Sandgate lies in the western part of Bennington County. This County forms the southwest corner of the State of Vermont and comprises 17 townships. Sandgate is bounded west by New York State, south by the Town of Arlington, east by the Town of Manchester, and north by the Town of Rupert.

          Before the days of white settlers, Indian trails crossed the town. One of their camping grounds was reputedly located on Indian Creek, or "Chunks' Creek" (named after an Indian called "Chunks") now the farm of William T. Schwarz, on the Sandgate Ridge of the Taconic Mountain Range, at West Sandgate. "Cold Spring," where the camp grounds were, is the source of Chunk's Creek.

          From the Cold Spring Camping Ground, the Indian Trail ran along the Taconic Range, Sandgate Ridge, Moffitt Mountain, Bear Mountain, the pretty valley of the Green River, and over Equinox Mountain to their camp ground on Tanner Brook, which was located in the valley between Skinner Hollow and Cook Hollow, about three miles southwest of Manchester. It seems fair to assume that the name "Equinox" is an Anglicized version of the original Indian name Ekwanok, meaning "the very top" or the "place where the very top is."

          Three caves were used by the Indians in this area, two being wholly in the township of Sandgate, and one on the boundary line of Sandgate and Arlington. The first two, Moffitt Hollow and Kate Hollow, are located in the section known as Beartown. Moffitt Hollow Cave is the source of Indian Brook, which, in turn, is the source of Covey Brook, a feeder stream of the Green River. Kate Hollow Cave, located in the foothills southwest of Equinox Mountain, is the source of a small brook that also is a feeder brook of the Green River. The third cave is known as the Wyman Cave. It is located in Red Mountain, near the Raven Rocks at the southeast town line of Sandgate and the northwest town line of Arlington. Red Mountain, which derives its name from the Indians, is a source of several feeder streams of the Batten Kill.

[ 5 ]

          The Hampshire Grants of 1761, granted by King George III and the Province of New Hampshire, by Royal Order gave the hunting rights in those grants to the Indians. The Iroquois Indians at the Caughnawaga and Oka Reservations in Canada still demand payment for rights of hunting in the Hampshire Grants, of which the town of Sandgate was one.1

          Sandgate's charter was granted August 11, 1761, by Benning Wentworth, Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, the same year as its neighboring towns of Arlington, Manchester, and Rupert. It reads in part:

"Province of New Hampshire
George the Third
(Seal) By the Grace of God, of Great-Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith &c. To all Persons to whom these Presents shall come,

          Know ye, that we of our Special Grace, certain Knowledge, and meet Motion, for the due incouragement of settling a New Plantation within our said Province, by and with the advice of our Trusty and well beloved Bening Wentworth, Esqr, our Governor and Commander in Chief of our Province of New Hampshire in New England, and that our Governor of the said Province; [lave upon the Conditions and Reservations herein after' made, given and granted, and by these Presents for us, our heirs and successors, do give and grant in equal Shares, unto our loving Subjects, Inhabitants of our said Province of New Hampshire .... butted and bounded as follows (viz). At the Northwest corner of Arlington, and from there due North six miles, thence due East six Miles, thence due South six Miles to the Northeast corner of Arlington aforesaid, then due West by Arlington aforesaid to the bounds first begun at. And that the same be, and hereby is incorporated into a Township by the Name of Sandgate, and the Inhabitants that do, or shall hereafter inhabit the said Township are hereby declared to be Enfranchised with and Intitled to all and every the Privilidges and immunities that other Towns within our Province by Law Exercise and Enjoy: . . . . "

1. Hugh P. Graham, "Notes on the history of Sandgate."

[ 6 ]

          The conditions for holding this tract of land "to contain six miles square and no more" were --

          First. Every Grantee, his heirs or assigns, was to "plant and cultivate five acres of Land within the Town of five years for every fifty acres contained in his or their Share, or Proportion of Land in said Township."

          Second. All white and other Pine trees "fit for masting our Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that use, and none to be cut or felled without our Special License."

          Third. A tract of land "as near the Center of said Township as the Land will admit of, shall be reserved out for Town Lots, one of which shall be allotted to each Grantee of the contents of 1 Acre."

          Forth. [sic] Payment for the Span of ten years to be "the rent of one Ear of Indian Corn only, on the twenty fifth day of December annually, if lawfully demanded, said Rent to be made on the twenty fifth day of December A. D. 1762."

          Fifth. After the expiration of ten years, payment to be "one Shilling, Proclamation Money for every hundred acres."

          Then followed names of 66 Grantees, or "Proprietors," and four "Publick Rights" -- one for the Incorporated Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign Parts -- one for the Glebe for Church of England -- one for the first settled Minister of the Gospel, and one for the benefit of Schools; and

          "For His Excellency Bening Wentworth, Esqr., a tract of hind to contain five hundred acres . . . to be accounted two of the within Shares."

          Besides the Governor's Lot of 500 acres, Governor Wentworth included himself as one of the 66 Grantees; the number drawn for him was No. 13.

          There have been several versions of how the name of Sandgate was derived, one being that gates were set in the "sand" at the Notch from Sandgate to West Sandgate. Actually, the name "Sandgate" given to the town in the Charter was probably taken from a town in England. Upon inquiry concerning England's Sandgate, Mr. Graham received the following information from the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.:

"Britain's Sandgate is a small town in Kent. Situated on the southeast coast, it faces France, twenty-two

[ 7 ]

miles across the English Channel. It has been described as being 'practically a suburb of Folkestone', a well-known resort and port town, about one and a half miles from Sandgate. Perhaps Sandgate may be said to share in some of Folkestone's better known attractions, its fine harbour and pleasant walks. Its beach, at the south end of which, stands Sandgate Castle. The castle was erected in 1539, by the order of King Henry VIII. Perhaps one should say that its battered remains stand as a reminder of Henry's coastal defences. "We regret that we have not been able to find a firm definition of the town's name or derivation, but since the beach in question is of sand and shingle, and the word 'gate' derives from the Scandinavian word meaning 'road', it is not difficult for one to find a highly probable meaning—'the road to the sand' or perhaps one might say the 'gateway to the sand'."2
Sandgate has been under three jurisdictions: the English, through its "Hampshire grant" of 1761; an independent State named "New Connecticut" at a convention held in Westminster January 15, 1777, which name on June 4, 1777 was changed to "Vermont"; and finally the State Constitution adopted at Windsor July 2-8, 1777. !n 1778 Thomas Chittenden of Arlington was elected Governor, and the first session of the Legislature opened on March 12th. 3

          In 1779 Governor George Clinton, first governor of the Colony of New York, called Vermont the "Pretended State of Vermont" and Governor Chittenden and his friends "Catamounters."4 This was undoubtedly due to the fact that the General Assembly of the State of Vermont met at Bennington, June 4, 1778, at the historic Catamount Tavern, headquarters of the Green Mountain Boys.

          The Province of New York, prior to the Revolutionary War, claimed jurisdiction of territory to the Connecticut River, and Sandgate was included in the County of Charlotte (now

2. Graham, Letter from British Embassy, Washington, D. C., January 26, 1955.
3. H.J. Conant, "Leading Events in the History of Vermont," Legislative Directory and State Manual, (1959), p. 183.
4. Graham, Sandgate notes.

[ 8 ]

Washington County), New York. In 1790 difficulties with New York were adjusted, and the western boundary line of Vermont established.5 The sum of $30,000 was paid by Vermont to New York in settlement of claims, as a result of which New York opposition to Vermont's admission to the Union was withdrawn, and on March 4th. 1791, Vermont became the 14th State.

5. Conant, "Leading Events in the History of Vermont," p. 183.

[ 9 ]

back to top