Duxbury was one of ten towns granted in the course of one day by Benning Wentworth, the Royal Governor of New Hampshire. The charter of the town reads as follows: “King George the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, king, defender of the faith to all persons to whom these presence shall come, greeting. Know ye, that We of our special Grace, certain Knowledge, for the due Encouragement of settling a new plantation within our said province, by and with the advice of our trusty and well-beloved Benning Wentworth, our governor and commander in chief of the province of New Hampshire.”
Under the charter, each proprietor had to pay a tax for ten years to the province of New Hampshire and “the rent of one year of Indian corn, on the 25th day of December annually if lawfully demanded.” In addition “all white and other pine trees within the said township, fit for masting a Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that use. And none cut or felled without a special license.”
The township of Duxbury was 36 square miles, contained over 23,000 acres and was divided into 71 shares, one share each for the 65 proprietors, 500 acres for Wentworth, one for the support of schools, one for the county grammar school, one for the first settled minister and one for the propagation of the gospel.
Those who settled Duxbury came from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York. Several of the New York proprietors had Dutch Knickerbocker names such as Philip Schuyler.
It was said of Governor Wentworth that “he did not slip the golden opportunity of filling his coffers. In every township granted to petitioners, 500 acres of land were reserved for the governor, without fees or charges, and he was well rewarded by petitioners for his services.” It was generally understood that the governor would be granted the best 500 acres in all the towns that he granted.
Early meetings of the proprietors were held in Newark, New Jersey; Kent, Massachusetts; and other communities. The first meeting of the proprietors in Vermont was held in Bennington on March 26, 1784. The last meeting of the proprietors was held on July 26, 1798. At that meeting they decided to resurvey the townships and to raise money to pay for the survey. Other expenses included payment to Jesse Arms for four days of work at $1.00 a day and also for five pounds of butter, one quart of rum, and 30 pounds of bread.
The most spectacular site that divides Duxbury from Huntington is Camel’s Hump. The ascent to the mountain is often made from the Duxbury side. Around 1850 North Duxbury was called Ridley’s Station because Samuel Ridley, Sr. was the best known person in the village. His father had operated a sawmill but the son, Sam, Jr. was interested in tourism. He built a hotel and built a carriage road to within three miles of Camel’s Hump. “A bridle path completed the route to the top, where there was a guest house. In the late 1800’s the trip to the top of Camel’s Hump was a big tourist attraction, and Ridley’s Station in Duxbury was one of the best known stops on the Central Vermont Railroad.”
In addition to Camel’s Hump there are two mountains named in honor of the two heroes, Mt. Ethan Allen and Mt. Ira Allen. Another peak in Duxbury is Crossett Hill, which was named for a large sawmill operator. Another peak is Monroe Mountain, named for Professor Will Monroe who taught at the University of Vermont and who was one of the leaders in the creation of the Long Trail which “follows the tops of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to the Canadian border.”
There are several explanations as to how Duxbury got its name. One theory was that it was a duplicate of Duxbury, England. “In old Saxon ‘bury’ signifies a fortification, or fortified place, and ‘Dux’ meaning a chieftain or leader.” The other theory is the name of the town came from Duxbury, Massachusetts. That town was settled by William Brewster, Miles Standish, John Alden, and others, and was incorporated in 1637 as Duxborough.
The first settlement was made by Walter Avery and Stephen Tilden about 1786. Shortly thereafter came Benjamin Davis, John Morse, and Samuel Ridley, Sr. The first representative to the state legislature was Benjamin Davis in 1794. The first birth was that of Lucy, daughter of Jeremiah and Lucy Bryant, in 1791, the same year Vermont joined the union. Also in 1791, Duxbury’s population was 39, and by 1880 the population was 884.
In 1796, two school districts were formed. In 1888, the town had eight school districts, taught by 17 teachers, 15 of whom were women. The average weekly salary, including board, was $4.78. School districts one, two and nine were located in North Duxbury. School districts three and four were located in East Duxbury, districts six, seven and eight were located in Central Duxbury, and school district five was on the west side of the town.
Senator Bill Doyle serves on the Senate Education Committee and Senate Economic Affairs Committee, and is the Senate Assistant Minority Leader. He teaches government history at Johnson State College. He can be reached at 186 Murray Road, Montpelier, VT 05602; e-mail email@example.com; or call 223-2851.