The Mad River Valley is situated in north central Vermont. During the American Revolution it was part of a “no mans” land between the Patriot and British forces. Both sides send scouting parties through the Valley but there was no permanent settlement due to the threat of attack.
After the war’s conclusion, General Benjamin Wait along with a group of 67 Settlers from southern New England purchased a tract of land in the Valley from the fledgling Republic of Vermont which was not one of the original 13 colonies. Vermont had declared its independence from both Britain and the U.S. In 1777. This new settler group consisting of many Refolutionary War veterans, established the town of Waitsfield, named after their leader.
As uncharted wilderness, the first residents afforded names to the mountains surrounding this valley. The largest mountain and current site of the well known Sugarbush ski area was named Lincoln Peak. Today most visitors think this mountain is named after Abraham Lincoln, but it is named after General Benjamin Lincoln who accepted the British surrender at Yorktown on behalf of George Washington. Benjamin Lincoln, revered by his troops never lived in Vermont but Vermonters remember his assistance when the British threatened Vermont in 1777.
Anchoring the other end of the valley is Stark Mountain, named after General John Stark. Stark, a New Hampshire native led the Patriot forces at the Battle of Bennington in August 1777. At this battle Stark defeated a Hessian force seeking to subdue the Vermont patriots and gather much needed supplies for the British Invasion of New York. Stark on the eve of battle was reported to utter “they are ours, or Molly Stark rests a widow tonight”, one of the most famous Revolutionary battle cries. The Patriots thoroughly defeated the Hessians and the early settlers named an adjoining mountain after Molly Stark!
For more information on the history of the Mad River Valley and its place names see my book The Mad River Gazetteer available from Lulu Press at the link below.