Charlemont — Pioneer Settlers

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

      In the spring of 1743, came Capt. Moses Rice and his family from Rutland, Worcester Co., as Pioneer Settlers, and were the first to locate permanently in town. It is believed that Capt. Rice and his older sons had spent some time on their land the previous summer, and had put up a temporary house near the buttonwood-tree, which sheltered them until other accommodations were provided. This venerable tree is yet standing near the Long Bridge, at the village. His home was on the extreme frontier, and eastward there was no house nearer than Coleraine, at that time also a feeble settlement. His supplies had all to be brought from Deerfield, distant twenty-two miles, and thither he had to carry his corn to mill over roads but little used, and very often no more than mere bridle-paths. Yet with undaunted courage he applied himself to the work of clearing his lands and erecting buildings, cheered by the thought that plenty would soon abound, when the hostile Indians of the north, urged on by their French allies, made an incursion into the province. On the 20th of August, 1746, they invested Fort Massachusetts (the most westerly of the chains of forts erected in 1744 in this section) and compelled its surrender. The approach of the enemy warned Capt. Rice and his family to flee to Deerfield, the latter part of the same month, just in time to save their lives. His house was burned by the savages, and his "crop of grain,—at least 300 bushels,—with all his hay, husbandry tools, and many other things, were destroyed, his loss being at least £1300, old tenor."
      After the desolation of his home (Capt. Rice returned with his family to Rutland, where he remained about three years, till the close of the war. Meantime, his second son, Aaron, was engaged as a volunteer in garrisoning Fort Pelham, in Rowe, serving more than a year. Peace having been settled, Capt. Rice and his family came back to their homestead in Charlemont, and vigorously began the work of restoration. A new house was built on the site of the old one in 1749, and another house was put upon the meadow, farther east, for the accommodation of his oldest son, Samuel.1 They had not long to remain alone. Others came to share their hardships and help reap the promised reward. The first to permanently locate were Othniel and Jonathan Taylor, of Deerfield, who came in 1749 to improve the land purchased by the former seven years before. They built themselves houses directly opposite the present Buckland station, and here they became to the eastern part of the town what the Rices were to the western part.
      Othniel Taylor was born April 16, 1719, and in 1743 married Martha Arms, of Deerfield. They had three children before their removal, viz., Samuel, born Sept. 21, 1744; Lemuel, born Feb. 11, 1748; and Mary, born June 23, 1746. Both of the sons became citizens of Buckland, and are noticed in that connection. The fourth child of Othniel Taylor, Enos, was born Feb. 3, 1751, and was the first white child born in town. The other children were Othniel, born Jan. 10, 1753; Tertius, born July 25, 1754; Martha, born Dec. 21, 1756; William, born Jan. 27, 1758; Lydia, born March 16, 1760; Rufus, born April 3, 1763; Lucinda, born Nov. 26, 1765; Tirzah, born Jan. 2, 1769; and Dolly, born Dec. 12, 1772, in all thirteen, every one of whom lived to old age, the youngest dying at sixty-six and the oldest at ninety-two. Their average age was seventy-seven, and their aggregate ages one thousand years." The last to depart this life was Tirzah, the wife of Dr. Silas Holbrook, who died in 1853. Enos, the first born in Charlemont, married Eunice Longley, of Hawley, and lived in Buckland; Rufus lived in Charlemont, on the place now occupied by S. B. Rice; and Tertius remained on the homestead, where Capt. Othniel Taylor died in 1788, and his wife (Martha Arms) in 1802. The sons of Tertius Taylor were Elias and Tertius. The former lived on the old Taylor place, which was afterward occupied by his son, Milner, and is now the property of the latter's descendants, thus having been occupied by six generations of Taylors.
      Jonathan Taylor removed to Heath some time about 1760, and is more fully noticed in that town.
      Not long after the settlement of the Taylors, probably in the fall of 1750, Eleazer Hawks1 and his sons, Gershom, Seth, and Joshua, came from Deerfield, and settled on both sides of the river, above the Rice grant. Their first houses probably stood near the present residence of N. Warner. About 1777, Gershom built the large house now occupied by Myron Hawks, his great-grandson; and Joshua built himself a more substantial home near the old place. Others of the Hawkses made improvements on the south side of the Deerfield River at an early day. The descendants of this family became very numerous, and have always been prominent in the town.

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15 Jul 2005