In 1761, Royal Governor Benning Wentworth granted a charter to Caleb Williams and seventy others on the land now known as Clarendon. Each of the seventy was granted 23,600 acres, so that parts of surrounding towns were included in this grant. In 1768, men from Rhode Island and Connecticut came to clear the land, largely the lands found in the valley of the Otter; among them James Rounds, who was in Clarendon before 1771, and whose son built the first log house in Clarendon Springs, which lies over the mountain high above Otter Valley in the westernpart of town. For the first few years, these pioneers returned to their homes in Rhode Island and Connecticut for the winter months and cleared the land in the summer months. The settlement was first called Durham, but later Clarendon, presumably for the first man who was buried in the town. The first white woman to live in Durham was Mrs. Sprague, who lived to be 104 years of age, and her son Durham was the first white child born there. By 1790, in the first census, Clarendon had become the largest town in Rutland County with 1478 inhabitants; Pawlet was second, and Rutland only third. In 1940, Clarendon had only about 500 inhabitants.
Clarendon Springs was first visited by Asa Smith who lived in the east part of town. He suffered from cancer and, according to tradition, saw in a dream the health-restoring mineral springs located in the wilderness on the other side of town. In 1776, he discovered the springs and was restored to health (and a man named Shaw was also cured of cancer by the white clay there). In 1781, George Rounds built a log house near the springs and boarded those who came to the springs in search of a cure. O.H. Rounds, one of his twelve children, born in this cabin Dec. 5, 1788, became one of the leading men in the town and lived to be ninety years of age. In 1798, George Rounds built a frame house at the Springs and kept boarders. The medicinal value of the mineral water was officially recognized in 1793 or 1794, and in 1797, there were eight families living there, whose children totaled 113, ninety-nine of them in attendance at the newly formed district school. The names of the heads of the families
|Theophilus Harrington |
|James Harrington |
|Wm. Harrington |
|George Rounds |
|John Simonds |
|Charles Simonds |
|Richard Weaver |
|Jonathan Eddy |
The land about the springs was later purchased by Richard Murray, who built a large hotel called the Clarendon House and made the village a popular health resort. Stores, lodging houses and homes were built and during the summer Clarendon Springs became a lively village. Its popularity was at its height during the "Gay Nineties," when tourists came from all parts of the Union by stage coach and post chaise in search of healing from the mineral springs. The red-coated Ira band, led by George Curtiss, brother of Fannie (Curtiss) Fish, gave concerts there each summer. The hotel was later managed by the four sons of Richard Murray, Arthur, George, Charles, and headed by Robert, a large bottling works was established, and the water was shipped to all parts of the world, its health-giving properties not being lost over a period of years after bottling. The Springs gradually went into decline, however, and now (1940) only a few residents remain, among them the Seamans family...
Judge Theophilus Harrington came to Vermont in 1785 from Rhode Island and became a member of the Ira church. He was a plain dirt farmer, not a lawyer, but served on the Supreme Court of the state and made the famous decision in a case involving ownership of slaves in a free state, an account of which follows:
A Southerner whose escaped slave had been captured in Vermont while in flight to Canada applied to Judge Harrington for a warrant of extradition and having made out what he considered a 'prima facie' case, "rested." But the Judge intimated that the title to the slave was not satisfactorily established. After three attempts to make the title clear the claimant asked,
"Will your Honor then be good enough to suggest what is lacking to make a perfect title?"
"A bill of sale, Sir, from God Almighty."
The slave-owner lost the case and returned to the South, and the slave was free.
Upon Judge Harrington's monument is chiseled the following inscription:
|"He sleeps on the hills |
No slave ever trod,
Nor claimant brought bills
From Almighty God."