J. H. (Josiah Howard) Temple.

History of the town of Whately, Mass., including a narrative of leading events from the first planting of Hatfield: 1660-1871 online

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Online LibraryJ. H. (Josiah Howard) TempleHistory of the town of Whately, Mass., including a narrative of leading events from the first planting of Hatfield: 1660-1871 → online text (page 1 of 33)
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AUGUST 25, 1675.

II 1 S T 1{ Y



By JrH: temple,







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872,


in tlie Office of the Librarian of Congress.


This attempt to gather up the memorials of a huntlrcd years,
grew out of an invitation from the citizens of Whately, to deliver
an Address at the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the
Incorporation of the Town.

The matei'ials collected have been embodied in these pages.
Some chapters arc inserted as they were written for that address,
and the book is now published in accordance with a unanimous
vote of the town at its annual meeting in November.

Somewhat isolated in position, and with nothing of natural
advantages to attract notice, — except the quiet beauty, and rich
variety^ and broad exj^anse of landscape, as seen from the cen-
tral village and the hills lying westwardly — Whately has laid
claim to no special distinction among her neighbors. But the
public spirit of her people, and the generous liberality displayed
in arranging and carrying out to a successful issue the com-
memoration of her centenary, and in providing for the preserva-
tion of her annals in the printed volume, are worthy of imitation
by the other towns in the Commonwealth. Records are perish-
able, and are always incomplete ; they are at best but the out-
lines ; the filling up must come from personal reminiscences of
character and actions, and those incidental items of civil and
social affairs, which are transmitted by oral tradition — distorted
and colored, of course, by pride and prejudice — but with enough
of truth to explain the records, and enough of reality to help the
practical antiquary in giving a life-like picture of the time of
which he treats.

The territory comprising the town was included in, and for one
hundred years was a part of Hatfield. The history of the colony,

then, properly begins with some account of the mother settle-
ment. Whatever is characteristic of the growth, is to be found
in the germ. What society was in 1771, is a result of causes
pre-existing, and working through the preceding generations :
hence a sketch of leading events, from the first purchase of
these lands by the settlers from Connecticut, seemed necessary to
a clear understanding of any peculiarities of opinion, and the
domestic customs and religious faith of our fathers.

The writer has confined himself to a narrative of facts. It
is easj to swell a volume by speculations, and long-drawn com-
parisons between the past and the present ; but in these pages it
is assumed that, with the fiicts plainly before him, the reader is
competent to make comparisons, and draw contrasts, and establish
a philosophy — more satisfactory to himself, at least, than any
which the author might suggest.

Official documents have been the source relied on for historical
matter ; and no pains or expense has been spared to secure
accuracy and fullness. That some errors will be found, is ex-
pected ; that all which might have public value and interest, has
been collected, is not claimed. And some commonly accepted
traditions have been set aside, because well authenticated records
require it.

The Family Registers of the first settlers of the town, includ-
ing two generations, were collected and published by the author,
in 1849. Those records have been enlarged so as to embrace all
the permanent inhabitants ; and the families have been traced
down to the present time, by James INI. Crafts, Esq., with im-
portant aid (which he would gratefully acknowledge) from Ches-
ter G. Crafts, and Lcander L. ]\Iorton.

The frontispiece, representing the ravine where the " Swamp
Fight" of Aug. 25, 1675, commenced, is from a drawing by
Mrs. A. H. Hall, a descendant of Dea. Salmon White.

The autographs, which comprise the names of most of the
first settlers of the town, have the merit of being fac-similes of
original signatures.

The writer would do violence to his sense of justice, and his
appreciation of kindness, not to acknowledge his indebtedness to
Sylvester Judd, Esq. (now deceased), who was his early friend,
and who, in one portion of his field, left so little to be gleaned.

ITc would also record his oblifration to the Secretary of the
Coininonwcalth ; the Ivei2;istcr of Probate of Ilamp^lure County ;
the Town Clerks of Hatfield and ^Vhately, for free access to tjic
records in their respective offices ; to the New Knt;land His-
toric-Genealogical Society, for the use of their valuable library ;
to Dea. K. II. BeUlen of Hatfield, for the piivilege of exam-
ining deeds of a large part of the lands lying in the southerly
half of the "Bradstreet Farm;" to James M. Crafts, Esq., for
statistics of industries, and manifold aid in copying records ; to
Hon. George Sheldon, for historical data; to Mr. Jonatlian
Johnson, for loan of ancient account book ; to Capt. Seth l>ard-
well, for list of privileges on West Brook; to Kev. J. W.. Lane,
for various documents ; to S. B. White, Esq., for list of soldiers
of the late ^Var ; to Mr. Erastus Crafts, Dea. Elihu Belden,
W. H. Fuller, Esq., Messrs. Dennis Dickinson, Stephen Bel-
den, Edwin Bardwell, Dr. M. Harwood, Mr. and Mrs. Eurotas
Dickinson, and Mrs. J. C. Loomis, for important information.

But with the aid derivable from all these sources, — official
records and the memories of i)ersons now living, — it is but
justice to say, that this picture of "the olden time," such as it
is, and the personal history of the men and women who settled
Whately, could not have been given but for the abundant mate-
rials furnished the writer while a resident in the town, by Mr.
Oliver Graves, Mr. Justin Morton, Mrs. Hannah Parker, and
Mrs. Eleanor Dickinson, who were eye-ivitnesses of events for
the ninety years following 1700.


Fkamingua.m, Mass., Dec. '21, 1871.





At the time of the proposed settlement of the part of the
valley of the Connecticut Kiver lying between the Mt. Holyoke
range on the south, and Sugar Loaf and Toby on the north,
this Tract was in the occupancy of the Norwottuck Indians, who
were a branch of the Nipnett or Nipmuck tribe, whose chief seat
was in the central part of the State.

The Norwottucks of the valley were divided into three princi-
pal families, under three petty chiefs, viz. : Chickwallop, Ump-
anciiala, and Quonquont. Each claimed ownershi[) of the lands
lying for a distance on both sides of the river, and extendin""
indefinitely east and west. Chickwallop held the lands pur-
chased by the Northampton planters and eastward. Umpanchala
claimed on the Hadley side as far north as Mill River, and on
the Hatfield side from Northampton bounds to the upper side of
Great jNIeadow. Quonquont occupied from Umpanchala's line
to Mt. Wequomps, or Sugar Loaf, and Mt. Toby. North of
these was the territory of the Pocumtucks, or Deerfield Indians.
Collectively, these were called the River Indians.

Each of these Indian families had its fort, its planting field,
and its hunting grounds. The fort was located, for obvious
reasons, on a bluff, in some commanding position, and near a
stream or spring of water. It was constructed of palisades, or
poles about ten feet long set in the grounfl. Its size depended
ou the lay of the land and the necessities of each tribe, as their


wio-wains were placed within the enclosure. The cornfield was
always close to the fort.

Quonquont, who claimed the lands now comprising Whately,
and eastward, had a strong fort on the east side of the Connecti-
cut, north of Mill Eiver in Hadley. It was built on a ridge that
separates the east and west School Meadows, and enclosed about
an acre of ground. His cornfield, of sixteen to twenty acres, was
in the upper meadow. This fort was abandoned some time
before the attack on Quaboag.

The principal fort of Umpanchala was on the high bank of the
Connecticut near the mouth of Half-way Brook, between North-
ampton and Hatfield. This fort was occupied by the tribe till
the night of August 24, 1G75, and was the last fortified dwelling
place held by the Indians in this part of the valley. The plant-
ino- field of this family was the "Chickons," or Indian Hollow,
in Hatfield South Meadow.

Tiie Indian's home in this valley was then, what it still
remains, a scene of abundance and beauty. The mountains
reared their bold heads towards the sky for grandeur and defence ;
the hills, clothed in their primeval forests of variegated hues,
arrested the showers, and poured down their tributes in little
rivulets whose path was marked by green verdure and brilliant
flowers ; the annual overflow of the great river made the valley
fat and fertile. Yet these natural advantages appear to have
been of small account with the natives. So fav as we can judge,
convenience and necessity alone influenced them in the selection.
The furs and flesh of animals, and the fish of the streams, met
most of their ordinary wants ; grass was of no account ; and even
the corn which their women raised was a kind of surplus for
emero-encies, to be I'elied on in the scarcity of game, and the
event of war.^

The Indian was a savage, with the instincts and ideas of a
savage ; and he estimated things accordingly. Personal ease
and sensual gratification was his highest happiness ; the pursuit
of game was his excitement ; war was his highest ambition and
field of glory ; and outside of these he had nothing to love, and

• Josselyn, Voyages, ^ys : — '• They [the Indians] beat the Corn to pow-
der and put it into bags, which they make use of when stormie weather or
the like will not suffer them to look out for other food."


nothing to live for. All these local advantages he had here ; and
war with some rival tril)e was always at his option.

The red man had long been the occupant of the territory.
And he seems to have iniderstood perfectly the validity of his
title to these lands by the right of possession. Why then — the
question will naturally arise — was the Indian so ready to part
with his title, and transfer his right to the newcomers? The
general answer is, because he was a man and a savage. There
is a strange fascination accompanying a higher order of intelli-
gence, and the power inherent to enlightened intellect, which is
irresistible to the untutored child of nature. He looks up with
awe, and instinctly yearns for companionship with that higher
life. To his apprehension it is allied with the supernatural ;
and partakes of the potent, if not the omnipotent. And, aside
from any veneration, he sees the advantage every way of civili-
zation ; and the manhood in him rises up in hope and expecta-
tion. Ilis ideas may be vague, as to results to accrue. But he
anticipates some great advantage ; he expects to become a par-
taker of that which draws and inspires. It is only when, by
actual contact and contrast, he discovers and comes to feel his
inferiority, and his moral weakness, as compared with civilized
man, that he becomes jealous of him ; and the jealousy ripens
into hatred ; and the hatred ripens into hostility. No doubt acts
of injustice and wrong aggravate the jealousy, and hasten the
conflict. But civilized and savage life can never coalesce. There
is inherent antagonism which necessitates a conflict. And in the
struggle the weaker must yield to the stronger. And strength
lies not in numbers, but in resources ; the courage which con-
quers is moi'al rather than physical. Thus the two orders of
society cannot exist together ; one must yield and flee, or become
subordinate and be absorbed in the other.

In selling their lands to the settlers, the Indians in this valley
expected to be, and believed that they were the true gainers by
the bargain. They reserved all the rights and 2)rivileges that
were of any real value to them ; and calculated on receiving
advantages from the skill and traffic of the whites, as well as
those indefinite, perhaps imaginary advantages, to wliich 1 have
alluded. One reason why the Jiiver Indians were anxious to
sell, at the particular time when the whites came to the valley,


was their fear of the Mohawks from the Hudson, who were
threatening a war of extermination — just as, sixteen years later,
the Pocumtucks and Norwottucks planned a war of extermina-
ti6n against the whites, whom they now so cordially welcomed.

The Hadley Planters. The company that formed the
original Hadley Plantation, covering lands on both sides of the
river, was from Connecticut. Their first step was to obtain
leave from the General Court to settle within the jurisdiction of
Massachusetts ; and the second step was to purchase the lands of
the Indians. The negotiation was carried on through the agency
of Maj. John Pynchon of Springfield, to whom the deeds were
made out, and who assigned his rights to the Company, and
received his pay of individuals as they took possession of their
assigned lots. Maj. Pynchon paid the Indians in wampum and
goods ; and received payment in grain, witli perhaps a consider-
able quantity of wampum, and a small amount of silver.

Wampum, which was in the shape of beads, was made of sea-
shells. It was manufactured mainly by the Indians of Long
Island, and, later, by those of Block Island. It was of two
kinds, white, or wampumpeag ; and black or blue, called suckau-
hock, which was of double the value of white. In 1650 the
Massachusetts government ordered that wampumpeag should be
a legal tender for debts (except for country rates) to the value of
forty shillings, the white at eight and the black at four for a
penny. This law was repealed in IGGl ; after which wampum
had no standard value — the price being regulated by demand and
supply. A hand of wampum was equal to four inches. In the
Hatfield purchase it was reckoned seven inches. A fathom was
ten hands, and was ordinarily worth five shillings. It was used
much for ornaments, such as belts, bi'acelets, head-bands, ear-
j)endants, and by the squaws of chiefs for aprons. Its use in
trade was continued for many years by the whites.

The first purchase on account of the Hadley settlers was made
December 25, 1658, and embraced the lands on the east side of
the Connecticut, from the mouth of Fort River and Mt. Ilolyoke,
on the south, to the mouth of jNIohawk brook and the southern
part of Mt. Toby, on the north, being about nine miles in length,
and extending castwardly nine miles into the woods. The price


paid was two hundred and twenty fiitlioms of wampum and one
large coat, equal to £G2 10. The deed was signed by Unipan-
chala, Quonquont, and Chickwallop. Quonquont reserved one
cornfield of twelve — sixteen — twenty acres, near his fort ; and all
reserved the liberty to hunt deer and fowl, and to take fish,
beaver and otter.

The second purchase was made July 10, IGGO, and comprised
the lands on the west or Hatfield side, from (Japawong brook
(now Mill River) on the south, to the brook called Wunckcompss,
which comes out of the Great Pond, and over the brook to the
upper side of the meadow called Mincommuck, on the north, and
extending w^csterly nine miles into the woods. (The north line
was probably where is now the meadow road rvmning east and
west, just north of the dwelling house of Austin S. Jones, Esq.)
The price paid was three hundred fathoms of wampum, and some
small gifts, equal to £75. The deed is signed by Umpanchala,
and approved by his brother Etowomq. The reservations are
the Chickons, or planting field, and the liberty to hunt deer and ,
other wild creatures, to take fish, and to set wigw'ams on the
Commons, and take wood and trees for use.

Tiie third purchase was the meadow called Capawonk, lying
in the south part of Hatfield. The deed is dated January 22,
1GG3. This meadow had been bought of the Indians in 1G57,
for fifty shillings, by the Northampton Planters. The price paid
by Iladley was £30.

These three purchases comprise all the territory north of Eort
River and Northampton, actually possessed by Hadley. No
bounds were established for the town by any act of incorporation ;
and the only claim it had to what is now the northerly part of
Hatfield and Whately, was a report of commissioners appointed
by the General Court, to lay out the new plantation, in which
their north bounds on this side of the river are stated " to be a
great mountain called Wequomps," — which report of Commission-
ers seems never to have been accepted. And the last two pur-
chases, viz. : from Northampton bounds on the south, to a line
just north of Great INIeadow, comprise all the territory west of
the river owned by Hatfield, at the time the latter town was
incorporated. The tract of land lying northerly from Great
Meadow (now North Hatfield and AVhately) was purchased of


the Indians by Hatfield, October 19, 1672. This was Quon-
quont's land, and the deed was signed by his widow Sarah Quan-
quan, his son Pocunohouse, his daughter Majesset, and two
others. The price paid was fifty fathoms of warnpumj)eag. The
south line was from a walnut tree standing by the river in Min-
commuck meadow, westerly out into the woods. It was bounded
on the north by AVeekioannuck brook, where the Pocumtuck path
crosses it — the line running east to the great river, and west six
miles into the woods.

The reservations in these deeds were somewhat various ; but
it was understood by both parties — indeed it was a ti'adition cur-
rent in my own boyhood — that the Indians had the right of hunt-
ing, fowling and fishing any where, and to take what walnut and
white ash trees they had occasion to use for baskets and brooms.



The first planters of New England were wholly uDaccustomed
to the work of clearing" off' woodlands. They had seen and
heard nothing of it in the mother country. Hence the earliest
settlements were uniformly made at places where they could
begin immediately to cultivate the ground, and find natural
pastures and meadows.

It was considered scarcely desirable or safe, to form a Planta-
tion where there was not plenty of " fresh marsh " — what we
should call open swamp. And so, when the west side people
petitioned for a new town, the Hadley Committee, in their
answer to the General Court, gave as one of the strongest
reasons against the separation, that the tract west of the river
"does not aflPord boggy meadows or such like, that inen can
live upon ; but their subsistence must be from their Home lots
and intervals."

Both the east and west side settlers found the meadows and
adjacent uplands ready for grazing and tillage. There was
needed no preliminary work of clearing oft' the forests. They
began to plant coi'n, and sow wheat and flax, and mow grass the
first season.

From early times the Indians had been accustomed to burn
over the whole country annually in November, after the leaves
had fallen and the grass had become dry, which ke[)t the
meadows clean, and prevented any growth of underbrush on the
uplands. One by one the older trees would give way, and thus
many cleared fields, or tracts with only here and there a tree,
would abound, where the sod would be friable, ready for the
plow ; or be already well covered with grass, ready for pastur-


age. Tlie meadow lands thus burnt over, threw out an early
and rich growth of nutritious grasses, which, if let alone, grew
"up to a man's face." Then there were plots of ground, of
greater or less extent, which the Indian squaws had cultivated in
their rude way, with shell or wooden hoes, and where they had
raised squashes and beans and corn.

Strange as it may seem, both timber and fire wood were scarce
in the valley when the first settlement was made. At the outset
Hatfield passed a vote, that no clapboards, shingles, or rails, or
coopering stuff should be sold " to go, out of town." The upland
woods, on each side of the river, both above and below the
towns, were passable for men on horseback.

As already stated, the Hadley planters were from Wethersfield
and Hartford, in the Connecticut Colony. They had mostly
come over from England in the years 1632 to '34, and landed at
the mouth of the Charles River in Massachusetts. A part lived
at Watertown till 1G35, when they removed to Wethersfield.
Mr. Hooker, who came over with his flock in 1633, stopped in
Cambridge till '36, when they removed to Hartford. Thus
they had resided in Connecticut about twenty-five years.

Their reason for leaving this Colony, and seeking a new home
in Massachusetts, was a diflTerence of opinion in regard to church
government and ordinances. Mr. Hooker of Hartford was a
"strict CongregationaliSt," as was Mr. Russell, pastor of the
Wethersfield church. After the death of Hooker, his successor,
Mr. Stone, introduced certain innovations, which were thought
to have a leaning towards Presbyterianism, and in which a
majority of his church sustained him. An active minority
adhered tenaciously to their early church practices, and with-
drew. Mr. Russell and the majority of the Wethersfield church
sympathized with tlic withdrawers. The matter was brought
before the magistrates and before ecclesiastical councils. The
final result was, that Mr. Russell and nearly his entire church,
with a minority of the Hartford church, removed to Hadley.
Tliere is no record of any reorganization of the church, nor was
the pastor reinstalled. The existence of the church was there-
fore coeval with the existence of the Plantation.

The first comers were men of wealth and high social position ;


and were regarded by the jMassachusetts authorities as a most
desirable addition to her population. They had — as their sub-
sequent history proved — the self-reliance and earnestness and
courage which usually attach to men who strike out a new path
for conscience' sake.

The agreement to remove to the new purchase was signed
April 18, 1G59 ; and some went up that summer to make pre-
paration for a general transfer. Perhaps a few families spent
the winter of '59-'G0 at the new plantation, which at first was
called N^ew- Toicn. It received the name of Hadleigh in 1()G1.

In the course of the year IGGO, forty families effected a settle-
ment, thirty-four on the east side of tiic river, and six on the
west side. The six who took lots on the Hatfield side appear to
have been Richard Fellows, Ivichard Billings, Zechariah Field,
John Cole, John White, Jr., and Nathaniel Dickinson, Jr. In
the course of this and the next year ten others joined them, viz.,
John Coleman, Thomas Graves, John Graves, Samuel Belding,
Stephen Taylor, Daniel Warner, Daniel White, Samuel Dick-
inson, Thomas jMeekins, and William Allis. The last two were
from Braintree, Mass. Billings, Field, Cole, White, Graves,
Taylor, Fellows, and Warner were from Hartford ; Coleman,
Dickinson, and Belding from V/ethersfield.

Division of Lands. — By agreement made before leaving
Connecticut, each original proprietor received an equal share,
viz. eight acres of land as a home lot. The street on the Ilad-
ley side was laid out twenty rods wide ; and the lots extended
back from it on each side. The street on the Hatfield side was
ten rods wide, and the first home lots at the lower end con-
tained eight acres ; those granted afterwards, further north,
contained only four acres.

Ownership of land in fee simple, by every inhal)itant, was a
charaGteristic American idea, and was a corner-stone of the social
fabric built by our fathers. It was personal independence ; it was
capital ; it was power ; it was permanence ; and it was substan-
tial equality. The first planters here recognized the principle
that every honest citizen, whatever the amount of his "cash
assets, had a right to so much land as secured him an indepen-
dent home, a real property, which could not be alienated except


of his own option ; which assured him the means of rearing and
educating a family. He was a freeman indeed. He had some-
thing to build upon, — something to fix his affections upon, —
something to defend, — something to leave his children, which
they after him could love, and build upon, and defend. Love of

Online LibraryJ. H. (Josiah Howard) TempleHistory of the town of Whately, Mass., including a narrative of leading events from the first planting of Hatfield: 1660-1871 → online text (page 1 of 33)