Charlemont — Pioneer Settlers

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

      In this sad manner were the infant settlements deprived of one of their most useful, energetic men. Capt. Moses Rice was born at Sudbury, Oct. 27, 1694, and was, therefore, at his death in the sixty-first year of his age. He married Sarah King, Nov. 16, 1719, and removed from Sudbury to Worcester, where he kept a tavern, and while living there became the captain of a company of cavalry. He subsequently removed to Rutland, and from there to Charlemont, as we have seen in the narrative.
      Happily, the people of the town suffered no further Indian depredations after Capt. Rice's death. The campaign against the allies of the North transferred the contest to Canada, and there was thenceforth to be no more blood shed in Charlemont. But to assure the alarmed settlers 24 men were stationed in the town, none, however, at Rice's Fort. Its location was deemed too exposed for prudent defense. Having the promise of a garrison of soldiers if a new fort should be erected on a more favorable spot, Samuel Rice and his brothers removed the timbers around their father's house to the house on the meadow, in the summer of 1756. The following year the province allowed Samuel Rice to enlist 6 men to be stationed at this fort, who were "to receive the same pay, and be discharged at the same time, as the other soldiers stationed in the town."
      Although the town had now subsided into a state of comparative security, but little progress in its settlement was made, and the improvements begun by the proprietors were at a standstill until after 1762, when matters took a more hopeful turn. There were now 30 families in town, and application for a charter was to be made. The act of incorporation was duly granted June 21, 1765. Nine years later (in 1774) the following were the residents of the town subject to taxation:

      "Oliver Avery, John Brooks, Samuel Brooks, Joseph Bingham, Jeremiah Bingham, Calvin Bingham, Joseph Butler, William Brown, John Brown, William Buck, Nathaniel Corbett, Eliphalet Cutting, Champion Crocker, Josiah Davidson, Ebenezer Pales, Jeremiah Gould, Thomas Gleason, Gershom Hawks, Gershom Hawks, Jr., Reuben Hawks, Joshua Hawks, Jared Hawks, Samuel Hunt, Jonathan Hastings, Nathaniel Harris, Stephen Harris, Valentine Harris, William Hartwell, Moses Heaton, David Kingsley, James Hinman, Stephen Keys, Isaac Lind, Benjamin Leland, Hugh Maxwell, Thomas Nichols, John Nichols, William Negus, Samuel Negus, Abner Nims, Samuel Pierce, Gershom Pierce, Josiah Pierce, Samuel Rice, Aaron Rice, Sylvanus Rice, Artemas Rice, Martin Rice, Paul Rice, Reuben Rudd, Edward Shinar, Othniel Taylor, Samuel Taylor, Lemuel Taylor, Enos Taylor, Jonathan Taylor, Jonathan Thayer, Jonah Thayer, Asahel Thayer, Dependence Thayer, Seth Temple, Solomon Temple, Job Warfield, Josiah Warfield, John Ward, Gershom Ward, Nahum Ward, Josiah Ward, James White, Asaph White, Benjamin White.

      "The Rev. Jonathan Leavitt had come as the town's minister in 1767, and very many of the foregoing had located before that period. It is impossible, in most instances, to give the time of their settlement with any accuracy. Nearly all came from the eastern part of the State and from Worcester County, while a few came from Connecticut. At a later day were added to the settlers of Charlemont, Josiah Upton, Edward and John Giles, and members of the Ballard family. The scope of this sketch prevents a more ex-tended mention of the settlement of Charlemont. In 1790, with a territory much reduced by the formation of the surrounding towns, the population was 743; in 1820 it was at its maximum, 1231; and at present (1878) there are but a few hundred inhabitants more than there were almost a century ago.

1 Samuel Rice was born at Sudbury, Aug. 10, 1720. In 1741 he married Dorothy Martin, of Rutland, and had, when they moved to Charlemont, three children, Moses, Asa, and Martin. Their son Samuel was born April, 1753, and was the third child born of white parents in town. Their other children were Artemas, Rachel, and Lucy. Samuel Rice, Sr., died at Charlentont, Sept. 20, 1793, and part of his homestead is now occupied by his great-grandson.
      Aaron, the second son of Capt. Rice, was born Jan. 31, 1725, and married Freedom French, of Deerfield, in 1754. He lived upon the homestead, in the western part of the Rice purchase, and was, in his day, one of the most useful men in the town, as will be seen in this sketch, showing his connection with various interests. In 1780 he helped form the State constitution. His children were Sarah, John, Anna, Eunice, Aaron, Joseph, Luke, Silas, and Freedom. Deacon Aaron Rice died in 1808, aged eighty-four years.
      The third son of Capt. Rice, Sylvanus, was born Jan. 6, 1729, and married Esther Nims in 1760. He lived on the site of the present village, and died in town in 1819, and his wife in 1824. Their children were Luther, who died at West Point, in the Revolution, Calvin, Abigail, Quartus, Alfred, and Mathew.
      Artemas, the fourth son, was born Oct. 22, 1734, and was therefore nine years old when his father moved to Charlemont. He married Mary Stevens, of Deerfield, and lived on the eastern part of the Rice grant. His children were Lucretia, Lydia, Anna, David, Paul, Dinah, and Ezra. Artemas Rice died in 1801.
      Abigail, the oldest daughter of Capt. Rice, was born in 1723, and married James Heaton, in 1743. They were the parents of Dr. Moses Heaton, the first physician of Charlemont.
      The other daughters were Dinah and Tamar, whose husbands lived in Rutland and Shelburne. The widow of Capt. Rice (Sarah King) died at the residence of Deacon Aaron Rice, about 1788.
      The Rices intermarried with some of the oldest families in Charlemont, and their descendants have always ranked among the most useful citizens.

1Eleazer Hawks was born in Deerfield in 1693, and was an older brother of Col. John Hawks, the defender of Fort Massachusetts. His sons coming to Charlemont were Gershom, born Feb. 23, 1716; married Thankful Corse, of Deerfield, in 1744. He died in 1799, and his wife in 1806. Their children were Gershon, Jonathan, Elihu, Israel, Rufus, Ephraim, and Reuben. Joshua, horn Jan. 25, 1722; married Abigail Hastings in 1744. Their children were Abigail, Eleazer, Joshua, Jared born March 17, 1752,—the second child born in Charlemont,—and died in 1828, Asa, and Ichabod. Seth, born Oct. 5, 1729, married Elizabeth Belding in 1761. He had several children, but, as he remained in town only a few years, no further account of him is here given. Eleazer Hawks had also six daughters.

2 Hon. Joseph White's Historical Discourse.

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