Manchester, Vermont – Rich in History
Vermont has an interesting history. The first European to see the Green Mountains is thought to have been the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, arriving in 1535. It wasn’t until 1609 that Samuel D. Champlain claimed the Lake Champlain area and gave the mountains the moniker of les Verts Monts.
Champlain thought he’d endear himself further to the local Abenaki tribe killing an Iroquois chief with a muzzle loader. The incident gave the Iroquois a deep hatred of the French that likely helped fuel the French loss in the French and Indian War.
In 1666, France claimed the area as part of New France. Between then and the French and Indian War nearly 100 years later, the Indians, the French, and an increasing number of British settlers inhabited the area. The French came from the north and settled in the northern areas and the British came from the south settling in the southern areas. Fighting broke out regularly and a number of wars were fought before the French and Indian War (1755-1761) that spawned the 1763 Treaty of Paris and gave control of the region to the British.
It appears that the British wasted no time in claiming their spoils, as Manchester was one of several towns chartered by Benning Wentworth in 1761. The first settlers arrived a few years later, and by 1784. the town was laid out. Early settlers clearing land found that it was more suited to grazing than tilling and sheep roamed the hillsides while industries involving marble, iron, and lumber evolved. Following the arrival of the railroad in the mid-eighteen hundreds and end of the Civil War in 1865, Manchester became an affluent resort area and remains so today.
It is also rich in history. Hildene, the Lincoln Family home is located here as is the Equinox Hotel - both beautiful and steeped in history. With this background and a visit, hopefully you’ll be encouraged to explore even more of the history of the area. The Orvis company is located here as is the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Enjoy and explore the Northshire Bookstore in the heart of the village, or take a look at our store for books about Vermont history. Viewing the area through a historical perspective is a great way to explore the region!