and two of the trustees from Connecticut had made...

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First Settlements in Norwich Vermont

Having glanced thus briefly at the action of the Norwich proprietors in opening a way to reach their new township in the wilderness, and in dividing up a portion of its surface into lots suitable to become the homesteads of future settlers, let us pause a moment and see what had meantime been done in the work of actual settlement. I am indebted to Rev. Edmund F. Slafter of Boston for an interesting account of what was unquestionably the first attempt at settlement made within the limits of the town. I quote from the Slafter Memorial: “Samuel Slafter [of Mansfield, Connecticut], the father of John Slafter, being an original proprietor, and being at the first meeting chosen treasurer of the corporation, took a deep interest in the settlement of the town. At his suggestion, his son John made a journey through the forests of New Hampshire in 1762, to examine the territory and report upon the advantages it might offer as a place of settlement. He found it pleasantly situated on the western banks of the Connecticut, with a good soil, but for the most part of an uneven, hilly surface. He reported it well watered, not only by the Connecticut but by several small, clear streams, and by one more important one called the Ompompanoosuc, an Indian name signifying ‘the place of very white stones’ whose waters emptied...

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The Proprietors of Norwich Vermont

The larger part of the names of the grantees of Norwich are names of Connecticut men then resident in Mansfield and neighboring towns. Captain Hezekiah Johnson, Samuel Slafter, Joseph Storrs, and William Johnson 3rd, are known to have lived in Mansfield; Amos Fellows, James West, Adoniram Grant, and Samuel Cobb were of Tolland; Ebenezar Heath, Captain Abner Barker and William Johnson of Willington, towns adjacent to Mansfield on the north. The last nine names are those of New Hampshire and Massachusetts men, several of them members of the provincial government in the former province. Major Joseph Blanchard was of Dunstable, Mass. He had executed in 1760, by direction of Governor Wentworth, the first survey of the townships lying along the river from Charlestown to Newbury. His name appears as proprietor in many town charters about this time. But few of the original grantees ever came personally to Norwich to settle. Many of them, it is probable, were people of considerable property, well advanced in life, whose years unfitted them to endure the hard-ships of pioneers in a new settlement. Such would naturally transfer their rights to their sons, or to the young and enterprising among their friends and neighbors. This is known to have been the case in several instances. But Jacob Fenton and Ebenezar Smith, both proprietors, were here in 1763. The former died on the 15th of...

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