Danby, Rutland, VT
Genealogy & History

1811 Town Meeting

From The History of Danby, Vermont, by J. C. Williams, 1869

1811 Danby Annual Meeting

The annual March meeting of 1811, was held at the inn of Henry Herrick, Jr., and Jared Lobdel was moderator. It was voted to assess a tax of five mills on the grand list of 1810, to defray the expenses of the town. A committee consisting of Abel Horton, Alexander Barrett and Jared Lobdel, was appointed to settle with the treasurer, and one consisting of Edward Vail, Jonathan Seley and Jared Lobdel, to settle with the selectmen. A town meeting was held Jan. 6th, 1812, at the meeting-house and Nathan Weller was clerk protem. It was voted at that meeting to establish the several school districts as they then were, and a committee consisting of Hosea Williams, Moses White, Job King, Nathan Saulesbury, Nathan Weller, Miner Hilliard, Joseph Button, Hosea Barnes, Hatsel Kelley and Sylvanus Cook, were appointed to ascertain the lines of the districts, and make report at the next annual meeting in March. The report of the above committee was accepted at that meeting. John H. Andrus was moderator of the annual meeting of 1813, at which it was voted to pay Oliver Thayer the sum of thirty-three dollars and thirty-three cents, ($33 33) for damages in breaking his horse's leg on the highway. A tax of eight mills on the dollar was also voted. Abraham Locke was moderator of the annual meeting of 1814, at which meeting, David Griffith, Alexander Barrett and Paul Hulett, were chosen a committee to settle with the overseers of the poor, and treasurer. A committee of ten, one from each school dis't, was appointed to make such alterations in the districts as they deemed proper. In 1815, the town was divided into twenty-five highway districts, and a tax of five mills on the dollar was voted, to pay the expenses of keeping the poor, and other charges. Caleb Parris was chosen moderator of the annual town meeting of that year.

The largest population the town ever had, was about the year 1815, and probably that was the most prosperous period in the existence of Danby. There were but four towns in the county having a greater population at that time, and none with the same number of inhabitants outrivaling in business interests.

A period of fifty years had then elapsed since the settlement of the town, and perhaps it would be well, at this stage of our history, to notice the changes which had been made in the affairs of the town, during this half a century, and also the changes which were still going on. There had been two destructive wars with the mother country,--the revolution, and that of 1812, just closed,--in which our citizens in common with those of the State, were called to take up arms, and without hesitation, in defence of their liberties and independence, which were nobly won. We had also passed through that relentless struggle with New York, which raged until 1790, in which by a determined resistence on our part, we were saved from becoming slaves to haughty and unjust rulers, on the land we had bought and paid for. We had thrown off the shackles, with which our unkind mother-England, was seeking to bind and degrade us, by taxing us without our consent, and disregarding our petitions for redress of grievances, and remonstrances against her policy, and rose to the position of an independent nation.

The local government within that time had been variously modified. Previous to 1779, the affairs of the town were managed by the committees of safety, after which they were subject to the state government, and many changes have been made. The laws inflicting coporeal punishment for criminal offences, had been discontinued, and more rational modes of punishment established. The war from which we had just emerged, had produced a bad effect upon the country. Industry was paralized, property depreciated, and banks were broken. The laws then allowed imprisonment for Karimat, and as many as had contracted Karimats during the war, were now unable to meet them. Consequently many went to jail, and those who could not "swear out," would give bail and secure the liberty of the yard.

Time had made, and was still making great changes in the usages, customs and circumstances of the people. The rude cabins of the first settlers, many of which were without doors, and without floors, with no cellars, had been exchanged for more comfortable dwellings. Our fathers were men of great physical endurance, and triumphed over the circumstances of those times. It is impossible to give a true description of the privations, destitution and sufferings of the settlers, during the first years of settlement. We have read how they came here and felled the forest, cleared up the land, planted grain and orchards, and made themselves a home. We cannot truly picture to ourselves those rude dwellings, with bark roofs, through which the storm would beat, and around which wild animals would howl by night; how scanty were their provisions, furniture and household articles. Fifty years had witnessed a change in all these circumstances. The people were no longer obliged to go fifteen or twenty miles to mill, on horseback, and sometimes on foot. The age of pewter plates and wooden benches for seats had passed. They could now be abundantly supplied with bread and meat, and children were not obliged as in former times, to go barefoot the year round. Flax and wool were now raised, and the spinning-wheel and looms set 49 in motion, the music of which was common in every household. These are some of the changes which had taken place previous to 1816, but greater yet will be the change which the next succeeding fifty years, will have wrought. Some trouble had now arisen, concerning the right of the town to hold town meetings in the Methodist meeting-house, and on a petition signed by Miner Hilliard, Caleb Parris, Abel Horton, Dennis Canfield and others, a town meeting was held at the Inn of Nicholas Jenks, on the 8th day of May, 1816, William Hitt, moderator. At that meeting the selectmen were appointed a committee to make investigations, and ascertain what right, if any, the town had in the meeting-house, and make report at the next annual meeting. Another committee consisting of James McDaniels and Aaron Rogers, was appointed to examine the case of Paul Hulett, who had petitioned the town to be set to another school district, said committee to meet and choose a third, and make report at the next meeting. The selectmen were instructed to set up four guide boards, at suitable places in the town. A special town meeting was held at the house of Nicholas Jenks, Oct. 9th, 1816, Abraham Locke, moderator, at which meeting, Moses Ward was elected first constable and collector, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Isaac Vail.

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