Erving — Early Settlement

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

      The first settlement of Erving does not date back to a very remote period, and its history therefore does not admit of much elaboration. The tract occupied by the town of Erving, and portions of surrounding towns, measuring twelve miles long and two miles in width, was bought by a company of proprietors from the province in 1751, who sold it shortly thereafter to John Erving, of Boston, whose grant was confirmed by the General Court in January, 1752.
      The first settlement of that portion now included within the limits of Erving was probably not made until 1801, when Col. Asaph White, of Heath, located there, a solitary settler in a howling wilderness. Mr. White is said to have entered at once upon a brisk and energetic effort to promote the prosperity of that section. In 1803 he threw a dam across Miller's River, built a saw-mill, and later kept a public-house. Before his removal to Erving, in 1797, he was one of the incorporators of the Second Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation, and later, in 1799, one of the incorporators of the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation.
      The first mention in the records of a tavern-keeper was under date of February, 1816, when the first meeting of the freeholders of Erving Grant was held at Alfred Alvord's tavern, although tradition says that Asaph White kept a tavern there as early as 1803.
      After the advent of Mr. White settlers began to locate on the grant, but not rapidly.
      Under date of December, 1815, the records show that Phineas Battel, collector of Erving's Grant, was ordered by Shawmon Battel, Amos Piper, and Calvin Ewings, assessors of Erving's Grant, to collect taxees on real and personal estate' against the following persons the occupying land within the limits of what is now Erving: Ephraim Sawyer, Israel Sawyer, Jonathan White. Wm, Crosby, Beriah Ruggles, Joseph Rawson, Amos Piper, Asa Piper, Rufus Field, Jr., Joseph Brown, Darius Carter, Abner Jennings, Calvin Priest, Asa Robbins,
      John Barrett, Rufus F., Son, Samuel Coy, Gad White-head, Samson Packard. Ebenezer Cheney, Zachariah Nichols, Wm. Fleming, Reuben Goss, Lurez Ostings, Welcome Mason, Earle Olby, John Wheelock, Levi Benjamin, Comfort Hunter, Ira Benjamin, Samuel Rawson, Turner Rawson, Peter Brown, Thomas Durgey, Abel Drury, A. Lured, T. Benjamin, Elijah Printer, John Holden, Calvin Ewing, John Williams, Hezekiah and Elijah Hotten, Rufus Stratton, Hezekiah Stratton Elisha Hotten, Elisha Hotten, Jr., Rufus Tyler, Alden Rumels, Cyrus Phiney, Reuben Bridge, Ansel Phiney, Jason Phiney, Noah Phinney, Washington Runiels, Ebenezer Tarney, Artemas Fay, Ann Stewart's heirs, Sarah Waldo.
      Feb. 5, 1816, the inhabitants of Erving's Grant and all unincorporated places thereto annexed were warned to meet at Alvord's tavern. The names of the clerks chosen at that time and subsequent meetings until the incorporation of Erving will be found hereto appended: Samson Packard, 1816; Ansel Leserve, 1818 to 1822; Jonah White, 1823 to 1829; Asaph Coy, 1830; Fordyce Alexander, 1831 to 1832; Mosely Clapp, 1833; Asa Fisher, 1834 to 1838;
      The settlements made about 1815 must have been well scattered, for Mr. Darling, now living in Erving, at the age of eighty-nine, says he passed through Erving village in 1819, when it contained three dwelling-houses, a blacksmith-shop, a store, and a hotel. The latter was a log tavern, occupying the site of the present hotel, and was kept by Elisha Alexander. The store was kept by Mosely Clapp, and the blacksmith-shop by Elihu Holton ; those two latter were probably respectively the first storekeeper and the first blacksmith.. The records of 1819 mention Lord's tavern and Root's tavern as being in the neighborhood.
      The first physician was a Dr. Noyes, but, as far as known, the town never had a lawyer. The first postmaster was Fordyce Alexander, who was appointed about 1830. His successors were David Blackmer, Joseph Rankin, James Miller, L. A. Bates, and Noah Rankin, the latter being the present incumbent, who was appointed in 1862.
      In 1816 the right to vote was based upon the possession of the voter of an income the voter of an income of £3 or an estate valued at £60.
      Among the early roads laid out were,—one from the turnpike near Phineas Battle's, running northward to Benjamin Goddard's, and intersecting the road from Warwick; one beginning at the turnpike near Lyman Lord's tavern, and running northeast by Samuel Briggs' to intersect the road from Warwick; one beginning at the turnpike near where Morse's Brook crosses it, and thence running northwest to intersect the road from Warwick at Jonathan Orcutt's. The road laid out by the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation in 1799 passed from Greenfield to Athol by way of Erving.
      In 1815 $34 sufficed to pay the expenses of the district for that year, and in 1820 the requirement was but $40. In 1822 the district voted to pay its proportion of the cost of a bridge "across Miller's River, near Peleg Jennings, in New Salem."
      Very few of the descendants of the early settlers are now to be found in the town. There are the Priests, the Browns and Coolidges, but none others. The persons who compose the present population of the town date their settlement, save with the exceptions of the above noted, with the exceptions above noted, from 1845, or later.

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22 Jun 2005