History of Brattleboro, Vermont

History of Brattleboro, Vermont

Brattleboro is a village in Vermont in Windham County, about seven miles north of the Massachusetts border along the Connecticut River. Within its area is the site of Fort Dummer, built in 1724 as an outpost for Massachusetts. In 1753, the site of the fort, which had been determined to be in New Hampshire, was granted to Colonel William Brattle, who named it after himself.Brattleboro was incorporated in 1763. William Fisk, a Methodist minister and educator, was born in Brattleboro in 1792. McKim and Stanford White to form the noted architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White.The Brattleboro Retreat, originally the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, is situated on a 1,000-acre campus and contains buildings dating to its founding in 1838.On February 20, 1849, the first train from Boston, Massachusetts reached Brattleboro on the tracks of the newly constructed Vermont & Massachusetts Railroad. Fortunately, the station was saved from demolition and reopened as the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in 1972.The first hospital in Brattleboro was built with $100,000 made available in 1901 from the Thompson Trust. The original name chosen was The Hemlocks Hospital, but that had connotations of Socrates and suicide, so when it opened in 1904, the name Brattleboro Memorial Hospital was chosen.

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Print Town: Brattleboro’s Legacy of Words features over 30 authors with connections to Brattleboro, all lending a unique perspective and style to telling the story of Brattleboro’s long history, and ongoing legacy, of printing, publishing, and “words”.

“At long last, the important history of Brattleboro as a print town and all its implications will finally be told, as it is a microcosm of the story of the nation at large.”

Jeff Potter, Editor-in-Chief, The Commons, Brattleboro, VT

“In harnessing its community’s creativity to tell the diverse and entertaining stories that make this town a nationally significant literary hub, the Brattleboro Words Trail is an exceptional resource and attraction for tourists and locals alike, offering multiple destinations around an intriguing central theme for those who seek a unique Vermont experience.”

Vermont Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing

“By bringing together partners from different backgrounds to share in a common mission, the Brattleboro Words Project helps unite the community at a time when there is too much division in the world.”

U.S. Senator , State of Vermont

“The Brattleboro area has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to its history of book publishing, printing, literature and the like, but few people who live here, much less outsiders, appreciate this history. The Brattleboro Words Project brings these facts to the fore in an entertaining and creative way that aims to involve the whole community over time.”


Vermont was covered with shallow seas periodically from the Cambrian to Devonian periods. Most of the sedimentary rocks laid down in these seas were deformed by mountain-building. Fossils, however, are common in the Lake Champlain region. Lower areas of western Vermont were flooded again, as part of the St. Lawrence Valley and Champlain Valley by Lake Vermont whose northern boundary followed the melting glacier at the end of the last ice age, until it reached the ocean. This was replaced by Lake Vermont and the Champlain Sea, when the land had not yet rebounded from the weight of the glaciers which were sometimes 2 miles (3.2 km) thick. Shells of salt-water mollusks, along with the bones of beluga whales, have been found in the Lake Champlain region. [1]

Lake Vermont connected to a glacial western lake near what is now the Great Lakes. They allowed western fish to enter the state, which is why Vermont has more native species than any other New England State, 78. About half of these are western in origin. [2]

Little is known of the pre-Columbian history of Vermont. Between 8500 and 7000 BC, glacial activity created the saltwater Champlain Sea. This event caused lamprey, Atlantic salmon, and rainbow smelt to become landlocked. [2]

Native Americans inhabited and hunted in Vermont. From 7000 to 1000 BC was the Archaic Period. During that era, Native Americans migrated year-round. From 1000 BC to 1600 AD was the Woodland Period, when villages and trade networks were established, and ceramic and bow and arrow technology were developed. The western part of the state became home to a small population of Algonquian-speaking tribes, including the Mohican and Abenaki peoples. [ citation needed ]

The Sokoki lived in what is now southern Vermont the Cowasucks in northeastern Vermont.

Between 1534 and 1609, the Iroquois Mohawks drove many of the smaller native tribes out of the Champlain Valley, later using the area as a hunting ground and warring with the remaining Abenaki. [3]

French exploration and settlement Edit

French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed the area of what is now Lake Champlain, giving the name, Verd Mont (Green Mountain) to the region he found, on a 1647 map. [4] Evidence suggests that this name came into use among English settlers, before it morphed to "Vermont", ca. 1760. [5]

To aid and impress his new Abenaki allies, Champlain shot and killed an Iroquois chief with an arquebus, July 29, 1609. While the Iroquois were already enemies with the Abenaki, they formed a permanent enmity with the French with this incident, ultimately costing the French the bulk of their most developed possessions in the New World, including the contested area of most of Vermont, at the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763. [ citation needed ]

France claimed Vermont as part of New France, and erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in 1666 as part of their fortification of Lake Champlain. This was the first European settlement in Vermont and the site of the first Roman Catholic mass.

During the latter half of the 17th century, non-French settlers began to explore Vermont and its surrounding area. In 1690, a group of Dutch-British settlers from Albany under Captain Jacobus de Warm established the De Warm Stockade at Chimney Point (eight miles west of Addison). This settlement and trading post were directly across the lake from Crown Point, New York (Pointe à la Chevelure). [ clarification needed ]

There were regular periods of skirmishing between English colonies to the south and the French colony to the north, and the area of Vermont was an unsettled frontier. In 1704, De Rouville passed up the Winooski (Onion) River, to reach the Connecticut, and then down to Deerfield, Massachusetts, which he raided. [6]

British settlement Edit

During Father Rale's War, the first permanent British settlement was established in 1724 with the construction of Fort Dummer in Vermont's far southeast under the command of Lieutenant Timothy Dwight of Connecticut. This fort protected the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro in the surrounding area. These settlements were made by people from Massachusetts and Connecticut. The second British settlement at Bennington in the southwest corner of Vermont would not be made until after 37 years of conflict in the region. [ citation needed ]

In 1725, 60 armed men entered Vermont with rough maps, with the goal of attacking the Village of St. Francis, but turned back at Crown Point. [7]

In 1731, the French arrived at Chimney Point, near Addison. Here they constructed a small temporary wooden stockade (Fort de Pieux) until work on Fort St. Frédéric began in 1734. When this fort was completed, Fort de Pieux was abandoned as unneeded. [ citation needed ]

There was another period of conflict from 1740 to 1748, the War of the Austrian Succession or King George's War. There were raids at a private defensive work, Bridgeman's Fort, in Vernon, Vermont. [8]

During the French and Indian War, 1755–1761, some Vermont settlers joined the colonial militia assisting the British in attacks on the French at Fort Carillon. [ citation needed ]

Rogers' Rangers staged an attack against the Abenaki village of Saint-Francis, Quebec from Lake Champlain in 1759. Separating afterwards, they fled the angered French and Abenakis through northern Vermont back to safety in Lake Champlain and New Hampshire. [9]

Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave control of the whole region to the British. Colonial settlement was limited by the British to lands east of the Appalachians, and Vermont was divided nearly in half in a jagged line running from Fort William Henry on Lake George diagonally north-eastward to Lake Memphremagog. Lands north of this line, including the entire Champlain Valley, were reserved for Indians. [ citation needed ] During this time French families were largely driven out, although scholars of the Vermont Archaeological Society have questioned if a French influence was removed completely, noting some remote farms may have eluded the notice of the British colonists. [10]

The end of the war brought new settlers to Vermont. The first settler of the grants was Samuel Robinson, who began clearing land in Bennington in 1761. [11]

In the 28 years from 1763 to 1791, the non-Indian population of Vermont rose from 300 to 85,000. [12]

A fort at Crown Point had been built in 1759, and the Crown Point Military Road stretched across the Green Mountains from Springfield to Chimney Point, making traveling from the neighboring British colonies easier than ever before. Three colonies laid claim to the area. The Province of Massachusetts Bay claimed the land on the basis of the 1629 charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Province of New York claimed Vermont based on land granted to the Duke of York (later King James II & VII) in 1664. The Province of New Hampshire, whose western limits had never been determined, also claimed Vermont, in part based upon a decree of George II in 1740. On March 5, 1740, George II ruled that Massachusetts's northern boundary in this area would be from a point near the Merrimack River due west (its present location). The boundary was surveyed by Richard Hasen in 1741, and Fort Dummer (Brattleboro), was found to be north of the line. Provisions and support for Fort Dummer were ordered by the Colonial Office from New Hampshire in the following years. [13]

New Hampshire's immensely popular governor, Benning Wentworth, issued a series of 135 land grants between 1749 and 1764 called the New Hampshire Grants. Many of these were in a large valley on the west (or New York side) of the Green Mountains and only about forty miles from Albany. The town was laid out in 1749 and was settled after the war in 1761. The town was named Bennington for Wentworth. The location of the town was well north of the Massachusetts limit set by decree in 1740, and east of the known eastern limit of New York, twenty miles east of the Hudson River. Ultimately, by 1754, Wentworth had granted lands for 15 towns. [14]

On July 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45 degrees north latitude. Under this decree, Albany County, New York, as it then existed, implicitly gained the land presently known as Vermont. Although disputes occasionally broke out later, this line became the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, and is the modern boundary. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), dissatisfied colonists organized in opposition, which led to the creation of independent Vermont on January 15, 1777. [15] [16]

New York took the declaration of 1764 to apply retroactively, and considered the New Hampshire grants invalid. It therefore required land holders to purchase new grants for the same land from New York. New York then created counties in the region, with courthouses, sheriffs, and jails, and began judicial proceedings against those who held land solely by New Hampshire grants. [17]

In 1767, the Privy Council forbade New York from selling land in Vermont that was in conflict with grants from New Hampshire, reversing the 1764 decision. [18]

In 1770, Ethan Allen—along with his brothers Ira and Levi, as well as Seth Warner—recruited an informal militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against the new migrants from New York. A significant standoff occurred at the Breakenridge farm in Bennington, when a sheriff from Albany arrived with a posse of 750 men to dispossess Breakenridge. The residents raised a body of about 300 armed men to resist. The Albany sheriff demanded Breakenridge, and was informed, "If you attempt it, you are a dead man." The sheriff returned to Albany. [19]

When a New York judge arrived in Westminster with New York settlers in March 1775, violence broke out as angry citizens took over the courthouse and called a sheriff's posse. This resulted in the deaths of Daniel Houghton and William French in the "Westminster Massacre".

In the summer of 1776, the first general convention of freemen of the New Hampshire Grants met in Dorset, Vermont, resolving "to take suitable measures to declare the New Hampshire Grants a free and independent district." [20] On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants convened in Westminster and declared their land an independent republic, the Vermont Republic. For the first six months of the republic's existence, the state was called New Connecticut.

On June 2, a second convention of 72 delegates met at Westminster, known as the "Westminster Convention". At this meeting, the delegates adopted the name "Vermont" on the suggestion of Dr. Thomas Young of Philadelphia, a supporter of the delegates who wrote a letter advising them on how to achieve statehood. The delegates set the time for a meeting one month later. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted during a violent thunderstorm at the Windsor Tavern owned by Elijah West. It was adopted by the delegates on July 8 after four days of debate. This was the first written constitution in North America to provide for the abolition of slavery (for adults), suffrage for men who did not own land, and public schools. (See also History of slavery in Vermont.) The tavern has been preserved as the Old Constitution House, administered as a state historic site. Violations of the abolition of slavery persisted for some time. [21]

The production of potash in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, resulted in the deforestation of much of Vermont. [22]

Slavery in Vermont Edit

The population of enslaved Americans in Vermont was calculated to be 25 in 1770 according to the United States Census Bureau's Bicentennial Edition Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970 [23] [24] and was recorded at 16 in 1790 according to a contemporary study Return of the Whole Number of Persons Within the Several Districts of the United States. [24] [25] The overall population of Vermont was lower than the average of the individual Thirteen Colonies.

The battles of Bennington and Saratoga are recognized as the turning point in the American Revolutionary War. They were the first major defeat of a British army and convinced France that the American rebels were worthy of military aid. General John Stark, who commanded the rebel forces at the Battle of Bennington, became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington". "Bennington Battle Day" (August 16, the anniversary of the battle) is a legal holiday in Vermont. [26] Under the portico of the Vermont Statehouse, next to a granite statue of Ethan Allen, there is a brass cannon that was captured at Bennington. [27]

The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, was a seminal event in the history of the state of Vermont. The nascent republican government, created after years of political turmoil, faced challenges from New York, New Hampshire, Great Britain and the new United States, none of which recognized its sovereignty. [ citation needed ]

During the summer of 1777, the invading British army of General John Burgoyne slashed its way southward through the thick forest, from Quebec to the Hudson River, captured the strategic stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga, and drove the Continental Army into a desperate southward retreat. Raiding parties of British soldiers and native warriors freely attacked, pillaged and burned the frontier communities of the Champlain Valley and threatened all settlements to the south. The Vermont frontier collapsed in the face of the British invasion. The New Hampshire legislature, fearing an invasion from the west, mobilized the state's militia under the command of General John Stark. [ citation needed ]

General Burgoyne received intelligence that large stores of horses, food and munitions were kept at Bennington, which was the largest community in the land grant area. He dispatched 2,600 men, nearly a third of his army, to seize the colonial storehouse there, unaware that General Stark's New Hampshire troops were then traversing the Green Mountains to join up at Bennington with the Vermont continental regiments commanded by Colonel Seth Warner, together with the local Vermont and western Massachusetts militia. The combined American forces, under Stark's command, attacked the British column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. General Stark reportedly challenged his men to fight to the death, telling them that: "There are your enemies, the redcoats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!" In a desperate, all-day battle fought in intense summer heat, the army of Yankee farmers defeated the British, killing or capturing 900 men. Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered at Saratoga on October 17. [ citation needed ]

In 1778, David Redding, convicted of being a traitor to the colonies and a spy for the British, was hanged in Bennington. [18]

The first printing press in the state was established in Dresden in 1779. [18]

The Republic of Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the southeastern town of Windsor for 14 years. Thomas Chittenden acted as chief magistrate of Vermont from 1778 to 1789 and from 1790 to 1791. In the 1780s Chittenden, the Allen brothers, and other political leaders engaged in negotiations with Frederick Haldimand, the British governor of Quebec over the possibility of Vermont becoming a British province. These negotiations ultimately failed in part due to the timely surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. [28]

The first General Assembly voted to establish two counties, Bennington in the west and Unity in the east. It adopted the common law of England as the basis for its legal system. It voted to confiscate Tory lands and sell them to finance the militia. This was the first "tax" passed in the state. [29]

The first newspaper was published in the state in 1781, the weekly Vermont Gazette. [30]

In 1784, the state established a postal service linking several towns and Albany, New York. [31]

In 1786, the Vermont governor replied to requests from Massachusetts about the Shays' Rebellion, saying that he was willing to extradite members of the rebellion, though his response was "pro forma" only since the state could ill afford to discourage immigration. [32]

In 1791, Vermont joined the federal Union as the fourteenth state—becoming the first state to enter the Union after the original thirteen colonies, and as a counterweight to slaveholding Kentucky, which was admitted to the Union the following year. [33] [34]

In June 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison toured the state. [35]

Because of the proximity of Canada, Vermonters were somewhat alarmed during the War of 1812. Five thousand troops were stationed in Burlington at one point, outnumbering residents. [36] Contemporary reports indicate that almost 1,300 soldiers were treated for various ailments over 100 died between May 1814 and April 1815. [37] An expeditionary force of Quebec Eastern Townships' volunteers destroyed a barracks built at Derby with no personnel casualties. [38] The war, fought over what seemed like obscure maritime considerations to landlocked Vermont, was not popular.

In July 1830, the state experienced what turned out to be the worst flood of the 19th century. It was called the "Torrent of 1830." [39]

Merino sheep were introduced in 1812. This ultimately resulted in a boom-bust cycle for wool. Wool reached a price of 57 cents/pound in 1835. By 1837, there were 1,000,000 sheep in the state. The price of wool dropped to 25 cents/pound in the late 1840s. The state could not withstand more efficient competition from western states, and sheep raising collapsed. [40]

Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836.

In June 1843, escaped slaves hid at a Shaftsbury farm, in the first recorded instance in Vermont of the Underground Railroad. [18]

In 1846, the ground was broken for the construction of the first railroad in Vermont, Central Vermont Railway, in Northfield. [30]

In 1853, Vermont passed a strict law prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Some towns followed the law, while others ignored it. [41]

An 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery echoed the Vermont Constitution's first article, on the rights of all men, questioning how a government could favor the rights of one people over another. The report fueled growth of the abolition movement in the state, and in response, a resolution from the Georgia General Assembly authorized the towing of Vermont out to sea. [42] The mid to late 1850s saw a transition from Vermonters mostly favoring slavery's containment, to a far more serious opposition to the institution. As the Whig party shriveled, Vermont changed its allegiance to the emergent Republican Party. In 1860, it voted for President Abraham Lincoln, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.

French-Canadian immigration began in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Already, in the 1810s, Burlington had a French-Canadian population of approximately 100. [43] Those numbers began to rise rapidly in the 1820s and 1830s as Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) navigated economic and political crises. Immigration continued to the end of the century and resumed in the late 1910s and 1920s it is the continued arrival of French Canadians and Irish that kept Vermont's population from dropping in the second half of the nineteenth century. French Canadians found employment in agriculture, in the factories of Burlington and Winooski, in the quarries of Rutland and Barre, in the rail yards of St. Johnsbury and St. Albans, and in other sectors. At times they clashed with the Irish over the control of Catholic Church resources and with various groups in labor disputes. The nativism with which they contended was often less overt than in other states. [44] [45] [46] [47]

More than 28,100 Vermonters served in Vermont volunteer units. Vermont fielded 17 infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, three light artillery batteries, one heavy artillery company, three companies of sharpshooters, and two companies of frontier cavalry. Instead of replacing units as they were depleted, Vermont regularly provided recruits to bring the units in the field back up to normal strength. Many of the soldiers had never been out of their own county, much less the state. In the South, they felt like they were on another planet. [48]

In 1863, there was rioting in West Rutland after the state instituted a draft. [49]

Nearly 5,000 Vermonters served in other states' units, in the United States Army or the United States Navy. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry (Colored) included 66 Vermont blacks a total of 166 black Vermonters served out of a population of 709 in the state. Vermonters, if not Vermont units, participated in every major battle of the war.

Vermonters lost a total of 1,832 men killed or mortally wounded in battle another 3,362 died of disease, in prison or from other causes, for a total loss of 5,194. More than 2,200 Vermonters were taken prisoner during the war, and 615 of them died in, or as a result of, their imprisonment. Among the most famous of the Vermont units were the 1st Vermont Brigade, the 2nd Vermont Brigade, and the 1st Vermont Cavalry.

A large proportion of Vermont's state and national-level politicians for several decades after the Civil War were veterans.

The northernmost land action of the war, the St. Albans Raid, took place in Vermont.

During the two decades following the end of the American Civil War (1864–1885) there was both economic expansion and contraction, and fairly dramatic social change.

Union veterans banded together into patriotic and fraternal organizations, mostly in the Grand Army of the Republic. There were 116 posts at one time. [50]

Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts began staffing up. Recruiters were sent out all over New England, including Vermont. Initially they found ample workers from new widows, single parent heads of family. [51] This demand was filled by August 1865, and recruiting Americans from Lowell ceased abruptly.

By 1860, the state was a leading producer of hops in the nation with 640,000 pounds (290,000 kg), second to New York. This crop conveniently arrived as a replacement for the disappearance of the Merino sheep trade. Hops, too, disappeared. A number of factors were involved: plant disease in 1909, [52] migration of planting to California from 1853–1910, where growing was performed more efficiently, and Prohibition both at the state and national level. [53]

Vermont's system of railroads expanded and was linked to national systems, agricultural output and export soared and incomes increased. But Vermont also felt the effects of recessions and financial panics, particularly the Panic of 1873 which resulted in a substantial exodus of young Vermonters. The transition in thinking about the rights of citizens, first brought to a head by the 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery, and later Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in changing how citizens perceived civil rights, fueled agitation for women's suffrage. The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were first allowed to vote in town elections, and then in state legislative races.

Starting around 1870, a number of Vermont towns dressed satirically for Independence Day in an Ancient and Horribles Parade. The intent was to deride politicians and other well-known figures. This largely died out by 1900. [54]

In 1902, Vermonters approved a law for local option on the sale of alcoholic beverages, countermanding the prior law of 1853 which banned them entirely. That year 94 towns approved the sale of alcoholic beverages locally. The number of approving towns fell each year until there were only 18 in 1917, shortly before national prohibition became law. [41]

In the 1920s, Ku Klux Klan membership reached 80,300 in the state. The main target of their hatred were the French-Canadian Catholic immigrants. [55] [56] A eugenics project apparently targeted Indians, Indian-French Canadians, and Afro-Americans in the state for forced sterilization between 1931 and 1936. [57] [58]

In 1923, the state passed a law limiting the regular workweek of women and children to 58 hours. [30]

Beaver populations were re-introduced to Vermont in 1924 and continue to thrive there today. [59]

Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 85 people died, 84 of them in Vermont.

The US Supreme Court decided that New Hampshire's boundary included most of the Connecticut River, establishing Vermont's eastern boundary in Vermont v. New Hampshire – 290 US 579 (1934). [60]

Prior to 1935, 5.5 million sugar maples were tapped for syrup. Less expansive softwood was used to boil the sap to condense it to maple syrup. [22] The 1938 New England hurricane in the fall of that year blew down 15,000,000 acres (61,000 km 2 ) of trees, one-third of the total forest at the time in New England. Three billion board feet were salvaged. Today many of the older trees in Vermont are about 75 years old, dating from after this storm. [61] By 2017, the old record number of maples tapped for sugar had not been reached there were over 2 million trees tapped. However, more syrup was produced using more efficient and less labor-intensive methods. [22]

Hydropower supplied 90% of the state's power needs in 1940. [62]

In September 1941, it looked like America would be involved in the World War which had started in 1939 in Europe. Seizing on a declaration by the U.S. President, the legislature authorized wartime-like payments to citizens involved with the military. This led to facetious headlines that Vermont had declared war on Germany. [63]

About 6,000 Vermonters were in the military during World War II. [64] About 874 of these died. [65]

94 Vermonters died fighting the Korean War. [66]

Widespread use of DDT to exterminate insect pests after the war led to the reduction of various wildlife, noticeably birds and larger wildlife, such as moose and bear. [67] The pesticide was banned in 1972 eventually leading to the restoration of many birds and larger mammals. For example, the bear population doubled from the 1980s to 6,000 in 2013. [68]

In 1964, the US Supreme Court forced "one-man, one-vote" redistricting on Vermont, giving cities an equitable share of votes in both houses for the entire country. [69] Until that time, rural counties were often represented equally by area in state senates and were often unsympathetic to urban problems requiring increased taxes.

In 1965, the Northeast Blackout of 1965, the worst blackout until then, left Vermont without electricity for about 12 hours.

In 1968, the state took over welfare support for the indigent. [18] This had formerly been the responsibility of the towns, under the Overseer of the Poor. This had been a nearly insupportable burden for many small towns. The last poor farm was closed. [70]

A flood occurred in 1973, when the flood caused the death of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.

In 1984, the state had 2,500 square miles (6,500 km 2 ) in farmland. This declined to 1,900 square miles (4,900 km 2 ) in 2013. [71]

On April 25, 2000, as a result of the Vermont Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont General Assembly passed and Governor Howard Dean signed into law H.0847, which provided the state-sanctioned benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the form of civil unions. Controversy over the civil unions bill was a central issue in the subsequent 2000 elections.

In 2001 Vermont produced 275,000 US gallons (1,040,000 L) of maple syrup, about 25% of U.S. production. For 2005 that number was 410,000 US gallons (1,600,000 l 340,000 imp gal) accounting for 37% of national production. [72]

In 2007, with three-quarters of the state opposing the Iraq War, the state nevertheless had the highest rate of war-related deaths in the nation. This was due to volunteers and participation by the Vermont National Guard. [73]

During the late-2000s recession, state median household income dropped furthest, or second furthest, depending on how it is computed, of any state in the nation from −3.2% or −10%, depending on whether a two-year or three-year moving average was used. [74]

In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused widespread flooding, particularly in the southern part of the state, closing at least 260 roads. [75] Federal assistance for recovery included $110 million for emergency relief and assistance, $102 million for federal highway repair, and $23 million for individual assistance within the state. [76]

In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity rated Vermont last out of the 50 states for state government accountability and integrity. This was the result of the revelation of a continuing number of municipal scandals including the $1.6 million Hardwick Electric embezzlement. [77]

Vermont is more heavily forested in 2017 than it was during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A new way of producing potash was found not requiring the intensive destruction of trees. [22]

Early period (1791–1860) Edit

Though some members of the Federalist Party found electoral success, in its early years of statehood Vermont generally preferred the Jeffersonian Party, which became the Democratic Party in the early 1820s. Vermont stopped voting Democratic in the 1830s, initially over a fear of Jacksonian return to political parties [78] later, perhaps, over increasing opposition to the spread of slavery. The state voted Anti-Jackson, Anti-Masonic, Whig, and then Republican Party.

The Vermont legislature chose presidential electors through the general election of 1824. Vermont citizens first started voting directly for presidential electors in 1828.

Upward mobility for politicians (1830–1916) Edit

In the 1830s Vermont was one of the strongholds of Anti-Masonry. While the party elected only one governor, William A. Palmer, it was able to prevent the other major parties from winning majorities in some statewide races, which meant that the Vermont General Assembly chose the winner.

From the founding of the Republican party in the mid-1850s until the 1958 election of William H. Meyer to the United States House of Representatives, Vermont elected only Republicans to statewide office. [79]

Politicians aspiring to statewide office in Vermont normally had to be nominated at a state convention or "caucus." Factions dominated these caucuses. Some of these were family. A look at the list of Governors, Senators and Representatives over time shows the Chittendens, Fairbanks, Proctors, and Smiths. [80] Nomination was tantamount to election. The state legislature chose US senators until 1913. Up to six seats in the US House of Representatives gave ambitious politicians an ample stage for their talent.

Until 1870, all state officials were elected for one-year terms. In 1870, the term was changed to two-years. [81] Governors then normally served just one term of two years.

The Green Mountains effectively split Vermont in two. Culturally the eastern Vermonters were often descended from immigrants from New Hampshire. Western Vermonters often had their roots in New York. Recognizing this as a source of potential problems, politicians began following an unwritten "mountain rule", rotating the Lieutenant Governor and Governor residing in opposite sides of the state. [82]

The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were allowed to vote in school board elections.

Statewide primaries (1916–1946) Edit

General annoyance with this system of selecting leadership by a few people, led to statewide primaries in 1916. [83] Down to only one congressional seat to compete for, Governors started trying to serve two terms, beginning with Governor Weeks in 1927. This worked until World War II.

Senator Ernest Gibson, a Republican, died in 1940. Governor George Aiken, also a Republican, and a liberal ally of the Gibsons appointed the late Senator's son, Ernest W. Gibson Jr. to fill the seat until a special election for the remainder of the term. The younger Gibson did not run, enabling Aiken's election to the seat. Instead Gibson devoted himself to preparing the state for entry into World War II. He served in the South Pacific and emerged as a highly decorated Colonel. There was a tsunami in 1946 in American politics. Returning veterans were popular. Gibson ran an unprecedented campaign against the incumbent Governor, Mortimer R. Proctor, and ousted him in the primary. [80] Gibson won the general election, won reelection in 1948, and served until resigning in 1950 to accept appointment as Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.

Interregnum — Liberal Republicans prevail (1946–1962) Edit

The elder Gibson, a former member of the Progressive Party, was the first of the liberal Republicans. While conservatives like Harold Arthur and Lee E. Emerson were elected Governor, they seem, in retrospect, to be transitory figures.

The "normal" path to the governorship for Republicans, which Ernest Gibson Jr. explicitly campaigned against in 1946, was to serve in the Vermont House of Representatives and hold a leadership position such as Speaker of the House service in the Vermont State Senate and a leadership role such as President Pro Tem election to the Lieutenant Governor's office and election as Governor.

Successful Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate were also almost always veterans of leadership positions in the Vermont Legislature or statewide office.

In 1962, Philip Hoff was elected Governor, the first Democrat since before the Civil War.

Democratic dominance (1962–present) Edit

The demographics of the state had changed. In 1960, 25% of the population was born outside the state. Most of these immigrants were from Democratic states and brought their voting inclinations with them. Anticipating this change, the Republicans conducted a massive free-for-all in 1958, the last good chance many of them saw to capture a congressional seat. [80] They were wrong. Democrat William H. Meyer won, the first from his party in 102 years.

While the climate had changed, the legislature had not. With one representative per town and two senators per county, the rural areas dominated and set the agenda much to the frustration of urban areas, particularly Chittenden County. In 1964, the US Supreme Court forced "one-man, one-vote" redistricting on Vermont, giving cities an equitable share of votes in both houses. [69]

Unlike yesteryear, no party nominee can be assured of election. The unwritten "two term" rule has been jettisoned. Governors usually serve as long as they can, not being able to guarantee that their policies will be continued after they leave office. Vermonters have alternated parties in the Governor's office since 1962. Democratic governors have served longer. [ citation needed ]

Transportation around this mountainous state was a challenge to the original colonists. While this challenge has been met in the current era by turnpikes and limited rail service, public transportation for the majority of Vermonters has often remained elusive.

The state highway system was created in 1931. [30]

In 2008, the Vermont Transit Lines, a subsidiary of Greyhound Lines went out of business. It had begun operating in 1973. [84] Limited service continued under the direct aegis of Greyhound. This has been replaced by subsidized regional NGO corporations which provide limited service for most, but adequate service for those needing medical treatment.

In colonial times, like many of its neighboring states, Vermont's largest religious affiliation was Congregationalism. In 1776, 63% of affiliated church members in Vermont were Congregationalists. At that time, however, only 9% of people belonged to a specific church due to the remoteness of population centers. [ citation needed ]

A history of Brattleboro's connection to the natural world

The garden walk near the Retreat Gardens in Brattleboro.

Cold Spring, located on Retreat grounds on Upper Dummerston Road, was a destination of Wesselhoeft Water Cure patients.

In the 1830s most people in New England lived on farms and grew their own food. By 1880 most New Englanders lived in cities, bought their food, and worked for wages. This shift from agriculture to industry, and all of the changes in lifestyle that came with it, caused many people to examine their connection with the natural world.

Here in Brattleboro the rise in manufacturing was seen in the progress of the Estey Organ Company. In the 1850s the business had 8 employees. By the 1880s there were over 200 people constructing organs in the Estey complex on Birge Street.

In the 1870s Jacob Estey attempted to humanize this rise of mechanization by creating Esteyville. A neighborhood was mapped out on the hillside just south of the Estey manufacturing site. Individual building lots were established with the intent of supporting workers in their pursuit of private home ownership. The neighborhood was developed on a human scale.

A schoolhouse was built, the company created a small park, the residents established a church and the company built a bandstand for neighborhood gatherings.

According to the book “Manufacturing the Muse” by Dennis Waring, . ”when conditions within large, noisy, unsanitary, and often dangerous urban factory systems were creating deep class schisms and crises of impersonality, Estey’s workers were able to retain their identity and sense of self-worth more easily because of the intimate village atmosphere.”

The Vermont Asylum for the Insane, (now Brattleboro Retreat), opened in 1836. The hospital’s approach was based upon Quaker principles of care embedded within the moral treatment of its patients. The emphasis was on a family-like setting in natural surroundings. Patients were to be treated with warmth and respect. Treatment included good food, daily outdoor exercise, cultural activities and purposeful work tailored to the individual.

The original goal of the hospital was to serve up to 300 patients. However, the Asylum Trustees had lobbied for legislative funding to help establish the hospital and had entered into an agreement to accept Vermont state-assigned patients. By 1880 there were almost 450 patients and concerns about overcrowding. Despite this pressure the hospital continued to reach for its original patient-friendly goals.

More than 20 miles of nature trails, footpaths and carriage roads were established on hospital property. The Asylum farm had grown with the hospital so that it produced most of the food eaten by the patients. There was a dairy herd, beef cattle, vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, poultry flocks and a piggery. Patients also worked on the farm.

In 1880 the hospital joined with the town and built Cedar Street. The 30-acre tract of land between the hospital and Cedar Street was developed into a park for use by patients and employees. A Boston landscaper was hired to beautify the setting and slopes were graded to establish plateaus for outdoor games and activities.

Dr. Joseph Draper began as the Asylum’s superintendent in 1873. His interest in getting patients outdoors and engaged in recreational activities continued earlier hospital practices. In 1881 Dr. Draper and his wife went on a three month vacation to Europe. He visited mental hospitals in Scotland and England and came back with proposals to establish summer retreats for patients that would remove them from the growing institutional atmosphere of the Asylum.

Summer retreat buildings were established away from the hospital for both male and female patients. Small groups of patients were rotated through the Retreat buildings during the summer months. In 1885 the hospital began a camping program and a permanent shelter was established on a ridge south of the ice pond. Groups of 15 or less would hike to the camping area for the day. A carriage road was built so more infirm patients could also participate. Despite the pressures of increased patient populations and society’s move towards mechanization, the Asylum continued to create opportunities for patients to connect with nature on a human scale.

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Dr. Draper also came back from Europe with the idea that a tower similar to those he saw on the continent would be a good building project for patients. The tower would be the capstone of the park established on the hillside. Draper was a good friend of local businessman George Crowell.

In 1882, land developer and businessman George Crowell bought 30 acres of land on the hill next to Asylum Park. Crowell renamed the property Chestnut Hill and developed a reservoir to supply a portion of the town with water and fire hydrants. Crowell also created a park for public use.

In 1884 the Chestnut Hill reservoir began operation and Highland Park was presented to Brattleboro as a place where the community could come and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. The reservoir served many in the eastern portion of town, including Main Street.

The park grounds were well landscaped and maintained by Crowell’s employees. Just north of the reservoir Crowell built a log cabin designed for children to enjoy. A “crow’s nest” pavilion was built to the east of the reservoir for birdwatchers. A bandstand was also built on a rise in the northeast section of the park and a three story “cottage” was also constructed southwest of the reservoir.

Crowell invited the public to visit Highland Park and use it as a free local resource. Clay croquet grounds were located near the bandstand. Swings were hung from trees near the cottage. Young “Fresh Air” visitors and city dwellers were welcomed to the cottage during summer months, sponsored by local religious organizations.

While Crowell was a land developer by trade, he believed that the stresses associated with an increased mechanization of society could find an anecdote in the natural spaces of public parks.

The Brattleboro Hydropathic Institution, known locally as the Wesselhoeft Water Cure, opened in 1845 on Elliot Street. The Water Cure promoted a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise. It was thought that many of the ailments facing people during the rise of industrialization stemmed from poor medical treatments that caused more harm than cure. Dr. Wesselhoeft thought pure water applied inside and outside of a patient could wash away many diseases. He felt that much of the sickness in society came from laziness, lack of exercise and what we would call “junk food” today. Daily hikes from Elliot Street to Cold Spring, on Asylum property, were part of the healthy Water Cure routine.

Around 1848 a comfortable path to the top of Mt. Wantastiquet was established by local man Robert Pender and people from the Water Cure. Pender even built a three-story log house on the summit that was later destroyed by fire in 1860. The cabin served as a shelter for those who hiked or rode a carriage to the top of the mountain. Dr. Wesselhoeft believed in the curing power of the outdoor environment.

Pender was an outdoor enthusiast who collected wild and domesticated plants for the creation of natural remedies. Local newspaper editor and feminist Clarina Nichols publicly recommended Pender’s Green Mountain Vegetable liquid as a cure for poison ivy.

The pathway to Wantastiquet’s summit that was built during the heyday of the Water Cure fell into disrepair after the Civil War. In 1891, local outdoor enthusiasts joined together to revitalize and widen the path so carriages could easily travel up and down the mountain. Two local men, Walter Childs and David Perry, spearheaded the effort and the summit of Mt. Wantastiquet became a weather reporting station for the New England Meteorological Society.

As the Industrial Age grew throughout New England, and people became less connected with the outdoor environment, there were local leaders in the Brattleboro area who worked to provide the community with human scale connections to the natural world.

Illuminating History: The Vermont African American Heritage Trail

When curator David Rios Ferreira invited Jennifer Mack-Watkins to create a new body of work to be exhibited at BMAC, Mack-Watkins, whose artwork explores issues surrounding Black visibility and representation, began researching the history of African Americans in Vermont. It was not long before she encountered the Vermont African American Heritage Trail and, from there, the legacy of Daisy Turner (1883-1998), which would become an important source of inspiration for Mack-Watkins’s BMAC exhibit, Children of the Sun.

The Vermont African American Heritage Trail identifies museums, historical societies, and historic roadside site markers commemorating the people and places that inspire local pride and promote appreciation of Vermont’s African American heritage. Originally consisting of 16 sites, it has since grown to 30, with plans to expand further in the future.

In this live Zoom presentation, Brattleboro’s Curtiss Reed, Jr., who founded the Vermont African American Heritage Trail in 2013, will discuss the history and future of the trail and the vital heritage it illuminates.

The Vermont African American Heritage Trail is an initiative of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and selected local historical societies and museums.


Curtiss Reed, Jr. is President of the CRJ Consulting Group, L3C and Executive Director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity. Reed provides expert training and coaching on inclusion, bias, and equity to state agency, municipal, institutional, and business clients as well as community organizations across Vermont. He serves as Chair of the Vermont Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and sits on statewide commissions dealing with law enforcement, education, and minority health issues.

Reed is the driving force behind four statewide initiatives: the Vermont African American Heritage Trail, the Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future, I Am A Vermonter, and the Think Tank for Vermont Leaders of Color. After 18 years working and living overseas in Arabic, Portuguese, and French speaking countries, Reed returned to Vermont in 2001. Reed’s consulting experience spans four decades in both international and domestic markets. In 2015 the School for International Training Graduate Institute awarded Reed a Doctorate of Humane Letters Honoris Causa for his life’s work to make Vermont a desirable destination for all.

  • In 1834 the Brattleboro Retreat for the mentally ill was founded
  • Ten years later the third pure water cure in the country was established in Brattleboro, which then became a curative health resort.
  • The Whetstone Brook’s rushing falls fueled watermills which then powered sawmills and gristmills
  • By 1859 Brattleboro had a woolen textile mill, a paper mill, a flour mill, a maker of papermaking machinery, melodeons, and carriages, four printers an two machine shops

History of Brattleboro, Vermont - History

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Loads of laundry history in Brattleboro

Brattleboro Steam Laundry bought by the Sparks Brothers in 1905.

It seems cleaning the laundry has always been a challenging domestic task. In 1843 a female writer to the Vermont Phoenix, (Brattleboro’s local paper), proposed the creation of a public laundry and “wondered why the fertile genius of some Yankee has not taken this branch of domestic labor, as it has carding, spinning, etc. and applied such mechanical aids whereby a large amount of labor may be accomplished by the aid of steam.” She went on to share her frustrations with attempting to hire women to help her with her washing and other domestic chores.

The editor of the paper, William Ryther, replied, “We shall be glad to see any plan carried into effect to lighten the labors of our wives and daughters, or to diminish the expenses of housekeeping. We are aware of the difficulty of obtaining ‘help.’ Most young women who go out to work prefer labor in the factories to labor in families. In factories they command higher wages, and feel more independent. The young women who are brought up among our green mountains, and breath our free air, do not relish the idea of going into families to work where they are required to eat at a ‘second table,’ and at church are seated in the ‘pew for help.’ We suppose they are somewhat tinctured with the democratic notion that all women ‘are created equal,’ as well as all men.”

In the early 1840s the railroad had not yet arrived this far north, bringing with it immigrants willing to become “hired help.” However, by the end of the decade Irish immigrants would come to town because of the railroad. They had not been “brought up among our green mountains” and they would fill many domestic roles.

Meanwhile, in 1843 local mechanic Samuel Foster rose to the challenge and “constructed machinery for the purpose of washing clothes.” The Phoenix called Foster “an ingenious and worthy mechanic.” The paper went on to say, “We judge from an examination of the machine and its appendages that it will not only save much hard labor, but do its work with the least possible wear to the clothes.”

We can find no record of what happened to Foster’s machine but a United States patent for a hand powered washing machine with a drum was not issued until 1851. We know the patent was not issued to Brattleboro’s Samuel Foster.

The next mention of a laundry business in local papers does not occur until 1872. On South Main Street, in a small building owned by Jacob Estey, a steam laundry began. It was owned by L.F. Pettee and the paper declared “the washing, drying and ironing apparatuses are of the latest and most approved pattern.”

A steam laundry did not use steam to directly clean clothes. Instead, steam power was used to run engines that powered the laundry machinery. A steam engine ran multiple belt driven machines at once. The belts were connected to overhead spindles. The washers and dryers were run through their cycles by the belts attached to the spindles. This technology was similar to that of a cotton mill. Pettee’s steam laundry proved to be a success.

In 1881 a competing public laundry opened. Wong Lung, a young man from China, began a laundry in the basement of Main Street’s Union Block. This was not a steam laundry. This laundry washed by hand and used hot irons to dry and press the fabrics. Wong Lung had two other Chinese men join him in his business. They had traveled from Los Angeles, California. The newspaper reported that the Chinese men were a curiosity to many of the local residents. Most Brattleboro residents had never seen a person from China before. The next year Sing Kee, a Chinese immigrant from Holyoke, Massachusetts, took over the Union Block laundry.

In 1882 the United States Senate was debating a bill to restrict Chinese immigration for up to twenty years. According to the Vermont Phoenix, “It is undeniably the case that New England sentiment does not sympathize with the restrictive policy toward the Chinese.” However, Vermont Senator George Edmunds “made a speech defending the principle on which the bill is based. Mr. Edmunds said the fundamental prosperity of a republic consists in the homogeneity of its people that the Chinese here do not assimilate socially or politically, and are not homogeneous with our population … The immigration of the Chinese has created discontent and political discord among the people of the Pacific coast, and he believed it only right that the nation should exercise its just power and suspend immigration.” The paper went on to say, “It will be hard to cure New Englanders of the belief that Californian opposition to the Chinese is founded in prejudice, narrow jealousy and intolerance but the fact that Mr. Edmunds takes another view of the question will lead a good many people to hold their views with more moderation.”

The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur. Arthur was born in northwestern Vermont and grew up in upstate New York. The Exclusion Act was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States.

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The local public laundry business continued with steam laundries competing with hand laundries. In 1889 the Phoenix reported Lu Chin, “a bright young Chinese laundryman has caught on to the American idea of not getting left behind.” The City Steam Laundry on Flat Street made a cut in its prices, reducing shirts from 12 cents to 8, so Chin matched the price and then cut his other prices so they would be 25 percent less than his competition.

The prejudice and intolerance mentioned in the Phoenix may have been on display during a few incidents reported in the following years. In 1885 a 14-year-old boy was caught stealing money from the drawer of a Chinese laundry. The boy was brought before a judge and when the judge heard the evidence he sided with the boy and the laundry lost about $5 from its till. The judge gave the boy a warning. The paper reported the accent of the laundryman was hard to understand so the judge gave the boy the benefit of a doubt.

In 1893 a Chinese laundryman chased students into St. Michael’s School and threatened them. The nuns challenged the man and asked him to explain himself. He said the boys had been throwing objects into the laundry in order to torment the laundryman and disrupt his ability to work. The laundryman said he wanted to cut the ears off the two boys who had been harassing him. The police were called and they visited Charlie Sing, the owner of the laundry. He was told that he would need to replace the laundryman with another worker. During the ensuing years there were many reports of attempted robberies at local Chinese laundries.

Washing laundry at home with domestic help, having it picked up by the steam laundry’s delivery wagon, or dropping it off at the Chinese hand laundry was a function of economics, social status, immigration policy, and personal preference.

Chinese and steam laundries spread to Elliot, Flat, Church, High and Main streets. From the 1880s to the 1930s there were always multiple commercial laundry options in Brattleboro. One of the last steam laundries closed in 1932 when Custom Laundry bought out Brattleboro Steam Laundry. The last Chinese laundry closed in 1944. It operated in the Manley Building on High Street.

One of the most enduring laundries was begun by Mrs. William Russell in 1887. She owned and operated a laundry business on Elliot Street until 1919. It began as a hand wash laundry and evolved into steam powered machines. Mrs. Russell’s Laundry became the Custom Laundry when she sold the business to Hugh Agnew. Custom Laundry dominated the Brattleboro commercial laundry business until it closed in 2010.

The first coin operated laundry in Vermont appeared at the bottom of Brattleboro’s Main Street in 1958, across from the Holstein Building. Shaw’s Dime Laundromat debuted in April and was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their advertisement claimed, “You can do a 35 lb. laundry for only 80 cents . and dry this load for only 40 cents, a total of $1.20 for a whole week’s laundry. Where can you do it any cheaper? Not even at home!”

The introduction of electricity allowed laundry machine manufacturers to attach little electric motors to each machine, making them portable. Steam power went out of fashion and the introduction of electricity allowed for the rise of home washing machines and public do-it-yourself operations.

After World War II electric home washing machines were status symbols that became ammunition in the Cold War “Kitchen Debate” between the Soviet Union and the United States. The historical answers to the challenges of cleaning laundry may be found in the mixture of immigration policies, the advancement of technology, the struggle for women’s equality and the desire for clean socks.


Origin of name: From the French ??vert mont,? meaning ??green mountain?

10 largest cities (2010 est.): Burlington, 42,417 Essex, 19,587 South Burlington, 17,993 Colchester 17,067 Rutland, 16,495 Bennington 15,764, Brattleboro 12,046 Milton, 10,352 Hartford, 9,952 Springfield, 9,078 Barre, 9,052 Williston, 8,698 Middlebury, 8,496

Geographic center: In Washington Co., 3 mi. E of Roxbury

Number of counties: 14

Largest county by population and area: Chittenden, 156,545 (2010) Windsor, 971 sq mi.

State forests: 300,000 ac.

2010 resident census population (rank): 625,741 (49). Male: 308,206 (49.3%) Female: 317,535 (50.7%). White: 596,292 (95.3%) Black: 6,277 (1.0%) American Indian: 2,207 (0.4%) Asian: 7,947 (1.3%) Other race: 2,105 (0.3%) Two or more races: 10,753 (1.7%) Hispanic/Latino: 9,208 (1.5%). 2010 percent population 18 and over: 79.3 65 and over: 14.6 median age: 41.5.

The Vermont region was explored and claimed for France by Samuel de Champlain in 1609, and the first French settlement was established at Fort Ste. Anne in 1666. The first English settlers moved into the area in 1724 and built Fort Dummer on the site of present-day Brattleboro. England gained control of the area in 1763 after the French and Indian Wars.

First organized to drive settlers from New York out of Vermont, the Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen, won fame by capturing Fort Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775, in the early days of the Revolutionary War. In 1777 Vermont adopted its first constitution, abolishing slavery and providing for universal male suffrage without property qualifications.

Vermont leads the nation in the production of monument granite, marble, and maple products. It is also a leader in the production of talc. Vermont's rugged, rocky terrain discourages extensive agricultural farming, but is well suited to raising fruit trees and to dairy farming.

Principal industrial products include electrical equipment, fabricated metal products, printing and publishing, and paper and allied products.

Tourism is a major industry in Vermont. Vermont's many famous ski areas include Stowe, Killington, Mt. Snow, Okemo, Jay Peak, and Sugarbush. Hunting and fishing also attract many visitors to Vermont each year. Among the many points of interest are the Green Mountain National Forest, Bennington Battle Monument, the Calvin Coolidge Homestead at Plymouth, and the Marble Exhibit in Proctor.

Vermont has become a trailblazer for gay rights. In April 2009, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage. It was the first state to legalize gay marriage by a legislature's vote. The House and Senate voted to override Governor Jim Douglas' veto. Prior to this vote, Vermont was the first state to legalize same-sex civil unions.

Brattleboro Ski Hill

The primary people, with a far reaching vision of skiing, who got together in the early summer of 1937 and formed a plan to build and operate a ski tow in Brattleboro were Robert Billings, Elliot Barber, Floyd Messenger and John Dunham. These men, who were looking to the future, were prominent citizens in town.

On November 10, 1937, on the Charles Clark Farm, where the Living Memorial Park is now located, construction of the &ldquoGuilford Street Ski Tow&rdquo was begun in earnest. It was an 1100 foot rope tow that had its&rsquo terminal building built up on two large timbers and located across the street from the William Cushman house which still stands today. IT was quite modern by any standards in that it had a fairly large electric motor for power that would easily handle 300 skiers per hour. When the rope reached the top it traveled around a three foot bull wheel and came back to the bottom riding on Model A Ford wheels fixed to the top of light poles about 16 feet high and 60 feet apart. At the end of the day the bottom rope that traveled along the ground pulling skiers to the top of the fill was lifted up by a ski patrol member and placed on the lower wheel about five feet off the ground so that it would not freeze to the ground.

It was planned to open the Guilford Street Ski Tow to the public in December that year however, there was very little snow. While some old timers say they skied there in December, it is generally believed that these were the five prominent citizens and their families and friends along with prospective members of the soon to be organized Brattleboro Ski Patrol. The facility opened to the public the first Saturday in January 1938. An all day ticker cost 35 cents, after 1:00 p.m. the half-day ticket cost 25 cents. In 1939, lights were added, and the tow operated three nights each week and the ticket price was 25 cents. There were numerous promotions, such as four tickets for 75 cents.

After war was declared on December 8, 1941, there were many changes in the town. Members of the Vermont National Guard unit in Brattleboro left in mass, more that 200 at one time. Men were being drafted, and men and women were volunteering in considerable numbers. Of the four original men, only John Dunham remained behind, and with the help of Holland Douglas and several others the Ski Area continued to operate during the war.

The Brattleboro Ski Patrol was formed in January 1938. Some of the original members included Holland Douglas, &ldquoOzzie&rdquo Stowell, Edward Dunklee, Dr. Richard Stevens, Bruce Buchanan, Madeline Messenger, &ldquoBenny&rdquo Zakauskas, Floyd Messenger and Clyde Benedict. This group functioned as an independent patrol until 1941, when it formally became affiliated with the National Ski Patrol System. Today the Brattleboro Ski Patrol is the second oldest, continuous NSPS Ski Patrol in the Easter Division. In 2001 the Brattleboro Ski Patrol celebrated 60 years of service within the National Ski Patrol System and 63 years as a ski patrol.

Our family lived just across the Creamery Bridge at 125 Western Avenue and from all the windows facing the avenue we had an excellent view of the ski area. My mother had a pair of Northland double groove skis and with those skis I had the good fortune to ski at the Guilford Street Ski Tow in 1938. After the tow closed for the day, I would shovel snow into the ruts, and then pack the towline with my skis. They paid me in lift tickets, which was fine with me.

It recently came to our attention, thanks to Nick Collins, that skiing at what is now Living Memorial Park, began back in the 30&rsquos and was one of the first three ski areas in the US with a lift east of the Mississippi. Bus loads of skiers from Connecticut and New York would come on weekends to ski here. Some report up to a thousand people would be lined up for the winter sport.

In 1957 the current Dopplemeyer T-bar lift was installed and the town began running the operation. Due to undependable snowfall (and other factors) the town ceased operating the hill in 1995. A private group of citizens banded to re-open the hill in 1997, knowing there was no money from the town. We hated to see this treasure sit idle and fall apart.

We called our newly formed not-for-profit operation: Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, Inc.

John Carnahan and the Brattleboro Historical Society Origins Story

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Keeping Abenaki Culture Alive

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Robin Dinda at First Baptist Church 11/17/19

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Oral History: Celebrating the Stephen Daye Press

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Remembering Vietnam: Brattleboro's Fallen Sons

The burial flag of United States Marine, John Blake flies atop the flagpole at Brattleboro Union High School on the . . .

Oral History: Brattleboro's Main Street Through the Years

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Oral History: Dr. Robert Tortolani, Vietnam War

Longtime area doctor Robert Tortolani, MD talks about his experience serving as a US Army Physician in Vietnam from . . .

Oral History: David Rohn, Vietnam War Era

Former Windham College Art Dept Chair David Rohn talks with BUHS Social Studies teacher Bill Holiday as part of the . . .

Oral History: Bill Fleming, Vietnam Vet

BUHS Class of 1964 Alumn and Vietnam War Veteran Bill Fleming talks about his experience in the war, returning home, . . .

Dr. Sergie Khrushchev: BUHS Student Skype Talk

Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, son of Soviet Premier Nikolai Khrushchev, spoke with Bill Holiday's Brattleboro Union High . . .

Watch the video: A Super Short History of Brattleboro, VT