History

A painting of a farmhouse with a dog outside.
Susan Abbott, artist / Courtesy Laura Johnson

In this bonus episode, Brave Little State speaks with the woman whose family named Star Pudding Farm Road, and made the property so special.

A group of people point guns at two people with their right hands raised.
St. Albans Historical Museum, Courtesy

This weekend marks the 155th anniversary of a key Civil War victory for Union troops known as the Battle of Cedar Creek. On that same day, a Confederate raid took place in St. Albans, Vermont — robbing a local bank and killing one citizen before escaping to Canada.

And while much is known about Vermont's generals and sharpshooters, what about the Vermont women who sustained the home front?

A black and white image of petroglyphs carved into rock.
Vermont Historical Society, Courtesy

This year brings the first official observation of Indigenous People’s Day in Vermont. It's also a time to reflect on what this part of the world was like before any Europeans set foot here, and on a submerged river bank in Brattleboro, ancient petroglyphs offer a clue.

On Monday in the nation's capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

A river at sunset
Jay Parker / flickr

The Otter Creek is the longest river contained within Vermont's borders.  It's shaped where Vermonters live, how they farm, and how the basic infrastructure and political divisions of the state are set up. And now, it's a big part of the state's phosphorus pollution problem.

Eli Burakian, Dartmouth College, Courtesy

In the 250th year since its founding, Dartmouth College is confronting its history of profiting from the labor, sale and purchase of enslaved people. The college's founder was deeply involved in that brutal exploitation.

A street sign.
Angela Evancie / VPR

Near Manchester, in East Dorset, there are a road, brook and notch all bearing the same name: "Mad Tom." Where did this name come from?

A road sign.
Angela Evancie / VPR

Did you know Brave Little State has a hotline where you can call and leave a message? That’s where we heard from West Windsor resident Nan Carman, who's had a burning curiosity about Sawnee Bean Road in Thetford for the past 40 years.

A road sign.
Anna Van Dine / VPR

Katie Sullivan, who lives in Albany, Vt., is curious about a road name in a town just south of her, in Marshfield. “How did Star Pudding Farm Road get its name?" she asks. "Is there a Star Pudding farm?”

A green road sign.
Michael Hudson, Courtesy

Brave Little State got a funny question a while back from Michael Hudson, in Putney. He wrote, “For the love of God, please tell me the origin of Putney’s Hi-Lo Biddy Road!”

A map.
Atlas of Bennington County, Vermont 1869 by F.W. Beers, Courtesy Dorset Historical Society

Brave Little State takes on more of your questions about mysterious Green Mountain byways in our Second Annual Brief History of Vermont Road Names.

An 11-foot-tall monument dedicated to Vermont's Companies E and H of the Second United States Sharpshooters stands south of Gettysburg. It was dedicated by the State of Vermont in October of 1889.
Gettysburg Stone Sentinels

It was the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. But the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg proved to be both the turning point of the war, and a battle in which Vermont soldiers played a pivotal role. We're listening back to a conversation which first aired in 2017 with historian Howard Coffin about the role of Vermonters at Gettysburg and other battles in the Civil War.

A 1900s print of the Battle of Bennington.
New York Public Library Digital Collection / Wikimedia Commons

Vermont honors Bennington Battle Day every Aug. 16, marking a day that signaled a turning point in the American Revolution and a critical defeat of British forces. But few are as familiar with a piece of music composed by Bennington virtuoso pianist Ernest Murray commemorating the battle.

Yes, that's right. This Bennington Battlefield marker is in New York State where the battle was actually fought.
Matt H. Wade / Wikimedia Commons

It seems like one of those little Vermont oddities to outsiders: Vermont's state government closes down every Aug. 16 to commemorate an armed conflict that took place across the river in New York State. We'll get all the details of the Battle of Bennington.

Listeners ask a lot of questions. And VPR's Brave Little State is there to find answers. 

A July 3, 1928 photograph of reconstruction of the Winooski Bridge after the 1927 flood, looking toward Winooski with the Champlain Mill in the background.
L. L. McAllister / UVM Howe Library Special Collections via Vermont Green Mountain Digital Archive

It's an issue the Green Mountain State has grappled with for generations: how can Vermont develop its economy and attract new workers without losing the qualities that make Vermont, well, Vermont? We're talking about this "paradox of development," how Vermont has attempted to answer these questions in the past, and what that history can teach communities in Vermont today.

Revolutionary War reenactors exchange fire on a hillside.
Ray Parker, Courtesy

Early in the morning on July 7th, 1777, musket shots rang out over the ridge in Hubbardton, Vermont. This was the only Revolutionary War battle fought entirely on Vermont soil. More than two centuries later, at 8 a.m. on a bright Sunday, nearly 200 reenactors loaded up their muskets and walked out on that same grassy hill in front of a crowd of spectators.

A photo of the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, the Falk House or House II in Hardwick and the Rockingham Meeting House.
Don Shall via Flickr Creative Commons / Peter Eisenman, courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Vermont is home to some truly incredible buildings, from one-room schoolhouses and churches to ornate libraries and universities. We're talking about the architectural styles and influences found in the state and some of the most noteworthy structures in Vermont's architectural heritage.

The Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, is pictured on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.
Michael Sohn / AP

Witold Pilecki was a Polish resistance fighter who intentionally allowed himself to be captured and sent to Auschwitz. His mission was to sabotage and gather information about the camp — well before the full truth of its horrifying purpose was revealed to the world. We're talking to the author of a new book on Pilecki about what he accomplished and why he isn't better known today.

Ecologist Bob Zaino measures the diameter of a sugar maple in Gifford Woods State Park.
Angela Evancie / VPR

This month on Brave Little State, a question from listener Andrew Wild about Vermont’s most elderly woods.

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