Feature Story

Lareau Farm Graveyard

Lareau Farm Graveyard

Nestled amid towering maple and birch trees, on a hill overlooking Lareau Farm in Waitsfield, Vermont, is the family graveyard of the Stoddards, one of the founding families of the town. The 25-acre farm at 46 Lareau Road is now home to the restaurant American Flatbread, administrative cabins, a bed and breakfast, working farm fields, and an events pavillion. There are no signs or markers indicating the existence of the graveyard to the southwest of the farmhouse - only a narrow trailhead almost entirely obscured by tall weeds and wild raspberry bushes.

The graveyard contains twelve headstones. Seven of these markers are old, crumbling slate and no longer readable. The rest - of granite and sandstone - identify the burials of the patriarch of the Stoddard family, Simeon Stoddard, and his wife Abiah, two of their granddaughters, a greatgrandson, an unknown infant, and Alexander McAllister II, whose son purchased the farm from the Stoddards in the late 1800s. Alex’s gravestone and the markers of the four children are located in the first “knoll,” approximately 500 feet up the hill. Simeon and Abiah are buried approximately 100 feet farther up the hill. According to The History of Waitsfield, Vermont, the Stoddard family graveyard was once covered in apple trees.

Stoddard Family History
Anthony Stoddard emigrated from the West of England to Boston in 1639. He was a linen draper, a constable, and a recorder. He died March 16, 1687 and was noted to be the “Ancientist Shopkeeper in Town.” He married three times and fathered 16 children.

His son, Reverend Solomon Stoddard (see inset), was born and baptized in Boston, Massachusetts on Oct 1, 1643. He was the first librarian of Harvard College. Later, he settled in Northampton, MA and became a pastor and an influential religious leader. His grandson was the famous theologian and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. Solomon married Esther Wareham Mather, widow of Reverend Eleazer Mather. They had 12 children.

Reverend Anthony Stoddard (Aug 9, 1678-Sept 9, 1760), son of Solomon and Esther, attended Harvard College in 1697 and settled in Woodbury, Connecticut as the pastor of the local church. He married twice and fathered 11 children. His son Gideon Stoddard was born in Woodbury, Connecticut on May 27, 1714. Gideon was a deacon and a captain who fought in the French and Indian War. With his wife Olive, he fathered 14 children. His eldest son, Reverend Simeon Stoddard, (Mar 12, 1735 - Oct 27, 1765) was the pastor of North Parish in Saybrook, Connecticut. Simeon married Sarah Waterhouse in 1761. They had 3 children. Their eldest, Simeon, would become the patriarch of the Vermont Stoddards.

View of Waitsfield, Vermont, 1900. Stoddard Farm is in lower right-hand corner.
UVM Landscape Change Project.

Simeon & Abiah Stoddard
Simeon Stoddard, the eldest child of Reverend Simeon Stoddard and Sarah Waterhouse, was born in Saybrook, Connecticut on December 12, 1761. When Simeon moved to Windsor, Vermont in 1783, Vermont had not yet been admitted to the United States and was considered its own republic. Windsor was a thriving town in the late 1700s, and Simeon became one of its first physicians. He met and married Abiah Thompson, daughter of Deacon Hezekiah and Hannah Thompson, in Windsor on August 19, 1784. Hezekiah was one of the first five settlers in Windsor and a prominent religious leader (see inset of Simeon & Abiah Stoddard gravestone).

It is not clear why Simeon and Abiah decided to relocate to Waitsfield in 1794, but with their intense religious upbringings and Simeon’s eventual role in establishing a church in Waitsfield, Simeon and Abiah may have sought to bring their congregationalist ideas to a more remote area in Vermont. Simeon became “one of the first settlers” of Waitsfield where he “cleared and cultivated a large tract of land” (Carleton 405). They raised twelve children on the farm in Waitsfield where Simeon kept a farm and served as selectman and the town’s second physician. His medical practice was located in his home. He may also have traveled to the private homes of patients, as needed.

Simeon was known for his strong beliefs and opinions, both of a religious nature and about the happenings in town. Later in life, he had a reputation for taking “daily drives” in an “ancient horse and carriage” (Jones 182). He died December 15, 1841 at 80 years old. Abiah died February 5, 1833 at 68 years old.

Alexander McAllister
Why would a resident of Fayston be buried in the Stoddard family plot? And why is his gravestone leaning against a tree?

Alexander (“Alex”) McAllister was born and raised in Fayston by his Irish parents, Alexander Sr. and Christina McAllister. His parents kept a farm down the street from the Center Fayston Cemetery off Center Fayston Road. Alex married Sarah Ann McMullen on October 31, 1854. They had a farm on his parents’ land next to the Center Fayston schoolhouse. Sarah and Alex had three children: Ellen, Robert J., and Eliza. Robert purchased the Stoddard farm in the late 1800s. In 1870, Alex died in Fayston from typhoid fever (see inset of his gravestone). Exhuming bodies and moving them to a new location was not an uncommon practice; neither was moving just a headstone and leaving the body elsewhere. It may be assumed that Robert J. had intended to be buried on the hill overlooking the farm and wanted his mother and father buried there as well.

The Children
There are four young children buried on the hill overlooking the farm. Two of these children, Simeon’s granddaughters Eliza Adelia and Amelia Eliza, share names and a grave (see inset). They were the daughters of Captain Robert Orton Stoddard and his wife Betsey (Morse) Stoddard. Robert, who was known throughout Waitsfield for his gallant military efforts in the War of 181, lived on a “portion of his father’s farm” where he raised his eight children.

Eliza A. died seven days before her sixth birthday on September 10, 1830. This was the year of the infamous 1830 freshet which took central Vermont by surprise. After an unseasonably cool and wet early summer, a heat wave descended upon Vermont in late July. At the height of the storm, seven inches of rain fell on Burlington. The rain continued from Sunday to Thursday with shops and mills and houses picked up and swept away. The storm damaged the Stoddard bridge, which at that time served travelers to and from the village of Waitsfield. With the river running along the Stoddard property, one can assume that the damage would have been extensive with the house, barn and outbuildings flooded, killing livestock and crops in its fury.

In September 1830, the family was still recovering from the flood. Eliza’s mother, Betsey, had just given birth to Amelia Eliza and her twin brother Charles Carroll in June that summer. The twins were only two months old at the time of the flood. One month later, their older sister Eliza A. was killed by the kick of a horse on the farm (Hemenway).

Little Amelia Eliza lived only a year and a half before passing away February 15, 1832. Unfortunately, Amelia’s death record does not indicate the cause of death (FamilySearch). Illnesses were common amongst children, especially during the winter months, and in the year 1832, eleven children in Waitsfield died between January and March (FamilySearch). Amelia’s twin brother, Charles, lived to adulthood.

Della Stoddard was also a twin. Della and his sister Dora were the children of Diantha M. (Dudley) and Dorric Smith Stoddard and the great-grandchildren of Dr. Simeon Stoddard. Dorric and Diantha married on January 22, 1860, one month after the birth of their first child, Dorrin (Jones). They lived on Diantha’s parents’ farm in Fayston where Dorric assisted with the farm and Diantha kept house and watched over their three small children: Dorrin, Dora, and Dwight. Della died at birth (see inset), which was not uncommon for twin births in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to the risks involved with carrying and delivering twins.

Old gravemarkers in the children’s section of the graveyard Simeon & Abiah’s gravestone with two old slate markers in foreground

By Meghan Westbrook, August 2014
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For more information on the Stoddards and the town of Waitsfield:
• Carleton, Hiram. Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont; a Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Pub., 1903. Print.
• Jones, Matt Bushnell. History of the Town of Waitsfield, Vermont, 1782-1908, with Family Genealogies. Boston, MA: G.E. Littlefield, 1909. Print.