Photographer's Note

Lake St. Catherine: A Historical Scrapbook" Complied by Iris Hopson Read Copyright: 1979

No one knows for sure how Lake St. Catherine got its name. To the early settlers the waters were simply Wells Pond or Lake Austin, also a term of uncertain origin but thought to have come from a family by that name at the North End. In Thompson's Vermont Gazetter, the lake is called St. Augustine and at least on one old map so designates it, while others, including Mitchell's Universal Atlas of 1854, give "Lake Austin". Some people think that the more familiar "Austin" is a contraction of Augustine.

In 1869, Hiland Paul, the local historian, wrote "We are of the opinion that the name St. Catherine as applied to this lake is of New York origin, as the oldest inhabitants of the town, who are over eighty years of age, do not remember of hearing it called otherwise than Lake Austin or Lake St. Austin."

In her book Vermont Place Names, Esther Swift says that in 1771 New York patented a town named St. Catherine, in nostalgic remembrance of St. Catherin's Point on the Isle of Wight, the last land seen by the British emigrants as they left England. She adds that when the Green Mountain Boys ran the Yorkers out, they kept the pleasant-sounding name for the lake.

There are other stories and legends but the accepted belief, locally, at least, is that "St. Catherine" was so called by the Jesuits, who came, perhaps before the eighteenth century, carrying on their daring missionary work with the Indians. There is one story which says that two Jesuit priests arrived at the lake on November 25, St. Catherine's Day, and for that reason bestowed her name upon the waters.

The first known written record of "St. Catherine" is on a survey map which was registered in Albany, New York, in 1767. This document grants 5000 acres of land "in the County of Albany… on the west side of a lake called St. Catherine's" to one Col. Maunsell. Of course, all such New York claims were invalidated as Vermont history developed.

Most of the inlets and points around the lake are still known by the name of the one who first settled nearby- Atwater's Bay, Hall's Bay, Cone's Point, etc. Obviously Ox Bow and Horseshoe Bays were so called because of their shape. The inlet commonly called Forest House Bay (though the term has little significance at present) was originally Bowe's Bay, for Amos Bowe, an outstanding man of the early era. He was the great grandfather of Mrs. Philip Connell who, with her husband, now owns cottage No. 7. It is interesting to note that the land surrounding this inlet, at present a popular bathing beach, was mentioned in an early Wells history as a prosperous farm

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