House, One Family, Celebrates Three Centuries
(January 2000 Newspaper Article)
Frederick Saxton and his family were among those very
early settlers in Burlington, VT who had to flee the Champlain
Valley upon the arrival of the British in the spring of 1776.
After the successful conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Frederick
Saxton returned to the Burlington area. Although his rank in the
MA militia was that of Sergeant, he was referred to with the honorary
title of "Colonel" for the remainder of his life. Col.
Saxton had an obsession with and talent for building frame houses.
He reportedly built the first frame house in Burlington
on Pearl Street. In 1793, this house was used to host the then
Prince of Wales for his stay in Burlington on his tour from Quebec
to Boston. Frederick Saxton was then one of four men who guided
the Prince's group overland into Boston. Colonel Saxton traded
the Pearl Street house for land in Shelburne, building yet another
frame house, the first frame house in Shelburne.
A line drawn due West from Saxton Point on the Vermont
shore of Lake Champlain brings one to the location of Edgewater
Farm on Willsboro Point. Colonel Saxton could not bear to see
this land unutilized and established yet another frame house,
the first on Willsboro Point, all others at the time being log
cabins. Early on this location was not so much for farming, but
for logging of the profitable virgin timber which was gathered
into large rafts and floated to Montreal and Quebec City on the
Northward current of Lake Champlain. These same currents proved
lethal on April 28, 1796 when a log canoe manned by Frederick
Saxton, his friend Jared Post, and Post's two sons was swamped
as they neared Willsboro Point. All drowned and their bodies were
Immediately after the Colonel's death, various Saxtons continued
to live on Willsboro Point, namely Nehemiah and James Saxton,
and their sisters, Abelena Saxton (Mrs. Daniel Barber) and Rhoda
Saxton (Mrs. Billy Blinn, Jr.). After the death of Daniel Barber
in 1802 and subsequent remarriage to Daniel Rowley I, Abelena
remained at Edgewater Farm; in fact she was interred on the Southeast
corner of the front lawn when she died in 1850. Abelena and Daniel
Rowley I had seven daughters and one son - Daniel Rowley II. Since
women at this time could not own property, as soon as Daniel Rowley
II attained his majority in 1833, his father signed the property
over to him and walked out of this family's life. The property
has remained under the Rowley name since that time.
One can only imagine what it was like during the cold winter of
1799-1800 when Nehemiah Saxton and his wife Betsey Holibird and
their young family observed the change of the calendar into a
During the period 1899-1900 the fourth generation of the family,
George Anderson Rowley and his wife Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie"
Higby celebrated another turn-of-the-century with a large reception
for over 100 relatives and Congregational Church members in the
house on January 1, 1900.
In 1987 Edgewater Farm was listed on the State Register of Historic
Places and on Feb 14, 1988 was the first residential property
in Willsboro to be listed on the National Register of Historic
Places. Among some of the treasures contained in the house is
the furniture utilized for 25 years as the first postal office
for the town of Willsboro under Levi Higby, Jr. Postmaster; three
chests crafted by Daniel Rowley I for his
daughters dowries; items representing service of family members
Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, and World War II.
The farm had a contract
with the federal government to provide apples for the troops during
World War I. Edgewater Farm's origins began with logging, then
moved to farming, had an award-winning dairy herd, was a truck-farm
providing vegetables for Swift & Co. in Vermont for commercial
canning, a thriving apple orchard, in the 1930's briefly operated
as a boarding house and was actively farmed through the 1960's.
Today ties to its agrarian background are maintained each summer
by the provision of hay for a local dairy.
Eleven generations of the same family now trace their roots directly
back to this house. This New Year Eve individuals from the 7th,
8th and 9th generations will gather to celebrate their unique
heritage and the turn of a third century in the same house. Hosts
will be Peter Rowley, his wife Sandi Craig; their son and daughter-in-law,
Donald and Kelley Rowley; grandsons Ian and Isaac Rowley; cousins;
Martha Rowley Kemp and husband David Albert; Marsha Estabrook
and husband Dick Adams; David Kemp and various other cousins.
January 1st was the day when the house was opened to all those
who wished to drop in to share good tidings for this landmark