Marshfield

Description

The independent Republic of Vermont chartered the Town of Marshfield in 1790, and named it for Isaac Marsh, one year before Vermont became the 14th state to join the United States of America.Located in the northeast part of Washington County, Marshfield is bisected by the fertile valley of the Winooski River.

When the first Yankee settlers arrived in the 1790s, trees were the land’s primary resource, and the old-growth rock-laden forests were cleared for farmland, fuel-wood, potash and lumber.

By the mid-nineteenth century a Marshfield village center evolved where the stagecoach roads to Cabot, Danville, and Montpelier converged with small industries along the falls of the Winooski River. A network of roads linked the widely dispersed farms to water-powered grist, saw and wool mills in the village center.

A strong rural agricultural community grew and eventually the dairy business emerged and Marshfield joined the cooperative creamery association and had a butter box factory. Marshfield Village still has a concentration of historic houses, stores and churches representing Federal, Greek Revival, and French Second Empire architecture.

In the 19th century residents organized churches, civic and fraternal organizations, as well as a town band and orchestra. The Montpelier and Wells River Railroad came up the Winooski Valley in 1873 and a station was built on Depot Road near the village. A circulating library began shortly before the Civil War moved to the new Jaquith Public Library near the town common in 1899.

By 1920 the town’s professions included an auctioneer, a beekeeper, a blacksmith, four carpenters, a coal dealer, three horse dealers, a jeweler, two lumber dealers, a milk dealer, two painters and paperhangers, and a shoe repairer. Other occupations included a clergyman, five justices of the peace, and two physicians. Local businesses included agricultural implements, a drug store, two fertilizer dealers, a grain merchant, five general stores, a boarding house, two saw mills, a stable and a stove salesman.

Marshfield has evolved over time from an agricultural and small manufacturing economy to a more complex mixture of economic activity. Local history buff Hap Hayward started Marshfield Historical Society to preserve a record of the past for future generations. The complete collection of photos, ephemera and artifacts is housed in Old Schoolhouse Commons as part of Jaquith Public Library, but you may explore our digital collection here in Digital Vermont.

Marshfield, Vermont— 44° 18’ 45” N, 72° 22’ 3” W
Population: 1,588 at the 2010 census.
Total Area: 43.4 square miles

Excerpted in part from "A Sense of Place in Marshfield," researched and written by John P. Johnson, President of the Marshfield Historical Society, January 1, 2005.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS grant number LG-27-19-0240-19.

Collection Tree

Model Report Card for Mary Clark
While attending the Village Schoolhouse, Mary Clark received this report card in the winter term of 1896. Her teacher, E. H. O'Brien gave her high marks in all subjects, with a 3-month deportment score of 96%.

Village Schoolhouse, circa 1898
This Marshfield schoolhouse replaced the "Old Brown Schoolhouse" which had stood on this site since 1852. Originally built as a one-story in 1890, the ell was added later and the roof raised to add a second story. Students are socializing in the yard…

Marshfield Depot
The Montpelier and Wells River Railroad operated from 1873 until 1956, stopping at the depot one mile from the village. Passengers are boarding the train for Engine #5 to head toward Montpelier. Horse-drawn carriages with drivers wait by the depot.