Vermont Towns Finally Settle Land Dispute From The 1760s

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A Colonial-era boundary dispute between two Vermont towns that were never exactly sure where one ended and the other began is finally going to be settled.

But it was old maps, not GPS or Google Earth, that ultimately found the common ground for the towns of St. George and neighboring Shelburne. The process has pointed up the art of trying to read the minds of the original surveyors and land granters to establish where the lines were drawn.

"It's a matter of 'let's get this defined,'" said Phil Gingraw, chairman of the St. George Select Board. "Two-hundred-and-fifty years ago, people would not really have cared. Today, I think, things have changed a lot, and that's why we need definition."

Vermont itself was a byproduct of a land dispute between the colonies of New Hampshire and New York.

Both issued land charters for the area between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain. Much of what became Vermont was first surveyed in the 1760s using primitive equipment in near-trackless wilderness.

"Sometimes, the early surveying errors were so spectacular, we've found areas that had never been in any town," said state archivist Gregory Sanford....

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