James Clay Rice.

History of the town of Worthington online

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Town of "Worthington,







Town of "Worthington,




"No liistory can present us with the whole truth; but those are the best histories, which
exhibit such parts of the truth, as most nearly produce the effect of the whole."— Macaulay.






Feeling that the unrecorded history of one's native town,
like the unmarked graves of parents, evidences both the want
of a proper respect and a filial gratitude, we commenced the
following chapters, more from a sense of duty than from mo-
tives less worthy of regard. To this sense of duty was soon
added the virtue of necessity, which so often causes a per-
son to hazard that before the public eye which no motives
otherwise could have induced, and no ambition could have

Taking advantage, therefore, of the recollection of the living
and the records of the dead, we place before the people of
Worthington a history of their town, asking for its brevity, its
imperfections, and its errors, that charity of criticism which a
thoughtful consideration of the many difficulties and disad-
vantages under which it was written, will naturally suggest.

Worthington, July lO^A, 1853.




On the 2d of June, 1762, by order of the General Court, nine
plantations of land were sold at public auction in Boston.
These plantations embraced the townships of Cummington
and Plainfield, Windsor, Partridgefield (now called Peru and
Hinsdale) and Worthington, on the Green Mountains, to-
gether with ^ve other towns, situated in different parts of the
State. " Plantation ]^o. 3," which extended at that time, on
the east, as far as the north branch of the Westfield river, was
purchased by Col. Worthington, of Springfield, and Maj. Bar-
nard, of Deerfield, for about Xl,500. In honor of the former
gentleman, who liberally induced the early settlers to occupy
the land, by the erection of a church and a grist-mill, at his
own expense, together with a generous assignment of minis-
terial and school lots for the use of the town, the plantation
was called Worthington. The larger part of the first inhabi-
tants of the town came from Connecticut, and the middle and
eastern counties of this State; among whom was I^athan
Leonard, who resided where his grandson, Mr. Alonson Leon-
ard, now lives; and Samuel Clapp, who resided in a log house,
near the lot of ground now occupied by what is called the
Woodbridge place ; ]N'athaniel Daniels, who built the first
frame house in town, nearly opposite to the dwelling of Mr.
Tilson Bartlett; Nahum Eager, wdio resided near the place


where Mr. Nathaniel Eager now lives, and who was the first
representative of the town in the Provincial Congress, held at
Cambridge; Doctor Moses Morse, whose house stood on a
spot of ground between the dwellings of Mr. Ames Burr and
Medad Ames, now marked by a butternut tree ; John Kinne,
who lived on the place now owned by Mr. Jotham Clark;
Ebenezer Leonard, who resided on the place now occupied by
the dwelling-house of Mr. Ames Burr ; Thomas Clemmons,
who lived where Mr. Jonathan Burr now resides; Benjamin
Biglow, who resided in a house situated north and east ol
what is now called the Jonah Brewster farm ; Thomas Kinne,
who lived on the above named farm, and from whom the
brook, near that place, took its name; John AYatts, who re-
sided a few rods east of the first church that was built in town ;
Ephraim Wheeler, who resided near the spot of ground now occu-
pied by the house of Mr. Harrington ; Mr. Collamore, who lived
nearly opposite to Mr. Wheeler's ; Alexander Miller, who re-
sided on the " Bufiington place," and who was the first inn-
holder in town ; Joseph Marsh, who lived on the place now
owned by Mr. Franklin Burr; Amos Frink, whose house was
situated on " Cold-street;" Abner Dwelly, whose residence
was situated on the east side of the road which leads from
Capt. Clark's to the church; Jeremiah Kinne, who resided
where Mr. Calvin Tower now lives; Stephen and Davis Con-
verse, who resided on the "Elijah Higgins place;" Phinehas
Herrick, who resided near where Mr. Amasa Briggs now lives;
Joseph Pettingell, and Joshua Phillips, who lived opposite to
him, resided on the north side of the road, passing by Mr.
John Colt's; Gersham Bandall, who resided where Mr. Jona-
than Prentice now resides ; Daniel Gates, who lived near the
place of Abner Dwelly ; Asa Cotrell, who resided on the place
now owned by Capt. Pandall ; Asa Burton, whose house
stood where that of Mr. Dwight Perry now stands ; Zepha-
niah Hatch, who lived on the place now owned by Mr. I^oah
Hatch ; i^athan Branch, who occupied the place where Mr.
Morgan Hall resides; John Buck, whose house stood on the
ground lately occupied by that of Capt. Eing; Timothy Meech,
who resided on Mr. Wm. Colt's place; Samuel Crosby, who
lived where Col. Stone now lives; Daniel Morse and Daniel
Morse, Jr., who resided on the faims_now owned by Mr.


Azariah Parsons and Mr. Silas Marble ; John Skiff, who
lived on the spot of ground now occupied by the dwelling-
house of Mr. Horace Cole ; James Benjamin, who lived on
the farm now owned by Mr. Ira Johnson ; Beriah Curtis,
whose dwelling stood near the ground now occupied by the
house of Mr. Alden Curtis ; Jonathan Prentice, who lived on
the " Cushman place;" Samuel Morse, who resided near the
ground now occupied by the dwelling of Capt. James Bisbee ;
James Wybourn and Israel Iloton, who lived nearly opposite
to each other, on the road which passes, on the north, the
house of Mr. John Adams, near the plot of ground now called
"The Vineyard;" Col. Ebenezer Webber, who owned the
place now called the Widow Cole farm ; Samuel, Robert and
Amos Ba}^ who resided on the spot of ground now occupied
by the dwelling-house of Mr. Elijah Brury ; Joseph and Isaac
Follett, who lived where Mr. Abraham Brake now resides ;
Stephen Fitch, who resided nearly opposite to the dwelling
now owned by Capt. Cyrus Robinson ; Ezra Cleaveland, who
lived on the south side of the road in a house situated in an
angle of a lot, north of the dwelling now occupied by Mr.
Harvey Bewey ; Samuel Buck, who owned the farm, and
erected the house in the year of 1T80, now occupied by Mr. Silas
Robinson ; Edmund Pettingell, who resided on the farm now
owned by Mr. Wm. Cole ; James and John Kelly, whose house
was situated where that of Capt. Kelly now stands ; Isaac Her-
rick, who resided a short distance south of the school-house,
in Mr. Alden Curtis' district; Joseph Prentice, who lived on
the place now owned by Mr. Alpheus Prentice ; John Par-
tridge, whose house stood nearly one hundred rods north of
Mr. Wm. Leonard's, on the west side of the road ; Seth Syl-
vester, who lived a short distance south of the dwelling-house
lately owned by Capt. Ring ; Amos Leonard, who owned the
farm now occupied by Mr. Amos Cole ; Elijah Gardner, whose
house stood nearly west of Ring's factory; Joseph Bewey,
who lived in a house west of the "Buffington Grove " (the land
where it stood is now owned by Mr. Horace Cole) ; Luke
Boney and Bavid Brunson, who lived in a house that formerly
stood in Capt. Buck's orchard — they were the first millers
who came into town ; Asa Spaulding, who owned the farm
now owned by Capt. Jeremiah Phillips ; Hezekiah Maheuren,


who resided east of a grove now owned by Col. "Wm.Eice;
John Howard, who occupied the place now owned by Mr. Mer-
rick Cole; Thomas Hall, who lived west of Col. Oren Stone's,
on the farm formerly owned by Mr. Wm. Meech ; Joseph Gard-
ner, who resided opposite to the dwelling-house now occupied
by Mr. Morris Parsons; Miner Oliver and Capt. Constant
Webster, who lived near where Mr. Hiram Bartlett now lives ;
Joseph Geer, who resided where the late Mr. William Parish
lived ; Samuel Tower, whose house stood a few rods west of
the old church, by Mr. Watts' ; Nathaniel Collins, who resided
a short distance south of the house of Mr. Isaac Herrick, men-
tioned above ; Eeuben Adams, who owned the second saw-
mill and the second grist-mill built in town, which were situ-
ated near Pingville ; John Drury, who lived on what is now
called the Drury place ; Mathew Finton, whose house stood
a few rods east of the spot of ground now occupied by the
dwelling-house of Mr. Granville B. Hall; James Bemis, who
resided on the place now known as " The Widow Granger
farm ;" Moses Buck, who resided with Mr. John Buck, spoken
of before ; Thomas Buck, who lived on the farm now owned
by Mr. John Coit; Samuel Petiugell, whose house stood on a
lot now owned by Mr. William Cole, and nearly south-east of
Mr. I^athaniel Eager's residence ; Noah Morse, who resided
on the farm now owned by Mr. Milton Adams ; Nehemiah
Proughty, whose house stood on the ground now occupied by
that of Mr. Ezekiel Tower ; Seth Porter, who lived on the
farm now owned by Mr. Jacob Porter ; Stephen Howard,
whose house stood near the spot of ground now occupied by
that of Mr. William H. Bates ; Mr. Hickbey, who lived in the
south part of the town, near where the Methodist church now
stands ; Elihu Tinker, who resided where the late Mr. John
Tinker lived.

In addition to the above-named persons, there were living in
town, at or near the time of its settlement, the following indi-
viduals, whose places of residence we have been unable to as-
certain :

Wm. Burr, Thomas Butler,

Jonas Bellows, Simeon Lee,

Jonathan Eames, Samuel Taylor,

Mr. WiLKiNS, Samuel Clay,


Mr. EiCE, Nathan Morgan,

Mr.' Ford, Lewis Church,

Samuel Wilcox, John Ross,

EuFus Stone, James Tomson,

Moses Ashley, Lewis Porter,

Joseph French, Moses Porter,

Samuel Converse, Joseph Lee,
Alexander Chillson.

, It seems, from the large number of the first inhabitants,
that the settlement of the town was rapid from its commence-
ment; and, from the town record, it also appears, that the
population steadily increased for a number of years, so that,
before the close of the last century, there were more persons
living in town than at the present time.

The early inhabitants of Worthington were men whose char-
acters were formed in that severe school of discipline, where
the patient and cheerful endurance of hardships and trials was
taught to be a virtue. Commencing their manhood at a time
when the whole energy and valor of the New England Col-
onies were demanded to resist the encroachments of the
French and their Indian allies, they became brave and reso-
lute men. Without the privileges of schools and seminaries —
deprived of the advantages of an early education— possessing
but the Bible and the spelling-book, they yet excelled the
present generation in that practical learning which unites pru-
dence with resolution and wisdom with goodness. They
were men of strong minds, acute discernment and unerring
judgment. When they arose to speak on any subject, in
church or town meeting, they expressed themselves with the
greatest firmness and perspicuity. Well acquainted with the
political affairs of the colonies, they hesitated to act upon
none of the various questions brought before the town.
While they warned their town meetings, in his Majesty's
name, they discussed our relations with Great Britain with
unhesitating boldness. They voted that they would keep
''good regulations under his Majesty's reign," but at the same
time they voted a supply of powder and balls for the use of
the town. In liberally raising money for defraying the ex-
penses of the army — in the number of men they promptly


sent to the war, and cheerfully supported during its cam-
paigns — in the amount of clothing with which they generously
supplied the wants of the soldiers — they were unrivaled by
any town on the mountains. Feeling a want of that educa-
tion, which circumstances had denied to them, they took the
earliest opportunity to found schools, and to raise money to
defray their expense. Believing in the doctrine of the same
religion, they, like their descendants, with commendable una-
nimity, always steadily and zeal o,u sly supported the preaching
of the gospel. Such are some of the peculiar traits that
marked the characters of the first settlers of this town. Leav-
ing a climate much milder than that of the mountains to
which they had removed — arriving here, as many of them did,
at the commeucement of one of our severe winters, with their
wives and their children, after a journey of ten and twelve
days on horseback, guided only by the marks on the trees —
sleeping in log houses, hastily prepared, or, as was often the
case, upon the ground — deprived of nearly all of those com-
forts and luxuries of life, in which their eastern homes had
commenced to abound— procuring their food from the forest
and their water from the brooks — without chairs, without ta-
bles, without anything, save a small quantity of food, brought
with them for their present subsistence — did the first inhabi-
tants of the town, eighty-nine years ago, commence the set-
tlement of Worthington.



During the session of the Provincial Congress of Massa-
chusetts, in 1768, a bill was passed for " creating the 'New
Plantation, called l^umber Three, in the county of Hamp-
shire, into a town by the name of Worthington." The limits
of the town, as recognized by this bill, extended at that time
from the Partridgefield line on the west to the north branch
of the Westfield river on the east ; while the northern and
southern boundaries were defined nearly the same as they re-


main at the present day. In purscance of this act of Congress,
lion. Israel Williams, who had been empowered by the Gen-
eral Court to call a meeting of the inhabitants of this town,
issued the following warrant: "These are, therefore, in his
Majesty's name, to require you, ITathan Leonard, to notify and
warn the inhabitants of Worthington, tbat they assemble to-
gether at the house of Alexander Miller, innholder in said
town, on the first Monday in August next, at ten of the clock
in the forenoon, then and there in public meeting to choose
all such officers, as towns within tb^s province are impowercd
and enabled by law to choose in the month of March an-
nually. Hereof, you Nathan may not fail. Given under my
hand and seal, at Hatfield in Hampshire county, this eleventh
day of July, in the eighth year of his Majestie's reign, anno
Domini 1769.*

IsEAEL "Williams, Jus. Pads.''

By virtue of the above warrant, the freeholders and other
inhabitants of the town met at the inn of Alexander Miller,
on Monday, the first day of August, and chose Captain Na-
than Leonard, Moderator ; Mr. Nahum Eager, Town Clerk ;
Captain Nathaniel Daniels, Captain Nathan Leonard, and Mr.
John Kinne, Selectmen; Mx. Benjamin Biglow and Mr.
Thomas Kinne, Wardens; Mr. Thomas Clemmons, Constable
and-Leather Sealer; Mr. Samuel Clapp and Dr. Moses Morse,
Surveyors of Highways ; Mr. Nahum Eager and Mr. Ephraim
Wheeler, Fence Viewers; Mr. John Watts, Tithingman.
These were the first officers chosen by the town. At a subse-
quent meeting, Amos Erink and Ebenezer Webber were cho-
sen Deer-reeves. The business of the town, for the first two
years after its incorporation, consisted principally in survey-
ing and laying out roads.

Among the first of the roads that were thus surveyed by the
town, was one which, in the fertile imaginations of the select-
men, was called " The direct road through Worthington to
Boston and Albany." This road was laid out, so as to con-
nect with the Chesterfield road, at the " Gate," and, running
west, to lead by the farms now owned by Mr. Harrington and

* This date is doubtless wrong, since the eiglitli year of liis Majesty's reign would
have taken place in 1768, having commenced on the 25th of October, 1760.


Mr. Drury, till it reached the " Buffington place," where stood,
at that time, the inu of Alexander Miller. From this place, it
was laid out directly north, till it passed the house of Mr. Til-
son Bartlett, and then it was continued north and west, pass-
ing through a part of Peru and Windsor, till it intersected a
road which led more directly to Pittsfield. Subsequently this
road was changed, so as to lead directly to the inn of Capt.
I^athaniel Daniels from '' The Corners." This change was
made by the town, so as to prevent any travel by the house of
Alexander Miller, who favored the cause of Great Britain, and
to secure the same to Capt. E'athaniel Daniels, who was a
zealous patriot. In after years, " to make the road more straight
and direct," the town laid it out over what is now called Snake
Hill. The second road of importance which the town sur-
veyed led from Cummington to Chester. This road extended
through Cold-street, and passed the inn of Captain Daniels
and the Buffington place, till it intersected a road near where
Mr. Alden Curtis now lives ; and from there crossed directly
to Middle river, where it continued on the banks of that
stream till it reached Chester. During these two years, the
town laid out and surveyed twelve cross-roads, all of which,
except two, have become obsolete, as it regards travel. On the
17th of April, 1770, the town voted to raise "£45 for repair-
ing the highways, and to pay for men's labor on the road, 3s
per day, for that of a yoke of oxen. Is and 6d, for use of a
plow, 8d." Previous to the year 1768, there was scarcely a
road in town ; all journeys, at that time, were performed over
trails, or paths marked by cut or girdled trees. To go to
Northampton and back, w^ithout infringing on the sacredness
of either of the Sabbaths that bound the week, was considered
by the farmers as a recommendation for the speed and endur-
ance of their horses. A journey to Boston, or to Albany,
was prefaced by the prayers of the church, and the safe return
of the individual who hazarded it, was the cause of thanks-
giving and public rejoicing. Quilting, at that time, as now,
was one of the practical amusements of the ladies in town ;
but the preparations which preceded a quilting party were
much more extensive than at present, on account of the dis-
tance from which the inhabitants lived from each other, and
the almost impassable state of the roads or paths. To attend


a " quilting " at the more distant parts of the town, as it was
the practice then, was an absence from home of no less than
three clays ; the first of which was spent in going, the second
in quilting, and the third was consumed in returning. A
mother, before starting on one of these expeditions, was obliged
to bake a sufl3.cient supply for the family at home ; and if she
was so fortunate, or unfortunate, as to have the care of an in-
fant, she was under the necessity of putting it out with the
neighbors, to be nursed, till she should return.

The town, through its clerk, commenced in 1769 to publish
the bans of matrimony. The following is copied from among
the earliest recorded :

" These may certify to whom it may concern that the bands
of matrimony have been published as the law directs between
John Leonard of Preston in the Colony of Connecticut and
County of New London and Sarah Pierce of Worthington.
Attest : Nahum Eager,

Town Clerk.

WoRTHiNGTON April QtJi 1770."

Preceding the action which the town took in regard to the
Revolutionary War, it chose a committee, in accordance with
an act of the General Court, for the Massachusetts Bay, to
prevent oppression and monopoly, in consequence of the effect
of the non-importation act. This committee fixed the follow-
ing prices to labor, and all the articles of merchandise bought
and sold in town :

£. s. d.

Men's labor in time of harvest and haying, per day, 3

At other seasons in the summer, " " 2 8

In the fall and winter, " " 2

Women's labor, per week, 3

Wheat, per bush., 6

Rye, " " 4

Indian Corn, " " 3

Peas, " " 6

White beans, " " 6

Oats, " " 1 8

Spanish potatoes, " " 1

Wool, per pound, 2

Flax, " *' 1

Grass fed beef, " " 2-2

Stall " " " " 3-2

Pork, " " 3-3



£. s. d.

Cheese, per pound 50

Butter, " " 8

Stockings, good wool, 6 00

Shoes, calf skin, 8 00

Pork, barrels containing eleven score per bbl 4

Beef, " " twelve " 3 2 6

Tow cloth, per yard, 2-3

Flannel, " " 3 6

Horse keeping for twenty-four hours, 10

Ox " " " 140

English hay out of the field in summer, per ton, 1 4 00

Out of the stack in winter, ' " " 110

Out of the barn in spring, " " 1 15

Salt, per bush., 14 00

N. E. Rum by the hogshead, per gall., 4 10

" " single gallon, 5 60

" " single quart, 1 60

West India rum, by hogshead, " " 7 8

by single gallon, " " 8 6

Sugar, by hogshead, per hundred, 3 4

" by single pound, 90


THE WAR OF 1812.

Nearly a year before the first battles of the Eevolution at
Lexington and Concord, the inhabitants of this tow^n were
taking an earnest interest in regard to the political relations of
the colonies with Great Britain. In the spring of 1774, the
British government, in a spirit of revenge upon Massachusetts,
and especially on Boston, for the determined spirit with which
the town had refused to submit to the payment of a duty upon
tea, passed a bill, by which the citizens of Boston were denied
the privilege of landing or shipping goods. To carry this bill
into effect, the government of Great Britain took possession
of the port of Boston. The intelligence of these proceedings
aroused the inhabitants of this town to the greatest degree of
excitement, and called out the following preamble and war-
rant :

" Whereas a number of the inhabitants of Worthington


have desired a town meeting to be warned, for the purpose of
taking into consideration the alarming circumstances of the
times, in regard to the trade and commerce of the town of
Boston, and the towns of America in general — to the consta-
ble of the town of Worthington, greeting in his Majesty's
name. You are hereby required forthwith to warn all the in-
habitants of the town of Worthington, that they meet at the
Meeting-house, in said town, on Tuesday the 28th day of
June, 1774, at two of the clock in the afternoon, then and
there to act on the following articles : Firstly, to choose a
moderator ; secondly, to hear the letters read sent from the
committee of correspondence at Boston ; thirdly, to say in
what, since you would be understood in favor of the inhabi-
tants of Boston ; fourthly, to say if you will do anything for
the relief or encouragement of the town of Boston."

Pursuant to the above w^arrant, the town met, and chose
Capt. Ebenezer Leonard as Chairman, and ]^athan Leonard,
Nahum Eager, Nathaniel Daniels, Thomas Kinne and Moses
Morse, a committee of correspondence. This committee of
correspondence immediately communicated with the commit-
tee of safety at Boston, promising the zealous co-operation of
the town for their encouragement, and all the means in their
power for their relief. The threatening state of affairs, and
the earnest correspondence of the committee of safety at Bos-
ton, caused the selectmen, a few weeks after the above men-
tioned meeting, to issue a warrant, calling upon all of the in-
habitants of the town who were soldiers, and all who were
obliged to keep arms, to assemble at the meeting-house for
the purpose of choosing military officers.

On the opening of the campaign of 1777,* a number of the
young men of the town, without arms or ammunition, offered
to join the army of Washington, at Morristown, N. J. The
town, thereupon, voted that " The selectmen shall be empow-
ered to draw powder and arms, for any person or persons that
shall apply for the same, and to send money to purchase the

* The action of the inhabitants of the town, during the following years, from 1774
to 1777, in regard to the war, has no record. The probable reason for this omission,

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Online LibraryJames Clay RiceHistory of the town of Worthington → online text (page 1 of 9)