lies in the central part of the county, in latitude 44° 20' and longitude
74° 22,' and is bounded northerly by Worcester, easterly by East Montpelier
and Montpelier, southerly by Moretown and a part of Berlin, from which
it is separated by the Winooski river, and westerly by Waterbury.
The town was chartered June 8, 1763, to Jacob RESCAW and sixty-four
associates, by Benning WENTWORTH, governor of the province of New Hampshire,
by command of his Royal Highness King George III., in the third year of
his reign, and to be six miles square, and no more, and to contain 23,040
acres. "Out of which an allowance is to be made for highways and unimprovable
land, rocks, ponds, mountains, and rivers, One thousand and forty acres
free, according to a plan and survey thereof, made by our said governor's
order and returned into the secretary's office and hereunto annexed, butted
and bounded as follows, viz.: Beginning at the Southerly or South easterly
corner of Waterbury, on the Northerly side of Onion or French River (so-called),
from thence running Easterly up said River bounding on the same as far
as to make it six miles, on a straight line, allowing the same to be perpendicular
with the Easterly line of said Waterbury, from thence Northerly, parallel
with the Easterly line of said Waterbury six miles, thence Westerly about
six miles to the Northeasterly corner of said Waterbury, from thence Southerly
by the Easterly line of said Waterbury six miles to the place begun at."
The boundaries have remained as then fixed, with the exception that a strip
of land containing about 1,000 acres, which was set to the town of Waterbury,
by act of the legislature in 1850. This strip of land lies on the west
side of Hogback Mountain, and extends about half the length of the town,
along the central part of the west line, and is about 250 rods wide. The
inhabitants on this tract can better convene for town purposes at Waterbury.
The surface of Middlesex is mountainous and hilly, and much of its
surface is badly broken by ravines, rocks, and ledges.
The geological formation of this town is composed almost entirely
of rocks of talcose schist, with a narrow belt of clay slate which extends
through the town a little west of the center.
Middlesex has some fine farming land along the Winsooki river and
its largest branches. There are also many productive farms among the hills;
the soil is generally good, but in many places the surface is broken, rough,
and uneven. Probably the charter allowance for unimprovable lands was not
too much. The southern part of the town is watered by the Winooski and
numerous small brooks that flow into it, the central part by Great brook,
and the northern part by the North Branch of Winooski and its numerous
tributaries. These streams furnish the town with many valuable sites for
mills and other manufacturing purposes; nearly or quite as good as any
town in the state; but only a small portion of this fine water-power has
yet been used.
Farming is the leading industry of the town, and probably nine-tenths
of the male population are tillers of her soil.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Seth PUTNAM, March
29, 1790, when the voters present "made choice of Levi PUTNAM, Moderator;
Seth PUTNAM, Town Clerk; Thomas MEAD, Levi PUTNAM, and Seth PUTNAM, Selectmen;
Edmund HOLDEN, Constable and Collector of taxes; Lovewell WARREN, Town
Treasurer; Jonas HARRINGTON, Surveyor."
The town was first represented by Samuel HARRIS in 1791. Thomas
MEAD was the first settler in the town and the first in Washington county.
He came in 1782 or '83. Asa HARRINGTON, born March 15, 1785, was the first
child born in Middlesex.
About 1800 Henry PERKINS built the first grist and saw-mill on the
Winooski river, where the village now stands. Soon after, Samuel HASKINS
built an oil-mill, and manufactured oil from the flax-seed grown by the
surrounding farmers. Next followed the cloth-dressing-mill built by Thomas
STOWELL. The last named, next to the grist-mill, was a necessity. Then
all wore home-made clothing.
In the charter of Middlesex it was provided that "the first meeting
for the choice of town officers shall be held on the 26th day of July next,
to be notified and presided over by Capt. Isaac WOODRUFF, and that the
annual meeting forever hereafter for the choice of officers for said town
shall be on the second Tuesday of March, annually." This was twenty years
before the first settler moved into the town. Middlesex was included in
the New York county of Gloucester, and the first meeting of which the town
has a record was held in New Milford, Conn., and designated "A meeting
of the proprietors of the Township of Middlesex, on Onion River in the
Province of New York." Partridge THATCHER presided and Samuel AVERILL was
clerk. They voted to lay out the township and lot one division of l00 acres
to each right. They also voted a tax of $3 to the right to pay the expense
of surveying. This meeting was held on Tuesday, the 10th day of May, 1770.
The proprietors held their first meeting in the state of Vermont at Sunderland,
October 13, 1783, when the second and third divisions of lands were recorded.
The first meeting of the proprietors held in Middlesex was at the house
of Lovell WARREN, August 14, 1787. Seth PUTNAM was chosen clerk. The meeting
was adjourned until the 5th of the ensuing November, when on assembling
it was voted to hold all former surveys null and void. The surveys had
been so inaccurate that proprietors could not find their lots, and some
of the lots had been laid out in the territory of Montpelier. A resurvey
was ordered, and Gen. Parley DAVIS was employed as surveyor, and " Isaac
PUTNAM, hind-chainman, Jacob PUTNAM, fore-chain man."
The first deed on the town records is from Samuel AVERILL, Jr.,
conveying to Samuel AVERILL five full rights of land, and is dated Kent,
Litchfield county, December 30, 1774, and acknowledged before William COGSWELL,
justice of the peace.
Middlesex abounds in natural curiosities, and rugged and beautiful
scenery. There is a "rocking stone" of many tons weight resting on a high
ledge on the farm of Hon. William CHAPIN, which has so small a base on
which it rests, and is so evenly balanced, that it may be easily rocked
backward and forward. The "Notch,” where the mountain is "rent in twain,"
is a fissure between its separated parts wide enough for a carriage road,
and 100 feet deep, with sides of nearly perpendicular ragged rocks. The
highway that extends through this mountain pass is the only one that crosses
the line between Waterbury and Middlesex. "The Narrows," in the Winooski
river at Middlesex village, is a chasm cut by the friction of the water
through the solid rock thirty feet deep, from thirty to seventy feet wide,
and one-fourth of a mile long. The descent is rapid, and the water rushes
through the chasm with great power and velocity. A bridge spans the gulf,
and connects the village of Middlesex with Moretown. A little distance
below the bridge is an immense mass of rocks which rise nearly if not quite
to the height of the banks, which has defied the action of the waters,
and which divides the river so that a portion passes on either side of
The following description of the "Hogbacks" is from the pen
of Hon. William CHAPIN: --
"Near the southwest corner of Middlesex there rises abruptly from the bank
of the Winooski river a range of clearly-defined mountains, that extends
about twenty miles, being nearly on the line between Middlesex and Waterbury,
and extending between Worcester and Stowe, a little to the east of the
line between those towns, and ending near Elmore pond, in the Lamoille
valley. These mountains are called the 'Hogbacks,' in some of the earlier
geographical works of Vermont, but that name now applies only to the south
end of the range near the Winooski. The most conspicuous points in Middlesex
are locally known as `Burned Mountain,’ ‘White Rock' or `Castle Rock,'
and ` Mt. Hunger.' This Mt. Hunger is nearly on the line between Middlesex
and Worcester, and a little east of the corners of the four towns of Middlesex,
Stowe, Worcester, and Waterbury. Its height is 3,648 feet above the sea.
As the topmost stone of this mountain, which is the highest point in the
range, is doubtless in the town of Worcester, that town may, perhaps, fairly
claim the honor of having within its limits one of the pleasantest places
of public resort to be found in New England. The name of Mt. Hunger was
given by a party of hunters who went out from Middlesex Center on a winter's
day, some sixty years ago, to hunt for deer on this mountain. Lost in the
vast woods, they had to stay out all night, with nothing to eat save one
partridge, and that without salt or sauce. When they got home the next
day, half starved and wholly tired out, they said they had been on Mt.
Hunger. Not a very inviting name, but very appropriate to the occasion!
The only comfortable way and road to the summit at the present time is
in and through Middlesex.
"The mountain top is one of the pleasantest places of earth, and will be
visited so long as people inhabit the country; standing in an isolated
position, it commands a view of the whole country; to the east, to the
White Mountains, to the west, the Adirondacks, north, to the Canadian provinces,
and south, to the Massachusetts line; a score of villages, many lakes and
ponds, and, best of all, thousands of New England farms and homes.
"The tops of all these mountains were covered with timber at the settlement
of the town; now some ten acres are burned down to the bare rock on the
top of Mt. Hunger, about the same area on White Rock, and on Burned Mountain
the fife has cleared some thirty to forty acres. The space thus opened
affords the finest outlook upon the surrounding country. The Mt. Hunger
road was commenced in October, 1877, and finished June 1, 1878. The first
five hundred rods was made a good, safe, and comfortable carriage road.
The last half mile is very steep, and only a foot path could be made, but
is so well provided with stairs that small children and aged -people have
made the ascent without difficulty."
This road, built by Mr. Theron BAILEY, then proprietor of the "Pavilion"
at Montpelier, at a great expense, under the superintendence of Hon. William
CHAPIN, has fallen into disuse, and is not much used only by lumbermen.
The population of Middlesex, as shown by the census for the last
six decades, was in 1830, 1,156; 1840, 1,279; 1850, 1,365; 1860, 1,254;
1870, 1,171; and in 1880 only 1,087. In 1888 the town had eleven school
districts and supported schools in ten of them, taught by fifteen female
teachers, at an average weekly salary, including board, of $4.73. The whole
number of scholars who attended any school was 187, of whom nine attended
private schools. The entire income for school purposes was $1,587.09. The
whole amount paid teachers was $1,228.75, and the whole amount paid for
all school purposes was $1,451.70. Mr. William A. CHAPIN was superintendent.
The first school district was organized in the neighborhood along the Winooski;
but when, and the site of the first school-house, we have not been able
MIDDLESEX (p. o.) village, on the western border of the town, at
the "Narrows," on the Winooski river, is a station on the Central Vermont
railroad. It contains a church, school-house, three stores, three blacksmith
shops, one public house, one marble shop, and about 200 inhabitants.
Putnamsville (p. o.) is a hamlet on the North or Worcester Branch
of the Winooski river in the northeasterly corner of Middlesex. It contains
a store, postoffice, the large and flourishing saw and planing-mills of
C. C. PUTNAM & Son, a school-house, and fifteen or twenty dwellings.
C.C. PUTNAM &- Son's mills are located at Putnamsville, on the
North, Branch of the Winooski river, in the northeast corner of Middlesex.
Here the Branch has a fall of thirty-two feet, and affords one of the best
mill -sites in the state. In 1815 Bradstreet Baldwin erected a mill on
this fall, which was owned and operated by several parties until 1845,
when the property was purchased by C. C. and Jacob PUTNAM. The old mill
stood on the west side of the stream and at the top of the fall, and had
a capacity of cutting 100,000 feet of lumber per annum. In 1854 they erected
a large double gang mill on the east side of the stream, and below the
fall, so as to -obtain the full advantage of the thirty-two feet fall.
They also put in machinery for dressing lumber, and a grist-mill. All was
consumed by fire in 1862. The same year C. C. PUTNAM erected on the site
the mills now standing, with two large circular saws, and also the machinery
for dressing lumber and getting out chair stock. These mills saw about
2,000,000 feet of lumber per year, and dress -5,000,000 feet. The present
proprietors are C. C. PUTNAM & Son, who employ at this place twenty-five,
men. They also own a mill in Worcester, with a capacity of 1,000,000 feet
per year. They have a store, which does a business of about $25,000 annually.
The flour, feed, and planing-mills of A. DENISON are situated in
the village of Middlesex, on the Winooski river. These mills were purchased
by Mr. DENISON in 1883. They contain three runs of stones, and grind from
75,000 to 100,000 bushels of grain per year.
No remarkable events characterized the early settlement of this
town, except the hardships common to the settlers in every new country.
The settlers were hardy and industrious, and their clearings gradually
widened and the forest as gradually receded.
Thomas MEAD was the first settler in the town, and the first within
the limits of Washington county. The following sketch is from Deming's
Vermont Officers, and is vouched for by the tradition of his town: --
"He came from Westford, Mass., having purchased a right of land in Middlesex.
He came as far as Royalton, with his wife and two or three children. Here
he shouldered his gun, knapsack, and axe, and set forward, alone, to find
Middlesex on Winooski river. He went from Brookfield through the woods
to the head of Dog river, following that down to its junction with the
Winooski, and over that river to Middlesex, having informed his wife that
in a given time he should return, unless he sent her word to the contrary.
On his arrival he found Mr. Jonah HARRINGTON had made a pitch and commenced
chopping about two miles below Montpelier village, where he tarried till
morning, when he went down the river about three miles to the farm now
owned by Thomas STOWELL, where was formerly a tavern. Here he made his
pitch, and a good one, too, for a farmer; but had he continued down to
the village of Middlesex it might have been much better around the fall
in that place. He was so pleased while swinging his axe among the trees
on his own land, subsisting on such game as he took with a wooden trap
and his gun, that his promise to his wife to return was not fulfilled.
His wife became alarmed about him, procured a horse, loaded it with provisions,
and set forth to find her husband. She followed up White river to its source
in Granville, thence down Mad river, through Warren, Waitsfield, and Moretown,
to its junction with Winooski about half a mile below the village of Middlesex,
crossed that river and traveled up it about one mile, where, to her joy
and his surprise, she found her husband in the afternoon of the third day,
doing a good business among the maples, elms, and butternuts. From Royalton
to Rochester she had a bridle path, then to Middlesex were only marked
or spotted trees; was often under the necessity of unloading her horse
to get him past fallen timber, and often had to lead him some distance.
Mr. MEAD and family soon after moved into the town."
Some time in June, 1785, Mr. MEAD was gone from home, and on a very
cloudy afternoon Mrs. MEAD had to look for her cows, which run in the woods
at large. She started in good season, leaving three small children, one
a nursing infant five months old, alone in the house; not hearing the bell
on the cows, she took their track and followed down the river about one
mile and a half, found where they had apparently fed most of the day, but
no bell to be heard. She then sought their tracks, and found they had gone
down the river in lieu of up, to their homes. She found they had gone over
Hogback Mountain to Waterbury, one of the roughest places in all creation,
almost. The cows must be found, or the children must go to bed supperless.
In this dilemma she made up her mind to "go ahead," and crossing the almost
impassable mountain and following on, found her cows near the present railroad
depot in Waterbury, six or seven miles from home. By this time it had become
dark, and backed up by a tremendous thunder shower rendered it so dark
that returning over that mountain in the night was out of the question.
In this unpleasant situation she found her way to Mr. MARSH's, the only
hut in that village, and stayed until the first appearance of daylight,
then started her cows for home on a double-quick time, where she safely
arrived before any of her children had completed their morning nap. She
concluded that her children had so long a crying spell before going to
sleep that they did not awake as early as usual. Tradition says further
that "Mr. MEAD, in 1795, kept the only flock of sheep in town, and to keep
them from falling a prey to the bears was obliged to keep a close watch
of them and yard them nights. One morning he found his fold empty, and
following them a short distance he found a sheep that had been killed.
He returned to the house for his gun and started in pursuit, and had not
gone far into the woods when he saw a bear that was on a retreat. He followed
bruin cautiously, and kept to the windward, and up the hill to near the
top, when he again came in sight of his game, and was skulking along to
get a better chance to shoot, when his wife came in sight and halloed to
him. The sound of her voice started the bear, but a quick and accurate
shot rolled this sheep thief over on the ground, dead. This courageous
woman told Mr. MEAD that she had seen another bear while searching for
him. She led off in the direction and had not proceeded but a short distance
when they discovered bear number two, which a single shot from the trusty
gun in the hands of the unerring gunner also laid lifeless. The successful
pioneers then took up the march towards home, and by way of the place where
the sheep had been killed. When they came in sight of the spot bear number
three was there taking breakfast. Mr. MEAD at once settled his accounts,
as he had the other two. We do not say that the time in question was not
much of a morning for bears. With the aid of his few neighbors Mr. MEAD
brought in his game, who helped him to dress it and shared in the flesh."
Thomas MEAD, the first settler of Middlesex, and the first in Washington
county, came from Westford, Mass., in the spring of 1783, and made his
pitch and settlement on the north bank of the French (now called the Winooski),
river, about a mile above the "Narrows" and falls, the present site of
the main village in the town. The Winooski valley had always been the main'
highway or trail of the Indians from the lake to the Connecticut river,
and was often the route of the French and their Indian allies in their
attacks on the frontier English settlements. Down along this valley came
Hertel DE ROUVILLE with the 112 captives who survived the massacre of Deerfield,
Mass., in the winter of 1703, taking along with them, as relics of the
heretic church, that old church bell, which was perhaps the first that
ever woke the echoes of the valley, and the venerable pastor, Rev. John
WILLIAMS, who was quite likely the first unsettled minister in the town.
And up this river came the stealthy band that burned Royalton in 1780.
It was called French river till after the Revolution, then for a long time
Onion river, which is the English for Winooski, the present name. Down
this valley on a bright spring morning in May, 1783, came this sturdy pioneer
of civilization, Thomas Mead, bearing on his back and shoulders, it is
said, a bag of meal, a gun, an axe, a kettle, some blankets and clothing,
with many other necessary articles, and ammunitions of peace or war. He
came from the Connecticut river valley up the White river to Royalton,
thence up the Branch through Brookfield to the headwaters of Dog river,
and down that stream to the Winooski. He left his wife and children at
Royalton, and, with his gun, knapsack, etc., set off through the wilderness
alone, and yet not alone, for he brought with him not only civilization
but the Christian religion. After a long life spent among some of those
who remembered Mr. MEAD, I fail to recall a single word said against this
first man of the town. He chose a good farm and lived there long enough
to see his children's children around him. Late in life he removed to Northern
New York (as I am told) and died there. Mrs. MEAD came to Middlesex in
the summer of 1783, by way of White river to Granville, thence down the
Mad river to Middlesex. Their third son, Joel, born January 18, 1785, would
have been the first child born in town only that his mother went to Lebanon,
N. H., for better care at his birth. So it happened that a daughter of
Jonah HARRINGTON, born in March, 1785, is supposed to have been the first
child born in town.
Some interesting stories are told of this family in Deming's Vermont
Officers, written by the late Horace HOLDEN, Esq., and in the Vermont Historical
Gazetteer, by the late V. V. VAUGHN, Esq. Other legends still survive of
the hunting exploits of Mr. MEAD, and of the energy and. ability of his
At the organization of the town, March 29, 1790, Mr. MEAD was chosen
the first selectman, and for the next thirty years was almost continuously
in some of the important town offices, often holding several in the same
year. The town meetings were frequently held at his house. The descendants
of this family are so numerous that it would be impossible to name them
in this short biography; they are scattered all over the county, especially
in Middlesex and the adjoining towns. Some of the grandsons of Thomas MEAD
are still living, -- tall, stalwart, gray headed men; some of them have
died at a good old age. Some of the later generations do not retain the
strict orthodox faith and Puritan habits of their grand old progenitor.
Still the name is a respected and respectable one in Washington county.
Jacob PUTNAM, a brother of Col. Seth PUTNAM, came to Middlesex from
Charlestown, N. H., in 1784, and settled on the North Branch of Winooski
river, road 7 of Middlesex, about five miles above Montpelier village.
He was a carpenter and farmer, and possessed a clear head and good judgment.
He was often elected to the offices of the town. Of his seven children,
only Christopher C. and Jacob are now living. He died about 1850. His son
Christopher C. was born in 1810, and has always resided in his native town.
In 1836 he married Eliza STONE. Their children are Christopher C., Jr.,
Mary (Mrs. WHITNEY), HARRIET, who resides with her parents, and Sarah (Mrs.
H. KEMP), of Montpelier. Mr. PUTNAM has for fifty years been an extensive
dealer in and manufacturer of lumber. He is now engaged in the business,
in the firm of C. C. PUTNAM & Son. Besides giving his personal attention
to his own large and laborious business, Mr. PUTNAM has taken time to serve
his town as its representative in the legislature of 1864 and 1865, and
as selectman, lister, and overseer of the poor. Mr. PUTNAM received only
a common school education, but inherited the distinguishing trait of the
family, good common sense, and by reading and close observation has acquired
a large fund of practical knowledge. In early life he was an “old line
Whig"; an admirer of Clay, Webster, Sumner, and Lincoln; voted for Gen.
Harrison in 1840, and for his grandson in 1888. He was never an office
seeker. Such positions as were given to him he filled with general satisfaction.
In his religious views he is decidedly liberal, and trusts himself to the
care and love of his Heavenly Father. Mr. PUTNAM began poor, but by his
good management and persevering industry, aided by his son, who now takes
the laboring oar, he has accumulated a competency. His has been a busy
life. Few have worked harder or more perseveringly, or with better courage.
His liberal generosity is of the most unselfish kind. The recipients of
his bounty are the worthy laboring poor who can never repay him. Mr. PUTNAM
is a strong friend, a social companion, loves his home, and is a fair type
of the successful go-ahead New England business man. A pleasant episode
occurred on the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage, when they celebrated
their golden wedding, surrounded by all their children, grandchildren,
and one great-grandchild, and a host of warm friends. His son, C. C. PUTNAM,
Jr., served his country nine months as a soldier in the late war, and participated
in the battle of Gettysburg. He also represented Middlesex in the legislature
Lovell WARREN came to Middlesex from Charlestown, N. H., at an early
date (before 1787), and settled on the farm on the Winooski river, where
his son George A. now lives. He was much esteemed by his townsmen, and
served as town treasurer in 1790. He died in 1834. His son Leander was
born in Middlesex in 1805, and always resided on the farm where he was
born. He died in 1874. He was active and prominent in town affairs; represented
his town in the legislature several times, and nearly all the time held
some office of trust and responsibility. He married Susan W. TAYLOR, of
Montpelier, who still survives, aged eighty years, and resides with her
son George A. on the homestead. They were parents of four children, three
of whom are living and reside in Middlesex, viz.: Rufus W., George A.,
and Albert L. Rufus W. WARREN has also represented his town in the legislature
and filled other town offices.
Jeremiah LELAND, one of the first settlers of Middlesex, was born
in Barre, Mass., and came to Middlesex from Charlestown, N. H. He died
soon after 1820, respected by all who knew him. He left three sons, Rufus,
James, and Jeremiah, who were worthy and esteemed citizens. None of them
are living. James never married. Jeremiah left four sons and Rufus two.
Two of the sons of Jeremiah represented the town. Otis C. Leland, born
in 1828, has always resided in town, and was its representative in 1884.
William HOLDEN, who descended from an English family, came to Vermont
at the close of the Revolution, and lived, died, and was buried at Springfield,
Windsor county. He had quite a good war record, as appears by the inscription
on his grave-stone in the old burying-ground on the bank of the Connecticut:
"Born about 1728, he enlisted in the colonial troops of King George the
2d while yet a mere youth, was with the British troops at the capture of
Louisburg in 1745, and was with Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham in 1759,
that last terrible struggle between the English and French for the possession
of the best part of America." At the breaking out of the Revolutionary
war, although an officer in the army of George III., he warmly espoused
the patriot cause and joined the American army, and was in many of the
important battles, notably those of Saratoga and Stillwater. He commanded
a detachment of troops at one time that captured some bateaux, troops,
and stores, at or near Wood creek on Lake Champlain, and many relics taken
at that time remain in the family. Two of his sons lived in Middlesex,
one of whom, also named William, was an early settler coming soon after
the first organization of the town (or it may be before). William
HOLDEN, one of the first settlers of Middlesex, located on the farm now
owned by William B. MCELROY, where he reared a family of four sons and
five daughters. He was a prominent man in town affairs, his name first
appearing on the town records in 1792 as lister, and often in the next
twenty years as a town officer in various capacities. Mr. HOLDEN died at
Middlesex, March 3, 1813, aged forty-nine years four months. His wife,
Hannah (PARKER), died June 12, 1834, aged sixty-three.
Horace HOLDEN, Esq., eldest son of William and Hannah Holden, was
probably the best known man in town in his day. Born the year the town
was organized, he may be said to have grown up with it. A man of energy,
ability, and integrity, he begun in early life to have a large influence
in molding and fashioning the new town. Elected town clerk about 1820,
he held the office thirty-two years, and was succeeded by his sons, William
H., who was town clerk for nineteen years, and Charles B., who was in that
office at the time of his death, in July, 1878, making over fifty-six years
that the office was in the same family. Horace HOLDEN was also one of the
leading justices of the peace for nearly forty years. Living all his mature
life on the farm where he cut the first tree, about 1812, and being of
a cheerful and hospitable spirit, his house became a pleasant place to
all visitors, and he was well known and esteemed by almost every inhabitant
of the town. As the town seldom had any lawyer he did most of the conveyancing
of lands, and was often the poor man's counselor in cases of trouble. Always
foremost in every good work, he lived beloved and died lamented at the
age of seventy-four. He was often honored with the highest public trusts
in the gift of his townsmen, and represented the town in the legislature
of 1842 and '43.
William Xerxes HOLDEN, second son of William HOLDEN, born at Middlesex
in 1792, lived on his father's farm for awhile, and built the house now
standing there. He afterwards built the house where Levi SWIFT now lives,
and owned that place for many years. He was a good farmer and a quiet citizen.
He was a volunteer at the battle of Plattsburgh, he and his brother Horace
serving as musicians. He represented his native town in the legislature
at three different sessions, and held various town offices. He sold his
farm previous to 1860, and lived the last few years of his life at Middlesex
Moses HOLDEN, (born in 1800, died in 1878,) another son of William,
was a farmer at first, and was a very remarkable worker. It is said that
when a young man he once threshed with a flail 100 bushels of corn in a
day, and carried it all from the barn into the chamber of the house, some
ten rods away. He afterwards kept store in company with his father-in-law,
Jesse JOHNSON, at the village, where he was quite successful. Both partners
left large estates. Although he never sought office, Mr. HOLDEN was often
honored in that way, and represented the town in 1853 and '54.
Philander HOLDEN, now living at Swampscott, Mass., is the only survivor
of the family. He has been a merchant at Middlesex, Newton, Mass., and
for many years at Swampscott. He was first constable of Middlesex in 1843,
'44, and '46, and soon after left the state. In Massachusetts he has held
many offices of trust and responsibility. The five daughters of William
Holden were Catharine, who married Joseph CHAPIN; Nancy, who married Luther
FARRAR; Polly, who married Lewis MCELROY; Lucretia, who married John S.
RICE; and Lucinda, who married Elisha SCOTT. Time would fail me to write
even a brief history of the next generation.
Joseph CHAPIN, Sr., one of the pioneer settlers of Middlesex, was
born in Connecticut, October 28, 1758. He was the fifth generation in direct
descent from Samuel CHAPIN, Esq., of Dartmouth, England, who came to America
in 1633, and was one of the first settlers of Agawam, now Springfield,
Mass. Joseph CHAPIN came to Vermont soon after the close of the Revolutionary
war, in which he had been a soldier under Washington's command. He was
an iron worker or blacksmith by trade in his youth, and during the war
was often detailed to repair the arms damaged in battle. He was a man of
large frame, strong arm, and a determined will. After a few years' residence
at Weathersfield, Vt., where his first wife, Mary STOUGHTON, died, in 1796,
he came to Middlesex, his first purchase of land here being in 1798. He
had probably visited various parts of the state earlier, as the writer
has heard him tell of shooting otters in Otter creek, and of hunting exploits
in other places. His first pitch in this town was a part of the farm now
owned by H. L. MCELROY; but his title proving defective, he gave it up
and bought the first lot north of the center of the town. This section
was then an unbroken wilderness. Here Mr. CHAPIN cleared up a farm, married
Polly HOWE, in 1806, built a good house, and lived in it until 1826, when
he removed to the second lot east, and built another house, where he resided
most of the time up to his death, January 14, 1851. His was a long life
of labor and hardship, wars and fightings at various times and places,
for when the British invaded the Lake Champlain region, in September, 1814,
the old veteran took down his gun, and with his oldest son, Joseph CHAPIN,
Jr., marched in Capt. Holden PUTNAM's company, of Col. John PECK's regiment,
to the battle-ground at Plattsburgh, where they were in the fight and under
fire from the enemy until "McDonough gained the victory." Again, when the
“Patriot" rebellion started up on the Canadian border, in 1837, he brought
out that same old gun for the boys to carry, "or he would go himself."
Many guns were collected at Middlesex at that time for the use of the patriots
and their helpers from the state, but the rebellion collapsed before any
of them were used. Mr. CHAPIN was for a long time lieutenant in the military
company of his town, and was frequently in town office. Always prominent
in promoting good works, he lived and died respected by his townsmen and
neighbors. He was a stalwart farmer, a Federalist and Whig in politics,
and although descended from the strictest sect of the Puritans, was independent
and liberal in his religious views. A gentleman of the old school, he enjoyed
his pipe and mug, a good story, and a lively dance. He had quaint, quiet
humor, a cheerful mind, and, though never rich, was ever ready to help
the poor. He outlived most of his old comrades, and passed away in his
Joseph CHAPIN, Jr., was born at Weathersfield, Vt., June 25, 1792.
He came to Middlesex with his father's family about the close of that century,
and was an active farmer's boy until his majority. In 1814 he worked for
Captain Holden PUTNAM, and was a volunteer in Capt. PUTNAM's company at
the battle of Plattsburgh. It was a severe service to many of the younger
and inexperienced soldiers. Poorly supplied with clothing and camp equipage,
many of them were sick with colds and camp fever after the battle, and
several died, among them a brother of the Captain. Mr. CHAPIN escaped with
a hard sickness. March 6, 1817, he married Catharine HOLDEN and settled
at Middlesex Center, where for fifty-four years he lived the life of a
quiet, thrifty, industrious farmer-never seeking nor accepting public office,
but was always ready to aid and encourage all enterprises for public good.
In 1843 he built a hall that was used for town meetings until 1885. About
1845 he invested all his surplus capital in the stock of the Vermont Central
railroad. He lost every dollar thus invested, but the public receive a
great benefit from the completed railroad. Mrs. CHAPIN died February 6,
1838. Mr. CHAPIN survived her thirty-three years, and never married again.
He died March 25, 1871. Four of his six children are now living. His oldest
daughter died in 1849, and the eldest son was accidentally killed on the
cars in 1851.
Asa CHAPIN, youngest son of Joseph CHAPIN, Sr., was born at Middlesex,
May 15, 1807, and for more than fifty years lived on the same farm where
his father died. He was industrious and peaceable, a good citizen, and
a Christian gentleman. His only son was drowned at the age of ten years.
Asa CHAPIN died March 9, 1888, respected by all who knew him.
Hon. William CHAPIN, son of Joseph CHAPIN, Jr., was born December
7, 1831, on the old homestead, where his father lived and died. He has
been an active and intelligent farmer, and has somewhat improved the old
rough hill farm. He was town representative from 1880 to 1882, state senator
from 1884 to 1888, and is now a member of the state board of agriculture.
He married Catharine L., daughter of the late Dea. Jonas ABBOTT, of Worcester,
May 15, 1860. They have four sons living, viz.: Harry L. at Oak Hill, Fla.;
Joseph A. is "farmer" at the state experiment station at South Burlington;
and William A. and Hinkley B. still labor on the home farm. Edgar L. died
December 14, 1887, aged nineteen. Forrest Dorset, son of Joseph A. CHAPIN,
born February 6. 1888, is the only representative of the ninth generation
of this family in America.
Capt. Rufus CHAMBERLIN came to Middlesex from Greenfield, Mass.,
about 1800. After a residence in Middlesex of four years he returned to
Greenfield, and after two years residence there he again settled in Middlesex,
where he spent the remainder of his long life. He died at the advanced
age of eighty-four years and six months. He was a prominent and influential
citizen, served his town as selectman, and was once or twice a member of
the Constitutional Convention. Only one of his family of nine children
is now living, viz.: Oliver A., who was born in 1804, and resides in Middlesex.
He married Bulah FARRAR, of Moretown, and they were parents of two children
now deceased. He has held the offices of justice of the peace, selectman,
lister, constable, and collector, and has been the representative of his
town in three sessions of the legislature. He now, in his green old age,
resides with H. L. MCELROY. Solomon W., son of Capt. Rufus CHAMBERLIN,
was born in Greenfield, Mass., and came to Middlesex with his father and
resided there to the close of his life. His son, J. Burt CHAMBERLAIN, was
a soldier in the late war, and now resides on road 28.
Capt. Robert MCELROY, of Springfield, settled in Middlesex in 1804,
on the farm where the Hon. William CHAPIN now lives. He later removed to
the village, where he owned mills. He exchanged the mills for a farm about
two miles north of the village, where he resided until his death, about
1846 or '47. He was a prominent citizen, captain of militia, and
bore his share of the burdens of the town. He served as selectman and overseer
of the poor. All but one of his four sons and three daughters settled in
Middlesex. Harry, son of Capt. Robert, was born in Springfield, in 1799,
came to Middlesex with his parents, and resided in town until his death,
in 1867. His children were Clesson R., who served as lieutenant in the
Union army, was a valiant officer, and was held in high esteem by both
officers and privates; H. L., who was superintendent of schools several
years; and William B., who is the clerk of Middlesex. Jerry, son of Capt.
MCELROY, was a carpenter and joiner, resided in Middlesex and Montpelier
most of his life, and died in Middlesex in 1866. He married Florilla BRODERICK,
of Waterbury. Their children now living are F. M., of Middlesex, Ella (Mrs.
C. C. WARREN), of Waterbury, and Mrs. Matilda A. HATCH, of Montpelier.
Cyrus HILL, a native of Rhode Island, settled in Middlesex about
1811. He enlisted in the Revolutionary army, at the age of nineteen, and
served through the war. He afterwards settled in Canada; but when required
to "swear allegiance to the King" he removed to Vermont. While he was a
soldier he was frequently employed as a runner by General Washington to
carry dispatches. He died on the farm where he settled in 1811, at the
advanced age of ninety-four years. His son Hubbard succeeded him on the
homestead, married Hannah Burdick HILL, and were parents of three daughters
who are now (1888) all living. Their daughter, Mrs. Moses SILLOWAY, and
her husband reside on the old homestead, and are parents of a son. Ora
F., who represents the fourth generation at the old home.
Dan P. CARPENTER, born December 8, 1808, was the son of Nathaniel
Carpenter, one of the early settlers of Middlesex. He married Hannah HUTCHINS,
granddaughter of Joseph HUTCHINS, who was a soldier in the Revolutionary
war, and an early settler of Middlesex. Mr. CARPENTER served many years
as justice of the peace, was a notary public, overseer of the poor, represented
Moretown in the legislature, and was assistant judge of Washington Court
Court two terms. Mrs. CARPENTER still resides in Middlesex.
Stephen HERRICK, a farmer, came to Middlesex from Randolph, Vt.,
in 1820, and located about two miles north of the village. He was a long
time superintendent of schools and filled other town offices. He also gained
notoriety by finally succeeding in a long continued litigation with the
Central Vermont Railroad Co. He married Lydia, daughter of Rev. Nathaniel
KING, and reared one son and eight daughters. His son, N. K. HERRICK, born
in Middlesex, November 3, 1822, was a commercial traveler twenty-five years,
and is now a merchant and farmer. Stephen HERRICK died in March, 1886,
aged ninety years.
Dudley B. CULVER came from Groton, Conn., to Montpelier in 1809.
Thomas CULVER, his father, settled in Middlesex, on the farm where Orvis
SAWYER now lives, in 1814. When Dudley B. was twenty-one years old he bought
the farm where his son Daniel R. now lives. In 1827 he married Phebe GARRISON,
of Montpelier, and for fifty-three years resided where he first settled.
Only two of their six children, William and Daniel R., are living. Mrs.
CULVER died in 1843. After her death Mr. CULVER married Mrs. Betsey HEWITT.
He died in 1880.
Daniel TAYLOR, from Connecticut, came to Berlin, and was a pioneer
settler of the town, near Berlin Corners. He was a farmer, and also kept
a public house. His family of seven children are all deceased. His son
Daniel was born in Berlin, and removed to Irasburg, Vt., in 1836. About
1871 he came to Middlesex and resided there until his death. His son Chester
now resides in Middlesex.
Samuel DANIELS came from Unity, N. H., to Middlesex, in 1811, and
settled on the farm where his son Sylvanus now lives. He was a soldier
in the War of 1812, and was at the battle of Plattsburgh. He cleared the
farm where he first settled, and made it his home to the close of his life,
about 1873. He was prominent in town affairs, was selectman many years,
and held other responsible positions. Only four of his eight children are
now living, viz.: Sylvanus, before mentioned, who resides on the old homestead,
Louisa (Mrs. Jeremiah LELAND), Mrs. Abigail CLARK, of Montpelier, and Mrs.
Lorinda JONES, of Northfield.
Rufus MONTAGU was born in Montague, Mass., in 1785, and removed
to Middlesex in 1806. He purchased the farm of his brother Samuel who had
preceded him two years, and where his sons Rufus D. and George now live.
He married three times, first, Nancy FISHER, of Middlesex, second, Mandana
C. KELTON, of Montpelier, and third, Mrs. Eunice BATES, of Worcester. His
first wife bore him one son; his second, two. William and Charles are dead,
and Rufus D. and George reside on the old homestead.
Otis C. LELAND was born in 1828, and has always resided in Middlesex.
He represented his town in the legislature of 1884.
Ezra NICHOLS was an early settler of Middlesex, and located near
the center of the town. His son Paul C. was born, reared, and resided in
town until his death in 1847. He married Abigail CHAFFEE. Four of their
children now reside in Middlesex, viz.: Mrs. G. T. MILES, Mrs. J. C. LEWIS,
Mrs. W. L. LEWIS, and H. W. NICHOLS, who was a soldier in Co. D, 2d Vt.
Regt., in the late war, and is now one of the board of selectmen.
Jacob LADD came to Middlesex from Claremont, N. H., in 18116, and
settled on the farm where his son George H. now lives. He married Polly
NICHOLS, and four of their children are now living, viz.: George H., Mrs.
I. R. DENSMORE, Harriet, and Mrs. S. BLISS, of Montpelier.
Duncan CAMERON, a Scotchman, went to Quebec with General WOLFE.
He made his way to Williamstown, Mass., and removed to Barre some time
before 1800. He reared a numerous family and died in Barre. His son Daniel
resided in Berlin, then Duxbury, and settled in Middlesex, where he died
in 1844. His son A. J. now resides in Middlesex, and his son Ira in Worcester.
Lewis WARD came to Moretown from Springfield, Vt., in 1815, and
settled in the eastern part of the town, and cleared a farm. He married
Zilpha FIELD, of Springfield, and they had one son, David, who now resides
in Middlesex. Mr. WARD came to this town about 1818, and here resided until
his death. David was born in Moretown, has been an employee of the Central
Vermont R. R. Co., and is now engaged in farming. He has been overseer
of the poor, and is now (1888) selectman.
Zerah HILLS came from Connecticut to Berlin in 1801. Their son Zerah,
who was born in Connecticut, married Patty DAVENPORT, of Berlin, and settled
in Middlesex about 1815, and engaged in the occupation of wheelwright.
He was captain of militia, selectman, and was otherwise honored by his
town. Three of his five children are now living, viz.: Lorenzo D. in Duxbury,
and Lotisa KNAPP and Justin B. in Middlesex.
Elijah HOLDEN came to Middlesex from Springfield, Vt., in 1823.
He was a farmer and lived in Middlesex, Barre, and Waitsfield. He died
in the last named town in 1876, aged eighty-eight years. He was a man of
influence and enterprise, and was active in public affairs. He had ten
children, three of whom are now living, viz.: James H., Josiah, and Mary
E. (Mrs. Capt. O. C. WILDER), of Waitsfield. His son William, a young man
of fine talents, died in Mississippi in 1839, at the age of twenty-four.
Hon. James H. HOLDEN, son of Elijah, was born in Middlesex in 1829. On
arriving at maturity he went Massachusetts, and was there engaged in business
seven years. He then returned so Middlesex, and engaged in mercantile trade,
which lie continues at the present time (1888). Judge HOLDEN has been very
prominent in public affairs. He represented Middlesex in the legislature
of 1860, and in 1861 was appointed postmaster and held the office until
1885. From 1872 to 1876 he was associate judge of Washington County Court,
was count commissioner two years, selectman in 1862, '63, '64, and has
also served as lister.
Elisha SCOTT, born at Crown Point, N. Y., in 1800, came to Middlesex
about 1825. He married Lucinda HOLDEN, and reared three children to maturity.
Two are now living, William L. and Mrs. Delia H. RICE. George W. died in
Andersonville prison. Elisha Scott enlisted in the Union army in 1861,
and served three years. He died on the farm where his son William L. now
Jesse FLINT settled in Worcester about 1812. About 1827 he came
from Canaan, N. H., to Middlesex, and died here June 1, 1845, aged fifty-five
years. He was a farmer. Two of his sons and a daughter now reside in Middlesex,
viz.: Jesse, John D., and Mrs. Fannie DAVIS. Jesse has been justice of
the peace, and his son John P. was selectman in 1881.
Sithus F. WELLS, a native of Hill, N. H., came to East Montpelier
about 1836. He afterwards resided for a time in Worcester, then in Middlesex,
where he died in 1883. His son Levi R. resides on road 22, and his daughter,
Mrs. Levi SWIFT, resides on road 37 in Middlesex.
Peter NELSON came to Montpelier from Deerfield, Mass., with his
father when he was but eight years old. His father settled near the center
of East Montpelier. Peter NELSON reared a numerous family, and died about
1875. His sons Lewis and James reside in Calais, A. S. in Middlesex; his
daughters, Mrs. Catharine A. SMITH and Mrs. Mary J. STRUTHERS, reside in
Rufus WIGGINS, son of Nathaniel, was born in Montpelier in 1806.
He resided there and in East Montpelier until about 1833, when he settled
in Middlesex, on road 17. He married, first, Orosella LEWIS, and second,
Celia SMITH. Mr. WIGGINS died in 1881. His first wife bore him eight children,
of whom six are now living, viz.: C. C., Orville K., Lewis W., and Mrs.
Susan CUMMINGS, who reside in Middlesex, Mrs. Sophia WILLEY, of Worcester,
and Mrs. Phebe R. DAVIS, of Goffstown, N. H.
John KIRKLAND was born in Manchester, England, in 1811, emigrated
to America in 1846, and located in Montpelier, where he followed the trade
of house joiner. In 1851 he settled in Middlesex on the farm where he now
resides. He has five sons and two daughters, viz.: John, Jr., and James
reside with their father ; David and Jennie in Barre; Charles owns a farm
in company with Martin Chandler in Middlesex; William is an employee on
a railroad in Nebraska; and Fannie resides in Montpelier.
Issachar R. DENSMORE was born in Charlestown, N. H., in 1832, and
settled on the farm where he now lives, in Middlesex, in 1857. He enjoys
the confidence of his townsmen, who have elected him to the offices of
justice of the peace and grand juror.
Marcus MAXHAM, a native of Woodstock, and a carpenter and farmer,
settled in Worcester in 1840. He reared nine children, five of whom are
now living. George and Benjamin F. reside in Middlesex. Benjamin F. was
born in Worcester in 1815. He married Lucy ANDREWS, of Berlin, and in early
life resided awhile in several different locations. In 1854 he settled
in Middlesex. His children are William H. H., John W., Luther, and Mrs.
Emily BLODGETT, of Worcester.
Ichabod CUMMINGS came to Middlesex from Washington, Vt., in 1830,
and settled on the farm where his son William O. now lives, on road 8.
He married a daughter of Jacob PUTNAM, an early settler of Middlesex. He
cleared his farm, and reared a son and two daughters. William O., before
mentioned, who resides on the homestead, and Mrs. J. W. MAXHAM are now
Simon CHASE came to Woodbury from Barre in 1811 or 1812. He died
in Woodbury in 1839, aged ninety-six years. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary
war. His son Silas was born in 1778, and also settled in Woodbury about
1812, and was a miller. He was employed to run a mill in Calais, and in
East Montpelier. He died in 1865, aged eighty-seven years. His daughter,
Mrs. Bethany HACKETT, resides in Calais, his son Chester in Woodbury, and
Almon in Middlesex. Almon has two sons in Middlesex and two in Northfield.
Ira ELLIS, son of Benjamin, who settled in East Montpelier in 1806,
was six months old at the time his parents came to East Montpelier. He
was reared on the farm in the northern part of the town where his parents
settled. He settled on wild land in Calais when he was twenty-three years
old, and three years later married Sally ALLAR, and resided on the farm
where he first settled until 1887, when he removed to Middlesex. His son
Warren resides in Worcester, Ira in Calais, and his daughter, Mrs. Evalin
HALL, in Elmore, Lamoille county. His wife died in 1871. He married, second,
Mrs. Polly KEYES, of Middlesex.
Those known to have been soldiers in the Revolutionary war, who
resided in Middlesex, were Seth PUTNAM, cousin of Gen. Israel PUTNAM, Joseph
CHAPIN, Sr., Col. Joseph HUTCHINS, Lyman TOLMAN, David PHELPS, Micah HATCH,
Estes HATCH, Mr. SLOAN, James HOBART, and Cyrus HILL.
At the time the British invaded Plattsburgh, N. Y., Captain Holden
PUTNAM led his command, composed of soldiers from Middlesex and vicinity,
to the scene of battle. Those who went with him from Middlesex were Xerxes
HOLDEN, Horace HOLDEN, Lewis PUTNAM, Zebina WARREN, Nathaniel CARPENTER,
Alanson CARPENTER, Samuel BARRETT, David HARRINGTON, Ephraim KEYES, Benjamin
CHATTERTON, Nathan HUNTLEY, Abram GALE, Rufus CHAMBERLIN, Rufus LELAND,
Samuel MEAD, Jesse JOHNSON, Hubbard WILEY, and "Priest" COLE. The Sunday
before the battle "Priest" Cole preached a fiery and patriotic sermon,
and urged every man that was able to bear arms to go and aid in driving
the British from our country. Before the week closed he enlisted and was
on his way with the company to Plattsburgh. When they had reached the lake
Captain PUTNAM drew his company into line, and gave the order for "all
who had cannon fever, and did not want to cross the lake, to fall back
to the rear." Every man maintained his place in line except "Priest" COLE,
who stepped a few paces to the rear and there remained. A few days after
the battle Esquire Nathaniel CARPENTER met him in the village of Middlesex,
gave him a familiar slap, and said, "`Priest' Cole, I never was more surprised
in my life than I was to see you step back and not want to meet the British."
"Esquire CARPENTER," Mr. COLE coolly replied, "it is a great deal easier
to preach than to practice."
In the late civil war there was credited to Middlesex twenty-one
soldiers who enlisted for one year, twenty-eight who enlisted for nine
months, eighty-two who enlisted for three years, and three who were drafted
and entered the service. Eight paid commutation and one furnished a substitute.
The Union society, composed of the Congregational church, organized
by Rev. Elisha BAXTER and Rev. Chester WRIGHT, March 25, 1831, with nine
members, and the Methodist Episcopal church, organized by Rev. E. J. SCOTT,
P. E., and Rev. E. COPELAND, April 10, 1839, has a brick church edifice
located at Middlesex village. This house was built for the Congregational
society by John HOBART and Solomon WELLS, in 1837. In 1838 a portion of
it was sold to the Methodist society, and the "Union Society" was then
formed. Rev. Elisha BAXTER was the first pastor of the Congregational church
and Samuel DUTTON its first deacon. Rev. E. COPELAND was the first resident
pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church. The Congregational church has
had no pastor for several years. The Methodist, long before 1839 and some
time later, was a station on the circuit which embraced Montpelier, Montpelier
Center, Moretown hill, Jones's brook, Middlesex, Middlesex Center, and
East Middlesex, Middlesex and Middlesex Center are now in one charge, and
have had a continuous ministry since 1839. The meeting-house at Middlesex
will comfortably seat 250 persons, and is valued at $1,000.
The Freewill Baptist church, located at Shady Rill, in Middlesex,
was organized January 6, 1850, by Rev. E. B. FULLER, with twenty-five members.
Rev. E. B. FULLER was the first pastor. Their present meeting-house was
built in 1849, by the Martin Brook Meeting-House society, and dedicated
September 22, 1849. It has seats for an audience of 200, and with grounds
and other church property is valued at $1,000. The church now has a membership
of thirty-four, and at present is without a pastor. The Sunday-school has
Of Washington County, Vt. 1783-1899,
and Published by Hamilton Child,
By William Adams.
Journal Company, Printers and Binders.
N. Y.; April, 1889.
by Karima Allison, 2003