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Tuesday August 12, 2008 Edition
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Around And About Addison County—ADDISON

Tuesday August 12, 2008

By M. Stuart Parks

    Like many Vermont towns Addison was part of the New Hampshire Grants, chartered October 14, 1761, and named by the New Hampshire Governor, Benning Wentworth.  Joseph Addison was born in 1672 and died in 1719.  It appears that Mr. Addison was a friend of Governor Wentworths father as well as a respected author and essayist whose numerous political writings supported the common man.   Judging by some of his better known quotes he would have been right at home in any early Vermont town.  “In doing what we ought we deserve no praise because it is our duty” and “There is nothing we receive with so much reluctance as advice”.  He also said “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for”. As well as being a distinguished classical scholar Joseph Addison also held several government positions as well as being a Member of Parliament from 1708 until his death.  He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

    Addison sits at 289 feet above sea level and covers 31,327 acres or 48.95 square miles.  The 2000 U.S. Census lists the population as 1,393.  Both Dead Creek and Hospital Creek run through Addison.  Lake Champlain is its western border.  Snake Mountain is the highest point in the town at 1,281 feet above Lake Champlain.

    The most notable early resident of Addison was the Honorable John Strong who first came to the town in 1766 and was driven away by the British.  He then lived in Dorset, Vermont which he represented in the Vermont Legislature.  He returned to Addison in 1783 and eventually built the brick residence on Route 17.  He represented Addison in the Vermont Legislature for three years and in 1785 he was elected the first judge of the Addison County Court.  He held that position until 1801.  In 1791 when the Constitution of the United States was ratified he was a member of the convention.  John Strong wrote about many of the incidents that happened to him and his family while living in the wilderness in the early days of Addison, Vermont.  These include tales of marauding Indians, bears coming into the cabin uninvited and being captured by the British and not knowing where his family was for weeks.  There is a particularly entertaining story about a black bear who took the canoe away from Strong and a friend while they were crossing the lake near Chimney Point.  For those readers with internet access these sketches can be read at “”.   They are quite likely available at the Sheldon Museum, the Ilsely Library in Middlebury, the Addison Historical Society or the John Strong Museum.  

    Just a skip from the John Strong museum is the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution) State Park.  This group purchased the Strong property in 1934 and turned it into a museum.  In 1955 they donated 95 acres to the State for the creation of the DAR State Park.  The park boasts 70 camp sites with flush toilets and hot showers.  There is access to the lake boating, fishing and swimming as well as a stone pavilion for group gatherings.  

    The Chimney Point State Historic Site near the Champlain Bridge has a long history.  This area, along with the DAR Park, is believed to be one of the first and most intensely settled areas of Vermont dating back over 7,500 years.  It is also believed that this area was home to the first permanent Euro-American agricultural settlements in Vermont. As early as 1731 the French had built a fort at Crown Point to keep the British out of the Champlain valley.  In 1743 the King of France issued a land grant to Gilles Hocquart.  This grant included the Fort at Crown Point, Chimney Point and what is now the Park.  A small settlement grew up at Chimney Point until it was burned by the British during the French and Indian War (1754 to 1763) leaving nothing standing but the chimneys.  This is where Chimney Point got its name.

    Chimney Point offers a wide variety of events during the summer.  Coming up is Bennington Battle Day on August 16.  Admission to Chimney Point and all other State-owned Historic Sites is free on that day.  This year August 16 is on a Saturday.   On September 12, 13 and 14, during Vermont Archaeology Month, Chimney Point is hosting programs about the “atlatl”, pronounced “at-latal” or “atal-atal”.  The World Atlatl Association says that an atlatl is “essentially a stick with a handle on one end and a hook or socket that engages a light spear or dart on the other.  The flipping motion of the atlatl propels a light spear much farther and faster than it could be thrown by hand alone”.  This is an ancient weapon which was still being used by the Aztecs in the 1500s and its name comes from and Aztec language. The first day participants will make an atlatl.  The second day is the Northeastern Championships and the third day is the International Accuracy Competition.  More details can be obtained by calling 802-759-2412.

    An article about Addison, Vermont cannot end without mention of the simple beauty of the landscape of the town.  The access to Lake Champlain, the well-kept farms and orchards and the rolling valley farmland produce an atmosphere that is delightful to drive or bike through.  To the east are the Adirondacks, to the west the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain as the entire western boundary.  How much more fortunate could its residents be? 


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