Vermont Place Names Offer a Glimpse into Local History

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Vermont Place names

Snowsville to Lost Nation: Vermont Place Names Offer a Glimpse into Local History

If you spend enough time in any Vermont town, you’ll likely come across Vermont place names like Maple Corner in Calais, Snowsville in Braintree, and Hortonville in Mount Holly. These places are not official villages but rather unincorporated areas that are deeply rooted in the fabric of these communities.

With a few exceptions, most of Vermont’s place names go back to a town’s early days. Some are named after a person, like Jonesville in Richmond. While other names reflect a geographical feature (in this case, a mountain with lots of bears), like Beartown near Manchester. Others, including Peth in Braintree, have names whose origins remain a mystery.

Vermont Place Names Peth

-Peth Road in Braintree leads to Peth and Mud Pond in Braintree. Main photo: The Braintree Hill Meeting House, home of the Braintree Historical Society’s museum. 

Jane Dorney, a geographer, researcher, and placed-based educator, says that Vermont place names are remarkably durable.

Very few places have needed new names since the 1950s, Dorney says. There have been a few, such as the New North End in Burlington, the town of Sherburne changing its name to Killington, and the newly re-named Huzzy Brook in Townshend.

Vermont Place Names in Braintree

In central Vermont, the small town of Braintree has about 1,200 residents. Braintree has several unofficial places in town with names like Snowsville, Mud Pond, Braintree Hill, Peth, Lost Nation, and Quaker Hill.

Vermont Place Names Snowsville

-The area of Snowsville in Braintree is named after Jeremiah Snow.  

Jackson Evans, president of the Braintree Historical Society, has lived in Braintree for over a decade. His mother’s family was connected to some of the town’s early settlers.

“Place names are a real part of the history of any town,” Evans says. “So, when you’re able to talk about those places or remember events that happened or people who lived in those places, it’s a way to connect yourself.”

Some place names in Braintree have been forgotten over time, he says.

“I think these place names evolve,” he says, explaining that some names stick and others fade away, such as places named after a property owner from long ago “It doesn’t exist on a map; it’s really in people’s memory. And unless that memory is being shared, eventually, it’s going to drop off.”

Snowsville in Braintree Vermont

-Snowsville in the early 1900s. Courtesy of the UVM Landscape Change Program.

Learn more about the Braintree Historical Society 

Happy Vermont Podcast

Jackson Evans, president of the Braintree Historical Society, has lived in this central Vermont town for more than a decade. He’s a historian, father, and husband who loves exploring Vermont Class 4 dirt roads on his bike. He talks about his love for the town of Braintree, its places, and history. You can find the podcast on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Pandora, Google Podcasts, and iHeartRadio..

Braintree, Cities & Towns, History, Orange County, Vermont Podcast
  • Miche poirier
    Posted at 20:17h, 19 November Reply

    My name is miche poirier. I’m the owner of uncle nectar honey in snowsville vt. Hope u enjoyed it!

    • Erica
      Posted at 16:54h, 20 November Reply

      Oh my gosh, I very much did enjoy it. Thank you so much for making such wonderful honey!

  • Andrea Gould Easton
    Posted at 02:30h, 20 November Reply

    I just listened to Braintree. I lived there from 2 -12, ajacent Rolling Rock park, my dad and mom owned 45 acres and built a home . I rember going to Helen Bowens , the town clerk. Etc. Mud pond is a special place too.
    , My ancestors settled Andersonville, on the outskirts of Craftsbury. My greatx3 grandfather was Cooper John, Anderson, a barrel maker. Ive got copy of the diary kept as his mother came across the ocean to America, with john as a child, and they made their way to Craftsbury.
    And Beanville, a part of Randolph. Another gulch , like some others you investigate.
    Good storys!


    • Erica
      Posted at 16:57h, 20 November Reply

      Thanks for listening, Andrea. These little places are so fascinating and have many wonderful stories. That’s incredible that you have the diary of your greatx3 grandfather! What a treasure. -Erica

  • Kathryn Gross
    Posted at 09:15h, 19 December Reply

    My husband and I lived almost across from the Snowsville General Store after we got married in 1972! It was the greatest place to live! Such a quaint little community! We loved it there! 50 years later certain memories still draw me back there!

  • Kathryn Havey Gross
    Posted at 09:42h, 19 December Reply

    My husband and I used to live almost across from the Snowsville General Store after we got married from 1972-1974. It was the greatest place to live. Such a quaint little community.! We loved it there. We left due to his employment. 50 years later certain memories will still draw me back there!

    • Erica
      Posted at 09:48h, 19 December Reply

      Hi Kathryn, I can totally see why! Such a beautiful community and it has such a timeless feel. I am so glad you have such wonderful memories of Snowsville and Braintree! -Erica

  • Pingback:In Vermont, Why Are Things Where They Are? Happy Vermont
    Posted at 18:46h, 25 January Reply

    […] also talks about the stories behind some Vermont place names, including Checkerberry Village in Milton and Jonesville in […]

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