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Ezra Hyde.

History of the town of Winchendon, from the grant of the township by the legislature of Massachusetts in 1735, to the present time online

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HISTORY



OF THK



TOWN OF WINCHENDON,



FROM THE



GRANT OF THE TOWNSHIP



BY



THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS

IN 1735,

TO THE PRESENT TIME.



BY EZRA HYDE



WORCESTER:
PRINTED BY HENRY J. HOWLAND,
199 Main Street.



Entered iwJcording fo the Act of Congress, in tho year 1849, by

EZRA HYPE,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



RentlrUa It/



TO THE YOUTH OF WINCH ENDON.



Having a desire of rescuing from oblivion a series of
facts, many of which will be interesting to the inhabitants
of Winchendon, when the present generation shall be gone,
it is believed, is a sufficient apology for publishing the fol-
lowing history.

The editor would rejoice with you, that our happy lot is
cast in such a land as this, in which is the knowledge of
the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, a land of liberty both
religious and civil.

Let us, for a moment, take a retrospective view of the
time when our forefathers fled from persecution in Eng-
land, their native country, and sought an asylum iu this
then barren wilderness. Here they patiently endured al-
most intolerable hardships. But they flourished and grew
to a people and a nation.

At length, being oppressed by the mother country, they
resisted her unjust encroachments and tyrannical usurpa*
tions, and would not submit to her unjust demands. And
what was the consequence ? Why, a long, a destructive,
a terrible war ensued, in which many lives and much prop-
erty were lost. Our fathers fought, they bled, they con-
quered ; and obtained for tlieir posterity that invaluable
blessing, Independence.

Surely, these considerations cannot do less than e.xcite
in us the warmest emotions of gratitude towards the mem-
ories of those who, under God, obtained for us our Free-
dom and Independence.



IV TO THE YOUTH OF WINCHENDON.

Beloved youth, you are the hope of your country. But
all depends on your improvement of early instruction.

The diligent study of the Bible ought, in the first place,
to be most earnestly recommended to you. From that
sacred fountain you will learn what you ought to believe,
and what is your duty towards your Creator, your neigh-
bor, and yourselves. In the Bible are made known the
mind and will of God, and our duty, and the way of sal-
vation by Jesus Christ.

The care of education is a work of the highest mo-
ment; as all the advantages, or miscarriages, of man's life
are, in a great measure, dependent on it.

That man cannot be conceived to be absolutely com-
plete, whose natural endowments are not assisted and cul-
tivated by learning.

No stronger incentive to learning is needed, than to
know what a figure a man will make in the world without
this great accomplishment ; and how by the labor of a few
years' erudition, he stands possessed of advantages, that
will stick by him to his latest hour.

By laying in a store of useful knowledge, adorning your
minds with elegant literature, improving and establishing
your conduct by virtuous principles, you will be a comfort
to those friends who have supported you, happy within
yourselves, and well received of mankind.

Beloved youth, to you especially is the following history
cordially inscribed by

THE AUTHOR.



PREFACE.



The writer has been induced to undertake the present
work by the solicitation of many of his friends, and by a
desire to save from oblivion, to which they were hastening,
some of the events connected with the history of this town.
After collecting materials to a considerable extent, he felt
ready to abandon the project, wishing that it might be
prosecuted by some abler hand. But he has at lengtli
come to the decision to prepare the work for the press
without further delay. The knowledge of some events
treasured up in the memories of a few aged people, must,
in the course of nature, soon be inevitably lost, if not pre-
served in a connected and tangible form. Though the
number of these relics of other days is now small, much
information has been derived from them ; and much more
might have been obtained, had the enquiries commenced
a few years earlier.

The difficulty of preparing a work of this nature, can
only be conceived of by one who has attempted it. The
mere collectmg of the scattered materials is some labor.
It is a greater toil to arrange them in proper order when
once they are collected. The settling of doubtful and con-
tradictory statements is sometimes a perplexing business.
And then comes the writing, which the author must ac-
complish as he can.

The writer has had free access to the Records of the
Proprietors of Ipswich Canada, and to the Town Records
of VVinchendon. Oral and written information has been
furnished with the utmost cheerfulness, by all those pos-
sessed of facts worthy of note.

It has not been thought necessary to descend into the
particulars of the unhappy difficulties, which tliis town has
experienced in its ecclesiastical alfairs. The recital of



VI PREFACE.

them at the present time, would prove to be rather painful
than interesting, and perhaps an impartial account would
give satisfaction to neither party. When it is recollected
that these divisions commenced about the year 1798, dur-
ing the ministry of Rev. Mr. Brown, and continued, with
more or less excitement, though with some intervals, till
the ordinations of Rev. Messrs. Marvin and Bullard, dur-
ing which period difficulty after difficulty arose, and coun-
cil after council was called, it will be seen that a strictly
impartial account of them would be a task of no small
difficulty, and would extend the limits of this work much
too far. It will be enough to state, generally, that angry
feelings were sometimes indulged to an inexcusable ex-
tent. If this excited state of feeling has now passed
away, the writer would not incur the hazard of disturbing
the calm by galling a tender wound.

To Mr. Webster Whitney, the Town Clerk of Winch-
endon, Windsor N. White, Esq., Mr. Ezra Porter, Mr. M.
S. Morse, Chairman of the Assessors the present year,
Mr. Elisha Murdock, Rev. A. P. Marvin, Rev. Malachi
Bullard, and Rev. J. M. Whiton, D. D., of Antrim, N. H.
(who is a native of this town — the son of the late lamented
Israel Whiton, Esq. — who was our physician, beloved and
highly respected for his piety, talents, and usefulness,) this
public expression of the thanks of the writer is due for the
readiness with which they have afforded him every facility
in their power, in the compilation of this work. To other
persons, to whom he is more or less indebted for informa-
tion, he tenders his grateful acknowledgements.

If the following pages afford satisfaction to the inhabit-
ants of the place, and furnish the writers of general his-
tory with any facts before unknown, the writer is rewarded
for his labor.

E. H.

WiNCHENDON, Sept. 28, 1848.



CONTENTS,



Dedication, ......

Preface, ... ....

Notes, .......

Grant of Ipswich Canada by the General Court of Massachi;setts, 9, 67
Meetings of the Proprietors, ....

Rights entered on — persons' names and places of abode,

List of the Proprietors, and of their lots of land, .

' Old Tenor' and ' Lawful Money' explained,

' Old Style' and ' New Style' explained, ,

First saw mill, ......

First Settlers, ......

Measures taken regarding the preaching of the Gospel, •
The first meeting of the Proprietors in the Township,
Fortifying the Township, .....

The first gristmill, ... ...

The first meeting house, .....

Cemeteries, . . , i . ,

Incorporation of the Town, . . . .

Origin of the name, .....

Annexation of Royalston Leg, ....

Land set off to Gardner, .....

Wood and timber, ......

Face of the country, . . . ; .

Soil and productions, .....

Ponds, springs, rivers and brooks, ....

Town meetings, ......

^Affairs connected with the American Revolution,
Continental money, ......

State Constitution, ......

Peace with Great Britain, .....

Winchendon Lottery, .....

Facts connected with the Insurrection in Massachusetts.
Meeting houses, ......

Congregational meeting house of the first parish, . 38,



. Pages




5




67


tts, 9,


67


• 9,


69




70




80




S5




86


. 12,


S3


. 13


91


. 13,


92




14


. 14


94


. 14


95


. 15


96


. 15


97


. 15


98




99




16




16




16




17




17


. IS,


100


. 20,


100


• 21,


103


. 32,


HI




32




32




33




35




38


, 113,


119



VIII



CONTENTS.



Baptist meeting houses,

Methodist meeting houses, .

North Congregational meeting house,

Ecclesiastical History,

First Church,

Baptist Church and Society,

Methodists, ....

Universalists and Unitarians,

North Congregational Church,

Early Settlers,

Schools, ....

Winchendon Academy,

Collegiates, ....

Seasons of great mortality, sudden deaths

Population, and other statistics,

Winchendon Village,

Spring Village,

Waterville, ....

Remarkable events,

Memorable winds, .

Hard winter.

Dark day, ....

Total eclipse of the Sun, June 16, 1806,



&c.,



38

38
39
40

40, 120
45
45
46

46, 126
46
56
57
59

60, 128
60
61
62
63
64
64
64
64
65



HISTORY OF WINCHENDON.



Grant of the Territory of Ipswich Canada.

On the 10th of June, 1735, a grant of land to be
equal to six miles square, was made by the Legislature
of Massachusetts, to Abraham Tilton and others.
Preference was to be given to those who petitioned for
the grant, and the descendants of the officers and sol-
diers, who served in the expedition to Canada, in the
year 1690. This tract was to be laid out into 63
equal shares ; one for the first minister, one for the
use of the ministry, and one for a school ; the others
for 60 proprietors.^

Meetings of the Proprietors, and their Transactions.

March 27, 1736. Thomas Berry, Esq., of Ipswich,
was autliorized to assemble the Proprietors and Grant-
ees.^

April 13, 1736. The Committee appointed to lay
out the Township met at Ipswich, and admitted a cer-
tain number of persons as Grantees of the Town-
ship. ^

As all the Proprietors of the Township, excepting
eight, belonged to Ipswich, in the county of Essex in

» See Note A. 2 See Kote B. 3 See Note C.



10 HISTORY OF WINCIIENDOX.

Massachusetts, it was called Ipswich Canada, until its
incorporation/

A meeting of the Proprietors and Grantees of the
new Township, was notified May 20, 1736, by Thom-
as Berry, Esq., '' to choose a Proprietors' Clerk, and
to pass such votes and orders as may be thou<j:ht most
proper for bringing forward tiie said Township, agree-
able to the General Court's order :"' which meetin"-
was held in Ipswich, May 31, 1736. Thomas Nor-
ton, Jun., was chosen Proprietors' Clerk ; and a Com-
mittee '' was empowered to employ two men to burn
the woods, if, according to their discretion, they shall
think it best."'

Another meeting of the Proprietors was held at Ip-
swich, on the 28th of June following, when a Com-
mittee of five was chosen " to go and view the land."*

The next meeting of the Proprietors was held at
Ipswich, on the 4th of November following ; at which
time a Committee was chosen to lot and lay out the
first division. Jonathan Wade, Esq. was chosen Treas-
urer, and a method was agreed upon for raising money
for defraying charges.^

The Proprietors' next meeting was held at Ipswich,
May 6, 1737, when Assessors and Collectors were cho-
sen.^

The next meeting of the Proprietors was held in
Ipswich, October 27, 1737, at which time many im-



l See Note D. ' See Note E 3 See Note F. i See Note G.
6 See Note H. « See Note L



HISTORY OF WINCHENDOIf. 11

portant votes were passed ; among others, that reserv-
ing land for building a meeting house on ; likewise for
a burying place, and for a training field ; also that
giving encouragement to those who first shall build
three houses in the Township, agreeable to the Generr
al Court's act, and who shall have a family settled in
each house.'

The next meeting of the Proprietors was held at Ip-
swich, February 13, 1737," when it was " voted that
there be a cart way cut from Dorchester Canada ' meet^
ing house lot, on the nearest and most convenient
way that can be found from Dorchester Canada road,
to the center of the lots as laid out in the Township of
the said Ipswich Canada, and to make such bridges and
causeys as are absolutely necessary for making the
way passable." It was also '' voted, That four acres be
cleared in the meetmg house lot, in the most conveur
itent place for erectmg a meeting house, and to be sow-
ed with herds grass ;" and a Committee of five was
chosen to agree where to clear, in order for the loca-
tion of a meeting house.*

At a meeting of the Proprietors, February 8, 1738,
it was voted, That twenty shillings on each original
Right be raised, for the encouragement of such per-
sons, as shall build a Saw Mill ; and a vote was passr
_ed concerning clearing a road from Payqueage.*

Several jrjeetings of tJie Proprietors were held ia



# S^» >^ote J. 2 See Note K. 3 Now Ashburnham. < See %Qi^ i^



12 HISTORY OF WINCHENDON.

Ipswich in 1741 and 1742, for the [)urpose of adopt-
ing measures for erecting a Saw mill, building a meet-
ing house and laying out and clearing roads, and to
encourage the settlement of the Township.

The First Saw Mill.

In 1742 a Saw mill was erected at the place where
Mr. John Poor's Saw mill now stands.

At a meeting of the Proprietors, March 14, 1742,
a Committee was chosen to lay out a second division
of lots. A Committee was also appointed to build a
Corn mill in the most convenient place. A Commit-
tee was likewise directed and empowered, to agree
with some one to do the Proprietors' blacksmiths' work
in the Township.^

After the last named date, there is no record of any
meeting of the Proprietors, for more than eight years.

The next meeting of the Proprietors w^as held at
Ipswich, March 29, 1751 ; and was adjourned to meet
on the 11th of next April, when a Committee was ap-
pointed to run the lines, and renew the bounds be-
tween the Township of Ipswich Canada, and the con-
tiguous Townships f which Committee made a return,
and reported their doings at the next Proprietors' meet-
ing. And at the latter meeting, Francis Goodiiue was
chosen Treasurer, and a Committee was appointed
to assist the Clerk in making a report to the General
Court. =>

1 See Note N. 2 See Note 0. 3 See Note P.



HISTORY OF WINCH ENDON. 13

It appears from the records of the Proprietors and
from tradition, that in or about the year 175-2, there
was a small frame raised for a meeting house, about
100 rods easterly of the present meeting house com-
mon, near the burying ground ; but it was never oc-
cupied, or even prepared for the purpose.

The First Settlers.

No evidence appears of there being any permanent
settlement in the Township, previous to the year 1752.
At length the Proprietors offered greater encourage-
ment to settlers, and in that year, ten families had fix-
ed down here.^

But the settlement of the place was immediately
retarded, by what is commonly called the last French
War. Most of the settlers left the place. Those who
remained were obliged to keep in garrisons.^

Measures regarding the Preaching of the Gospel in the Township.

The Proprietors, at a meeting in Ipswich, July 3,
1753, took measures to have the gospel preached in
Ipswich Canada, and voted they would be at the
charge of four days' preaching. And at this and sub-
sequent meetings, they agreed to dispose of the meet-
ing house frame that was before erected, and to
make preparations for, and to build a new one. They
also passed votes concerning managing and improving
the saw mill, and making and mending roads.'

1 Sec Note Q, » See Note R. 3 gee Note S.



14 HISTORY or WIN'CHENDON'.

The First Meeting of tlie Proprietors in tlie Township.

The first meeting of the Proprietors, held in the
Township, was at the dvvelUng house ^ of Richard Day,
24th Oct. 1753, and was adjourned to the next day,
when it was voted that the road to the saw mill be re-
paired, and that the first frame erected for a meeting
house be granted to Col. Thomas Berry, to enable him
to build a suitable and convenient room to meet in for
pubhc worship.'

Fortifying the Township.

It appears that previously to the year 1754, some-
thing had been done with regard to fortifying the
Township, against the incursions of the French and
Indians. On the 31st October in that year, further
measures were adopted for the purpose, a new Clerk
was chosen, and money was granted to pay for preach-

It may be here stated that the Proprietors sustained
the preaching of the gospel for from four Sabbaths to
half the Sabbaths annually, for eight or ten years previ-
ously to the settlement of the first minister/

The First Grist Kill,

The first Corn Mill was built on Miller's river, in
what is now the North Village, about 1759, by Mr.
Bartholomew Parsons.*



1 See Note T. 2 See Note U. 3 See Note V. 4 See Note W.
o See Note X.



HISTORY OF WINCHENDON. 15

Soon after this, a bridge and a long causeway were
built over Miller's river and the meadow, on the coun-
ty road, near where Mr. Phineas Ball now lives. ^

In 1762, a bridge was built over Miller's river, in
the North Village, against where the wool factory dye
house now stands.'

The First Meeting House.

The Proprietors erected a meeting house in 1762.
The Building Committee were Benjamin Goodridge,
Abijah Smith and Philip Goodridge. It was located
on the south part of the meeting house common. It
had side and front galleries. It had pews and many
free seats below and above. The outside of the house
was clapboarded, but never painted ; the inside was
unfinished, never having been either ceiled or plastered.

A Cemetery, or burying place is located about 1 00
rods easterly from the meeting house.^

Incorporation of the Town.

In 1763 the Proprietors, together with the inhabit-
ants, made arrangements releative to applying to the
Legislature for an Act of Incorporation.*

On the 14th of June, 1764, Ipswich Canada was
incorporated by an act of the General Court, when it
was made a town and called Winchendon.^



I See Kote Y . 2 See Note Z. 3 See Note AA. < See Note BB.
5 See Note CC.



16 HISTORY OF WINCHENDON.

Annexation of Royalston Leg.

When the township was first located, it was sup-
posed to extend northerly to New Hampshire ; but up-
on running the line afterwards between the States, it
was found that there was a mile in width, the whole
length of the town, left to Massachusetts. Upon the
granting of Royalston some years afterward, this strip
of land was annexed to that town, and ca.iied Royal-
ston Leg. When a number of families had got seat-
ed thereon, at their request, it was, in 1780, set to
Winchendon. It contained 3840 acres.

Land Set ofi" to Gardner.

In June 1785, a piece of land of 3630 acres was
taken from the the southeasterly part of this town to
help form the town of Gardner. Winchendon, how-
ever, still remains more than six miles square.

Distance from Boston and "Worcester.

This town is 60 miles N. W. by W. from Boston,
and 35 N. by N. W. from Worcester.

"Wood and Timber.
The general growth of wood on the high lands is
red oak, beech, rock maple, interspersed with white
pine and hemlock. On the low lands, white pine, hem-
lock, hacmatac, ash of all kinds, yellow and white birch,
interspersed with red oak and beech. On some of the
low lands there is little or nothing but pine, hemlock
and hacmatac. In some parts of the town there is



HISTORY OF WINCHENDOX. I'l

chestnut, and in other parts pitch pine, but neither of
them in plenty.

Face of the Country.

There is somewhat of a diversity in the face of the
country in this region. A large proportion of the
town is level, consisting of pretty extensive plains ;
other parts are diversified by hills and valleys. Some
of the most notable elevations are Meeting House
hill, N. W. from the meeting house common, inclosed
in the farms formerly owned by Ptcv. Joseph Brown
and Mr. Levi Nichols ; Prentiss hill, on the south side
of Miller's river, formerly owned by Dea. Samuel
Prentiss ; Hyde hill, on the north side of Miller's
River, formerly owned by Mr. Ezra Hyde, sen. ; Love-
joy hill, now owned by Mr. Oliver Lovejoy ; Poland
hill, formerly owned by Mr. William Poland ; Tallow
hill, formerly owned by Mr. Peter Joyslin, sen. ; Good-
ridge hill, formerly owned by Mr. David Good ridge :
Boynton hill, formerly owned by Lieut. Joseph Boyn-
ton ; Payson hill, formerly owned by Col. John Boyn-
ton ; Barren hills, south of Monomonac pond ; Hale
hill, formerly owned by Dea. Moses Hale ; Nineteenth
hill, formerly owned by Mr. Dudley Perley and Mr.
James Raymond ; Raymond hill, formerly owned by
Col. Paul Raymond ; and Birch hill, near where Otter
river empties into Miller's river.

Soil aud Productions.

The soil of Winchcndon, with some excc))tions. has
been accounted good. It produces grass, wheat, rye,



18 HISTORY OF WINCHENDON.

Indian corn, barley, oats, potatoes, and many other
kinds of vegetables.

Ponds, Springs, Elvers and Brooks.

There is but one pond, which is wholly w^ithin the
limits of this town ; this was called Denison's^ pond,
and is sometimes called New Boston pond. It covers,
perhaps, as much as 70 acres. It has an inlet from
the north and an outlet towards the south into Miller's
river, w^hich runs within 100 rods of tlie pond. It
abounds in fish of various kinds.

There is a spring of the mineral kind, in the north-
easterly part of the town. For many years after its
discovery, it was called The Yellow Spring. It is of
a medicinal nature, and rather seems of a chalybeate
quality. It is not so much visited by invalids, as for-
merly.

There is one river known by the name of Miller's
river, so called by the English, from a man by the
name of Miller, who was drowned therein, about 200
years ago, in attempting to pass the river somewhere
towards its mouth, in his way to Northficld. But the
natives called it Payqueage. From Little Naukheag,
which is near the centre of Ashburnham, a rivulet emp-
ties into Great Naukheag, whence a stream issues to
the west which makes a part of Miller's river. An-
other source of Miller's river is a large pond, lying
chiefly in R^indge, N. II., a small part only, (where



1 See Note DD.



HISTORY OF WINCHEXDON. 1#

the outlet is,) falling within tlie bounds of Winchen-
don. This pond is known by the name of Monome-
noc pond. These two branches, together with some
other small streams, uniting easterly of Winchendon
North Village, form Miller's river, which runs west-
erly, southwesterly, northwesterly, and southerly, near-
ly half round the town ; in no place nearer than
one mile of the centre meeting house, and in some
places three miles and more from it.

Otter river originates in a small pond in the south
part of Templeton ; one of its sources, and, perhaps,
the main one, is found in the swamps of Westminster.
The Templeton brancli flows first in a southeasterly
direction into Hnbhardston, where it changes its course
to the northeast and passes into Gardner, where sever-
al streams join it, and runs into Templeton again. It
takes a northwestorly course in Templeton, and is
joined by Trout brook. It just touches on Winchen-
don in the southerly part thereof, and runs nigh the
bounds of the town about a mile and a half, and unites
itself with the waters of Miller's or Payqueage river,
just before it leaves Winchendon. Miller's river leaves
the town near the southwest angle thereof.

There are two considerable streams in the westerly
part of the town, which take their rise in Fitzwilham,
N. 11. One of them joins Miller's River at the Up-
per Intervales, towards the northwest part of the town ;
this is sometimes called Stuarfs Brook, on account of
its running through the Hirm fornierlv owned bv Jere-



20 HISTORY OF WINCHENDON.

miah Stuart. The other comes from FitzwilHam into
Royalston, and runs a considerable way in the easter-
ly part thereof, then turns and enters Winchendon,
and after running several miles, joins Miller's river just
above Denison's pond. This stream might have been
denominated a river from its largeness, had it not ear-
ly received the appellation of Priest's brook. This
name was given it from the circumstance of its run-
ning through a tract of land, now lying in Royalston,


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Online LibraryEzra HydeHistory of the town of Winchendon, from the grant of the township by the legislature of Massachusetts in 1735, to the present time → online text (page 1 of 8)