Town of Addison, VT

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History of Addison, Vermont

The history

of the town of Addison extends farther into the past than

that of any other town in the county. In the winter of 1690 a party of French

and Indians came up the lake on the ice, crossed over and burned Schenectady,

an incident of fire and suffering that has passed into general history. The

English pursued the marauders as far as Crown Point, where the French and

Indians took to their skates. A portion of the pursuers overtook some of the

French and killed twenty-five. On the 26th of March of that year the

authorities of Albany county gave to Captain Jacobus D'Narm [The documentary

history of New York gives this name as "De Warm," but it is probably

an error] orders to take seventeen men and pass by way of

"Schuytook," and take from thence twenty savages and Dick Albatrose

and proceed to Crown Point. A little later, and in April, Captain Abraham

Schuyler was ordered to the mouth of Otter Creek with nine men, "to watch

day and night for one month, and daily communicate with Captain D'Narm."

At the same time D'Narm's orders were so changed that he had to seek a new

post, which led him to what became known as Chimney Point, near the

southwestern point of the town of Addison. Here he began his watch and erected

a small stone fort; this was the first possession or civilized occupation of territory

within the State of Vermont, if we except the fort built on Isle la Motte by

the French in 1664. In August of the year last mentioned Captain John Schuyler,

on his retreat from La Prairie (opposite Montreal), noted that he stopped in

this vicinity "at the little stone fort," which was undoubtedly that

of D'Narm.

At a little later period a large tract of land in Addison

county, and including the present town of the same name, was claimed by the

Mohawk Indians and by them granted to Godfrey Dellius, the Dutch minister at

Albany in1694. Two years later his title was confirmed by Charles II, who

afterwards revoked the title; but this revocation was not recognized by the

thrifty Dutchman, who sold his alleged right to his successor, Lydius. In the

year 1730 the French built a small fort on Chimney Point (Point a la Chevelure,

as they termed it), and probably repaired the work of D'Narm. In 1743 the king

of France granted to Hocquart (intendant of New France) a seigniory of four

leagues front on the lake by five leagues deep; the south line of this tract

was about half a mile south of the present south line of Addison, and the north

line near the site of Adams Ferry in Panton.

The next record we find of Chimney Point is that of Kalm, the

Swedish naturalist, who visited the locality in 1749. He says of it: "I

found quite a settlement, a stone wind-mill and fort in one, with five or six

small cannon mounted; the whole enclosed in embankments." According to the

writings of the late Hon. John Strong (from which we must draw liberally),

there was "within the enclosure a neat church, and throughout the

settlement well cultivated gardens, with some good fruit, as apples, plums,

currants, etc. During the next ten years these settlements were extended north

on the lake some four miles; the remains of old cellars and gardens still to be

seen (about 1860) show a more thickly settled street than occupies it

now."

The stirring events that occurred between 1750 and the granting

of the charter of Addison county as before noted, are emblazoned on the living

pages of history. Crown Point, Ticonderoga and their immediate vicinity

constituted battle-fields the history of which was to be overshadowed only by

that of the more heroic and bloody struggle of the succeeding Revolution. In

1759, after the taking of Ticonderoga by General Amherst, the French burned

their fort at Crown Point and Chimney Point, and the settlers abandoned their

farms and fled with the troops to Canada. The habitations went to ruin; weeds

and trees grew up in the gardens and cellars, and the lands that had seen the

thriving homesteads of the French returned to nearly their primitive wildness.

In the year 1763 (April) Hocquart deeded to M. Michel Chartier

de Lotbiniere all of his seigniory north of Hospital Creek; the latter

petitioned the British government from time to time to be reinstated in his

lands. Finally a similar seigniory in Canada was granted him as a substitute.

In October of the same year a grant of land was made by the then governor of New

York to Colonel David Wooster, beginning near the south line of Addison,

running east to Dead Creek and north to D. V. Chambers's land; another tract to

Colonel Charles Forbes, extending from Wooster's to Potash Bay; another to

Lieutenant Ramsay, lying north of the bounds of Addison. Directly east of

Forbes's and Ramsay's tracts was a grant made to J. W. Hogarty, and east of

Wooster's one to Sir John Sinclair. These grants will be further alluded to on

another page.

At about the time Addison was chartered, Panton also was granted

to the first proprietors. But the grant as defined extended over the northern

boundary of the town of Addison about four miles along the lake; hence some of

the first settlers of this town supposed they were locating in Panton. This

state of affairs led to protracted trouble and litigation between the two

towns, which was not finally settled until May 17, 1774; Addison held her

territory according to her charter, by right of priority of grant ; but she

gave up to Panton 8,000 acres of the disputed territory, "for a reward for

duties done in settling said tract." (See history of Panton.) On the 22d

of October, 1804, 2,000 acres were taken from the southern corner of the town

and annexed to Weybridge, and three days later a tract was annexed to Waltham.

Early Settlements. - One of the soldiers of Amherst was named

Benjamin Kellogg, from Connecticut. It is said that while stationed at Crown

Point he frequently visited the Salt Licks, near where the mansion of General

John Strong was subsequently built, to procure venison for the officers of the

army. It is believed that the clearings made by the French, and the promising

character of the locality, made an impression upon his mind, and that when lie

returned he told his acquaintances of the advantages of the place for

settlement. He returned to his old hunting grounds in the fall of 1762, and

likewise in the two succeeding years; in the latter year some of the Panton

proprietors came with him. In the spring of 1765 Zadock Everest, David Vallance

and one other settler came on and began a clearing about three miles north of

Chimney Point. In September Benjamin Kellogg came back for his fall hunt, and

with him came John Strong in quest of a home in the wilderness. The two

last-named men visited the place where Everest and Vallance were at work,

remained a few days and helped get in their fallow of wheat, and then traveled

as far east as the site of Middlebury; they were probably the first white men

to reach that locality. On their return to the lake Strong decided to build a

house there, which he did with the help of the other men; he selected the site

and cellar of one of the ruined French houses as the foundation. It was the

first house built by an English settler north of Massachusetts. The party

returned to Connecticut, and in February, 1766, Strong returned with his

family, consisting of his wife and three children, Asa, Samuel and Polly, and

in May Zadock Everest, David Vallance, John Chipman and six others, with their

families, came on by way of Otter Creek; all of these but Chipman located in

Addison and Panton.

It is not known just how many families settled in this town

during the succeeding ten years and down to the breaking out of the Revolution;

but in 1768, when Colonel Wooster came on to look for the land to which he

supposed he had a title, he found five families on it - John Strong, Benjamin

Kellogg, Phineas Spalding, David Vallance and one of the Pangborns. Some of

these, according to General Strong, agreed to leave their lands, and others

were sued by Wooster in the Albany courts. Then followed the historical

controversy between the settlers and the New York authorities. Strong, Kellogg,

Everest, and ten other Addison men were in Allen's party who dispossessed Reid

at the falls (Vergennes), for an account of which see Judge Smith's history of

Vergennes herein. When the men returned from the affair with Reid they found

Wooster with the sheriff serving writs of ejectment on those living on his

land; they were highly incensed that while they, had been engaged in driving

the hated Yorkers from the lands of their neighbors, their own homes were

invaded. They finally took Wooster and his sheriff, tied them to a tree, and

under threats of the "beech seal," forced them to promise to depart

and not trouble the settlers further. The colonel left that locality on the

following morning.

Of the part enacted in the Revolution by Addison men, but little

can be said. At the time of the retreat of the Americans from their Canadian

expedition in 1776, when the small-pox broke out among the soldiers, a hospital

was built on the north side of the mouth of Hospital Creek, which incident gave

the stream its name. The number of deaths here was so great that pits were dug

into which the bodies were thrown without coffins. In the same year the Addison

settlers aided General Gates in getting out timbers for his fleet, which was

placed under the command of Arnold. This fleet was defeated by the British in

October, when Arnold ran his vessels ashore in Panton, burning some and blowing

up others. When Burgoyne made his memorable invasion in 1777 most of the

settlers departed, those from Addison county going into Pawlet, Dorset and

other towns then in Bennington county. In 1778 Major Carleton made his descent

from Canada; he took thirty-nine men and boys as prisoners. Among them were

Nathan and Marshall Smith, of Bridport; Benjamin Kellogg, and Ward and Joseph

Everest, of Addison; Holcomb Spalding, two Ferrises and Mr. Grandey, of Panton,

and Hinckly, of Shoreham. Says General Strong: "Grandey and Hinckly were

liberated to take care of the women and children, these and other families

having come back to their farms on the defeat of Burgoyne; all now abandoned

the settlement except three families, and did not return until after the war.

The prisoners were taken to Quebec, where they arrived December 6. Kellogg and

a number of others died in prison during the winter. They all suffered

unaccountable hardships. In the spring they were taken down the river some ninety

miles. May 13, about midnight, eight of them made their escape. On reaching the

south shore they divided into two parties, four in each. On getting opposite

Quebec one party was betrayed by a Frenchman, and again taken prisoners. Three

of them again made their escape that night - Ward and the two Smiths - and

after being again taken by the Indians, and again escaping, pursued by the

Indians fourteen days and nights, all their knowledge of the Indian craft and

devices being put to the utmost trial, they finally succeeded in throwing off

their pursuers and arrived in Panton, where they met three Americans, on a

scout, from whom they got provisions; which was the first food they had tasted

since their last escape, except such as they procured in the woods - in all,

twenty days. The next day they stopped at Hemenway's, in Bridport, (Hememway

never left his farm through all the war.) After one day's rest, they pushed on

to Pittsford."

With the close of the great struggle for freedom settlers felt

that they Might confidently hope for security in their wilderness homes, and

they accordingly began to return. New immigrants, also, attracted by the

reports of the beauty of the country, came in rapidly, and Addison soon took

the lead in the county. It is our purpose now to trace most of the early

settlements of the town, with such other historical records as we have been

able to secure. [The town records, show that the following settlers took the

freeman's oath between 1790 and 1801]