Short Early History of Whitingham

Taken from Vermont Historical Gazeteer, Vol. 5, edited by Maria Hemenway

"History of Whitingham" by Clark Jillson

On the 7th of January 1767, a petition was presented to the lieutenant govenor of New York by Nathan Whiting, Samuel Fitch, Eleazer Fitch, James Smedley, David Baldwin, Andrew Myers, Samuel Whiting, Robert Aiton, Amos Hitchcock and Nathan Haines Whiting, covering a part of the "Cumberland Township". After three years, because the matter was delayed, on January 26, 1770, Col. Nathan Whiting renewed the petition. It was granted on the 12th of March 1770 to seven British soldiers, who were rewarded by their fidelity in the King's service. The town was chartered with the name Whitingham".

The town lies in the southern part of Vermont with it's southern border along the Massachusetts line.

Silas Hamilton was one of the first settlers. He came from Warren, Mass and was engaged in Shay's Rebellion for which he was punished. Vermont became the refuge for many of the insurgents including Shay himself. About the same time, Robert Bratten removed from Colraine, Mass to Whitingham and began farming. Mr. Hamilton became the first representative from Whitingham to the Legistlature of Vermont in 1778.

Life was hard for the early settlers who had to travel through the forest by marked trees and transport their grain all the way down to Greenfield, Massachusetts on foot, to have it ground. The first birth in town was John Nelson, Jr. and the first death was Thomas Riddle. Mr. Riddle was from Connecticut and was in Whitingham to visit and took ill. Because of the burden of transporting back to his home, he was buried in Whitingham.

Witchcraft came to town when an elderly women by the name of Lamphear was said to have cast a spell on her neighbor. Evidently the "Salem" witches were still on the minds of the people.

A meeting house was framed and raised during the summer and autumn of 1799 by Levi Conant of Halifax, and was finished off later by Justus Hall, also of Halifax. The Centre Village, as it was called, filled an important place in the lives of the people for many years. They met for meetings there, worshiped there on the Sabbath, shopped, and gathered together as a town in this place. The first store in this vacinity was built by William and Joseph Goodnow in 1804. The most prosperous days of the "Centre Village" were between 1815 - 1835. Around 1838, trade in this area began to decline as people moved to Jacksonville, which was a small village in the northeastern part of Whitingham. Jacksonville soon became the most important business center of the town and remains to this day, the most prominent village in Whitingham.

The earliest trace of any settlement in this place, called Jacksonville, was about 1808. There were three families living there at that time, the Patrick Peebles family, Obed Foster, and a man by the name of Mr. Brown. People began settling here so rapidly that it was given the name "New Boston". Laban J. Childs from Wilmington, came here about 1838 and with Charles Foster, ran a grocery store. The lumber business was begun by Capt. Elias Stone and Willard Foster. But it is said that Parley Starr and Martin Brown were the two most influential people in town during this period of growth. By 1841, Jacksonville was the center of business in the town of Jacksonville.

Among the names of the early families of the town of Whitingham were Nathan and Amos Green, who came from Hampden, Massachusetts. The Brown family was also well represented as five brothers and one sister, whose husband's name was Brown came to Whitingham from Ipswich, NH. They were all members of the Baptist Church. Other families were the Waste family, with Bezaleel Waste, the paternal ancestor, the Silas Richard Stickney family from Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Other family names were Brigham, Chase, Preston, Tainter, Roberts, Carley and Parker.