|LEMUEL STURDEVANT (1756-1839)|
Lemuel Sturtevant and Deborah Bryant had fourteen children, most of whom were affected by the great Revolutionary War. The fifth, Deborah Sturtevant, born in 1748, married William Thompson in 1770. The eleventh child, Lucy Sturtevant, born in 1754 married Isaac Thompson in 1774, who was called up to the "Lexington Alarm" of April 19, 1775. the twelth child, Lemuel Sturtevant, born November 9, 1756, served under Captain John Paul Jones in 1776 on the ship Providence where they destroyed the British fisheries in Nova Scotia and captured 16 British prize ships.
Lemuel Sturtevant succeeded to the rank of Lieutenant before he was injured and released to return home. On November 23, 1778 Lemuel (22 years old) married Priscilla Thompson (18 years old), the sister of Lemuel's brother-in-law, Isaac Thompson. The Thompsons and Sturtevants were all from Halifax (Middleborough), Plymouth county, Massachusetts. The families were all very intertwined within the community.
Isaac's most important contribution came when in january 1788 the debate raged over the ratification of the newly proposed Constitution of the United States. Many of the citizens felt that a new Constitution would take away many of the states rights and preferred to tremain under the Articles of Confederation. Those in favor of the Contitution were Federalists and those against it were the Anti-Federalists. Several of the states had already ratified the Constitution, but none of the thirteen were needed for it to become enacted and Massachusettes appeared to be the pivotal state. There had been a major monetary crisis where the requirements to make mortgage payments in gold or silver had placed many of the citizens in dire straits. Many felt there was a need for a central bank that could establish paper money as a viable currenty.
Four other issues dominated the discussion about the new Constitution. It said nother about a test of religion where one had to belong to a specific denomination or pay so much money to a church. Some thought this good and others bad. Others saw slavery as a major issue and felt that with the adoption of the new law the practice would be abolished by 1808. the issue of "titles of nobility" was still hotly discussed and many suported the Constitution because no such titles were designated in the new document. the promise of a future "Bill of Independent Rights" to be added to the Constitution was a major enticement for many to ratify. But when Isaac Thompson, his friend Reverand Backus, and two other delegates met with a town meeting in December of 1787 to hear the will of the people, the town voted not to support ratification. So with this mandate the four went to Boston.
The convention went until February, 1788, when the final vote was taken. Isaac Thompson and Reverend Backus voted for the Constitution while the other two Middleborough representatives voted in the negative. Evidently the townspeople did not hold this vote against Thompson because they re-elected him a selectman in the town election shortly after the ratification convention. while the New Englanders prized their liberty, Isaac Thompson must have been persuaded that the opportunity to create a new republic, with the virtues handed down by their Puritan forebearers was an important part of the new government. In addition, order had to be brought out of chaos and the economic sitution in general was not good. Reverend Backus summarized the position of himself and Isaac Thompson in his speech of 1788:
"...the American Revolution was built upon the principal that all men are born with an equal right to liberty and property and that officers have no right to any power but what is fairly given them by the consent of the people. And in the Constitution now proposed to us, a power is reserved to the people constitutionally to reduce every officer again to a private station; and what a guard is this against their invation of other's rights, or abusing their power! Such a door is now open for the establishment of righteous government, and for the securing of equal liberty, as never was before opened to any people upon earth."
In 1781, Colonel William Barton and others, which included John Paul Jones, "the bravest of the brave among naval commanders," petitioned the governor council and general assembly of the state for a grant of unlocated lands for the purpose of settling a new plantation to be erected into a township by the name of Providence. The township, in compliance with said petition, was granted October 20, 1781, and a charter given to said petition October 20, 1789, and in the 14th year of the independence in which it received the name of Barton.
Lemuel Sturtevant and his wife Priscilla (Thompson), along with 10 children, moved to this town in March of 1799. They were both raised in Middleborough, Massachusettes, married in 1778 and remained there until 1780 when they moved to Lyme, New Hampshire. They remained in Lyme until they moved to Barton when it was established. Lemuel first came to Barton in may, 1789, with his two oldest sons and Joseph Skinner, a hired man, and on the 28th of May, he purchased, of General William Chamberlain, land on which he cleared a part, put up a dwelling a made prepartions to move the following spring. Lemuel and Priscilla were both professors of religion before they came to Barton.
On March 7th, 1800 a group of six men attached their names to a petition addressed to the honorable Timothy Hinman, Esq., requesting that the town of Barton, county of Orleans, state of Vermont, be legally organized. Lemual Sturtevant was one of the names on the petition. Timothy Hinman, justice of peace responded with a notice on March 8, 1800 that a meeting should be called at the house of Mr. Jonathan Allyn on Saturday 22, day of March at 20 o'clock where the necessary officers required by law were to be chosen and other business as necessary. On that date the meeting was held where several officers were chosen including Lieut. Lemuel Sturtevant, moderator; Lieut. Lemuel Sturtevant, treasurer; Lieut. Lemuel Sturtevant, one of the listers.
In 1800, Priscilla Stsurtevant made a quilting and invited all the women in four towns, Barton, Brownington, Irasburgh, and Glover. they all attended but one; two from each town except Barton.
The first church in Barton was organized August 27, 1807, by Reverend Elijah Lyman of Brookfield and Reverend Walter Chapin of Woodstock, Vermont. the names of its members, according to recollection, were Deacon Lemuel Sturtevant St., Deacon Joseph Tabor, Samuel Thatcher, John Brown, Cyril Sturtevant, Cyrus Sturtevant, Mrs. Elizabeth Benton, Mrs. john Brown, Cmrs. Joseph thatcher, Mrs. Rebecca Chamberlin, Mrs. Lemuel Sturtevant and Mrs. John Kimball. Others were suggested by other historians but it could not be verified because the membership of the church never increased, it had no permanent place of worship, and because of changing demographics of the community soon became extinct.
On Tuesday, Sep. 23, 1817, a number of persons met at the schoolhouse in Barton village, and confessed of faith and covenant was read by Reverends present and approved by those which united in church relations. In the evening Reverend Wood of Boscawen, N.H., preached. The next day the people met at the schoolhouse upon "Allen hill," a wooded elevation near the road and east of "Mansfield" brook. The names of those making up said church were Cyril Sturtevant, Jarius Sturtevant, Cyrus Sturtevant, Priscilla Sturtevant, Huldah Sturtevant, and others. On October 5th, seven others joined and on November 30 eight others joined (including Lemuel Sturtevant). This was the beginning of the Congregational Church in Barton village.
Lemuel and Priscilla lived at Barton until Lemuel's death on November 15, 1839 at age 83 years. Priscilla remained until her death July 4th, 1844 at the age of 84 years. The town of Barton struggled and years later it was said that "our young men, mostly, when they arrived at maturity, seek a home in the West, or elsewhere.