Greensboro’s Rich History

The members of the Greensboro Historical Society compiled this brief history of the town as part of the observance of the two-hundredth anniversary as a settlement.

Aaron and Ashbel Shepard and their families were the first settlers. They came from Newbury in the spring of 1789, pulling their belongings on three hand sleds. Before winter, however, Aaron and his family returned to Newbury, leaving Ashbel and Mary Shepard behind as the town’s sole residents. Their son William, born the following spring, was the first white child born in Greensboro.

Indians undoubtedly camped often beside Caspian Lake, but the first known white camper was Leftenant Lyford, a hunter who built camps at various times on the west side. At one of these camps, two ministers, Rev. Thomas Tolman and Rev. Wood, spent three days in 1787, and it is said prayed for “the future inhabitants of the place.”

The Bayley-Hazen military road reached Greensboro in 1779 and opened up the region. Indians attacked the fort on the southwest side of Caspian in 1781 and killed two young scouts, Constant Bliss and Moses Sleeper. That same year the town was chartered to Harris Colt and 66 associates, among whom was Timothy Green, for whom the town was named. In December 1788, the proprietors met in Cabot, and Timothy Stanley, en route to the meeting, froze his foot, which had to be removed with a hammer and chisel.

Settlement proceeded rapidly, and by 1795 there were 23 families (108 persons) in Greensboro. Timothy and Joseph Stanley had built a grist mill, blacksmith shop and sawmill in the village, and Timothy Hinman started the road that opened the northern part of the county. The first school had opened and the settlers were holding church services in their homes. In the 1830’s many Scots settled in the northeast corner of Greensboro and East Craftsbury. Soon after, a few Irish arrived. By 1860, the population had reached its peak, 1065.

A group of Vermonters and folks from “away” began building camps around Caspian Lake in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s several Portuguese men came to work in Ritchie’s sawmill in the Bend, and a few French-Canadian families arrived. Many young homesteaders moved to Greensboro in the 1960’s and 70’s, and a number of former summer people decided to live in town all year. In 1989 most Greensboro residents either work outside of town, operate home businesses or farms or are retired.

In spite of disasters, epidemics, fires, floods, years with no summer, and social evolution, Greensboro has endured. Through 200 years of inevitable changes, each generation has found in Greensboro’s villages or surrounding hills, a special place to live.

Learn more at the Greensboro Historical Society