« AnteriorContinuar »
THE OLD CATAMOUNT TAVERN AT BENNINGTON, VERMONT.
THE CATAMOUNT TAVERN.
On the 30th of March 1871 the old "Catamount Tavern' House, which had long been the most notable relic of early times in the Center Village of Bennington, Vermont, was burnt to the ground. had been unoccupied for a short time and the origin of the fire is unknown. The house, which was in a tolerable state of preservation, had been built over a hundred years, having been erected by Captain Stephen Fay, a year or two prior to 1770. It was a wooden building about 44 feet by 34, two stories high, having two high chimneys with high fire places in each story, besides which there was a very large fireplace in the cellar or basement, part of which was used as a wash room, and a
1 The Illustrations for this paper, are from photographs furnished by the author, ex-Governor Hiland Hall, of North Bennington, Vermont, and a pen-and-ink sketch by his granddaughter. [EDITOR.]
cook room as occasion required. The two chimneys are now standing (Autumn of 1871) exhibiting their spacious fire places, with heavy iron cranes in those of the lower story and basement. On the marble mantle of one of the fire places the words "Council room" appear, cut there in early times. On the top of the high sign post was placed the stuffed skin of a Catamount, from which came the name of the house, though in its early days it was, in accordance with the custom of the time, more generally spoken of as "Landlord Fay's.
During the period of the early settlement of the state, the house was a great resort for travellers and emigrants, and it was also widely known as the Head Quarters of the settlers in their contest with the New York land claimants. It was the home of
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by Chase & Town, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
Ethan Allen for several years from 1770, when he first came to the "New Hampshire Grants," as Vermont was then called. The settlers held their lands under grants from New Hampshire, to which the territory was supposed to belong, but in 1764 the king, by an order in council, placed them under the jurisdiction of New York. Whereupon the governor of that province declared their titles to be void, and regranted their lands to speculators, who recovered judgments in the New York courts against the settlers, and sent their sheriffs and posses to execute them, who were resisted by the occupants and forcibly prevented from obtaining possession. This controversy raged for years, and the settlers appointed committees of safety before whom offenders against the integrity of their titles, styled "Yorkers," were brought for trial. On conviction they were variously punished, sometimes by banishment from the territory, and sometimes by whipping on the naked back, a mode of punishment for crime then in common use throughout the country. The latter pun ishment, in allusion to the Great Seal of the Governor of New Hampshire affixed to their charter titles, and to the instrument with which it was commonly inflicted, the settlers humorously called "the application of the beech seal."
Another mode of punishment was devised for one offender residing within their own limits. One Doctor Samuel Adams of Arlington, who had held his lands under a New Hampshire charter, suddenly became an open advocate of the New York title, advising his neighbors to purchase it. This tended to weaken the opposition to New York by producing division among the settlers, and he was repeatedly warned to desist from such discourse. But he persisted in his offensive language, and arming himself with pistols and other weapons, threatened death to any one who should molest him. What followed is related in the language of a contemporary: "The Doctor was soon taken by surprise, and car
1 Slade's Vermont State Papers, page 36.
ried [15 miles] to the Green Mountain [Landlord Fay's] tavern, at Bennington, where the committee heard his defence, and then ordered him to be tied in an armed chair and hoisted up to the sign (a catamount's skin stuffed, sitting upon the sign post, 25 feet from the ground,with large teeth, looking and grinning towards New York) and there to hang two hours, in sight of the people, as a punishment merited by his enmity to the rights and liberty of the inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants. The judgment was executed, to the no small merriment of a large concourse of people. The Doctor was let down and dismissed by the committee, with an admonition to go and sin no more. This mild and exemplary disgrace had a salutary effect on the Doctor and many others." Dr. Adams, on Burgoyne's invasion, became a violent tory, and fled to Canada, from which he never returned.
When Sir Wm. Tryon, governor of New York in 1771, issued a proclamation offering a reward of 20 pounds each for the apprehension of Ethan Allen, Remember Baker and Robert Cochran for their riotous opposition to the New York government, they retaliated by publishing over their names a counter proclamation offering a reward of 15 pounds for James Duane and 10 pounds for John Kemp, their two leading land-claiming antagonists, styling them "those common disturbers of the public peace," the rewards so payable on their being brought to "Landlord Fay's at Bennington." Colonel Ethan Allen was
1 Ira Allen's National and Political History of Vermont P. 47. The same in Vermont Historical Collections, Volume 1. page 357. * See Hiland Hall's History of Vermont, page 134. The following is a copy of the Proclamation:
£ 25 REWARD
Whereas James Duane and John Kemp of New York, have by their menaces and threats greatly disturbed the pubpeace and repose of the honest peasants of Bennington, and the settlements to the northward, which peasants are now and ever have been in the peace of God and the King, and are patriotic and liege subjects of George III. Any person that will apprehend those common disturbers, viz. James Duane and John Kemp, and bring them to Landlord Fay's at Bennington, shall have £ 15 reward for James Duane and £ 10 for John Kemp, paid by
Dated Poultney, Feb 5. 1772.
ETHAN ALLEN. REMEMBER BAKER. ROBERT COCHRAN.
AMERICAN HISTORICAL RECORD.
sojourning at the "Catamount Tavern' in the spring of 1775 and from the "Council Room" of that house went forth his order of May 3rd, for mustering the Green Mountain Boys for the capture of Ticonderoga which was effected seven days afterwards in the name of "the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."'
In this noted tavern house sat the Vermont Council of Safety during the trying campaign of 1777 guiding and directing the patriotic exertions of the Green Mountain Boys to stem the torrent of Burgoyne's invasion; and here also Stark and Warner,
COUNCIL ROOM FIRE-PLACE.1
with the aid of the Council, planned the famous attack on Baum's entrenchments, where was won the brilliant victory of Bennington, which turned the current of success from the British to the American arms, and was followed in a few weeks, by the capture of Burgoyne and his army at Saratoga. Captain Fay, the proprietor of the house had five sons in the Battle of Bennington one of whom was killed. On being told that one of his sons had fallen in the fight, the venerable patriot, through his deep grief" thanked God that he had
1 The carver of the words on the fire-place left out the n in the word Council.
a son who was willing to die for his country.
Here, in 1778, was tried and condemned, one Daniel Redding, a traitor and spy; and in a field in front of the house a gallows had been erected, and a great crowd had assembled to see him executed. But on the morning fixed for the execution, the Governor and Council granted him a reprieve for one week, for the reason that he had been tried by a jury of six, while by the common law there ought to have been twelve. The multitude, who as well as the six jurors, had condemned the traitor, were clamorous at their disappointment, and violence was seriously apprehended, whereupon Col. Ethan Allen, who had just returned from his long English captivity,2 mounted a stump and waving his hat and exclaiming attention the whole! proceeded to announce the reasons which produced the reprieve, advised the multitude to depart peaceably to their habitations, and to return on the day fixed by the Governor and Council, adding, with an oath, "you shall see somebody hung at all events, for if Redding is not then hung I will be hung myself." Upon this the uproar ceased and the crowd dispersed. Redding having been afterwards tried and condemned by a jury of twelve, was hung on the day to which his reprieve had been granted, in accordance with Allen's prediction.
The children of Captain Stephen Fay were numerous and respectable, and several of them have been prominent in the affairs of the state of Vermont. in 1781, and the house, not many years afterwards became a private dwelling for two of his sons, in succession; then for a grandson and finally for a great grandson, John Fay, Esq., who died Feb. 25, 1866.
PERSECUTION OF AN EARLY FRIEND OR QUAKER.
The following account of the arrest, trial, and sentence of John Bowne, a disciple of George Fox, was kindly copied from his original Journal, and contributed to the RECORD, by Henry Onderdonk Jr., of Jamaica, Long Island.
1662 First of Seventh Month. Resolved [Waldron] the scout1 came to my house at Vlishing [Flushing] with a company of men with swords and guns (where I was tending my wife being sick in bed, and my youngest child sick in my arms, which were both so ill that we watched two or three with them.) He told me I must go with him to the General [Stuyvesant.] I told him my family were not in a condition to leave them. He said he could not help that, he must follow his order, but would not show it me. So it being too late to go that day, he left his men there and went to drinking in the town, and came again in the night, and with him the scout of the town before whom I demanded his order which he denied before many people; but at last I saw it. By which or der he was to take such as he should find in unlawful meetings, but found me in none. So I told him I did deny to go on foot by virtue of that order. He said: then he would bind me hand and foot and carry me. I told him he might do what he was suffered, but by that order he ought not to carry me away. So next day, like
wicked hard-hearted man, he carried me in a boat to Manhattans, leaving my family in that condition, and put me in the Court aguard before the Governor's door. So next day seeing the Governor about to take horse, I sent the sarjeant of the Company to tell him I did desire to speak a few words with him. So the man came and told me in Dutch, and showed me by his actions that the General said that if I would put off my hat and stand bare-headed, he would speak with me. I told him I could not upon that account. So he sent me word again: That he could not speak
1 Schout, the title of Sheriff in Dutch.
So the soldiers did break out in laughter at it.
Then the next day being Church day, the scout fetched me to the Court where I think, before my body was in their view, within the chamber-door, the Governor bade me put off my hat; but before I could make answer, he bade the scout take it off. Then he asked me about Meetings, and after some words, said, I had broken their law. So he called for it and read it to me, wherein he termed the servants of the Lord to be heretics, deceivers, and seducers, or such like, and then asked me if I would deny that I had kept Meetings. I answered that I should not deny meetings; but that I had kept such meetings or entertained such persons as he there read of I did deny, for I could not own them to be such; but he would not reason it at all. Then he said: But will you deny meetings? I answered I shall neither deny nor affirm. Will you put us to prove it, said he. I said: Nay I shall not put to proving; but if you have any thing against me, you may
Here I am in your hands ready to suffer what you shall be suffered to inflict upon me, or to that purpose. So the Governor put by all reasoning, and they spake to me to pass forth. I said I was willing, first, to give them to understand the condition of my family and the cruelty of bringing me so from them. So when I had declared it to them, I said: Now, do you judge at whose hands it will be required, if they suffer in my absence. The Governor said: At yours. So being spoken to I was going away, and two or three of them spake to me, to take my hat, which I did not intend to leave. So it lying by the door I took it and went to the Court aguard again, and the scout came a little after and told me: [that] When I had paid 150 guilders I might go home. I asked him what I must do till then. said I must tarry there in that place.
So the next morning he came and gave me a writing in Dutch and told me the Governor had sent me a copy of the Court's
sentence. He was not ashamed [he said] of what he did, and if I would, I might have it in English. It was for such and such things I was fined and must pay 150 guilders and charges; and other particulars what must follow it if I did so again. I told him I could pay nothing on that account. So I was kept there till the 25th of that month. Then came the Fiscal and scout in great rage and demanded of me to answer the Court's sentence, which I denied as before. So I was presently carried or guarded away to the dungeon and there put. A strict charge being given to the guard of soldiers which was both by day [and night] to let nobody come at me or speak with me. So I was kept there and allowed nothing but coarse bread and water (that they knew of) till the 6th day of the 8th month. Then came the scout about the middle of the day, and he calling to me bade me to make up my bedding. I must go to another place. So I was brought to the State-house and there put in the prison-room, where I have remained till this 19th of the 9th month, being the 4th day of the week, and yet remain here, the door being open sometimes for a week together, sometimes more, sometimes less, both day and night, sometimes locked up for a little space, about which time and since I hear daily of great threatenings, what is intended to be done to me at the coming home of the Governor, which is looked for speedily. This morning Nickolas Davis came here, this 22d of 9th month, being the last day of the week, old style.
So it continued till the 6th day of the next week in the morning. Then the Fiscal gave order to lock me up and said it was the Governor's order also; but at night the door was set open again, and the next morning Nich. Davis went away, being the last day of the week. The same day went away my dear friends Robert Hodgson and John Hudson to Gravesand, and left my wife with me. She went away the next second day morning, being the first day of the 10th month, old style.
Then on the 5th day of the week, the 4th day of the month, came Resolved and
told me he then came from the Governor and Court to tell me that if I would not pay the fine and charges, they were resolved to send me out of the country, either to Holland or somewhere. Then on the 6th day of the week the door was locked, but open at night to let in friends, and the next morning to let them out. But since, I have not had liberty to go out of the room. This day being the 3rd of the week, the 9th of the month, the Fiscal told Lydia Bowne that they will send me for Holland when the ship goeth. That night, I went to Steenwyck to go to the Governor to tell him I desired to come to the Court to speak for myself. So on the fifth day of the week in the morning Gower and Steenwyck went and told the Governor which he did refuse to grant, but said, I should either pay or go. So I' went home for a chest and clothes which came down soon after. Then on the 16th of the month, the 3rd day of the week at night came Wm Leveridge to ask me if I would accept of the Governor's proffer, which was to go out of the Jurisdiction. in 3 months time; which if I would promise to go, he would engage I should be set free the next day. I told him the Governor had made no such proffer to me, but if I might come to the speech of him, then if he did ask me a question I should like to make answer, for I did desire to speak with the Governor myself. So he said he would speak with the Governor again the next morning; and in the morning said so again at George Woolsey's, and did go to him as himself said, and being asked by Robert Gerry and George Woolsey of it, he said he had forgot it, and so went away home. Now, whether he lied in saying he wonld and did not, or whether in doing and saying, he had not done but forgot, I know not; but at the best it was bad enough.
And that morning betimes, Cornelius Steenwyck told Robert Terry that the Secretary himself had told him that morning that I was free; but presently after I was kept closer than ever I was before in this room. Whether Wm. Leveridge was the cause of it I cannot tell. Then on