Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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appeared. A wooden structure was placed here in 1845, which
was succeeded by the present substantial iron bridge in 1857.

Another bridge was early erected about half a mile above the

crossing at Gilbertville. A reference to it is found under date

of March 4, 1765, when the town " voted to Mr. Isaac Thomas

the sum of £26. 13. 4., said Thomas having engaged to build a

sufficient bridge over Ware River, near his iron-works, at the

most convenient place, and to the acceptance of the town, and to

be completed at or before the first day of September next." The

1 Eleazar Warner resided about a mile the Common to Gilbertville, a few rods

east of the river, at the j auction of the east of the present residence of Captain

roads Jeadinj^ to Kuiland and to the Orin Trow.

meeting-house in New Braintree. The 2 xhis highway passed up the hill to
highway described had for several years the house of Mr. George Warner, marked
previously been a "country road," and "Mr. Bolster " on the R. map, and thence
was that which afterwards became a northerly to its junction with what after-
turnpike through the Furnace Village to wards became the turnpike, near Great
its junction with the easterlj road from Meadow Brook.


form of this vote indicates that no bridge had been previously
erected at that place. Mr. Thomas did not fulfil his contract,
but sold his "iron-works'" to Abraham Savage and Joseph
Blake. The town, May 19, 1766, " voted to Mr. Savage and
Mr. Blake .£40. 0. 0., to enable them to build a bridge over
Ware River near their works, ... to be completed at or before
the first day of November next." The ti'easurer's account for
the same year exhibits a payment "to Lot Whitcomb, for build-
ing the bridge over Ware River, at Messrs. Savage and Blake's
works, £40. 0. 0." This bridge was rebuilt in 1814, and prob-
ably again rebuilt at a later date.

The bridge in Gilbertville was erected in 1871. It took the
place of an ordinary structure, built a few years earlier, and was
much more expensive than either of those before mentioned ; but
it was so thoroughly and firmly constructed that it may be ex-
pected to resist all the ordinary processes of decay and destruc-
tion for many years.

The construction and maintenance of highways in this town in-
volved great expense from the beginning. Twenty years after
the settlement commenced, it was represented in a petition to
the General Court, heretofore quoted, that the inhabitants are
" obliged to expend yearly large sums in making and repairing
their highway's, and even this year [1754] are at the expense of
a hundred pounds, lawful money, for that purpose ; and must be
at the expense of some thousands of pounds upon their roads be-
fore they will be brought to be as good as most of the roads in
the province are by nature." Not only was almost the whole
township covered with a heavy growth of timber, but the surface
of the ground was very uneven and hilly, thickly sprinkled with
rocks and ledges. The hills and valleys run chiefly in a north-
erly and southerly direction ; and the highways running across
them from east to west are far from level. Between the Com-
mon and Muddy Brook, on the roads leading to Enfield and
Greenwich, and on the old road to Greenwich Village, the hills
are both long and steep. The old road from Mandell Hill to
Ware River is yet visible, and affords a specimen of the difficul-
ties originally encountered. Indeed a portion of it, near the Old
Furnace, still open but disused, was said by teamsters, half a cen-
tury ago, to be more diflicult of ascent than any other hill be-
tween that point and Boston. This difficulty is now avoided by a
comparatively new road, which, by a long detour to the north, as-


cends the hill more gradually. Relief has been obtained also on
the old road (or turnpike) to Greenwich Village, b}' opening a
new highway between INIuddy Brook and the Common, which
both diminishes the steepness of the ascent and sliortens the dis-
tance. But notwithstanding these and other similar changes, the
Hardwick roads generall}' remain hilly, and their maintenance re-
quires much care and expense ; and yet it should be said that in
few if any towns, at the same distance from Boston, are the roads
kept in so good condition. For more than a century a " highway
tax " was annually assessed, which was " worked out " by the in-
habitants and their teams, under the direction of " Surveyors of
Highways ; " but recently all the roads are placed under the su-
pervision of a single person, who employs all necessary assistance.
Thus far, the new system has given general satisfaction.

Shortly before the commencement of the present century, an
effort was made to improve the great thoroughfares of public
travel by the construction of turnpikes. The " First Massachu-
setts Turnpike," in the towns of Palmer and Western (now War-
ren), was chartered b}'^ the General Court, June 11, 1796, on
petition of the veteran stage-driver Levi Pease and others. So
popular did this movement speedil}'^ become, that at the end of
nine years (June 15, 1805) there were sixty similar corporations
in this Commonwealth. The corporators were required to con-
struct and maintain good roads for the convenience and advan-
tage of the public, and were empowered to erect gates thereon,
and to receive toll from all who passed through them with vehi-
cle or beast, for their individual emolument.^ Among the earliest
was the " Sixth Massachusetts Turnpike," which passed through
Hardwick. The indications are unmistakable that General War-
ner ^ was the leading spirit in this enterprise ; and sixteen of
the twenty-nine petitioners for the charter were Hardwick men.
The petition so vividly describes the condition of the roads at
that period that I insert it in full : —

" To the Honorable the Senate and the Honorable House of
Representatives in General Court assembled, May, 1798.^ The

1 The experiment proved to be more ^ Although liis name is the seventeenth

profitahle to the public than to the corpo- on the petition, yet in the Court Records

rators ; and before the introduction of rail- it is styled " the petition of Jonathan

roads, almost all the turnpikes in the Warner and others :" he is the first per-

Comnion wealth were surrendered to the son named in the charter, and was the

towns wherein they were located, and be- first president of the corporation,

came public hi^^hways, by permission of ^ Probably the petition was prepared

the General Court. too late for presentation at the summer


subscribers, inhabitants of the counties of Hampshire, Worcester,
Middlesex, &c., humbly shew, that the road leading from Hadley,
through Amherst, Pelham, Greenwich, Hard wick. New Braintree,
Oakham, Rutland, Holden, and Worcester, to the great road in
Shrewsbury, which leads from New York to Boston, are at pres-
ent very bad, and almost impassable for carriages, not from the
negligence and inattention of the said towns through which they
pass, but from the roughness of the country which is in many
places uneven, hilly, and very rocky, and that they can never be
properly repaired by the aforesaid towns without distressing them
with a very great and unreasonable burden ; ^ but that with suf-
ficient labor and expense they are capable of being very much im-
proved ; and that as the route from Albany to Boston is in a di-
rect line through the aforesaid towns, by a proper improvement
the travelling to the western part of the County [countr}'- ?] may
begreatl}^ facilitated, and the distance very considerably curtailed.
Your petitioners, therefore, from the fullest conviction of the im-
portance of the measure to the trade and agriculture of the
County [country ?] pray that your Honors would grant to the sub-
scribers and such as may associate with them an Act of Incorpo-
ration, empowering them to make a good Turnpike Road from the
town of Hadley in the county of Hampshire to the town of
Shi'ewsbury in the county of Worcester, through the afoi'esaid
towns, with all such powers, rights, privileges, and tolls, as the
subject matter and the situation of the County [country ?] may
render necessary. And as in dut}'^ bound will ever pray,^ Fran-
cis Blake, Moses White, Richard Kelly, Joseph Chaddock, Jesse
Allen, Artemas Howe, Roger West, Robert T. Field, Moses Man-
dell,* James Paige, 2d,* Jason Mixter,* Samuel Beals,* Jonathan
Warner, 2d,* Timothy Paige,* James Lawton,* Nathaniel Whit-
comb, Jonathan Warner,* Stephen Rice,* Nehemiah Hinds, John
Rinker,3 Lemuel Willis,* Seth Hinkley,* William Cutler,* Seth
Peirce,* Jonathan Danforth,* Abner Conant,* Joel Marsh,*
Thomas Powers, Zebina jNIontague." On this petition an order
of notice was issued February 25, 1799, returnable at " the first
session of the next General Court."* The charter was granted

session of the General Court, as no action ought to be required of the inhabitants of

was had on it until the following winter, said towns." Mass. Special Laws, ii.

1 The preamble to the charter also sets 327.

forth that the present highway " is rocky 2 Tjjg names marked with a star (*) in-

and mountainous, and the expense of dicate inhabitants of Hardwick.

making and maintaining the same, so that ^ This name is spelled Rankin in the

it may be convenient for horses and car- charter,

riages, is much greater than reasonably * Mass. Spy, April 3, 1799.


June 22, 1799, omitting the names of some of the petitioners and
containing several additional names. The provisions of this char-
ter may be interesting to the younger portion of the present gener-
ation, who do not remember the period of turnpikes. Among
other things, and principally, the corporators were authorized to
construct " a turnpike road from the east line of Amherst ... to
the great road in Shrewsbury, . . . which road or turnpike shall
not be less than four rods wide, and the path for travelling not
less than eighteen feet wide in any place'; . . . the said corpora-
tion may and shall be authorized to erect five turnpike gates ^ on
the same, . . . and shall be entitled to receive of each traveller
or passenger, at each of said gates, the following rate of toll, viz.,
for every coach, phaeton, chariot, or other four wheel carriage,
drawn by two horses, twenty-five cents, and if drawn by more
than two horses, an additional sum of four cents for each horse ;
for ever}^ cart or wa^rgon, drawn by two oxen or horses, twelve
and a half cents, and if drawn by more than two oxen or horses,
an additional sum of three cents for each horse or ox ; for every
curricle, sixteen cents ; for every chaise, chair, or other carriage,
drawn by one horse, twelve and a half cents ; for every man and
horse, five cents ; for every sled or sleigh, drawn by two oxen or
horses, nine cents, and if drawn by more than two oxen or horses,
an additional sum of three cents for every horse or ox; for every
sled or sleigh, drawn by one horse, six cents ; for all horses, mules,
oxen, or neat cattle, led or driven, besides those in teams or car-
riages, one cent each ; for all sheep or swine, at the rate of three
cents for one dozen. . . . Provided, that nothing within this act
shall extend to entitle the said corporation to demand or receive
toll of any person who shall be passing with his horse or carriage
to or from public worship, or with his horse, team, or cattle, to or
from his common labor, or to or from any mill, or on the common
or ordinary business of family concerns within the said town, or
from any person or persons passing on military duty." ^ And it
was " further enacted, that the first meeting of said corporation
shall be holden at the house of Jonathan Warner, in Hardwick
aforesaid, on the tenth day of September next, at ten of the clock

1 One of these gates was to be erected very honest though somewhat eccentric

"near the house of Zephaniali Spooner man.

in Hardwick " (near Muddy Brook) ; but 2 'phe town of Hardwick had previous-
it was soon afterwards placed near the ly (April 2, 1798) "voted, to let a Turn-
Old Furnace, between Moose Brook and pike Road go through the town, if the in-
Ware River ; where toll was gathered for habitants of the said town may pass and
many years by Mr. Ebenczer Cobb, a repass free of any expense iu said town."


in the forenoon, for the purpose of chooshig all such officers and
establishing such rules as said corporation may think proper." ^

The corporation, when organized, issued an "advertisement,"
describing in strong terms the advantages which would accrue
both to the public and to the stockholders from the execution of
their design, and soliciting subscriptions : — " The Public are
informed that a Company has been incorporated by a late Act of
the legislature of Massachusetts, for the purpose of making a
Turnpike Road from Amherst in the County of Hampshire to
Shrewsbury in the County of Worcester, and that agreeably to
the act of incorporation the Company have proceeded to lay out
the road and make an estimate of the probable expense. The
object of this association is to establish a direct line of communi-
cation from Boston to Albany, and to facilitate the travelling
from Connecticut River to the Capital of Massachusetts. It is a
well-known fact that the trade of this wealthy and flourishing
part of New England has for many years past (in consequence
of the roughness of the roads and the difficulty of communication
with the town of Boston) been gradually diverted from our
metropolis to Hartford and New York. To the mercantile
interest of Boston this has become a very serious injury, and
with their brethren in the country a subject of very serious re-
gret. It is presumed, therefore, that an enterprise, the object of
which is to remedy this evil, as well as to promote the conven-
ience of the public, cannot fail to meet the approbation and
encouragement of the citizens of Boston in particular, and the
inhabitants of Massachusetts in general, even without the pros-
pect of private emolument. But the proprietors, feeling tliehi-
selves authorized, from a due attention to the subject, to state to
the public a rational jjrospect of individual emolument to be
derived from an interest in this undertaking, calculate with con-
fidence upon receiving such pecuniary aid from the patriotic and
liberal citizens of New England as will enable them to carry into
immediate effect the object of their association. They therefore
inform the public that the proposed Turnpike comprehends a
distance of about forty-three miles, beginning at Shrewsbury, on
the great post road from Boston to New York, passing through
a fertile and flourishing country in the counties of Worcester and
Hampshire, and terminating at Amherst, on Connecticut River,
where it will connect with a turnpike already' established from
Northampton to the line of the State of New York. It is well
1 Mass. Special Laws, ii. 327-331.


ascertained that this is the most dii'ect route from Boston to
Albany, and will embrace the travelling from the western
country and the most flourishing settlements on Connecticut
River, within the States of Massachusetts and Vermont. From
the best information, the proprietors of the turnpike from North-
ampton, with which this is to be immediately connected, have
already realized from seven to nine per cent for their capital, and
their income is rapidly increasing. From the difference in the
face of the country, the proposed turnpike will be made with
much less expense than the other, and the income of course
proportionably greater. The expense has been estimated by a
committee appointed for that purpose at twentj^-five thousand
five hundred and thirty dollars,^ which sum is divided into ten
hundred and twenty-one shares, at twenty-five dollars each.
The first assessment is five dollars, which sum is to be paid on
the delivery of the Certificate, and the future assessments made
known by advertisements in the public papers. It is contem-
plated by the proprietors to engage in the business early in the
ensuing spring, and if sufficient encouragement can be obtained
to have the road completed in the course of the next season.
Many wealthy and respectable inhabitants of the country are
now earnestly engaged in the object, and solicit the co-operation
of the commercial citizens of Boston, whose interest is so pe-
culiarl}' concerned, and upon whose assistance the accomplish-
ment of the work will perhaps ultimatel}'^ depend. The shares
are now offered for sale, and any person inclining to become
interested in an enterprise which affords a fair prospect of private
advantage and of great public utility may receive more particular
information, and have an oj)portunity of purchasing until the
10th day of February next (at which time the sales will be
closed), by applying to the following persons, viz. : Mr. John
Marston, N. Patch, Boston ; Nathaniel Paine, Esq., Worcester ;
Ebenezer Hunt, Esq., Northampton ; John Dodds, Esq., or Mr.
Lemuel Davis, Holden ; Moses White, Esq., or Francis Blake,
Esq., Rutland ; Doctor Spencer Field, Oakham ; Jonathan
Warner, Esq., Hard wick ; Thomas Powers, Esq., Greenwich;
Major John Conkey, Pelham. Signed by order of the Corpora-
tion. Jonathan Warner, President." ^

1 Asgenerally happens in similar cases, in one summer; and cost about thirty-

the expense far exceeded the estimate, three thousand dollars." Reed's Hist, of

The " Road was forty-three miles and one Rutland, p. 44.
hundred and twelve rods long ; was made - Mass. Spy, January 1, 1800.


The corporators and stockholders were disappointed in their
hope of individual profit. The construction of the road involved
an expense of about eight thousand dollars beyond the estimate,
the payment of which absorbed all or nearly all the net income.
By a statement signed "Jonas Reed, late Proprietors' Clerk," it
appears that " the road being made and accepted, the Corporation
for a little time took considerable toll ; but it was appropriated
to the payment of outstanding debts. The pi"oprietors were
under the necessity of taking their own money to pay themselves.
New roads were made, toll evaded, and the shares had the same
destiny as the old Continental money. The Corporation relin-
quished its Franchise, and on August 11, 1828, held its last meet-
ing. The turnpike became a County road or common High-
way."^ But though the proprietors thus suffered loss, the towns
through which the turnpike passed were doubtless benefited by
its construction. It became a more direct and practicable
thoroughfare, and the tide of travel was atti'acted to it, with the
usual profitable results. In Hard wick, the turnpike followed
substantially the county road from the Old Furnace to Green-
wich village, except between the Common and the house of Mr.
John W. Paige (marked " J. Gorham " on the R. map). The
old road from the southwesterly corner of the Common ran
westerly up the steep hill ^ until it intersected the present road
to Ware, and then more northerly to its junction with the turn-
pike. Both ends of this old road, which was discontinued in
1808, remain visible to the present day, and its whole course
may be traced with little difficulty.^ By the construction of the
turnpike, the distance was shortened and the ascent of the hill
rendered more easy.

About half a century later. May 24, 1851, a charter was
granted to Charles A. Stevens, Jason Gorham, William Mixter,
and their associates, to construct the Ware River Railroad from

1 Reed's Hist, of Rutland, pp. 44, 45. the proprietors, February 21, 1732-3, " to

2 From a point near the middle of this set a meeting house on, and for a burial
steep ascent, a road diverged at right place, and a training field." For this lot
angles, and passed southerly towards another was afterwards substituted, and
Gilbertville to its junction with the pres- half an acre in the northwest corner of
ent road (which was laid out in 1808 as a the original "ten acres" was granted,
county road), about a hundred rods north March 10, 1761, to " those people called
of the house of Mr. Forester B. Aiken. the Separate Society in Hardwick," who

3 The northerly section of this old erected a meeting house thereon and oc-
road was probably the westerly boundary cupied it a few years.

of the " ten acres " which was granted by


Palmer to the line of New Hampshire, to be constructed witliin
two years. ^ Additional time for its construction was repeatedly
granted by the General Court, but in vain. At length a new
charter was granted, March 16, 1867, to George H. Gilbert, Wil-
liam Mixter, Orrin Sage, Charles A. Stevens, George S. Hill, and
their associates, authorizing them, for the purpose of construction,
to divide the road into four sections, viz. : 1. From Palmer to
Gilbertville ; 2. From Gilbertville to Barre ; 3. From Barre to
Templeton ; and 4. From Templeton to the New Hampshire
line ; and also to " receive subscriptions for the building of each
of said sections separately." } The time limited for its construc-
tion having expired, the charter was revived by the General
Court, April 1, 1869, and the corpoi-ators were authorized. May
22, 1869, to mortgage the road to secure the payment of bonds to
be issued to defray the expense of construction.^ By an act
passed jMai'ch 15, 1870, the several towns through which this
road was to pass were authorized to subscribe for stock, not ex-
ceeding in amount five per cent, of the assessed valuation of each
town, by a majority of two thirds of the voters voting thereon by
ballot.* Accordingly, at a town-meeting, June 27, 1870, it was
voted, " That the town of Hardwick subscribe for thirty tliousand
dollars of the capital stock of the Ware River Railroad Com-
pany, under and pursuant to the authority given by an Act of the
Legislature of Massachusetts, at the late session thereof ; such
amount to be applied to the construction of the second section of
the said Ware River Railroad, from Gilbertville to Barre." On
this question, the votes were, Yeas, 113 ; Nays, 43. The road
was soon afterwards constructed and put in operation.^ It proved
unprofitable, however, to the proprietors, and the bondholders
foreclosed the mortgage, and sold the property for a sum not ex-
ceeding the amount of the bonds. The General Court had al-
ready, April 21, 1873, authorized the purchasers at this sale to
organize a new company under the old name, and to issue new
bonds secured by mortgage.^ The new compan}'' was duly or-
ganized, and it is understood that the propert}?^ yields a satisfac-
tory income to the present stockholders. To the original sub-
scribers, towns as well as individuals, the amount invested was
entirely lost ; nevertheless, to the towns and to many individuals

1 Mass. Special Laws, ix. 408. ^ Cars commenced running to Gilbcrt-

2 Ibid., xii. 202. ville in 1870 ; to Barre about 1872.
^ Ibid., xii. 763. _ <> Mass. Special Laws, xiii. 582.
* Ibid., xii. 907.


the loss was fully balanced by the incidental benefit derived from
the construction of the road. Both the agricultural and manu-
facturing interests of the town were promoted by the increased
facilities of transportation ; and the town was enriched rather
than impoverished by the expenditure.

In the year 1870 the railroad fever raged violently in Hard-
wick. Not content with one road, involving an expense of thirty
thousand dollars, the town pledged its credit for almost as large
a sum, to aid in the construction of another, which promised even
greater advantages, and which, if it shall ever be completed, will
probably redeem this promise, substantially, in spite of its failure
to perform the stipulated conditions. On the 10th day of May,
1870, the General Court incorporated Edward Denny and others
(among whom was Constant South worth of Hardwick), as the
" Massachusetts Central Railroad Company," and authorized
them to "locate, construct, maintain, and operate a railroad, with
one or more tracks, commencing at some convenient point in the
town of Williamsburg, thence running by the most convenient
route through the towns of Northampton, Easthampton, West-
hampton, Hatfield, Hadley, South Hadley, Amherst, Granby,
Ludlow, Belchertown, Enfield, Greenwich, Ware, Palmer, West
Brookfield, New Braintree, Hardwick, Dana, Petersham, Barre,
Phillipston, Oakham, Hubbardston, Rutland, Princeton, Holden,
Sterling, Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton, Lancaster, Northbor-

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 17 of 73)