Situated in the easterly part of Caledonia County, Kirby’s soil is rich and well suited for agriculture. A mountainous region lies to the east, and the town is well watered with several springs and brooks among the hills that make their way to the Passumpsic and Moose Rivers. Historically, businesses in town were saw mills, quarries and even a starch factory.
The town did not settle quickly and has never held over 500 inhabitants. The first settlers began to arrive around 1792. The town charter was granted Oct. 20, 1786 and chartered in 1790 to Roswell Hopkins, known at the time as Hopkinsville. The name was altered by an act of the Legislature in 1808 to Kirby. The first settlers were Theophilus and Sophronia Grout, who located near the southern tip of the town near the Moose River in 1792. The Grout homestead, much expanded and refurbished by 2016, proudly remains today on U.S. 2. The town is known for being a farming community without a trading center or village. Originally, the town was part of Burke. The first resident of Kirby was Maj. Benjamin Whitcomb who was noted for being a hunter and trapper.
Kirby, with a population of only 425, furnished 44 soldiers to the Union in the Civil War, and three others enlisted in neighboring towns.
The origin of Kirby’s name is uncertain. It is believed the name came from a surname or possibly England. It is also believed the name may have originated from petitions that Seth and John Kirby submitted to the Vermont Legislature. In England, the name Kirby means a town that has a church. Today, the town of Kirby is home to two small ponds, Johnson and Kirby Pond, as well as Kirby Mountain which is nearly 3,000 feet in elevation.
There have been as many as five one-room schools in town, of which three are still standing.
Since 1978, Kirby has been a full K-12 parental choice town, tuitioning children to schools in adjacent towns. Since it is a “school choice” town, land values and real estate prices tend to be high, comparatively. Kirby is bordered by Lyndon to the west, Burke to the north, Victory to the east, and St. Johnsbury and Concord to the South. Burke Mountain, a ski resort, is a short drive away, and a nine-hole golf course operates off Route 2.