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Lyndon History

Lyndon History

A Few Characteristics

Lyndon is in Caledonia County, the Agateway@ to the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) of Vermont.

Lyndon is bordered on the north by Sutton and Burke, on the east by Kirby, on the south by St. Johnsbury, and on the west by Wheelock. It has an area of about 23,000 acres, similar in size to the majority of the towns in Vermont. It was surveyed before any adjacent towns and laid out exactly square, thereby causing several surrounding towns to be irregular in shape. According to local tradition, Dr. Arnold and friends went to the top of Prospect Hill (1100') to look over the area. Boundaries were drawn to take in the best lands and available waterways in the area. Lyndon has a population of 5,454, year round housing units of 2,136 and 45 seasonal units (U.S.Census of Housing and Population Estimates, 1995). Lyndon is at the confluence of Routes 5, 122, 114 and I-91. Once Lyndon was a significant railroad hub and still serves as a shopping center for the smaller villages to the north.

Civic Structure

Lyndon was chartered November 20, 1780 (recorded in the Town Clerk's Office on June 27, 1781) to Dr. Jonathan Arnold and several other associates from Rhode Island, many of whom served in the Revolutionary War. Settlement in the town commenced in April 1788 by Daniel Cahoon, Jr., he returned to his former place of residence in Winchester, NH the following winter. Cahoon returned in the spring of 1789 with a few other settlers. By 1791, there were six or seven families in town and several young men without families. The town was organized on July 4, 1791. Settlement increased rapidly during the next two decades, the census showed a population of 542 in 1800, 1092 in 1810, 1296 in 1820 and 1750 in 1830. During the next forty years the population remained mostly constant, unlike other Vermont towns that suffered a drastic population decrease in the mid 1800s. In 1840, the town reported 1753 people, 546 horses, 3359 cattle, 8786 sheep, 1931 swine and an abundant production of hay oats, corn, barley, rye, buckwheat, and potatoes, as well as 68,364 pounds of maple sugar and 15,850 pounds of wool.

Lyndonville Village has an electric department, with which eight other municipal utilities have devised a way to return power in exchange for money to Hydro Quebec.

What's In a Name?

Lyndon was named for Dr. Jonathan Arnold's son, Josiah Lyndon Arnold. Josiah was well loved. He was a graduate of Dartmouth, studied law in Providence, and taught at Brown University. He died at age 31. The Arnold family lived in St. Johnsbury. The Lyndon Village Post Office was spelled LINDON by mistake, probably for the locally occurring Linden tree that is similar to basswood. The error was corrected to match the Post Office name to the Village name. The name Red Village probably was derived from the red ochre used on houses and barns; at the present time, many of the largest buildings in the village are painted red (1997). In the 19th Century, Lyndon Town included a small hamlet, Bundyville, named for the family of Elijah Bundy, who settled soon after the Town was incorporated. Maps from the latter part of the 19th Century show Folsom=s Station, a few miles north of Lyndonville. This was a courtesy railroad stop for the private use of Harley E. Folsom, who was the superintendent of the Passumpsic Railroad and Treasurer of the Newport and Richford Railroad.

AIt may well be believed that the old folks were a merry set of jokers by the nicknames they gave the different localities in town in its early settlement such as Pudding Hill, Squabble Hollow, Mount Hunger, Hard Scrabble, Hog Street, Whale's Back, Shanticut, Musquito District, Owlsboro, Eqypt, and Pleasant Street (from being the residence of some fair ladies) and most of these names are yet familiarly known, but not confessed to be truthfully descriptive of the present condition of these localities.@ (Hemenway 1867)

Some other place names in Lyndon are the following hills all named for residents; Minister Hill (less than 1000'), Cold, Diamond, Graves, Mathewson, Tute, Vail, Darling and Shonyo.

Caledonia County derives its name from the ancient name for Scotland. Barnet and Ryegate, two towns in the southern part of the county, were settled by Scots.

Historical Highlights

  • 1866: Railroad shops of the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad were moved from St. Johnsbury. The town is served by the Boston & Maine and the Canadian Pacific railroads.
  • 1867: Lyndon Institute, a coeducational prep school is founded.
  • 1883: Theodore N. Vail, founding president of American Telephone & Telegraph, buys a farmhouse in Lyndon. His farm later becomes known as the Speedwell Estate, where prizewinning cattle are bred.
  • 1910: Lyndon Normal School is founded. In 1947, the Normal School becomes a college and in 1962, the Legislature makes the college part of the state college system.

Last modified September 12 2013 01:54 PM

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