SHELBURNE, a small lake town in the southwestern part of the county,
lying in lat. 44° 23', and long. 3° 49', bounded north by South
Burlington and a portion of Williston, east by St. George, south by Charlotte
and a portion of Hinesburgh, and west by Lake Champlain, was chartered
by New Hampshire, August 18, 1763, to Jesse HALLOCK and sixty four associates,
receiving its name in honor of a noted nobleman of the English Parliament,
the Earl of Shelburne, who favored the claim of New Hampshire to the disputed
territory of Vermont, and opposed the claim of New York. According to the
charter, the territory was to have an area of 23,500 acres, or a tract
a little over six miles square; but owing to a blunder on the part of the
surveyors, it was shorn of a large portion of its possessions. Two parties
were employed to survey the lake towns, one party commencing at the south,
working north, and the other commencing on the north, working south, and
met at Burlington and Shelburne. The party on the north surveyed Burlington,
and that on the south surveyed Shelburne, neither knowing precisely where
the other had fixed their boundaries. In consequence, they lapped over
each other's survey, and Burlington having been chartered a month previous
to Shelburne, held her claim by priority of charter. A portion of Pottier's
Point formerly belonged to Burlington, but in 1794, considerable alteration
was made in town lines by the Legislature, and the whole of the Point was
declared to belong to Shelburne. Again, November 9, 1848, a portion of
this town was set off to St. George, so that instead of the original 23,500
acres granted in the charter deed, it has only the very moderate possession
of 14,272 acres, a little over half of what it should have. Various controversies,
many disputes and much litigation in the town sprung out of the surveyors'
lines, caused by there having been two surveys of the town made, and some
holding their title according to one survey, and others by the other. The
first was made in 1775, by Silas HATHAWAY, under instructions from Ira
ALLEN, who assumed the ownership of a large part of the town. This survey
was made and the boundaries fixed by chain, with no particular regard paid
to the points of the compass, measuring so many rods and fixing a corner.
In 1798, the township was surveyed by Ebenezer COBB, by order of the town,
under direction of the selectmen. In this survey the boundaries were fixed
by compass, and the consequence was a variation from the last, caused mostly
by variations in the surface of the earth, as by measuring over an elevation
with a chain would necessarily make a shorter line than on a level. But
these conflicting claims and controversies have long since been adjusted,
and the inhabitants, so far as land titles are concerned, are dwelling
in peace and harmony.
In surface, Shelburne presents a scene of quiet rural beauty, picturesque
in the extreme at some points, though it possesses no rugged mountains
to lend their grandeur to its loveliness. The land, generally level, is,
however, gently rolling, enough to pleasantly break the surface into long,
The broken indenture of the lake shore forms two points of land,
designated by the names of the first two settlers of the town -- POTTIER's
Point, and LOGAN's Point. The former projects into the lake, forming between
it and the main land, Shelburne Bay, a narrow arm of the lake some four
miles in length, and only cut off from the main channel of the lake by
this point, which at its conjunction with the main land is quite wide,
but after a short distance is suddenly narrowed, until it becomes a narrow
neck of land of uniform width, abruptly terminating in a bold promontory
several feet in height. At several points in the interior a beautiful view
of the Adirondacks on the west, and the Green Mountains on the east, may
be obtained, their bold summits, white with almost perpetual snow, forming
a fitting frame for the lovely scene of pastoral beauty that lies between
them. Not only in beauty does Shelburne excel, however, but also in richness
and fertility of soil, which varies from stiff clay to a fine sandy loam,
producing in abundance the grains and grasses grown in this latitude, while
in the western part of the town fruit growing is largely carried on, and
found to be a very profitable business. La Plotte River and Cogman's Brook,
with their tributaries, are the principal streams. The former enters the
town from Charlotte, on the south, and flows north into Shelburne Bay,
affording power for two mills at Shelburne Falls. The name of the stream,
tradition has it, was originated in the following interesting manner: A
band of Indians, on one occasion, to the number of some 200 or 300, assembled
at the mouth of the stream, on the farm now owned by A. J. BURRITT, where
they concealed their canoes in the willows lining the shore, and then passed
east through the country, plundering and taking prisoners as they went.
During their absence their canoes were discovered by the whites, riddled
with holes, and replaced in the same position as when found. On the approach
of the Indians, the whites, from their concealment close by, opened fire
upon them, and the Indians, in their surprise, rushed for their canoes
and pushed off into the water. Their frail vessels, of course, soon filled
and sank, leaving the red fiends floundering in the river, where they were
rapidly dispatched by the white men. From this time the stream has been
called La Plotte, or The Plot, in commemoration of this event. Several
arrow heads have been dug up in this vicinity, also bullets, supposed to
have been shot during the Revolution. Shelburne Pond, located in the eastern
part of the town, is a handsome sheet of water, covering a little over
600 acres, and contains some fine specimens of the finny tribe. It. is
much resorted to by pleasure seekers during the summer season. The Rutland
Branch of the Central Vermont passes through the western part of the town
from north to south, with a station at Shelburne village. The geological
or rock structure of the town is composed of beds or veins disposed in
parallel ranges extending in a north and south direction. Beginning on
the west, along the lake shore, the rocks are of the Utica slate formation,
next to which is a large bed of the Hudson River goup, followed by a bed
of red sand rock, the residue of the township being composed of Eolian
limestone or marble. Several quarries of the latter have been opened, affording
a very good variety of marble, though none are worked at present.
In 1880, Shelburne bad a population of 1,096, was divided into eight
school districts and contained eight common schools, employing one male
and ten female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $1,373.50.
There were 242 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of
the schools for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,61.4.64, under the
charge of Mr. Leslie GREGG, as superintendent
SHELBURNE, a post village and station on the Vermont Central Railroad,
is very pleasantly located near the center of the town, and contains one
church, several shops of various kinds, one store, and about twenty five
or thirty dwellings.
SHELBURNE FALLS, located on the LaPlotte River, about one mile south
from the railroad station, has a good, durable water power, contains about
thirty dwellings, one flour mill, one sawmill, one shingle mill, and a
J. E. WHITE's cheese factory, located on road 30, was established
by a stock company in 1871, and purchased by Mr. WHITE in 1877. He does
a very successful business, manufacturing cheese from the milk of from
300 to 400 cows.
The Shelburne Flouring Mills, located at Shelburne Falls, and owned
by D. L. SPEAR, do the custom work of Shelburne, and adjacent towns. Mr.
SPEAR is also an extensive dealer in flour and feed.
HARRISON's cider mill, located on road 3, manufactures twenty five
barrels of cider per day during the season.
The Shelburne carriage shop, located on road 18, is under the management
of George MILLER, and does both sale and custom work of all kinds.
J. B. DUBUC's blacksmith and carriage shops are located on road
Shelburne saw mill, located at Shelburne Falls, owned by BARTLETT
& Co., does custom sawing amounting to about 150,000 feet annually.
It also does planing, and manufactures hemlock and pine shingles.
BALDWIN & WHITE's refrigerator manufactory, located on road
30, employes from fifteen to twenty men. Many of these useful articles
are manufactured each year. Their sales amount to about $15,000 annually.
The Champlain Transportation Co's., ship yard, located upon the
eastern shore of Pottier's Point, in Shelburne Bay, affords the finest
protective harbor for wintering crafts on the lake. At this yard were built
the following well known lake steamers: "Gen. Green," "Winooski," "Burlington,"
"Saranac," "United States," "Ethan Allen," "Boston," "Adirondack," "Vermont,"
and other smaller vessels. The ship yard is connected with Burlington by
Five years after the charter of Shelburne was granted, in 1768,
two Germans, John POTTIER and Thomas LOGAN, commenced a settlement here,
the first attempted in the town. They came on from Quebec and located upon
the points of land extending into the lake which have since respectively
borne their names, Pottier's and Logan's Points. They were associated in
getting out oak timber for the Quebec market, and in 1775, they took a
raft of timber to Quebec, sold it, and on their return the commanding officer
at Montreal sent a sergeant and two privates to protect them through the
Indian settlements. They had proceeded by boat as far as the south line
of Canada, where they encamped for the night. Here a conspiracy was entered
into by the guard, by which two of them were to murder the Germans for
their money, the third promising to keep the secret, bound by a solemn
oath. The deed was committed and the money procured; but the conscience
of the third soldier would not be quieted, so after several year's silence
he disclosed the committal of the act The two were tried, condemned, and
executed, while the third was severely punished by whipping for not disclosing
sooner. The bodies of the murdered Germans were buried on a small island
a short; distance from the mainland, which has since been known as Bloody
Island, while the point upon which the deed was committed has been designated
as Bloody Point.
In addition to these two men, POTTIER and LOGAN, somewhere in the
neighborhood of ten families settled in the town previous to the Revolution;
but who they were, or what ultimately became of them, except in the one
instance of Moses PIERSON and family, is not known. Most certain it is,
however, that they all left the locality soon after hostilities against
the mother country were commenced. Moses PIERSON, above mentioned, purchased
1,000 acres of land lying in the southwestern part of the town, in 1769.
Here, upon what has since long been known as the MEECH farm, he built a
block house, and at which occurred Shelburne battle, or the siege of Shelburne
block house, as follows: In 1777, Mr. PIERSON had harvested a large crop
of wheat; but hearing of the approach of the British and Indians up the
lake, he fled, together with his neighbors, to another part of the State.
In March of the following spring he returned with his family, under the
protection of a company of fifteen armed men, commanded by Captain SAWYER,
to thresh out his grain. During the progress of this work they were attacked
in the latter part of the night by a party of Indians and Tories. A sharp
skirmish ensued, lasting about two hours; but PIERSON and his party, being
entrenched in their block house, withstood the attack, and finally succeeded
in driving the besiegers off, after killing a number of them. How many
cannot be known, as they threw the dead and fatally wounded through a hole
in the ice and. retreated. Several of the besieged party were wounded,
and two, Barnabas BARNUM and Joshua WOODARD, were killed. During the progress
of the desperate encounter the house was twice set on fire, but extinguished
by some of the party going out and throwing on water and returning safe;
but in a short time it was fired a third time, and no water left to extinguish
the flames. Fortunately, Mrs. PIERSON had made a barrel of beer the previous
day, and this was taken to extinguish the flames a third time. A number
of gold coins were found near the spot in 1877, which are supposed to have
been buried with some body at that time. Ziba and Uzal, sons of Moses,
young men at this time, aged respectively seventeen and fifteen years,
were actively engaged in this affair. An infant daughter, afterwards the
wife of Nehemiah PRAY, was lying in bed at the time and fortunately escaped
unharmed, although several balls were found, after the action, in the bed
on which she lay, and several passed through the head board of the bedstead.
Uzal afterwards married Dorcas FRISBIE, of Connecticut, and had a family
of nine children, two of whom are now living -- Mr. Smith F. PIERSON, and
Mrs. Lucina D. SMITH, at Shelburne village. After the party had secured
the wheat they left the town, considering it unsafe to remain longer, and
Mr. PIERSON and family located in Orwell. His two sons, Ziba and Uzal,
were afterwards captured in Shoreham by a scouting party and taken to Canada,
where they made their escape after a few months, and finally reached home
after much privation and suffering. After the close of the war, in 1783,
Mr. PIERSON returned to Shelburne with his family, re occupying his former
residence, and died there July 23, 1805. Ziba located on a farm in the
southern part of the town, accumulated a large property, held many of the
town offices, and died suddenly of apoplexy, November 1, 1820, aged sixty
years. Uzal came to his death by a fall from a wagon, June 11, 1836, aged
seventy-two years. Mr. PIERSON was joined during the year 1783, by William
and Caleb SMITH, Rufus COLE, Thomas HALL, HUBBELL & BUSH associated
on Pottier's Point, Richard SPEAR and Gershom LYON. In 1784 and 1785, Daniel
BARBER, Daniel COMSTOCK, Aaron ROWLEY, Capt. Samuel CLARK, Benjamin HARRINGTON,
Israel BURRITT, Joshua REED, Timothy HOLABIRD, Sturgess MOREHOUSE, Remington
BITGOOD, and Jirah ISHAM located and became residents. In the three following
years, Dr. Frederick MEACK, Phineas HALL, Keeler TROWBRIDGE, Samuel MILLS,
and probably others came, and soon after Bethuel CHITTENDEN, Benjamin SUTTON,
Rosel MINER, Nathaniel GAGE, Ebenezer BARSTOW, Robert LYON, James HAWLEY,
Frederick SAXTON, Asahel NASH, Hezelkiah TRACY, Asa LYON, John TABOR, Robert
AVERILL, Joseph HAMILTON, and several others became residents, so that
in 1791, the population of the town was 389.
On March 29, 1787, the first town meeting was held, and the town
organized by the election of the following officers: Caleb SMITH, town
clerk, and also chosen to represent his townsmen in the legislature; Aaron
ROWLEY, constable; and Moses PIERSON, Timothy HOLABIRD and Dudley HAMILTON,
Frederick MAECK was the first physician, and the only one here for
several years. The Doctor, who was an able physician and safe counselor,
practiced here for nearly forty years, dying June 30, 1826, aged sixty
one years. His son, Frederick, born in 1800, died on the old homestead,
in 1869, where his son, John V. S., still resides. John has two sons, Fred
W. and Walter, making four generations that have occupied the old house.
Isaac C. ISHAM, the second physician, came here in 1810, and located near
the center of the town. He was a plain, unassuming man, but an able physician,
following his profession to the close of his life, July 1, 1829, aged fifty-eight
The first saw mill was built at the Falls, by Lazel HATCH, in 1784.
But the bottom of the dam, which was imperfectly constructed, being of
light soil, was soon carried away by high water, after which the work was
The first dwelling other than a common log house was a block house
built on Pottier's Point by HUBBELL & BUSH, in 1784. The first framed
house was built by Lazel HATCH, near the saw mill erected by him, a small
building about twelve by sixteen feet, in 1784. The second framed house
was built by Benjamin HARRINGTON, in 1789.
The first settlement commenced at Shelburne Falls was by Ira ALLEN,
in 1785, then a resident in the town of Colchester at Winooski village.
A rudely constructed log bridge was built across the river, a dam constructed,
and a saw mill erected on the north side of the stream, and a forge on
the south. In 1786, a dam was constructed at the lower end of the falls,
and a grist mill put in operation the next season. Clothing works were
erected between the grist mill and saw mill, and put in operation in 1789,
by David FISH, which was purchased by Samuel FLETCHER, in 1805, and owned
and occupied by him until his death, April 23, 1862, since which time it
remained unoccupied, and in the spring of 1862, was swept away by a freshet,
as was also the old stone building formerly used as a grist mill.
A store was standing on Pottier's Point in 1781-'82, but the exact
date of its construction, or its proprietor, is not known. Tradition claims
one to have been built previous to this, on Smith's Point, near the present
residence of William PARTRIDGE.
During the war of 1812, Commodore McDONOUGH's fleet was anchored
in Smith's Bay, the winter previous to the battle of Plattsburgh, and he
and his staff boarded at the house of Levi COMSTOCK, Sr., now owned by
N. R. MILLER, on road 28.
Capt. Daniel COMSTOCK located here in 1783, upon a farm in the western
part of the town, on a point which has ever since borne his name. Mr. COMSTOCK
was an honest, upright man, and filled many offices of trust, and died,
highly honored, January 11, 1816, aged seventy four years. He had a family
of six children, three sons and three daughters, Zechariah, Levi, Elisha,
Clarinda, Lucy and Abigail. Levi settled near the lake in 1784, was town
clerk for many years, justice of the peace, and held various town offices
until his death, May 10, 1847, aged eighty one years. He had two children,
Levi and Lucia. The latter died at the age of thirty six years. The former,
Levi, was born in 1793, and now at the age of eighty nine years, is the
oldest inhabitant of the town. His daughter, Lucia, occupies the old homestead,
and has a family of three children, Clinton L., George C., and Fanny M.
Elisha COMSTOCK, son of Daniel, occupied the old farm after his father's
death, and from him it reverted to his son, Hezekiah.
Richard SPEAR, from Braintree, Mass., came to Shelburne in July,
1783, and located upon the farm now owned by his grandchildren, O. S. and
Mary M. SPEAR, widow of E. A. SPEAR. Richard died here, March 19, 1788,
aged fifty two years. He had a family of ten children. Asahel, the eighth
child, born March 5, 1778, died April 30, 1849. He married Betsey SAXTON
by whom he had a family of three children, two sons and a daughter, of
whom Orson S., the second child, was born October 27, 1808, and married
Susan PETTINGER, of Essex, N. Y., October 11, 1848. She died five months
after marriage. Edwin A. SPEAR, son of Asahel, and brother to Orson S.,
was born August 12, 1817. He married Mary M. BARSTOW, a sister to Hon.
J. L. BARSTOW, in September, 1849. He lived on the old homestead jointly
with Orson S., until his death, January 1, 1873, leaving six children.
Elhanan W. SPEAR, the youngest child of Richard, was born July 17, 1781,
and married Louisa SAXTON, January 24, 1808, who died April 19, 1809, leaving
a daughter, Julia. Elhanan then married Anna CALLENDER, June 4., 1811,
by whom he had eight sons and three daughters. Orville A., the youngest,
was born June 15, 1832, and now resides on the place settled by his grandfather
in 1783. Orville married Myra HAVENS. November 1, 1875, and has one daughter,
Anna C. Elhanan died February 1, 1869, aged eighty eight years, leaving
five sons and one daughter to mourn his loss.
Aaron ROWLEY located here in 1784. His son, Aaron R, was born here,
October 28, 1786, and was a resident until his death, October 4., 1866.
He had a family of six children, four sons and two daughters, two of whom,
Mary and Erwin S., are now living in the town. Erwin S. has two sons, Fred
E. and Henry N., residing on road 26.
Israel BURRITT, a captain in the Revolution, settled in Shelburne
in 1784. By his first marriage he had a family of five sons and five daughters.
Garrad, the seventh child, born October 19, 1789, was at the battle of
Plattsburgh. By his second marriage, to Eliza R. PECKHAM, Israel had two
children, Lucia who died in 1835, at the age of four years, and Andrew
J., who now resides on road 19. He married Clarissa A. LAKE, in 1859, and
their family consists of two children, Charles G. and Frances E.
Asa R SLOCUM, born at Hubbardton, Mass., in 1767, located on the
north line of Shelburne, at an early day, where he followed farming until
his death, in 1830, aged sixty three years. He had a large family of children,
one of whom, George N., is now living on road 34 in South Burlington.
James HAWLEY came to Colchester with Ira ALLEN, as his millwright,
and erected the first mills in Winooski village, and subsequently built
the first mills in Swanton, Vt., and in Shelburne. He finally settled in
this town and died here in 1813. He was the father of thirteen children,
three of whom died in infancy, while the others attained an extreme old
Col. Frederick SAXTON was one of the earliest settlers in Burlington,
having located at the head of Pearl street in 1783, where he continued
to reside until 1792, when he sold his farm to Col. PEARL and removed to
this town. He located here upon a point of land a short distance from Comstock's
Point, which is now owned by Horace and Edward SAXTON, his great grandsons.
Here he resided until his death, by accidental drowning, April 28, 1796.
He had a family of three sons and four daughters, all of whom spent most
of their lives in this vicinity. Horace, the second son, represented the
town in the legislature during the years 1835-'36.
Ebenezer BARSTOW, born in Canterbury, Conn., in 1756, was a sergeant
in Col. CANFIELD's regiment of Connecticut Volunteers during the Revolution,
and received a sergeant's pension from the government. Soon after the close
of the war he came to Shelburne and settled upon the farm now owned by
his grandson, Gen. J. L. BARSTOW. He had a family of thirteen children,
eleven of whom arrived at maturity. He died March 30, 1834, aged seventy
eight years. His wife died in 1824. Heman, the second child, born in 1790,
married Laura LYON in 1814, and had a family of ten children, four sons
and six daughters. John L., the youngest son, was born in 1832, married
Laura MAECK in 1856, and entered the Union army in 1861, was soon after
made Major of the 8th Regt, Vt. Vols., was appointed general by the State
legislature in 1864, and in 1880, was elected Lieut. Governor of Vermont,
and is now (July, 1821) candidate for Governor of the State. His family
consists of two sons, Fred M., and Charles L.
Asahel NASH, son of Phineas Nash, of Wyoming, Pa, was born December
29, 1750. He was at Wyoming during the massacre, July 3, 1778, and soon
after left there, migrating northward, first to Berkshire County, Mass.,
then to Essex, Vt., and finally to Shelburne. John, his seventh child,
was born here June 13, '1796, married Amy PAYNE, December 14, 1817, and
both are now living here, the oldest couple (though not the oldest persons)
in town. John had seven children, of whom Elbert H., born March 7, 1831,
is the youngest. He married Jane M. HILTON, December 3, 1856, and has one
daughter, Mary J., born December 6, 1858, who married H. S. WHITE, November
13, 1878, now residing on road 1.
Asahel NASH, Jr., was born September 6, 1794, and married Betsey
FULLER, May 16, 1816, their union being blessed with eleven children. Edgar
and Louisa C. were the eighth and ninth children, and now live in the house
erected by their father, and on the land once owned by their grandfather.
Hezekiah TRACY, born in 1745, came and settled in Shelburne in 1790,
upon the farm now owned by his grandson, Guy, and built the house now occupied
by him. He had a family of eleven children, six sons and five daughters,
one of whom, Erastus, born in 1783, and died in 1856, had three sons, of
whom Guy, born in 1810, was the oldest. Guy has two sons and four daughters
Benjamin SUTTON came to Shelburne about 1792, and located upon road
9. He had a family of fourteen children, twelve sons and two daughters.
Byron, the eleventh child, lived and died on the old homestead, and his
eldest son, James B., now resides there. James B. was born September 10,
1832, married Abby SLOCUM June 16, 1858, and has a family of three sons
and two daughters.
Francis BLAIR, from Williamstown, came to Shelburne in 1796, and
located upon the farm now owned by Levi S. BLAIR. He was the father of
ten children, seven of whom are now living. Levi S., the fourth son, was
born September 7, 1807, and has always resided on the old homestead. He
married Ann M. CONNER, November 25, 1835, their union being blessed with
two children, George E. and Dorcas C. Dorcas married Abel D. WHITNEY and
has one child, Anna M. George is married and has a family of two children
Nellie L. and Anna M.
Rosel MINER came to Shelburne in 1794, and settled upon the farm
now owned by his grandson, Martin L. MINER. He had a family of six sons
and five daughters, of whom the eldest, Samuel, born in 1783, had a family
of four children, the result of a union with Azuba BOYNTON, who died in
1834, when he afterwards married Patience BOYNTON. One of these children
was Martin L., mentioned above. He was born in 1813, married Clarinda CROSSMAN
in 1838, and has a family of two children, Charles E. and Aurelia A.
Nathan WHITE, born at Middleborough, Plymouth County, Mass., February
15, 1763, died at Burlington, Vt., January 26, 1826. He was a descendant
of Peregrine WHITE, the first child born of English parents in America,
and was five years in the army with Washington; was at West Point when
it was surrendered by General ARNOLD, and was present at the execution
of Major ANDRE. He came to Burlington in 1791, and during that and the
following year manufactured brick near where Henry P. HICKOK now lives.
In the winter of 1793, he moved his family to Burlington, using an ox team,
and was eighteen days performing a journey of 263 miles. In 1797, he bought
a farm in this town, on Pottier's Point, and moved his family herein the
fall of 1799, where he spent the remainder of his days as a farmer. He
had three sons, Robert, Andrew and Lavater. Robert, the eldest, born September
5, 1787, died December 20, 1872, leaving three daughters, Elizabeth P.,
Mary H. and Laura C. Elizabeth married Elijah ROOT, in 1831, and had one
daughter, Maria L., who married Charles L. HART, in 1856. Maria L. has
but one son, Fred R., who now resides with his grandfather, Elijah ROOT.
Mr. Root is now seventy four years of age, and for fifty four years has
been in the employ of the Champlain Transportation Company. He was local
inspector of steam vessels from 1838 to 1881.
Charles RUSSELL, an early settler in Hinesburgh, upon the place
now owned and occupied by his grandson, Russell A. COREY, came to Shelburne
about 1855, locating on road 9, where he now resides.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, located at Shelburne village, was
organized by the Rev. Henry RYAN, in 1800, the society beginning with four
members, and Mr. RYAN pastor. In '1833, the first church edifice, a brick
building, was erected. This was used until 1873, when the present stone
edifice took its place. It will seat 300 persons and is valued at $26,000.
The society now has 140 members, with Rev. J. W. BENNETT, pastor.
Business Directory of
County, Vt. For 1882-83
and Published by Hamilton Child
At The Journal Office, Syracuse, N. Y,
by Karima Allison ~ 2004