James Draper.

History of Spencer, Massachusetts, from its earliest settlement to the year 1860: including a brief sketch of Leicester, to the year 1753 online

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Online LibraryJames DraperHistory of Spencer, Massachusetts, from its earliest settlement to the year 1860: including a brief sketch of Leicester, to the year 1753 → online text (page 1 of 21)
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It cannot be expected in the history of a town situated in the
interior, like Spencer, that many facts or incidents -wGuld have
happened, connected with its earliest settlement, and but few
events in the succeeding stages of its existence, 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 claim to antiquity, by
being once a component part 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 produced any great and illus-
trious characters, either in peace or war. No exciting or inter-
esting details of this kind, will form any partof 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 of the town. The writer of
these sheets makes no pretension to the character of an accom-
plished writer, and indeed, the execution of such a work does not
require much talent, or literary acquirements. All that is neces-
sary, and all that may be expected, is a faithful detail of names,
dates, facts, incidents and events, such as have occurred with little
variation, in most of the towns of New England. The brief


notices and genealogies of families, will undoubtedly be dull and
even tedious to the general reader, while others, and perhaps
most of the native inhabitants, will esteem this the most inter-
esting 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, Middlesex and Worcester ; to the Council
and Legislative Records of Massachusetts ; to histories of other
towns ; to the town, church, and proprietors records of Leicester
and Spencer ; to Magazines, files of Newspapers, and occasional
sermons ; to ancient manuscripts, deeds, and other authentic
documents ; to the memories of aged people ; and even the tomb-
stones have furnished sources of information from which some-
thing has been gleaned. In the hope that it may be of some
benefit, and acceptable to the parents and children of his native
to^vn, the author cheerfully submits it to their candor and intelli-


The former edition of this work, written some twenty years
since, has long been out of print, but three hundred copies hav-
ing been published. This little publication having been received
with more favor than was expected, many calls have been made
for copies, and as none could be supplied, at the urgent solicita-
tion of many of his friends, the author has been induced to re-
>vrite the book with additions and improvements. It will still,
undoubtedly, be found to contain imperfections, and probably
some errors, though none it is hoped of much importance. In.
addition to other sources for materials in the compilation of this
work, it is with pleasure I hereby acknowledge the assistance I
have from received Gov. Washburn's valuable history of Leicester,
lately published. The genealogical department contains the list
of more than five hundred families, including the names of some
who had no children, and some, the names of whose children
could not be obtained, and including, also, some adult single
persons, who died unmarried. In many instances, the marriages
of the children are given with the lists of their births under the
parental head, and again, when they were actually married and
became the heads of families themselves. This repetition will
facilitate, rather than embarrass those who are seeking for this
particular information. Without further apology or explanation,
the compiler again cheerfully submits it to the candor and intelli-
gence of his fellow citizens.


As but few biographical notices are given in this work, the names of
persons, generally, will be found in alphabetical order, in the genealogical


Associates, names of, 15. Assessors, 148.

Agriculture, products of, 124.

Boundaries of Leicester and Spen- Burgoyne, surrender of, 53.

cer, 24. Buildings in the centre village, 73.

Bunker Hill, battle of, 50. Baptists, 111.


Census, 44. Cemeteries, 125.

ComwaUis capitulated, 59. Contagious Diseases, 127.

Celebration of Mrs. Pope's 100th Cold Winter, 133.

birthday, 97. Cold Summers, 135.

Crosby, Rev. Stephen, 104. Committee of Correspondence, 136.

Catholics, 114. Casualties, 156.

Deed, Indian, 10. Dodd, Rev. Stephen G., 107.

Dudley, Joseph, 18. Dark Day, 133.-

Division of lots in Spencer, 1st, 22. Delegates relating to the Constitn-

2d, 23. tion, 146.

DeWarrville's description, 70. Deaths of aged persons, 153.

Ecclesiastical, Leicester, 79. Epidemic Diseases, 128.

" Spencer, 88. Earthquakes, 133.

Eaton, Rev. Joshua, 90. Eclipse, Solar, 134.


Grant, Original, of Leicester and Goddard, Rev. David, 87.

Spencer, 9. Graduates of Colleges, 143.

Gale, Henry, 66. - Genealogies, 159.


House lots located in Leicester, 19. High Winds, 134.


Indians, petition respecting them, 30. Independence Declared, 50.
Incorporation of Spencer, 40. Industry, products of, 122, 123.


Justices of the Peace, 144.



Lands allotted, 22, 23. Localities, 118.

Livermore, Abijah, rash conduct Lawyers, 141.

of, 66.

Manners &c. of the people, 67. Methodists, 113.

Morals, 76. Minerals, 124.

Meeting houses built, 29, 79, 89, Money, depreciation of, 56.


N. 0.

Names of oEScers and soldiers, 273. Old tenor, 89.

Proprietors of Leicester and Spen- Ponds, 119.

cer, notices of, 15. Post Offices, 121.

Population, 44. , Products of Industry and Agricul-

Prices of Commodities, 51. ture, 122-4.

Parsons, Rev. David, 79. Property of our ancestors, 137.

Pope, Rev. Joseph, 94. Physicians, 139.

Packard, Rev. Levi, 105.

Roads located in Spencer, 36. Remarkable Phenomena, 132. .

Roads, description of, 114. Representatives, 145.

Revolution, 45. Revolutionary Pensioners, 155.

Settlement of Leicester and Spen- Streams, 120.

cer, 28. Soil and productions, 124.

Shays' Insurrection, 60. Snow Storm, 132.

Seventy-five years ago, 74. Slavery, 130.

Sports of the people, 75. Senators, 146.

Schools and School Houses, 76. Selectmen, 146.
Singing, 108.

Town Meeting in Leicester, first, 28. Town House, 121 .
Tenor, old, 89. Town Clerks, 149.

Town ofiBcers, first chosen, list of, 42. Town Treasurers, 150.


Universalists, 112.

Valuation for taxes, 52. Votes for Governor, 150.


War closed, 59. Washington, 135.

Wind High, 134.





> C7 66 \)











The town of Spencer is situated eleven miles a little to
the south of west from Worcester, and about fifty miles in
the same direction by the nearest road from Boston, though
ten miles further by the Western Kailroad. It is bounded
east, by the towns of Leicester and Paxton ; north, by Pax-
ton (formerly a part of Kutland), and Oakham ; west, by
the towns of North Brookfield and Brookfield, and south by
the town of Charlton.

As Spencer was once a component part of Leicester, it will
be proper to give a sketch of Leicester, while it included
Spencer, until the latter became an organized town itself,
in 1753.


In the latter part of the seventeenth century, and the
beginning of the eighteenth,certain wealthy and respectable
gentlemen belonging ito Boston and vicinity, were in the
habit of purchasing large tracts of unsettled lands in the
interior of the State, containing a certain number of square
miles, with loose and indefinite boundaries, and then apply-
iuG: to the o-overnor and council for a confirmation of their
title, in order to settle a " plantation " thereon. Their ap-
plications to the State authorities were generally successful,


and always upon the same conditions, viz : to settle a cer-
tain number of families within a certain number of years,
reserving a portion for the support of the ministry, and for
schools, then of course, the remainder would be theirs, to
dispose of to the best advantage to settlers. Leicester, Rut-
land, Hardwick and other towns were thus purchased, and
then disposed of.

One example may suffice to illustrate the operation of
these speculations. On the 22d of December, 1686, they
purchased of Joseph Trask, alias Puagastion, and other In-
dians, a tract of laud twelve miles square, for twenty-three
pounds, which was confirmed to them by the Greneral Court,
on condition that within seven years there then be 60 fami-
lies settled thereon, and sufficient lands reserved for the use
of a gospel ministry and schools. The town to be called
Rutland, &c.

In order to comply with the requisition of the General
Court, and to settle 60 families on the territory, they set
apart six miles square on the south-east part for that pur-
pose, which is now Rutland proper, except a part since being
set off, to help form the town of Paxton. When all this
was done, they had left for their own disposal, about seventy
thousand acres, since formino; the larjio towns of Barre and
Hubbardston, the town of Oakham, and the most part of

These gentlemen, or a part of them, purchased of the
Indians, in the same manner, the town of Leicester. The
following is a copy of the Indian deed.

" Know all men by these Presents, that we, the heirs of
Oraskaso, Sachem of a place called Toutaid, situate and
lying near the new town of the English called Worcester,
with all others which may under them belong unto the same
place aforesaid. These heirs being two women with their
husbands newly married, which being by name called Phillip
Tray with his wife Momokhue, and John Wampscon and


Waiwaynom his wife, for clivers good causes and considera-
tions us thereunto moving, and more especially for and in
consideration of the sum of fifteen pounds current money of
New England, to us in hand paid by Joshua Lamb, Nathaniel
Page, Andrew Gardner, Benjamin Gamlin, Benjamin Tucker,
John Curtice, Richard Draper and Samuel Buggies, with
Ealf Bradhurst, of Eoxbury, in the county of Suffolk in
New England ; the receipt of which we do fully acknowl-
edge ourselves to be fully satisfied and paid, have given,
granted, bargained, sold, alienated, infeoffed and confirmed,
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, Bug-
gies and Bradhurst, their heirs and assigns, a certain tract
of land containing eight miles square, lying and being near
Worcester aforesaid, abutting on the lands of Joseph Dud-
ley, Esq., lately purchased of the Indians, and westerly, the
most southernmost corner upon a little pond called Paupok-
quamcok, then to a hill called Mossonachuds, and unto great
hill, called Aspomsok, and so easterly upon a line until it
comes against Worcester bounds, and joins unto these bounds,
or howsoever otherwise butted and bounded, together with
all and singular the rights, commodities, liberties, privileges
and appurtenances whatever to the same belonging, or how-
ever otherwise appertaining, to have and to hold the said
tract or parcel of land, situating, containing and bounding
as aforesaid, to the said Lamb, <S:c., their heirs and assigns, in
common tenancy, to their only proper use, sake of and ben-
efit forever. And the said Phillip 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 administra-
tors, 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 whatever, claiming any right
or title thereunto, or interest therein, from, hy or under us.
In witness wliereof, the said Phillip Tray and Momokhue
and John Wampscon with Waiwaynom their wives, hereunto
set their hands and seals this- twenty-seventh day of Janu-
ary, Anno Domini one thousand six hundred and eighty-six.

Signed, sealed and delivered \ Phillip Tray (g) his mark (seal)

in presence of us, j Momokhue Tray f her mark (seal)

Tom Tray (g) his mark. John Wamscon. (seal)

Nonawano ^j?^ his mark. Waiwaynom Wamscon f ^''aTk (seal)

Capt. <r Moogus his mark. Wandwoamag S the deacon ^^'^ (seal)

Andrew 8 Pitteme his mark. Jonas his wives mark (seal)

Phillip Tray, Momokhue his wife, Waiwaynom and Wan-
dwoamag, all personally appearing before me the under-
written, one of his Majesty's Council of his territory and
Dominions of New England, June 1, 1687, did acknowledge
this instrument to be their act and deed.

William Stoughton.
Eecorded, March 8th, 1713-14.

Pr. John Chandler, Town Clerk."

The lands of Joseph Dudley, Esq., referred to in the above
deed as one of its boundaries, is a gore about one mile wide,
lying south of Leicester and Spencer. So much of this gore
as lay south of Spencer, was one or two years taxed to Spen-
cer, and when Charlton was incorporated, became a part of
that town. The eastern end of it, was in 1778 made a part
of Ward, now Auburn, and the remainder, in 1838, was an-
nexed to Oxford. The hill as another of its boundaries,
called " Asporasok," is probably what is called " Bumskit,"
and lies in the south-east part of Paxtou, on the line between
that town and Holden, and called in some ancient documents
by the name of " Hasnebumskit " or " Asnebumskit," and
is the highest land in the county of Worcester, excepting


Wacliusett in Princeton. The date of the deed, January 27,
1686, to conform to the new style, should be Feb. 8, 1G87,
that is, twelve days later. The acknowledgment of the deed
being dated March 8, 1713-14, is double dated, and should
be March 20, 17 U.-

Nothins further is heard of this tract of land for more
than twenty-six years. The towns earlier settled, suffered
so much from the barbarous incursions of the Indians, that
instead of going forward in prosperity, their settlements
were broken up, themselves and families murdered, captured
or driven away, and their fields and improvements deserted,
exhibiting a scene of ruin and desolation.

Lancaster, the first settled town in the county, was in 1676
invaded in the night by King Philip at the head of 1500
savage warriors, and every inhabitant murdered, taken cap-
tive or obliged to flee for their lives. Every house but two,
out of more than 50, burnt, and the town lay entirely des-
olate, without an inhabitant, for more than three years.
Again, in King William's war, and Queen Anne's which fol-
lowed soon after, Lancaster was ag-ain invaded bv the sava-
ges, many of the inhabitants murdered, and improvements

Therf are many instances of double dating in ancient records previous
to 17o2, between January 1st, and March 25th. Before that date, the year
commenced on the 2oth day of March, and is called old style, since the year
commenced on the 1st of January, and is called new style. Without going
into a more particular explanation, suffice it to say, that by adding one day
to February, every fourth year, called leap year, was found to be a fraction
over the exact time of the earth's revolution round the sun, and that in
about 1600 years, this fraction of time amounted to eleven days, and conse-
quently carried that number of days of spring, into the summer months.
In order to correct this error of the calendar, and bring it so as to corres-
pond with the time of Julius Cajsar, a period about 50 years before the
Christian Era, Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582, ordered 11 days to be stricken
from September, making the third day of that month the fourteenth. This
correction was not adopted in England or the American colonies, until 1752,
when it took place by an act ot Parliament, In ISOO, another day was
omitted, making 12 days, bo that to bring old style in new, 12 days must be


14 histout of spettcee.

greatly impeded or destroyed. Brookfield, in 1675, shared
the same fate, many of the inhabitants murdered, every
house burnt, and the town lay desolate, without an inhabit-
ant, for several years. Worcester, in 1675, there were six
or seven log houses, but when King Philip's war broke out,
the inhabitants all deserted. After they returned, and con-
siderable improvements had been made, in 1701 the town
was again entirely depopulated. Mendon, in 1675, July 14,
was attacked, and five persons killed ; the remainder throuo-h
fear abandoned the town, and Mendon, also, was without an
inhabitant for some time. Sutton was much retarded in its
settlement by the movements of the Indians ; and Oxford,
settled in 1686 by the French Huguenots, were in a few years
wholly dispersed, and none ever returned, and this town also,
lay without an inhabitant until about 1714 or 1715.

During all this time, Leicester was an entire wilderness,
without a single white inhabitant, so that at the conclusion
of peace in 1713, she was ready to start an almost even race
with her earlier sisters, and was soon on an equality
with them in population, physical resources, and refinement.

At the close of the war, the proprietors, after waiting so
long, presented to the General Court a petition, praying a
" confirmation of the said tract to them and their associates ;
that they may be encouraged to proceed to settle the same
wdth inhabitants, under such directions and reservations as
may be thought meet." Accordingly, on the 15th of Feb-
ruary, 1713-4, it was "ordered that the prayer of the pe-
titioners be granted ; provided that within seven years time,
fifty families settle themselves in as defensible and regular
way as the circumstances 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. Pro-
vided, also, that this interfere with no former grant, afnd
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 original
grantees 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 Euggles, Benjamin Gamlin, Benjamin Tucker,
Jonathan Curtice, Ralf Bradhurst, Richard Draper, Thomas
Gardner, Nathaniel Page, Jeremiah Dummer, Paul Dudley,
John Clark, Addington Davenport, Thomas Hutchinson,
John White, William Hutchinson, Francis Wainwright, John
Chandler and Thomas Howe as one, and Daniel Allen and
Samuel Sewall as one, and William Dudley, making twenty-
two proprietors for twenty shares.

These proprietors were gentlemen of wealth and respect-
ability, and many of them of high standing in the commu-
nity, and whose public transactions have found a place in

Joshua Lamb, belonged to Boxbury, was Colonel of one
of the Suffolk regiments, a magistrate and a great land-
holder ; was one of the proprietors of the town of Hard-
wick, and for whom the town, before its incorporation, was
called Lambstown. He is said to be the ancestor of all of
the name of Lamb, who first settled, or are now living in

Samuel Euggles, also belonged to Eoxbury. He was the
grand-father of the celebrated brigadier Timothy Euggles,
of Hardwick. Samuel Euggles died 1716.

Benjamin Gamlin, was also from Eoxbury, and was the
grand-father of the first wife of the late Stephen Eogers of
this town. Mr. John A. Barclay is one of the sixth gener-
ation from Mr. Gamlin, and now inherits the estate.

Benjamin Tucker, from Eoxbury also. He died in 1728.
Samuel Tucker, one of his sons, lived and died in this town,
where Mr, Amos Bemis now lives. The wife of Mr. Bemis
is one of his grand-daughters.

Jonathan Curtice, (the name now written Curtis,) was also


from Eoxbury. Two of his sons, John and Jonathan, came
to Leicester or Spencer. John died in Spencer, and a notice
of him will be found in this work.

Ealf Bradhurst, also belonged to Roxburj. Nothing in
particular is known of him. This name was afterwards
written Bradish.

ErcHARD Draper, was a merchant of Boston. He was from
Boston in England. He sold jill his right in the purchase
to the Hev. Joseph Parsons of Boston, in 1714 or 1715, be-
fore the shares were surveyed and allotted to the proprietors.
He died without leaving any posterity.

Thomas Gardner, son of Andrew Gardner, one of the
original grantees from the Indians, was from Brookline.
He died 1757. One of the name of Andrew Gardner, was
minister of Worcester, and he afterwards, or one of the
name, was minister of Lunenburp;.

Nathaniel Page, belonged to Billerica. He was one of
the proprietors of Hardwick, where many of his posterity
still remain.

Jeremiah Dummer, was born in Boston, and educated at
Harvard College. He was agent for Massachusetts, from
1710 to 1721, and was also judge of the Supreme Court.
He was distinguished for talents and learning, being an.
author of reputation. He was called in history " a great
man." He died in 1739.

Paul Dudley, was son of Gov. Joseph Dudley, and grad-
uated 1690, at the head of his class, as was, also, Jeremiah
Dummer. At this period, students at college were not
placed in alphabetical order as at present, nor according to
their literary attainments, but according to their rank in
society. The highest in dignity placed at the head of the
class. But there was an aristocracy in those days, while
connected with Great Britain, which in these days of liberty
and equality, would be obliged to hide its head in obscurity,
although the Hon. Paul Dudley was a worthy gentleman.


He was appointed by Queen Anne, Attorney General of
Massachusetts in 1702, and also, Chief Justice of the Su-
preme Court. He died in 1751, aged 78.

John Clark, was graduated at Harvard College in 1G87,
was a representative to the General Court from Boston, and
chosen Speaker in 1721. He died December, 1728, aged 61.
His son of the same name, an eminent physician in Boston,
inherited his father's estate in Spencer.

Addington Davenport, was of Boston ; was one of the
Judges of the Supreme Court ; elected one of the Council.
Was graduated at Harvard College in 1689. Died 1736,
aged 66.

Thomas Hutchinson, was a distinguished merchant of
Boston, Colonel of a regiment, many years a Counsellor, and
father of the late Governor Hutchinson. He was the man
who personally seized the notorious privateer, Capt. Robert
Kidd, when he offered violence to all who approached him.
He died 1739, aged 65.

John White, was for many years clerk of the House of
Representatives. He died of the small pox, 1721.

William Hutchinson, was a man of large fortune, was
a Representative from Boston to the General Court. He
died about 1721.

Francis Wainwright, was a merchant of Boston. He
sold his share to Samuel Bannister, a merchant of Boston,

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Online LibraryJames DraperHistory of Spencer, Massachusetts, from its earliest settlement to the year 1860: including a brief sketch of Leicester, to the year 1753 → online text (page 1 of 21)