Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

. (page 6 of 73)
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custom under the Provincial Charter.



CIVIL HISTORY. 43

westerly bounding northeasterly on said six thousand acres till
the line comes to Ware River, and so over the River the same
course till it comes to the corner of Brantree grant, and there
strikes on Rutland Line. Then running N. 39° W. 1760 perch ;
then S. 40° W. 1800 perch ; then S. 1° 30' W. 1030 perch ; then
E. 2° 30' N. 1005 perch to Ware River.

" And that the Inhabitants thereof be and hereby are vested
and endowed with equal powers, privileges, and immunities
which any of the Inhabitants of any of the other towns of this
Province are or by law ought to be vested with.

" Provided nevertheless, that the Inhabitants of said Town do
within three years from the publication of this Act erect and
finish a suitable and convenient Meeting house for the public
Worship of God among them, they having already an orthodox
minister settled among them."

The foregoing is a copy of the original Bill, or act of Incor-
poration, on file in the office of the Secretary of State.



CHAPTER IV.

CIVIL HISTORY.

Early Arrangement concerning Meeting-liouse, Minister, Schools, High-
vfays, 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 Brig-
adier Ruggles. — Highways. — Lottery. — Fair.

For several years after the incorporation of the town, the
records disclose no event of a remarkable character. Prepara-
tions for the erection of a new meeting-house and for the com-
fortable support of a minister were continued. A beginning was
also made for a permanent establishment of schools. Highways
were laid out, and made passable for man and beast, but scarcely
for even carts : — pleasure-carriages were unknown here until
long afterwards. INIeasures were adopted for the destruction of
beasts of prey, and mischievous birds, for the protection of do-
mestic animals, and for their restraint from doing damage. At-
tention was principally given to the construction of humble
dwelling-houses and the conversion of the forest into fruitful
fields. Those who now enjoy the fruits of their labor can
scarcely conceive the toil, and hardship, and self-denial of the
pioneers in accomplishing this work. A few extracts from the
records may afford a glimpse of their primitive condition.

April 3, 1739, at the first meeting after the organization by
choice of oSicers, it was voted, " That the town will build a
pound, thirty feet square, and that it shall be set near the meet-
ing-house, and that Samuel Robinson be the man to build said
pound according to law." Voted, '' That hogs shall run at large
the year ensuing, being yoked and ringed." Voted, " That the
former Records shall stand good." ^

1 A record of public trausactious was the full incorporation of the town ; and
commenced February 7, 1737, and con- these "former records" were now duly
tinued regularly for the two years before authenticated.



CIVIL HISTORY. ' 45

April 23, 1739. Voted, " That droves of cattle shall not be
brought into town, under the penalty of ten shillings per head,
for the men to pay that taketh them in, or yardeth them, or salteth
them, or is anywise instrumental in such affair." [This order
was modified, a year afterwards, April 14, 1740, when it was
voted, " That any person or persons belonging to this town, that
shall keep, or salt, or yard, any cattle in this town belonging to
any other town, except milch cows or working oxen, from the
first day of May next, until the last day of July, shall pay the
sum of fifteen shillings per head, one half to the use of the town,
and the other half to any person that shall complain and sue for
the same." ^] Also voted, that fifty pounds be expended on the
highways ; " to be in work, at six shillings per day till the 10th
day of September, and five shillings per day till the 1st of Decem-
ber ; four shillings a day for a yoke of oxen," and two shillings a
day for a cart."

December 10, 1739. " Samuel Robinson and Benjamin Rug-
gles were appointed to take care that the law be duly executed
in respect to killing of deer to the first Monday of March." ^

May 22, 1740. Voted, " To give three pence per head for old
blackbirds, jays, and woodpeckers, and one penny per head for
young ones ; . . . that the Town Treasurer be ordered to receive
the birds' heads as they shall be brought to him as abovesaid,
and burn them or cut off their bills, and pay out of the Town's
money to such persons as shall bring them in, according to the
foregoing vote."

1 This order was not quite so stringent late marvellous stories of the size and
as that which was adopted in Leicester, abundance of wild turkeys at an earlier
at about the same time, not only impos- period. Whether the race of beavers had
ing the fine of ten shillings per head for become extinct before the settlement of
entertaining cattle belonging elsewhere, the town, I know not ; but on my father's
but providing that " all rams, running at homestead, distinct traces of a beaver-
large, should be free plunder, and any dam were visible not many years ago,
one who should take such might have below a meadow on Great Meadow Brook,
them for his own." Worcester Maga- nearly opposite to the house of Mr. For-
zine, ii. 99. ester B. Aiken. Perhaps bears, and cer-

^ The limitation of time, probably, had tainly wolves, endangered the public

reference to the next annual town-meet- safety. In December, 1738, the General

ing. Not only were deer found in the Court granted " the petition of Stephen

forest, but the smaller wild game, such as Herrington, of Lambstown, praying to

squirrels, rabbits, foxes, etc., and various be allowed the premium for killing two

kinds of birds, were so abundant as to be wolves, which he took in his trap, but by

troublesome, and rival parties were fre- reason of the wolves carrying the trap

quently organized for their destruction, away, so that he could not find it in a

In the days of my boyhood, the chatter- fortnight, the wolves' ears were eaten off,

ing of gray squirrels was a familiar so that eh could not obtain a legal certifi-

sound ; and I have heard my seniors re- cate."



46 HISTORY OF HARDWICK.

May 18, 1741. " Voted, That Land Bank Bills shall pay all
town debts in this town.^ It was put to vote to see if the town
will free the Governor's sons' land from land tax, and it passed
in the negative."

May 19, 1746. On the question whether " the town will allow
Mr. Benjamin Smith any thing for his service in going to Boston
to get town privileges," &c.,2 it was "voted, that the town will
acquit Benjamin Smith of the rates that was committed to James
Robinson and Samuel Church, to gather, provided Benjamin
Smith will acquit the town of all demands from the beginning of
the world to this day." ..." Voted, That Mr. Jonathan War-
ner, our Treasurer, shall have ten pounds, old tenor, to employ a
Deputy to use his best interest to prevent a Province tax from
coming this year, provided he find a man that will eiiect the
matter, or have nothing for his trouble."^

March 9, 1747. " Voted, that the town will free Joseph Rug-
gles from mending highways, so long as he will maintain a good
cart-way over Great Meadow Brook in the highway against his
house.'' *

October 5, 1747. " Voted, that Monday, Wednesday, and Fri-
day, are sufficient for grinding at the mill Capt. Hammond now
tends for one year," ^

March 7, 1748. On the question, whether " the town will raise
money to maintain Hannah Maccoye, sent to this town for that
intent," it was " voted to raise fifty pounds, old tenor, to main-
tain Hannah Maccoye." ^

^ "Laud Bank Bills" were issued by a "O. Trow," on the R. Map. At an early

private banking company, and secured by day a grist-mill was erected here, and the

mortgage of real estate ; tliey were sup- dam was used as a road-way or bridge,

pressed by the government after a sharp It was voted, May 1, 1773, " to widen the

controversy. bridge by Lieut. Joseph Ruggles' mill, as

2 This "service" was rendered in 1736. wide again as it now is, and to raise it
In September, 1739, the town had voted some higher." Not many years ago, the
to pay fifteen pounds to Deacon Christo- grade of the road was again changed,
pher Paige for similar service in 1738. ^ This mill was at Gilbertville. Its

3 This vote indicates the rather exces- former owner, John Wells, had deceased,
sive prudence which is elsewhere some- and his widow had married Captain
times discoverable in the votes of the Nathaniel Hammond, who took charge
town. In this case a "deputy" was of the mill.

found ; his effort was successful, and one '' This is the first record which I find
pound was granted, February 23, 1747, concerning pauperism in the town ; but a
" to Deac. Samuel Robinson, for prevent- i)etition presented to the General Court
ing a Province tax being laid on our in 1754 indicates that this was not a soli-
town." tary case. Hannah Maccoye remained
* The house stood at the place marked chargeable until 17G5.



CIVIL HISTORY. 47

March 6, 1749. Voted to oppose the " Petition ^ of the inhab-
itants of this town, living on the easterly side of Ware River, in
which they pray to be set off to New Braintree and part of Brook-
field, in order to be made a distinct township." August 11, 1749.
" Chose Lieut. Constant JNIirick to go to the General Court, to
offer the reasons why the town is not willing the inhabitants liv-
ino- on the east side of Ware River should be set off with others
as a town, or district, and there to do what he shall find neces-
sary on that affair. William Andrewson appeared and entered
his dissent against the proceedings of the meeting." October 8,
1749. " Voted, that the town be willing the inhabitants on the
easterly side of Ware River be set off as a town or district."

September 30, 1754. " The question was put, whether the
town be of the mind to have the Bill, published relating to an
Excise by order of the Hon'^'® House of Representatives of the
18'^ of June, passed into a law ; and it passed in the affirmative." ^

The meetings of the proprietors were held in Roxbury until
1754, in which year their second Clerk, Ebenezer Pierpont, Esq.,
deceased. By this time the number of resident proprietors had
greatly increased, by purchase from the original associates and
their heirs, and Hardwick became a more convenient place for
the transaction of business. Accordingly, by vii'tue of " a war-
rant issued by the honorable Jacob Wendell, Esq., one of his
Majesty's Justices of the Peace through the Province," a meet-
ing was held at the house of Mr. Joseph Ruggles, April 2, 1755,
when Deacon Christopher Paige was elected Moderator, and
Captain Paul Mandell, Proprietors' Clerk. Their subsequent
meetings were in this town until May 19, 1761, when they had

^ Amonp: the petitioners were Eleazar ber, and there stated his objection to the

Warner, Jonathan Cobleigh, Edward measure, that it would be inconsistent

Euggles, Beriah Hawes, Jonathan Hig- with the natural rights of every private

gins, James Robinson, Roger Haskell, family to be subjected to keep and render

Ebenezer Spooner, and Phineas Warner, an account of the quantity of excise liq-

This petition was unsuccessful; but in- uors which they consumed in their private

corporation was granted about two years houses. The House immediijtely ordered

later, January 31, 1751. the objectionable part of the Bill to be

2 "The taxes at this time had become printed, and sent to every town for con-
heavy, and the House were desirous of sideration. . . . The towns voted, some,
relieving, so far as they could, the polls tbat it was contrary to their liberties,
and estates from this burden ; and, to do and some, that it was not. The measure,
this, contrived a plan for laying an excise however, was dropped for a sliort time,
upon wines and spirituous liquors con- but passed, with some amendments, in
sumed by the people. The Council re- December, 1754." Washburn's Hist, of
fused to approve of it. Governor Shirley Leicester, pp. 65, 66.
sent for the House into the Council Cham-



48 HISTORY OF HARDWICK.

apparently closed their business. Their transactions, during
these years, were almost Qutirely limited to the sale of their
hitherto ungranted lands, the settlement of a controvercy with
Greenwich in regard to boundaries, and a general adjustment of
their financial affairs.^

Until 1754 the town sent no representative to the General
Court ; but in that year Timothy Ruggles, Esq., was elected, and
became at once a conspicuous member of the House. At that
period representatives were paid by their several towns ; and such
towns as were not represented wei'e subjected to fines. One of
the first services demanded by this town of their representative,
was to obtain a remission of a fine imposed for their former dere-
liction of duty. September 30, 1754. " Chose Timothy Ruggles,
Esq., to petition the Great and General Court or Assembly of
this Province, to get the Fine laid on our Town for not sending
a Representative for the year 1752 remitted." He presented the
petition, and urged these reasons: —

" That the Inhabitants of said Town less than twenty years
before that time first began the settlement thereof, and in gen-
eral went on said lands in poor and low circumstances, and by
means of the exceeding roughness of said lands they are to this
day obliged to expend yearly large sums in making and repairing
their highways, and even this year are at the expense of a hun-
dred pounds Lawful money for that purpose, and must be at the
expense of some thousands of pounds upon their roads, before
they will be brought to be as good as most of the roads in the
Province are by nature, beside several large Bridges they are
obliged to build and maintain ; as also their crops of Indian corn
having been for several years cut short to that degree that they
have been obliged to buy and bring from the Towns upon Con-
necticut River near half the Corn necessai-y for their subsistence;
as also at that time there were not much above eighty families in
said Town, many of which were extremely poor ; and before and
ever since the Inhabitants of said Town are obliged to be at a

1 It was voted by the town, May 19, I made a full copy of all the records which

1773, " that the Proprietors' Records be remained iu it, and returned the original

lodged with the Town Clerk ; but the to its former possessor. Since that time

Proprietors to have liberty to use them at the volume has disappeared, and the most

their pleasure." Whether this vote was persistent search for it has hitherto been

carried into effect, I know not. More unsuccessful. If it still exists, its present

than forty years ago I found the volume, custodian should forthwith place it in the

much mutilated, in possession of the de- office of the Town Clerk, agreeably to the

Bcendants of the last Proprietors' Clerk; vote passed in 1773.



CIVIL HISTORY. 49

great expense for the support of several poor and indigent per-
sons ; for wliich reasons your memoi-ialist in behalf of said Town,
most humbly prays for the remission of the aforesaid fine, &c.

Timothy Ruggles."

Some of these reasons, I suspect were somewhat highly colored,
especially in regard to the number of paupers, and the general
povert}^ of the inhabitants ; but they were effectual, and the fine
was remitted December 17, 1754.^

During his residence here, from 1754 to 1774, Timothy Rug-
gles, Esq. (or, as he was generally styled. Brigadier Ruggles),
was active in promoting the welfare of the town by introducing
improved breeds of horses and neat cattle, and better methods
for the cultivation of the soil. He also endeavored to promote
its political importance by making it the shire town of a new
county. Under his advice, doubtless, at a meeting held. May 16,
1763, " The town made choice of Timothy Ruggles, Esq., an
agent to petition the Great and General Court, that the westerly
part of the County of Worcester, and the easterly part of the
County of Hampshire, be formed into a distinct County." This
project failed. But in tlie previous year, through his influence,
Hardwick was distinguished above other towns in the Province,
by the establishment of a Fair,^ after the English pattern. This
Fair was considered so important, and of so great public interest,

1 The construction of roads in Hard- "Wednesday and Thursday of October
wick was very difBcult and expensive, and annually.

their maintenance has always been bur- " And be it further enacted, that the

densome. A quarter of a century after said Town of Hardwicke be and hereby

this date, a resort to a very popular are enabled, at a meeting called for that

method of relief was contemplated, but purpose, to choose proper officers to regu-

abandoned. At a town-meeting, January late said Fair, until the annual meeting in

25, 1779, "to see if the town shall think March next, and to be chosen thereafter

proper to apply to the General Court for annually, in the month of March, during

liberty to make a lottery, to raise a sum the continuance of this act.

of money for the purpose of repairing the " And be it further enacted, that no

public roads in said town," it was "voted bargain and sale, made at any of the said

that the article in the warrant, with re- Fairs, shall be deemed valid and effectual

spect to a lottery, should subside." in the law, unless the same be made be-

2 " An Act for setting up a Fair in the tween sun-rising and sun-setting.

Town of Hardwicke, in the County of " This act to continue and be in force

Worcester. for the space of seven years from the first

" Be it enacted by the Governour, Coun- day of July next, and no longer."
cil, and House of Representatives, that This act was passed June 12,1762. It
henceforth, there may be kept a Fair in seems to have been renewed after the ex-
said Hardwicke on the third Wednesday piration of seven years; the Fairs con-
and Thursday of May, and on the third tinued until 1775, when they ceased by



4



special vote, not by limitation of time.



50



HISTORY OF HARDWICK.



that its occurrence was duly predicted by the almanacs of the day,
and " Hardwick Fair " had as conspicuous a notice as " General
Election," or" Commencement at Cambridge." It attracted pub-
lic attention and multitudes flocked to it from all the region round
about.^ It was holden twice a year, in May and October, when
cattle and various articles of manufacture and merchandise were
exhibited, bought, and sold. Wrestling, and other trials of
strength and skill, were practised ; and sometimes, it is said, pu-
gilistic encounters were witnessed. It was uniformly under the
direction of a superintendent, clerk, and from two to four con-
stables, elected at the annual town meeting." Drummers also
were sometimes appointed. James Aiken was superintendent
until 1771 ; after which, Thomas Robinson was elected until the
Fair was discontinued, by vote of the town, in 1775. Its discon-
tinuance was probably one of the effects of the intense political
excitement which then prevailed. After the restoration of peace
and quietness, the town twice petitioned, in 1785 and 1791, to
have the Fair reestablished, but the effort was unsuccessful.



1 In anticipation of the great influx of
strangers, ten persons obtained special li-
cense as innholders during the continu-
ance of the Fair. The Records of th*e
Court of Sessions, under date of Septem-
ber 23, 1762, contain this item: "The
Court license the following persons to be
innholders in the town of Hardwick during
the times by law appointed for keeping
the Fair in said town, viz., on the third
Wednesday and Thursday in October
next, and the third Wednesday and
Thursday in May next, who recognized,"
etc. Tiie persons named were Thomas
Robinson, Challis Safford, Jonas Fay,
Elisha Billings, Joel Carpenter, John



Cooper, Daniel Wheeler, Jacob Fisk, Jo-
seph Rnggles, and Joseph Warner. Al-
though their expectations seem not to
have been fully realized, half that number
afterwards renewed their license.

2 At a town-meeting, September 2,
1762, officers for the Fair were elected, to
wit: James Aikcns, Superintendent;
Paul Mandell, Clerk; Thomas Robinson
and Deacon John Cooper, Constables;
(Deacon Cooper was excused and Jona-
than Farr was elected in his place). "Ap-
pointed Capt. Paul JMandell to insert in
the Public Prints wlien the Fair is to be
holden in this town."



CHAPTER V.

CIVIL HISTORY.

Emigration to Bennington, Vt., with Personal Notices. — Emigration to Bar-
nard, Vt., with Personal Notices. — Perils encountered by the Pioneer Emi-
grants.

Besides the ordinary removal of inhabitants to which all towns
are subject, there have been two organized emigrations from
Hardwick, each forming the nucleus of a new town in Vermont.
The first occurred in 1761 ; it was less in numbers than the other,
but even more important in its results.

" ' The first settlement of Vermont, and the early struggles of
its inhabitants not only in subduing a wilderness, but establish-
ing an independent government,' says Sparks, in his ' American
Biography,' ' afford some of the most remarkable incidents in
American history.' If this is true of the State in general, it is es-
pecially true of Bennington, the cradle of its infancy ; and no less
true of Bennington's religious than of its secular life ; for as it
was the first town chartered, so its First Church was the first also
in the territory afterwards Vermont. ... On January 3, 1749,
parties, many of them from Portsmouth, N. H., obtained a grant
from the New Hampshire Governor, Benning Wentworth, Esq.,
in the name of King George U., of a township, six miles square,
situated six miles north of the Massachusetts line and twenty
miles east of the Hudson. According to the provisions of this
charter these purchasers first divided off acre homesteads in the
centre, to the number of sixty-four, for a village plot, and then
divided the remainder into sixty-four equal parts, and cast lots
for the same. Each original purchaser is believed to have sold
his share without, perhaps, even seeing it, except upon paper, cer-
tainly to have never settled upon it, or improved it. . . . The
township remained an unbroken wilderness for thirteen years,
though men thus cast lots for it, and appropriated it to be some
time a town under the name of Bennington, in honor of the
Christian name of the New Hampshire Governor. Capt. Samuel
Robinson, returning to his home in Massachusetts from one of the



52 HISTORY OF HARDWICK.

campaigns of the Continental army in the French War, mistaking
his route, passed by accident tliis way ; and, impressed by the at-
tractiveness of the country, resolved to obtain others to join him
and come up and settle here. His resolution was carried into
effect. Others agreed to accompany him. They searched out
the owners of the land ; they purchased the rights of the orig-
inal grantees, or of those to whom they had sold, and removed
hither. . . . The first immigration had reached here June 18,
1761. It consisted of the families of Peter Harwood, Eleazar
Harwood, Samuel Pratt and Timothy Pratt, from Amherst, Mass.,
Leonard Robinson and Samuel Robinson, Jr., from Hardwick,
Mass. The party, including women and children, numbered
twenty-two. During that summer and fall other families, to the
number of twenty or thirty, came into town, among whom were
those of Samuel Robinson, Sen., and John Fassett from Hard-
wick, Mass." 1

It should be observed that the Harwoods and Pratts, here
mentioned, were Hardwick families, who had resided a ver}^ short
time in Amherst, and doubtless joined the emigrants under the
influence of Captain Robinson. In addition to these, George
Abbott and his son Timothy Abbott, John Pratt and his son Si-
las Pratt, John Roberts, and others, probably removed to Ben-
nington at about the same time. The before mentioned persons,
with Stephen Fay and his sons, who removed about five years
later, were not only among the earliest inhabitants of the new
town, but also among the most active and controlling spirits both
in the town and in the State of which it became a portion ; and
their children were not degenerate scions of the parent stock.
Some notice of them may be found in the Genealogical Register,



Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 6 of 73)