Alfred Noon.

Ludlow: a century and a centennial online

. (page 2 of 18)
Online LibraryAlfred NoonLudlow: a century and a centennial → online text (page 2 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


1860-1 lie served as State Senator, attending an extra session each
year, and serving on a special commission to sit in the recess, for
three years, for the purpose of surveying a ship-canal from Barn-
stable Bay to Buzzard's Bay. Was Deputy United States Col-
lector 1862-8, and Inspector of the State alms-house and Primary
school at Monson 1857-74, and since 1866 has been connected
with the visiting agency of the Board of State Charities.

Mr. Fisk possesses a pleasant local reputation as a poet, and
several of his sketches are to be found in this volume.

Hon. S. Bliss Stebbins was for a while postmaster at Jenks-
ville, and since has been on each board of the Boston city gov-
ernment.

Hon. Edwin Booth also commenced his business career at
Jenksville, as clerk of the Springfield Manufacturing Company.
He was long in the employ of the government, and now resides
at Philadelphia.

Hon. Dexter Damon, of Willoughby, Ohio, has been a
member of the Legislature and a trial justice.

Rev. Simeon Miller, now of Springfield, is a graduate of
Amherst College, and has labored at Holyoke and South Deer-
field statedly, supplying often in the desk of the Congregation-
alist Church in his native town.



PLAN OF THE WORK.



It will be convenient in these annals, to divide the space
of time covered thereby into five periods, and group the
facts in divisions accordingly. These divisions are as fol-
lows:

I. Ante-LudloAv, a description of the region before it
received a corporate existence ; Ludlow before it was Lud-
low. This period will close with the date of incorpora-
tion, 1774.

IL Ludlow in the eighteenth century, comprising the
incorporation, the revolution, the building of the old
church and settlement of the first minister, 1774 to 1800.

III. The ecclesiastical era, from 1800 to 1828, or from
the first attempts to establish a Congregational Church to
the dedication of the Methodist '' chapel," including the
ministry of Revs. Alexander McLean and E. B. Wright.

IV. The zenith of the century, or the period of great-
est prosperity ; from the completed establishment of the
Center churches to the great failure of the Jenks's. The
Congregational Church of 1840 is built, the old edifice be-
comes the town-house, Put's Bridge is Jenksville. Money
plenty, times easy, until the catastrophe. Period, 1828
to 1848.

v. The Ludlow of to-day, taking in scope the balance
of the century, introducing the Centennial. This will in-
clude the Rebellion record. 1848-1875.



THE HISTORY



SECTION I.

TO 1774.
ANTE-LUDLOW.

Who constitute a town — Tlie red man — Indian names — Eelics of a
departed race — An ancient armory — Legend of camp-fires — Of
the Leap — Of the alleged Facing Hills murder — The tenure of soil
— Springfield of old — Governor Andros — A Yankee trick — The
commons — Sections of commons — Line of commons — Allotments
— The river — Early settlers — The tar husiness — Joseph Miller —
Others— A wooing — Glimpse at the region — Church service —
Proposition for district — Will they get an organization ?

A COUNTRY, a state, a town, consists of the inhabitants
thereof. Whatever the place is, or fails to be, depends
not upon the conditions of its soil or weather, so much as
on the people enjoying or l)raving the same. Spain, in
the most favored of latitudes, may fail to influence its
nearest neighbors, while a band of hardy colonists among
the frozen seas," singing their sagas while reefing the sails
of rude smacks, may make the name of Iceland famous.
Our first acquaintance, then, Avill be with the earlier in-
habitants of the territory now known as Ludlow.

The history of the region, before the pale-1'ace had ap-
propriated these lands, is preserved only in tradition.
Some portions of these broad acres were, evidently, favor-
ite haunts of the red man. The names, Minachogue and
Wallamanumps, preserve the flavor of the aljoriginal.
1



2 HISTORY OF LUDLOW.

The former name seems to have been applicable to the
whole eastern region of Wilbraliam and Ludlow, and sig-
nifies " Berry land." The latter word seems to have been
applied to falls of the " Chicuepe," now at Ludlow Mills
and Lidian Orchard. Places are pointed out in the town
which the red man made his favorite resorts. At one spot
the discoloration of the rocks is alleged to have come from
the frec[uent camp-fires of the Indians. At other places,
both in the extreme north and all the plain region, the
frequency with which arrow-heads are found, and chip-
pings of flint and stone, indicate that another nation than
our own once used this region as the seat of an extensive
armory.

Of the legendary lore of the territory, there seem to
liave been some specimens. After the destruction of
Springfield by fire, October 4, 1675, the warriors retreat-
ed eastward six miles, as we are informed by the annalists.
The place of their encampment is said to have been on the
peninsula, in the south part of the town, known as the
Indian Leap; where twenty-four smouldering camp-fires
and some abandoned plunder were all the vestiges remain-
ing the next morning.

Of course, the story of all stories concerning the In-
dians, within the limits of the present town, is the familiar
one respecting the leap of Roaring Thunder and his men,
in the time of King Philip's war. Although the account
is wholly legendary, there is therewith so fine a flavor of
the aboriginal, that it has ever been popular among those
fond of folk-lore. It is reported that the band of warriors
was camping on the sequestered peninsula, lulled into quiet
by the sound of the roaring fall of water, precipitously
tmnbling scores of feet over the rocks, within a half mile
of the stream-bed. Some aver, that upon this point there
were spread the wigwams of the Indians, and quite a com-
pany of them made the place their home ; that at the



THE INDIAISrS. 3

time these tragic events occurred, the red man had cap-
tured one of the women from Masacksick/ and were pur-
sued by the intrepid settlers, and finally discovered in
their rude home on the banks of the river. In the midst
of their quiet and solitude, came the alarm from the white
man, closely following up their trail into the thicket.
There was no retreat. They had taught the pale-face the
meaning of " no quarter," and could expect nought but
retaliation. Only one way of escape presented itself, and
that was into the jaws of death. To the brink of the fear-
ful precipice, then, before the back-waters of the corpora-
tion pond had reduced the distance a hundred feet, did
the painted braves dash on, and over into the wild waters
and upon the ragged rocks they leaped, directly into the
arms of hungry death. Roaring Thunder is said to have
watched while each of his company leaped into the fright-
ful chasm, and then, taking his child high in his arms,
casting one glance back upon the wigwam homes, he fol-
lowed the rest into the rushing waters. The pursuant foe
looked, wonderingly, over the jutting sandstone walls ; but
one living red-skin met his eye, and he was disappearing
among the inaccessible forest trees which skirted the other
shore.^

One other account, perhaps full as probable as either of
those alread}' related, bears a later date. On a prominent
part of Facing Hills rocks, there rises an abrupt precipice,
from which eminence a sm^passingly grand outlook upon
the region is to be obtained. This rock is supposed to
have been the theater of one of those tragic events, too
common in the days of early settlers. Away down the
valley of the Chicuepe, was a little hamlet of hardy ad-

^Longnieadnw.

-See Appendix A. Tlie omnipresent iconoclast, who doubts a Sliakespeare and
a Homer, lias thrown his shading over this lc)j;end, even sugrrjestinfj; that had the
Indians varieil a few feet from the alleged course, they might have readied the river
by an easy path.



4 HISTORY OF LUDr.OW.

venturers — so runs the story. Among the company was
a family, in which were two women. Surprised by the
blood-thirsty savages one da}'', when the men were out in
the fields at work, one of the two found an opportunity
to escape to the cellar, and hide under a tub. The other
was so unfortunate as to become a prisoner, and accom-
panied the captors, as they speeded away up the valley.
Soon as possible the settlers were aroused, and started in
pursuit. It was a fearful chase, and a fruitless one ; for
the Indians, hurrying their booty along with them,
reached this point on Facing Rocks, and, close pursued,
put the victim out of misery by a tragic deatli.^

But the day of the red man is drawing to a close, and
other claimants to the soil have appeared. The record
of the purchase of the lands hereabouts from the Indians,
is very clear, and shows that the settlers had all the rights
of tenure Avliich could flow from such transfers of prop-
erty as gave the white man his possessions. That a con-
nected account of the settlement of the region may be
before the reader, it will be necessary to go back a little.

The original boundaries of Springfield circumscribed
a region twenty-five miles square, including, west of the
river, the land now comprising the toAvns of West Spring-
field and Agawam, the city of Holyoke, and part of South-
wick and Westfield in Massachusetts, and Suffield in Con-
necticut ; on the east side of the river, besides Springfield,
Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Chicopee and Ludlow in this
State, and Enfield in Connecticut. So Ludlow comprises
the north-easterly section of the Springfield of long ago.

The grant of laud to William Pynchon, in 1636, in-
cluded all this region, but no one had laid claim to the
eastern-most and western-most limits. In the latter part



■'Tliis event probably happened July 2G, 1708. It bears a strong rcseniltlance to
the account of the massacre of the Wrights at Skipmuck. See Hollaiul's West-
ern Mass., vol. 1, 158.



THE COMMON LINES. O

of the century, the oppressive measures of the EngUsh
governor, Sh' Edmund Andros, gave color to the fear lest
he should cause these out-regions to revert to the crown,
especially as he had threatened to take away the charter
of the colony.

So far as the governor was concerned, his right to take
this action can hardly be disputed. He was the first royal
governor of New England, and came to carry out the
wishes of the crown. As the government in England had
declared the charters of all the New Ens^land colonies for-
feited, Andros could do little else than execute the royal
intentions. However, the Springfield colonists did not
propose to be cheated out of their wood-lots by the crown,
and so, with Yankee ingenuity, devised a plan to ward off
the danger impending. In town meeting, February 3,
1G85, they voted that, after reserving three hundred acres
for the ministry, and one hundred and fifty acres for
schools, on the east side of the river, and due proportions
for like purposes, on the west side, the remainder should
be divided among the one hundred and twenty-three heads
of families, or legal citizens. With the ministry and school
lots, there were thus one hundred and twenty-five proprie-
tors, among whom the land was to be divided. Not that
there were, good reader, that number of actual citizens,
for it seemed no harm to add to the list the names of all
male persons under age.

The '' commons " east of the " Great River," seem to
have included two sections, boiuided by a line running
north and south ; the line on the east side, commencing at
Newbury Ditch, so called, on the boundary of William
Clark's land, extending from the hill west of the Norman
Lj'on homestead, and passing southward near the present
residence of Ezekiel F idler, past the rear of Mr. Haviland's
house, and near the crossing of the Springfield, Athol and
North-eastern railroad with the Three Rivers road, across



G HISTORY OF LUDT.OW.

the river, and near the Stony Hill road, in Wilbraham. The
land divided, as above described, Avas the outward commons,
eastward of this line. Each of the one hundred and twen-
tj-'five took a share in each of the three sections east, and
and the two west of the Great River. None of this outer
common land was considered very valuable, but the
method of division indicated was certainly fair,*

A glance at the map will show that the northern sec-
tion of the east outward commons, and a small portion of
the middle section, lies to-day in the town of Ludlow.
The shares were not equal, but according to valuation, of
course varying much. It is said that the narrowest were
eight feet wide, measured at sixteen feet to the rod, much
to the perplexity of proprietors in following generations.
These original territorial divisions may be seen to-day on
Wilbraham mountains, indicated by the parallel lines of
wall running east and west.

In the north section, east, the school and minister lots
ran through Cedar Swamp and over the north end of Mina-
chogue mountain. The south boundary of the section
must have passed not far from the south shore of AYood
pond, and past the Miller Corner school lot to the river.
The Chicopee river seems always to have constituted the
boundary between Ludlow and Wilbraham, though by a
singular oversight, the hither shore of the stream seems in
both cases to have been fixed as the limit of the respective
towns, leaving the Chicopee to flow uninterruptedly down-
ward through the limits of Sj^ringfield, disowned by both
towns on the borders.

This little section of the middle portion of the outward
commons, east, has the honor of being the first settled in
the territory since bearing the name of Ludlow. Who
was the first settler, is as yet a question undecided. Tra-
dition gives the post of honor to one Aaron Colton, whose

^See Appendix B.



EARLY SETTLEES. 7

home was situated on the bluff, just above the Chicopee
river, where Arthur King now lives, and who must have
settled prior to 1751. James Sheldon, Shem Chapin, and
Benjamin Sikes are said to have been living in the town
at the same period. James Sheldon is supposed to have
lived on the site now occupied by Elijah Plumley's red
house ; Benjamin Sikes, at the place just north of the
Mann farm, on his allotment of commons ; and Shem
Chapin, near the home of Samuel White. Thus of the
first four homes known in the town, three were in the
outward commons.^

We read, also, that " about 1748, Mr. Abel Bliss, of Wil-
braham, and his son, Oliver, collected in the town of Lud-
low, and west and south part of Belchertown, then called
Broad Brook, a sufficient quantity of pine, to make two
hmidred barrels of tar, and sold it for five dollars per bar-
rel." With the proceeds, Bliss built a fine dwelling-house
in Wilbraham, the envy of all the region.

In 1751, came the family of Joseph Miller, braving the
terrors and real dangers of a journey fourteen miles into
the forest, away up the Chicopee river, to the present
place of Elihu J. Sikes. The friends in their former home,
West Springfield, mourned them as dead, and tradition
has even stated that a funeral sermon was preached over
their departure. Under their careful management, a pleas-
ant home was soon secured, charmed by the music of the
runnino* stream. As the wild forest trees succumbed to
the prowess of the chopper, tender plants grew up in the
home, and made the desert region glad by the echoes of
childish prattle.^ A little later, in 1756, Ebenezer Barber's
eyes turned toward " Stony Hill," and, beholding acres



''It is rumored that a man named Antisel occupied a log house on the edge of
Facing Hills, subsisting on game, and tiiat lie antedates all these settlers. One Pe-
rez Antisel was deer-reeve in 1777.

''They brought with them a female slave, who afterwards married.



b HISTORY or LUDLOW.

of attractive land, sought out for himself a home near
Shem Chapin's, in the inward commons. The advent of
others was, after this, quite f re([uent ; so much so that
when the town was incorporated, in 1774, there were from
two to three hundred inhabitants. Jonathan Lumbard
commenced to clear a farm in the ulpper part of Cherry
Valley, in 1757. Joshua Fuller cleared a spot on the
Dorman place, at the Center, in 17G7, probably bringing
with him his father. Young Fuller. James Kendall seems
to have made the common line his eastern boundary, when
he came into town, May 2, 1769. In 1770, Jonathan Burr
moved in ox-carts, from Connecticut, and settled between
Mary Lyon's and the mountain. In 1772, came Joel Wil-
ley, to Miller Corner ; while a young man from Wilbra-
ham, Isaac Brewer, Jr., who had cast furtive glances to-
ward the developing charms of Captain Joseph Miller's
daughter, and had braved the terrors of ford and ferry
and wilderness, that he might visit there, became more
and more enamored, until her graces, and her father's
lands, won him from the home of his boyhood, for life.
The happy young couple settled on the Lawrence place,
where the same musical ripple of the Chicuepe delighted
them, as had charmed the girlhood of the bride.

Of the other families, who came to town and settled
about this time, we have but room to give the names.
Northward of Colton and Miller, and towards the present
Center, lived Benajah Willey, afterwards the first district
" dark." Just south of him was a Mr. Ay nes worth, whom
fame has left without a memoir. Benjamin Sikes, the
father of Benjamin, Abner and John, occupied the ances-
tral farm, now owned by J. Mann, north of the Center,
while his son, Lieutenant John Sikes, remained with his
father. The son Abner went away to the eastward, three
miles, to settle, near the present Alden district school-
house. Near the line of the commons, and westward



THE EEGION FORMERLY. 9

thereof, was, in '74, quite a settlement. The Hitchcock
home, occupied by Josiah and his son Abner, with fami-
lies, now forms the homestead of Lucius Simonds, while
another son, JosejDh, lived next west, and probably Ezra
Parsons and John Hubbard, not far away. Beriah Jen-
nings was near the present site of Ezekiel Fuller's house.
Shem Chapin's neighbors were Aaron Ferry, Jacob Coo-
ley, at the Torrey place, Noah Bowker, on the Samuel
AVhite farm, Israel Warriner, a little below, and farther to
the south, at the mill privilege, w^ere Ezekiel Squires, who
built the first grist-mill there, and hard by, Oliver Chapin
and the Zechariah Warners, father and son.

The region thus peopled must have been wild, indeed.
The roads were, in this period, hardly laid out, much less
prepared for travel. No dams obstructed the onward
flowing of the Chicuepe, no bridges spanned its stream for
the convenience of the towns-people, and others. The
grand highways of travel then, as now, were without the
confines of the town, the north-easterly route from Spring-
field crossed the plains within the inward commons, the
south-easterly trail of the red man went through the
South Wilbraham gap, as that of the white man must
sooner or later, wdiile the " Grate Bay Rode" wound its
way over plains and through passes just across the river
to the south, as far from Joshua Fuller and his neighbors
as the more pretentious successor of the "Rode" is to-day
from his descendants, occupying the old acres.

The surface of the land was in no desirable condition.
"Where now blooming fields are spreading to the sun their
luxuriant herbage, were then malarious bogs and sunken
quagmires. The ponds caught the blue of heaven then
as now, it is true, but their approaches were swamps, and
their shores were diversified with decayed logs and de-
caying underbrush. The region was infested with wolves
and bears, while fleet-footed deer browsed confidently
2



10 HISTORY OF LUDLOW.

upon the foliage of Mineachogiie mountain, sipped the
waters of Mineachogue pond, reposed in shniiber sweet
under Shelter rock, in Cherry Valley. Into such a re-
gion as this ciune the hardy adventurers, from Spring-
field, from West Springfield, from Ashfield, from Wil-
braham, from Shutesbury, from Ellington, from Glaston-
bury, from Somers, from Brookfield, from Bridgewater,
until a goodly settlement was made in all parts of the
present territory.

Where these people attended church, is left to conjec-
ture, but conjecture is not difficult. The Miller Corner
people would naturally go southward, to listen to the ex-
cellent sermons of the Reverend Noah Mirick, and, doubt-
less, it was while there the furtive glances of young Isaac
Brewer met, in spite of vigilant tithing-men, those of
Captain Miller's daughter, until their blushes would display
the ripening admiration. The other people, from the
north-west part, most likely sought the blind trail across
the wooded plain, following the blazed trees, until the
center of the town of Springfield was reached.

There could have been no imit}^ between the various
parts of the town, for a while. After a time, however,
neighborhoods were formed for mutual defense, the peo-
ple stopping at night at some convenient head-quarters,
safe from an attack by savage wolf or bear, or no less sav-
age Indian, to disperse in the morning, each family
to its own rude cabin, for the day's duties in the field,
and home again at night, to heed the horn in lieu of
curfew bell, and hie them to their lodging-house.

But as time rolled on, the people began to tire of this
condition. The waters of the Chicabee were, at times, so
swollen they could not cross them ; the rude paths so wet
or rough they could not with convenience traverse them.
Why not form a community of their own? Could they
not have a church, and a minister ? Could they not



THE PETITION. 11

gather at some nearer center, and enjoy the immunities of
other towns and districts ?

Would that the records of these preHminary meetings
could be spread before us to-day ! But we may almost
read of their doings. Capt. Miller, and his son-in-law,
from the bank of the stream, Joshua Fuller, from the
present center, the Hitchcocks, and Jennings's, and Ken-
dalls, from the common line, the Chapins, and Bowkers,
and Cooleys, from over the hill westward, the Lombards,
and Sikes's, with their neighbors, Avould meet at Abner
Hitchcock's, or Jacob Kendall's, or Joshua Fuller's, and
talk the matter over, until in their minds the town w^as
already in existence, and then the work was easy. A pe-
tition was drawn up, very likely by Benajah Willey, pray-
ing " His Excellency, the Honorable Governor, Thomas
Hutchinson," representative of His Royal Majesty, the
King, '•' Dei Gratia," to grant to the people the rights and
privileges of *a district. The petition was duly signed and
sealed, and either carried by special messenger, or sent by
some traveler, by way of the Grate Bay Rode, to the
head-quarters of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in the far-
off town of Boston. And with what result ?



SECTION II.

1774 TO 1800.

LUDLOW IN" THE EIGHTEENTH CENTUKT.

Governor Hutchinson — Trouble — Districts and tlieir functions — An-
swer to petition — The charter — First district meeting — The set-
tlers gathering — Original office-holders — Origin of the name —
Geographical theory — The other Ludlows — Edmund Ludlow —
Kogrer Ludlow — Remoteness of all these sources — Exchanaje of
names with Wilbraham — West line — A church needed — Former
ecclesiastical relations — Rev. Peletiah Chapin — Finding the cen-
ter — The revolution — The record — Incidents and notes — Rev.
Messrs. Davenport, Hutchinson, Haskell, Fuller, Pratt, Stone,
Snell, and Woodward — Success at last — Stephen Burroughs —
Call to Mr. Steward — Acceptance — Sketch of Rev. Antipas Stew-
ard — A slice from one of his sermons — Erection of church — Im-
provements on the edifice — Former chapels — Congregationalists
— Mr. Steward receives a hint — Baptists — Methodism — Drowning
of Paine and Olds — Shays — The Paine child — Sorrow in the JNIil-
ler family — Cemeteries — Schools — Districts — School-houses —
Representatives — Pounds — Warning out — Highways — Bridges —
Progress of the period.

Thomas Hutchinson was Governor of Massachusetts Bay
Colony when the inhalntants of Stony Hill, in Springfield,
applied for a town charter. He had fallen upon troublous
times. There were mutterings frequent and painfully ap-
parent against the ruling power. Men had even dared to
question the right of the King to control their actions or
their revenues. Three thousand miles of ocean waves,
and no steam navigation, or telegraphic cable, to connect
the shores, did not strengthen the weakening bonds.


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryAlfred NoonLudlow: a century and a centennial → online text (page 2 of 18)