18. Dispute with the Yorkers is Reinvigorated
From the fall of 1772 until the commencement of the American Revolution, the controversy with New York between settlers of the New Hampshire Grants in Bennington and its neighboring towns was carried on with increased vigor and animosity. Its history is interspersed:
* with attempts on the part of the New York authorities to take possession of the disputed lands;
* with indictments at Albany of the New Hampshire settlers as rioters for resisting such attempts;
* with laws and proclamations for their apprehension and punishment;
* with forcible expulsion of the New York intruders;
* and with the arrest and corporal punishment or banishment of persons on the Grants who supported or countenanced the New York titles or jurisdiction.
A few only of the more important incidents of this period will be noticed.
The settlement at New Haven Falls, as mentioned before, was the scene of further controversy. In July 1773, Col. Reid, who resided in New York, induced a number of Scotch emigrants lately arrived in that city to accompany him to New Haven to settle there. The party soon arrived and took possession of the improvements for a second time, turning out New Hampshire settlers. Having reinstated the millstones by hooping them, and having repaired the gristmill, Col. Reid returned to New York leaving the Scotchmen to keep possession and continue the improvements.
Information of this invasion was sent to Bennington, whereupon Allen with Warner, Baker and a number of others hastened to the scene of action, put the New Hampshire claimants again in possession, caused the miller to break the millstones into small pieces with a sledge and throw them down the falls, giving orders not to repair the mill again "on pain of suffering the displeasure of the Green Mountain Boys." The Scotch settlers, who had not removed their families from New York, having discovered the nature of the controversy, declared they had been deceived by Col. Reid and abandoned all claim to the land. They afterwards settled on the Mohawk River.
To prevent further intrusions, Allen and his party caused a block fort to be built at the falls and furnished with a small garrison, which subsequently afforded full protection to the settlements in that vicinity.
A controversy between the New York and New Hampshire claimants had also existed on the Onion River. To give protection to the New Hampshire families in that section, the men of Allen and Baker built another block fort near the lower falls at Colchester, with thirty-two portholes in the upper story, and furnished it with arms and ammunition.
In consequence of information received at New York, of these and other like occurrences, the council on Aug. 1, 1773, advised Gov. Tryon "that the frequency of riots and boldness of the rioters made it necessary to employ a military force" and unanimously requested him to demand of Gen. Haldimand, the military commander in chief, to order a sufficient number of troops to occupy Ticonderoga and Crown Points, "to aid the magistrates in the performance of their duty." This demand was made by the governor, but was not well received by the general, who did not appear satisfied of the propriety of employing regular troops for such a purpose.
A tedious negotiation ensued between the governor and general which was protracted until so late in the fall that the Governor and Council, believing that winter would set in before anything could be effected, withdrew their demand. The project of settling their titles to the lands of the Green Mountain Boys by the arbitration of British regulars was thus abandoned for that season.
The town of Clarendon and its vicinity was the theatre of repeated disturbances. The first settlers of that town, which they called Durham, held deeds from Col. Henry H. Lydius, who pretended to have a title from Gov. Thomas Pownall of Massachusetts. It was, however, merely an order to locate a tract of land beginning at the mouth of Otter Creek, thence extending 60 miles up the creek and in width 20 miles. A part of these lands lying in and north of Clarendon had been granted by the governor of New York to James Duane and others under the name of Socialborough.
The settlers in Clarendon were generally in favor of New York and pretended to hold under Lydius, declining to purchase under either New York or New Hampshire. Their refusal to purchase under New York was connived at by the governor, for the sake of the aid he hoped to obtain from them against the New Hampshire men. Some of their principal men were appointed magistrates, and they recognized the jurisdiction of New York.
This defection in the midst of the Green Mountain Boys gave them much trouble and various modes were resorted to induce the Durhamites, as they were called, to recognize the New Hampshire title. They had received repeated counsel and warnings to purchase under New Hampshire, which they not only refused to do, but continued to disparage that title, and give countenance and aid to that of New York.