OF THE TOWN OF
HALIFAX lies in the southern part of the county, in lat 42°
47' and long. 4° 20', bounded north by Marlboro, east by Guilford,
south by Coleraine, in Massachusetts, and west by Whitingham. The township
has an area of 23,040 acres, and was the second town in the State to receive
a charter from New Hampshire, being granted May 11, 1750, to Oliver and
Samuel Partridge and fifty-seven others. At the instance of Oliver PARTRIDGE
the township was divided in sixty-four equal shares, and the lot of each
owner was marked at the corners with "lasting boundaries." In the center
of the town was a large space of hexagon shape taken froth the surrounding
lots for public uses.
The surface of the town is very rough and uneven, though there are
no elevations of sufficient altitude to warrant their being designated
as mountains. Although there is much land unfit for purposes of cultivation
on account of this brokenness, there are still many fine farms and a large
amount of land possessing a rich, arable soil, while the soil in general
is well adapted to the production of grass, making the town a fine grazing
territory. The timber is mostly beech, birch, maple, ash, hemlock and spruce.
The principal streams are North and Green rivers. The former flows a southeasterly
course through the southwestern part of the town, and the former flows
an easterly course through the northern part of the township. Branch brook
flows a southerly course through the center of the town, uniting with North
river. These streams have several tributaries and afford a number of good
mill-sites. On Branch brook is a succession of cascades extending about
one hundred rods along its course, each of which is from fifteen to twenty
feet in height, and are overlooked by the projecting rocks on the right
in ascending the stream, presenting a wild and beautiful scene. On North
river is a cavern which is often visited by the curious. It is called Woodard's
Cave, or Dun's Den, and is about twenty-five feet in length, five in width,
and the same in height, the sides and top being formed of solid rock. The
rocks entering into the geological structure of the territory are of gneiss,
talcose schist, and calciferous mica schist formation. The first is found
in the northern part, the talcose in the western part, and mica in the
In 1880 Halifax had a population of 852, and in 1882 its thirteen
school districts contained thirteen common schools, employing seven male
and eighteen female teachers, at an aggregate salary of $1,494.43. There
were 189 pupils attending common school, while the entire cost of the schools
for the year, ending October 31st, was $1,780.90, with A. C. JONES, superintendent.
HALIFAX, commonly called Halifax Center, is a post village located
just south of the geographical center of the town. It has one church (Baptist),
a store, and half a dozen dwellings. Like most of the older villages it
is located on a hill-top. There was once a flourishing select school taught
here. The telephone line from Shelburne Falls connects with the line from
Brattleboro at this village, and good stage conveniences are afforded east
WEST HALIFAX is a post village located on North river, about a mile
and a half from the western border and four miles from the southern border
of the town. It contains two churches (Universalist and Baptist), two or
three stores, an extensive tannery, blacksmith shop, grist-mill, etc. The
village has telephone connections with Brattleboro, Shelburne Falls, and
westward by the way of Jacksonville, while daily stages connect with Brattleboro
and North Adams.
SOUTH HALIFAX (p. o.) is a hamlet located on the Massachusetts line
where North river leaves the town. It is connected by daily stage with
Shelburne Falls and Jacksonville.
GROVE is a new postoffice lately established, located at the intersection
of roads 43 and 44, in the southeastern part of the town. Daniel S. Worden
is the postmaster.
REID HOLLOW is a hamlet located in the northeastern part of the
town, on Green river.
A. J. TUCKER's tannery, located at West Halifax, was established
by Nathan W. HALLIDAY, about 1836, though it has been re-built five times.
The present owner came into possession of the property in 1860. He employs
fourteen men and tans 400 sides of leather per week, manufacturing upper
leather extensively: The establishment is operated by both steam and water-power,
using 500 to 600 cords of bark per annum.
Elias STONE's saw-mill and chair-stock factory, located cor. roads
37 and 37 1/2, is operated by an excellent water-privilege. The mill was
formerly used as a grist and carding-mill and cloth dressing factory, and
was converted into its present use by Mr. STONE in 1845. He turns out about
$6,000.00 worth of chair-stock per annum.
W. A. & W. DENISON's saw-mill and chair-stock factory is located
on road 26. It is operated by water-power, afforded by a branch of Green
Alonzo F. and Frank B. STONE's saw and cider-mill and chair-stock
factory, located on road 37, was built by William Morey. It has the capacity
for manufacturing 4,000 feet of lumber per day.
Lewis W. SUMNER's saw and grist-mill is located off road 3 2, in
the southwestern part of the town.
Albert L. THURBERr's saw-mill and chair-stock factory is located
on road 14.
Albert M. V. HAGAR's saw-mill and chair-stock factory is located
on road 54.
Settlements were commenced in the town during the year following
the issue of its charter, in 1751, but those who undertook them were not
able to prosecute their plans on account of the hostility of the Indians.
But after the reduction of Canada, the proprietors of more than forty lots
renewed their exertions "with good proficiency," and although the town
consisted almost entirely of "mountainous lands," and was then heavily
“loaded with timber," yet the proprietors were sanguine that their settlement
would at some future period "prove beneficial to the public." Abner RICE
commenced a settlement in 1761, he being from Worcester county, Mass. He
was joined by others from Coleraine and Pelham, Mass., in 1763, and the
settlement was soon in a fairly prosperous condition, so that in 1771 it
was one of the most populous towns in the county, the census enumeration
for that year being as follows: One hundred males under the age of sixteen
years, eighty-three between the ages of sixteen and sixty, and four over
sixty; seventy-four females under sixteen years of age, and sixty-eight
over sixteen, making a total of 329 souls. In 1791 the population had increased
to 1,309 souls, or about 457 more than the town has to-day. The first town
meeting recorded was held March 3, 1778, at which it was voted to "accept
the constitution of the State of Vermont," and at which James GRAY was
chosen town clerk; William HILL and Amos PEABODY, constables; and Hubbel
WELLS, William HILL, and Isaac GUILDE, selectmen. The first justices were
Benjamin HENRY and Edward HARRIS, in 1786. The first representatives were
Edward HARRIS and Hubbel WELLS, chosen in 1778. The first birth was that
of Sally PRATT, February 7, 1767, who died in October, 1850.
Joseph TUCKER was an early settler of Halifax, locating on road
29, corner 39. He married Abigail EMERSON, by whom he reared five children,
Abigail, James, Stephen, Calvin and Lucy.
Oliver NILES came to Halifax, from Stonington, Conn., at an early
date, in company with his four brothers, Samuel, Henry, Sands, and Jesse.
They purchased 450 acres of land in the southwestern part of the town,
on North river. In the division of the land Oliver received 150 acres,
Samuel 150, Henry 100, Jesse 50. Sands sickened and died soon after their
settlement. David, the father of the brothers, was a soldier in the war
of the Revolution, and was killed at the battle of White Plains, in 1776.
Oliver married Lydia PLUMB, and reared eight children, five of whom, Oliver,
Jr., James, Stephen, Nathaniel, and Lydia, settled in the town. Oliver,
Jr., married Mary McKNIGHT, reared six children, and died in December,
1878. Three of his children are now living, of whom James M., resides on
the old homestead. Oliver P., the oldest son, born April 23, r815, married
Louisa B. FISH, and now resides at Brattleboro.
James SCOTT was an early settler in Halifax, locating here in the
summer of 1781. He brought with him his wife and five children, Clarissa,
Thomas Abel, Asahel, and Joel, there being born to him after he located
here, five more, James, Henry, Sally, Ruby, and Elijah. The family originated
in England, the tradition of the emigration being as follows: A small boy
in England was sent on an errand by his parents, was kidnapped, forced
on board a vessel, and brought to America, where, in accordance with the
practice then in vogue, he was hired out, or sold, for a given time to
pay for his passage. This was the progenitor of the SCOTT family in America.
Numerous descendants are now residing in different parts of the county.
The HARRIS family was also an early family in the town. Their ancestors
are supposed to have been of Welch descent, sons of those who preferred
freedom in the wild mountains of Wales, to Saxon oppression. The first
of the family to come to America, was Mary, widow of Walter HARRIS, and
her son Sabile, who came to New London, Conn., from Monmouthshire, Eng.,
in 1756. The next known ancestor was Job, who was born February 10, 1753,
then Joshua, born in 1770. When sixteen years of age Joshua, in company
with his brother John, left Connecticut and came to Halifax, where they
commenced to clear the land which has ever since been the home farm of
the HARRIS family in Windham county. In 1791, Joshua married Clarissa SCOTT,
by whom lie had eleven children. Joshua, Jr., was born June 16, 18o I,
married Nancy MINER in 1825, and settled upon the home farm, where seven
children were born to him. Six of whom obtained a mature age. He died in
1876, aged seventy-seven years, leaving a widow and four children, three
of whom are now living.
Francis PHELPS served as a soldier in the Revolutionary war seven
years, then came to Brattleboro, married Anna S. PRATT, settled in Marlboro,
remained there five years, and then came to Halifax, locating where Joseph
HALE and son now reside. He married, for his second wife, a Mrs. FESSENDEN,
and died at the age of eighty-four years. He was for many years a deacon
of the Baptist church.
The FISH family, so far as can be ascertained, sprang from an ancient
Saxon root, referred to in the records of the German nobility as "FISCH."
At a very early date a branch of the original stock is found in England,
and upon the colonization of New England three persons of that name, Nathaniel,
John and Jonathan, came to this country and settled at Lynn, Mass. Little,
however, is known of these brothers. John is the first known ancestor of
the family, he being one of the first settlers of Groton, Conn., found
there as early as 1655. The next ancestor was Samuel, born in 1656, whose
name occurs in the patent of New London, in 1704, the year prior to the
incorporation of Groton. He was the second townsman in Groton on its organization,
and was re-elected to this position many years. In the French and Indian
wars he bore a captain's commission. After Samuel came Nathan, born in
1699, then Nathan, born in 1727, and Samuel, born in 1751. In 1780 or 1781,
Samuel left the town of Groton, Conn., to seek a new home in the wilds
of Vermont. He and his young wife and two little children, on horseback,
traveled through the almost trackless wilderness, and at length reached
a place in Halifax, where he cleared away the trees, built a log cabin,
planted a few patches of corn, potatoes, and beans, and set about the earnest
work of providing for himself and family. It was in this home that the
third Samuel was born October 13, 1788. Assisting in carrying on the farm
and the tanning business, he enjoyed the limited means of education common
in those days, and was early a disciple in the school of Christ, as he
professed religion in June, 1808, and joined the church in the east part
of Guilford. In speaking of it he said: "I obtained a hope about the first
of May, at a meeting one evening; I was irresistibly impressed to speak,
so I arose, opened my mouth, and all my fears and trouble subsided at once,
and I felt at peace with God, and all the world. I have used my mouth ever
since. I took a text for the first time on a Sabbath day, in the year 1813,
in a school-house on Green river in Guilford." From that time he preached,
either occasionally or habitually, in Halifax, Guilford, and Leyden, but
mostly in Coleraine. He was first invited to preach in his native town
in 1820. In June following he was engaged as stated supply for one year.
On July 15, 1822, he was set apart to the ministry by solemn ordination.
During the next few years one hundred and twelve members were added to
his church. He continued to preach in Halifax until December 25, 1867,
when he moved to Guilford, where he preached until April, 1869. He then
returned to Halifax, where he remained until he finished preaching, on
the second Sunday in June, 1871. He preached ten thousand sermons, five
hundred funeral sermons, baptized more than two hundred converts, and married
about two hundred couples. Five of those baptized by him became ministers,
and one a missionary to Burmah. Henry C. FISH, D. D., formerly of Newark,
N. J., and son of Samuel FISH, was one of the five ministers. During his
ministry he worked five and sometimes six hours of the day in the field
or shop, and preached three times on the Sabbath. In regard to salary lie
said: "There was no stipulated salary, I was a volunteer. Pay was the last
thing I thought of." He was twice married, and had fifteen children, eleven
of whom lived to maturity. They were all, with one exception, baptized
by their father. After the completion of his ministry he lived for a short
time with his son James, in Guilford, and March 1, 1872, removed to Brattleboro
to live with his daughter Louisa (Mrs. O. P. NILES), where he remained
until his death, January 25, 1883, at the age of ninety-four years and
three months. His funeral took place at Brattleboro, January 27th, and
services were also held at Halifax the next day, in the church over which
he was so long a pastor. From there his body was caned to its last resting
place, in the family burial ground near his birth place. His funeral sermon,
at his request, was preached by John S. SHEPHERDSON, of Greenfield, Mass.
He had made arrangements for his funeral, and the text, "I shall he satisfied
when I awake in thy likeness," was his own selection. At the present time
only three of his children are living in Vermont, James P. FISH, in Halifax,
and Louisa (Mrs. L. E. NILES), and Sarah (Mrs. L. E. HIGBY), in Brattleboro.
Gen. Jonathan SMITH, son of Jonah SMITH, was horn in Halifax in
1783. He married Lucy WHITNEY, of Marlboro, settled there and kept a hotel
for several years. This marriage resulted in the birth of five children,
and by his second wife, Amanda STONE, of Windsor, Vt., who is still living
at West Brattleboro, he had no issue. Mr. SMITH died in June, 1851. Only
two of his children are living, Benjamin F., in Chicago, and Henry F.,
Sylvester WORDEN was one of the early settlers in Halifax. He had
two sons and a brother, Ichabod, who served in the Revolutionary war. After
the war they settled in Halifax. Peter, another brother, married Rachel
HALE, of Bernardston, Mass., and settled and died here. Asa, James and
Samuel, other brothers, also located here. Peter, Jr., married Barbara
STAFFORD, and reared eleven children, eight of whom are living, as follows:
Lewis A., in Guilford; Peter H., in Halifax; Mary (Mrs. D. CARPENTER),
in Brattleboro; Emily A. (Mrs. D. WEATHERHEAD), in Brattleboro; Malinda
(Mrs. W. A. DENNISON), on the old homestead; Alsena (Mrs. E. THAYER), in
Sherburne Falls, Mass.; Lucy R. (Mrs. S. LEONARD), in Conway, Mass.; and
Marcus, in Guilford.
Matthew, James and George CLARK, brothers, came from Scotland at
an early day, settling in Pelham and Petersham, Mass., and from there removed
to Coleraine, Mass. Matthew was killed by Indians during the French and
Indian war. James came to Halifax in 1797, locating upon the farm now owned
by Joseph WORDEN. He lived the remainder of his life here, rearing seven
children. John and George, two of his sons, served in the French and Indian
war. George was killed at the defeat of Gen. BRADDOCK, and John died of
camp fever. James, Elisha and Asa came with their father to this town.
Asa, son of James, removed to Jefferson county, N. Y., with his four sons,
Archibald, Asa, Elisha and Elias. Four sons of George, 1st, settled in
the town. The CLARK family is now widely scattered throughout the country.
Dea. Israel JONES, from Connecticut, came to Halifax previous to
1788, locating in what is now known as Reid Hollow, on Green river. He
died at the age of ninety-nine years. His son Daniel, born here September
30, 1788, married Caroline GRAVES, March 4, 1810, and died January 13,
1857, at the house of his son Calvert. Ansel G., an older son, died unmarried.
Betsey, an older daughter, married Daniel BIXBY; of Guilford. Calvert married
Emily A. FARNUM and had two sons born to him. Ansel C., now a resident
of Wilmington, and Cyrus M., occupying the old homestead, on road 29.
George PLUMB, son of James, came to Halifax, from Stonington, Conn.,
about 1797, and in 1798 or '99 James came on, with his third wife, Eunice
MINOR, by whom he had eleven sons and three daughters, having had five
children by his first wife and nine by his second.
Elias STONE, from Coleraine, Mass., came to Halifax about 1800,
locating on road 50, upon the place now known as the SMITH farm.
Benjamin GREENE came to this town, from Stonington, Conn., in 1804,
locating on road 44. He married Mary A. PROUTY, who bore him five children,
of whom Sarah, Elijah P., Amos and Elliott B., reside in the town.
Jesse WHEELER, from Stonington, Conn., came to Halifax when a young
man, about 1814. He served a short time in the war of 1812, receiving a
government land warrant in acknowledgement of his services. He married
Prudence GREEN in 1815, and spent the remainder of his life on the farm
now owned by his son William, dying in April, 1869, aged seventy-seven
The churches of Halifax are a Baptist church, at Halifax village,
with no regular pastor; a Baptist church at West Halifax, with Rev. Horace
FOWLER, pastor; and the Universalist church, at West Halifax, with no stated
and Business Directory of
County, Vt., 1724-1884.
and Published By Hamilton Child,
At The Journal Office, Syracuse, N. Y., July, 1884.
by Karima Allison ~2004