This Place in History: Fort Vengeance

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PITTSFORD, Vt.

At ‘This Place in History’ we’re at a monument on Route 7 in Pittsford with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“I know I’ve driven by this so many times. It was erected by the town of Pittsford and it was the site of Fort Vengeance, which was built in 1780. So we’re talking about the American Revolution. Vermont has all sorts of monuments along the side of the road that you drive by, so it’s cool to take the time to stop and look,” said Perkins.

“So we’ve come back to the studio. I’ve made some phone calls and we’ve found Bill Powers who has joined us. He’s a historian and he’s done a fair amount of research on Fort Vengeance. So I know we have questions, let’s get them answered,” said Perkins.

“Well in the 1770s, after Burgoyne came through his troops and devastated the area, there was a string of forts that ran from Fort Warren in Castleton, Fort Vengeance in Pittsford and over the Green Mountains to the Royalton area where there were other forts. They said we can’t protect you above that line, so head south and we can protect you from there. That was the initial thought for having Fort Vengeance built,” started Powers.

“It was a palisade fort with trees cut down and a palisade built around an acre or more of land. Technically that monument in Pittsford is the Caleb Houghton Monument and it was established on the site of Fort Vengeance. Caleb Houghton was a soldier stationed there at Fort Vengeance and he had gone down to visit a house where Miss Sarah June Cox was doing his laundry. But on the way back from that house, he was attacked and killed by an Indian about one-half mile south of Fort Vengeance,” explained Powers.

“When Ebenezer Allen, who was the Commander of the Fort and was responsible for building the Fort, heard about this, he took a rum bottle and smashed it against the gate to the Fort and vowed vengeance because of they did to Caleb Houghton. That’s how it got its name.”

“The Fort was never really attacked. The Fort was built in the Spring of 1780 and it was basically finished by the Summer except for the brick work for the furnaces. It lasted until 1782. Northing really significant happened there, but they thought it was important to protect them from any invasion that might come down from Canada. The Fort was build on Caleb Hendee’s property and he went back and occupied the Fort on his property and probably disassembled it,” surmised Powers.

“Dr. A. M. Caverly was a resident of Pittsford and he wrote the History of Pittsford in 1872. He kind of resurrected the memory of Fort Vengeance, if you will. As a result, they erected the monument in 1873 and had all kinds of dignitaries there. There were photographs taken by C.W. Nichols of Rutland, so there was a big celebration in August of 1873,” concluded Powers.

“When Route 7 was widened, the monument got moved a little bit. They also did an archaeological survey of the area. These are some of the objects that we have pulled out. We have a 1746 Spanish silver real. These were used by the troops as a form of currency in the American colonies. We have some early Masonic cuff links. We have some basket weave buttons that are very similar to basket weave buttons that were found in Mackinac in whats now Michigan. And then we this is a 1772 British half penny, so certainly from that time period of the Fort.”

“If you want to learn more about Fort Vengeance, come to the Pittsford Historical Society. We have a wonderful display and a wonderful museum,” said Powers.

That’s the story of Fort Vengeance, at ‘This Place in History!’

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

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