KIRBY – A CAPSULE HISTORY
The Town of Kirby was granted to Roswell Hopkins of Vergennes, who had served as secretary of state for the Republic of Vermont, in 1786, and was chartered as Hopkinsville on October 27, 1790 . The first settlers were Theophilus and Sophronia Grout, who located near the southern tip of the town near the Moose River in 1792. The Grout homestead, much expanded and refurbished by 2016, proudly remains today on U.S. 2.
Other early settlers were Phineas Page, Josiah Joslin, Jonathan Leach, Ebenezer Damon, Antipas Harrington, Jonathan Lewis, Asahel Burt, and others mostly from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Zebulon Burroughs, a Revolutionary War veteran, is buried in the South Kirby Cemetery. So far as is known no descendants of those pioneer settlers have lived in Kirby for many years.
In 1807 2,527 acres of Burke, known as Burke Tongue, were added to the town, and it was formally organized as the Town of Kirby. The name was said to have come from the native place of Thomas and Francis Atkinson of Kirby Moorside, Yorkshire, England. At one time the Atkinsons owned nearly all of the town.
Kirby, with a population of only 425, furnished forty four soldiers to the Union in the Civil War, and three others enlisted in neighboring towns. Among this number was one lieutenant colonel, one major, and other company officers.
Josiah Grout Jr., born in Quebec but raised from age 7 in Kirby, served as a major of cavalry in the Civil War and as Governor of Vermont in 1897-98. His brother William W. Grout, who was raised on the Grout place from age 12, removed to Barton where he became a prominent lawyer, lieutenant colonel in the
Union army, and Member of Congress in 1881-82 and 1897-1900. Upon retirement he returned to the old Grout farm, where he died in 1902.
In 1886 Kirby had six school districts and five common schools, employing eleven female teachers, to whom was paid an average weekly salary, including board, of $4.39. The total school expenditures for that year were reported as $738.98.
In living memory there have been as many as five one room schools in
town, of which three are still standing. Brookside, the last to close in 1978, and Mud Hollow are now private camps, and the South Kirby School is used occasionally as a community center. Since 1978 Kirby has been a full K-12 parental choice town, a practice that has received strong support from the school boards and school district meetings. In 2016 Kirby tuitioned its school age children to schools in adjacent towns, 60 elementary students to seven schools, and 38 secondary students to seven schools.
The original Town Hall was built near Kirby Pond on the Mountain. In 1936 the town acquired the old North Kirby Congregational Church, built in 1828, for a meeting house, and it has been in use ever since. On two occasions in recent years the building has been painted and improved by volunteer labor. Of the Town’s 21 Town Clerks, P.B. Graves served a record 48 years. Charles Graves, Virginia Wood and Wanda Grant held that office for twenty or more years. Moderator John McClaughry was recognized for his fifty years of service at Town Meeting 2016.
1976, the Vermont Bicentennial Year, saw the birth of the Kirby Quilters, which for many years organized the Kirby Quilt show and presented a baby quilt to every baby born to Kirby parents, and the group has provided leadership for many civic activities.
- Quick Facts
KIRBY – IMPORTANT FACTS
Chartered: 1790 as Hopkinsville; organized as the town of Kirby in 1807.
Area: 15,353 acres (24 square miles)
Population: 1850: 509 1970: 224 2010: 493 2014 (est.) 513
Road mileage: Town roads 23.44 miles (0.33 paved) ; U.S. 2 0.97 miles
Highest Point: 2,750 ft (summit of Kirby Mountain)