from Child's Bennington County Directory
Pownal is located in the southwestern corner of Vermont, adjacent to the States of New York and Massachusetts. It has an area of 23,040 acres and is well watered. The principal streams are the Hoosick and Walloomsac Rivers. The Hoosick River rises in Massachusetts, in Cheshire, and flows north through the beautiful Hoosick Valley. The Walloomsac rises in the Green Mountains and passes through the town near that range. Barber Pond is near the central portion of Pownal on the Walloomsac. Broad Brook also flows through the eastern portion, while the central and western parts are watered by the tributaries of the Hoosick.
The whole country is peculiarly rich in scenery. In the eastern section the Green Mountains rise in their grandeur, while in the west, Petersburg or West Mountain presents a fine view of a bold and rugged elevation. At Pownal Center a most charming view may be had from the hotel looking toward the west South of the dwelling of Homer 0. Merchant, a view to the north is one of exceeding magnificence; and still further south on the same road a landscape is given to the view of the traveler down the Hoosick valley, that is worth a long journey to see. There is scarcely a point in the vicinity but one may find a view to charm an artistic eye. One of the finest of pictures is spread out for any one who will stand on Mason's Hill looking east, west or south. Looking down the Hoosick valley from the hills, known as Gregor Rocks, east of the Pownal factories, another charming landscape is before the traveler. It is impossible to particularize, for so rich in scenery is the whole country that from all points the eye is met with beauty. Iron ore in small quantities has been found, while white clay and sulphuret of iron is discovered occasionally. Lime rock crops out in large quantities, and of good quality; while slate, silex, marble and quartz is distributed about in unequal quantities.
The Troy & Boston R. R., and the Boston, Hoosac Tunnel & Western R. R., pass through the south-west part of the town. The population in 1880 was 2,016 of whom 13 were colored.
During the year ending Sept 30, 1880, the town contained. eleven school districts, and employed six male and eleven female teachers. The amount expended for teachers' wages was $1, 995.78.· The number of children attending School was 464, while the entire cost of the schools was $2,677.06. The superintendent was R 0. Barber.
POWNAL CENTER, as its name implies, is situated near the center of the town. It has a post office, one store, a union church, town hall and blacksmith shop.
NORTH POWNAL, a post village situated on the Hoosick River, Troy & Boston R.R., and the Boston & Hoosac Tunnel R. R., contains a post office, three stores, one hotel, one church, (Congregational,) two blacksmith shops) one wagon shop, one saloon, grist and saw mill. The population is about ;6o. It contains a Good Templars' lodge, which was organized in 1867. This lodge has an average of 50 members, and meets every Saturday in Good Templars' Hall. It is one of the oldest working lodges in the State.
The North Pownal Manufacturing Co. has been conducted since 1876 by A. C. Houghton & Co. in the manufacturing of cotton print cloths. They employ about two hundred and thirty operatives, and have some 16,000 spindles. Their annual manufacture of cotton cloth is about 5,000,000 yards, using about 1,000,000 pounds of cotton. The factory is on the Hoosick River.
North Pownal Saw Mill is on the Hoosick River and owned by T. V. Me Cumber. It cuts about 30,000 feet of lumber annually. Mr. McCumber also runs the grist mill which is located at the same place. The mill has two run of stones.
The manufactory of tin ware owned by Edmund Lillie is employing from ten to twelve men, and turns out about $ 1,000 worth oftin ware each month. The business was established in North Pownal in 1863.
Pownal Valley Cheese Factory is situated about one mile from the village. It was built by a company composed of 1. F. Paddock, David Carpenter, William B. Arnold and S.W. Gardner. The milk from about 200 cows is used, and some 60,000 pounds of cheese are made annually.
POWNAL, a post village, is situated on the Hoosick River, in the south part of the town , on the Troy and Boston R. R., and on the Boston, Hoosac Tunnel and Western R. R. It contains two Churches, (Methodist and Baptist,) Two hotels and four stores, The Lincoln Carriage Manufactory, three blacksmith shops, one wagon shop and the Hoosic Valley mills, furnishing employment to a large number of workmen. "J.M. Batcheldor's "Rural Home Family School for Boys," is located near the village, as is the beautiful cemetery known as "Oak Hill." Population in 1880 was 418.
Oak Grove Seminary is situated in the village in a grove of oaks from which it derives its name. The grove is on an eminence which affords a fine view of the locality. The building was erected by the " Pownal Literary Association," at a cost of $2,500, and the money raised by subscription. The Association still control the seminary. The school year is divided into three terms. The principal in 1880 was Daniel T. Bates, assisted by Miss Maggie Bowen. The average number of pupils is between forty and fifty," The first trustees were John M. Potter, Pliny Wright, Joseph Myers, Elijah Barber, Levi Lincoln, J. W. Hall and Barber Thompson. President, John M. Potter; A.G. Parker; Secretary, Orrin Bates.
The present officers are, President, Orrin Bates: Treasurer, A. G. Parker; Secretary, A. H. Potter; Trustees, Orrin Bates, William Burgess, A. H. Potter, G. T. Parker, S. J. Gardner, Charles H. Barber and Joseph P. Myers.
The Literary Association was organized in 1853, and built the school the same
year. The annual meeting occurs on the second Monday of February, notice being given by the secretary. The shares are $5.00 each, and the shareholders count one vote for each share.
The Oak Hill Cemetery is situated about one-half mile north of the village, on the east side of the highway leading to Pownal Center. It is finely located, well laid out and reflects much credit upon the inhabitants of the town, as is an unusually beautiful country cemetery. The Oak Hill Cemetery Association was incorporated by special act of the Legislature in 1872.
Rural Home Family School for Boys, was organized by the Rev. J.M. Batcheldor, A. M.., in the year 1869. The schoolhouse was in former years a hotel, and kept by Gen. Josiah Wright. It is also said to have been the place of the first post office. The building is pleasantly located in a grove of elm and maple trees, with an orchard of walnut trees, and a trout pond. The number of pupils is limited to sixteen. The Rev. J. M. batcheldor is the principal. The school year is divided into two terms of twenty weeks each. The winter term beginning the last Wednesday in November, and the summer term the first Wednesday in May.
A.G. Parker and Son manufacture shirts for the wholesale trade: about five hundred dozens are made in a month.
The Lincoln Carriage Co. was established in 1829, by L. and A Lincoln and conducted by them until 1869 When the firm was known as L.&A. Lincoln & Co. In 1880 the business passed into the control of Levi A. Lincoln. This factory employs about twelve men and manufactures landaus, carriages, phaetons, open buggies, and democrats, besides all styles of sleighs. Repairing of carriages is also a part of the business and during the year about $2,500 worth is usually done, and from sixty to eighty of the different vehicles are manufactured annually.
The Hoosic Valley Mills are located on the Hoosic River, at Pownal. They were built in 1863 by Solomon Wright, and run by him as woolen mills until 1876 when he began spinning yarn for hosiery. In 1880 they were manufacturing about 30,000 pounds of yarn and knit goods per month. About forty persons are employed in the mill. Cotton is also used in the manufacturing of the knit goods.
Bushnell and Barber's Sawmill is situated on Barber's Pond. It cuts annually about 100,000 feet of lumber. Montgomery's Cider Mill is situated about one mile south of the village of Pownal. About five hundred barrels of cider are made each year.
Towslee's Saw Mill, grist Mill and bobbin mill, is in the northeastern part of the town, on Barber Pond Stream. The saw mill has a capacity for cutting 1,000,000 feet of lumber annually, but usually turns out about 125,000 feet. The gristmill grinds feed. The bobbin mill has a capacity for turning out 5,000 bobbins per day. These mills are owned and run Othniel Towslee.
The first settlement of the town was as far back as 1724, by a small number of Dutch settlers without titles. In later years by the new grant of 1762 strangers came in and took up lands, the history of the place therefore may be said to really date from that period. And it is the descendants of those settlers who now hold the lands of their forefathers.
George Gardner moved from Rhode Island with his son George Jr., and bought 1,000 acres of land. Mr. Gardner was the first English Settler and lived on his farm until his death. George Jr., lived here until his death in 1839, at the age of 102 years. Abraham, a brother of George Jr., remained on the farm, and dying left it to his son David. Samuel J. Gardner, son of Daniel, now lives on a part of the old tract of land taken up by his ancestor, George Gardner. Benjamin Gardner, a brother of the first George, a Baptist minister, who organized the first church in 1772, settled at an early day, and left two sons, Sylvester and Asa. Abram, a son of Sylvester, is now living on road 3 in this town, and Sylvester N.„ another son, on road 66 in Bennington.
Soon after George Gardner, Peleg Card also moved to the neighborhood from Rhode Island, and settled in the north part of the town. He was a resident of Pownal until his death. His son Abel was born and lived here until his death in 1843, and his son Peleg is still a resident of the town.
Charles Wright, from Amherst, Mass., became an inhabitant of Pownal in 1766, settled in the south part of the town and resided there until his death. Josiah and Solomon, two of his sons, lived and died in the town. A house built by Solomon is still standing, (1880,) on Main street in the village, and is occupied by his two daughters, Ruth and Sarah R. Wright. It has never been changed since it was built, and the same "old oaken bucket" hangs in the well that was hung there at the building of the house in 1797.
Captain Samuel Wright, also Judge, son of General Josiah Wright, was one of the delegates to the general convention, held at Dorset, September 5, 1776. In 1765, several families, among whom were the Nobles, Wittum's, Mallory's and Benjamin Grover became inhabitants, thus adding no little to the population.
In 1776 Francis Bates joined the number, moving from Rhode Island and settled on the farm now owned by S.J. Gardner, about one mile north of the village. Francis Bates was one of the Committee of Safety during the Revolution. He also assisted in organizing the First Baptist Church in Pownal, and died in his seventy-fifth year. It is said of him that he was always a peacemaker. His son Daniel died in August of 1842, and his son Orrin Bates still resides in the town.
Benjamin Morgan came from Connecticut in 1770, and settled. His son Abram was born on the farm settled by his father, and lived there until death occurred in 1870. His widow now resides on the home stead. From an older Joseph, descended Ezra, whose son Dr. Benjamin F., now resides at Bennington Center, and his grand-son Dr. E. N. S.Morgan lives at Bennington.
In 1777, Blackman Brownell and his wife moved from Rhode Island, and took up quite a large tract of land in Pownal. They had several children, among whom was Blackman Jr., who inherited the property of his father, upon his death in 1822. His son Col. Thomas inherited the lands of his father.
To Thomas, three sons were born, besides daughters. The sons were B.E., T.J., and Perry G. Perry G. moved to Illinois, and died in the spring of 1880. T.J. lives in Iowa, B. E. is still living in the town and has one son, T. E. Brownell, a lawyer who resides in North Pownal. During this same year, 1777, others settled in the town, among whom was Abel Parker, from Rhode Island, who settled in the north-western part. He married Hannah, daughter of George Gardner, by whom he had three sons, Joseph, James and Abel Gardner.
The last named married Lydia Fowler, daughter of the late Isaac Fowler of Brunswick, (near Troy,) N.Y. He, Abel Gardner, died in March, 1829, aged 42. She died December 22d, 1869, aged 82, remaining a widow over 40 years. They left two sons Richardson Fowler and Abraham Gardner, both living in the town. Abraham G., married Peris Bailey Goodale, daughter of the late Timothy Goodale, of Jamaica. Their children are Lydia A., Gardner T., and Mary Emma. Lydia A., died August 9, 1879, aged 36. A. G. Parker has been a merchant in Pownal over 40 years, and his son G. T., has been in company with him since 1866. He (A.G.) was elected the Pownal delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1870, and representative to the Legislature in September 1880.
Among the numbers who left Rhode Island for the town of Pownal was Spencer Niles, who settled about one mile south of the center in 1778. At his death he left one son, Russel, who died in 1853, leaving six sons. Richard Brown was another on the list of those moving from Rhode Island. He located in 1780 at North Pownal, and built the first grist mill in the town, the first blacksmith shop, and set up the first trip hammer run by water in that section of the country.
He took up a large tract of land, which comprises all of what is now known as North Pownal. When he died in 1813 his youngest son Ethan, inherited the mill property, which he changed into a cloth dressing and carding establishment. In 1840 it was destroyed by fire. In 1842 Mr. Brown rebuilt and run a woolen factory until 1850, when he sold out to the firm of R. Carpenter & Co. As the history of the mill is identified with the Brown family we notice it farther with its changes until the year 1876. R. Carpenter & Co. built a large addition and carried on quite an extensive business until 1855, when it again burned, was rebuilt on a larger scale and burned the third time in 1863. Plunkett and Barber rebuilt in 1866 and established a cotton factory, continuing in the business until 1872 when a new company was formed who built additions and carried on the business until 1876, when they failed and it passed into the hands of A. C. Houghton & Co.
Little Rhode Island lost another of her sons in 1785, when Gideon Towslee located himself in the north part of the town. He died in 1812. Solomon, son of Gideon, was born in Rhode Island in 1783 and was brought with the family from that State two years after. He died in 1856, leaving a widow and one son, David who still reside in the town. In 1791 Shadrac Potter left Rhode Island for Pownal, bringing with him his son Zora. They settled in the north part of town where they remained until the death of Shadrac, when his son moved to the southern portion where he died in 1834. His son M. W. Potter now resides on the homestead.
Allen Mason located here in 1800, and died in 1847. His son John L. Mason now resides on the old place, which, in honor of Allen Mason, is called Mason Hill.
Joseph Myers was among the early settlers and also a native of Rhode Island. His son Simpson was born in the town in1809, and still living at the age of 71. The family are all dead except the two sons, the other Daniel, living in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Joseph Myers, also from Rhode Island, was among the early comers, but the exact date of his coming is not known. He settled in the eastern portion of the town, but afterward moved to the centre where he died. He owned large tracts of land in different parts of the town. His son Seth was born here and died in 1859. Henry, son of Seth, now lives on the farm owned by his grandfather in the early years. Joseph Barber from Rhode Island settled first in Bennington, afterward moving to Pownal, where he remained until his death. His son Joseph Jr„ who was born in Bennington moved to Pownal, where he died Dec. 6, 1839.
Timothy Barber was born in the eastern part of the town, and died in the year 1870. Noel Andrus was among the early settlers, though just at what date is not known. He moved from Connecticut. Gen. John M. Potter moved to Pownal in 1822 from the northern part of the state; he died in 1870. His commision as General was gained in the State Militia, in which he was much interested. He held many offices of trust and was widely known all through the State. He kept a store for over forty years in the building now occupied by A.H. & E.H. Potter, on Main Street, in Pownal Village.
Francis Bennett was one of the first ministers settled in the town and was located on the land set aside for ministers, west of the Center.
Levi Thompson a native of Ireland, settled near the center of the town among the early comers. His son Benona moved from Brattleboro and settled in the easters district, where his son Levi was born. Levi died in 1877, leaving one son Nelson, who is still living. Two others, Orrin and Amos, brothers of the elder Levi settled here also, but they are both dead.
Pownal village was the birthplace of the noted James Fisk Jr., who was born April 1st, 1834. The house in which he was born is still standing on Main Street, corner of River. When he was nine months old his mother died, and James was taken by a family by the name of Albro, and lived with them until he was nine years old when he went to Brattle boro and began to peddle: with the rest of his history all are familiar. When his benefactor Mr. Albro died, James Fiske Jr. erected a monument at a cost of $700, to his memory and as a mark of his gratitude and esteem.
A German family by the name of Hogle were among the early settlers in the western part of the town. One of the sons was killed and buried by the Indians on the bank of the Hoosick River. Alonzo Whipple, while looking along the banks of the river, during the year 1840, found at a spot where the bank had fallen away, the stem of a brass pipe projecting. Upon digging into the earth the bones of what was supposed to be Hogle were found. The supposition was strengthened by the mother of Hogle who said her son was buried by the Indians somewhere on a river bank. The pipe found, complete and perfect in every part, is now in possession of Mr. Whipple.
This Hogle family and Sebastian Deal held the lands afterwards owned by Mrs. Bovie, now owned by Nathan Bullock, The land now owned by Green Brimmer, was settled upon by a German family by the name of Forsburg, who have apparantly all died, as no representative of the family is to be found in the town.
The first town meeting on record was held May 8, 1763. Asa Alger was elected town clerk; John Vanernum, constable; Edmund Town, Asa Alger, and JabezWarner, selectmen.
Elizabeth Gardner, daughter of George, was the first English child born in the town. She was born the 6th of February, 1766. The first death that occurred was Hester,.wife Asa Alger who died the 9th of December, 1766.
During the war of 1812, Pownal sent out a company of men, commanded by Captain Danforth.
The Pownal Baptist Church is the oldest society in town. It was organized in 1782. Meetings had been held as early as 1772, (and in 1773 there were sixty members,) by Benjamin Gardner, of Rhode Island, who officiate as minister for sometime A church edifice was erected in the year 1789. The first ordained minister was Rev. Caleb Nichols, who moved into the town in 1788. After ministering to the church for nearly fifteen years, Mr. Nichols died the 27th of February, 1804, at the age of sixty-one. The present house was erected in 1843 at a cost of $2,000. The present valuation of the church property is $4,000. Its seating capacity is two hundred, its membership thirty-five. The pastor in 1880, the Rev. Arthur Day.
The Union Church, which is sustained by the Baptists and Methodists, is located at Pownal Center. It was organized in 1794 by the Baptist Association. The first settled pastor was Jeremiah Gardner. The present church was erected in 1849, at a cost of $2,875. The present valuation is about $2,000. The church is without a regular pastor, being served by the Revs. Arthur Day of the Baptist Society, and J.M. Appleman of the M.E. Church. The house will seat about four hundred and fifty persons. Its membership is nearly sixty.
The Methodist Episcopal Church is located at Pownal, with the Rev. J. M. Appleman as pastor, and a membership of sixty-five. The Church property is valued at $5,000, and will seat two hundred persons.
The North Pownal Congregational Church was organized May 21, 1850, by a council, and had a membership of ten at the beginning. The first pastor was the Rev. Elihu Loomis. The church cost at the time of its erection, in 1850, $3,000, which is the present valuation of church property. The number of members is twenty-nine. The house will seat three hundred persons, It has at this date, 1880, no settled pastor.