Frary House, 1698. Oldest In The County.
It will be seen by these deeds that the Indians reserved the right of hunting, fishing and gathering nuts all, in fact, that was of any real value to them. The critic says that in such trades the price was nominal and that the Indian was outrageously cheated. Fortunately, in this case existing evidence proves that Dedham paid the natives more than the English market price, in hard cash, and besides gave one acre at Natick for every four here.
The money to pay for the eight thousand acres was raised by a tax on the landholders of Dedham, the owners paying in proportion to the number of shares or “cow commons” held; and their ownership of the new territory was in the same proportion. There were five hundred and twenty-two shares in all, held in common, covering the whole of Dedham.
In 1671 a committee from Dedham laid out highways, set apart tracts for the support of the ministry, laid out a “Town Plott,” and large sections of plow-land and of mow-land.
In each of these sections individuals were assigned by lot their respective number of cow commons. Later the woodlands were divided in the same manner. For generations this land was bought and sold, not by the acre, but by the cow common, fractions thereof being sheep or goat commons, five of these being a unit.
The “Town Plott,” laid out in 1671, is the Old Deerfield Street of today.
The first settlers at Pocumtuck were not, as generally supposed, the original Dedham owners. The shares of the latter had been for years on the market, and many had passed to outsiders. But only picked men were allowed to become proprietors. This fact is illustrated by votes like the following
“Dec. 4, 1671. John Plimpton is allowed to purchase land of John Bacon at Pawcumtucke provided that the said John Plimpton doe settle thereupon in his owne person.” On the same day the request of Daniel Weld for leave to purchase was refused. No reason was assigned, and Mr. Weld was admitted soon after.
“Feb. 16, 1671-2. Lieft. Fisher is alowed libertie to sell 6 cow common rights and one sheepe common right at Paucomtuck to Nathaniel Suttlife of Medfield.”