Warwick — Noteworthy Incidents

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

      Warwick was patriotic and untiring in energy during the Revolutionary struggle, and upon the first alarm sounded at Lexington sprang to arms, bold of purpose and enthusiastic of will. In September, 1774, the town met to consider the pamphlet sent out by the committee of correspondence in Boston, and, after resolving first to procure a town stock of powder and lead, it was voted as follows:

      "To adhere strictly to our chartered rights and privileges and to defend them to the utmost of our capacity, and that we will be in readiness to afford relief forthwith should our brethren in Boston or elsewhere be distressed by troops sent to enforce a compliance with the unconstitutional and oppressive acts of the British Parliament."

      Concerning a tradition relating to the burial of Mrs. Rowlandson's child, Grace, at the foot of Mount Grace, and the consequent christening of the mountain with the name it bears, it may be well to remark that Mrs. Rowlandson's history of her captivity fails to confirm it, and the inference is perhaps reasonable that the story was a fancy. According to the story, the child died in her mother's arms, near Mount Grace, while the latter was being carried into captivity by the Indians.
      Mr. Enoch Kelton, one of the early settlers, was a land-surveyor, and the settlement made by him and five of his sons, in the northeast, is still known as Kelton Corner. Mr. Kelton's wife was bed-ridden for fifty years before her death, and is said to have never left it during that extended period.
      The first town road on record was laid out in 1763, beginning near the line of Richmond, N. H., and running southerly to Samuel Ball's house. Another road was laid out in 1764, beginning at the town common and running south to Morse Pond and Locke's mills.
      The first paupers in the town were Elizabeth Rumble and her children, for whose keeping the town raised £10 8s., in 1765. The town must have felt poor in 1777, inasmuch as the General Court was petitioned to furnish the inhabitants with salt; and, the salt being donated, it was conveyed from Boston to Warwick by Josiah Cobb and Asahel Newton, at an expense to the town of £12 12s.
      About 1778 the town was scandalized by the advent of one Elder Hix, who, claiming to be a Baptist preacher, excited the community by his remarkable religious enthusiasm, and so agitated the people that a religious mania or infection prevailed upon every hand; the practical pursuits of life were wellnigh unheeded, religious meetings were held at all hours of the day and night, and the town driven, in short, almost wild. At this juncture Elder Hix eloped with a young girl whom he had betrayed, a Miss Doolittle; Amos Marsh, one of his disciples, ran off with the girl's mother, and, to cap the climax, the girl's father, Amzi Doolittle, disappeared with the wife of Thomas Barber. The foolish followers of Hix and his doctrine of spiritual love or double marriages, spiritual and temporal, were cured, and they again returned to the domain of rational beings. Amos Marsh and Mrs. Doolittle were captured, convicted of adultery, and condemned to pay a fine and sit upon the gallows, Marsh being additionally sentenced to wear thereafter the letter A upon the breast of his coat.
      In 1781 the town agreed to set off 4060 acres of land, with the inhabitants upon the same, to be incorporated into the new town of Orange. The town was divided in 1786 upon the subject of the Shays rebellion, and furnished to that cause considerable support in men and money. When, in May, 1788, preparations were made at Northampton for the execution of several of Shays' followers, a party of Shays' men, under the command of Col. Smith, of New Salem, made a raid upon Warwick, and, capturing Dr. Medad Pomeroy and Joseph Metcalf, carried them off, proposing to detain them as hostages for the lives of two rebels—Jason Parmenter and Henry McCulloch—then under sentence of death. These convicts being afterward reprieved, the two Warwick men were released. It was in 1786 that the selectmen of the town were imprisoned for "acting in their office," presumably upon some question in support of the Shays rebellion against the general government.
      The town voted in 1792 for the first time for electors of President and Vice-President. The first funeral-carriage in the town was built in 1793, and in 1795 the first guide-posts authorized by the town were erected, in which year also a pound was built.
      In 1812, Dr. Ebenezer Hall, a practicing physician living in Warwick, concluded that glass could be made in the town, and, interesting many citizens in the enterprise, organized the Franklin Glass-Manufacturing Company of Warwick, and erected works upon the ground now occupied by the Congregational Church. The business prospered for a while, but depression followed for lack of capital, and it finally terminated in a disastrous failure.
      In September, 1821, Warwick was visited by a violent wind-storm, amounting to a tornado. It destroyed several dwellings and outhouses, eighteen in number, killed a daughter of Mr. Elisha Brown in Warwick and a Miss Stearns living in the northwestern portion of Orange, and laid waste a broad belt of country.
      In 1862 the town received from Col. McKim, who married a daughter of Lemuel Wheelock, once a resident of Warwick, the present of a bell, which was captured by the United States troops at New Orleans (during the last war) while it was being conveyed to a foundry to be recast into shot and shell. According to the donor's wish, the bell was hung in the dome of the village school-house at Warwick Centre, and still does service there.
      A destructive hail-storm visited Warwick in July, 1866, when crops were destroyed and damage to property inflicted to the extent of $5000. A still more destructive rain-storm descended upon the town in 1869.
      Dr. Medad Pomeroy, who flourished about 1780, was the first physician the town had, Henry Barnard the only lawyer who ever settled in Warwick, and William Cobb, who was appointed about 1803 and served nearly fifty years, the first postmaster. Mr. Cobb served also as town treasurer for forty-seven years. Hon. Jonathan Blake, "the historian of Warwick," was born in Dorchester, Mass., 1780, resided in Warwick seventy-three years, and died in Brattleboro', Vt., 1864, aged eighty-four. During his residence in Warwick he was town clerk fifteen years, acting justice of the peace forty-two years, State Senator two years, Representative two years, and filled, besides, numerous other public trusts at home. Levi Hedge, a writer of some note, Sumner Lincoln, a poet, and Amory Dwight Mayo, author and divine, were natives of Warwick.
      Concerning the longevity obtained by the people of Warwick, it will be interesting to observe that in February, 1854, there were 59 persons in the town over seventy years of age, and of these 2 were over ninety and 11 over eighty. In 1872 there were 4 citizens upward of ninety years of age, the eldest being ninety-five, 3 of them being natives; 15 upward of eighty, and 27 over seventy, out of a population of less than 800.

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14 Jul 2005