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Around And About Addison County-Granville
Tuesday October 21, 2008
By M. Stuart Parks
Granville was not always Granville. It was chartered August 8, 1781 by Governor Thomas Chittenden and was named Kingston because it was granted to Reuben King and six members of his family along with fifty plus other grantees. The first proprietors’ meeting was held in the spring of 1783 at Windsor where Reuben King was elected Proprietors Clerk. The following year, 1784, the proprietors offered one hundred acres of land to any woman willing to come to Kingston with her family and make a permanent settlement. Mrs. Daniel King was the first to accept this offer and her husband Daniel became the first Justice of the Peace. Daniel King also built the first sawmill and gristmill for which he received four one hundred acre lots. The first child born in town was their son, Henry King.
In 1834 the name was changed by the Vermont Legislature to Granville or Grantville. Historians assume that the town was named Granville for the town of Granville in either New York or Massachusetts. Those towns were named for John Carteret (1690 – 1763) who was one of the best classical scholars of his day and the Earl of Granville. He was also said to have a great deal of political influence during the reigns of King George I, II, and III. However, there is some dispute about this since some very early town records record the name as Grantville. Some believe that this spelling merely meant that the town had been ‘granted’ by the Vermont Legislature.
Granville is the most north east town in Addison County and is bounded on the north and east by Washington County. When it was granted it contained the usual 23,000 plus acres but in 1834 Avery’s gore was added to bring it to 32,626 acres or 50.98 square miles, much of which sits 950 feet above sea level. Granville’s surface is primarily rough and mountainous with a valley running north to south. Most of the soil is rocky and not particularly good for cultivation so forestry has always been the primary industry with some farming in the valley.
The tillable soil in Granville is well watered by the flow of water from the mountains which surround the village. But water, like fire, can be a good servant and a bad master. The summer of 1830 was extremely wet. On a Saturday near the end of July the rain fell in torrents and continued through most of Sunday when it began to abate. On Monday, however, it began again with even more fury and continued into the night. During this incredible downpour the gulf at Glen Moss Falls was closed by a landslide and water had built up behind this dam that was seventy-five feet high. When this earthen barricade broke and roared through the valley everything in its path was swept away. Although no lives were lost, houses, barns, bridges and much other property was destroyed. The townspeople had wisely moved to higher ground.
Route 100 is the main highway through Granville and is held by many to be the most scenic and beautiful road in Vermont. The Granville Gulf surely supports that opinion. A beautiful added attraction is Moss Glen Falls which is known as a ‘horsetail’ falls. This falls is pictured in practically every collection of Vermont photos ever published. Pictures can be found at www.newenglandwaterfalls.com. Pictures of the falls and early pictures of Granville can be found at www.granville-vt.us.
The oldest business in town is the Granville Manufacturing Company, commonly known as The Bowl Mill. Since 1857 it has been producing hardwood bowls and quarter-sawn clapboard siding. The mill still uses the original machinery, installed in the late 1800’s, but it is now run by electricity instead of water power. Although many Vermont companies sold bowls and siding they have disappeared over the years leaving the Granville mill standing alone. In the 140 years of its existence the mill has been owned by only four families; the Hemenway, Rice, Howlett and Fuller families. There is also a long history of families who have worked at the mill for several generations.
Granville deserves to be seen by all of us. It is a unique town with towering mountains and hills on both sides. Driving through Granville Gulf reminds us of what Vermont must have been like when it was first settled and it is well worth the trip.
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