Newfane, VT Sawtell Family Fire, Feb 1782


A melancholy catastrophe occurred in this town on the night of the 2d of February, 1782, in the burning of the log house of Henry Sawtell, which created great sorrow, bordering upon terror, in the minds of the inhabitants of the vicinity, for the house was not only burned, but Mr. and Mrs. Sawtell and five children were consumed therein. The morning after the fire the neighbors saw a cloud of smoke gathered over the Sawtell place, and smelt an unusual odor in the air like burning flesh and clothing. The site of the house was hidden from the view of all the neighboring inhabitants, being situated in a deep valley; but as they approached the ruins they discovered, to their great horror and astonishment, the Sawtell house in ashes. Some of the larger logs were still burning, and the charred bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Sawtell and five of their children were smouldering in the ruins. They gathered up, with pious care, the charred remains of the family, placed them in a coffin and a public funeral was holden at the center of the town on the fourth, when a great crowd of people from the town and vicinity were assembled, and an appropriate sermon was preached by Rev. Hezekiah Taylor, the pastor of the church.

Centennial Proceedings and Other Historical Facts and Incidents Relating to Newfane, the County Seat of Windham County, Vermont, 1877, pages 24, 25