Leyden — Early Settlement

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

      The settlement of Leyden is necessarily a part of the early history of the town of Bernardston, since Leyden was set off from Bernardston, and until 1784 was a part of that town. An old record gives the names of the following persons as having settled in the district of Leyden in the years 1784, 1785, 1787, and 1788:
      In 1784, John B. Demontal, Mary, his wife, and Elizabeth, Abigail, and Charlotte, their children, from Shelburne, Mass.; John Moore, and his wife, with their children, David and Alexander, Mary Moore and her children, Thomas, James, and Mary, from Palmer, Mass.; Sylvester Crandall and Mary, his wife, with their children, from Guilford, Vt.; John Wells with Desire, his wife, and their children, David and Sena, from Springfield, Vt.; Jehial and Polly Niles, from Connecticut; Oliver and Thankful Noyes, with their children, from Guilford, Vt.; Daniel Edwards with Mehitabel, his wife, and their children, from Coventry, in: Connecticut; Solomon Dimmock, Bedgood Bulfish and his wife, Ellen; and Sarah Cole, from Enfield, Conn.; Levi Brooks, wife, and three children, with Thomas Brooks and wife, from Guilford, Vt.; Benjamin Grinnel and wife, from Rhode Island; and James Philips and wife, from Springfield, Mass. In 1785, Joshua Noyes, wife, and four children, from Guilford, Vt.; David Denison, wife, and children, and John Burrows, wife, and children, from the same town.
      In 1787 the new settlers included John Saunders, wife, and children, from Rhode Island; Peter Brown, wife, and children, from Montague, Mass.; Jabez Knapp, wife, and children, Enoch Childs, wife, and children, and Joseph Engley, all of Taunton, Mass. The record states further that these new-comers were "receivedquot; by Nathaniel Carpenter, Lieut. Daniel Newcomb, and Lieut. Reuben Shattuck. The first person born in Leyden was Polly, daughter of Richard and. Patience Grinnel, July 31, 1784, and the first marriage that of Caleb Adams to Catherine Davenport, whose quot;intentionsquot; were published April 6, 1786. An earlier record states that Samuel Guild, Jr., of Leyden, was married to Mrs. Lydia Esen, of Bernardston, May 25, 1782.quot; The first four frame houses built in the town were erected by Enoch Briggs, Squire Packer, _____ Bliss, and _____ Page.
      The house built by Briggs is the one now occupied by Hervey Wilbur; the one built by Squire Packer is the one in which A. P. Shattuck resides, and the one built by Page is now the residence of Edward Gary, at Beaver Meadow. The house erected by Bliss stood upon the site of the present residence of David Mowry, Esq. Garner Champlin, who was the first carpenter, built the house of Nathan Mowry, about a mile west of Leyden Centre, but whether he assisted in building the others referred to cannot now be told. The first tavern is supposed to have been kept by Thomas Wells, in the south part of the town, and the second by David Carpenter, in the west. The first store was set up at Beaver Meadow by one Fuller. For some years after the incorporation of Leyden, the mail for that district was conveyed from Greenfield by Elisha Burnham, of Bernardston, who is said to have performed his journeys on foot. The first postmaster was Reuben Sheldon.
      Earlier settlers than above stated were from Rhode Island and Connecticut. One Coolidge, of Rhode Island, is reported to have taken up the first farm. It passed afterward into the possession of Enoch Briggs, and is the farm now owned and occupied by Hervey Wilbur, whose ancestor, Uriah Wilbur, of Connecticut, settled on the Leyden tract in 1780. Other early settlers were the Babcocks, Barstows, Vinings, Ingrahams, Gateses, Spices, Henrys, Fosters, and Cunnables. The first important highway laid out was the county road from Greenfield, Mass., to Guilford, Vt., still the route between those points.

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