Pownal, Vermont

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Pownal is a town in Bennington County, Vermont, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 3,560.



During the Woodland period, the area was settled by the Mahican people, with others, such as the Mohawks, traveling across it. By the late 17th century, Europeans may have entered the area as a result of the establishment of the Dutch patroonship owned by Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, which extended west and east out of Albany and the fur trading community of Beverwyck. The southwestern corner of Pownal was part of the patroonship.[citation needed] Rensselaerswyck passed into English control in 1664. The first European settlers may have entered the area in the 1730s.[3] Those first European settlers may have been Dutch or other Europeans who leased land within Rensselaerwyck. On January 28, 1760, New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth chartered Pownal, which he named after his fellow royal governor, Thomas Pownall of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[4]

Thereafter, Settlers, primarily of English descent, began to arrive from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1766, 185 male heads of households in Pownal sent a petition to George III, asking that their land claims be recognized and that the fees required to do so be waived. Since Wentworth had granted to settlers land that the Province of New York also claimed, legal and physical conflicts broke out between "Yorkers" and settlers in the New Hampshire Grants (or "The Grants"). As a result, a number of Pownal residents joined the Green Mountain Boys under Ethan Allen.

By the Revolution, the town was deeply divided between “Yankees” and the Tories, those sympathetic to England, each of whom considered himself or herself a Loyalist. Tories were often arrested and imprisoned. By the end of the Revolution, most Tories had fled Pownal for safety among the United Empire Loyalists who resettled in Canada. As noted, however, that was not always the case. William Card (1710–1784), born in Rhode Island, settled in Pownal perhaps as late as 1773 (though his sons settled there between 1762–1766) fought for the British at the Battle of Bennington on 16 August 1777, along with 4 of his sons. The battle, a virtually complete American victory, was actually fought in Hoosick Falls (Walloomsac), NY. The elder Card and all four of his sons were captured, but soon released. Wm Card died in Pownal in 1784, seven years later. The War, in New England, was over well before that.

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