Orange — Early Settlement

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

      The history of the early settlement of the tract now em-braced within the limits of Orange properly forms a part of the history of the early settlements in the towns of Athol, Royalston, and Warwick, since Orange was constructed mainly from portions of those towns.
      Settlements upon the tract before 1750 were made to a very limited extent, and not freely until after 1762. In the latter-named year, Jacob Hutchins located on the eastern part of a grant of land including 325 acres, and lying on the west line of Athol (then Paquage). This grant was issued by the General Court to Rev. Benjamin Ruggles, of Middleboro', in 1752, and, becoming in March, 1762, a portion of Athol, was, in 1783, included in the district of Orange.
      Ezekiel Wallingford is said to have located as early as 1747, and was not long afterward killed by Indians.
      Ichabod Dexter, of Rochester, Mass., bought the right to Wallingford's land, and lived upon it many years, but eventually sold it and removed to Warwick.
      His brother Benjamin settled in 1769, upon what is now known as the Jesse Worrick farm. Subsequently he changed his location to the east end of the Ruggles grant, upon what is now known as the Dexter and Davis farms, which are still held in part by his grandchildren, Amasa Dexter and Sylvester Davis. It is related that upon Benjamin Dexter's settlement, there was no house between his and the Connecticut River. Dexter was a large farmer, an extensive dealer in land, and one of the earliest selectmen of the district. He married Hannah Stone, of Rutland, in 1769, and of their nine children, four settled in Orange and became parents of large families.
      Near him settled Samuel Ruggles in 1780, and Lemuel Ruggles in 1786.
      In 1770, Joseph Metcalf, of Milford, purchased of John Erving a tract of five hundred acres lying east of Fall Hill. That tract includes now the farms of Willard Foskett, Shubael Briggs, Abraham Putnam, Harvey Goddard, Francis Field, and portions of the farms of Albert Foskett, Aaron Trim, the Widow Johnson, E. P. Foster, and Wilson Wheeler. He probably settled in 1770, and built a house upon the place now occupied by Shubael Briggs. Mr. Metcalf was a prominent man in these parts for forty years or more; was a leading farmer, a justice of the peace, a land surveyor much in demand, and a member of the court of Sessions for Hampshire County. He was John Erving's land-agent as well as land-agent for Erving's heirs, and made in 1788 a detailed survey and plan of the Erving grant. In his latter years he met with business reverses, and died poor.
      Seth Ellis settled about 1784, on the west side of the Tully Meadows in the northeast, on the place still known as the "Ellis farm."
      Ebenezer Foskett settled in 1777, on the farm now called the Loren Shaw place in the northeast.
      The "Goodell place," in the northeast part of the town, was occupied by Zina Goodell in 1787, and is now owned by one of his great-grandchildren.
      Nathan Goddard, of Shrewsbury, bought a large tract of land in the northeast, at the head of Tully Meadows, where he carried on a thriving business with a public-house, a tannery, and a saw-mill. Nearly all the Goddards now in Orange are his descendants.
      The Cheneys now living in Orange are descendants of Ebenezer and Nathaniel Cheney of Milford. They settled about 1780. Ebenezer was the father of twenty children, and died in 1828. Nathaniel removed, in 1802, to Wardsboro', Vt.
      David and William Legg were from Milford about 1780, and located near the centre of the tract, at what has since been known as the Legg Meadow.
      Thomas Lord (a son of Dr. Joseph Lord, the first proprietor's clerk of Athol) took up a farm, in 1781, near the school-house in school-district No. 6. He died there in 1810.
      Elisha Johnson located in the extreme north in 1776; Jonathan Jones on West Brook, near the centre, in 1785; and near North Orange, previous to that time, there were other settlers, including Savel Metcalf, Joseph French, with his sons Joseph and Jacob, Job Macomber, Elisha White, Daniel Thayer, Jonathan Jones, Jr., Samuel and Asa Aldrich, Samuel Briggs, and Solomon Johnson. They called the place of their first settlement Goshen.
      The earliest settlement near what is now Orange Centre was probably that of Lewis Barker, who took up a farm in 1791, on the east part of Hastings grant, east of what is now Orange centre.
      In 1791 the actual settlers, as shown by the records, were Abner Morton, Asa Aldrich, Asa Lord, Benj. Dexter, Daniel Thayer, Daniel Davidson, Levi Chapin, Ebenezer Petty, Elisha White, Joseph Lord, Joseph French, Jonathan Jones, Jonathan Jones, Jr., Samuel Ruggles, Solomon Johnson, Samuel Knowles, Zephaniah Smith, Thomas Stow, David Legg, David Cheney, Joseph Metcalf, Job Macomber, Jacob French, Joshua Hill, Joel Thayer, Michael Malone, Nathan Cheney, Perez Richmond, Savel Metcalf, Silas Metcalf, Samuel Briggs, Samuel Pitts, William Legg, W. Mills, W. Tolly, Zadock Haywood, Job Macomber, Jr., Alex. Wheelock, Ebenezer Atwood, Ebenezer Cheney, Ebenezer Foskett, Widow Demon, Elijah Ball, Elisha Johnson, Edward Ward, Hananiah Temple, Hezekiah Coller, John Hill, David Hill, Jacob Briggs, John Forister, Asa Heminway, John Battle, James Mills, Levi Cheney, Moses and Nathaniel Cheney, Nathan Goddard, Jr., Samuel Coller, Timothy Wheelock, Uriah Coller, Uriah Coller, Jr., Wm. Stearns, Wm. Gould, Zina Goodell, John Beals, Abiel Sadler, Benjamin Mayo, Benjamin Wood, David Bullock, Ellis Whitney, Jonathan Goddard, Hezekiah Goddard, Jonathan Ward, John Cutting, Justin Cady, Jonah Ford, Joseph Dean, Jason Harrington, Jonathan Houghton, James Foster, Jeduthan Holden, Mason Goddard, Nehemiah Ward, Shadrach Baker, Silas Marble, Timothy Peters, Wm. Lord, Wm. Lord, Jr., Preston Lord, Solomon Gates, Jonathan Woodward, Oliver Chapin, M. Higgins, Samuel Heminway, Jabez Whitney, Nathaniel Stearns, John Emerson, Eben and Asa Goddard, Martin Stevens, Oliver Esty, Seth Thompson, Asa Albee, John Stow, Nathan Goddard, Phineas Hammond, Seth Woodward, Amos Woodward. John and Nathan Ellis, Sylvanus Ward, Witt Fuller, Daniel Harrington, Moses and Seth Ellis, Nathaniel Woodcock.
      Of the descendants of the early settlers now residing in Orange, mention may be made of the Goddards, Forresters, Woodwards, Dexters, Mortons, Frenchs, Joneses, Briggses, Lords, Johnsons, Smiths, Cheneys, Atwoods, Fosketts, Wards, Temples, Battles, Mayos, Harringtons, Albees, Davises, and Eddys.

These pages are © Laurel O'Donnell, 2005, all rights reserved
and cannot be reproduced in any format without permission
This page was last updated on
03 Jul 2005