Originally published in Business Digest, February 1998

Famous Vermonters, Part I

They came from Vermont ... more or less

by Craig C. Bailey

Click For Part Two

The concept was a cinch, but the execution became problematic: What defines a "famous Vermonter?" Are Vermonters that fellow Vermonters consider celebrities, the same Vermonters that people across the nation recognize? If the flatlander contingency voted Norman Rockwell the most famous Vermonter, should we, as native sons and daughters of the Green Mountain State, stand up and cry that he was actually born in that bastion of concrete and traffic jams, New York City?

For that matter, what makes a Vermonter? Is the only true Vermonter the type born on native soil? We point out that Vermont's most famous patriot, Ethan Allen, was born in the Constitution State. (That's Connecticut to you and me.) Of course we'll cut him some slack: Vermont simply didn't exist in 1738.

So while our method was subjective to say the least, here's the first part of our list of people who are often associated with the Green Mountain State. Watch for part two in our fall/winter edition. And if others occur to you in the meantime, get in touch: We're all ears.

Ethan Allen (1738-1789)
This Revolutionary War hero was born in Litchfield, Conn., on Jan. 21, 1738, and in 1769 moved to territory that would become Vermont. Organizer of the Green Mountain Boys, a volunteer militia, Allen was instrumental in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775. See also: Ann Story, Ira Allen.

Ira Allen (1751-1814)
Ethan Allen's younger brother, Ira, was born in Cornwall, Conn. He moved to Vermont in 1772, and joined the Green Mountain Boys. In 1789 he played a key role in the founding of the University of Vermont in Burlington. See also: Ethan Allen, Ann Story.

chester_arthur Chester A. Arthur (1830-1886)
Born in Fairfield on Oct. 5, 1830. Arthur served as the country's 21st president from 1881 to 1885, following the assassination of James A. Garfield on Sept. 19, 1881. See also: (John) Calvin Coolidge.

Barbara Cochran
Cochran holds the distinction of winning a gold medal in what remains the closest Olympic alpine contest in history: 2/100th of a second in 1972's slalom run at the Sapporo games. She lives outside Burlington.

ben_cohen_and_jerry_greenfield Ben Cohen (1951-)
Jerry Greenfield (1951-)
Born four days apart in Brooklyn, Cohen and Greenfield met in junior high in Merrick, Long Island. In May 1978, after graduating from a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making, they established an ice cream parlor in a former gas station in Burlington. Ben & Jerry's consolidated net sales for the quarter ended Sept. 27, 1997, was nearly $50 million. See also: Phish.

calvin_coolidge (John) Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
Born in Plymouth on July 4, 1872, Coolidge served as the country's 30th president from 1923-1929, following tenures as lieutenant governor and governor of Massachusetts. Like Chester A. Arthur, Coolidge ascended to the presidency by ways of the vice president's office: He assumed the oval office upon the death of President Warren G. Harding in 1923.

Jay Craven
A New Yorker who moved to Vermont in 1974, Craven's a Barnet-based director, producer and screenwriter whose works include "Where the Rivers Flow North" (1994) and "A Stranger in the Kingdom" (1997), both filmed in-state. His next project, "Disappearances," is in development. All three are based on novels by Vermonter Howard Frank Mosher.

Thomas Davenport (1802-1851)
Born in Williamstown, Davenport moved to Brandon and established a successful blacksmith shop in 1823. He began experimenting with magnets, and on Feb. 25, 1837, was issued the first patent for an electrical motor: It weighed less than 100 pounds and operated a printing press.

admiral_george_dewey Adm. George Dewey (1837-1917)
Born in Montpelier on Dec. 26, 1837. A commander of the U.S. Navy, Dewey secured his place in history during the Spanish-American War, when his fleet defeated Spain at Manila Bay, on May 1, 1898.

john_dewey John Dewey (1859-1952)
Born in Burlington, Dewey received degrees from the University of Vermont and Johns Hopkins University, before embarking on a career in education and philosophy. His reform efforts earned him the reputation as the father of progressive education.

Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861)
Born in Brandon on April 23, 1813. A U.S. Representive from Illinois (1843-1847), he's best known for his series of debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858. Lincoln defeated Douglas in the 1860 presidential election.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958)
Born in Lawrence, Kan., on Feb. 17, 1879, Fisher later moved to Vermont. She was a best-selling author and social activist who wrote more than 50 books and founded the Book of the Month Club. The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award was first presented in 1957.

James Fisk (1834-1872)
Born in Bennington. Fisk helped send the nation into depression by driving up the price of gold during the gold conspiracy of 1868 and 1869. The climax was the Black Friday panic on Sept. 24, 1869, when his attempt to corner the gold market was quashed by President Ulysses S. Grant.

robert_frost Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco, Calif., Frost moved to New England in 1915. He lived in Vermont and New Hampshire where he composed poetry that reflected the scenery around him. In 1961 he was the first poet to read a poem during a presidential inauguration.

stephen_huneck Stephen Huneck
Huneck has operated a gallery in Woodstock since 1993. A native of rural New England, he's an artist who specializes in sculpture, hand-carved furniture and wood cut prints, often incorporating the images of animals.

John Irving (1942- )
Born in Exeter, N.H., Irving lives in Toronto, Canada, and Dorset. Author of "The World According to Garp," "The Hotel New Hampshire," "The Cider House Rules," "A Prayer for Owen Meany," "A Son of the Circus" and others.

billy_kid Billy Kidd
Kidd grew up in Stowe, and spent nine years on the U.S. Ski Team. He was one of the first American men to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing: He took the silver in slalom in 1964's Innsbruck, Austria, games. (American Jimmie Heuga took the bronze.) Kidd, known for his trademark cowboy hat, has lived in Colorado since 1970. He's director of skiing at Steamboat Ski Area in Steamboat Springs, Colo., a TV commentator for CBS Sports, and an editor for Skiing Magazine.

rudyard_kipling (Joseph) Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Born in Bombay, India, on Dec. 30, 1865, and educated in England. In 1892 he married Vermonter Caroline Balestier in England and settled in Dummerston where he built his house, Naulakha. There he wrote "The Jungle Books," "Captain's Courageous," and a book titled "Pan in Vermont." Kipling planned to live permanently in Vermont but an ongoing feud with his brother-in-law that landed them in court forced the Kiplings to return to England after four years.

madeline_kunin Madeleine Kunin
Elected Vermont's first woman governor in 1984, Kunin served three terms before becoming President Clinton's deputy secretary of education in 1993. She became U.S. ambassador to Switzerland in August 1996. A native of Zurich, Switzerland, she emigrated to the United States with her family when she was six.

John LeClair (1969- )
Born in St. Albans on July 5, 1969, LeClair rose to hockey stardom through time spent on the ice with Bellows Free Academy and the University of Vermont, before being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens traded him in January 1995 to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he's a left wing. LeClair's the first native Vermonter to play for the NHL.

David Mamet (1947- )
Born in Chicago, Ill., on Nov. 30, 1947, Mamet attended Goddard College in Plainfield. As a playwright, screenwriter, producer, and/or director his works include "American Buffalo," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "The Untouchables" and the recent "Wag the Dog." He owns a home and 194 acres in Woodbury, and co-founded the Atlantic Theatre Company, which returns to Burlington each summer.

phish Phish (1983- )
Burlington-based eclectic rock quartet composed of Page McConnell, Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman and Mike Gordon. They placed Nectar Rorris's photo on their "A Picture of Nectar" album (1992), a thank-you for granting the band it's first bar gig above his establishment in Burlington in December 1984. The inspiration behind Ben & Jerry's Phish Food.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Though born in New York City, Rockwell's known for his portraits of small town New England life. He lived along the Battenkill River in Arlington, from 1939 to 1953, and used his neighbors as models. Rockwell's paintings graced the Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life, the Ladies' Home Journal, Look and others.

patty_sheehan Patty Sheehan (1956- )
Born on Oct. 27, 1956, Sheehan spent the first 10 years of her life in Middlebury. She joined the LPGA in July 1980, and became the 13th inductee to its Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, 1993. Sheehan is the fourth leading money winner in LPGA history with more than $5 million in official earnings. She lives in Reno, Nev., and is an editor for Golf For Women magazine.

Ken Squier
A native of Waterbury, Squier joined CBS Sports in 1972 and has been the principal announcer for the network's coverage of the Daytona 500 for nearly 20 years. He's also provided winter sports play-by-play for CBS-TV and is a founder of radio's Motor Racing Network. Squier appeared in the films "The Cannonball Run" (1981), "Stroker Ace" (1983) and "Rad" (1986). He's owner of Radio Vermont, which operates four central Vermont radio stations, and lives in Stowe.

Ann Story (1741-1817)
Born in Preston, Conn., in 1741. Story was widowed in her early 30s and moved with her five children to Salisbury in 1775. She became an ally of the Green Mountain Boys, providing shelter for that independent militia and helping win Vermont's independence. See also: Ethan Allen, Ira Allen.

fred_tuttle Fred Tuttle
Until 1995, Fred Tuttle lived a quiet life as a dairy farmer in Tunbridge. Then filmmaker John O'Brien cast the nearly 80-year-old Tuttle in "Man With a Plan," a mockumentary about a salt-of-the-earth farmer with congressional aspirations. The mantra "Spread Fred" has made Tuttle an unlikely celebrity at home and abroad, with appearances on NBC-TV's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

M. Emmet Walsh (1935- )
emmet_walshWalsh is a premier character actor who has appeared in more then 85 feature films and has more than 150 TV credits to his name. His credits include "Serpico" (1973), "Blade Runner" (1982), "Fletch" (1985), and "Raising Arizona" (1987); and he appeared as the father of the groom in last summer's "My Best Friend's Wedding." He summers in Swanton where he grew up. His father and grandfather were U.S. Customs officers on the Canadian border, and his brother serves there with U.S. Immigration. Several years ago, Walsh says, a Franklin County newspaper polled readers to rate famous Vermonters. Walsh came in second to Calvin Coolidge and just ahead of Homer St. Francis. "Now," says Walsh, "John LeClair would knock out Calvin, but Homer and I would still be in there behind him."

Go to "Famous Vermonters, Part II," published in August 1998

Edna Tenney contributed to this article.