Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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tional Church was built on the site of Field's Park five years
later. Among the original homesteads still standing in the
town may be mentioned the house of the German, Jacob
Meack, the first doctor of the village, near Hemlock Brook
Bridge. Deacon Richard Strat ton, a member of the "War-
ren Baptist Society, " built the first two-story framed house,
known as the Col. William Waterman homestead, on lot
fifty-eight. Daniel Day from Litchfield built his mansion,
now converted into the Greek Letter Society House, on the
corner of Main and Southwick streets, known also as the
Dewey homestead. The five Smedley and four Horsford
brothers from Litchfield also built several mansions between
The Square and Capt. Nehemiah Smedley's Green River
homestead at foot of Main Street. Samuel Kellogg from
Canaan Centre first settled on Capt. Isaac Wyman's lot,
opposite Hotel Greylock on The Square, and later located
on the poplar tree farm, east of Captain Smedley's Green
River homestead. Samuel Kellogg was a son of Benjamin
Kellogg, a lineal descendant of Joseph Kellogg of Old
Hadley, who in 1660 concealed the English regicides.
Elisha Baker from Woodbury, Conn., a maternal uncle
of Remember Baker and Ethan Allen, settled on a farm

174 The Hoosac Valley

east of Samuel Kellogg's farm near Baker Bridge. Isaac
Stratton, son of Richard Stratton, was the first settler
in the South Village at the base of Mount Stratton, and
was followed by Daniel Burbank and the blacksmith,
Samuel Sloan,

At a proprietors' meeting held May 21, 1765, Benjamin
Simonds was appointed to get a copy of Ephraim Williams's
Will, and Samuel Kellogg to engage the first minister. The
first town-meeting was held July 15, 1765, and West Hoosac
was incorporated as Williamstown, in compliance with
Ephraim Williams's Will. ' At that time twenty-eight home-
steaders occupied village house-lots and twenty-six others
resided on out-lots. About five hundred and seventy-eight
acres of land had been cleared and the proprietors' stock
included fifty-seven yoke of oxen, eighty-three sheep, and
twenty cows. The fifty-four original founders of Williams-
town included the following names:


Nehemiah Smedley Benjamin Simonds

Mrs. David Roberts Richard Stratton

Benjamin Cowles Ephraim Seelye

Josiah Horsford Samuel Payne

Thomas Dunton Samuel Kellogg

William Horsford Asa Johnson

Elisha Higgins William Wells

Eli Cowles Samuel Smedley

John Smedley Jonathan Kilborn

Titus Harrison Daniel Stratton

Jonathan Meacham Jedidiah Smedley

Ichabod Southwick Isaac Wyman

Derick Webb Stephen Davis

Elkanah Parris Ebenezer Stratton

* Perry, Origins in Williamstown, pp. 479-483.


176 The Hoosac Valley


James Meacham Dr. Seth Hudson

John Newbre Bartholomew Woodcock

Samuel Taylor Jesse Southwick

Isaac Searle John Horsford

Samuel Clarke Joseph Ballard

Josiah Wright Samuel Sloan

Robert Mc Master Isaac Stratton

James Kellogg Moses Rich

Gideon Warren John McMaster

Joseph Tallmadge David Johnson

Nathan Wheeler Thomas Roe

Daniel Burbank Thomas Train

Elisha Baker Ebenezer Cooley

Eight months later, on March 17, 1766, it was voted to
raise £3 on each of the original sixty house-lots to aid in
building a meeting-house; and Nehemiah Smedley, Samuel
Sandford, and Richard Stratton were directed to build on
The Square the First Church of Christ. It was to be with-
out a belfry, and its dimensions w^ere to be thirty by forty
feet. The door faced east and the building was dimly lighted
by small windows. No chimney was built, and each family
took their foot stoves to keep warm during the winter ser-
vices. The main aisle led west from the door to the pulpit
and the pews faced the aisle. A more commodious church
with a steeple was built in 1798.

The first minister, the Rev. Whitman Welch, ' was a grad-
uate of Yale in the year 1762. He arrived at Williamstown
in 1765 and soon after married Deacon Gaylord's daughter,
Marvin, of New Milford, Conn. He was a short, blond man,
sociable and highly patriotic. He advocated the Armin-
ian System taught by Rev. Naphtalia Daggett, Professor of

' Prof. Ebenezer Kellogg, Field's History of Berkshire County, i82g.

Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown 177

Divinity at Yale, 1 755-1 777, and delivered his written ser-
mons in an orthodox manner. During 1792, Deacon Rich-
ard Stratton, Matthew Dunning, Isaac Holmes, and fourteen
other members of
the "Warren Soci-
ety" also founded
the First Baptist
Chapel and built it
of quartzite stone at
Kreigger Mills, now
known as Sweet's

All the main roads
from Deerfield,
Pittsfield, and New
Lebanon converge
in one road at the
Vermont State
Line. Several his-
toric inns were cen-
tered between
Benjamin Simonds's
River Bend Tavern
of Williamstown
and Charles
Wright's Tavern, in
Pownal. Simonds's Inn still stands in excellent preser-
vation north of Moody Bridge on the bank of Hoosac;
Silas Stone's White Oaks Tavern near Broad Brook
Bridge, originally surrounded by white oak trees, is still
standing in a deplorable condition as a tenement, known
as Stone Tavern. John Smedley's Sand Spring Inn
was replaced by Greylock Hall on the present site of
Dr. S. Louis Lloyd's Sand Spring Sanitarium ; frequenters of

The Second Congregational Church of Christ
huilt on The Square in Williamstown, Massachu-
setts, in 1798. It occupied the site of the First
Congregational Church completed in 1768, now the
site of Field's Park at the junction of North and
South Streets with Main Street.


The Hoosac Valley

Esquire Ware's State Line Tavern still take their refresh-
ments either in Pownal or Williamstown. Jonathan Bridges's
and Capt. Nehemiah Smedley's large farmhouses served
as public inns. The huge stone ovens in Col. Benjamin

Smedley's Green River Mansion, built by Capt. Nehemiah Smedley be-
tween lyyo and 1777. The Cellar Kitchen Door on the south side of the house
leads to the Great Stone Oven where many loaves of bread were baked for the
soldiers who aided in taking Fort Ticonderoga and winning the victory of Ben-
nington between 1775 and 1777. Smedley Mansion is known as the Benjamin
Bridges Place to-day.

Simonds's River Bend and Capt. Nehemiah Smedley's man-
sions baked many a tempting portion of rye and Indian bread
and beans for the Revolutionary soldiers. Ephraim Seelye's
homestead stood north of River Bend Tavern, and the
original regulation house of Robert Hawkins still stands op-
posite the site, on the comer of Simonds and Hoosac roads.
On the sites of Simonds's and Horsford's inns on The
Square were later located Skinner's Mansion House and the

Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown 179

Taconac Inn, both of which burned a few years ago. Man-
sion House is now replaced by Hotel Greylock. Samuel
Sloan's Tavern in South Village is now replaced by Idle Wild
on the site of Prof. R. F. Mills's School for Boys. Esquire
Ware's Tavern on Vermont State Line has always been a
famous resort for clandestine marriages of Berkshire and
Bennington couples. One "Great Room" is located north
of the Line in Vermont and another south of the Line
in Massachusetts. Here the matrimonial knot has been
legalized, if not solemnized, for many fugitive lovers.

Four cider-brandy stills were built in West Hoosac by
men of character, soon after the corn-mills, and these brought
desolation among many families in the valley. Total
abstinence was agitated between 1820 and 1830, and pro-
hibition laws are still in force at the State Line House.

All the White Oaks homesteaders reared large families.
John Smedley, the miller, raised eight girls, to offset the
large families of Simonds, Bridges, Seelyes, Danforths, and
Sweets. The children all attended the district school on the
site of the stone schoolhouse built in 1838, which is now
used as a blacksmith's shop. The first store of White Oaks
still stands north of the Ripley Cole homestead and is used
as a tenement house, and through the stony pastures of
River Bend Farm may still be traced the Hoosacs' war-trail.

After the news of the Battle of Lexington reached English
Hoosac, Capt. Samuel Sloan of South Williamstown rallied
a company of "Minute Men." He was joined by Parson
Whitman Welch and his parishioners of the First Church, who
fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17th. Parson
Welch sold his Green River meadow lot on May 4th to
Nehemiah Smedley for £70. After Captain Sloan's com-
pany of "Musket Men"' was formed from the Hoosac
Minute Men during September, 1775, Parson Welch was

' See note 14, at end of volume.

i8o The Hoosac Valley

among the non-enrolled volunteers who marched with Gen.
Benedict Arnold's army through the Maine Woods to sur-
prise the British, He was among those who died from small-
pox during March, 1776, near Quebec. His wife and three
children returned to Connecticut later and left their
Williamstown garden overgrown with Colchester roses.'

Landlord Benjamin Simonds was commissioned Colonel
of the Berkshire County militia, August 30, 1775. During
April, 1777, the County was divided into the North and South
military districts, and Col. John Patterson of Lenox com-
manded the South and Col. Benjamin Simonds the North

It was during August, 1776, that Captain Eddy's company
of thirty nine ship-carpenters from Providence, R. L, on their
march to Skenesboro Navy Yard, on Lake Champlain, were
exposed to small-pox and quarantined in the John Smedley
mill-house at Williamstown, Dr, William Page inoculated
them, and Isaac Stratton, clerk of the Council of Safety,
together with Samuel Kellogg, William Horsford, Daniel
Stratton, and David Noble were placed in charge of the men
until they were discharged. The Smedley mill-house was
known as the "Pest-house" until torn down about 1843.

After the death of the Rev. Whitman Welch, Parson
Noble preached at the First Church of Williamstown until
the Rev. Seth Swift from Kent, Conn., a Yale graduate of
1774, was installed in May, 1779. The records at that time
contained the following members' names ^ :

Elisha Baker Mary Marks Burbank

Phoebe Nichols Baker Samuel Burchard

Martha Young Blair Elizabeth Hamilton Burchard

Daniel Burbank Sarah Luce Byam

'Bliss Perry, "The Colchester Rose," Youth's Companion, March 31,

' Perry, Williamstown and Williams College, pp. 148-149.

Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstown i8i

Hannah Davis
Sampson Howe
Hannah Foot Howe
Daniel Horsford
David Johnson
Phoebe Cole Johnson
Henry Johnson
Abiah Johnson
Persis Johnson
Isaac Ovits
\ Moses Rich
Thomas Roe
Mary Wells Roe
Catherine Davis Smith
Deborah Spencer
Isaac Stratton
jMary Fox Stratton
Ruth Tyrrel Torrey
Hannah Wheeler Torrey
Hannah Torrey Hatfield
Elizabeth Lewis Williams
Dea. Nathan Wheeler
Sarah Wheeler
Nathan Wheeler, Jr.
Gideon Wright
Elizabeth Downs Downing
Thomas Dunton
Mary Davis Dunton
Elizabeth Egleston


Nathan Foot

Marianne Foot

Israel Harris

Sarah Morse Harris

Rachel Baldwin Hawkins

Samuel Kellogg

Chloe Bacon Kellogg

Dea. James Meacham

Lucy Rugg Meacham

Jonathan Meacham

Thankful Rugg Meacham

David Noble

Abigail Bennett Noble

Esther Wilson Ovits

Mary Roberts

Anna Dwight Sabin

Nathaniel Sanford

David Southwick

Thankful Davis Southwick

Mary Dormer Stratton

Martha Marks Tallmadge

Marvin Gaylord Welch

William Wells

Rebecca Stoddard Wells

Mary Wilson

Nathan Bristar Woodcock

Josiah Wright

Abigail Wright

Sarah Wright

Col. Benjamin Simonds during the last ten years of his life,
between 1797 and 1807, resided with his second wife, widow
of Asa Putnam of Brattleboro, Vt., in the Robert Hawkins
house, opposite his River Bend Tavern. It was his custom
to sit in an arm-chair by his front door, clad in regimental
coat, knickerbocker trousers, frilled shirt bosom, white

1 82

The Hoosac Valley

neckerchief, and continental hat, and chat with migrating
pilgrims. He made his will in 1803 and left his two volumes

of Brown's Bible
to his grand-
daughter, Sally
Trai n- B lair,
daughter of Ra-
chel Simonds and
Thomas Train
and subsequently
the wife of Wil-
liam Blair. The
Bible descended
to Deacon Henry
Blair, and in turn
to his son, Austin
Blair, now resid-
ing in Salem,
N.Y. The artist,
W. Jennys, in
1796 painted the
portraits of Col-
onel Simonds and
his second wife,
and they were
willed to his
daughter, Polly
Simonds-Putnam, wife of his stepson, Perley Putnam. After
being passed among other members of the family, the
Colonel's portrait came into the possession of Grace Perry of
Williamstown, Mass., a great-granddaughter of Prudence
Simonds-Bridges. The historic portrait will undoubtedly
descend to Grace Perry, eldest daughter of Bliss Perry, who
is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Colonel Simonds.


, ,joiSVTH^"

Col. Beyijamin Simonds, Commaiider of the Berk-
shire Boys behveen 177s ^"'^ ^777- He figured in
the Council of War held by General John Stark at
the Catamount Tavern, August ij, 1777, before the
Battle of Bennington.

Fort Hoosac Propriety and Williamstovvn 183

Among the patriotic epitaphs in the Old Hemlock Ceme-
tery of Williamstown may be mentioned those of Elisha
Baker, uncle of the Green Mountain Boys, Remember
Baker and Ethan Allen, He died May 22, 1797. Col.
Benjamin Simonds's monument bears the simple record to
his memory as one of the first settlers of Williamstown, and
a firm supporter of his "Country's Independence." He
was bom February 23, 1726, and died April 11, 1807.

A monument to Col. Benjamin Simonds .should be erected
on The Square in Williamstown. He was the only surviving
English captive who, taken from Fort Massachusetts to
Canada by General Rigaud in 1 746, returned and settled in
English Hoosac. He aided in building Fort Hoosac in 1756
and served as garrison soldier and member of the Council
of Public Safety until the Fort was abandoned in 1761.
He was commissioned Colonel of Berkshire militia during
the Revolution in 1775 and led in the fatal Battle of White
Plains, October 28, 1776. During the winter of 1777 he took
command of Fort Ticonderoga. On August 13, 1777, he
met with Gen. John Stark and Col. Seth Warner in the
council of war at the "Catamount Tavern" before the
Battle of Bennington.

Henry Ward Beecher of Litchfield County wrote that:
"From Salisbury to Williamstown and thence to Bennington
there stretches a country of valleys and lakes and mountains,
that is to be as celebrated as the lake district of England or
the hill country of Palestine."




Safe from the Mor)iings golden eye
And sheltered from the Western breeze.
These happy regions bosomed lie —

Hemmed in with hills whose heads aspire.
Abrupt and rude, and hung with woods;

Where devious Hoosac rolls his floods.

Bryant, Descriptio Gulielmopolis. '

Survey 1 749 — Proprietors — Mills — Taverns — Congregational Church —
Militia — Town-Meeting — Adams and North Adams — Baptist, Quaker,
and Methodist Churches — Schools — Burial-Fields — Fort Massachusetts
Meadow — Perry Elm.

THE New England soldiers who marched down the Hoosac
Pass caught only faint glimpses of tasselled cornfields
along the banks of the upper Hoosac, between the second
survey of "East Hoosuck Plantation" in October, 1749, and
the settlement of the propriety thirteen years later.

The Ashawagh meadows on the headwaters of the Hoosac
contain a buried forest. Hemlock logs have been unearthed
about Kingsley Place near the Cross Road, and several
original pines were felled on the site of "Slab City," now
North Adams, which measured from 100 to 114 feet to the
first limb.

The valley of the Mayoonsac and the Ashawaghsac, ^ the

'Perry, Williamstown and Williams College, pp. 340-341.
' See note i , at end of volume.


East Hoosac Plantation and Adams 185

north and the south branches of the upper Hoosac, is closed
off from the eastern part of Massachusetts by the "For-

North Adams in 1840 during the Stage-Coach Days, before the building of
the Hoosac Tunnel Railway through Hoosac Mountain. The view shows the
Ashawaghsac River Bridge with Colgrove's and Broivns Grist-Mill on the east
and the Saw-Mill on the west bank of the stream. The Waterman-W ilbur Tavern,
now Richmond House, together with the Block or Black Tavern, is located on the
right side of Main Street, and the North Adams House and Bissell Building are
located on the opposite side of Main Street. I?i the distance is observed the Sec-
ond Baptist Church on the corner of Eagle and Main Streets, and opposite is ob-
served theSecond Congregational Church. The Stage-Coaches drawn by four horses
from Greenfield and Bennington are both arriving at the North Adams House
where Nathaniel Hawthorne sojourned some time during the summer of i8jS.

bidden Hoosac Mountain " and from the Green River Valley of
Williamstown on the west by Mount Grey lock, which range
is over six miles east and west in extent. Berkshire County
is fourteen miles in width on the north, and Greylock Range
is broken only by the Hoosac Pass through North Adams
and by the Green River Pass through Williamstown.

i86 The Hoosac Valley

The General Court, in 1745, granted Samuel Rice a farm
of two hundred acres, for building a road from Capt. Moses
Rice's Charlemont Inn, over the Hoosac Mountain to the
Ashawaghsac ford, on the site of North Adams. Rude wood
roads at that time led south on the east and west sides of
Ashawagh Swamp to Lake Pontoosac and Stockbridgc.
The Raven Rock Road through The Notch, owing to the
muddy trail of the Ashawagh Meadows, remained the main
travelled highway long after the opening of the 19th century.

As early as 1751, Capt. Ephraim Williams, Jr., of Fort
Massachusetts engaged Jedidiah Hurd to build a saw-mill
on the west, and a grist-mill on the east bank of the Asha-
waghsac, and a trestle bridge with a log-railing over the
stream. The logs of the Ashawaghsac ford and the mill-
dam timbers were unearthed at the time the abutments of
the present iron bridge were built in North Adams. Tradi-
tion records that another saw-mill was built on the south
bank of the Mayoonsac above its junction with the Asha-
waghsac in 1756. The Schaghticokes challenged the head-
waters of the Hoosac hunting-grounds, and lurked in
ambuscade on the sand knolls opposite the Mayoonsac Mill
and shot the sawyer at his post.

After the sandy hillsides of East Hoosac were cleared,
the soil proved too dry to raise beans and the lowlands were
too wet to raise English grass and corn. The excellent mill-
power was considered valuable by the "River Gods" of the
Connecticut, and during October, 1749, Col. Oliver Partridge
and surveyor Nathaniel Dwight rode from Hatfield over
the Hoosac Mountain, and completed the second survey
of East Hoosac and West Hoosac.

The south line of East Hoosac — now Adams — began at a
marked hemlock tree on the bank of the Ashawaghsac —
now in Cheshire — and ran east to a point on Hoosac Moun-
tain ; thence north seven miles up the Mayoonsac Valley below

East Hoosac Plantation and Adams 187

Hazen's Line of Massachusetts; thence westerly five miles
to West Hoosac, now Williamstown, at a point north of
Blackington Mills; thence southward over the west brow of
Mount Greylock and eastward to the place of beginning.
Chairman Partridge on November 10, 1749, reported to the
General Court that he considered four miles of the East
Hoosac interval "rich and good land."

On February 16, 1762, the General Court voted that "East
Hoosuck," known as Town No. I, should be sold at public
auction to the highest bidders, the set-up price to begin at
£800. The sale took place at the Royal Exchange Tavern,
King Street, Boston, on June 2d following, and was struck
off by prearrangement to Nathan Jones of Weston, Col.
Elisha Jones, St., Col. James Otis, and Col. John Murray
for £3200, four times the set-up price.

The first taverns of the proprietors were located near Fort
Massachusetts, at Five Points, on the Hoosac Mountain
Road, and the Raven Rock Road through The Notch. Charles
Wright, a soldier from Northfield, in Col. Israel Williams's
regiment that reinforced General Wolfe's army at Quebec
in 1 759, obtained a tavern license. He built the Fort Tavern
east of St. Francis Ledge, after Fort Massachusetts was
abandoned and Capt. Isaac Wyman had moved to Keene,
N. H., in November 1761. About 1762, Landlord Wright
moved his wife, Ruth Boltwood -Wright, and their two sons,
Samuel and Josiah, from Amherst. His third son, Solomon,
was born in the Fort barracks, December 28, 1763. The
next spring Wright moved his family to his Pownal inn, ten
miles down the Hoosac, where he became a large land-owner.

A number of settlers located on Raven Rock Road, over the
Ragged Mountains. The blacksmith, Joseph Darby, estab-
lished a shop two rods below Notch Brook Bridge, near the
Cady and Knight homesteads; and the Wilbur, Arnold,
Eddy, and Carpenter families settled in the upper Notch.

i88 The Hoosac Valley

Jeremiah Wilbur ran a tavern at the extreme portion of the
Vale. He owned 1600 acres including Wilbur Park and the
summit of Mount Greylock. His farm in 1829 was con-
sidered one of the finest in Northern Berkshire. He then
owned a dairy of forty cows and five hundred Saxony or
Merino sheep.

The Wilbur, Eddy, Carpenter, Arnold, and Niles families
of Adams, Pownal, and White Creek hailed from Rhode
Island, and were all related by marriage. John, William,
and Benedict Arnold of Adams and Pownal were lineal
descendants of William Arnold of Leamington, Warwick-
shire, England, who settled in Salem, Mass., in 1630, and
later joined Roger Williams's Colony of Quakers in Provi-
dence. His son, Benedict Arnold, was the first Governor
of Rhode Island. He owned the subsequently famous New-
port Tower, said to be modelled after an old windmill of
Leamington, England. He was the father of General Bene-
dict Arnold of Revolutionary ill-fame.

Forty-eight settling-lots, containing one hundred acres
each, were surveyed in East Hoosac and offered for sale
during October, 1762. Each purchaser of a lot gave his bond
for £20 to the treasurer of the Province and agreed to pay a
share of the expense of building roads and bridges. He was
required to erect a regulation house, to clear, plough, and
sow six acres with corn or English grass within five years, and
to aid in building a meeting-house and settle a "learned
orthodox Minister."

Col. Elisha Jones, Sr., of Weston, one of the four original
proprietors of "East Hoosac Plantation," was the father of
fourteen sons. He became interested in Old Berkshire real
estate. Col. William Williams, founder of Pittsfield, was
a son of the Weston minister and a nephew of Col. John
Stoddard, one of the three original proprietors of Pittsfield.
In 1748, Colonel Stoddard presented young Williams with

"^ .. ¥


Raven Rock Road through the Notch Valley during winter.


i^o The Hoosac Valley

a hundred-acre lot on The Square. Col. EHsha Jones, Sr., also
bought a thousand acres in Pittsfield in 1751, and in 1762
became one of the four proprietors of East Hoosac.

Lots sold slowly in the latter town, and during 1766
Israel Jones, fourth son of Col. Elisha Jones, Sr., then twenty-
eight years of age, was authorized to survey twenty extra
settling-lots, dispose of sixty settling-lots, and locate a
minister before 1767.

The first proprietors to break sod and build their regu-
lation houses in North Adams were: Abiel Smith and his
two sons, Gideon and Jacob ; Justus Blakeley, Jedidiah Hurd,
John Kilbum, John McNeal, Jonathan Smith, Reuben
Hinman, Oliver Parker, Sr., and his son, Andrew Parker,
Samuel Leavenworth, Asaph Cook, the Kingsleys, Israel
Jones, and Rev. Samuel Todd.

A log meeting-house was built in 1766, opposite the Cross
Road between the present Albany Railroad and the Street
Railway, east of the Hoosac Valley Park gate. The minis-
ter's lot 48 contained one hundred acres and covered por-
tions of the present Hodge and Ballou farms. The Ballou
dwelling is one of the oldest houses standing in the North
Adams intervale, and is believed to have been Minister
Todd's regulation house.

Parson Todd was, at the time of his arrival in East Hoosac,
a gentleman of forty-seven years. He was graduated from
Yale in 1734, at the age of fifteen. He located at Woodbury,
Ct., five years later, and adopted the "New Light System"
of Whitfield. About the first meeting-house in Adams

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