A Brief History - Where we came from!
A Brief History of St James: 1764 to The Present in Historical Arlington, Vermont
To best understand the history of St. James, one must remember the early history of our country. The early settlers, particularly in New England, left England with distaste for many of the accepted roles of the establishment, especially that of the Anglican Church and its function as a prop for the monarchy.
In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, the Puritans hounded the Anglicans in their midst, forcing them to leave or to conform to Puritan models of behavior. Among those who left were some members of the Anglican parish in Newtown and New Milford, Connecticut of the Rev. John Beach, a former Congregationalist turned Anglican. These families settled in Arlington in 1764.
Following the British victory in the French and Indian War, 1755, the lands west of the early settlements became safe for further settlement. The Charter for Arlington as a town, 6 miles square, was issued 26 July 1761 by Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, who reserved two prime lots of 500 acres in his own name. The proprietors met in Pownal on September 10th, 1762 and arranged for a party to move to Arlington and establish a settlement. The party arrived in 1763, to be followed by the first settlers in 1764, nearly all Episcopalians. Among these people was the first Lay Reader of the church, Capt. Jehiel Hawley. (His descendants live here today.) He conducted Episcopal services in his home and served as Moderator for the town.
While escaping one form of trouble, they found trouble of a different sort in 1776. After they had settled in their new homes and began to conduct Episcopal services, the Revolution served to isolate them further as "Tories": those loyal to the King of England. During the Revolution, Capt. Hawley left Arlington and served on the staff of General John Burgoyne until Burgoyne’s defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, when he started for Canada. He died en route in Shelburne in 1777.
During the period 1764 - 1786 the Episcopalians in Arlington survived by conducting their own services and from the ministry of priests from outside Vermont who traveled through the region conducting sacramental services. During the Revolution there is little evidence of many services being conducted at all. Following the Revolution, a group of families, led by Nathan Canfield, formed the Episcopal Society in 1784. Shortly thereafter the Society voted to build a church, and work was begun under the direction of Canfield, who advanced about half the cost. In 1786, the first priest, Rev. James Nichols, was installed. In 1790, the first convention of the Episcopal Church in Vermont was held in Arlington.
In 1803 the Society voted to establish two churches in Arlington - one, a Free Church where attendees did not have to buy their pews, called Bethel Church in West Arlington, and the other an original wooden church (then called Bethesda) where today’s church stands. Bethesda Church was completed in 1803. In 1829, the cornerstone of a new stone church was laid on the foundation of the old wooden church. Called St. James, it was dedicated in 1831 and completed in 1833.
St. James has been blessed by rectors who have tended their flock faithfully, and helped it to maintain its role in the life of the community, the state, and the nation. It has been equally blessed by so many dependable lay leaders in our church during the periods when clergy were not available. These men, the Hawleys, Demings, Canfields, Hards, Bucks and others were Arlington town’s first citizens. However, full credit must be given to the role that women have played in the church’s life. It has been the women, from the earliest formal organization ("The Ladies Mite Society") to today’s Women of St. James and St. Mary’s Altar Guild, who have served as the cement that has bound the parish together.
The Parish of St. James is proud of its role as the "Cradle Parish of the Diocese", and continues to work and pray for the community of Arlington, as it has for over 230 years.
Foreword by George Brush
and introduction by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The birth of the Episcopal Church in Arlington preceded by at least fifteen years the entrance of the State of Vermont into the Union.
For this reason and also because of the important part which the early pioneers of this parish shared in the spread of the Episcopal Church in Vermont, as well as in its own activity and development, the importance of a permanent record of the history of this parish becomes self evident.
The purpose of this book has been to examine the records of the parish and of the diocese and other historical material available and to give a review of some of the important events that have happened in this parish during its life of over one hundred and fifty years.
The author is conscious of his shortcomings in being unable to present in this volume many sidelights of human interest, such as the bearing of current political events on the religious life of the people. A more intimate picture of the social life of the people of those early days which if chronicled would doubtless prove most fascinating.
These records are made in a prosy and sometimes commonplace fashion as a compendium of facts and figures in which are woven some of the hopes and aspirations of our Fathers in God who have guided our people in the past days of stress and storm as well as in the brighter days of prosperity.
In this work of compilation and research the author wishes at this time to acknowledge the valuable help of the following friends and neighbors:
Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Miss Sarah Cleghorn, Dr. George A. Russell, Mr. Edward C. Woodworth, Mr. Charles H. Crofut, Miss Hermione Canfield, the late James Ross Roberts, Mr. Horace M. Abrams, whose chapter on the "St. James’ Churchyard" adds much to the interest of the volume, and the Rev. W. J. Brown, of Manchester. One of the primary objects of this history has been to present a permanent record of the lives and personalities of the rectors of this parish who made such valuable contributions to its stability and high standard among the parishes of the diocese.
It is the hope of the author that this book may find its way into the homes of all the parishioners and that it may become the means of inspiring them to a greater loyalty to God and His Church as they read of the faithfulness and the perseverance of those Christian men and women who helped to build and maintain the household of God in this parish and community.
George R. Brush
Arlington, VT, August 1, 1941.
WHERE would students of Vermont history be, if it were not for the town histories written by Vermont clergymen? Over and over, in the middle years of the 19th century, they were the ones who, before it was too late, gathered up the informally set down records and oral traditions of our towns to preserve them in print.
It is something to be thankful for that the Reverend George Robert Brush of our parish of St. James, has been moved to follow this tradition - but to our good fortune, very much in the modern way, that is, with a scholarly responsible accuracy quite different from the urbane vagueness of a good many of the early and mid-nineteenth century amateur American historians. Mr. Brush has painstakingly checked all facts recorded in this history. Anything, which is reported herein as fact is accurate, as far as, can be ascertained by Mr. Brush and Dr. Russell, our skilled and informed local historian.
Yet he has by no means limited himself to facts of ascertainable precise factual accuracy. That would have made a very dull book. Local oral tradition has been called upon for human color and general atmosphere, and this greatly helps to round out the record of one aspect of our town’s life during a century and a half.
We, in Arlington, whether members of St. James parish or not, are proud to have this faithful history written by an honored member of our own community. We can see it, as it will stand in the future, on the shelves of libraries, in the workrooms of people interested in our Vermont history, in the history of the Episcopal Church, in American history. We see it taken down and consulted to verify some detail of which Mr. Brush perhaps did not dream when he was writing. We can wish other parishes, other towns, no better fortune than to have someone who belongs deeply and fully to the community, go and do likewise.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
A View of the State of the Episcopal Church in New England in Pre-Revolutionary Days
THERE were various reasons why the Episcopal Church made slow progress in New England in Pre-Revolutionary days.
Puritan rule was intolerant of anything Pro-British, and as Episcopacy was associated in the mind of the Puritan with aristocracy, hier-archy, oppression and ecclesiasticism, from which thc Puritans had made their escape to take refuge in a new land, and to build a religion unfettered by the rule of bishops, it took an exhibition of fine courage for American Episcopalians to face this hostile atmosphere, and to seek to plant and foster the Episcopal Church in America in accordance with the doctrine, discipline and worship of their fathers across the sea.
Bishop Burleson in the "Conquest of the Continent," says that in those early colonial times the Episcopal Church was looked upon by a great many people as the Church of good-for-nothing baggage which the British left behind.
The feeling aroused against the jurisdiction of bishops in New England a century and a half ago is illustrated by the following story told by Bishop Perry, formerly Presiding Bishop, at a service in Philadelphia in February 1937, commemorating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the consecration of the Rev. Dr. William White and the Rev. Dr. Samuel Provost to the Episcopate: (Life and letters of Bishop William White" by Stowe).
"In a Puritan home in Rhode Island the head of the family was reading the news one morning. He looked up for a minute and said: ‘I am sorry to tell you that I am not to be with you long.’
"His family were startled and asked, ‘Why?’ He said: ‘I am to be hung.’ That was news to them and they still waited for an explanation. He said: ‘I have just read that they are going to send a bishop to this country, and when that day comes, I shall be at the landing to shoot him, and that means that I shall have to pay the penalty.’
This prejudice against bishops was probably not carried to such an extreme in all sections of New England as this story would suggest, but Dr. Hodges in the "Religious History of New England" (‘Religious History of New England," by Hodges, pp. 232-233) states that these antagonistic views were shared by some conservative minds. For example: John Adams said that "the objection was not only to the office of a bishop, though that was dreaded, but to the authority of Parliament on which it may be founded."
"There is no power less than Parliament," he said, "which can create bishops in America. But if Parliament can erect dioceses and create bishops, they may introduce the whole hierarchy, establish titles, establish religion, forbid dissenters, make schism heresy, impose penalties ex-tending to life and limb as well as to liberty and property."
This opinion was approved by many Churchmen particularly in the South. As late as 1785 the clergy and laity of South Carolina agreed to meet in convention with their brethren of other states only on condition that they should not be compelled to have a bishop.
A bishop was pictured in their minds as a domineering sort of person, having his residence in an Episcopal palace, from which he emerged only to go about on a coach drawn by four horses.
The Revolution which effected a complete political independence of the Colonies, made a great change in this situation, so that in March 1783 when the independence of the United States had become established the first steps toward the consecration of a bishop were made by ten clergymen of Connecticut who elected Samuel Seabury to go to England to seek Episcopal consecration. On his arrival in England Dr. Seabury sought in vain for consecration by the bishops of the Church of England, but went to Scotland and was consecrated by the bishops of the Scottish Church on November 14, 1784.
Thus for a period of 180 years no Episcopal acts were exercised in the colonies. Confirmations were omitted and the ministry was recruited either by missionaries sent from England by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts or by men from the colonies sent to England for ordination.
The difficulties of this method were serious owing to the perils in crossing the sea and the expense involved in this journey of three thousand miles.
But though the interruption of the normal functions of the Church was a great impediment to its growth, it is a matter for gratitude that through the faith and perseverance of Churchmen bishops were finally secured and thus the apostolic order of the Church was preserved.
The progress of the Episcopal Church in this period was made difficult also by the attitude of prejudice and opposition on the part of Puritans and Separatists to the Liturgy and forms and ceremonies of the Book of Common Prayer.
Restive and unhappy as they had been in England by the Acts of Conformity of Parliament, and by ecclesiastical ceremonies which they characterized as the usurping of popery, the Puritans came to New England impelled with the conviction that they would be "forever free from ecclesiastical tyranny."
However, the pendulum was to swing in the other direction. In striking for religious liberty they trespassed upon the rights and liberties of others.
Bishop Perry says ("Life and Letters of Bishop White"): - "The first priest to make his way through the wilderness of New England as a refugee from the Puritan rule of Massachusetts described it well when he said: ‘I came indeed to escape the tyranny of my lords, the bishops, but now I find myself bound by the greater tyranny of my lords, the brethren.’
On the other hand Governor Cranfield of New Hampshire wrote to England to express his humble opinion as a Churchman, "That it will be absolutely necessary to admit no person into any place of trust, but such as will take the Sacrament and are conformable to the rites of the Church of England."
This was in effect a proposal to overthrow Puritan control and to put its place the discipline and authority of the Church of England.
Recent historians give a very different view of the Loyalist during the Revolutionary period from the which has been generally held. ( Kenneth Roberts in "Oliver Wiswell.")
According to this view it was the Loyalist, not always the Patriot, who believed in maintaining the government by orderly processes; and among the Loyalists a goodly proportion were governed by the highest motives, and ranked as people of the finest type of integrity. Both Loyalist and Patriot deprecated the policy of England in inflicting oppressive measures on the Colonists; but the Loyalists, a large proportion of whom were members of the Church of England, were well disposed toward England, while the Patriots had no good word to say for England, and were suspicious of those who spoke in her defense, and who sought to conciliate the Colonists and England by appealing to their sense of fair play and tolerance.
Unfortunately it has happened many times in the history of the Church that there have been waves of intolerance, and that no ecclesiastical groups or reformers on one side or the other have escaped from the infection of the bias of the group.
Puritans and Churchmen were quite wide apart in their codes of behavior, the one holding under its ban all amusements and frivolities, the other regarding the Christian man as functioning more normally when free to indulge in recreation and amusements within the limits of Christ’s law.
For example, ("Religious History of New England," by Hodges) Thomas Morton, an Englishman who came in 1622 to Quincy, Rhode Island, with a group of Englishmen and settled among Puritans, was criticized by his Puritan neighbors, who declared that Morton and his friends not only made no contribution to religion, but rather, they said, to irreligion.
The occasion for this judgment was the fact that when Morton came to Quincy he combined the custom of reading the prayers according to the rubrics of the Prayer Book, with a code of behavior, which was offensive to his more sober neighbors.
Of Morton the Puritans said: "He kept Christmas with much festivity and worshiped the Roman goddess Flora by leading his household in a merry dance about the May-pole."
Of the Prayer Book they said: "The Book of Common Prayer, what poore thing is that, for a man to reade in a booke? No, no, good sirs, I would you were neere us, you might receave comfort by instruction-give me a man that hath the guiftes of the spirit, not a booke in his hand.’’
In expressing his opinion of Puritans Morton says: "I found two sorts of people, the one Christians, the other infidels. These I found most full of humanity and more friendly than the other."
Because of Morton’s reference to the human kindness of infidels he was accused of setting up a "School of Atheism."
John Fiske says that this accusation was probably based on the fact that lie "used the Book of Common Prayer."
Another ease is cited by Dean Hodges showing the temper of the times.
"Reverend John Lyford, an Episcopalian, came from England appointed by the men who financed the Plymouth Colony to be pastor of a Separatist congregation in Massachusetts.
"For an Episcopal clergyman to be pastor of a Separatist congregation was most unusual, but the matter was delicate because the colony was financially dependent upon the English company.
"The new pastor to all appearances sought to conform to the ideas of his congregation. But it transpired that he had written to the members in England who financed the colony letters that were critical of the religious opinions of his congregation.
"The outcome of the matter was that the governor of the colony discovered that Lyford was recruiting followers to set up a public meeting apart, and ‘have the sacraments,’ as they expressed it.
"This discovery was followed by the trial of Mr. Lyford and his followers for schism and sedition and they were sentenced to expulsion." (Religious History of New England," by Hodges, p. 208).
In addition to the adverse attitude of the majority of Separatists and a few Churchmen to the establishment of Episcopacy in New England and their intolerance of the use of the Prayer Book, there was another factor, which impeded the growth of the Episcopal Church. This was the fact that during the growing popular feeling in the colonies for independence of the claims of the Crown, anyone who was Pro-British was regarded with suspicion.
The position of clergymen and laymen of the Anglican faith was therefore one of extreme difficulty, for though many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Churchmen and George Washington was himself a Churchman, the Church of England was the Mother Church and many Churchmen felt that they should be loyal to it. Thus as a rule the plain people in the churches were Patriots, but the wardens and their families and the clergy who were closely linked to the Church of England were generally Loyalists.
In 1775 the Rev. Ramea Cossitt, Rector of the Church at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, wrote as follows to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in England: ("Religious History of New England", by Hodges)
"I have constantly kept up public services without any omissions for the King and the Royal Family and likewise made use of the prayers for the High Court of Parliament and the prayers used in time of wars and tumults".
"The number of my parishioners and communicants in Claremount is increased, but I have been cruelly distressed with fines for refusing entirely to fight against the King".
"In sundry places where I used to officiate the Church People are dwindled away, some have fled to the King’s army for protection, some are banished and many are dead."
He added: "I have been by the committee confined in prison in the town of Claremount since April 12, 1775; yet God has preserved my life from the rage of the people."
At St. John’s Church, Providence, the Rector "was pleased to absent himself from duty, though very earnestly requested to keep up the worship, saying he could not say prayers for King George as the were forbidden." (Religious History of New England," by Hodges).
In the minute book of the Vestry of Christ Church, Boston, Dr. Hodges says in his chapter on "Episcopalians" in the "Religious History of New England," that there are two blank pages between the sixth of September 1774 and the third of March 1779.
On the second date the Rector was desired to prepare a proper form of prayers for Congress for the several states, and for their "success in the present important contest," to be used daily in the Church.
During the Revolution such prayers were used in Trinity Church, Boston, by the Rev. Samuel Parker, and in consequence the parish had been maintained.
"In Connecticut," says Dr. Hodges, "there were only fourteen Episcopal clergymen at the end of the war, and they were subject to the ill-will of their patriotic neighbors".
"Churches had been destroyed or plundered and defaced, some by British soldiers and some by patriots".
"Some of the clergy had fled, some had been imprisoned, some had been mobbed".
"The Rev. Abraham Beach, DD., in the course of a bold sermon against rebellion, had been fired at by an aggressive parishioner; the mark of the bullet is still to be seen in the molding board of the church at Redding."
Mr. Walter Herbert Stow, in an article in the Historical Magazine entitled "Documentary History of the Church" (June 1936) refers to important letters of the Rev. Abraham Beach, DD., from 1768 to 1784, to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. On December 1, 1772, Dr. Beach speaks of the general prosperity of the Church in America before the war of Independence, and of the growing spirit of self-help among the people. This condition, however, was soon to be changed by the war.
He also refers to the fact that the Society’s missionaries were giving regular ministrations to Negroes as well as white people.
A letter of July 2, 1778 indicates the increasing difficulties of the Church in the midst of the war; the missionary’s unwillingness to compromise with his oath of allegiance to the King; the necessity of closing the Church as a consequence of this unwillingness; and his conscientious ministrations of visits, baptisms, marriages and burials in spite of this handicap.
In another letter on October 2, 1790, he says that there is a growing concern on the part of the more spiritually-minded laity due to the ces-sation of public worship; and owing to his perplexity between fidelity to his ordination vow and his desire to lessen the growing evils by opening the Church for public worship, he pleads for counsel.
About the time that Mr. Beach was re-opening the Church for services a letter was on its way from Dr. Chandler representing the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, stating the opinion of the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church of England on this subject
In this letter Dr. Chandler says: "I need not tell you how much I approve of your conduct in shutting up your church, as soon as you were not suffered to make use of the Liturgy in its full dimensions".
"Your backwardness to open it, when urged by your people, and pressed by other cogent reasons, until you knew the mind of the Society, is equally commendable".
"The state of your case and that of the Connecticut clergy, I presented to the Society and to the Bishop of London".
"Though they did not choose to give a formal answer, yet they authorized me to assure all parties concerned that, under the present situation of affairs, the use of the Liturgy, with omitting the prayers for the King, provided others for the Congress were not substituted in their place, would not meet with their censure or disapprobation".
"The Canons of the Church must for the present give way to the Cannon of Congress".
"In the meanwhile an honest man will not give up his principles; and while he is not able to fulfil the letter of the law, he will be careful not to counteract the spirit of it."
Other letters give evidence of the distress of missionaries who, like Beach, stayed by their posts.
They were confronted on the one hand with loss of financial support from their congregations, and on the other hand with the rise in the cost of living.
Mr. Beach was impelled for the sake of his family to ask for an increase in his stipend, which was granted by the Society.
It was a dark period for the Church, with the general religious indifference, the high taxes, and the consequent lack of support from the people.
Mr. Beach continued faithful in prayer and labor during this trying period, and lived to see (1828) in this country a reconstituted and self-governing Church.
As to the manifestations of political and religious intolerance, which played so important, though so unhappy a part in the pre-Revolutionary period in New England, the flight of years has to a large extent softened and allayed them.
The bitter prophesies of ecclesiastical tyranny that were uttered in protest against the introduction of Episcopacy into the religious life of New England may be viewed as having but little, if any, justification in the light of the present recognized position of our bishops in this country as leaders in civic and moral reforms.
The American Episcopate is democratic, not monarchical. The struggle for Episcopacy was worthwhile for had there been no Episcopacy there could have been no real Episcopal Church.
Our Bishops in those early days, White, Seabury, Provoost and Claggetr, were like the pillars of a permanent structure.
They were outstanding leaders in a time of great difficulty, and it was through their wise and far-seeing counsels that the Episcopal Church in the United States emerged from a state of well-nigh extinction, and has grown to be, through her heritage as both catholic and protestant, a Media Res among the religious bodies of our land.
The Beginnings of the Episcopal Church in Arlington
ARLINGTON is the birthplace of the Episcopal Church in Vermont. People are always being asked where they were born, and as a rule are proud of their birthplace. It is because we are proud of Arlington’s traditions and of its important place in Vermont history that it becomes of great interest to know that it was the seat of the establishment of the Anglican faith in Vermont.
When people arrive at maturity they like to think of their childhood days, and to recall what their parents did to help to assure their future welfare.
So it will be interesting and profitable to make a survey of those days and to make mention of those people and of those events, which were the groundwork of the life and activities of this venerable and honored parish.
The village of Arlington proper has but two churches at the present time, St. Columban’s Roman Catholic (1875), with 342 members, and St. James’ Episcopal Church (1784).
In West Arlington, where once in the early years of the last century there was an Episcopal Church called Bethesda, there is now a Methodist parish, which was established about 1894.
In East Arlington there are two churches, the Olivet Congregational (1843), with 126 members, and the Methodist (1859) with a membership of 75. From 1813 to 1840 the Baptists had a society which numbered about 80 members. However, during the first forty years of the life of Arlington, the Episcopal Church was practically a Community Church.
This is a very unusual fact, as in most rural communities in New England, by reason of its Puritan or Separatist ancestry, the traditional religious training has been in Congregationalism or Methodism.
The early settlers in Arlington were not, of course, all Episcopalians; many were no doubt, as is the case now in all communities, indifferent to religion or definitely irreligious. However, there is reason to believe that they were a company ninety percent of whom were in the strength of young manhood, and that a goodly proportion of them were Episcopalians who had migrated from Old England to New England, not to be Puritans, but to carry on their Anglican faith and traditions.
In some places, notably Stowe, St. Johnsbury and Montpelier, the records show that there was in the early days of their settlements opposition to the building of a church. The people were interested in building schools and libraries, but not churches.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher, a descendant of Nathan Canfield, one of the early pioneers, has suggested that the lack of zeal in the above communities for the Church and religion arose from the fact that they had come from sections in New England where Puritan and Calvinistic teaching had impressed upon people the somber and severe side of life, and these young settlers, coming to a new land, were yearning for a life that would be free from those restraints and inhibitions which had repelled them.
They were perhaps like the truant from school, who conscious of his wrong yet takes delight in his stolen liberty.
But the settlers of Arlington, many of them, brought their religion with them, and they were devoted to it because the Anglican was taught that religion is not necessarily a somber thing, that there is room in it for the expression of human nature in wholesome recreations and amusements.
In a most worthwhile book, "This is Vermont," by our neighbors, Margaret and Walter C. Hard, published by the Stephen Daye Press, is the following tribute to the early settlers of Arlington:
"I’ve always been proud of those early settlers of Arlington," I said. "You know they tired of the rigid Calvinistic religion of their neighbors in Connecticut who criticized them for their frivolity, and so they came up here and brought their Church of England with them."
"Yes," she added, "and I’ve heard what they wanted especially was to be free to celebrate Christmas and Easter and May Day, and they wanted to dance too. I’m as proud as punch of those people."*
The town of Arlington was chartered by Gov. Benning Wentworth, provincial governor of the Province of New Hampshire, with his commission from the King, July 26, 1761 (F. A. Wadleigh in Vermont Historical Magazine, p. 122).
Governor Wentworth exercised jurisdiction over territory now the State of Vermont, as being a part of his province.
He issued about one hundred and thirty-eight charters granting lands in this state in the King’s name. The charters give the location of the land and the various provisions of the grant.
Among the provisions the following is found in most of the charters issued: "To His Excellency Benning Wentworth, Esquire, a certain tract of land to contain 500 acres as marked B. W. in the plan, which is to be accounted two of the within shares; one whole share for the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts; one share for a Glebe for the Church of England as by law established; one share for the first settled minister of the Gospel; and one share for the benefit of a school in said town."
It seems to have been the good fortune of Governor Wentworth to have been allotted these two shares in each township presumably as a kind of perquisite for his office. In these days such an allotment would be characterized as a form of graft.
The proprietors were a body of men named by Governor Wentworth who participated in each allotment of the Grants in every section of the State and who met together to make proper division of the lands, which were awarded by lot.
They had the whole management of the laying out of the lands, each township being six miles square. They were a board of Land Agents.
At a meeting of proprietors held September 10, 1762, in Pownal, Vermont, John Sean was appointed Moderator and Issac Searl, John Searl, William Searl, Stephen Davis and Simon Burton, a committee to lay out the township of Arlington and parts thereof into lots, that is, two lots to each proprietor’s right, one of one acre and one of one hundred acres.
Gideon Searl and Ebenezer Wallis were appointed to attend the said committee "to make camps, to take care of horses and cook."
It was voted to raise four dollars on each proprietor’s right to defray the charges of laying out the town and to clear roads.
At another meeting June 1, 1763, at the house of William Searl it was voted "to give a bounty to the first ten settlers that settle in this town in one year.
What was Arlington like at this time?
It is extremely difficult to project one’s mind back one hundred and seventy-five years and visualize the appearance of Arlington in embryo.
The Rev. Frederick A. Wadleigh, Rector of this parish from 1844 to 1864, writes in Hemenways Historical Gazetter:
"Inasmuch as the settlement (Arlington) now for the first appears to have acquired an independent and permanent existence, let us pause and consider its general appearance".
"A few hardy pioneers had overcome the obstacles presented by an unbroken wilderness".
"A rude road north and south had been constructed passable for an ox team. The town was covered with a dense forest. In a small clearing north of the present Arlington village, where perhaps the trees were not originally quite so thick as in other localities, were a few log houses inhabited by the Searl’s (John, Issac, Gideon and William Searl were among the proprietors of the town as stated above), and their families."
Dr. Simon Burton, one of the committee appointed to lay out the town of Arlington, lived in a house near the Reuben Andrew property. Ebenezer Wallis (who was appointed to attend the committee to make camps, take care of horses and cook) lived on the place known as the Benjamin property.
A family named Peck had a house about three miles north of the present village where Mrs. Eliza Brownson now lives.
What these "houses" were like and how they were built is told in a series of letters entitled "A Descriptive Sketch of the Present State of Vermont, one of the United States of America" published in London in 1797 by John A. Graham, a Rutland lawyer who had been sent to Eng-land as an agent of the Episcopal Church.
This is his description of taking possession of a new settlement:
"When any person fixes upon a settlement in this quarter of the country with the assistance of one or two others, he immediately sets about felling trees proper for this purpose. These are from one to two feet in diameter, and forty feet or upwards in length, as best suits the convenience and wishes of the builder".
"When the branches are lopped off, and a sufficient number of logs are prepared, blocks are cut for the corners".
"The largest four of these are placed in a square form, upon a solid foundation of stone. This done, the logs are rolled upon blocks, one above another, until the square becomes about twenty or twenty-five feet high. The rafters are then made for the roof, which is covered with the bark taken off the trees, and placed lengthways from the ridge, with a jet sufficient to carry off the rain".
"The interstices in the body of the hut are filled up with mortar made of the wild grass chopped up and mixed with clay".
"When the outside is thus completed one of the corners is chosen within where some flat broad stones are fixed for the fireplace, with a small opening directly over it for the smoke to ascend through, and which also serves to give light to the inhabitants".
"Here large fires of wood are constantly kept burning (in winter both day and night) so that scarcely anything can be imagined more comfortable and warm than this large apartment".
"Around the walls and in the corners are the beds, and sometimes those of the young men or women are elevated on lofts made of raft-ers, laid across from side to side with a flooring of bark over them.
"In this manner is an abode furnished spacious enough to accommodate twelve or fifteen persons, and which often serves for as many years or till the lands are entirely cleared and the settlers become sufficiently opulent to erect better houses.
‘‘Three men will build one of these huts in six days."
Of the first company who came to Arlington, this name being given in honor of Lord Arlington, these named above appear to have been the only permanent settlers; others were either discouraged by the prospects of hardships and privations, or they were speculators who after locating their claims went elsewhere.
Again Mr. Wadleigh relates that in the spring of the next year 1764, the infant settlement was reinforced by a number of families from Newtown, Connecticut, as follows: Captain Jehiel Hawley, and his brothers Abel, Josiah and Gideon; Phineas Hurd, Issac Bisco, Samuel Adams, Ebenezer Leonard, Zaccheus Mallory, Thomas Peck, James Frume and Remember Baker from Roxhury, Connecticut.
At a Proprietor’s meeting May sixteenth, 1764, Captain Hawley was chosen Moderator, and it was voted that he have the care of public rights.
From 1765 to 1780 the following persons, mostly from Newtown and New Milford, Connecticut joined the settlement:
Austin Seele, David Watkins, George Oatman, Daniel Oatman, Caleb Dayton, Josiah Dayton, Eliakim Stoddard, Zadok Hard, James Hard, David Crofut, Captain John Grey, Lemuel Buck, David Buck, Daniel Burritt, George Mitchell, Pitman Benedict, Nathan Canfield, Israel Can-field and others. Many of the descendants of these settlers have their homes here now, notably, the Hards, Crofuts, Bucks, Canfields, Bene-dicts and Hawleys. These people from Newtown, it is recorded, had belonged to the congregation of the Rev. John Beach, who from a Congregationalist had become a Churchman in 1732, carrying a large part of his former congregation with him.
Mr. Beach in a letter dated October, 1743, says that his people were fined, both for using the Book of Common Prayer and for not attend-ing Independent worship.
It was natural that as men not identified with the Church or religion are apt to rebel against the "standing order," the people of Newtown should have given their sympathy to the Anglicans.
Mr. Beach’s congregation grew so strong that in 1762 he reported three hundred communicants out of one thousand church people.
However, it was far from satisfactory for a church to he obliged to worship under the ban of the recognized authorities.
These families, therefore, both to improve their fortunes and to secure for themselves the privileges of worshiping God in peace, left their native state for the New Hampshire Grants and purchased their lands in good faith.
Jehiel Hawley was the outstanding leader among the settlers at Arlington. He was a captain in the militia from the town of New Milford, and was annually chosen lay reader of the Episcopal Church of Roxhury, Connecticut. As he was also one of the citizens who was deeply devoted to the welfare of the Church of England in this new country, it is well here to speak particularly of the qualities of this man and the reasons for his important connection with this history.
Captain Hawley was counselor, spiritual leader and friend. His civic interest was shown by the following instances recorded by the Rev. A. H. Bailey in his centennial address at Arlington in 1890:
"The early settlers first of all needed an assured means of livelihood, and the proprietors offered a portion of land to anyone who would establish a grist mill".
"Remember Baker accepted this proposition and made arrangements to set up a grist mill.
"However, since there was some delay and the people had become dissatisfied, Captain Hawley gave his bond that a grist mill would be set up by a given time.
"There were certain proprietors named in the town charter residing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts who objected to the amount of taxes assessed for defraying the expenses of surveying the town and making public improvements.
"In the autumn of 1765 Captain Hawley was appointed ‘agent to go to Boston and elsewhere if he think proper, on the proprietor’s business.’ He fulfilled his mission satisfactorily, purchasing the rights of those who remained dissatisfied."
The Churchman Magazine published in Connecticut in 1805 says:
"Although much encumbered with many things, Captain Hawley did not forget ‘the one thing needful,’ but with unrelenting zeal for his Master’s glory and the salvation of his fellowmen, he commenced the worship of the Church at Arlington upon settling there, and with the blessing of God upon his unrelenting and pious labors he so spread the doctrines of the Church that until the time of the Revolutionary war almost the whole town consisted of Episcopalians."
"Soon after the settlement of Captain Hawley in the State of Vermont a dispute arose between the Stare of New York (another colony) and Vermont concerning certain titles and claims to land comprehended in the bounds of the latter, the right to which could not be ascertained but by submission (of the question) to the King of England. ("Hawley Records" by Elias S. Hawley, published 1890 in the Library of the Vermont Historical Society).
"Vermont sent two representatives, of whom Captain Hawley was one and James Breckenridge the other.
"To blacken the character of the New Hampshire Grants and intimidate their agents, some people in New York were very active, but their efforts did not succeed.
"In England, Captain Hawley was treated with the most flattering marks of respect by some of the first characters and by the Earl of Dartmouth in particular; and such was the estimation in his judgment and opinions held by the copartners of the agency that they would not act without his cooperation, and by his efforts chiefly were the Vermont claims substantiated.
(The result of the negotiations was that an order was issued by the King forbidding the Governor of New York from making grants of any lands already patented by New Hampshire (Wadleigh, in Historical Gazetteer, Vol. 1).
"After his return from England Captain Hawley continued Reader of the Church in Arlington, but for the heinous crime of loyalty to his sovereign he was apprehended and committed to Litchfield jail, from which through mediation of his friends and the fame of his character, having obtained his liberty, and not knowing any asylum where he could be safe, necessity obliged him to join the army of General Burgoyne, who was then on this side of Lake Champlain, and who appointed him President of a Board of Examiners to ascertain who were and who were not, loyalists among his prisoners.
"Before this Board of Examiners persons were frequently brought who were not loyalists to whom Captain Hawley was always wont to show every indulgence compatible with his office, even though his co-adjutors were of a different opinion".
His language used to be: ‘Man is a free agent. The question between America and the Mother Country is not decided. Today these men are in our power, tomorrow we may be in theirs. That mercy we would receive from our enemies is certainly due to such as are in our hands. Let it be known that we are Christians, whose duty it is to be merciful and to forgive our enemies".
"Such had been his conduct that after the capture of Bourgoyne (one of the Articles of Capitulation being that those who had not taken up arms might go to Canada) those very people who had so much vexed him before, now invited him to return with them to Arlington. But true to his purpose, he undertook the journey to Canada, but died at Shelburne, Vermont in 1777.
"Thus ended the life of this truly great and good man, a man to whom Daniel’s characterization may not un-properly be applied, "that his enemies could find no fault in him, except that it be found concerning his God."
The following record is made in the parish register:
"The parish of Bethel Church (now St. James’) was organized in --- by Jehiel Hawley, who was Lay Reader until 1772, and during his absence (in England) from the fall of 1772 to 1773 services were continued by his son Andrew."
Inasmuch as Jehiel Hawley died in 1777 the parish must have been organized before that time, and it is probable that the date of organization was sometime before 1772.
Captain Hawley built the first framed house in Arlington. It was situated a short distance south of the railroad station. This was where the services of the Church were held. It was the birthplace of the Episcopal Church in Vermont.
During the period of Captain Hawley’s religious activities in Arlington, much interest was shown in his efforts by the clergy of Newtown and New Milford, Connecticut, by reason of the fact that many Church families in Arlington had emigrated from these towns.
The Rev. Frederick A. Wadleigh in his history of Arlington relates that the Rev. Gideon Bostwick, of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and the Rev. Daniel Burban, of Lanesboro, Massachusetts, parishes that derived their origin from the parish in New Milford, Connecticut, came to visit Arlington often to administer the Sacraments.
Mr. Bostwick who was a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, made eight distinct visits to this part of Vermont within the years 1772 and 1789 and appears to have been the main dependence for official services during that time.
The Rev. A. H. Bailey in an historical address at Arlington in 1890 spoke of the fact that this parish was indebted to quite a number of clergymen in neighboring districts for their pastoral ministrations.
The Rev. Samuel Andrews, Missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to Wallingford, Connecticut, made a journey of three week’s time and to five different towns, in three different governments, preached six lectures and baptized twenty-nine children. "The two remotest towns I visited," he said, "were Allington (This spelling of Arlington is in the original text) and Sunderland, (1767). The settlers have been in Arlington three or four years. I am the first clergyman that has been among them. However, I found that they had constantly attended the service of the Church, at the house of Captain Hawley, and he has read prayers for them ever since they have been settled there, by which means a sense of religion is preserved among them.
"Captain Jehiel Hawley, who lives on the spot, one of our communion, and a gentleman of unblemished reputation and a good understanding would willingly accept the office of agent for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel if it were deemed advisable.
"Arlington is happily situated to be the seat of the mission. There are now twenty-two families in Arlington, and better than twenty more that could conveniently attend church there."
Mr. Bailey states that in the next year 1768, the Rev. Richard Mans-field, a missionary of the same Society to Derbe, Connecticut, made a like journey as far north as Pownal, Arlington, and Manchester, preach-ing and baptizing thirty-six.
Again in 1769, the Rev. Harry Monro, the Society’s Missionary to St. Peter’s, Albany, came to Arlington and baptized twenty-one persons.
In these early days people from Sandgate, Sunderland and other neighboring settlements were included in the parish of Arlington, and before the days of a settled minister the designation "parish" is not to be understood in the modern sense as having definite boundaries and jurisdiction with its parish officers and committee but rather a company of Christian people, not too well informed about Canons and Rubrics, and the details of Church government, but desirous to maintain divine service and to educate their children in the principles of Godly living.
At the first Convention of the Church of Vermont at Arlington in 1790, the Rev. James Nichols who was the first Rector of the parish preached the sermon and the Rev. Daniel Barber, of Manchester, read the prayers.
The delegates from Arlington were Zadok Hard, Nathan Canfield, Caleb Dayton and Luther Stone.
Sandgate was represented by Abraham Bristol, Elihu Andrews, Seth Bristol and Enoch Basset. These men were the prominent men of these two communities.
The descendants of Zadok Hard mentioned above are numerous and almost all have remained identified with the Church.
Among them were the Rev. Anion B. Hard, once a Rector of the parish, the Rev. Dr. Coit, and his brother of Concord, New Hampshire, sons of Dr. Coit once Rector of Arlington; Miss Sarah F. Hard, Mrs. Florence Hard Bevis and Mrs. Fanny Hard Buck who now have their homes in Arlington.
After the death of Captain Hawley the services of the Church had been held irregularly, but in 1784 the inhabitants were strongly of the opinion that a church and ministry were necessary for the welfare of the community.
The Episcopal Society was organized in 1784 under the name of Bethel Church.
At first it was the plan to build the church half way between East and West Arlington, but later the location of the church was reconsidered and it was voted to build south of the Churchyard.
Here are some of the Minutes of the meeting of November sixth, 1784, which relate to the building of the church:
"Voted to build a church forty-five feet long thirty-five feet wide, eighteen feet posts. Voted Nathan Canfield to have the charge of building the church. Voted to raise two shillings on the pound for the use of building us a church".
"Voted that a man with a good team have six shillings per day, man with an axe, three shillings".
"Voted that shingles shall be twelve shillings per thousand".
‘‘Voted that good pine boards be six dollars per thousand delivered at the frame".
"Voted that sideboards be five dollars per thousand delivered at the frame".
"Voted that the carpenters have four shillings and six pence per day and joiners four shillings per day.’’
The Church was a large two-story building of wood, without a tower, standing on the same site as the present stone church, the front entrance however, being in the south side instead of the cast side, as in the present church.
It had galleries on three sides, a broad aisle and two side aisles; on the right side of the broad aisle before the chancel stood the Font, and on the left the Reading Desk, back and over which was the large box Pulpit of those days reached by a flight of ten or more steps.
The floor was occupied by square pews, which would hold about twelve persons each. The troubles of the time delayed the construction.
Nathan Canfield was appointed to have sole charge of the work.
In 1786 it was ordered that the church be covered as soon as might be. It was not completed till 1803 (Brownson’s Historical Letters).
It is worthy of note that the Churchmen who were instrumental in establishing the parish at Arlington were many of them, like Captain Hawley, men of strong character and deep religious convictions.
Nathan Canfield the pioneer among the Canfield’s, was first married to Lois eldest daughter of Captain James Hard. They moved to Arlington about 1768.