Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

History of Ryegate, Vermont
Chapter XI



GREAT deal of history has been made since 1773, the year when the Scotch American Company entered upon their possession of Ryegate, and we have only to glance at contemporary events to realize how far the world has moved since that day. It seems an ancient date, that far away year, yet, as this chapter goes to press there are several living who can remember Gen. James Whitelaw, William Neilson, and others of the first settlers of the town very well. Mr. Neilson was born in 1742, and in the years which have passed since that date, much of what we call modern history has been made. Yet the space of two lives comprehends it all.

In 1773, George the Third was King of Great Britain; a dull, stubborn man, who would never have been heard of outside his native parish, had he been horn a peasant At that time, upon an estate over which James Whitelaw and David Allan must have crossed on their journey along the south bank of the Potomac, lived a retired colonel of Virginia militia, destined a few years later, to give King George a great deal of trouble. The Boston Tea Party took place during the month in which the commissioners received their bond of sale from John Church, and the battle of Lexington was only fourteen months in the future.

At that date, in the American colonies, there was a public conveyance only between a few of the largest towns, and, twenty years later, there Were but seventy-five post offices in the United States. In 1773, there was not a bank in North America, and a ship which crossed the ocean in six weeks was said to have had a quick passage. In that year Benjamin Franklin was pleading the cause of the American colonies before the House of Commons; Louis XV was nearing the close of his wicked reign; and in the island of Corsica a boy named Napoleon Bonaparte was learning to read. In Scotland, Adam Smith was preparing "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," and at London Edward Gibbon was writing the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." Somehow we seem to think of Robert Burns as for centuries the poet of Scotland, yet Ryegate had been settled thirteen years when he published his first volume of poems. At Edinburgh, in 1773, lived a little lame boy named Walter Scott, who was one day to eclipse all Scottish fame except that of Burns himself. The steam engine was hardly more than an experiment, and only a few years before Franklin had demonstrated that lightning and electricity are the same. It is well to consider what has been accomplished in the world since people from Scotland began to clear land, and build log cabins in Ryegate.

Had Mr. Miller been spared to complete his work, the memorials of the earlier days would have been enriched by the reminiscences of the people who were old when he was young. But he committed only a few of them to writing, and we are compelled to use the scanty details of the early days, which have come down to us, as best we can. The town and company records supply us with an outline which we may complete in a measure. The first town meeting is thus mentioned by Mr. Whitelaw:

On the third Tuesday in May (1776) being appointed for the yearly town meeting for choosing the necessary officers for the town, John Gray and James Whitelaw were chosen assessors; Andrew Brock, treasurer; Robert Tweedale and John Orr, overseers of the highway; John Scot, collector, and Archibald Taylor, James Smith, William Neilson and David Reid, constables.

The fathers of the infant colony seem to have discharged their duties satisfactorily, as, when a year later, the "inhabitants of the town of Ryegate in the County of Gloucester and Province of New York," met in annual meeting, "the same persons who were chosen last year, both for civil and military officers, were unanimously re-chosen for another year." Such approval of public service has not often been given.

A few weeks later we catch a glimpse (one of the last), of the "city" which the Company in Scotland had planned as the center and crowning feature of this new colony in North America.

Thursday, June 12, (1777), all the inhabitants met in order to choose their house lots in the town spot, when Walter Brock made choice of lot No. 357; James Orr of No. 356; Robert Orr of No 355 for himself and Nos. 353 and 354 for William Blackwood; John Gray of No. 319 for himself, and No. 320 for John Barr; John Wilson of Nos. 2, 3, 4, 321, 322, 323; John Scot of Nos. 276, 277, 278; Andrew Brock of Nos. 349— 352; Robert Brock of Nos. 75-78; Alexander Sym of Nos. 347, 348; John Shaw of Nos. 196, 197, for himself, and Nos. 198—201 for William Warden; and Nos. 202—205 for James Laird; James Neilson of No. 273, 274; William Neilson of Nos. 265, 272; Patrick Lang of Nos. 260—263; and for William Craig, 264, 291—293; David Reid of Nos. 289, 290; James Smith of Nos. 286-288 for himself and 285 for John Gray; Robert Tweedale of Nos. 281—284; Hugh Gammel of Nos, 279, 280 for his father; Archibald Taylor of No. 206; James Whitclaw ol Nos. 207-210; James Henderson of Nos. 21 1—213, and John Waddel of 214.—( White-law’s Journal.)

First and Second pictures are of the Ryegate lots and the third is them both joined together.
They are large files as they needed to be to be able to read the lot numbers.
Click on the thumbnails to get the full mage.

Wars and rumors of wars, hard work, and the rigors of winter in a new country, did not prevent the festivities of a wedding, as Mr. White-law says:

"On the 9th of January, 1777, James Henderson was married to Agnes Sym, and on the 17th of the same month Robert Brock was married to Elizabeth Stewart, which were the first two marriages which ever was in Ryegate."

Mr. Mason says that at the former wedding, all the colonists attended the young couple to their new home, "with great joyfulness." The name of the officiating clergman or magistrate is not preserved, but as the oldest child of the Hendersons was baptized by Rev. Peter Powers, he probably performed the ceremony, and, perhaps, the other also.

Agnes Sym, (Symes) must have been a very capable young woman, if we may judge from certain entries in the Company’s book, wherein she is credited with the sum of £13, 17, 3, for reaping, washing, ironing, mending, making, and the exercise of other accomplishments proper to a fashionable young lady of her times. In the same book she is charged with "sundrie goods brought from Newburyport," £5,1,6; to "ribbons, pins, and gauze" 12/6 "Towards a wheel (not a bicycle)" 10s, "tea dishes" 6/8; plates, mugs, candlesticks, snuffers, and other accessories for housekeeping.

In 1783 the town voted:

That John Dodge and associates should be prosecuted for cutting timber on the public lands, and that Andrew Brock and William Neilson should grant a Power of Attorney to Moses Dow, Esq., of Haverhill, for that purpose.

Then first the town got into law, but not for the last time. In 1787, the legislature, sitting at Newbury, passed a law requiring the record by the town clerk of all transfers of real estate, and the town voted to purchase a book containing eight quires of paper, for that purpose. In that year 29 persons paid poll tax.

in 1794 the town voted:

That there shall be a sign post and a pair of stocks erected in this town, at the town’s expense, as soon as possible, to be set in the most convenient place near the crossing of the road at Andrew Brock’s house, and appointed Andrew Brock and Alexander Miller a committee to set them up.

Previous to 1784, the only public road in Ryegate was the one from Wells River village to Barnet line—the Hazen road; and all the earlier roads branched from it. The first to be laid out by the town, and thus made a public highway, was the one running east from the Corner, "from Andrew Brock’s to Mr. Sym’s," and the town "voted 5 Pounds for the benefit of the roads, to be levied on the polls and ratable estate." In 1787, a committee was appointed to lay out and survey a road from Elihu Johnson’s to the division line, north of William Neilson’s land."

In 1794, a road was surveyed from Robert Brock’s mills to Groton line. Mr. Miller believes this to have been laid entirely on the north side of the river, some sections of which are now disused.

In 1797, the "Old West Road," from the Corner to Groton line, was laid out and accepted. Much of this, also, has been altered. The date of the acceptance of a road by the town gives no clue to the time when it began to be travelled, but fixes the date when the town began to be responsible for its maintenance.

As we have already stated, the Hazen road, a work of great value to the settler, was passable for carts. But the earliest roads were very much like our winter logging roads, and only passable with teams in winter. People rode on horseback, two on a horse, a man and wife, the latter riding behind. Rev. Clark Perry states that the first wheeled carriage was brought into Newbury, about 1783, by a minister who came to preach. The first chaise was not owned in that town till after 1790.

Rev. David Sutherland says that there were no carriages of any kind in Bath till several years after his settlement there in 1804. Miss Mehetable Barron of Bradford, who afterward became Mrs. Robert Whitelaw, told Rev. Dr. McKeen that she was the first woman who ever rode from Newbury street to Ryegate in a chaise. She was in company with Mr., afterwards Judge Noble, of Tinmouth, and their carriage attracted as much attention as would an elephant passing along. This must have been before her marriage to Mr. Whitelaw, in 1804. The first four-wheeled wagon was brought to Bath in 1811.

When we talk about the conditions of those early days, we are obliged to remember that most of our labor-saving conveniences were wholly unknown. The tools with which the people worked their land were clumsy and heavy. Even so common a thing as the traverse sled did not come into use till after 1825. Scores of useful articles of metal, which can be bought for a few pennies, were then costly, or not to be had at any price. Our modern means of instant communication were wholly unknown.

It must be remembered, however, that in those days there were large families, and many hands to do the work. Every child, however small, had its task. When a man had a heavy job to do in a short time, his neighbors turned out to help him, and in sickness or trouble, no man asked help in vain. There was a mutual spirit of helpfulness, which sprang from the common needs of all, a kindly interest and solicitude, which in our more artificial state of society, only partly exists.

The "list of polls and ratable estate," is first given in 1784, and the amount is £604. 05, which two years later, had increased to £708. In 1787, we have the first list where the name of each tax payer, and the items of taxable property were given. There were 26 individual lists. William Neilson was the largest taxpayer, with an appraisement of £91, and next him came Andrew Brock with £57, and Josiah Page with £50. Two years later the items are expanded to give the number of acres of cleared and uncleared land held by each, the number of horses, cows, oxen, and other cattle; the amount of wool raised, and the number of yards of tow or linen cloth manufactured on the premises. - William Neilson had 46 acres of cleared land, and next him came James Whitelaw with 30 acres, while of wild land the former owned 654 and Andrew Brock 512 acres. Twenty horses were owned, and 24 pairs of oxen. The number of sheep is not given, but 707 lbs. of wool were returned, and 2325 yards of tow or linen cloth. The domestic manufacture of this latter staple, and consequently the raising of flax was a prominent industry in Ryegate from an early day, although the lists do not give the amount produced in any other year. This industry has been discontinued so long that few are living who remember how it was conducted, and the "flax-brake," the "hetchel," the "swingle," the "bucking-tub," the "clock-reel," and the "little wheel," where preserved, are objects of curious interest, of whose manner of operation the present generation has only a vague idea. But, a century ago, they were in constant use on every farm, and the Scotch colonists of Ryegate brought over with them a few ideas in the linen industry, which caused the linen cloth made by them to be considered a superior article, always in demand at a good price.

The raising of sheep was exposed to the rapacity of wolves and bears. These wild animals prowled around the clearings and cattle and sheep had to be kept in at night. Rev. J. M. Beattie, in an historical sketch of the town for Miss Hemenway's Gazetteer, states that in the summer of 1778, Mrs. John Gray saw a bear carrying off a sheep. She followed the trail, and came suddenly upon the bear, when she screamed with terror, at which sound the bear, terrified in his turn, dropped his prey, and betook himself to flight, and Mrs. Gray, taking the sheep on her shoulders, returned home in triumph. A curious fact preserved in the Johnson papers at Newbury, is that in the spring of 1778, Col. Johnson let John Gray of Ryegate have four likely sheep, and was to share their wool and increase.

It will be borne in mind that most of the colonists were young men with only their own hands to depend upon; that money was very scarce, and they were obliged to resort to almost any means to start a flock. In an old account book of Col. Frye Bayley’s, preserved in the library at Newbury, is the following, which we insert to show how people began their flocks.

Newbury, Aug. 11, 1789,

This day agreed with John Petty of Ryegate to let him six Ewe sheep to be returned in three years from this date, and to receive from him one pound of well washed wool per year for each sheep, and one third part of their increase, also three wether sheep for which the said Petty is to give one pound and one quarter of wool each per year.

The food of the first settlers was plentiful, although till they had cleared land and raised grain they had to depend upon supplies from Newbury, where corn and wheat were plenty. The meat of domestic cattle was seldom tasted in Ryegate in the first years, as all the cattle were young, and were kept for their work or their increase. But game was plentiful in the woods, and fish abounded in the brooks and ponds. Mary, daughter of Col. Timothy Bedel of Haverhill, who first settled in Bath, and lived there till about 1774, stated in some reminiscences written in her old age, that when they lived in Bath, about two miles below the present site of Lisbon village, they could, at any time, catch all the salmon they wanted out of the Ammonoosuc.

The first dwellings were built of logs, and there were log houses still occupied as late as 1865. A log house could be put together with scarcely any use of metal, and where iron was so hard to be had, and money so scarce, it was necessary to get along with as few nails as possible. The floors were made of split pieces, or logs hewed on one side, and worn smooth by constant use. The door hinges were of wood, and the latches also. A string, or strip of leather, attached to the latch, passed through a hole above it, by pulling which the latch was lifted from the outside. The door was made fast by the simple process of pulling in the string. Hence arose the saying, as an emblem of hospitality— "his latch-string was always out!"

A log house is frequently alluded to in these days as a comfortless sort of habititation, but there were old people fifty years ago who were wont to say, in their prosperous after life, that they were never so happy as when they "lived in the old log house."

Everything made of metal was costly, as iron had to be brought from a distance, and all articles made from it were wrought by hand. The Company’s book shows that in 1774, 1 M. of 20d nails cost £2.1.7¼, and 1 M. of 10d nails £1.8. Nails were then made by hand, and for many years afterwards.

The solicitude felt by the people at the old home in Scotland for the Ryegate colonists is best illustrated by the following extract from a letter by William Houston to Mr. Whitelaw dated at Renfrew, May 4, 1783. [Whitelaw papers.]

In the first place you and us have been for a long time in a state of Annihilation to one another, through the means of a long and unprofitable war. But thank God for it, it is over now, and Peace, that Blessing to mankind, is again restored. However, by our long war the country has suffered much, for through its means we have got an amazing increase of debt, and consequently of taxes, all which is attended with a decrease of trade, for except the silk trade in Paisley, almost every business is at much of a stand-still.

We earnestly wish you may find opportunity of letting us know how matters are going with you—if the lands of Ryegate are answering your expectations in any tolerable degree,—if the people are healthy, and what deaths have happened among our acquaintances—if you were molested or suffered much by the war. And chiefly if a report be true that we have amongst us, viz.: that Vermont, in which it is said Ryegate is included, is declared by Congress to be a free and independent state, and it is also told that you are an Assemblyman of that Sovereignty?

We will be glad to know if your new code of laws be yet settled, and if it be on equitable and liberal principles, such as tend to the security and satisfaction of the people. If people from this country will be acceptable among the American states. If lands about you are rising, in value as we think presumable now that America has become independent they will rise. If you sow any Barley yet, and if there be any malting or distilling done, or prospect that a demand for it may take place.

We hope that in a short time you will have more settlers in Ryegate for this end to the war has been long wished for by the common people here, who have been long confined, and greatly against the oppressive Measures which have been carried on, against their interest in almost every respect, and they have added to all our other calamities that of dear Markets, the last season being very backward, and provisions of all sorts exceedingly high. Lands are not much fallen in rents here yet, but if some stop be not put to emigration, farms may not again be so scarce, so many begin to think of selling off, and half the people here would go to America had they the money to go with.

Now, sir, your sending an answer to these above questions, and any other things that you may inform us of will much rejoice me and You may believe it true that it was only the want of opportunity that held us hack from writing, for we understand that few of our letters have reached you, and they all had to be sent by way of Holland.

Are masons in demand among you? brick-makers? carpenters? tanners? We have such who can go, with a little help. Give our compliments to all our friends. Tell James Neilson that his mother is dead 24 months ago, that his father is yet alive, and his brother Archibald is married, and has got a new tack of his farm. My oldest son hath bred himself to the stocking trade. Do you think that a stocking frame would be a business of any consequence with you? Please deliver the enclosed to Colonel Jacob Bayley.


Mr. Whitelaw writing home to Scotland under date of Oct. 16, in the same year gives a fair account of the condition of the colony in the tenth year of its settlement:

As I understand there are numbers of the Company and others of the mind to come here if the advices from us are favorable, I will give you a short account of the country from the experience I have had of it, and first as to the face of the country. It is in some places pretty level, in others hilly and uneven, but even in the most uneven places the soil is generally fertile, and fit for producing all the kinds of grain you have in Scotland. The prices of grain are about the same as when Mr. Allan was here, viz.: wheat about one dollar a bush., corn ½, and oats 1/3. Flax we can raise in great plenty, and it sells at 6d sterling a pound, butter and pork at the same price; cheese 4d the pound, beef about 2d, and we always have a good market for all the above we can raise in a year without carrying it over the barn door, and though we seldom have our pay in money, we can have something of the same value which answers the same end. I think it is much better living here than in Scotland; the people here are all in pretty good circumstances; there has none less than 15 acres cleared and some have 50; the lowest can raise enough to make a comfortable living, and the rest in proportion. The country is very healthful, and agreeable to British constitutions, there having been scarcely any sickness in the town since it was settled; only 3 of the people who came here from Scotland and only 4 children have died and all are at present in good health. The Constitution and laws of the State of Vermont are generally allowed to be the best on the Continent; taxes are very light, while in the other states they are very high.

The years which succeeded the revolutionary war, while they witnessed great improvement in Ryegate, were yet times of trial, in forms of which we know nothing in these days. The continental currency, which began to be issued early in the war depreciated rapidly in value. The Spanish milled dollar was the chief coin in circulation and the deeds for many parcels of land in Ryegate and Barnet specify the price in that coinage. The continental money had depreciated in value to such an extent, that the General Assembly sitting at Newbury in 1787, found it necessary to fix by law the value of paper money expressed in contracts made at different times after September, 1777, when the paper dollar began to fall below the milled silver dollar. On the 1st of January, 1780, the silver dollar was held to be equal to twenty paper dollars, and eight months later, the Spanish milled dollar was declared equal to 72 paper dollars. The currency, much of which was counterfeit, became so worthless that no one would take it, and disappeared from circulation.

Thus while Ryegate was rapidly gaining in those conditions which were afterward to make the town prosperous, the years which followed the war were rather hard. There was very little money in circulation. There were no banks in the country till several years after the war; so there were no bank notes, and the United States did not begin the coinage of gold and silver till 1792, consequently all the money in circulation was of foreign countries, and in a sum of money of no very large amount there would be coins of five or six nationalities. There were many counterfeits, and the Coos County had notoriety as a residence of a counterfeiting gang. One Glazier Wheeler, of Newbury and Haverhill, a man of wonderful ingenuity, who had been engaged in various unlawful transactions, became the tool of men who obliged him to make Spanish dollars and "Half Joes," which contained only one-fourth as much gold or silver as the geniune. With him was associated the notorious Stephen Burroughs. Wheeler was caught in the act of making dies, and imprisoned on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, while the men who profited by him, escaped all punishment.

The scarcity of money in the country, and various conditions which caused people to think that the wealth of the country was being concentrated into the hands of a few, led to great troubles and there were those who hoped to thrive upon the distress of the country. Among the Johnson papers at Newbury is one which recalls a peculiar episode in Ryegate history.

Mr. Whitelaw wrote Col. Johnson asking confidentially, concerning one Henry Tufts, who had been ingratiating himself in the place, and of whom Mr. Whitelaw evidently had his doubts. This was the same man who, many years later, published an autobiography entitled, "The Life, Public Service, and Sufferings of Henry Tufts." Col. T. W. Higgin son has given him some fame as the type of "A New England Vagabond," and who appears to have been as many kinds of a rascal as oneman could welibe. He came to this part of the country several times, claiming to be, or to have been, a clergyman, and preached more than once, and at another time he stole a horse. He could do both equally well. His real object was to profit by stirring up strife, but without success here, as he found none to follow him, and had to sit in the Newbury stocks for a day, as punishment for violent speech.

In the absence of a stable currency, the standard of value for many years, before and after 1800, was a bushel of wheat, the staple product of the farms, for which there was a steady demand and a more nearly average value, one year into another, than anything else. Taxes were paid in wheat, the minister’s salary and the school master’s wages were computed in it, and notes are extant to be paid in wheat, which sometimes amounted to hundreds of bushels. It is impossible to state, or even to estimate, the amount of wheat raised in Ryegate, but it amounted to many thousands of bushels. On some of the large farms hundreds of bushels were raised annually. When we consider that all the work was done by hand, the seed covered as best it could be among the stumps and logs of newly cleared land, the grain reaped with a sickle, threshed and cleaned by hand, we can comprehend what the work was. Women were, generally, better reapers than men, and sometimes labored in harvest from early dawn till the stars appeared at night.

Salem was the great market for export wheat, which was, usually, taken to market in winter. Some farmers made the trip several times in the season, and a number of teams would go at the same time. The route was along the old turnpike from Haverhill Corner to the Merrimack valley. When Robert Brock, an experienced miller, bought the mills at Boltonville, he introduced improved machinery, which produced a superior brand of flour, much of which was exported. In 1792, he ground, and sent to Glasgow, a large quantity of very fine flour. Oatmeal was unknown in this part of New England, until its manufacture was introduced by the settlers of Ryegate and Barnet. In the "famine years" of 1815-17, people blessed the Scotch "for they invented oatmeal !"

There were no banks in Vermont, prior to 1817, as the majority of the people were opposed to their establishment, and the issue of paper money. In New Hampshire another policy prevailed, and the Coos bank, the earliest in this part of New England, was organized in 1803 at Haverhill, then the most important place in the north country. -

Since the establishment of the national banking system the country has had the advantage of a stable currency. The holder of a five dollar bill knows that bill to be worth just five dollars, neither more nor less, anywhere in the country, and does not trouble himself to notice the name of the issuing bank. But our fathers had not this security, and on taking money, were careful to ascertain the value of each bank note. Bills of certain banks whose resources were beyond question, were at a premium. Others were at a slight discount, and many were of uncertain value. There were also many counterfeits, something almost never seen at the present time.

Every merchant subscribed for a "Bank Note Detector," a publication issued at stated intervals, in which each issue of every bank in the country was described, and its counterfeits were minutely indicated. The uncertainty about the value of bank money made it necessary, when one man sent money to another to send a minute of the bills, retaining a copy. In the Whitelaw papers in Ryegate, and the Johnson papers at Newbury, the largest collections of early business transactions in this vicinity are many papers like the following:

List of Bills paid by Jona. Gates to John Holden for James Manderson.

Vermont-Burlington No. 1853, July 4, 1808, One Dollar
ditto ditto No. 1574, July 4, 1808, One Dollar
Hillsboro No. 766, May 2, 1807, Ten Dollars
Berkshire No. 584, Sept. 7, 1806, Ten Dollars
Northampton (defaced) June 4, 1806, Five Dollars
Berkshire No. 2661. Sept. 9, 1806, Five Dollars
Springfield No. 1665, June 4, 1806, Five Dollars
Coos, No. 756, Oct. 4, 1805, Five Dollars
Massachusetts No. 10350, July 3, 1804, Ten Dollars
Hallowell and Augusta No. 2902, Sept. 2, 1805, Five Dollars

I hereby promise that if any of the above mentioned bills prove to be bad and are returned, to take them back, and pay .other current bills in lieu of them.


An institution of some importance in the early days, when fences were weak and cattle ran at large, was the place of detention for unruly and wandering beasts known as the town pound, and the keeper thereof, who was sometimes also "hog constable," was an officer of considerable responsibility. In 1796 it was voted to let the town remain in one pound district, and to erect a pound on the school lot near the road that goes to Hugh Gardners’, John Gray, James Whitelaw and Josiah Page to superintend its erection, and have it completed by May 1, 1797. By 1817, this structure seems to have fallen into decay, as the town voted to build a pound of stone, the site to be chosen by the selectmen. These officials chose the "old ground," on which to erect the new structure, "to be built 33 feet square within, 5½ feet high, with a triangular log on top one foot thick, and 14 inches high, to taper to a sharp point, the walls to be 4 feet thick on the bottom, gradually tapering to 1½ ft., to have two wooden posts, with a strong door three feet wide, to be complete to the acceptance of the selectmen by July next." Its construction was bid off by Kimball Page for $29.50. In 1829 the town voted "Not to move the pound." Looking at it one would think they were wise not to try. It has long passed into disuse.

"Tything men" were among the officials chosen by the town for many years—from one to six or seven, and were a sort of local police and were intrusted with many duties which now fall to other offices. One of these was to preserve order in public gatherings, especially at public worship on the Sabbath, and to arrest and detain travelers upon that day.

The memories of aged people a half century ago returned with pleasure to the early and primitive days, which seemed more real to them than the scenes of their later years. If all the tales and traditions which then lingered among the hills of Ryegate and Barnet had been gathered, they would form a volume, which in humor, pathos and appeal to the deepest emotions of the heart would be hard to surpass. Most of them passed with the forms that uttered them. A few, only, are rescued from oblivion

A tale related very circumstantially by Mr. Mason is concerning a young daughter of John McCallum, an early settler on the Harvey tract in Barnet, whose name is on the call extended in 1789 to Rev. David Goodwillie. The child, who was a general favorite, and remarkable for her lovable disposition, was sent by her father on horseback, to the home of John McNab, in the east part of the town, a distance of several miles, her Journey lying mainly through the woods. On arriving at her destination she related that in passing through the forest, at a spot which she described with great minuteness, her progress was arrested by strange and beautiful music, which seemed to come from every direction

above and around her, filling the air. She remained fixed to the spot till the music died away. In the afternoon she set out on her return but not appearing at nightfall, her father and neighbors went in search of her, and found her lying dead at the spot which she had so minutely described. No marks or bruises were found on her body, or anything to indicate the cause of her death. In the old church yard at Barnet Centre her grave is thus marked:

Elizabeth, dau. John and Ellen McCallum
Died July 28, 1812, aged 14 years.

An anecdote related about forty years ago, to the editor of this work by an aged man who had known in his younger days the early settlers of Ryegate and Barnet, was to the effect that an old man, in one town or the other, had been reaping wheat with his sons, in a field at some distance from home. They had finished their reaping before night, and the sons went home, leaving their father to bind up some sheaves. He had not returned home at night fall, and one of the Sons went to look for him, and found that he had left the field, put up the bars, and was partly leaning over them, dead, with his face turned toward the field. At his funeral Mr. Goodwillie preached from the text—" And behold there came an old man from his work, out of the field at even." Inquiry among the older people in both towns fails to find any one who could recall hearing of this circumstance. But as it may have occurred a century or more ago, it has long passed from the minds of men.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus