Vermont State History
Vermont became the 14th state in the United States on March 4, 1791. It is one of 6 states that makes up the country’s northeast corner. Montpelier is the state capital and it has one of the lowest populations of all of the state capitals in the country. The 3 U.S. states that border Vermont are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. It also shares a border with Quebec, Canada. The Connecticut River runs from the Canadian border south to the Massachusetts border and serves as the divider between Vermont and its eastern neighbor, New Hampshire. The entire river is considered to be in New Hampshire, though, beginning on its western side at the mean low-water line.
A lot of people who were born in Vermont didn’t stay. Instead, they traveled to the northeast or to the west. However, many other people have migrated to the state for various reasons, including spiritual refuge. It has never been a focal point for the country, and yet, it gives a certain strength and achievement to its residents and to the rest of the country, merging a mixture of the present and the past. Its population was 608,827 in 2000 and that number jumped to 621,760 by 2009. Yet, for its area, which is 9,615 square miles, it doesn’t have a very high population at all when compared to parts of other states.
There was some controversy over Vermont around the time that it was first founded. In fact Lt. Governor Cadwallader Colden of New York and Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire represented their governments and tried to lay claim to parts of Vermont. Not only that, but a small part of Vermont’s southern border was claimed by Massachusetts. Everyone petitioned the king to get clearly defined borders, but they didn’t bother waiting for a response. Instead, they laid claim to certain lands and sold them to settlers, sometimes causing confusion over who actually owned certain pieces of property.
Vermont was known as “The Grants” in the 1760s and settlers came to the area from both new York and lower portions of New England. Prior to that, the area had some New England settlers near Fort Dummer, some remaining Native Americans who survived the French and Indian Wars, and some French settlers. However, other than some members of the Abenaki tribe, most people had moved away to Canada or more populated parts of New England by 1760. The land was difficult to settle because of the forests and rocks, but it was also difficult because multiple people were claiming the same land in a lot of places.
New Hampshire and new York each had their own forms of colonial government. So, that made the grant controversy between the two even more difficult to settle. Generally, upper class New York residents received grants in what is now Vermont. On the other hand, New Hampshire gave its grants to middle class farmers, as well as some civic leaders. Those people often sold the land again to the people who wound up staying on it and farming it. England finally sent word, in 1764, that the Vermont land would belong to new York, not New Hampshire. Most Vermont residents did not like that decision.
Settlement in Vermont was low because of the land controversy, as well as the French and Indian War and, later on, the American Revolution. However, in 1777, it became an independent entity, freeing itself from New York, New Hampshire, and England. It then recognized only New Hampshire land grants and started issuing land grants for unclaimed properties. When the Revolution ended, in 1783, the area finally started to become truly settled. However, it took until 1791 for it to become a state, although it had been attempting to gain statehood for a while.
Vermont’s population skyrocketed right after it became a state. The state has several rivers flowing easy to west and the Green Mountains run through it from the north to the south. The various types of terrain and its geographic location led to it becoming settled at certain times and in certain ways. For example, many people traveled through along Lake Champlain to get to New York and other western regions.
Trails were cut when Vermont was settled and many of them became today’s roads. Economically the state has survived using forest resources and farms, mainly. Both Morgan horses and merino sheep have also been raised in the state as a way of giving it an economic boost.
There were several problems that occurred in Vermont after the War of 1812 ended. For example, 1816 was known as the “Year of No Summer” in the state. That led to many settlers leaving. New settlers came during the middle of the 1800s. They were mainly Irish, Italian, and French-Canadian. During the Civil War, Vermont was the highest per capita contributor of any state, both in treasury money and young soldiers. The state’s population remained about the same for the time period from 1860 to 1970. However, it underwent some major economic problems during the Great Depression of the 1930s, especially since it had also gone through a major flood in 1927 and hadn’t fully recovered. In the late 1900s and still to this day, Vermont became a tourist venue. It draws many people each year who are trying to escape their urban lifestyles, either temporarily or permanently.
Vermont Ethnic Group Research
Several French-Canadians have moved to Vermont from the late 1700s onward into the present day. So, there are several records relating to Quebec censuses available in the state. The Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society and the Vermont Public Records Division each hold extensive French-Canadian records that ca be quite valuable during genealogical research.
Most immigrants to Vermont, including Poles, Greeks, Russians, Italians, Spanish, and Irish, were employed in the iron industry, quarries, or various types of manufacturing. They have been migrating to the area from the 1800s until the present day.
Vermont History Databases and other Helpful Links
The websites below will provide state-specific details to those in search of information for Vermont genealogy work.
- Vermont History Books at Amazon.com
- Biographical encyclopaedia of Vermont of the nineteenth century
- Encyclopedia, Vermont biography : a series of authentic biographical sketches of the representative men of Vermont and sons of
- Burt’s guide through the Connecticut Valley to the White Mountains and the River Saquenay
- Calendar of Ira Allen papers in the Wilbur Library, University of Vermont
- Summer homes among the green hills of Vermont and along the shores of Lake Champlain
- Road and hand book of Massachusetts and Rhode Island
- Overflow letters from the genealogical and biographical history of the Manning families of New England : for the use of later c
- Inventory of the town, village and city archives of Vermont, no. 4.
- The Attractions of Poultney, Fair Haven, Castleton, Hydeville, Middletown and Wells, Vt. and Granville, N.Y. for business, heal
- List of memoirs printed in the “Collections” of the Massachusetts Historical Society
State Genealogy Guides