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Just Off the Beaten Path: Celebrating the Town of Waltham
Tuesday August 14, 2012
By Cookie Steponaitis
When the first town meeting was held in the town of Waltham on March 30th, 1797, Phineas Brown was elected moderator and Andrew Barton was the first Town Clerk. Other items on the agenda included the election of a Constable and a Collector of Taxes. Originally a part of New Haven, Waltham was chartered in 1761 and was named Waltham for Waltham, Massachusetts by Phinneas Brown, the first citizen.
Approximately nine square miles in size and bordered by New Haven and Vergennes, Waltham is an agricultural community that began with raising sheep and has continued into dairy farming. While 2012 finds it mostly a residential area, the 480 residents are distinctly tied to the land, the historic gabled- roofed barns , and continue to raise cattle, sheep and farm the land as individual families with the remaining second, third and fourth generation dairy farms.
Mary Kinson has been the Town Clerk or Assistant Clerk for the past eighteen years and in addition to her duties of accounts payable, accounts receivable, vital statistics, tax bills and issuing of marriage licenses, Green Mountain Passports and dog licenses, looks forward annually to Town Meeting and remarked, “ It really is a lot of fun. You see the different people in town that you don’t see except once in a while. To monitor the voting process and witness the people conversing is one of the best parts of my job.” While researching the history of the town, two unique positions came to light and when questioned about the positions of Fence Viewer and Inspector of Lumber and Leather, Assistant Town Clerk, Tom Langeway shared, “Back in the day the Fence Viewer settled disputes between farmers or land owners over boundary lines and even today is a required position by the State of Vermont.”
The town office is located at 2053 Maple Street in Waltham and both Mary Kinson and Tom Langeway can be reached at (802)877-3641. Whether you have a questions about zoning, history, taxes or just plain curious, Waltham is there waiting to be explored. Tucked away in the streets and nooks of this small but proud town are artists, merchants, farmers, writers, musicians, craftsmen and former statesmen. Whether you stop at the 1870 building that is the Town Clerk’s Office, or gaze at the hillsides still dotted with Holsteins, beef cattle and the typical collection of summer hay cut, or want to see the Colonial Revival, Federal Style, French Second Empire, Gothic Revival, Italianate or Queen Anne style homes, Waltham has many unique and well-kept examples to see. Better yet, take the test. Can you find where Waltham starts and ends? Waltham is there and waiting, just off the beaten path and on your way from here to there!
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