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NO. R-261.  House concurrent resolution commemorating the history of the town of Sterling.


Offered by:  Representatives Nease of Johnson, Marron of Stowe, Martin of Wolcott, Smith of Morristown and Westman of Cambridge.

Offered by:  Senator Bartlett of Lamoille District.

Whereas, on Monday, February 25, 1782, the General Assembly resolved:

“That there be and hereby is granted unto Genl Saml Fletcher, Col Joseph Reed and Compy being sixty five in number a township of land containing the quantity of six miles square, situate and lying in this State, bounded as follows, viz – Southward of Fletcher and Northward of Mansfield – And the Governor and Council are hereby requested, as soon as the Surveyor Genl can make out a proper survey of said township, to make out a Charter of Incorporation of said township, by the name of Sterling unto the said Fletcher, Reed and Company under such restrictions, reservations and for such fees as they shall judge best,” and

Whereas, after over two decades of patient waiting, on October 18, 1805, while the governor and council were meeting in Danville, Governor Isaac Tichenor granted a charter to the Honorable Samuel Safford and 63 of his associates, among whom was the governor himself and Ira Allen, for the incorporation of the township of Sterling whose boundaries began “at a beach tree in the northwesterly Corner of Stow, marked ‘August 17, 1786’,” with a land area of twenty three thousand and forty acres, and

Whereas, the charter provided for the customary reserved rights or shares for a minister of the gospel, the local ministry, a college located within the state, county grammar schools, and one or more English schools to be located within the town, and

Whereas, on March 1, 1806, Robert Balch Esq. of Johnson convened the historic and brief first Sterling town meeting, and he administered the freeman’s oath to the 10 pioneers in attendance, including George Kempfield, Peter, William, and Frances McOlister, Augustus Young, David Cornell, Moses Vilas, George Hendrick, George Gragg, and Reuben Dike, most of whom were patriotic veterans of the American Revolution, and

Whereas, Sterling’s geographic boundaries proved vulnerable to legislative amendment, and on October 30, 1828, the General Assembly adopted Act 24 annexing a mountainous section, beginning at the southwesterly corner of the boundary, and including Smuggler’s Notch, to the town of Cambridge, and

Whereas, Act 24 foreshadowed Sterling’s ultimate destiny as a dissolved municipality, and on November 14, 1855, the General Assembly adopted Act 59, “An Act to Divide the Town of Sterling into Three Parts and to Annex One Part to Johnson, One Part to Morristown, and One Part to Stowe,” and

Whereas, the final Sterling town meeting was a sad but memorable occasion at which the 55 freemen present closed the record books of the community for the final time, and 

Whereas, the town of Sterling will be revived, if only for a day, on Saturday, October 1, 2005, when the residents of the four towns into which it was divided convene a commemorative Sterling town meeting as the opening event of a daylong celebration of the town’s 200th birthday and 150th passing from the pages of Vermont’s gazetteers, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly joins with the citizens of Cambridge, Johnson, Morristown, and Stowe in commemorating the unusual and brief history of Sterling town, which though dissolved legislatively, is still remembered fondly for its place in the history of Lamoille County, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Deanna French in Johnson and to the town clerks of Cambridge, Johnson, Morristown, and Stowe.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont