The Farm in Morristown


In 1793, George "The Elder" Kentfield settled on a 100-acre farm in Morristown, Vermont. His was the third family to winter over in Morristown.

The early records of the town have been microfilmed and can be reviewed at any LDS Family History Center. Some time ago, I found the deed by which George sold the farm in 1803, when he moved about five miles to the neighboring town of Sterling. But -- the property was described only as "the English School lot." Look for yourself - here's the deed. Hardly what I would call a meaningful description! And the deed when George purchased the lot has not turned up in the records.

So the real work began. Turns out the town charter in 1782 listed some 65 original grantees, each of whom would recieve land, and also provided five "rights" for public purposes. One of those was "for the support of an English School." This was the term for a primary school -- the proverbial one-room rural school we've all read and heard so much about.

So somehow, George got ownership of one of the public rights. Interesting. But just where was the lot located? Most of the deeds refer to lots by number, and I had long since found a map of all the lots. But which one was the English School lot?

Well, finally it happened. On February 5, 1999 I found the record of the meeting of the original proprietors when they drew lots to determine their lot assignments. And it listed the public rights, as well. (I wonder who drew lots for them?) The same records contained the survey notes, with the exact dimensions and location of each lot.

And here it is, laid out onto the standard topographic map of the area. The intersection labeled "Morristown" on the right is the so-called "Morristown Four Corners" on the old road just south of Morrisville. The lot measures 2,560 feet by 1,680 feet, just under 100 acres. (Actually, the southeast corner is drawn a little off, so it isn't quite rectangular.) At the northwest corner is Kenfield Brook, which flows northeast through Terrill Gorge and into the Lamoille River.

And on the northern edge is the location of a house reportedly owned several decades later by George's grandson, Horace Kenfield. Unfortunately, the LDS films only go through 1851, and Horace didn't get the property until later. Does anyone have access to the Morristown deeds? I need volume 14, page 114.

There's a lot of persistent detective work involved in a discovery like this, but it's a wonderful example of what can be accomplished at your local FHC. And most of all: don't ever give up!