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a perilous undertaking to move a family into the remote wilderness of Salisbury, yet, there were in the older settlements so many men of enterprise and resolution, anxiously seeking a wider range for their exertions, that the town settled rapidly. And as the inhabitants displayed all that energy peculiar to new settlers, retaining their Puritan habits of economy, they soon became independent farmers. Coming as they did from different parts of New England, where customs and habits of thinking somewhat different had prevailed, and uniting in the formation of a new society out of these different materials, their minds were invigorated, and they naturally obtained a more enlarged and just view of men and things.
During the first half century, there were but few men of public education in the town, but there were a number of self-made, well-educated men, who were distinguished as public men in the county and in the Colony.
Judge Church, in his address delivered at the centennial anniversary of the organization of the town, in November, 1841, remarks : “ It is a just occasion of pride in any community, that it has sent forth from its members to other regions
men of eminence and usefulness, and perhaps the town of Salisbury, retired and obscured as it is, has furnished other sections of the confederacy her full proportion of distinguished men. And in designating the individuals of this class, with great propriety, he places Thomas Chittenenden at the head of the list. That the inhabitants of the town placed him among their first citizens,
is evident from the fact, that he represented the town in the Legislature, in the years 1765, '66, '67, ’68, '69 and '72. He was also Colonel of a regiment of militia, and a Justice of the Peace, until he removed from the town. This last was, at that time, an office of distinction, for, during the whole century, after the organization of the town, thirty-five individuals only were in the commission of the peace.
The French province of Canada having been ceded to Great Britian by the treaty of 1763, all danger from the Indians was removed, and the New Hampshire Grants were open for settlement. The Governor of New Hampshire, claiming jurisdiction as far west as the present west line of Vermont, granted a great number of townships West of Connecticut river. Col. Chittenden and some of his sons were grantees in several of these townships. The Governor of New York claimed jurisdiction over the same territory, and granted a considerable portion of the same lands, treating the New Hampshire grants as utterly void.
The grantees under New Hampshire made settlements in many of the townships, on both sides of the Green Mountains. In the year 1764, the King decided the controversy between the two Governors, so far as to give jurisdiction of the territory in question to New York.
By this decision, the Governor of New York considered that the grants which had been made by the Governor of New Hampshire were null and void, and he required the grantees under New Hampshire to surrender their charters, and take Confirmation charters under New York, on payment of granting fees, to a large amount.
With this requisition the settlers on the east side of the Mountain generally complied ; paid the granting fees; took out Confirmation charters; and were quieted in their possessions ; but the settlers on the west side of the Mountain called a convention, by which it was made penal for any one to take a Confirmation charter under New York. Actions of ejectment were brought against the New Hampshire settlers by the grantees under New York, before the Courts at Albany, in which judgments were rendered in favor of the plaintiffs, who took out writs of possession, and attempted to execute them ; but in every instance, the settlers made forcible and successful resistance, and remained in possession of their farms.
This state of things continuing, the settlements under New Hampshire, on the west side of the Mountain, rapidly increased, and the settlements under the Confirmation charters, on the east side of the Mountain, increased as rapidly. Great numbers emigrated from Salisbury to the New Hampshire Grants on the west side of the Mountain. They were perfectly prepared for another remove into a new country. They were in the prime of life; they had brought their farms into a high state of cultivation for those times; had acquired most of the conveniences which they desired ; and seeing little room for the improvement of their condition, they felt a want of that peculiar excitement which had rendered them so happy in their new settlement, and a strong desire to live their lives over again, in another new settlement, on the New Hampshire Grants.
Col. Chittenden, having procured all the con
veniences of life, and having no taste for luxuries, became, with his neighbors, dissatisfied with his condition, and determined to remove to the New Hampshire Grants. Accordingly, he joined with his neighbor, Jonathan Spafford, in the purchase of a large tract of land in Williston, on Onion River, which they divided in such a manner as to make each a most valuable farm.
In the month of May, 1774, Col. Chittenden removed his family onto the land which he had purchased in Williston, without having prepared any shelter for them. But, by his native energy, his untiring industry, and ample means, he soon placed them in a comfortable situation, and rapidly cleared his rich alluvial land, which produced Indian corn and other grain in such abundance, that, at the end of two years, he had an ample supply of provisions for his family, and a surplus for others, and nothing seemed wanting to yield him, in full measure, the peculiar happiness of a new settler. But, on the retreat of the American army from Canada, in the spring of 1776, by which the settlers on Onion River were exposed to the incursions of the enemy, his bright prospects of peace and happiness were suddenly changed. He was forced to "leave the reaping of