VtGenWeb-Orleans County Vermont History

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Orleans County History

This page was last updated on March 8, 2003

Aboriginal Occupancy

Taken from the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Lamoille and Orleans County, Vt. for 1883-84

Compiled and published by Hamilton Child

The Indian habitation of this section of the country has already been spoken of, on pages 40 and 41, to which we refer the reader. It seems Lake Memphremagog and the other lakes and streams throughout the country were the favorite of the Redmen. And for years before the territory now known as Orleans county had been visited by the whites, it was the wilderness home of these wild lords of the forest. Here they camped in its valleys, hunted on its mountains, and fished in its waters, over which they glided in their light canoes. Thence they went forth to war, fighting with savage cunning and cruelty the foreigners who came over the great waters from the east to dwell in their domains, converting the forests into fruitful fields and smiling villages that constitute the country of which we write. The route of travel from the St. Francis village, in Canada, to their principal settlement at Newbury was laid through this section, as described on page 180.

The earliest settlement of which we have any authentic history was in Charleston. It was a favorite spot for the Indian, and as late as the first quarter of the present century they would occasionally come on and camp on their old hunting ground, where the village of East Charleston now stands. In 1824, a party of this kind camped here, and one of their men informed Jonas Allen, an early settler in the town, that a long pond once existed in the town, extending along the course of Clyde river from the Great falls in Charleston, up into Brighton, which was drained of its waters as Runaway pond was in Glover, an account of which we give in connection with the sketch of that town. The old Indian also related that it had been fifty years since his fathers had made a permanent home in this locality, at which time they remained nine years. During the whole of that time, he claimed the long pond was here, ten miles in length, with two outlets, one by a stream into Willoughby river, thence to Memphremagog. The other outlet was through Clyde river into Salem pond, thence to Lake Memphremagog. He said they were knowing to the fact of both ponds losing their waters, at the time the events occurred. The reason assigned for making this place their home at that time, was because of a division among their own tribe, they being in favor of the English, and the rest in favor of the French at the time of the French and Indian war. They remained-according to the testimony given-until after peace was concluded between the French and English, then returned to Canada. The Indians also showed where they camped, where they put their furs and potatoes, and also showed old marks on maple trees where they had been tapped none years in succession. This sugar lot, which was one of their camping grounds, is situated on both sides of the town line between Charleston and Brighton. These circumstances were related so clearly, and the several proofs given with so much correctness, that no one doubted the truthfulness of the Indians assertions.

After the Hazen Road was put through, block-houses were erected along it at different points, one of which was located on the west side of Greensboro pond. In the summer of 1781, a party of Indians made a descent on Peacham and made prisoners of Jacob Page, Col. Johnson, and Col. Elkins, then a youth. Capt. Loveland had been stationed there with his company for the protection of the inhabitants, and in September he sent a scouting party of four men up the Hazen road. They proceeded as far as Greensboro, where, while occupying the block-house above referred to, they were, in an unguarded hour, while at a distance from it, attacked by a party of Indians. Two of the party, Bliss of Thetford, and Moses Sleeper, of Newbury, were shot and scalped. Their companions, having offered no resistance, were led captives to Canada, and soon found themselves prisoners with Elkins, of Peacham, in Quebec. Sometime subsequent, having been by an exchange of prisoners released, they returned to Peacham. It was not until their return that the fate of Bliss and Sleeper was made known to their friends, a party of whom at once proceeded to Greensboro, found the remains undisturbed, but in that loathsome condition naturally consequent on long exposure to the weather. A grave was dug and the putrid masses, uncoffined, were rolled into it and buried.

The early settlers of Barton found Indian wigwams, in a decayed condition, quite numerous in the vicinity of the outlet of Barton pond, from which it is inferred that it was a favorite camping ground of the savages. It is stated that an old Indian by the name of Foosah claimed he killed twenty-seven moose, beside large numbers of beaver and otter near this pond in the winter of 1783-84.

In the winter of 1799, a small party of Indians, of whom the chief was Capt. Susap, joined the colonists of Troy, built their camps on the river and wintered near them. These Indians were represented as being in a necessitous and almost starving condition, which probably arose from the moose and deer, which formerly abounded here, being destroyed by the settlers. Their principal employment was making baskets, birch-bark cups and pails, and other Indian trinkets. They left in the spring and never returned. One of the party was a squaw, called Molly Orcutt, who became quite noted among the settlers as a doctress. She was found dead on Mount white Cap, in East Andover, Maine, in 1817, having died, it is believed, at an age of 140 years.

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