Vermont  --  “Vert Mont”


The name Vermont is derived from the French words “Vert Mont” meaning  “Green Mountain”



The first documented use of the word Vermont is dated April 11, 1777. On that day in Philadelphia, Thomas Young addressed a broadside “To the Inhabitants of Vermont, a Free and Independent State”. Youngs purpose was probably to honor, in a thinly disguised manner, the bombastic Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. The Republic of Vermont eventually became the 14th state, about 14 years later in 1791.


            Northern Vermont was inhabited by the French in the 1730’s and continued until British and Colonial Armies invaded and conquered the French in Canada in 1759 and 1760. A few of the original French Names are still in use today, such as Grand Isle and Isle La Motte.


“Riviere a la Mouelle” (Seagull River) is now called the “Lamoille River”; the “Riviere Ouinousqui” (Onion River) is today the “Winooski River”, and the “Petite Riviere aux Loutres” (Little Otter River) is today called “Otter Creek”. The “Isle de la Providence” is now “Providence Island”, and “Isle aux Quatre Vents” (Island of the Four Winds) has been changed to the “Four Brothers”.


Many French names for Towns, Rivers and Islands also exist on the New York side of Lake Champlain, which was named by its European founder in 1609, who was Samuel de Champlain. Malletts Bay is supposedly named after a Frenchman called Captain Maillet, although not much is really known about him. Chimney Point in Addison County is named for the chimneys left standing after the French settlers of “Pointe a la Chevelure” or “Scalp Point” burned their houses and farm buildings during the French & Indian War (Seven Years War). This point was opposite from the French fort, Fort Frederic at Crown Point.



Colonel Jacob Davis names Two Vermont Towns for French Cities


Montpelier, the nation's smallest state capital, was chartered by Vermont on August 14, 1781. The charter was given to Colonel Jacob Davis and a group of associates, many of whom were also named in the charter for the adjoining town of Calais, which was issued the following day.


Colonel Davis is usually credited with having selected the town's name, as well as that of Calais. Up until that time almost all Vermont town names had been derived from the British peerage or from older communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Since Colonel Davis named Calais for the French port city of the same name, it is likely that he named Montpelier for the French town of Montpellier. Davis had not visited France, but at that time there was tremendous enthusiasm and gratitude for French assistance in the Revolution. He seems to have chosen these names not because of any known parallels between the Vermont towns and the towns in France, but because he liked the sound of the names and the association with France.


Three Vermont Towns Named to Honor the French by Ethan Allen



St Johnsbury is one of the three Vermont Towns to be named by Ethan Allen in the post-Revolutionary War period. As recognition of the assistance provided by France by sending military supplies, Armies and Naval Fleets, Ethan sought to honor some the French by naming three towns in their name.


By 1790 the future town of St Johnsbury had grown to 143 inhabitants, and the first town meeting took place that year, and the name St. Johnsbury was adopted. According to local lore, Vermont founder Ethan Allen himself proposed naming the town "St. John" in honor of his friend Jean de Crevecoeur, a French-born author and agriculturist.


            Born as Michel Guillaume St. Jean de Crevecoeur (1735-1813), he was also known as J. Hector St. John. He served under the French General Montcalm in Canada. After traveling in the Great Lakes region and in the Ohio valley and working as a surveyor in Pennsylvania, he settled around 1769 on a farm in Orange County, N.Y., where he wrote a book titled "Letters from an American Farmer" in 1782. Other letters, found in 1922, were published as "Sketches of Eighteenth Century America" in 1925. The two books give outstanding descriptions of American rural life of the period. He wrote, over the signature Agricola, agricultural articles for American newspapers. He introduced the culture of European crops, notably alfalfa, into America and of the American potato into Normandy.


            St. John was a friend of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as a correspondent of Ethan Allen, and had an enthusiasm for the Republic of Vermont and for place names. He suggested the names Vergennes, Danville and St. Johnsbury. Realizing that several places already bore the name of St. John; Hector St John suggested the longer name, St. Johnsbury, which remains the only place with that name in the world. St. John became a naturalized citizen of the new country and in 1793 he was appointed to the post of French Consul in New York City.


The name Danville was suggested to honor another Frenchman, Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, who had been France's royal cartographer for more than 60 years. From an early age Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1697-1782) was immersed in the study of geography and cartography. He engraved his first map at age fifteen and produced many important maps throughout his career. He became one of the most respected cartographers of his time, continuing the French school of cartography developed by Sanson and De l'Isle. He was also a classical scholar, with many of his maps relating to ancient geography.


Vergennes is named for Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes. Reluctant to to make any overt moves that might involve her in another war with England, France agreed to aid the colonists behind the scenes, principally through the considerable efforts of Benjamin Franklin. At the direction of Louis XVI, Gravier established a fictional company through which the Americans received nearly 80% of their military supplies. It was also Gravier who negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris that formally brought the Revolutionary War to a close.