XX indexVermont  




Westfield lies in the western part of the county, in lat. 44º 52' and long. 4º 30', bounded north by Jay, east by Troy, south by Lowell, and West by Montgomery, in Franklin county. It contains an area of 23,040 acres, chartered by Vermont to Daniel Owen and fifty-nine associates May 15, 1780. 

       The eastern part of the territory is level, lying in the fertile valley of the Missisquoi river, while the western part, extends up upon the main chain of the Green Mountains, being a succession of rugged mountain peaks from Montgomery mountain in the southern part, to Jay peak in the northeastern part. South of Montgomery mountain, between it and the north line of Lowell, the range is made passable by Hazen's Notch, a gap several hundred feet in depth. Its name was derived from Gen. Hazen who built the Hazen road in revolutionary times. The beautiful views and romantic scenery of this section are mentioned on page 164. The principal stream is the Missisquoi river, which runs in a northeasterly direction through the southeast corner of the   town, receiving several tributaries which form an accession to its waters equal to nearly the original amount on entering the town. The first of these is called Coburn brook. It rises near the line of Jay, and, running in a southeasterly direction into Jay, enters the Missisquoi near the south village. The next branch of importance is Mill brook, a southeasterly direction through the village. The next runs in a south, and then in a northerly direction, uniting with Mill brook near the Troy line. This stream received its name from Lyman Taft, who erected the first grist and saw-mill in town, upon its banks. The most southerly stream is called Burgess brook, from one of the settlers who lived near it on West hill. It rises in the southwestern part of the town, flows a southeasterly course and joins the river near the south line.  Another stream is formed by the confluence of two brooks in the southern part of Troy and runs a short distance in Westfield into the Missisquoi. These streams afford many excellent mill-sites, while the broad meadows of their valleys afford large ranges of excellent farming land, the soil being of an alluvial character. The timber of the town is that common to Northern Vermont. 

       The rocks entering into the geological structure of the territory are principally of the talcose schist formation, though there are, in the eastern part, some considerable beds of clay slate and serpentine. Several large bowlders of granite abound, which have been used for building purposes, etc. The serpentine rocks extend from Lowell through the southeast corner of the town into Troy,  forming numerous bluffs of several feet in height. In connection with this  range, chromate of iron, bitter spar, talcose slate, and specimens of asbestos have been found, and also veins of amianthus, a variety of asbestos having long threads like flax. On road 21, near Hazen's Notch, some St. Albans parties are opening a soapstone quarry and an asbestos mine which give promise of success.

       In 1880, Westfield had a population of 696, and in 1882 was divided into seven school districts, and contained six common schools employing two male and eight female teachers, to whom was paid an aggregate salary of $439.75. There were 138 pupils attending school, while the entire cost of the schools for the year, ending October 31st., was $483.65, with E. H. Belyea, superintendent. 

       Westfield, a post village located in the eastern part of the town, contains two churches (Methodist Episcopal and Congregational,) a school building, town hall, two stores, a blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, and about 250 inhabitants. 

       Hoyt & Wakefield’s mill, located on Taft brook, road 15, manufactures potato starch, and spruce, hemlock and hardwood lumber, employing ten men. 

       All, or nearly all, of the original proprietors resided in Rhode Island, and but one, Thomas Burlingame, ever lived in town and he only remained a few months. The town was surveyed by Gen. James Whitelaw, of Ryegate in 1780.  Nothing was done towards the settlement of the town, however, until eighteen years afterwards. In 1798, Jesse Olds, from Massachusetts, came into the town and commenced a settlement on the West hill. For nearly a year this family lived here with no neighbors nearer than West Troy, twelve miles distant. The next year, in 1799, William Hobbs, Anthony Burgess and John Hartley came to the town with their families. These four families constituted the population for about four years. On March 29, 1802, the first town meeting was held at the residence of Mr. Olds, when the following list of officers were elected: Jesse Olds, town clerk: William Hobbs, Anthony Burgess, and Warren Mason, selectmen; William Hobbs, treasurer; William Hobbs, Jesse Olds, and Warren Mason, listers; Anthony Burgess, constable; William Hobbs, grand juror; Jesse Olds and Anthony Burgess, highway surveyors; Warren Mason and William Hobbs, fence viewers; Anthony Burgess, pound keeper; Jesse Olds and Warren Mason, scalers of weights and measures; William Hobbs and Anthony Burgess, tything men; Anthony Burgess and Jesse Olds, haywards; and William Hobbs, Warren Mason, Anthony Burgess, James Coburn, John Hartley, and Samuel Walker, petit jurors. 

       At this period there was no grist-mill nearer than Craftsbury. A few of the proprietors of Westfield, wishing to encourage the settlement of the infant town, made a grant of land to Lyman Taft, of Montague, Mass., on condition that he would build a saw-mill on the lot. The mill was built in 1803 on Taft's brook. It was in operation only a short time, however, when it was destroyed by fire. In the summer of 1803, David Barber moved into town and settled on a farm on Taft's brook. Here his eldest child, Lucina, was born, the first birth in the township. Mr. Barber lived in the town for over half a century, and raised a large family of children, dying in 1855. About this time Thomas Burlingame, one of the proprietors, moved into the town, locating on the Missisquoi river, though he remained but a short time. In November, 1803, Rodolphus Reed, from Montague, Mass., commenced a settlement here. He reared a large family of children and died in 1841. His wife died in 1867. These families constituted the population of the town in 1803 and '04, with the addition of two or three unmarried men, and a mulatto, James Prophet, who lived with Mr. Olds. 

       In the spring of 1804, Capt. Medad Hitchcock, from Brimfield, Mass., moved into town with his three sons, Thomas, Heber, and Smith and settled where the village of Westfield now is. In the course of a year or two, Capt. Hitchcock erected a saw-mill. It stood a few rods above the starch factory of William Richardson. 

       His son, Thomas, built a grist-mill about the same time, a few rods below the site of the present saw-mill. These mills supplied a want that had long been severely felt, as the settlers had been obliged to carry their grain either to Craftsbury or Richford for grinding. 

       In 1804, Hosea Sprague, from Brimfield, Mass., came into the town. He was a soldier of the revolution, and had fought in many or the principal battles of that war. He subsequently removed to Lowell, where he died about 1840. The next year, 1805, Jacob Stebbins, a son-in-law of Capt. Hitchcock, came into the town. He reared a large family of children, and died in Sunderland, Mass., about 1852. From this time forward, until the war of 1812, settlers came in quite rapidly. 

       In 1806, the main road from Westfield to Lowell was laid out very near where the present stage road runs. This was a great convenience to the inhabitants, as previous to this the only road leading to Craftsbury ran over West hill, an exceedingly tedious and uncomfortable route. 

       The first school-house was built on West hill, about 1804-‘05, the first teacher being Sally Hobbs. The next school-house was built in 1806, about six or eight rods east of where the academy now stands. Mrs. Thomas Hitchcock was the first teacher. The academy was built in 1860. 

       In 1818, Jerry Hodgkins moved from Belvidere to Westfield and opened a small store. This was a great convenience to the people, as previous to this their trading was all done at Craftsbury. He took black salts in exchange for his goods, and manufactured them into pearl ash. He continued in trade only about two or three years. In October, 1838, Orlando Winslow and Russell S. Page opened a store under the title of Winslow & Page, about twenty rods north of the residence now occupied by Aaron C. Hitchcock. Just before opening the store they both went to Boston, each with a team and heavy wagon, carrying a load of butter, and each brought back a load of goods. In the following March Mr. Page purchased Mr. Winslow's interest and. continued the business alone. Mr. Winslow then opened a store in the southern part of the town, where F. Andrews now lives, and continued business at that location four or five years. In October, 1845, he purchased the store at Westfield village, of Arad Hitchcock, which Mr. Page had occupied, and continued in trade until 1853, when he resold to Mr. Hitchcock. All this time, Mr. Winslow owned and managed his farm in the southern part of the town, to which he returned in 1853, where he remained until 1860, then sold out to his son, and returned to the village. About two years later he, in company with his son-in-law, Ashley Farman, bought a farm of 123 acres near the village, which is now occupied by D. E. Wright. In 1872, Mr. Winslow sold this interest and retired from business, and is now living at the village, aged eighty-three years. 

       The people were without a mail route or a postoffice for nearly thirty years. About 1830, a mail route was established between Craftsbury and St. Albans. The road ran over the high mountain between Albany and Lowell and then over the mountain between Lowell and Montgomery, through Hazen's Notch. Bradley Sanborn was stage driver. Soon after, a branch route was established   between Lowell and North Troy. Ezra Johnson carried the mail twice a week, usually on horse-back.  A postoffice was then established in Westfield, and Henry Richardson appointed postmaster. Previous to this people went to Craftsbury for their mails. 

       Jacob Stebbins, from Brimfield, Mass., came to Westfield in 1804, and obtained a lot of land where M.C. Hitchcock now resides. Here he cut down a piece of timber, built a log house, and in the autumn returned to Massachusetts. The next year he married Patty Hitchcock and brought her to his new home. This union was blessed with seven children, only two of whom, Jacob and Smith, are living. About two years after he located here Mr. Stebbins was joined by his father, who lived with him during the remainder of his life. 

       Luke Miller, from Westminster, Vt., came here in 1816 and located upon the farm now occupied by his nephew, Albert Miller. By constant industry he succeeded in clearing this farm and making a home for his family, though he experienced many hardships, being obliged at times to spend a whole day in finding a half-bushel of corn or wheat to supply bread. About 1814, he married Miss Ursula Hitchcock, the union being blessed with eight children, and by a second marriage the eight was increased to eleven. The oldest of these, Josiah H. Miller, was brought here when six months of age and now resides on road 11 at the age of sixty-seven years. All along the years from the early settlement to the improvements of today, he has marked the changes and transactions in his town, and none loves it better than he. Luke was a town officer for many years and died in 1842, aged fifty-three years. 

       Sampson Miller, from Westminster, came here in 1824, and located upon the farm now owned by Mrs. Emeline Clark, where he carried on farming a number of years then, formed a copartnership with his brother Henry, in the manufacture of pails. He died in October, 1848. Of his large family of thirteen children only three now reside in the town. Of the others living, one resides in Troy, one in Craftsbury, one in Springfield, Mass., and one in Michigan. 

       Edson Farman was born at Bath, N.H., May 27, 1808. He received a common school education, and, at the age of twenty years, came to Troy and worked at farming with his brother, Safford, who had located there a year previous. He next went to Lowell, Vt., and purchased a lot of wild land and commenced to clear a farm, but remained only a few years. He then sold his improvements and went to Lyman, N.H. About five years subsequent to this latter change, he returned to Troy and purchased a farm near the South village, where he remained fourteen years. In 1832, he came to this town and located on road 12, where he now resides.  He married Mary Ann Farman of Troy, Vt., in 1830. Only two of their large family of children are living, viz.: Ozro, in Eden, and Mrs. Lois Miller of this town. Mr. Farman served his townsmen in many positions of trust, among which that of representative, in 1869-'70. 

       Lyman Taylor, from Springfield, Vt., came to Westfield in 1836, locating upon the farm now owned by Bethuel Stone, and now resides on road 17. Mr. Taylor is the father of seventeen children, only two of whom, a son and a daughter, are living. The son resides in Oregon, the daughter, Mrs. Charles Tillotson, in Lowell, Vt. 

       Thomas Trumpass, born in. England, in came to America at the age of seventeen years, and located in Westfield in 1837. Three years later he settled on the farm where he now resides. The farm was then nearly all a wilderness, only about five acres being chopped but not cleared. On this clearing or "slashed" lots he built a log house and commenced improvements.   He now has a finely cultivated farm of 70 acres, well furnished with farm buildings, etc.  His father, mother, and three sisters made their home with him, and the mother is still living, aged eighty-four years. He is the father of three children, the only son residing at home with him. One daughter lives in Troy, and the other in Lowell.  From a capital of fifty cents, Mr. Trumpass has thus accumulated a competence and now has an excellent farm and a good home in his old age. 

       Oscar P. Wright, son of Philander Wright, an early settler in Newport, was born in that town February 15, 1846, and, in 1872, came to this town as a teacher in the public schools. In the following autumn he permanently located where he now resides, on road 5, cor 3. Since then he has taught school in Newport, Coventry and Jay. 

       David Johnson, from Ludlow, Vt., located in Jay, on road 18, in 1831. He reared a family of seven children, five of whom are now living, and all have followed school teaching to some extent. The youngest, Isaac D., resides in this town on road 13. 

      The war of 1812 proved a severe check on the growth and prosperity of the town.  Though the people were never molested by the enemy, the effects of the war upon the community were disastrous. Settlers no longer came in at the rate they formerly did.  Property depreciated in value and a great stagnation seemed to settle upon the general business and prosperity, and many of the inhabitants left for other localities. After the battle of Plattsburgh, in 1814, many who had left gradually returned to their farms, though quite a number never came back. In September, 1814, a military company was organized, the first in the town. Maj. Cornell, of Derby, assisted by Capt. Samuel Hovey, of Troy, presided over the organization. Thomas Stoughton was elected captain, Jairus Stebbins, ensign, and Thomas Hitchcock, orderly sergeant. Every able-bodied man in town joined the company, but the number was so small that but two commissioned officers were appointed. This organization, together with a company of government soldiers stationed at North Bay about this time, tended greatly to reassure the people and quiet their alarm. 

       When the great rebellion came upon us, Westfield was not found wanting in patriotism and public spirit. Volunteering was encouraged and liberal bounties were raised to reward those who were willing to offer themselves on the altar of liberty. Forty-three of Westfield's sons went  to the front and eleven of them are now resting under the green turf they died to save, All honor to their memory and peace to their ashes. 

       The Congregational church, located at Westfield village, was organized by Rev. Levi Parson, with twelve members, April 19, 1818, the first regular pastor being Rev. Reuben Mason. The first house of worship was built in 1828, and was superseded by the present structure in 1848, a wood building capable of 200 persons, and valued, including other property, at $1,500.00. The society now has fifty-five members, with Rev. Rufus King, pastor.

       The Methodist Episcopal church of Westfield, located at Westfield village, was organized February 22, 1831. The church building was erected in 1869, a wood structure capable of accommodating 250 persons. It Cost $2,000.00, about its present value. The society has about thirty-three members, with Rev. George Goodell, pastor. 

(Source: Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page  288-58 to 288-59)

 This excerpt was provided by Tom Dunn.