THE FIRST YEARS
Because the settlers were actively engaged in securing the necessities of life, in laying out and improving the land, their farms were rendered more dear to them by the hardships and privations they endured as pioneers in the settlement of a new country. From the families established in Sandgate during the Revolutionary War, many men served in various alarms in Vermont. Many others, men who served in Massachusetts or Connecticut regiments, moved to Sandgate after hostilities ceased.
In his Revolutionary War Rolls, John E. Goodrich presents, among many such items, the following citations showing military service by men from Sandgate:
On September 30, 1778 "Col. Warren ordered to raise 30 men in Sandgate, Manchester, Dorset, Rupert and Danbee." This was the Third Regt. of Militia under command of Col. Gideon Warren; Sandgate was the 16th Company.
Among the alarms to which Sandgate responded were:
"Capt. Richard Hurd's Co. in Col. Ira Allen Regt. in an alarm to Northward Oct. 20, 1781" and listed Capt. Richard Hurd, Lt. Abner Hurd and 17 others (6 were Hurds.)
"Alarm to defend the Western Union of the State" (Payroll Dec. 16, 1781 - 3 days, 30 miles travel) listed Capt. Richard Hurd, Lt. Abner Hurd and 7 others (5 were Hurds.)
On April 8, 1789, it was ordered "Town to raise taxes to pay own men for time being, each man to have 3 shillings per day (officers in proportion to their rank) and Twopence for a Horse per mile us money went in 1774. Each person to furnish himself with provisions &c." 22 This shows evidence of the depreciation of currency.
In spite of hardships and calls to alarms, these pioneers continued to lay out and clear their lands. More families arrived, many of them friends and relatives of the first settlers. There were almost no taxes, for one of the first measures of the new independent state of Vermont, in 1778, was to carry out Ira Allen's plan of paying the expenses of the war by confiscating the property of Tories.
Farmers grew wheat, rye, corn, and oats; raised and grazed cattle, sheep, and swine. During the Session held at Bennington in 1779, an Act was passed for identification of horses, cattle, sheep, and swine. This was a brand consisting of a letter, figure or character established for each town, to be placed on or near the left shoulder of each horse by a town brander, and a record of each animal branded was directed to be kept. An ear mark or brand was provided for cattle, sheep, and swine. Fences were few, and, as domesticated animals frequently ran at large, some method of identification was necessary.
Sandgate's earliest record shows date of 1772, and, to 1804, approximately 145 brand registrations are recorded. Names familiar to many show 5 Bristols; 4 Curtis'; 10 Hamiltons; 37 Hurds; 4 Pecks; 5 Prindles; 4 Shermans; 2 Skidmores; 2 Squires; 6 Woodards. It might be interesting to some descendants of the early settlers to read copies of registrations:
"June 30th 1792 - James Skidmore ear mark is a swaller fork in the end of the Right Eare and one halfpenny the upper sid of the same care."
For the Smith farm, one of the few remaining farms in town, the registration was--
"1811, May 4 - Mathew Smith's a Crop off the left ear and a Slit in the end of the Right - taken up by Cornelius Smith July 31st 1847."Governing marks were:
A half penny
From 1805 to 1859, last recording, there were 160 additional registrations.
In 1779 the Legislature passed an Act "for the preservation and increase of deer." A closed season from January 10 to June 10 was established.
The Session of February 21, 1781, saw the passage of an Act "to settle and establish all High-ways laid out within this State." Most highways in the State had been laid out by Selectmen or by special committees - in many cases not surveyed by compass, and there was danger that litigation might arise. This Act defined a legal highway, provided that future highways be by compass.
Although peace with Great Britain had not been declared, active warfare had not been waged since the surrender of Cornwallis in 1781, and the end of the war seemed to be close at hand.
The surveyors were busy laying out the land. At the Proprietors' meeting in 1781 it was recorded that "the 200 acre Lots" were being laid out on the Second Division, and "The Dewing of the ould Committee in laying out the home Lots or the first fifty Acres Division and Draughting the same shall stand in full force. Said Committee was Col. Seth Warner, Icheal Hawley and Josef Hay."
In 1782 the first surveys were made of the "Publick Rights." The Minister's Right was settled by Rev. James Murdock on Minister Hill.
In 1790 it was "Voted to grant tax of two Pence on the Pound on the Ratable Estate of the inhabitants of the Town" "voted the Tax to be Payable by the first of October next to be Payed in wheat, rye, oats and injun corn at the price of wheat 4/6 per bushel, rye 3/6, corn 3/, oats 1/6."
In 1802 Town Meeting it was "voted to raise tax of one Cent on the Dollar on the Polls and Rateables Estate of the inhabitants of said Town," and at the following Town Meeting "the Auditors reported on Statement of Town Accounts, viz,
In 1798 an epidemic struck the town. It is not known how many deaths occurred, as noted earlier on Page 20, but records of the Congregational Church show 32 deaths, 30 of whom were children, during July, August and September, and it is believed this epidemic caused the abandonment of the Shays Settlement.
Zadock Thompson's History of Vermont indicates that this epidemic in Sandgate was dysentery, for he wrote--
"The prevailing diseases in 1798 were typhus fever and dysentery. They were both severe in some neighborhoods, while others were comparatively exempt. The dysentery was particularly mortal in Pomfret, Norwich, and Sandgate." 23
This may also have been the reason why many families left Sandgate to settle in nearby New York State soon after 1800. However, more new families were coming in (the census of 1800 showed 1020), and more land was being cleared. Farms increased, more houses and schools built, main roads were established. and additional roads were laid out.