One House, One Family, Celebrates Three Centuries
Edgewater Farm
(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 never recovered.

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 new century.

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 in the
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 year 2000.