The history of the town of Addison extends farther into the past than that of any other town in the county. In the winter of 1690 a party of French and Indians came up the lake on the ice, crossed over and burned Schenectady, an incident of fire and suffering that has passed into general history. The English pursued the marauders as far as Crown Point, where the French and Indians took to their skates. A portion of the pursuers overtook some of the French and killed twenty-five. On the 26th of March of that year the authorities of Albany county gave to Captain Jacobus D’Narm [The documentary history of New York gives this name as “De Warm,” but it is probably an error] orders to take seventeen men and pass by way of “Schuytook,” and take from thence twenty savages and Dick Albatrose and proceed to Crown Point. A little later, and in April, Captain Abraham Schuyler was ordered to the mouth of Otter Creek with nine men, “to watch day and night for one month, and daily communicate with Captain D’Narm.” At the same time D’Narm’s orders were so changed that he had to seek a new post, which led him to what became known as Chimney Point, near the southwestern point of the town of Addison. Here he began his watch and erected a small stone fort; this was the first possession or civilized occupation of territory within the State of Vermont, if we except the fort built on Isle la Motte by the French in 1664. In August of the year last mentioned Captain John Schuyler, on his retreat from La Prairie (opposite Montreal), noted that he stopped in this vicinity “at the little stone fort,” which was undoubtedly that of D’Narm.
At a little later period a large tract of land in Addison county, and including the present town of the same name, was claimed by the Mohawk Indians and by them granted to Godfrey Dellius, the Dutch minister at Albany in1694. Two years later his title was confirmed by Charles II, who afterwards revoked the title; but this revocation was not recognized by the thrifty Dutchman, who sold his alleged right to his successor, Lydius. In the year 1730 the French built a small fort on Chimney Point (Point a la Chevelure, as they termed it), and probably repaired the work of D’Narm. In 1743 the king of France granted to Hocquart (intendant of New France) a seigniory of four leagues front on the lake by five leagues deep; the south line of this tract was about half a mile south of the present south line of Addison, and the north line near the site of Adams Ferry in Panton.
The next record we find of Chimney Point is that of Kalm, the Swedish naturalist, who visited the locality in 1749. He says of it: “I found quite a settlement, a stone wind-mill and fort in one, with five or six small cannon mounted; the whole enclosed in embankments.” According to the writings of the late Hon. John Strong (from which we must draw liberally), there was “within the enclosure a neat church, and throughout the settlement well cultivated gardens, with some good fruit, as apples, plums, currants, etc. During the next ten years these settlements were extended north on the lake some four miles; the remains of old cellars and gardens still to be seen (about 1860) show a more thickly settled street than occupies it now.”
The stirring events that occurred between 1750 and the granting of the charter of Addison county as before noted, are emblazoned on the living pages of history. Crown Point, Ticonderoga and their immediate vicinity constituted battle-fields the history of which was to be overshadowed only by that of the more heroic and bloody struggle of the succeeding Revolution. In 1759, after the taking of Ticonderoga by General Amherst, the French burned their fort at Crown Point and Chimney Point, and the settlers abandoned their farms and fled with the troops to Canada. The habitations went to ruin; weeds and trees grew up in the gardens and cellars, and the lands that had seen the thriving homesteads of the French returned to nearly their primitive wildness.
In the year 1763 (April) Hocquart deeded to M. Michel Chartier de Lotbiniere all of his seigniory north of Hospital Creek; the latter petitioned the British government from time to time to be reinstated in his lands. Finally a similar seigniory in Canada was granted him as a substitute. In October of the same year a grant of land was made by the then governor of New York to Colonel David Wooster, beginning near the south line of Addison, running east to Dead Creek and north to D. V. Chambers’s land; another tract to Colonel Charles Forbes, extending from Wooster’s to Potash Bay; another to Lieutenant Ramsay, lying north of the bounds of Addison. Directly east of Forbes’s and Ramsay’s tracts was a grant made to J. W. Hogarty, and east of Wooster’s one to Sir John Sinclair. These grants will be further alluded to on another page.
At about the time Addison was chartered, Panton also was granted to the first proprietors. But the grant as defined extended over the northern boundary of the town of Addison about four miles along the lake; hence some of the first settlers of this town supposed they were locating in Panton. This state of affairs led to protracted trouble and litigation between the two towns, which was not finally settled until May 17, 1774; Addison held her territory according to her charter, by right of priority of grant ; but she gave up to Panton 8,000 acres of the disputed territory, “for a reward for duties done in settling said tract.” (See history of Panton.) On the 22d of October, 1804, 2,000 acres were taken from the southern corner of the town and annexed to Weybridge, and three days later a tract was annexed to Waltham.
Early Settlements. – One of the soldiers of Amherst was named Benjamin Kellogg, from Connecticut. It is said that while stationed at Crown Point he frequently visited the Salt Licks, near where the mansion of General John Strong was subsequently built, to procure venison for the officers of the army. It is believed that the clearings made by the French, and the promising character of the locality, made an impression upon his mind, and that when lie returned he told his acquaintances of the advantages of the place for settlement. He returned to his old hunting grounds in the fall of 1762, and likewise in the two succeeding years; in the latter year some of the Panton proprietors came with him. In the spring of 1765 Zadock Everest, David Vallance and one other settler came on and began a clearing about three miles north of Chimney Point. In September Benjamin Kellogg came back for his fall hunt, and with him came John Strong in quest of a home in the wilderness. The two last-named men visited the place where Everest and Vallance were at work, remained a few days and helped get in their fallow of wheat, and then traveled as far east as the site of Middlebury; they were probably the first white men to reach that locality. On their return to the lake Strong decided to build a house there, which he did with the help of the other men; he selected the site and cellar of one of the ruined French houses as the foundation. It was the first house built by an English settler north of Massachusetts. The party returned to Connecticut, and in February, 1766, Strong returned with his family, consisting of his wife and three children, Asa, Samuel and Polly, and in May Zadock Everest, David Vallance, John Chipman and six others, with their families, came on by way of Otter Creek; all of these but Chipman located in Addison and Panton.
It is not known just how many families settled in this town during the succeeding ten years and down to the breaking out of the Revolution; but in 1768, when Colonel Wooster came on to look for the land to which he supposed he had a title, he found five families on it – John Strong, Benjamin Kellogg, Phineas Spalding, David Vallance and one of the Pangborns. Some of these, according to General Strong, agreed to leave their lands, and others were sued by Wooster in the Albany courts. Then followed the historical controversy between the settlers and the New York authorities. Strong, Kellogg, Everest, and ten other Addison men were in Allen’s party who dispossessed Reid at the falls (Vergennes), for an account of which see Judge Smith’s history of Vergennes herein. When the men returned from the affair with Reid they found Wooster with the sheriff serving writs of ejectment on those living on his land; they were highly incensed that while they, had been engaged in driving the hated Yorkers from the lands of their neighbors, their own homes were invaded. They finally took Wooster and his sheriff, tied them to a tree, and under threats of the “beech seal,” forced them to promise to depart and not trouble the settlers further. The colonel left that locality on the following morning.
Of the part enacted in the Revolution by Addison men, but little can be said. At the time of the retreat of the Americans from their Canadian expedition in 1776, when the small-pox broke out among the soldiers, a hospital was built on the north side of the mouth of Hospital Creek, which incident gave the stream its name. The number of deaths here was so great that pits were dug into which the bodies were thrown without coffins. In the same year the Addison settlers aided General Gates in getting out timbers for his fleet, which was placed under the command of Arnold. This fleet was defeated by the British in October, when Arnold ran his vessels ashore in Panton, burning some and blowing up others. When Burgoyne made his memorable invasion in 1777 most of the settlers departed, those from Addison county going into Pawlet, Dorset and other towns then in Bennington county. In 1778 Major Carleton made his descent from Canada; he took thirty-nine men and boys as prisoners. Among them were Nathan and Marshall Smith, of Bridport; Benjamin Kellogg, and Ward and Joseph Everest, of Addison; Holcomb Spalding, two Ferrises and Mr. Grandey, of Panton, and Hinckly, of Shoreham. Says General Strong: “Grandey and Hinckly were liberated to take care of the women and children, these and other families having come back to their farms on the defeat of Burgoyne; all now abandoned the settlement except three families, and did not return until after the war. The prisoners were taken to Quebec, where they arrived December 6. Kellogg and a number of others died in prison during the winter. They all suffered unaccountable hardships. In the spring they were taken down the river some ninety miles. May 13, about midnight, eight of them made their escape. On reaching the south shore they divided into two parties, four in each. On getting opposite Quebec one party was betrayed by a Frenchman, and again taken prisoners. Three of them again made their escape that night – Ward and the two Smiths – and after being again taken by the Indians, and again escaping, pursued by the Indians fourteen days and nights, all their knowledge of the Indian craft and devices being put to the utmost trial, they finally succeeded in throwing off their pursuers and arrived in Panton, where they met three Americans, on a scout, from whom they got provisions; which was the first food they had tasted since their last escape, except such as they procured in the woods – in all, twenty days. The next day they stopped at Hemenway’s, in Bridport, (Hememway never left his farm through all the war.) After one day’s rest, they pushed on to Pittsford.”
With the close of the great struggle for freedom settlers felt that they Might confidently hope for security in their wilderness homes, and they accordingly began to return. New immigrants, also, attracted by the reports of the beauty of the country, came in rapidly, and Addison soon took the lead in the county. It is our purpose now to trace most of the early settlements of the town, with such other historical records as we have been able to secure. [The town records, show that the following settlers took the freeman’s oath between 1790 and 1801]