This Week's Gravestone

Thomas Chittenden

In memory of his Excellen
Esq. who Governed the State
of Vermont from March 1778,
to the time of his death August
1797 (save one year) 1797 He was
born Jany 6th 1730.

His was a life of usefulness:
let those who read strive to
imitate his virtues

Chittenden Cemetery, Williston VT

Reading from the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Chittenden County, Vermont, for 1882-83:

Thomas Chittenden, or Gov Chittenden as he is more familiarly known, was as previously mentioned, the first to commence settlement in this town, and was also one of the first and heaviest landholders in this locality. Gov Chittenden was born in Guilford, Conn January 6, 1730 of parents in very moderate circumstances, his father being a small farmer. Young Chittenden was trained to a life of economy, and toil his only educational advantages being those afforded by the common schools of his native town. Until the age of eighteen he pursued the ordinary round of a farmer's life when he became enchanted with the idea of becoming a sailor. Accordingly he found a merchant vessel about to sail from New London to the West Indies on which he enlisted as a common sailor. But his bright visions of a daring sea rover's exploits were doomed to disappointment, for before the vessel upon which he had embarked reached its destination, it was seized by a French man of war, its cargo confiscated, and the ship destroyed. Not wishing to be burdened with the crew of the ill fated vessel, the Frenchmen put them ashore upon an uninhabited island whence, after much suffering, they were finally rescued and Chittenden reached his home wiser in the ways of the world, and thoroughly disenchanted of the idea of becoming a sailor. Soon after his return in October 1749, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Megs, a kind hearted robust young lady of congenial habits and education, one eminently fitted for the station she was destined to attain as the wife of the Governor of democratic Vermont. They soon after removed to Salisbury, a new town in northeastern Connecticut, where they resided twenty four years, Mr Chittenden soon becoming one of the leading inhabitants of the town, representing it in the assembly of the colony for several years, and holding the office of colonel of the militia. Becoming a landowner in Williston he was tempted by the pleasing and productive locality to give up his home in Salisbury and begin the life of a pioneer/ coming to this town in 1774. When driven off by the incursions of the enemy in 1776, he took up his residence in Arlington, where he remained until the close of the war, then returned to Williston.

Thomas Chittenden's gravestone is rich with symbolism. A classic Death's Head is surrounded by flora with a banner underlying that reads Memento Mori, the Latin phrase meaning 'remember (that you have) to die'.