Hubbardston (Mass.).

An address, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Hubbardston, Mass. (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHubbardston (Mass.)An address, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Hubbardston, Mass. (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 10)
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A r 1^ E IS I) I X ,

Containing a List of the Municipal Officers,

and other interesting matter.

W O R C E 8 T E R :



18 6 7.








DELIVERED JUNE 13th, 1867,







Containing a List of the Municipal Officers,



printed by CHAS. HAMILTON,




SnTce irakmowa


JUNE 13. 1867.

Friends and Fellow Citizens or Hubbardston :

We congratulate you that the birthday of our native town
falls on this auspicious season. Hubbardston was born in
the most beautiful of the months ; when Flora, and Zcphyros,
her fabled spouse, were in their full ascendency. We can
observe the exact day without one wish that it had been in
any other part of the year. As I have walked this beautiful
shaded street, and looked upoii' the ilow' er plots in front
yards, with the woodl^ine and ivy climbing over the doors,
and pinks and lilies and geraniums smiling through the win-
dow panes, and as I have seen the honeysuckle and hyacinth
and forget-me-not distilling the fragrance of alFection over
the graves of the dear departed, I have inquired whether
this love of flowers and trees, which has always character-
ized the people of this town, did not in part arise from the
fact that the place drew in the odor of flowers with its lirst

Doubtless the day was fixed without design, but we feel
its influence none the less. As we have left our varied pur-
suits and come home, from the north and the south, the east
and the west, to visit our mother once more, we find her
attired in her most beautiful holiday dress, more beautiful
and gorgeous on her centennial day than in her maiden life,
as if each passing summer had given its beauties into her
possession. As we have wended our way back to our native
village, after years of absence, over these hills and through
those winding valleys, it has been to us, one triumphal


ovation, as when the victorious warrior of old returned to
find his path strewn with blossoms and palm branches.
Flowers have nodded and smiled to each other, and the rich
green trees have bowed in obeisance as we passed. Just
such summer breezes as of old have kissed our cheeks, and
we have seen the same butterflies we chased once with naked
feet. The wild pink of the woods has lost none of its for-
mer charms. The birds sing our welcome in the same tune
we admired in our childhood's days. The squirrel runs^out
on the limb of the old tree, and chirps, as if he recognized
us as old acquaintances. The brook ripples just as when we
sought the spotted trout among its pebbles. Thus the very
circumstances of the season carry us back to the past, and
deepen the emotions, and hallow the impressions of the day.
Grove and field, pond and brook, reflect the sweet images of
early days.

This year summer seemed to linger in her coming, that she
might strew our path with her virgin blossoms, and this
beautiful day is God's own benediction upon the occasion.
In all our wanderings, the old homestead has never been
forgotten, and never was it dearer than to-day. We are
glad to be here, and our only regret is, that we have not a
richer tribute to bring with us.

As I am commissioned to speak in behalf of the resident
citizens, as well as those from abroad, I would repeat their
welcome. Wc are right glad to see you, and clasp your
hands once more. We welcome you to our hearts and
our homes, as well as to the festivities of this occasion.
Natives of Hubljardston, and you who have captivated her
fair daughters, — you who once dwelt in these houses and
tilled these fields, and you who have been drawn here by a
friendly interest, one and all, Welcome ! jVIay none of you
ever blush to have it told that you was connected with this
toAvn, by birth, residence or relationship. But as you go
back to your adopted liomes, after revisiting the scenes of
early life, and reviving okl acquaintance ; after sitting with
father and mother, brothers and sisters again, around the


old hearthstone, or at the long table, where once the unbro-
ken circle met, and after dropping a tear over the graves of
the dear ones whose presence we sadly miss, may you go
richer in precious memories, and better for this review of
by-gone scenes.

But one theme occupies our thoughts to-day. At every
fireside, and wherever friend meets friend, incidents and re-
miniscences of the town and its people, will be rehearsed.
I shall present no other subject than the history and charac-
ter of Hubbardston, through these hundred years.

Every thiug that is valuable in this life is the result of
toil, sacrifice and suffering. All the privileges of this
favored generation have grown out of the labors and priva-
tions of those hardy pioneers who have lived before us. All
those benign institutions under which we find shelter and
repose, strike their roots deep into that soil which was
watered with the tears and the blood of our ancestors.
Every town has its own character as truly as the individual,
and that character is often as much the result of early im-
pressions. As we look over these pleasant homes and well-
cultivated farms, and walk through these streets, meeting
well-dressed and refined people, and view these churches
and school-houses, we know that this would never have
been realized, had not the early settlers denied themselves
all such comforts, as they plunged into the depths of the
dark forests which covered this whole territory. They
dwelt in the rudest cabins, subsisting on the coarsest fare,
depending upon the wild game of the woods for their meat.
The nightly serenade of the Hubljardston Band then, was by
the howling wolf and the hooting o\t1. The surly bear
looked in at the door and growled at the children in the cra-
dle. For twenty or thirty years after the settlement of this
town, wolves and bears infested these forests. Yet with
brave hearts and strong hands, these men cleared the woods
and laid the foundation for coming generations ; not for
themselves, but for us. The axe and the gun were the pio-
neers of all this civilization and refinement.


It is not only fitting, therefore, that we pay an hon-
est tribute to the heroic deeds and manly virtues of the
fathers, but it is important also that we gather up and pre-
serve the records, so that children's children may know
what has been done for them. Some of the ancient nations
saw so much the importance of a brilliant history to set
before their young men, that where the record was obscure,
or lacking in brilliant deeds, they supplied the deficiency
with glowing fable. In some countries it was the custom to
bring out the boys, at certain seasons, and show them the
works of their fathers, and tell them of all the brilliant
achievements of the past, that they might be inspired to do
and dare. Such is the influence and importance of history.

Our annals to-day, must be simple and unpretenduig.
We have but little of thrilling incident or romantic adven-
ture to relate. Time has drawn a veil over many things.
Much that we would be glad to recite can never be known,
for none are left to relate it. Dust and mould have gathered
over the names of many whose influence was once promi-
nent here. Kven the graves of some of them are as obscure
as that of Alaric, King of the Goths, who caused a deep
river to be turned from its channel ; his grave was dug in its
bed, and 'after he was buried the river was restored to its
course again, and all the prisoners who did the work were
slain, that none should know where he rested. So we know
not the resting place of some of the fiithers.

This town is located apart from the gi-cat marts of busi-
ness, and thoroughfares of travel, with little to attract the busy
world. We have been left much like Sancho, in the story of
Cervantes. In his journey he fell soundly asleep in his
saddle. Then there came a Frenchman and • quietly lifted
the saddle, and propped it up on, both sides, and then stole
away the beast from under him.

So our beast has departed. First came a railroad which
lifted the saddle on the south side. Then a railroad which
lifted it on the north side, and the two props put under,
were two railroads located through town, but never to be


built. Thus the long array of teams and stage coaches
which once rumbled through these streets, and drove up to
these hotels, giving much of life and bustle to the place, are
seen no more. Yet we have a "habitation and a name"
which need no embellishment of fable.

Even the retirement of the place is genial to many hearts.

"How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease."

These secluded towns have an importance which is some-
times overlooked. They are the nurseries of civilization,
virtue, and piety for the whole land. From these fiirm
plants have been taken the slips which have caused the prai-
ries of the West to bud and blossom like the rose. New
England enterprise, New England virtue. New England
principle, have given to the great West the position which it
now holds.

The lament in all these towns is, that the best, the enter-
prising young men emigrate. Let them go, and rejoice in
the part you are thus taking in moulding the character, and
shaping the destiny of the whole country. No place stands
so high in the scale of importance, as that whose principal
product and export is men.

Some years ago, in an obscure pasture on one of the
slopes of Burnshirt Hill, there sprung up, unplanted, a
little apple tree. For years it struggled for life against
summer drought and winter storms, and browsing of cattle.
At length it bore fruit, and of such quality as to attract
attention. Thus originated the world-renowned "Hubbard-
ston None-such." So from these obscure hills and valleys
may come men whose iutiuence will be equally wide-spread.
It is a fact worthy of note, that the men who now take the
lead in all departments of the nation have sprung up in
just such rural homes as these. Our sons and daughters
are found everywhere, and in that glorious day which is
surely coming, when the clear, calm sky of freedom shall


bend its genial arch over all nations, and kindred, and people,
and when angelic voices shall sing

'* That song of triumph which records
That all the earth is now the Lord's."

we believe it will be seen that our influence was not lost in
hastening that day.

There are a few things in the history of the town which
partially obscure our fair fame, — scenes of strife and
controversy, which I shall only reproduce so far as faithful-
ness demands. Let the waters of oblivion roll over them.
We prefer to remember, and transmit to our children only
what is pure and lovely and of good report. And when I
allude to these things, I shall endeavor to twine the ivy,
or weave the olive branch around the scars and defacements,
rather than to expose them. I deem it no part of my duty
to-day, to probe any wounds which time has healed, nor to
uncover any deformities, the memory of which these years
have overgrown.

Yet, though some evils have grown out of the excitable
temperament of the people, with pleasure we record the
fact, that there have been but few great crimes ever com-
mitted in town, and but few notoriously bad men raised
here. We were obliged to own "Old Grimes" as one of our
sons, even after Worcester took possession of his ears.
Yet at this day we look upon him as a man exceedingly
weak in mind, and weaker in moral sense, rather than as a
great rascal. Besides, he was not ])orn in town.

We have no Indian history to relate. There is no evi-
dence that the native red man ever had a home or settle-
ment within these bounds, or that he ever molested any of
the people. Yet it is evident that he was well acquainted
with this whole region, and that he had here important hunt-
ing and fishing grounds. The ponds, to this day, bear the
names which he gave them, only that the beautiful Asnacou-
comick has been corrupted into Comet Pond. At Nasha-
way, afterwards Lancaster, there was a large Indian settle-


meut of the Narragtinsett tribe, and later another at Niche-
waug, now Petersham. From Lancaster to the foot of the
" Greate Wachiisette" there was a path, and from there it
branched oif on both sides of the mountain, one on tlie
north and the other on the south, but both leadinsr to Niche-
waug. The southern path, undoubtedly, lay through this
town, passing near to Comet Pond, then near to where Benja-
min D. Phelps lives, and thence to Burnsliirt Hill, and near
Burnshirt river it probably met the other path. Near the
pond just named, there are the remains of an old chinmey,
or rude hreplacc, built of stone. Here probably they had a
wigwam, as a sort of half-way house iij their journey through
the wilderness. It is probable that Mrs. Kowlandson, the
wife of the first minister of Lancaster, the story of whose
captivity and treatment by the Indians was one of the mar-
vellous books of our boyhood, passed down this path to
Wachusctt when she was ransomed and returned to her
friends. In the records of the proprietors of Petersham is the
following, made in 1734. Voted to give Capt. Jonas Hough-
ton a sum of money, "for making the road so feasible, from
Lancaster along the North side of Wachusett, to the meet-
ing of the other path which goes from the aforesaid Lancas-
ter, along on the South side of Wachusett, as to carry com-
fortably with four oxen four barrels of cider at once."

Hayward, in his Gazetteer, probably quoting from some
old history, says, " around Moose Horn Pond, there is
every appearance that there was once a stone wall built, or
building. In some places the wall is two feet and a half
high, as if laid up with men's hands ; and where there is not
one stone left upon another, the appearance is of a large wall
thrown down." But good judges, who htive examined these
stones, are of opinion that there is nothing here more than
might be produced by natural causes. As we can conceive
of no reason for building such a wall, the presumption is
that it is not artificial.

But just over our northern boundary, in what is kno\\Ti
as " mine hill," is a remarkable cave or room, extendmg fifty-



seven feet into the solid rock, with a very narrow entrance.
In the rock, overhead, the marks of drills are still plainly
visible, and there are, in the region, the remains of an old
well, and other evidences which. prove it to be an artihcial
cave, and made long before there was any settlement here ;
when, or by whom excavated, will probably forever remain a
mystery. My grandftither, who removed from Concord to
this town more than seventy years ago, heard a tradition in
his boyhood, which he supposed threw some light upon the
matter. In that region w^ere one or two merchants, who
traded largely with the Indians. At one time these Indians
brought, what seemed to be valuable ore, and- these men,
under their guidance, fitted out a company to go and secretly
explore the mine. They were gone three or four months,
but where, was kept a secret. The next year they went
again, and were absent about the same length of time.
They brought specimens of the ore, which were sent to
England and analyzed, but not proving valuable, the expe-
dition was abandoned, and these men dying soon after, the
place of their operations was not divulged. It is not alto-
gether improbable that this may have been the spot. This
is about all we ever heard of the connection of Indians with
this place.

On the 22d of December, 1686, Henry Willard, Joseph
Rowlandson, Joseph Foster, Benjamin Willard, and Cyprion
Stevens, purchased of certain Indians, who claimed to be
the owners of the soil, a tract of land twelve miles square,
with very indefinite boundaries, which was known by the
name of Naquag, and is described as composed of "Med-
ows. Swamps, Timbers, Etervils." For this they paid
£23. The deed was not recorded till April 14th, 1714, in
Middlesex County.

This purchase included what is now Rutland, a portion of
Paxton, Oakham, Barrc, Ilubbardston, and the largest half
of Princeton, and contained 93,100 acres, including 1000
acres already granted to Hon. Samuel Sewell. This Avould
make the original cost of the land less than one mill per acre.


In 1713, on petition of the sons and prrandsons of Simon
Willard, the General Conrt contirmed this title, provided
"that within seven years, sixty families be settled thereon,
with sufficient quantity of land reserved for the use of the
gospel ministry and for schools."

In December, 1715, the proprietors, who now numbered
thirty -three, voted "to survey and set off into lots the con-
tents of six miles square, to be granted to settlers in order
to secure the perfornlance of the conditions of the confirma-
tion of the title." This tract was what is now Rutland, and
a part of Paxtou. They then laid out sixty-two house-lots
of thirty acres each, which were offered to permanent set-
tlers, with the promise that the remainder of the land should
be divided among them, in case the sixty families were set-
tled within the prescribed seven years. This was the case,
and thus the proprietors gave up all their right in one fourth
part of the original purchase, and continued to manage the
other three-fourths according to the laws relating to proprie-
tors, till 1749, when the northwest quarter was incorporated
into a separate district, called the Rutland District, now the
town of Barre.

The portion which is now Hubbardston bore the name of
the North-East Quarter. What is now Oakham, was the
West Wing, and what is now Princeton, was 'the East

This North-East Quarter contained something over 23,000
acres, which, acording to the cost of the whole purchase,
would be worth about $18. You will observe here, that the
very feature of the township which made it of so little value
then, has since been the great source of its wealth, in fact,
that which has made it what it is. It was because it was
covered with dense, unbroken forests. The first settlers
lived in the woods. Their descendants have lived by the
profit of the woods. These forests were then regarded as
the greatest possible incuml)rance, and every means was re-
sorted to to prostrate? and destroy them. In the spring they
set fires and burned over large tracts, in order that grass and


green herbs might groAvfor the eattle, which were driven up
from the lower towns in great numbers, to pasture. One
terrible accident occurred in consequence. In May, 1781,
fire was running in the woods near the house of Joseph Par-"
menter, and a fresh breeze was spreading the flames. Mrs.
Parmenter ran to Mr. James Thompson's, about 200 rods,
for help, leaving her children, one three years old, and one
a year old, in the house. She hastened back with all possi-
ble speed, but as she came in sight of the house, it was all
in flames, and she was so evercome that she sunk down just
where she was, unable to proceed further. Both the children
were Consumed.

The Natty Pond Meadows, now some of the most worth-
less lands in town, were considered some of the most valu-
able by the early settlers, because they never had much
timber on them, and bore considerable quantities of hay.
Of so little value was wood, long after the town was
incorporated, that many men made it their business to cut
down the trees and burn them on the ground, that potash
might be made from the ashes. This was about the only
article they could sell for money. But worthless as these
forests once were, if the whole tract had remained unsettled
and untouched till now, with the same progi-ess all around
us, probably all the property now in town, and all our cousins
who visit us to-day, could invest, would not purchase it.
Very few towns, so elevated, have so many valuable mill
privileges. This, with the abundance of good timber, and
that quality of the soil which so readily reproduces the for-
est after being cleared, has given to this town its impor-
tance. The words of the Psalmist are true of this place,
" A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon
thick trees."

In 1737, the proprietors, in order to divide this Nortli-
East Quarter among themselves, decided to lay it out into
68 house-lots, of one hundred acres each, and 33 great farms,
of five hundred acres each, which would give two house-lots
and one great farm for each share, besides the reserved


lauds. The same year the house-lots, and one of sixt}' acres,
and another of seven acres, were surveyed. Before proceed-
ing to the division, they ordered that lot No. 21 "be
assigned to the first learned and orthodox minister, who shall
be ordained, and settled in the ministry in this place, provi-
ded he shall continue seven years, or until the day of his
death, to his heirs and assigns forever." This lot lay in what
is now the very centre of the town, embracing the Connnon,
the Old Cemetery, and the lots on wdiicli the buildings now
stand for considerable distance around.

They also ordered that lot No. 30 be set apart, and re-
main unalienated, for the use of schools in town. This lot
was sold in 1796, for $1273, and was the origin of the pre-
sent school fund of the town.

The lot of 60 acres was given to Eleazer Brown, Avho was
then living upon it, on condition "that he or his heirs dwell,
and keep a house thereon, for the entertainment of travellers,
for the space of seven years." This lot was located where
the farm of Thomas Temple has since been, and was the first
settlement in town.

The seven-acre lot was granted for a meeting-house and
common, and was situated on the top of the hill, north-cast
of the old liurial ground. But when the people afterwards
began to talk of building a meeting-house, they saw the in-
convenience of the location, and made an exchange with
Rev. Mr. Parker, who was in possession of the minister's
lot, giving him the seven acres, and taking half that amoinit
where the common now is. Mr. Parker's house stood on
this spot. After settling these preliraiuaries, the division
was made by drawing lots.

Early the next year the great farms were laid out, and
finding that there was still a surplus of land, they ordered
that a farm of 150 acres of the choicest and best land
remaining be given to the first minister, on the same condi-
tions as before prescribed. This lot was located on the
south side of Comet Pond, and contained very large mea-
sure. The remaiuder was divided into twelve small farms



from fifty to ninety acres each, which, according to the
record, were distributed "to quahty the greater farms,"
wliich means probably to equalize the shares in value. In
this survey also, they reserved strips of land six rods wide,
between two tiers of farms, the whole length of the town,
for roads. This land has since been incorporated into the
adjoining farms, thus giving to each hundred acre farm an
extra 300 rods of land.

In June, 1738, when the final division was made, one
small farm of fifty-seven acres was granted to Rev. Thomas
Prince, in consideration of his great services performed for
the proprietors, and another to Adam Winthrop for the same
consideration. Mr. Prince was for forty years pastor of the
Old Soiith Church in Boston, and was a very distinguished
divine. By inheritance, he became a large land holder in
the East Wing of Rutland, and as Gov. Gill married his
daughter, and inherited his estate, he probably caused this
tract to take the name of his distinguished father-in-law.
Hence the name of Princeton.

Adam Winthrop was for many years Moderator of the

When this final division of the farms was made, such had
been th3 changes in twenty-five years, since the confirmation
of the title, that only two of thirty-three original owners

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Online LibraryHubbardston (Mass.)An address, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Hubbardston, Mass. (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 10)