By Barbara Emery Moseley
NOTE: This series chronicles the generations of Vernon’s Hunt family, all related to Jonathan Hunt of “Governor Hunt Road” fame. If you’ve missed any installments in this series, you can catch up here!
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.
Local travel was on foot or horseback, along rutted roads and paths. There were no bridges and horse and foot travelers alike crossed the river at fords. Lacking dams, the Connecticut River was shallow and slow moving, except during the “highwater” of springtime. Northfield, having land on both sides of the river, had two ferries to connect its east and west parts. That convenience was to come to Vernon many years later.
The British government rewarded men who had fought during the French and Indian Wars with grants of land apart from their own settlement property. Therefore, Jonathan’s father, Samuel, became a grantee of a large parcel in Guilford. Jonathan and his brother Elisha cleared some of the first land there, on behalf of their father.
As sheriff, Jonathan was the chief executive officer of the county, charged with seeing that laws were enforced and peace was preserved. Guilford had a high population of “Yorkers”, people who favored the New York government over that of an evolving Vermont. Unrest was growing throughout the colonies, as well.
Soon, in Northfield, the sound of the coach horn would herald the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.
To use an old saying, “The fat was in the fire,” and Jonathan would be faced with a rebellion close to home.