Saltash – Plymouth, VT
“By Way of Background” from A Plymouth Album
Plymouth Historical Society
Plymouth, Vermont, chartered July 6, 1761, as Saltash, was granted to Jeremiah Hall and 63 others by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. The name was changed to Plymouth in 1797. The Province of New York granted the same land to Ichabod Fisher in 1772, but no trouble arose over the duplication and the New Hampshire grant prevailed in this rugged mountain town of approximately 25,000 acres.
The Crown Point Military Road, built 1759-60 to transport arms from Charleston, N.H. to Crown Point, N.Y., passed through the southern half of Plymouth at the head of Amherst Lake, named for English General Jeffrey Amherst, who was instrumental in establishing the road.
In 1777, John Mudge from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, built a log cabin on the side of the Kingdom Mountain (Weaver Hill, next to the Crown Point Road). This property was later owned by Moses Pollard. William Mudge was the first child born in Plymouth. John Coolidge, after serving in the Revolutionary War, bought land in the Frog City area and built his log cabin home on the Crown Point-Military Road. Other settlers came after the close of the Revolution.
When Plymouth was organized in 1787 it comprised about fifteen families. Adam Brown held the position of town clerk until the first town meeting was held in 1789. The town’s first official officers were: Jacob Wilder, town clerk; Samuel Page, Moses Priest and John Coolidge, selectmen; and Ebenezer Wilder, Jonathan Wilder and Nathan Jones, Jr., listers.
In 1795, Moses Priest was elected first representative to the State Legislature. He was followed by Asa Briggs in 1797.
Although the town was one of the earliest chartered in Windsor County, Plymouth’s isolated location, which gave cause for privation and hardship, made it less desirable than neighboring towns. The population was 106 in 1790, but ten years later the inhabitants numbered about 500. Forested land was cleared for agriculture, and it was discovered early that Plymouth had a wealth of various minerals. Deposits of lime, granite, marble, soapstone, iron and gold were found. Much of the rock in town is limestone, and the manufacturing of lime was the first substantial industry to accompany agriculture. By 1834 a marble factory was in operation on the east side of Lake Amherst.
Discovering a rich deposit of iron ore, Isaac Tyson started a mining and blast furnace operation in 1837. A village, given the name of Tyson Furnace, sprang up around this thriving enterprise. In the 1840’s, Plymouth’s population reached a peak of 1497.
Although mining and associated businesses were beneficial to Plymouth’s economy, agriculture and lumbering were the main pursuits. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the wool market was booming. When the wool business declined, after the opening of large western tracts to sheep raising, many of the small farmers began to move away.
Plymouth Five Corners and an area northeast of Tyson were the scenes of some frantic and extensive gold mining operations, following the discovery of the precious mineral in Buffalo Brook about 1857. After a time the projects were abandoned. Five Corners, once a well-populated crossroads community, eventually had nothing at all but cellar holes and a cemetery to show for all the feverish activity it once knew.
At one time a survey was made for a railroad through Plymouth, to connect Ludlow with a proposed Rutland to Woodstock line, but it was never built. Beers Windsor County Atlas of 1869 shows the planned route.
Place names in Plymouth have a basis in history. Gold Brook derives from the gold rush, and Money Brook recalls the place counterfeiters were caught on Saltash Mountain in 1807. Pinney Hollow, Hale Hollow and Weaver Hill were named for early settlers. Dublin, Part of Tyson, was the home of several Irish families who worked for the iron company. Ninevah and the Kingdom no doubt had religious connotations. Frog City was once the most populated section of Plymouth. The piping of frogs in its mill pond gave rise to the designation.
Early religious life comprised Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, Christian and Free Will Baptist groups, as well as Spiritualists. The first church, a Union meeting house, was built in Plymouth Kingdom in 1816. The Methodist Church was located in Unionville, as Plymouth Union was called, and there was a Union Church at Plymouth Notch. The latter and the Congregational Church in Tyson are still active.
Plymouth once had seventeen school districts, with schoolhouses of one room. The number gradually dwindled and today students of Plymouth attend schools in neighboring communities.
John Coolidge, commissioned Captain in the Vermont Militia by Governor Thomas Chittenden in 1795, was great, great grandfather of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch in 1872 in a room in back of his father’s store. The family moved to a house across the road, and there Coolidge was given the oath of office, August 3, 1923, by his father, a Justice of the Peace, upon the death of President Harding. Scenes of Coolidge’s childhood have been restored by the Vermont Historic Sites Commission, the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Association, and also privately, in recognition of Plymouth’s unique role in our nation’s history.
Today, many people visit the modest birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, and the hillside cemetery where he is at final rest. They vacation on the scenic lakes, ski the inviting hills, enjoy life at mountain developments or at the area’s fine summer camps. There are private and public camp sites, including the Calvin Coolidge State Part, and hunting and fishing draw many sportsmen to the forests and streams in season.
Plymouth has seen many changes since the first settlers came. The friendly and enduring hills of Plymouth remain changeless, however, offering inspiration and as sense of stability to all who will lift up their eyes. Those who dwell among them, either by right of birth or self-determination, have ample reason to be proud of the rich heritage that is theirs.
This pamphlet is presented to our Town commemorating the Bicentennial of Vermont by the authors of:
A Plymouth Album