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The History of Windham, Vermont by James H. Upham

Prepared by the Windham School Club -1967  contains

 “The History of Windham, Vermont” by James H. Upham with forward by Raymond A. Beardslee

And Excepts From Historical Manuscripts written by Asahel Upham in 1902 and 1905

Also a Map of Windham area from 1869 with the residences, names  and schools.

Windham 1770-1900 History

Or read an abstract of the histories —

The Windham School Club of 1967 prepared a document entitled “The History of Windham, Vermont,” by James H. Upham with a forward by Raymond A. Beardslee. “Excerpts from Historical Manuscripts written by Asahel Upham in 1902 and 1905.” The following is a further abstract of these histories. This manuscript history of Windham, Vermont, unsigned and undated, has long been preserved among the records of the Town. It was found between the front cover and the flyleaf of Volume I of the land records when Harry Hall became Town Clerk in 1946. The Town of Londonderry, which embraced Windham, was chartered by the State of New York on February 13, 1700. It contained 84,590 acres. The first settlers came in 1774, three of the first five settlers located in the Windham territory. The made a small clearance and prepared for their family to return the following year. They returned to Londonderry to spend the winter. The records note that the first log cabin was built and a saw mill located at so-called “Derry Pond.” Lumber for two houses was cut, but a fire destroyed the mill and lumber. Records of the settlements to 1793 are nearly all lost. In 1795, a  petition was presented to the legislature to divide the Town of Londonderry to make a new town out of the eastern part. On October 22, 1795, an act passed in the legislature incorporating this new town of 16,870 acres which was called Windham. In 1800, Windham had a population numbering 363. By 1810 the population had grown to 782, rising to 931 people in 1820. In 1830 the population was 847 and it continued to decrease to 757 in 1840 and 763 in 1850. During this period, the Town was dependent on its local merchants, saw mills, blacksmith shop, farming, grist mills, talc and marble mining, and sheep farming. The townspeople begun building a Meeting House in 1802 and finished it in 1825. Today, this historic structure continues to satisfy the needs of the Town. Without easy travel modes, the Town was a typical rural area in which neighbors depended on each other. Several schools and churches were established. The people of Windham encouraged education. Records show that the first formal school meeting was in 1796 in a log barn. In 1801, a decision was held to build a school. At 22 feet squared feet, the first school cost $172.50. The record says “It cannot be said that Windham has raised no literary men.” Let the record show “that 13 ministers went forth from the Town, and 2 physicians. Women, likewise have furnished many teachers, missionary workers, writers who have graced the columns of literary periodicals.” Other school building followed. A description of a “desirable town community” included these words: “A town consisting of a due mixture of hills, valleys, and streams of water, well fenced and cultivated, the roads and bridges in good repair, decent inns for the refreshments of travelers and for public entertainment. Manufacturers of a suitable proportion of handicraft workman and two or three traders. A physician and a lawyer. A clergyman of good understanding, candid disposition and exemplary morals, not a metaphysical nor a polemic but a serious, practical preacher. A school master who should understand his business and teach his pupils to govern themselves. A decent Musical Society; no intriguing politician, horse jockey, gambler, or sot. Such a situation may be considered as the most favorable to local happiness of any which the world can afford.” It concludes further with: “Nearly all have comfortable dwelling with the property enough to procure necessities and even some luxuries. We are shielded from many of the distracting elements and destroyer influences which are working the ruins of older towns. We are surrounded by fortifications (hills and valleys) which have been raised by the hand of the Almight which will forever exclude the idea that our town will become the theatre of railroad scenes or that she will be noted for Manufacturers. Her glory depends upon the general intelligence of her town’s people.”Geographic OverviewThe Town of Windham is comprised of three areas: North Windham, South Windham, and West Windham. The Town is located in a north/south orientation, between Route 11 to the Northwest and Route 30 to the South. A road running north/south through Town provides the major accessto and from the community. Route 121 runs east/west from Route 11 to Grafton along the northern part of the town. Route 121 is blacktopped on the western portion and a gravel road to the east. The intersection of Route 121 and Windham Hill Road is locally known as Lawrence Four Corners. The major entry and exit routes are steep inclines, rising to the Town centers. The Town is at a relatively high elevation but even so, the surrounding areas to the east and west of the Town centers are still at higher elevations, with settlement concentrated in the “valley” running north and south. The  result of this geography is that the main concentration of homes is located along this corridor with the outlying areas concentrated into large woodland areas on high rising land, often with ledge rock subsurface. The elevation of the land gives rise to several headwaters which flow downstream to join the larger tributaries. Several large in-stream ponds have been developed and were used for waterpower. There are also wetland areas, many resulting from beaver activity, which are still present today. The western part of Town rises sharply up Glebe Mountain While much of Windham had at one time been cleared to an open landscape, much of the land has returned to a forested state. There are deposits of talc and marble, which at one time were mined but these operations have since been discontinued. An area in the valley of West Windham has long been used for farming and is currently being converted from milk production to orchards. Other suitable farm areas have been discontinued. A large potato farm was converted to a 9-hole golf course with a clubhouse during the 1960s and has since been expanded to 18 holes.