Seth Smith arrived in Brattleboro with his family in 1774, and he built this classic Cape Cod style house along the lane that later became the Windham county road, and still later, Western Avenue. This road was surveyed in 1785 by Seth Smith's kinsman, Ephraim Nash.
The Vermont Phoenix for Friday, July 1, 1898 gives this account---
The house of Mr. Herrick at Elm Corners, near Centreville, which was burned Sunday afternoon, was where Esquire Stephen Greenleaf lived, and was built by him, probably about 1776. It was not the oldest house in town, but nearly so, having been built about three years after that which is now the Women's Retreat was built by Col. Samuel Wells, afterwards Judge Wells; and it was of about the age of the house on the south side of the road just beyond the watering trough towards West Brattleboro, which was built by Seth Smith probably a little later.
The time for Seth Smith building his house in Brattleboro then is quite nearly beginning in 1774, when he first arrived, and commencing work with the massive central chimney, then working through 1775 to its completion.
Seth Smith was born on August 21, 1736 in South Hadley, later Granby, Massachusetts, the son of Deacon John Smith, who had married his cousin Elizabeth Smith. Israel Smith, the younger brother, was born on April 2, 1739 in Granby, and these four came to Brattleboro in 1774.
Chloe Smith, the daughter of Israel, born in 1762, recalls her removal to Brattleboro when she was twelve years old. She was the proprietress of the Rutherford Hayes Tavern on the County road in West Brattleboro, and kept a Diary. Chloe Smith Hayes enters this recollection in her Diary for October 3, 1840---
My uncle Seth was a very pleasant man shifted his manners of living several times -- and as one said he was always on the edge of good luck. he began life in Granby was what was then called a merchant --- he moved to Brattleboro from their to Spencer town and after he was an old man got back to Granby again he lived to be more than eighty four or five years lost his mind very much but his old habits he retained never neglected family prayer nor the Blessing at the table --- and was correct. he had twelve Children by two Wives eight sons and four daughters two of them are Ministers and the others are the most or all of them Proffessors of religion -
Chloe does not say that Seth's grandson was Jedediah Smith---the most celebrated and God-fearing mountain man and explorer in the far West---called the "Great Pathfinder", the discoverer of the South Pass---who was guiding a wagon train from St. Louis to Santa Fe when he was finally killed by Comanche lances at the Cimmaron River on May 27, 1831.
Chloe Smith married the blacksmith Rutherford Hayes and became the strictly Christian proprietress of his tavern in West Brattleboro. She never lived to see her own grandson Rutherford B. Hayes elected the nineteenth President of the United States.
Chloe Smith and her father Israel lived in a "red frame building" that stood upon the land that the Rutherford Hayes Tavern was later built upon, according to the early Marlboro, Vermont resident Enoch Jacobs. Israel Smith's mill stood north from Western Avenue, along present Meadowbrook Road.
Seth Smith was appointed to different offices at the annual Brattleboro March town meetings, almost every year, from 1774 to 1781. These offices included the Supervisor, Tax Collector, Town Treasurer, Committee of Town Ammunition, Town Trustee, Overseer of the Poor, Highway Commissioner, and Assessor for the Poor.
During the Revolutionary War, on November 21, 1775 at Westminster, Vermont, Seth Smith was chosen Lieutenant-Colonel, or Second Colonel, for a Regiment of Minute Men.
Seth Smith's daughter Thankful always remembered, and often spoke about her father answering the call to the Battle of Bennington---
When the news first reached his town of the invasion of the British, he was in church on Sunday. He instantly left the house, mounted his horse and rode all over the town raising volunteers. The next morning, with his newly raised recruits, he marched about thirty miles and arrived in time to participate in the battle of Bennington.
National Archives 1938489
When Seth Smith set his signature to this letter's final page four, favoring the "Yorkist" cause, he enraged Ethan Allen, who did not rest until the man in Brattleboro was driven from Vermont.
After living for eight years in Brattleborough, always loyal to the New York grants, Seth Smith was forced to sell his grist mill and dwelling house to Elihu Hyde, Yeoman, of Spencertown, Albany County, New York for "seven hundred & fifty five pounds Lawful money" on April 10, 1782.
This same property had been earlier described on December 17, 1781 as "with a Dwelling house, a Barn & three quarters of a Grist-mill & all other Buildings on sd land".
Wood Engraving By Benson John Lossing & William Barritt
Benson J. Lossing travelled extensively throughout New England while researching the American Revolution. The overshot mill wheel and sluice represented in this engraving was almost certainly located in either Guilford or in Brattleboro. This is possibly Seth Smith's mill, which may have been still standing in 1858. Or Lossing's drawing may have been taken from an even earlier local drawing.
Ethan Allen's persecution of the Windham County "Yorkists" eventually resulted in Edward Smith---constable in Newfane and staunch Yorkist opponent---selling this 1768 house, along with the mill, its yard, and the dam on April 27, 1784 to Josiah Arms.
Edward Smith stated in the deed that these buildings were "late the property of Seth Smith and appraised to me. . .in part satisfaction of a judgement I received against said Seth Smith".
Michael A. Bellesiles describes these court cases in his "Revolutionary Outlaws: Ethan Allen and the Struggle for Independence on the Early American Frontier"---
Most particularly, Vermonters punished those who upheld the supremacy of New York. Anyone who dared to be as disastrously on the wrong side as Seth Smith of Brattleboro found Vermont's courts a hostile venue. The freemen hauled Smith into court for "attempting the alteration and subversion of. . .[our] frame of government" by betraying Vermont "into the hand of a foregn power," i. e. New York. A long series of lawsuits cost him his farm and gristmill and eventually drove him out of the state. Not surprisingly, it became increasingly difficult for New York to find anyone to accept its local appointments.
Josiah Arms was Seth Smith's neighbor, with his [blacksmith] shop on the north side of the County road and his house on the south side---both about forty-seven rods, or eight hundred feet more or less east of Seth's mill pond. That is, where the Brook road, now Williams Street, enters present Western Avenue.
Ephraim Nash, who surveyed, staked, and marked out the County road on October 11, 1784 was not only from the same town as Seth Smith---South Hadley, Massachusetts---he was also related by marriage to the Smith family. Ephraim Nash married the daughter of Samuel Wells, Esq. of Brattleboro.
When Ephraim Nash drove a stake into the ground "about one rod 1/2 North of Smiths Mill Pond", surrounded it with stones and marked it H W for High Way, the 1768 house---which he had just passed while working his way easterly---had already been taken from his kinsman Smith by the Windham County Court.
Seth Smith returned to Granby, formerly South Hadley, Massachusetts to live out the rest of his life with Eunice Clark. Eunice was born April 27, 1753 and died November 11, 1824. Their gravestone stands in the North Cemetery in Granby---
Died October 18, 1820
In memory of our parents dear
We mourning children place this
And finally the last remaining representative of the Smith family in Brattleboro, Chloe Smith, Mrs. Rutherford Hayes, died February 17, 1847---
Before Joseph W. Caruso Restoration
There is not a nail in the ancient frame, the massive timbers being mortised and pegged together. . .[The old open-beam rooms] Carrying beams are 10 by 12 inches in size with two-step mortises and the cross-beams are three by four inches, all hand-hewn, hand-planed and all of hardwood---maple, birch, beech, walnut, chestnut and oak. . .The corner posts are of the so-called gunstock type with the taper widening as they rise to provide broad footings for the 12-by-12 timbers.
. . .the second story of Mr. Caruso's is dead level. The flooring is doubled pine and spruce with the board running up to 22 inches in width, although some of the narrow ones are only 16 inches. . .
But of all the old features, Mr. Caruso is proudest of the chimney. Resting on a massive dry-wall foundation measuring 12 by 17 feet, this is built of small, handmade brick much of which was sun dried. Clay and not mortar was used and bricks especially fashioned for odd angles were found at the edges of the fireplaces. . .
as well as a huge smoke hole, 10 feet high, used for the curing of meat. The fireplace in the main room features a brick oven about three feet in diameter and two feet high in the shape of a beehive. . .
House Believed Oldest In Brattleboro Being Restored
1768 House Unfolds Early Brattleboro Living
The [Seth Smith] House in Brattleboro, Vermont is 1 1/2 stories, of post and beam construction, clad in clapboards with a gabled roof sheathed in asphalt shingles. The house rests on a low stone foundation which has a modern concrete facing. The Cape Cod style house, 41' x 31', retains its original central chimney and dates from 1768, thus making it one of the earliest remaining houses in the State of Vermont.
The original front entry to the house was on the east side, presently the rear. The door has been replaced by a window with the same styling and proportions as the four flanking windows. The removal of the front entrance was done before the twentieth century and appears as a minimal alteration. The window sash are 8/12 and appear original. The window openings are unadorned and are asymmetrically placed.
The north (left) gable end of the house, which faces Route 9, has 3 unadorned asymmetrically placed windows at the first floor level which have 8/12 sash. The two windows in the gable are paired and also have 8/12 sash. The raking eaves have a slight molded overhang and cornice returns. A louvered vent is in the gable peak, a minimal modern addition.
What was originally the rear (west) elevation, which on most Cape Cod style houses in Vermont would be oriented towards the north to protect it from the cold weather and to allow the opposite front elevation of the house to admit more radiant sunlight, is now the main front of the house. In the typical Cape Cod style house this side would be treated as the rear and have an attached shed. In this case the original back door is presently utilized as the front door and is flanked on the north (left) by two 12/12 windows and on the south (right) by one 12/12 window. The right window of the northern grouping has been altered to 3/4 length because of its location over a modern kitchen sink. The alteration is minimal and does not significantly affect the appearance of the house. The door is sheltered by a pedimented gable entry.
The south (right) gable end of the house has been altered by the addition of a large multi-paned picture window on the east of the first floor level. Above this, at the second floor level, is another large window with 8/8 sash. These windows were altered to permit additional sunlight and to provide a view of the meandering Whetstone Brook. There is also an exposed brick chimney for the furnace and a screened in porch. These alterations, except for the top of the chimney, are not visible from the roads or existing buildings and, therefore, do not affect the visible historic character of the house. This gable end of the house has no raking eaves overhang and has two small square windows at the eaves line.
Contrasting with the horizontal emphasis of the house and its low sloping gable roof is the massive central chimney which pierces the roof ridge at its center. The chimney provides the flues for the three fireplaces, bake oven, and smoke chamber. The brick chimney and fireplaces rest on a 17' x 12' dry wall foundation constructed from river rock and rubblestone. The functional portions of the chimney are all located at the first floor level. The large kitchen fire place has a brick hearth, stone lintel and is flanked on the south side by a large "beehive" bank oven. The north chamber fireplace, a shallow reflecting type, also has a brick hearth; the wood paneling surrounding the fireplace brest may not be original. The south chamber fireplace, also of the shallow reflecting type, has a brick hearth, stone lintel, and a simple wooden mantlepiece. The original front hall on the east side is where the smoke chamber is located. The fireplaces are functional and have been well maintained; the top of the chimney has a flat vented cap to prevent rain and snow from entering.
The interior of the house remains mostly intact with original room placement, molded window and door surrounds, floors, doors, and hardware. The date "1768" is chiseled into a beam above the original door and appears to have been done at the time of the building's construction.
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
Photographs taken July 4, 2007 and January 28, 2012.
Seth Smith and his younger brother Israel Smith were committed to the Yorkist cause in Windham County. Like the majority of Brattleboro residents, Col. Smith opposed the formation of the State of Vermont. His house was appointed by representative delegates for meetings of the Yorkist party in "Brattleborough".
Benjamin Homer Hall in his "History of Eastern Vermont, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Close of the Eighteenth Centry. With a Biographical Chapter and Appendixes" (New York: Appleton, 1858), has this account---
Although the New York adherents experienced great difficulty in upholding the government to which they owed allegiance, yet they did not hesitate to express their views on the subject whenever an opportunity was offered. On the 5th of November, 1781, Seth Smith, Elijah Prouty, Daniel Shepardson, and Hezekiah Stowell informed Governor Clinton, by letter, of their disapprobation of the "present basis of government" as established in Vermont, and of the threatenings with which they had been menaced by the people of that state. They further declared, that "vast numbers" still held to the state of New York and to the authority of Congress, but were constrained to suppress their sentiments from regard to personal safety. In proof of these statements, they referred the Governor to Lieut. Israel Smith, the bearer of the letter. The nature of this correspondence having become known, Seth Smith, who was regarded by Vermonters as a dangerous person, and who had also been charged with being engaged in some riotous proceedings, was indicted in December, 1781, before the court in Windham county for "conspiring and attempting an invasion, insurrection, and public rebellion" against the state of Vermont, and for "attempting the alteration and subversion" of its "frame of government by endeavoring the betraying the same into the hands of a foreign power."
The State of New York rewarded Seth Smith and Israel Smith for their loyalty with lands in Bainbridge, New York.
On October 11, 1784 Ephraim Nash surveyed, marked, and laid out the County road from Bennington, through Brattleborough to Gardner Chandler's store in the East Village. This road was set with a series of stakes, marked with an "HW", High Way, each stake surrounded by stones.
One stake stood just north from Samuel Root's barn. The next stake to the east stood about twenty-five feet north from "Smiths Mill Pond". Still farther east, the County road ran between the Josiah Arms shop on the north side, and his dwelling house on the south side.
Ephraim Nash and Seth Smith were both from Hadley, later South Hadley, then Granby, Massachusetts. The Smith and Nash familys were related through marriage.
Rev. Lewis Grout describes traveling east on the County road, or Western Avenue, from the West Brattleboro Common to Orchard Street---
"From this time [about 1774] the path went south to Ellas's [Simpson Ellis's] by the old Academy, then east to a ford or bridge on the Whetstone, near the iron bridge, then to Lieutenant Root's. Here, about to turn left and go up the hill north [Orchard Street], it met and took on another which came from Guilford via Benjamin Baker's, now Stafford's, on Fair View Hill, then passed Greenleaf's, now Herrick's, then passed John Dickerman's, now Miner's [Ozias L. Miner, now Living Memorial Park], then crossed the Whetstone by Smith's. . .gristmill, near the red bridge, then turned to the left and went west to Lieutenant Root's, where it joined the other, as above named, and with it went up the hill north past Lemuel Kendrick's, and thus reached the Common, Meeting-House and cemetery on the hill, about 1774.
Colonel Ethan Allen
It is thought that this road from Guilford and the brook to the hill was that which Colonel Ethan Allen took when he went with his soldiers and prisoners from Guilford to Brattleboro September 10, 1782, and that his troops and the prisoners stopped for the night on the hill, perhaps in the church, while he and his officers went on and stopped at the famous Major Arms Inn."
The "Transcribed Records" Book deeds describe Smith's Grist-mill with its one hundred sixty six acres, with John Ellas, Simpson Ellas, and Samuel Root owning lands bounding it westerly; Lemuel Kendrick, Joel Atcherson northerly; Caleb Morgan, John Dickerman, and Stephen Greenleaf easterly; and Jeremiah Hopkins southerly.
Caleb Morgan, his wife Ann Brooks, and their children were neighbors who lived easterly from Seth Smith. Caleb was eight years older than his brother Justin Morgan, who bred the famed Vermont Morgan horse. From early August until December 1791---diptheria, or possibly typhus fever---took the lives of his six children, sparing only Rufus and Tabitha.
Samuel Root lived near where Mr. Thurber now does east of the lower bridge at West Brattleboro, and Lemuel Kendrick lived on the hill north of him. In 1777 John Dickerman came from New Haven, Conn., and settled where O. L. Miner lives south of the brook. . .
Judge Henry Hoyt Wheeler also writes that "Josiah Arms had a house and shop near Col. Smith's mill.".
Hoyt Henry Wheeler discusses Seth Smith's grist mill in the July 6, 1894 Vermont Phoenix, "An Old-Time Land Baron; Squire Stephen Greenleaf and His 800 Acres"---
Seth Smith lived where Mr. Crouch does in the first house beyond the watering trough, and had a grist-mill on the south side of the brook near the end of the bridge by the cheese factory. The wharfing of the road in front of Mrs. Benson's is in what was the mill pond; and the bridge across the brook was a little farther east than it now is. . .
Some notes were made in 1778 payable in salt "at Esq. Greenleaf's," and some in wheat "at Esq. Greenleaf's house or the Grist Mill there in Brattleborough," which indicates that he then had no store at which to make them payable. The house referred to was probably that at the Herrick place, and the mill, Mr. Seth Smith's mill, which were both in quite as lively a place as Main street was then.
New Trolley Line By Seth Smith House
Edwin Caleb Crouch and his brother Wayland Markham Crouch were living with their wives, Lizzie Ann Hill and Jennie Elizabeth Brown respectively, in the 1768 house and a separate building in back in 1895.
The "cheese factory" here is the Brattleboro Creamery that gave its name to the Creamery Bridge that was built in 1879---
Hoyt Henry Wheeler also said in "Picturesque Brattleboro" that "Seth Smith had a grist-mill just above the bridge at Centreville, and lived in the first house on the south side of the road west of there, where Mr. Crouch now lives.".
The horse trough was on the north side of Western Avenue in 1894, five hundred feet east from the Crouch brothers' residences. The rivulet which filled the horse trough is still there.
Brattleboro's long-time sheriff, the Seth Herrick referred to, lived at the place called Elm Corners---on the west side of Maple and Guilford Streets. This house was destroyed by fire. It was the second and final residence in Brattleboro for Stephen Greenleaf, Sr.
In his article "Brattleboro School Districts" in the Vermont Phoenix for January 16, 1891 Hoyt Henry Wheeler locates the Smith mill along the County road---
"Before 1781 Col. Seth Smith had a grist-mill where the factory is
at Centreville, and a road was built from the meeting-house to it."
The road from the first 1768 meeting house that is described here, descended Meeting House Hill to the County road and came to be called Orchard Street.
There is an article entitled "Transcript of First Records" printed in the Vermont Phoenix for May 27, 1910. This is a letter reprinted from the Springfield Republican. The writer says that there was a feeling among the older residents of Brattleboro, that the early records were destroyed "at an early date".
The disappearance of the early town records remains a mystery. Their deliberate removal, or burning---accidental or arson---are the most likely possibilities.
During the Revolution, settlers who remained loyal to the King of England who emigrated from Vermont, may have removed the records for their safe-keeping. After the Revolution, the successful proponents of the Republic of Vermont---avid, greedy, and vindictive---quite likely destroyed proofs of land ownership.
These missing records are "the evidence of things unseen" for any researcher, for without these missing deeds---it is impossible to know the complete property title line for Lot number one in the fourth range; or who built the 1768 house which stands in this Lot number one; or who lived in the 1768 house first.
The earliest surviving deed in the Brattleboro land records for Seth Smith is in Book A, page 47. This deed is signed and witnessed on May 1, 1777---Seth Smith is selling fifty-two acres of land "and all the Edifices thereon" for sixty-two pounds and eight shillings to John Dickerman of New Haven.
Seth Smith owned an extensive strip of land containing three one-hundred acre lots, all three eighty rods wide [one-fourth mile] by one hundred sixty rods [one-half mile], lying from the south side of the County road, south all the way to within forty chains or one-half mile from the Brattleboro-Guilford line.
Seth Smith sold to Samuel Field of Northfield, Massachusetts, 133 acres in Lot number one, second range, and twenty-five acres in Lot number one, third range for two hundred pounds on December 8, 1777.
Daniel Johnson on April 30, 1779 purchased eighty acres of land lying forty chains from the south line of the Town of Brattleborough, with its buildings, for "forty pounds the old way, else three hundred pounds in lawful money Continental both of the currency of Connecticut".
During his greatest legal difficulties---on December 17, 1781---Seth Smith sold lands in separate parcels to three men---
Joseph Burt purchasing two hundred acres "lying in Marlboro" that had been originally owned by Elihu Dwight; Damaris Church taking one hundred acres of land "lying in Guilford" and first owned there by Timothy Paine; and John Burk of Barnardston, one hundred sixty-six acres in Brattleboro.
Seth Smith tried to sell his dwelling-house and a three-fourths interest in his grist mill to Elihu Hyde, Yeoman, of Spencertown, Albany County, New York for "seven hundred & fifty five pounds Lawful money" on April 10, 1782---"with a dwelling-house & Barn, and three quarters of a Grist Mill & other Buildings on said land".
But there were legal complications, as shown by the deed in Book A, page 48 in the Brattleboro land records---Edward Smith of New Fane on April 27, 1784, for eighteen pounds lawful money, sold to Josiah Arms of Brattleborough---
the one equal half part of a Mill house and dam Mill yard and the Privileges and appurtenances thereto appertaining late the property of Seth Smith situated in Brattleborough aforesaid and appraised to me the said Edward in part satisfaction of a judgement I received against said Seth Smith
This deed was witnessed by Saml Well Junr and Micah Townsend.
The old stones from Seth Smith's grist mill may still lie beneath the Creamery Bridge or keep within the foundation for the now ruined former cheese factory nearby.
The earliest settlers in Brattleboro long remembered this Minute Man and Yorkist. And the land records over thirty years later name the "mill seat formerly owned by Seth Smith".
May it please Your Honour: We, the Committee of Safety for this County, have proceeded in the election of Deputies, pursuant to the resolves of the honourable Congress for the Colony of New-York, of October 18, 1775: And this certifies, that Major William Williams and Doctor Paul Spooner, are chosen by this County, to represent the people thereof, in the honourable Provincial Congress, at the city of New-York. Also, we, the Committee of Safety for this County, have resumed to nominate Colonel James Rogers to be the Brigadier for Cumberland, Gloucester, and Charlotte Brigade.
Moreover, according to the directions of the honourable Provincial Congress of New-York, (as are transmitted to us,) per our Delegate, Major Williams, we have recommended that the following gentlemen, belonging to this County, be speedily commisioned by said Congress, viz: Lower Regiment in the County: Major William Williams, first Colonel; Major Jonathan Hunt, second Colonel; Lieutenant John Norton, first Major; Oliver Lovell, second Major; Arad Hunt, Adjutant; and Samuel Fletcher, Quartermaster.
Upper Regiment: Captain Joseph Marsh, first Colonel; Capt. John Barrett, second Colonel; Lieutenant Hilkiah Grout, first Major; Captain Joel Matthews, second Major; Timothy Spencer, Adjutant; Amos Robinson, Quartermaster.
Regiment of Minute-Men: Captain Job Housington, first Colonel; Seth Smith, second Colonel; Joseph Tyler, first Major; Joel Marsh, second Major; Timothy Phelps, Adjutant; Elisha Hawley, Quartermaster.
The honourable Provincial Congress complying with our request, as speedily as possible, will much oblige your most obedient, humble servant. Signed by order of the Committee of Safety:
John Barrett, Clerk.
To the Honourable the President of the Provincial Congress at the City of New-York.
Cumberland County, Westminster, December 1, 1775.
A bridge crossed the Whetstone from the County road to John Dickerman's farm, east from Smith's mill pond, king post, or queen's post truss, or
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
Samuel Wells of this town,
a Judge of Cumberland
County Court & a Member
of the Assembly of the
Province of New York,
who departed this Life
the 6th of Augt 1786,
the 55th year of his Age.
His Friends, the Stranger and the poor have lost
A kind Companion and a gen'rous Host:
When he fell---the Statesman fell,
And left the World his Worth to tell.
The road which was laid out from the Meeting House Hill burying yard, with Colonel Samuel Wells' gravestone, to Seth Smith's grist mill, later became Orchard Street.
The Original Deed of the Southwest Corner of Brattleboro.
A document of unusual historical interest and value has just been presented to the Brooks library trustees, it being no other than the original deed of partition of 5400 acres of land comprising the southwest corner of Brattleboro. This is the tract or territory which was mentioned and described in a historical article on "Brattleboro school districts," printed in The Phoenix of January 16 last. In that article it was said of this tract---
After Judge Wells acquired the New York title to the town in 1766 he sold and deeded 5400 acres in the west part of the south half to William Smith, Thomas Smith and Nicholas William Stuyvesant of the city of New York. The tract extended from near the top of the hill west of West Brattleboro to Marlboro and from the centre line to Guilford. They laid it out into lots covering the lots in the five ranges in the south half of the town from numbers five to 14 inclusive, with a tier of four lots end to end 200 rods long and 80 wide to the east of them, and divided the lots among themselves by partition deed. William Smith was chief justice of the province of New York.
The document in question, which has now so fortunately come to light, is the deed of partition by which these three owners, William Smith, Thomas Smith and Nicholas Wm. Stuyvesant made a division of the 5400 acres of land among themselves. On one sheet of the parchment composing the deed is a plan or drawing of the territory showing how the lots were arranged and divided, this drawing corresponding with one which had been made from the description of the tract in the article in The Phoenix. At the time this article was published it was presumed that this deed was not in existence. But when the publication came to the notice of Mr. John A. Goodenough of West Brattleboro, then in Florida, he knew that he had the deed in his possession, and embraced an early opportunity to show it to parties interested and to present it to the library trustees as stated. The deed came to Mr. Goodenough from his father, Robert Goodenough, and was presented to him by Capt. Wm. Holton, who is supposed to have been the agent for the three owners. It is written on two large sheets of parchment, besides the drawing mentioned, and is a genuine "indenture," showing where the corresponding document was cut off. Underneath the plan is written:
A plan of five thousand four hundred acres of land, lying in the Township of Brattleborough and County of Cumberland, belonging to William Smith, Thomas Smith, and Nicholas Stuyvesant, Esqrs., laid out in one hundred acre lots, each lot being one hundred and sixty rods in length and one hundred rods in width, except the four east lots, which are but eighty rods wide and contain one hundred acres each.
The parchment is well preserved, and the writing for the most part is as distinct as when it left the pen. Although of great historical value, no land titles depend upon the instrument.
The deed bears the date "24 August, 1770".
Vermont Phoenix, May 22, 1891.
"The original plan of the town of Brattleboro, as granted by the Crown through his representatives of Cumberland County in the state of New York, dated June 25, 1766, is on file in Albany, New York, in the Colonia Manuscript Land Papers, 1766, Vol. XXI, p. 81.
In the town clerk's office in Brattleboro is on file a sketch of the plan, and attached to the sketch is a typewritten report in considerable detail giving boundary lines as follows: "548 chains west from where Venters brook enters the Connecticut river north 400 chains east 590 chains to the Connecticut river, thence following river to point of beginning." Reservations are made for church, minister and school-teacher, these reservations being in the northwestern corner and extending south. The southwestern part is blocked off into five ranges of fourteen lots each. Each lot contains one hundred acres. The balance of the grant is marked "Samuel Wells and associates."
Alexander Colden, Surveyor General for the Province of New York, ordered this survey at the behest of Samuel Wells and his twenty associates, who wished to secure their deeds and works.
Seth Smith is not on the list of twenty associates. These associates were allowed one thousand acres each, but none ever settled in Brattleboro.
The grid for the southwestern quadrant of Brattleboro contains 5,400 acres laid out in seventy lots of one hundred acres, in five ranges, each range containing fourteen lots. Seth Smith's three lots lie at the eastern extremity of this grid, comprising the adjoining Lots one in the ranges two, three, and four.
The survey was measured on the ground by Samuel Tayor. Venters brook, Fort Dummer, Whetstone brook, West River, and Herberts brook---which meanders easterly from Locust Ridge---are all named by June 25, 1766.
[Venters Brook was likely named for the Dutch merchant of Fort Orange---later Albany---Cornelius Van der Venter. During cessation of war, Dutch trading parties with their Mohawk ally escorts arrived in Brattleborough to encamp about Fort Dummer.
The earliest road in Brattleboro, the King's Hill road, ran from Fort Dummer westerly, then up the hill alongside Venters brook to the pond on Richardson's farm, then across the fields southwesterly to King's Hill and on to Algiers, or East Guilford].
Three lots at 350 acres appear in the northwest, reserved from Samuel Wells, for religious purpose---Minister, Society, Glebe. Another one hundred acre lot is reserved for the "school master".
Seth Smith honored and defended this 1770 deed as a Yorkist.
William Smith was Chief Justice of the Province of New York from 1763 until 1782, when he returned to England, and from thence to Quebec. His brother was Dr. Thomas Smith.
William and Dr. Thomas Smith were the sons of that Judge William Smith of New York City, who in the summer of 1741, condemned eighteen black slaves to burning at the stake.
William and Thomas' paternal uncle---John Smith---was the closest friend to Rev. Jonathan Edwards during his youthful days in New York. Jonathan Edwards' horror of burning at the stake drove him to pen his masterful "execution sermon" entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God".
Fashioned From Local Stone
Walter Harrington Collection
The Alexander Colden, Samuel Taylor map dated June 25, 1766, shown above, names the "Whetstone" brook. Possibly great numbers of stones were found there and worked into useful tools at Fort Dummer.
Chloe Smith Hayes---granddaughter of Deacon John and Elizabeth Smith---kept a Diary which is now in the Rutherford B. Hayes Library in Fremont, Ohio. The entry for October 3, 1840---
I have long been thinking what I could recolect of my Ancestors-it is but very little I know about them-My grandfather by my Father's Side-was Deacon John Smith his Native Place was Hadley when Deerfield was destroyed by the Indians he was seven years old in the morning saw the Smoke of the buildings that they had left burning the inhabitants were carried Captive to Canand-when he married he went to South Hadley when it was a wilderness-he was an eminent Christian sustained that character to the day of his death I have heard him say when he was converted it was a very dull time for a year. . .after this was Whitefields time he used to speak of the great Stir there was through NEngland - the first and second Stir (it was not then called a revival but a Stir). . .
Deacon John Smith owned land in Hadley and was living there in 1731. He was Townsman, Deacon in various churches as they were constructed, and an active citizen in every way. He moved to Brattleboro with his son Israel in 1774, as recorded by Chloe in her Diary---
"My Father moved here from South Hadley when I was in my twelfth year. My grandfather and grandmother belonged to the family."
On February 6, 1778 Deacon John Smith was in Granby and while there he signed his will. It was accepted for probate in Brattleboro in November 1784. It mentioned his seven children and his son-in-law, John Ayre to whom he gave "the Right of Land in the 2000 acre Division", presumably in Granby.
Four days later he executed a deed, conveying certain Granby lands to his children---Timothy and Ruth Ayres of Granby, and to his son-in-law, Phineas Smith, the husband of Elizabeth---and to Seth and Israel "belonging to Brattleboro".
Sons Benjamin and Titus, who had remained loyal to the Crown and lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, were not in the deed and named only in a token way in the will.
Both Deacon John Smith and Elizabeth were buried near the Hayes Mansion in West Brattleboro, Vermont.
Israel Smith's Mill On The Whetstone Brook
Aaron Nash's Mill On Greenleaf Street
Old Road To Marlboro
Israel Smith lived on his father's farm in Granby, Massachusetts until 1774 when he removed to Cumberland County, New York, now Brattleboro, Vermont where his brother Seth was already a well-established citizen. With his family were his parents, John and Elizabeth Smith, who, as his daughter Chloe said in her diary, "belonged to the family".
In 1776 he was chosen a member of the Committee of Safety of Cumberland County, and before 1778 was commissioned a Lieutenant in the local militia in which his brother Seth was a Lieutenant Colonel.
On June 4, 1777 Israel was one of the seventy-two delegates from Brattleboro to the convention at Windsor, which pledged the New Hampshire Grants to "support the war against the Fleets and Armies of Great Britain". Israel also cast the one lone vote against making Vermont a new and separate state. In a year's time, the views of the residents had changed and on April 11, 1778 only one out of one hundred sixty-six delegates voted in favor of "the pretended state of Vermont".
These "Vermont Sufferers" as they became to be called, had purchased land within the limits of the present State of Vermont, under titles from the State of New York, which claimed that territory. After years of difficulty the State of New York surrendered her claim and gave those persons whose claims in Vermont had become invalid, lands in Jericho, Chenango County, New York.
As one of the "Vermont Sufferers" Israel received a grant of six hundred forty acres from the State of New York, which he divided into farms for himself and sons. In 1789 Israel moved to the new village of Jericho in the Susquehanna Valley of New York. The land was then in Harpersfield Township, Montgomery County, and is so listed in the 1790 census. The rest of Israel's family followed in 1790.
He settled on Lot 76 on the east line of the county opposite the mouth of the Unadilla. His farm lay on both sides of the Susquehanna and was near that of Samuel Bixby. The "Gazetteer of New York" by Horatio Gates Spofford (Albany, New York: 1813) page 216 says that Jericho "is part of a tract of land granted by this state in 1788 to the sufferers by former grants in the present state of Vermont to which New York laid claim".
Israel's name appears on the church records in Jericho in 1790 as "Deacon", and from then on to his death he was active in church and town affairs. On June 20, 1796 he conveyed "30 rods of land" to the city of Brattleboro for use as a cemetery.
Israel and Abigail's grandson, Hon. David McMaster, in a speech at the Sidney Centennial Jubilee on 13 June 1872, said of them: "All except one child lived most of their lives in this vicinity, attaining an average age of over 75 years and retaining during their lives the plain manners and the industrial, frugal habits which they brought with them from Vermont. They were a family of scrupulous integrity and strict religious principles".
He described his grandfather as a tall man, standing "several inches over six feet."
[Ensign Rutherford Hays, Hayes, from Col. Seth Smith's regiment, was also granted on September 14, 1786, one hundred and eighty acres land in Lot No. 42 in recompense, in Bainbridge, New York. Another former Brattleboro settler resident in Bainbridge was Jedediah Smith.]
Israel Smith was born on April 2, 1739. "The succession of John Smiths is unbroken until we come to April 2, 1739, when Israel Smith, the father of Chloe, was born. The family was always one of influence and culture. One of Israel's brothers was a missionary to the Indians of Pennsylvania. He and another brother became Sandemanians ("I don't know as there is any such in the country now," Chloe Hayes writes in her diary, "nor do I know what their belief is"), and being loyalists, fled to Nova Scotia at the outbreak of the Revolution, but Israel was among the first to resist British aggressions. In 1776 he was made a member of the Committee of Safety for the county, in session at Westminster; April 22 he was appointed the agent for Brattleboro to the New York Convention; was a member of the convention of Windsor, June 4, 1777, which pledged "New Hampshire Grants or New Connecticut" to maintain "the present just war against the fleets and armies of Britain"; and later was employed to confer with Governor Clinton. . .Lieutenant Smith had four hundred and ninety-seven acres of land granted him for his services, and he was one of three commissioners appointed to take charge of the property of refugee Tories. He was reputed to be a partisan of New York in the controversy between that State and Vermont, but however that may be, he was by act of the Legislature of the latter State, in 1790, associated with Ira Allen and four others on a commission to treat with commissioners of New York as to a boundary line, and to remove certain obstacles which prevented the admission of Vermont into the Union---which was a recognition of his fairness. He subsequently removed from Brattleboro to Jericho, now Bainbridge, New York, where he was a farmer. His wife was Abigail, daughter of Isaac Chandler of Enfield, Connecticut, and until 1774 they resided at South Hadley."
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1912), Volume 1, pages 8-10.
Israel Smith deeded thirty rods of land to the Town of Brattleboro on June 20, 1796 "for the express purpose of a burying ground". At this time he was resident in Clinton, Tioga, New York. His consideration was five shillings.
Rutherford Hays and Simeon Smith witnessed this deed---"Before me John Bridgeman one of the Judges of the County Court for the County aforesaid".
This is the Old Village Cemetery, also called the Hayes Cemetery. It is four-sided, seven rods by four and one-third rods. Israel reserved the right for family members to be buried there.
Seth and Israel Smith's parents, Deacon John Smith and Elizabeth are buried here. John Smith, the son of John Smith and Mary Root, was born on February 1, 1697 in Hadley, Massachusetts.
He married his cousin Elizabeth Smith in 1727 in Northampton, Massachusetts. Elizabeth was born on May 5, 1703 in Wethersfield, Connecticut and died on January 12, 1778 in Brattleboro---
Smith ye Wife of Deacn
John Smith She Decd
Jany ye 12th 1778 in
ye 76th year of her
Caleb Morgan, his wife Ann Brooks, and their children were neighbors who lived easterly from Seth Smith. Caleb was eight years older than his brother Justin Morgan, who bred the famed Vermont Morgan horse. From early August until December 1791---diptheria, or possibly typhus fever---took the lives of his six children, sparing only Rufus and Tabitha.
"Calif" turns out to be Caleb (eight years older than his brother Justin), who first settled in Brattleboro at least before 21 May 1779, when a daughter, Tabitha, was born to Caleb and Ann (Brooks) Morgan in that town. The last child of Caleb and Ann to have been born in the old home, West Springfield, Massachusetts, was Catherine, born in 1777. Caleb and Ann lost six of their eight children in what must have been a dreadful epidemic of diptheria, or some similar disease, in the fall of 1791. Only Tabitha, aged twelve, and Rufus, aged ten, survived. Tabitha grew up to marry Phinehas Smith, who moved from Brattleboro to Randolph in 1799, and land records reveal that in April of 1803 Phinehas sold his father-in-law Caleb Morgan, still listed as "of Brattleboro," fifty acres of land in Randolph. Caleb had sold his Brattleboro property a year earlier, in September of 1802. It is evident that he did not move to Randolph until some five years after his brother Justin died. . .
Betty Bandel, "Sing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land; the Life of Justin Morgan. With a Musical Appendix Compiled and Edited by James G. Chapman. (Madison, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1981) page 123.
Morgan family gravestones are in the Old Village Cemetery, close by Deacon John Smith and Elizabeth his wife. Some gravestones are now obscured---
Catherine Morgan---Born February 23, 1777. Died August 26, 1791.
Frederick Morgan---Born on 25 September 25, 1771. Died August 27, 1791.
Heman Morgan---Born March 12, 1783. Died October 2, 1791.
Caleb Morgan, Jr---Born July 25, 1769. Died October 10, 1791.
Elijah Morgan---Born July 23, 1775. Died December 3, 1791
Thankful Smith was born April 7, 1768, probably at Granby, Mass. Her father's name was Seth Smith. He was a descendant in the sixth generation of Lieut. Samuel Smith, born at Hadleigh, in England, about the year 1602, who with his wife Elizabeth and their four oldest children came to this country in the year 1634 and is supposed to have located at Watertown, in Massachusetts, where he remained for one year. In 1635, he removed with quite a company, to what was afterwards and is now known as Wethersfield, in Connecticut, where he remained until the year 1649. In that year he removed to the town of Hadley, in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, where he lived until his death. He was one of the original settlers of Hadley, before it was divided, as it now is, into the townships of Hatfield, North and South Hadley, Amherst and Granby.
Her mother's first name was Thankful, the same as her own. Her father had two wives and fifteen children---
By first marriage to Thankful Burt (Jones)---
Seth Smith, Jr., born November 22, 1764, died August 14, 1772.
Jedediah Smith, born April 21, 1767.
Thankful Smith, born April 7, 1768, died October 7, 1856.
Benjamin Smith, born June 23, 1772, died July 3, 1772.
By second marriage to Eunice Clark---
Seth Smith, Jr., born January 27, 1776, died January 3, 1842.
Zenos Smith, born March 2, 1778.
Noah Smith, born March 8, 1780, died October 6, 1867.
Clark Smith, born May 3, 1782.
Sally Smith, born August 27, 1784, died April 22, 1785.
Ira Smith (Clergyman), born August 5, 1786, died March 10, 1854.
Titus Smith, born October 7, 1789, died February 27, 1832.
Sally Smith, born February 18, 1792.
Harvey Smith (Clergyman), born January 14, 1794.
Seth Smith, senior, was a Colonel of militia in the Revolutionary war. When the news first reached his town of the invasion of the British, he was in church on Sunday. He instantly left the house, mounted his horse and rode all over the town raising volunteers. The next morning, with his newly raised recruits, he marched about thirty miles and arrived in time to participate in the battle of Bennington. His residence was Granby, Massachusetts.
Israel Smith a brother of Seth Smith had eight or nine children. The name of the oldest was Chloe Smith. She married a man by the name of Hayes, of Brattleboro, Vermont. They had seven or eight children. The fifth was Rutherford Hayes, and he was the father of Rutherford B. Hayes, late President of the United States.
The following is an extract from a letter written by President Hayes in February, 1870, when he was Governor of Ohio:
My father came to Ohio in 1817, thus separating from all his New England
relations, and died before my birth, so that I have not had an opportunity to
learn much of his family. . .there is an impression in the family that
Grandmother Chloe Smith Hayes was a very superior woman, having real
genius. . .
Thankful Smith often spoke of her father's connection with the Revolutionary army, and though a young girl, remembered the battle of Bennington and spoke of it frequently. In her life she was genial, lively and open-hearted; active, and really a helpmate in the raising of their large family. She lived to lose her recollection and for several of the last years of her life, though a mere child, she still retained, in a most remarkable degree, her health and physical vigor. At the age of eighty and upwards she was as active and quick as a young girl of fifteen. While she hardly remembered what occurred in the later years of her life so long as she was talking about them, she did evidently recall the incidents of her girlhood and earlier years with accuracy.
The writer (Albert Dickerman) remembers in particular calling on her after she was eighty years of age. She neither knew him, nor when told who he was, did she seem to remember it for more than a minute; it was a mere flash, and lost. However, upon leaving the room evidently associating him with his father, who was one of her oldest children, and born in Brattleboro, Vermont she remarked that she wished him to call upon her in her room, as she desired to inquire of him about the Brattleboro folks. Soon after, in company with a cousin, he went into her room and as soon as she had made the necessary disposition of chairs, &c, for welcome, she commenced asking questions about Deacon this and Doctor that, wishing to know if they lived by the church or over where they used to, and a great many other questions of a like
nature. He, as well as his cousin, told her that he had never been in Brattleboro and knew nothing about the people. She insisted that he did and must, and to gratify her he finally answered at random, yes and no, to her numerous questions. She manifested much interest and at the close of the conversation, remarked that she was glad to hear from old Brattleboro once more. Her manner was perfectly natural; her questions were put naturally, and her informant has no doubt, to this day, but what she asked him about the people who lived in Brattleboro when she lived there. She was a kind mother and greatly beloved by her children. She died, October 7, 1856, at the residence of her son-in-law, William C. Sliter, near Rockdale, in the town of Unadilla, Otsego County, New York. With her husband she was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a most exemplary Christian.
What is said about her in the preceding extract, by the man who preached her husband's funeral sermon is undoubtedly a very truthful portraiture of her. Her descendants regret that they have not a more complete record of her life as well as her husband's, but those of them who remember her, recall her with feelings of love and veneration. She was a good and noble woman, a mother in Israel, and her descendants do and will in very truth call her blessed.
Edward Dwight Dickerman and George Sherwood Dickerman.
"Families of Dickerman Ancestry: Descendants of Thomas Dickerman, An Early Settler of Dorchester, Massachusetts".
(New Haven, Connecticut: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Press, 1897).
Seth Smith And Thankful Burt
Springfield were Joynd in Marriage October 9th
anno: Dm 1760
Thankful Burt was born on November 3, 1738 in Ridgefield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and died on December 27, 1772. She was Seth's first wife.
Their famous mountain man grandson---Jedediah "Diah" Smith---carried his Bible, God-fearing, Methodist-trained, no tobacco, no alcohol, scarred by a grizzly bear---stood six feet and three inches tall.
His father, Jedediah Smith, conducted a general store in New York and moved to Pennsylvania in 1810 when suspected of passing counterfeit money. Jedediah Strong Smith was killed by Comanche lances on May 27, 1831, crossing the Cimarron River.
Seth and Thankful Burt's daughter---Thankful Smith---was born in South Hadley, later Granby, Massachusetts on April 7, 1768. She married John Dickerman, Jr. in 1785 and lived on the farm on the southern boundry of Seth Smith's mill seat---the Dickerman farm now known as the Living Memorial Park.
John Dickerman was born in Vermont March 17, 1764. At age sixteen he enlisted in the Revolution for nine months, at the end serving as a scout. After marrying Thankful Smith in 1785, John Dickerman moved to New Haven, Connecticut to apprentice in blacksmithing.
Returning to Brattleboro, John Dickerman bought farm land south from Seth Smith.
About 1800 he removed with his family to Guilford, Chenango County, New York. Again he removed to Unadilla, Otsego County, New York where he died on November 6, 1848. Thankful died there also on October 7, 1856.
General Jonathan Smith came to Brattleboro in 1834 and on November 24, 1838 paid eight hundred dollars for a mortgage to Samuel Elliot for lands "& also the Tenement on the south side of said County Road East of Lois Dickerman's land". This tenement is the Seth Smith house.
Jonathan was born in Halifax on February 20, 1783, the son of Jonas Smith and Deborah Angel of Marlboro. His first wife was Lucia "Lucy" Whitney, the daughter of Deacon Jonas Whitney, and she came with him to Brattleboro in 1834. Lucy died on April 9, 1836. Jonathan married second, Amanda Stone of Windsor, Vermont, on February 6, 1838.
Brigadier General Jonathan Smith was a regimental commander of the Brattleboro militia. He died on Thursday, June 12, 1851.
A long-time Brattleboro miller, Truman Howard---himself the son of the miller Ira Howard---lived in Seth Smith's house, as indicated on the D. L. Miller map for 1856.
Over twenty years before, on November 20, 1834, Truman Howard bought from the Jonas Mann Estate, for twenty-six dollars, the two acre tract of land which adjoined his property directly east---"it being the old mill-seat, so called".
This 1834 pasture is now the land running from the present Creamery Bridge eastward to the Green Mountain Chapel, and westward to the 1768 house---all bounded northerly by the Western Avenue, and bounded southerly by the gently-flowing, wine-dark Whetstone Brook.
Truman Howard's widow, Electa, eventually sold the Seth Smith 1768 house to Charles H. Stevens for $2500 on November 4, 1867, and Stevens' name duly appears on the 1869 Brattleboro map by F. W. Beers.
Charles H.Stevens sold this house for one thousand dollars to Silas M. Crouch and his son Albert W. Crouch on October 4, 1870. Two additonal sons, Edwin Caleb Crouch and Wayland Markham Crouch were in residence when Judge Hoyt Henry Wheeler wrote about Seth Smith's 1768 house.
Side Passage Added 1917
March 2, 2012
606 Western Avenue
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
This house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The present owner is Jonathan Chase.
The year "1768" is said to be chiseled into a beam, or on a plate, over the entrance which originally faced easterly, or toward the Connecticut River. But is this chiselling original to the building of the house? The possibility is that the chiselling was done when the house was restored in 1953.
William Harris the carpenter came to Brattleboro in 1768, but his land was almost a mile to the west, and there is absolutely no record at all to show that Harris had anything to do with Seth's house. The claim that William Harris built this house has no proof.