Fort Dummer Site

David A. Henry, Stereoview From Hinsdale Toward Brattleboro.jpg

David A. Henry Photograph In 1860's

Fort Dummer Site

Fort Dummer Site, Clay Pipe.jpg

Walter Harrington's Fort Dummer Excavation Collection

One of our most interesting finds within the compass of Fort Dummer itself was a circular bowl or depression about 8 feet across, 18 inches deep in the center, laid up with a double layer of flat stones and completely covered with 6 to 8 inches of ashes. Obviously there were large fires here for long periods of time.

Fort Dummer Site, Field Stone Foundation, Ashes.jpg

Walter Harrington, "Fort Dummer: An Archaeological Investigation of the First Permanent English Settlement in Vermont". New England Historical Archaeology, Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Procedings. (Boston: Boston University Press, 1977), ps. 86-94.

Fort Dummer, After A Sketch By Charles J. Brasor.jpg

Fort Dummer Excavation Map 1976.jpg

The Physiognomy Of Fort Dumer.jpg

Description Of Artifacts

These are the remains of clay pipes made in England and Scotland and used by both the Indian and white man. They were a popular trade item at Fort Dummer. On some of the pipes you will see the maker's marks stamped into the side or foot of the bowl.

This is a "footed" bowl, the only one of this style I have found to date at the Fort Dummer site.

Apparently most of the pipes found had never been smoked. This bowl does show the absorption of tobacco tar from a long period of use.

Shards of various types of pottery from the Fort Dummer site.

Pieces of old glass from the site.

Trade knives. These were large folding knives.

Parts of two crossbelt buckles. Crossbelts were the heavy belts worn diagonally across the body to carry the heavy ammunition pouch.

Small, crude buckle -- use unknown.

Small, ornate buckle, made of pewter, decorated with crowns and fleur-de-lis -- probably a knee buckle.

Spoon handle of pewter, "rat tail" design. So called because a reinforcing rib of metal ran the length of the handle and under the bowl.

Spoon handle, handmade of brass, lobe-end style.

Spoon handle, pewter, trefoil pattern. Cross and crown mark on the reverse.

These are 3 Hibernia half-pennies, dated 1723. Hibernia is the ancient name for Ireland and these coins were struck in 1722, 23, and 24 for use in Ireland. These coins were unpopular in Ireland, so most of them were sent to the American colonies.

This is a King George I half-penny. 1722

King George II half-penny. Struck from 1727-1760. 1740

Buttons made of brass.

Oval cufflink.

Buttons made of pewter.

These are the remains of two Jew's harps. The frame of one is intact, while the other has been bent open and broken. The vibrating tongues were of steel, and have long since rusted away, but the frames are of brass and remain unchanged. Jew's harps were small, durable, inexpensive and easy to play, so were probably one of the few musical instruments carried by the early settlers.

The shaft of this key is hollow at the end to fit on a pin. Probably from the lock on a chest.

Small wedge used to tighten the heads of axes and hammers.

Tool used for boring holes in wood. Used in a bit-brace.

Horse-shoe nails. These have a long tapered head which wedges up into the horse shoe, and does not wear away quickly as a flat head would. After they are driven up through the shoe and hoof, the excess is cut off flush to the hoof.

Nails. These are found in many sizes and styles. All are handmade, beaten out on the anvil by the blacksmith.

This is one of the two brackets used to hold the handle on a large brass kettle. It was cast in a handmade sand mold. Note that the shape is not symetrical. Note, too, the texture left by the coarse sand of the mold. It is made of brass and the rivets are copper.

This is part of a whetstone made of a local stone. One side is quite rough, but the other side is as smooth as glass.

Part of a horse bit.

Miscellaneous pieces of tools and hardware, etc.

One half of a heavy door hinge.

Irregular pieces of lead, probably spillage from a casting which ran into the ground and hardened.

Remains of links from different sized chains.

Two flints used in the flint-lock weapons of the Fort Dummer period.

Cannon ball believed to be for the "great gun" of Fort Dummer. It is 3-3/4 inches in diameter and weighs 3 pounds, 12 ounces. Before its many years of rusting it was probably a "four pounder".

Lead balls of many sizes, such as these, were used in muskets and pistols. Sometimes several of the smaller sizes were loaded into the rifle at one time, shotgun style.

This is a perfect half of a lead ball with no marks from a cutting tool on it. This was a puzzle to me until I learned that these clever people sometimes slipped a piece of stiff paper into the bullet mold before casting; in effect, splitting the ball except for one edge. This ball was loaded as usual, but when fired split into two and flew in slightly different trajectories.

This is a flat sheet of lead which has been folded and hit with a small shot which was still embedded when found. A little target practice, perhaps?

Tumblers from an early musket. The tumbler is a notched cam to which the hammer of the rifle is directly attached. There are two notches, one for half-cock and one for full-cock.

Part of the trigger guard of a French musket.

Part of the side-plate of a musket, dragon pattern. Note the beaked head of the dragon.

Part of the side-plate of a musket, serpent pattern. Note the scales in the design.

A sheet of lead folded into a tube; use unknown.

Pieces of iron pots of various sizes.

Part of a large iron cauldron including one of the three legs which supported it.

Part of a small iron pot, including the hole for the handle.

Parts of a flat-iron. The iron itself was made of sheet steel in the shape of one of those plastic boxes used to carry pie in a lunch pail. It had a handle on top and near the rear wall (opposite the point) had a sliding door. One of the wedge-shaped pieces shown here was heated and placed inside. The iron was used until it began to lose heat then the wedge was dumped out and another inserted.

Made of brass; probably knee buckles.

Pewter spoon handle; wreath around bust design.

Fort Dummer, Fieldstone Foundation, 1724, Northwest Corner, 1976 Excavation.jpg

Fort Dummer Site, Fieldstone Foundation, Northwest Corner

Walter Harrington Excavation At Low Water


Indian Rock, Petroglyphs In Brattleboro.jpg

Indian Rock, Petroglyphs In Brattleboro


Fort Dummer Before 1740 Improvements, Engraving By J. S. Conway & Co., Boston.jpg

Fort Dummer Before 1740 Improvements

Engraving By J. S. Conway & Co., Boston

Fort Dummer.

It Probably Stood Until 1771----

Other Facts Anent Its History.

Where so much has been so well said and done about Fort Dummer more might seem out of place; still a few additional things may be mentioned perhaps with propriety. No one has told how long the fort stood, and probably no one can tell exactly. It appears to have been standing in 1770, for a deed of a part of the land of Col. Hunt dated April 10 in that year bounds it, "beginning at the foot of the hill at the lane west of Fort Dummer."

This was at the cascade, and the lane came across the north end of where Col. Hunt's garden is, and went up the hill on the south side of the brook. It was the scout path to the fort at Colrain. William King was surveyor of it as a highway in 1771 from the "County road to Dummer," and to Guilford.

The fort probably was not standing in 1772, for in a deed of the land where that garden is, dated May 9 in that year, the lane is described as "leading from the main road to Connecticut river," instead of to the fort.

The main road, sometimes called the county road, then came along under where Col. Hunt's buildings are and on the west side of where the garden is. The lane crossed it near the northwest corner of the garden, making four corners there.

In a petition dated Jan. 2, 1786, James Hubbard, who lived just on the east side, asked the legislature of New Hampshire for the grant of a ferry, "over Connecticut river against where the Fort called Dummer formerly stood;" it was granted in June after. The driveway down to this ferry is there now, and is against where Mr. Hines has located the fort.

In a deed dated Feb. 16, 1786, the description reads: "Beginning at the Old Well on the Bank of the River where the Old Fort Dummer stood." These expressions show that the fort had been down some time before 1786, and that probably it was taken down in 1771.

It was built in the spring of 1724 of timber cut there, hewn square and laid up. In 1831 a barn was moved there, and a piece of square timber was noticed which Ebenezer Howe, sen., of Vernon, who could well remember about it, said was one of the timbers of the fort. Canes were made of it, some of which are in existence, and one is owned by Mr. Hines now.

In the charter of the town, granted Dec. 26, 1753, there was reserved to his majesty, King George II., besides pine trees for masts, "Also his fort Dummer & a Tract of fifty rods square round it, viz., fifty rods West, twenty-five rods south & twenty-five rods North of said Fort."

The state of Vermont succeeded to this title, and would be entitled to this tract now, but for the right gained to it by possession. It is held under Capt. Nathan Willard, the last commander of the fort; and the title acquired by the occupancy of him and those under him is unquestionably good.

Some may have noticed the lone grave stone on the little knoll west of this garden, and perhaps have tried, and been unable, to make out the inscription. It reads, as deciphered some time ago:

Here lies interred
Susan wife to Lieut.
Wilder Willard
who died Nov
20, 1768 in ye 28th
year of her age

Her grave is not there, but over beyond the northeast corner of the garden. A farmer plowed up the stone and threw it away many years ago; another, with more reverence, set it where it stands. The husband had been an officer at the fort. the burying place for the fort was over the river, in sight, northeast of the present Hinsdale road . . .

Vermont Phoenix, August 28, 1896.

Hon. Hoyt Henry Wheeler


Fort Dummer.jpg

Fort Dummer Site Map

William St. John

Map By William St. John.jpg

William St. John, Fort Dummer Map, Roads, Brooks, Farms, Land Record Citations.jpg

William St. John, Fort Dummer Site Map

Showing Farms, Brooks, Roads, Stone Walls

Land Records Citations

William St. John, Fort Dummer Map, David Goodell Farm At Crossroads.jpg

David Goodell Farm At Crossroads

The Cascade Road 1894.jpg

Original Road Up From The Cascade 1894

Old County Road Now Completely Wooded Over

East From The Present Cotton Mill Hill Road

Chase's Cascade, Postmarked July 11, 1908.jpg

Venter's Brook, Chase's Cascade

William St. John, Fort Dummer Site, Old County Road.jpg

William St. John, Fort Dummer Site Map

Old County Road Area


The Hunt Farm, Flood.jpg

The Hunt Farm


Fort Dummer Site Described In 1833

Dummer Farm, February 1833, John Holbrook's Advertisement.jpg

Brattleboro Messenger, February 23, 1833.

John Holbrook Advertisement


Near Brattleboro', upon the western banks of the river, were seen, until lately, the remains of the celebrated Fort Dummer. This, next to Fort Massachusetts, was the most important post and the strongest fortification on our northern frontiers, during the whole of the Indian wars. It was the principal depot and trading establishment on the Connecticut river, or in this country, at that time.

It was situated upon what is now called 'Dummer's Farm,' and directly upon the spot where now stands the dwelling and out-houses of Mr. Brooks. It is said to have comprised an area of about four acres; present appearances, however, indicate its enclosure to have been much larger.

The embankments and flanking ports are observable, though now much diminished. Around and upon these may be supposed to have been the outer stockade, sweeping in a semicircle from the river, some distance from Mr. Brooks' house to within six rods of the side of the road, and terminating also upon the river at a still greater distance from the house.

L. D. C.

The Independent Inquirer, October 26, 1833.

Article by Lafayette Clark

Old Ferry Landing, Hinsdale, New Hampshire, Looking North.jpg

Old Ferry Landing In Hinsdale, New Hampshire

Simon Brooks Farm, Covered Bridge In Distance


Near The Cascade, Road Bearing Northeasterly 1894.jpg

Old Road East From The Cascade Brook 1894

Northeasterly Past The David Goodell And Simon Brooks Farms


Fort Dummer Site, Colonel John Hunt Farm, Cotton Mill Hill, Simon Brooks Farm.jpg

Colonel John Hunt Farm, Cotton Mill Hill, Simon Brooks Farm

View From New Hampshire Across Connecticut River

The Dummer Farm Fire 1903

Simon Brooks Farm Fire, Windham County Reformer, April 24, 1903.jpg

Windham County Reformer, Friday, April 24, 1903.

The expression "the old buildings connected with the fort" may indicate that the owners of the Dummer Farm before Samuel M. Brooks took timbers from the ruined fort after 1771 for their own building construction. Not all was lost when Fort Dummer fell into disuse. The Vermont Record and Farmer reported on January 31, 1873 that "a bit brace, used in the construction of Fort Dummer" was on display in the extensive relics collection at the Sedgewick Post No. 8 annual festival.


Ferry At Fort Dummer, Vermont.jpg

Ferry At Fort Dummer Site

A Short Chapter of Ferry History.

The having a ferry by Mr. Brown at the Brooks place is going back to old times. That has been a crossing place since 1723, when Col. John Stoddard and Lieut. Timothy Dwight came to locate and build Fort Dummer. They came by way of Northfield and crossed the river on the ice.

The principal travel up the river came that way afterwards, and there was much passing between Shattuck's fort on the meadow, Hinsdale's fort at the Liscum place, and Fort Dummer after they were built about 1735. Such a ferry right with the privilege of taking toll is a franchise, and to be well founded must be granted by the sovereign power, which at that place, as the river is all in New Hampshire, has, since the Revolution, been the legislature of that state. Before that it was the King of Great Britain through the Royal Governor.

Jan. 2, 1786, James Hubbard made a petition for a ferry "over Connecticut river against where the Fort called Dummer formerly stood." That was at this place. In the petition he set forth that he owned the land, and had a dwelling house about eight rods from the ferry landing on the east side of the river, which was the only house within half a mile of there. The right was granted at the June session of the legislature in 1786 . . . .

Vermont Phoenix, August 14, 1903.

Connecticut River Ferry To Hinsdale, New Hampshire, 1894.jpg

Hinsdale Ferry From Fort Dummer Site 1894



Road Through Pines North From Cascade Brook

Post Card

John Hunt Farm, Called Dummer Farm, Built By Sylvanus Sartwell.jpg

Col. John Hunt's Farm

Called Dummer Farm, Built By Sylvanus Sartwell

Orchard Far Left, Man Standing On Porch Far Right


Flooding From The Vernon Dam In April 1909


Fort Dummer Monument.jpg

Fort Dummer Monument

On The Original Site Before Flooding By Vernon Dam

Fort Dummer Site Monument Plaque 1901.jpg

Fort Dummer, Excavation At Northwest Corner 1976.jpg

An Ancient Letter.

About the Province of Massachusetts Bay and Old Fort Dummer.

Mr. A. K. Jones, the long-time bellringer of Harvard college, has presented to the Brooks library an autograph letter relating to Fort Dummer, which is very interesting on account of its age and its contents. It is dated May 24, 1745. The Province of Massachusetts Bay was at first granted to extend from three miles south of the Charles river to three miles north of the Merrimac river, and to carry that breadth throughout to the Pacific ocean. At that time the Merrimac river was not known to come down from the north and to turn east to the Atlantic ocean, but was supposed to come from the west to the Atlantic ocean, and so the grant was supposed to give Massachusetts about the breadth it has now. When the true course of the Merrimac from the north became known Massachusetts was made so wide and New Hampshire so narrow that the line was corrected, and put where it is now in 1741. This letter refers to this correction and to the amount of land gained thereby:

Thus which is a Vast and very Valuable tract of Land being about forty Miles wide from North to South and will Carry that breadth throughout the provinces. The Question then is whether New Hampshire who now has that Land to be Disposed of by the Governor and Council to and among the Inhabitants of the province as by the Governors Commission which you have Lately Seen Plainly Appears and this Vast Tract of Land till it gets above Sixty Miles from the State to be granted Clear of any Quit rent except a Peppercorn for a Township and all above Sixty Miles to pay only one Shilling for one hundred Acres a year, the payment to begin at the end of Ten years from the Grant.

Massachusetts granted the land before the line was straightened as far north as Westminster and claimed far beyond, and this letter shows that New Hampshire was intended by the home government in England and the governments here to extend west of the Connecticut river, and to include Fort Dummer. Of the old fort it says:

The exact Charge of Supporting fort Dummer as it is now garrisoned by the Massachusetts which I have from a Certificate under Secretary Willards hand -- thus the Capt. 20 shillings per month, the Lieut. 18 shillings, one Ser gent, 13 shillings sixpence, one Corporal, 12 shillings, Sixteen Centenalls at 10 shillings each the whole of this for wages is Ten pounds Nineteen Shillings they valued themselves at 8 shillings a man per month which is £8 So that the whole Expense is Eighteen pounds Nineteen Shillings and for these wages, and this subsistence there are Persons enough from Connecticut Government and that part of Massachusetts that will Inlist.

The letter itself is placed in a document file at the library and put upon the catalogue and so is made readily accessible there.

Vermont Phoenix, August 25, 1899.

After more than one hundred years in the Brattleboro Free Library, this Fort Dummer letter was taken covertly from the Brooks Memorial Library during the extensive breaking up of the historical collections there, an inheritance that has been unwisely entrusted to false guardians.

Jones, The Bell Ringer

Austin K. Jones, who was born in Brattleboro April 24, 1826, was the bell ringer in Harvard Hall for fifty years. Never once missing pealing the bell in all that time, "Only by the excercise of the utmost care and the practice of wily strategy was Mr. Jones able always to ring the bell on time. Countless students have tried to foil him in the performance of his duty -- and none ever succeeded."

Vermont Phoenix, April 10, 1914.


Fort Dummer White Pine.jpg

Research By Thomas St. John

September 15, 2014






Justin Alexander (b. 4-11-1774 in Brattleboro, Windham Co., Vermont d. 7-6-1854 in Geauga Co., OH) and Asenath Jones (b. 3-20-1777 in Dummerston, Windham Co., VT d. 11-26-1860 in Newbury, OH) (They are buried in the Old Section of Munn Cemetery in Newbury, Geauga Co., Ohio, Row N, Lot 2) Married: May 17, 1796 in Dummerston, Windham Co., Vermont
Children: Abiather, Triphene, Orpha, Luther, Joseph, Vincent (b. Abt. 1810), Mahalia, Julia, Justin (b. Abt. 1819 in Newbury, OH)

Geauga Co. History: Justin Alexander, Sr., was born among the mountains of Vermont in 1774. he lived in Canada for a while but returned to the States. In 1796 he married a girl named Asenath....he came to Newbury in 1817 and lived there ten years before moving to Fullertown in 1827.....

It is not clear why he was in Canada when children Mahala, Joseph, Vincent and Luther were born. He did have distant relatives in Canada. They were descendants of Alexanders who were taken captive in the Deerfield Massacre in 1704 and remained there, but this seems like a very tenuous connection. A more likely explanation is that he was simply on the other side of t he St. Lawrence River from his father and half brothers who were in Henderson, Jefferson Co. , NY.

Parents: Jonathan Sartle Alexander (1749 in Old Fort Dummer, Brattleboro, Windham Co., VT to 3-7-1838 in Mexico, Oswego, NY) (Fought in the Revolutionary War) and Anna Orvis (5-4-1746 in Northfield, Franklin Co., MA to around 1791 in Windham Co., VT)
Children: Justin (4-11-1774 in Brattleboro, VT), Robert, Reuben, Joseph, Aaron (7-15-1787 in Brattleboro, VT)

Alternate date of death: 7 Mar 1838

His middle name is probably a version of Sartwell. The Sartwell family was prominent in VT a bout that time and there was a Fort Sartwell (also called Fort Sartle) in the area."Soon after Massachusetts made the 1736 grant, two forts were built by men who had received lands under that grant. Josiah Sartwell built his fortified residence within the present town of Vernon . Fort Sartwell, as it became known, was the site of several Indian raids and attacks."

Jonathan was about 8 years old when his father was killed by Indians across the Connecticut R iver in NH.

Jonathan Alexander was a Revolutionary War soldier. He received a pension and son Justin is mentioned in the pension application. "Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files" Abstracted by Virgil D. White. The National Historical Publishing Company pg 28

In 1840 his second wife Bathsheba Rice Alexander is listed as receiving the pension.

SOURCE: 1840 Census of Pensioners Revolutionary or Military Services; With the names, ages, a nd places of residenceReturned by the marshalls of the several judicial districts; underTh e Act for Taking the Sixth Census

Bathsheba Alexander 87 Gardener Hagain Mexico Oswego

In Windham Co., Vermont there are Alexanders as follows according to the 1790 Censuses:
Thaddeus Alexander of Athens, VT
John Alexander of Bratttleboro, VT
David Alexander of Hallifax, VT
Jonathan Alexander of Hinsdale, VT
Aaron Alexander of Putney, VT
Philip Alexander of Putney, VT
Grandparents: John Alexander (11-15-1709 in Deerfield, Franklin Co., MA d. 7-22-1755 in Fort Hinsdale, NH) and Ruth Children: John (1738), Joel (1741), Nathaniel (1743), Amos (1747), Jonathan Sartle (1749), Philip (1751), Thankful (1753), Mead (1755)

History of Charlestown, NH by Rev. Henry H. Saunderson 1876 p. 401
John Alexander is mention in a description of an Indian attack on Fort Dummer Dec 22, 1748.

From Genealogy of Robert and Rachael Alexander Timson compiled about 1905 by one of their descendent--Lula belle Horton. One John Alexander was born in Northfield 1706. A soldier Unde r a Capt. Kellogg at Fort Dummer, also served under one Capt. Josiah Willard at Fort Dummer . Moved his family to Fort Dummer in 1733. His sons John b1738 and Joel b1741ab were born there. He was killed by Indians near Fort Hinsdale, NH in July 22, 1755. Family at that time live d near Bridgman's Fort present Vernon VT. The only information on Joel is he was a soldier in 1759. Son John missed being capture by Indians 6/27/1755 because he was after cows belonging to Bridgeman's fort. He served in French and Indian war under Gen. Jeff Amherst. Col Williams Regiment 3/1758 to 12/1758 in Canada. He was at Burgoynes surrender 11/17/1777 in Capt. Me rrianis(?) Company(interesting, his Daughters Rachaels' future husband was one of those captured at Saratoga). Later he was appointed 1st Lt. of Militia !
by the Governor of NY in 1782. H e was one of the first settlers of Brattleboro--Now VT--and at time of his death in 1828 in Marlboro, VT at age 90 he was oldest living of the first settlers of Brattleboro.--Floyd
John Alexander was apparently one of the early "English" settlers in Vermont. According t o a history of the state, prior to 1760, there were only a few New Englanders in the state: " "Vermont had its beginnings in a land controversy. Near the middle of the eighteenth century , both Benning Wentworth, the colonial governor of New Hampshire, and Lt. Governor Cadwallade r Colden, representing the colonial government of New York, claimed territory in what is no w Vermont. Massachusetts claimed a small part along Vermont's southern border. Each government petitioned the king to validate their boundaries to include the disputed Vermont land. Howe ver, the process of petitioning did not stop either New Hampshire or New York from issuing gr ants for the same land to their own proprietors and the proprietors in turn selling the lan d to settlers. Settlers from lower New England and New York began to arrive in "The Grants, " as they were called, in the 1760s. Previous residents of t!
he land included a few French settlements in the northern part of the state, the remainder of the Native American population i n the region after the French and Indian Wars, and some early New England settlers around For t Dummer on the Vermont River. By 1760, most of these settlers, with the exception of the rem aining Abenaki tribe, had moved back to more populated areas in New England and Canada. Life for those settling "The Grants" consisted of clearing rock-laden forests. The settlers wer e also faced with the uncertainty as to whether the land they were homesteading was really theirs or belonged to someone else who also thought they had a legitimate claim.

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