Four Distilleries, Three Military Companies, Largest Printing Office in the State.
Among the historical books of the late Gen. Herbert B. Titus, was a gazetteer of the state of Vermont, "containing a brief general view of the state, a historical and topographical description of all the counties, towns, rivers &c., together with a map and several other engravings by Zaddock Thompson, A. B." This work was published at Montpelier in 1824 by E. P. Walton and the author. In the gazetteer is the following article on "Brattleborough" signed "S. G."
Brattleborough, a post town in the southeastern part of Windham county, is a lat. 42° 52' and long. 4° 21'. It is the principal town in the county and is bounded north by Dummerston, east by the Connecticut river, which separates it from Chesterfield, N.H., south by Vernon and Guilford and west by Marlborough. The town was chartered December 26, 1753, and contains about 34 square miles. It is about 100 miles south from Montpelier, 30 east from Bennington, 75 west from Boston, 60 from Albany and 390 from Washington. The town derives its name from colonel Brattle of Mass. one of the principal proprietors. The first civilized establishment in Vermont was made in the southeast corner of this town in 1724, and was called "Fort Dummer." Henry and Samuel Wells, John Arms, Nathan Willard and John and Thomas Sargeant were among the first settlers of the town. They emigrated from Massachusetts, except the latter, who were born at Fort Dummer. Col. John Sargent was the first known white person born in the state of Vermont.
The time the town was organized is not ascertained. It appears, however, that Doct. Wells was the first town clerk. Col. Samuel Wells was the first representative from the county of Cumberland, under the then province of New York. As the transactions during the celebrated controversy with New York were somewhat similar in several of the old towns in this vicinity, the reader is referred to the account of Guilford as a specimen. The Congregationalists are the most numerous denomination of Christians. Their first minister was the Rev. Abner Rieve from Long Island, N.Y. He was settled by covenant in 1770, and preached about 27 years, when by his own consent he was succeeded by Rev. William Wells, from Great Britain, whose salary was yearly granted by the town. He preached about 20 years and was succeeded by the Rev. Caleb Burge, who continued about five years and was dismissed by mutual consent. The town is at present divided into parishes, East and West, in each of which are a village, a meeting and a clergyman of the Congregational order. The Rev. Jonathan McGee is pastor of the East parish, and was ordained Jan. 13, 1819. The Rev. Jedediah L. Stark is the successor of Mr. Burge, in the West parish, and was ordained January 23, 1822. There are few Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers and Universalists. There are about 30 persons in town who are upwards of 80 years of age. The epidemic, which prevailed in Vermont, during the late war, proved mortal in many cases here. The practising physicians are Lemuel and John L. Dickerman, Russel Fitch and Artemus Robbins.
This town has had its full share of able and distinguished men. Among those who have been eminent for their learning and their public services may be reckoned the venerable and Rev. William Wells, the Hon. Chief Justices, Samuel Knight and Royall Tyler, and their honors, Micha Townshend, John Noyes and James Elliot. There is an academy in the west village now in successful operation under the direction of a board of trustees and the tuition of Mr. Jacob Smith, Preceptor. The area of the academy is 56 by 40 feet, and the upper story is improved as a townhouse. It was incorporated for the first time on the 4th of November, 1801, and again October 22, 1821. A little west of the centre of the town are two mountains by the names of "The Great" and "The Little Round Mountain." There are some other eminences, but none of much note. The mountains are accessible and most of the land capable of cultivation.
The soil is similar to that of the town in general along the Connecticut river comprehending interval, sandy, loamy and hard soils, with such timber as is naturally adapted to them. The principal streams are West river and Whetstone brook. The former runs but a short distance in the town, entering it from Dummerston and falling into the Connecticut river near the northeast corner.
Whetstone brook rises in Marlborough and runs through Brattleborough very near the centre. This affords natural water privileges, which are already occupied by a great variety of mills and other machinery. Connecticut river forms the eastern boundary for about six miles. It runs in several places with a strong current, denominated "The swift water" by the boatmen.
The river is crossed, at the lower part of the east village, by a handsome bridge, built in 1804, and connecting this town with Hinsdale, N. H. A few rods above the bridge is the general landing place for merchandise, the amount of which brought into town by boats and other conveyances, by the enterprising merchants of the village alone, during the year ending March 1, 1824, was $96,963. Of this sum, the merchants of the east village owned $79,963; the remaining $17,000 belonged to those of the west village.
There are few minerals worthy of notice. Actynolite is found here in steatite. It is in very perfect capillary crystals, which are grouped together in different forms and sometimes radicated. Argillaceous slate is very abundant and is quarried to a considerable extent. Mica is found of a rose colour with schorl in quartz, and abundance of schorl in beautiful crystals, and also the red oxyde of titanium.
There are two considerable villages, one standing at the mouth of Whetstone brook, called the East Village, and the other near the centre of the town, called the West Village. The east village is a place of much business, and is said to be the richest village of its size in New England. Paper is manufactured here, in Holbrook's paper mill, to the amount of 10 or 12,000 dollars, and in his printing and bookbinding establishment business is done the amount of from 20 to 25,000 dollars annually. At the distillery of Francis Goodhue 9000 bushels of Rye are distilled, and at his cotton factory 18,000 pounds of wool is manufactured yearly. Stephen Greenleaf, the first merchant in the west village, was from Boston, and opened the first store in 1771. At the tin factory of Willard and Dickinson ware has been manufactured the past year to the amount of $10,000. At the distillery of Phineas Steward, in the west village, about 1800 barrels of cider have been distilled, and more than 700 barrels at the distillery of Levi Goodenough, within eight months. At the factory of Edward Woodman 5000 yards of cloth have been dressed, and 14,000 pounds of wool carded the past year.
At the east village there is an "Aqueduct Corporation," an "Engine Company," and a "Royal Arch Chapter of Freemasons." Four stages, carrying mails, arrive at Smith's tavern, three times a week; one from Boston, one from Hartford, Connecticut, one from Albany, and one from Hanover, and they all reach here the same day they leave the above places. A mail arrives here, once a week, from Portsmouth, N. H., from Northfield, Mass., and from Townshend, this state. There are three military companies in town, one of Light Infantry, one of Artillery, and one of Infantry. There are two "Female Cent Societies," and two "Juvenile Missionary Societies," one of each village. There are eleven school districts and school houses, one printing office, issuing a weekly paper, "The Brattleboro Messenger;" one paper mill and one book store, connected with, perhaps, the largest printing and bookbinding establishment in the state; one post office, one bank, "The Bank of Brattleboro;" five grist mills, seven saw mills, one cotton and one woolen factory, one aqueduct lead pipe factory, three clothiers works, three carding machines, nine merchants, four taverns, four distilleries, one apothecary shop, two tanneries, six blacksmiths, two goldsmiths, and a variety of other shops. Population 2017.