Solomon Clark.

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Simeon, Jr., followed his father on the homestead, received
it from him bv will in 1809. The two Simeons deceased
within a few years of each other; Simeon, Sr. in 1809, Sim-
eon, Jr. about 1813. That year and later the property was
held by the heirs of the younger Simeon. It cannot be
definitely stated when, what year, this ancient possession be-
came entirely alienated from Esq. Joseph's line. Five gen-
erations lived there a little over one hundred and twenty-five


Homestead number sixty. The Sheldon homestead, Bridge
street. Isaac Sheldon the original proprietor, 1660. Accord-
ing to tradition, one of the sixteen courageous men who came
to Northamjiton in 1654. A native of Essex, near London,
born 1629, he left his native soil and sailed from Plyjnouth
early in the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, soon after the
execution of Charles the First. The year after his connec-
tion with the new settlement, married Mary Woodford,
daughter of Thomas. The next year, nine children were
born in the community; among the nine was his son Isaac,
viz.: on the 4th of September, 1656. Chosen the same
year on the board of selectmen. His homestead on King
street embraced the lot where the large elms stand, first
owned by his father-in-law, Woodford, subsequently occupied
by Jonathan Edwards, the third minister, and latterly by
J. D. Whitney's heirs. It also embraced what is known
as the Aaron Breck lot. There were born of the same
parents that large group of fifteen children to whom allu-
sion will soon be made.

Isaac Sheldon's estate, on Bridge street, came into his pos-
session Feb. 19th, 1660, in the distribution of land, author-
ized by vote of the people. The assignment to him by the
town's committee, comprised thirty-one acres. This he held
during his life, 1660-1708; on it, in his later years, he set-
tled his youngest son, Ebenezer. Headers will please no-
tice the following. A very singular and remarkable
fact. A parallel to it in all respects it will be hard to find,
except possibly in homestead number seven, that of Samuel
Wright, Jr. This Bridge street property has come down
simply by descent, in a direct line in the Sheldon family*
during the long interval, of two hundred and twenty-one years
and nearly eight months, Feb. 19th, 1660-1881. No con-


veyance or title has ever been on record from the earliest time.
It has never changed hands, but has passed down from one
generation to another, from father to son, during the entire
period. It still remains in the family, as will be seen by
and by. The writer cannot forbear designating it a wonder-
ful providence.

Before proceeding with this Bridge street homestead num-
ber sixty, it is proper to take leave of its earliest proprietor,
intimately connected with the shaping and history of it.
Leaving behind the most of his fifteen children, Isaac, the
settler and senior, died 1708, in his eightieth year. Followed
not long after, 1712, probably from the same spot, by Isaac,
Jr., his first-born, at the age of fifty-six. From that King
street home went forth, one after another, sons of Isaac, Sr.,
who became the ancestors of those of the name, who lived and
those who may still be living, in Southampton, Berkshire
county, Hartford and other places in Connecticut, Kutland
and elsewhere in Vermont. Not to forget particular mention
of the valiant, active, influential Ensign John, prominent in
the early history of Deerfield, ancestor of the long line of
Sheldons of that town, and of his distinguished descendant,
George Sheldon, of the sixth generation from Ensign John,
president of the Pocomptuc Valley Memorial Association.
Another of the fifteen, who settled in his native town, Thomas,
for twenty-three years an honored deacon in the church, 1702-
1725, who presented to it over one hundred and fifty-five
years ago, vessels of massive silver plate, still in use in the
First Church on sacramental occasions, having the donor's
name engraved on them.

Still another of the family, which brings us to the Bridge
street homestead, viz. : Ebenezer, better known in connection
with his military title, much thought of in those days, viz.:


Ensign Ebenezer. On the 16tli of December, 1701, he mar-
ried Mary Hunt, born 1680, daughter of the first Dea. Jon-
athan Hunt from Harrford, thus uniting the two families,
the Hunts and the Sheldons. Mary Hunt Sheldon has been
described as a lady of much refinement, a great favorite
among the young. Mrs. Levi Shepherd, mother of the Shep-
herds, Thomas, Levi and Charles, who built on Round Hill;
who died about fifty years ago, quite advanced in years, re-
membered by some at the present day, had a distinct recol-
lection of visits in her childhood to Mrs. Ebenezer Sheldon.
She used to describe her personal appearance, the old house,
and the customs of those days, one hundred and twenty-five
years ago. The whole number of their children eight, viz. :
Ebenezer born 1702, Noah born 1706, Stephen 1709, Israel
1715, Moses 1716, Hester 1719, Elias 1721, Mary 1724. The
first of the eight, Ebenezer, Jr., will be noticed subsequently.
The father. Ensign Ebenezer, lived on the homestead fifty-
three years, surviving some of his sons, and deceased 1755,
at the age of seventy-seven. His wife attained a greater age,
viz. : eighty-seven, and lived on the place about sixty-six
years, 1701-1767.

Coming to the next generation, as owner of the estate,
stands the name of Elias Sheldon, born 1721, son of the fore-
going, who survived his father thirty-eight years, and died
1793, aged seventy-two. Married Catharine Chapin, daugh-
ter of Caleb Chapin of Bernardston, then a frontier settle-
ment, which suffered greatly from Indian incursions and
cruelties. Date of their marriage and the number of their
children not ascertained. Numerous the incidents related by
her of the hardships of those early times during the French
and Indian war. The following thrilling account has come
down in the family. She distinctly remembered that when


a child in her father's house, in the wilderness, as it then
was, the murders and devastations of the Indians, had become
so alarming, that the men of the settlement united in build-
ing some sort of a fort, for the mutual protection of their
families. One night, when Mr. Chapin was away with his
neighbors completing the fort, when the moon was shining
clearly, and the children and their mother were sleeping alone,
the little ones in a trundle bed, she was waked by her
mother's saying in a subdued voice, ''Children, don't speak
for the world." She opened her eyes, looked up at the small
window and saw the full face of an Indian, his piercing eyes
looking in, closely scrutinizing the interior, to see whether
the house was occupied. Providentially, he concluded it was
not, and disappeared. In the morning they saw his tracks
in the snow, and how he had placed a boy's sled against the
side of the house, on which he had climbed to look in.
That was a joyful day to the family, who had been in such
peril. The father returned and took them to the fort. This
Caleb Chapin, one of the valiant men of the Bernardston
settlement, father-in-law of Elias Sheldon, fought bravely at
the battle of Lake George, 1755, under the command of Col.
Ephraim Williams, of Williams College memory, founder of
that institution. Williams and Chapin both fell at the same
time. It is in point to notice the oldest brother of Elias,
viz.: Ebenezer, Jr., born on Bridge street, who met an early
and violent death under the following circumstances. The
town of Deerfield, much exposed by its situation, was threat-
ened by the enemy. Fearless and self-sacrificing, he, with
others, generously volunteered to go up, viz.: from North-
ampton, for the defence of that place. In a skirmish which
ensued with the Indians, he was killed by a tomahawk thrown
by one of the savages. Young Sheldon wore silver buckles


in his shoes, which the Indian endeavored to secure. In
the effort to unfasten them they were bent; surprised by
the defenders of the place, he relinquished his purpose and
left. The tomahawk and shoe buckles continued in the
family as relics for many years.

The third on the Bridge street homestead, son of Elias
and Catharine Chapin, was Isaac, born 1774, deceased
1862, at the age of eighty-eight. His wife was Dorcas
Frost of Westhampton, whose father died at West Point,
in the service of his country, at the time when a division
of the revolutionary army was stationed in the vicinity.
Whole number of their children, eight. Four or five de-
ceased in early life. Theodore, who died in 1852, is re-
membered in Northampton as an active, successful business
man. The large, commodious house erected and used by
him at the time of his decease, subsequently taken down,
removed to Princeton, N. J., and there rebuilt, preserving
its original form and aspect, has been occupied by his
brother for many years. Caleb Sheldon, Isaac's brother,
lived in Chesterfield and died there in 1827, at the age of
sixty-three. A sister, Catharine, married Rev. Eli Smith,
and died young, leaving a son, Eli, who pursued study,
entered the ministry, settled in Kentucky, became a prom-
inent Presbyterian clergyman. Whether this son was the
Rev. Eli Smith who graduated at Dartmouth in 1809 and
died 1837, at the age of fifty, the writer is not sure.

This ancient homestead was next owned by Rev. George
Sheldon, D. D., of Princeton, N. J., the youngest son of
Isaac, employed for thirty-three years as district superin-
tendent for the American Bible Society in New Jersey.
His four sons graduated at Princeton College; all connected
with the various professions. At the Wycliffe semi-millen-


nial Bible celebration, Sept. 21 and 22, in the state house
at Trenton, N. J., 1380-1880, among the twelve or more
addresses on the Bible, the third one, *^The Bible in New
Jersey," was by Kev. George Sheldon, D. D.

Before closing, very timely a remark of the late dis-
tinguished antiquarian, Sylvester Judd, viz.: That from the
time of the first settlement in Northampton, there are fewer
generations in the line of the Sheldon family, than in any
other. The late Isaac was only of the fourth generation;
George, his son, of the fifth, in the long interval of two
hundred and twenty-five years. One reason is, that in each
generation down to the present, the youngest son of what
was generally a large family, became the owner of the home-
stead, while the older sons settled elsewhere. Still another
reason, viz. : these younger sons all lived beyond the common
age of man. Ebenezer died at seventy-seven, Elias seventy-
two, Isaac eighty-eight. This homestead has continued in
the Sheldon family two hundred and twenty-one years. It
is now held by those of the sixth generation, the heirs of
Kev. George Sheldon, D. D., who deceased at Princeton, N.
J., June 16th, 1881.

Homestead number sixty-one. William Stockwell, West
Earms. Originated in Connecticut, the town of Thompson.
Born in the year 1744; married about 1767. Forty-two when
he removed and located at West Farms, 1786, the same year
when two or three other families from Connecticut settled in
Northampton, the year, moreover, when Western Massachu-
setts was agitated by the Shay's rebellion. Whole number of
William Stockwell's children, when he crossed into Massachu-
setts, ten. The Millers and Peltons preceded him at West
Farms, which for the first half century, went by the name of
Lonetown. From Williamsburg to Southampton, the main


road has always passed through the settlement. Half a mile
north from the center, ten rods west from the road, William
Stockwell built in those early times, a two-story dwelling.
The ten children comprised four sons and six daughters.
Three of the sons settled in the immediate vicinity. Walter,
the oldest, chose a locality on the east side of the street,
where he reared six children, and where he attained the great
age of ninety-eight. One of the six now living, Spencer,
in his eighty-eighth year, has had nine children. William,
number two, brother of Walter, lived on the west side, south
of his father's. Married Lucy Miller, daughter of John Mil-
ler, who first led the way to that part of the town. Whole
number of their children, eleven. Married for his second
wife Betsey Pelton. Lived with each wife the same number
of years, twenty-five. Died in 1846, in his seventy-fourth
year. One of the abo\e eleven, William, number three, vvent
to Kavenna, Ohio, in 1834. Had thirteen children; five
were born in Massachusetts and eight in Ohio. Eleven of
the number still live. Deceased in his eightieth year. One
of his sons, John N., has signalized himself in the science of
astronomy, having been emj^loyed by the government. Lived
several years in Cambridge. Noav resides at Cleveland, Ohio.
A sister of William number three, married Grotius Pratt, of
West Farms. They moved in 1825 into the state of K"ew
York; have reared twelve children. Two brothers, Orren and
Calvin Stockwell, remain at West Farms. F. A. Stockwell,
dealer in groceries and agricultural implements, Northampton,
is a brother of Calvin.

Pass to Elijah, the third son of the first William, born in
1778. Lived on the homestead and succeeded his father;
continued to own and occupy the same till 1824. After that

lived on the east side of the highway. His four daughters


married and had families, and now live at West Farms; their
united ages amount to two hundred and eighty, averaging
seventy. Elijah, the father, lived to be eighty-six. In 1824,
the homestead passed into the possession of his nephew, and
grandson of the first William, viz. : Loren S. Bartlett, in his
seventy-seventh year, his two sons living with him on the
place. A new house occupies the spot where the old one
stood. The two sons have recently erected a new steam saw-mill.
From a recent statement, it appears that this business has char-
acterized that part of the town, from an early date. Hence the
name of the locality in that neighborhood, '* Saw Mill Hills."
The fourth son of the first William, viz. : Abner, went to
Ohio when quite young, married, and raised a family of eight
or nine children. So much for the four sons, Walter, Wil-
liam, Elijah, Abner. What about the six daughters? Four
of them married and settled at West Farms. The oldest,
Betsey, married Moses Bartlett, Jr., members of the First
Church as early as 1792. A large family, whole number of
their children ten. The second, Olive, married Jonathan
Munyan; a still larger family, viz. : twelve. The third,
Sally, married Elijah Bartlett, Jr. ; four children. The
fourth, Phebe, married Joseph Bosworth; one son now liv-
ing, probably S. J. Bosworth of Florence. The other two,
Polly and Electa, remained unmarried. Respecting these ten
children, it may be observed, they all lived to be over fifty.
Five were octogenarians. Two lived to be between seventy
and eighty. One between sixty and seventy. Two between
fifty and sixty. Seven families, including the first William's
and six of his descendants, averaged eleven children each.
William Stock well's grandchildren numbered about sixty.
The homestead at West Farms has continued in the family,
in connection with four generations, perhaps five, ninety-five
years, 1786-1881.



The whole number of homesteads transmitted in the family
line, specially considered, amounts to sixty-one. The number
of families associated with them, and embraced in the series,
two hundred and fifty. Allowing six persons to each family,
for the early times of the town, six would be a low estimate,
as will appear by and by, we have as many as fifteen hun-
dred individuals connected with these homesteads. It is
probable the actual number, were it possible to reckon them
all, would not fall below two thousand. 'No small work to
locate genealogically so many families and individuals.

Of the sixty-one homesteads, two continued in the same
family line over two hundred and twenty years. A part of
the twelve acre homestead of Lieut. William Clark, on Elm
street, has remained in possession of some of his descend-
ants until now, 1659-1881, two hundred and twenty-two
years. Another homestead, having come down the long
track of two hundred and six years, still continues in the
same line. Of the remaining fifty-seven, two have de-
scended from father to son from one hundred and ninety
to two hundred years. Three from one hundred and eighty
to one hundred and ninety years. Eight from one hun-
dred and seventy to one hundred and eighty. Three from
one hundred and sixty to one hundred and seventy. Five


from one liiindred and fifty to one hundred and sixty.
Five from one hundred and forty to one hundred and fifty.
Fifteen from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and
forty. Eight from one hundred to one hundred and twenty.
Seven from eighty to one hundred years.

Four of the sixty-one were located on Main street. Five
were on King street, including one near Shady Lawn.
Two were on Market street. Seven on Bridge street.
Three on Hawley street, not counting the Capt. Samuel
Clarke place, now Mrs. Washburn's, which continued some
seventy years in the Clarke family; not counting more-
over, the Simeon Butler place, for the past eighty years
in that family. One on Pleasant street. Three others,
not included nor considered on that street, were handed
down in the family line; the Judd's ninety years, Capt.
Moses Lyman's one hundred years, and Robert Bartlett's
about one hundred and twenty-five years. Fourteen were
situated on South street. Three on West street or Welsh
End. Ten on Elm street. One on Prospect street, not
counting the Warner place, descendants of the second Mark
Warner, which lived on Blackpole street, over a century.
Four were at South Farms. One at West Farms. Two at
Roberts Meadow. One at Rail Hill, now a part of Leeds.
One in the Warner district. Two at North Farms. Four
of the most ancient homesteads, and of the longest con-
tinuance in the same family, were on Bridge street, and
one on Elm street.

The first comers, as a matter of precaution, economy
and mutual aid, settled as near the center as possible, viz.:
on King, Pleasant, Market and Hawley streets. The first
minister. Rev. Eleazar Mather, lived directly in the center,
on the south side of Main street, his home lot and farm.


besides extending east, embraced the ground now occupied
by Shop Kow, also the Dr. Hunt place formerly, where
the Hampshire County Bank stands. His land, on Pleas-
ant street, extended south beyond Judge Hinckley's now
Mr. Kirkland's. The three streets that next claimed the
attention of settlers, were Bridge, West or Welsh End, and
Elm. Here please to bear this in mind. Pro|)erly speak-
ing, there were no streets, as now understood, in those
early years. What we call streets were simply paths, foot
paths from house to house. Those answered for the time
the requirements of the people. Riding Avas done on horse-
back as now in some parts of the south. Probably, at
first, but little riding was attempted. Not till 1663, were
Northampton and Hadley connected by a road. The same
in respect to Northampton and Windsor, Ct., which might
be called the market road, their only way to market, viz. :
Boston, by Hartford and the ocean. It was ten years be-
fore this road was constructed, viz. : 1664, quite round-
about to Boston, but it was a great accommodation.

Leaving this point, Rev. Solomon Stoddard, the second
minister, built on Prospect street, under Round Hill, in
1673, the site of his dwelling being the same as the man-
sion of Henry R. Hinckley. The first permanent homestead
on South street, so far as the writer knows, dates near
the close of the century, viz.: 1696. As the first bridge
over Mill river was voted in 1661, it is possible settle-
ments on that side commenced at an earlier date. If so,
the number must have been small. Of thp. ten homesteads
described on South street, the order of names stands as
follows: Lieut. John Parsons, 1696. The second Dea. John
Clark, 1704. His brother, Nathaniel Clark, 1705. Nathan-
iel Phelps, about 1706. Samuel Edwards, Jr., 1708. Noah


Parsons, brother of the foregoing Lieut. John Parsons, 1712.
Capt. Koger Clapp, 1713. Sergt. Jonathan Strong, 1730.
Samuel Kingsley, Jr., 1739. Dea. Josiah Clark, 1744.

As to the earliest out-districts, still in Northampton, the
following dates are submitted respecting the order, or time of
their first settlement. South Farms in 1687. North Farms
and the Warner district, 1759. Roberts Meadow, 1773.
West Farms near the same time. Kail Hill about 1790. No-
ticeable, the foregoing date of the South Farms settlement,
viz. : 1687. Seventy-two years before any other out-district,
Pascomac excepted, and settlements at what afterwards be-
came Easthampton and Southampton. All that time, inse-
curity was more or less widely felt. The Indians and their
allies often prowling in the vicinity, ready to burn the build-
ings, to capture or butcher the defenceless. After 1675, on-
ward, 1689, 1704, 1706, and later, the danger was perpetual.
The fortified houses multiplied from year to year. From
half a mile to a mile square, the authorities constructed a
palisade or fortification, extending it round the settlement.
Such were the circumstances when the movement toward
South Farms began. Four miles distant, too far to go for
succor in case of an attack, only the boldest adventurer
would make the attempt. One there was, however, ready
for the undertaking, Lieut. John Lyman. Not the valiant,
the first Lieut. John, in command of the Northamj^ton sol-
diers in the well known Falls fight, near Deerfield, May 18,
1676. Not this one, but his son, equally intrepid, the second
Lieut. John Lyman, only twenty-seven at the time of his
removal. More than one has inquired, was he ever molested?
Did the savage foe ever cross his path? Whether more than
once the writer cannot say. It has come down in the fam-
ily that in 1704, the year so disastrous to the Pascomac


neighborhood, the Indians, flushed by recent success, invaded
the premises of Lieut. John Lyman, taking shelter behind
his barn. Cool, self-possessed, watching his opportunity, he
fired upon them with decisive effect. One of the number,
a leader it may be, instantly fell. Appalled at the scene,
the foe withdrew, carrying away their slain companion. Long
afterwards his bones were discovered by some of Lieut. John's
descendants. After that memorable repulse, the Indians gave
him no further trouble. Such is the historical outline or
story connected with the South Farms early settlement. Be-
fore passing to the next point it occurs to the writer to say,
as illustrating the valor of that Lyman 'family, the first who
settled across the river at Hockanum, viz. : in 1745, was the
son of the foregoing, the third John, usually called Caj^t.
John. The three Johns reared each a numerous family.
The first had ten children; the second, ten; the third, nine.

Allusion having been occasionally made to some of the
large families, it seems suitable in this general summing up
of the series, to say more on the subject. What might form
an extended chapter, must be restricted to a single paragraph.
Here would be found rich and useful a manuscript prepared
by the late and estimable Dr. Stebbins, detailing the dates
of marriages and births from the commencement of the
settlement onward into the present century. This docu-
ment, on many accounts a treasure, valuable to the public
and to posterity, the writer has not been able to obtain.

Respecting the families of the largest size, so far as
known, please accept the names which follow. Heading
the list stands the ever memorable, honored one of Elder
John Strong, a family of twenty, besides the jjarents eigh-
teen children. Jonathan, his grandson, stands second; a
family of nineteen, besides the father and mother, seven-


teen children. Third in order comes the Hon. Josiah
Dwight, brother-in-law of Col. William T. Edwards, for
some years clerk of the court of Hampshire county, and
afterward treasurer of the State of Massachusetts; a family

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Online LibrarySolomon ClarkAntiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton → online text (page 15 of 26)