Orange — Noteworthy Incidents

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

      In December, 1783, the district raised £30 to defray necessary charges. At the same time arrangements were made to obtain a training-field. In 1784, £50 were raised for the purpose of reopening the highways, and the rates for labor fixed at 3s. per day for men, 1s. 6d. for oxen, 9d. for a cart, and 1s, for a plow. The first pound was the yard of Benjamin Mayo, which was in 1784 improved for the purpose. The mills first mentioned in the district records were Metcalf's, Goddard's, and Woodward's mills.
      In 1795, Mr. Forister agreed in open town-meeting "to erect bars, and to let people pass through his pasture in the winter season." At that time the selectmen were instructed to purchase a burying-cloth for the district, and that the cloth should be kept at Lieut. Atwood's. It was also ordered that "the assessor do abate 'the Friends' proportion of taxes for said cloth." In April, 1795, the assessors were instructed to make the taxes agreeable to a late act of the General Court for introducing the dollar and its parts for the money of account. In the following May the district discussed the subject of procuring a hearse for public use, but, as far as the records indicate, the hearse was not purchased until 1810. The district refused in 1806 to raise any money for the support of the poor that year.
      Katy, daughter of Amos Woodward, born February, 1784, was probably the first person born in the district; and the first couple married were William Crosbee and Mary Higgins, who were united in wedlock May, 1784.
      The first dam across Miller's River, at Orange, was probably constructed by James Holmes, of Orange, in 1790. In that year he erected a saw- and grist-mill on the Orange side, and, after operating the establishment until 1800, sold out to Ahaz and Timothy Thayer, who in turn disposed of the mills to Maj. Joseph Putnam. Charles Sears, of Greenwich, setup a clothiers'-works in Orange in 1798, and in this enterprise he was succeeded by Ezra Heminway, Otis Butterworth, David Young, and others. Levi Thurston, who began the manufacture of scythes in 1803, was the first to introduce the tilt-hammer in Orange. Simeon Boyden, of Northfield, started a carding-machine in 1804; Abner and Jacob Whitney began the manufacture of palm-leaf hats in 1805; and in 1811, Benjamin Stow opened a wagon-factory.
      It may be remarked as a singular circumstance, in view of the fact that Western Massachusetts towns were generally indifferent as to tendering voluntary service in the war of 1812; that in November of that year Orange offered a bounty of $12 per man for volunteers.
      There are now living in the town three survivors of that war,—Philip Martin, Enter Clark, and Ebenezer Barker,—but neither of them entered the service from Orange.
      Nathan Goddard and Benjamin Mayo were probably the first storekeepers at North Orange, one Foster the first black-smith, and Paddock and Barton among the early doctors. David Goddard, Humphrey Mellen, and Benjamin Mayo are said to have been the earliest hotel-keepers. They kept, so it is related, taverns at what is now North Orange, and all at the same time, so that the region must have been in those early days a popular one for taverns. The buildings in which these taverns were kept are still standing at North Orange. The hotel at Orange Centre, called the Putnam Hotel, was built in 1801, by Ahaz Thayer.
      In 1837 a large tract of land south of Miller's River, and embracing the northern portion of Orange, as well as the eastern portion of Erving's grant, was annexed to Orange. This was done for the purpose of bringing South Orange nearer the centre of the town; for it was in that year that, owing to the important growth of South Orange, the seat of town government was removed to that village from Orange (now North Orange), and a town-hall built there. Before the annexation referred to, Miller's River was the southern boundary of the town. In 1845 the name of Orange village, the place of early settlement, was changed to North Orange, and that of South Orange to Orange Centre.
      By the side of the highway, south of North Orange and near the old burying-ground, a stone has been erected to mark the spot where Mrs. Wheelock, an aged resident of Orange, was killed in 1820 by being thrown from her carriage.

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03 Jul 2005