1813, James Whitelaw, Ryegate, Vermont, Als To Gen. William Barton In Prison
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1813, James Whitelaw, Ryegate, Vermont, Als To Gen. William Barton In Prison:
This item is a wonderful,original document dated 1813, Ryegate, Vermont, where James Whitelaw has written to General William Barton regarding the fact that the proprietors of Barton, Vermont can't designate which parcels are public or private; only a properly surveyed plot can be used.....signed James Whitlaw. Interesting letter in that this is the start of the trouble that put General Barton in prison .....Letter is 8x11, folds, minor faults, else in overall good condition.
James Whitelaw, "the Father of Ryegate," was born February 11, 1748, at New Mills, Old Monkland Parish, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was a land surveyor by occupation, and left Scotland in 1773, reaching Ryegate June 28th of that year. He again returned to the town November 11, 1773, and permanently remained here. The first surveyor-general of Vermont was Ira Allen, and Whitelaw was appointed, in 1783, as deputy surveyor by him. Whitelaw was chosen in October, 1787, surveyor general of Vermont, and was annually elected to that office until November, 1805, more than eighteen years.
He was the first town clerk, and, with the exception of a few years, held the office until his death. In 1800 he was appointed postmaster, which he continued to be until his death. For more than forty years his influence was felt in almost every movement in town.
Of General Whitelaw it is said: "He had always great care and government of his own words and actions; there was no pride or passion in his intercourse with mankind, but a wonderful serenity of mind and evenness of temper visible in his very countenance. Few men have been more beloved in life, or more lamented in death." He died April 29, 1829, aged eighty-one years.
William Barton (1748–1831) was an officer in the Continental Army during the American War of Independence who retired with the rank of colonel. He later served as adjutant general of the Rhode Island militia.
Barton was born in Warren, Rhode Island on May 26, 1748. He worked as a hatter in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1771, he married Rhoda Carver. In 1775, he enlisted in the Continental Army as a corporal. He fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. In 1777, as a major in the Rhode Island state troops, he planned and led a raid on British headquarters, capturing Major General Richard Prescott. For this exploit, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and honored by a resolution of the Continental Congress.
When Rhode Island ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1790, Barton was sent to New York to notify George Washington.
In 1781, Barton petitioned the governor of Vermont for a grant of unsettled land near the Canadian border. He was joined in this petition by Ira Allen (brother of Ethan), John Paul Jones, and others. The town of Barton, VT came into existence at this time.Then Col. Barton was jailed over a land dispute. He refused to pay a real estate tax on some land he had sold to a party named Wadhams. This put the title in dispute. Wadhams found out about that, repurchased the land from another man, and then demanded that Barton return his money to him. After several court actions, Barton was ordered to pay the original amount, plus court costs. He refused to do this, insisting he would "go to jail and rot" before paying.
At the age of seventy-seven, he was released at the initiative of the visiting Marquis de Lafayette, who agreed to pay the balance of his fine. Barton died on October 22, with the year of death being given variously as 1831 or 1833. He is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence, Rhode Island. Fort Barton in Rhode Island was named after William Barton.
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