Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 16 of 73)
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holden at Northampton, within and for the county of Hampshire,

1 Ichabod Dexter and Seth Taylor had, the Hon. General Lincoln, dated tlie 13th
perhaps, borne arms ; they are included instant. He was then with his troops at
among those who were required to lake Pittsfield, in the county of Berkshire,
the oath of allegiance. His Excellency has also received a letter,

2 Mass. Arch., cxc. 235. dated the 12th, from General Shepard,
8 Ibid., clxxxix. 75. I have not ascer- who, with a detachment of the army, by

tained where Mr. Convers found refuge, another route, was then marching into

Captain Hazeltine fled to Vermont; re- the same county. Several of the rebels,

sided at Sandgate, and represented that and some suspected of being their abet-

town, 1794, in the General Assembly, tors, have been apprelieuded ; the most

Several others, not here named, are noted arc John Wheeler, late one of

known to have absconded at about the Shays's Aids, and Muttliew Clarke, said

same time, and for a similar reason. to liave been busy in organizing the rebel

* " Last Thursday evening. His Excel- militia," &c. Independent Chronicle, Yth-

lency the Governor received a letter from ruary 22, 1787.


on the ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord seventeen hun-
dred and eighty-seven, by adjournment to that time from the first
Tuesday of the same, by Writ in virtue of an Act of the General
Court, made and passed in February last past. The Jurors of
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts upon their oath present
that John Wlieeler of Hardwick in the county of Worcester,
gentleman, and Henry McCuUock of Pelham in the county of
Hampshire, gentleman, together with others named in the indict-
ment, being members and subjects of the said Commonwealth,
and owing allegiance to the same, not having the fear of God in
their hearts, nor having any regard to the duty of their allegiance,
but being moved and seduced by a lawless and rebellious spirit,
and withdrawing from the said Commonwealth the cordial love
and due obedience, fidelity, and allegiance, which every member
of the same Commonwealth of right ought to bear to it, and also
most wickedly and traitorously devising and conspiring to levy
war against this Commonwealth, and thereby most wickedly and
traitorously intending, as much as in them lay, to change and
subvert the rule and government of this Commonwealth, duly
and happily established under the good people the inhabitants
and members of the same, according to the constitution and form
of government of the same, and to reduce them to anarchy, con-
fusion, and lawless power, upon the twenty-sixth day of Septem-
ber in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and eighty-six,
and on divers days and times, as well before that time as since,
at Springfield within the county of Hampshire aforesaid, with a
great number of rebels and traitors against the Commonwealth
aforesaid, viz. the number of one thousand whose names are yet
unknown to the jurors aforesaid, being armed and arrayed in a
warlike and hostile manner, viz. with drums beating, fifes play-
ing, and with guns, pistols, bayonets, swords, clubs, and divers
other weapons, as well offensive as defensive, with force and arms
did falsely and traitorously assemble and join themselves against
this Commonwealth and the law and government of the same, as
established by the constitution and form of government of the
same, and then and thei-e, with force and arms as aforesaid, did
falsely and traitorously array and dispose themselves against the
Commonwealth aforesaid and the due administration of justice in
the same according to the law and authority of the same, and
then and there with force and arms as aforesaid, in pursuance of
such their wicked and traitorous purposes aforesaid, did falsely
and traitorously prepare, order, wage, and levy, a public and cruel


war against the Commonwealth aforesaid, and then and there
with force and arms as aforesaid, wickedly and traitorously did
assault, imprison, captivate, plunder, destroy, kill, and murder,
divers of the liege subjects of the said Commonwealth in the
peace of the said Commonwealth being, and lawfully and in the
duty of their allegiance to the said Commonwealth defending
the same from the traitorous attacks as aforesaid, all which is
against the.duty of their allegiance and the law of the Common-
wealth aforesaid in such case made and provided and the dignity
of the same.

" A true Bill. Seth Mueeay, Foreman. R. T. Paine, Att^
for Repub.

" Hampsliire ss. April Term at Northampton, 1787. The
said John Wheeler and Henry McCuUock are arraigned at the
bar, and have this indictment read to them, and they severally
say that thereof they are not guilty, and thereof for trial put
themselves on God and the country. John Tucker, Clerk.

" And now in this present term, before the Court here come
the said John Wheeler and Henry McCullock, under custody of
the Sheriff of said County, and being set to the bar here in their
proper persons, and forthwith being demanded concerning the
premises in the indictment above specified and charged upon
them, how they will acquit themselves thereof, they severally say
that thereof they are not guiltj^ and thereof for trial severally
put themselves on God and the country (Simeon Strong and Caleb
Strong Esquires, having been assigned by the Court as counsel
for the prisoners) : a jury is immediately impanelled, viz., Wil-
liam Stebbins, Foreman, and Fellows, namely, Amos Baldwin,
Jonathan Parsons, Gideon Searl, Phineas Chapin, Jr., Jonathan
Clark, Daniel Fowler, Aaron Fisher, Simeon Chapin, Joshua Phil-
lips, Martin Clark, and Moses Kellogg, who, being sworn to speak
the truth of and concerning the premises, upon their oath say
that the said John Wheeler is guilty, and that the said Henry
McCullock is guilty. And now the Attorney General moves that
sentence of death might be given against the said John Wheeler
and Henry McCullock, the prisoners at the bar ; upon which it
is demanded of them the said John Wheeler and Henry jNIcCuI-
lock if they have or know aught to say wherefore the Justices
here ought not, upon the premises and verdict aforesaid, to pro-
ceed to judgment against them, who nothing further say unless
as they before had said. Whereupon, all and singular the prem-
ises being seen and by the said Justices here fully understood, it


is considered by the Court here, that the said John Wheeler be
taken to the goal of the Commonwealth from whence he came,
and from thence to the place of execution, and there be hanged
by the neck until he be dead : — that the said Henry McCullock
be taken to the goal of the Commonwealth from whence he came,
and from thence to the place of execution, and there be hanged
by the neck until he be dead. A true copy of Record.

"Att. Jn? Tucker, Clerk." i

There were manifestly extenuating circumstances in favor of
Mr. Wheeler, for within a few days a full and free pardon was
granted to him, and to three others who were convicted at the
same term of the Court : ^ —

" Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To the Sheriffs of our sev-
eral Counties, and all others our loving and faithful subjects, to
whom these presents shall come. Greeting.

" Whereas, John Wheeler of Hardwick, in the county of
Worcester, gentleman ; Daniel Luddington, of South Hampton,
in the county of Hampshire, yeoman ; James White, of Colerain,
in the same county, yeoman ; and Alpheus Colton, of Long-
meadow, in the same county, laborer ; were, at our Supreme Ju-
dicial Court, begun and holden at Northampton within and for
the county of Hampshire on the ninth day of April, in the year
of our Lord seventeen hundred and eighty-seven, by adjournment
to that time from the first Tuesday of the same April, in virtue
of an Act of the General Court made in February last past, con-
victed of Treason : — Whereupon the said John Wheeler, Daniel
Luddington, James White, and Alpheus Colton, were by the Jus-
tices of our said Supreme Judicial Court adjudged to suffer the
pains of death, as by the records of the said Supreme Judicial
Court manifestly appears ; — and whereas the said John Wheeler,
Daniel Luddington, James White, and Alpheus Colton have hum-
bly supplicated our grace and favor for remittance of the said
sentence : —

" We, therefore, by and with the advice of the Council, of our
special grace do hereby remit to the said John Wheeler, Daniel
Luddington, James White, and Alpheus Colton, a full, free, and
ample pardon of all the pains and penalties they were liable to
suffer and undergo by virtue of the sentence and judgment afore-
said ; of which the Sheriff of our said county of Hampshire is in
an especial manner to take notice.

1 Mass. Arch., clxxxix. 262-264. , one in Worcester, and one in Middlesex ;

2 Fourteen persons in all were convict- but, at length, all were pardoned.
ed : six in Berkshire, six in Hampshire,


" In testimony whereof we have caused our public seal to be
hereunto aflQxed. Witness, James Bowdoin, Esq., our Gov-
ernor and Commander-in-chief, at Boston, this thirtieth day of
April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and
eighty-seven, and in the eleventh year of the Independence of the
United States of America. By his Excellency's command, with
the advice and consent of the Council." ^

So " full, free, and ample " was this " pardon," that Mr.
Wheeler was not degi'aded from the office of lieutenant which
he had held for three years ; and on the first day of September,
1789, he was commissioned by Governor Hancock as captain of
the same company, and remained in office until the 8th of June,
1794, when he died at the early age of 37 years. The govern-
ment exercised similar forbearance and clemency in regard to Cap-
tain James Paige, Jr., who was so far involved in the insurrection-
ary movement as to be required to take the oath of allegiance,
yet was permitted to retain his military position, and was pro-
moted to the office of major, receiving his commission 19 De-
cember, 1791. Indeed, a strong sympathy with this movement
pervaded not only the community but the government itself. A
large proportion of the representatives appi'oved it, and resisted
active measures for its suppression. In the spring of 1787, its
friends and supporters obtained a substantial victory in the Com-
monwealth, by the defeat of Governor Bowdoin, and the election
of Governor Hancock, with a still larger proportion of the repre-
sentatives. The authority of the government was nominally
maintained ; but its administration was rendered difficult by this
disturbing element. The same spirit was visible in the conven-
tion called in 1788 to consider the proposed Constitution of the
United States, and nearly prevented its adoption on the ground
that it granted too much power to the general government. So
powerful and so persistent was the opposition, that even with the
hope of certain amendments to render it less objectionable, ap-
proval of the Constitution was secured by the meagre majority
of nineteen, there being, on the final question, 187 yeas and 168

Both before and after the collapse of the insurrection, a major-
ity of the voters in Hardwick seem to have sympathized with it.
They were officially represented in the county conventions, many

1 Mass. Arch., clxxxix. 265. shire, 19 j'eas, 33 nays; in Berkshire, 7

2 Tiiis opposition was es[)ecially mani- yeas, 15 nays. Amonj; the nays :i])pears
fest in the western counties : there were the name of Martin Kinsley, the delegate
iu Worcester, 7 yeas, 43 nays ; in Uamp- from Hardwick.


of them took up arms, and their votes in town-meeting indicate
their political preferences. Under a warrant for a meeting, Jan-
uary 8, 1787, " to take into consideration a petition from a num-
ber of the inhabitants of tlie town of Hardwick, praying tliat
Capt. Shattuck and others lately imprisoned at Boston may be
liberated, and that the Courts of Common Pleas and General
Sessions may be suspended till a new election, and sundry other
articles, and for the town to act thereon as they shall think
proper," it was "voted to choose a committee to petition the
General Court for the purpose expressed in the warrant, &c., and
made choice of Major Kinsley, John Raymond, Ichabod Dexter,
Capt. Hazeltine, and Doctor Rawson, for said committee, and
they to make report at the adjournment of this meeting." At
the adjourned meeting, January 29th, " the petition that the
aforesaid committee had prepared was publicly read before the
town and accepted. Voted that the petition be signed by the
Town Clerk as the doings of the town. Voted to choose a com-
mittee to repair to General Lincoln's and Shaj's' army, in order
to accommodate matters, if possible to prevent the shedding of
blood; and chose Capt. [Daniel] Wheeler and Capt. [Daniel]
Egery." At the annual meeting, March 5, 1787, the same spirit
was in the ascendant. The record is characteristic of the eccen-
tric town clerk ; but there is no reason to doubt its literal truth-
fulness : " The town met and proceeded as follows : (1.) Chose
Gen. Jonathan Warner, Moderator ; and then, after quarrelling
the remainder of the day, voted to adjourn the meeting to Mon-
day the 2^ day of April next, at nine o'clock in the moi-ning.
Met accordingly and proceeded as follows : chose Sylvan us Wash-
burn, Town Clerk ; Major Martin Kinsley, Town Treasurer ;
Capt. Daniel Egery, Capt. Seth Peirce, Seth Johnson, Deac. Na-
thaniel Paige, and Daniel Billing, Selectmen ; Sylvanus Wash-
burn, Daniel Ruggles, and David Allen, assessors." The personal
popularity of General Warner secured his election as moderator ;
notwithstanding his active support of the government ; but Major
Kinsley, whose sympathy and influence were manifestly on the
other side, was elected treasurer in place of Colonel Paige, whose
loyalty was never doubted. An entire change was made in the
board of selectmen ; the loyal incumbents were superseded by
new men, all of whom, except, perhaps, Mr. Billings, were of
different politics. And in the next month Major Kinsley was
elected representative.

In Hardwick, as elsewhere, there were doubtless some dema-


gogues and political agitators, who took advantage of the general
distress for selfish and sinister purposes ; but most of this class
soon left town. Of those who remained, the larger portion were,
probabl}^, as excusable in their resistance to the government now
as they formerly were in resisting the authority of Great Britain.
Goaded to desperation by the pressure of financial obligations
which they could not cancel, they sought relief by the means
which had previously been so effectual, namely. County Conven-
tions, the obstruction of the Courts of Law, and at last an appeal
to Arms. They made a sad mistake, not properly distinguishing
between laws arbitrarily imposed on them by a foreign power,
and laws enacted by their own representatives, and subject to
amendment or repeal by the same authority. In subsequent
years, they were peaceable, law-abiding citizens, trusted and hon-
ored by their townsmen, and steadfast upholders of government ;
yet, almost without exception, they maintained through life the
political theory that the government should be clothed with no
more power than is indispensable to its existence.

The proper " conclusion of the whole matter " seems to be
this : Their financial distress furnished an excuse, approximating
justification, to the insurgents. On the other hand, those who
held fast their integrity in the midst of such wide-spread calam-
ity, and supported the government in its terrible struggle to main-
tain the supremacy of law, deserve the highest honor for their
loyalty and true patriotism.



Boundaries. — Additions and Diminutions of Territory. — Incorporation of
New Braintree, and of Dana. — Annexation of the Gore, now included in
Gilbertville. — Four Bridges across Wai'e River. — Roads, hilly and difficult
of Construction. — Sixth Massachusetts Turnpike. — Ware River Railroad.
— Massachusetts Central Railroad. — Pounds. — Paupers. — Town Farm. —
Proposal to maintain State Paupers. — Slavery. — Town House. — Bell. —
Burial Places. — Epitaphs.

Boundaries. — It has already been mentioned^ that the sur-
veyor, in delineating the township, inadvertently included at the
northeast corner four hundred acres ^ belonging to the " Braintree
six thousand acres," and three hundred acres at the southwest
corner, being a part of the " Equivalent Lands," which had been
purchased by John Read, Esq. ; in consideration of which, the
General Court, in 1733, granted to the proprietors the tract of
land between Ware River and the " Six Thousand Acres," which
now constitutes about one half of New Braintree. This grant,
however, was only of temporary value. The inhabitants of that
tract soon became weary of climbing the long hill to attend pub-
lic worship and transact town affairs, and for this and probably
other reasons, desired a separation. After some unsuccessful
efforts their object was accomplished January 31, 1751, when
that part of Hardwick which was east of the river, together with
the " Six Thousand Acres " and a part of Brookfield, was incor-
porated as a separate district, which subsequently became a town,
by the name of New Braintree.

Half a century later, the town was again curtailed in its dimen-
sions. The movement commenced as early as August 25, 1788,
when the town "Voted, that they have not any objection to the
prayer of a petition being granted, which was presented to the
General Court of this Commonwealth, at their last session, by a

1 Chapter iii., June, 1733. June 10, 1814. Mass. Speckd Laws, v.

2 This tract was annexed to Hardwick 10.


number of inhabitants in the northwesterly part of this town,
praying to be incorporated, with a part of Petersham and Green-
wich, into a distinct town by the name of Tolland." This peti-
tion was not granted ; but on the eighteenth day of February,
1801, substantially the same territory was incorporated into a
town by the name of Dana.^

A small gore of unincorporated land was annexed to Hard-
wick, February 7, 1831, described as follows : " Beginning at the
northwest corner of said Hard wick, and running N. 70° E., 5 rods,
to the southerly corner of Petersham; thence S. 4l4° E., 184
rods, on the line of Petersham, to the southeast corner thereof ;
and thence N. 37i° W., 186 rods, on the line of Hardwick, to the
bound first mentioned."^

This gore was included in the large tract of land annexed to
Dana, February 4, 1842, and described as follows: "Beginning
at the southwest corner of Silas N. Johnson's land, on the line of
said Hardwick and Dana; thence running S. 49° E., 204 rods,
to the corner of Stephen Hillman's land ; thence N. 31^° E., 543
rods, to Barre, Hardwick, and Petersham corner," ^ together with
a part of Petersham. The portion of Hardwick thus annexed to
Dana was estimated to be one seventy-fifth part of the whole

Many years ago, as indicated on the Ruggles map, several
acres of land, measuring nearly seven-eighths of a mile in length,
and about a quarter of a mile in width, were set off from Hard-
wick and annexed to Greenwich.

More important than any other, indeed more important than
all others, was the last addition to the territory of Hardwick.
On the east side of "Ware River, between the towns of Hardwick,
New Braintree, and Ware, was a tract of unincorporated land,
called " Hardwick Gore." Though separated from Hardwick
by the river, in many respects its inhabitants were more closely
connected with this town than with the others ; they voted here
for state officers, their state tax was assessed here, and here
they buried their dead. Attempts were made, from time to
time, for the annexation of this Gore to the town. As early as
March 2, 1807, the town " voted to postpone the taking of a vote
upon the petition of the people in the Gore, so called, and choose
a committee of three to see upon what terms the petitioners are
willing to be annexed to the town of Hardwick." The desired

1 Mass. Special Laws, ii. 416. » Ibid., viii. 239.

2 Ibid., vii. 26.


object was not accomplished until a quarter of a century later,
when the General Court enacted, February 6, 1833, " that the
gore of land lying at the southeasterly part of the town of Hard-
wick, and adjoining said town, called Hardwick Gore, containing
about two hundred acres, and described as follows : beginning at
a monument in the pond above Anderson's mill, at a jjUice where
the westerly line of New Braintree leaves Ware River, thence
on the said westerly line of New Braintree, south, fourteen de-
grees east, one hundred and twenty-two rods, to a stone monu-
ment : thence south, thirty-seven degrees west, two hundred and
eighty-nine rods, to another stone monument, at the southwest
corner of New Braintree and northeast corner of Ware ; thence
north, eighty-seven degrees west, thirty-six rods, to said Ware
River; thence on the said River, northerly, four hundred and
twenty-one rods, to the southeast corner of Hardwick; thence
sixty-one rods, to the place of beginning, — together with the
inhabitants thereof, be and the same is hereby annexed to the
town of Hardwick, in the county of Worcester ; and said inhabit-
ants shall be liable to the same duties and entitled to the same
privileges as the other inhabitants of the same town." ^

On this annexed territory, within the last twenty years, has
grown up the larger part of the village of Gilbertville, now con-
taining about half of the population of the whole town, and
furnishing a convenient market for agricultural products. The
annexation involved large disbursements by the town for schools,
and for the construction of roads and a very expensive bridge ;
but the advantages derived from the increased value of taxable
property, and the incidental stimulus given to farming and other
industrial pursuits, appear to be fully equivalent to the outlay.
Tlie " George H. Gilbert Manufacturiug Company " deserve
high praise, not only for erecting one of the most beautiful meet-
ing-houses in the Commonwealth, but also for the extraordinarily
neat and substantial character of their tenements, and generally
for their well-directed and constant efforts to beautify the villao-e,
and to make it a pleasant home for those whom they employ.

Roads and Bridges. One of the earliest tasks to be per-
formed by pioneers is the construction of roads and bridges.
This task in Hardwick was one of more than ordinary difficulty.
The largest and most expensive bridges were those across Ware
River ; of which the earliest was that near the Old Furnace.

1 Mass. Special Laws, vii. 291.


At a meeting of the proprietors, October 30, 1733, it was ordered
that a committee should allot certain lands on the east side of
the river, and " agree with the settlers for a price for the same ;
the produce of which to be laid out to build a good Cart Bridge
over Ware River aforesaid against the highway lately laid out
towards Brookfield ; and the said committee to agree with per-
sons to build the bridge, and take care that it be effected." This
bridge has been several times renewed, and is a very important
avenue. The present iron structure was erected in 1875. The
" highway lately laid out towards Brookfield " was the road which,
tui-ning to the right, about a quarter of a mile east of the bridge,
runs southeast to Ditch Meadow in New Braintree. It is re-
ferred to in the laying out of a highway, August 3, 1747, " from
Eleazar Warner's,^ through land of William Ayers and Josiah
Barrett, to the road from Ditch Meadow to the Great Bridge,
across the bridge, along the dug-way, across Moose Brook, in
front of Nathan Carpenter's door, up the hill to land of Caleb
Benjamin, through land of Zechariah Haskell, John Cooper, and
John Roberts, to the highway ^ from Cornelius Cannon's to the
Great Meadow Brook east of Joseph Ruggles's house."

Another bridge is here indicated. Cornelius Cannon resided
on the east side of the river, opposite to the late residence of Mr.
Reed S. Ruggles, marked " A. Rich " on the R. map. The town
voted, May 14, 1744, " to build a horse-bridge over the River,
near Cannon's." In my boyhood, vestiges of this bridge, and of
a roadway leading to it, were visible ; but the bridge itself had dis-

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 16 of 73)