With a name deriving from two French words – vert, meaning green; and montagne, meaning mountain – you might think that Vermont would have a French influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Vermont is not mountainous (at most, it is hilly) and at the time it was named – shortly after the bushfires of 1863 – neither was it green. But then, calling it Nercol (nero + collines) would not have been nearly so appealling, and Edgar Buxton knew that very well.
Buxton won the land that is now Vermont in a card game, and hit upon the idea of selling it as residential farmland in order to convert a concrete asset into liquid funds. He called it Green Mountain at first, and when that failed to appeal, changed the name to the bastardised French it now bears in order to make it sound more upmarket. Much to Buxton’s surprise, this latter strategy actually worked, and the land sold for good, if not great, prices. Certainly enough to keep a professional gambler such as Buxton in style for a time. Buxton was later slain after a card game descended into a gunfight, although it remains unclear whether his killer, Richard Knox, killed Buxton for cheating (as he claimed all the way to the noose), or to cover his own cheating.
Vermont, by this time, had begun to blossom – as much as it ever did, at least. It grew into a quiet outer suburb, where the farms were slowly subdivided into more and more housing lots over the years as droughts and depressions took their toll. By the beginning of the twentieth century, it appeared that nothing exciting would ever happen in Vermont again.
And it didn’t.
Suburbs near Vermont: