« AnteriorContinua »
by deacon Aldis for that purpose. I cannot find that any of these deeds were recorded in the town records, or that they are now in existence. These purchases were made with much difficulty, and some of them required many years of negociation. The purchases were for a sufficient consideration. No white man could overreach Philip. Josias was under the guardianship of governor Dudley and Mr. Stoughton, and advised by his counsellors, old Ahawton, William Ahawton, and Robert Momontage. The interests of the Naticks were protected by general Gookins, and Mr. Eliot.
Settlements begun in other towns.-When the general court granted so large a tract of land as it did, to the first inhabitants, it virtually imposed on them the duty of beginning new settlements in different places, within their territory, whenever circumstances would permit it to be done.
The well being of the colony required that every new settlement to be made in the wilderness, should be undertaken by a sufficient number of persons, by men of orthodox opinions in religion, of competent abilities, and under such other encouraging circumstances as would justify the attempt. How well the principal men of this plantation acquitted themselves, in performing this difficult and important duty, we shall see.
Medfield.-Medfield was the first town settled by the Dedham proprietors. In 1640, Dedham granted to Edward Allyne, 300 acres at Bargarstowe, (so spelled,) where he should chose to have the land, with fifty acres of meadow. This grant was not located until 1649, when it was done by an order of the town, under the direction of major Lusher, and two others. Mr. Allyne was then dead.This gentleman died in Boston, in 1642. The petition to the general court in 1649, for the grant of a township by Edward Allyne and others, as asserted by Dr. Saunders' sermon, is so far incorrect, that it was probably the heirs of Edward Allyne who were among the petitioners, and not Edward Allyne himself, as asserted.
In January, 1650, the town of Dedham consented without any objection, to the incorporation of Medfield, and then transferred all its right to the soil, and its jurisdiction to that town.
Ralph Wheelock and Robert Hinsdale, of the first eight admitted into the Dedham church, were among the first settlers. Mr. Wheelock had been a candidate for ruling elder. The character of all the settlers were such that all stipulations for the support of religion and education were unnecessary. After an amicable negociation of one or two years, Medfield, by their commissioners, Thomas Parsons, Robert Hinsdale, Henry Adams, and George Barber, agreed to pay Dedham fifty pounds, in two years, for all its rights in the lands in Medfield.
Wrentham. In 1660, a committee previously appointed, report to the town that they had been to view the lands at Wollomonopoag, and recommend a settlement there. A committee is then appointed to make regulations for the proposed plantation. The next year, the town order six hundred acres to be laid down at that place to encourage a plantation there, and a committee of five persons, of which major Lusher is chairman, is appointed to regulate the business. The committee is authorised to determine who were suitable persons to be entrusted with the government of the new settlement. To locate the village to be built. To designate the place for a meeting house, . and to establish highways.
In 1661, the proprietors of Dedham voted to sell all their uplands and meadows at Wollomonopoag, to such persons as are "fit to carry on the work of a plantation in church and commonwealth," for the consideration of one hundred and sixty pounds, to be paid by installments, in four years. The next year, the town voted to suspend the settlement for the present. Previous to this, the following persons had already begun a settlement. Anthony Fisher, Sargent Ellis, Robert Ware, James Thorp, Isaac Bullard, Samuel Fisher, Samuel Parker, John Farrington, Ralph Freeman, and Sargent Stevens. When these men were prohibited from proceeding in the settlement, a question arose who should possess the 600 acres, appropriated for the encouragement of the plantation. It was claimed exclusively by those who had begun the plantation. The vote devoting six hundred acres for that purpose, was indeed indefinite, but it must have encouraged the expectation, that it was a donation-the town determined otherwise. But the sufferers, by this unsuccessful attempt to make a settlement,
were partially or entirely indemnified. The records do not state why the settlement was suspended, but it is pretty evident that a sufficient number of orthodox and able men did not volunteer at first in that enterprise. In the language of the town vote, the persons were not fit for the work of church and commonwealth. In 1672, it appears thirty-four persons owned all the lands at Wrentham, by an assessment on their common rights in that town. By this time, the number and ability of the inhabitants were sufficient to support the plantation. They could then comply with the condition in the grant. They were of sufficient numbers and capacity to carry on the work of church and commonwealth, in the opinion of the general court. They were incorporated into a township in the year 1673. In the succeeding year, the proprietors of Dedham transferred all their records relating to Wrentham, to the inhabitants in that place.
Deerfield, (called Petumtuck, in the records.)-When the general court ordered two thousand acres of land, within the grant to Dedham, to be appropriated for an Indian village at Natick; it granted at the same time to the proprietors of this town, as a compensation therefore, 8000 acres of any unlocated lands within the jurisdiction, whereever they might chose to have the land.
In 1663, messengers were sent out by the town, to examine the chesnut country, (so called in the records, probably some part of Worcester county,) near Lancaster.On their return, they reported that the land was tolerably good, but hard to bring under cultivation, and there was not there a sufficiency of meadow. Soon after this report was made, John Fairbanks informed the selectmen, that there was some very good land about twelve miles from Hadley, where the 8000 acres might be located. Whereupon the selectmen immediately sent out John Fairbanks and lieutenant Daniel Fisher, to discover the land and examine it. These men were instructed first to go to Sudbury and enquire of ensign Noys, and if necessary, then go to Lancaster, to enquire of Good Willard respecting the land. On their return, they reported that they had found the land sought after, that it was exceedingly good, and ought as soon as possible, be taken possession of under the grant. He who has seen the fertile intervales on Deerfield river,
or heard of the famous fat cattle annually brought thence to the Brighton market, or recollects the subsequent events of Indian warfare at that place, can hardly suppress in his imagination, the glowing and interesting account the returning messengers would give of that country. Lieutenant Fisher we may suppose would say, on this occasion, after having given his account of wandering many days in the hilly country, covered with great trees of oak and chesnut, and having described the only settlements of white men seen on his journey, Sudbury, Lancaster, and Hadley, "We at length arrived at the place we sought after. We called it Petumtuck, because there dwell the Petumtuck Indians. Having ascended a little hill, apparently surrounded by rich meadow land, from that spot we beheld broad meadows, extending far north, west, and south of us. In these meadows we could trace the course of a fine river, which comes out from the mountains on the north west, and running northerly, through many miles of meadow, seemed to us to run in among the hills again, at the north east. The tall trees of button wood and elm, exposed to us its course. That meadow is not soft and covered with coarse water grass, like that around us here, but is hard land. It is the best land that we have seen in this colony; we dug holes in the meadow, with the intent to find the depth of the soil, but could not find the bottom. At the foot of the little hill we stood on, is a plat of ground sufficiently large to build a village upon, and sufficiently high to be out of the reach of the spring floods. Providence led us to that place? It is indeed far away from our plantations, and the Canaanites and Amalekites dwell in that valley, and if they have any attachment to any spot on earth, must delight to live there. But that land must be ours. people have resolute and pious hearts, and strong hands to overcome all difficulties. Let us go and possess the land, and in a few years you will hear more boast of it in this colony, as a land good for flocks and herds, than could ever be justly said of the land of Goshen, or any part of the land of Canaan."
When the town heard this report, it immediately appointed six persons to repair to Petumtuck, and cause the 8000 acres to be located there. Captain John Pynchon, of Springfield, was employed by the town to purchase those lands of the Indians. He soon after performed that
duty, and procured four deeds from the Indians, which deeds were afterwards deposited in deacon Aldis' box.Dedham gave ninety-four pounds ten shillings for these deeds; which sum was procured by an assessment on the common rights in the Dedham proprietary.
In 1670, the proprietors of Petumtuck met at Dedham. Their whole number was twenty-six. Captain John Pynchon, Samuel Hinsdale, John Stebbins, John Hulburt, and Sampson Frarey, among the proprietors, were never inhabitants of Dedham. The remaining part of the proprietors were inhabitants of this town.
This meeting voted to employ an artist to lay out lots to each proprietor. To present a correct plan to the town of Dedham. A committee of three was appointed to give instructions to the artist, to designate the place for a town, and determine where the meeting house should be built. To locate the church officers' lot, to make a fair assignment of lots to the proprietors.
In 1672, Samuel Hinsdale, on behalf of Petumtuck, petitions Dedham to appoint suitable persons a committee to regulate affairs at the former place. The next year he renewed his petition, and urged the distresses of his friends, by means of their remote situation from other settlements. Then five persons are immediately authorised,
1st, To admit suitable inhabitants by purchasing lands or otherwise.
2d, To make orders about herding cattle, and keeping swine.
3d, To regulate fences.
4th, To hire an orthodox minister with the concurrence of the elders of two adjoining churches, and for that purpose, to assess two shillings on each common right at Petumtuck.
What compensation was given to Dedham for their rights in the lands at Petumbuck, does not appear. As that town was owned by the Dedham proprietors, in such portions and shares as were denoted by the common rights in Dedham proprietary, the purchase was made of each cotenant by each cotenant of the Petumtuck lands.
This is the beginning of Deerfield, which is much celebrated for its rich meadows, formed by the junction of Deerfield river with the Connecticut, for the great number of cattle which are annually fatted there, exceeding both