In the spring of 1760 the French, descending from Montreal, tried to recapture Quebec, but after winning a battle near the city, were driven off by a British squadron. Four months later (September, 1760) three English armies, advancing respectively from Oswego, Quebec and Crown Point, were concentrated before Montreal. Resistance to this overwhelming force was out of the question. The French governor at once surrendered, not only the city, but all of Canada. This practically ended the war, though the treaty of peace was not signed until February 10, 1763, at Paris; this ceded the whole province of Canada to King George III of Great Britain. Thus ended the French régime.
During the years that the French had nominally held the territory in the vicinity of Lake Champlain, the authorities had granted seigniories to favorite nobles and officers, and smaller tracts to others, including much of the land on both sides of the lake. In the present territory of Addison county, however, these grants were not so numerous as in the territory farther north. English and Indian grants to private parties also had been made, extending into the region under consideration.
On the 20th of July, 1764, the British government decided upon the forty-fifth degree of latitude as the boundary line between the provinces of New York and Quebec. And when the French grantees applied for a confirmation of their grants on the lake, it was decided that all such grants south of the said forty-fifth degree were null and void, having been made with no legal right.
The French village of Hocquart, established on the lake shore at Chimney Point, in 1730, had advanced to considerable proportions when its inhabitants fled before the victorious Amherst. In 1749 it was visited by Kalm, the Swedish naturalist, who subsequently 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 by embankments. Within the enclosure was a neat church, and through 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 show a more thickly settled street than occupies it now. 1” These buildings were burned by the Mohawks in 1760, and upon their site was begun the first permanent settlement in Addison county.
During these long years of war, detachments of both armies were often marched and counter-marched over the territory now included within the limits of Vermont. The rank and file of the American army, too, it must be remembered, were largely made up of those and their descendants who had come to America to woo a living from her virgin soil. With this fact in view it is not strange, then, that not a few, while on the weary march or solitary scout, should mentally mark localities in the charming valley of the Champlain or on the broad intervales of Otter Creek as a site for their future homes. Indeed, such is the preface to the unwritten history of hundreds of Vermont’s most flourishing farms of to-day. It is little wonder, then, that with the dawn of peace, with the country to the north transformed from a hostile to a friendly neighbor, with the fear of the bloody tomahawk and scalping-knife removed, these lands should be eagerly sought by pioneers. But while anticipating the advent of the pioneer settler and the mists that should enshroud the title to his land, let us retrace our steps and take up the thread of our narrative a few years back.
1. Hon. John Strong, in his Gaz., Vol. 1 3