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A History Sampler
From Spanning Time: Tour 4 - The Lamoille River and the North Branch
How Egypt, Vermont Got its Name.
In the book: Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges, I wrote: "Just
north of the (East Fairfield) covered bridge, Egypt Road leaves (Route 36 in) the village of East
Fairfield and winds to the north. Egypt is a curious name for a road in northern Vermont, so not
surprisingly, there is a curious story* to go with it."
Dear Readers, don't look for Egypt Road, instead find
New Street! The old name is lost to the Enhanced 911 program. See "Changing Scene" on this
web site for the "why" and for other road-name changes. Meanwhile, the story of Egypt, Vermont
is still part of the East Fairfield area history:
The upper counties of Vermont had a bad growing year in 1816, which became known as the
infamous Year With No Summer. Monthly frosts destroyed crops until there was not much left to
harvest, except on Nathaniel Foster's farm. Foster had sowed corn among the tree stumps in his
field. Farmers found it easier to remove the stumps from newly cleared fields if they burned them
out after having left them to decay a while, so when the frosts hit, farmer Foster began burning
his stumps. When stumps burn in the ground, the process is a long and smoky one as the roots
burn deep into the soil. Foster's corn survived the cold summer in the warmth of the stump fires,
and there was seed-corn in Fairfield for the following year.
Bankers came from St. Albans to offer $5.00 a bushel,
but Foster refused to sell his corn to them. Instead, the next spring, when people came to buy
seed corn, he sold it to them for $1.00 a bushel. Those who received the life-sustaining ears of
corn called the place Egypt after the biblical story of Jacob, who sent his sons to Egypt to buy
corn during the famine in Canaan.
*Source: Fairfield Vermont Reminiscences - 1763 to 1977 by the Fairfield
Bicentennial Committee, page 173
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Text Copyright © 1997, Joseph C. Nelson
Photographs Copyright ©, 1997, Joseph C. Nelson
Illustrations Copyright ©, 1997, Joseph C. Nelson
This file updated 11-5-99