Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

. (page 1 of 73)
Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 1 of 73)
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New York : 11 East Seventeenth Street.


9 75


cop, 2.


Copyright, 1883,

The Riverside Press, Cambridge :
Printed by II. 0. Houghton and Company.









Cljt^ ilFoIumE



From an earl}' period I have been deeply interested in the
history of Hardwick, and in the genealogy of its inhabitants; —
the more deeply, doubtless, because my own ancestors ^ere
among the early pioneers, were actively engaged in the manage-
ment of public affairs and by numerous intermarriages were
connected with so many of its families. Although I have been
a non-resident and comparative stranger for more than fifty-six
years, my attachment to ray native town has never grown cold;
but its rocks and hills are still viewed with almost childish de-
light, whenever I visit them, and many of my old friends, though
personally departed, are represented by worthy descendants, who
are beloved for the fathers' sake. As I had opportunity, from
time to time, I have gathered and preserved historical materials?
intending to embody them in a permanent form. Other and
imperative engagements intervened, and prevented the execution
of my purpose until now : so that what I originally designed to
be my first literary labor, of any considerable magnitude, has
become absolutely the last ; for at the age of eighty-one years it
is altogether too late to commence another task requiring much
time for its completion.

The materials embraced in this history were gathered from
various sources ; among the most important of which were the
Records of the Proprietors, of the Church, and of the Town, of
Hardwick, including the Registry of Births and Deaths by the
Town Clerk, and of Baptisms from the beginning, and of Deaths
since 1789, recorded by the several Pastors of the Church, and
supplemented by inscriptions on monuments and head-stones in
the several cemeteries. Besides these, I consulted such printed


authorities as were within my reach, inekiding files of newspapers ;
the manuscript records of the General Court ; the vast collection
of original papers in the Archives of Massachusetts ; the Court
Records, and Registries of Probate and of Deeds in several coun-
ties, — not only in Worcester, but in Bristol, Plymouth, and
Barnstable, — and the records of many towns in those counties,
from which came so many of the early inhabitants of Hardwick ;
and also the records of Bennington and Barnard in Vermont,
which towns were originally settled by emigrants from Hard-
wick. Besides all this, I have thoroughly explored more ancient
burial-places, both in Massachusetts and Vermont, than I can
easily enumerate. Notwithstanding the expenditure of so much
time and labor, however, I am conscious of many deficiencies, for
which I am not wholly responsible ; they are attributable rather
to the neglect of parents to record the birth of their children,
and of survivors to record the death, or to erect even the most
humble memorial, of the departed.

It will be observed that, both in the History and in the Gene-
alogical Register, some family names occur much more frequently
than others, notably the names of Allen, Paige, Robinson, Rug-
gles, and Warner. The reason is twofold : first, the families
bearing these names were among the very earliest in the town,
and with the exception of the first named were from the begin-
ning to the present time among the most numerous ; and second,
for the first hundred years they were more constantly and prom-
inently than others engaged in the management of municipal

It will also be observed that my attention has been devoted
chiefly to early events in the history of the town, and that com-
paratively few recent occurrences are mentioned. The reason is,
that I desired to revive and perpetuate the memory of what
might otherwise fade entirely from remembrance and pass into
oblivion. The current events of the day are fresh in the minds
of the living, and are not liable to be soon forgotten. In like
manner, I have mentioned some organizations which formerly
existed here, such as the Social Library and the Masonic Lodge,
because they are wholly of the past, so far as this town is con-


cerned, and have left no visible trace behind them (unless the
painted device on the ceiling of the Ruggles Hall remains percepti-
ble) ; and have omitted special notice of living organizations,
such as the Library recently established under the patronage of
the Ladies, which is already a treasure, and which gives promise
of still greater usefulness ; and of the High School, or a school
equivalent to a High School, which is understood to be now in
successful operation. I have not even ventured to prophesy the
future establishment of a school of the highest grade, and of a
Free Public Library, with funds for their perpetual maintenance,
— a " consummation," not only " devoutly to be wished," but
not impossible of accomplishment. One of the living organiza-
tions, however, deserves a conspicuous place in a history of the
town, namely, the Grange. But I had no materials for an ac-
count in any degree adequate to this institution, representing, as
it does, one of the most important branches of industry ; and I
considered it more proper to be silent than to speak without
knowledge. The Grange is too well known, both at home and
in all the region round about, to suffer from this omission of

The " R. Map," or " Ruggles Map," sometimes mentioned in
the History, and much more frequently in the Genealogical
Register, is a Map of the Town drawn by Gardner Ruggles,
Esq., and lithographed, about fifty years ago, indicating the po-
sition of the several houses and their distance from the Common.

I gratefully acknowledge the uniform kindness and courtesy of
the gentlemen having custody of the records and archives which
I have had occasion to consult, and of the Town Clerks and nu-
merous individuals of whom I have sought information, not
otherwise to be obtained. My special thanks are due to Albert
E. Knight, Esq., the veteran Town Clerk of Hardwick, not only
for the facilities granted to me, when making personal investi-
gations, but for promptly and patiently answering my multitu-
dinous inquiries, and performing much labor on my behalf. I
also cherish a grateful remembrance of one of his predecessors in
oflB.ce, Dr. Joseph Stone, for his kindness, assistance, and encour-
agement, many years ago.


I should be unpardonable if I did not acknowledge the public
spirit and generosity of the Town, which has caused this History
to be published, and has placed a portion of the edition at my
disposal, notwithstanding my willingness to furnish the manu-
script without any compensation whatever. In justice to the
Town, I here insert a certified copy of the vote authorizing the
publication : —

" At a legal meeting of the inhabitants of Hardwick, Nov. 7,
A. D. 1882, on motion of Hon. William Mixter, the following vote
was unanimously passed : That the Town cause to be published
four hundred copies of the History of Hardwick, written by
Lucius R. Paige, D. D., of Cambridge, at an expense not exceed-
ing sixteen hundred dollars, and that Mr. Paige retain fifty
copies for his own use, for his labor of love in writing the History
of his native town, and that the expense of publishing the above
History be paid out of any money belonging to the Town.
Voted, that the Selectmen be instructed to sell copies of this
History, when published, to any who desire them, at four dollars
per copy. A copy from the Records. Attest, Albert E. Knight,
Town Clerk."

A final word in regard to this work. I have spared no reason-
able exertion to secure accuracy ; yet the universal experience of
authors admonishes me that undoubtedly some errors, perhaps
many, have escaped correction, and I bespeak the forbearance of
the reader. For the rest, I have not aimed at brilliancy, partly
because it was beyond my reach, and partly because I consider
it to be unsuited to sober history. If lack of vigor and spright-
liness be regarded as a serious fault of style, I may plead in ex-
tenuation, as in the Preface to my History of Cambridge, and
with additional force, that although many of my materials were
gathered long ago, I was obliged by other engagements, literary
as well as secular, to postpone their final arrangement for publi-
cation until impaired health and the infirmities of age became
uncomfortably manifest.


Cambridge, March, 1883.




Location. Boundaries. Soil. Hills. Ponds. Rivers. Brooks. Cli-
mate. Longevity of inhabitants 1-3


Indian occupation. Indian fortress. King Philip. Indian hostilities
in Plymouth and Bristol Counties. Sanguinary conflict at Winni-
misset. Quabaog destroyed. Report by Ephraim Curtis concerning
the Nipmucks. Capt. Edward Hutchinson's commission and death.
Capt. Thomas Wheeler's narrative. The Indians abandon their
stronghold at Winnimisset. Personal encounter between Capt. Elea-
zar Wai-ner and a Canada Indian 4-14


Purchases of Indian titles. Indian deed. The Proprietors petition
the General Court to confirm their title. The Representatives grant
the request, but the Council nonconcur. First settlement at the
"Elbows." Title partially confirmed. Purchase and settlement of
Leicester by the same proprietors. Associates admitted. Claim by
Hendrick Kekquoquau. Answer by proprietors 15-28


Names of Proprietors. Executive Committee. Gratuities. Arrange-
ment of lots. Settlers to share the expense of surveying, and to aid
in erecting a meeting-house and maintaining a minister. Additional
grant of land. First settler. Other settlers admitted. Mill lots.
Access of inhabitants in 1736. Incorporation as a district. First
ofBcers. Rev. Timothy Ruggles. Incorporation as a town. First
town officers. Act of incorporation 29-43


Early arrangement concerning meeting-house, minister, schools, high-
ways, and pound. Cattle. Deer. Destructive birds and beasts.
Squirrels. Beaver-dam. Land bank bills. Province tax. Cart-way
across Great Meadow Brook, Pauper. Inhabitants on the east side


of Ware River desire to be set off. Excise Bill. Proprietors' meet-
ings established at Hardwick. Proprietors' Records. Advent of
Brigadier Ruggles. Highways. Lottery. Fair 44-50


Emigration to Bennington, Vt., with personal notices. Emigration to
Barnard, Vt., with personal notices. Perils encountered by the pio-
neer emigrants^ 51-57


American Revolution. Taxation without representation. Stamp Act.
Congress at New York. Brigadier Ruggles, its President, refuses to
sign its petitions; his reasons therefor unsatisfactory to the Represen-
tatives, Avho reprimand him, but satisfactory to his townsmen. Riot
in Boston. The town refuses, but afterwards consents, that the dam-
age may be paid "out of the Province Treasury." Brigadier Rug-
gles stands alone in opposition to a bill ostensibly designed to encour-
age domestic manufactures, and renders his reasons publicly. The
town instructs its Representative in 1773 to stand fast in defence of
its chartered rights and privileges. Final departure of Brigadier
Ruggles from Hardwick. Form of association, prepared by him.
His letter of explanation. He refuses to bear arms against his coun-
try, and retires to Nova Scotia. Post of honor assigned to him in
an act of banishment. His death, public services, and character.
Anecdotes 58-81


Committee of Correspondence. County convention. Courts of law
obstructed. New organization of militia, and officers elected. Min-
ute men. Alarm list. Provincial Congress. Constables indemnified.
Contribution to Boston sufferers. Tories treated with neglect, dis-
armed, confined, and advertised as public enemies. Temporary
State Government organized. Few Tories in Hardwick. Sharp
controversy with one of the number, settled by appeal to the Gen-
eral Court. The conflict succeeded by peace. Anecdote . . . 82-106


Declaration of Independence recorded by the Town Clerk. Paper
money. Heavy taxes. Financial distress. Stay law. Scale of
Prices. Abortive attempts to make paper equal with gold. Protest
against a proposed bill for refunding the public debt. Scale of De-
preciation. The town approves the Articles of Confederation of the
United States, and almost unanimously rejects a Form of Constitu-

[ tion proposed by the General Court. Eccentricities of the Town
Clerk. Delegates elected to a Constitutional Convention. The pro-
posed Constitution accepted, but various important amendments
suggested. Subsequent Constitutional Conventions 107-118



The Shays Insurrection. Public and private debts excessive. Debtors
become desperate, and forcibly resist payment. Demagogues stimu-
late the popular discontent, -which results in open rebellion. The
town proposes a Convention at Worcester in 1782, and elects dele-
gates. Conventions in 1786. Grievances. General Warner dis-
charges one of his aids, on suspicion of disloyalty ; he promptly re-
sponds to the Governor's order for the protection of the Courts at
Worcester, but is unable to rally a sufficient force. The Courts pre-
vented from sitting at Worcester and at Springfield in September,
and again in December. Troops raised by enlistment. Hardwick
Company. Attack on the Arsenal at Springfield. Defeat of Shays;
he is pursued by Lincoln, in a terrible night's march, from Hadley
to Petersham, where the Insurgents are utterly routed. Oath of al-
legiance taken by many Hardwick men. Some of the more active
partisans abscond. One of the most prominent is arrested, convicted
of treason, and sentenced to be hung, but fully pardoned, and re-
ceives tokens of public approbation. Other pardons. The Shays
cause popular, having a majority in Hardwick and generally through-
out the western counties ; even in the House of Representatives a
majority favor it. Its advocates afterwards become good citizens,
but never friendly to a strong government 119-142


Boundaries. Additions and diminutions of territory. Incorporation of
New Braintree and of Dana. Annexation of the Gore, now included
in Gilbertville. Four bridges across Ware River. Roads hilly, and
difficult of construction. Sixth Massachusetts Turnpike. Ware
River Railroad. Massachusetts Central Railroad. Pounds. Pau-
pers. Town fiirm. Proposal to maintain State paupers. Slavery.
Town House. Bell. Burial-places. E^ntaphs 143-172


Meeting-house and ministry. Mr. Ephraim Keith. Church organized.
Rev. David White ordained. First meeting-house. Sharp contro-
versy concerning the location of the second meeting-house. Unwil-
lingness to contract debts. People seated anew in the meeting-
house. Deacon Paige absents himself from the communion, and is
censured. Ecclesiastical council. Deacon Paige resigns office, and
unites with the church in Petersham. Deacon Robinson resigns
office and becomes a deacon in the Separate Church. Changes in
the manner of singing, and also in the versions of the Psalms sung.
Deacon Allen absents himself from the communion, alleging a lack
of discipline in the church, but is afterwards pacified and returns to
his official duty. Third meeting-house a magnificent structure.
Abortive attempt to settle a colleague pastor. Death and character
of Rev. David White and of his wife. Deacon Allen elected mod-
erator of the church. Attempts to settle a pastor. Rev. Thomas
Holt ordained. Confession of Faith and Covenant. Rev. Mr. Holt


appeals in vain for an increase of salary; Lis dismission and subse-
quent labors. Pastorate of Rev. AVilliam B. Wesson. Division of
the original parish. The Congregational Society settle Rev. John
M. Merrick and Rev. John Goldsbury; afterwards unite Avith the
Universalist Society. New meeting-house. Pastors. The Calvin-
istic Society settle Rev. Martyn Tupper. Confession of faith.
Meeting-houses. Pastors. Deacons 173-220


Separate Church. Reasons for separation. Early separatists. Cove-
nant. List of members. Removal to Bennington. The original
separate church in Hardwick becomes the First Congregational
Church in Vermont. Baptist Society. Early members. Corpora-
tors. Meeting-houses. Pastors. Deacons. Universalist Society.
Petition for incorporation. Corporators. Pastors. Deacons. Amal-
gamation with the Congregational Society. Methodist Society.
Meeting-house. Trinitarian Congregational Church. Munificent
Benefactors. Pastors. Deacons. Meeting-house. Catholic Church.
Meeting-house. Priest 221-237


Graduates. Clergymen. Lawyers. Physicians. Poets. Poetry.
Schools. Early teachers. Appropriations. School-houses. High
School. Social Library. Early Proprietors. Catalogue of books.
Mount Zion Lodge. Original members. Removal to Barre. Mas-
ters. Post Oflices and Postmasters. Post-riders and mail carriers.
Centennial Celebration 238-262


French War. Brigadier Ruggles. Muster Rolls. Revolutionary
War. Minute Men. Major General Warner. Lieutenant Colonels
Rice and Sears. Muster Rolls. Descriptive Rolls. Petition of
Shearjashub Goodspeed. War of 1812. Abortive attempt to enlist
volunteers. Political celebration of independence. Oration. Toasts.
War of the Rebellion. Hardwick soldiers. Officers of Militia . 263-293


Population. Taxinl77G. Valuation. Manufactures and agricultural
products. George II. Gilbert Manufacturing Company. Furnaces.
Forge. Paper Mills 294-311


Councillors. Senators. Representatives. Delegates to Congresses and
Conventions. Justices of the Court of Common Pleas. Justices of
the Peace. ]\Ioderators. Selectmen. Assessors. Town Clerks.
Town Treasurers 312-319




Location. — Boundaries. — Soil. — Hills. — Ponds. — Rivers. — Brooks. —
Climate. — Longevity of Inhabitants.

The town of Haedwick is situated very near the territorial
centre of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the western
border of Worcester County, and midway between the States of
New Hampshire and Connecticut. It is bounded on the south
by Ware ; on the west by Ware, Enfield, and Greenwich ; on the
northwest by Dana ; on the northeast by Barre ; and on the
southeast by New Braintree, froui which it is separated by Ware
River, except at the southerly end of the line. Like many other
towns, its boundaries have several times been changed, and its
territory enlarged or diminished, as will hereafter be described.
It now contains about 21,000 acres, of which, with the exception
of a few ponds and a somewhat plentiful supply of rocks, almost
every inch is improved or improvable.

The description given by Whitney in 1793 is substantially cor-
rect at the present time : " The town is of a good form and
shape, being nearly square. The face of the town is rather rough,
hilly, and uneven, altliough there are no very great and remarka-
ble hills.^ The soil is in general deep, loamy, and very fertile.

1 There is one high hill at the south the east, Monadnock on the north, and on
end of the town, called McDougal on the the west the mountains beyond Connecti-
map, but generally known as Bugle Hill, cut River. In the early part of the cen-
which affords excellent pasturage. About tury this was a favorite resort. On the
three quarters of a mile north of the Com- very pinnacle a tower was erected, about
mon is Poverty Hill, so called, perhaps, on twenty feet in height (whose stone foun-
account of its unproductiveness. From dation still remains in place), on which a
the summit of this hill, though not greatly choice company of young men and maid-
elevated above the surrounding highlands, ens were accustomed to assemble on sum-
a very extensive and magnificent land- mer afternoons and moonlight evenings
scape is visible, embracing Wachusett on and make the air resound with music,


The lands produce all kinds of grain in sufficient plenty for the
inhabitants ; but they are best adapted to grass and pasturage.
Here vast quantities of butter and cheese are made, and most ex-
cellent beef fatted for the market. All kinds of fruit-trees flour-
ish here." ^

With the exception of the manufacturing village at Gilbert-
ville, Hardwick remains an almost exclusively agricultural town.
A less quantity of grain, however, is raised now than formerly,
and more attention is devoted to the production of hay, milk, but-
ter, and cheese. The more general use of horses instead of oxen
for farm-labor has also somewhat diminished the quantity of
*' beef fatted for the market."

The township is well watered. Near the southwest corner is
Muddy Pond (through which Muddy Brook passes), formerly,
and perhaps now famous for its abundance of fish ; and on the
northwest border, but now wholl}' included in Dana, was the even
more productive Pottapaug Pond, fed and drained b}^ Swift River.
Though the pond is now severed from the town. Swift River still
flows across its northwestern corner, furnishing water-power to
Southworth's saw-mill and manufactory of powder-kegs, at the
place marked " Wardwell's Mills " on the Ruggles map. On
Ware River, which forms almost the entire easterly boundary of
the town, there is a very valuable water-privilege at Gilbertville,
and another, less powerful, at the paper mill near Barre, marked
" N. W. Mills " on the Ruggles map. On that map are also de-
lineated four brooks, all flowing in a southeasterly direction into
Ware River, and on all of which, except perhaps the first named,
are mill privileges of greater or less value: — namely, Board
Meadow Brook, Moose Brook, Great Meadow Brook, and Muddy
Brook. Besides these, there is another of considerable size, some-
times called Fish Brook, between Moose and Great Meadow
brooks. Living springs abound throughout the town.

The climate of Hardwick is eminently favorable to health and
long life. In the Registration Report for 1877, published under
the supervision of the Secretary of State, is an abstract, exhibit-
ing the number of deaths registered " for the thirteen years, 1865-
1877," together with the proportion of deaths to the whole pop-
ulation. The ratio of " Deaths to 100 persons living " in the

both sacred and secular. They called that company are widely scattered abroad , •

the hill " Mount Pleasant," an appellation but they cherish a vivid remembrance of

which it richly deserves, and whicli ought " auld laug syne."

to be perpetuated. The few survivors of ^ Hist. Worcester County, p. 175.


entire Commonwealth was 1.77 ; the same ratio in the town of
Hardwick was 1.03, — less than three fifths of the general aver-
age. Only five towns in the State exhibited a less number of
deaths in proportion to their living population. This result may
be attributed partly to the skill of the physicians ; but doubtless
it is chiefly due to the clear air and the fresh breezes which
sweep over the hills, dissipating and expelling the malaria, and
purifying the atmosphere. Very seldom has any epidemic proved
destructive in this favored place. The canker-rash, indeed, in
1803, made sad havoc among the children ; and a malignant fever
proved fatal to many adults in 1814 ; but generally the inhabit-
ants have been preserved from " the pestilence that walketh in
darkness," and from " the destruction that wasteth at noonday."
In very few towns has so lai'ge a proportion of the inhabitants
attained the allotted age of threescore years and ten. Before the
year 1789, the registry of deaths does not indicate the age of the
deceased, with only two exceptions ; but during that year a new
system was adopted. If I have counted correctly, the whole num-
ber of deaths registered from

August 12, 1789, to December 31, 1881, is . . . 2,222

The number under 70 years is . . . . . 1,708

The number from 70 to 80 years is ... . 253

The number from 80 to 90 years is . . . . 202

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 1 of 73)