Peacham was chartered Dec. 31, 1763 as a part of the New Hampshire Land Grants. Many of the picturesque fields are farmed and agriculture remains a steady force. Peacham sits in the southwestern part of Caledonia County and is bordered to the north by Danville, to the east by the town of Barnet, to the south by the town of Groton, and to the west by the towns of Cabot and Marshfield, both in Washington County.
In 1774, pioneers from Newbury, Vt., staked their claim in Peacham. The French and Indian War had ended, and settlers from southern New England were establishing towns along the Connecticut River, including Newbury in 1762, followed by Barnet in 1770 and Ryegate in 1773. It didn’t take long for these hearty folks to hear tales of cheap, fertile land to the west in a territory that wouldn’t become known as Vermont for another 40 years. Around 400 pioneers set their sights on what is now Peacham. The group included Robert Carr, John Sanborn, John Skeels, Jonathan Elkins Sr. and Frye Bayley. Frye Bayley's uncle, Gen. Jacob Bayley, persuaded his nephew to carry dispatches to Montreal. The rough trail blazed by shallow axe cuts would later become the foundation for the Bayley-Hazen Road, a historic supply route during the Revolutionary War that was never completed. Portions of it are still traveled today. Frye Bayley never fulfilled his intention of permanently moving to Peacham. Elkins was the first permanent resident, moving his family there in 1775.
After the war, population rapidly increased and the town was a point of commercial importance for Native American trade. According to Esther Munroe Swift’s Vermont Place-Names: Footprints of History, there are four stories on how Peacham got its name, but the most popular one has it attributed to a character from an early 18th century English opera. A popular play of the time, The Beggar’s Opera, had a character named Polly Peachum. It is told that when the play was put on stage in the colonies during the 1760s the Royal Governor of New Hampshire (which owned Vermont’s lands at the time), Benning Wentworth, honored the memory of Fenton by naming the town after her famous stage persona.
A high ridge passes through the westerly part of town. The views of the Green Mountains and the White Mountains of New Hampshire are breathtaking from higher elevations, such as Devil’s Hill and Cow Hill. The heavily photographed landscape is dotted with streams, fields, ponds and farms. The village itself is a National Historic Village District. The largest body of water is Peacham Pond, which hosts several homes and seasonal camps. At one point, the town had four saw mills, two grist mills, a starch factory and a tannery.
Peacham is now an agricultural area and a bedroom community. After completing Peacham Elementary School, students are allowed to attend any secondary school they choose, making Peacham attractive to families wishing to send their kids to the region’s top private high schools.