William Stow was the son of William and Rebecca Stow of Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. He was baptised in Christ Church on October 17, 1756. According to Hamilton Child's "Gazetteer of Windham County", Stow was "a Revolutionary War hero". The Boston City Directory for 1789 lists William Stow as a hatter, at No. 17 Ann-street.
William Stow was appointed as Hayward for the Town of Brattleboro on March 7, 1796. This was his first and last public office. The hatter purchased two pieces of land, for twenty pounds lawful money from Joseph Clark in the East Village on June 30, 1795.
The land measuring five rods was for his dwelling house and hatter's shop, on the "South bank of the Whetstone brook about six feet easterly from the bridge across the brook near the said Joseph's Fulling Mill". The first bridge over the Whetstone was not built where the now familiar bridge crosses.
The second parcel measured two acres 158 rods, lying easterly from the county road, which was later named South Main Street. William Stow's parcel is the level stretch of land lying northerly from the present northern boundary of the Prospect Hill Cemetery and running up to the present Reed Street, which was known in 1795 as "the road to the Fishing place", and still later as the Round Hill Alley.
Landmarks named in this deed are the dwelling houses of Samuel W. Whitney and "Field & Hoits" on the west side of the county road, the road leading to the Fish place, a White Oak tree on the brow of the Meadow Hill, a White Burch tree, a White Oak staddle, the second hill with its Chestnut tree, and a stake and stones, and a final stake and stones.
By March 19, 1808 Capt. Samuel Whitney had sold his dwelling house to Elihu Hotchkiss, and "Field & Hoit" had sold their dwelling to Obadiah Gill. These houses stood on the west side of present South Main Street, on either side of Lawrence Street.
Meadow Hill is the first name for the prominence later known as Reed's Hill, for its owner from March 19, 1808 on, James Reed and later his son Henry. The meadow in question was the sheep meadow and enclosure which stood southerly from the later-built Bridge Street. Stephen Greenleaf, Jr. recalled this sheep meadow when writing his town history in 1834.
The "second hill" referred to in these deeds is now called Prospect Hill.
At this time there was no Hinsdale bridge. The natural rock ledge was complete, not blasted away by dynamite as later, so there was no Bridge Street either at this time. The earliest settlers went down Wharf Street, or Mill Street to the Connecticut River for boarding the flatboats. This lane is now called Arch Street.
William Stow sold these acres to James Reed on March 19, 1808. The five rods with his house and shop were sold to Oliver Chapin on August 8, 1808. Apparently, the hatter's advertisements to sell his properties in 1803 were not completed.
Shortly after settling in the East Village, William Stow married Lucy Jennings of Brattleboro. The marriage took place in Dummerston on January 14, 1796. Lucy died one day short of her first wedding anniversary, on January 13, 1797 and was buried that same day.
Lucy Jennings Stow's slate stone was placed on the brow of the second hill, on land that belonged to Joseph Clark---but only a few feet from the southern extremity of her husband's two acres and one hundred fifty-eight rods of land---
Mrs. Lucy Stow Wife of
Mr. William Stow who
died Jany 13, 1797
aged 28 years
The weeping Friends may mourn thy Lot
How Valued once avails The not:
A heap of Dust remains of Thee
Tis all Thoud art ---
Joseph Clark deeded this burying-place to the Town of Brattleboro on April 13, 1807 for "twenty dollars lawful Money". The land was eleven rods square [181 1/2 feet on four sides] and bounded by a fence of posts and boards, already "used as a burying place by said Inhabitants".
William Stow married second, Mary Larrabee, also in Dummerston, on May 2, 1799. According to the 1800 Census for Brattleboro, his household contained, besides himself and his wife---one free white male aged under ten years and one male between ten and sixteen years.
The hatter removed with his family to Dummerston by 1808, then to Wilmington, Vermont some time before 1810. There were eventually four sons, John, William, Jr., Alonzo Tiletson, and Thomas Tiletson Stow.
situate in Brattleborough aforesaid and bounded as follows Viz one tract containing two Acres and one hundred & fifty eight rods of land begins at a place When a line drawn South twenty degrees thirty Minutes East from the south East corner of Samuel W. Whitneys dwelling house intersects a line drawn South seventy four degrees East from the north East corner of Field & Hoits dwelling house Which place of begining is on the south side of a Road leading to the Fish place and runs thence north seventy one degrees thirty minutes East five Rods Seventeen links thence south sixty two degrees thirty minutes East ten rods eight links to an Oak Tree on the brow of the Meadow Hill-- Thence southerly along on the brow of the hill forty four rods to a White Burch tree on the brow of said Hill, thence south seventy six degrees West seven rods eighteen links, to a White Oak staddle on the brow of the second hill, from the Meadow, thence northerly along on the brow of said second hill thirty four rods & eight links to a Chestnut tree, thence north eighty nine degrees West five rods twenty links to a stake and stones, thence North four degrees thirty Minutes West firfteen rods seven links to the place where this tract began ---
Land Records, Town Clerk's Office, Book C, 1-2.
From Sketches In July And August 1829
Alvan Fisher sketched his preliminary studies for this landscape during the summer of 1829, finishing the painting in his Boston studio. The land that William Stow once owned is shown here, still slightly wooded and apparently not settled.
Also one other tract containing five rods of land begining on the south bank of Whetstone brook about six feet easterly from the bridge across sd Brook near the said Joseph's Fulling Mill and runs thence Southerly along the east side of the public road two rods ten links, thence north seventy eight degrees thirty minutes East two rods six links, thence North twelve degrees East two rods to the south Bank of said Brook. Thence Westerly along on the south side of said Brook, to the place of begining ---
This deed granted by Joseph Clark to William Stow was dated the "30th day of June Anno Domini 1795".
William Paterson and Dorcas Chandler witnessed this deed on September 1, 1795.
Then personally Appeared Joseph Clark and seals to the foregoing Instrument and Acknowledged the sum to be his free Act and deed ---
Before me Samel Warriner Justice of the Peace
Recorded September the ninth 1795 ---
By me Simpson Ellas Town Clerk ---
The Town of Brattleboro's 1799 tax list records that William Stow paid the poll tax for one person in his household, and was taxed for two oxen, two cows, one horse or stallion, and four acres of improved land.
The 1800 tax indicates that William Stow's property holdings decreased---in addition to the poll tax, one cow over three years old, one two year old, one acre of improved land.
The year 1804 shows an increase in taxable property to two cows three years old, while in the year 1805, the hatter owned no cows at all.
Army Corps Of Engineers Survey For Proposed Canal
William Stow's Lot At South Extremity Opposite Spruce Island
Chapin's Island is named for Oliver Chapin, who strongly advocated for the new Hinsdale bridge, the first built across the Connecticut River and completed in 1804.
The narrow channel of "swift water" or rapids, over which downstream flatboats were hauled by cables and winches to dock at the foot of Wharf Street, was called "The Tunnel". Flatboats were secured to iron ringbolts set in the rock ledge. After 1804 the ropes for hauling these flatboats were stored in the new covered bridge.
Stevens' Bar in the Connecticut River, east from present Walnut Street, was named for Phineas Stevens, the commanding officer of Post No. 4, which fort stood at present Charlestown, New Hampshire. Steven's Bar comprised an area in the river at the head of the seventeen acre Chapin's Island.
The "Fish place" was called "the Fishing place" in the March 19, 1808 deed, and the road to this fishing place became known by 1856 as "Round Hill Alley", and is presently called Reed Street.
On Barnard's 1830 map, William Stow's former hatter's shop, indicated by one small black square.
Brattleboro East Village
Round Hill Alley Now Reed Street
Wood Block Engraving 1860 By Austin Jacobs Coolidge
Austin Jacobs Coolidge and John Brainard Mansfield
Boston: Austin J. Coolidge, 39 Court Street, Press of Geo. C. Rand, 1860.
Display Window With Statuary
Tombstones In The Yard
This photograph was taken in 1894 for publication in "Picturesque Brattleboro". The 1895 D. L. Miller map indicates that the building pictured was occupied by the W & A Dutton Marble Works.
William Stow's 1803 advertisement in the Brattleborough Recorder states that this hat shop and dwelling house measured twenty by twenty-six feet. It is narrowly possible that this photograph shows the former hat shop?
This is also impossible to prove---
William Stow's 1795 hat shop quite likely had to be slightly removed from its original location in order to accommodate the dynamite blasting of the stone ledge that was necessary for the construction of the new Bridge Street, which improved access to the first bridge across the Connecticut---the 1804 Hinsdale Bridge.
It is not known precisely where the bridge across the Whetstone stood in 1795. The Whetstone channel in these years, also, at this location, did not run so far south as at present---that is to say, the stream bed was widened later in the nineteenth century.
If William Stow's hatter's shop survived the great 1857 fire, then the 1894 photograph could well show his place. But the proof remains impossible.