DGMB is pleased to have a new member, a descendant of Matthew Lyon

The story of Matthew Lyon focused national political attention on the newborn state of Vermont and offers a good illustration of the intensity of political strife in the 1790s.

Lyon came to this country from Ireland as a “redemptioner,” meaning the cost of passage was paid by some American employer in return for a contracted period of work, usually seven years. He settled in Litchfield, Connecticut, the home of many early Vermont settlers. He eventually married a cousin of Ethan Allen. (Litchfield County would give Vermont four governors, seven congressmen, seven Supreme Court justices, and three United States senators.)

Like many of his friends, Lyon began to buy land at bargain prices in the north. He chose a tract of land in Wallingford, which at the time consisted of only “a few rough log huts scattered in the surrounding woods.” During the Revolution, Lyon joined the Green Mountain Boys. He participated in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and the Battle of Hubbardton in 1777.

Lyon’s first wife died shortly after the war, and he married one of Governor Chittenden’s daughters. Shortly thereafter, Lyon founded the town of Fair Haven, establishing the first store, the first hotel, a paper mill, gristmill, two forges, an iron furnace, and a newspaper. He twice represented Fair Haven in the General Assembly.

Lyon was elected to Congress in 1796. He gained national attention by getting into a fight with Congressman Griswold of Connecticut. Representative Griswold suggested to Lyon that he had been less than patriotic during the Revolutionary War and Lyon spit into his face.

They dueled on the floor of Congress, one with a poker and the other with fire tongs. Congress attempted to expel Lyon, but a two-thirds vote was not achieved. In 1798, Lyon wrote a letter criticizing President Adams, calling him a “pompous fool.” Congress had just enacted the alien and sedition laws. He was convicted of sedition in a Rutland court, put into jail in Vergennes, and fined $1,000. While in jail, he was re-elected to Congress.

A few years later, he moved to Kentucky, became a merchant and ship builder, and established a printing press. He was beset by financial difficulties and lost virtually all his property. In 1820, he was appointed as an Indian agent in the territory of Arkansas. In a very short time, he was elected to Congress, but shortly thereafter, he died before he could take his seat.

According to a biographical account by Vrest Orton, Lyon was a “remarkable man who was a real opportunist and could have risen probably in no other country but America. There was no question that he was a considerable force in his day, for he founded two towns himself, helped found three states, and valiantly maintained the Bill of Rights.”



Green Mountain Boys organization honors Greg Cox, VFFC

RUTLAND — On Tuesday, July 5, Rebecca Allen Hougher, president of the Descendants of the Green Mountain Boys, presented Greg Cox, president of the Vermont Farmers Food Center, with a plaque honoring the VFFC for their revitalization and advancement of our Vermont heritage as workers of the earth and promoters of healthy farm to market commerce. She was accompanied by Dani Roberts, vice president and recording secretary.

Farming lies at the very heart of the ability for early settlers to settle, survive and eventually prosper in Vermont. The Green Mountain Boys were primarily farmers and they, among others, allowed the state to become an independent Republic from 1777 to 1791, after which Vermont became the 14th state in America.

Vermont would have become a state sooner had it not been for the controversy over the ownership of Vermont, previously declared through conflicting land grants given by the British simultaneously to New Hampshire and New York.

It was the support of our neighbors in New Hampshire and the efforts of the Green Mountain Boys, formed in the late 1760s, that helped Vermont eventually win its independence, fending off the claims of the New Yorkers.

Prior to the independence of the United States, the Green Mountain Boys also engaged in many battles that ultimately advanced the ability of the U.S. to achieve its victory on a larger scale.

The Descendants of the Green Mountain Boys exist to preserve the heritage they share, and to recognize others who live the life, do the work, share the values and contribute to the sustainability of honest, healthy commerce.

“Farmers were the hope and foundation of this precious state of Vermont, proclaiming itself an Independent Republic from 1777 to 1791,” said Rebecca Allen Hougher. “[Farmers] carry that legacy and are the hope and inspiration for our future. We must become self-reliant and self-sufficient to increase the economic and general health of our children and future generations. You are doing that with educational programs, mentorship, year round food preparedness and distribution. History does repeat, and Vermont is fortunate to have such a visionary group of independent and resourceful farmers.”

The plaque and a Green Mountain Boys flag will be displayed in Farmers Hall at the VFFC complex located at 251 West Street in Rutland, Vt.



Remembering Timothy Allen

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Timothy Allen came from Woodbury CT in 1768 and was the first settler in the NW section of Pawlet, VT.  A veteran of the French and Indian War, he served as the Pawlet town moderator and quartered Ethan Allen’s troops on their way to the surprise capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775.  Timothy Allen had five sons, Parmellee, Caleb, Gideon, Justus and Timothy Jr. who all served in Green Mountain Boy Vermont Militia and the American Revolution.

Timothy died in 1810, age 96 and was buried next to his son Caleb in an unmarked grave.

Last September with help from Keith Barker of Bowker & Son Memorials in West Rutland, his friends Craig “Critter” and Andy, we placed a headstone on his grave in the small Blossom Cemetery in North Pawlet.

It was a beautiful fall day, and a rewarding experience to at last honor Timothy Allen, friend of Ethan Allen and a Green Mountain Boy.