Benjamin Wheaton

Benjamin Wheaton is not listed in the 1791 census for Brattleboro, but in 1791 he took the Freeman’s Oath, Vermont’s prerequisite for voting; in 1800 he is listed in Brattleboro with one other free person.  On 27 Oct. 1786 Benjamin Wheaton purchased property from Peter Houghton; it was 14 rods more or less.  Then on 1 Jan. 1806 he purchased land from Samuel Root, 18 7/10 rods more or less.  After his death in March of 1806, his estate, on 2 March 1811, sold one half acre more or less to the Town of Brattleboro.  A notation on the deed reads “to be used by the town of Brattleboro forever as a road, common, or green and for no other purpose.”  This land today is known as the West Brattleboro Common.  In 1803 he purchased a gallery pew in the town’s meeting house in West Brattleboro and this pew was sold to Benajah Dudley, Jr. by Benjamin’s estate. 

It is believed that he died from small pox as early in March 1806 there was an item on the agenda of the annual town meeting “to see if the town will consent that a pesthouse shall be opened and adopt some other measure to prevent the spreading of small pox which has made its appearance in this town.”

He was a literate man, owning a number of books, a brass inkstand and a share in the Brattleboro library.  His profession is not known, though he owned many tools commonly used in furniture making.

Much of the above information came from an article written by Anne Dempsey, and published in the Brattleboro Reformer, 7 Feb. 1994, as the first of a five part series about contribution of blacks to the history of Brattleboro, and in observance of Black History Month.

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