OF ORANGE COUNTY, VT.
OF THE TOWN OF
VERSHIRE is situated a little southeast of the center of the county,
in latitude 43° 57’ and longitude 4° 41', and is bounded north
by Corinth, east by West Fairlee, south by Strafford, and west by Chelsea.
The township was granted November 7, 1780, and chartered August 3, 1781,
to Capt. Abner SEELYE, and sixty-four others, with one right for the support
of a college, one right for a grammar school, one right for the first settled
minister, one right for the support of "social worship," and one for the
support of town schools. A condition of the grant was that each right should
be settled, five acres cultivated, and a house at least eighteen feet square
built on it "within three years next after the circumstances of the war
will admit of a settlement with safety."
The territory originally contained 21,961 acres; but October 23,
1811, a mile square was annexed to Corinth.
The town was first called “No. 7," afterwards "Caley Town," and
it was also at one time called Arlington, which name it retained but a
short time, when the present one was substituted. It was also for a short
time called Ely.
The first meeting of the proprietors was warned July 22, 1783, to
be held August 28, next ensuing, at the residence of Lenox TITUS. At this
meeting: Ebenezer WEST was chosen moderator and Jonathan MALTBY proprietors'
clerk. No business of importance was transacted, and the meeting adjourned
to, September 4, 1783, at which time it was voted to lay out a 100-acre
lot to each proprietor, also lots to fill the requirements of the charter,
and one. for a mill. The claims of several proprietors, who had already
pitched a location, was established. Many of the original proprietors never
came to the town, and no record is extant of their having transferred their
claims; but some of the settlers did quit-claim their rights of land and
give a warranty deed, which fact leads one to suppose that their names
were fictitious. Amos MATSON was moderator of the first town meeting, which
was held August 27, 1783, at which Andrew PETERS was chosen town clerk,
Theodore WOODWARD, constable, and Ebenezer WEST, John WOODWARD, and Lenox
TITUS, selectmen., This is in accordance with the existing records, although
a claim is made that Jonathan MALTBY was the first town clerk, and that
the papers containing the. record of his election were burned.
The surface of the town is very hilly and broken, producing a picturesquely
beautiful landscape, the whole territory being eminently composed of hill
and dale. The soil for the most part is fertile, even on the hillsides,
producing large crops of the grains and vegetables indigenous to the climate,
also furnishing pasturage for goodly sized flocks and herds. But little
swamp or wet lands prevail. The Ompompanoosuc river, with its two branches,
furnish the principal water-course of the town, while rippling streams,
sparkling in untrodden places at their sources, penetrate the innumerable
valleys, making it one of the best watered towns in the county. Two distinct
ranges of hills extend east and west through the town, also one on the
west side running northerly and southerly. The north side of the town is
in many places several hundred feet high. The most marked precipice is
Eagle Ledge, the southern face being a bare rock reaching to an almost
perpendicular height of more than 200 feet. The Vermont copper mines, in
the southeasterly part of the town, are in another ridge, which runs through
the town, nearly parallel to the first, and south of it. Another ridge,
on the west side of the town, next to Chelsea, extends nearly the whole
length of that side, and forms the water-shed which divides the waters
which flow into White river from those which flow into the Connecticut.
The rocks entering into the geological structure of the territory are of
calciferous mica schist formation, with a bed of copper and iron pyrites
in the southeastern part.
VERSHIRE (p. o.) is a small hamlet located near the central part
of the town, and contains one church, a school-house, two stores, blacksmith
shop, and twenty-five or thirty dwellings.
ELY contains the houses of worship of the Methodists and Roman Catholics,
and a town building occupied by the Adventists. It is composed of about
100 houses, store and works of the copper mining company, recently in the
hands of S. M. GLEASON, as receiver. Since the failure of the company,
in June, 1883, there has been a continual exodus, until now not one building
in ten is occupied. The postoffice was discontinued October 31, 1887.
In 1880 Vershire had a population of 1,875 souls. In 1886 the town
had ten school districts and eight common schools, employing six male and
ten female teachers, to whom was paid an average weekly salary, including
board, of $6.01 and $4.05 respectively. There were 208 scholars, twelve
of whom attended private schools. The entire income for school purposes
was $1,040.79, while the total expenditures were $1,073.36, with Oscar
Henry MATTOON's saw-mill was built by Willard and John RICHARDSON
about the year 1838, and was purchased by Mr. MATTOON in 1883. He manufactures
about 150,000 feet of lumber, 150,000 shingles, and 25,000 lath per year.
L.E. ALLIS's grist-mill was built by Nathaniel MATTOON and Willard
RICHARDSON, about 1839, and was purchased by William ALLIS in 1885. It
has three runs of stones, and does custom grinding.
It is not known when or by whom the town was first visited; but
Lenox TITUS, one of the original grantees, arrived in 1779, and found located
here a "squatter" named Irenus KNIGHT, who was the first settler. The first
white child born in town was Rosanna TITUS, December 31, 1780. The first
marriage was that of Nathan WEST and Martha TITUS, July 16, 1787. The first
.death was that of Anna, wife of Thomas WEST, March 1; 1788.
The PAINE family, to which this sketch relates, is descended from
Hugh de PAYEN, the Crusader, through William PAINE, of Suffolk, England,
who emigrated to Watertown, Mass., in 1635. Jesse PAINE, the first settler,
on Paine hill, in this town, was a native of Foxboro, Mass., from whence
he removed to Mansfield, where he enlisted and served in the Revolutionary
war. He located in Plainfield, N. H., with his wife and two children, previous
to 1788, and came to Vershire in 1791. He was the pioneer in that part
of the town where he settled, and lived to the extreme age of ninety-two
years, rearing a family of fifteen children, all of whom lived to maturity
except the youngest. One son, Warren, resides in Barre, at the age of eighty-six
Capt. Robert PAINE, son of Jesse, was born in Vershire in 1799,
married Lucia PATTERSON, and passed his life here. He was captain of the
Vershire rifle company, and a justice of the peace. He reared two sons
and two daughters, viz.: Azro, Charles E., (the present first selectman,
who has served on the board of selectmen seven years,) Ellen (Mrs. Orrison
MALTBY), Philanda (Mrs. Uriah COLBURN), and one daughter who died in infancy.
David PAINE, another son of Jesse, was born in-Plainfield, N. H.,
in 1788, was a Plattsburgh volunteer, lived to the age of eighty-two years,
passing most of his life in Vershire. Earl and Edward PAINE, also sons
of Jesse, were prominent mechanics here. Isaac was the father of Col. M.
K. PAINE, of Windsor. Sophia, daughter of Jesse, married Benjamin BATCHELDER,
and had seven children, of whom Clarinda married Sylvester GODFREY. Charles
E. PAINE married Sarah COLBURN, and has one daughter.
Moses NORRIS came from Northwood, N. H., to Vershire, in September,
1799, boarding the first season with his sister and her husband, Paul DAVIS,
on the farm next south from the lot on which he located, and where, about
1807, he built a part of the house in which his son Alfred now lives. He
served three months in the War of 1812, was an industrious farmer, a member
of the Methodist church, and passed his life upon the farm he had wrested
from the wilderness. He married Sally, daughter of Timothy WEYMOUTH, and
they had a son and a daughter, Polly and Alfred, both of whom have always
resided on the old farm. Alfred has lived seventy-nine years in the same
house, where he was born in March, 1809. He has served as selectman six
or seven years, represented the town in 1861-62, with no candidate in opposition.
He married Cynthia DURGIN, who bore him one son, Henry, and one daughter,
Caroline, both deceased. Alfred NORRIS's farm of 400 acres is one of the
best in town, and it is a remarkable fact that it is still owned by the
son of the first settler.
Elias LATHROP was born in Norwich, Conn., February 18, 1763, located
in Chelsea about 1790, having passed several years in Canaan and Lebanon,
N. H. Rufus LATHROP, his brother, preceded him to Chelsea. Elias served
in the Revolution, and when a boy of fifteen years saw Burgoyne's troops
soon after the surrender. He was the musician for the first training in
Chelsea, where, having no fife, he led the company by whistling. He married,
in Chelsea, January 12, 1797, Dorcas BOHONON, by whom he had nine children,
four of whom are living, viz.: Olive, widow of Peter BRAGG, Hiram, Warren
and Lodicy (Mrs. LONG), Mr. LATHROP came to Vershire in 1806, bought the
land and cleared the farm where his son Hiram now lives, where be remained
until his death at the age of eighty-eight years. Warren has always resided
in this town, where he is engaged in farming. His first wife was Rosetta
BARKER, and his present wife is Nellie ALDRICH, who was born in Stanstead,
John DIMOND, son of Ephraim DIMOND, of Ipswich, Mass., came from
Londonderry, N. H., in 1795, and bought about 200 of land in Vershire,
comprising the present farms of C. W. POWERS and C. C. REYNOLDS. He married
Lydia CHAPMAN, by whom he had five daughters and four sons, viz: Mary,
Lydia, Sylvia, Celia, Anna, Ephraim, Israel, Joseph, and John P. He was
among the Plattsburgh volunteers from Strafford, and is said to have been
the first who mined for copper where the Ely mines now are. All of his
children removed from Vershire except Celia and Israel. The latter married
Lucinda, daughter of Captain Phineas KIMBALL, of West Fairlee, spent his
whole life in this town, dying here in 1872, aged seventy-two years. He
was a farmer by occupation. Of his family of two sons and one daughter,
the eldest son, Lorenzo, died while en route to California in 1850; Ethan,
the only one of the family in Vershire, was born in 1832, has served as
selectman five years, lister, auditor, postmaster at Ely two years, and
has ever been a successful farmer. He married Laura J. CARLTON and has
two children, a son and daughter, twins.
Jonathan MALTBY, born July 10, 1746, came from Hebron, Conn., to
Vershire, in 1783, was one of the first settlers in town, and located on
the place now occupied by Danford BLANCHARD. He was the first proprietors'
clerk, the first inn-keeper in Vershire, and owned a large amount of land.
He died in 1801, and his widow kept the tavern many years afterwards. They
had four sons and four daughters. Jonathan MALTBY, Jr., settled on the
farm southeast from his father's, now owned by his grandson, W. F. MALTBY.
Josiah and Jesse removed to Illinois. George W. passed the most of his
life here, serving in various town offices, and died at Post Mills. Jonathan,
Jr., married Susannah HOSFORD and .reared fourteen children, all of whom
attained adult age. George W., the youngest, is the only one now living,
and he has served many years as justice of the peace.
Jacob CHURCH located in Vershire as early as 1797; Asa and David
at an earlier date. They probably came from Willington, Conn. Lemuel, son
of Jacob, lived on road 16, near the head of Ompompanoosuc river, erected
the buildings now occupied by Truman JOHNSON, in which he kept hotel. He
went with the Plattsburgh volunteers in 1814, lived to be seventy-seven
years old, married twice, and reared a family of five children, all of
whom attained maturity. Jacob Church, 2d, eldest son of Lemuel, was an
extensive farmer in the district known as "Eagle Hollow." He also engaged
in lumbering, and served as selectman and in other town offices. His wife
was Maria SHAW, and their children were Freeman, George A., Hiram G. and
Eunice A. Freeman served in the late war.
Elisha PRESCOTT came to Vershire from Sanbornton, N. H., about the
year 1800, and located in the Western part of the town. His son William
was about nine years of age at this time, and came here with his father.
Elisha served in the war of the Revolution.
Rev. Stephen FULLER, the first settled minister in this town, was
born in Mansfield, Conn., December 3, 1756. He was graduated from Dartmonth
college in 1786; studied theology with Asa BURTON, D. D., of Thetford,
and was ordained pastor of the Congregational church of this town, September
3, 1788, and so continued until his death, which occurred in New Haven,
Vt., April 12, 1816, in the sixtieth year of his age. Mr. FULLER married
Phebe THURSTON, of Hollis, N. H., by whom he had a family of seven sons
and three daughters. Mrs. FULLER lived to the great age of ninety-two years.
Most of the children removed from town. His son Sewell lived here for many
years, but died in Bradford in 1883. His son Cyrus now resides in town.
Lenox GILMAN was born in Vershire, April 10, 1803. He married Lois
E. CHURCH, of this town, and reared a family of two sons and two daughters.
He was one of the substantial farmers of the town, always took an active
interest in town affairs, and held many positions of trust and responsibility.
He was selectman, lister, town clerk, justice of the peace, and also represented
the town in the legislature. He died October 16, 1880. Of his children,
Lucy died at the age of eighteen; Sarah C. married Obed K. ROBINSON and
resided in this town till his death; Alden C. died in this town in. 1870;
Joseph H., who formerly resided in Corinth and in Bradford, now lives in
this town. He was constable in Corinth for eleven successive years, and
deputy sheriff for many years.
Rufus BLANCHARD came to Vershire from Acworth, N. H., about 1807,
and settled in the northern part of the town. He married Amie KEYES and
reared seven children, three of whom are now living, Rufus, Jr., and Danford,
in this town, and Mrs. Sabrina CARPENTER in Fairlee. Rufus died in 1840.
Rufus, Jr., was born in 1817, and has always resided in town. He was engaged
in trade about fifteen years, and has always taken an active part in town
David CARLETON, a native of Bradford, Mass., enlisted at the age
of sixteen and served four years in the Revolution. He settled in this
town about 18 16, where Ethan DIMOND now lives, coming from Hopkinton,
N. H. He died at the ripe age of eighty-four years, having reared two sons,
George and Ira. S., and five daughters. The sons passed their lives in
this town, Ira S. upon the original homestead. The latter married Mary
MOREY, daughter of Joshua, and reared five sons and two daughters, all
of whom are living, Laura J. (DIMOND) and Oscar in this town. One son,
Jerome, served in the 1st Mass. Vols., in the late war, and now resides
in San Francisco.
John GODFREY, a soldier of the Revolution, came from New Hampshire
and located in this town. His son John, born in Vershire, removed to Thetford
when nineteen years old and bought the land now occupied by Carrol GILLETT
on road 1, in that town, which was then unbroken forest. Here he cleared
.up the farm, married Sarah WALLACE, and reared seven children. He went
with the company from Vershire to take part in the battle of Plattsburgh.
Sylvester GODFREY, son of John, Jr., married Clarinda BATCHELDER, of Vershire,
and now resides in Thetford. He served three years in Co. E, 11th N. H.
Captain Richard SMITH, son of Ebenezer and Abigail (STEELE) SMITH,
was born in Cabot, Vt., January 31, 1820. In early life he was a farmer,
but later engaged in the manufacture of tin ware at Barton and Tunbridge,
being in business four years in the former and six years in the latter
town. At the breaking out of the war he assisted in organizing Co. E, 2d
Vt. Vols., of which Company he was elected captain, serving in the first
battle of Bull Run and through the Peninsula campaign. He was discharged
in August, 1862, and returned to Tunbridge, soon after being appointed
deputy marshal, in which capacity he served two years. At the time of the
Fenian raid in 1865 he was chosen major of the regiment raised for its
suppression. He twice represented Tunbridge in the legislature and once
in Constitutional convention. Locating in Vershire in 1881, he was chosen
representative from this town in 1886-87. He has been twice married, first
to Frances J. HALL, of Cabot, who bore him three sons and one daughter,
and second to Lida ROBERTS, of Williamstown, by whom he has one son.
John STACY, who served in the Revolution, a tailor by trade, located
in Orange before 1798, where he spent most of his life, held many town
offices, reared four sons and four daughters, and died at Burlington at
an advanced age. Capt. Charles H. STACY, his eldest son, kept hotel at
Orange, later removed to Corinth, and to Vershire in 1831, where he located
on the farm still owned by his son James R., dying here in 1865. He was
the father of eight children, of whom Horace and James R. are living. The
latter has been .selectman and justice of the peace several years. Horace
has been engaged in the book business in the west for many years. H. B.
STACY, the second son of John, became a publisher in Burlington, and was
United States consul to Russia.
Richard W. BARRETT, of English descent, was born in Chili, South
America, in 1835, and removed to England when a child. He came to this
country when fourteen years of age, and in 1855 settled in Vershire, and
was one of the first engaged in opening the Ely mines. He was general superintendent
of the mines and invented a self-acting railioad switch. He is at present
engaged in. farming, and has been town clerk for ten years. treasurer,
justice of the peace, notary public, lister, and selectman.
David T. BANKER was born in Lyme, N. H., in 1821, and removed to
Vershire, with his parents, at an early age. He has four children Frank
and Mrs. C. E. DOUGLASS in this town, Charles R. in California, and Mrs.
Loren K. MERRILL in Bradford. Mr. BANKER is a farmer and resides on road
The First Congregational church of Vershire was organized July 14,
1787, the first church organized in the town, and Rev. Stephen FULLER was
the first pastor. The first church building, a wooden structure, was built
in 1802, and did service until 1836, when the present building, also of
wood, was erected. The society now has forty members, under the pastoral
charge of Rev. Evan THOMAS. The Sunday-school has forty-five members.
Of Orange County, Vt. 1762-1888.
And Published by Hamilton Child,
Journal Company, Printers and Binders.
N. Y., 1888.
by Karima Allison ~ 2004