Jamaica, Vermont

Jamaica, Vermont

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Jamaica, Vermont
settlement_type = Town
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = Jamaica Town Hall
image_caption =


mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Jamaica, Vermont

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Vermont
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Windham

government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title = Chartered
established_date = 1780
established_title2 = Settled
established_date2 = 1780
established_title3 = Organized
established_date3 = 1781

unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =

area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 128.1
area_land_km2 = 127.8
area_water_km2 = 0.3
area_total_sq_mi = 49.5
area_land_sq_mi = 49.3
area_water_sq_mi = 0.1

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 946
population_density_km2 = 7.4
population_density_sq_mi = 19.2

timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 346
elevation_ft = 1135
latd = 43 |latm = 6 |lats = 11 |latNS = N
longd = 72 |longm = 47 |longs = 33 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 05343
area_code = 802
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 50-36175GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 1462126GR|3
website =
footnotes =

Jamaica is a town in Windham County, Vermont, United States. The population was 946 at the 2000 census. Its ZIP code is 05343.

Jamaica was chartered on November 7, 1780. Its name is from the Natick word for "beaver" and is not connected to the Caribbean island nation of the same name. Jamaica contains Jamaica State Park, which is noted for its scenic camping spots and various swimming holes. Jamaica also contains the villages of East Jamaica and Rawsonville. The nearest large town is Brattleboro.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 946 people, 416 households, and 245 families residing in the town. The population density was 19.2 people per square mile (7.4/km²). There were 967 housing units at an average density of 19.6/sq mi (7.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.41% White, 0.11% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.11% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.21% of the population.

There were 416 households out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.9% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 113.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $34,917, and the median income for a family was $43,333. Males had a median income of $26,818 versus $23,417 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,052. About 5.6% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.7% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 49.5 square miles (128.1 km²), of which, 49.3 square miles (127.8 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.20%) is water. The West River flows through the town. [DeLorme (1996). "Vermont Atlas & Gazetteer". Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 0-89933-016-9]


In the colonial period, what is now Vermont was disputed territory, with land claims rising from both New York and New Hampshire. The original grants for this area were issued by the Royal Governor of New York in 1767 and 1772 and were for two towns. In 1777 the Independent Republic of Vermont was established and in 1780, ignoring the previous grants, gave charter for “a tract of vacant land within this state which has not heretofore been granted “. The Charter goes on to say “that the same be and is hereby Incorporated into a Township by the name of Jamaica”. The grant encompassed forty-two square miles. The land lies at an altitude ranging from 688 above sea level along the West River to 2,542 feet on The Pinnacle. There were sixty-seven grantees listed on the Charter, and many of those names can be found among Jamaica’s residents today.

The earliest settlement of the town was along the West River near the Wardsboro Bridge, now called East Jamaica. It was here that the first school was established in 1791. The step-by-step building of roads and bridges pointing towards Manchester to the northwest moved settlement westward so that by 1800 it appeared that the town center was moving. Within the forty-two square-mile township of Jamaica there developed as many as ten separate hamlets surrounded by outlying farms, all linked to Jamaica Village by a network of roads. Eventually there were as many as 14 one-room schools which served the families in the outlying areas.

In the first quarter of the 19th century Jamaica Village assumed increasing importance as a center, largely for topographical reasons. Located near the confluence of the West River and Ball Mountain Brook, the area offered a strategic location for bridges, dams and mills. Along Ball Mountain Brook alone there were numerous dams, each providing power for at least one mill. The first store “Noon House” was built in 1803. The popularity of “Noon House” led to the building in 1814 of Jamaica House, which provided a convenient overnight spot for travelers at the mid-point between Manchester and Brattleboro. [Booker (1940). "Historical Notes: Jamaica, Vermont". Brattleboro, Vermont: E.L. Hildreth & Co., Inc. ]

The economy of Jamaica, like that of so many Vermont communities, prospered with the introduction of Merino sheep in the early 19th century. The Spanish sheep flourished on the rocky hillsides, and as their numbers increased, open land and bare hillsides replaced the forests which had characterized the earlier landscape.

But prosperity did not last. The depression that followed the Civil War and the decline in the wool market took their toll on the local economy. Population decreased. The rivers that had propelled the economy also ravaged its infrastructure. In 1869 a great flood carried away “a mile of bridges” and damaged every dam on Ball Mountain Brook. During this period Jamaica and other towns in the West River Valley bonded together in a venture that was seen as the salvation of the area’s economic woes, the West River Railroad. Originally chartered in 1867, the proposed railroad was to run from Brattleboro to Whitehall, NY. In 1877, financing provided by the valley towns moved the languishing project forward with the first segment from Brattleboro to Londonderry. Although it was never extended farther, the railroad provided valuable public transportation for the lower West River Valley until the 1930’s, by which time automobile ownership had become almost universal.


Like all Vermont towns, Jamaica has an annual Town Meeting on the first Tuesday of March each year. At Town Meeting, residents of the town deliberate, adjust, and vote on an annual budget, elect municipal officials, and vote on public questions. Jamaica is one of the few towns where all business is still conducted "from the floor" - i.e. through parliamentary procedure. Even candidates for elected office are nominated from the floor.

The five-person Board of Selectmen is responsible for the general supervision of the town, with executive and legislative responsibilities. The Town Clerk is the custodian of town records (namely land records).

External links

* [http://www.jamaicavermont.org/ Jamaica Vermont Official Town Website]
* [http://www.jamaicavt.com/ Jamaica Vermont Local Merchants]


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