Kiosks along the NY-VT Border

When I visit Alan Watkins to get my hair cut, I often bump into Bill McCarty '70. One day we were talking about the kiosk markers along the NY-VT border. Bill told me there was one along Murray Hollow Road not far from his hunting camp. He gave me great directions and the marker was easy to found. The picture adds to one of my favorite history stories, the dispute between NY and VT.


NY-VT Border Marker

The border between NY and VT is marked by short kiosks. The one shown here is located along Murray Hollow Road off the east side of NYS Route 313. Another is located in Ash Grove. Ask any local hunter and they’ll know all about these markers.

The disputes between NY and VT go back as far as the 1760s. NY and NH were states but VT was not. There was confusion over whether NY or NH owned the land between the Connecticut River and the Hudson River.

In the early 1760s NY Governor Cadwallader Colden, under orders from King George III, began issuing land patents including the Cambridge Patent (1761). Patents gave settlers ownership of the land. The original Cambridge District covered the current towns of Cambridge, Jackson, and White Creek plus sections of Sandgate and Shaftsbury.

In retaliation, NH Governor Benning Wentworth began issuing land patents for the same portions of land. Residents, such as Ethan Allen, owned land in VT based on a Hamsphire Grant. He did not want to lose his land to the Yorkers nor did he want to pay the Yorkers for land he felt he already owned. Stories abound about Ethan Allen’s wild escapades to keep his land. Yorkers called him a thug. Vermonters called him a patriot.

Remember that VT was not one of the Thirteen Original Colonies, a fact we still enjoy flaunting over our neighbors to the east. The thirteen colonies (most notably NY) did not want VT to become a state and wouldn’t let them become part of the colonies’ fight against the British.

As with many things, VT followed the beat of its own drummer. In 1777, although unrecognized by the Continental Congress, VT created a State Constitution and began (in its mind at least) operating as an independent state. In 1781, many NY towns between the Hudson River and the NY-VT border became disenchanted with NY government. Cambridge held a Secession Convention. We voted to leave NY and we became Cambridge, VT. A year later we changed our minds and “un-seceded”, returning to NY.

In 1788, shortly after the ratification of the US Constitution, VT applied for admission into the United States. But there was still the border dispute between NY and VT to be reconciled. In 1790 NY asked VT to pay $30,000 to NY to settle issue. VT didn’t want to do it, but they wanted to become a state and that was the price to pay. In 1791 VT became the 14th state.

Today, as you stroll along the border between NY and VT (in Murray Hollow or Ash Grove) you will see one of these markers every mile, a reminder of the 250 year old border dispute.

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