GREENSBORO — A BRIEF HISTORY
From the Greensboro Historical Society
In 1789 Aaron and Ashbel Shepard and their families from Newbury were the first settlers, pulling their belongings on three hand sleds. Before winter, Aaron returned to Newbury, leaving Ashbel and his wife Mary as the town’s sole residents. Their son William 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 build camps at various times on the west side. Two ministers, Rev. Thomas Tolan and a Rev. Wood spent 3 days at one of these camps in 1787 and reportedly prayed for “the future inhabitants of the place.”
In 1779 The Bayley Hazen Military Road reached Greensboro 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, including Timothy Green, the namesake of the town.
Settlement proceeded rapidly: by 1795 there were 23 families (108 residents) 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 settlers were holding church services in their homes. In the 1830s many Scots settling the Northeast corner of Greensboro and East Craftsbury. By 1860, the population had reached a peak of 1065.
Folks “from away” began building camps around Caspian Lake in the late 1800s.The entire town experienced a revitalization when the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain railroad arrived in the early 1870s and the “Bend” was settled. The town became more connected to the world with telegraph service. It sprouted new businesses and jobs, made products from afar more available and allowed local products such as milk, potatoes, wood and Christmas trees to be sent out. It also allowed summer colony residents easier access to reach the lake.
In the early 1900s several Portuguese came to work in Ritchie’s sawmill in the Bend and French-Canadian families arrived from Quebec to start dairy farms. The next big demographic change occurred in the 1960s and 70s when many young homesteaders moved to town and former summer residents settled year-round.
In the past half-century the town has continued to evolve. Just as the railroad and telegraph connected Greensboro with the wider world in the 19th century, technology and the internet connect everyone today. The numerous dairy farms covering the local landscape in the 1970s have disappeared and in 2022 there are only five left. There has been development, but most open land and forests have remained, thanks to land conservation and zoning. (21 % of the town is now conserved.) New businesses, such as the world-renowned Jasper Hill Cheese and Hill Farmstead Beer, have created jobs and attracted newcomers. Greensboro’s other attractions, in addition to the lake, now include special X-C ski and hiking trails like Barr Hill and Porter Brook, and new cultural venues including Circus Smirkus and Highland Center for the Arts. Fortunately, Willey’s Store in the village and Smith’s Store in the Bend are still with us, as are the Highland Lodge, The Miller’s Thumb, Mountain View Country Club, the Greensboro Free Library, the Greensboro Garage and others!
Learn more at the Greensboro Historical Society https://www.greensborohistoricalsociety.org/