Chauncey Edwin Peck.

The history of Wilbraham, Massachusetts; online

. (page 1 of 34)
Online LibraryChauncey Edwin PeckThe history of Wilbraham, Massachusetts; → online text (page 1 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook













History of Wilbraham


Prepared in Connection with the
Celebration of the

One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary

oj the
Incorporation of the Town

JUNE 15, 1913



9 7S-






i The fact that the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
' incorporation of Wilbraham was approaching, was brought to

th attention of the town at the annual meeting held in 1911,

b^ che following article in the warrant:

.'•i.rt. 17. "To see if the town will take any action in regard
to the celebration of its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary
' ; 1913." Under this article the following votes were passed.

"Voted that the town celebrate the One Hundred and
L iftieth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town."

"Voted that a committee of five be chosen to make all
arrangements for the celebration, with power to act, and that
they report at the next annual meeting the result of the progress

The following committee was chosen:

Chauncey E. Peck, chairman
Charles C. Beebe, Ethelbert Bliss,

Benj. F. Greene, Miss Evanore O. Beebe.

At a meeting of the Historical Committee, held soon after-
wards, Chauncey E. Peck was chosen historian, and Miss
Evanore O. Beebe secretary. At the annual town meeting in
1912, a report of the progress made was given by the chairman,
and the town voted to instruct the committee to publish an
illustrated history of the town.

Many meetings were held by the Historical Committee, and
many sub-committees were appointed to arrange different
details of the program for the celebration. All of which were
carried out in a manner creditable to those who had arranged
them, as will appear from reading the newspaper accounts of
the celebration.

The actual day of the signing of the Act of Incorporation was
on Jane 15th, but as that day came on Sunday in 1913, it was
decided to begin the three days' celebration on Tuesday, June
17th. The first day's exercises, including the Historical
Address, to be held at the centre village, the second day at

iv Preface

North Wilbraham, to include the dedication of the Public
Library, and the third day at Glendale, with the unveiling of
the Soldiers' Boulder there. All of the exercises were largely
attended and were a complete success in every way The
spacious audience room in the M. E. Church was well filled on
June 17th, and the exercises occupied a little more than two
hours, including singing by the school children of three selec-
tions, among which was "The Elegy of the Mountains," begin-

"On Springfield mountains there did dwell
A likely youth who was knowne full well."

This was "lined off" according to the old style, by Harold
BoUes, and sung to the tune of "Old Hundred."

The Vital Records of Wilbraham — Births, Marriages and
Deaths — will soon be printed in a separate volume, and so,
none of the genealogies of families are included here.

I have just learned that there is a tin box in the town safe,
sealed up and marked, "Not to be opened until June 15th,
1963." I mention it here, so that the future historian may
know of its existence.

In the preparation of this historical account of the different
events which have happened here, and of the work wrought by
our ancestors in the days long past, as well as that which has
been accomplished in recent years, I have endeavored to relate
the incidents in the order in which they occurred. And, so far
as practicable, to complete each account before beginning
another. The great amount of time consumed in looking up
facts contained in the records of the town, the parishes and the
churches, as well as records outside of the town, will account
for the time which has passed since the address was delivered.

Only about one-tenth of the "History," as here printed, was
delivered in the address.

I place my more than two years' work in your hands, trusting
it may meet with your approbation.


Wilbraham, October 1, 1914.


Pages 1 to 24

Introduction. Emigration from England. Journey to Con-
necticut River. Deed of Part of Outward Commons, Allotment
of, Measuring Width of. Roger Newbury's Surv^ey. Indians.
Pages 24 to 44

First Settlers in Wilbraham. "Clark" Warner Record.
First Deaths and Burials. School in Outward Commons.
Peggy's Dipping Hole. The Way to Zion by Way of Springfield.
Population of, 1741. First Precinct Meeting. Deed of Over-
plus Land to Minister, Fixing His Salary, Ordination of.
Pages 46 to 67

First Page of Minister's Record. Location of Meetinghouse.
Building Minister's House. The Parson's Rose. Materials
for Meetinghouse, First Use of, First Baptism in. First Action
to be Set Off as a Town. Meetinghouse Lane.
Pages 68 to 77

Seating of Meetinghouse Recorded 1760. Ministry and
School Lots. Trouble in the Church, 1754. First Schoolhouse.
"Master" Ezra Barker. Road Laid from Goose Pond to
Outward Commons. "World's End Brook." Kilborn's
Bridge. Ensign Abel Bliss, House of, Indian Boy at.
Pages 78 to 100

First Settlers in South Part. Lieut. Thomas Merrick.
Timothy Mirrick, Bitten by Rattlesnake, Ode on, House of,
Epitaph, Place of Burial. Soldiers in French War. Journal
of "Clark" Samuel Warner. Second and Third Attempts to
be Set Off as a Town. Act of Incorporation. Origin of Name.
"Wil-bra-ham, not A-bra-ham." Population of. School

Pages 101 to 116

Singing in Church. Mr. Merrick's Salary, His Health Fail-
ing, Death of, His Accoimt Book, Ancestry of. Mrs. Abigail
Merrick. No Settled Minister in North Parish For Eleven
Years. Preaching in the South Part Refused. South Parish
Set Off. Will of Dea. Nathaniel Warriner. Valuation of
Wilbraham in 1771.

Pages 117 to 142

The Revolutionary War, Cause of. Appeal from Merchants
of Boston. Non-consumption Report. Tories in Town.
"Minute Men." Lexington Alarm. Depreciated Money.
Council Refuses to Ordain Samuel Ely as a Minister. The

vi Table of Contents

Shays' Rebellion. Anecdote about Deacon Warriner House.
Journal of Dr. Samuel F. Merrick. Soldiers in Revolutionary

Pages 142 to 160

The Green, Petition to Set Off. Library. The Old Hoe — an
Epigram. Copy From Papers of John Bliss, Esq. First
Church History from 1794. Moving Meetinghouse to Present
Location. Meeting of Parish Called to Meet in Methodist
Meetinghouse. Sermon of Rev. Joseph Lathrop, D.D. Church
Bell Purchased. Fencing Burying Yards.
Pages 160 to 182

"Minister Money." Record from Supreme Court. Parish
Loan. Seating of the Meetinghouse, Twenty-seven Children
Baptised at One Service. Nine Mile Pond Tragedy, Odes on.
Epitaphs of Those Drowned. Lease of Pond by The Town.
Bungalows Erected.

Pages 182 to 200

The Marcus Lyon Murder, Account Published in Massa-
chusetts Spy of Worcester, Execution of Murderers. First
Methodist Society, Charles Brewer, Lease of Land, One Pepper
Corn. Bishop Asbury. New England Methodist Conference,
Petition for Incorporation, Objections to. Camp Meeting,
First Legal Meeting of Society, Bequest of Moses K. Bartlett,
Sale of the Old House, Slips Owned by Individuals, One of
Them Attached to Pay a Debt. Poem on Old Church.
Pages 201 to 212

Baptist Church at Colton Hollow, Gathering of. Council to
Establish, Hear a Complaint, Church Covenant Signed by.
Ministers Who Belong to or Attend the Masonic Lodge.
Complaint of Oliver Bliss Against Bro. Asa Beebe. Other
Complaints. Move to South Wilbraham. Petitions for
Incorporation of Other Societies.

Pages 212 to 232

Militia, Training Day. Railroads, First Railroad Station,
Moved to Oak Street. First Station at North Wilbraham.
Wilbraham Aqueduct Company. Wilbraham Academy,
Catalogue for 1836, Location of. Town Loan and Surplus

Pages 233 to 260

Millerite Excitement. Doctor Bottom Sees Woman up in
Tree. Sermon Preached on "The False Alarm." The Civil
War. Troubles in Kansas, Wilbraham Man There, Men
Furnished, Money For, Return of the Standards, Personal

Table of Contents vii

Experiences in, Men in, Men Drafted. Soldiers' Monument,
Donor of. Crane Park.

Pages 261 to 276

The Great Washout on B. & A. R. R. in 1869. Business of
the Town in 1837. Woolen Mill at South Wilbraham, on
Eleven Mile Brook. The Collins Mfg. Co. The Cutler Co.
Ludlow Mfg. Co. Tobacco. Cheese Factories. Sheep.
Peach Industry. Increase in Valuation of Town in Thirty
Years. Items from Massachusetts Register 1814. Items from
''Clark" Warner record. Almanac for 1748.
Pages 277 to 284

First Baptist Church, Society Constituted, Ordination of
Rev. Seth Clark, Society "Lost its Visibility," Meetinghouse
Burned, Location of. The Glendale Methodist Episcopal
Church, Methodist Class Formed, Origin of Name, Meeting-
house Erected, Incorporation. Grace Union Church at North
Wilbraham, Meetings in Liberty Hall, Society Incorporated.
The Christian Union Church. Church of Saint Cecilia.
Pages 285 to 308

The Public Schools, Appropriations From Springfield, First
Schoolhouse, Teachers Boarding Around, Private, Districts,
Drawing, Singing, Flags, Table of Expenses, Graduating
Exercises 1912. List of Representatives. Town Clerks.
Physicians. Division of the Town. Memorial Town Hall.
Electric Railway. Telephone. California Adventurers. Cap-
tain Kidd's Gold. Good Templars. Free Masons. Grange.
Farmers Club. Literary Society. Dell Cemetery.
Pages 309 to 340

Slavery. Warner Record. Fragments. Warner Papers,
His "Dream." Toll Gate. Wilbraham Turnpike. Strange
Accident. Disposal of Poor. Kibbe's Shirt. Presbyterian
Saddle. Scenery of Wilbraham. Celebration, Newspaper
Accounts of. The Parade, Dinner, Speeches of Guests, Singing,

Pages 341 to 360

Close. of Address. Loan Exhibit. Second Day of Celebra-
tion, Dedication of Library, Cantata, Address of Librarian
Wilcox, Prof. J. T. Bowne, Rev. Dr. W. R. Newhall, Loan
Exhibit. Third Day of Celebration, Boulder Unveiled, Wm. R.
Sessions, Dr. Marshall Calkins, Speakers, Anti-Slavery Demon-
stration, Exhibition of Antiques. Farms and Homes of Wil-


Town Crier,

Anniversary Committee,

Old Boundary Stone,

Soapstone Boulder, .

Indian Fireplace,

First Page of "Clark" Warner Record,

First Page of Minister's Record, .

House of Isaac Brewer, .

View From the Mountain,

Schoolhouse of the Old Time,

Old Merrick House,

Present Merrick House, .

Powder Horn,

Schoolhouse on "The Green,"

Levi Bliss House, ....

Congregational Churches, Burned,

First Methodist Meeting House, .

Brewer Inn Sign,

Four Collins Family Portraits,

First Station at North Wilbraham,

Academy Rich Hall and Headmaster's House,

View Across the Campus from Gymnasium,

Bridge over Chicopee River, .

Spencer Carbine and Sabre Hilt, . • .

Soldiers' Monument, ....

Foskit Home,

Train Passing over Trestle after Washout,
Cutler Company Mill, ....

Peach Orchard,

Clover Mowing and Barn,
Glendale Church and Cemetery, .
Grace Union Church, ....
Christian Union Church,
Church of Saint Cecilia,
School Children, in Costume,

Grange Hall,

Stage Receipt,

View from Mountain, Westerly, .
View from Mountain, Northwesterly, .
One of the Floats,






List of Illustrations


One of the Floats, .

One of the Floats, .

Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church

Cutler Public Library, .

Henry Cutler, Portrait, .

Unveiling Boulder, .

Soldiers' Boulder at Glendale,

Dr. Marshall Calkins,

Anti-slavery Demonstration,

Maplehurst, ....

Maplehurst, Interior,

Maplehurst, Interior,

Selectmen of Wilbraham,

Congregational Church, .

Rev. Martin S. and Mrs. Howard

The Merrick Elm, .

Home of Clarence M. Ripley,

The "Mile Tree," .

Home of Ethelbert Bliss,

View of Main Street,

Ira G. Potter, ....

Home of Chauncey E. Peck,

Home of Fred W. Green,

The Nelson Mowry Homestead,

Home of William G. Rogers,

Robert R. Wright, .

Mr. and Mrs. Nathan C. Rice,

Mrs. Nancy (Bliss) Rice,

Home of Mrs. Sarah (Bliss) Gillet,

Old Homestead of Rev. Joseph A. Merrill,

Rev. Nathaniel J. Merrill,

Home of Annis Merrill, .

Schoolhouse, District No. 8, .

Embryo Pine Forest,

Homestead of Francis E. Clark,

Schoolhouse, District No. 1, .

Schoolhouse, District No. 2, "The Pines

The First Bungalow in Wilbraham,

Schoolhouse, District No. 5, .

A Rare Scene, ....

Home of Mrs. Leola B. Edson,

Schoolhouse, District No. 7, .

Home of Allyn M. Seaver,


List of Illustrations


View Showing One of the Industries in which Mr. Seaver

is interested, 415

Home of H. H. Graves, 417

"Brookmont," 418

"The Century Homestead," 420

The Rindge Oak, 421

Rev. Charies H. Gates, 422

Wilbraham Woolen Company's Mill, 424

Homestead of Levi Ruggles Bliss, . . . . • . 426

Auto Inn, 427

Home of Ernest L. Thompson, 430

Home of Mrs. Lizzie (Collins) Warren, . . .431

Present Railroad Station at North Wilbraham, . 431

Store of Nelson I. Bradway, 432

ColHns Inn, 433

Home of Frank A. Fuller, 434

The Baldwin Maple, . . . • 435

Erasmus B. Gates, 437

Home of Mrs. Harriet (Kent) Gates, • 437

The Colonel Butler Homestead, 439

Jason Butler, ' . 440

Home of James S. Morgan, 441

Schoolhouse, District No. 6, 442

Schoolhouse, District No. 4, 447

Home of Luther L. Farr, 451

Birthplace of Dr. Marshall Calkins and Dr. David Calkins, 452

Home of Randolph Beebe, 454

Portrait, Town Clerk, 458

Newbury Compass, 459

Memorial Town Hall, As Planned, 460

List of Illustrations


View Showing One of the Industries in which Mr. Seaver

is interested, 415

Home of H. H. Graves, 417

''Brookmont," 418

''The Century Homestead," 420

The Rindge Oak, 421

Rev. Charles H. Gates, 422

Wilbraham Woolen Company's Mill, 424

Homestead of Levi Ruggles I31iss, . . . . . 426

Auto Inn, 427

Home of Ernest L. Thompson, 430

Home of Mrs. Lizzie (Collins) Warren, .... 431
Present Railroad Station at North Wilbraham, . .431

Store of Nelson I. Brad way, 432

Collins Inn, 433

Home of Frank A. Fuller, 434

The Baldwin Maple, . . . • 435

Erasmus B. Gates, 437

Home of Mrs. Harriet (Kent) Gates, • 437

The Colonel Butler Homestead, 439

Jason Butler, ' . 440

Home of James S. Morgan, 441

Schoolhouse, District No. 6, 442

Schoolhouse, Di-strict No. 4, 447

Home of Luther L. Farr, 451

Birthplace of Dr. Marshall Calkins and Dr. David Calkins, 452

Home of Randolph Beebe, 454

Portrait, Town Clerk, 458

Newbury Compass, 459

Memorial Town Hall, As Planned, 460





"Town Crier, " Anson Soule, 6 ft. 3 ins. tall;
weight, 240 pounds; age, 83 years.

Charles C. Beebe. Benjamin F. Greene.



Mr. President,

Sons and Daughters, Dear Mother Springfield,
Good Daughter Hampden, Friends and Neighbors of


"What is there to be seen
On the Wilbraham hills of green,
And what do you hear, and is it in your way?
I hear my mother call.
To her children one and all.
And I see the children coming through all this
summer day."^

We have gathered on this anniversary occasion to recall the
distant days of our ancestors. To re-tell the story of their
struggles and their triumphs, and to gain such inspiration as
we can, to carry on the work which they commenced here, and
have now left for us to do. In a general way, to make ourselves
better, to make Wilbraham better, and so, help to make the
world better.

It is an interesting subject we have to consider, and the
fascination of it grows upon one, the longer we study it.

I shall try to tell the story, so far as I can, in the order in
which the events happened, and shall quote from the address
of Dr. Samuel F. Merrick, delivered here in the old First
Church on "Election Day," May, 1831, and from the Stebbins
History of 1863.

When we try to realize the great length of time which some
portions of the world have been occupied by civilized people,
we are astonished at the progress which has been made in this
New World, in less than three hundred years. In the year 1630,
seventeen ships sailed from England's shore, bringing 1600
passengers, to this, then almost unbroken wilderness.

Those sixteen hundred people were not the first, but they
were among the best that ever came. "Among them, John

1 From poem by Mrs. Jennie Tupper Dowe.

2 The History of Wilbraham

Winthrop and his friend, William Pynchon, bringing the
Charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, both patentees,
Winthrop governor, Pynchon assistant. They reinforce the
company already there and rapidly increasing; bold, hardy,
resolute men; brave, gentle, patient women. They settle in
Roxbury, Newton, Dorchester, Watertown." Pynchon had
lived in Roxbury scarce a year, when three Indian Sachems
came from the valley of the fair Connecticut River. They
bring rich furs of beaver, otter, fox, wolf, and mink. They tell
of their great river, fertile meadows, the salmon, bass, shad and
sturgeon. John Cable and John Woodcock go to explore.
They bring back a good report. William Pynchon himself
explores. The western fever grows, and while the people of the
Bay protest, the boldest spirits, most enterprising, the very
elect, prepare to go. — The Roxbury people will follow Pynchon
to Agawam. There is romance in those paths. The leave-
takings with old neighbors, the Indian trail through dim old
woods and boggy meadows, the river fords, the ringing axes,
the camp fires under lofty pines or by some gurgling brook, the
feebler women borne on litters, the little children lulled to sleep
upon their hemlock beds by the soughing of the wind among the
tree tops, frightened by the screeching owls, the howling wolves,
or the painted Indian. The procession of lowing cattle, the
shouting boys, the pack horses, the armed men with trusty
match-locks on their shoulders; and at morn and night the
wayfarers gather about the pastor while the psalms are read
and the prayers are said.

"And they shook the depths of the forest gloom.
With their hymns of lofty cheer."

In Dr. Samuel F. Merrick's address, delivered in Wilbraham,
May, 1831 (after about 50 words of introduction) he says, "As
the first settlement here took place but about twenty years
before the speaker was bom, and he having conversed famil-
iarly with the first settlers, and living here almost eighty years,
he has been invited to communicate some of his recollections of
past events." Speaking of the journey from Roxbury to

The History of Wilbraham 3

Springfield, Dr. Merrick says, "They accordingly took their
march with their wives and their little ones, their flocks and
their herds, and all that they had and entered the howling
wilderness, where nothing dwelt but beasts of prey and men
more savage far than they. And after encountering innu-
merable hardships, in three weeks they arrived at their destined
place of abode, without being attacked by the savages or any
other material injury. The}^ then took up four towns to wit,
Weathersfield, Hartford, Windsor and Springfield, the latter
from Roxbury."

On the first of May, 1636, 277 years ago, William Pynchon
starts with his Roxbury neighbors by the old bay path to

Their bulkier goods have already gone by water in John
Winthrop's shallop, the Blessing of the Bay. "Learned, gifted,
wealthy, devout, every way qualified for leadership, Pynchon
becomes the father of Springfield, as he had been the father of
Roxbury." "On July 15th, 1636 a treaty of purchase was
made with the Indians, the conveyance bearing the names or
symbols of thirteen chiefs and sachems. The grantees named
were William Pynchon, Henry Smith and Jehu Burr and their
associates." About the same time the land easterly from the
Connecticut River, for a distance of about five miles, or to Five
Mile Pond, (near the present Parker Street) was purchased
from the Indians, by William Pynchon and his associates for
the inhabitants of Springfield. In, or about 1674, Elizur
Holyoke and others purchased from the Indians the land lying
easterly of the Pynchon purchase, to the mountains. The
following is a copy of the Deed.

Deed of part of the outward commons (in the original copy
the letter u is sometimes in shape like the letter v, which error
I have not followed) :

"Evidence of the relinquishment of the claim of the Indians
to the territory west of the mountains, found in the office of
Registry of Deeds of Hampden County.

"An evidence of the purchase of lands at Freshwater River,
taking in the medowes on both sides the River, as also from the

4 The History of Wilbraham

lands from the five mile pond Eastward to y^ mountains & so
northward to Chickuppe River, being purchaes fro y^ Indians
Wequaugan Wawapaw & Wequampo: by & for y^ Town of

"These presents testify that the Indian called Wequagan,
formerly called Wruthema & the Indian called Wawapaw
formerly called Norapompolom in consideration of the sume of
One Hundred & twenty fathom of Wampam to them in hand
paid, And that the Indian called Wequompo in consideration of
sixty fathom of Wampam to him in hand paid Have given
granted bargained & sold, And by these p'^sents Doe fully
clearly & absolutely give, grante bargain & sel unto Elizur
Holyoke, George Coulton Benjamin Cooley, Samuel Marsh-
field & Anthony Dorchester, for the use & behoofe of the Town
of Springfield certaine tracts of Land Upland Medowes and
Swamps hereafter mentioned & described. That is to say, the
said Wequagan & Wawapaw first acknowledging that their
Ancesto''^ Did sel unto M"" William Pynchon late of Spring-
field, for the use & behoofe of the said Town of Springfield a
good Portion or tracts of Land lying on the East side of the
River Quinecticut (& by the said River) that is to say, by the
River, along from the lower end of the (medow, called by the
Indians Massacksic & by the English called the) Long meadow
up to Chickuppe River. And in breadth Eastward for al that
Length about as far from the River Quinecticut, as the five mile
pond w'^'' lyes by the Bay path ; Concerning w'^'* Tract of Land
the said Wequaugan & Wawapaw Doe for themselves & their
Successors, for the use & behoofe of the Inhabitants of Spring-
field, forever quit al right Title Interest Claime & Demand in
& to al the said Tract of Land before described. And the Tract
of Land w"^*^ the said Wequaugan & Wawapaw Do hereby Sel
as aforesaid Lyeth partly by & adjoineth to the South end &
East side of the Tract of Land above described (w*^'' they
acknowledg was sold to the said M"" William Pynchon as afore-
said) That is to say, All the Lands w'^'^ lie w">in the bounds
hereafter mentioned. And therefore the South bounds thereof,
is the Riveret called by the Indians Asnuntuel (& by the English
Called freshwater River, or freshwater brooke) & soe from the
mouth of that Riveret vizt. from Connecticut or Quineciticut
Riv"" the bounds Runs up the said Riveret to the medows
thereupon & from thence up the said Riveret, the bounds take
in al the medows on both sides of freshwater River or brookes
that Run Into it to the upland on the Southerly side of such
medows ; & at the Place where Freshwater River or freshwater

The History of Wilbraham 5

brooke turns Northerly, the south bounds extend Eastward to
the Riveret called Sean tuck, viz^ the place by the fals, where
the path that leads to Pequit or Moheage goes over that
Riveret & fro thence the s^ River Seantucke is the General
bounds of the Lands contained in this Purchase, vizt. up to the
Place where the said River or Riveret Seantuck comes down
from the Mountaines, yet Al the medows on both sides of
Seantuck River, are likewise contained in the Purchase, And
from the Place where Seantuck River comes down from the
mountaines, the foot of the mountaines is the Easterly bounds,
up as far Northerly til it meet with the Lands purchased of the

Online LibraryChauncey Edwin PeckThe history of Wilbraham, Massachusetts; → online text (page 1 of 34)