The 23,040 acres that was to become Peru was chartered on October 13, 1761. According to historical records, it wasn’t until 1773 that William Barlow made his way from Connecticut to Bromley. He built a log house near what is now Lyon Pond, Mountainous terrain along the rugged spine of the Green Mountains, higher elevations and thin-rocky soil poorly suited to cultivation characterized the western half of the town. The earliest settlers located their log homes at somewhat lower elevations to the south and east. There was plenty of timber but no sawmill nearby. Land was cleared with little more than axes and hoes to cut timber and dig out tree stumps and boulders. For each fifty acres owned, every grantee was required to plant and cultivate five acres.
Most early inhabitants of Peru were farmer, but lumbering soon became a booming business boasted at least one sawmill. As early as 1803, sixteen townspeople united to build the first sawmill on Chadler’s Brook (now called Farnum Brook). It operated until one stormy night in 1816 when the mill and dam vanished downstream in a flood. In 1820 Samuel, Josiah and Joseph Stone built a sawmill at what is now Hapgood Pond (known as the Haynes Mill and then the Hapgood Mill) which continued to operate for nearly one hundred years. A mill was built on the Mad Tom Brook which produced railroad ties for the Western Vermont Railroad. Charcoal was also made near the notch mill, in big iron-banded brick ovens. The tumbled remains of three of these ovens can be found not far from Mad Tom Brook and others west of the Village on the north side of Route 11. Peru also was home to two or three mills, which produced chair parts and leather products.
Among the other local businessmen were carpenters, blacksmiths, hat makers, shoemakers and coffin builders. Hotels and inns provided shelter, food, and spirits to travelers on the stage road over the mountain. Bricks were produced at “Deacon Wyman’s brickyard” west of the Village which were used to build the Bromley House and many chimneys in town. Merino sheep grazed after the potash and charcoal operations created open space. Ice blocks were harvested each winter from ponds and stored in sawdust-filled icehouses to use for the upcoming summer.
In 1827, J.J. Hapgood opened a general store in the Village and it continues till today. The center of Peru was originally located near the North Road cemetery. The Congregational Church originally was on North Road across from the cemetery. In 1846 the “new” church was constructed across from the general store. The first schoolhouse was built in 1807 near the southwest corner of the Hapgood Road and Adams Road; it is marked now by an inscribed granite stone. Today the Town Center occupies what was to become the Peru School in later years. The Town of Peru continues to evolve and grow retaining the charm which made it so special.