James Draper.

History of Spencer from its earliest settlement to the year 1841, including a brief sketch of Leicester to the year 1753 online

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Online LibraryJames DraperHistory of Spencer from its earliest settlement to the year 1841, including a brief sketch of Leicester to the year 1753 → online text (page 1 of 13)
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" We wish to rescue the past from being forgotten, and to give honor to whom
honor is due."



18 4 1.



— WM








" We wish to rescue the past from being forgotten, and to give honor to whom
honor is due."



184 1.



It cannot be expected, in the History of a town situated
in the interior, like Spencer, that many facts or incidents
would have happened, connected with its earliest settle-
ment, and but few events in the succeeding stages of its
existence, which would excite much interest in the general
reader, and much less could this be expected of any thing
relative to the present state of the town, or its inhabitants.
It may, however, lay some claims to antiquity, by being
once, a component part of the town of Leicester, but the
annals of its earliest period can exhibit no details of bloody
conflicts with the Indian, nor can it boast of having pro-
duced any great and illustrious characters, either in peace
or war. No exciting or interesting details of this kind,
will form any part of this history.

These pages are the humble effort of a native citizen of
Spencer, and have been especially prepared for the benefit
and gratification of his fellow citizens. The compiler
makes no pretension to the character of an accomplished
writer, and indeed the execution of such a work does not
require much talent, or literary acquirements. All that is
necessary, and all that may be expected, is a faithful de-



tail of names, dates, facts, incidents and events, such as
have occurred with little variation, in most of the towns
in New England. The brief sketches, and genealogies of
families, will undoubtedly be dull and even tedious to
many, while others, and perhaps most of the native inhab-
itants, will esteem this the most valuable part of the work.
However satisfactory, or acceptable this may prove, or
however it may be esteemed, it has cost a great deal of
time and labor, indeed so much, that had it been known
and realized at the commencement, it would have been
abandoned before it was undertaken. The writer has
aimed at the truth, and every statement and fact of any
importance, may be strictly relied upon. For materials,
access has been had to the county records of Suffolk, Mid-
dlesex and Worcester ; to the Council and Legislative re-
cords of the state ; to histories of other towns ; to the
town, church and proprietors' records of Leciester and
Spencer ; to Magazines, old files of Newspapers, and oc-
casional sermons ; to ancient manuscripts, deeds, and other
authentic documents ; to the memories of aged people ; and
even the tombstones have furnished sources of informa-
tion, from which something has been gleaned. In the
hope that it may be of some benefit, and be acceptable to
the parents and children of his native town, the author
cheerfully submits it to their candor and intelligence.


Page 95, line 7 from top, for come read ensuei
100, 17 from top, for Tanner read Tansur.
119, II from top, for Eliza read Elizabeth.
136, 3 from top, for to read from.


Accidents by fire, page 62, 63.
Act to prevent monopoly, 39.
Adams, David, 114.
Allen, Daniel, 14.
David, 114.

Baldwin, Asa, 36, 131.

Joseph, 126, 138.

David, 131.
Ball, Eleazer, Dea., 137.
Baptists, 103.
Barnes, David, 142.
Barton, Joshua, 116.
Bemis, family of, 105.
Bemis, Samuel, 82, 106,

Samuel, Jun., 106.

Edmund, 107.

William, 108.

Joshua, 109.

Nathaniel, 108.

Jonas, 109.

Dexter, 146.


Allen, Israel, 143.
Aged persons, 150.
Andrews, William S. 157.
Aspomsok, Asnebumskit, 10.
Assessors, 152.


Bigelow, Joseph, 136.

Bisco, John, 43, 45, 48, 52, 141.
Abijah, 145.

Boundaries of Spencer, 9, 19.

Boundaries of Leicester and Spen-
cer, 18.

Bounty of rattlesnakes, &c. 60, 61.

Brad hurst, Ralf, 13, 14.

Bridge, Thomas, 125.

Bridges, David, 131.

Bright, Henry, 145.

Bunker Hill, battle of, 37.

Burden, Asa, 143.

Burgoyne, General, 40.

Business, 73.

Burial place, 104.

Capen, family of, 117.

Samuel, 117,

Timothy, 118.

James, 118.
Census, 32.

Chandler, John, 14, 15, 18.
Church established, 85.
Civil History of Leicester, 19.
Civil History of Spencer, 33,
Clark, John, 14,

Mathias, 125.

Convention at Leicester, 50.
Concord, skirmish at, 37.
Confederation, 41.
Cornvvallis surrendered, 46,
Courts stopped, 51.
Courts oppressive, 50, 51,
Constitution of Massachusetts, 44,

Crage, Nathan, 38,
Cranson, Elisha, 130.
Crosby Stephen, 92.



Committee of correspondence, 14G.
Converse, Luke, 139.
Congress at Salem, 35.

At Cambridge. 35.

At Watertown, 35.
Convention at Worcester, 35, 43,

At Concord, 43.

Cunningham, Nathaniel, 24, S3,

Cunningham, family of, 112.
Robert, 112.
John, 112.
Curtis, Jonathan, 13, 14.
John, 113.

Davenport, Addington, 14.
Davis John, 157.
Denney, Thomas, 34, 3.5.
Depreciation of the currency, 43.
Description of Spencer in 1788, 53.
Draper, family of, 123.

Richard, 13, 14.

Thomas, 123.

James, 4th, 124.

Joshua, 124.

Earthquakes in New England, GO,

Eaton, Joshua, 84, 125.

Joshua, Jun. 146.

John Elliot, 145

Flagg, .Tohn, 130.

Samuel, 140.

Gale, Henry, 53.

Garni in, Benjamin, 13, 14.

Gardner, Thomas, 13, 14.

Henrv, 36.
Garfield, Samuel, 128.
Gates, Oldham, 126.
Gleazen, Benjamin, 142.
Goodenow, Cornelius, 130.
Goddard, David, 82.
Graham, John, 127.

Hall, Willis, 49.
Hathaway, James, 53.
Henshavv, Joseph, 35.
Hills, 69.

Indian deed of Leicester

Spencer, 9.
Indians, 21.


Draper, David, 146.
Double dating, 12.
Drury, William, 130.

Benjamin, 144.
Dudley, Joseph, 10.

Thomas, 10.

Paul, 14.

William, 15.
Dummer, Jeremiah, 13, 14.
William, 22.


Ecclesiastical, 74.
Elliot, John, 138.

John, Jun., 146.
Elliot, Richard Roswell, 146.


First settlement of Spencer, 105.
Frink, William, 144.



Greaton, John, 109.

Grant, original of Leicester and

Spencer, 9.
Gray, Harrison, 30.
Green, Benjamin, 137.
Griffin, David, &c., 132.
Grosvenor, Daniel, 90.
Guilford, Jonas, 144.

Jonas, Jun. 145.
Nathan, 146.


Hobbs, Warren, 146.
Howe, Thomas, 14, 15.
Hutchinson, Thomas, 14.

William, 14, 15.


Independence declared, 38.
Insurrection of Shays, 47.


Jeiiks, Isaac, 4S.

Johnson Benjamin, 31, 127.

Lamb, Joshua, Col. 13, 14.

Jonas, 38.
Lamb, family of, 109.

Jonathan, 109.

Jonathan, Jun. 110.

Joshua, 110.

John, 110.
Lamond, Archibald, 113.


Jones, Asa, 145.

Justices of the Peace, 146.


Lawyers, 157.

Leicester, first settlement of, 15.
Lexington, battle of, 37.
Livermore, Joseph, 37, 140.

Abijah, 53, 139.

Moses, 133.

David, 14a.

Mason, Ebenezer, 37, 142.
May, David, 52.

William, 131.
Meadows, 70, 72.
Meetinghouses 84.
Ministerial & school lands sold, CI.
Miscellaneous items, 60.


Minzee, Judge, 20.
Minerals, 72.
Moose pond, 17, 70.
Morgan, Robert, 125.
Muzzy, John, 43, 133.
Nathan, 145.


Newhall, Thomas, 20.

Newhall, John, 122.




;inal grant of Leicester and Ormes, John, 24, 111.
Spencer, 9. James, 143.

Packard, Levi, 98.
Page, Nathaniel, 13, 14.
Parish incorporated, 84.
Parmenter, Nathaniel, 135.
Parsons, Joseph, 20.
David, 74.
Parsonage, 98.
Pensioners, 140.
Physicians, 143.
Pope, Gregory, 12.

Joseph, 90.

Joseph, Jun. 146.
Ponds, 70.

Queen Ann's war, 13.

Read, John, 116.
Revolution, 33.
Rice, Peter, 38.
Asher, 115.


Post offices, 74.
Potter, Cheney, 144.
Property of our ancestors, 148.
Prouty, David, Capt. 40.
Prouty, family of, 118.

Richard, 118.

David, senior, 118.

Jacob, 119.

John, 119.

Adam, 120.

James, 120.

Isaac, senior, 121.


Quoristers chosen, 100.


Representatives. 154.
Roads, 65.

Robinson, Josiah, 123.
Ruggles, Samuel, 13, 14.




Schools, 63.

Segar, Oliver, 123.

Selectmen, 151.

Settlement, first of Leicester, 15.

Sewall, Samuel, 14.

Shay's Insurrection, 47.

Shirley, Governor, 24.

Sinclair, William, 114.

Slaves, 32.

Smith, Moses, 12, 89.

Snow storm, 61.

Soil and productions, 72.

Soldiers families provided for, 41,

Spencer, boundaries of, 9, 19.

Tea proscribed, 34.
Topography, 69.
Tories, 41.
Town officers ia 1753, 31.

Universalists, 104.

Spencer, incorporation of, 31.
Sprague, Anthony, 38,
Thomas, 33.
Stebbings, John, 16, 82, 116.
Sternhold and Hopkins version,

Stoddard, Jacob, 121.
Stoughton, William, 12.
Strawberry Hill, 16.
Streams, 71.
Steele, Thomas, 30, 31.
Suits at court, number of, 50.
Sumner, John, 50.

Bradford, 157.


Town Clerks, 153.
Town Treasurers, 154.
Toutaid, 9, 13.
Tray, Philip, 10, 11.


Upham, Jacob, 135.

Valuation, 40, 148.
Votes for Governor, 155.

Wainwright, Francis, 14.
Watson, Oliver, 38, 44, 49, 122.
Watson, William, 146.

John, 130.
Warwille's travels, 56.
Wealth of our ancestors, 148.
White, John, 14.

John, Lieut. 28, 129.

Josiah, 40.

Henry, 121.
Whitefield, George, 88.
Whitney, Joshua, 126.

Young, David, 52.

Version of Sternhold and Hopkins,


Whittemore Jeremiah, 138.
Wilson, family of, 110.

James, 110.

James Jun., 111.

Benjamin, 111.

Simeon, 129.

Joseph, 111.
Wood, Nathaniel, 19, 105.
Worster, John, Dea. 28, 128.
Wright, Edward, 136.
Woodward, Robert, 126.



The town of Spencer is situated eleven miles a little
to the South of West from the Depots of the several Rail
Roads in Worcester. It is bounded East by the towns of
Leicester and Paxton ; North by the towns of Rutland and
Oakham ; West by the towns of North Brookfield and
Brookfield, and South by the town of Charlton.

Spencer was once a part of the town of Leicester. It
will, therefore, be necessary to give a brief sketch of Lei-
cester, including Spencer, until the Westerly half was in-
corporated into a town by the name of Spencer in 3 753.


More than one hundred and fifty years ago, a number
of wealthy gentlemen belonging to Boston and its vicini-
ty, were in the habit of purchasing large tracts of unsettled
lands, of the Indians, in the interior of the state. Leices-
ter, Hardwick and other tracts were purchased by them,
in what is now, the county of Worcester. The following
is a copy of the Indian deed of the town of Leicester to
some of those gentlemen.

" Know all men by these Presents, that we the heirs of

Oraskaso, Sachem of a place called Toutaid, situate and

lying near the now town of the English called Worcester,

with all others which may under them belong unto the


10 H I S T O K Y O F S P E N C E R.

same place aforesaid. These heirs being two women with
their husbands newly married, which being byname call-
ed Philip Tray with his wife Momokhiie, and John Wamp-
scon and Waiwaynom his wife, for divers good causes and
considerations us thereunto moving, and more especially
for and in consideration of the sum of fifteen pounds cur-
rent money of New England to us in hand paid by Joshua
Lamb, Nathaniel Page, Andrew Gardner, Benjamin Gam-
lin, Benjamin Tucker, John Curtice, Richard Draper and
Samuel Ruggles with Ralf Bradhurst of Roxbury in the
county of Suffolk in New England, the receipt of which
we do fully acknowledge ourselves to be fully satisfied
and paid, have given, granted, bargained, sold, alienated,
infeoffed and comfirmed, and by these presents do fully
and absolutely, give, grant, bargain, sell, alienate, infeoff,
and confirm unto the said Lamb, Page, Gardner, Gamlin,
Tucker, Curtice, Draper, Ruggles and Bradhurst, their
heirs and assigns, a certain tract of land containing by es-
timation, eight miles square, situate, lying and being near
Worcester aforesaid, abutting Southerly on the lands of
Joseph Dudley, Esqr.,* lately purchased of the Indians, and
Westerly, the most Southernmost corner upon a little
pond called Paupokquamcok, then to a hill called Weka-
pokotounow, and from thence to a little hill called Mos-
sonachuds, and unto a great hill called Aspomsok, f and

* Joseph Dudley, Esq., was a younger son of Thomas Dudley, who
was first Lieut. Governor of Massachusetts in ]630. He was appointed
by King William. Governor of Massachusetts in 1701. The lands re-
ferred to is a gore about one mile wide lying South of Leicester and
Spencer. So much of this gore as lay South of Spencer was a few
years taxed to Spencer, and when Charlton was incorporated, became
a part of that town. The Eastern end of it, was iti 177S, made a part
of Ward, now Auburn, and the remainder in 1838 was annexed to Ox-
ford. He died 1720, aged 73.

t This hill is probably what is called " Bumskit," and lies in the


SO then Easterly upon a line until it comes against Wor-
cester bounds and joins unto their bounds, or howsoever
otherwise butted and bounded, together with all and sin-
gular the rights, commodities, liberties, privileges and ap-
purtenances whatsoever to the same belonging or however
otherwise appertaining. To have and to hold the said
tract or parcel of land situating, containing and bounding
as aforesaid to the said Lamb, &c. their heirs and assigns
in common tenancy, to their only proper use, sake of and
benefit forever. And the said Philip Tray and Momokhue
and John Wampscon and Waiwaynom their wives, with
all others under them as aforesaid, do covenant, promise
and grant for themselves, their heirs, executors and admin-
istrators to and with the said Joshua Lamb, &c., their heirs
and assigns, that they will the above granted and bargained
lands and every part and parcel thereof, with their and
every of their appurtenances, warrant and defend from
all and every person and persons whatsoever, claiming
any right or title thereunto or interest therein from, by or
under us. In witness whereof, the said Philip Tray and
Momokhue and John Wampscon with Waiwaynom being
their wives, have hereunto set their hands and seals this
twenty-seventh day of January, Anno Domini one thousand
six hundred and eighty-six.

Signed, sealed and delivered ) Philip Tray © his mark (seal)
in presence of us, ) Momokhue Tray t her mark (seal)

Tom Tray ® his mark. John Wamscon, (seal)

Nonawano «^>> his mark. Waiwaynom Wamscon t n''"ic (seal)
Capt. '^r Moogus his mark. WandwoamagS thedeacon„'^;|^k(seal)
Andrews Pitteme his mark. Jonas his wives mark (seal)

South-east part of Paxton, and was known anciently by the name of
" Hasnebumskit" or " Asnebumskit." It is the highest land in the
county of Worcester, excepting Wachusett in Princeton. The other
bounds mentioned in the deed are now not knoAvn.


Philip Tray, Momokhue his wife, Waiwaynom and Wan-
do wamag, all personally appearing before me underwritten,
one of his Majesty's Council of his territory and Domin-
ions of New England, June 1, 1687, did acknowledge
this instrument to be their act and deed.

William Stoughton.

Recorded, March 8th, 1713-4.*

Pr. John Chandler, Town Clerk."

Nothing further is heard of this tract of land for more
than twenty-six years. In the mean time Brookfield be-

* There are many instances like this, in the ancient records, of double-
dating. To conform to the new .style,this date instead of March 8, 1713-4
should be March 20, 1714. It was found that the Julian year (adopted
by Julius Caesar) consisting of 365 days and 6 hours, and every fourth
year of 366 days, was a fraction too long, and carried the spring months
gradually into the summer; the error had already amounted to 11 days.
In order therefore to bring the Vernal Equinox on the 21st of March,
Pope Gregory XIII. in 1582, ordered 11 days to be stricken from Sep-
tember 1582, calling the 3d day the 14th. And in order to provide that
the Equinox should continue to fall on the 21st of March, the year was
made to consist of 365 days, with an intercalary day in February, every
fourth or leap year, omitting this additional day, 3 times in 400 years.
It was omitted in 1800, making 12 days between the Old and New
Style. After the Calender had thus been corrected by Pope Gregory,
the correction was immediately adopted by all the Catholic Countries,
but it was not adopted in England, or the American Colonies until 1752,
when the alteration was made by an act of Parliament. Previous to this
the year commenced on ihe 25th of March, which is called old style ;
now it commences on the 1st of January, which is new style. The
25th of March, is denominated by the Catholic church, Annunciation,
or Lady Day. As most of the nations had adopted the new style, in or-
der to conform in some measure to it, the English adopted double-dat-
ing until Sept. 2, 1752. Thus as above, March 8, 1713, would be old
style ; March 20, 1714, would be new style. Therefore to bring old
style into new style, in all dates between the 1st of January and the
25th of March for a century previous to Sept. 2, 1752, twelve days
should be added. In this compilation, where the dates happen between
January 1st, and March 25th, the year conforms to the new style, but
the date of the months remains unaltered.


gan to be settled on the West, and Worcester on the East.
But the war commonly called dueen Ann's war,^ breaking
out, all the plantations and new settlements in this part of
the country, were broken up, and many of them entirely
destroyed. This probably discouraged the proprietors
from making any attempts to settle Toutaid or Leicester.
However, at the close of the war, they presented a petition
to the General Court, praying a "confirmation of the said
tract to them and their associates ; that they may be en-
couraged to proceed to settle the same with inhabitants,
under such directions and reservations as shall be thought
meet." Accordingly, on the 15th of February, 1713-4, it
was " ordered that the prayer of the petitioners be granted ;
provided that within seven years time, fifty families settle
themselves in as defensible and regular a way as the cir-
cumstances of the place will allow, on part of said land ;
and that a sufficient quantity thereof be reserved for the
use of a Gospel ministry there and a school. Provided
also, that this interfere with no former grant, and this
grant shall not exceed the quantity of eight miles square.
The town to be called Leicester, and to belong to the
county of Middlesex."

On the 23d of the same month of February, the origin-
al granteJes, admitted thirteen other gentlemen as associates
and proprietors of the said township. The following are
the names of all the proprietors at this time, viz., Joshua
Lamb, Samuel Ruggles, Benjamin Gamlin, Benjamin
Tucker, Jonathan Curtis, Ralf Bradhurst, Richard Draper,
Thomas Gardner, Nathaniel Page, Jeremiah Dummer,

* This war commenced in 1699, and peace was concluded in 1713.
The Indians, stimulated by the French, overran most of the frontier set-
tlements. Worcester was entirely destroyed, and remained desolate
until 1713. Brookfield suffered severely, and was almost entirely de-


Paul Dudley, John Clark, Addington Davenport, Thomas
Hutchinson, John White, William Hutchinson, Francis
Wainwright, John Chandler and Thomas Howe as one,
Daniel Allen and Samuel Sewall as one, and William
Dudley, making twenty-two proprietors for twenty shares.*

* These proprietors were all gentlemen of wealth and respectability,
and many of them of very high standing in the community. Joshua
Lamb, belonged to Roxbury, was Colonel of one of the Suffolk regi-
ments, a magistrate and a great landholder. Samuel Ruggles belonged
also to Roxbury, and was grand-father to the celebrated Brigadier
Ruggles of Hardwick. He died in 1716. Benjamin Gamlin was also
of Roxbury, and was grand-father to the first wife of Stephen Rogers,
the farm being his wife's inheritance. Benjamin Tucker was of Rox-
bury. He died in 1728. One of his sons, Samuel, died in this town
and left posterity here. Jonathan Curtis belonged, also, in Roxbury.
He had two sons, Jonathan and John, who both came to Leicester.
John died in Spencer, leaving posterity here. Ralf Bradhurst, also,
lived in Roxbury. This name was afterwards written Bradish. He
died about 1730. Richard Draper was a merchant in Boston. In his
will dated December 26, 1728, he is styled "son of Edward Draper and
Ann his wife, late of Boston near Banbury in the county of Oxford,
Great Britain, and only brother of William Draper seniour of Boston
aforesaid." Thomas Gardner was son of Andrew Gardner of Brookline.
One of the same name was minister of Worcester and Lunenburgh,
probably the same person. Nathaniel Page belonged to Billerica. Jer-
emiah Dummer was born in Boston, educated at Harvard College, and
was a gentleman distinguished for his learning and talents, was agent
at England for the Province of Massachusetts from 1710 to 1721. He
was called in history " a great man,'' died in 1739. Paul Dudley, was
son of Gov. Joseph Dudley, was in 1702, appointed by Queen Ann, At-
torney General of Massachusetts, and afterwards Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court. Died 1751, aged 78. John Clark was a representative
from Boston to the General Court, was chosen speaker of the house in
1721. His son, John, an eminent physician in Boston, inherited his
estate in Spencer. He died December, 1728. Addington Davenport,
was of Boston, and one of the Judges of the Supreme Court. Thomas
Hutchinson, was a distinguished merchant of Boston, Colonel of a regi-
ment, many years a Counsellor, and father to the late Governor Hutch-
inson. He was the man who personally, seized the famous pirate, Capt.
Robert Kidd, when he offered violent resistance to all. He died 1739,


On the same day they voted " that one half of the town-
ship of Leicester be disposed of, or sold to fifty families
that shall settle and establish themselves there according
to the injunction of the General Court." The Eastern
half (now Leicester) was accordingly appropriated for that
purpose, and the Western half (now Spencer) ordered to
be divided among the Proprietors, into twenty shares.


On the 14th of May, 1714, a committee of the Proprie-
tors repaired to the Easterly half of Leicester, for the pur-
pose of locating house lots, to such persons as chose to
take them on the prescribed conditions. These condi-
tions were, that one shilling per acre should be paid for
each house lot, and that a family should be settled on
each of them within three years, or else be forfeited and
return to the proprietors. These house lots contained gen-
erally forty acres, but some lots contained fifty acres, and
some only thirty, and every house lot was entitled to one
hundred additional acres, to be taken up in some other
part of the town, to every ten acres of the house lots.
These were called after rights. Thus by paying forty

aged 65. John White, was many yeafs clerk of the house of represen-
tatives. He died of the small pox, 1721. William Hutchinson, was a
man of large fortune and one of the representatives of Boston. Francis
Wainwright, was a merchant of Boston. John Chandler belonged to
Woodstock, was one of the Council, one of the proprietors of Oxford,
Chief Justice of the first Court of Common Pleas established in Worces-
ter; also, first Judge of Probate, and Colonel of a regiment, died in
1743. Thomas Howe was a gentleman of Marlborough. Daniel Allen
was a merchant of Boston. Samuel Sewall was a gentleman of Brook-
line. William Dudley belonged to Roxbury, was brother of Hon. Paul
Dudley, speaker of the House of Representatives, an active officer at
the taking of Port Royal in 1710, Colonel of a regiment, and one of the
Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. Died in 1743.


shillings, asettler was entitled to a house lot of forty acres,
and four hundred acres in addition. Roads were located
between the ranges of house lots, and two of those, one
running North and the other South, from the village, still

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Online LibraryJames DraperHistory of Spencer from its earliest settlement to the year 1841, including a brief sketch of Leicester to the year 1753 → online text (page 1 of 13)