Governor Jonas Galusha

Shaftsbury’s Prominent Patriot

The son of Jacob Galusha and Lydia Harrington, Jonas was born on February 11, 1753 in Norwich, Connecticut. His dad was a farmer and blacksmith and Jonas, along with his brothers, worked on the family farm as well as in the blacksmith shop making nails and necessary hardware. Jonas and his brothers received their education from the common schools, valued their education and later became prominent patriots.

Jonas moved to Shaftsbury, VT with his parents and siblings in the spring of 1775 just as the Revolutionary War was about to commence. Jonas and his older brother David joined The Green Mountain Boys Militia Company, became officers and fought in both the Battle of Hubbarton as well as in The Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777. Documents indicate that Jonas Galusha was present and commander of his company when Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga on October 17, 1777.

In 1778 Jonas married Mary Chittenden, daughter of Thomas Chittenden, Governor of the Independent Republic of Vermont. The couple continued to be farmers and inn-keepers even when Jonas was elected as Sherriff of Bennington County, a position he held from1781 until 1787. During that time he gained notoriety for being instrumental in preventing members of Shay’s Rebellion from making Vermont their base of operations.

In 1783, with the help of his brothers Amos, David and Jacob Jr., he built the Galusha Homestead located in Center Shaftsbury on 7A. The home was noted for the architectural design of Lavius Fillmore, the same famous architect who designed Old Bennington’s First Congregational Church. Both of these treasured landmarks are now prestigiously placed on Vermont’s Historic Registry and The National Register of Historic Places.

Jonas and Mary had nine children; five sons and four daughter. After Mary died Jonas remarried and later had another child. The Galusha Homestead has been home for over 200 years to Galusha and Harrington family descendants. In 2010, the Homestead and its farmlands were protected by covenants between the Galusha descendants and the Vermont Land Trust and is currently part of Shaftsbury’s Historical Society and Clear Brook Farms.

Jonas’ political career was an illustrious one; after being elected Sheriff he became a member of The Council of Censors in 1792. Then, for three years, 1795-1798 he was a county Assistant Judge and later a Judge for a six year term from 1800-06. Following that, he became a Vermont Supreme Court Judge for two years in 1807 and 1808. Jonas Galusha was elected 6th Governor of Vermont in 1809-1813 (War of 1812 Era) and was reelected to be the 8th Governor of Vermont from 1815-1820.

Jonas Galusha died of a stroke on October 16, 1834 at the age of 83. His obituary stated that “he served with honor to himself and State…he was honest and upright in all his actions”. He and his wives are interred at the Center Shaftsbury Cemetery.

Written by: Barbara Marino for SHS +SES - October 2016
Shaftsbury Historical Society-Jonas Galusha binder/documents/archives
Ordinary Heroes-The Story of Shaftsbury by: Ruth Levin & Tyler Resch