Bristol Vermont Early Settlement

The first permanent settlement was not begun in the present town of Bristol till the summer of 1786, twenty-four years after the charter was granted. John Willard and the others who formed the committee we have previously spoken of were prosceuting the duties devolving upon them here, in 1785, about a mile west of Bristol village they came across a rude habitation occupied by a Dutchman named John Broadt, as he stated. He had made that place his home, with no other company than a dog, for twelve years, seeing in that time no human face till met by the said committee. He came from Unadilla, N. Y., a fugitive from justice. Word was sent to his friends, informing them of his whereabouts, and subsequently he received pardon for his offense and returned to New York, after which nothing was heard of him. Thus this man may properly be said to have been. the first white inhabitant of the town., though he did nothing towards clearing or improving the land, but subsisted like a savage by hunting and fishing.

Early in June Samuel Stewart and Eden Johnson, who married sisters, started out from Skenesboro (now Whitehall), N. Y., for the wilderness land of Pocock; Johnson traveling by land to drive their cattle, while Stewart took passage by boat up the lake with their household effects, his wife, Mrs. Johnson and her two children, and his own child, Chauncey A. Stewart. On the third day he and his party arrived at Vergennes, where he procured horses to convey them and their effects to their destination-the farm now owned and occupied by Joel B. Barlow. Here they were joined by Johnson, and together they built a small log house, to serve as their dwelling in common, the first erected in Bristol. In the autumn Mr. Stewart built a house for himself, where Perez Hubbard used to reside. About eighteen months later he purchased a cabin on the north side of the river, and built a log house near the stream and directly east of the junction of the road which leads to New Haven Mills, which he occupied until 1797. His daughter Polly was the first child born in the town. In 1817 he moved with his family to Ohio. Johnson resided in the town only a few years, when he removed to Plattsburgh, N. Y., and from thence to Canada, where he was drowned, November 4, 1809. Not long after Stewart and Johnson began their settlement here they were joined by Benjamin Griswold, Cyprian Eastman, Robert Dunshee, John Arnold, Justin Allen, Henry McLaughlin, Gurdon Munsill, Samuel Brooks, Amos Scott and Elijah Thomas, the last four arriving on the same day; while Benjamin Clapp, Samuel Renne, Samuel P. Hull, Dan Miller, Adam Getman, Daniel Thomas, Ezekiel Dunton, Amasa Ives and Nathan Corey were here previous to 1790.

According to the town records these were added to, from time to time, by the arrival of the following, about in the order named: As early as September 4, 1792, Phinehas Rugg, Ellis Maxham, Calvin Eastman, Asa Smith, Elisha Andrews and Anthony Field; in 1793, Robert Sutton, Henry Franklin, Matthew Franklin, Benjamin Sutton, Benjamin Bartholomew and Oliver Scott; in 1794, Nahum Smith, Hezekiah Murdock, Asa Freeman, Moses Wheeler, Ephraim Munson, jr., Jedediah Keeler, Nathan Brown, Chauncey Ellsworth, and Peter Renne; in 1795, John Ketcham, Truman Allen, Silas Hewett, Asa Hitchcock, William Day and Jeremiah Frazer; in 1796, Robert Holley and Ephraim Raymond; in 1797-98, Justin Eastman, Noah Holcomb, Johnson Allen, John Jewell and Stephen Scott; in 1799, Oliver Drake, John Bunn, Obadiah Beal, David Copeland and Samuel Murdock; and in 1800 by Asaph Parmelee, David Isham, Sylvester Scott, Reuben Abram, Luther Eastman, Jonathan Allard, James McAllister, Abraham Wiley, James Ketch, Isaac Isham, Josiah Field, Andrew Tubbs, Benjamin Freelove, George Blanchard, Elisha Freeman, Jesse Hanford, Artemas Parmelee, Richard Andrews, Gershom Hall, James Douglass, Joseph Myrrick, Eleazur Richardson, Enos Soper, Henry Soper, A. B. Sumner and Paris Miller, and doubtless others.

Asaph Parmelee, Jr., lived in a brick house about a mile south of the village, upon the place now owned by his nephew, Dorus S. Parmelee, where he died October 24, 1854. Daniel E. Parmelee lived on the farm now owned by B. W. Pollard. His son, George W., now lives in the village. Harvey Parmelee, for many years a justice of the peace, occupied the place now owned by his son, Dorus S. Parmelee. He died May 2,1857, aged fifty-four years. Enos Soper, who came here at an early day, moved to the West some time between 1830 and 1840. Henry Soper, who died February 14, 1844, aged sixty-eight years, resided in the village where Colonel Dunshee now lives. Mrs. Dunshee is his granddaughter. Truman Crane, a wealthy farmer, and for a long time grand Juror, occupied the farm now owned by Noble L. Varney. His widow resides in the village. Gershom Hall settled upon the farm now occupied by Albro S. Cummings. Barnes B. Hall, son of John Hall, was a celebrated Methodist Episcopal clergyman and at one time a presiding elder. James Wilder, who served the town as constable about 1830 or 1835, subsequently removed to Euclid, Ohio. None of his descendants resides in the town, but Charles M. Wilds, a lawyer of Middlebury, is a grandson. Josephus Hatch lived upon the farm now owned by Charles C. Dunshee. His son Jerry, a graduate of Middlebury College, became a Mormon priest. Henry G. Sumner lived in the southern part of the town. He was a twin brother of George H. Sumner. Among his descendants in the town is Seneca Sumner. Nathan Hastings at one time resided in the village. He died here June 19, 1858. Rufus H. Barnerd occupied the farm now owned by his son Clinton R. He died September 22, 1842, aged fifty-seven years. David L. Annan lived in the village. He died here November 26, 1846, aged sixty years. John Howden lived on the farm now owned by Joel B. Barlow. He died July 3, 1858, aged seventy-seven years. His son William S. now resides in the village. John Brooks resided upon the farm now owned by Amos E. Hazelton, whose wife was a Miss Brooks. Wolcott Burnham, an Old Revolutionary soldier, lived in the northern part of the village. Thurston Chase, after whom “Chase Hollow” was named, resided upon the farm now owned by Page Colby. His son William S. now lives in the village. Abram Vradenburg, an old soldier of the War of 1812, lived in the eastern part of the town. He died April 12, 1863, aged seventy-five years. John Dunshee lived about a half mile southwest of the village, upon the place now owned by Mrs. Manette Morrison. His son Albert lives on the flats. Ira Tucker lived on the farm now owned by J. W. Rockwood. He died March 13, 1856, aged seventy-seven years. His son Ira is now a resident of the town. Moses Wheeler, an early settler, has no descendants now living in the town; but his son, F. P. Wheeler, is a physician of Burlington, Vt. Oliver Drake, an early settler, was the grandfather of Oliver S. Solomon Drake, who served as town clerk many years, resided in the eastern part of the village. Sylvester Scott settled upon the farm now owned by Enoch Varney, but at the time of his death lived on the farm now owned by Patrick O’Neil. His son, Loren L., now resides in the village. Nathan Rider lived where William C. Rider now resides, in the eastern part of the village. William C. has two sons, James B. and W. W., the latter a lawyer. Paul Raymond located in the eastern part of the town, where he was a resident for many years. Riley Adams lived on the farm now owned by James Jacobs, where he died April 2, 1824, aged seventy-three years. William Buss, who located upon the farm now owned by Patrick O’Neil, died December 25, 1836, aged sixty-three years. Dr. James Day lived and died upon the farm now owned by William D. Battles. John Wilkinson, who located upon the farm now owned by Henry La Varn, moved away about 1830, or earlier. Joseph Berry, who located upon the farm now owned by Joel B. Barlow, moved away at an early date. James Saxton, who was an early settler, died in the village April 18, 1862, aged eighty-two years. His brother Jehiel moved to Ohio at an early day. Seth Peake died in the village January 11, 1827, aged forty-three years. His son Royal W. and his grandson Willis R. reside here. Frederick Peet, a blacksmith in the eastern part of the village, died September 19, 1828, aged thirty-five years. Edward Sweet lived about a mile north of the village, upon the farm now occupied by James T. Tucker. He died November 9, 1851, aged fifty-nine years. Nancy, wife of George W. Parmelee, is a daughter. Dr. Chauncey Moor died July 12, 1837, aged sixty-six years. Reed Rathbun located upon the farm now owned by his son Curtis R., where he died January 14, 1863, aged sixty-one years. Bennet B. Dean, who was overseer of the poor for many years, died on the place now owned by Betsey Durfee. Sidney Moody, afterwards a druggist in Middlebury, went to Vineland, N. J., where he died. Kendrick W. Follett, who lived in the village many years, died December 26, 1861, aged fifty-nine years. His widow still survives him. Benjamin Vinton, eighty years of age, now residing on West street, has been a resident of the village many years. Elisha Briggs, after whom “Briggs Hill,” in the eastern part of the town, was named, still resides here at a very advanced age.


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