Charlemont — Hamlets And Villages

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

East Charlemont

      East Charlemont is a beautiful hamlet, built in a straggling manner on the river road, about three miles from the east line of the town, and about the same distance from Shelburne Falls. Buckland Station, on the Troy and Greenfield Railroad, is on the opposite side of the stream, and is reached by means of a ferry. East Charlemont was probably the first business point in the town, and once possessed considerable importance, having stores, taverns, and shops, which have been discontinued, leaving the hamlet a simple farm settlement with a post-office, school-house, and Congregational Church.
      About 1760, Capt. Othniel Taylor opened a public-house in a building which stood on the site of A. C. Baker's residence. His account-book, running from 1760 to 1785, shows a large patronage, and that the use of ardent spirits was almost universal, the drinks named "flip," "toddy," and "sider" being held in great estimation. Pertaining to the traffic in rum are the following interesting papers, found among the records belonging to Capt. Taylor:

"Boston, 19th June, 1771.
"Othniel Taylor, Esq.
"SIR,—I received yours by Mr. White, and now send you three barrels rum, amount of which is below. "I am, your humble servant,
"Isaac Winston.
  £ s. d.
"96 ¾ gallons @ 20d . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       8 7      3 
"3 barrels @ 4s. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0    12 0"

      "To the Hon. Justices of ye Peace for the county of Hampshire, in the State of Massachusetts Bay. We, the subscribers, Recommend Lieut. Asaph White, of Charlemont, as a Person of Sober Life and Conversation, one who has always appeared Friendly to the American Cause, and Suitably Qualified and Provided as a Retailer of Spirituous Liquors.
                                          "Oth. Taylor,Selectman.
                                          "James White, Selectman.
"Charlemont, Nov. 4, 1778."

     Mr. White also furnished liquor at wholesale to his neighbors, and in 1781 asks Capt. Taylor, "Can you spare any money towards the barrel of rum you had etc. Please deliver to the bearer, Jonathan Thayer."
     Capt. Taylor not only entertained man and beast, but he was also a general trader. In 1767 appears an entry against the name of Rev. Jonathan Leavitt for "one silk hd'kf and twenty apple-trees," and other accounts indicate that he dealt in all the commodities necessary in a new settlement.
     At a later day Joel Hall had a tavern at East Charlemont, in the building now occupied by L. Merriam. His sign was that of a lion devouring a lamb, which, considering the habits prevalent in those days, was only too true. The substance of many was wasted through the liquor obtained at the "Lion."
     Erastus Taylor had a good store in the gambrel-roofed house now used as a summer residence by John O. Merriam, of Troy. It was closed before 1825.
     The post-office at East Charlemont was not established until after 1840. Peter Wilder was the first postmaster. The office has since been held by Horace Wells, Mrs. Horace Wells, Lorin Merriam, and Joseph T. Packard. It receives its mails from Shelburne Falls.


     Zoar is a small hamlet near the western extremity of the town, on the north bank of the Deerfield, and along Pelham Brook. Settlement was first made by the Peirce, Negus, and Hawks families, but the place did not attain much importance until the railroad located a station here in 1868. Besides the industries elsewhere mentioned, E. S. Hawks opened a tavern about 1812, which he continued more than thirty years. Then the place was without an inn until 1860, when H. M. Livermore opened a public-house and store and secured a post-office, all of which were discontinued in a few years. Merchandising was then carried on by S. D. Negus. I. D. Hawks and J. C. Bryant & Co. are at present in trade.
     In January, 1869, the Zoar post-office was reestablished, with I. D. Hawks postmaster, who has held the position ever since.


     Charlemont has a charming location on the north bank of the Deerfield River, west of the centre of the town, and on Rice and Mill Brooks. The village is surrounded by some of the most picturesque scenery in the county, which serves as a beautiful background, and helps to make this a very attractive place. It is a station on the Troy and Greenfield Railroad, about twenty miles from the latter place, and about eight from Shelburne Falls. There are mills, stores, a tavern, a good school-house, Baptist, Methodist, and Congregational Churches, and about 400 inhabitants.
     Aaron Rice is credited with having sold the first goods in the place, although not having a regular store. One of the first to engage in trade on a larger scale was Samuel Rathbone, who, about 1800, opened a store in the building now occupied by Nathan Ballard. The next store was opened by Henry Sheldon, in the present tavern building. The third was on the site of Dr. Dample's office, by George and Anthon Mayhew. Other stores were soon opened at the stands now occupied by A. L. Tyler and Wells; and about 1852 the Mayhews built a large business house, which is now occupied by Amos Avery. The place has had numerous merchants, and at present supports five stores.
     It is said that Ephraim Brown was the first innkeeper, his place being the present Dalrymple tavern. Other landlords were members of the Hawks family, Capt. Montague, Henry Sheldon, Ebenezer Thayer, and Richard Houghton.
     Samuel Rathbone was the first postmaster, appointed probably in 1816, after he opened his store. Others holding the office have been Waitstill Hastings, Anthon Mayhew, Luther Bodman, David Hawks, and A. L. Tyler, the latter being the present incumbent. The office has good mail facilities.

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15 Jul 2005