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Town of Burke

Public Services / Government Office

212 School Street,
West Burke, VT 05871

(802) 467-3717

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About

The Town of Burke was chartered in 1782; the first settlers arrived in 1792. The town was organized in 1796
in the home of Lemuel Walter. He cleared land and built a cabin on land that was later Darling’s Mountain
View Farm. The first surveyors divided the town into lots of approximately 160 acres. Deeds today still refer
to the original proprietors, who were given the land as payment for their efforts in the Revolutionary War. Only
one or two of these first land holders ever came to the Town of Burke. The land was sold through land agents
to the early settlers. The charter of the Town of Burke granted lands to 65 proprietors, most of who came
from Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Burke was named after Sir Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament who tried to promote conciliation of the American colonies and avert a war for independence. The proprietors of the Northeast Vermont grant took his name for their yet unsettled town of Burke. Sir Edmond Burke had so well expressed their hopes for freedom and independence.

The settlers came by boat as far as they could and then walked, or they came on horseback or in ox carts along blazed trails. They found the freedom they wanted, the land they needed, and with hard work cleared the land and established a home. From the forests came a cash crop of potash and lumber for construction and sale. With the waterpower available, sawmills became the first industry. Roads were constructed and trade commenced, primarily with the areas to the south. Cattle and turkeys were driven over the roads while oxen and horses carried other products. There was a need for merchants, inns, teachers, blacksmiths and other craftsmen. Gradually the farms grew as the trees were driven back, and the lumber industry flourished.