island in the western part of the county. It was chartered by this name
to Benjamin Wait and others, October 27, 1789, containing 4,620 acres.
The name was altered to Vineyard, November 1, 1802, and again altered to
Isle La Motte, November 6, 1830. The settlement of this town was
commenced about the year 1785. Among the early settlers were Ebenezer Hyde,
Enoch Hall, William Blanchard, and Ichabod Fitch. The town was organized
about the year 1790. There are no streams on the island. A marsh
extends across it from east to west, which abounds with excellent cedar."
of Vermont, Hayward, 1849.
OF THE TOWN OF
BY HON. IRA
Isle-La-Mott, an island in Lake Champlain, 6 miles in length by
two in breadth, its northern extremity, 8 miles south of the line of Canada,
1 mile west of Alburgh, and 1 1/2 mile east of Chazy in the State of New-York,
was named, from a French officer, La-Mothe, La. Motte -- now its final
e lost -- La-Mott.
As early as 1609, Samuel Champlain visited the Lake, and between
the above date and 1666, a fort was built on the island, and called St.
Anne. At the latter date, an expedition of an important character under
De Tracy, was fitted out and proceeded from this place against the Mohawks.
The fort faced north and west at a point where good calibre could
command the passage, and its settlement precedes that of any other part
of the State by nearly a century. The French government and the English
after them, held it with Alburgh and with North Hero, in which a block-house,
nearly as far south as to include the island, and that kept an armed vessel
in its view, was sustained up to nearly 1800.
The proprietors procured a survey and allotment of said town or
island, to be made in 1785, and certified in January, 1786, by John CLARK.
surveyor. In 1788, William BLANCHARD, one of the original proprietors,
settled on the island, and resided here till his decease. He was a Revolutionary
soldier, and died in the year 1824, I believe. About the same time of his
settlement, came also Enoch HALL, with two sons, Nathaniel and Elihu, --
all now deceased. Both these sons raised large families, -- sons and grandsons,
who have served in various public trusts, with fidelity and satisfaction.
Ebenezer HYDE, another of the original proprietors, and who was the principal
actor in procuring the town organization in March, 1791, 24th day. His
energy and business tact attracted the attention of his fellows, and readily
they conferred on him the first office, for which they could give a legal
vote, and by which he became the first selectman. Ichabod E. FISK was,
also, another one of the early settlers, with a large family of eons and
daughters. He was a prominent business man, a surveyor, a teacher, &c.
His descendants still reside here, and occupy places of public trust, with
good acceptance. Abram KNAP not only appears among the earliest settlers
of the island, but his hardships and sufferings, as such, will scarcely
find a parallel, having been compelled, in order to subsist a large family,
to use the buds and tender leaves of the bass-wood tree to form a mucilage
for nourishment, and from the bark fibre to make a sort of cloth for covering
and wearing apparel. It is also worthy of note, that, when grain could
be had by these early settlers, there were no mills for grinding, nearer
than Whitehall (then Skeensboro), over 100 miles, or Chambly, 30 miles
by water and 12 of land, while the only mode of conveyance was to paddle
their canoe to Whitehall, which was a trip of from 2 to 4 weeks, or to
proceed in the same manner to St. Johns, and then carry their grain 12
miles by land, on their backs. Indeed, every stratagem was forced upon
them, and actually employed, in order to prevent a dissolution of the partnership
between soul and body.
Nathaniel WALES was the first representative, and held that trust
for 3 years,-1791, '92, and '93. It is said that, in order to get to the
general assembly, he "paddled his-own canoe" to Burlington, a distance
of over 30 miles.
|* The Island
was chartered by Vermont, Oct. 27, 1779, to 99 proprietors, viz. Benj.
WAIT, Gideon WARREN, Noah CHITTENDEN, Ebenezer WOODS, Thomas TOLMAN, Ithamar
HIBBARD, William BLANCHARD, Jacob SMITH, Jacob WOOD, Samuel ALLEN, Samuel
CLARK, Ebenezer ALLEN, Ethan PIER, Luther GILMORE, Cyrus CLARK, Joseph
ROE, Stephen SAVOY, Jones GALUSHA, Elijah DEWEY, Jonathan FASSETT, Moses
ROBINSON, Ebenezer WALLACE, Jr., John WHISTON, Levi HILL, Isaac WALLS,
William ROBINSON, Joseph GRIFFIN, Isaac Hull WALLIS, Seth WALLIS, James
HILL, John SAWYER, Jesse SAWYER, Isaac CLARK, John FAY, William HUTCHINS,
Joseph LAWRENCE, Elisha CLARK, 2d, Hermon SAWYER, Daniel COY, John Ryon
BLANCHARD, Benjamin COY, Caleb CLARK, Nathan FASSETT, Jedediah BINGHAM.
Ephraim WOOD, John PAYNE, jr., Eboenezer WOODS, jr. Thomas BARNEY, Daniel
ORMSBY, Nathan CLARK, jr , William BOOKER, Robert BLAIR, Stephen DAVIS,
Alexander BRUSH, Jacob SALFORD, Elisha ASHLEY, William ASHLEY, Solomon
ALLEN, Elisha CLARK, John OWEN, Daniel HERRICK, Gideon ADONIS, Jesse FIELD,
Francis HERRICK, William SATTERLEE, Benajah LEONARD, Ebenezer HYDE, Samuel
HERRICK, Stephen FAY, Stephen MEAD, Joseph FAY, Samuel ALLEN Jr., Thomas
CHITTENDEN, Timothy BROWNSON, Ira ALLEN, Samuel ROBINSON, Joseph BULLEN,
James MURDOCK, Solomon SAFFORD, James HAWLEY, John LEE, Jesse AVERILL,
Joseph AUDRUS, Abner BLANCHARD, Elnathan HIGBY, Thomas BUTTERFIELD, Azariah
ROOD, Jr., Joseph AGUID, David LACY, Samuel BARRET, John BURGETT, Jr.,
Abraham STEREOS, Charles CHAPIN, Jr., Thomas BRAINARD, Ashbel PATTERSON,
and Capt. Abel DEMMICK. One Abram KNAPP settled on this Island and lived
here is 1784, and died here in 1809; he was a soldier in the Revolutionary
war, left descendants, all of whom have removed westward.
Nathaniel Wales was representative, 1791, '92, '93; William UTLEY,
1794; 1795, none; William GOODRICH, 1796, '97; Daniel BAKER, 1798; 1799,
none; ____ BAKER, 1800; Truman CLARK, 1801; Samuel FISK, 1802, and named
the place Vineyard; Seth EMMONS, 1803, '04; John BORDEN, 1805-1810; William
WAIT, 1811, '12; Caleb HILL, 1813; Charles CARRON, 1814; W. WAIT, 1815;
J. A. CLARK, 1816, '17; Truman CLARK, 1818, '19, '20.
The original forests were of various timbers and of mighty growth.
Pine has been squared 80 feet in length, by 2 feet diameter, and log canoes
dug out 4 feet broad. I have myself sold 12 cords of wood, free measure,
with no bark on it, cut from one pine tree, I have cut one hemlock tree,
-- the first 20 feet cut with saw, 11 sticks of timber, 7 by 9 inches,
and 4 sticks 4 by 6 inches ; the next, 30 feet long, sawed 6 sticks 7 by
9 inches, and one 13 feet long saw-log; -- making 63 feet long good timber.
The longest timber I have ever hewn, of hemlock, is a plate in my house,
83 Feet long, 8 by 10 inches. I have often measured hemlock trees, from
the ground to the very top, 113 feet and 6 inches. The native timbers are
white and red oak, also, cedars in great quantities, hemlock, birch, beech,
elm, bass, maple, walnut, butternut, &c.
The soil is rich and remunerative, particularly in fruit, which
in 1868 was of $10,000 value, and over $2,000 value of fruit trees, are
already contracted for spring-setting, this season. I have apple-trees
covering over 4 square rods, from one of which, last fall, 44 bushels of
apples were gathered.
The inhabitants of the island are a mediocrity people; its religious
opinions and devotions, of various forms, but principally Methodist Episcopal;
it sustains a good select school, and two primary schools.
Our Little Lady of the Islands, loves well our national freedom,
and the patriotism of its inhabitants has been manifested on more than
one occasion. In 1812 a requisition was made for a sergeant and 6 men,
a detachment from the militia to enter actual service, -- headquarters
at Swanton, -- to protect the frontier from inroads of the enemy. About
20 volunteered. Those who went and served their term, were Orlin BLANCHARD,
Sergeant; Privates, Ira HILL, Harry WAIT, Minard HILLIARD, Coonrad DENIO,
(Lewis) GORDON, and Amos HOLCOMB. The two last were mustered out again
to support the Union. When menaced by Southern rebellion, its complement
of men was made up of volunteers and substitutes, provided by and at the
expense of the town, except on one call, when five were drafted, two of
whom paid commutation and three deserted; of the deserted, one returned
to the service voluntarily, and one was taken and put in service, the other
chose to stay in Canada.
In 1814, the fleet of the British came up the Lake as far as this
place, -- ours retiring to Plattsburgh Bay. Capt. PRING, the British commander,
landed on the west side of the Island, erected a battery, mounted 6 long
18-pounder guns, commanding the passage down the Lake, and claimed to exercise
jurisdiction over the Island, and ordered the inhabitants to repair to
his quarters with such teams and laborers, as they could furnish to assist
in erecting big fort or battery, upon which they should he otherwise unmolested
upon their parol of honor, to which summons some submitted, while others
From this point the enemy's flotilla started on the early morning
of the memorable 11th of September 1814, and paid respects to Cora. MCDONOUGH
in Plattsburgh Bay.
I have an aversion to writing biography, but, by the urgent desire
of many friends, concluded to write something of myself, aware that others
have the same privilege. My father's name was Caleb HILL; my mother's maiden
name was Cynthia STRONG. They raised 12 children, of whom I was the second.
They brought me to Isle-La-Mott, April 7, 1803. I was born in Granville,
Washington Co., N. Y., Aug. 14, 1793, and have resided in Isle-La-Mott,
since 1803. In 1812. my father was captain of the company of militia of
the Island, and received orders for a detachment of 7 men from his company,
and hoping that volunteers would he found, rather than have a draft, requested
me to volunteer for 6 months actual service, which I did, and others also,
to complete the number required. That service ended, I was enrolled as
a minute-man. In 1813, we were ordered to the lines, when Col. MURRY came
out, and burnt the barracks at Swanton. My father died Aug. 16, 1814. About
the beginning of September 1814, the English flotilla appeared, landed,
built their fortification, and demanded all material of war, and the submission
of the inhabitants; upon which, I immediately collected all the public
property, distributed to the company or minute-men, being 18 muskets, with
the accoutrements and 500 rounds, fixed ammunition, officers, swords, &c.,
and with one assistant, conveyed them in the darkness of three nights,
to Jedediah HYDE's, in Grand-Isle, where they remained safe, until the
war closed, in 1815. While I was getting these articles secured, some miscreant
informed -the officer, Capt. PRING, of what I was doing, and a strict vigilance
was constantly maintained, until Sunday, one week previous to the battle
of Plattsburgh. My mother was informed, by order of Capt. PRING, that unless
I should appear at his fort and surrender myself, her premises should be
cleared of all valuables, and the buildings burned to ashes. She immediately
informed me. I told her I would go, and commenced arranging my dress. She
having some doubts, looking right in my eyes, exclaimed, "For Heaven's
sake, tell me, will you go and give yourself up and save us, or shall we
all be destroyed?" My answer was, "No, never!" "Where will you go?" "To
Plattsburgh, if possible." She then clasped her arms around me, declaring
frantically, that I should carry her on my back, as she would not slacken
her grasp. The recent death of my father, the care of such a numerous family,
the anticipated destruction of all means of support, by the enemy, was
an accumulated burden, beyond her powers, and yielding to her entreaties
and tears, I promised her, that I certainly would go to the fort. Having
arrived there (three miles distant), a strong guard of soldiers conducted
me to the opening thereof, and gave notice that the man they had been in
search of, had appeared. Capt. PRING, a large, dark complexioned officer,
came out, and casting a downward glance, appeared surprised, at seeing
before him such a child as my appearance indicated, being a light, small
lad, weighing 88 pounds, light colored hair, no beard, although 21 years
of age, in all respects, appearing like a lad of 14 years. He next said,
"Young man, I understand that you have been employed in carrying away the
public property from this place. Is it so!" I bowed assent. He then asked,
"Why did you do so, after the very indulgent proclamation I had issued
to the inhabitants?" I clumsily pronounced part of the word, with a slight
shake of my head. He then asked, where I had put it, to which I made no
reply. He then with a frowning aspect, said, "I am not to be contemptibly
treated, I demand where have you deposited the guns, ammunitions and equipage,
you have taken away." I answered, I took them away supposing he would get
them, if left here, and should not tell where they were. He then said,
"Young man, I will put you in irons and send you to Quebec." I answered,
"You can do as you have a mind to." At this an officer put in my hand a
small paper. I cast my eye upon it, and commenced picking pieces off one
end and dropping them. The officer pushed a pen against my hand. I took
no notice of the pen, other than to withdraw my hand from it. Both the
officer and Capt. PRING turned into the fort, and I heard the following,
spoken inside the fort: "I don't know what to make of that boy. He is either
the damnest fool, or the damnest rogue, I ever saw." I then turned to leave,
and parted the bayonets of the guard slowly with either hand, which guard
was three ranks deep, and slowly walked out, and returned home. On the
morning of the battle of Plattsburgh, by request of Col. Samuel MIX, then
commandant of the regiment to which our company belonged, I went through,
and ascertained he strength of, the British posts, two in number, in Chazy,
opposite their fort on this Island.
FROM MELVIN J. HYDE.
When I first came to this island (in 1852), I took pains to gather
all the information connected with its early history, in my power, by questioning
its oldest inhabitants, as to what they had learnt from their fathers,
mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. The result was, I found myself
in possession of much pertinent and valuable information, which had never
been made a matter of history. The most important items, thus obtained
were penned down, all of which have since been lost-therefore, I have no
materials to aid me now, other than my memory furnishes, with the exception
of "Deming's catalogue of the principal officers of Vermont, as connected
with its political history from 1778 to 1851,"
Ichabod FISK taught the first school. The first representative,
was Nathaniel WALES, 1791; the first town clerk, Abraham KNAPP, 1790; the
first minister that ever preached upon the inland, Daniel BRUMLEY, whose
circuit extended from Connecticut through to Grand-Isle County, embracing
said county (not very definite.) -- this was about 1800, -- Ichabod FISK,
Rev. Phineas COOK -- ANSON AND STRATTON also preached here, about this
time. The first physician, Luther PLYMPTON, practiced here some time after
1800; the Second, Minus MCROBERTS, practiced medicine here, from about
1830 to 1837; the present resident physicians are Melvin J. HYDE and Bramar
E. LENGFELD, allo. The first lawyers were Seth EMMONS, Solomon MORGAN and
Samuel HOLTON -- who practiced from about 1800 to 1810. Later, Julius FISK
was admitted to the bar in 1855, and was a resident till 1865; the present
resident lawyer, Hon. Harry HILL, was admitted to the bar in 1866.
The first person born on the island, was Laura BLANCHARD, daughter
of William BLANCHARD, Sept. 17, 1792. The first death was that of a child
of Abraham KNAPP, before 1800. The coffin consisted of a basswood log hollowed
out, something like a sap-trough used in early times.
As to the Isle-La-Mott marble, it is represented in the Victoria
Bridge in Fort Montgomery, in the new Catholic cathedral at Burlington
and many other public buildings in that city and in other places.*
marble is seen in the new Catholic cathedral at the head of St, Paul Street,
Burlington. and in the new Congregational church on College Street, and
the new Methodist church building on White Street. The colors are not only
grey, but of all shades, from a light to a dark rose-brown, which at the
right altitude of the sun, lights up with great beauty. We have seen the
Imported stone of Italy for churches In our larger cities, but have never
seen other as handsome building-stone; and which being native stone, has
this advantage, It will not fade by effects of the climate, like the handsome
foreign stones. In passing, one day last summer, we heard a middle aged
gentlemen, s man of good appearance more than naval and evidently a stranger
and a traveler, who stood looking at the cathedral, ask another man, "is
that stone painted." Ed]
There are several extensive quarries here, also, of grey and black
marble,-over 500,000 feet of marble have been sold annually from one of
these quarries alone, during several years in succession, within the last
Soldiers who served in the Revolutionary war, were, Joseph WILLIAMS,
who was wounded at the battle of Brandywine, and taken prisoner by the
Americans, and, after having recovered from his wounds, joined our forces
under Gen. Washington, and served during the remainder of the war; was
present when Gen. Washington joined the Masonic Fraternity. He afterwards
lived and died upon the Isle-La-Mott, and was buried with Masonic honors;
William BLANCHARD, Ezra PIKE, Daniel BIXBY, Gardner WAIT, Elisha E. REYNOLDS,
Nathaniel HALL, William WILSEY, Seth STRONG, John FADDEN, Henry SCOTT and
Caleb HILL (grandfather to Hon. Ira Hill).
Isle-La-Motte furnished 73 soldiers during the late rebellion, all
of whom volunteered with the exception of 4 drafted-the town was in advance
of its quota till the last call for troops -- most of the above named soldiers
having volunteered during the early part of the war, and long before the
"draft" came; 14 were killed in battle, and 4 died in hospital. Included
in the number of enlisted men from this town, were 3 corporals, 10 sergeants,
2 lieutenants, 2 captains and 1 surgeon. Isle-La-Motte, certainly, contributed
largely in proportion to her inhabitants, having less than 100 voters.
OF REPRESENTATIVES FROM 1820.
William WAIT, 1821; 1822 none; Charles CARROLL, 1823,'24; William
WAIT, 1825; Ezra PIKE jr., 1826, '27; Ira HILL, 1828; Harry HILL, 1829,
'30; Charles CARRON, 1831, '32; Reuben PIKE, 1833, '34; Minus MCROBERTS,
1835; William DAWSON, 1836, '37; Enoch HALL, 1838, '30; Martin REYNOLDS,
1840; 1841 none; E. A. HOLCOMB, 1842, '43; Elihu HOLCOMB, 1844, '45; Hiram
HALL, 1846; Simeon COOPER, 1847, '48; Dyer HILL, 1849, '50; Peter FLEURY,
1851; Dotes V. GOODSELL, 1852; Carmi HALL, 1853; Henry PIKE, 1854; Julius
FISK, 1855; Peter FLEURY, 1856; Julius FISK, 1857; Ezra FLEURY, 1858; D.
V. GOODSELL, 1859; N. S. HILL, 1860; Dr. Melvin J. HYDE, 1861, '62; S.
H. PIKE, 1863, '64; E. R. GOODSELL, 1865, '66; Hiram FISK, 1867, '68.
Oldest person deceased, Jesse DENNIS, aged 101; oldest person now
living on the Isle-La-Motte, Mrs. GOULD, aged 97 years; she reads without
glasses, and spins as much in a day upon the large or small wheel, as any
of our " buxom lasses."
An amusing anecdote is told by some of the old inhabitants here,
relative to the first election of a representative for this town -- there
being but 3 voters, they purchased a jug of rum for the occasion, and started
for the polls, and of course each became a candidate, receiving at each
ballot one vote, till at last, one, being on more friendly terms with the
jug than the others, and perhaps becoming weary of the repetition of this
state of things, or losing all ambition for office, voted for one of the
others (Nathaniel WALES) who was duly elected by one majority.
DIXON, -- the writer of the county chapter and historian for the town of
Grand-isle, -- "I can only add, that Ebenezer HYDE, Enoch HALL and Nathaniel
WALES were the first selectmen; William BLANCHARD first constable, and
William UTLEY first justice of the peace." -- Ed.]
WAS THE FIRST. OCCUPANCY COMMENCED, IN
STATE, BY A CIVILIZED PEOPLE?
DAVID READ, OF BURLINGTON
In the history of Colchester, the writer of this article stated,
that "The Isle-La-Motte, in the County of Grand-Isle, has the honor of
being the first point within the limits of Vermont, where a civilized establishment
and occupancy were commenced."
It may be a matter of no essential importance, any further than
the truth of history is concerned, whether the Isle-La-Motte, Brattleboro,
or Addison (the three contested points on the subject), was first occupied
by a civilized people. But a fact of this sort, so well settled in the
early documentary history of that day, should not be banded down to posterity
by one State historian after another, without correction, relying upon
the statement of Dr. Samuel WILLIAMS on the subject, as conclusive, and
indorsing his history as an authority too sacred for criticism or negation.
Dr. WILLIAMS, in his Natural and Civil History of Vermont, vol. ii. p.
10, says: "But it was not until the year 1724. that any settlement was
made within the bounds of Vermont. The government of Mass. then built Fort
Dummer upon Connecticut river. * * * This was the first settlement. any
civilized nation bad ever made in this Sate.*
Rev. Zadock THOMPSON, in his Civil History of Vermont, part ii.
p. 16, also says:
be noticed that Dr. Williams claims that the settlement he speaks of was
the building of Fort Dummer, and nothing more. He makes no claim nor mention
of settlers coming in and taking up farms, -- which in fact was not the
case for many years after the erection of the block-house called Fort Dummer.]
Benj. H. HALL, in his History of Eastern Vermont, p. 104, states:
civilized establishment within the present limits of Vermont, was made
in 1724, by the erection of Fort Dummer, in the south-eastern corner of
the town of Brattleboro."
Ex-Gov. Hiland HALL, in his History of Vermont, p. 3, just issued
from the press, follows out the record also, by saying:
first civilized settlement within the boundaries of Vermont, was made at
Fort Dummer, in the south-east corner of the township subsequently known
as Brattleboro, in the year 1724."
Hon. John W. Strong, in his history of the town of Addison (vol.
i. p. 2 of this work), relates that (March 26, 1690), Capt. Jacobus De
WARM; was sent from Albany with 17 men, with a subsequent addition of 20
savages, to select some place at the pass (near Crown Point), and build
a small fort. He then says:
permanent occupancy, of any of the territory of Vermont by civilized men,
was in 1724, when a block-house, named Fort Dummer, was built on the Connecticut
river, at Brattleboro."
he did, and built a little stone fort at Chimney Point, in Addison; this
was the first possession or occupancy by civilized men in Vermont."
The words of the above writers, respectively, are quoted to show
that they very properly regarded the first erection of military defenses
in the state, as evidence of a permanent occupancy and possession. Indeed,
it is the only practicable way of occupying a country open to the hostile
incursions of its enemies, and defending it against their conquest and
possession. It was with this view that the little stone fort at Chimney
Point, and the block-house on Connecticut river, were both erected for
defense against the Indians; but it matters not whether they were intended
as defenses against a civilized or savage foe. In this, or any other view
of the subject, it is clear, that the little stone fort at Chimney Point
has the prior claim, to the block-house called Fort Dummer, by 34 years,
-- that having been built in 1690, and the block-house not until 1724;
and were it not that the first occupancy of the State, by a civilized people,
took place prior to either of the above cases, the words of Judge STRONG
would be the true record, instead of the words of the four distinguished
historians above named; for the evidence as to the building of these primitive
defenses, and the time when, are as conclusive in the one case as the other,
-- both being matters of record of the doings of the authorities in New
York and Massachusetts and beyond question.
But should it appear that the French at an earlier date than either,
commenced an occupancy within the territory of this State, by the erection
of a fort, upon a much more enlarged plan, for the same purpose-the purpose
of holding and defending the country against their enemies, whether civilized
or savage, all that has been written about the block-house, called fort
Dummer and the little stone fort, on the subject of priority, terns out
to be fictitious, and should stand corrected. It is not presumed that any
one will claim that the French were not a civilized people.*
Prof. Thompson in his history of Vermont (part iii.-p. 1. Addison), says
"The first civilized establishment in Vermont on the west side of the mountain
was on Chimney Point in the south-west corner of this township -- it was
made by the French In 1731, the same year they built Fort Frederick, by
a stone wind-mill which was built and garrisoned here as an outpost."]
France was then, as she is still, the rival of Great Britain among
the European Powers, not only in her population and national strength,
but in her advancement in the arts and sciences- -- indeed they then formed
the two great powers of Europe, both contending for the mastery and dominion
of this country, bordering upon the lakes, and the St. Lawrence, and making
Lake Champlain and the territory about it the central geld of their hostile
plans and movements ; where their right to the soil was to be decided by
force of arms. The French in the first place took possession of the country,
and erected military forts to hold it for offensive and defensive war,
with their savage enemies the Iroquois; and at a later date to hold the
country for the same purpose, is their wars with the English. And during
these wars the French, exclusively, had considerable settlements scattered
along the shores of the Lake, from Canada to Ticonderoga -- mostly in the
vicinity of their fortified posts -- and they remained untill the conquest
of Canada was effected by the English; whereupon they returned to Canada
to reside among their own people.
As we have seen, the little fort at Chimney Point was built by the
English in 1690, and the blockhouse on Connecticut river in 1724.
From the following documentary history, it will appear that the
French built fort St. Anne (afterwards called fort La-Motte from its builder)
upon the Isle-La-Motte, (the Island taking its name from the fort) in the
year 1665 -- being 25 years before the building of the little stone fort
at Chimney Point by DE WARM; and 59 years before the block-house, called
fort Dummer, was built on Connecticut river.
The following extracts from the documentary history of N. York,
will show how this matter stands -- to wit, (Doc. Hist. of N. York,
vol. e, p. 59)
As evidence in support of the documentary history referred to in
the foregoing extracts, it is proper to add that the ruins of old Ft. St.
Anne very prominently remain upon the Island, and will continue to remain
for ages to come, unless demolished by human hands.*
the first forts erected on the Iroquois river."
"After having navigated the Lake St. Peters, (we) arrived at the mouth
of the Richelieu, which leads to the Iroquois of the Mohawk."
"The plan entertained at this first campaign was to erect on the route
some forts; &c. -- for this purpose, three advantageous posts
were selected -- the first at the mouth of the Iroquois river: the second
17 leagues higher up at the foot of a current of water called Sault de
Richelieu: the third about three leagues above this current."
"The first fort, named Richelieu, was built by: Mons. de Chamblay -- *
* The second fort, named St. Louis, was built by Mtons. de Sorels -- *
* The third fort was fortunately finished in the month of October on St.
Theresa's day, whence it derives its name. From this third fort of St.
Therese, we can easily reach Lake Champlain without meeting any rapids
to stop the batteaus."
"This Lake, after a length of sixty leagues, finally terminates in the
country of the Mohawk Iroquois. It is still intended to build there early
next spring, a fourth fort, which will command those countries, and from
which continual attacks can he made on the enemy, if they do not listen
to reason." Doc. Hist. vol. i. p. 65.
"Preparations were made for a military expedition against those with whom
no peace could be concluded (the Mohawks ). Mons. de Courcelles, who commanded,
used every possible diligence, so that be was ready to start the 9th January
of the year 1666, accompanied by 300 men of the regiment of Carignan Salieris
and 200 volunteers, habitans of the French colonies."
"A more difficult or longer march than that of this little army, can rarely
be met with in history, and it required a French courage and the perseverance
of Mons. de Courcelles, to undertake it. --- In addition to the embarrassment
caused by snow shoes, and the burthen which each one was obliged to carry
(25 to 30 lbs of biscuit, clothing and other necessary supplies). it was
necessary to walk three hundred leagues [out and back] on the snow
cross lakes and rivers, continually, on the ice, in danger of making as
many falls as steps; sleep only on the snow in the midst of the forest,
and endure a cold surpassing by many degrees in severity that of the most
violent European winters."
"The effects of the terror produced by his Majesty's arms on the hearts
of these savages were apparent at Quebec in the month of May following,
by the arrival of Embassadors from the Senecas, &c., -- these were
soon succeeded by those of other tribes; among the rest by those from the
Oneida and even by those from the Mohawk, so that the deputies from the
five Iroquois nations wire almost at the same time at Quebec as if to confirm
by one common accord a durable peace with France. But while this treaty
was going on, "news came of the surprisal by the Mohawks, of some Frenchmen
belonging to Fort St. Anne [The first name given to the fort built on the
Isle-La-Motte.], who had gone to the chase, and of the murder of Senr.
de Traversey, Captain in the Carignan regiment, and Senr. de Cheisy, and
that some volunteers had been taken prisoners."
"But means were adopted to derive advantage from this treachery; and Mons.
de Sorel, Captain in the Carignan regiment, immediately collected a party
of three hundred men, whom he led by forced marches into the enemy's country,
resolved to put all everywhere, to the sword. But when only twenty leagues
distant from their villages, he encountered new Embassadors, bringing back
the Frenchmen taken near Fort St. Anne, and wino ware coming to offer every
satisfaction for the murder of those who were slain, and new guarantees
for peace, so that this captain (De Sorel) having returned with his troops
there was no more talk but of peace, which they pretended to conclude by
a general council of all the tribes who had at the time delegates at Quebec."
"These treaties, however, had not all the success which was expected from
them, and M. DE TRACY (then Governor of Canada) concluded that to insure
their success, it was necessary to render the Mohawks, by force of arms,
more tractable, for they always opposed new obstacles to the public tranquility.
He wished, despite of his advanced age, to lead in person against these
barbarians, an army composed of 600 soldiers drafted from all the companies,
of 600 habitans of the country, and 100 Huron and Algonquin savages. Through
the exertions of M. TALON, all the preparations for this war were completed
by the 14th of September, (1666) the day fixed on for departure, being
that of the exaltation and triumph of the Cross, for whose glory their
expedition was determined on. The general rendezvous was fixed for the
28th of September, at Fort St. Anne, recently constructed by Spar. LA-MOTHE,
Captain in the Carignan regiment, on an Island in Lake Champlain. Some
of the troops not being able to come up in sufficient time, M. DE TRACY
would not proceed before the 3d of October, with the main body of the army.
But M. DE COURCELLES, impelled by his characteristic impatience for the
fight, started some days ahead with 400 min, and Senors DE CHAMBLY and
BERTHIER, commandants of the Forts St. Louis and Assumption, were left
to follow M. DE TRACY, four days afterwards, with the rear guard. * * Vessels
requisite for this expedition haed been prepared -- three hundred were
ready; consisting partly of very light batteaux, and partly of bark canoes,
each of which carried at most, five or six persons -- and two small pieces
of artillery which were conveyed even to the farthest Iroquois villages,
to force more easily all the fortifications."
"After having destroyed the Indian settlement, burnt their palisades and
cabins, destroyed their corn, beans, and other produce, and devastating
she country along the Mohawk to Oneida, they planted the Cross, celebrated
mass, sung a Te Deum, and set out on their return."
"Our excellent Prelate, who had his hands ever raised to Heaven, and had
called every one to prayers during the absence of our troops, caused thanks
to be given to God and the Te Deum sung on their return." It appears moreover,
that Capt. John SCHUYLER in 1690, the same year the little Stone Fort was
built at Chimney Point, by Capt. DE WARM, made an excursion into Canada
with about 165 "Christians and Indians." He left Wood Creek on the 13th
of August, 1690, and after penetrating into Canada as far as La Prairie,
opposite Montreal, capturing prisoners, taking six scalps, destroying grain,
150 oxen and other cattle, burning barns and houses, and laying waste the
country generally; set out on his return on the 23d of that month. He then
proceeds with his journal as follows:
we traveled to the river Chambly where our canoes were lying."
ditto we went as far as fort La-Motte."
ditto we reached the Sand Point (Colchester Point,)where we shot 2 elks."
ditto we came to the little stone fort, and from there sent a canoe with
men to Albany to bring the news of what had happened to us."
ditto we proceeded to Canahsione (Ticonderoga?) and there shot 9 elks.
ditto we reached Wood-Creek (Whitehall.)"
ditto we have traveled to the little rapid above Saraghtoga."
ditto of August we have arrived at Albany, under the command of Capt. John
now over 200 years since the fort was built, and 179 years since Capt.
SCHUYLER took possession of It with his men and prisoners, on his return
from Canada. How long the fort was in use as a military post after that
time, does not appear; but it seems most probable that it was kept up in
connection with other posts along the Lake, until the close of the French
war in 1760.]
In August, 1868, the writer of this article, in company with a friend,
visited the Isle-La-Motte, making it a special object in connection with
our excursion to examine the ruins of the Old Fort. After crossing the
ferry from Alburgh Point to the north end of the Island, we first drove
down to the quarries of Messrs FISK and HILL, which lie near its southern
extremity. The drive through the length of the Island, being some five
or six miles, we found very pleasant as we passed over the smooth road,
and enjoyed the beautiful lake scenery upon every hand; also the rich fields
of grain and grass, and the almost continuous orchards laden with fruit.
There is hardly an acre of waste land upon the Island; the farms for the
most part are highly cultivated and farm residences improved by planting
out shade trees about them, and along the highway. These, with the groves
of wood and timber left for domestic use, and the apparent thrift and independence
of the inhabitants, make the Isle-La-Motte, a charming little spot-it is
the gem of the Lake.
On our return to the north end of the Island, we struck over the
ridge to the left near the residence of Capt. PIKE, and down the western
slope towards the shore of the lake, in search of the old fort. Ira HILL
Esq. where we called and dined on our return, had given us directions where
to go after passing the ridge, and we soon came upon the site of the fort.
The first objects that attracted our attention were a number of mounds,
some 4 or 5 feet high, and 6 to 8 feet diameter at the base, of conical
form, which were arranged in lines at right angles with each other, on
the north and east sides of the fort; and on the south and west sides conforming
to the shore of the Lake-though on the west side some of them have been
partially and others wholly washed away by the action of the water at spring
flood. The distance between these lines, as estimated by pacing it, is
twelve rods from north to south, and fourteen rods from east to west; and
there are 14 mounds remaining undisturbed by the water. They are constructed
by laying up piles of stone at the desired distance from each other, in
proper form and bight and covering them over with a thick coat of earth;
which is now very compact and firmly turfed over. The one in the south-east
corner of the fort is larger than an of the others, being some-what higher
and about 12 feet diameter at the base, and has upon one side the appearance
of a covered door-way fallen in -- showing this to be constructed with
reference to some special purpose; either as an entrance way, or place
of deposit of provisions or military stores. On the top of this mound,
is a growing white pine tree, which measures six feet in circumference
at the usual hight for cutting; which must have started and grown from
a date subsequent to the use and occupation of the fort.
Near the south-west corner are the remains of a blacksmith forge,
with cinders and scrape of iron lying about; and towards the north side,
within the lines, and near the center of the ground from east to west,
are the remains of a well; which is now nearly filled up to a level with
the ground. On the outside of the mounds are depressions in the ground,
where the earth was evidently taken for covering them, and where the palisade
that surrounded the interior work, above described, was planted.
The purpose of erecting the mounds seems to have been for raising a platform
inside the palisade, on which the garrison could take a position sufficiently
elevated to fire over the pickets.
The site of the fort is upon a point of land with a wide gravelly
beach extending around it, forming a beautiful and convenient strand for
hauling up the canoes and bateaux, to almost any extent, of the war parties
who navigated the lake at that early day. Indeed, as we look at the position,
and contemplate the fleet of boats, which DE TRACY hauled up on this shore,
sufficient to embark an army of thirteen hundred men, it not only shows
the wisdom of his choice, in making this the point of rendezvous for his
army, but presents a spectacle of peculiar interest.
The land where the fort stood, is an open plain, quite level, and
some eight or ten feet above the low or ordinary water-line of the lake,
the slope being gradual, and forming the wide semicircular beach. The grounds
east of the fort, covering several acres, and extending to the foot of
the ridge, show that they have been leveled and made smooth by artificial
means, and were evidently fitted for parade and drill. Now they are covered
with a forest of scattering trees, -- mostly oaks of large growth; are
clean of underbrush, and covered as a lawn with soft thick grass, making
a very pleasant shady grove.
In view of the preceding historical documents and facts, which,
so far as they are matter of record, are undeniable, can any one, especially
our worthy and intelligent State historians, persist in claiming that the
block-house in Brattleboro, or the little stone fort in Addison, were either
of them erected and occupied by a civilized people, anterior to fort St.
Anne on the Isle-La-Motte?
THE COLLECTIONS OF
a meeting of the Commissioners of the Land Office of the State of New York,
held at the Secretary s office in the city of New York, Feb. 13, 1790.
His Excellency George CLINTON, Esq. Governor.
Lewis A. SCOTT, Esq. Secretary.
Gerard BUNCKER, Esq. Treasurer.
Peter T. CASTMENS, Esq. Auditor.
the petition of Samuel MOTT and 90 other persons, inhabitants of a neck
or tongue of land on the west side of Misissquoi Bay refered by a resolution
of the assembly 13th inst to the commissioner of the land office for inquiry
(this Board report) that on the 22d day of August, 1735, a claim was exhibited
by this Board by Peter ALLAIR for himself and in behalf of Sir George YOUNG
for the land in the said petition mentioned (in Isle-La-Motte, I think.)
That on that day Peter ALLAIR in support of said claim proclaimed to the
Board a minute of council of the late Colony of New York dated the 20th
day of January, reciting the petition of Sir George YOUNG for a tract of
land nearly opposite the house of John THOMAS on Long Island in Lake Champlain
the south end of which tract lies nearly west of said Island to extend
northly as far as may be necessary to lay the said road across in pro per
form. A report of the council in favor of the petitioners and an advice
to grant the prayer of the petitioners and a warrant of survey from Sir
Henry MOORE, Governor of the late colony for surveying the same, dated
the 20th January, 1769, with a plan of the survey thereof, the Board then
adjourned the further hearing thereof until Friday the 4th of November
the next. That on the 4th of November, the Board again met and at the instance
of the said Peter ALLAIR postponed the further hearing of the said claim
until the 2d day of January next."
Nothing further was offered by Peter ALLAIR to substantiate his
claim and the powers of the Board expired without their deciding on the
"That on this occasion the Board think proper to observe that by the said
act above refered to it is among other things declared that nothing therein
should be construed to enable any person to hold lands and obtain said
grants (refering to grants founded) as such claims who are not already
qualified by the laws of this State to hold the same; and that no such
claim to any lands shall be allowed in virtue of any mandamus issued by
the King of Great Britain while this State was a Colony, except such mandamus
shall have been granted as a reward for services actually done and performed
in this, then Colony now State of New York and was vested in a citizen
previous to the 9th day of July 1776, who had located and obtained from
the Government of the then Colony of New York an active part with the United
States during the late war. The Board do further respectfully report
that no Caveat was entered by any person against the said claim of the
said Peter ALLAIR in behalf of himself and said George YOUNG nor did any
thing turn up in the course of the investigation thereof to induce this
Board to believe that the land had been thus patented."
Hence the board concluded the lands to be vacant and subject to the disposal
of the Legislature.
The above is the Report of the commissioners of the Land Office
on the petition of Samuel MOTT and 90 other persons, referred to the Assembly
on the 12th Feb., 1790. -- In Assembly, Feb. 20, 1790 -- Ordered that the
further consideration of the said report be. postponed until the next meeting
of the Legislature.
"Deed of Samuel FISK to Henry HARDIE,
five eights of land-Isle-La-Motte --
Know all men, that I, Samuel FISK of Isle-La-Motte in the County of Franklin
State of Vermont-collector of taxes of and for the said town of Motte for
the year 1797 -- by order of the law of this State, relating to surveying
and collecting of rates and taxes in the several towns in the State-for
and in consideration of $3.45 to me in hand paid before the delivering
thereof by Henry HARDIE of St. Johns in the province of Canada, the receipt
of which do hereby acknowledge have given, granted and sold . . . all rights
of land situated in said town of Isle-La-Motte, viz. the original rights
of Leroy HILL, John PAYN, jun., Ebenezer WOOD, jun., Gideon ADAMS and David
LACY, -- the said Henry HARDIE being the highest bidder of the same at
a public vendue, legally holden at the dwelling-house of Dan'l BAKER in
said town on 17th of May, 1798, for the sale of the lands in said town
belonging to delinquents of said rate or tax.
In Ira ALLEN's own hand, the following records:
Oct. 2, 1792.
"Agreement between Ira ALLEN and Ichabod E. FISH.
Witnesseth that said ALLEN has sold said FISH his original right on the
Isle-La-Motte for 15 pounds -- eight pounds to be paid this day -- seven
pounds one year from this date in neat cattle or wheat at said ALLEN's
house, with interest. In case said FISH performs on his part, then said
ALLEN obliges himself, his part &c., to give said FISH a deed of said
lands, otherwise not, in witness thereof we have set our hand and seal,
this 2d day of October 1792, in presence of
1796 -- Ebenezer ALLEN of South Hero for 60 pounds deeded to Ebenezer FITCH
five 50 acre lots in Isle-La-Motte, viz: lot 59, 96, 93, 79, 65, (free
of all incumbrances deed recorded by Abner KNAPP, town clerk, 1st book
of records for deeds in Isle La-Motte, p. 83 and 84.)
1796, Eleazer FITCH of Chambly co.' -- for 60 pounds from George FITCH
of Chambly, deeded 5 50-acre lots (the above).
Sept. 10, 1796 -George FITCH of Chambly co. for 50 pounds deeded to Henry
HARDIE (said above) five 50-acre lots.
Oct. 23, 1779, Act. . . .
that the land described in said petition, be chartered unto Ethan ALLEN,
Samuel HERRICK, Benjamin WAIT and Jonas FAYS, Esqs. and their associates,
by the name of the two Heros [for the sum of 10 thousand pounds], Oct.
27. 1779, granted by the Legislature to Maj. Benj. WAIT and his associates,
the Isle of Motte."
Embracing A History of Each Town,
Ecclesiastical, Biographical and Military."
II, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille & Orange Counties.
Also The Natural History of Chittenden County.
and Published by Miss Abby, Maria Hemenway.
by Karima Allison 2004