Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cavendish Historic Timeline 1759-1858

The following timeline for Cavendish, Vermont was initially developed for the town’s 250th anniversary by the Cavendish Historical Society. For more information about the timeline, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

1759: Crown Point Road is built by the British, linking Fort Number 4 in Charlestown, NH to Fort Crown Point on Lake Champlain. Major John Hawks and 250 rangers cleared a roughhewn road through the forest. A path was cut across the elevation in southeastern Cavendish, now called Hawks Mountain. Soldiers traveling along this section of the road soon complained of its roughness. Another route bypassing Hawks Mountain was laid out during the next spring. An encampment twenty miles from Charlestown on the road gave the tributary of the Black River its present name Twenty Mile Stream.

1761: Cavendish Charter signed by King George III of England on Oct. 12. The area of land includes what is today, Cavendish and Proctorsville villages and Baltimore, VT.

1769: John and Susanna Coffeen and their children are the first settlers in Cavendish. Their home was located on the Cavendish Reading Road, close to Brook Road. Not long after Coffeen settled in Cavendish, he and his wife set out for Charlestown, NH for supplies and grinding their grist. Due to a snow storm, the parents did not return for six weeks. During this time, one of the Coffeen children became ill and died. The other children kept the body in the house until the parents return, at which time, due to heavy snow, the body was buried across the road from the house. Coffeen decided that this would be the family’s cemetery. Coffeens, Baldwins and at least four Revolutionary soldiers are buried there.

1775-1783: American Revolutionary War.
In a new settlement like Cavendish, one of the first order of business would be to establish a militia for self-defense. Every able-bodied  man would be a member, with one elected as Captain. These groups were also called “training bands.” John Coffeen was captain of the first Cavendish Militia and during the Revolution was at the head of a troop of Rangers.

When the Revolution came, these military companies were called into action. Oliver Tarbell was captain of one of the “train bands” and the company met at the Tarbell farm. In addition there were “alarm-lists,” which enumerated all the men between 14 and 65 years of age, who were liable to be called upon in an emergency. Up until 1847, all able-bodied men between 18 and 45 years of age, by law, were enrolled in the militia and were required to do military duty. Every man was required to keep arms and equipment as needed for actual service, and for so doing, his poll was exempt from taxation.

Susanna Coffeen was the only woman to remain in Cavendish through the entire Revolutionary War period.

1777: Capt. Coffeen’s grain and grass fields,  as well as fledgling young orchard,  were destroyed when 300 New England troops were stationed on his farm, while working on the Crown Point Road. Later in the year, after the surrender of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, militia, whose terms had expired or were discharged for misconduct, again encamped at Coffeen’s as they made their way home. The tavern house, which Coffeen had established, was immediately filled to overflowing. Those who could not get lodging inside, built fires with the boards that Capt. Coffeen had procured for building a large barn and house. They stripped his home of nearly everything it contained and then turned their horses into his grain. They justified their actions by declaring that the enemy would do it themselves within 48 hours. Capt. Coffeen sent his family to relatives in Rindge, NH. For the remainder of the summer, his house became a camp for the vagrant soldiery, several of whom died under his roof.

• Coffeen was chosen to represent Vermont at the Windsor Convention to form a Constitution for the new State of Vermont in June of that year.

1778: The earliest burial in town was that of Henry Proctor in the Old Revolutionary Cemetery, located off of Brook Rd in Cavendish. The 1760 Crown Point Road passes to the right (north) of this cemetery.

1781: Salmon Dutton moved to Cavendish from Massachusetts. Dutton worked as a road surveyor, a justice of the peace, and the treasurer of the town of Cavendish. His home was located on the Cavendish Green, and is now located at the Shelburne Museum. He is buried in the Cavendish Village Cemetery on High Street. 

1782: Capt. Leonard Proctor, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved his family to Vermont. With his two sons (Jabez and John) he built a “shunpike” to the village of Gassetts in nearby Chester to avoid paying the tolls of the Green Mountain Turnpike. Salmon Dutton, helped to build the Green Mountain Turnpike, which ran from Bellows Falls to Rutland, bringing Boston coaches north up the Duttonsville Gulf to the village and then west along the present RT 131 (Main Street) through Proctorsville. The “shunpike” being toll free resulted in North bound traffic from Boston coming directly to Proctorsville and bypassing Duttonsville.

Because of the road, the Dutton and Proctor families, as well as the villages of Duttonsville and Proctorsville, feuded for 75 years. Proctor is buried in the Proctor Cemetery off of Main Street in Proctorsville.

• There were 35 “freeman” and their families living in Cavendish

1784: The first saw and grist mill were established in Cavendish on what is now known as Atherton Mill (Carlton Road).

1787: First physician in Cavendish, Asaph Fletcher, settled nearProctorsville.

 1790: Cavendish population 491
First burial in the Cavendish Village cemetery on High Street. The land originally belonged to Salmon Dutton, but the town bought the land from several local people.

1792: The Cavendish Academy (corner of High Street and Main Street Cavendish)  was incorporated as the first Academy to be chartered in the State of Vermont. The first Academy school was kept in Salmon Dutton Jr’s tavern building until 1812, when a two-storied building was erected. In 1833, there were 70 students enrolled. The Academy was given up in 1853 and the building was converted to a store. Today it houses RDB Marketing.

1793: Samuel Hutchinson Sr, who gave the land for The Twenty Mile Stream Cemetery in Proctorsville, buried the first person there, his wife Abigail.

1793: The Southeastern corner of Cavendish, containing about 3,000 acres of land, was incorporated separately into a new township , Baltimore.

1795: Cavendish. Center Road School on the corner of Town Farm Road and Center Road adjacent to the Center Road Cemetery. From 1795 to present day, there have been 13 public schools in Cavendish. Students were assigned to the school closest to where they lived. In addition to Center Rd school, which was closed in 1955, schools included: Proctorsville Village School (closed 1959); Duttonsville (closed 1972); Coffeen (Densmore) School (burned in 1922); Hudson School (burned down in 1901); Stockin School (half in Weathersfield); Parker School (closed 1911); Rumke School (closed 1923); Tarbell Hill School (closed 1955); Bailey Hill (unorganized district); Gilchrist School (closed 1947); Wheeler School (closed 1955); and Fittonsville School (Spring Mill). The town now has one school Cavendish Town Elementary School, for grades K-6, located in Proctorsville on what was once the Proctorsville School site.  Middle school and high school students attend Green Mountain Union High School in Chester.

1800: Cavendish population 920

1810: Cavendish population 1,295

1811-1815: Spotted fever epidemic. Many of the early settlers died, particularly the young and the old. The Pesthouse Cemetery, located on the upper end of Town-Farm Road was a place to bury those who died from contagious disease such as small pox. The only marker in this cemetery is for Jotham Wheelock b 8-26-1763 d 4-27-1831.

1805: The Mount Union, Center Road Cemetery, had its first burial. The land was obtained from several local citizens.

1816: First burial in the Proctor Cemetery, which is located off of Main Street, in Proctorsville. The land was donated by the Proctors and contains the graves of this family.

1820: Cavendish population 1,551 people

1828: Hillcrest Cemetery, located on Bailey Hill Rd in Proctorsville, had its first burial. The land was obtained from the Proctors. The tomb was built in 1897. Just before entering the Hillcrest Cemetery, there used to be a “potter’s field.” During the Depression (1930’s), this area was plowed and used for planting potatoes. Only three graves remain in this area of the cemetery.

1830: Cavendish population 1,498
Cavendish was dotted with farms, corn and wheat fields and pastures for sheep. The raising of hops was carried on for many years on some of the farms, until a disease destroyed a great deal of it.

1832: Black River Canal and Manufacturing Company built in Cavendish. By 1842, they employed 175 workers making broadcloth. The building burned in 1873. Gay Brothers Woolen Mills eventually built on this property.

1833: Fire District #1 is formed in Proctorsville and is staffed by volunteers.

1834: Second Baptist Church built in Cavendish. Extensive renovations were made to the brick structure in 1875, but the building was destroyed by fire. The Baptist Church decided to relocate and the building was sold to the town. Now the home of the Cavendish Historical Society Museum, the building served as town office, community and recreation center at various times.

1835: Proctorsville Woolen Manufacturing Company, started by Jabez Proctor, employed 35 workers, making cassimere cloth by 1842.

• The Cavendish Green Marble Quarry established in America for extraction of the green serpentine rock known in the stone industry as Verde Antique. The first site was quarried in approximately 1835 by the Black River Marble and Soapstone Mfg company.  The original quarry was located on the Black River, near Winery Road at a place formerly called Hart’s Bend. It was moved up to its present location in 1931. The Moriglioni family owned and operated the Quarry during this period. Marble was quarried from the late 1930’s through the early 1950’s. The marble on the floors and interior columns of the main entrance of the National Gallery of Art in Washington (which opened in 1941) comes the Proctorsville Quarry. In 1989 the Ruby brothers, from Fair Haven, attempted to open the quarry but did not have the equipment to do so. In late 1990’s the Vermont Marble Company (owned by an Italian company) bought a 20 year lease to remove stone. The quarry was worked for 3-4 years and then work ceased. During this time,  stone was shipped for cutting to Italy, Spain and Brazil.

1836: The Proctorsville Woolen Mill started. Failed in the panic of 1873-74 and was not used for three years. It was reopened with new owners in 1877 and became known as the Crescent Woolen Mill.

1840: Cavendish population 1,427

1844: Universalist Church (Old Stone Church) built in Cavendish. This was the beginning of “snecked ashlar” buildings in the town. This construction technique refers to walls constructed with exterior and interior surfaces composed of mortared stone slabs arranged vertically on edge, tied together with smaller horizontal slabs called "snecks." The space between the wall surfaces was filled with rubble stone. Oral tradition suggests that Scottish stone masons working in Canada were responsible for introducing the technique into Vermont. Examples of “snecked ashlar” construction are present throughout the town: Glimmerstone (Main Street); Black River Health Center; Roundy Farm (corner of Wiley Hill Road and High Street in Cavendish); Saydek home adjacent to the Town Office; the Black River Bank building on Depot Street in Proctorsville and several homes on Twenty Mile Stream Rd. The stone for the various buildings was mined in Cavendish.

1848: Phineas Gage, a foreman, was working with his crew excavating rocks in preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Cavendish. An accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head. It entered under the left cheekbone and exited through the top of the head. His recovery from this injury and the impact on his life was the first well-documented case of traumatic brain injury in the medical literature. It was also the first understanding that different parts of the brain have different functions and effects on personality. With this knowledge, the first brain tumor removal operation became possible in 1885.

1848: The Rutland Railroad runs through both villages, connecting Burlington and Boston.

1850: Cavendish population 1,576

1857: John Brown visits Proctorsville. Henry Bridge Atherton wrote to John Brown’s autobiographer about this visit in 1882. Proctorsville, VT Mary 9th, 1882

James Redparth Esq

I have sometimes thought the day would come where your publishers would issue another edition of your “Public Life of John Brown,” which was 1st published at Boston in 1860 by Thayer and Eldridge 11 St and 116 Washington St. I have been recently reading that book, and it occurs to me that, inview of the events following the execution of the old hero-the man-the freedom of the slave, the political results of the execution-and the history of our country in the past quarter of a century-you might perhaps to write that book and, if so, I would want a copy to side by side with the copy I now have in my library. John Brown and his son, Owen, I think it was, came here in the last days of Dec. 1856 or in the early part of January 1857- and spent some time on those days at my office-boarding at the Village Hotel. At that time I held the office of Secretary of the VT Senate- and our Governor-Hon. Ryland Fletcher, a brother of the late Hon. Richard Fletcher, of Boston, and Judge of Mass. Sup. Court- now my new neighbor. Our Legislature at the previous Oct.  Session at Montpelier had passed an act authroising Gov. Fletcher, in his discretion to furnish funds to an amount not exceeding twenty thousand dollars -$20,000-for the relief of the suffering citizens of Kansas-as you will find by reference to the session laws of 1856 in the Library-Our state casual   care of __ General Gundry of Vergennes, VT had on hand quite an amount of guns-out of date & useless to our  State. Gundry  was authorized to sell or dispose of them. In some way John Brown had learned of these facts—and came here to examine the laws-and to confer with Gov. Fletcher. The Old man told us that the generosity of the people had so supplied the citizens of  Kansas with food and clothing as none of  this __ appropriation would be thus needed, least be thought possibly  the Gov. might be authorized to let him have some of the old guns from the state Arsenal-He became satisfied on looking at the law, that Gov. Fletcher could not appropriate guns for the Defense of Freedom in the direction indicated. The Old man told us his objectives to enlist young men-pious and patriotic determined young men-not  wild and ­­ profane ones in his service and that he proposed to rendezvous at Tabor in Iowa-just over the boarders from Kansas and await events. He showed me the enlistment papers as drawn up by him and most neatly executed. He said he expected on the return of Spring in 1857- the Missourians-becoming supplied themselves with a new stock of whiskey, would again invade Kansas-and he wishes to be ready to repel them. He said that courage of those invaders depended very much on the amount of whiskey they had. He was very conscientious-writing at my office table many letters in the time he was here. I offered him paper, envelopes—postage stamps-and he always left the dimes in the box to pay for them. The son was a light complexioned and sandy haired youth as compared with the father-they had the chains with them-that the borders….

1858: Emily Dutton marries Redfield Proctor, ending a 75-year feud between the villages of Cavendish and Proctorsville. The merger of these families proved to be important to Vermont, since three governors and a United States Senator issued from this Dutton-Proctor line.

• The Proctorsville Library Association formed. Redfield Proctor elected librarian and clerk. The Hon. Richard Fletcher, of Boston Mass made a donation of books the following year.

Additional Time lines

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