History of Woodstock, Vermont

History of Woodstock, Vermont
by Henry Swan Dana

submitted & transcribed by Linda Boorom

pages 108 - 111
    The first settler in District No. 14, on the road running up the Branch from the Green, was Ephraim Brewster, a descendant of the well-known Elder Brewster who came over in the Mayflower. In the spring of 1775 he came up to this town from Preston, Conn., and purchased some three hundred acres of land extending along the South Branch, and including all the meadow land on both sides of the brook, from Elder Sterlin's north line to the big rock near Harvey Dutton's stone house. He spent the summer in clearing the land and building a house. This first house was made of logs, and located on the hillside up above the meadow. The frame house, which was constructed of hardwood plank, was erected a few years later. The next spring, being the spring of 1776, he moved his family up from Connecticut, driving a four-ox team with supplies, while his wife kept company on horseback, carrying the two children in her arms.
    Mr. Brewster proved a valuable addition to the new settlement. He was a good farmer and careful man of business; ready to assist in every improvement, and to do his part in conductiing public affairs. He was born in 1731, which brought him on the stage of action in season to serve during the last French and Indian war. When Royalton was burnt in 1780 by the Indians, Mr. Brewster, having had experience with this kind of foe, was ready at once to turn out in defence of the settlement and assist in beating back the savages. In or about the year 1787, in connection with Lieutenant Richard Ransom, he laid out the road along the South Branch from the Green through to Reading. Previous to this the travel had been by the great highway which led up the present Church Hill, and so on to the south Parish.
    Mr. Brewster, by his good management, was able to leave a comfortable estate for the support of his wife and family when he died. He passed away may 10, 1810, at the age of seventy-nine. His wife, Margery, was the daughter of Paul Parks, of Preston, Conn. When, about the year 1744, the sect of the Separatists began to appear in Connecticut, one of their churches was organized in Preston. In this church Parks was ordained an elder, and was charged at his ordination not to premeditate what he should say in his preaching, but to speak as the Spirit should give him utterance. Yet the Seperatists allowed that, while the knowledge of the tongues and liberal sciences is not absolutely necessary, it is convenient, and like to be profitable if rightly used.
    Margery Brewster died in February, 1841, at the advanced age of ninety-eight years and two months. At the time of her decease she had been an inhabitant of the town sixty-five years, and had lived to see the fourth generation of her descendants come upon the stage of action, and the fifth born into the world.
    Mr. Brewster had three sons and three daughters. Polly married Seth Sterlin; Paul married Rachel Stiles, enlisted in the service during the War of 1812, and was out two years, being discharged in 1815; Sally married William Bramble; Seth married Dolly Green, of Woodstock, the 14th day of November, 1799; Ephraim married Augusta Crafts, sister of Governor Crafts; studied medicine, was appointed surgeon in the army at the opening of the War of 1812, and sometime during the first year of the war was accidentally drowned in Lake Champlain. He left one son, who also studied medicine, and was established as a physician in Craftsbury. Margery married Benjamin Stiles, of Woodstock, the 25th of February, 1802.

    Another early settler in the town, who may be mentioned in this connection, was Joseph Sterlin. He came from Lyme, Conn., in 1781, and in company with Jabez Cottle built a grist-mill and saw-mill in the south Parish, on land belonging to Cottle. In the spring of the next year he received from Cottle a deed of one half of a tract commonly called and known by the name of the "Mill Spot," also a house spot adjoining the same, "together with one half of the saw-mill and one half of the grist-mill now standing on the premises." This same season he moved his family up from Lyme, then consisting of four sons and three daughters. Sterlin was a blacksmith by trade, and posessed great inventive genius. He was a skillful workman besides. He contrived many useful tools for the neighboring mechanics, and in 1806 invented the first machine used for paring apples. Such, indeed, was his mastery in these matters, that when the meighboring mechanics had a piece of work in hand they did not know how to do, the word was, Call on Uncle Jo, he will do it for you."
    Joseph Sterlin died September 17, 1814; his wife, Lydia, November 20, 1805.
    Seth Sterlin, eldest son of Joseph, at the age of sixteen, was drafted for six months' service in the Revolutionary War. He went to New London, and assisted in finishing the forts and barracks, and in mounting the guns. In 1782 he came with his father to Woodstock. In 1788 he began working at his trade of blacksmith, which he learned under his father, setting up a shop on ground afterwards occupied by Dr. Buckman. In 1791 he was appointed quartermaster-sergeant by Colonel Jesse Safford, in the Third Regiment, Third Brigade, Vermont militia. In 1798 he broke up from the old stand in the South Village, and moved into School District No. 14, a short distance above Mr. Brewster's place, where he followed his trade as blacksmith, and devoted part of his time to farming. At his trade he showed himself inventive and skillful, like his father.
    But Seth Sterlin was now about to make a great change in his course of life. Not far from the year 1804 he had become a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in this town, and at Barnard, May 17, 1807, he was ordained a deacon in that church by Francis Asbury, bishop. He preached in the society for a number of years, as occasion presented, but becoming dissatisfied with the mode of government of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he withdrew, and uniting with the Methodist Reformed Church, he was ordained elder in that church the 4th day of February, 1815. In 1833 his name was placed on the pension-roll, and thereafter he received a yearly pension of twenty dollars so long as he lived. He died the 27th of april, 1846, and it was remarked of him at the time that for nearly fifty years he had been engaged in the ministry as a preacher of the gospel, and in this character few had been called upon to administer its consolatons to the afflicted more frequently than he.
    After the death of Seth Sterlin the home farm continued with his son William (born Jauary 19, 1799, died February 5, 1867), and upon the decease of William it was divided between his two sons, Seth F. and John.

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