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About Milton

The Town of Milton was chartered on 8th day of June 1763 by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire, it was comprised of 23,040 acres and was made to 62 grantees. As far as can be determined the Town was not settled until the end of the Revolutionary War although settlements were encouraged in order to increase the value of the land. Any records which may have existed of proceedings of proprietors previous to the war have been lost in the Flood of 1927.

Milton was first settled by William Irish, Leonard Owen, Amos Mansfield, Absalom Taylor and Thomas Dewey in February, 1782.

The first meeting of which a record has been kept was held in Middletown on August 2, 1786. At that meeting a moderator and a clerk were chosen. On August 5th it was voted to let out the first division of lots. A tax of one pound and ten shillings was to be paid by each proprietor to defray expenses.

A meeting was held June 25, 1788 in Manchester, New Hampshire for the purpose of allotting and surveying the 2nd, 3rd and 4th divisions of the undivided land, the first division having been previously let out on August 5, 1786.

By 1795, about 300 settlers were living in Milton, making it difficult to hold Town or religious meetings in private homes. However, meetings were held in private homes until 1806 when the voters met at the Town House at Checkerberry Green. The Town House was built in 1849 and destroyed by fire in 1878.

West Milton, on the Lamoille River, was the first part of Town to be settled. There was an abundance of timber in the area, notably old growth white pine which the English desired for their Navy. In the spring, the Lamoille River was high enough to permit schooners as far up as West Milton. Lumber, pulpwood and cordwood could be loaded on these schooners and floated to Montreal and foreign markets. Early settlers derived most of their income from forest products.

As the Town continued to grow, the seven waterfalls within the Town provided a valuable source of power for sawmills, gristmills and various other manufacturing industries. The first settlers found little open land suitable for raising cash crops so the land had to be laboriously cleared by the primitive methods of the day, mainly by manual labor, aided perhaps by a faithful ox or horse.

An important cash crop was potash which was obtained from the ashes of burned hardwood logs. At this time there was a tremendous demand for potash salts in Europe and this product became one of the few sources of ready cash for the struggling Vermont residents. Potash sold for $4.00 to $5.00 per hundred weights. Thus ashes were the first money crops for the early settlers.

Around 1840 farmers turned to dairying in earnest. At first the milk was converted into butter and cheese on the farm where it was produced. Later it was sold to creameries who turned the raw milk into dairy products. By the early to mid 1900’s most of the milk was shipped to Boston or New York where it was sold as fluid milk.

By 1935, most of the available land in Milton was used for farming. As new methods of farming were introduced, the number of cows increased, hogs, sheep, and wheat and grain production declined, reflecting the dependence of the farmer on the dairy industry.

The Milton Cooperative Dairy Corporation was organized in 1919 by farmers of Milton and vicinity. The headquarters and main plant were located in Milton. In 1963 employed 40 people. The creamery was closed in 1974. Since then the dairy industry in Milton has suffered a gradual decline. There are now only about 7 or 8 operating dairy farms left in Town.

In spite of the loss of farms, Milton has continued to grow in population due to the Town’s close proximity to the IBM facility in Essex Junction and other industries of the Chittenden County Area.

The Town of Milton is a vibrant growing community with a Town Manager form of government. It has a new municipal building, an excellent school system and an efficient Police force, Fire Department, Rescue Squad, and Highway Department. There is also a medical center as well as several churches, civic organizations, and social organizations.

Milton is an excellent place to live and raise a family.

Compiled by Stanley Henry, Secretary of the Milton Historical Society.

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