Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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Thomas Williams in a letter to his wife at Old Deerfield,
dated September ii, 1755, "Were smartly paid, for they left
their garments and weapons of war for miles together, after
their brush with the Hampshire troops, like the Assyrians
in their flight."

Lieut-Col. Seth Pomeroy reported that he was the only
surviving field-officer of Col. Ephraim Williams's regiment.
He prepared "forty biers made of cross-poles" to collect
the dead upon, and sent troops for miles about the ravines
to gather the English, French, and Indian victims. Hun-
dreds of the enemy slain on the shores of the little pond
south of Lake George were thrown in the shallow waters,
which reflected the stain of a nation's blood. The lakelet
is to-day known as "Bloody Pond."

The body of Colonel Williams was found on the rocky
eminence where he met death, west of the Old Military
Road. His brother, Dr. Thomas Williams, recovered his
"French firearms, case of pistols, sword and watch," after
which he was buried beneath a large pine tree near where he
fell. His French firearms were willed to Col. John Worth-
ington — "in case the French do not get them," but his
body had not been plundered by the enemy. His watch
and sword, together with the sword of Dr. Thomas Williams,
descended to Capt. Ephraim Williams, U. S. A., and Bishop
John Williams of Connecticut, great-great-grandsons of
Dr. Thomas Williams of Old Deerfield. During the cen-
tennial of the Battle of Lake George, September 8, 1855, the
relics were presented to Williams College. ^

' Perry's Historical Collection, Clark Hall.



The Battle of Lake Georo;^e 159



The rock upon which Colonel Williams fell remained a
shrine where patriotic soldiers continued to step aside from
the Old Military Road and cast stones until long after the
close of the War of 18 12. The Alumni of Williams College





Col. Ephraint Williams's Sword and Watch recovered from Ins body dflcr

his fall in the Early Morning Scout of the Battle of Lake George, September 8,

I75S-

Another hand thy sword shall wield,

Another hand thy standard wave,

Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed

The blast of triumph o'er thy grave.

Bryant, The Battle- Field.

on September 8, 1855, erected a monument on this tradi-
tional rock.

One of the pioneer settlers on the shores of Lake George,
located Colonel Williams's grave, and, during 1837, Dr.
W. S. Williams, a grandson of Dr. Thomas Williams of
North Carolina, recovered his granduncle's skull, containing
the fatal ball of 1755. Edward Weeks Baldero Channing,
chairman of the Alumni Committee of Williams College,
later marked the site of Colonel Williams's grave with a



i6o



The Hoosac Valley



iiSP




Monument marking the Rocky Hill near where
Col. Ephraim Williams fell in the Battle of
Lake George, September 8, 1755. Monument
erected by Alumni of Williams College, September
8, 1855-



huge boulder, upon
which are chiselled
his initials, "E. W."
In 1880 David Dud-
ley Field, an alumnus
of Williams College,
engaged Arthur La-
tham Perry to pur-
chase the site of
Colonel Williams's
grave, in the name of
the President and
Trustees of Williams
College, after which
Robert R. Clark of
Williamstown e n -
closed the plot with
an iron fence.

Historian Perry
wrote that Colonel
Williams's fame will
outlast that of the
famous General,
Baron D i e s k a u ,
since, on his march to
the battle-field upon
which he fell, he
' ' turned aside to do a
conscious act of last-
ing benefit to those
then unborn," and
marched forward to
seal the contract
with his own blood.



The Battle of Lake George i6i

General Dieskau in a letter to M. de Vaudreuil of Can-

; ada, dated at the English Camp, at Lake St. Sacrament,

'' September 15, 1755, said that he attributed his defeat to the

"scurvey treachery" of the St. Frangois or Caughnawaga

I Indians of the St. Lawrence, and the St. Francis or Abnaquis

\ warriors of the St. Francis missions under the Jesuits. He set

! sail for England in the spring of 1 757, and three years later met

Diderot in Paris. He died in 1762. In Diderot's Memoires,

published in 1830, he related several conversations held with

Baron Dieskau relating to the Battle of Lake George. The

French documents also record the battles fought by Lieut. -

Colonel Dieskau under Gen. Marshall Saxe during the War

of Flanders and are published in Elysian Fields.^ Those

records also describe the military plans of Dieskau in the

"Bloody Morning Scout" at Lake George.

Hotel William Henry at Lake George, erected in 1885,
stands on the site of Fort William Henry, built during the
autumn of 1755. The present railroad, constructed in 1880,
crosses the site of Johnson's encampment.

A bronze statue of Col. Ephraim Williams, the hero of
Lake George, should be erected on the conical summit of
Mount Williams, — the northern abutment of the ramparts
of Greylock Park Reservation of Massachusetts, in memory
of the New Englander who laid down his life to found the
Anglo-American's freedom of Church and State.

Distance alone proves great men great.

' Doc. Hist., N. F., X., pp. 340-343.
II



CHAPTER VIII

FORT HOOSAC PROPRIETY AND WILLIAMSTOWN

I749-1815

. . . Away to the woodland scene.
Where wanders the stream with waters of green.
As if the bright fringe of herbs on its brink
Had given their stain to the waves they drink;
And they, whose meadows it murmurs through.
Have named the stream from its own fair hue.

Bryant, Green River.

Survey 1749 — Indian Ambuscades — French and Indian War, 1 754-1 763 —
Fort Hoosac, 1756 — Taverns — Mills — Schools — Congregational and
Baptist Churches — The Square — White Oaks — Kreigger Mills — South
Village — First Town-Meeting — Incorporation of Williamstown, 1765 —
Militia — ^Revolutionary War until the War of 18 12 — Burial-Fields.

LITTLE is known of West Hoosac propriety between its
' survey in 1749 and the completion of Fort Hoosac
near The Square on March 22, 1756. It became the frontier
settlement of Massachusetts, however, during the French
and Indian War and remained so until the incorporation of
WilliamstowTi in 1765.

The General Court on April 18, 1749, commissioned
Colonels Partridge, Dwight, and Choate and the surveyor,
Nathaniel Dwight, to "repair to the Province Lands near
Hoosuck" and survey tw^o towTis six miles square, incor-
porated to-day in WilliamstowTi, Adams, and North Adams.
The chairman. Col, Oliver Partridge, reported November
loth, that his junketing party arrived at Fort Massachusetts,
October 2^, 1749. Surveyor Dw^ight first measured the dis-
tance from the fort north to the "White Oak Tree marked

162



Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown 163

M, C. I. T.," on Hazen's Massachusetts boundary, twenty-
four miles east of Hudson River.

The northwest corner of WilHamstown was thus estab-
lished four miles west of Hazen's marked white oak tree,
about a mile east of the summit of Mount Belcher of the
Taconac Range in Moon Hollow. The western line ex-
tended southward along the Taconacs to a point west of
Mount Stratton ; thence southeasterly over the south brow of
Stratton to a point southwest of the tower on Mount Grey-
lock; thence northeasterly eight and one-fourth miles, a
few rods west of Greylock tower and Mount Fitch, obliquely
over the shoulder of Wilbur Park down through the centre

'of Blackington Mills; thence half way up Alberta's Range,
known as East Mountain, to Hazen's Line on Mount Hazen;
thence westerly to the marked white oak tree. These lines
enclosed nearly 30,000 acres of lowland and mountain
summits.

Lieut. -Governor Phipps on January 17, 1750, commis-
sioned James Minot, Col. Samuel Miller, and Capt. Samuel
Livermore to survey sixty-three house-lots in West Hoosac
village plot, not to exceed twelve acres each. Main Street
was laid out fifteen rods wide and extended from the site
of Green River Bridge westward one and a third mile over
four eminences, rising a hundred feet above Hoosac River

I to Buxton Brook. The Square, located on the third hill, is

I formed by the junction of North and South streets, six
rods wide, bisecting Main Street, The Plan forms a per-

I feet Greek Cross and the four hills of the village are encircled
by Buxton and Hemlock brooks, and Green and Hoosac
rivers. The Plan was accepted by the General Court,
April 6, 1750, and the lots advertised for sale about
Boston, Hartford, Litchfield, and Canaan centres.

Three of the best lots facing The Square were reserved
for the support of the first minister, church, and school and



164



The Hoosac Valley



the remaining sixty were sold for £6 each, drawn by chance
Each buyer was entitled to one sixty-third part of the whok
town, divided later by eight general divisions. According

Original Drawings of House-lots



Hatfield, Reuben Balding 33

Fort Mass, M'ch. Harrington 31

Unknown, Nathl. Russell 29

Unknown, George Willis 27

Unknown, Lemuel Avery 25

New London, Ct. Thos. Moffat 23

Unknown, Elizur Dickinson 21

Fort Mass, John Chamberlain 19

Hatfield, Moses Graves 17

New London, Ct. Thos. Moffat 15

Fort Mass, Ezekiel Foster 13

Hatfield, Joseph Smith 11

Fort Mass, Dr. Seth Hudson 9

Stockbridge, Josiah Williams 7

Fort Mass, Saml.Calhoon 5

Hatfield, Timo. Woodbridge 3

Stockbridge, Saml. Brown Jr. 1



Buxton Brook



Fourth Hill



Hemlock Brook
Bridge



Third Hill



34 John Moffat, Boston

32 Elisha Williams Jr. Weatherfield

30 Thomas Train, Fort Mass.

28 Isaac Wyman, Fort Mass.

26 Josiah Dean, Canaan, Ct.

24 Wm. Chidester, Fort Mass.

22 Benj.Simonds, Fort Mass.

20 Aeneas Mackey, Unknown

18 Joel Dickenson, Hatfield

16 Josiah Williams, Stockbridge

14 Abner Roberts, Fort Mass

12 Saml. Wells. Hatfield

10 Ephm. Williams Jr. Fort Mass.

8 Ephm. Williams Jr. Fort Mass.

6 Wm. Chidester, Fort Mass.

4 Oliver Partridge, Hatfield

2 Isaac Wyman, Fort Mass.



Slone Hill



South Street
6 rods
wide



THE SQUARE



North Street
6 rods
wide



Johnson Hill



School
Fort Mass, Saml. Calhoon
Stockbridge, Saml. Brown
Fort Mass, Elisha Chapin
Unknown, Elijah Brown
Hatfield, Obadiah Dickinson
Northampton, Joseph Hawley
Coleraine, Dainel Hawes
Hatfield, Elisha Allis
North Reading, Ebenr. Graves
Charlemont, Olivur Avery



Green River



Coleraine



35
37
39
41
43
45
47
49
51
53
55
57>^



Second Hill



First Hill



Main Street

15 rods

wide



Green River
Bridge



36 Minsters

38 Ministry

40 Elisha Hawley, Northampton

42 John Bush, Fort Mass.

44 Josiah Dean, Canaan, Ct.

46 John Moffat, Boston

48 Moses Graves, Hatfield

50 Samuel Taylor, Charlemont

52 Saml. Smith, Coleraine

54 Saml. Brown, Stockbridge

56 Ebenr. Graves, North Reading

58 Saml- Brown. Stockbridge

59 John Crawford, Worcester

60 Aaron Denio, Coleraine

61 Obadiah Dickinson, Hatfield

62 Aeneas Mackey, Unknown

63 Danl. Donnillson, Coleraine ^^-p-..



to the regulations, each proprietor was required to build a
dwelling eighteen by fifteen feet with seven foot stud; clear,
plough, and sow five acres of his house-lot with English
grass or com within two years after purchase. He further
agreed to aid in building a meeting-house and in locating a
learned orthodox preacher on the minister's lot within five
years, and gave his bond for £50 to the Province treasurer
for the fulfilment of his duty.



r> a o o





4



V



*t







1 !



\\ ',



/ )






i65



i66 The Hoosac Valley

Owing to the Indian ambuscades and the approach of the
French and Indian War, lots sold slowly. At the opening
of 1 75 1, however, the General Court granted Capt. Ephraini
Williams, Jr., a farm in East Hoosac about Fort Massachu-
setts. He built a saw-mill and grist-mill on the site of North
Adams for the service of English Hoosac settlers, and in order
to encourage buyers, drew lots eight and ten in West Hoosac.
Thirteen of his garrison soldiers also drew one lot each,
and Col. Israel Williams of Hatfield induced eleven of his
neighbors, including Rev. Timothy Woodbridge and Col.
Oliver Partridge, to draw one lot each, and the sale of sixty
house-lots to forty-six buyers closed in September, 1752.

Meanwhile Capt. Ephraim Williams, Jr., resigned the com-
mand of Fort Massachusetts and sold his Fort Farm and
mills to Capt. Elisha Chapin and Moses Graves. Six of
the thirteen original settlers of West Hoosac included Lieut.
Isaac Wyman of Fort Massachusetts, Dr. Seth Hudson,
Gent., Benjamin Simonds, Thomas Train, Ezekiel Foster,
and Ebenezer Graves who built their regulation houses be-
tween September, 1752 and September, 1753. Seven others,
including Elisha Higgins, Silas Pratt, Allan and Elihu Cur-
tiss, Gideon Warren, Darius Mead, and Tyras Pratt, mean-
while cleared their lots, before September 10, 1753. On that
date Governor Shirley directed Col. William Williams, Jus-
tice of the Peace of Pittsfield, to order Lieutenant Wyman
of Fort Massachusetts to "Notifye and warne" the first
meeting of West Hoosac proprietors to meet at Dr. Seth Hud-
son's house, Wednesday forenoon, December 5, 1753. Capt.
Allan Curtiss was chosen moderator; Isaac Wyman, clerk
and treasurer; Jonathan Meacham, Samuel Taylor, and
Josiah Dean, surveyors of highways and the first division
of fifty-acre meadow lots. Samuel Taylor later owned the
mill-lot at Taylor's Crotch, near the junction of Hopper
Brook with Green River, The historic Hudson house in



Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown 167

which the first proprietors of West Hoosac met, still stands
half a mile below its original site on the west bank of Hem-
lock Brook in Charityville. Dr. Hudson founded Pownal
propriety in 1760 and practised veterinary surgery. He
died in a house on the site of the John M. Cole Mansion
in Williamstown.

The second meeting of the proprietors was held at Capt.
Allan Curtiss's house, Thursday forenoon, April 18, 1754.
Captain Curtiss was chosen moderator ; David King, surveyor
and path-master of the meadow lots and roads of first divi-
sion. Oliver Avery and John Crawford were appointed
to clear a burial-field of half an acre located on the northeast
corner of lot two on Johnson Hill, near the site of Jerome's
Mansion. Several of the original Massachusetts buyers
of house-lots sold their rights to Connecticut men upon the
approach of hostilities. A third meeting of the proprietors
took place at Captain Curtiss's house, May 15, 1754, at
which the fifty-acre meadow lots were drawn, and Captain
Curtiss was appointed to clear North Street a rod wide from
The Square over Johnson Hill to Hampshire Line. This
was the last meeting until after the Fall of Quebec.

Two weeks after the third meeting of the West Hoosac
proprietors, the French and Indian War was formally
announced on May 28th by a party of French and Indians
marching through Dutch Hooesac. A party of St. Francis
warriors followed up the Green River trail to surprise the
Stockbridge settlers. Two Fort Massachusetts scouts
spied the Indians as far as Lanesboro. While in the act of
tying their moccasins near a spring, two chieftains were slain
by the scouts. A party of English and Dutch set out later
and found the sachems buried in full war costume, and re-
covered their valuable scalps.

Dutch Hooesac and the Kreigger hamlets between Peters-
burgh Junction and Pownal went up in flames. The six



1 68 The Hoosac Valley

dwellings of the English at West Hoosac and the mounted
cannon of Fort Massachusetts were not molested. On August
28, 1754, the final massacre of Dutch Hooesac took place
and every vestige of settlement was burned.

Ephraim Williams was re-appointed commander of the
Massachusetts border forts on September i, 1754, and Capt.
Elisha Chapin and Moses Graves abandoned the Fort Farm
and mills and settled on their West Hoosac house-lots.
Lieut. Isaac Wyman remained in command of Fort Massa-
chusetts until Col. Ephraim Williams's death, when he was
appointed captain until the fort was abandoned in November,
1761.

Eleven of the Connecticut proprietors of West Hoosac
petitioned the General Court, October 17, 1754, to build them
a stockade fort as a refuge during the perils of the French
and Indian War. Col. Israel Williams directed them,
however, to move their families to Fort Massachusetts until
the close of the campaign of 1755, although they continued
to clear their land in West Hoosac. On January 18, 1756,
William Chidester informed Lieut. -Governor Phipps that
his and five other Connecticut families were the only settlers
between Fort Massachusetts and Fort Schaghticoke. He
made it evident that they were in danger of being murdered
by the French and Indians. Benjamin Simonds, Dr. Seth
Hudson, Gent., Jabez Warren, Nehemiah wSmedley, Josiah
and William Horsford aided Chidester, and the fort was
completed, March 22, 1756, twenty-eight rods west of the
east line of the Kappa Alpha Society House, on lot six,
adjoining lot four, upon which Proctor's Mansion now stands.
Ten soldiers were placed in command under Sergt. Samuel
Taylor, until succeeded in April by Sergeant Chidester.

The fifteen Massachusetts proprietors of West Hoosac,
headed by Thomas Train, who had been presented with Col.
Oliver Partridge's lot four, petitioned Lieut. -Governor



i^ort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown 169

Phipps, May 2'], 1756, to build a commodious blockhouse
eighty feet square on The Square. They agreed to donate
£35 toward its construction, and suggested that it be named
Fort Phipps. '

Meanwhile part of the walls of Fort Massachusetts
tumbled down. Although repaired by Captain Wyman, it
was expected that the blockhouse would have to be rebuilt
from its foundation, or that a commodious fort would be
constructed in West Hoosac. Sergeant Chidester and his
Connecticut neighbors of West Hoosac also petitioned the
General Court to build the new blockhouse on The Square,

Col. Israel Williams and Capt. Isaac Wyman, however,
fought against the proposed fort at West Hoosac. The
latter refused to part with any of his cannon, although he
had no use for them in the unsettled portion of Hoosac Pass.
As a result, thirty of the forty soldiers of Enghsh Hoosac
remained at Fort Massachusetts as did all the artillery,
including three 4-pounder cannon, one field-piece, two swivel
guns, and two cohom mortars.

During the summer, Indians constantly lurked about
Fort Hoosac, knowing the garrison was ill equipped with
guns. On June 7th, the scouts — Benjamin King and Wil-
liam Meacham — were killed a mile west of Fort Massachu-
setts, near the John Perry cornfield. General Winslow on
June 15th sent Major Thaxter and one hundred and sixty
men to patrol the trail from Fort Half-Moon to Fort Massa-
chusetts. On June 26th, Lieutenant Grout and fourteen
scouts, while near Cohoha cornfield, opposite Kreigger Rocks,
in Pownal, were attacked by a party of two hundred French
and Indians; eight were slain and five made prisoners- — only
one Schaghticoke scout escaping to carry the news to Fort
Massachusetts. Captain Wyman sent Ensign Barnard and
two scouts to bury the dead, June 27th. They, however,

' Perry, Origins in Williamstown, p. 408.



170 The Hoosac Valley

located an ambuscade of warriors by the crackling of sticks
and were forced to depart. Later, on July 5th, Captain
Butterfield and one hundred and forty men from Fort Half-
Moon buried the dead.

Fort Hoosac was attacked, July nth, by about one hun-
dred French and Indians who crept up Hemlock Brook.
They lay in ambuscade until Sergeant Chidester and his
son, James, in company with Capt. Elisha Chapin, started
out, armed with their guns, to milk their cows. Both the
Chidesters were slain, and Captain Chapin was mortally
wounded and later scalped. During the twilight the savages
surrounded Fort Hoosac, but were repulsed. They then
sought the pastures and slaughtered the settlers' cows and
oxen. Captain Wyman on July 13th sent Ensign Barnard
and thirteen soldiers over to West Hoosac to bury the dead
in Johnson Hill cemetery. Dr. Seth Hudson, Gent., became
Commander of Fort Hoosac and twenty-one of the pro-
prietors on January 11, 1757, revolted against Captain
Wyman's niggardly methods of doling out supplies.

Lieut. -Governor Phipps in May, 1757, commissioned Rev.
Timothy Woodbridge, Samuel Livermore, and Moses Marcy
to visit West Hoosac and hear the complaints of the pro-
prietors. They reported in June that Fort Massachusetts
was from the first poorly located for frontier defence and not
worth repairing. Captain Wyman, after a trial, was par-
doned for his conduct toward Sergeant Chidester, Captain
Chapin, and Dr. Seth Hudson.

The first proprietors' meeting after the Fall of Quebec took
place at Fort Hoosac, September 17, 1760. William Hors-
ford was chosen clerk and Capt. Isaac Wyman resigned. The
latter sold his house and lot opposite the site of Hotel Grey-
lock to Benjamin Kellogg for £140 and at once removed
from Fort Massachusetts to Keene, N. H. Four proprietor
meetings were held at Fort Hoosac, however, before it was



Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstovvn 171

abandoned in September 1761. The first children born
in West Hoosac were: Rachel Simonds on April 8, 1753;
Elias Taylor, son of Sergt. Samuel Taylor, on June 27,
1756; and William Pratt, son of Silas Pratt, in January,
1760.

Berkshire County was incorporated in 1761 and in March,
1762, the West Hoosac proprietors met at Josiah Horsford's
house, and it was voted to repair South Street, leading from
The Square over Stone Hill to New Framingham, now Lanes-
boro. The latter town was first known as Richfield and was
settled by men from Framingham, England, in 1742. In
1765, Gov. Francis Bernard, incorporated the town, Lanes-
boro, in honor of the wife of the Earl of Lanesboro. Tory
Collins, of the Episcopal Church, was the first minister
of the town. Later several Baptists and Quakers settled in
both Lanesboro and New Ashford.

Most of the West Hoosac settlers hailed from Colchester,
Litchfield, Canaan, New Milford, New Haven, and Hart-
ford, Conn. Four districts of out-lots were thrown open
to settlers in 1760. Benjamin Simonds ran the first inn
west of The Square, and Stephen Horsford later built the
Red Tavern and store east of The Square. Isaac Stratton
opened the first inn in South Village and this was owned
later by the blacksmith, Samuel Sloan. Benjamin Simonds
about 1765 built River Bend Tavern a mile north of The
Square in White Oaks, known to-day as the Charles Prindle
Place.

The pine and white oak lots, drawn in the fifth and sixth
divisions of the township, lay north of Hoosac River.
Eight pine lots were located in the north angle formed by
Broad Brook and the Hoosac. The white oak lay in the
northeast comer of the town on Oak Hill at the base of
Mount Hazen.

The first grist-mill and saw-mill were built in 1761 by



172



The Hoosac Valley



Titus Harrison from Litchfield on the Gideon Warren and
Samuel Payne mill-lot on the lower falls of Green River.
The gangway was located on *'Pork Lane," known as
Bingham Street to-day.

During July, 1763, John Smedley was granted privilege




The River Bend Tavern built by Benjamin Simonds on north bank of Hoosac
River in White Oaks neighborhood about 1765. Simonds's Tavern occupied
the site of the Hoosacs' and Mohawks' favorite River Bend camp along the an-
cient war-trail leadiiig through a pine grove in the region, between i6og and

1765-

to "Set Up a saw-mill" at the junction of Broad Brook
with the Hoosac, about half a mile north of River Bend
Tavern, near the highway. Smedley purchased pine
lots seven and eight, and parts of five mixed pine and
oak lots. The cellar hole and remnants of the orchard
may still be seen west of the Boston and Maine Railroad
tracks — the point where the Hoosac bends northeast to
the highway.
The third mill-lot at "Taylor's Crotch" was owned by



Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown 173

Sergt. Samuel Taylor near the junction of Hopper Brook
with Green River, two miles south of Harrison's Mills.
After Sergeant Taylor moved from the valley, Asa Douglass
of Hancock, the father-in-law of Samuel Sloan, purchased
an interest in his mill-lot. On October 15, 1767, the pro-
prietors voted to grant William, John, and Peter Kreigger of
Kreigger Rock Mill in Pownal, liberty to "Sett up" a corn-
mill and saw-mill at "Taylor's Crotch" before August ist
of the following year.

The first log schoolhouse was built on the site of Hotel
Greylock, facing The Square, in 1763, and it was also used
as a meeting-house and town hall until the First Congrega-



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