Buckland — Early Settlement

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      The better parts of the present town were originally comprised in small grants, whose bounds were extremely vague. In that part belonging to Charlemont were the Taylor grants and several public lots, one of the latter being at Shelburne Falls. South of the Taylor grant, along Clesson's Brook, was a tract of 400 acres belonging to parties in Hatfield, the southern line of which was described as Ashfield; and in the southwestern part of the town Col. Jonathan Ward, of South Boro', had received a grant of 400 acres, located almost in the form of a square. On this the first settlement was made, about 1769, by Capt. Nahum Ward, of Upton. He was a relative of General Artemas Ward, and had served in the French-and-Indian war when minor. He located east of the present residence of G. K. Ward, who is a descendant of the same family. Here was born, Jan. 24, 1770, the first child, which was named Jonathan Ward. Another child, Anna Ward, was born here in 1773. About 1774, Capt. Ward moved to Charlemont, and seven years later returned to Upton, where he died.
      About the same time Gershom Ward settled on the western part of the Ward grant, and died in that part of the town in 1806. It is said that one of his children died soon after his settlement, and this was probably the first death in the town.
      About 1773, John Ward brought his family from Upton and settled on the place now owned by Arnold Smith, where he died in 1805. He had sons named Luke, Jeremiah, and Josiah. The first removed to the West in 1800; the others remained.
      Daniel Ward, a brother of the above, came at a later period, and settled on Clesson's Brook, on the present E. M. Smith farm. His sons, living in Buckland, were John and Alexander. From this family came the Rev. Windsor Ward, a Methodist clergyman of distinction.
      In 1789, Kerly Ward, nephew of Capt. Nahum Ward, the first settler, came from Upton, with his family,—consisting of Hannah, John, Graham, Jonathan, Jesse, Samuel, Catherine, and Jane,—and settled on the Ward grant. Much of this became the property of Jonathan, and is now owned by his son, Graham K. Ward.
      In 1788, Edward Forbes settled near the east end of what is now known as High Street, on the farm at present owned by his grandson, Caleb E. Forbes, and which has never been out of the family. Edward Forbes had three children,—a daughter, named Sarah; Edward, who became a famous teacher in Boston, and was known as Master Forbes; and William, who remained on the homestead.
      Other early settlers in this part of the town were Elisha Smith, Amos Wood, Joseph Shepard, Seth Knowles, and Jasper Taylor.
      At the centre Samuel Taylor was an early settler, and in his day one of the most prominent men in town. He was a son of Capt. Othniel Taylor, of Charlemont, was born in Deerfield in September, 1744; and died at Buckland in 1837. His wife (Esther White) died in 1830. They reared a large family. The oldest daughter, Mary, married the Rev. Jonathan Grout, of Hawley. One of their sons, Samuel, lived to be more than ninety years old, and another, Henry, about eighty. One of the latter's sons, Lawrence, is still a resident of town, nearly all the rest of the once numerous Taylor family having removed or died.
      Lemuel Taylor, born in 1749, married Abigail White, and settled in the northern part of the town, on the present Deacon Purrington place. He was a brother of Samuel, and the second son of Capt. Taylor, and was also prominent in early town affairs. He had sons named Lemuel, Othniel, and Erastus, none of whom remained in town. Lemuel Taylor died July 26, 1834.
      A third son of Capt. Taylor, Enos, lived in Buckland, On the Eber Stratton place. He was born in Charlemont in 1751, and died at his home in 1831. His wife was Eunice Longley, of Hawley, and they had sons named Asa, Enos, Joseph, and Josephus, and two daughters.
      William Taylor, a brother of the foregoing, was born in 1758, lived in Buckland, on the R. N. Allen place, and died in 1826. He had sons named Orrin and Hart, and five daughters.
      John Taylor, of another family, was an early settler on the tract owned by H. S. Warfield. His father, Rev. James Taylor, visited him in 1785, and while assisting in clearing a piece of ground was killed by falling limb. This is said to have been the first death of an adult in town. John Taylor soon after removed to New York.
      In 1772, Gardner Wilder, of Worcester County, purchased 200 acres of land, south of the Taylor grant, on Clesson's Brook, and some years after came to live with his two sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Nathaniel, moved to New York; the other, Gardner, remained on the homestead, which is now occupied by his son, Charles. His brother, Gardner, lives near the centre of the town. Wilder was accompanied from Leominster by Elias and Elisha Carter. The. former lived until his death on the Samuel Wood place, and Elisha on a farm near the village. Both were active citizens.
      West of the village were Samuel, James, Benjamin, Nathan, and Jonathan Bracket,—early settlers and participants in the Revolutionary struggle.
      In the northern part of the town, east of the Clesson Brook, Josiah Johnson, who married Martha, the daughter of Capt. Othniel Taylor, settled after 1774. He had a family of fourteen children, and his son, Josiah, had sixteen. Near by lived Othniel Johnson, a brother of the former, with a family of thirteen children. Farther eastward were Elijah Thayer and his son Elijah and Capt. Zebulon White, a mariner,—all early settlers. The latter was killed near his home by a falling tree. Daniel Woodward also lived in this locality; and near the Falls were Nathaniel and Gershom Coleman and Stephen Allix, pioneers in that part of the town.
      Daniel Trowbridge came from Deerfield to Buckland about 1783, and settled on the place now occupied by his son, Deacon Silas, who was born there, in 1799. Another son, Rufus, died in town, at the age of eighty-seven.
      At the "Pine Mills," Benjamin Ellis was an early settler, and later lived here Capt. Levi White, the father of seven sons, the youngest of whom, Bushnell, became a noted lawyer in Ohio. In the northern part of the town were also Solomon Hastings and Daniel Townsley, the latter having sons named Dan, Newell, Abner, Enoch, and Gad, some of whom became largely identified with the interests of the town. In the northwest part Benjamin and Joseph Ballard are reported among the first settlers, and descendants of the latter still remain.
      In the neighborhood of the village lived Nathan Batchelor, with whom was John Porter, as an adopted son; and about 1785, Elias Griswold, of Litchfield, Conn., with his sons Elias, Simeon, Whiting, Horace, and Joseph, came to this locality. The latter reared a large family, and some of the sons became men of note in the county. Among his neighbors were the Brooks families, Alpheus having sixteen children, and Jabez a less number, whose worth is well remembered. Southeast, on the hill which yet bears his name, settled Wm. Putnam, the father of Elisha, William, Abner, and Daniel Putnam. The latter married a sister of Mary Lyon, and also lived in this neighborhood.
      Beyond the hill, and not far from the Ashfield line, settled Nathan and Aaron Lyon, some time about 1780. They were farmers of small means, but bore excellent characters, and were much esteemed for their integrity. The latter died here in 1802. He was the father of that noble Christian woman, Mary Lyon, who was born on this bleak mountain farm Feb. 28, 1797, the fifth of seven children, one of whom was a son, who moved to New York in 1819. The life and character of Mary Lyon, better known as the founder of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, are elsewhere portrayed in this book, but the honor of having given birth to one of the purest and most worthy women of the State must ever belong to Buckland. The old Lyon place has been altogether abandoned, hardly anything of the original surroundings remaining except a few apple-trees and the old stone fence, near where the little brown house stood.
      Down the slope of the hill, and in the "Four Corners" neighborhood, lived Peter Butler, a Revolutionary pensioner, Enos Pomeroy, Chandler Burgin, Jonathan Whiting, Jacob Spafford, Thomas Orcutt, Seth Wyman, and Samuel Perkins, —all early settlers. There were also in town at that period (1784) Eli Butler, Isaac Alden, John Blackmer, six families bearing the name of Cook, Abel Cross, Josiah Drake, Jesse Edson, and the Jones, McNitt, Sprague, Savage, Ware, Wood, and Veber families, all living east of Clesson Brook. In 1790 the population was 718, and rapidly increased during the following years. It is now nearly treble that number.

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01 Ju1 2005