At ‘This Place in History’ we’re in Williston with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins, talking about a man with a recognizable name Thomas Chittenden.
“Thomas Chittenden, we’ve all heard that name, at least we’ve heard the last name. We always talk about Chittenden county, certainly named after this guy. There’s a big huge monument behind me dedicated to the first Governor of the State of Vermont,” began Perkins. He was not born in Williston. “He was born in East Guilford, CT. He then moved to Salisbury, CT. He had a number of children and he got married down there. He was a colonel in the militia and then ended up moving to Williston in 1774.”
“So there was this thing going on between New York and New Hampshire about who owned this land we now call Vermont. Since he bought his land from Ira Allen, it meant that he got his land patent from New Hampshire. He signed with the folks from NH Land Grants, we’ve all heard of Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. They kicked the Yorkers out of Vermont. Chittenden was part of that crew.”
“And then this war with England intervened. As colonists, they were thinking how do we interact with this home country? Are we a part of the colony of Great Britain? Are we our own country? And Chittenden became very involved in that. He was President of the First Council of Safety, which helped govern what later became the state of Vermont. And he helped write the Vermont State Constitution. So from 1777 to 1791 we’re our own independent republic and Thomas Chittenden, they called him Governor, was the head of that government for all but one year,” said Perkins.
“And then he had to tread that delicate political balance of how does the Republic of Vermont become the State of Vermont. So he helped guide the state through that transition and then he served as Governor of this new State of Vermont from 1791 until his death in 1797.”
“As far as we can tell, he was respected. He could read people really well and was really adept at this political maneuvering, which was evident because he was Governor for so long, really until his death,” concluded Perkins.
“So we’re here in Williston on one of Chittenden’s original land holdings and Lucy McCullough who lives in this house is gracious enough to chat with us a bit about the history here.”
“Governor Chittenden’s home is about a mile down the road on Governor Chittenden Road at a bend in the river. And he built this house for his son Giles. There’s a little lane right in front of us here that connects over to another Chittenden home, which was the Truman Chittenden home over on Route 2. The main road, which is now Governor Chittenden Road, became the Governor’s Trail to Burlington, was used more than the little lane over to Truman’s house; so they changed the emphasis of the front of the house from in back of us to the side, or what looks like the side of the house,” explained McCullough.
“People can visit the property. This is part of Catamount Outdoor Center,” added Perkins.
“I’m always happy to give them a little tour of the house and tell them a little bit about the history and some of the changes that have occurred,” said McCullough.
Tracing Thomas Chittenden’s footsteps, at ‘This ‘Place in History’!
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