Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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ough, Berlin, Bolton, Hudson, Stow, and Marlborough, or any
of them, to Mill Village, thence over the line of the Wayland
and Sudbury Branch Railroad Company, incorporated in the year
1868, to its terminus near the Stony Brook Station on the Fitch-
burg Railroad," with authority to become consolidated with the
said Wayland and Sudbury Railroad and the Williamsburg and
North Adams Railroad, and to use the tracks of intersecting rail-
roads." 1 An inspection of the map will show that as far as to
the easterly line of the county of Worcester, this roving commis-
sion embraced almost the entire territory between the Fitchburg
and the Boston and Albany railroads ; and, at one time or an-
other, a large portion of it has been surveyed, and selected as
" the most convenient route." Hardwick had its full share of
these surveys, selections, and changes. After many ineffectual
attempts had been made to find a feasible route across or near the
Common, it was determined to follow the valley of Ware River,

1 Mass. Special Laws, xii. 736.


either upon or parallel with the Ware River Railroad, from the
northeast corner of the town to a point near Gilbertville, and
thence to sweep around westerly and northerly almost or quite to
Southworth's Mills in the northwest part of the town, near Green-
wich. Upon the westerly portion of this route large sums of
money were expended, in deep excavations of rocky hills, high
embankments across valleys, and abutments for bridges, which
may hereafter be a study for antiquaries ; but the work was at
length abandoned, to the grievous disappointment of Mr. South-
worth and others who had actively labored in behalf of the road,
and a new route was adopted, extending down the River Valley
to Ware Village, thus entirely avoiding the highlands in Hard-
wick. Whether this will be the permanent location of the road,
and how soon the proposed work may be completed, are problems
yet unsolved.

By the act of incorporation, the several towns on the line of the
railroad were authorized to subscribe for its stock, to an amount
not exceeding five per cent, of their respective taxable valuation.
Encouraged by the hope that the several portions of the town
would be benefited by accessible stations, at a town-meeting held
November 8, 1870, it was " voted by one hundred and thirty-four
(134) yes, to ninety (90) no, by ballot, that the Treasurer of the
town of Hardwick be and he is hereby authorized and directed to
subscribe immediately, in the name of the town of Hardwick for
two hundred and eighty-one shares of one hundred dollars each, of
the capital stock of the Massachusetts Central Railroad Company,
agreeably to the terms of their charter, being 260 of the Acts of
1869. Provided, that this subscription be made upon the follow-
ing conditions, to wit : that the said Road shall be located, and a
contract be made with responsible parties to construct the Railroad
of said Company from Northampton, through and by the way of
Greenwich and Hardwick, north of the DugaP Hill, so as to
make a continuous line to Stony Brook Station on the Fitchburg
Railroad ; and further provided, that the town shall not be liable
to any amount till not less than three millions of dollars, including
this subscription, shall have been made to the capital stock of said
company. And provided further, that a depot for freight and pas-
sengers be established in the vicinity of the Old Furnace, Hard-
wick, and another in the most convenient locality between Gil-
bertville and the centre of Hardwick. And provided further, that
this subscription shall not be valid, unless the whole capital stock
1 Or " McDougal," or " Bugle."


of three million dollars be subscribed by responsible parties
within six months from the first day of Januai'y next." It is
questionable whether any of these conditions have ever been ful-
filled by the Railroad Company. It is certain that some of them
have not been fulfilled, and have become impossible of perform-
ance, unless the strange doctrine be held, that a location of the
road north of Bugle Hill, and the stating of a place for a depot
between Gilbertville and the centre of the town, was a substan-
tial fulfilment of the conditions, notwithstanding the road was
never constructed, and the location was utterly abandoned. Nev-
ertheless, on the presumption that the Company would comply
with the conditions in good faith, the town paid forty per cent, of
its subscription, amounting to $11,240 ; but on the 5fch of No-
vember, 1872, it was " voted, that the money on the subscription
of the town of Hardwick to the capital stock of the Massachusetts
Central Railroad be withheld until the definite location of the de-
pots of said Railroad in the vicinity of the Old Furnace Village,
Hardwick, and between the Common in said Hardwick and Gil-
bertville, and until the depot in the vicinity of the Old Furnace
Village be located within the limits of the town of Hardwick." ^
During the controversy which ensued, the Railroad Company
proposed to sell the stock belonging to the town ; whereupon at a
town-meeting, August 3, 1878, "voted and chose Hon. William
Mixter an agent of the town of Hardwick to agree with the Di-
rectors of the Massachusetts Central Railroad Company, that if
the said Company will consent not to sell the shares of the town
in the stock of said Company, as heretofore notified, the town
will waive all benefit of the Statute of Limitations for six months
from this date," without prejudice to the legal rights of either
party. A similar vote was passed, February 6, 1879, extending the
time two years. Whether the town will hereafter be compelled
to pay the remaining sixty per cent, of its subscription, not-
withstanding the non-performance of the conditions, or whether,
in consequence of such non-performance the company will be re-
quired to refund the amount already paid, remains to be judi-
cially determined. Meantime there is now an encouraging pros-
pect that at least so much of the road as will shorten the distance
between Hardwick and Boston twenty miles will be completed at
no remote day, and that the town will thus obtain a great advan-
tage, though less than it bargained for.

^ The company had commenced grad- not " within the limits of the town of
ing the road on the east side of the river, Hardwick."
passing the Furnace Village at a point


Pounds. One of the earliest safeguards against the destruc-
tion of property in the infant settlement aa^hs tlie establishment
of a pound for the confinement of cattle unlawfully running at
large. At the third meeting, after partial town privileges had
been obtained, holden June 30, 1737, it was " voted, that George
Abbott provide a Pound and be the pound-keeper for this j^ear ; "
the next year, August 8, 1738, it was " voted, that Benjamin
Smith's yard be a Pound for the town this year ; " and at the
first meeting after the town was fully incorporated, holden April
3, 1739, it was " voted, that the town will build a Pound, thirty
feet square, and that it shall be set near the meeting house, ^ and
that Samuel Robinson be the man to build said Pound according
to law." This inclosure served its purpose more than half a cen-
tury ; but on the 3d of March, 1794, it was " voted, that Jonathan
Danforth finish the Pound before the first day -of June next."
This vote is supposed to refer to the pound on the westerly side
of Great Meadow Brook, where it is crossed by the old turnpike,
near the spot where Mr. Danforth then resided, now owned and
occupied by Captain Orin Trow. The substantial stone walls
remain standing, and fragments of the fence, composed of sawed
chestnut posts and rails, are still visible, after so long exposure.^

Paupers. The first i-eference to that unfortunate class, de-
pendent on public charity and support, which appears on record,
is under date of iNIarch 7, 1717-8, when upon an article in the
warrant, " to see if the town will raise money to maintain Han-
nah Maccoye, sent to this town for that intent," it was " voted
to raise fifty pounds, old tenor, to maintain Hannah Maccoye; "
she remained chargeable until 1765. Doubtless other persons
had received public assistance at an earlier date ; indeed, it is
alleged by General Ruggles, in a petition dated in 1754 and
heretofore quoted, that '' the inhabitants of said town are obliged
to be at a great expense for the support of several poor and in-
digent persons ; " but the aid was probably rendered from the
general fund raised for town expenses. From the annual ac-
counts of the town treasurer, and from other sources, the fol-
lowing names are gathered of persons who received public aid up
to the end of the last century ; the figures denote the date when

1 It was on the westerly side of the my childish wonder three qnarters of a
Common, near the kite residence of Mr. century ago, and whose gradual decay I
Moses Smith. have since observed at short intervals of

2 I am very confident that these are time,
fragments of the same fence which excited


such aid was first rendered : Edmund Jordan's wife and children,
1757 ; ^ Isaiah Glazier's children, 1761 ; Temperance Pratt,
1764; 2 Sarah Cummings, 1761; Widow Zerviah Pratt, 1765,
died April 18, 1798, aged 89 ; Ephraim Rice's wife, 1765 ;
Samuel Abbott, " a poor child," 1766 ; Charles Thomas, '.' a
poor child," in care of Asa Hatch, 1768 ; James Harwood's wife,
1777 ; Mary Stratton, " a poor girl," 1783 ; Widow Mary Brad-
shaw, 1786; John Hedge, 1786; Thomas Shaw, 1786; Paul
Morgan,^ 1789 ; Widow Jemima Blackington, 1792, died May
18, 1796, aged 70 ; Isaac Pratt, 1793, died November 27, 1808,
aged 83 ; Hannah Aiken, 1798, died December 9, 1814, aged
64; Anna Farr, 1799; Abraham Chamberlin and wife, 1799;
John Hunt, and wife, and child, 1799 ; Edward Curtis, 1800, died
October 17, 1800, aged 66 ; Roxa Elwell, 1800, temporarily.

What method was originally adopted for furnishing the neces-
sary assistance to paupers, does not appear ; but at the com-
mencement of this century, and for many years afterwards, their
maintenance was allotted to the lowest bidder, from year to
year,^ with this qualification, however, that a preference was
given to relatives who were willing to assume the task.^ But in
1837 a more humane plan was adopted ; and at a town meeting,
April 3, 1837, after appropriating the sum of $2,000 (a portion
of the "Surplus Revenue" received by the town) to defraj' the
expense of building a Town Hall, it was " voted, to apply the
residue of said surplus to the purchase of a Farm, on which to
support the paupers ; voted, that the present Board of Selectmen
be a committee to purchase a Farm for the purpose of making it
a home for our paupers ; " and on the 13th of the following No-
vember it was " voted, to instruct the selectmen to complete the
purchase of the Farm of Mr. John Wheeler, on the terms they

1 Edmund Jordan died in the army, 1819, to wit: — Daniel Thomas and wife
1756. to Ephraim Ruggles ; Molly Reed (who

2 Temperance Pratt was an idiotic died January 22, 1822, aged 83) to Jede-
daughter of Widow Zerviah Pratt, and re- diah Dexter ; Mrs. Hammon to Bassett
mained a pauper for fifty years, until she Fay ; Anna Farr to David Bond ; Mrs.
died December 17, 1814, aged 64. Hedge to Sally Hedge; Hannah Morgan

^ Paul Morgan had the care of a grist- (State pauper) to Deacon Joseph Allen ;
mill which formerly stood near the pres- Dudley F. Lawrence to Ephraim Rug-
ent residence of Captain Orin Trow ; he gles ; Widow Freeman to Jedediah Dex-
died in 1789; his widow Hannah, also a ter; Lucius Doolittle to Franklin Rug-
pauper near the close of her life, died gles ; Widow Newton and two children
January 17, 1824, at the supposed age of to Samuel Freeman.
95 years. s In 1811, and for several years earlier

* On a loose paper among the archives and later, Sally Hedge was paid for sup-
in the town clerk's office is a memoran- porting her grandmother, Deliverance
dum of the disposition of the paupers in Hedge, who died June 4, 1819, aged 93.


have reported." On this farm suitable buildings were erected
for the convenience and comfort of the poor, who were thenceforth
protected against an annual flitting from one family to another,
and from the constant peril of being committed to the charge of
such persons as would have less regard for their welfare than for
their own personal profit. Under the judicious and tender care
of a warden and matron, the inmates are made more comfortable
in their old age and helplessness, without material increase of the
expenses of the town.

Before dismissing this subject, it may be mentioned that a
speculation in the maintenance of State Paupers was once seri-
ously proposed in town meeting. Who suggested the idea, or
advocated the measure, does not appear; but the following vote
was passed, May 9, 1791, and duly recorded : " Voted, that
the town will receive one third part of the poor persons sup-
ported by the Commonwealth, and they hereby offer and agree,
on their part, to support said poor persons, with suitable lodging
and boarding, for the term of ten years from and after the time
of contracting, provided the Commonwealth will pay them five
shilUngs per week for adults, and two shillings and sixpence per
week for children, and their proportion of one hundred pounds
per annum for doctoring said poor, the money to be paid quar-
terly ; and will remove said poor from Boston at their own ex-
pense." I find no evidence that their offer was accepted, or that
any further action was had by the town in reference to this
magnificent project.

Slavery. There are very faint traces of human bondage in
Hardwick. Among the marriages solemnized by Rev. Mr.
White was that of " Tack and Rose, Kenelm Winslow's man and
maid servant, April y^ 2>'^, 1755." Mr. Winslow not long after-
wards removed to Petersham, and in his will, dated April 5,
1775, gave to his wife, during her widowhood, his three negroes,
Sarah, Rose, and Phillis, probably the offspring from this mar-
riage. Rev. Mr. White also baptized, July 27, 1755, " Zebulon,
the son of Philip and Bathsheba, man and maid servant to
Capt. Joseph Warner," and a second Zebulon, son of the same
parents, April 10, 1757. One more slave appears where we
mio-ht least expect to find him, namely, in possession of a man
who had served in the French war, on behalf of his country ;
who had already accepted office as captain of a company of
minute-men, ready to march, at a moment's notice in defence of


human rights against foreign domination, and did thus march,
soon afterwards ; and who, a dozen years later, again took up
arms and put his life in peril, when he imagined the execution
of law would be hurtful to the poorer class of the community.
Moreover, he had never lived in luxury, but evidently suffered
financial embarrassment, and seemed in no respect exposed to
the temptation of holding a fellow-man in bondage. But the
following advertisement shows that his practice was inconsistent
with his avowed principles, and unsuited to his condition :
" Fifteen Dollaes Reward. Ran away from me, the sub-
scriber, on Thursday, the twentieth of October instant, a Negro
Man, named Caesar, about 26 years old, five feet four inches high ;
had on, when he went away, a green ratteen coat, red everlasting
jacket, white linen bi'eeches, blue yarn stockings; he has a mark
or scar over one of his eyes, the little finger of his left hand is a
little crooked by the cut of a sickle ; it is suspected that some
one assisted him, by changing cloaths, or gave him a pass ; Who-
ever will take up said Negro and return him to me, or confine
him to any of his Majesty's Goals, so that he may be returned to
me, shall have the above reward and all necessary charges paid
by Simeon Hazeltine. Hardwick, October 21, 1774." i. Cap-
tain Hazeltine himself became a fugitive in 1787, to escape the
consequences of his active participation in the " Shays Rebellion."
There is no evidence that many negroes, bond or free, ever re-
sided here. A census of the inhabitants twenty-one years of age
and upwards, was taken, January 31, 1777, by the Selectmen and
Committee of Coi'respondence, who certified that "we have no
Quakers, no Indians, and no Negroes." Probably, however,
there were some negro inhabitants under twenty-one years old ;
for in May, 1781, a descriptive Roll of men, enlisted in the army
for three years, contains the names of Cato Boston, aged 22,
Jupiter Lee, aged 16, and Zebulon Bassett, aged 23, all described
as " black." The last named patriotic soldier was probably the
same Zebulon, son of Captain Joseph Warner's servants, who
was baptized April 10, 1757. At a later day, a few negro fami-
lies have resided here, but never many at any one period ; and
never at any time have they disturbed the peace of the community.

Town House. For nearly a century after its incorporation,
the town held its public meetings in the Congregational meeting-
house, which was the common property of the town, — the town

1 Boston Gazette, October 24, 1774.


and parish being substantially the same. At length a portion of
the old parish withdrew, organized a new society, and erected a
meeting-house at the south end of the common. A Universalist
Society had also been formed, which held its meetings in a hall,
and no longer contributed towards the expenses of the old parish.
Under such circumstances, it was unreasonable that the whole
town should make free use of a meeting-house which belonged to
a single parish, and was to be kept in repair or rebuilt without
expense to the town in its corporate capacity. Better accommo-
dations for the transaction of public business were also needed
and generally desired. Accordingly, at a town meeting, April
4, 1836, " the Committee to whom was referred the subject of
building a Town House made a report, accompanied by a plan,
recommending to the town to build such a house, estimating the
expense at $1,500." The report was accepted, and a committee
was appointed to carry the recommendation into effect, and to
"select a suitable spot for the erection of said house in the old
burying-ground." The northwest corner of the burial-place
was selected, August 22, 1836, on which a convenient edifice was
constructed, two stories high, having on the lower floor rooms for
the use of the various boards of town officers, and on the second
floor a spacious hall for town-meetings and for other large assem-
blies. The cost of the building was defrayed without resort to
taxation. Fortunately the revenue of the United States had ex-
ceeded the necessary disbursements, and a surplus had accumu-
lated in the Treasury, This surplus was divided by Congress
among the several States ; and the General Court of JNlassachu-
setts distributed its share to the several towns, on certain condi-
tions, one of which was that each town should refund its propor-
tion, if it should afterwards be demanded. On the 3d of April,
1837, it was " voted, that the town consent to receive their pro-
portion of the Surplus Revenue, under the conditions and limita-
tions imposed by law. . . . Voted, that two thousand dollars of
said Surplus be appropriated to the discharge of the debt to be
incurred by building the Town House, and to discharge the other
debts of the town."

Having completed the edifice and paid for it, the town mani-
fested a willingness that it should be used for purposes other than
strictly municipal affairs ; and while it rightly demanded com-
pensation from those who used it, was very moderate in its ex-
actions. Moreover, in the use of the Hall a proper distinction
was made between the common benefit of the public and the


private advantage of a class, or of individuals. Having author-
ized the selectmen, November 13, 1837, " to take charge of the
Town House, to keep it in order, to let it, &c.," the town gave
some special directions concerning its use. May 8, 1838, when it
was " voted that the Universalist Society shall be entitled to use
the Town Hall as a place of worship, on the second Sabbath of
each month, at one dollar per Sabbath, and oftener at the same
rate, if the Hall be not otherwise engaged, and said Society can
obtain preaching ; also that said Society be entitled to the use of
said Hall for evening Lectures, at the rate of fifty cents for each
evening : ^ — voted, that the use of the Hall be granted to Mr.
Goldsbury, for the purpose of keeping a High School, at the rate
of five dollars per quarter ; damages done to the Hall by the
school to be repaired by the school : — voted, that the Hardwick
Lyceum be entitled to the use of the Hall without paying any-
thing to the town: — voted, that the use of the Hall be granted
for the purpose of singing, without any charge therefor being
made by the towai." The High School was closed in 1839, and
about two years later the Universalist Society, having erected a
new meeting-house (under a mutual arrangement with the Con-
gregational Society), ceased to occupy the Hall " as a place of
worship"; but it continues to be used for all proper purposes,
either gratuitously, or at a very reasonable charge. On the 24th
of May, 1847, the town accepted a bell, as a gift from Jason
Mixter, Esq., and ordered it to be placed on the Town House,
bearing this appropriate inscription, — " Presented to the Town
by Jason Mixter, Esq., A. D. 1847."

Bueial-Places. In the " Massachusetts Spy," dated Friday,
June 2, 1871, it was announced that, — " Last Friday, as the
workmen on the Ware River Railroad were engaged in excavat-
ing for the road-bed in Hardwick, near Old Furnace Village,
they came upon an old graveyard, where they have exhumed
some ten or twelve skeletons. The Town Records have been
searched, and nothing can be found that gives any information
in regard to the matter. An old lady, eighty-five years of age,
says that her grandfather used to tell of a public burying-ground
somewhere in that locality. At present the whole affair is a
mystery, and there seems to be no means of obtaining any clue
in regard to the matter." Additional particulars were mentioned

' On the passage of this vote, which was sharply contested, there were 45 yeas
and 34 nays.


in the " Springfield Republican " of the same date : " Twenty-
eight skeletons had been exhumed, up to Tuesday night, in the
old cemetery at Furnace Village, Hardwick, brought to light by
the excavations for the Ware River Railroad, and there was a
prospect of finding still more. These were all found in a space
of fifty feet in length and twenty feet wide, being the square cut
upon the centre line of the road-bed. It is very curious that no
definite information in regard to so large a yard can be obtained.
The remains that have been lately taken out have the hair more
plainly defined than the first, and pieces of boards, used in mak-
ing the coffins, have been found, — in fact were attached to cof-
fin-nails, old fashioned, wrought, about such as blacksmiths use
for horse-shoes, now-a-days. The pieces of boards were so plainly
defined that one could tell that the boards were split from the
logs instead of being sawed."

I visited the place ^ June 8, 1871, and found the skeletons de-
scribed, then numbering thirty ; some were of persons apparently
well advanced in life, some of middle age, and others of young
children. The number exceeded my expectations ; but that
several persons had been buried there, was a tradition, current
in my boyhood, though strangely unfamiliar to the present gen-
eration. Indeed, the greatest " mystery " in regard to this mat-
ter is, that so few persons now living should have any knowledge
or remembrance of that tradition ; I could find none, except the
" old lady ,2 eighty-five years old " in 1871, and her recollection
was vague and indistinct. Among the very earliest pioneers, if
not absolutely the first, was William Thomas, the owner and oc-
cupant of the farm where the skeletons were found. Nearly
three quarters of a century ago I received from my elders the
tradition that he and several members of his family were buried
on liis own farm, and that some of his neighbors had permission
to bury their dead in the same place. The precise spot was
never designated to me ; but it was always described as on this
farm, and there can be no reasonable doubt that it was where
the skeletons were exhumed in 1871. Mr. Thomas died May

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 18 of 73)