Hardwick History

Updated May 26, 2024

Like most places, Hardwick has a history rich in human and community experiences. For its first century, Hardwick’s history parallel’s that of most rural communities in northern New England. At the end of the 19th century, it diverged for several decades.

Two locally published historical journals include Hardwick history – the Hardwick Historical Society Journal (HHSJ) and the Hazen Road Dispatch (HRD), published by the Greensboro Historical Society — but no comprehensive history of the town exists. While no one would call the following narrative comprehensive, it attempts to pull together a history of Hardwick. It will require some time to complete, so we ask the reader’s patience as we build the narrative.

We include links or references to websites or specialized pieces published in the HRD and/or the HHSJ as they relate to the topic at hand.

Pre-European Settlement

Between the exploration voyages of the St. Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1535-36 and those of Samuel de Champlain in the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain valleys, 1604-7, upwards of 90 percent of the indigenous people in northern New England and the St. Lawrence River Valley died of European diseases. The Abenaki people, who lived in the area of northern Vermont, largely settled in the Champlain Valley and the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River Valley. However, although there were no known Abenaki settlements in the immediate Hardwick area, Abenaki families used the forests and streams and considered these grounds Ndakinna (Abenaki Homelands).

Yankee Settlement

During the Revolutionary War, Congress supported the construction of the Bayley-Hazen Military Road from the Connecticut River Valley to Montreal, in Lower Canada. Road construction went only as far as Montgomery, Vt., but after the war the Bayley Hazen Military Road provided settlers with access to northeastern Vermont. < See “Address of the Honorable W.P. Smith,” HHSJ 1:3-4; 3-22 >

Creating a new world, the daunting task each group of pioneers faced anew, draws on settlers’ remembered traditions from their former homes as well as parameters established by the state and federal governments. 

Vermont was never a colony. Instead, both New Hampshire and New York claimed the land, and both issued land grants to settlers. At the same time the thirteen colonies began to resist English rule, settlers in those competing grants began to resist the rule of either New York or New Hampshire. In 1777, leadership declared the land west of the Connecticut River and east of Lake Champlain an independent political state called Vermont. The state of Vermont granted charters for towns to groups of land speculators, called proprietors, knowing that they would then sell the land to settlers. In the meantime, the Proprietors would pay state taxes on the land and help fund state government.

In 1781, sixty-seven proprietors, most with family connections to Hardwick, Massachusetts, acquired a charter for a town which they named Hardwick. Vermont became the fourteenth state in 1791, and a special Federal census, done in 1791, showed three people in two families, those of Mark and Jabin Norris, living in Hardwick. They had claims near the Bayley-Hazen Military Road which settlers used to reach claims in this area.

State law required that twenty families live in a town before it could organize as a Town. Typically settlers wanted to organize into a town as soon as they could, so they did not have to rely on the Proprietors to provide the infrastructure, mainly roads and mills, settlers needed. But first settlers had to assure their own survival by creating homes for themselves and their animals as the number of families in the town grew.

On March 31, 1795, the men of Hardwick held a Town Meeting. At it Mark Norris and his neighbors created the essential elements of a government – a Tax Collector, two Listers (tax assessors), a Treasurer, three Selectmen (Town Council), a Constable, three Surveyors of Highways (supervisors of road work), one Tithingman (to keep order during church services), and four Hay Wardens (responsible for stray cattle). Men who owned property could vote, and they regarded holding an office as both a privilege and a duty. The Town held an annual meeting to keep abreast of Town business and to set policy for the coming year. Beyond that, townsmen could petition special meetings to address pressing issues. < See “Growing Hardwick: An Administrative History of the Young Town,”HRD Vol. 38 (2013); 27 >

At its second Town Meeting, 1796, townsmen voted to call a minister to establish a church that the Town would support.  Since Hardwick had a Tithingman already in place, the people must have held informal services. Calling a minister implied a desire for a more formal arrangement. Town officials assured orderliness in commercial transactions, and the church served as the guardian of orderliness outside the marketplace. Church councils investigated, tried, and adjudicated transgressions in personal behavior prescribed by church laws and community standards. Church councils had the power to excommunicate a transgressor from the church community, a powerful deterrent when the church offered the only social life outside the family.

In 1798 Alpha Warner established a tavern beside the Bayley-Hazen Military Road. That area came to be called “The Street” or “Hardwick Street.”

Communities need grist mills and lumber mills to survive and thrive. When the first settlers arrived in Hardwick, the next town up the Bayley-Hazen Military Road, Greensboro, already had mills that used the outlet of Caspian Lake as its source of power. In 1798, Samuel Stevens started installing mills at the falls on the Lamoille River. Originally the area around the mills was called just Stevens’ Mills. By 1850, however, it had become known as East Hardwick.

Within a year or two of Stevens’ Mills, Willard Bugbee established mills further down the Lamoille, creating another village that became South Hardwick. <For more on the names of places in Hardwick, see “Where Am I?” HHSJ 11:2; 10-15 >

Hardwick, as an organized community with mills, a church, and a government, attracted more settlers, and more settlers attracted more merchants and tradesmen. The second wave of tradesmen included a tanner, a blacksmith, a cabinet maker, a wheelwright, a shoemaker, an innkeeper, a general merchant, and a potash factory, which provided one of the few sources of cash in a wilderness economy.

As the population increased, concerns about orderliness and honesty intensified, so at its fourth annual Town Meeting, 1798, Hardwick elected additional Town officials to regulate commerce, protect consumers, and to arbitrate conflicting claims – a Fence Viewer to assure fences met state regulations, and a Leather Sealer to certify the quality of leather. In 1799, it also elected three members to a committee to audit the books of the town treasurer.

  James B. Hardwick Norris, the first Yankee child born in Hardwick, appeared on September 16, 1792. Children worked alongside the adults clearing the land and building homesteads. When survival was the primary issue, formal education seemed like a luxury. However, in a free-market economy and direct democracy, citizens must know how to read, write, and do the arithmetic necessary for honest transactions, and the State required that each town have at least one school district but allowed it to create as many as it needed. Each district operated as an independent unit. Thus, after the hard work of establishing themselves, frontier communities built schools to educate their children.  In 1799, with approximately 50 children under the age of 10, and another 20 between 10 and 18, Hardwick established four school districts. Each district taxed its residents to build school buildings and pay teachers. Each set its own curriculum. By 1835, the town had ten school districts. < See “Creating Hardwick’s School System,” HHSJ 10:3; 13-18, “Birth of a School District,” HHSJ 10:3; 19-22, “Birth of the Stone House District – School District # 8, HHSJ 10:4; 18-24 >

In 1800, Hardwick held 263 people. The population increase meant an increase in the number of domestic animals, and in 1800 the town decreed that swine could no longer run free. It elected three Pound Keepers to round up and hold stray animals. All farmers notched the ears of their animals with distinctive patterns, so the Pound Keepers could notify owners to come fetch their animals. < See “Starting a Farm,” HHSJ 11:1; 9-11 >

            As the population grew, social strata developed. By 1800, it was clear that not all pioneers could pay their taxes, and the Town elected a “Vendue [auction] Master for constable and collection officer.” It was his unhappy job to sell off property for unpaid taxes. Also in 1800 the Town elected another consumer protection officer called the Sealer of Weights and Measures. It elected its final consumer protection officers in 1802–two Surveyors of Lumber.

            By 1804, thirteen years after the initial settlers arrived, the community had enough impoverished incompetents, widows, orphans, infirm and elderly people, that it grudgingly accepted some responsibility for their care, provided that they were Hardwick residents. If they didn’t have Hardwick residency, the Selectmen made them leave; State law supported this action. The Town appointed the Selectmen as “Overseers of the Poor.” Typically the Selectmen arranged for orphans to serve as indentured servants. They auctioned off adults and families to whomever would provide for them at the lowest cost to the town. In 1807 the Overseer function had grown large enough that the town appointed a committee to audit the Overseers’ accounts. <See “Worthy Poor,” HHSJ 11:1; 7-8 and “Unworthy Poor,” HHSJ 11:1; 12-14 >

            Initially people buried their dead privately, but in 1800 the Town paid Israel Sanborn $6 for an acre of land on which to create a burying yard. Others cemeteries appeared, and in 1811 the Town saw a need to regulate burials and care for graves; it elected two sextons for town cemeteries. <For more on death in early Hardwick, see “Death in Early Hardwick,” HHSJ 11:4; 23-24 and “Recorded Deaths in Hardwick, 1794-1812,HHSJ 11:4; 25-27 >

            Early government in Hardwick built roads, educated children, and assured a standard of products and practices in the commercial sector lest disputes between buyers and sellers bring disorder to the community. It offered only minimum support for those who could not function in society. It took no role in domestic disputes, and it had little interest in non-commercial disputes between people. Instead, it supported churches that addressed those issues. < See “A Place to Worship in Early Hardwick,” HHSJ 6:1; 20-23, “Baptist Church,” HHSJ 2:1; 6, “Congregational-United Church,” HHSJ 2:1; 7-11, “St. Norbert’s Parish, 1890-1950,” HHSJ 2:2; 3-5, “Saint John the Baptist Episcopal Mission and Church, 1902-1999,” HHSJ 2:2; 6-11, “Bethany Methodist/Episcopal Church, 1803-2010,” HHSJ 2:2; 12-13, and “Hardwick – New Lights,” HHSJ 2:2; 14 >

State law required that towns educate their children to age 14; Hardwick’s District schools met that need. The state encouraged higher education, and “Academies” – some private, some public, some a combination of both – arose to provide a high school education. In 1860, a group of local men created Hardwick Academy (HA) as a private boarding school in South Hardwick. It never made made money, so, by 1865, School District #1, the district that served South Hardwick students up to 8th grade, had formed a partnership with HA that became the Hardwick Academy and Graded School District. District #1 funded the Graded School, and parents paid tuition for their children to attend the Academy for high school. < See “School by The Numbers,” HHSJ 11:1; 20-22>

The Railroad

           Hardwick become an agricultural community, like the rest of its neighbors. It sent 236  soldiers to defend the union during the Civil War. Hardwick’s Grand List (the number on which the Town calculates its tax rate) fell from $5,275 in 1860 to $4,759 in 1865 – a nine percent drop reflecting Hardwick’s loss of men and general economic robustness. In 1868, the Grand List grew to $4,965 – a sign of recovery but hardly enough to explain the leap of faith in the future that the voters took when they voted that year to support the building of a railroad through Hardwick.

A group of entrepreneurs planned a railroad to run from Portland, Maine, through Vermont to Ogdensburg, New York, hoping to draw port traffic away from Boston to Portland. They planned the new railroad to run from Portland to St. Johnsbury and then southwest to Montpelier. There it could connect with the Central Vermont Railroad to run down the Winooski River Valley to join the railroads in the Burlington area. To fund the railroad, the planners asked towns along the proposed route to buy bonds, arguing that a location along the railroad line would provide economic advantages. When Montpelier voters refused to support the proposal, a group of Lamoille Valley businessmen seized the opportunity to inject new life into the Valley by having the railroad connect to the Northern Vermont and Lake Champlain Railroad at Cambridge. < See “Hardwick on the Map”; 26-46 >

At a special Town Meeting on March 17, 1868, Hardwick voters voted 138 to 96 to fund the new railroad. They settled no details at that meeting, but between March and August the Town agreed to purchase 600 shares of stock valued at $60,000. The terms were dated August 4, 1868, and recorded in the Town records in a calligraphy that does not appear anywhere else in the book, a detail suggestive of the people’s hopes that the railroad would provide an opportunity that they could not reject, but with a grand list lower than eight years earlier, they could barely afford. Vermont law limited a Town’s bonding authority to 12 times its grand list. Hardwick approved the highest amount it legally could. In 2021, Hardwick had a Grand List of $191 million. A bond twelve times the current Grand List comes to $2,292,000,000 – that’s 2.3 billion dollars! Is there anything today that would entice Hardwick voters to bond themselves for 2.3 billion dollars?

Thaddeus Fairbanks broke ground for the railroad in St. Johnsbury on December 22, 1869. A large joyful crowd attended the ground-breaking ceremony and celebration: guns saluted, trumpet blasted, and bands played. Roughly two years later, on November 24, 1871, “the cars” first arrived in East Hardwick to the sound of ringing bells and anvils. On January 1, 1872, a joyous similar crowd greeted the first passenger train from St. Johnsbury to South Hardwick. The railroad was completed on June 29, 1877, and although it suffered financial difficulties and operated under several different names, the trains always ran.

In 1870 Hardwick had a population of 1,519 people and an economy based on the work of farmers, merchants, and professionals similar to the towns around them. During the decade of the 1870s, however, Hardwick’s history began to diverge from that of its neighbors, because Hardwick had both a railroad and granite. Walden and Wolcott, to the east and west, had a railroad but no granite. Woodbury, to the south, had granite but no railroad.

            The railroad, known in turn as the Lamoille Valley RR (LVRR), the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain RR, the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County RR  (St. J. & L.C.), and finally the Lamoille Valley RR, immediately became an important fixture in the region, carrying away timber, hay, hides, cheese, butter, butter tubs, and brooms made in Hardwick. It also carried away people, and initially, Hardwick’s population dropped from 1,519 in 1870 to 1,484 in 1880. Granite, however, brought new people to town.

East Hardwick

Although by 1841 South Hardwick had a larger population, the village of East Hardwick flourished. Hardwick’s best farm land lay in the town’s north and east, and East Hardwick, with a railroad station, mills, a creamery, general stores, a hotel, churches and schools, served as the economic focus of that large prosperous agricultural community. In 1872 it had a newspaper of unknown life span. The commercial rivalry between East Hardwick and South Hardwick became fairly intense during the middle of the nineteenth century. < See “East Hardwick Hotel” HHSJ 1:3-4; 23 “East Hardwick Library” HHSJ 10:2; 30-33 >

Granite

            The industrial and urban growth of the post-Civil War era tremendously increased private and public wealth across the nation, and great Neoclassical buildings of marble and granite came into fashion to house municipal bodies, corporations, banks, and the well-to-do. Similarly, urban development called for tremendous amounts of stone, frequently granite, for bridges, dams, and civic buildings.  Hardwick had granite perfectly suited to building buildings. < For more on Hardwick’s granite industry, see “Hardwick on the Map”; 1-137 >

            Henry Mack pioneered the granite industry in 1868 in a small community south of South Hardwick that became known as Mackville. When Samuel Wheeler opened the first granite shed in South Hardwick in 1870, he knew a railroad would come through Hardwick and make shipping his product, which weighed 170-230 pounds per cubic foot, physically and economically feasible. He wasn’t alone. Through the 1880s and 1890s, up to eleven granite sheds grew up along the railroad tracks.

            As part of the growing granite industry, in 1888 a small partnership incorporated the Woodbury Granite Company as a small quarry in Woodbury. At that time, sheds in Woodbury and South Hardwick sheds competed with Barre in the monument market, but the stone quarried in Woodbury and Hardwick stone had a courser grain than Barre stone so it sold for less. In 1890, the granite business had grown large enough in South Hardwick to make it worthwhile for the granite cutters’ union to organize the workers. Owners quickly accepted unionization, and the union spoke for the workers for the rest of the life of the industry in town.

The Village of Hardwick

            By 1891, the growth of the commercial district in South Hardwick created infrastructure needs that the voters would not approve in a town-wide Town Meeting. Consequently, South Hardwick, with a population of about 1,100 people, incorporated as the Village of Hardwick and immediately levied bonds for a municipal water supply, sewage system, and a volunteer fire company.

The industrializing world and out-migration from rural Vermont in the second half of the 19th century raised concerns about the adequacy of the education that district schools could provide students. After more than forty years of debate, in 1891, the Vermont legislature decreed that each town create a single town-wide school system. The law made exceptions for municipalities that wanted to incorporate a school district apart from its town district as the Village of Hardwick did. In 1892 the Village incorporated School District #1 and Hardwick Academy into an independent school district called Hardwick Academy and Graded School; its boundaries matched the Village boundaries almost exactly.

            In 1892, the Boston and Maine Railroad, which controlled the St.J.&L.C., built a 1.7-mile railroad spur from the St.J.&L.C. to Buffalo Mountain, which became known as the Quarry Railroad.  In the same year, the Village added a sewer system and hired one policeman.

            In 1894, a group of speculators incorporated the Hardwick & Woodbury R.R. to run from Quarry RR to reach the granite quarries on Robinson (or Robeson) Mountain in Woodbury. Without this railroad, they knew the industry could never develop to its full potential. Meanwhile, others in the Village successfully advocated for an electric power plant.  With a railroad to haul the stone from the quarry to the cutting sheds in the Village and electricity to run the tools that shaped and polished it, the granite industry, dominated by the newly reorganized Woodbury Granite Company, which built its sheds in the Village, became the dominant industry in the region. <See “Tale of Two Railroads,” HHSJ 6:3; 17-27>

In 1896, the Village began to install concrete sidewalks beside its dirt streets. In 1897 the town  converted the 1860 Town Hall and Academy building into a performance theater called the Opera House. The same year, Malvina Tuttle Jeudevine and M.V.B. Hathaway, two wealthy local philanthropists, donated a public library building and an extensive collection of books to the town. Hardwick looked on itself as a First Class Place.

The Granite Boom

         In 1900 the Village had a population 1312 people, and 59 percent of the male workforce worked in some granite-related activity. In 1903 the Woodbury Granite Company (WGC) won the two-year contract to build the Pennsylvania State Capitol and completed it in 22 months. Within a few years, the WGC became the largest building-granite company in the country and perhaps the world. It had headquarters in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago; it had quarries in Woodbury and Bethel, Vt.; it had cutting facilities in Hardwick, Bethel, and Northfield, Vt. Buildings around the country made with Hardwick granite include the Wisconsin State Capitol, Chicago City Hall, and the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., as well as hundreds of banks, post offices, and other public buildings. Bethel’s white granite appears in Union Station, in Washington, D.C.

The granite industry in Hardwick paid a monthly payroll of about $40,000 – about 1.2 million dollars in 2022 – and the Village population peaked at 2,091 in 1910. The granite industry relied heavily, but not entirely, on skilled immigrant labor from Europe, and the Village population reflected that fact. In 1900, immigrants made up 25 percent of its population; in 1910, 34 percent. At both counts, about three-fourths of the immigrants came from English-speaking countries, chiefly English Canada and Scotland. Italians made up the largest cohort of non-English-speaking immigrants. <See “Shopping During the Granite Era” HHSJ 5:1; 9-11 > As the industry grew, entrepreneurs from other places in Vermont as well as other states — largely in New England — came to Hardwick to take advantage of the expanding business potential in the area.

Everyone celebrated Hardwick’s prosperity, but not everyone celebrated its diversity. Members of long-established families resented the new people the industry brought to the Village; the new industrial leaders threatened the power and place held by established leaders, and the locals developed an attitude of general snobbery toward them. Others, natives and immigrants alike, experienced specific fears of specific groups. Italian immigrants bore the brunt of the national prejudice that preceded their arrival in Hardwick. <See “How Did Americans View Immigrants?” HHSJ 6:4; 11-17 >

Regardless of how the community viewed them, granite workers never posed any local political threat. The granite cutters’ union participated to some degree in state politics, but not in Hardwick politics. Further, the workers posed no economic threat. Relatively few bought land or houses, and relatively few established businesses to compete with local entrepreneurs, whom they patronized.

The peace among the people in the Village was maintained in some measure because the granite workers and the local population operated in different spheres. A few granite workers who, having come to Hardwick to work, chose the Village as a permanent home, bought property, and changed careers when the industry failed, but most workers remained in the Village because of the industry. As long as the industry prospered, they stayed, living within the socially acceptable parameters defined by the Yankee population. Since the immigrants lived among the natives all over the Village, no geographic segregation developed. The locals accepted the granite workers at public gatherings and within public institutions, such as the schools and churches, but they did not associate in community organizations or private gatherings. At the end of the era, when the industry failed, the granite workers left, removing the potential problem of a large population of disgruntled unemployed workers and leaving the Village with a vast store of happy memories of boom times. < See “Hogmanany” HHSJ 11:2; 33-35>

Rural Hardwick remained agricultural. Farm families could avoid virtually all contact with the industry or the people it brought to the Village, except perhaps in the marketplace. Farm children received the required eight grades of education in the Town’s ten school buildings – after the creation of the single Town school district, the Town continued to use the buildings built by the old district schools – and the Town paid the tuition of any rural student who chose to finish high school, but no one had to attend, and many didn’t. A farm family could follow the rhythms of the church bells and the seasons little affected by the clock time and noise of the industry. The industry’s presence did not threaten land values, air or water purity, nor increase taxes. It required no fundamental change in agricultural life style or value system and it enhanced rather than threatened the agricultural economy. The farmers could literally take it or leave it as they chose, while enjoying the benefits of its presence.

East Hardwick grew large enough that it needed both a water system and a fire brigade. As South Hardwick had found the rural voters of the Town unwilling to fund a water system for the village, so did East Hardwick. In 1912, it incorporated itself into the Hardwick Fire District #1. <See “Historical Sketch of East Hardwick Fire District,” HHSJ 9:4; 11-13 and “East Hardwick’s Fire Hose Cart,” HHSJ 9:4; 14-21>

World War I

Hardwick responded to the war in Europe with dedicated patriotism, decorating its buildings with bunting and focusing on both the production and conservation of food. Starvation in Europe became a major weapon, and agricultural Hardwick rose to the occasion. In 1917, at least 120 local men joined the American armed services. < See “World War I Comes to Hardwick,” HHSJ 7:2; 6-9, “Hardwick’s Response to World War I,” HHSJ 7:2; 13-19, “Letters Home from the War,” HHSJ 7:3; 17-21, and “Letters home from the War: Part II,” HHSJ 8:2; 5-6 >

After World War I municipalities and corporations stopped building granite buildings in favor of sky-scrapers that could offer more internal space on a smaller footprint. The population attracted to Hardwick by the granite industry consisted of an extremely mobile occupational group that came to Hardwick to work and left when the work no longer held them. With the exception of a few families, they put down shallow roots. Although small sheds continued to operate into the 1950s, as the building-granite industry died workers moved away; the H&W tracks got torn up and sold in 1940. The Village went back to being the market center for the local region. < See “Man on the Street: Ernest Ryland Fletcher” HHSJ 2:2; 15 and “Ernest Fletcher: Hardwick’s Building Granite Pioneer” HHSJ 7:3; 10-15 >

French Canadian Immigration

From the late 18th century to the mid 20th century, the border between Vermont and Quebec had more reality on a map than on the actual ground. People traveled back and forth, aware of moving between countries, but without any official concern about their migration. Moving from Quebec to Vermont happened with no governmental interference on either side of the border. When the US government created laws to bar immigrants, it made exemptions for people from Canada and Mexico. Canadian and Quebec elites found the emigration from Quebec troubling, but government officials did not. As a result, between 1840 and 1930, roughly 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the United States, most of them to New England. Some felt pulled by economic opportunities in the mills and factories in southern New England; some felt pushed by poverty, discouragement, and lack of economic opportunity at home. < See “French-Canadian Migration to Hardwick,” HHSJ 6:4; 6-8, “The Cost of Migrating,” HHSJ 6:4; 9-10, “How Did Americans View Immigrants?,” HHSJ 6:4; 11-17, “The Newcomers,” HHSJ 6:4; 18-23, and “How Were They Greeted?,” HHSJ 6:4; 24-28 >

Evidence suggests that French Canadians lived in the Hardwick area as early as 1872. By 1892 enough lived in the area to warrant the creation of St. Michael’s Parish in Greensboro Bend. In the 1900 census, French Canadians made up 12 percent of the immigrant population in the Village of Hardwick. While some French Canadians came to work in the granite industry, most came to farm. Occasionally a young man worked in granite long enough to save money to buy a farm.

The French Canadian population around Hardwick did not grow robustly until near the end of World War I. Like the end of most wars, the end of World War I produced a period of economic disruption. Agricultural commodity prices fell, as did land values, and farmers throughout the nation fell into a post-war depression. Hardwick’s Yankee farmers could not afford to pay hired help and did not have large families to work a farm; French Canadians did. Known as hard workers with many members of the family working together, French Canadian farms did well. Though some banks would not lend money to French Canadians, those that did provided them credit to buy farms when they arrived from Canada with very little money. While their coming to Hardwick may have raised anti-Catholic concerns, the French Canadians didn’t live apart in isolated communities, and they never developed their own schools. French Canadian children went to school with local children and their parents interacted in the market place. While private prejudice may have existed, it did not find wide spread expression in the community.

In 1988 descendants, mostly children, of the French Canadian immigrants, created a festival to honor their ancestors: Hardwick’s French Heritage Festival, 1988-2001. Each festival honored one family which produced an album of its stories and genealogies. By 2001, interest among the younger generations had waned to the point that nobody would undertake the work of organizing the festival, and it died. By the 1990s, the most common family names on Hardwick’s voting roles were French.

World War II

By World War II, granite made up a small portion of Hardwick’s economic activity, though the commercial districts of the Village of Hardwick and East Hardwick both thrived on the agricultural economy around them. Many residents joined the armed services. The civilian population set up civil defense activities such as blackouts at night, plane-spotting posts, and paper and scrap drives in support of the war effort. < See “Get in the Junk,” HHSJ 6:2; 6-10, “Hardwick’s Victory Store,” HHSJ 6:2; 11-21, and “Childhood Memories of World War II in Hardwick,” HHSJ 8:2; 16-18 >

The post-war economy which fueled tremendous expansion and prosperity in most of America favored the areas that supported industrialization, not small family farms that made up the bulk of the Hardwick economy. Hardwick’s population dropped from 2,605 in 1940 to 2,349 in 1960. Over time, having two municipal bodies ceased to make much sense, and the Village of Hardwick and Town of Hardwick merged in 1988.

[To be continued. While you wait, enjoy past issues of the HHSJ online. < https://hardwickvthistory.org/publications/ > ]