History of Berlin Vermont

Berlin in Washington County, Vermont, lat. 40° 13,’ long. 4° 25,’ near the center of the State, bounded North by Middlesex, Montpelier and part of East Montpelier, East by Barre and part of Williamstown, South by Northfield and part of Williamstown, and West by Moretown, was chartered June 8, 1763, wherein it was declared “and is hereby incorporated into a township by the name of Berlin.” — 70 equal shares. [1]Book of Charters, page 473-474

The first settlement was commenced in the summer of 1785, by Ebenezer Sanborn from Corinth, on what was afterwards known as the “Bradford farm,” about half a mile from the mouth of Dog river, and Joseph Thurber from New Hampshire, on a place near the mouth of the same river, since known as the “Shepard farm.” Sanborn and Thurber removed the next year to the State of New York. In 1786, Moses Smith moved into the S. E. corner of the town, and in 1787, Daniel Morse from the town of Washington, with his family on to the place left by Thurber, and Jacob Fowler from Corinth, to that of Sanborn, and John Lathrop from Bethel, into the S. E. part of the town. In 1788, Daniel Morse left, and his place was occupied by Hezekiah Silloway from Corinth. In 1789, eight families were added, making in all thirteen, and in 1790, eight more. The first town meeting was warned by John Taplin, a Justice of the Peace, and held March 31, 1791, at the dwelling-house of Aaron Strong; James Sawyer, moderator, David Nye, clerk, Zachariah Perrin, Eleazer Hubbard and James Sawyer, selectmen; Micajah Ingham, constable. The first roads through the town were “the old Brookfield road,” entering the town from the south and passing west of the Pond to Montpelier and the “Coos road” from Connecticut river to Burlington, which passed through the town from Barre village to the first named road at the “Bugbee place.” The first school in town was kept in a log school-house, standing on east street near the brick house built by the late Dea. David Nye, by Mrs. Titcomb in the summer of 1794, and by the wife of Dr. Collins in 1795.

The first school on Dog river was kept by Dr. Gershom Heaton in the winter of 1794-5, in a log-house near the residence of the late Justus Brown.

The first saw-mill was built by Eleazer Hubbard in 1791, on the upper falls of Pond brook, now known as “Benjamin’s Falls,” and a grist-mill a little below the saw-mill one year later. The nearest mill for some time after the first settlement was at Corinth, more than 28 miles distant, and not patronized by our settlers to a great extent, who preferred to live on pound cake; the recipe for making: a hole burned in the top of a large stump; the grain put in, pounded to such fineness as the pounder could afford, and then made into bread.

1873 Map of Berlin Vermont
1873 Map of Berlin Vermont

The first store and tavern was kept by Jonas Parker in the house afterwards the residence of “Israel Dewey, about 1800.” The next was opened in the building formerly standing south of the above, by Charles Huntoon, about 1806. A year or two after, he built at the corner opposite the large square house used for many years as a tavern. His successors in the mercantile business were Bemsley Huntoon, Orrin Carpenter (in 1816), Bigelow & Wheatley, Andrew Wheatley, Farmer’s and Mechanics’ Interest Co., Heaton and Denney who closed out the business soon after 1850, since which time there has been no store kept in the town. The town is diversified by hills and valleys. Stevens’ branch crosses the N. E. corner. A little east of the center lies the valley of the Pond and Pond brook, and in the western part the valley of Dog river. The eastern part of the town was originally covered with a dense growth of hard wood, maple, beach, birch, elm, etc., with a mixture of spruce, hemlock and basswood, and in the swamps cedar and ash. On the mountain in the center upon the south side of the town there is a quantity of butternut, while west of Dog river there is a larger proportion of spruce and hemlock. The soil is well adapted to the growth of English grains and grasses, and in favorable locations Indian corn is cultivated in perfection.

The first marriage of parties living in town was Joshua Swan to Miss Collins, in —— . Tradition says, there being snow on the ground, the bride-elect took her seat on a hand-sled, and the gallant bride­groom, with one or two to assist, drew her to Middlesex, where lived the nearest justice of the peace (probably Esq. Putnam) where the twain were duly made one flesh, when the bride resumed her seat upon the sled, and returned home by the way she came, on the same day, having made a bridal tour of about 15 miles.

The first births in town were Abigail K., daughter of Jacob and Abigail Black, in 1789, who became the wife of Ira Andrews, and died in 1864, and Porter Perrin, Feb. 1790, who died May 17, 1871.

The first deaths were in 1789, an infant child of John Lathrop, and a little later, the Widow Collins, aged 88 years.

George Fowler, an old, early settler of this town, used to hunt with Capt. Joe, Indian.

Public Money Judiciously Expended

Previous to the great flood in Oct. 18 — , Berlin street, leading east from the red arch bridge, was anything but a pleasant place to live in, being low, and in spring a complete slough, and the houses old tumble-down affairs. The water having washed out part of the street, the town invested $1800 in filling and grading about ½ mile, and 2 years later, nearly as much more. The improvement seemed catching. The inhabitants took the idea, and almost every house is newly covered; new ones have been built, a new street laid out with additional buildings, and now, 1881, it is not only a pleasant place in which to live, but one of the pleasant drives near Montpelier.

Stevens Branch

When the first settlers in this vicinity visited the lower part of this stream they found upon its banks near the mouth a hunter’s cabin, and in the cabin the body of a man far gone in the process of decay. He had evidently died alone and unattended. They carefully buried the body as well as circumstances would admit. It was afterwards ascertained that he came from Corinth, and his name was Stevens. Hence, the name “Stevens Branch.” It is said that on account of disappointment in a love affair he left society and took to the forest.

Dog River

Dog River received its name in consequence of a hunter by the name of Martin, losing his favorite dog in the following manner: He set his gun at night near his camp for the purpose of shooting a bear. During the night he heard the report of the gun, and called his dog to ascertain the results, but failing to find him he waited till morning, when he found the dog was the victim. He threw the dog into the stream, saying “this stream shall be called Dog River.”

Table of Content for the History of Berlin Vermont


Article is based largely on the The Vermont historical gazetteer : a magazine embracing a history of each town, civil, ecclesiastical, biographical and military.
Additions, corrections, changes, and design have been made to the original source to produce this article. Those additions and changes are © 2020 by Vermont Genealogy.


1 Book of Charters, page 473-474

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