Unit Frame  

Topic/Title Early Settlement of the in the Connecticut River Valley (1750 to 1800)
Overview The purpose of this unit is to study the early settlement of the Upper Connecticut River Valley using primary sources and the landscape. Students follow an inquiry model where they gain background knowledge to the topic, generate questions about the people who settled this region, and then launch an historical investigation culminating in a historical cemetery quest that they can share with their community.
Enduring Understandings
  • The Abenaki first lived and named the area we now call Vermont and New Hampshire.
  • The Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire was primarily settled by colonists from Connecticut and Massachusetts.
  • Town meeting was the main political institution in VT and NH communities.
Essential Question What is the relationship between culture, humans, and geography?
Focusing Questions
  • Who first lived in this area we now call Vermont/New Hampshire?
  • Where did the first European settlers come from? Why did they come to this area?
  • Who settled here and how did they live?
  • What did they do to organize their towns?
Content Grade Expectations for Vermont
H&SS3-4:8 Students connect the past with the present by…
  • Explaining differences between historic and present day objects in Vermont, and identifying how the use of the object and the object itself changed over time.
  • Describing ways that life in the community and Vermont has both changed and stayed the same over time
  • Examining how events, people, problems and ideas have shaped the community and Vermont.
H&SS3-4:9 Students show understanding of how humans interpret history by…
  • Identifying and using various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.
H&SS3-4:12 Students show understanding of human interaction with the environment over time by…
  • Describing how people have changed the environment in Vermont for specific purposes.
  • Recognizing patterns of voluntary and involuntary migration in Vermont.
H&SS3-4:11 Students interpret geography and solve geographic problems by…
  • Observing, comparing, and analyzing patters of local and state land use to understand why particularlocations are used for certain human activities.
Inquiry Grade Expectations for Vermont
Students initiate an inquiry by.
Asking relevant and focusing questions based on what they have seen, what they have read, what they have listened to, and/or what they have researched.
New Hampshire Curriculum Framework: Social Studies
SS:CV:6:2.2: Identify and illustrate the heritage that early settlers brought to the development and establishment of American democracy, e.g., political, legal, philosophical, or religious traditions. (Themes: E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change)
SS:GE:6:4.4: Analyze the spatial patterns of settlement, e.g., urbanization along river, agriculture on fertile plains, or nomadic lifestyles in steppes and deserts. (Themes: C: People, Places and Environment, E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change)

Thanks to Steve Glazer of Poetics of Place, classroom teachers Marguerite Ames and Bridget Fariel, and Beth Hughes of Broadwing Design for assistance in designing this toolkit.


Title Eras Topic Theme
Timeline of English Settlement in the Connecticut River Valley The Revolution and the new nation (1763 to 1815) Early Settlement Movement and Settlement
Life, Liberty, and Land: Vermont 1763 - 1783 The Revolution and the new nation (1763 to 1815) Early Settlement Movement and Settlement
The Connecticut River Valley: A Rebellion within the Revolution Colonization, settlement, and communities (1607 to 1763)
he Revolution and the new nation (1763 to 1815)
Early Settlement Movement and Settlement


Focusing Question 1: Who first lived in the area we now call Vermont and New Hampshire?
Abenaki Place Names
Mapping the Abenaki Homeland
Focusing Question 2: Where did the first European settlers come from?
From England to Connecticut
Up the Connecticut River
Primary Source Analysis: Trade
Focusing Question 3: Who settled here and how did they live?
John and Lydia's Story: The Journey North
John and Lydia's Story: The First Winter
Primary Source Analysis: Chartering a Town
Focusing Question 4: What did the settlers do to organize their towns?
Primary Source Map Analysis
Town Meeting

Online Interactives

Who first lived in this area we now call Vermont and New Hampshire?
Exploring Wôbanakik, the Abenaki Homeland
Make your own Wôbanakik map
A Home in the Wilderness
Make your own map of the New England colonies
One Family’s Story: Trace their Journey
Who settled here and how did they live?
Explore a Town Record
A Home in the Wilderness
What did they do to organize their towns?
Explore a Town Map

Freedom & Unity Exhibit

The New Frontier

Freedome & Unity



Background History Books

Jan Albers, Hands on the Land (2002)
Rebecca Brown, Editor, Where the Great River Rises (2009)
Frank Bryan, Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How it Works
Susan Clark & Frank Bryan, All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community (2005)
Colin Calloway, The Western Abenaki of Vermont, 1600 - 1800 (1994)
David Foster, New England Forests through Time (2000) See also the online link
Benjamin Hall, History of Eastern Vermont (1857)
Abby Hemenway, Vermont Historical Gazetteer (Orange County is in volume 2, 1871; see www.books.google.com)
Jere Daniell, Colonial New Hampshire: A History (1981)
Michael Caduto, A Time Before New Hampshire (2003)
Gregory Edgar, Patriots and Gone to Meet the British

Picture Books

Diana Appelbaum, Giants in the Land (1993)
Jesse Bruchac, Mosbas and the Magic Flute http://nativeauthors.com/index.php?productID=1393
Marge Bruchac, Malian’s Song (1996)
Lynne Cherry, A River Ran Wild (1952)
Alice Dalgliesh, Courage of Sarah Noble (1954)
Michael Hahn, Ann Story (1996)
Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, The Bear that Heard Crying (1997)

Chapter Books

Joseph Bruchac, The Winter People (2004)
Susannah Speare, Calico Captive (2001)

Books on Historical Inquiry and Teaching with Primary Sources

Joan Brodsky Schur, Eyewitness to the Past (2007)
Perspectives ’76 (1976)



Background Information

Freedom and Unity
This exhibit provides good contextual information.

New Hampshire Historical Society Slide Shows
Several slideshows discuss early settlement topics. See especially "Settling New Hampshire Towns" and watch New Hampshire develop from its original four towns in 1623 up to the last town to be recognized in 1966.

Native Americans of New Hampshire
Information, lesson plans, and activities inform students about life among the Woodland Indians who lived in this area and prepare them for the museum traveling program On the Abenaki Trail.

Landscape History of Central New England
This is the website for the book "New England Forests Through Time"


Old Maps
Here is where you can find copies of old maps such as the 1796 and 1810 Whitelaw maps


New Hampshire Census Information
Spreadsheet and worksheet for exploring New Hampshire's population

How to Read a Graveyard

This website provides concise, step-by-step directions on how to look at a graveyard as a historian.

Stones and Bones

"Stones and Bones: Using Tombstones as Textbooks" contains content information about what to look for in cemeteries, cemetery symbology, glossaries, burial customs, attitudes toward death, information about marble and granite, folklore and superstitions about death and burial customs. The packet also includes skill sheets and sample activities, including important information about the "do’s and don'ts" of gravestone rubbing, and a resources section that includes a list of organizations, books available from the Barre Granite Association about gravestone memorial art and architecture, and a bibliography.

The Cemetery Quest

This lesson introduces students to data collection and to the families buried in their local cemetery. It also provides resources that can be used back in the classroom to link student work in mathematics and computer technology.

Exploring the Cemetery
This is an introductory lesson for students and teachers about exploring cemeteries.

Town Meeting

Town Meeting Lesson Plan
About Town Meeting Records

Evolution of New Hampshire Town Meeting

Vermont State Archives
The Vermont State Archives includes election history, transcriptions of Vermont’s constitutions, and essays about continuing issues in government.

Who's Who in Local Government
The Vermont Secretary of State's page includes links to guides to the duties of officials elected at town meetings as well as a variety of kids’ guides to local government.

Flow of History
c/o Southeast Vermont Community Learning Collaborative
P.O. Box 300
Brattleboro, VT 05302