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Ripley, William Young


Ripley, William Young


WILLIAM YOUNG RIPLEY (1797-1875) was a civic leader during the 1800's and presided over the first large well-organized marble business in Rutland County. In 1844 he built two mills for sawing marble on Otter Creek near his home in Center Rutland.  From 1846 to 1850 he was in partnership with William F. Barnes, who provided marble for the business from his quarries in West Rutland. Ripley continued in the business until 1865 when he turned his interests over to his three sons, William, Edward and Charles. The business then became known as Ripley and Sons.

Ripley served as president of the Rutland County Bank which he helped organize in 1861.  He built the Rutland Opera House in 1868 adjacent to the bank. It burned in 1875. The Methodist Troy Conference Academy in Poultney was a long-time focus of his philanthropy and the school was, for a time, known as the Ripley Female College. [Now Green Mountain College]

William Ripley was born in Middlebury December 13, 1797, to Nathaniel Ripley and Sybil Huntington. He grew up on a farm in Weybridge and was largely self-educated.  He started in the mercantile business in Middlebury at a young age and moved on in this business to Charleston SC and New York City. By 1830, at the age of 32, he had become a wealthy man and was able to retire to Vermont. Settling first in the Farmingdale section of Middlebury, he was briefly interested in the Lake Dunmore Glass Works, but soon (1837) moved to Rutland to begin his second career.

Ripley was first married to Charlestonian Zulma Thomas who died in 1826 leaving him with a young daughter, Julia. In 1831 he married Jane Betsy Warren of Middlebury.  His children were:

Mrs. Seneca Dorr (Julia); Maj.Gen. William Y.W. Ripley; Brig. Gen. Edward F. Ripley; Charles F. Ripley; Mrs.Charles Parker (Agnes); Mrs. John J. Myers (Helen); and Mrs. C.M. Fisher (Mary).

Elaine Purdy

Rutland Historical Society


  • Edward Ripley Memorial Book.
  • Hance, Dawn D. , The History of Rutland, Vermont 1761-1861.
  • Hemenway, Abby Maria, ed. The Vermont Historical Gazetteer , Vol. 3, pp. 1099-1101.
  • Steele, Robert G., With Pen or Sword.

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