FERRISBURGH is the most northeasterly town in the county, and is bounded on the north by Charlotte in Chittenden county; east by Monkton and New Haven; south by New Haven, Waltham, Vergennes and Panton, and west by Lake Champlain. On the 24th of June, 1762, it was granted by New Hampshire to Daniel Merrill and sixty-six others in seventy shares, and contained, according to charter, 24,600 acres. On the 23d of October, 1788, about one square mile of its territory went toward the formation of Vergennes. Except in the northeastern part, which is quite hilly, the surface is level, and even low along some of the streams, while the soil is various in character, from a heavy clay to a rich mould, and all kinds productive of abundant crops. Upon the uplands the timber is chiefly maple, beech, basswood and butternut, and on the level and low lands pine and cedar, interspersed with oak, walnut, etc.
The line of the lake shore is very sinuous, and indented with bays, some of which constitute the best natural harbors on the lake. Otter Creek is navigable to Vergennes, a distance of eight miles, and but for the falls there and at Middlebury could be navigated by the smaller craft as far as Sutherland Falls. The drainage of the town consists of Otter Creek, which enters from Vergennes, flows in a northeasterly course, and is discharged into the lake near the center of the west line of the town; Little Otter Creek, which enters from Monkton, near the south line of the town, and flows northeasterly into the lake about three miles north of the mouth of the Otter; Dead Creek, which enters from Panton, in the western part of the town, and flows north into Otter Creek; and their small tributaries. The western and central parts of the town cover an immense bed of Chazy and Black River Limestone, which affords excellent quarries for building purposes, and material for a good quality of lime. East of this the rocks are disposed in narrow ledges extending entirely across the town from north to south in the following order: Trenton limestone, Utica slate, Hudson River slate, and red sandrock. In the northeast part of the town is found an excellent quality of black marble which has been worked to some extent.
“Before the middle of the last century the French king had granted large tracts on Lake Champlain to several of his subjects, and, according to an old French map of 1748, what is now Ferrisburgh was partly or wholly included in the seigniory of Mons. Contrecceur fils. In 1772, after the conquest of the French possessions in America, the grantees under the French crown petitioned that their claims might be confirmed by the English government, but as the seigniory of Contrecceur had been reunited to the crown lands of France because of the failure of the grantors to fulfill the conditions of their deed, their claim was invalidated. In the ‘Ordinance of the governor of New France, reuniting to His Majesty’s Domain all seigneuries not improved,’ mention is made of a ‘remonstrance of Seiurs de Contrecceur, in which they set forth that they have done everything to settle their grants; that it was impossible to find individuals willing to accept lands, though they had offered them some on very advantageous terms, and were willing to give even 300 livres to engage the said individuals. . . . . That they intend to do all in their power to find persons to settle said seigneuries, and they hope to succeed therein; requesting us to grant them a delay on the offers which they make to conform themselves herein to His Majesty’s intentions.’ Hence it appears that there were no early French settlers in what afterwards became Ferrisburgh.
“In an English map of later date a part of Ferrisburgh is within the limits of military grants to Captain Williams and Lieutenant Cuyler, but there is no evidence that there were any settlers under these grants.” [Note 1].
The settlement of that part of the original town of Ferrisburgh which now forms a part of the city of Vergennes, beginning in 1769, will be found in the history of Vergennes herein.
The year following the issue of the charter (1763) Benjamin and David Ferris, surveyors for the proprietors, came on, surveyed the township, and divided it into lots. The proceedings of the proprietors, subsequent to this date, cannot be ascertained, as their records were destroyed by fire on the 3d of October, 1785, while in the possession of Timothy Rogers, proprietors’ clerk. Let Mr. Rogers tell the story himself:
A Copy of the Account of Timothy Rogers having his Ritings Bornt.
Know all men by these presens that yesterday which was the sekont day of the 10 month I timothy Rogers of ferrisburgh was a moving from Botin bay in ferrisburgh to letill orter crik forls and as I went by wartor I did not git up the Bay till about mid nite and my wife and five childorn and one woman peggy smith by name and one child was all in an open bote and it was a dark rany time we landid about a quartor of a mild from the hous som of the hands went up and got fir when they got down agane the fire was so rand out we cindild some fir by the side of a tree. To lite barks that the famaly mite se a litill to walk up to the house for my wife was sik I led her by the hand this morning Being the 3d day of the 10 m 1785 about son rise one of my men came and told me the tree by which the fir was kindled was bornt down and bornt up a large chist of droys that was packd as full it cold be off cloths and Ritings of grate importune I sepose I had about forty deeds for about Six Thousand acors of land som on Record and som not notes and bonds for about two thousand dolars and all the proprietors Records of ferrisburgh som other gods was bornt with all the cloths only what we had on these whoughs names who air here sind ar setain witnesis to the same for they helped me move and seen the fire of the same this 3d of the 10 m 1785 likewise they sen the heaps of Riting in their proper straps bornt to ashes.
Stephen Ryce jun
At the foot of the page is written “go to tother leaf forard page 21.” On the page referred to the following is recorded, viz.:
Rutland county s wallingford Janary ye 28th A. D. 1 786 personly aperd Timothy Rogers and gave his Afformation to the truth of the within writting depsition to before me
Abarham Jacktion just of peas
adorson county Ferrisburgh september the 24 day 1791 this sartafys that timothy Rogersbeing cold upon by the request of the select men of ferrisburgh to giv acounpt of the proprietors Records and said timothy perd with the foregoing to show that said Records was destroyed in October 1785 .
Abil tomson asistant judg
the abov being don as apers was thought best for me to Record the same therefore was Recorded in proprietors Book page 2l the 30 of the 9 m 1791
By me Timothy Rogers proprietors Clark.
Organization.–The town was organized on the 29th of March, 1785. Jonathan Saxton was chosen town clerk; Jeremiah Reynolds, constable; and Abel Thompson, Isaac Gage, and Silas Bingham, selectmen.
- Ferrisburgh Vermont Early Settlement
- Ferrisburgh Vermont Biographies
- Ferrisburgh Vermont Industrial History
- Ferrisburgh Vermont Military History
- Ferrisburgh Vermont Commercial History
- Ferrisburgh Vermont Church History