Cyrus Eaton was born in 1795 in Sutton, New Hampshire, the son of Jonathan and Jane Sargent Eaton. Cyrus was the third of eleven children. Jonathan and Jane lived in Tunbridge, Vermont, when their first two children were born, and then records show them residing in Sutton the year Cyrus was born.
A history book on the Sargent family and many different genealogical family trees tell that Jonathan Eaton died in Brownington in 1820. He is buried in the North Brownington Cemetery, the earliest cemetery in town. Cyrus’ obituary claimed his family moved here when he was a young boy to live on the Willoughby River, a place that was later known as Eaton’s Mills. Jonathan Eaton shows up in the Brownington land records in the year 1814. The first Brownington census that listed the family was the 1820 census. In that year, Cyrus Eaton was the head of household, but a woman older than 45 years was listed in the household, with many young children, which may indicate that his mother was living with him, as well as his younger siblings.
Cyrus married Sophronia Smith, a woman whose grandfather, Major Samuel Smith, was among the first settlers of Brownington. The first town meeting was held in Major Smith’s home in 1799, whose house was called the first public house in Brownington. Major Smith also built the first sawmill on Day Brook in neighboring Coventry in 1801. Sophronia’s father was Samuel Smith, Jr. Without actually seeing Sophronia’s birth announcement (which rarely happened in Brownington in 1800), it can be assumed that she was born in Brownington since her father was a resident of this town.
In his obituary, we are told that Cyrus Eaton sought business in Canada in 1825 when he was 30 years of age. Eaton was, however, in the 1830 United States census in the town of Brownington, Vermont. When Alexander Twilight moved into Brownington to be the preceptor of the Orleans County Grammar School in 1829, he didn’t have his own house. But in 1830, Twilight purchased property for $650 from Eaton where he then built his own home, which is now the headquarters of the Orleans County Historical Society. The house in Brownington that was Eaton’s was built just down the road from Twilight’s in 1834. Eaton’s youngest son Cyrus Walgrave Eaton said that his father helped Twilight build the old stone building from 1834-1836. This would mean Cyrus Eaton was doing business and living in Vermont during those years.
Historical research by an Eaton descendant relates that Cyrus Eaton’s older brother John Clements Eaton moved to Hull, Canada in 1817. Cyrus moved to the pine lands on the Ottawa River in Canada to start up a lumber business and build mills. His obituary mentioned his time in Canada but did not tell of a town of residence. The town of Hull, where his brother lived, is now part of the capital city of Ottawa, Canada, and is right on the Ottawa river. In 1845, Charles and Cyrus W. Eaton were attending the school, but their place of residence was not in Vermont, but in Buckingham, Canada. Buckingham, a town now in the province of Quebec which was once called Canada East, is 20 miles east of Hull. Cyrus must have moved to same area as his brother to live near or with him. In another mention of Eaton’s Canadian residence, there was a sale of property in Brownington in February of 1844, between Cyrus Eaton of Lower Canada and Asa Kimball Smith, Eaton’s brother-in-law.
However, Cyrus was listed in every United States census from 1820 to 1870 (Cyrus Eaton was in the Brownington census of 1830 and 1840. In 1850, he was listed in the Barton census with his wife and two sons, including Cyrus W. who at 13 years old was listed as born in Canada. In 1860 and 1870, Cyrus, his wife Sophronia and son Charles F. were listed in the Barton census.). Cyrus must have lived in Canada but kept ownership of property in Vermont.
In 1839, five Eaton children were listed as students in the Orleans County Grammar School catalog: A. S. Eaton, S. S. Eaton, B. B. Eaton, Charles Eaton and Eleanor Eaton. They were in residence at Mr. Eaton’s house. In 1841, Albert, Samuel and Eleanor were attending the Grammar School and were staying at their father’s house. In 1845, Charles F. and Walgrave C. Eaton were attending the school from Buckingham, Canada. In 1847 and 1848, there were no Eaton children listed as students in the Grammar School, and then in 1849, Walgrave Eaton was listed again this time from Barton.
Cyrus Eaton returned to live full time in the Barton, Vermont area. According to his obituary, he remained in Canada for twenty years, and then moved back into the Northeast Kingdom. Historian Darrell Hoyt wrote in his book Sketches of Orleans, Vermont, saying Cyrus Eaton moved to Barton Landing in 1840 and built the first grist mill in town, on the banks of the Barton River. The sawmill he built was also the first, built on the west side of the Barton River, later owned by E. L. Chandler. It was directly behind where the old opera house stood on Maple Street in Orleans. He then opened the first general store in town where the municipal building is currently on Maple Street. Also according to Hoyt, Cyrus Eaton owned most of the land in Barton Landing, now known as Orleans. In the 1850 census, his occupation was listed as millright, which shows that he was still working at his mills. In 1859, he gave the Methodist congregation property on Water Street in Barton Landing to build a church.
In 1859, Sophronia’s unmarried sister Lucina moved in with her and Cyrus. In 1860, Cyrus was listed as a farmer, with Sophronia keeping house, and Lucina acting as domestic servant. His real estate value was $10,000. His personal estate valued at $9075. In 1867, he moved to a 20-acre farm near Barton Village. In 1870, the last census he was listed in, Cyrus owned $12000 in personal estate, with $5000 in real estate.
In January of 1879, Lucina became sick. According to an obituary in the Orleans County Monitor newspaper, she suffered for five days before passing away at 74 years old. The social pages in the newspaper that spring spoke about an epidemic of flu and diphtheria raging through the area. Two weeks later on January 27, the socials mentioned Cyrus Eaton’s health was declining rapidly after being very ill. He died on February 18, only a month after his sister-in-law. He was 84 years old. On May 12th of that year, a notice in the Monitor told readers of an auction of the Col. Eaton’s estate to take place on May 20th. Mrs. Eaton, Col. Eaton’s widow, was preparing to move to Massachusetts to live with her son Albert. However, the early morning of May 13th, Sophronia passed away in her sleep at the age of 78 years.
In August 1879, the Eatons’ sons returned home to take care of their parents’ estate and erect a monument for them in the Welcome O. Brown Cemetery in Barton, VT.
- “1820 Census of Brownington, Vermont.” At Ancestry.com
- “1830 Census of Brownington, Vermont.” At Ancestry.com
- “1840 Census of Brownington, Vermont.” At Ancestry.com
- “1850 Census of Barton, Vermont.” At Ancestry.com
- “1860 Census of Barton, Vermont.” At Ancestry.com
- “1870 Census of Barton, Vermont.” At Ancestry.com
- “1839 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- “1841 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- “1845 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- “1847 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- “1848 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- “1849 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- “1853 Orleans County Grammar School Catalogue of Students.” At Orleans County Historical Society (Old Stone House Museum)
- Proceedings, Volumes 18-22. By Freemasons. Colorado Knights Templars. Grand Commandery. Pg 10. Accessed on Google Books 12/1/11. http://books.google.com/books?id=F9cqAAAAMAAJ&lpg=RA2-PA10&ots=_y7G2F3ePr&dq=cyrus%20walgrave%20eaton&pg=RA2-PA10#v=onepage&q=cyrus%20walgrave%20eaton&f=false
- Sketches of Orleans, Vermont. By Darrell Hoyt, 1985. Published by Orleans County Historical Society.
- “Genealogy of John Clements Eaton and Louisa Ricker”: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~paulrswan/Eaton_Lineage.html#gen9
- Brownington Land Records, Book 1-5: Transcribed by Joan Huguenin. At the Orleans County Historical Society.
- “History of Littleton, New Hampshire: Genealogy,” comp. by George C. Furber. Published for the town by the University Press, 1905 Pg 457. Accessed on Google Books 12/7/11. http://books.google.com/books?id=Cq6lBOkxotkC&lpg=PA457&ots=pzB_dE4mu_&dq=Samuel%20Smith%20Brownington%20VT&pg=PA457#v=onepage&q=Samuel%20Smith%20Brownington%20VT&f=false