“Sacred to the memory of Colo. John Sergeant Who departed this life July 30th 1798 in the sixty sixth year of his age. Who now lies in the same town he was born & was the first person born in the state of Vermont.”
This grave marker stands in the Locust Ridge Cemetery, in the north end of Brattleboro, Vermont. Once known as the Sergeant Cemetery, it is near the former farms of the Sergeant brothers, John and Thomas. This was land that their father Lt. John (Sr.), who was part of the garrison at Fort Dummer, was granted following his petition in 1738, long before it was considered “safe” to settle – it was described as all of the land between the West and Connecticut Rivers north to the Dummerston line. This area of town was known, quite literally, as “West River.” Son John was born within the walls of Fort Dummer in 1732, when that northernmost British outpost on the Connecticut River had been standing 8 years. Brother Thomas followed about 1734. Many descendants of these Sergeant siblings (also Sargent/Sergent/ Sargeant) lived on the farms and nearby afterward.
Col. John Sergeant has often been cited as being the “first person” (read white or Anglo-Saxon) born in what later became the State of Vermont and this is the claim made by his epitaph. However, other information shows clearly that the first British child born (at Fort Dummer) was Major Timothy Dwight in 1726, son of the commander, Lt. Timothy Dwight, and father of a third Timothy Dwight, who became President of Yale University.
The point being: all of this is to ignore, and dismiss, the thousand generations of indigenous Abenakiak and their ancestors, who have been in and of this land for millennia. They were here when the new people appeared and they are still here.
Askwa n’daoldibna iodali – we are still here. #ReclaimingWantastegok #3