Bradford, VT is a small town and local commercial center located midway up Vermont on the New Hampshire border. Unlike other towns, it was settled before being officially chartered, with John Hosmer arriving in 1765. It went through several names including Waits Town and Waits River Town before being chartered as Mooretown on a New York Patent in 1770. Finally in 1788, the name was changed to Bradford.
The town covers 29.9 square miles on the eastern edge of the country. The Waits River flows through the town, emptying into the Connecticut River which forms the eastern border between Vermont and New Hampshire.
The 2,800 residents of this town enjoy a unique combination of rural life with a bustling town with abundant commercial opportunities. Restaurants, hardware stores, shops, and other businesses find a home in this active community. Recreational opportunities include fishing, golf, auto racing, and more.
Like many New England towns, we found our roots in farming, but the nearby Waits River and the waterfalls in it turned the town into a prime location for mills. When the Connecticut & Passumpsic River Railroad arrived in town in 1848, the stage was set for success. By 1859, the town’s population had risen to over 1,700 people, and commerce was booming. There was a foundry, machine shop, a paper mill, three sawmills, two gristmills, and a whetstone factory. Farming tools, tinware, and wooden implements were also made here. Interestingly, the first practical globes of the world were made here by a farmer named James Wilson.
Today, the town has changed dramatically. There are still several farms in the area, but most of the 2,600 residents travel to other towns for work. Despite this, we have been a thriving town with many opportunities for small business owners, artisans, restaurateurs, and others with an entrepreneurial spirit. The Internet has now made it possible for business owners in town to appeal to a much broader customer base in broader New England and beyond.
In the 1700s, New Englanders starting looking northward for more area to settle. Vermont did not yet exist as a state, but it was unclear who precisely the land belonged to. New Hampshire governor Benning Wentworth started issuing land grants to middle class farmers, with which to form towns. In doing so, he was laying claim to the area. 129 towns were formed by Wentworth starting in 1749.
However, New York also believed in had claim to these lands, and in 1764 King George III decreed everything west of the Connecticut River would belong to New York. It began issuing New York Patents for land, offering the New Hampshire Grant owners the opportunity to purchase their land from New York. If they declined, it could be sold out from under them. Bradford was issued by one of these New York Patents, though it had already been settled.
This dispute led to the formation of a new and independent state. They declared King George III’s declaration to be unjust, and stated their independence from both New York and New Hampshire. Colonist signed their constitution in 1777, forming their own colony.
As a town, we have an important place in the history and future of this great state. Once just a rural farming town, we are now a thriving community of farmers, small business owners, and other entrepreneurs amid the stunning scenery of rural New England.