Overview: In this lesson students connect the names of towns in the Connecticut River Valley to towns in Connecticut. From their observations, they conclude that our region was settled by people from Connecticut.  Note: this lesson works best for the Upper Connecticut River Valley and Central/Northern Vermont.

Focusing Questions

Where did the first European settlers come from?

Topical Understandings

The first European settlers in the Upper Connecticut River Valley came from Connecticut
Settlers migrated from Connecticut to seek less-populated land to farm.

Background Information

Why did settlers come to New Hampshire and Vermont, and where did they come from?



  1. Hand out map of Vermont (here is a map of the Upper Valley)
  2. In 1761 – one hundred and twenty five years after the colonization of Connecticut – Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire began granting charters to create towns in what is now the Upper Valley. Many colonists migrated north up the Connecticut River to get here. Trace the CONNECTICUT RIVER in BLUE.
  3. Besides carrying supplies north, many colonial settlers carried names north with them. Have students find towns in their region that are on their CT or MA map, coloring each to match.
  4. Sometimes towns were named after powerful English people…can students find towns named after:
    • Benning Wentworth
    • The Viscount of Thetford
    • The Earl of Orford
    • The Duke of Walpole
    • The House of Hanover – the line of English Kings.
  5. Move from Connecticut to Vermont
    • Divide the classroom into Connecticut and Vermont. Crowd students tightly together in the Connecticut section and have them move to Vermont and spread out. Talk about moving to the wilderness with all you belongings on an ox-cart or in a canoe.
  6. Concluding Discussion
    • Guiding questions: How and why did people migrate to your region? How did they choose to name their towns? What do you think it meant to Native Americans to have these new people claiming land and renaming the places? What is different about the way Native Americans name places and the English settlers did?
  7. Literature Connections: Marge Bruchac, Malian’s Song; Alice Digliesh, The Courage of Sarah Noble