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After the completion of the 1860 census and the election of President Abraham Lincoln, America imploded. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, instigating four bloody years of the Civil War and fundamentally altering the social history of the U.S. The estimates of deaths caused by the Civil War begin around 600,000, but some claim as many as 750,000 individuals died throughout the conflict.

With so many families looking for a new start after combat finally ended and approximately 4 million Black Americans emancipated from slavery, it was time for many Americans to look for a new home to put down roots. The obvious choice for many was to move west, where there was more land to buy, settle, and cultivate. Many traveled by covered wagon, spending months on the dusty trail. Others who could afford better accommodations took a 25-day ride by stagecoach. All of them picked new cities and towns to make their homes, spreading the U.S. population more evenly across different states and territories.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad route across the United States was completed, ushering in a new era of transportation. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, though with the loss of many lives, including those of the many Irish and Chinese immigrants hired to work 12-hour days in the hot western sun. Riding by steam engine, passengers could cross the entire country in four days, enabling waves of Americans and immigrants to quickly occupy land that would otherwise take months to settle.

The years of Civil War reconstruction, coupled with wagon, stagecoach, and railroad passengers finding new lives across the U.S., made the urban development reflected in the 1870 census incredibly interesting. Stacker compiled a list of the biggest cities in Vermont from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing Table XXV of the Ninth Census of the U.S., which was previously only available as a PDF, it’s easy to explore what the urban landscape looked like less than a decade after the end of the Civil War as America healed and grew.

The largest city in Vermont ranked #109 among all cities nationwide in 1870. Keep reading to find out more about the historic metropolitan landscape in your home state or check out the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

You may also like: Counties with highest COVID-19 infection rates in Vermont

Group of children pose with their teacher outside schoolhouse

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#12. Montpelier, Washington County

– Total population: 3,023 (#1,460 nationwide)
— Male population: 1,433
— Female population: 1,590
— Child population, ages 5-18: 738

Group of six sitting at outdoor picnic

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#11. Middlebury, Addison County

– Total population: 3,086 (#1,392 nationwide)
— Male population: 1,488
— Female population: 1,598
— Child population, ages 5-18: 766

Doctor making medical rounds in horse buggy.

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#10. Castleton, Rutland County

– Total population: 3,243 (#1,259 nationwide)
— Male population: 1,629
— Female population: 1,614
— Child population, ages 5-18: 990

Large trees shading dirt road on residential street

Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#9. Northfield, Washington County

– Total population: 3,410 (#1,133 nationwide)
— Male population: 1,668
— Female population: 1,742
— Child population, ages 5-18: 993

Farrier shoeing a horse with blacksmith and two other men standing nearby.

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#8. Brandon, Rutland County

– Total population: 3,571 (#1,025 nationwide)
— Male population: 1,733
— Female population: 1,838
— Child population, ages 5-18: 987

Men on steps of rural General Store

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#7. Colchester, Chittenden County

– Total population: 3,911 (#847 nationwide)
— Male population: 1,984
— Female population: 1,927
— Child population, ages 5-18: 1,245

Waiters and waitresses pose for a group picture

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#6. St. Johnsbury, Caledonia County

– Total population: 4,665 (#593 nationwide)
— Male population: 2,379
— Female population: 2,286
— Child population, ages 5-18: 1,126

Horse and wagon outside general store

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#5. Brattleboro, Windham County

– Total population: 4,933 (#535 nationwide)
— Male population: 2,367
— Female population: 2,566
— Child population, ages 5-18: 983

Group of young women out for a trip in a horse drawn Surrey

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#4. Bennington, Bennington County

– Total population: 5,760 (#403 nationwide)
— Male population: 2,759
— Female population: 3,001
— Child population, ages 5-18: 1,542

Man standing in door of ice cream parlor

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#3. St. Albans, Franklin County

– Total population: 7,014 (#299 nationwide)
— Male population: 3,651
— Female population: 3,363
— Child population, ages 5-18: 1,935

Woman seated in horse drawn carriage with three people standing

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#2. Rutland, Rutland County

– Total population: 9,834 (#190 nationwide)
— Male population: 4,945
— Female population: 4,889
— Child population, ages 5-18: 2,826

Group of mill workers seated for portrait

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#1. Burlington, Chittenden County

– Total population: 14,387 (#109 nationwide)
— Male population: 7,127
— Female population: 7,260
— Child population, ages 5-18: 4,776

This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

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