The town of Addison lies on the shore of Lake Champlain, in the western part of Addison county, and is bounded on the north by Panton; east by Waltham and Weybridge; south by Bridport, and west by Lake Champlain. The surface of the town is level or with a gradual slope towards the lake, except the extreme eastern part, which becomes hilly or mountainous, the highest elevation being Snake Mountain (or Grandview Mountain, as it is now called; this elevation rises to a height of 1,310 feet above sea level, and is the highest point in the county west of the Green Mountains). The soil is principally clay or marl, mixed to some extent with loam, and in the mountains a strong loam prevails. The principal streams are Otter Creek, which forms the eastern boundary between this town and Waltham, Hospital, Ward’s and Dead Creeks; the latter is formed by what are known as the east, middle and west branches, which flow in a northerly course from the town of Bridport, Dead Creek continuing northward into the town of Panton. Ward’s and Hospital Creeks flow through the southwest part of the town. There is no valuable water power in the town and no manufacturing of importance is carried on. The town was originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, of which pine, cedar, maple, basswood, oak and elm were the principal varieties.
The town of Addison was chartered on the 14th day of October, 1761, by Benning Wentworth, then governor of New Hampshire, to the original proprietors, by the same form of charter under which other towns in Vermont were granted. For purposes of reference we insert here a copy of those charters, in blank, and will omit them in subsequent town histories:
[L.S.] By the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith, &c.
To all persons to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: – Know ye, that We, of Our special Grace, certain knowledge, Mear Motion, for the due encouragement of settling a New Plantation within our said Province, by and with the advice of our trusty and well-beloved BENNING WENTWORTH, ESQ., our Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Our Province of NEW HAMPSHIRE, in New England, and of our COUNCIL in the said PROVINCE, HAVE, upon the Conditions and Reservations, hereinafter made, given and granted, and by these presents for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, do give and grant in equal shares unto our loving Subjects, Inhabitants of Our said Province of New Hampshire and Our other Governments, and to their Heirs and Assigns forever whose names are entered on this Grant, to be divided to and amongst them into sixty-eight equal shares, all that tract or parcel of Land situate, lying and being within our said Province of New Hampshire, containing by A measurement, Twenty-Eight Thousand Eight Hundred Acres, which Tract is to contain something more than Six Miles square, and no more, Out of which an allowance is to be made for highways and unimprovable Lands, by Rocks, Ponds, Mountains and Rivers. One Thousand and Forty acres free, according to a plan and survey thereof, made by our said Governor’s order, and returned into the Secretary’s Office and hereunto annexed, butted and bounded as follows, viz.: –
* * And the Inhabitants that do or hereby shall Inhabit the said Township are hereby to be enfranchised with and entitled to all and every the privileges and Immunities that other towns within Our Province by Law Exercise and Enjoy: And further, that the said Town as soon as there shall be fifty families resident and settled thereon shall have the liberty of Holding Two Fairs, one which shall be held on the — and the other on the — annually, which fairs are not to continue longer than the respective — following the said — and that as soon as the said Town shall consist of fifty families a Market may be opened and kept, one or more days in each Week, as may be thought most advantageous to the inhabitants. Also, that the first meeting for the choice of Town Officers agreeable to the laws of our said Province shall be held on the first Tuesday in January next which said Meeting shall be notified by — , who is hereby also appointed the Moderator of the said first Meeting which he is to notify and govern agreeable to the laws and Customs of our said Province and that the Annual Meeting forever hereafter, for the choice of such Officers of said Town, shall be on the second Tuesday in March Annually.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said Tract of Land as above expressed, together with all the privileges and Appurtenances, to them and their respective Heirs and Assigns, forever, upon the following conditions, viz:
I. That every Grantee, his Heirs and Assigns, shall plant and cultivate five acres of Land within the term of five years, for every fifty acres contained in his or their share or proportion of Land in said Township, and continue to improve and settle the same by additional Cultivations on penalty of the Forfeiture of his Grant or share in said Township, and of its reverting to Us Our Heirs and Successors, to be by Us Regranted to such of our subjects as shall effectually settle and Cultivate the same.
II. That all White and other Pine Trees within the said Township, fit for Masting Our Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that Use, and none to be cut or felled, without Our Special License for so doing, first had and obtained upon the penalty of the forfeiture of the Right of Such Grantee, his Heirs and Assigns to Us, Our Heirs and Successors, as well as being subject to the penalty of any act or Acts of Parliament that now are or shall hereafter be enacted.
III. That before any Division of the land be made to and among the Grantees, a tract of Land as near the Center of said Township as the Land will admit of, shall he reserved and marked out for Town Lots, one of which shall be allotted to each Grantee, of the contents of one Acre.
IV. Yielding and paying therefore to Us Our Heirs and Successors for the space of ten years, to be computed from the date hereof, the rent of one Ear of Indian Corn only, on the Twenty-fifth day of December annually, if lawfully demanded, the first payment to be made on the Twenty-fifth day of December 1761.
V. Every proprietor Settler or Inhabitant shall yield and pay unto Us Our Heirs or Successors, yearly and every year forever, from and after the expiration of ten years from the above said Twenty-fifth of December, namely, on the Twenty-fifth day of December, which will be in the year of Our Lord 1771, One Shilling Proclamation Money, for every hundred Acres he owns settles or possesses, and so in proportion for a greater or less Tract of said Land, which Money shall be paid by the respective persons above said, their Heirs or Assigns in our Council Chamber in Portsmouth, or to such Officer or Officers as shall be appointed to receive the same, and this to be in Lieu of all other Rents and services whatsoever.
In testimony whereof we have caused the Seal of our said Province to be hereunto affixed.
Witness, BENNING WENTWORTH, ESQ.,
Our Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Our said Province, this 14th day of October in the year of our Lord CHRIST, One Thousand Seven Hundred Sixty-one, And in the Second Year of Our Reign.
By his EXCELLENCY’S Command
with Advice of Council.
Theodore Atkinson, Sect’y.
The charter has also this endorsement, together with a list of the grantees:
His Excellency, Benning Wentworth, Esq.
A Tract of Land to contain Five Hundred Acres, marked B. W. on the Plan, which is to be accounted two of the within shares.
One whole share for the incorporated Society, for the propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts.
On’ share of the Glebe for the Church of England, as by law established. One share for the first settled Minister of the Gospel, and one share for the benefit of Schools in said Town. Province of New Hampshire,
November 3d, 1761.
Theodore Atkinson, Sect’y.
Addison Town Organization
Addison, Vermont was organized and the first town meeting held March 29, 1784, when the following list of officers was chosen to govern its affairs: Captain Zadock Everest, moderator; Colonel John Strong, clerk; Colonel John Strong, Zadock Everest and Joshua Whitney, selectmen; Colonel John Strong, treasurer; Lieutenant David Vallance, constable; Benjamin Paine, Benjamin Everest and Lieutenant Joshua Whitney, listers; David Vallance, collector; Colonel John Strong, leather sealer; John Ward and Ebenezer Wright, grand jurors; Joseph Chilson, tithingman; Timothy Woodford, brander of horses; Samuel Strong, pound-keeper; and Benjamin Everest and David Whitney, fence viewers. It was also voted at this meeting that “Colonel Strong’s cow-yard be and is hereby made a pound for the present year.” That the bank of the Lake for this year be Considered as a Lawful fence.”
Among important and quaint votes recorded in the town records during the first few years of the town’s corporate existence may be quoted the following:
September, 1784. – That the town be divided into two school districts, north and south districts.
1785- An early highway was surveyed from Hospital Creek, northward to the south line of Panton to be ten rods wide. Surveyed by David Vallance.
1789- Survey was accepted of a road from Bridport to Panton, through Addison near Snake Mountain, eight rods wide.
1797. – Committee of selectmen appointed to ” find out the center of the town.”
1798- Voted “to see if the inhabitants will agree to petition the General Assembly of the State next to be holden at Vergennes, to divide the town of Addison into two distinct towns, making Dead (Creek) the divisional line.”
1800. – Town divided into seven districts.
1801. – “Voted to divide the town into two parishes”.
1812. – “Voted to divide the town into nine school districts”.
The growth and fluctuations in the town’s population may be seen in the following statistics from the census reports for each decade since 1791: 1791, 401; 1800, 734; 1810, 1,100; 1820, 1,210; 1830, 1,306; 1840, 1,229; 1850, 1,279; 1860, 1,000; 1870, 911; 1880, 847.
Addison Municipal History
Addison is exclusively an agricultural township. Though one of the oldest and in a historical point of view one of the most important towns in the State, the only settlement within its limits at all approaching the dignity of a village is a small cluster of houses in the northeastern part of the town, and known as “The Corners.” Here is located the town hall. As early as 1830 there were two stores located here, and the mercantile business was continued down to about ten years ago, the last merchant being Stephen Gregory.
Chimney Point was formerly a place of considerable importance, and bid fair to one day be the site of a flourishing village. But with the advent of the railroad the course of commerce was taken from the lake; the village declined and its once crowded wharf has long since gone to decay. Asahel Barnes, sr., began keeping hotel here at an early date. In 1841 this was taken by George B. Pease, who ran the business about four years and failed, when Asahel Barnes, Jr., bought the property and kept the hotel down to about 1861, when he gradually discontinued the business. In 1824 Amos B. Chubb opened a store here, and after a time was succeeded by Byron Murray, who continued the business until 1837. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Goodwin, a Methodist clergyman, and by Benjamin C. Needham, down to about 1854, when the business was discontinued.
Asahel Barnes, sr., had a cabinet and clock-shop here a few years. The ferry at the Point was established a few years before Asahel Barnes, sr., came here, and has been continued since. It is now controlled by John Wright, though Asahel Barnes, Jr., had it for a number of years prior to 1885.
West Addison is a small hamlet located in the western part of the town.
Town Line is the postal name given a neighborhood on the line between Addison and Bridport.
Postmasters. – The first post-office in the town was established at Chimney Point about 1823, with Amos B. Chubb, postmaster. He held the office about two years, and was succeeded by Byron Murray, and he by Asahel Barnes, sr., who held the Office until he went to Burlington, in 1841, when Dr. Prentiss Cheney had it for a time; then Dr. David C. Goodale, and finally, in the autumn of 1847, it was taken by Asahel Barnes, Jr., who has been continued in the office up to the present time.
At the Corners a very early postmaster was Gideon Seeger. The present incumbent of the office, Miss R. E. Watson, succeeded Stephen Gregory in 1876.
West Addison has for its postmaster Milo Everest.
The Town Line office, only established about two years ago, is held by Elisha Smith.
The Grandview House, located upon the summit of Snake Mountain, was built in 1874 by Jonas N. Smith, the present proprietor. It has an observatory sixty-eight feet in height, from which an unexcelled view of the surrounding country may be obtained, showing quite distinctly the old forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, a fine view of Lake George, South Bay, West Whitehall, Lake Champlain from South Bay to Cumberland Head, Crown Point village and furnaces, Port Henry and its two furnaces, Moriah Four Corners, Moriah Center, Mineville, Westport, Split Rock, Point Essex, the spires of churches in Plattsburgh, Middlebury, Vergennes, Bristol, North Ferrisburgh, Panton, Bridport, Shoreham, Orwell, Whiting, Leicester, Salisbury, Brandon, Sudbury, the Adirondack Mountains from Fort Edward on the Hudson to their northern terminus, and the Green Mountains from near Massachusetts on the south to their northern terminus in Canada, while forty-two churches may be counted from the tower.