Vermont Museums Green Mountain Boys

Ethan Allen.

The name alone still strikes awe and reverence in the hearts of Vermonters from Bennington in the southern part of the state to Burlington in the north. Allen led the rogue band of fighters known as The Green Mountain Boys during the Revolutionary War. The men’s antics earned him the title of The Founder of Vermont.

Legends abound surrounding the accomplishments of the merry band of anarchists and their controversial leader. Many of the tales and feats credited to the militia are detailed in documents at The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum just a short drive from downtown Burlington.

Allen and his second wife, Frances Buchanan Allen lived in the Cape Cod style house during the last two years of Allen’s life from 1787 until his death in February of 1989. The museum is housed in the original Allen homestead. The Cape Cod style home sits on an outcrop overlooking the Winooski River, like it has for the last 192 years.

Here visitors can begin to appreciate the Allen and the Green Mountain Boys contribution to American history.

The area that currently encompasses what is now the state of Vermont was originally part of the New Hampshire Land Grants. Both New Hampshire and New York laid claim to the land, but some, including Allen wanted to establish a new stand alone state.

Allen and his friends gathered at the Catamount Tavern in Bennington. (A statue of a panther now stands at the site of the tavern on Monument Avenue in Old Bennington.) The men created a militia calling themselves the Green Mountain Boys.

The Vermont militia offered their services to help colonists battle the British. On orders of the Connecticut Legislature, Allen, a Connecticut native, along with Benedict Arnold and some of The Green Mountain Boys stormed and captured British forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, New York in 1775. Historians consider their victory the first American action against the British during the Revolutionary War.

Two year later in 1777, The Green Mountain Boys, minus Allen, helped procure a victory for colonial forces at the Battle of Bennington. At the time Allen was imprisoned in Canadawhere he was captured while fighting with General Philip John Schuyler’s forces.

Released as part of prisoner exchange in 1778, Allen returned to Vermont and campaigned to have Vermont declared a state. His dream was realized two years after his death in 1791 when Vermont became the 14th state.

The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum showcases the vast contribution Allen made to the history of Vermont and the early days of the fledgling United States. Visitors can tour the museum, enjoy a picnic on museum grounds and spend the day hiking the trails around the home site.

Part of the Winooski Valley Park District, the museum and grounds offer picnicking and hiking opportunities for visitors. The museum is open from May through October. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages three to six.