XX indexVermont  




"This is a township of forty square miles of mountainous land, more fit for the residence of wild beasts than human beings. Its waters flow both into Deerfield River and Walloomscoik. The town was chartered in 1761." 

Gazetteer of Vermont, Hayward, 1849.


      NEARLY thirty years ago Governor Hiland HALL wrote a brief historical sketch of the town of Glastenbury; and in writing of its physical characteristics said: "It is one of the roughest and most mountainous towns in the State, and until quite lately has been considered a pretty safe place of retreat for bears and other wild animals. Although much the greater portion of the town is wholly incapable of cultivation, yet it produces abundance of spruce and hemlock timber, which has lately been worked into lumber in considerable quantities, and sent to market A portion of it goes west, to and through Shaftsbury, and the residue south and westerly, through Woodford.

"A small notch of stony land that runs up a short distance among the mountains from the east side of Shaftsbury, has been occupied by a few families for many years. Until the year 1834 they were considered for all practical purposes as belonging to Shaftsbury. On the 31st of March of that year, the proper legal steps having been taken, the town was duly organized, since which it has been represented in the General Assembly."
      Well, Addison county has its Goshen, and Ripton, and Hancock; Chittenden county has its Bolton and Huntington; and Bennington county must have its Glastenbury, a fair equivalent of any of those named, and more mountainous than all of them. But the Glastenbury of fifty or even thirty years ago and the Glastenbury of today are quite different, although the mountains remain in all their wildness and grandeur. Even as early as 1791 the town had a population of thirty-four, and in 1810 it had increased to seventy-six. From that time to 1860 it declined to forty-seven; but after that improvements, industry and development worked great changes in this wild region, and its population again grew so that in 1870 the town numbered one hundred and nineteen souls, and ten years later, or in 188o, the enumeration showed a population of two hundred and forty-one. and the present number of inhabitants will not vary much from that figure. But with all its disadvantages the town of Glastenbury enjoys benefits such as are afforded to but one or two other towns in this county; it is the northern terminus of what is known as the Bennington and Glastenbury Railroad -- not a "trunk line" by any means, but a short road over which is carried every year a vast quantity of lumber, charcoal and other manufactures, the great bulk of which comes from this town. This it is that gives to Glastenbury whatever of prominence the town enjoys as one of the civil divisions of the county. This railroad was built during the year 1872. Its length from Bennington to Glastenbury is eight miles. Its construction was considered entirely impracticable by experienced engineers on account of the great elevation to be reached in so short a distance, and the extremely heavy grade to be traveled in certain localities; but, notwithstanding the opposing theories of railroad engineers, the road was built and has been in full operation to the present day. The heaviest grade on the road is 250 feet to the mile on a branch, while the strongest on the main line is some 230 feet. Narrow gauge roads are not infrequently built on as heavy grades as this, but with the standard gauge and traction power this is something remarkable. Better than all, the Bennington and Glastenbury road has been operated with a surprising exemption from accidents.

      The manufacturing industry of Glastenbury is confined to the business transacted by the Bennington and Glastenbury Railroad Mining and Manufacturing Company, an incorporated body, the lands of which embrace something like eighteen thousand acres, situate mainly in Glastenbury and Woodford, and some in Somerset township on the east. In the first named these lands extend north nearly to the Sunderland line. The company has in operation two saw-mills, the annual product of which is about two million feel of lumber, all of which is carried over the company's road to Bennington, and thence to Troy and other large markets in New York State. For the manufacture of charcoal the company operates twelve kilns, situate in the most convenient localities for their work. Altogether about fifty men are employed. The officers of the company are as follows: R. C. ROOT, president; Amos ALDRICH, vice-president and superintendent; Thomas A. HUTCHINS, bookkeeper and accountant. It may be stated that whatever of business is transacted at Glastenbury, at the point where the road terminates, is done by the company, that corporation owning the lands in the region, but there are some residents there not in the company's employ.

      The "small notch of stony land that runs up a short distance among the mountains," mentioned in Governor HALL's sketch, embraces whatever there is of Glastenbury's agricultural district, and this is quite limited. The outlet for that people is by the way of Shaftsbury, at which place their trading and marketing is done. There is no post-office in either section of the town, but formerly, in 1873, one was established in the south part and subsequently discontinued. The people of the northern section receive their mail at Shaftsbury, while those in the south part are now obliged to go to South Shaftsbury.

      The educational welfare of the town is reasonably well guarded, but as for churches it has none. It is not to be inferred from this statement that the inhabitants of Glastenbury are less religiously inclined than elsewhere in the county, for such cannot be truthfully said concerning them. The population of the town is so scattered or separated, and the circumstances of the people are such that they are not warranted in the erection of a church edifice for any society or denomination, but Shaftsbury on the north and South Shaftsbury below provide accommodations for all who desire to attend at church services.

History of Bennington County, Vt.
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
Edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich.
Syracuse, N. Y., D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1889.
Chapter XXXV. Page 500 - 502.

Transcribed by Karima, 2004
Material provided by Ray Brown