Montague — Early Settlement

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

      The earliest grant of land in what is now Montague of which the records make mention is under date of March 23, 1716, wherein Samuel Partridge and John Pynchon, "the committee of Swampfield" (the original name of Sunderland), granted to Benjamin Munn, Edward Alling, Jr., Daniel Beamon, Edward Alling, and Nathaniel Frary the privileges of a stream in Swampfield, called Saw-mill Brook, upon which a saw-mill was erected. They were to have free privileges of timber in Swampfield, on the north side of Saw-mill Brook, for the use of said saw-mill, conditioned, however, that the said grant should not impede the erection of a corn-mill on said brook. They were to sell "bords" to "the inhabitants of Swampfield" at a price not exceeding twenty shillings per thousand, and their grant was to continue only as long as they continued the mill. As an encouragement to build said mill, they were further granted 30 acres of land in some convenient place in Swampfield. This place alluded to was a tract on Saw-mill Brook, now in the village of Montague Centre, and from the foregoing it would appear that there were at that time "inhabitants" in that neighborhood.
      Jan. 16, 1709, two divisions of land were made on the west side of Hunting Hills, lying on the Connecticut River. In the first division each lot contained three acres and a half, and grants therein were made to the following persons: Thomas Hovey, Benjamin Graves, Wm. Arms, Samuel Billings, Samuel Harvey, Isaac Graves, Benjamin Barrett, Samuel Smith, Capt. Field, Ebenezer Billings, Jr., Nathaniel Dickinson, Joseph Root, Luke Smith, Stephen Crowfoot, Samuel Taylor, Samuel Billings Smith, Daniel Warner, Ebenezer Marsh, Daniel Smith, Nathaniel Smith, Samuel Graves, Jos. Field, Jr., Joseph Dickinson, Mr. Willard, Simon Cooley, Daniel Russell, James Bridgman, Wm. Scott, Joseph Clary, Jonathan Graves, Nathaniel Gunn, Ebenezer Kellogg, Isaac Hubbard, Deacon Hubbard, Manoah Bodman, Lieut. Ebenezer Billings, Richard Scott, Eleazer Warner, Joseph Smith, Wm. Allis, Samuel Gunn, and Samuel Montague. Grants were made to the same persons in the second division, in which each lot contained ten acres. In each division a ministry or town-lot was reserved. The tract embraced in the two divisions was in the north part of the town of Sunderland, where now stands the village of Montague Centre, and the first settlement of what is now the town of Montague appears, therefore, to have been made in 1719. The majority of the settlers named above were also among the early settlers of Sunderland.
      There was a tract of State land lying north of the Sunderland line and extending to the Connecticut, and upon this tract two young men, Enoch and Gideon Bardwell, of Deerfield, settled at a very early date. They were persevering and heroic lads, and, although forced at one time to flee to Deerfield by troublesome Indians, they returned after a brief absence, and, reoccupying their lands, remained, and became subsequently the progenitors of a numerous race of Bardwells, some of whom still reside in Montague.
      Further grants of lands near Hunting Hills were made between 1730 and 1740, the section being known as part of the second precinct of Sunderland. The name of Hunting Hills was given to it by reason of a range of hills on the eastern border, where game was found in abundance.
      On the 12th of July, 1751, William Williams, justice of the peace for the county of Hampshire, issued to Jonathan Root, of Sunderland (husbandman), an order, saying that, an application having been made to him by Simeon King, David Ballard, Eliphalet Allis, Samuel Smead, and Jonathan Root, desiring a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the second parish of Sunderland entitled to vote in town affairs, the said Jonathan Root was therefore required, in his Majesty's name, to notify the freeholders, etc., of said parish to meet at the house of Joseph Root, on Monday, July 29, 1751, for the following purposes: "To choose a moderator; to choose a clerk; a committee to call meetings for the future; to determine whether they will have preaching in the parish; to grant such sum as will defray present and future charges; and to choose assessors and collectors."
      At this meeting, which was held as provided, Deacon Mattoon was chosen Moderator; Joseph Root was chosen Clerk; and Deacon Mattoon, Eliphalet Allis, Samuel Bardwell, David Ballard, and Simeon King were chosen to give out warrants for calling future meetings. It was further resolved to raise £200, old tenor, to defray the charges that "have arisen or that may arise, that the sum be paid in the middle of October next, and that Josiah Alvord, Eliphalet Allis, and Samuel Smead be chosen to assess the same."
      Upon the records, under date of 1745, there appears the copy of a division of land on Miller's Plain, surveyed by Nathaniel Kellogg. There were 80 lots in this tract, divided into two ranges,—north and south. The grantees of these lots were Samuel Harvey, Jr., Nathaniel Cowdry, Jonathan Root, Joseph Dickinson, Ephraim Sawyer, Absalom Scott, Aaron Leonard, Israel Richardson, Jonathan Graves, Richard Scott, Thomas Keet, Samuel Taylor, Isaac Graves, John Gunn, Isaac Barrett, John Scott, Stephen Smith, Isaac Hubbard, Jr., Nathan Tuttle, Nathaniel Gunn, Daniel Hubbard, Daniel Smith, Joseph Wells, Noah Graves, Ensign Cooley, Daniel Harvey, Fellows Billings, John Billings, John Marsh, Zebediah Smith, Charles Chancy, John Bridgman, Benjamin Barret, Samuel Downer, Ebenezer Graves, Ebenezer Billings, Jr., Samuel Graves, Samuel Billings Smith, Samuel Harvey, Joseph Root, Josiah Alvord, Ezekiel Smith, Capt. Billings, Jed Sawyer, Ebenezer Marsh, Jr., Eliphalet Allis, Moses Dickinson, Judah Wright, Samuel Smith, Wm. Scott, Jr., Samuel Billings (2d), William Allis, Widow Harvey, Jonathan Bridgman, Samuel Gunn, Jonathan Billings, Manoah Bodman, Eleazer Warner, Joseph Mitchel, Jonathan Barrett, Jonathan Russell, Jonathan Field, Samuel Clary, Benjamin Graves, Wm. Scott, Lieut. Clary, Joseph Field, Samuel Scott, Jonathan Scott, Edward Elmer, Ebenezer Marsh, Widow Gunn, Luke Smith, Nathaniel Smith, Zebediah Allis, Wm. Rand, Deacon Montague, Joshua Douglass, Deacon Hubbard, Abner Cooley.
      Comparatively few of the descendants of Montague's early settlers are now living in the town, many having removed westward early in life. Among those now in Montague descended from the pioneers may be noted Warren and Elijah Bardwell, J. W. Root, Harrison Root, Solomon Root, Zebina, Henry H., and Wm. F. Taylor, Elizur Scott, Rodney, Erastus, and Elijah Gunn, Joshua and Elijah Marsh, and Liberty and George Wright.

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