Welcome to Washington, VT

Genealogy & History

This page is maintained by
Ian Zaenger


Washington History

Elsie Beard

      Washington is a twice chartered town. The original charter, granted in 1770 be the  royal governor of New York, was for Kingsland in the County of Gloucester. Although there is no record of any  residents during this period, Kingsland was designated as one of two county seats and a log jail was constructed close to  what is now the geographical center of Washington, at the head of a stream named Jail Branch. 

      During the period when Vermont was an independent nation, a charter was issued  naming the town as Washington. Although the exact date of this charter is not clear, most historians agree that the  year was 1781. The fist record of any settler in Washington is in 1785 when one Daniel Morse received title to 100 acres. By 1792 Washington was organized and the records show that in 1794 there were 32 freemen on the checklist. 

      For the next 45 years the population grew rapidly until it reached a peak of 1400 in 1840. The town's population was dispersed about on numerous small farms with wool production being the main  cash crop. In 1840 there were 7500 sheep and 840 cows on Washington farms. Between 1820 and 1829 there were two  fulling mills and one carding mill in operation; processing the wool and homespun wool cloth. Sheep raising peaked  around 1830 and after 1840 there was a steady decline due to tariffs and increasing cheaper competition. After 1840 there  was also a steady decline in the human population due to the westward movement. The numerous cellar holes and  stone wall remnants that one can find on the hillside forests are mute testimony to the numerous farms that existed here in  the 19th century. 

      With the arrival of railroads in Vermont in the 1850's, the dairy industry began to  take over because new urban markets were now accessible. By 1895 Washington had a creamery to process its  milk production. During this period the railroads were expanding with subsequent industrial development in some  nearby towns. Both the railroads and industry bypassed Washington and it remained a rural community with an  agriculturally based economy. 

      In the twentieth century the dairy business became increasingly competitive and by  mid-century many small farms could not continue. By 1960 the population of Washington had declined to 565, its  lowest since early in the 19th century. As these marginally productive farms were closed, land prices fell and  much of this land was quickly purchased by non-residents. Those farmers who were able to retain some of their  property were forced to seek work in nearby localities. Although Washington remains a rural community, it is  no longer predominately agricultural but rather a bedroom community whose members commute for their livelihood. 

      The census of 1970 showed that approximately 20% of Washington residents were  not native Vermonters. This percentage continues to grow as more and more people seek escape from urban  life-style. For better or for worse this trend will increasingly influence decisions that will determine the future of our  town. 

 ~ Courtesy of the ~
The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

See Also: History of Washington Library


Washington Township Clerk

Carol Davis, Town Clerk
Town Clerk's Office Calef Public Library
Washington, VT  05675

M T 8:30am-2:30pm



Washington Query Posting

Please feel free to post a surname query for your ancestors  in the Town of Washington on the 
Orange County Query Page

If your lines are not in Orange County, please do not enter a query on the Orange County Query Board. 
Post it in the correct county. 

Current and Archived Queries with information on how to Post your own query on the query page.


Washington Lookup Volunteers

If you have any reference material on the Washington
area, or would like to volunteer to do lookups, 
we need volunteers who will help researchers. 
please let me know if you can assist in this.

"Gazetteer of Orange County, Vermont, 1762-1888", 
Compiled by Hamilton Child, June 1888 ~ 
K. Neal

"The Calefs of Washington, Vermont," 
Rockport, Massachusetts: Heath, Clark W., 1974 
[typed manuscript]
Gil Varney

Guidelines for requesting lookups:

On the subject line enter Washington, VT Lookup.
Put the name of the Source you are researching in the first line. 
Limit your request to 1 or 2 specific names on separate lines. 

Don't forget to thank your volunteer
for their time and effort!!!



Washington Families

If you have information on particular 
Washington families which you'd be willing to share
with other researchers, or if you simply wish
to be listed so others can contact you, please 
let me know
and I'll list your families here.

Judith Bennett Kernan seeks info on Lydia Adams BENNETT, wife of Gresham Hobart, and her son Imlah.

Sheila Wilton has info to share on the BENNETT family (Imlah etc.)

Anne Benson has info on the ancestors/descendants of
Eliza L. (b. 26 Jul 1835, d. 10 Nov 1920).

[Orange County]

[Vermont History and Genealogy]


Copyright © 1996-2004.

Vermont Coordinator ~ Karima

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This Washington, Vermont Page was established
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