Daniel Heald … Patriot or Tory?

Ron Patch

Daniel Heald was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1739. Not a lot is known about his early years but by 1776 Heald had settled in Chester. What I give here is some of what is known about Heald.

In the 1770s Heald was an agent of the King of England and a “Tory” in Concord. One of his duties was posting proclamations of new taxes or laws decreed by the king. This was at the turbulent time of protests by colonists against England. Those that supported the king were Loyalists or Tories. Tories were in the minority in those days and strongly disliked by those seeking independence from England. This would have been a difficult time for Daniel Heald.

Heald’s history, while sketchy, is a fascinating story. Using Chester Historical Society records and other sources I can give some of that history.

Ron Patch
The house Daniel Heald built in 1784-1787 on First Avenue. It is still standing today. Photo provided.

While Heald was a Tory he was present at Concord Bridge when the Redcoats were returning from the Battle of Lexington in April, 1775. Here Heald did shoulder his musket and fire on the Redcoats. At the historical society we have a document where Heald writes about this event. He comments that his nine-year-old son, Amos, was at his side.

Soon after Concord he was in service at Cambridge. Later in 1775 he was at Fort Ticonderoga, New York. On May 10, 1775, patriots had captured Ticonderoga from the British. The cannons of Ticonderoga were sent to reinforce patriots at Boston. I also found mention that Heald was at Bunker Hill.

Sometime in 1776 or 1777 (I find both dates), Heald had settled in Chester and built a log cabin. He purchased 100 acres that today would encompass the

stone village. In 1779 he was elected Town Clerk in Chester and held that position for 20 years. He served in the Vermont Legislature for 13 years and seems to have had the confidence of Chester townspeople.

Now a fascinating aspect of Heald history occurs in 1791. As many will know, Vermont entered the Union in March of 1791. In the winter of 1790-1791 there had been convention meetings in Bennington to decide if Vermont should join the Union or remain an independent republic.

 

Ron Patch
Daniel Heald. Photo provided.

This convention was made up of delegates from around the state. Daniel Heald was the delegate for Chester. In January of 1791 the convention voted to be admitted to the United States. The vote was 105-4 to be admitted to the Union. I found another source that the vote was 105-2. Either way those wanting to be admitted far outnumbered those opposed. Peter Farrar, who has done research on these early days, told me that Daniel Heald and Moses Warner of Andover cast “No” votes.

Chester at this time had a population of 981. When Heald returned to Chester after the convention he would have had to explain to Chester residents his vote and the outcome of the convention. He continued to have the confidence of Chester people, but why?

Peter and I conclude there was something going on in Chester that is not known today. Chester must have been opposed to joining the Union and preferred remaining an independent republic. It might have been a matter of economics. Chester was rather prosperous at the time. More research is needed. This would be a great project for one of the high school seniors interested in the Daniel Heald History Scholarship.

This week the Chester Historical Society announced the Daniel Heald History Scholarship for Green Mountain Union High School Seniors. This scholarship is an attempt to create interest with our young people in our local history. This $1,000 scholarship was funded by Paul and Francie Bremer. The Bremers are strong supporters of the historical society and recognize the importance of our youth learning our Vermont history.

Chester Historical Society members will be happy to assist those students interested in pursuing the scholarship. This would include artifacts, guidance and possible topics.

Most readers know that I’m an antiques dealer. One of my favorite shops is Vintage Vermont on the Green in Chester. They have an extensive inventory of jewelry, vinyl records, books and everything from “Soup to nuts.” Currently they are having a fifty percent off sale. Stop by and check them out.

Instead of an old saying I offer weather predictions I heard from old-time Vermonters years ago. If goldenrod blooms in August, a hard winter is in store. If milkweed pods open late (mine didn’t open this year) – another sign of a hard winter. A wooly bear caterpillar with a wide, black center stripe is another indication of a hard winter. Prepare for a hard winter!

 

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