A history of Underhill from 1886

by J.J. Monahan 1873-1900



Prepared by J. J. Monahan

THIS is a mountainous town situated in the northeastern corner of Chittenden county. It is bounded north by Cambridge, east by Stowe, the boundary line being the highest elevation of land on Mount Mansfield, on the south by Bolton and Jericho, and west by Jericho and Westford. It was originally granted by the governor of New Hampshire to Joseph SACKETT, jr., James SACKETT, Peter SACKETT, Joseph SACKETT, Edward EARLE, James JAMISON, Com. LAW, jr., esq., Jonathan DAYTON, jr., Jonathan HAZZARD, Andrew ANDERSON, James ANDERSON, John YEATS, James SACKETT, Tertius, Samuel SACKETT, John SACKETT, David MATHEWS, Andrew TEN EIKE, William SACKETT, Joseph SAVAGE, Daniel VOORHIS, Michael BUTLER, Samuel WALL, Joseph BULL, Jeremiah ALLEN, John FREEBORN, Peter ALLEN, William ALLEN, Robert FREEBORN, Samuel BROWN, Carey DUNN, William SANDS, Benjamin UNDERHILL, Henry FRANKLIN, Bishop HADLEY, James HORTON, sen., Sylvanus HORTON, Maurice SALTS, Louis RIELEY, James REED, Peter TEN EIKE, jr., Isaac ADOLPHUS, Samuel JUDEA, Myer MYERS, Solomon MARACHE, Jacob WATSON, Joshua WATSON, Sylvanus DILLINGHAM, John DILLINGHAM, William BUTLER, Robert MIDWINTER, John MIDWINTER, Darrick AMBERMAN, Joseph HOLMES, John COCKLE, Jonathan COPELAND, Uriah WOOLMAN, John SEARS, Hon. John TEMPLE, Theodore ATKINSON, esq., Mark H. G. WENTWORTH, Dr. John HALE, Maj. Samuel HALE. The charter was dated June 8, 1765, for which the sum of $230.40 was paid. The original township contained thirty-six square miles, to which was annexed in November, 1839, about twelve square miles from the town of Mansfield. The original proprietors were warned to meet at the dwelling house of Captain Abraham UNDERHILL, at Dorset, then in the county of Bennington, on the 12th day of September, 1785. The warning was issued by John SHUMWAY, justice of the peace. Major Gideon ORMSBY was chosen moderator, and Timothy BLISS clerk. It was voted to make a division of the township in lots of one hundred acres to each right, with an allowance of four acres to each lot for highways, and the lots to be 160 rods long and 104 rods wide. Nathaniel MALLARY, Augustin UNDERHILL, and Captain Thomas BARNEY were appointed a committee for that purpose, with power to select a suitable surveyor. On the 11th of November, 1785, the committee made a report which was accepted, and that survey constituted the first division of town lots.

On the 13th day of January, 1790, a second meeting of the proprietors was held at the house of Thaddeus Munson, of Manchester, in the county of Bennington. Augustin UNDERHILL was elected moderator and Daniel ORMSBY clerk. It was voted to make a second division of lots of one hundred acres each in said township, from the best part of the undivided land, and Major Gideon ORMSBY, Augustin UNDERHILL and Captain Thomas BARNEY were appointed a committee for that purpose. This committee reported on the 9th day of November, 1790. On the 14th of February, 1803, a meeting of the proprietors was held at the dwelling house of David BIRGE, on the premises now owned by John WOODRUFF, in Underhill. Captain Daniel CLARK was elected moderator, and Barnard WARD clerk, and Luther DIX collector. At this meeting William BARNEY was chosen to run out the third division of town lots, and on the fourth Monday of December, 1803, the survey made by him was adopted.

The first settlers in this town were Elijah BENEDICT and Abner EATON in 1786. Mr. EATON located in North Underhill and resided there to the time of his death. The first deed executed in town was from Thomas BARNEY to Caleb SHELDON, and dated August 25, 1789. The first child born in town was Nancy SHELDON, daughter of Caleb SHELDON, on the 10th of September, 1787. Town meetings were held in North Underhill from 1794 to 1832. Here were located a church, tavern, store, and school-house. The school-house was built in 1787, and the church in 1804. William BARNEY was elected the first town representative in 1794. Colonel Udney HAY represented the town from 1798 to 1804, and was one of the Council of Censors in 1806, at the time of his death. He was a Scotchman, and was highly educated; whether he resided in Vermont prior to settling in this town is unknown. It appears from the State papers of 1780 that Colonel Udney HAY, then department commissary-general for the Northern Department of the Continental army, had made application to Governor Chittenden to obtain supplies for the troops of this department.

His communications were submitted by the governor to a committee of the council, and after the same were fully considered the committee made a report on the 2d of November, 1780, by its chairman, Matthew LYON, stating “that they have examined said papers, and also conferred with Colonel HAY thereon, and find that he is appointed by the Continental commissary-general to purchase provisions in the New Hampshire grants;” “and that it is the opinion of your committee, that Colonel HAY by coming to this State and making application to the Legislature thereof, has missed his instructions;” “and that it is further the opinion of your committee that (considering the embarrassment the State lies under), with regard to the claims of other States, and the jurisdiction assumed over it; considering also the large supply of provisions already granted for the troops to be in the service of the State the year ensuing; should we suppose this State could be called the New Hampshire grants (which is by no means admissible), the Legislature of this State ought not to undertake to supply Colonel HAY with the beef required. Signed, M. LYON, Chairman.”

Nevertheless Colonel HAY was not prevented from buying beef and other supplies. He is described in Vol. II, “governor and Council, ”as a “gentleman and imposing man, rather of the Matthew LYON cast.” “He was opposed to the constitution and to the administration of Washington and John Adams, and continued to the end a politician.” He settled in this town at the close of the Revolutionary War, on the farm now owned by Thomas Jackson. His last resting place is unknown, but is supposed to be in the cemetery at North Underhill.

George OLDS, Caleb SHELDON, Barnard WARD, David BIRGE, Oliver WELLS, and Chauncey GRAVES were Revolutionary soldiers. Elijah BIRGE was a captain of a militia company raised here, that formed a part of the regiment commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Luther Dixon at Plattsburgh in 1813. Colonel DIXON was one of the early settlers. He possessed great strength physically, and was noted as a brave and resolute man. While his command was at Plattsburgh, Governor Martin CHITTENDEN issued a proclamation ordering the militia back to Vermont, which was dated at Montpelier, November 10, 1813, and dispatched an agent to the camp at Plattsburgh to distribute the same. Colonel DIXON looked upon it as an attempt to incite insubordination in the camp, and ordered that the agent be flogged, which was properly done by a detail from Captain BIRGE’s company. On the 15th of November an answer was drawn up and signed by Colonel DIXON and all of the officers in his command, and duly forwarded to the governor. Coming from troops in the service, in the history of that war cannot be found a similar communication to the governor of any other State. [The extracts from this answer, given by Mr. Monahan, we take the liberty of omitting, as both documents appear in full in previous pages.-ED.)

Colonel DIXON, after his return home, was sued for causing the arrest of the governor’s agent at Plattsburgh on that occasion, and was compelled to pay $1,000 in settlement of the matter. Afterward two or three attempts were made in the Legislature to reimburse him, but without success. George MARSH had the matter before Congress at the time of Colonel DIXON’s death, but no definite action was taken on it. He held many important offices in this town, and was liked by all who knew him. He went to live in Milton in 1834, and died there in December, 1846, at which place he was buried. Three of his sons are now living, L. M. DIXON, proprietor of the Dixon House at Underhill, a noted summer resort, Dr. L. J. DIXON, of Milton, one of the most prominent physicians of Northern Vermont, and Judge L. S. DIXON, of Madison, Wis., one of the judges of the Supreme Court of that State for sixteen years; and one daughter, Susan BOSTWICK, of Jericho, wife of I. C. BOSTWICK.

Elijah BENEDICT, born in New Bedford, Conn., in 1741, came to Pawlet before the Revolution, but, sympathizing with the king, his property was confiscated, and he was obliged to flee to Canada, where he remained until after peace was declared, and in 1786 came to Underhill, and located on the farm now owned by George H. BENEDICT.

Jonas HUMPHREY came from Genesee county, N. Y., at an early day, and settled upon the farm lately owned by N. STORY. He married Caroline DIXON, daughter of Captain Jared DIXON, one of the first settlers in town. His son, D. C. HUMPHREY, still resides here, and is eighty-two years old.Adam HURLBUT, from Roxbury, Conn., settled upon the farm now owned by Charles Prior and C. L. Graver, in 1789. He subsequently made the first settlement on the farm lately owned by his grandson, Wait HURLBURT.

Eli HURLBURT, a veteran of the War of 1812, was one of the first settlers in Westford. Afterward he removed to this town and located on the farm now owned by his son, J. R. WOODRUFF. The deed to him was from Abner EATON, and dated June 13, 1791. He died, aged seventy-nine, on the farm now owned by his daughter, Mary A. WOODRUFF.

Caleb SHELDON was born at East Hartford, Conn., in 1756, came to Underhill in 1788, located on a farm now owned by his daughter, Mary S. SHELDON, where he died about 1800.Jason ROGERS, born in Connecticut, came to Underhill in 1800, and settled on the farm now owned by Charles E. TRUELL, and lived there until his death. His son, Abial ROGERS, also came from Connecticut and located on the farm now owned by the estate of the late Deacon Z. W. CHURCH, in 1808, where he carried on the business of saddler for several years, at which place he died, aged eighty-four. H. A. ROGERS, son of Abial, now resides on the farm formerly owned by John STORY, at which place he is doing business as a harness-maker.

Chauncey GRAVES came from Salisbury and made the first settlement on the farm now owned by his grandson, Tyler M. GRAVES. Ira, son of Chauncey and father of Tyler M., was five years old when he came here, and remained on this farm until his death, May 8, 1877, aged eighty-two years.

Isaac J. BOURN came to Underhill from Jericho in 1816, and purchased the farm now owned by Alvah MARTIN at Underhill Center, and lived there until he died.

Captain N. M. HANAFORD was born at Enfield, N. H., in 1791, and moved to this town at an early date, and always lived near Underhill Center up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1862, aged seventy-one years. He served as fifer and also as drum-major in the War of 1812.Martin MEAD came from Rutland in 1807, and located on the farm now owned by Seth W. MEAD. He had a family of ten children, three of whom are now living here,-Martin, Seth W., and Simeon M. MEAD.

Asa CHURCH came from Vershire in 1808 and located on the farm now owned by Thomas REEVES. After subsequent changes he finally located on the farm now owned by Cyrus Prior at Underhill Center, where he died at the age of eighty-four years. He had a family of twelve children, but none of them is now living.

Joshua MARTIN was born in Goffstown, N. H., and came here in 1819, locating on the farm now owned by James SHEEHY, at Underhill Center.

Timothy BURDICK came from Rhode Island, enlisted in the regular army in 1812, served five years, and after he was discharged located in Underhill, clearing up the farm now owned by Martin FLYNN, on what is known as the Irish Settlement road, at that time a wilderness. He was a man of energy and determination, for no other would have attacked a wilderness to lay out a farm, and be as successful as he was. He died at Underhill Center in 1875, aged eighty-five years, and was buried in the cemetery at Underhill. Two of his daughters reside at Underhill Center, and a son, Dr. A. F. BURDICK, went to California in 1849, resided there for three years, and returned to Underhill, where he has resided ever since.. He is a successful practitioner, and has administered to the wants of the people in this and adjoining towns about thirty years.

The principal villages sixty years ago were North Underhill, Underhill and Underhill Center, and ranked in size in the order named. The oldest person living in town is Ira DICKINSON. He served a term of enlistment in the regular army prior to 1812, and was one of the volunteers from this town who went to Plattsburgh and participated in that battle. He is a pensioner, and is now (1886) ninety-two years of age. He has a splendid memory, and loves to converse and relate incidents which transpired before and during the war.

The manufactures in Underhill in early times were very limited. In 1825 TOWER & OAKS built a starch factory, run by a steam-engine of ten horsepower. From that time to 1850 they manufactured large quantities of starch, and a number of other mills were built, but they have all gone to decay. Several saw-mills have been operated in town, which supplied the wants of the people up to the time of the opening of the Burlington and Lamoille Railroad, which took place in 1877. Five miles of the railroad bed is in this town.

From that time to the present there has been a great demand for lumber here, and, as a consequence, one water-power and three steam mills have been put in operation, requiring a force during the busy part of the season of about 250 men to supply and operate them. Three of these mills manufacture clapboards and one shingles. Nearly five millions of feet of lumber were shipped from the railroad station here during the past year. Underhill relies on agriculture more than manufacturing. It is a fine town for dairy purposes, shipping each year about 60,000 pounds of butter. During the last season L. F. TERRILL & Son shipped 15,000 bushels of potatoes from this station. Underhill is not a wealthy town, but may be classed as a prosperous farming community. It is purely rural, possessing good land and on the whole the finest scenery in Vermont. Two valleys traverse it north and south, and one east and west. It has a natural observatory on Mount Mansfield, the highest point of land in Vermont, affording a view that is probably unsurpassed by any in New England. The altitude of Mount Mansfield is 4.389 feet. It exceeds the highest of the Catskills. Imagination has pictured out the upturned face of a giant, showing the forehead, nose, lips and chin. About one-third of the distance from the nose to the chin may be seen drift scratches upon the rocks, and the identical rock that formed them — two bowlders of about thirty and forty feet in circumference, lying near by, deposited there from icebergs that passed over when the lofty peaks of Mansfield were beneath the ocean; Brown’s River rises on the side of Mount Mansfield, flowing in a westerly direction through Underhill and Jericho, uniting with Winooski River in Essex.

The schools of this town are managed on the district system and divided into fourteen districts, having an attendance of about four hundred pupils and at an average yearly cost of about $1,600. There were two academies, the Bell Institute, located at Underhill, and the Green Mountain Academy, located at Underhill Center, that were once flourishing schools, each having about one hundred scholars; but the old-fashioned Vermont academy has gone. It evidently received its death-blow from the State Normal Schools, in other words, the old academies, scattered all over Vermont, have been legislated out of existence. So to-day a person so poor that he cannot afford to send his children away to school must be contented with what little can be learned in the district schools. Education cannot be as good in general as it was when nearly every town had its old-fashioned academy. Vermont now enjoys the privilege of class education; that is, those who can maintain their children away at school have an advantage they did not possess in the old academy. It is true the education of to-day is more aristocratic, but is the State as well off as when children all stood equal as far as opportunity went, in the old academy?

The following were college graduates from Underhill: Elon O. MARTIN, who settled as a Presbyterian minister in Lowndes county, Ala., at which place he died; Charles PARKER, Congregational minister, who died a few years ago at Waterbury; Wm. RICHMOND, for several years principal of the High School at St. Albans; Henry THORP, a teacher in California the last fifteen years; Ebin BIRGE, Congregational minister, who has recently died in Chicago; Gay H. NARAMORE is a lawyer in New York city; Frank FARRELL is a lawyer at Fort Dodge, Iowa; Seneca HASELTON, lawyer, and has been city judge at Burlington for ten years; Frank WOODRUFF, Congregational minister, and now professor at Andover Theological Seminary; Charles DUNTON, Methodist Episcopal clergyman, now principal of the Troy Conference Academy at Poultney; E. H. LANE, lawyer at Mamatte, Minn.; C. G. CHURCH, real estate agency at Watertown, Dakota.

Lawyers have never succeeded in this community. In 1821 a young man named BACON tried to practice law here for a short time, but gave it up and left the town. SAWYER & BEARDSLEY stayed longer, but were not successful. Others have located here, but have not found it a good place to practice. The people of Underhill never had much litigation. Physicians have had better success. Among the physicians who lived in this town, now dead, were Hiram G. BENEDICT, A. C. WELCH, H. BURROUGHS, Samuel DOW, Jesse MAY, and G. W. ROBERTS, at Underhill Center. A. Y. BURDICK and W. S. NAY are the physicians who are now in practice here.


The Congregational Church was organized in the town in December, 1801, by Rev. Ebenezer KINGSBURY, of Jericho. The original members were Adam HURLBURT, James DIXON, George OLDS, Carey MEAD, Herman PRIOR, John COLEMAN, Daniel CLARK, Eleanor DIXON, Judette MEAD, Abigail BIRGE, Rachel WARD, Lydia DIXON, Permit PRIOR, and Veelea MEAD. Rev. James Parker, who was ordained in 1803, was the first settled minister. Rev. Simeon PARMELEE, who died at Oswego, N. Y., aged one hundred years and six months, officiated in this church for many years. Its membership now numbers about one hundred. Rev. J. K. WILLIAMS is the present pastor.

St. Thomas (Roman Catholic) Church is located at Underhill Center. The church edifice was built in 1856. Rev. Thomas LYNCH was the first, and Rev. J. GALIGAN is the present pastor. Its dimensions are thirty-two feet by ninety feet. The organization has about one thousand members.

The Freewill Baptist Church, located at Underhill Center, was organized in 1836 by Elders S. D. KENESTON, and J. E. DAVIS, with twenty members, Elder DAVIS acting as their pastor. The church has a seating capacity for 250 persons, and was built in union with the Methodist Society in 1850. It has no settled pastor at present.

There are two stores at Underhill Center, one owned by D. L. TERRILL, and the other by G. A. TERRILL; and two stores at Underhill, both owned and managed by L. F. and George E. TERRILL, under the firm name of L. F. TERRILL & Son. All of these stores are doing a flourishing business.

The Custar House at Underhill, T. S. WHIPPLE, proprietor, and the Mountain House at Underhill Center, G. W. WOODRUFF, proprietor, are model hotels, and furnish the best of accommodations to the traveling public.

Cyrus BIRGE was the first postmaster, receiving his appointment in 1825. The office was then at North Underhill. There are now three post-offices, with the following postmasters: North Underhill, F. J. ROBINSON; Underhill, J. J. MONAHAN; Underhill Center, Samuel DAVITT.The town has no organized fire department.

In the War of the Rebellion Underhill is credited by the adjutant-general of Vermont with furnishing one hundred and fifty-seven men as having entered the service. Only six men were drafted during the war, in this town. Soldiers from here served in nearly all the Vermont regiments, batteries and companies of sharpshooters. Twenty-one went in the Thirteenth Vermont Volunteers — all in Company F. Of the one hundred and fifty-seven men twenty-four now live in the town. Those of the rest who are not dead are scattered, many far away. In a few years all will be gone.

L.H. BOSTWICK Post No. 69, G. A. R., was organized December 12, 1883, by the old soldiers from this town, Jericho and Westford. The post was named after Lieutenant Lucius H. BOSTWICK, of Company F, Thirteenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers, who died in Washington, D. C., in 1863, and has on its rolls the names of seventy-eight men. The first officers were L. F. TERRILL, P. C.; J. J. Monahan, S. V.; W. W. WHEELER, J. V.; A. C. HUMPHREY, adj.; A. W. TERRILL, Q.-M.; A. F. BURDICK, surg.; F. D. GILSON, chap.; W. H. HILTON, O. D.; William  BURROUGHS, O. G. The present officers are J. J. MONAHAN,. P. C.; F. D. GILSON, S.  D.; William BURROUGHS, J. D.; P. D. MATHEWS, adj.; S. M. PALMER, Q. M.; S. A. WRIGHT, chap.; A. F. BURDICK, surg.; J. LESSOR, O. D.; A. H. SHERMAN, O. G.

Custer Camp No. 7, Vermont Division, Sons of Veterans, was mustered here February 7, 1884, and the first officers were George E. TERRILL, captain; H. L. COLGROVE, first lieutenant; F. S. PALMER, second lieutenant The present officers are H. L. COLGROVE, captain; H. H. HALE, first lieutenant; F. S. PALMER, second lieutenant. There are fifty-seven members, all uniformed and armed the same as the National Guard, and well drilled. The headquarters Vermont Division Sons of Veterans are in this town, having the following division officers: Colonel, George E. TERRILL, Underhill; lieutenant-colonel, John E. FOX, Burlington; major, Orvice B. LEONARD, Brattleboro; chaplain, E. T. GRISWOLD, Bennington; adjutant, Fred E. TERRILL, Underhill; Q. M., H. L. COLGROVE, Underhill; insp., P. C. ABBOTT, St. Johnsbury; must. officer, J. M. NASH, Middlebury; judge advocate, Henry BARROWS, Brandon.

L.H. BOSTWICK, W. R. C. No. 19, was organized March 15, 1886, with Susie A. TERRILL, president; Mary C. BURDICK, S. V.; Helen HUMPHREY, J. V.; Hattie L. PALMER, secretary; Maria C. LUSELLE, treasurer; Helen WRIGHT, chap.; Lucy J. PRIOR, con.; Estelle MOREHOUSE, ass’t.; Amanda McDANIELS, guard; Mary LESSOR, ass’t; with some twenty members. Thus it will be seen that the soldier element of Underhill, while enjoying the blessings of peace, has every means of enjoyment, as well as the opportunity of recalling the stirring memories of days long gone.

In conclusion, many things could have been said of as much interest to our people, for the subject cannot be exhausted, as what I have already written; but time and space forbid. It is a very difficult thing to always procure accurate information on the subjects embraced where records are defective, and errors may appear in what I have written. If so, I hope the same will be overlooked, for they are not intentional.

History of Chittenden County, Vermont With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.Edited By W. S. Rann, Syracuse, N. Y. D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1886 Page 687-695.