The first settlement in the county was made in May, 1783, when John Spafford located in Cambridge. He came on from Pierpont, N. H., and cleared two acres of land, which he planted with corn, and then proceeded to build a log house, covering it with bark. Most of his crop of corn was destroyed by an overflow of the Lamoille river, but what was left he harvested in the autumn, and returned to New Hampshire for his wife and two children.
In this small cabin, furnished with no windows, and with a bed-quilt for a door, they passed the first winter, their nearest neighbors being in Jericho, a distance of twenty miles, and the nearest road the Hazen road in Craftsbury. Mr. Spafford suffered many hardships and privations. On one occasion he took a grist on a hand-sled and went down the river on the ice to Colchester Falls, twenty-five miles, to get it ground. On his return, when a number of miles from home, being very hungry and fatigued, he struck a fire, wet up some of the meal in the top of the bag, baked it and ate his supper, and then resumed his journey. Mrs. Spafford sat up until late at night waiting for him to return, but as he did not come, she retired, and dreamed that her husband was calling for help. She awoke, but, as all was still, soon fell asleep and dreamed the same again, and awakening the second time arose, and taking a torch went down to the river, where she found her husband nearly exhausted from fatigue, and unable to get up the bank.
The summer following Mr. Spafford’s settlement, Amos Fassett, Stephen Kinsley, John Fassett, and Samuel Montague, from Bennington, and Noah Chittenden, from Arlington, came on and joined him, their farms all joining each other. In 1785, the first saw-mill was erected, which gave the settlers an opportunity for covering their houses and furnishing them with floors and doors. Mrs. Spafford died in January, 1839, aged eighty-two years, and in April, 1840, Mr. Spafford died, aged eighty-four years.
From this time forward the settlement of the county became quite rapid, as pioneers began to locate in all parts of the territory now included within its limits; but the record of these early settlements properly belongs to the towns wherein they occurred, so to those lists, in another part of the work, we refer the reader. At the taking of the first census, in 1791, Cambridge had a population of 359, Elmore 12, Hyde Park 43, Johnson 93, Morristown 10, and Wolcott 32, making a total of 549 for the whole county as it now is.