Vermont's History Timeline 1500s-2003
there were at least 10,000 Native people living in what is now
Vermont. Most likely descended from the Algonquin and Iroquoian
peoples, known as Western Abenaki.
Plagues and wars decimated the Native American Nations. First
contact period with French, English, Dutch, and other European
||First land survey
on Putney soil was ordered by Massachusetts in the Fall of 1715
and included much of nearby Dummerston and Brattleboro. The crew
included skilled surveyors, helpers, and Abenaki who were familiar
with the area.
and forwarding of mast timber for the British Royal Navy began
on the Great Meadows in East Putney.
September 12, 1734, Ompawmet
presented a land claim for the Great Meadows to the English
at Ft. Dummer. A note in the Acts and Resolves of the Province
of Massachusetts records the following transaction, "Ordered
120 pounds to John Stoddard, Esq. And Captain Israel Williams
to be by them paid and delivered to Ompomac Indian upon executing
before as many Indian witnesses as may be, a deed of conveyance
of his right and title [of the Great Meadow, part of the Equivalent
General Court of Massachusetts voted to lay out four townships.
Those on the west side of the river (VT) were numbered in order
coming down the stream: No. 1, Westminster; No. 2, Putney; No.
3, Dummerston; No. 4, Brattleboro. Those on the east side of the
river (NH) were numbered in order going up the stream: No. 1,
---; No. 2, Westmoreland; No. 3, ----; No.4, Charlestown.
Putney's first fort by 1740 in the clearing on the Great Meadows,
with 10 men sent to accompany them for the purposes of scouting
and guarding. This fort and others like it served as outpost stations
for British exploration, conquest, and colonization of the Connecticut
taken captive on the Great Meadow by Abenaki from St. Francis,
October 11, 1745. Probably the first Connecticut Valley captive
of King George's War (1744-48), How died of fever in a French
prison in Quebec on May 24, 1747.
ferry established near Putney station in Dummerston by Captain
John Kathan, connecting the two towns with Westmoreland, NH and
the services provided down river, like grain grinding. The East
Putney, or Britton ferry was established soon after near River
Josiah Willard (1716-1796) led a proprietors' petition for a Putney
charter and on December 26, 1753, the town received its first
charter, issued by Governor Benning Wentworth of the New Hampshire
Grants under King George II of England.
|| To protect
themselves, settlers from Putney, joined by those across the river
in Westmoreland, NH, built a second fort at the Great Meadows.
They remained near to its confines until about 1760, just after
the British victory in Quebec City on the Plains of Abraham in
met at Josiah Willards house in Wincester, NH to discuss
the town layout.
built the first grist mill, located in the eastern part of town
(Minotts Brook, now East Putney Brook) and with that begins a
small mill industry in East Putney.
| Before the
proprietors could implement their new plan, colonial governance
switched by royal proclamation in 1765 from New Hampshire to New
York. Josiah Williard led the request and Governor Moore of the
Province of New York issued a confirmatory charter on November
6, 1766 under King George III.
built the second grist mill, located a little below the current
village center on Sacketts Brook and a small mill industry begins
there as well.
|| On May 8, 1770,
Putney organized as a town and elected its first town officials.
Putney had attracted fifty families, yielding a town population
of approximately 300. That year, eligible male voters held the
first town meeting in Putney, Cumberland County, Province of New
legislature enacted a law in 1779 declaring that all persons in
the republic were forbidden to hold any office except a Vermont
office. Despite these actions, the town of Putney maintained a
New York system of governance. In 1779 and 1780 the town held
two town meetings, a March meeting for Vermont and a May meeting
for New York, with two town clerks, two sets of constables, and
|| Putney officially
became part of Windham County, Vermont.
|| Vermont became
the fourteenth state. Putney reached a population peak of 1,848
with development along the Connecticut River, Sacketts Brook near
what was to become the village center, West Hill, and "The
Street" (the area of town near Putney Central School). The
town established 12 school districts, close enough for neighborhood
children to walk to school. Many of these small villages within
the town also housed conveniently located taverns, stores, and
Population figure stablized at
approximately 1,500 people, although the people themselves are
entering and leaving town with few families remaining for more
than one or two decades. Itinerant population provides a pool
of labor, necessary for a mill economy to thrive.
Forest had been clear cut to
such an extent that fire wood is hard to come by within Putney's
developed. Residents operated 6 sawmills, 4 grist mills, 1 carding
mill, 2 fulling mills, 1 brick yard, 1 slate quarry, 2 tanneries,
at least two inns, and 5 stores. In addition, a lot of professional
people lived in town, especially considering the size of the population.
These included 3 lawyers, 4 doctors, and 2 ministers.
||The War of 1812
brought continued economic prosperity to Putney due to the war
time demand for agricultural products and manufactured goods.
Many of the town's large and elegant houses were built with money
earned during this period.
|| In 1818 or
1819, Solomon Stimson, Lawson Green, and Ebenezer Fairbanks built
the first Putney paper mill. The owners reported an employment
of 4 men, 3 women, and 2 boys with an output of 2,425 reams, valued
at $5,000 to the 1820 census enumerator.
purchased the paper mill and created a family business that lasted
for more than half of the century.
a portion of its economy based on sheep, wool, and textiles. David
Crawford was one of the early, successful sheep breeders in the
country. The Crawford farms yielded 6 pounds of wool per sheep
decades before it became the norm. The Putney Woolen Mill manufactured
cloth and maintained a dye room and weaving and finishing buildings.
| John Humphrey
Noyes and the Putney Perfectionists operated a church and several
small businesses including a grist mill, print shop, and general
store. Noyes established a "Bible family" in which all
should be perfectly equal, worldly goods should be held in common,
and those who were married should renounce their marriage ties
and a "complex marriage" should be set up. In 1847 Noyes
was arrested for the high misdemeanor of adultery and bonded to
appear for trial at the superior court. Upon release, he immediately
left the state, forfeiting his bail bond. Noyes went on to lead
Americas first communal society the Oneida Community.
opened on June 1st for the Vermont Valley Railroad (Boston &
Maine) route which ran from Brattleboro to Bellows Falls. Built
with the aid of Irish emigrants from 1849-1850. Some of the Irish
builders then settled in Putney.
in the United States Civil War. Enlistees served in all the major
battles of the war and many were wounded, losing limbs and suffering
gun shot injuries to the hips, thighs, legs, and arms that would
last the rest of their lives.
a 43 year-old Boston lawyer, established a small herd of registered
Holstein cattle on his family's Putney farm, the first such herd
in Vermont and the second in the country. He and William Cheney
of Massachusetts, a pioneer importer of the breed, started a Holstein
breeders association in 1870 that, along with another group, began
the Holstein-Friesian Association.
from 1167 in 1870 to 1075 in 1890. Farms continue to be abandoned.
Telephone and Telegram installed Putney's first switchboard. Fred
O'Neill held the longest tenure as operator and worked from 1916
Electric streetlights came to
George Aiken established his
first raspberry fields on West Hill. Green Mountain Orchards
Page 15 of the 1918-1947 Town
Record Book listed the first women in Putney to take the Freemans
Oath, beginning with Sophia E. White and including 91 year old
Dr. Laura M. Plantz and a young Beatrice Aiken.
Putney reaches a population low
of 760 people.
reached West Hill.
entered politics. Over the next fifty years he was to become Vermont's
governor and US Senator. Jeffords described Aiken as "the
essence of Vermont." Aiken helped establish the food stamp
program and the Post World War II "Food for Peace" programs,
helped set up the Farmers Home Administration, the Bureau
of Outdoor Recreation, and the Rural Electrification Administration.
He also played a key role in passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, the Rural Development Act and federal control of commercial
nuclear power plants. Aiken dubbed Putney "the world's
best known small town."
Corps and the Works Progress Administration provided federal funds
for local improvement projects including a cement dam. Funds also
went to sponsor local theatrical performances.
Townwide Fire Department replaced
the Village Fire District and services expanded to the entire
Carmelita Hinton moved to Elm
Lea Farm and established The Putney School, America's first
co-educational boarding school. Based on progressive ideas of
farm work, academics, travel, and the arts, The Putney School
maintains its unique style of education to this day.
Electrical service installed
in East Putney.
Carmelita Hinton convinced Donald
Watt to move his family and fledgling organization, The Experiment
in International Living, to Putney's West Hill. The move brought
an international influence to the area, also called the Invasion
of the Eggheads by Jack Wallace (first director of the School
for International Training and Putney town moderator for many
Kazmierczak purchased the Putney Paper Mill which had been held
by the town in hopes of finding a suitable owner after bankruptcy
and fire left it vacant at the beginning of the 1930s. He, his
daughter Shirley, and his son-in-law Earl Stockwell would run
the mill and provide employment to the town residents until its
sale in 1984 to Ashuelot Paper Company.
Governor George Aiken sworn in
as Senator Aiken.
Red Cross nurse Maxine Loomis
became Putney's first war casuality on June 26, 1941 when the
ship carrying her to England was torpedoed. US entered World
War II on December 7th.
Frank Wilson, founder of Basketville,
purchased a sawmill, basket and bucket shops from Dwight Smith
and Ernest Parker called the West River Basket Company. The
name originally derived from the West River in Williamsville,
the companys original location and the new owner retained
the original name until 1961 when it was officially changed
The Putney Consumers Cooperative
opened its doors in the former M.G. Williams store (14 Kimball
||World War II
ends. Soldiers return home with new skills and an exposure to
a wider world.
||Walter F. Hendricks
founded the Vermont Institute of Special Studies. Initially its
primary aim was to orient foreign students to the requirements
for attending American colleges and to help them achieve language
skills. It was authorized to give a two-year, associate degree.
In 1954, the Board of Trustees renamed the institution "Windham
its 200th anniversary of the signing of the town charter with
two-day festival, including a parade, pageant, and exhibits.
Revolution evoked a strong emotional reaction in the United States
because it was one of the first battles in the Cold War. Hungarian
refugees placed in homestays in Putney, aided by the Experiement
in International Living. Teaching English to the refugees laid
a foundation for what would become the School for International
Training's English Language programs.
Santa's Land theme park opened
for business on Route 5.
Tourist cabins and roadside stands
abounded in the 1950s Putney, prompted by an increase in travel
due in part to aggressive regional marketing and in part by
the higher disposable incomes of many American families. In
the early fifties there were at least five people who owned
from four to ten cabins, making a town-wide total of 43.
Putney Central School moved to
its current location, vacating the two story building that had
served as the town school for the first part of the twentieth
Exit 4 opened in December. Turnout for the ribbon cutting ceremony
was one of the largest that had gathered for a road opening to
||The Putney Inn
opened as one of the first new Putney businesses to take direct
advantage of Interstate travel.
Windham College was in full swing,
bring a population increase of over 500 people, the largest
since the 1780s. The college created many community opportunities
in visual art, creative writing, music, dance and theater.
Windham music professor David
Wells and his wife Janet opened the Yellow Barn Music Festival.
in International Living outgrew its Putney campus altogether and
moved to its current location on Kipling Road in Brattleboro.
Windham College closed its doors,
just shy of 25 years of operation.
Putney Crafts and Open Studio
tours began and have since developed into an annual Putney Crafts
Holiday Tour that occurs each Friday and Saturday following
welcomed its first group of students, two years after purchasing
the former Windham campus.
||The Putney Tavern
Building renovations completed, re-establishing a sense of a town
center. The building was purchased at auction in 1995 by Peter
and Deb Shumlin.
||The Mabel Gray
Walk-way stretching from Putney Central to Putney Village is completed,
almost 50 years after Inez Harlow first requested such a sidewalk
at Town Meeting in 1952.
||Putney celebrates its 250th anniversary by hosting a four-day extravaganza from August 14-17th. A video and DVD have captured the enthusiasm for future generations to see.
||Do you see
events that should be added to the timeline? If so, tell us!