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               Description of the

Bayley-Hazen Road

                                                                         1776 - 1779

          

Excerpted from:

"A History of Walden, Vermont" Compiled by the History Committee. Sponsored by the Walden Public Library.  1986.  Revised 1990. Library of Congress catalog card number:   86 - 82289 Produced by Greenhills Books, Randolph Center, Vermont 05061 Permission  for use on this page by Elizabeth Hatch, Chairwoman, The History Committee.

 

The book ($16.00 U.S. plus s & h) may be purchased from the Walden Town Clerk:

                                    Walden Town Clerk

                               RR #1, Box 57

                               W. Danville, VT 05873

A History of Walden, Vermont

Chapter 2, segments from  pp 17 - 25

 

 

The Bayley-Hazen Road

       

The 54-mile-long Bayley-Hazen Road, almost five miles of which runs through the western side of Walden, wasn't of much value as a military road during the Revolutionary War, but it proved to be useful after the war, allowing good access into the interior of northern Vermont and helping to speed its settlement.

Stretching from Wells River to Hazen's Notch in Westfield, it was constructed in 1776 and 1779 as a means of entrance into St. John's, lower Canada, at a time during the war when some leaders first thought of capturing Canada as the 14th colony.

If it had been completed in time - early in the Canadian campaign of 1775-1776--the road could have been a vital factor in the campaign's outcome, but there were many delays in its construction.

A brief history of the road compiled by the staff of the Vermont Historical Society and printed in 1959 by the Northeastern Vermont Development Association recorded that during that ill-starred campaign in which Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery attempted to capture Canada, the American army urgently needed reinforcements and supplies to continue the siege of Quebec.

At that time, Colonel Jacob Bayley of Newbury was repeatedly writing to George Washington urging the commander of the Continental army to order construction of a road which would materially shorten the distance to St. John's.

On April 29, 1776, Washington, concerned about the critical situation in Quebec and determined to act without the approval of Congress, wrote to Bayley from New York instructing him "to set about the road you propose as soon as possible."

Two weeks later, Congress approved General Washington's order.  Bayley had already begun construction of the road with 110 men who were to be paid $10 a month plus board and a pint of rum per day.

The road had pushed well into Peacham by the middle of June when work was stopped after Bayley received a letter from Washington that said in part:

 

   Sir: I this Morning received yours of the 28th Ulto., and approve the measures you had adopted for opening the Road to St. John's, which may be still proper to pursue, but as our Army in Canada, since their retreat from Quebec has met with further Misfortunes, and thereby the strongest Reason to believe they will be obliged to abandon the possession of that Country, if they have not already done it; I would ad-  vise you, to consider well the Advantages and Disadvantages that will result from compleating the Work.  If the Enemy will be thereby afforded an easy Pass to make Incursions into our Colonies and to commit Depredations, and the other Advantages we shall derive from it, will not greatly over balance these Inconveniences, it will be improper to carry it on.  The Change which has taken Place in our Affairs in that Quarter may render now what was extremely right to be done some Thing very inexpedient and unadvisable.  As you are well acquainted with the Country thro'       which the Communication was designed to be made, and I am not, I shall submit the Propriety of compleating it to you, under the circumstances I have mentioned, not meaning to direct you to one thing or another.                                                                                     I am, etc. G. Washington

 

Except for a survey during the summer of 1778 when there was some agitation and plans afoot for another Canadian campaign, nothing was done on the road until April, 1779, when General Moses Hazen of Haverill, Mass., and St. John's received orders to complete it with his regiment made up largely of Canadians and northern Vermont and New Hampshire men.

They built a blockhouse on Cabot Plains, and as the road progressed, another one six miles farther in Walden, a little more than halfway between the Heights and South Walden.

In describing the Walden section of the road, which has come to be referred to by many as just the Hazen Road, the late Maurice Eddy of Walden, who became an authority on that portion after spending many years researching, clearing and marking it, wrote the following in a booklet printed in 1959:                                            

 

We really should start our part of the road on the edge of the town of Cabot where the Walden Heights--Cabot Road now crosses the Hazen Road about 1.2 miles from route #15 at Walden Heights, or about 3.8 miles from the Village of Cabot.

The road is well designated by the depression made by years of use before the road was discontinued.

As you follow northerly along this road you have a beautiful view to the west, until you pass an old cellar hole. Then you dip down hill for some distance until you come to a small cattail swamp on the right where the road was built up to avoid the marsh.

 Along the road thirty paces from the center line of the swamp and then westerly fifteen paces off the road, is a marker that commemorates the shooting of General Gordon.  This marker is in the town of Cabot near the town line.

Please don't stop here; come into the town of Walden-- you have traveled less than half a mile.  The way is still easy to follow and soon you will pass another small cat-   tail swamp on the right.  Then through a gate into the valley road to Cabot.  Please be sure you have closed the gate so the cattle won't get out.  This Valley Road once connected Walden Heights and Cabot, and you go straight across this road onto another old discontinued roadway; here the Hazen Road keeps straight over the knoll while this better roadway bears slightly right and is only a short cut to the Valley road.

 But the Hazen Road is to the left and crosses the lower end of two swampy bogs before swinging right to slab a steep hillside, and returning to compass direction half way up this hill.  Soon you are at the top and over, down to where it crosses the Walden town road near the present residence of Frank Greaves.

Now you have come another half mile.  In 1875 this farm was owned by L.H. Collins, but formerly was part of the land owned by Nathaniel Perkins, the first settler.  Mr. Greaves' buildings are in the westerly corner of this four corners.

Along the Hazen Road 60 paces bearing to the north and 100 paces westerly is a cemetery where many of the first settlers were laid to rest.  This family of Perkins built the first family-house in Walden near the old block house, which was built by General Hazen in 1778.

A description of the Walden blockhouse on the Bayley-Hazen Military Road, from Elkins, Jonathan.  "Reminiscences." (In Vermont Historical Society Collections, v. III, Upper Connecticut, v. I Montpelier, 1943, p. 270):  

. . .the 2d (blockhouse) was built in Walden 12 miles above Elkins, that was built for to be a more servicible one, a large log house 20 by 40 feet, with a stone chimley in the middle, and the beams run over all around the house about 6 feet and covered with hewed timbers on the outer side of this House was carried up above 6 feet higher with port holes for small armes, and about 3 or 4 rods from the house thare was placed the tops and limbs of trees 8 or 10 feet high and shapened to a point, except a narrow way to pass in, and thare was brush sharpened (?) in the same way to fill up the road if nessery, and the trees was all fell for some distance from the block house.

                   

 It is accepted as fact that the first white inhabitants of Walden were a small garrison under command of a Major Walden, in the winter of 1779-1780, his name being given to the township.  The block house remained standing for many years, and housed early settlers.

In it the first school was held, and it was also the scene of the first religious services, and the first white birth which was Jesse Perkins in 1790.  At one time it served as a homestead for Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Sabin and their 26 children.

Here may be seen a well about 20 feet deep, dug and walled by the garrison, still in splendid condition.

Today this is purely an agricultural vicinity with land under cultivation at an altitude of 1,671 feet, one of the highest elevations at which agriculture is carried on in the state.

From this point you look northeast by east onto the present Foster farm, where the first death in Walden occurred when Samuel Gilman was clearing land and had gone out in the evening to roll the burning piles together.  On his failing to return his wife went looking for him, and found his body crushed under a smoldering tree that had toppled onto him.

Part of the present house on this farm is over 150 years old and is the oldest standing inhabited house in town.

Beyond this farm up the hillside is where the Stevens families settled.  Ebenezer Stevens being the first, in about 1795, and by 1804 was the possessor of about 1000 acres of Walden soil.

Now turn around and face in a westerly direction so you are looking over the Hazen Road.  You can see the buildings where Mr. Olney now lives, where David Farrington settled about 1804.  A bit  farther to the right is a farm now owned by Elmer Bean, which was cleared by William Dutton soon after 1800.

There are two cellar holes on the other side of the Hazen Road close by, but we can find no record of who built there.

About due east is Lyford's Pond, but you cannot see it from here.  All of this pond lies in the town of Walden and  was named for a Lieut. Lyford of General Hazen's army during the road construction.

Now we will continue on over the Hazen roadway and in so many places you can see Jay Peak in the distant northerly landscape.  It seems that only one more house was built beside this road before you travel down the long slope toward Meadow Brook (now Perkins Meadow Brook) and there is no record of its builder.

Now for half a mile you follow a row of aged elm trees down a long hillside in a northerly direction to a hard surface town highway.

 Here you cross Perkins Meadow Brook and climb a grade.

Ahead you see the old Farrington Tavern Stand, where Roy and Jennie Goodenough now live (presently owned by Wilfred and Francese Cochran).  You have arrived at South Walden.

A long shed connects the horse barn to the house so that  in the rough wintery weather the traveler was sheltered as his team was unhitched and stabled for the night.  He was also sheltered from the wind as he went to the house.

This is the Road Tavern built by Nathaniel Farrington who settled in the south part of Walden in 1799, building a large log cabin which they opened as a public house, lodging travelers of the Hazen Road.

Later he built the present frame structure and the first Stage Tavern in the town of Walden.  This is made of hand-hewn timbers and hand-planed boards which are well preserved and show the handicraft skill of the carpenters.

Here you cross State Highway Route 15 to a well- graveled road.  A quarter of a mile beyond you come to a white church standing alone on the left hand side of the road, and from here you can look northwest to view Mount Mansfield.  Some very beautiful sunsets and sunrises have been viewed along this road for the next mile.

This church, built in 1825, is also of hewn timbers braced mortise and tenon construction and fastened by wooden pins. One timber along the front base is 18 inches square and 36 feet long, with no wainy corners showing on the open side.  This took quite a tree, of a variety that has stood the years and still is a solid sill.

What stories this old church might tell about bygone days if it could speak.  It has weathered four different Protestant religions --Congregational, Free Baptist, Universalist and Methodist.

From here to Morrill Brook were a number of houses that have possibly been destroyed by fire at various times, as there are eight known cellar holes that still showed plainly five years ago.

A short distance beyond the church on the left was the first town house in Walden, the cellar hole still showing.

The old cemetery is over a half mile to the north on the left side of the road, but first let's stop at Morrill Brook where Abel Morrill settled before 1800 and built the first sawmill in town.  Here also was built a blacksmith, carriage shop and a gristmill.  This was a booming community about 1850.

As stories go, this is where Indian Joe's father left General Hazen to go back to see his family by the pond in Cabot, later known as Joe's Pond in honor of his son, Joe.

Progress was slow in building the road from between the ponds in Danville to here and the aged Indian had been away from his family a long time that summer, so he departed in the night and did not return.  This may be true or false as some of the legends can be, but is true to Indian nature.

Easterly up this brook about a mile is a wonderful piece of railroad bridge-building for its time (about 1895) by the use of a large granite-block tunnel that is worth a person's time to see.  This tunnel is covered with dirt to level the railroad track.

The stone work is massive, being about 200 feet deep and about 30 feet high, made up of stone blocks 8 feet long, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches thick, forming a huge arched canopy.

This trestle was first built of wood to span a gully about 200 feet deep and about 300 feet across the top, then the stone tunnel was laid and the trestle filled with dirt on the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad.

Now up a sharp climb on our road and on the right is another old house built by Nathaniel Farrington about 1805.  This has some nice stone work for a base, and housed a country store and post office for many years. There were three fireplaces and four cellars in this house.

Up the hill to the cemetery on the left.  This was a gravelly knoll and good digging, and the back part of the yard is very old with some interesting epitaphs on some of the stones.  Early settlers' names are on many of the stones.

Here and for half a mile farther you can have a wonderful view of Mount Mansfield to the west, also Jay Peak farther to the north across hills and valleys.

The next dwelling is that of Lester Fuller (presently owned by George Mack), a plank house like many others in the vicinity, and here John Weeks kept one of the first stores in town.

Near the south side of this house can be seen a well similar to the one near the blockhouse and is said to have been dug by men while the Hazen Road was being constructed past this point.  Also here Captain Edmund Eddy was the first carriage maker in town, about 1820.

After traveling over a hill to a small brook now known as Dudley Brook, you go 1/8 mile up a hill to the old Edwards farm house where Mrs. Albia Charland now lives.

At this point the Hazen Road continues straight across a field, passing in front of Mr. Guy's house, then across the St. J. &L.C.R.R. track and continues in a northerly direction, passing close to the north end of Bert Wheeler's house.

About 1/4 mile from this point we cross the town line into Hardwick, somewhere near the site of the Whipple buildings which are but a short distance crosslots northeast, to the late Governor Bell buildings now owned by John Hancock (presently owned by John Bucemi).

Just a bit above this is the Governor Bell farm that was settled by Esq. James Bell in 1804.  He had one son, Hon. James Dean Bell, who held many town and state offices, and was the father of the late Governor Charles J. Bell.

Walden is very proud of having a governor born, raised, schooled and elected to office in this town, who, after serving as governor, retired to his Walden farm to spend his remaining years.  Few towns in the United States have such a record in their annals.

The Hazen Road continues on past the site of the Whipple buildings under two fences close to each other and through Mr. Gendron's pasture to a bridge over the St. J.&L.C.R.R. track, now known as the Dry Bridge.

We have purposely overlapped our description of Walden's part of the Hazen Road in order to start and finish on present hard surface road.

 

Thus ends Eddy's interesting description of the Hazen Road's Walden section. 

In East Hardwick, the road crosses the Lamoille River and Route 16 then along Hardwick Street north to Greensboro.  It skirts the western side of Caspian Lake as it continues through the northeastern corner of Craftsbury, into the southwestern part of Albany and then through Lowell. 

It comes to an end at what is now Hazen's Notch State Park in the southwestern corner of Westfield.

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