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Shrewsbury, Vermont
Gazetteer and Business Directory of
Rutland County, VT 1881-82

Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child Syracuse, N.Y


SHREWSBURY is located in the eastern part of the county in lat. 43°, 31' and long. 4° 11' east from Washington, bordering on the west the town of Clarendon, while Mendon lies to the north, Plymouth, Windsor County, on the east, and Mount Holly and Wallingford on the south. The township contains an area of 25,392 acres, lying mostly on the Green Mountain range, which is here quite elevated. Shrewsbury peak, lying in the northeastern part, near Mendon, being 4,000 feet above tide water, is one of the highest peaks in the Green Mountain range. Round Hill, in the northwestern part, is also a high elevation.

The country is well watered by numerous streams that have their sources among the mountains. Mill River, the most considerable, flows a northwesterly course through the southwest part of the town, and contains numerous mill privileges, of which there are many that are not occupied. Cold River, the next in size, rises in the central part of the town, flows a northwesterly course, its waters being discharged into Otter Creek, in Clarendon. Roaring Brook, one of the head tributaries of Black River, rises in the northeastern part of the town, flows an easterly course and empties into Black River in Plymouth. Gould Brook heads on Shrewsbury Peak, flows westerly and empties into Cold River. Near the mouth of Gould Brook is a mineral spring called "Sulphur Spring," the waters of which have been used for medicinal purposes. There are two considerable ponds in the south part of the town -- Ashley's and Peal's, and another near the Willard JOHNSON farm, which was once bought by a Rutland company for the purpose of digging peat for fuel. There never was much done at it however. Spring Lake, formerly called Shrewsbury Pond, is situated in the southwest part of the town, several hundred feet above Mill River, and is one mile in length by a half mile in width, abounds in trout and has no visible inlet.

The principal rocks of the town are those peculiar to the. Green Mountain range. In the southern part is found a considerable deposit of copperas, at a point called Copperas Hill. In 1828 it was purchased of Calvin ROBINSON, of Cuttingsville, by a company chartered as the "Green Mountain Manufacturing, Co." conducted by Jeremiah DOW. The company employed some thirty men and made nine tons of copperas daily; the works have long since been abandoned, though great quantities of copperas still remain in the mine.

The soil is a very fertile, light loam, well adapted to grass, wheat, oats and potatoes, affording facilities for a great dairy town, "Shrewsbury butter" being noted for its excellent quality throughout the State. Lumber is quite an article of export, the timber being mostly beech, birch, maple, hemlock and spruce, with some balsam and black ash, large quantities of sugar being manufactured from the maple. There is but little fruit grown.

Shrewsbury was Chartered September 4, 1761, by Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, to Samuel ASHLEY and sixty-three others, only one of the original proprietors ever settling in the town. It was not organized until March 20, 1781, and still retains its original limits, except one square mile taken from the town of Plymouth, Windsor County, and annexed to Shrewsbury, October 2r, 1823. At the first town meeting, held March 2o, 1787, the following officers were chosen: Lemuel WHITE, moderator; Aaron ESTY, town clerk; Lemuel WHITE, Samuel BENTON and. Nehemiah SMITH, selectmen; Benedict WEBBER, town treasurer; Zebediah GREEN, constable and collector, and Samuel BENTON, Joseph RANDALL and William SMITH, listers; Samuel BENTON, grand juror.

The Central Vermont Railroad passes through the southwestern part of the town, affording the township good facilities for transportation. The population of Shrewsbury, in 188o was r, 235, of which all but one family were WHITEs. During the year ending October 31, 1880, the town had fourteen school districts, employing four male and seventeen female teachers, whose united salaries amounted to $1,404.55. The number of pupils attending school during the year was 316, and the entire cost of the schools was $1,642.82, with Geo. RUSTEDT, superintendent of public schools.

CUTTINGSVILLE, a post village and station on the Central Vermont Railroad, lies in the southwest part of the town, about nine miles distant from Rutland. Mill River runs through the village, which contains about twenty dwellings, one church, one hotel, two stores, one grist and saw mill, two blacksmith shops, one harness shop, one shoe shop, two milliners' and one dressmaker's shops.

In a small unpretentious rural graveyard, located in this village, there has been erected a Grecian tomb which is one of the marvels of its class on this continent; a gem, that will continue to delight the hearts of lovers of the beautiful through countless ages, and imperishable as the rock-ribbed hills that form its setting. "Laurel Glen Mausoleum" was begun in July of 1880, at the order of Mr. John P. BOWMAN, a wealthy resident of Creek Centre, New York, a native of Clarendon, Vermont, in memory of his wife and two daughters, of whom he has been bereaved by sudden and repeated strokes, and for over a year, 125 men, sculptors, granite and marble cutters, masons and laborers, were employed in erecting it in all its classic details, until it stands complete today, the only monument of pure Grecian architecture in the country. Its dimensions externally at base are seventeen feet six inches by twenty-four feet, and twenty feet high from grade line to apex of roof. There have been 750 tons of granite. 50 tons of marble and 20,000 bricks used in its construction, which together with improvements upon its surroundings has cost the owner $75,000.00. In general exterior it has the appearance of a miniature Grecian temple, composed of massive blocks of granite, the roof alone weighing forty tons; while its interior is that of a grand mausoleum vestibule, sheltering the vault that contains the cherished dead. The inside door is a mighty granite monolith of 6,500 pounds weight, yet equilibrated with such nicety that it may be noiselessly turned upon its hinges by a touch of the finger.

The whole exterior, except the floors which are of English Encaustic Tiles, is of the choicest statuary and Brocadilla marble, the wainscotting, columns &c., highly polished and deeply wrought with emblems and tracery of the most elaborate character. At a point opposite the entrance, solid plate-glass mirrors have been set in such a manner as to produce the most dazzling optical illusion, taking up and reflecting almost to infinity in all directions the statues and carved work, until the observer standing within the space seems to be in the center of a vast area thronged with the choicest effects of sculptured architecture. The only external statue is one in life size of Mr. BOWMAN, represented in the act of ascending the broad steps, key in hand, to open the shelter of the "couch of dreamless sleep," where rests his cherished dead, bearing in his hand a wreath of immortelles, his mantle thrown over his arm, a graceful drapery falling in the negligee of sorrow, forming a whole that tells its own silent tale of grief and sadness. Previous to the erection of this gem of mortuary art, the little rural burial ground where it is located had nothing to distinguish it from others of its class -- but now, in point of beauty, it vies with the more pretentious "cities of the dead" located in the midst of more populous communities. The whole ground has been graded and laid out in beautiful grass plats, decked with rare flowers and furnished with smooth gravel walks, and the whole fronted by a granite wall of broken ashler masonry, the paneled posts terminated with beautifully cut vases of solid granite for the reception of flowers, while several hundred yards back of the cemetery, high up on the hill, has been built a reservoir, fed by a small brook, that furnishes water for a beautiful fountain. Taken all in all, Mr. BOWMAN has called into existence such a rare scene of loveliness, that long after he has "gone down to the dust from whence he sprung," Laurel Glen Mausoleum will preserve fresh and green the memory of his name.

SHREWSBURY (p. o.,) a hamlet situated near the centre of the town, contains one church, a post office, one blacksmith shop, one cheese factory and nine dwellings.

NORTH SHREWSBURY (p. o.,) a hamlet, situated a little east of the central part of the town, contains one church, one store, one blacksmith shop, the steam mill of N. J. ALDRICH & Co., and about a dozen dwellings.

N. J. ALDRICH & Co.'s mill is run by a 30 horse power engine, and uses one circular saw for cutting lumber, three gigger, or band-saws for cutting chair stock and four other small saws, for cutting lath, &c. The Company employs about fifteen men, who cut from 800,000 to 1,500,000 feet of lumber, and stock for 123,000 chairs, annually.

R. P. BURDETT's steam-mill is situated in the northern part of the town, on Cold River. It is run by a 75 horse-power engine, uses one circular-saw for lumber, two gigger or band-saws, and two gauge lathes. It employs twelve men, and cuts 2,000,000 feet of lumber per year, and manufactures a carload of chair-stock weekly.

D. M. WHITE & Co.'s steam mill, in the north part of the town, is engaged in the manufacture of nail-keg staves, under the management of POMEROY & SIPPLE, who employ eight men, and manufacture staves for 1,000 nail kegs daily.

The BATES Cheese Factory, owned by James HUNTOON, and operated by W. E. ALDRICH, receives the milk of 250 cows, manufacturing therefrom 40,000 lbs. of cheese per annum.
The GILSON Cheese Factory, located at Shrewsbury, receives the milk of 400 cows, and manufactures 112,000 lbs. of cheese per annum.

North Shrewsbury Cheese Factory, owned and operated by W. E. ALDRICH, receives the milk of 300 cows, from which is manufactured 50,000 lbs. of cheese per annum.

Lyman RUSSELL's said mill, located in the southern part of the town, is operated by water power, has one circular saw, and cuts 500,000 feet of lumber yearly.

Capt. Lemuel WHITE was the first settler in Shrewsbury, coming thither from Rockingham, Vt., in the year 1777, settling on the farm now owned by Willard SMITH, where he cleared the first land and built the first house in the town. It was in this house that the charter meeting of the town was held, March 20, 1781, at which Mr. WHITE was chosen moderator, four years after his settlement. On the 23d of July, 1778, Lemuel was married to Zilpha BOWDISH, the first marriage ceremony that occurred, and was performed by Joseph BOWKER, a justice of the peace. As a fruit of this marriage, there was born to them a daughter, Anna, on 15th of August, 1779; being the first birth that occurred in .the town: Lemuel was also captain of the first militia and first representative of the town, a man possessed of much shrewd, common sense, although he could neither read nor write. The following anecdote, which is related of him, may perhaps give some insight into his character: "Farming tools were not so plenty in those days but that people had to borrow from one another. A Mr. ALDRICH sent to borrow Capt. WHITE's harrow. Capt. WHITE returned word that if Mr. ALDRICH would bring his land there he might use his harrow." He died of the great epidemic of March. 1813, and many of his descendants still reside in Shrewsbury and vicinity.

The first male child born in the town was Jonathan SMITH, born May 4, 1780. The first grist mill was located on the farm now owned by Webb SINCLAIR, and was swept away by a freshet in July of the year 1811.

Nehemiah SMITH and his sons, Nathan, William and Job, came to this town from Rhode Island, in 1780, settling upon the farm now owned by Willard SMITH, where they used the shelter of a large projecting rock as a sleeping chamber, until they had erected a log house. Until they had made a clearing large enough whereon to raise some grain, they had no means of subsistence except by manufacturing potash and burning charcoal, which was carried to Troy on horseback, a distance of seventy-five miles, and there exchanged for grain, Troy being the nearest point that such goods were salable.

Ziba ALDRICH settled in Shrewsbury, also during this year, (1780), locating on Mill River, near the farm now owned by Amos PRATT. Mr. ALDRICH was born in Mendon, Mass., in 1753, and while quite young moved with his parents to Richmond, N. H., where he was subsequently married, and with his wife and two children emigrated to this place. His was the fourth family that moved to the town, and consequently participated in all the vicissitudes that occurred to its early inhabitants, and through it all, ALDRICH, by his manly christian life, gained the confidence of the entire community, which he retained until his death, July 23d, 1840, at the advanced age of 87 years.

Jeffrey A. BARNEY came to the town in 1780, from Richmond, N. H., settling on Mill River, upon the farm now owned by David WATERMAN. On their journey thither from New Hampshire, Mrs. BARNEY traveled on horseback, while Jeffrey walked the whole distance, driving two cows. They had been here but a few weeks, when, it is related the cows strayed off into the forest and in the evening at the usual time for them to return, were not to be found. So, early on the following morning, Jeffrey, taking his dinner with him, started off in search of them. He tracked them through the forest a distance of forty miles, and at last found them near the source of Black River. During the tramp through the forest, Mr. BARNEY lost his dinner, so had nothing to eat until he had returned on his journey as far as the "Port Wine Tavern" in Cavendish, a distance of twenty miles. Thus Mr. BARNEY had a walk of sixty miles with no refreshments.

Benedict WEBBER's was the fifth family that moved to the town, settling here in 1780. Mr. WEBBER's mother, widow of William, died on the 9th of April, 1782, the first death that occurred in the town. Mrs. WEBBER's death was a sad one, she having accidentally fallen into the broad fireplace, and before she could be rescued, was burned so badly that she expired a few hours afterwards.

John KILBURN, a surveyor, came from Walpole, N. H., settling in Shrewsbury in 1785, where he was elected town clerk in 1789, which office he continued to hold for forty consecutive years. In 1836, he removed to Canton, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., where he died at an advanced age, mourned and respected by all. At the annual town meeting, held at Shrewsbury in March, 1878, it was voted that a set of marble headstones be furnished Mr. KILBURN's grave in Canton, at the expense of the town of Shrewsbury, as a token of respect and in memory of his long life among them. The stones were manufactured and sent to Canton the same year.

Nathan PHINNEY was also one of the earliest settlers in the town, and for a long time kept the first tavern, located on the farm now owned by Amos PRATT. At one time a band of smugglers was chased by the officers from Rutland to the PHINNEY tavern. The smugglers had a sleigh-load of fine goods which they had smuggled from Canada, which, just before they reached the PHINNEY stand, they threw over a high embankment. When the officers caught them at PHINNEY's, they of course could find no trace of smuggled goods, so were obliged, though reluctantly, to give up the search and return to Rutland. After they had left, the smugglers gathered up the contraband property and proceeded with it to Boston, where it brought a good round price.

Nathan RUSSELL settled on the farm now owned by William RUSSELL, in 1786, coming from Barry, Mass. Mr. RUSSELL lived alone in his log cabin three years before he was married, having to carry his grain to Woodstock on horseback, a distance of twenty-two miles, this being the nearest gristmill. He died in 1856, at the advanced age of 92 years, leaving eighteen children to mourn his loss.
Uriah COOK, a hero of the Revolution, came to Shrewsbury from Richmond, Mass., in 1780, settling on the farm now owned by his son Hiram.

David HOLDEN came to this town from Barry, Mass., at an early date, settling on the farm now owned by S. F. SMITH.

Willard COLBURN came from Dedham, Mass., in 1790, and located on the farm now owned by his great grandson, David C. COLBURN.

Phileman ADAMS came in 1792 from Medway, Mass., and purchased the farm now owned by Perin JOHNSON, which is the second farm that was cleared in the town.

Benjamin NEEDHAM was among the early settlers of the town, coming from Billerica, Mass. Mr. NEEDHAM was in the army all through the war of the Revolution, and his sons Benjamin and Joseph, and a grandson, Benjamin, were in the war of 1812. His grandson, Horace, died while engaged in the war with Mexico, and his three great grandsons, Benjamin, Joseph and Horace, were all engaged in. the late war of 1861, Horace being killed in action at Richmond, Va.

Among the early settlers there are also found the names of Job BUCKMASTER, Martin DAWSON, Abram GIBSON, Ephriam PIERCE and Moses COLBURN.

Jacob GUILD, of Walpole, N. H., and Esquire MORSE, of Medway, Mass., came on foot through the wilderness and commenced a clearing in the northeast part of the town, on the land now owned by N. J. ALDRICH & Co., in the year 1795. After working together for a time Mr. GUILD, in felling a tree, nearly killed Mr. MORSE in its fall. This aroused a suspicion in the mind of MORSE that GUILD wished to get rid of him; so they divided their land, each living on his own part. Mr. GUILD died March 1, 1829, aged 53 years. Mr. MORSE died May 14, 1846, aged 71 years.

Philip BILLINGS, from Sunderlin, Mass., came to Shrewsbury in October of 1783, locating upon the farm now owned by Enoch SMITH, of Clarendon. Mr. BILLINGS was an old Revolutionary soldier and resided in the town until his death, in October, 1808. The house built by him, in 1794, is still standing in a state of good preservation. He had a family of three children, Jonathan, David and Lovisa. Franklin, son of David, born April 1 9, 1807, is now a resident of Rutland, at the age Of 74.

Among the natives of Shrewsbury, who have become men of note in other localities, may be mentioned the names of Austin P. and Clark W. STORY, sons of J. B. STORY, of Cuttingsville, who are now prominent men of Chillicothe, Ohio. Austin P. is president of the Ross County Bank; also an extensive farmer and tanner, and one of the leading men of the place. Clark W. is one of the wide awake business men of the place, now doing the largest dry goods and carpet business in that county.
The first schoolhouse in town was built in the hoods, near Willard SMITH's, made of logs, the site still being used for the same purpose. Capt. John KILBURN kept the first school.

The first resident clergyman of the town was Rev. Moses WINCHESTER, who was born in Westmoreland, N. H., March 1, 1798. He came to Shrewsbury when he was 18 years of age and commenced to preach the Christian theology. He did not have a theological education, but was a very devoted christian and an earnest preacher. He was the first installed minister over a church in town, and drew the ministerial land. He was very much loved by the people, although a little peculiar in some things. At one time he went to a neighbor's for a visit. When they came to sit down to tea, the lady said that she "had nothing fit to eat.'' He told her if she had nothing fit to eat that he would not eat anything; so he got up from the table and went without his supper. He died March 6, 1868, aged "three score years and ten."

The first church built in town was the Universalist Church at Shrewsbury village, erected in 1804. The Universalist church society was organized by John KILBURN, Jr., in 1807, with thirty-two members. The society now numbers only about twenty-five, with Rev. Geo. S. GURNSEY as pastor.

The First Christian Church, located at North Shrewsbury, was organized Nov. 9, 1822, by a council composed of Pearl PARKER, Jonah ALDRICH and forty-two others. Rev. Noah JOHNSON was the first pastor. The society now numbers about twenty-five members, and has no regular pastor. The house of worship was not erected until 1841, and is valued, including ground, at about $1,000.00. The house will comfortably seat 300 persons.

The Union Church, located at Cuttingsville, was originally organized in 1842 by the Congregational and Baptist societies, few in numbers, yet brave in action. They struggled to maintain the church until depleted by death and removals, they could no longer sustain religious worship. At this crisis, in 1859, the trustees gave the Methodist Society permission to occupy the church, and it was reorganized as a Methodist church, although the few who were interested in religious work of all evangelical denominations joined hands in the good work. The building was erected in 1842, with Rev. M. A. WICKER as pastor. Rev. J. E. KNAPP is the present pastor, with a membership of about twenty. The building is valued at about $1,000.00 will comfortably seat 250 persons, and is still owned by the Baptist and Congregational Association of Vermont.

The Second Advent Church, located at North Shrewsbury, was organized by its first pastor, Rev. W. I. BLANCHARD, with eight members, on the 8th of April, 1878. The society now numbers thirteen members, who hold their meetings in the Christian church, with Rev. W. O. BIBBINS acting pastor.



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