The Old Village On Newfane Hill

On Newfane Hill

There are many interesting places to be found in southern Vermont, but few, perhaps none, in quiet beauty and richness of historic associations surpass the town of Newfane. This place is some miles northwest of Brattleboro, on the Brattleboro and Whitehall railroad.

The county seat of Windham county has been here since 1830: before that time it was at the old village of Newfane hill, about three miles away. About an hour's time brings one to the summit of this cone-shaped hill, surrounded by a vast amphitheatre.

On the south lies a stream in a deep valley whose opposite side slopes up to the bleak highlands of the adjoining towns, shutting out more distant views.

In the west is a fine view of Green mountains, extending from Hoosac mountains and Greylock through the chain including Woodford, Haystack and Stratton mountains to Mt. Holly in the northwest. Away to the north stands Windsor's trusty sentinel, Ascutney, clearly defined against the sky.

But in the east the eyes meet a vista compared to the Sierras of Mexico. Back from the lower hills of Vermont, piled up, one against the other, rise the hills and mountains of the Granite state.

In the north Sunapee guards the line in the east. Monadnock and Wachusett show their finest profiles while away in the south, far as the eye can reach, Holyoke and Tom, the twin mountains, "their tireless vigil keep."

Here, indeed, there seems to be a place where cut off from the lower world of action, one might stand face to face with the great reality of life; here one might "look through nature up to nature's God."

And here almost at the summit of the hill the early settlers built up a village. Though the land was granted some time previously not until 1776 was it settled. In the summer of that year. Jonathan Park and Nathan Stedman, aged 23 and 21 years cleared the land for two farms on and near the old common and lived in a log hut together.

The first winter they returned home to Worcester, but the second winter they remained here alone in the wilderness, housing their stock five miles to the north of their clearing, and every day through the long winter one of them went the five miles and back to feed and care for the cattle.

Another of the same stamp was Ebenezer Dyer, who soon after settled on the banks of the river, near the present village. He was an anti-king man, a lawyer by profession, and on having a royal fine of nine shillings imposed on him, he had lain in jail seven years.

Quite a little settlement sprang up here on the hill, and in 1787 the county seat was removed here from Westminster. History gives us a picture of a thriving village, supporting all the business common to rural centres.

What remains now? Just below the crest of the hill is the common, but not a building stands in sight. A dreary waste, you may say, with only cellar holes to mark the site of once prosperous homes.

And yet the sadness is half gone, for, after taking away life, nature has seen fit to obliterate nearly all traces of it. Certainly a scene like this is much pleasanter to view than the remains of weather-beaten houses, with decaying timbers and open, staring windows.

Crossing the common one sees to the right the foundations of the academy and the site of the church, while a short distance below were the old jail, court house and hotel.

Passing on, one stands on the very spot where the whipping post stood. Here the last whipping ever given by law in the state probably took place. Old Mother White of Wardsboro, having been convicted of counterfeiting in 1807, was tied to the post, which was in the form of an upright cross.

Her body was bared to the waist, her arms bound to the crossbar, and 39 lashes were laid on her back, the high sheriff giving the number, the rest being alloted to his deputies.The blows were laid on with great force, and she writhed and shreiked in agony. The whole town turned out to witness the show, and the windows of the academy and church were filled with women and children, eagerly watching the sight.

Near this place the old Field mansion stood. Great lawns still retain their terraced form, and the cellar holes are just as of old, though the buildings have long since been removed.

Here lived old Gen. Martin Field, noted as a lawyer throughout he state. Of his sons, Roswell M. Field was the best known. He gained a national reputation by having charge of the Dred Scott case until it was carried to the United States court, when he turned it over to Montgomery Blair. Together with Blair and Gen. Lyon he has the credit of having saved Missouri to the Union in the civil war.

He left a son destined to become more famous than himself, though in a different sphere. Eugene Field was raised in Massachusetts, but much of his time was spent in Newfane in his boyhood days. He lived there with his grandmother, Gen. Field's wife, at a fine old place on Fayetteville common and has written some very pretty papers about his life there.

Perhaps it was here that Deacon Frisbee sprinkled ashes on the slide.

Here in the old Field homestead met many jolly parties in the olden time, and among them is record of one which deserves notice of being almost unique.

According to a peculiar construction of a legal maxim of that time it was supposed that if a widow, the executrix of her first husband's estate, married again while possessed of any property furnished by her first husband her second husband became liable for all the debts of the estate.

Hence, when the widow of Wm. Ward, whose estate was somewhat involved, wished to marry Maj. Moses Joy, they repaired to General Field's house; the bride was conducted to a closet, and after being completely disrobed by her tire-woman, extended her fair arm through a small opening in the partition, and was so united in marriage with the groom, who, with the minister and wedding party, remained in the main room.

It was Rev. Hezekiah Taylor who officiated at this wedding. This man gave his service from early manhood to old age to the church in the village. His dry humor was constantly cropping out in unlooked-for places.

One day he and his brother-in-law, Rev. Aaron Crosby, while waiting for their grist at the mill amused themselves by the not exactly ministerial pastime of wheeling each other about on the wheelbarrow.

At last by a sudden turn Parson Taylor threw Parson Crosby into the water, exclaiming, as the dripping clergyman crawled out: "There! you go home and change your clothes. I'll see to the grist."

Parson Taylor was of the orthodox belief, and being asked by a member of the church for a letter to the Baptist church at Jamaica, by skillful questioning he drew out the fact from the applicant that he had decided that the Baptist church was the only true church of God.

He gravely seated himself at the table, and then, as if puzzled a little, looked up with the inquiry: "How shall I word this letter? To Christ's church at Jamaica, from the Devil's church at Newfane?" The reply is not recorded.

In our walk down the hill one passes the cellar holes of the stores, hotels, shops and school and comes to the ancient cemetery. Here the early settlers are buried, with bare, forbidding headstones to mark their resting places.

The county seat was removed to the new village in 1830. The hamlet on the hill lost prestige, little by little. The last house has been removed, or fallen in decay. The work of the old village is done, except as it brings to the mind of its beholder a picture drawn from New England life a century ago.

Returning to the summit of the hill, we can watch the sun, bathed in a flood of gold and crimson, sink behind the western mountains, and as it sinks the stars come out one by one. So the sun of prosperity set on this New England village, leaving but he mellow starlight of the memories of the past.

C. A. Parker, Millers Falls, Mass.

Brattleboro Reformer, August 5, 1892.

[Reprinted from the Boston Globe]


Farmers' Weekly Messenger

Advertisement, June 10, 1822 -- June 27, 1822


Mr. Printer,

Having been chosen defendent, I was obliged to visit New-Fane at our late County Court; where I expected, in addition to the perplexities of a vexatious law suit, to encounter all the inconvenience of a small neighbourhood; to get my food at any price thought proper to be charged, and perhaps to lodge on the soft side of a hemlock board:

But happily I found all my apprehensions removed by putting up at the elegant Court Hotel lately erected by Mr. Anthony Jones and kept by Mr. Wheelock.

The commanding site---the aerial piazzas, affording an extensive prospect of from thirty to forty miles of rich and variegated New England landscape, and looking down upon the Monadnock---the spacious hall with its lofty orchestra; the elegant parlours and commodious sleeping chambers of this magnificent building attracted the unqualified admiration of its numerous visitors.

While the well furnished tables, displaying the luxuries of the season, exquisitely cooked and served with uncommon neatness and dispatch; the best foreign and domestic liquors, and above all, the very moderate charges of the landlord, gave peculiar satisfaction to the happy guests.

Mr. Jones, with his habitual politeness, for the purpose of introducing the new establishment to the public, with whom he has long been a standing favourite, condescended on this occasion to act as Major Domo to his own tenant---and nothing further need or can be said in favour of the "Court Hotel."

However this rapidly rising establishment may appear to those who inhabit meaner edifices, certainly the county in general will feel themselves greatly relieved, in person and pocket, by its erection; and the good people of New Fane must consider themselves as under lasting obligations to the public spirited individual who has thus removed one of the principal objections to the continuance of the shire in that town.

P. Q. Attorney to the Defendant.

Farmers' Weekly Messenger, June 24, 1822.


Mr. Printer,

I read in your last paper a description of the Court Hotel in New-Fane, and must confess the writer has done as much justice to the subject as could reasonably be expected from eyes first dazzled with its splendour.

There is one defect he overlooked---It has no sign, for I will not thus call the golden dumpling at the corner.

Now I would propose that a lofty sign post should be erected at the south west corner of the building, at the expense of the neighbourhood, on which should swing in triumphant majesty, a handsome sign board, six feet by four; on one side of which should be represented the figure of Bonaparte, or the Duke of Wellington, or Gen. Andrew Jackson, or some other laurelled conquerer---and on the other, a striking likeness of the bar-keeper of Court Hotel, with one hand in his breeches pocket, and with the other beckoning the passing traveller to stop and put up.

Such a sign would look very well, and perhaps save the aforesaid bar-keeper some fatigue in standing from morning to evening in the same place, and for the same purpose.

Yours to serve,

Branch Bank.


Farmers' Weekly Messenger, July 1, 1822.


To Let,

For one or more years,

and possession given on the 10th day May next,

The large and elegant Mansion-house, Store, and a convenient barn, with a few acres of good land adjoining it.

The house will be completely finished throughout; and in point of elegance and convenience, is not excelled by any house in this county.

As a tavern stand, its local situation and other conveniences are such as will give it a decided advantage over every other house in this village.

The terms will be made easy.

Anthony Jones.

New-Fane, April 24, 1822.

Farmers' Weekly Messenger, Monday, May 6, 1822.



The subscriber has taken the large and convenient Tavern-house lately occupied by Maj. W. Wheelock, in New-Fane; where he will be constantly provided with the best of liquors and every other convenience for boarders and travellers.

He solicits the patronage of his old friends and customers, assuring them that if they will call upon him, they shall be as well accommodated, and at as low a price, as they will find at any house in this village.

Anthony Jones.

New-Fane, Aug. 30, 1822.

Farmers' Weekly Messenger, Monday, September 2, 1822.


New-Fane Hill Crossroads

[This tavern stood on the north-east corner of the crossroads on Newfane Hill, east from the Common. The Court House and the whipping post stood on the common, so this new tavern was for some time called the Court Hotel.]

[At the crossroads, one road ran easterly to the later settled Fayettevillle. Another road south led to Williamsville. The road west and northwesterly led to the Moses Kenny farm. A track led northerly past a cold spring or well lying a few rods off to its west side, and then on toward Kenny's Pond. The trunk of this way was later called the Merrifield lane.]

[Simon Fisher and his third wife Mary Crosby conducted New-Fane Hill's main general store, which stood on the southwest corner of the crossroads. Simon Fisher was the son of Daniel "Corn" Fisher.

Simon Fisher's sister Hannah was the wife of Joseph Ellis, the Ellis homestead standing on the southeast corner of the crossroads. Simon Fisher's store is sometimes called the "Ellis Store".

The Ellis homestead, in the Federal style, was built about 1790, and removed to Fayetteville in 1830. Dr. Chester Olds in May 1831 was its first owner on the new site, one door north from the present Newfane museum of The Historical Society of Windham County.]


A City set upon a hill cannot be hid.

--- It is with great pleasure we notice, that the Court House in New-Fane, owing to the liberal exertions of the State's Attorney, Col. Ellis, and other public spirited inhabitants of that town and its vicinity has been greatly enlarged, and completely repaired.

The hall of Justice is spacious, and well lighted--- the accommodations for the Bench, Bar, Jurors, and Sheriff's department are peculiarly convenient, and the room well warmed by stoves, so as to render it very comfortable during the extremely cold weather of the late January term of the Supreme Court.

Under the same roof is a retiring room for the jury, a lobby, and an office for the Clerk--- the whole surmounted by a handsome cupalo--- so that the inhabitants of Windham county may now facilitate themselves as possessing, if not the most elegant, yet the most convenient Court House in the state.

Every person who inspected it at the late Court, seemed highly pleased--- indeed, we heard not the smallest murmur of disapprobation, excepting that some--- perhaps over notional people--- observed, "That it was a great pity that so excellent and commodious a building had not been erected in a more suitable place."

American Yeoman, February 25, 1817.

[Simeon Ide published the American Yeoman. His apprenticeship began in the fall of 1809 in the offices of the Vermont Republican in Windsor, Vermont. Throughout 1813, Ide worked as a pressman for William Fessenden in Brattleboro, printing Daniel Webster's new spelling book.

William Fessenden paid Ide eighty cents a day and he operated, according to his diary, "8 two-pull hand presses; each requiring two able-bodied men to work it. Ide could also borrow any book that he liked from William Fessenden's bookstore.

In his father's blacksmith shop in 1816, Simeon Ide published the first New Ipswich, New Hampshire edition of the New Testament, but this enterprise left him, according to Brattleboro historian Henry Burnham, with only "a good Ramage press, a font or two of type, and a few other necessary utensils of the trade. . ."

Simeon Ide started his newspaper in Brattleboro and called it "The American Yeoman". He rented some rooms in George F. A. Atherton's store, near the Post Office on a corner of Main Street and set up his press.

With his brother Truman as his apprentice, Simeon worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day. The first edition of the American Yeoman arrived in Brattleboro on February 5, 1817, and eventually young editor Ide had four hundred subscribers.

Simeon Ide may well have written "A City set upon a hill cannot be hid" himself, but frequent contributors to this newspaper included Hon. James Elliot, Hon. John Phelps, and Hon. Royall Tyler, all of whom were familiar with the new Court House on Newfane Hill.

Another possible author is Henry Wheelock, who was the great nephew of the Hon. Luke Knowlton.]


Samuel Elliot's Letter To William E. Ryther

For the Phoenix.

Mr. Ryther--- One day during the recent session of our Court, I walked up to New Fane Hill, the former seat of the Judicial and legal business of the County. This elevated site yields a romantic prospect.

The eastern branches of the Green Mountains at the West--- Escutney and other lofty peaks at the North--- and the valley of Connecticut River, and a long extent of the Western parts of New Hampshire and central part of Massachusetts, with the distant Monadnock and Wachusett, make up the Eastern view.

The prospect will reward one pleased with a view of Mountains and rugged scenery, for the toil in gaining the ascent.

The Hill now looks lonely and deserted.--- The Old Court House and other buildings are mostly removed; and the Meeting-house which stood on the very pinnacle is also gone, the flames of which illumined the hill one dark night, some years ago; and which, many believe was the work of gothic hands.

The scene waked up in my mind, many interesting recollections. Here, for many years the citizens met, as in other shires, for transacting their Court and County Business, buffetted in winter by the blasts and snows driving over the mountains, and enjoying in summer the refreshing breezes and pleasant prospects of the place.

And how many of those citizens, more especially that class connected with the Court and Bar, have passed away, as well as the buildings and busy hum of business, never to return!

Of the 20 or 25 who generally attended as Members of the Bar from this and adjoining Counties, when I removed from Massachusetts to this County in 1803, only two are now in attendance.* All the others, except one living in New Hampshire,+ have descended to the grave.

And probably death has made a proportionate requisition from the attending throng of citizens and spectators.

A new generation has arisen upon the stage, and many striking changes have taken place in the fortunes and condition of those who survive.--- On the prostration of the hill settlement, pleasant & active villages have grown up at Fayetteville and Williamsville; and new roads have been wrought, and the old ones improved at great expense.

The Old Academy building is still to be seen, as if triumphing over the desolation, but the accents of science and music no more charm, or are confined to the feeble efforts of a district school.

Yet amid this loneliness and dessolation, Nature, more permanent, bestows the same prominent and interesting scenes.

Now as then, may be seen, on some delightful morning, the deep, long, drawn vale at the East, filled to the brim with a flood of whitened fog, richly diversified by the rays of the sun, and resembling an immense sheet of water, with a multitude of apparent islands formed by the tops of the hills rising above the level of the foggy surface.---

Now, as then, the admirer of the works of Creation, may behold the sun or moon rising on the far distant horizon, and lighting up a richly varied view, over the far extended and rugged scenery around.

September 17, 1840.

S. E.

* Hon. Phinehas White, and Wm. C. Bradley.

+ Hon. Elijah Knight.

Samuel Elliot was not admitted to the bar till 1804.

Vermont Phoenix, October 23, 1840.


Interesting Old Papers.

Some old papers found in disused corners of closets in the Congregational church are of value in the Sunday school history of the church from days of the old church on Newfane Hill, and of interest as relics.

Patty Whitcomb's class record was made of paper partly sewed and partly pinned together. The pin is stubby and has an unevenly rounded head.

Marshall Kenny was nine years old, Hannah Park five. Wm. A. Stedman's age is not given, but he probably was about eight; Israel Knowlton, nine; Albert Robbins, son of Dea. Robbins, ten.

The number of scripture verses that each recited is given, also names of books and chapters. The dates are June to August, probably about 1823.

On another paper with a year's record, are numbers of verses given, aggregating nearly 1000 to some names. Julia Duncan recited 943; Emily Kimball, 738; Mary Robbins, 738; Harriet Park (the late Mrs. Morgan) 133.

In the list is the name of Fanny Eager, now Mrs. Fanny Baker of Putney. Miriam Cook, Patty Wood, Emily Hoyt, Mary Morse, Harriet Stedman, Sarah, Caroline and Artelicia Rice and Martha Ann Fisher are among other names which will be recognized by some of their descendants.

Vermont Phoenix, December 24, 1897.




Mr. Putnam.--- A correspondent observes, there is some difficulty in getting an appropriate name for the Capital of the County.---

Park's Flat, given by the mechanics, answered the purpose for them to centre during the time of building, and is too vulgar to go farther.

Fayetteville has been got up to give currency in establishing a petty Post-Office, ect. but is too lengthy and far-fetched to be appropriate,---

besides, there are many Fayettevilles already in our country, and to prevent mistakes through the post-offices and other ways, we should avoid giving the same name in different places.

It is believed that Parksville is much more appropriate and proper for many reasons---

it is the shortest to be found if a ville must be hitched on, of course easily written; and as Mr. Park (the owner of the soil) is a good old patriarch of New-Fane, he deserves something to perpetuate his name and memory for the site on which the Capital stands---

particularly as it is understood the conductors of the puppet juggled him out of a compensation.

Brattleboro Messenger, December 24, 1825.

[This letter is addressed to Alexander C. Putnam, the Editor of the Brattleboro Messenger. Fayetteville, Cumberland Co., North Carolina was the first "Fayetteville" in the United States.

Cities competed during 1824-1825 to honor the touring hero of the American Revolution, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette--- called simply Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette in France and, in the still more taciturn Newfane--- "Lafayette".]


Christopher Osgood

Original Anecdote.--- In the early settlement of a town in Windham Co. Vermont, it became necessary--- so thought our pious progenitors--- to settle a minister, and establish a church agreeable to the rules and regulations appertaining to the true orthodox faith.

A gentleman (Mr. O.) was very active and zealous in bringing things into their proper channel; and a church was established, to which, among others, Mr O. united himself with the zeal of a good christian.

Things went swimmingly for a time, and no man was more punctual in his attendance at meeting than was Mr O:---

But for some cause or other his seat became vacant, and he entirely deserted himself from hearing the word of life from the lips of the Rev. Mr Taylor, the minister as aforesaid.

At which the brethren of Mr O. became aggrieved; a committee was appointed to meet the recreant churchman and learn the reason of his vaccilllation from the true faith.

Mr. O. received them with great politeness; said he,

"gentlemen, when you were being born you were weak, feeble, and unable to go alone, and I was induced from pure philanthropy to lend a helping hand in bringing you up from your low state to one bordering on maturity; and as I find you can now go alone without my assistance, I would rather treat and be off!"

The committee were satisfied.


Vermont Phoenix, March 27, 1835.

[The Rev. Hezekiah Taylor preached the Word of Life.

"Mr. O." is Christopher Osgood, who was elected Trustee, Assessor, and Fence Viewer at the town meeting on May 17, 1774. He also soon thereafter served as Lister, Selectman, and Town Meeting Moderator.

The author signed Q. has not been identified.

Treat and be off! may be an expression familiar in the days of the "horse and buggy doctor", when the physician would treat one family and quickly saddle up for the next call. The expression "be off" was apparently not first recorded until 1826.

Rev. Hezekiah Taylor was settled on June 30, 1774, on the same day that the Congregational church was organized. Building the meeting house on New-Fane hill was approved in town meeting on September 17, 1792, but it was not raised until July 17, 1799, between the Court House and Mr. Taylor's lane.]


Locust Grove

"Locust Grove," on the Gen. Martin Field place, Newfane Hill, has been christened as a picnic ground. One of the original wells there that supplied water to our forefathers has been cleansed and a pump placed in it. It is surrounded by young trees and is a picturesque spot.

Just below, near the Field mansion site, the cellar hole of which remains hidden by old-time rosebushes, syringa, etc., a growth of locusts and other trees has been trimmed, seats, tables and hammocks placed there for the convenience of lunch tourists to that historic spot.

The latest plan is to prepare a stone arrangement whereby the steaming teakettle can add to the comfort of picnickers.

About 40 rods to the west is Bencasson cabin, and a few rods to the east is the Merrifield lane, leading from the cross-roads, which on account of its cold spring has hitherto been a favorite place for lunch parties.

By these tokens Locust Grove can be easily found, and much enjoyment of its free accommodations is bespoken.

Vermont Phoenix, July 29, 1898.


Newfane vs. Newfane.

A stranger at the depot this week was heard inquiring as to place of accent in the word Newfane, having observed on the cars that some accented "New" and others "fane."

The fathers of the town, it is believed, their descendants and old residents generally, gave accent to fane, which makes the word seem more euphonious, besides agreeing with the original name.

Who ever heard "Squire Field" or his compeers say aught but Newfane? It is comparatively newcomers or visitors who accent the first syllable.

Vermont Phoenix, December 30, 1898.


Quaint Epitaphs

A friend speaks of reading in the Newton library near Boston from a volume of quaint epitaphs collected by Susan Darling, a native of Vermont, and published in 1895, the following which is copied from a Fayetteville gravestone:

"Oh little Lavina she has gone to James and Charles and Eliza Ann. Arm in arm they walk above, singing the Redeemer's love."

James Ray, the writer, composed epitaphs for the stones of several of his children, which have often attracted attention. His stone lies broken in several pieces, but its Masonic emblems are plainly seen. He was well up in the honors of Masonry, in whose rites he was buried.

No one of the family is left to care for his gravestone. Is there none in that honored fraternity to respond to such a case?

Vermont Phoenix, July 29, 1898.

[Lavina B. Ray died on April 11, 1845, aged 4 years, 1 month, 2 days, and was buried in the Newfane Village Cemetery. James E. Ray died in 1837, Eliza Ann followed in 1839, and Charles R. Ray died in 1842.

Quaint Epitaphs; Collected by Susan Darling Safford. (Boston, Mass.: Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, 24 Franklin Street, Boston, April 6, 1895).

This Newfane epitaph for Lavina Ray, recorded in Safford's extensive volume, which is organized by states and towns, is more accurately transcribed, than the account given in this Vermont Phoenix article.

Interested parties may call at---]


Constable Nathaniel Stedman's 1771 Census Of Fain

Daniel Whipple Esquire High Sheriff of ye County of Cumberland to Nathaniel Stedman of Fain Constable

in Pursuance of A Warrant to me from his Excellency the Right Honorable John Earl of Dunmore Captain General and Governor in Chief of ye province of New York bearing date the 16th day of January 1771

You are hereby Required and commanded forthwith to Number and take an Account of all ye Inhabitants Within Your District Distinguishing therein the Age Sex and Whether Black or white

as in ye Scheme at ye foot hereof which you are to Do with as Great Exactness as possable and to Return the same to me under your hand as Soon as Conveniently may to gather with a List of the Names of ye head of Every family within the same District---

Given under my hand & seale at Brattleborough in the County of Cumberland ye 25th Day of March 1771

Daniel Whipple Sheriff


A true List of the Name of the Had of Every famely of the town of New fain

Hezekiah Boyden
Thomas Green
Josaph Dyer
Evenezer marrick
Josaph Dyer Junr
Jonathan Ritchardson
Ebanezer fletcher
Samewil Ritchardson

males under 16


males above 16 and under 60


Femails under 16


Femails above 16


males 60 and upwards


Sur I have gon through the Bizeness Asined me In your Warrant With as much Care as posabely I Could & If thare Be any Arrows pleas to Excuze them from you Humbel sarvant

Nathael Stedman


Newfain Apriel ye 20 1771



A Visit To Newfane Hill.

On Tuesday of last week, we visited "Newfane Hill" and found it decidedly breezy there--- almost chilling upon the "pinnacle"--- while old Sol poured forth with intensity his powerful rays, so scorching in the vales below.

"Newfane Hill" is the highest point in town, and from it may be seen one of the finest views, of a variety of hills and dales for the eye to see in every direction, and one well worthy of a visit.

On our way we were shown the site where some 80 years ago, there was burned a house and family of seven persons--- Henry Sawtell, wife, and five children. The house stood on land now belonging to Leonard Timson, and known as the "Davis farm."

Fifty years ago, on this hill was the pride of Newfane, and even "pomp and splendor" shone there in those days. There was quite a village, and many wealthy people resided there.

Old Judge Elliot remarked in a plea, that if the public buildings should be removed from the hill to "Park's Flat," (now Fayetteville,) in 50 years that hill would be deserted, and nothing but a "howling wilderness."

His words were nearly verified in less than thirty years! Of the many buildings then there, now there are none; not a dwelling.

Desolate as it might seem, amid the quiet and silence that reign, yet 'tis not a barren waste, but has a rich and strong soil, furnishing the best of grass, and with little care to replenish, yet shows fertility; and the vegetable kingdom showeth abundance still, though lone and destitute nearly of humans.

A little down the hill we still find hospitable farmers living in quiet content, and in the enjoyment of what the busy world knoweth not of.

The first Congregational church stood on the highest place, where for 40 years Rev. Hezekiah Taylor preached. The old academy stood nearly opposite the church, but scarce a stone now remains to mark the spot.

Townsley Tavern next, Col. Ellis's House, the Parsonage, Gen. Field's, the court house and jail, Jones's Hotel, the Kenneys, Pomeroys, Dr. Old's place, Birchard's, and many others,--- all are gone.

A few lilac bushes, or an old cellar filled with tall weeds, mourn for the former mansions and are the only monuments now to tell where once the dwellings stood. The inhabitants, most of them, have passed away to the spirit land.

After the court house and jail were removed to Fayetteville, the most wealthy inhabitants also removed there, and there some have ever since resided. The Pomeroys and Townsley's removed to Brattleboro; Gen. Field, Dr. Olds, Mr. Birchard, Jones, and others, to Fayetteville.

In fair and clear days may be seen on the north Ascutney mountain, and on the east is plainly seen old Monadnock, with Chesterfield village near; south the hills of Dummerston and Marlboro; Stratton mountain on the west, and others of the Green mountain range, covered with their dark evergreens.

The spot well repays a visit.

Vermont Phoenix, July 19, 1872.


Zebina Eastman


"The Story of a Little Vermont Town Hidden in the Mountains."

[Special Correspondence of the Chicago Inter-Ocean]

I write this letter in one of the quietest and most charming little villages on the face of the earth.

As I take my pen in hand to write, the sun is just going down behind a mountain at the west, at least an hour before the almanac's time of its setting, and we shall have a prolonged, softened twilight, under the shadow of that mountain, such as is known in the valleys of Switzerland.

On the morrow the day will dawn at four, and the sun will come creeping up back of the lesser hills of the east half an hour behind time.

On the north is another high hill, or maountain, standing, dark and grim, to watch the sun in its rising and setting; and at the south there are other hills that melt away in the distance, that seem to form the outlet of this grand mountain amphitheatre.

Here in the arena sleeps the quiet village, guarded by these hills.

Between them, deeply shaded in the dark green of the mingled verdure and shadow, run deep valleys through which flow the rapid rivers that help make up the waters of the Connecticut.

This village is the county seat of Windham county, the southeast corner of the State of Vermont, situated about twelve miles northwest from Brattleboro, and is not without historical significance.

Five years ago, on the 4th, there was celebrated in this village the first centennial of the town of Newfane, the geographical township of which Fayetteville is one of the most important villages. It appears that the town is two years the senior of the nation.

When the settlers first came into this part of the country, it was not known to what power or king they owed allegiance. The authority of King George was controverted, and the governors, both of New Hampshire and New York, claimed jurisdiction over the territory, and title to the lands.

Their last recourse was to ignore all, and set up for themselves; and so they created a State from the mountain ridges that spread from the Connecticut to the lake on its western border.

And as the settlers came into the region they went upon these high round-topped hills, and cleared up the land to make themselves farms, avoiding the more fertile valleys, supposing that they were permeated with miasmatic vapors which made them unhealthy, and therefore they chose the elevated places that were swept pure by the fierce winds from the Green Mountain tops.

And on the top of what is now known as Newfane Hill, these settlers built their first log cabins; and in the process of the growth of the country a mountain village sprung up here which became the county seat of Windham county.

Here, on the crown of the hill, the pinnacle cropping out with ledges of baserock, they built the court-house and the contingent jail, to which were gathered the hotel for the entertainment of the country courtiers, the houses of the requisite village residents and attaches of the court, the town lawyer, the doctor, the school-master, the minister, the church, the country store, the blacksmith shop, the school house, the academy, and the whipping-post.

Until little more than half a century ago, this village nucleus remained the county seat, to which all seeking justice or judgment had to climb up miles of steep roads to an elevation that overlooked the wide world, and the valleys between the distant hills, and a scene of mountain tops in a wild confusion of ridge upon ridge and peak upon peak, reaching to the heights of the Green Mountains, and to the mountains that lift their heads in New Hampshire; the whole of which was swept by fearful storms, and their own fields and homes blocked up in this wild region by the snows of winter.

The people at last said that they would not longer seek justice at such a fearful sacrifice of time and tax of muscle, and the vox populi was that the seat of justice must come down from its high station on the hills. Commissioners were appointed to look up a place for it in the valleys.

They applied for a site in a village that had a name to live and a manufacturing business. The owner of the land repelled the overture by refusing to contribute the few acres wanted for the county buildings.

There was a delightful place for such an enterprise on the area between the mountains I have described, in the midst of a farm, which spot was known by the name of its owner as Park's Flat. This the unaspiring granger was induced to bequeath to the public for the specific purpose of a county seat.

The commissioners proposed to acknowledge the favor and compliment the donor by giving to the new village the very pretty name of Parkville.

There are some who cannot, by not knowing what they are, have honor or greatness thrust upon them; the donor took it not kindly; he thought he saw in it a lurking design of his superiors in social standing to insult him for his disinterested gift.

This was the time when Lafayette was making his last triumphal tour through the United States; he was a man who, from being used to it, could receive honor and a compliment without blushing, and, wishing to bestow the favor where it would not likely be spurned, they duplicated it, perhaps for the twentieth time, and gave to their new town and county seat the very respectable if not original name of Fayetteville.

And so long may it stand in history, and make something for history of itself.

Having found a name that would stick, parties who were identified with the enterprise began to take possession of their new inheritance.

The old hotel at the hill was taken down, and so also many of the private residences, and were packed off into the valley to the new site, with furniture, bag and baggage; the jail and court-house torn down, and more commodious ones built; the academy and the whipping-post abandoned; the exodus leaving only on the old site the stone walls and cellar-holes behind.

This is the first historical incident of note of this quiet town--- the flight of the whole village to more agreeable quarters.

I am writing this sketch in one of the upper rooms of the lumbering old hotel, which was brought down by piecemeal in 1825, along the winding, precipitous road, from the top of the shaven-crown hill.

It is a wide-spreading, roomy structure, abounding in the tastes and habits of the earlier day; the brick fire-place for wood, now closed with fireboards; cupboards and paneling in the wainscoting of its grander rooms; windows with antique sash, and the more antique of the little 6 by 8 inch panes of glass, the jambs supplied with the primitive wooden buttons for sash-holders.

The bar has all the convenient equipments of the olden time, when the decanters stood with their inviting presence in dignified rows on the back shelves, and the toddy-stick and flip-iron were sceptres that ruled the hour, and New England rum, gin and Jamaica had precedence over the modern whiskey.

Here in this hotel---probably in this very room in which I am writing--- were entertained some of Vermont's greatest jurists of the recent past, as Judges Stephen Royce, C. K. Williams, S. S. Phelps and Jacob Collmer, who filled the bench of this court since it was removed from the hill; and, while upon its old site, the famous old Judge Harrington must have held court here, as did Royall Tyler, Paul Spooner, Richard Skinner, and others.

The first settlers came here to possess the land from the region then commonly defined as "from down below;" and that did not mean so far down as a wicked fancy might suggest, but from Massachusetts--- particularly Worcester county--- and the old settlements in Connecticut.

The three first settlers, fathers of the town, were from Worcester county, viz.: Jonathan Park, Nathaniel Steadman, and Ebenezer Dyer, the two former yet family names of the town. The latter, I am ready to believe, was the original State ancestor of our late well-known eccentric Chicago old settler and abolitionist, Dr. C. V. Dyer.

The first settlements were made just before and in the period of the revolutionary war. A number of the very few went over to help fight the battle of Bennington. The towns "up here," not higher than Newfane hill, in the southern part of Vermont, are only half the age of their progenitors "down below."

[Letter continues . . . ]

Vermont Phoenix, August 8, 1879.

[In 1879, Zebina Eastman returned to Newfane after forty two years, and gave a lecture in the Union Hall on Wednesday evening, July 9 on temperance and Anti-Slavery. The young Zebina had been a radical Abolitionist whose politics, and newspaper, the Vermont Free Press, had not been accepted by Newfane's, in this case, more sensible elite.]



Centennial Entertainment.

The ladies' Centennial Tea Party on the evening of March 31st, was a success beyond the expectations of its most sanguine friends.

The tables were spread and bountifully laden during the afternoon, and those of our goodly mothers who visited the hall in the afternoon to view the relics of ye olden time, had an opportunity to sit down to a good old fashioned supper table set with ware that was from fifty to one hundred years old, mostly furnished by Mrs. A. Birchard and Mrs. F. O. Burditt.

Two pieces supplied by Mrs. S. P. Miller were about one hundred and twenty-five years old.

In the evening there was a dramatic entertainment, opened by music from the choir in ancient costume, and followed by a charade, a hard shell baptist sermon by T. G. Brown, and a laughable farce entitled "The Troubles of the Peterkin Family."

The father of our country, and his noble lady, were pesonated by Col. A. B. Franklin and wife. Mrs. Hollis Pettee appeared as Washington's mother. The juveniles too, had their Washington and lady in full dress.

Supper was served about nine o'clock, after which a few tableaux and a good night song by the choir closed the entertainment, the net proceeds of which amounted to about $30. The scene upon the floor was rendered highly interesting by many of our ladies appearing in genuine ancient costumes.

The following is a list of the relics we found on exhibition, with the names of the exhibitors:

Three plates and a pepper box over 100 years old. Mrs. Esther Redfield.

One pair shears, 100 yrs. old; small work basket, 150 yrs. old; pewter platter, 200 yrs. old. Miss Lizzie Gould.

Pair of spectacles, 100 yrs. old. Mrs. Geo. Parsons.

Five pieces of a tea set once belonging to Priest Tufts of Wardsboro. Mrs. Marshall Newton.

Two gravy dishes over 100 yrs. old. Mrs. S. F. Whitney.

Ball ticket dated Newfane, March 6, 1819. Managers, William Chamberlain and Vespasian Ellis; a table and a wooden plate used by one of the first settlers of the town, 100 yrs. ago; a specimen of half melted iron bottle from the great Chicago fire. Mrs. O. T. Ware.

Wine glass, two tumblers, table, soap piggin, 100 years old. Mrs. Lucy C. Cushing.

Pitcher, 80 yrs. old. Mrs. Newman Allen.

A baby's linen cap and a work bag, 81 yrs. old; two mirrors, 100 yrs. old; two table knives, a knee buckle, razor, spectacle case and tray, with various other small article, 100 yrs. old; Rev. Mr. French's sermon against extortion, printed in 1777; Select Cases, by Thomas Shepard, published in 1747, and several other pamphlets and letters from 80 to 100 yrs. old; copy of the Brattleboro Messenger dated Friday, Feb. 8, 1822; copy of the Washingtonian published at Windsor in 1812; two pewter platters, pewter plate, porringger, two teapots, 140 yrs. old; glass flask, 75 yrs. old; black underkerchief. Mrs. Daniel Whitney, Brookline.

Nice black shawl, 130 yrs. old; small portrait painted on ivory and gold mounted for a lady's breast pin, with a pair of large double hooped ear jewels, 130 yrs. old. Mrs. G. G. Willis.

Brass skillet, 104 yrs. old; cream pitcher, 116 yrs. old; a copy of the Bible in two volumes, 1757; two volumes of Harvey's Meditations, 1760; Statutes of Vermont, 1791; a window curtain, 100 yrs. old. S. G. Brown.

The Minstrel Progress of Genius, published in 1802; ancient shawl. Sylvanus Sherwin.

History of the Martyrs, published in 1747, and several other ancient volumes. Mrs. Sarah Cook.

A pair of silver sleeve buttons 100 yrs. old. Mrs. James Lyman.

Old Continental money. Mrs. Ranney.

An old one dollar bank bill and several other old State bills. Daniel Whitney, Brookline.

Powder horn, 78 yrs. old. M. Davidson.

Trimmings from the pulpit of the Union House. Mary Birchard.

The Christians' Pattern, or a treatise on the imitation of Christ, published 1714. Mrs. Ranney.

The Office and Duties of a Justice of the Peace, published 1764, and bought by Luke Knowlton, (one of the first grantees of the town) April 13, 1772. Henry Rice.

A shawl and silver spoon owned by Mrs. Luke Knowlton in 1760. Mrs. S. K. Holland.

Piece of linen over 200 years old. Mrs. Henry Rice.

A sample of wall paper now on Mr. Birchard's parlor, over 50 yrs. old; copies of the Vermont Register for 1810-11. A. Birchard.

Five pewter dishes, plate, and a large portrait of Mrs. Moses Kenny, over 100 yrs. old. Mrs. H. S. Kenny.

Relics of Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Edward. Miss Alice Morse.

A mustard pot 75 yrs. old. Mrs. G. E. Davidson.

Waiter, over 100 yrs. old; tea canister, over 125 yrs. old; pewter spoon, 150 years old; three pewter platters over 100 yrs. old; pair of candle sticks, over 100 yrs. old, and a mortar turned out of a birch knot, nearly 100 yrs. old. S. P. Miller.

Two pewter platters, plate and porringer, 125 yrs. old. L. H. Brigham.

Pewter porringer, spoon, platter, checked linen apron, 100 yrs. old. Mrs. R. M. Newton.

Brittania teapot over 80 yrs. old; pewter cup, over 100 yrs. old. Mrs. Marshal Newton.

One-half of an Indian stone mortar, found a few years ago on the hill just north of this village; a copy of the Spectator, printed in 1710. A. T. Warren.

Several Indian arrow heads. F. O. Burditt.

Three arrow heads and two pieces of Indian pottery. J. J. Green.

A profile likeness of Wm. Putnam, 75 yrs. old. Mrs. N. Bolles.

Pewter tumbler, glass tumbler, wine glass, two pewter tankards, pair of sugar tongs, over 100 yrs. old, once the property of the noted Corn Fisher; a specimen of fossil leaves, and Indian's stone hatchet, two deeds of land in Connecticut dated 1772 an 1774; book, Principles of Religion, published in 1718. Mrs. Laura Johnson.

Ancient brown earthen pan and a fashionable bonnet of 25 yrs. ago. Mrs. Warren Hildreth.

In closing our list we must not omit the Yankee's original relic, labeled the mustache of the man in the moon, and a feather from the bird of Paradise

There were many ancient chairs and portraits, and various other unlabeled articles that we have omitted, not knowing whose they were.


Vermont Phoenix, April 7, 1876.


The Old Village On Newfane Hill.

. . . . Luke Knowlton of Shrewsbury, and afterwards of Northboro adjoining, took a deed of an interest in the land under the charter and in 1766 sent Jonathan Park or Nathaniel Stedman or both to take possession.

The township was so planned that two roads, one nearly north and south, and the other nearly east and west, would cross each other near the top of the high hill in the centre now known as Newfane hill on its southeastern slope.

Park settled just north of these cross-roads, and Stedman north of him. . . Joseph Dyer, probably from Milton, Mass., settled on what has since been known as the Dyer farm on the river below the fair ground. Thomas Green came and settled northeast of Stedman on what is called the Allen place on the hill west of Fayetteville.

Park moved to the flat where Fayetteville is and other settlers came. . .

Knowlton had married Sarah, and Joshua, a son of Rev. Dr. Morse, Lavinia, sisters who were daughters of Col. Ephraim Holland of Shrewsbury. Knowlton moved with his wife and six children in February 1773, to the land cleared by Park.

Morse with his wife and one child moved in the same year to where the third house is south of the road to Timson hill on the west side of the north road through the Parish, lately the Welcome Allen place.

Dr. John Morse, another son of the Rev. Dr. Morse and the first physician of Newfane, came in the fall of that year and built a cabin where the first house north of the Timson road is, to which he brought his wife and two children the next spring.

Knowlton's house was one story high, and stood at the foot of the first hill east of the cross roads, north of and facing the road. He kept some goods for sale to others, and was the first merchant.

He and his wife and John Wheeler and his wife, who was Jedidah Bigelow of Marlboro, and Hezekiah Taylor were members of the church in Shrewsbury. They were dismissed from that church in 1774 "to the covenanting brethren in Newfane, in order to be formed into a church State there, of which Mr. Taylor was the pastor elect."

This church state was organized by these persons: Thomas Green and wife, Jonathan Park and wife, and the wife of Mr. Henry Balcom, June 30, 1774, and Mr. Taylor was settled as pastor over the church on the same day.

He had a farm on which he lived, which was in the southwest corner of the crossroads. His house stood on the south side of the road leading west.

The Rev. Aaron Crosby of Shrewsbury was a missionary among the Indians at Onohoughhoage on the Susquehanna river under the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

Mr. Taylor deeded the lot granted to the first settled minister to him August 17, and he married Mr. Taylor's sister August 22, 1774. His family resided in Newfane, but he remained among the Indians several years.

Deacon Moses Kenny came to Newfane in the same year, and settled about a mile west of the cross roads on what has ever since been known as the Kenny farm. He could have had land where the asylum meadows are in Brattleboro at the same price.

Joshua Morse moved from the Parish and settled across the road from Knowlton's at what became the Dr. Olds place, and afterward to where his son Amherst lived.

Probably the land in the northwest angle of the cross roads began to be used early somewhat for a common. There was a graveyard on it west of the road leading north, and perhaps a rude meeting-house. . .

The geographical centre of the county was about half a mile south of these cross roads. In 1787 the shire was established at Newfane if the people there would build a court house.

Luke Knowlton, who was then a judge of the supreme court, gave the land in the northwest angle of the cross roads, extending north far enough to include the burying ground and west to the brow of the hill, for a common, and for the court house and jail while they should remain; and the court house was built.

It stood a little south of the middle of the common with the entrance at the south end and the court room on the ground floor. The doorstep remains in its place. The building for the jail, with rooms for the jailer, stood in the rear and north of the court house.

Silas, a son of Luke Knowlton, married Sarah Holbrook, and John Holbrook, brother of Sarah, married Sarah Knowlton, sister of Silas, at the same time, November 13, 1786.

Holbrook had a store in the southwest angle of the cross roads. He moved to Brattleboro in 1790, had a store where the American House there stands, and was father of Gov. Holbrook. He was succeeded by others and by Austin Birchard, afterwards of Fayetteville, and Roger Birchard, his brother, afterwards of Dummerston.

A tavern was kept by Luke Brown, probably in the northwest angle of the roads.

Towns under Vermont supported the ministry, and this town, September 17, 1792, "voted to build a meeting-house forty feet by fifty. Voted to set said house betwixt the court house and Mr. Taylors lane." Mr. Taylor's lane led to his pasture from the top of the hill.

The meeting-house was built. It stood on the top of the hill by the north side of the road, on land now fenced in by a wall with the common. A "horse block" was built near it of stone, for the convenience of those who rode.

The road leading south was built straight through what is called the Parish, except as it was bent to pass the deep valley of Baker brook; the road from Brattleboro over Wickopee hill came into it a little below the cross roads;

the road north led to Townshend past past the Benjamin Eager place, where Mr. Hescock now lives, and the Sanders place;

another road turned east from it where the Merrifield place is, about a half-mile north from the cross roads, and led past Thomas Green's and the Allen place to Jonathan Park's, and over the hill past Nathaniel Stedman's to Dyer's.

The road leading east branched to where Fayetteville is and to Dummerston, and afterward down the river to Brattleboro.

The graveyard was moved from the northeast corner of the common about half a mile south of the east road, where it now is.

Gen. Field's house stood at the north side of the common on grounds terraced up from the street below; his large barn stood west above, painted yellow like his house, but trimmed with brown imitation doors and windows, and his office stood on the common southwest of his house.

Joseph Ellis's house stood on land wharfed upon the southeast angle of the roads.

Mrs. Field and Mrs. Ellis here took from Gen. Field's the first wagon ride in town. The horse became so excited by the strange rig going down the hill that he ran in at Judge Knowlton's and jumped over the barnyard bars with them in the wagon, which did not break. They were helped into the road again and went on.

The academy stood on a wharfing above Parson Taylor's, on the south side of the road leading west opposite the common.

Chester Pomeroy lived on the west side of the south road down the first hill.

Judge Knowlton bujilt a large new house fronting toward the court house near his old one, which was left standing; Doctor Olds lived just on the other side of the road from him.

Ichabod Merrifield lived where th roads separate below, Ward Eager next below him on the road to Fayetteville; Dr. Stone, who married a daughter of Judge Knowlton, next below Merrifield at the foot of the hill on the other road;

Col. Ephraim Holland toward the end of the flat on the northeast side of the road near the Sibley place; Marshall Newton on the other side at the Sibley place, and Rev. Aaron Crosby next below on the south side of the road.

Luke Knowlton Morse lived where his son, Oliver P. Morse, Esq., now lives, the first house on the south road to Brattleboro, and Joshua Davis next below him.

Joshua Morse lived on the other south road next below Pomeroy, and after him his son Amherst, father of Saben and of Austin J. Morse and of Mrs. Nathaniel Cheney of Brattleboro.

There were other houses than those mentioned along the east side of the road leading north, the north side of the road leading east and and the west side of the road leading south.

The whipping post stood on the common below the court house. A woman from Wardsboro was shipped there on her bare back by the high sheriff, for theft in 1807. Persons could be committed to jail on execution for debt till they paid.

Limits extended a mile every way from the jail within within which they could go by giving bond not to go further, and for payment of debt if they did. One prominent man kept one of the taverns several years while confined on these limits.

By the east side of the road north of the Kenny place towards Wardsboro is a broad wall on which Capt. Kenny's soldiers once marched in column. It was built of stone from the neighboring fields by such debtors for nine pence a day rather than to do nothing. The north end of the wall was at the limit and as far as they could go.

The present county buildings were built at Fayetteville in 1825; the court house on the hill was abandoned and taken down; the jail was moved and became the dwelling house next west of the village hall at Fayetteville.

A part of the Fayetteville hotel was the tavern in the northeast corner of the roads on the hill; the large house east of the road south of the common at Fayetteville was brought down from the hill by Dr. Olds; and two small houses south of it were also bought down.

Of the buildings moved down one was moved back: that was Nathaniel Gould's blacksmith shop, which the farmers of the hill drew back with their oxen in the night after he had got it down.

The top story of the house on the south side of the road about a mile from Fayetteville towards Wardsboro was built out of the other tavern on the hill which was where Parson Taylor lived; and the barn north of the bridge west of the road in the south part of Fayetteville was built out of Deacon Moses Kenny's house.

The view from the old hill is extensive and grand. Monadnock in the east, and Stratton moungain, the Indian name of which was Manicknung.

In the west, stand up in full size in sight, Wachusett shows itself in the southeast, and a whole circle of hills round about. Chesterfield village is in plain sight towards Monadnock and Windham church can be seen a little to the west of north.

The road through Parish, the valley of the South branch into Marlboro, the Wickopee hill road and that over Dummerston hill and Putney are in sight nearer by. Of the old village not a building remains.

From the list of collegiates in the historical notes of the centennial Benjamin Lauriston Knowlton , who graduated at Colby university, Waterville, Me., in the class of 1854, was by oversight omitted.

He was a son of Benjamin Knowlton, who was born in Shrewsbury and came to Newfane with Nathan Knowlton, his father, in 1784. He lived on the old road from Townshend in the west part of the town just south of where it crosses the new road to Wardsboro.

Nathan Knowlton's father, Joseph Knowlton, who removed from Shrewsbury to Wardsboro, was a cousin, and his mother, who was Mary Knowlton, was a sister of Judge Luke Knowlton.

Nathan Knowlton's wife was Abigail, daughter of Deacon Benjamin Maynard of Shrewsbury, and a sister of Sarah, who was married to Capt. Philip Rutter, the elder, father of the late Philip Rutter of Townshend; and of Lucy, who was married to Asa Wheelock of Wardsboro, father of Judge Henry Wheelock, Mrs. Dr. Warren and Judge Emery Wheelock all at times of Newfane.

Capt. John Rice of Shrewsbury married Elizabeth Wheelock, a sister of Asa, and was the father of John and Henry Rice, twins, who after Dr. Warren lived in the Dr. Olds house where Mr. Davidson now lives on the south side of the common at Fayetteville.

Benjamin Lauriston Knowlton was a very learned lawyer at Jamaica, father of John L. Knowlton and brother of the mother of David Young of Brattleboro.

Rev. Dr. Morse came to Newfane in 1773 or 1774, and preached the first sermon in town from a rock in that neighborhood which from that circumstance has ever since been called the Parish; but he never came to reside.

Two of his sons came later: one, Ebenezer, settled about 1788 where the tavern is, and built the first grist mill about where the present grist mill is in Williamsville; the other of the two, Amherst, became the farmer on Timson hill.

Jacob, another branch of the Morse family, from Massachusetts, settled in 1787 where the most southern house on east side of the road through the Parish is. The lineage of all these is thoroughly given in the centennial book.

Vermont Phoenix, July 8, 1892.

[This is an extract from the longer article by the Hon. Hoyt Henry Wheeler.]


South Newfane.

Death of Mrs. Mary H. Morse.

In the death of Mrs. Mary H. Morse of this place a landmark, connecting the early years of this century with the last, has been removed.

Mrs. Morse was born March 22, 1807, in the Parish district on land now owned by Chas. W. Morse. She attended the district school on the site now occupied by the district schoolhouse, attending church upon Newfane Hill, riding on horseback sitting behind her mother.

Many of the reminiscences of her early life were very interesting spent as it was at the time when the life of the town centered upon Newfane Hill.

She was married to the late Holland Morse April 30, 1828 by Rev. Chandler Bates, at that time pastor of the Congregational church on the hill. The next day they moved on to the farm on the hill now owned by Chas. H. Kelsey, where they lived 25 years.

Four children were born to them there, of whom the oldest Alvin L., and the youngest, Emeline, now survive. In 1853 they moved on to the place near this village, known as the Nathaniel Hill place, which has been her home ever since.

Mr. Morse died in April 1878. Mrs Morse passed away Dec. 23, closing a well rounded life of 91 years, nine months, one day.

Mrs. Morse began to attend the district school when but three years of age. The teacher, Miss Hannah Cook, kept the time with an hour glass which has since come into possession of the family and was placed upon the casket, reminding us that the sands of life are flowing out every hour.

Mrs. Morse has been tenderly cared for by Mrs. J. H. Cheney nearly one year, during which time she has been confined to her bed.

Her mental faculties were clear up to the last. She patiently and cheerfully waited the Master's call. The family is grateful for the kindness of the neighborhood.

Vermont Phoenix, December 30, 1898.


Newfane Jails Of The Olden Time.

The great wall on the Kenney farm, mentioned in the Newfane items last week, was built by men in jail for debt who had obtained the liberty of the yard by giving bond that i they should go beyond the limits, which were then a mile every way from the jail, the debt would be paid.

The further end of the wall was a mile from the jail and as far as they could go without making their bondsmen liable. Deacon Kenney paid the 121/2 cents a day each for the work.

The first jail yard was laid out by the court on Newfane hill at November term, 1788, "to extend four rods south of the South end of the Gaol, and ten rods west of the west side of the Gaol, and extended ten rods east, the said lines to close and be at right angles, with the privilege of going on Sundays only in a direct course to the court house to attend public worship."

When the shire was located at Newfane the people there were to provide a court house, which they did by making it of the meeting house, but its use for meetings was continued.

At November term, 1790, the jail yard was enlarged to begin, "at the North East corner of Mr. Chandler's store," which stood a little way down on the west side of the road going south,

thence to the fence, "on the east side of the reverend Mr. Taylor's pasture," which was where the pasture is now on the south side of the road at the top of the hill,

thence northerly in the direction of the fence to, "the southerly line of lot No. 2" which was the north line of the common,

thence easterly on that line "to the northwest corner of lot No. 10," which was on the east side of the road running north,

"thence along, and in the direction of the west line of No. 10," which was along the east side of the road, "to a place due east of the aforesaid corner of Mr. Chandler's store, and then west o the bounds first mentioned," and the sheriff was directed to stake out the same.

These limits included the common and about half of the mowing south of the common, which was a part of Mr. Taylor's farm. They were afterwards enlarged to a mile around the jail, as mentioned.

Afterwards by law, jail yards were extended to the limits of towns in which they stood, then to the limits of the counties, and then to the bounds of the state, which are the limits now, for under some circumstances, men, but not women, may still be committed to jail for debt.

Vermont Phoenix, May 1, 1903.


The Historic Weathervane.

The weathervane believed to have been on the old Newfane Hill church is now mounted on the cupola of the annex on Bencasson grounds. Walter E. Wheeler of Williamsville placed it in position.

The vane was brought to Bencasson some years ago from storage in an attic of a house formerly owned by Deacon Lyman Brigham who once lived in the old tavern on Newfane Hill near the church, and it was thought by the late Mrs. Lucy Cushing and S. G. Brown and others to be the weathervane upon which Newfane's first settlers gazes.

It seems to have been intended to represent two flames of fire indicating the Holy Spirit at the time of Pentecost.

Vermont Phoenix, August 11, 1905.

[Lyman H. Brigham was born in 1796 in Townshend to Capt. Ebenezer Brigham and Judith Hazeltine. They came from Westborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Lyman may have been living in Edson Higgins' tavern.

Ebenezer owned one of the two distilleries in Townshend by 1811, but it is not clear whether it was apple cider, or the locally popular whiskey made from potatoes that he produced.

Samuel Glyde Brown was about ninety-two years old at this time.

Lucy Carter Cushing was born on Newfane Hill in 1809 and began attending meeting when she was about ten years old.]


The Judge Knowlton Chair.

The writer recently had the privilege of sitting in what is known as the "Judge Knowlton chair." The history of this chair, as traced backward, is as follows:

It is now owned by Mrs. William A. Brooks of South Newfane who received it from Alvin L. Morse, of that place, in whose possession it had been for many years.

The chair came to Mr. Morse from his grandfather, the late Ephraim Morse of Newfane. Ephraim Morse doubtless received it by virtue of relationship, he being a nephew of Judge Knowllton's wife.

Judge Luke Knowlton, who gave his name to the chair, was born at Shrewsbury, Mass., Nov. 4, 1738. He was engaged in military service during the French war. He moved to Newfane in February, 1773, his being the 14th family to settle in town.

. . . The history of the "Judge Knowlton Chair," prior to the time of its probable advent to town in 1773, is somewhat hazy, but the chair is very evidently of foreign manufacture, and there is good reason to believe that it was brought over from England by Judge Knowlton's ancestors sometime in the 17th century.

Vermont Phoenix, June 14, 1901.

[The "good reason to believe" is not stated here, so the chair may have been brought over from England by any family.]


A Notable Old Tree.

There is an elm tree on the premises of Nathan Perry, in the south part of this town, which is larger than the Washington elm of Cambridge and more than a century in age.

Three feet from the base of the trunk it measures 18 feet in circumference, and four feet from the ground, where the trunk begins to swell from its limbs, the girth is something over 19 feet.

The spread of its branches from north to south is 100 feet, and from east to west the same distance is only sightly cut off by contact with another tree.

J. A. Young of Williamsville, who made the measurements at the writer's request and who
has traveled much about the United States and other lands, considers it the largest elm in the country.

Some in South Newfane have believed it to be a wild tree growth. G. W. Knapp of this place claims a family interest in this monarch of elms, saying that his great grandfather King planted it.

Vermont Phoenix, October 19, 1900.


Capt. Edson Higgins Tavern

Samuel Bruce Higgins, who died on Sunday, was born in Newfane July 19, 1835, the son of Captain Edson and Mary Bruce Higgins. who were among early proprietors of the old tavern, which was moved down by the captain from Newfane Hill.

Vermont Phoenix, January 10, 1902.

[Edson Higgins died in Brookline, Vermont in 1874 at age seventy-nine. He was related to Thomas Higgins and Nathaniel Higgins in Newfane.

Edson Higgins was the proprietor of the old Isaac Taft hotel in Brookline during the late 1820's and very early 1830's before moving to Townshend. In 1836 he bought the Fayetteville Hotel and conducted it until June 1836 before finally moving back to Brookline.

Mary Brooks gave him five children and died in 1877 at age seventy-eight.]





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