List of the Principal Pioneer Settlers in Norwich Vermont

The counties of Cumberland and Gloucester had been organized by New York in 1766, out of the territory lying between the Green Mountains and Connecticut River. In the year 1771 a census of these counties was made under the authority of that province. All the towns in Windham and Windsor Counties, as now constituted, belonged to Cumberland County; the remaining portion of the state to the north-ward, then mostly unsettled, was called the county of Gloucester. 1

By the census of 1771, the population of the two counties of Cumberland and Gloucester was returned as 4669, (Cumberland, 3947; Gloucester, 722). Norwich was found to contain 206 people distributed among forty families. In this enumeration the inhabitants were classified as to age and sex only. The number of males above sixteen years of age was found to be 66, the number of females 48. The number of males under sixteen was 53, the number of females 39. The number of children or young people under sixteen (92 out of a total of 206) is remarkable. Beckoning forty families in town, there would remain twenty-six unmarried men and eight unmarried women over sixteen years old in the new settlement.

Using the results of this census in connection with the list of subscribers to the 1770 fund for the founding of Dartmouth College and with some help from the town records, we are able to ascertain with considerable certainty the names of each of the forty men, heads of families, living in Norwich in the year 1771. These are the names of the principal pioneer settlers of the town, and they may properly be regarded and here recorded as the Fathers of the Town:

  • Daniel Baldwin (?)
  • Ebenezar Ball*
  • Gershem Bartlett (?)
  • Medad Benton
  • Samuel Brown*
  • Israel Brown*
  • Samuel Brown, Jr.*
  • John Burnap
  • Elisha Burton*
  • Jacob Burton*
  • Josiah Burton*
  • Timothy Bush
  • Simeon Carpenter
  • Elisha Crane (?)
  • Waterman Daniel
  • Isaac Fellows (?)
  • Elijah Gates*
  • Jesse Geer (?)
  • Josiah Goodrich
  • John Hatch*
  • Joseph Hatch*
  • Benjamin Hatch
  • John Hopson*
  • James Huntington
  • John Hutchinson*
  • Samuel Hutchinson*
  • Burton Jacob
  • Hezekiah Johnson
  • Joseph Lewis*
  • Nathan Messenger*
  • Thomas Murdock*
  • Samuel Partridge*
  • Elisha Partridge*
  • Samuel Partridge, Jr.
  • Jonas Richards*
  • John Rogers (?)
  • John Sargent*
  • John Slafter
  • Joseph Smalley
  • Francis Smalley
  • Peter Thatcher
  • David Turner
  • Samuel Waterman
  • Aaron Wright*
  • John Wright*
  • Samuel Wright*

Twenty-seven of the above names are found on the college subscription list of 1770. In respect only to the six names [marked with the interrogation (?)] does any uncertainty exist, and here the doubt does not relate to their residence, but as to whether their respective families had then come into town.

The names with the * (asterisk) beside them belong to men who settled in the south and the remainder to settlers in the north or central portions of the town. The following may be added, names of unmarried young men then resident here and actively engaged in the work of settlement: Israel Brown, Peter Thatcher, Joseph Ball, Samuel Hutchinson, Jr., Daniel Baldwin, James Smalley, and Ebenezar Jaques.

The figures set against other towns in Cumberland County, in the census of 1771, show Norwich in the first rank if not leading all others in the number of its population. Hartford had 190, Sharon 68, Hartland 144, and Windsor 203.

Across the river, the nearest New Hampshire towns contained numbers very similar. Two years later, in 1773, Hanover had 342 (including 8 slaves and 90 students at college), Lebanon 295, Lyme 241, and Orford 222. But in those two years Norwich had made large gains.

Ten years had now elapsed since the town was chartered by New Hampshire and five since the tide of immigration first set vigorously into it. A little community of more than 200 persons had been collected, scores of clearings made in the primitive forest, and a virgin soil made to yield food for man and beast; roads had been opened, mills built, a church had been organized (in 1770), and the homes of the people began to possess some of the most indispensable comforts of civilized life. Children played where but lately the bear and wolf roamed unmolested and un-scared.

But everything was still crude and rough in the new frontier town; the people lived in log houses almost destitute of furniture or utensils, ate coarse food and wore homespun clothes of linen or woolen fabric. It was a long way yet to the railroad and telegraph, to pianos and sewing machines, or even to the first cooking stove. It was more than thirty years later before Norwich had a post office.



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  1. In the first organization of eastern Vermont into counties by New York, Norwich belonged to Cumberland County. In March, 1772, a change of boundary was made which placed the town in Gloucester County. In the new division, which was thenceforth maintained, the north line of the county of Cumberland began at the southwest corner of Royalton, and ran thence on a course of South 60 degrees East to Connecticut River.[]

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