PLACES I’VE PLAYED: Williston Town Meeting 1786

By Bill Skiff

A whimsical and historically inaccurate look back at Town Meeting—coming soon

On Jan. 1 this year, Williston began it’s 250th year as a Vermont town.

Research done by Jim Heltz in Williston’s town records tells us “On June 7th 1773 Benning Wentworth, Governor of the province of New Hampshire, signed a charter to grant 23,040 acres of land to Samuel Wills and 64 other land proprietors. These acres comprised the Township of Williston.”

Where were Williston’s first town meetings held? You guessed it: down country. The first Town Meeting held in Williston was not until 1786.

This January, a committee of Williston residents, under the direction of Deb Beckett, began to plan events for the towns’ 250th anniversary.

A town-wide celebration will be held on Monday, March 4, prior to the scheduled Annual Town Meeting. A potluck supper, starting at 6 p.m in the Williston Central School’s cafeteria, will feature foods from old Town Meetings. Bring your family as well as an old-time dish. Check out Ginger Isham’s column for some ideas or bring your own version of scalloped potatoes or red beet hash.

At 6:30 p.m., a group of citizens will perform an old-time Town Meeting play, featuring controversial topics debated in years past—including actual dialogue from town records. Come learn whether the west boundary of Abell’s farm was by the old crooked tree or by the large red rock. Help us elect a road commissioner and see if we can get the muddy, cruddy “ruds” fixed by spring. At the top of the agenda is whether Williston should be wet or dry. Challenging times are ahead for the town. We need your help.

Vermont’s first governor, Thomas Chittenden, will also be in attendance. Bring your camera to have your picture taken with the governor—a once–in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Come and help Williston embark on it’s 250th celebration in style. Bring your spirits, your food and your family to Williston’s Town Meeting dinner theater.

Monday, March 4, 6 p.m. at Williston Central School’s Cafeteria


Bill Skiff grew up on a farm between Cambridge and Jeffersonville. After a career in education, he now lives in Williston, where he is a justice of the peace and Fourth of July frog-jumping official. In “Places I’ve Played,” he shares his experiences of growing up in Vermont. Comments are welcome at