‘Hunt’ing down history, Part 5

By Barbara Emery Moseley

The recapture of a Yorker’s cow in Guilford, coupled with another power play by New York sympathizers in Vernon, likely precipitated Jonathan Hunt’s resignation as Sheriff. Still, he would have been watchful of the following incident.

On May 3, 1778, a mysterious event occurred in Vernon. (Its site roughly encompassed the area between today’s Post Office and the east end of Newton Road.)

On that date, the granary of Ensign Stratton was broken open during the night and a quantity of gunpowder and lead stored there, belonging to Vernon, was stolen. The patriots in the area were alarmed by what appeared to be a threat of British infiltration in the locality.

Guards were placed and an investigation was undertaken. A scouting party that had passed by two nights earlier later found a man asleep against a haystack. He proved to be a Tory, Jonathan Wright, “one inimical to the American cause.” Elijah Elmer, an accomplice, was taken at the same time, but escaped. (Both were descendants of some of Vernon’s earliest settlers.) (more…)

‘Hunt’ing down history, Part 4 — The shot heard round the world

By Barbara Emery Moseley

The “shot heard ‘round the world,” that launched the American Revolution, echoed in Vermont. On receipt of the news from Concord and Lexington, Vermont farmers left on foot and horseback to join the determined patriots.

Vermont, as a newly formed republic, was in a struggle of its own to divest itself of any further control by the provincial governors of New Hampshire and New York. Many in Guilford, however, were stubbornly loyal to New York’s Governor Tryon. Nor did they recognize the power of the new state to draft men for the Revolution or else require them to secure a substitute.

The Guilford Selectmen at the time were of the Vermont faction and directed Sheriff Jonathan Hunt to levy, in the name of the State, “the sum of 15 pounds in goods,” which the Town had spent securing substitutes for the five who had refused military service. (more…)

‘Hunt’ing down history, Part 3

By Barbara Emery Moseley

Samuel Hunt (1703-1770) was the father of “our” Jonathan, along with six other children. Samuel owned a prosperous tavern on Northfield’s broad Main Street. It also served as an inn and stagecoach stop. Residents, hearing the piercing notes of the coach horn that announced the arrival of the Boston Stage, would gather there. The delivery of mail and newspapers was welcome, but it was the travelers themselves who brought the “late-breaking news” from the city.

After the coach’s pause that allowed its passengers and horses time for food and drink, it continued its northward journey, using the crude road along the east bank of the river. Likely, the next stop was Charleston, NH, where “our” Jonathan’s older brother, Samuel, was also an innkeeper and active In the town and county, including being its first sheriff. (more…)

‘Hunt’ing down history, Part 2

By Barbara Emery Moseley

The Jonathan Hunt who built his impressive “mansion” in Vernon (on the road now named for him) was the great-grandson of another Jonathan who left England in 1637. Landing in Boston, he made his way to the Connecticut River Valley, found a wife in Hartford, and settled in Northampton. (Coincidentally, he had emigrated from Northampton, England, a city known for its making of boots and shoes.)

Two generations later, his descendants were living in the beleaguered settlement of Northfield. Twice it had been attacked, burned, and rebuilt. It was here that “our” Jonathan was born in 1738. (more…)

‘Hunt’ing down history, Part 1

By Barbara Emery Moseley

While driving on Governor Hunt Road or passing the Governor Hunt House, many people do not realize the importance of the man and his family for which both are named. In terms of wealth, intellect, political importance, and fame, the Hunt family is on the level of the Rockefellers, Roosevelts, and Kennedys, of more recent history. The house, as well, reflects the Hunts’ status in society.

It was considered a “mansion” in its day. It was no doubt completed in time for Jonathan Hunt’s 1779 marriage to Levinah Swan of Boston. Her education as a pupil of John Adams was most unusual for its time. Possibly, it shows the influence of Adams’ wife, Abigail, who was an early feminist. (Jonathan Hunt was a widower. By his first marriage, he was father of Anna, who later married Dr. Perley Marsh of Hinsdale. Together, they formed the Brattleboro Retreat. She also established our Marsh Fund—reported annually in the Town Report—“for preaching to the heathen of Vernon.”) (more…)