WESTFORD one of the northern tier of towns of the county, lying
in lat. 44° 36', and long. 4° 1', bounded north by Fairfax, in
Franklin County, East by Underhill, south by Essex, and west by Milton,
was granted by New Hampshire to Henry Franklin and sixty four others, June
8, 1763, entitling the grantees to 23,040 acres, subject to the restrictions
and reservations incident to all the Wentworth charters, or New Hampshire
grants. Little attention, however, was paid to the mandates and warnings
of George III., as set forth in the charter, and no evil consequences seem
ever to have resulted from the neglect. Little heed was given to the clause
relative to the pine timber to be spared for the "roasting of the Royal
Navy," and none of the grantees commenced settlement until long after the
restricted five years had elapsed; indeed, it is doubtful if any of the
original grantees ever located here. No changes have been made in the boundary
line of the township.
In surface, Westford is uneven and mountainous, being a portion
of the base of the western slope of the Green Mountains, and hence cannot
but possess a pleasing and picturesque landscape, though it is not sufficiently
broken to conflict with agriculture; quite the contrary, there is little
waste land to be found in the whole township. Many points of view, grand
in the extreme, are afforded, lying as they do midway between the lofty
Mount Mansfield on the east, and the unequaled Champlain, with its azure
surface and emerald isles, on the west, while north and south stretches
the beautiful Champlain valley, forming as a whole a panorama of rare beauty
and excellence. The well kept farms axe covered with abundant crops of
grain, in their season, as the soil is well adapted to the production of
all the grains and grasses indigenous to the county. Through the central
portion of the territory clay preponderates, while in the eastern and western
sections a rich gravelly loam prevails, and the extreme northern portion
has a light, sandy soil. All is well watered by numerous spring, streams
and brooks, Brown's River, with its tributaries, forming the principal
water course, having a general northern course through the central part
of the town. Beaver Brook, with several small tributaries, flows north
through the northwestern portion of the township. A small sheet of water,
Westford Pond, covering an area of about ten acres, is also found in the
southwestern part of the territory. Originally the whole township was covered
with a heavy forest, containing a great variety of timber, hemlock, beech
and maple being the most common, though spruce, pine, birch, elm and ash
were abundant. Pine especially was quite plentiful, as the whole sandy
plains of the northern portion of the town were covered with an immense
pine forest. The rocks are principally of the talcose conglomerate formation,
with a bed of talcose schist extending across the whole extreme western
portion of the township. No minerals of any appreciable value have yet
been discovered, except upon the farm of Lucius A. Irish, on road 11, where
there is a considerable deposit of copper, which promises to be of some
value when properly worked.
In 1880, Westford had a population of 1,133, was divided into eleven
school districts and contained eleven common schools, employing one male
and eleven female teachers, at an aggregate salary of $1,139.00. There
were 265 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools
for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,337.61, with Mr. J. H. Macomber,
WESTFORD CENTER (Westford p. o.), located in the central part of
the town, on Brown's River, is the only village in the township. The river
here affords several good mill privileges, and it was this, together with
the central location, that first induced its settlement. The nucleus about
which the village has since formed, was started by Elisha BAKER, in 1795,
who at that time erected a saw mill here. Shortly after, Joshua STANTON
built a forge and gristmill near by, causing settlers to rapidly locate
in the vicinity, and even lent an impetus to the business and enterprise
of the whole town. Hitherto the inhabitants had been forced to go a long
distance to mill, and framed houses could not be even thought of. The forge
gave employment to a comparatively large number of workmen, and manufactured
a very fair quality of iron, from ore brought from Colchester and New York.
The Colchester mines were located near the mouth of the Winooski River,
sixteen miles from the forge, and the ore was hauled thence by teams over
the worst imaginable roads, causing an immense amount of labor for a little
profit. Still the iron business seemed to prosper, so much so at least,
that another forge was erected after a short time, at a point about one
hundred rods lower down the river. But about the year 1809, the business
was necessarily abandoned, owing to the failure of the ore beds in Colchester,
and the inability to manufacture the required quality of iron from New
York ore alone. Soon after the failure of the iron interests, a suit at
law was brought against the owner of the property, the widow of Luke Camp,
for the removal of the dam, by John KEELER and Joseph WEED, of Essex, on
the grounds that it damaged their land. The suit was decided in favor of
the plaintiffs, resulting in the removal of the dam. Another dam, however,
was subsequently built by Mrs. CAMP, lower down the river, and a grist
mill erected, nearly back of where the Baptist church now stands. But the
position proved unfavorable, and the property was sold to Col. Danforth
WALES and Henry MILES, who subsequently built the present grist mill. Steadily
the village increased in population until it now has 150 inhabitants, three
churches (Baptist, Methodist, acid Congregational), a good school building,
two stores, three blacksmith shops, one wheelwright shop, one saw, planing
and shingle mill, a grist mill, butter tub and cheese box factory, and
a cider mill. The dwellings are mostly neat, tidy structures, while the
whole settlement has an air about it that denotes it as the abiding place
of an intellectual, moral people.
The Union Cheese Factory Co. was organized as a stock company, with
thirteen stockholders, in 1865. The directors are Charles KIMBLE, and Heman
and George RICE. The factory, located on road 24 cor. 23, is operated by
E. H. RUGGLES, who manufactures about 140,000 pounds of cheese per annum.
Charles A. WAKEFIELD's cheese box factory, and saw and cider mill,
located in the western part of the town, was established by A. WORLEY,
about the year 1868. Mr. WAKEFIELD now manufactures about 120,000 feet
of lumber, 3,000 cheese boxes, and 350 barrels of cider per annum.
The Westford Center grist mill, and cheese box and butter tub manufactory,
located at the village, is owned by Tascot ROUSSEAU, of New Bedford. Mass.,
and leased by H. W. CARRINGTON, who does custom grinding and manufactures
115,000 cheese boxes and butter tubs per year.
E.P. CARPENTER's tannery, located on Road 24, was established in
1836, and does a business of about $4,000.00 per year.
Nathan C. DIMICK's cabinet and wheelwright shop, located at Westford
Center, came into his possession, as successor to N. D. STANLEY, in 1879.
He does all kinds of cabinet and wheelwright work.
S.H. & B.N. MACOMBER'S saw, shingle and planing mill, located
on Brown's River has the capacity for cutting 10,000 feet of lumber, and
8,000 shingles per day.
The first effort toward the settlement of the township was made
by Hezekiah PARMELEE, in 1787. He was followed soon after by a few others
from Massachusetts, who located in the southern part of the town. And these
were shortly joined by two other parties, coming about simultaneously,
one from New Hampshire, and the other from Rhode Island. The New Hampshire
colony located in the northeastern part of the town, while the Rhode Island
party settled in the northwestern section. From this time the settlement
of the town may be considered as permanently established, though immigration
was exceedingly slow until about 1795, when settlers began to come in quite
rapidly, as is attested by the census reports for 1791 and 1800; at the
former the town had only sixty three inhabitants, while at the latter the
reports show an increase of 585, making the population at that time 648,
while ten years later, in 1810, the returns give the township a population
of 1,107, or nearly double that of 1800.
The town was organized and first town meeting held at the dwelling
of John SEELEY, March 25, 1793, at which Francis NORTHWAY was chosen moderator,
to govern said meeting, and Martin POWELL elected town clerk; John SEELEY,
Levi FARNSWORTH, and Shubael WOODRUFF, selectmen; John SEELEY, treasurer;
Ebenezer BURDICK, constable; Peter NEELS, second constable; John SEELEY,
Levi FARNSWORTH, and Francis NORTHWAY, listers; Peter NEELS, collector
of taxes; Francis NORTHWAY, leather sealer; David KNOWLES, grand juror;
and Stephen JOHNSON and Elias CRANDALL, pound keepers. The first justice
was Jeremiah STONE, who was also the first representative, chosen to both
offices in 1793. He was also the first merchant of the town. The first
physician was Dr. RICE, who removed to Canada after a short residence here.
The first postmaster was William P. RICHARDSON. The first death recorded
is that of Susannah BALCH, April 27, 1795, though we believe the first
adult was Silas BEACH, killed by the falling of a tree, July 4, I796. The
first marriage was that of Amos BALCH and Betsey JERVIS, December 10, 1792.
The first birth on record is that of Althea NELLS, March 20, 1795.
The War of the Revolution was passed when the first settlers located
here, so that Westford has no traditions to relate of the midnight attack
of the Indian, or the invasion of their homes by the British or Tory. Many
of the settlers, however, had fought well in the ranks of the American
army, and many of their graves are now honored and cared for by their descendants,
as the following list of Revolutionary soldiers buried in the town will
attest James TAYLOR, who served as a captain, George CHASE, John LAWRENCE,
Benjamin WILMONT, Simeon HOOKER, who attained an age of over one hundred
years. George NORTHWAY, John MACOMBER, Josiah WOODRUFF, Solomon HOBART,
George THRASHER, Jesse ATWOOD, Gideon DIXON, Samuel FRENCH, and Samuel
MOORE, who also served in the French and Indian war. Again, when the war
of 1812 came upon them, the inhabitants of Westford sent forty-one of their
number to protect their common cause, whose names were as follows: James
TAYLOR, who served as a captain, Henry WOODRUFF, Nathan CASWELL, Samuel
R. ROBINSON, Romanty WOODRUFF, Manley HOMLES, Ziba WOOD, Jacob MACOMBER,
Welcome CHATTINGTON, Moses RUGGLES, Aldrich WORLEY, Haskell FRENCH, Sanford
PRATT, Heman PRATT, Martin BATES, Appollas PARTRIDGE, as sergeant, William
BOWMAN, Amos TAYLOR, Eli WOODRUFF, Edwin SIBLEY, Parmer RICHARDSON, as
orderly sergeant, Owen NORTHWAY, Russell WOODRUFF, Charles HAPGOOD, Elmore
HAPGOOD, Jared FRISBIE, Ira FRISBIE, Silas MORSE, Levi NUTTING, Daniel
RICHARDSON, Thomas RICHARDSON, Asa RICHARDSON, Freeman HOYT, Julius HOYT,
Josiah HILTON, Freeman CHASE, as ensign, Aaron PARKER, Jonas HOBART, as
captain, Lemuel FRENCH, as fifer, Timothy BURDICK, and Foster TAYLOR. Samuel
R. ROBINSON died only a short time since, in 1880. The widows of Jacob
MACOMBER and Martin BATES; only, are now drawing pensions. During the last
war, the town furnished 105 soldiers, many of whom re enlisted.
Jeremiah STONE was one of the first settlers in the western part
of the town, and became the first merchant and first representative. He
was a very prominent citizen, a large landowner, and died quite wealthy,
in 1826. His son, Allen, came to Westford with him, reared a family of
twenty one children, and died here in 1858, aged seventy four years. Alney,
son of Allen, born here in 1820, is now a resident of the town, which he
has served as associate judge, representative, etc., and as a magistrate
continuously since 1849.
Frederick COOK came to this town about 1787, and located in the
eastern part, upon the farm now occupied by Harmon MACOMBER, where he built
a log house, cleared away the forest, reared a family of ten children,
and died, in 1829. His son, Frederick, Jr., came with his father, at seven
years of age, and died here in 1877. His widow is still a resident of the
town, aged eighty years.
David MACOMBER came into the town at an early day, locating in the
southern part, upon the farm now owned by Mr. TYLER; where be built a log
cabin and lived in it for a time with only one side of the roof covered.
He was the father of ten children, and died May 14, 1863, aged seventy
Jacob MACOMBER came to Westford at an early day and located where
his son, Francis, now resides. He was a justice of the peace many years,
constable twelve years in succession, a soldier in the war of 1812, and
died in 1867, aged eighty one years. His widow still survives him, aged
Daniel MACOMBER, from Chesterfield, Mass., came here in 1810, and
located upon Osgood Hill. Four of his brothers and one sister came soon
after, nearly all locating in the central part of the town. Many descendants
of the MACOMBER family now are residents of the town.
James McCLURE, from New Hampshire, came here at an early date, and
located about a mile north of where his son, Daniel W., now resides. He
had a family of twelve children, two of whom are now living, one in Indiana,
and Daniel W., above mentioned, aged eighty six years.
Timothy MORGAN came to this town at an early date, locating near
Westford Center. He was the father of a large family of children, and died
here, aged eighty years. One of his children, Timothy L., is still residing
in the town.
Darius Varney, from Massachusetts, was one of the early settlers
in the western part of the town, and one of the original nine members of
the Congregational Church. His son, Darius, came here with him, and died
in 1878, aged eighty two years.
Martin POWELL, from Manchester, Vt., was among the early settlers
of the town, and died here in 1800.
Reuben BURDICK, from Rhode Island, came to Westford at an early
day, and located near the present residence of George A. COBB. He was one
of the first members of the Baptist church, and died here, in 1842, aged
Job BATES, from Connecticut, came to this town in 1796, locating
in the southern part, upon the farm now owned by George STEVENS. He reared
a family of twelve children, eight boys and four girls, all of whom arrived
at maturity, and six of whom are now living. His grandson, Luther M., has
been a merchant in Westford for the past fourteen years, eleven of which
he served the town as clerk.
Thomas ROGERS, from Barre, Mass., came to Westford in February,
in 1797, locating upon the farm now owned by his son, Artemas P. He had
a family of seven children, four of whom are now living, two in this town.
His life was brought to an unfortunate close in 1830, by the premature
discharge of a blast.
Alvin HENRY, born in Barre, Mass., came to Westford while yet a
child, and has now resided upon the same farm over eighty years. He was
present at the ordination of the first minister in the town, Simeon PARMELEE,
in 1808. Manasset OSGOOD, born in Barre, Mass., in 1774, came to Westford
in 1798, locating upon what has since been called Osgood Hill. He reared
a. family of thirteen children, six of whom are now living. He died in
1855, aged eighty one years.
Benjamin F. BEACH, born in this town January 26, 1800, now resides
with his son, George, on road 26. Mr. BEACH has been an enterprising man
and held many of the town offices. He remembers quite distinctly when Fulton
made his first steamboat voyage, and can also remember the battle of Plattsburgh,
the cannonading of which jarred the house wherein he resided.
Mandley HOLMES, from Brookfield, Mass., came to Westford in 1803,
and located on road 18, upon the farm now owned by Myron HOLMES. He married
Sarah HOWE, and had a family of eight children, of whom Warren, Manley,
Myron and Adam are living here.
Moses RUGGLES, one of the early settlers here, located in the western
part of the town, where he died in 1839. His grandson, Elihu H., now resides
here, on road 24.
Horatio ALLEN came to Westford about the year 1818, and located
upon the farm now owned by his son, George W. He held most of the town
offices, was twice married, and died November 6, 1880, leaving several
Thomas ATWOOD, from New Hampshire, located in the eastern part of
the town in 1803. He had a family of six children, two of whom, Jesse and
Mrs. Martha NORTHWAY, are still living here.
Ira STEVENS, from Essex, N. Y., located here in 1856. He has served
the town as selectman, treasurer, representative, etc. Of his five children,
three reside here.
Simeon HOOKER, a revolutionary veteran, lived to attain the great
age of for years. At the age of eighty he settled in the southern part
of the town.
Amos PARTRIDGE, Jr., located in Westford in 1804. He married Sophia
BLISS, of Essex, and had a family of six children, four of whom are now
Levi ROBINSON, from Barre, Mass., came here in 1801, locating on
Osgood Hill. He reared a family of seven children, only one of whom, Stephen
P., is now living. He resides on road 28.
William WEAVER came to Westford, from Rutland County, in 1802, and
located where his grandson, William, now resides. His father, the great-grandfather
of the present William, sere ed with the Hessians during the Revolution;
but he soon concluded he was fighting on the wrong side, and deserted,
joining the Colonial army, where he served seven years with the Massachusetts
David CASTLE came to this town in 1803, locating upon the farm now
owned by his grandson, Solon E. He reared a family of eleven children,
all of whom lived to be over seventy years of age.
Dea. Jonas HOBART, from New Hampshire, came to Westford in 1804,
and settled in the eastern part of the town, locating upon the farm now
owned by Lucius IRISH. He took an active part in town affairs, serving
as justice of the peace, representative, etc. Of his family of nine children,
seven are now living. He died in 1880, aged ninety five years.
Josephus WHIPPLE came into the town in 1807, locating about half
a mile north of the center. He was postmaster eleven years, and also served
the town as justice of the peace and in other offices. One of his sons,
Edwin B., is still a resident of the town.
Artemas ALLEN came to Westford in 1818, and located upon the farm
now owned by his son, William E. He took an active part in town affairs,
held most of the town offices, among which that of representative during
the years 1839 and '40, '49 and '50. He died in 1863, aged sixty eight
years. His son, William E., now occupies the old homestead.
The first settled minister in Westford was Simeon PARMELEE, who
preached here over forty years. He was ordained in a barn which is now
standing on the farm of Mrs. Orlando HENRY, on road 24. The first couple
he united in marriage was Mandley HOLMES and Sarah HOWE.
The Baptist Church of Westford, located at the village, was organized
by a council convened for the purpose, in 1798, with nine members. Rev.
Mr. BROWN was the first pastor. The present brick church was erected in
1829, a building capable of seating 250 persons; and is valued at $2,500.00.
The society now has twenty six members, with no regular pastor.
The First Congregational Church, located at Westford Center, was
organized by the Rev. Jedediah BUSHNELL, August 7, 1801, the ceremony being
held in a barn upon the present site of Albert PARTRIDGE's residence, where
thirteen persons became members. Rev. Simeon PARMELEE was the first installed
pastor. In 1809, the first church building was erected, and did service
until 1840, when the present house, capable of seating 450 persons, was
erected, costing $3,000.00. It is now valued, including grounds, at $5,000.00.
The society at present has 103 members, with Rev. George P. BYINGTON, pastor.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, also located at the village, was
organized by Truman SEYMOUR, in 1821, with twelve members, and Rev. Cyrus
PRINDLE, pastor. The present church edifice was built in 1860, is a wood
structure capable of seating 200 persons, and valued at about $1,500.00.
The society now has thirty five members, with Rev. S. W. ROYCE, 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