Contributed by Paul W. Lee <pwlee@cei.net>


HISTORY OF GUILFORD, VERMONT

"Official History of  GUILFORD, VERMONT  1678-1961 With Genealogies and Biographical Sketches."  EDITED BY BROAD BROOK GRANGE No. 151. Published by the Town of Guilford and Broad Brook Grange No. 151  on the occasion of the Town's Bicentennial 1961. 

Guilford is in the southernmost line of Vermont towns bordering upon Bernardston, Leyden and Colrain, Massachusetts. It is bounded on the north by Brattleboro, on the east by Vernon and on the west by Halifax. Its latitude is between the parallels of 42  degrees 44' and 42 degrees 50' north and longitude between 72 degrees 27' and 72 degrees 33' west from Greenwich.

The principal elevations in the town are Governor's Mountain, 1828 feet near the northwest corner; Peaked Mountain, 1527 feet nearby to the southwest; Owl's Head, 1480 feet southeast from Green River Village; East Mountain, 1424 feet the highest point of the range extending nearly five miles along the easterly side of the town. Northerly from its highest point is Peaked Hill, 1232 feet. Pulpit Mountain, an isolated peak, is southwesterly from Green River Village -1244 feet. The lowest elevation within the town is about 250 feet above sea level where Broad Brook enters Vernon. The flat on U.S. Highway No.5, extending from the Episcopal Church to the Gale Farm, is 400 feet above sea level.

Many varieties of timber are native to this section and white pine, oak, hemlock, ash, beech, maple, basswood, butternut, elm and other kinds of less importance are found in profusion. The sugar maple is one of the town's most valuable assets and has been utilized since the earliest days of its settlement, when the pioneer with only the crudest of implements and apparatus could supply his family with a food product
of inestimable value.

Guilford's principal streams are Green River flowing south along its western border and Broad Brook with its several branches, all were originally well stocked with trout and flowed into the Connecticut River near the north line of Vernon. It is not believed
that there were any Indian settlements or fixed habitations of the red men within the limits of this town, although it is known that they had used trails from the vicinity of Fort Dummer in Brattleboro through Guilford to what is now Colrain, Massachusetts. It is also certain that the great war party of French and Indians on its return from Deefield in March, 1704 passed through the easterly part of Guilford with two hundred French and Indians, one hundred twelve captives and such plunder as they could carry with them.

Included was the bell of the first Deerfield church, which had been sent by ship from France for the church at St. Reggaes, Canada, but the ship was captured by the English enemy and sold with its lading at Salem, Massachusetts. The bell was hung between poles and carried as far as Lake Champlain where it was buried in the sand. Soon afterward it was loaded upon a sled drawn by oxen, hung up and rung all the way into Canada where it
has ever since remained at its first intended destination, the little church tower at St. Regis.

Only very few Indian artifacts have been discovered here so far as now known. These include single specimens from the vicinity of the known scout trails on the Bullock, Evans, Nebelski and Gale farm lands.   Broad Brook was the original northern boundary of the Squakheag Indian Territory and of the town of Northfield,Massachusetts as laid out by Wm. Clarke in 1672.The Indian name of this stream was "Wan-as-qua-tok" meaning "little river".The Nawelet, the chieftain of the tribe claimed no land beyond to the northward.

The principal Squakheag Settlements were on both sides of the Connecticut River in Northfield, Massachusetts and in South Vernon where they had a village called by them "Coassuck" and in the great bend or bow of the river in what is now Vernon. They had lived there a strong, sagacious and warlike tribe for many years prior to 1663, which date marks the beginning of their authentic history. The tribe had been greatly reduced only a few years before when it was ravaged by smallpox and had not recovered their normal strength when in that year they were attacked. Their great fort on the east side of the Connecticut River was destroyed and defeated with great loss. They were driven from their homes by a strong war party of Mohawks from central New York who so shattered the Squakheags that they never recovered and after a short time sold their lands to the whites without reserving planting grounds or any privilege of hunting or fishing, a procedure contrary to their usual custom when transferring their ancestral lands. 

The first visit of the whites to this region was in 1669 when a committee of four under Capt. Daniel Gookin, who was appointed by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay, came up the river as far as Squakheag, "for the purpose of viewing the country".

In their report they recommended that the Court order this place to be reserved for settlement. The report was approved and the order made. In the following year a second group made a further exploration of this territory and ascertained that the Indians were ready and anxious to sell the tract. The settlements of the whites were rapidly expanding and good lands were much in demand.  Early in the spring of 1671 a party of Northampton men went up and purchased form the Indians a tract of 10,560 acres, covering the present village of Northfield. A further purchase of 3,000 acres on the west side of the river was made in 1673 and finally, in 1678 the third and last purchase was made from the Squakheags which comprised the larger part of their ancient lands and hunting grounds. This was Nawelet's country and contained about 65,000 acres lying on both sides of the Connecticut River. The deed bears the date of August 13, 1678 and runs to William Clarke, Senior (Senator), and John King, Senior
(Senator), agents for the proprietors of Northfield. The text being as
follows:

"To All Christian People to Whom These Presents Shall Come, KNOW YE that Nawelet, Gongequa, Aspiambemett, Haddarawansett, Meganichcha, we, the Indians mentioned, and for good consideration moving us hereunto, and in particular in consideration of the sum of forty-five pounds in trade goods already in hand paid or secured to satisfaction, the said Indians above expressed do for themselves, their heirs, executors, etc., give,
grant, bargain and sell, and by these presents firmly pass over a certain parcel of land lying in the bounds of Northfield unto William Clarke, Sen., and John King, Sen., both of Northampton, being agents for the proprietors of Northfield, which is bounded as followeth, viz; Southerly against a river called Cowas, being on the East side of the Great River, and running directly over the Great River; The Northerly side running to a river on the West side of the Great River, called Wanasquatok, (Broad Brook) lying twelve miles wide, six miles on each side of the Great River. With all the privileges, benefits, advantages, commodities and appurtenances thereon and thereunto belonging, etc."

Witnesses

Johnathan Hunt
Preserved Clap
Wm. Clarke, Jun
Peter Jethro
Joseph Atherton
Isaac Chauncey
Signed by

Nawelet
Gongequa
Aspiambemet
Haddarawansett
Meganichcha