XX indexVermont  




Brownington lies in the eastern central part of the county, in lat. 44º 49', and long. 4º 51', bounded northeast by Salem and Charleston, southeast by Westmore, southwest by Barton, and northwest by Coventry, being ninety-five miles north from Windsor, forty-five miles north by east from Montpelier, and fifty-seven miles northeast from Burlington.   It was chartered to Timothy and Daniel Brown, under the name of Brownington, October 2, 1780, an oblong tract of land containing only 19,845 acres. The usual township area of 23,040 acres was made up, however, by Brownington Gore, a tract of land that has since been annexed to Morgan. 

       The proprietors soon after disposed of their interest in the new township to the State of Connecticut, which in turn disposed of the property to Elijah and Elisha Strong, and Amos Porter. These gentlemen made preparations to begin a settlement, but it is supposed that they assumed responsibilities beyond their control, so were obliged to re-sell the property to Connecticut. Elijah Strong, however, became an agent for the State and subsequently, with his brother, Mr. Porter, and others commenced a settlement in the town. 

       The surface of the town is moderately uneven, the only prominent elevation being in the central part. The principal water-course is Willoughby river, which issues from the lake of that name in Westmore, and after flowing through the southern part of this town unites with Barton river, in the northern part of Barton. Numerous small streams are found throughout the territory, and in the northern part, lying partly in Derby, is a small pond named after the town. The rocks that enter into the geological structure of the town are mostly of the calciferous mica schist formation, except in the southeastern part, where they are granitic. A narrow bed of hornblende schist extends through the central part, from north to south. The soil is good, comparing favorably with any in the county. 

       In 1880, Brownington had a population of 856, and in 1882, was divided into seven school districts and contained seven common schools, employing two male and thirteen female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $738.53. There were 188 pupils attending school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31, was $797.86, with J. A. Gibson, superintendent. 

       Evansville, a post village located in the southern part of the town, contains a saw-mill, whetstone factory, shingle-mill, blacksmith shop, two groceries, and about twenty dwellings. Joseph H. Evans, located here in 1842, and cut the first tree on the present site of the village, and from him it received its name. 

       Brownington, a post village located in the southwestern part of the town, contains one church (Congregational), one store, academy  building, and about a dozen dwellings. The Orleans county grammar school was incorporated and located here in 1822, the building being completed and the school opened in the autumn of 1823, under the charge of the Rev. James Woodward.  Courts were also held here on the alternate sessions, Brownington and Craftsbury being the shire towns of the county, until the legislature removed the county-seat to Irasburgh, the last court being held here in 1816. 

       Brownington Center, a post village located a little south of the central part of the town, contains one church (Union), one store, two blacksmith shops and about eight dwelling. 

       Henry E. Preston's saw-mill, located on road 2, is operated by water-power, running about six months out of the year. It has the capacity for cutting 800 feet of lumber per hour, but cuts annually about 300,000 to 500,000 feet of lumber, and does custom shingle sawing. 

       Elisha Foster's saw-mill, located at Evansville, was built by Harris Alexander in 1851, upon the site of a mill built by Joel Trull in 1842, and destroyed by fire in 1851. It has been the property of Mr. Foster since 1871, who employs ten men and manufactures 2,250,000 feet of lumber per annum.

       A. F. Pike's scythe-stone factory, located at Evansville, employs ten men at the factory and four at the quarry, on road 29, and manufactures 3,000 gross of scythe-stones per year. The grit of the stone is such as to make goods of an excellent quality and they are becoming very popular. 

       N. Gallup's steam mill, located on road 14, is operated by an eighty horse-power engine, and is furnished with a lumber saw, shingle machine, band-saw, bolting-saw, planing machine, and set of box-making machinery. Mr. Gallup employs twenty men and cuts 1,500,000 feet of lumber, 1,500,000 shingles, and 300,000 feet of lumber into chair-stock, 800,000 feet into boxes. 

       The first settlement was made by Deacon Peter Clark, upon the place lately known as the Hall farm, where Rev. S. R. Hall resided.  Other settlements were made in the locality at or near the same time, 1796 or 1797 by James Porter, Samuel Smith, Jr., R. Kellam, Valentine Going, Samuel Smith, Sr., and Amos Porter. Soon after these settlements were made in the western part of the town, others were commenced in the eastern part, probably in 1799, by Erastus Spencer, Elijah Spencer, and Joel Priest, near the west line of Westmore.  In 1798 or '99, Elijah and Ashbel Strong located on North hill, and during this latter year, Ebenezer Gridley, George Drew, Daniel Knox, Ebenezer Crouch, John Merriam and Luke Gilbert  were in the town, but it is not known whether they had all made settlements or not. O. Weber settled upon the farm now owned by Margaret Nichols. Luke Gilbert came with Elijah Strong and labored with him for a year, then settled upon the farm now owned by S.R. Jenkins. Mr. Kingsbury commenced on the farm now owned by Mrs. A. P. Buxton. 

       The first town meeting was warned by John Bean, Esq. of Wheelock, Caledonia county, to be held at the dwelling of Major Samuel Smith, March 28, 1799.   On this day the meeting assembled and organized the town by the election of the following officers: Major Samuel Smith, moderator; Elijah Strong, town clerk, Elijah Strong, Amos Porter, and Samuel Smith, selectmen; Elijah Strong, treasurer, Samuel Smith, Luke Gilbert, and Peter Clark, listers; Luke Gilbert, constable; Obadiah Wilcox, highway surveyor; James Porter, fence viewer; Luke Gilbert and Jonathan Smith, haywards; and Justus Smith, pound-keeper. Little other business was transacted, except to vote an assessment of $15.00 for defraying the town expenses for the ensuing year. Among those who were appointed to the town offices at the March meeting, 1800, are found the names of Benjamin Newhall, Luther Smith, Elijah Spencer, and Carlos Cowles.

       At a freemen's meeting in September, 1799, Eben Gridley, George Drew, Daniel Knox, Ebenezer Crouch, Eleazer Kingsbury and John Merriam took the freeman's oath.   At this meeting twenty votes were cast for governor, and Elijah Strong was elected representative. Among the new names found on the town records during the second decade, are those of Gilbert Graw, Amherst Stewart, Isaac Smith, Humphrey Nichols, Reuben Trussell, Lemuel Nye, Daniel Bailey, Noah Allen, Tristram Robinson, John Sash, Samuel Burnham, Joseph Marsh, Amos Percival, Abraham Tracy, Zenas Field, William White, Alden Farnsworth, Benjamin Walker, James Seavey, Samuel Burke, Joshua Smith, Enos Bartlett, Amasa Plastridge, Horace Huntoon, Samuel Ward, Seth Kidder (a town pauper), Enos Bartlett, Philip Flanders, Jonathan Eaton, Jonas Cutting, Isaac Smith, Jeremiah Tracy, Ebenezer Terry, Seth Bartlett, Aristides Houstis, Asa Plastridge, Asa Winston, James Nevers, Daniel Elkins, and Cyrus Eaton. Jabez Nevers, Nathaniel Wheeler, Jonathan E. Dorris, Albert Gabrin, George C. West, William Custy, Jonathan Nye, Orra C. Blass, Gilman Esty, E. G. Strong and James Finley appear in 1820. 

       The first birth in the town was that of Luke Spencer, son of Erastus Spencer, in 1800. The first death was that of a Mrs. Porter, in 1799. She was buried near the house of John Twombly. The first public house was opened by Maj. Samuel Smith, in 1799. Silas Brigham was the first to carry on the business of tanning, and James Silsby was the first blacksmith and axe-maker. Abram Day had the first furnace for small castings, and Samuel Ward had the first pottery. The first store-goods were brought into town by Levi Bigelow, who was not, however, a resident. 

       Erastus Spencer, one of the first settlers, came to Brownington in 1797, and located in the eastern part of the town.  Luke, son of Erastus, was the first child born in the town. In 1806, he made the first settlement on the farm now owned by his son William. 

       Joel Priest, a revolutionary soldier, settled in the eastern part of the town, with his son, Joel, Jr., about the year 1800, and soon after removed to the farm now occupied by Mrs. L. G. Priest.  Joel, Jr., reared a family of seven children, six of whom were daughters. Stephen S., the only son, was born on the old homestead, now occupied by his widow, in 1815, and died January 21, 1883, aged sixty seven years. Mrs. Almira Wilson is the only one of the daughters now living. Mrs. L. G. Priest is a daughter of Luke Gilbert, who settled here in 1799. Mr. Gilbert took an active interest in the public affairs of the town, and served in the legislature several years. His death occurred in 1845, at the age of seventy-six years. Five of his ten children are living, Mrs. Priest and Mrs. Eunice R. Spencer, in this town, and their three brothers in the west. 

       The Baxters of Orleans county are sprung remotely from the Baxters of Norwich, England, who came to America about 1632, and, with others from the same county, Norfolk, founded Norwich, Conn. The name Baxter is strongly associated with Norwich, for about 1775, a colony from Norwich, Conn., founded the newer Norwich in Windsor county, Vermont. Among others who came to the new settlement to conquer the primeval forests and win the virgin soil was Elihu Baxter, who, with his bride, Triphena Taylor, came in 1777. Fifteen children were born to them in Norwich, Vt. The oldest, William Baxter, studied law at Norwich with Colonel Buck, who was for several terms sent by the new State to the national legislature, which then (1798) met at Philadelphia, and whose son later succeeded his father. 

       This William Baxter, born in 1778, after the completion of his law studies commenced the practice of his profession at Brownington, in 1801, and resided here until his death, October 1, 1827. His wife was Lydia Ashley, of Claremont, N.H.  Of the other sons of Elihu Baxter, Elihu, Jr., was a physician, went to Portland, Me., and has left some descendants who bear the name; Chester settled at Sharon, Vt., as a merchant, but left no descendants; Erastus went to Malone, N.Y., and left descendants; James came up to Stanstead, Canada, and was a successful merchant none of his descendants are, we believe, now living; John W. was a merchant at Lebanon, N.H., and the father of John W., who lived and died in Stanstead. A son of the latter lives at Sherbrooke, Canada. He and his children are the only living descendants of John W., of Lebanon.  Harry, son of Elihu, was a successful merchant at Barton. None of his descendants are now living in Orleans county. Portus. son of William, of Brownington, born in 1806, settled, about 1830, at Derby Line. He was thrice sent to congress, and represented the 3d district throughout the war of the rebellion. His services to Vermont soldiers in those dark days need not be told to the present generation. He died at Washington in 1868, leaving a widow, recently deceased, and four sons. Of these, only one is now living in Orleans county. He and his children are the only descendants of William Baxter, of Brownington, living in the State and bearing the family name. Of the remaining sons of Portus, two reside in Washington, and one in Chicago. Neither has any children. The oldest, Jed H., is a colonel in the regular army.  Carlos Baxter, of Burlington, was a son of William, but left no descendants to bear the name. As is the case with many of our oldest families, the tendency is towards extinction of the name; and the same tendency extends to the female line. The only daughter of William left no descendants, and of the three daughters of Carlos, of Burlington, one only, the wife of Bradley B. Smalley, has children. 

       Rev. Anson C. Smith was born in Bridgewater, N.H., in 1812, and spent his early life in that town. Later his parents removed to Peacham, where he taught school several years and learned the carpenter trade. In 1835, he experienced religion, studied divinity and became a Methodist minister, preaching in Moretown, Corinth, Montpelier, Thetford, Tunbridge, East Barnard, Hartland, Wilmington, Brattleboro, Craftsbury, Danville, Lyndon and Hardwick. He also studied and practiced medicine for many years in his various charges. Mr. Smith was an active, stirring man, and instrumental in building several houses of worship. He died in Hardwick, May 23, 1862, aged fifty years. His widow now resides with her daughter, Mrs. B.C. Boden, on road 6 in this town. 

       Gilbert Gross, a native of Massachusetts, came to Brownington in 1810, and made the first settlement on the farm now owned by B. C. Boden. 

       Miss Lucinda Rice, daughter of John Rice, of Walpole, N.H., came to Brownington in 1827, and in December, 1829, married John Bryant, a resident of Irasburgh, and located on road 3, near Brownington pond, where their son, G. E. Bryant, now resides. Mr. Bryant was a representative, and held other offices of trust in the town. 

       Amariah C. Joslyn came to Bloomington, with Timothy Joslyn, from Morristown, in 1837, and purchased of B. Robinson and E. White a farm of 200 acres on road 1, where his son, C. H., and his widow still reside. There were then no buildings on the place, and only a small clearing had been made.   Mr. Joslyn held most of the town offices, was a justice of the peace twenty years, and died October 12, 1877. 

       Moses Foss was born in Lyndon, Vt., in November, 1819, and in 1841, came to Irasburgh, remained there three years, then came to Brownington and made the first settlement on the farm now owned by Moses A. Foss. 

       Cyrus P. Reath was born in Groton, Vt., March 11, 1808, and lived in Ryegate up to 1840, when he removed to Barton, and since that time has been a resident of Orleans county, having lived in Brownington for the past forty years, a great portion of which time he has spent on the farm he now occupies on road 28.  One of his sons, George A., was killed at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 1, 1864. 

       John Marshall, born in Lincolnshire county, England, emigrated to Canada with his father, John, in 1829, resided there three years and then came to Vermont. In 1848, he located in this town.  He made the first settlement on the farm now owned by George Going, and also the first on the farm of George White. 

       Robert Alexander, from West Fairlee, came here in 1836.  In 1855, his son, Robert, Jr., located upon and cut the first tree on the farm he still occupies. 

       Orson A. Grow, from Hartland, Vt., came into this county in 1819.  In 1825, he married Fanny Allbee, of Derby, a daughter of Elijah Allbee, an early settler in that town, and remained there about three years. He then resided in Morgan six years, in Holland nineteen years, in Barton fourteen years, and the remainder of his life in this town, dying February 4, 1875, aged seventy-five years. His widow resides here with her son Lorenzo. 

       Asa R. Smith, son of Samuel, Jr., was born August 2, 1802, in this town. He married Elvira S. Grow in 1834, who died in 1860. For his second wife he married Fanny A. Grow, sister of his first, who is now living. Mr. Smith was sheriff of the county a number of years and dealt largely in real estate. He died November 24, 1871. His only son, George E., is still a resident of the town. 

       Dr. James R. Grow, from Hinsdale, N.H., came to Brownington in May, 1820, locating near Brownington village. He practiced here for a number of years and was known as a jovial man and a skillful physician. He finally removed to Holyoke, Mass., where be died in February, 1857. His wife, Sophia Sanger, died in 1825. Five of their nine children are now living. 

       Samuel Smith, Jr., from Surry, N.H., came to Brownington about the year 1800, locating upon the farm now owned by Orvis Marsh. His son Isaac settled upon the farm now owned by Orson Grow, where he resided until his death. He married Mercy Priest, daughter of Joel, reared a family of eight children and died in 1831. His wife died in 1859.   Isaac C., son of Isaac, who now lives here, was born September 30, 1812, married Zilpha Patch, of Derby, in 1843, and for his second wife Sarah Burnham, of New Hampshire, rearing three children. His second wife died November 13, 1881. Samuel, Jr., was twice married and died in 1825. Two of his six children are now living. 

       Erastus Spencer came to Brownington, from Weathersfield, Vt., about 1800, and died here in 1841, aged sixty-five years. His wife, Lucy Stimpson, died in 1865, aged ninety-six years. William, son of Erastus, born in 1806, has always resided on the farm he now occupies. He has been twice married and reared a family of eight children, only one of whom, Mrs. A. O. Joslyn, is living. Mr. Spencer has been a member of the Congregational church over fifty years. 

       Hon. Jasper Robinson, for many years a merchant here, was one of the early settlers of the town.   He was elected a representative several times, and served as assistant County judge a number of years. Mr. Robinson was an upright man, firm in his decisions, and a leading member of the Congregational church. He married Abigail Steel and reared a family of eight children, only one of whom, Jane A., wife of Philander Balch, of Charleston, is living. He died September 5, 1842. His wife died January 1, 1842. 

       Mrs. Farnshon (Hill) Twombly, who died at the residence of her son, John Twombly, in 1868, was born in Newburyport, Mass., August 2, 1771. Among the events of her early life which she remembers distinctly was a visit of Gen. Washington to Portsmouth, N. H.   A little girl from out the multitude who had gathered to him, as she first cast her eyes upon the "saviour of her country" exclaimed: "Why you are nothing but a man!"  The innocent remark affected the great man to tears.  Mrs. Twombly also recalled another incident of that visit.  A countryman in his anxiety to see Gen. Washington, made his way to town with an old horse, the harness being composed entirely of ropes and wood. At this unique display she said the General laughed heartily. At an early period her father removed to New Hampshire, and in 1796, she married Jacob Twombly. In 1801, they removed to Sheffield, and in 1830 came to this town. Mrs. Twombly lived to leave eight children, sixty-six grandchildren, and fifty-six great grandchildren. Six of her own and more than one hundred of the others are now living. She died at the great age of ninety-seven years. Her husband died in 1852. 

       Samuel S. Tinkham, a descendant of John Tinkham, who came over from England in the second vessel that brought supplies to the pilgrims of the "May Flower," came to Brownington, in 1850, and purchased the farm upon which he still resides. Mrs. Tinkham's mother, Ruth Richmond who resides with them, is the oldest person in the town. She was born in Hanover, N. H., July 22, 1785, married Elijah Richmond in 1863, and reared a family of eight children, four of whom are now living. Mrs. Richmond retains her mental faculties wonderfully well, at the age of ninety-eight years. She remembers quite distinctly the time when Washington was president. 

       During the war of 1812, the inhabitants became very much alarmed on account of the Indians, fearing an attack from them. The building of a block-house on North hill was contemplated, but never done. The inhabitants, however, placed their ammunition in a house on that hill. At one time, quite a panic was caused by the circulation of a report that the British were coming on to seize the ammunition. A guard was placed over the store-house, but as morning dawned with no British in sight the excitement subsided. Some of the people buried a portion of their effects and left the town, a number of whom never returned. Smuggling was carried on to a considerable extent, enriching some and ruining others. Peace was at last declared, however, and no British, Indian or Tory harmed any of the people of Brownington. When the war of the Union came upon us, the town showed its patriotism by furnishing sixty-two enlisted men, to fight the battles of our country, seventeen of whom were killed, or died from wounds or disease contracted while in the service. 

(Source: Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page  213-216)

This excerpt was provided by Tom Dunn.

The Old Stone House Museum 
1883 1884 Brownington Business Directory
Tombstone Listings from the East Brownington Cemetery, Brownington, Vermont [requires Adobe Reader to view]