William Allen.

An address, delivered at Northampton, Mass., on the evening of Oct. 29, 1854, in commemoration of the close of the second century since the settlement of the town online

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Online LibraryWilliam AllenAn address, delivered at Northampton, Mass., on the evening of Oct. 29, 1854, in commemoration of the close of the second century since the settlement of the town → online text (page 1 of 6)
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An Adn?ess...In Coiwernoration of the clo;
of the second Century.






















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OCTOBER 29, 1854,





Author of the American Biographical and Historical Dictionary.



18 55.



Not for purposes of pride have we met on this occasion ; — not for
the idle praise of the long since dead ; — not to extol our ancestors, be-
cause they were our own, without aim and good result : — but to recall
to remembrance the kind and merciful works of God towards our
Fathers, for " he hath made his wonderful works to be remembered ; "
and that we may also gather from a review of the past lessons of use-
ful instruction and incentives to Christian virtue.

It was a memorable event, — marked in the history of this world, —
when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth rock in 1620; it was also a
memorable event, when the settlement of Massachusetts Bay was
made ten years later; and to us it should be a memorable event, when
only twenty-four years still later the emigrants from the Bay — our
fathers — planted themselves here on the rich meadows of Nonotuck
and began the settlement of Northampton on the borders of the great
forest wilderness, stretching far to the west and north and east, trav-
ersed only by the roaming, copper-colored natives of this western

We know beyond all doubt, that it is now two hundred years since
a little colony engaged in this bold enterprise, and, having purchased
the soil of the Indians, here built their cabins and began the cultivation
of the soil and the organization of a town under self-government and
for the furtherance of the public welfare, — the common weal.

At this period — the close of the second century, since a Christian
community was planted in this spot, planted too by the fathers of
many of us — it is a right feeling, I am persuaded, which prompts us
to meet together, that we may commemorate the past, that we may
acknowledge the kind, over ruling providence of God, that we may
learn the great lessons the occasion should teach us, and may be ex-
cited anew to a course of life, not unworthy of our ancestry and of
our privileges.


1m Bpeaking to you at this time, at your request, it is with pleasure,
that I lend you what aid is in my power in noticing the scenes of the
pasl and in strengthening the good impressions, which should be made

upon our hearts hy recalling the toils and worth of our fathers. I love
to dwell upon the ancient times of New England; and, indeed, as
some of you may know, my taste for researches into the history of the
illustrious dead of our country began to be cultivated nearly fifty years
ago. That taste abides with me still; — not at all diminished, as you
may well imagine, by the recent discovery, that I have myself a par-
ticular relationship to the May Flower and Plymouth Rock, being a
lineal descendant of Wm. Bradford, the ancient and excellent gov-
ernor for many years of the "old colony."

Permit me to say also, that I have a stronger affinity and alliance
with Northampton, than that of having chosen it for my abode in the.
decline of life and having been a citizen for the last fifteen years. I
live in the street, in which my fathers lived. My grandfather
was the neighbor of Jonathan Edwards and his steadfast friend in all
his trials. I stand now in this church ' on the hill,' on which hill,
within a few rods' distance, the town gave my earliest ancestor at
Nonotuck a home-lot, and where he dwelt within the palisades, when
driven from his first home, half a mile distant, in the Indian war of
1C76. Let me not then be regarded only as a new-comer and a stran-
ger. The old Nonotuck blood, from various springs, runs in my veins,
as it does in yours. After this apology for yielding to your wishes I
proceed to my work. You will not expect from me a minute detail
of facts, now impossible, and which a respected fellow citizen may
give to the public at a future time.


Should it be asked, by what authority is the year 1654 and the
month of October in that year fixed upon as the time of the settle-
ment and legal acknowledgment of Northampton ? my answer is as

In May 1653 certain inhabitants of Springfield and of other planta-
tions petitioned the General Court for liberty to make a settlement at
Nonotuck or Nolwottoge, as the place was called by the Indians.
The following was the petition.

" To the Right Worshipful Governor and the Worshipful Magistrates, As-
sistants, and Deputies of this much honored Court. — Your humble petitioners
wish increase of all prosperity. — Your humble Petitioners being fully persua-
ded of your former promptness and pious endeavors to begin and settle Plan-
tations in such places, as appeared convenient within the liberty of your juris-
diction and Patent for the further enlarging ot the territories of the Gospel of
our Lord Jesus Christ and the common utility of the Common Weal, are
therefore emboldened to present these few lines to your judicious considera-
tion and their request therein, that you would be pleased to give and grant
Liberty to your petitioners, whose names are subscribed, and such as shall
join with them according to your wonted clemency, power, right, and author-
ity from, by, and under you to plant, possess, and inhabit the place, being on
Conetiquot River, above Springfield, called Nonotuck, as their own inheritance,
according to their divisions by estate, and to carry on the affairs of the place
by erecting a town there, to be governed according to the laws, directions, and
instructions they shall receive from you. Your Petitioners having some knowl-
edge of the place by reason of the propinquity of our habitation to be a place,
desirable to erect a town in for the furtherance of the public weal, by provi-
ding corn and raising cattle not only for their own, but likewise for the good
of others — the propagating of the gospel — the place promising in an ordinary
way of God's Providence a comfortable subsistence, whereby people may live,
and attend upon God in his holy ordinances without distraction. So, commit-
ting you to the Guidance of the mighty Counsellor, we rest your humble Peti-

Edward Elmore, Richard Smith, John Gilbert, Wm. Miller, John Allen,
Richard Wekley, Thomas Burnham, Matthias Foot, Thomas Root, Wm. Clark,
Joseph Smith, John Stedman, Jonathan Smith, Wm. Holton, Robert Bartlett,
John Cole, Nicholas Ackley, John Webb, Thomas Stedman, Thomas Bird,
Wm. Janes, John North, Joseph Bird, James Bird."

This petition of twenty-four persons was dated May 6, 1653, and
was accompanied by the petition in aid of it of three of the principal
men of Springfield, who were doubtless the projectors of the settle-
ment, — John Pynchon, Elizur Holyoke, his son-in-law, and Samuel
Chapin ; in which they state, that twenty-five families at least in the
neighboring plantations were desirous to emigrate, "many of them
of considerable quality for estates and fit matter for a church, when it
shall please God to give opportunity that way;" — and they add —
" the inducement to us in these desires is not any sinister respect of
our own, but that we, being so alone, by this means may have some
more neighborhood of your jurisdiction." Alone indeed the planters of
Springfield were at that time, for there was no other settlement in Mas-
sachusetts west of Lancaster and the immediate neighborhood of Bos-
ton. The petition was granted by the General Court May 18, 1653,
and Pynchon, Holyoke, and Chapin were appointed commissioners
to lay out Nonotuck into two plantations.

The next step was the purchase of the land on the west side of the
river, designed for settlement, of the Indians of Nonotuck, or Nal-
wottoge, or Nolwottug. There are three Indians, mentioned in the


deed as claiming to be " sachems of Nonotuck," namely, Wawhillo-
\va — (the same as Chickwallop) — Nenessahalant, and Nassachohee;
and by them, and one other Indian, Paquahalant, " with the consent
of the other Indians and owners " of the land, was the deed signed,
giving the territory to "John Pynchon of Springfield and to his as-
signs forever;" it being understood that he was acting for the peti-
tioners. Accordingly he assigned all his rights in this deed to the
inhabitants of Northampton January, 16, 16G2, acknowledging, that
he " acted in the premises only as being intrusted by the said persons."

The land, thus purchased, extended from what is now the south
part of Hatfield to the falls at Holyoke about ten miles, and running
back into the woods nine miles, — or, as the line was measured from
the most westerly bend of the river, in reality ten miles, — so that there
was a purchase of a hundred square miles, or sixty-four thousand acres,
including now the four towns, Northampton, Easthampton, South-
ampton, and Westhampton.

At a subsequent period, in 1657, the south meadow in Hatfield
was sold to the planters for thirty-six shillings by a sachem, called
Lampancho or Umpanchela. The meadow was called Pewonganuck
or Capawonke or Little Pontius or Panchus, lying on the south side
of a little river, being about five thousand acres.

The purchase having been made Sept. 24, 1653, the proprietors
were now in a condition to commence their settlement early in the
next year, if first they should be able to obtain each man a distinct
allotment of his land.

The proprietors met at Springfield Oct. 3, 1653, and agreed, that
all should be " resident there, and dwell themselves and their families
there by the spring next ensuing the date hereof," or else the person
failing to do this should " lose his money paid for the purchase, with
the charges." At this meeting of twenty persons there were present
only about ten of the petitioners, so that ten new persons had joined
or proposed to join the company, but of these three or four never pro-
ceeded to Nonotuck ; and of the twenty-four petitioners I can find,
that only eight ever settled at Nonotuck, namely, Edward Elmore,
Wm. Miller, Thomas Root, Wm. Clark, Wm. Hoi ton, Robert Bart-
lett, John Webb, and Wm. Janes.

It will be perceived, that the object of this meeting of Oct. 3, 1653
was to secure by a definite penalty the certain and permanent settle-
ment of the place in the spring of the next year, 1654 ; and also per-
haps to defeat any projects of non-residents and speculators.

The proprietors held another meeting at Springfield Nov. 15, 1653,
at which meeting it was stated, that their petition had been " granted,"
and the following order or vote was passed — as found in the Proprie-
tors' Records :

" It is ordered and agreed, that all such persons, as shall go up to Nalwottoge
the next spring ensuing the date hereof, there to dwell the next winter for the
furthering and promoting the planting of the said place — it is agreed, that
every single man shall receive four acres of meadow besides the rest of his
division, and every head of a family shall receive five acres beside the rest of
their division."

Thus it appears, that in Nov. 1653 a settlement was in view to be
made in the spring of 1654. A committee of five was appointed "to
receive in such inhabitants, as they shall judge fit for the carrying on
the designs of the company, and to accommodate them according to
the former rule, which is a quarter to twenty families, being in esti-
mation eight hundred acres." The meaning of this is, in the expla-
nation of Mr. Sylvester Judd, — to whose publications I am indebted
for many facts, — that the first twenty families were to have one-quar-
ter or eight hundred acres of the meadow, estimated at three thou-
sand two hundred acres, that is forty acres to each ; and that those,
who came afterwards, should receive meadow land by the same rule
or in the same proportion, reference being had to the payments, es-
tates, and qualifications. Another rule was also adopted, that there
must be a residence of four years before any settler should have
power to sell or let his lands without the consent of the town, and his
departure from the place before a residence of four years should be
followed by a forfeiture of his lands to the town. This might have
been a wise measure for securing a good population to the town. I
do not suppose it ever entered the thoughts of the proprietors, that
all the world had as good a right to settle at Nonotuck, as they had,
and that they should exercise no control in the matter.

But was Nonotuck actually settled in 1654? The evidence seems
very conclusive. The primitive record of early marriages is in our
town clerk's office, the heading of which is in these words — " Mar-
riages since the town began, which was in the year 1654." Did not
the first recorder know ? Can there be any doubt that the town be-
gan — not in 1653, not in 1655 — but in 1654 ?

The first recorded marriage is that of David Burt and Mary Holton
Nov. 18, 16. . , — the two last figures of the year being obliterated.
The next marriage being that of John King and Sarah Holton Nov.
18, 1656, it might be supposed the two marriages were on the same
day in the same year. But, as by the list of births, it appears that

David, the son of David Burt, was born July 30, 165G, it is evident,
that the year of his marriage was before 1056, and probably 1654.
For several years the magistrate and not the minister was authorized
to marry.

Next, on the first page of the old town records of Northampton, is
the following, the first document.

" A true copy of the bounds of the plantation, which the Committee, ap-
pointed by the Honored General Court, laid out to the Planters of Nonotuck.

" Whereas we, whose names are underwritten, were appointed by the Gen-
eral Court of the Massachusetts to lay out the land at Nonotuck for two planta-
tions, for the present we have only appointed the bounds of one of them, to
which we allow the great Meadow on the west side of Conecticote River, as
also a litde meadow, called by the Indians [Capawonke] which lieth about two
miles above the great Meadow, die bounds of which plantation is to extend
from the [south side] of the little meadow, called Capawonke, to the great falls
to Springfield ward, and westward is to extend nine miles into the woods from
the river of Conecticote, lying * * * east the foresaid meadows and [the same]
to belong to the planters and such as shall come to plant with them, who ac-
cording [to the] liberty granted from the Court have made choice thereof for
themselves and their successors, not molesting the Indians [nor] depriving
them of their just right and property without allowance to their satisfaction.

By us, John Pynchon,
Elizur Holyoke,

Springfield, 9th of May, 1654. Samuel Chapin."

It does not appear, that this paper was actually recorded in 1654 ;
but as its date is May 9, 1654, and as it declares, that the lands de-
scribed in it belong " to the planters," " who have made choice
thereof for themselves and their successors," it is very evident, that
at the date of it there were planters in Nonotuck, or men, who pro-
posed to go up immediately as planters, and for whose benefit the
document was written in the spring of 1654.

The following is a record of the General Court, — the date of the
beginning of the session being Oct. 18, 1654: — the words " Nao-
tucke Plantation " on the margin : —

" To the Honored General Court of the Massachusetts. We whose names
are underwritten being appointed to divide the lands at Naotucke into two
plantations, we accordingly have granted to them, that now first appear to re-
move thither to plant themselves on the west side of the River Conecticott as
they desired and have laid out their bounds, viz., from the little meadow above
their plantation which meadow is called Capawonke or Mattaomett down to
the head of the falls, which are below them, reserving the lands on the east
side of said river for another Plantation, when God by his Providence shall
so dispose thereof, and still remain your humble servants, John Pynchon, Eli-
zur Holyoke, Samuel Chapin."

" The Court approves of this return."

It appears from this record, that the Report or Return of the Com-
mittee, who made the first division of land at Nonotuck among the

settlers, was considered and approved by the General Court at their
session of Oct. 18, 1(354. If wc add eleven days in order to bring the
old to the modern reckoning, we shall have Oct. 29th — this very day
— as the completion of the 200th year from the only legal incorpora-
tion of the town, of which we have any knowledge. No other charter
can be found : no other charter perhaps was ever given, or was de-
sired or thought to be necessary.

It appears from the records, that May 1, 1635, Ebenezer, son of
Joseph Parsons, was born ; and it appears also that there was a town
meeting Dec. 11, 1G55, when the "townsmen" or selectmen were
chosen " for the town of Northampton.'' There is no account of
the time, when this name was adopted instead of Nonotuck or Nall-
wottoge, nor of the reason of the name; but as Springfield was so
called, because Mr. Pynchon came from Springfield near Chelmsford,
England, so it is likely, that Northampton owed its name to the fact,
that John King, an early settler, came from Northampton, England,
— a town, afterwards the residence of Dr. Doddridge.


If you ask, what price was paid for the large and rich territory of
Western Nonotuck, you will be informed, that the price was one
hundred fathoms of Wampum, ten coats, the plowing of sixteen acres
in the summer of 1G54 on the east side, of the river, and a few small
presents. The wampum was the Indian money, made of white sea
shells, — being beads from the Meteauhock or periwinkle. The suck-
auhock or black money, of double the value of the white, was made
of the Poquauhock, or hens. Wompi means white ; sucki black.
Six small unstrung beads were sold for a penny. When strung, a
fathom was worth about one dollar in Narragansett, and at one time
two dollars at Boston. One or two hundred dollars was then the sum
paid in wampum. This with the other payments may seem a small
remuneration for so much land ; but the land was abundant and the
purchasers were few. Besides this, the Indians might expect, that
for years they would be little disturbed in their hunting grounds, while
they had on the east side of the river all the land they wanted for cul-
tivation. It was a fair purchase, for the mutual advantage of both
parties. That the savages after a few years fled before the advance-
ment of civilized life was the consequence of their preferring their


own habits and resisting the meliorating and christian influence of the
new settlers. The Nonotuck Indians were enticed to espouse the
cause of King Philip in the war of 1C7C, and on his death they aban-
doned this fair valley and left it to the undisputed possession of
the whites.

Of the Indians, who once occupied this region, not a descendant
remains amongst us ; nor do we know where a descendant is to be
found. There is nothing left to indicate their past existence, except
a few names of places, and a few stone implements of their manufac-
ture; the most remarkable of which is a stone kettle, which was re-
cently plowed up in this town after it had lain in the ground nearly two
hundred years. It was called aukook ; the Delawares called it by a sim-
ilar name, aukeek. No aukook is preserved in the museum of the
Massachusetts Historical Society ; and, so far as I know, this is the
only stone aukook of the whole race of Indians, preserved at the
present day in the old Bay State. It seems to be made of free-stone,
such as is found in the quarry at Middlefield. In the day of its man-
ufacture it was the most important and valuable of all household

We know not the meaning of Nonotuck, unless perhaps it be ' in
the midst of the river,' which is the meaning of Noautuck in Eliot's
Indian Bible. By the windings of the river the meadows of North-
ampton and Hadley seem to be in the midst of it.


But who were the men, that with a bold spirit of adventure dared
to plant themselves down at Nonotuck ? This was an affair, which
required no small degree of courage. Let it be considered, that in
the whole eastern part of Massachusetts there were only about forty
settled towns, the nearest of which were Lancaster, Dedham, and
Watertown, — Worcester being not settled till thirty years afterwards.
Springfield was indeed only seventeen miles distant; — but the whole
country to the east unto the neighborhood of Boston was unsettled,
and so the whole country west unto Albany ; and the vast region
north to Canada was a dreary wilderness. There were scattered along
the river many tribes of Indians, whose hostility, — should it be awa-
kened, — might be desolating and fatal to the English settlers. It is
no great affair, at the present day, to emigrate to Minnesota, or Kan-


zas, or even to California : there are thousands of fellow countrymen
to be found as protectors. But who will protect the adventurers at
Nonotuck, if the Indians should be soon hostile, when even in Wind-
sor, so late as 1670, the number of the Indians was to that of the
whites as nineteen to one?

Among the early settlers many, probably most, were natives of
England, emigrants in 1630 and afterwards, who first went from the
neighborhood of Boston to Hartford, Windsor, or Springfield, and
thence proceeded up the river to Nonotuck : others were born in this
country. Of the former class, born in England, if I mistake not,
were Isaac Sheldon, John Strong, Thomas Ford, Edward Elmore,
Aaron Cook, John Hillyer, Wm. Hulbert, Thomas Woodford, Sam-
uel Wright, Joseph Parsons, Thomas Bascom, Richard Lyman, Thom-
as Judd, and John King.

Within four years from its origin, from 1654 to 1658, the settlers
of Northampton, whose descendants remain here, or in the neighbor-
hood, were Robert Bartlett, Richard and John Lyman, James Bridg-
man, Thomas Bascom, Thomas Root, Alexander Edwards, Samuel
Wright, William Miller, David Burt, John King, Isaac Sheldon, Sam-
uel Allen, Joseph Parsons, Wm. Hannum, Wm. Hulbert, Nathaniel
Phelps, and John Stebbins.

In the four next years, from 1658 to 1662, came Edward Baker,
Alexander Alvord, Eleazer Mather, Wm. Clark, Henry Woodward,
Enos Kingsley, Aaron Cook, John Strong, Medad Pomeroy, Jona-
than Hunt, John Taylor, and John Searle.

After these came Preserved Clapp, Israel Rust, Caleb Pomeroy,
Solomon Stoddard, Robert Danks, Samuel Judd, and Thomas Judd.

Many of these families were very prolific, so that their descendants
in a few generations became very numerous. One of our fellow citi-
zens, skilled in his accurate researches, has published an account of
the number of children in each of about twenty-five of the ancient
families, there being 10 in each of seven families, — 11, 12, and 13 in
several, — 15 in two, and 17 in two families. If we should take the
lowest number ten as the average of their descendants in each family
in each generation of thirty-three years, you might be surprised
to learn, that the descendants of one family, in the six generations
down to this time, would now amount to one million, and the descend-
ants of the twenty-five first Nonotuck families would be now equal to
about the whole number of the inhabitants of the United States.

We are informed, that of the thirty-eight settlers in the first four


ye ira from 1664 to 1658 thirty-two had their home lots near the pres-
en i centre, and built their houses on Pleasant, King, Hawley, and
Market streets. Afterwards the planters settled at the west of the
meeting house and on the south side of Mill River.

The settlers were men of enterprise, of good sense, and truly
Christian men. They combined industry and prudence, patient labor
and economy. If all the fair scenery around us of fields and meadows,
of fruit trees overladen, of thriving villages and splendid mansions we
should contrast with the discomforts and gloom of a cold and dreary

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Online LibraryWilliam AllenAn address, delivered at Northampton, Mass., on the evening of Oct. 29, 1854, in commemoration of the close of the second century since the settlement of the town → online text (page 1 of 6)