Francis E. (Francis Everett) Blake.

History of the town of Princeton, in the county of Worcester and commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1759-1915 (Volume 2) online

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11 ■

I With the compliments of




Town of Princeton










March 4, 191 2. — Art. 20. Voted to accept the Act of the present Legislature
authorizing the town to use the funds obtained from the sale of the Meeting House
Hill Land for the preparation of History of the Town, and if there is any remainder
it shall be devoted to the Town Library. Committee appointed, J. D. Gregory,
M. C. Goodnow, J. C. F. Mirick, Rev. C. E. Reeves.

" I have gon, and rid, and wrote, and sought and search'd with
my own and friends' Eyes, to make what Discoveries I could
therein. * * * I stand ready with a pence! in one hand and a
Spunge in the other, to add, alter, insert, expunge, enlarge, and
delete, according to better information. And if these my pains
shall be found worthy to passe a second Impression, my faults
I will confess with shame, and amend with Ihankfulnesse, to such
as will contribute clearer Intelligence unto me."

Fuller s " Worthies of England," 1662.

p/^r 2'^ *k:'r

Paper manufactured by the George W. Wheelwright Paper Company.


In planning the publication of some historical sketches
of the town of Princeton twenty-five years ago, it was
found that, unfortunately, the town papers had shared the
fate of those of many other towns, a large proportion hav^-
ing been lost in the past. There are no papers preserved
of any kind bearing an earlier date than 1766. Of that
date there is but one, and only twenty of a date earlier
than 1770. The loss of these papers, and of the records
of a few of the earliest town meetings, deprives us of
much valuable information. As sources of information
regarding the first settlement had evidently not been ex-
hausted by the historians of the town a search was begun
for items especially relating to the incorporation of the
district and town, and for the names of the first residents,
with the date of their settlement. The many references
also to the "Farms" adjoining the East Wing of Rutland
led to an investigation into their history and the origin
of their titles.

These items have been gathered only after diligent search
in the Archives of the State, the Journals of the General
Court, the Worcester Registry of Deeds and of Probate,
the Records of the County Courts, newspapers of the
eighteenth century, and various other storehouses of his-
torical treasures.

Although a few of the papers relating to the incorpora-
tion of the district have been elsewhere published, it is
deemed best to print all of the papers together, making a
continuous narrative comprising all that can be obtained
from public records.

Two histories of the town have been published, one by
Charles Theodore Russell (1838), and one by Rev. J. L.
Hanaford (1852), which, however, are largely taken up
with an account of the ecclesiastical dissensions arising

iv Preface

from the relation established by law between town and
church. The lapse of time, however, since the publication
of these histories and the larger scope of the present vol-
ume may fully justify its publication.

The preparation of this history, long delayed on account
of the illness of the author, is due to his affectionate in-
terest in his native town. This interest he has already
exhibited by preparing for the New England Historic
Genealogical Society a copy of the first Record Book of
births, marriages and deaths in the town, and by repair-
ing, arranging and classifying the town papers for the past
one hundred years, making six large volumes which are
now in the Goodnow Library, and also by preparing a
Subject Index for the first book of Town Records,

The author's acknowledgements are due to his friend,
Mr. Franklin P. Rice, for invaluable aid In arranging
material for the press, and also to his friend, Mr. William
A. Emerson, for similar aid in collecting and arranging
matter for the genealogical record, thus enabling him to
carry out his original intention of presenting the genealogy
of every family of both past and present residents. With-
out the aid of these gentlemen it would have been impos-
sible to bring this work to completion. It gives him
pleasure to express his appreciation of all that has been
done for him by various persons in the way of help and
encouragement in this enterprise, and he also admits his
indebtedness to the curators of public records, whose uni-
form courtesy has been extremely helpful.

It is hoped that, while the older people may find much
of interest in the perusal of these volumes, the younger
people also may take pleasure in becoming acquainted with
the early history of their town, and with the men who
have been prominent in its affairs.

Boston, Mass., June 15, 1915.



Preface iii

Contents v

List of Illustrations ix


The Town in 1915. Situation and area. Surface. Wachusett
Mountain. Ponds and Streams. Climate. Soil. Land and
Agricultural Products. Natural Productions. Wild Animals.
Population. Health. Manufactures. Other Occupations. Re-
ligious Organizations. Schools. Public Library. Newspaper.
Telephone. Electric Lights. Communication. Geology. Name.
Town Appropriations 1914. Table of Aggregates. Town Assets. 1-7


The Early Period. District of Prince Town. The first settlement.
Nipnet or Nipmug County. Indians. Exploration. A new way.
Land Purchases. Nipmuck Territory. Purchasers. Indian Deed.
Delay in Occupation. Queen Anne's War. Return of the settlers.
Title Worthless. Name of Rutland. Name of Associates. The
New Township. Proprietors. First Birth. Sales and Transfers.
East Wing. Father Ralle's War. Massacre in Rutland. Renewal
of Settlement. New Survey. Gift to Rev. Mr. Prince. Pro-
prietors' Records. French War 8-33


The Farms Adjoining. Province Grants. Watertown Farms. Gard-
ner's Farms. Edward Wilson. John Frost. Benjamin Hough-
ton. Blagrove's Farm. Muzzy's Farm. Potash Farm. May-
hew's Farm. Allen's Farms. Willard's Farm. Kneeland's Farm.
Stevens' Farm. Johnson's or Hartwell's Farm. Joshua Wilder's
Farm 34-73


Early Inhabitants. The Early Settlers. Identity. Dates of Occu-
pation. First Settlers. Doctor Harvey. A Protest. List of
Settlers, 1761-1771. Census of 1790, valuation list U. S. Direct
Tax, 1798 74-91


vi Contents


Incorporation. The District and Town. Petition of "The Farms" ^^^^

Protest. Rejoinder. Report. The Town. Boundaries No Town.
Change of line between Westminster and Princeton 92-108


The Reverend Thomas Prince. Town Name. Birth. The Old
South Church. Ordination. Salary. Residences in Boston. Plan
for the Day. Quality as a Minister. One Notable Incident. Liter-
ary Ability. Publications. Earthquakes and Lightning Rods.
Psalms. Rutland Lands. Gift for Services. Death. Preamble
to Will. Prince Library. Life's Work 1 09-1 21


Ecclesiastical History. First Difficulties, Meetings at Private
Houses. Mr. Harrington's Sermon. The First Meeting House.
Location. The Raising. Description. Dignifying the Pew
Ground. Protest. First Stove. Choir. Town Meetings. Horse
Sheds. Church Organization. The Covenant, Princetown. Can-
didates for Preaching. Rev. Timothy Fuller. Ordination. New
Covenant. Gifts. Bible. Political Differences. Mr. Fuller's
Reply. Action of The Town. Suit against the Town. Supplies.
Ineffectual Efforts. Stocks. Rev. Thomas Crafts. Rev. Joseph
Russell. New Meeting House. The Raising. Decoration. Stove.
New Meeting House Committee's Report. Rev. James Murdock.
Rev. Samuel Clarke. Presbyterian Church. Rev. John P. Cowles.
Union Congregational Church. First Parish. Rev. Elijah De-
mond. Third Edifice. Succeeding ministers to 1915. The Baptists.
The Baptist Church. Methodist Church. The Universalists. . . . 122-178


Town Government. First Town Meeting. Lost Records. A Pro-
test. Subsequent Town Meetings. Protest. List of Selectmen,
1760 to 1915. Town Clerks. Treasurers. Representatives. As-
sessors. Moderators. Constables 179-199


Education. Requirement. First Schoolmaster. School Districts.
Families of Early Settlers by Districts. Schools in Private Houses.
Centre District. School Houses. Stoves. Centre District Di-
vided. Care of the Schools. Instructions to School Committees.
Expenses. Distinguishing Terms. Teachers. Boarding of
Teachers. English and Classical Schools. High School. School
Superintendents. School Committee 200-217

Contents vii



Military History. French and Indian War. Revolutionary War.
Minute Men. Training Band. Records of the Military Company
in Princeton. Capt. Boaz Moore's Company. List of " Lexington
Alarm " Men from Princeton. List of soldiers buried in Princeton.
Pensions. Act of 1818. Town Military records 1774-1814.
Letter of Capt. John Jones to his Wife Mary in Princeton. Petition
of former British Soldiers to be Naturalized. Muster Roll of Capt.
Andrew Whitney's Company. How I found Oliver Mosman. The
Shays Rebellion. Capt. Abraham Gale. Capt. Henry Gale; his
Arrest, Trial, Conviction and Sentence to Death. Reprieved and
Pardoned. List of Rebels taking the Oath of Allegiance. Treat-
ing. Mexican War. Civil War. List of Soldiers in the Civil
War. John D. Mirick Post, G.A.R. List of Princetown Soldiers
who Died in the Service, 1861-1865 218-269


Biography. Hon. Moses Gill. Gill Mansion in Princeton. Robbery
of Plate. Funeral. Inventory of Personal Estate. Ward Nicho-
las Boylston. David Everett. Edward Savage. Daniel Davis.
Edward Augustus Goodnow 270-301


Diary Kept by Elizabeth Fuller, Daughter of Rev. Timothy
Fuller of Princeton. Family of Rev. Timothy Fuller. Reun-
ion at the Old Homestead in Princeton 302-323


Wachusett Legends. Mount Wachusett. Lucy Keyes, the Lost
Child of Wachusett. Robert Keyes. Loss of the Child. Disre-
garding Tradition. Petition for Relief. Rejection. The Letter of
1827. Variation in Name. Tilly Littlejohn. Chronology of
Tilly Littlejohn. Analysis. Redemption Rock. Mt. Adams Cel-
ebration. Whittier's Poem: Monadnock from Wachusett 324-349


Miscellany. Princeton as a Summer Resort. Wachusett House.
Prospect House, now the Princeton Inn. Mountain House. Grand
View House. Mt. Pleasant House. Howard House. Harrington
Farm. Pratt's Cottage. Woodland Cottage. Grimes House.
Pine Hill House. Fernside. Summit House. Innholders and
Taverns. Old Stores. Town Hay Scales. Market Wagons.
Stage Lines through Princeton. Postmasters and Post Offices.

viii Contents

List of Princeton Post Offices in tlie United States. Railroads.
Telephone Service. Ice Business in Princeton. Street Lighting.
Cemeteries. Distances from Princeton Centre. Chair Manufac-
turing in Princeton. Roper Lumber and Box Company 350-374


Gleanings. Freemasonry. Good Templars. Ancient Order of United
Workmen. The Washington Benevolent Society. The Princeton
Dramatic Club. Lyceum. Princeton Club. Princeton Farmer's
Club. Princeton Grange No. 74. Patrons of Husbandry. Sana-
torium. Flora of Princeton. Birds of Princeton. Bibliography
of Princeton. Letters relating to Early Records of Rutland.
Goodnow Memorial Building. Bagg Hall. Historical Data 375~4I4

Index 415-428


Francis Everett Blake Frontispiece

Princeton from East Jones Hill opposite page i

Princeton from the Old Wachusett House " " 5

Wachusett from near Residence of T. H. Skinner.. " " 54

Petition for Incorporation " " 96

Rev. Thomas Prince " " 109

Title-page OF Discourse BY Rev. Timothy Harrington " " 122

Princeton Center from Wachusett House " " 170

Signatures of Town Clerks " " 191

Princeton School Houses — 1797-8-1906 " " 216

Signatures of Townsmen in 1776 " " 221

Lieut.-Gov. Moses Gill " " 270

Residence of Moses Gill " " 271

Sarah (Prince) Gill " " 272

Rebecca (Boylston) Gill " " 273

Ward Nicholas Boylston " " 278

Edward Savage " " 294

Sarah (Seaver) Savage ant> Edward Savage " " 296

Edward A. Goodnow " " 299

Princeton Center and Wachusett " " 325

The Nine O'CLOCK Mail " " 362

Princeton Village from the East " " 369

Cemetery and the Old Pound " " 369

Town Hall and Goodnow Memorl\l Buildings " " 403



Situation and Area. Princeton, a town in Worcester
County, Massachusetts, is situated about forty-eight miles
north of west from Boston, fourteen miles north of Wor-
cester, and about ten miles southwest from Fitchburg.
It is bounded on the north by Westminster, on the east by
Leominster and Sterling, on the south by Holden and
Rutland, and on the west by Rutland and Hubbardston.
The township is north of the center of the County, and
about equi-distant from its eastern and western boundaries,
and occupies a nearly central position in the State as
measured from Cape Cod to New York. Its geographical
position is (at Wachusett Mountain) 42° 29' 21-21" north
latitude, 71° 53' 33-885" west longitude. Its present area
is about 23,000 acres or 36.5 square miles.

Surface. The general formation of this locality is
rugged and uneven, with abrupt elevations and depres-
sions in general, and exceptional plains and meadows,
giving diversity and natural beauty to the scenery. The
principal hills are Little Wachusett, about 1560 feet, and
Pine Hill 1440 feet, both situated in the northerly part of
the town, the southern portion being lower with more
meadow land.

Wachusett Mountain, the principal elevation and most
striking natural feature in the town, rises to a height of
2018 feet. This is in the extreme northerly part, near the
boundary line of Westminster. With the exception of the

2 History of Princeton

range in the westerly part of the State, of which Mt. Grey-
lock is the main eminence, Wachusett is the highest eleva-
tion within its boundaries, and its isolation affords from
the summit an unobstructed view over a large part of
Massachusetts and some portions of adjoining states. The
ocean at Boston, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and
elevations in New Hampshire are visible in clear weather,
while the surrounding country within a radius of seventy-
five miles is spread before the observer. The ascent to the
summit is easy, both by carriage road and paths, and the
mountain top is visited by large numbers during the sum-
mer season. A good hotel is maintained here during the
warmer months of the year. The mountain, including a
tract of 3000 acres, was made a State Reservation April 17,
1900, by Act of the Legislature.

Ponds and Streams. On account of the elevation of the
township there are no streams of considerable volume in
Princeton. The waters have their origin on the height of
the land near the mountain, and flow east and west.
South Wachusett Brook is perhaps the most important
stream, and with Cobb Brook flows into Quinapoxet Pond
at the southeast corner of the town. This pond is the
largest body of water wholly within the town limits.
Wachusett Pond at the north lies mostly in Westminster,
East Wachusett Brook is joined with Babcock Brook and
flows into Still River, which runs on the boundary line
between Princeton and Sterling for about 600 rods. Other
small streams flow into Ware River at the southwest, and
this continues to the Connecticut. Woodward, Wachu-
sett, Jones, Turkey Swamp, Baker's, Sawin and Gardner
meadows are the principal marshy tracts. The area of
the meadow land in the town is estimated at 822 acres.

Climate. The climate of Princeton, while not varying
in great degree from that of the average of central Massa-
chusetts, is, perhaps, from the elevated situation, more
pronounced in alternation of heat and cold and in the
extreme degrees of its temperature. The winters are bleak,
with high winds, while the extreme heat in summer of the

The Town in igi^ 3

lower townships is here tempered with refreshing breezes.
Although trying to some constitutions, in general it can be
said that the atmosphere is pure and bracing, and con-
ducive to good health and longevity. The yearly rainfall
is about forty inches; the temperature is about 45° average
for the year; 22° in the winter, 65° in the summer.

Soil. A large portion of the surface of the town is to-day
uncultivated, and some of the original tillage land has been
abandoned to nature or the mere raising of grass or to
grazing. The causes which have affected the farming
interests throughout New England have operated here with
effects in strong contrast to those of fifty and one hundred
years ago. The elevated situation of much of the land, as
well as intractable soil, together with sharp alternations of
temperature, made the cultivation of the more susceptible
products difficult, and called forth the energies of a former
generation, representatives of an element rare at the present
time. Half a century ago many fine farms were tilled
in the more favorable locations, and a few are maintained
at present. Many of the abandoned farmsteads are now
occupied by summer residents, and fine buildings have
been erected for occupation during the warmer season.

Land and Agricultural Products. The last state census
(1905) gives the valuation of farm and agricultural prod-
ucts as follows: land, $327,943; buildings, $223,139;
machinery and implements, $35,674; domestic animals,
$114,770; fruit trees and vines, $22,553; mines, quarries,
etc., $880 = $724,943.

Agricultural Products: dairy, $72,433; poultry, $9,892;
meats, $1688; animal products, $14,612; cereals, $300;
fruits, berries and nuts, $7,804; hay, straw and fodder,
$85,690; vegetables, $7,540; wood products, $22,368;
food products, $i,773 = $224,543.

Natural Productions. These do not vary in great degree
from those of the larger tract of central Massachusetts,
except that perhaps in the generally elevated situation of
this town some of the flora and less hardy vegetable pro-
ductions are not found. The pine, chestnut, maple, oak,

4 History of Princeton

walnut, birch, ash and beech are among the trees growing
here. Most of the common wild flowers are found in great
profusion, the mayflower and the mountain laurel being

Wild Animals. The larger wild animals of the earlier
period have been exterminated, but the smaller common
pests exist — the catamount, skunk, woodchuck, fox and
the smaller rodents. Rattlesnakes are rare, but black
snakes and the common striped snake are found. The
ponds and streams are so few that fish are not abundant.
The common birds are in evidence and are migratory as
in other parts of Massachusetts.

Population. The number of inhabitants in Princeton
has in general declined since 1840, from 1,347 in that year
to 904 at the last census. Of this, 238 males and 203
females are single, and 206 males and 193 females married.
There are 246 families in the town. The legal voters
number 241.

Health. The statistics compare favorably with those
of other towns in Massachusetts.

Manufactures. There are five manufacturing estab-
lishments in the town — four private, and one incorporated.
The amount of capital invested is $90,150; value of stock
used, $37,372; value of goods produced, $113,097;
persons employed, 76; wages paid, $26,023; salaries,

Other Occupations. There are 99 persons engaged in
agriculture; 30 in transportation; 91 laborers; 18 in trade;
10 in government employ; 277 in domestic service; and
22 in professional occupations.

Religious Organizations. Only one church, the Con-
gregational, is now in existence.

Schools. There are six schools maintained, at an ex-
pense of $4,722. The Superintendent is paid $300 for
services in the Town. Number of school children, 135;
number of teachers, 11.

The Public Library contains 6,201 volumes; value,
$4,000. The endowment is $7,000, and the income $360.






The Town in igi^ 5

The value of the building is $25,000. Salary of Librarian,


Newspaper. There is one newspaper The Laborer's
Friend published in town.

Telephone service places the town in possession of local
and outside communications.

Electric Lights are in operation in the streets, and are
supplied to private residences.

Conimunication. The Peterborough and Worcester
Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad passes through
the southwestern part of the town.

Geology. The foundation of the soil in Princeton is
gneiss, one of the primary rocks of the earth's surface.
This rock is composed mostly of quartz, mica and feldspar,
with a lesser admixture of iron, which presents in places
a rusty appearance. Otherwise stated, the formation is
a coarse or uneven granite, the main constituents of which
are silica, alumina and potassium. There are some evi-
dences of slate formation in places, sand and other debris
of alluvial action are evident in the lowlands, while boulders
and relics of the drift period are abundant.

Name. The town received its name in 1759 from the
Rev. Thomas Prince of Boston, a distinguished divine and
writer who was born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, in
1687 and died in Boston in 1758. Mr. Prince was one
of the proprietors of the tract, and was interested in the
formation and settlement of the town.

History of Princeton


Highways and bridges $6,450 . 00

State road i , 1 50 . 00

State road extension 700 . 00

Schools 5.525 . 00

Salary of Superintendent 300 . 00

Transportation 600 . 00

Medical inspection 75-00

Salaries of Town officers 1 ,000 . 00

Fire department 500 . 00

Support of poor 700 . 00

Care of cemeteries 1 50 . 00

State aid 350 . 00

Interest on debts and loans 900 . 00

Salary of Librarian 1 15 . 00

Observance of Memorial Day 100 . 00

Gypsy and brown tail moth extermination 300.00

Street lights 750 . 00

Board of health 200 . 00

Total, including other expenses $21,639.00


1. Number of residents assessed on property, individuals 221, all others,
45, Total 266.

2. Number of non-residents assessed on property, individuals 107, all
others 47, Total 154.

3. Number of persons assessed on property 420, poll tax only, 133, Total


4. Number of male polls assessed, 284.

5. Tax on each male poll, $2.00.

6. Value of assessed personal estate, excluding resident bank stock,
$583,042. Resident bank stock, none. Total $583,042.

7. Value of assessed real estate buildings, excluding land, $534,525.
Land, excluding buildings, $367,561. Total, $902,086.

8. Total valuation of assessed estate April i, 1914, $1,485,128.

9. Tax for State, County and Town purposes, including overlaying:

On personal estate $9,620.19

On real estate 14,884.42

On polls 568.00

Total $25,072.61

The Town in 1Q15


10. Rate of total tax on $1000, $16.50.

11. Number of horses assessed, 272.

12. Number of cows assessed, 599.

13. Number of sheep assessed, 19.

14. Number of neat cattle other than cows assessed, 274.

15. Number of swine assessed, 47.

16. Number of dwelling houses assessed, 250.

17. Number of acres of land assessed, 21,423.

18. Number and value of fowls assessed, No. 4,027, value, $2,416.


Amount remaining in General Fund .... $3,092 . 25

Deducted from appropriations 18,546 . 75

County tax i ,974 . 00

State tax 4,287 . 50

State highway tax 157.96

Overlay 1 06 . 40

Total $25,072 . 61

Moth tax 673 . 43


District of Prince Town. On October, 1759, certain
tracts of land known as Rutland East Wing, and Water-
town Farms, as well as others in Worcester County, Mass-
achusetts, comprising about fifteen thousand acres, were, by
Act of the General Court, made a District, to which the
name of Prince Town was given. This allotment, with sev-
eral additions made at later times, formed the present town
of Princeton. At the time this Act was passed the storm
and stress period of the early settlement of New England
had passed. The fierce conflicts with the aborigines had
ended in the triumph of the white man, and in the fierce
struggles with the forces of nature the powers of sturdy
humanity and of civilization had prevailed. The territory
now included within the boundaries of this town was one
of the few tracts in the State which was unoccupied at
that time.

Princeton, in its early history, can present little to dis-
tinguish it among the groups of older townships by which

Online LibraryFrancis E. (Francis Everett) BlakeHistory of the town of Princeton, in the county of Worcester and commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1759-1915 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 35)