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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, signifying in French, "Green Mountains," was first so-called by the people, in their declaration of independence, in 1777.  It lies between 42°44' and 45° north latitude, and 71°33' and 73°25' west longitude from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Canada; east by New Hampshire, which is separated from it by Connecticut river; south by Massachusetts; and west by New York, from which it is separated, in part, by Lake Champlain, and contains 10,200 square miles.

Physical Aspect-- The surface of this state is generally uneven, and a great part of it mountainous.  A large proportion of the soil is fertile, and adapted to the various purposes of northern agriculture.  It is generally deep, of a dark color, rich, moist, warm, loamy, and seldom parched by drought.  The "intervales" along the rivers and lakes are regarded as the best for tillage; and much of the land among the mountains is excellent for grazing, and here there are found many fine farms.

Mountains-- The Green mountains, so named on account of the evergreens with which they are covered, extend in a lofty, unbroken range, quite through the central part of the state, from north to south.  In the southern part of Washington county they are separated into two ridges, the most westerly of which is much the highest.  The highest elevations in this ridge are Killington peak, Camel's Hump or "Camel's Rump," as it is commonly called, and the "Chin," in Mansfield mountains.  Ascutney is another noted mountain of this state, lying at the southward of Windsor.

Rivers and Lakes-- The principal rivers are the Connecticut, Lamoille, Onion, Missisque, Winooski, White, Black, Champlain and Memphremagog lie partly in this state.  Among the smaller bodies of water are Lakes Dunmore and Bombazine.

Islands-- The principal of these are North and South Hero, and La Motte, all of which are in Lake Champlain.

Climate-- The climate is remarkably healthy, but is subject to great extremes of heat and cold, the range of temperatures varying from 27° below zero to 100° above. Winter usually commences in its greatest severity early in December, and often continues till April.  During this season there is generally a prevalence of fair weather, and the cold is more uniform and steady than in other parts of New England near the coast.

Productive Resources-- The chief products are horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, butter, cheese, sugar, wax, silk, wool, lumber, pot and pearl ashes, hay, hops, hemp, flax, wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats, potatoes and Indian corn. Of the mineral or fossil resources, lead, iron, copperas, marble, limestone, and granite, form the principal.

Manufactures-- Leather, bar and cast iron, boots and shoes, linseed oil, nails, mechanical and agricultural implements, cotton and woolen goods, paper &c, are among the products of manufacturing industry.  Marble is quarried, sawn, and polished, in several places.

Railroads and Canals-- There are several long lines of railroad in Vermont, extending from the borders of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to Burlington and Canada, and from Rutland to Whitehall and Troy in New York.  There are about 400 miles of railroad in the state.  There are some short canals, designed to overcome obstructions in the navigation of the Connecticut and White rivers.

Commerce-- The foreign commerce of Vermont is mostly with Canada.  Its principal port is Burlington, on Lake Champlain.  Its domestic and foreign trade amounts in value to about three fourths of a million of dollars annually.

Education-- The oldest literary institution is the university at Burlington, founded in 1791. There are also, Middlebury college, Norwich university, and a medial school at Woodstock, all in a flourishing condition.  Besides these, there are many academies, and some 3000 common schools in the state.

Population-- In 1790 was 85,416; in 1800 was 154,465; in 1810 was 217,713; in 1820 was 235,764; in 1830 was 280,652; in 1840 was 291,948 and in 1850 was 314,120.

Government-- The legislative power is vested in a senate of thirty members, and a house of representatives, consisting of one member from each town; and the executive power in a governor, or in his absence, a lieutenant governor -- all chosen annually by the people, on the first Tuesday in September.  The judiciary powers are vested in a supreme court of five judges, and county courts (each composed of one judge of the supreme court and two assistant judges), all chosen annually by the legislature.  A council of thirteen censors is chosen once in seven years, to supervise the legislative and executive branches of government.  The right of suffrage vests in male citizens of 21 years of age, who have resided in the state one year, and are of quiet and peaceable behavior.

History-- The first permanent settlement in Vermont was made at Fort Dummer, in 1724, through the northwesterly part of this state was visited by Champlain and others as early as 1609.  In the year 1739, New Hampshire claimed jurisdiction of the territory, and made many grants of land west of Connecticut river.  The same territory was also claimed by New York, whose right was established by decision of the crown, in 1764.  In the meantime, New York has also made grants to others of the same tracts, which caused continued disputes, and even resistance, for years.    In 1774, New York passed severe enactments on the subject; but, at the commencement of the Revolution, the contest was suspended.  In 1777, the people preferring a government of their own, met in convention, and declared themselves a free and independent state.  In consequence of these conflicting claims, Congress dared not admit Vermont into the Union at the commencement of the Revolutionary war, for fear of offending New Hampshire and New York, although she had expressed a readiness to throw off the British yoke.  By another convention, held at Windsor, in 1777, a state constitution was adopted, but the government was not organized before 1778.  In 1786, this constitution was modified, and was again revised in 1793.  In 1790, the controversy with New York was ended by the payment of $30,000 and the year following Vermont was admitted into the Union as a sovereign state.  Motto of the sea, "Freedom and Unity."

1850 Counties of  Vermont

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Addison western part on Lake Champlain, Otter river 500 Maddlebury 26,549
Bennington in south west part 680 Bennington & Manchester 18,589
Caledonia northeast part, west side of Connectent river 700 Denville 23,060
Chittenden western boundary, east side of Lake Champlain, crossed by Onion river 500 Burlington 29,036
Essex northeast corner, Connecticut river on east 114 Guildhall 4,650
Franklin northwest corner, Lake Champlain on the west 600 St Albans 28,586
Grand Isle northwest corner, comprises Alburg peninsula & several islands in northern part of Lake Champlain, 2 are North & South Hero 82 North Hero 4,145
Lamoille northern part 420 Hyde Park 10,872
Orange east boundary, Connecticut river on east 650 Chelsea 27,296
Orleans north boundary, Lake Memphremagog on north 700 Irasburgh 15,707
Rutland west boundary, Lake Champlain on west 958 Rutland 33,059
Washington toward northern part 425 Montpelier 24,654
Windham southeast corner, Connecticut river on east 780 Fayetteville or Newfane 29,062
Windsor on east boundary, Connecticut river on east 900 Woodstock 38,320

Bennington, VT

Seat of justice together with Manchester. It was named form Benning Wentworth, who, in 1749, was the royal governor of New Hampshire.  It is drained by branches of Hoosick river, which afford good water power.  Marble, iron ore and yellow ochre are found here.  The principle village is on elevated ground, and makes a good appearance.  A Little to be east is a considerable manufacturing village.  In 1777, General Stark, with 800 Americans, defeated a superior British force, on the west border of this town.


Seat of justice & the chief port of entry for VT.  It is pleasantly situated on a beautiful bay of Champlain and commands the principle trade of the county and of the lake.  To this point flow a large portion of the products of the Green Mountain state, and thence they are conveyed by railroad, steamboats, or other vessels, to Troy, Albany, New York, St John, and other places.  Rising from the water by a gentle acclivity, and laid out in regular streets, adorned with gardens and dwellings, Burlington is as conspicuous for its pleasant and healthful location, as for its commercial advantages.  The dome of the University of Vermont, which stands on an eminence 250 feet above the lake, commands a most varied, extensive and delightful prospect.  A light-house on Juniper Island marks the entrance of the harbor, and a breakwater, erected by the general government, protects it from the west winds of the lake.  This village communicates by railroad with Montpelier, Boston, and intermediate places.

Population in 1810 was 1,690; in 1820 blank; in 1830 was 3,525; in 1840 was 4,271 and in 1850 was 5,211

Montpelier, VT

Montpelier, seat of justice of Washington Co and Capital of the state of VT, is pleasantly situated amid rugged hills, 160 miles northwest of Boston and 516 miles from Washington.  Watered by Onion river and tributaries.  It is the thoroughfare and centre of an extensive trade from Boston and other points.  The dwellings are neat and handsome, and the architecture of the state capital is admired for its purity and beauty. The edifice is built of dark granite, in the form of a cross, and is of Doric order.  The centre is 72 feet wide, and 100 feet deep; the two wings are each 39 feet wide and 50 feet deep; the top of the dome is 36 feet above the ridge and 100 feet from the ground.  Montpelier is connected by railway with Burlington and Boston, and the intermediate places.

Population: in 1810 was 1,877; in 1820 was blank; in 1830 was 1,792; in 1840 was 3,725 and in 1850 was 3,210.

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