The first settlers of Cornwall were Asa Blodget, James Bentley, James Bentley, jr., Thomas Bentley, Joseph Throop, Theophilus Allen, William Douglass, Samuel Benton, Eldad Andrus, Samuel Blodget, Sardius Blodget, Solomon Linsley, Aaron Scott and Nathan Foot. They arrived and made their pitches in 1774. The eight first named selected their lands in the east part of the township, bounding on Otter Creek, and by the change of limits, in 1796 became inhabitants of Middlebury. The remaining six made their pitches in the northern and central parts of this town.
In 1775 Ebenezer Stebbins, Joel Linsley and John Holley made their pitches, and in 1776 Jonah Sanford, Obadiah Wheeler and James Marsh Douglass settled their locations. None of these names except those of Solomon Linsley and Jonah Sanford is endorsed on the charter. With these exceptions, and two or three others who came after the war, the surveys uniformly specify certain “original rights,” on which their claims were leased.
The first settlement of Solomon Linsley embraced the farm owned, in 1862, by Milo Williamson, a few rods north of the present farm of M. B. Williamson.
Aaron Scott, of Sunderland, Mass., cleared a hundred acres west of Solomon Linsley, the survey embracing the present farm of Mrs. S. D. Carr, and extended further west and south. His cabin stood southwest of the site of Mrs. Carr’s house.
In 1775 John Holley made his pitch on a lot east of the one now owned and occupied by B. C. Parkhill. He afterward effected an exchange with his brother Stephen, and removed to the lot now occupied by Mr. Parkhill. This lot was originally pitched by Samuel Benton, and afterward passed through the hands of Isaac Kellogg, Ashbel Cone, William Crocker, Stephen Holley, John Holley, Eli Everts, Ephraim Andrus, William Slade, Rebecca Slade, Norman B. Slade, Daniel B. Kinner, Truman Eells, and Benjamin Parkhill.
The same year Ebenezer Stebbins settled on the north side of the road, on the place now owned and occupied by his grandson, Loren W. Peet. He was obliged to flee with his family after the recapture of Ticonderoga by Burgoyne in 1777.
What settlements and clearing of land had been effected before the inroads of the British, Tories, and Indians had begun, were almost entirely obliterated before the close of the Revolutionary War. Immediately upon the declaration of peace in 1783, however, the fugitive settlers hastened back to their deserted and wasted farms, and began anew the building up of homes and communities, little dreaming of the future greatness of the nation whose foundations they were laying deep and strong.
At this time Orange Throop settled and built a house in the northeast part of the town on the old discontinued road from Middlebury, about sixty rods south of the location of Samuel Blodget. School-house No. 1, according to the first division of the town into school districts in 1787, stood nearly opposite his house. Samuel Ingraham settled about sixty rods further south on the west side of the road in 1786, and Mathew Lewis located a little southwest of him at the same time, but afterward removed to the northwest part of the town, where he died. Samuel Ingraham was an active soldier in the Revolutionary War, and enjoyed the esteem and confidence of his fellow townsmen in Vermont.
The next farm south of Ingraham was originally settled (probably not before 1784) by Ethan Andrus. By gradual accession he soon acquired property amounting to more than three hundred acres. In 1808 he exchanged “two hundred and twelve acres, exclusive of highways,” of this property with Darius Matthews. This farm is nearly the same as that now owned by W. H. and P. T. B. Matthews. Andrus first built a framed house about sixty rods north of the one which he afterwards put up, and which is now occupied by the Messrs. Matthews. Andrus kept a tavern here for several years. Rev. Joseph R. Andrus, the first agent of the American Colonization Society to Africa, was his son, and was born here April 3, 1791.
Daniel Foot, one of the four sons of Dr. Nathan Foot, who settled in Cornwall, made a pitch for himself after the war, on the east side of the road, embracing land now owned by Henry Lane, some distance south of the Matthews’s homestead. He was a fearless, adventurous man, and bore a perilous part in the war. He died August 24, 1848, aged eighty-nine years.
Nathan Foot, jr., came to Cornwall with his father, and in addition to the latter’s donation of land, purchased of him one hundred and twenty-five acres, and pitched some lots on his own account. He built and for many years kept, a tavern, on the site now occupied by Mrs. William Turner. He died November 16,1828.
Abijah Foot built on the corner northeast of the tavern of Nathan, jr., and after a few years sold to Dr. Daniel Campbell. Mrs. Foot was joint tenant of this lot with Abijah. He died at Cayuga, N. Y., in 1841, and Abijah died here in 1795. The property afterwards came into the hands of Dr. Frederick Ford.
Samuel Bartholomew came from Watertown, Conn., in 1786, and settled north of Abijah Foot, on the present farm of Joseph Adams. He devoted himself exclusively to the raising of fruits, but not profiting so highly as he expected, he removed to Kentucky about 1812, where he died a few years later. He was a man of social habits and intelligent mind, but carried a spirit of independence to an eccentric degree. He wrote poetry, and published one volume of nearly one hundred pages, entitled Will Wittling, or the Spoiled Child.
Elijah Durfey settled at an early day on the west side of the road between the lands of Samuel Bartholomew and Nathan Foot, jr. He was a cooper.
Elisha Hurlbut, from Canaan, Conn., first settled in the west part of the town, but afterwards purchased of Elizabeth Avery in 1786 the farm substanbally now occupied by N. Wing. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and was drowned near the “Three Mile Bridge,” in Middlebury, in 1824, aged sixty-four years. Among his descendants are W. S. Hurlbut, a grandson, Mrs. Jason Jones, E. E. Jones, Henry Jones, and Mrs. Robinson.
Timothy Baker settled on the farm opposite Elisha Hurlbut, which was originally surveyed to Thurman Wheeler. After his death, about 1812, his farm was old to William Hurlbut, who owned it for many years. W. S. Hurlbut now lives on the same place.
Thomas Pritchard, from Waterbury, Conn., purchased of Timothy Baker and Daniel Foot, in 1791, the lot next south of Elisha Hurlbut, now occupied by Miss Martha Hill. He was a blacksmith. He sold to Daniel Huntington in 1805. E. D. Pritchard is his grandson.
James Lane, of Mansfield, Conn., bought in 1800 the farm now occupied by Henry Lane. He died in July of that year and was succeeded by his son Job, who remained on the place until his decease in 1860, at the age of seventy-two years. The descendants of James Lane now in town are Henry Lane, grandson, and his son, C. H. Lane, and Rollin Lane, also grandson, and his children, C. R. and Hattie Lane.
In 1787 Samuel Benton bought of Rev. Thomas Tolman all the “ministerial right, pitched and unpitched, excepting two hundred acres,” and in reliance upon this title pitched fifty acres on the north side of the road, south of the farm afterwards purchased by James Lane. In 1789 he sold to Jeremiah Rockwell. He owned more land, perhaps, than any other early settler in town. He was familiarly called “Captain,” “Colonel ” and “General” Benton. He left town before his death, after having become involved in expensive and vexatious litigation arising from his speculations in land.
Jeremiah Rockwell settled on the Samuel Benton farm, building his house on the west side of the road. Mrs. M. R. Porter now lives on the place.
David Parkhill came in May, 1784, from Weston, Mass., and pitched one hundred acres where his grandson, S. C. Parkhill, now lives. His first cabin stood near the site of the present building.
He was several years in the army, was in New York on the arrival of the British, and fought at the battle of Bennington. His widow afterward drew a pension for his services, and lived to the advanced age of ninety one years. His descendants in town are S. C. Parkhill, Mrs. Franklin Hooker, Mrs. Flora Clark and Miss Eva Hooker, and the children of the first three named.
John Robbins settled on the farm just north of David Parkhill now occupied by his son, Ebenezer R. Robbins, in 1798, and remained there until his decease in 1831, at the age of seventy-five years. Henry Robbins is his grandson.
Stephen Holley settled early on the land owned by S. C. Parkhill and E. R. Robbins. He accompanied Arnold to Quebec. His early occupation was that of a carpenter. He died in 1835, aged seventy-nine years. Mrs. T. B Holley is the widow of his grandson.
As early as 1785 Isaac Kellogg settled on the place now owned and occupied by Samuel Everts, but probably did not long remain. The place has been in the hands of the Everts family for many years.
The place now occupied by W. M. Easton was purchased by Nathan Stowell of Judge Linsley in 1796. Stowell came that year from Ashford, Conn., and kept a tavern on the place until his death, and was followed by John Alvord, H. Stowell (his son), Colonel Harmon Samson and others.
Abial Linsley, sr., and jr., father and brother of Judge Joel Linsley, came to Cornwall soon after the War of the Revolution, and settled with the latter. His brother aided him in building a log house large enough to accommodate two families, and afterward built a house for himself on the place now occupied by R. C. Witherell. After a few years’ residence in Cornwall he removed to Augusta, N. Y. His father, Abial, sr., died in Cornwall in 1800, aged seventy years.
Lemuel Peet, a son-in-law of Ebenezer Stebbins, built a house at an early day near the site of the house now occupied by L. W. Peet, his grandson.
The house now occupied by A. W. Frost was built by Daniel Richardson, a blacksmith and another son-in-law of Ebenezer Stebbins.
Stephen Tambling early lived on the place now occupied by C. R. Witherell, making his pitch the year after the war. Just south of him Lemuel Tambling built a house and remained there a short time.
Nearly opposite Stephen Tambling, Isaac Gilbert erected a house which he occupied for many years. Mrs. Luther Tilden and Mrs. Joel Linsley are his daughters. Mrs. Edgar Sanford is his great-granddaughter.
In 1783 or ’84 Jesse Chipman settled on the farm now occupied by Peter Besette. In 1804 he sold to Ethan A. Sherwood, and removed from Cornwall.
Wait Squier built on the east side of the road about sixty rods south of Stevens’s house at an early day, but removed to New Haven in 1793. Opposite him Timothy Squier settled on the place now occupied by Joseph Parker, his house standing on the high ground about sixty rods southwest of the present buildings. Further south on the west side of the road Solomon Plumb settled on the place afterwards known as the Abbott farm, now occupied by Amos Atwood.
In 1784 Captain David Nutting located on a hundred-acre lot, on the south line of the town, the same place now occupied by Mrs. G. W. Griswold.
Bezaleel Richardson settled early on a fifty-acre lot afterward owned by B. F. Casey.
Nathaniel Cogswell lived for a time south of the Corners, on the east side of the road, in the southwest part of the town. Abisha Delano owned a farm on the east side of the North and South road.
North of the farm occupied a few years ago by Romeo Peck was an old settler by the name of John Ballard, who kept a store there and manufactured potash until 1790. Then he sold to Riverus Newell, who was a blacksmith and lived where Alanson Peck now resides.
Lieutenant Benjamin Reeve, from Litchfield, Conn., built where William Atwood afterward lived, on the place now occupied by Milton Washburn. He held a lieutenant’s commission at the surrender of Burgoyne. After his death his farm passed through the hands of Erastus Reeve, Joshua Stockwell, Benjamin F. Haskell and others. B. F. Haskell is his great-grandson.
Wait Wooster early settled on the farm west of Reuben Peck, where Irving G. Wooster, his grandson, now lives. The Misses Hattie Lorraine and Alice Wooster are his granddaughters.
Deacon Daniel Samson came to Cornwall from Londonderry, N. H., in 1785, and settled on a small lot north of the Reeve farm, now owned by Edgar Sanford. He was a shoemaker, and was born in Newburyport, Mass., November 10, 1758. In 1832 he went to Barre, N. Y., where he died ten years later. He was a rare example of the Christian graces.
Opposite Jacob Peck an early settler named Cory Mead lived on a lot which he bought of Stephen Tambling.
Farther north and on the same side of the road Reuben Bingham settled and built a house which long ago disappeared. He removed thence to the farm afterward occupied for a time by Hiland Hall. Merrill and Alonzo Bingham and Mrs. O. A. Field are his descendants.
In 1784 Benjamin Sanford came from Litchfield, Conn., and settled on the farm adjoining that of Jacob Peck on the north, the farm now occupied by Edgar Sanford. He was born in 1756. He took a prominent part in all the offices of the town from the beginning, and several times represented Cornwall in the State Legislature. Edgar Sanford, Mrs. C. E. Ellsworth and Mrs. T. B. Holley are grandchildren of Benjamin Sanford, and Mrs.Charles H. Lane is a granddaughter.
Deacon James Parker, from Saybrook, Conn., settled in 1789 north of Benjamin Sanford, on the west side of the highway, the farm being now occupied by Frank Mayhew.
Joshua Stockwell, from Enfield, Conn., came to Cornwall about 1793 or ’94, and opened a store and tavern on the southeast corner of the intersection of the roads at West Cornwall, the place being now in the hands of J. M. Tracey. The place was known as “Stockwell’s Corners” until the government gave it the post-office name of West Cornwall. In company with Josiah Austin, of Shoreham, he conducted the store and carried on the manufacture of potash. Mrs. S. S. Halliday, his daughter, still lives in Cornwall, and others of his descendants are B. F. Haskell and A. S. Bingham, grandchildren, and F. H. Haskell and Roy Bingham, great-grandchildren. Dr. Oliver J. Eells occupied the house after Stockwell’s decease. Joseph Cogswell was the first settler on the present farm of Franklin H. Dean. Elder Henry Green was also at one time an occupant of the farm. Mr. Dean has enlarged the farm, which now includes also the place first settled and occupied by Abijah Davis, a tanner and shoemaker, who carried on his business there. East of this farm Matthew, brother of James Parker, bought of Lemuel Stickney in 1791. Still farther east on the south side of the road Stephen Abbott Tambling lived a few years in a log cabin.
Some distance north of the old farm of Edwin Walker, Roswell Post, from Saybrook, Conn., made a pitch in 1783. During the war he lived in Rutland, but at the close of that struggle pushed his way at once to Cornwall. He died in 1827, at the age of seventy-four years. Benjamin Atwood located in 1786 directly south of the farm of Roswell Post, on a small lot sold to him by William Jones. John L. and Amos Atwood are sons of Benjamin.
In 1798 Sanborn Bean, a carpenter, settled on nine acres of land west of Roswell Post, which had once been a part of the Post farm.
A. H. Sperry, now a resident of Cornwall, is his great-grandson; Daniel Sperry, son of David lived just north of him, and south of Jacob Lindsey, sr., while across from the latter Wait Wooster lived. His descendants in town are L. W. Peet, great-grandson, and Mrs. Mariette Guernsey, granddaughter.
South of William Samson and on the east side of the road, Ebenezer Squier settled and built a house which long ago disappeared. Still farther south, in 1787, Henry Gibbs located on a lot bought probably of Barzillai Stickney. S. S. Gibbs is his grandson.
On the farm owned at an early day by Alonzo L. Bingham, and now owned by Hon. Rollin J. Jones, Simeon Sanford, of Litchfield, Conn., settled, having purchased from Jonah Sanford, an original proprietor. Farther north David Pratt settled in 1793 on a farm purchased from Jared Ives. Deacon Amzi Jones, from Hoosick, N. Y., bought the place of Pratt about 1799, having lived for seven years previously below the bridge across Lemon Fair. He was a son of Zebulon Jones, who settled on the farm next the cemetery, now owned by W. M. Easton. His descendants now living in Cornwall are Hon. Rollin J. Jones, Jason and his children, E. E. and Henry Jones, and Mrs. Robinson.
Ezra and Isaac Mead settled in 1786 on the west side of the road, north of John Rockwell. They sold to Jacob Ingraham.
On the farm where J. A. Foot lived, his grandfather, David Foot, from Watertown, Conn., settled at an early day. He had several sons who led prominent lives in town. His descendants here now are J. A. Foot, grandson, R. A. Foot, great-grandson, and his sons Abram and Frank.
On the Wooster farm, so called, just north of the Lemon Fair bridge, William Dwinell first built his log cabin near a spring on the east side of the road. He sold this farm to Deacon Amzi Jones, and he to Moses Wooster, who came from Virginia. He fought in the Revolution and was captured on Long Island, treated cruelly, and at a later day was confined in New York, where he was nearly starved on damaged provisions. He was the father of the Hon. Dorastus Wooster, formerly of Middlebury. The farm is now in the hands of L. H. Payne.
Simeon Powers settled on the farm now owned by Mrs. Martin Wright, and in 1779 sold it to Matthew Lewis.
Samuel Smith was probably the first settler on the farm now owned by J. B, Benedict.
Amos Pennoyer, from Amenia, N. Y., settled about 1798 on the farm now owned and occupied by Mrs. M. J. Ellsworth. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and joined the volunteer forces in the War of 1812.
Jared Abernathy was the first settler on the farm now owned by J. W. and D. Abernathy, having bought the place in sections from Aaron Scott, Martha Douglass and Samuel Benton. Cyrus Abernathy, his father, had before that purchased of Samuel Benton the farm next south. J. W. and Ann Abernathy are grandchildren of Jared. South of the elder Cyrus Abernathy, in 1784, Dr. Frederick Ford pitched a hundred acres, and built a log house on the site afterward occupied by the dwelling of P. B. Warner. In 1795 Dr. Ford sold this estate to his brother-in-law, Moses Goodrich, and removed to a more central location.
On the long since discontinued road which ran north from near the lands now owned by F. H. Dean, formerly the residence of Mrs. Sherwood, to the early home of P. B. Warner, were several settlers, among whom were Jabez Watrous, Rev. Benjamin Wooster, Abbott Tambling, and Henry Daggett; the last two named built a dam across the stream and erected a saw-mill, but soon abandoned the enterprise. Some distance west of the road, near the brook, John Gilman owned one hundred and thirty acres, on which his grantee, Daniel Huntington, lived until 1803. Deacon Jeremiah Bingham and Merrill Bingham afterwards occupied that place.
On the southern branch of a forked road, extending very early from P. B. Warner’s westwardly across Beaver Brook, one division passing the dwelling of Joseph K. Sperry, and the other reaching S. S. Rockwell, resided David Seymour, partly successor to Samuel Benton. He sold to Isaac Hull in 1796. The road was discontinued more than sixty years ago. North of Jared Abernathy, Truman Wheeler made two pitches in 1783, building on the east side of the road; while between the two Benjamin Hamlin built on thirteen acres of land, which he sold in 1803 to Abraham Balcom. Cornelius Butcher settled north of Wheeler on a fifteen-acre lot, and in 1800 sold to Joseph Hamlin, who had bought a lot fifteen years previously of Samuel Benton. Still farther north John Hamlin settled on the farm afterwards owned successively by his son Ira Hamlin, and his grandson, Joseph Hamlin. The farm so long occupied by Deacon Daniel Warner was first settled by Benjamin Hamlin, who was succeeded by John Rockwell, Cone Andrus, Elisha Hurlbut, and Philip Warner, a cooper, who came here in 1806 and prosecuted his trade until his death in 1829. His descendants in Cornwall are P. D. Warner, a grandson, and his children, R. B. Warner and Mrs. E. A. Thrall, and H. C. Warner, grandson also of Philip. The descendants of John Hamlin are Joseph Hamlin, grandson, Mrs. T. P. D. Matthews, great-granddaughter, and Edward Matthews, her son.
Levi Sperry settled in 1788 on the farm now occupied by his grandson, Albert H. Sperry, and received the farm as a gift from his father, David Sperry.
In 1783 Thomas Hall pitched several hundred acres, including the present farm of William Wright. His son David settled southwest from his dwelling. He sold fifty acres of his land in 1791 to Nathan Ingraham, afterwards owned by Pitts Ingraham. Elisha Hurlbut bought a lot of Hall in 1795, and in 1798 sold to John Boynton. William Wright is a grandson of Pitts Ingraham, Mrs. J. K. Wright being a daughter; S. C. Parkhill and Mrs. H. J. Manchester are also his grandchildren. South of Thomas Hall’s, on the road to West Cornwall on land now owned by H. F. Dean, the earliest settler was Jeremiah Bingham, jr., a nephew of Deacon Bingham. He was a soldier of the Revolution. In 1793 he sold to Deacon Jeremiah Bingham.
Hon. Hiland Hall, nephew of Thomas, above named, came from Bennington to Cornwall in the winter of 1783-84. He was kinsman to the late ex-governor, his namesake. He was born at Guilford, Conn., and removed early to Norfolk; served about three years as orderly sergeant and commissary. He died while on a visit to his father at Norfolk in 1789. He was the first treasurer of Cornwall in 1784, and first representative in the General Assembly in 1786. At the organization of Addison county he was appointed one of the judges of the County Court. He settled where Merrill Bingham now lives, having made his purchase of Thomas Hall and Erastus Hatheway. After his death the property passed into the hands of Aaron Delong, who sold to Robert Bingham. He remained on the farm all the remaining years of his long life. The rest of the land of Erastus Hatheway came into the possession of Aaron Delong in 1800, who was a prominent man in the early days of the town. His farm is also included in the land now owned by Merrill Bingham.