GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2006-03 > 1142978133
Subject: History of Harvard, Mass. by Henry S. Nourse - p. 31 to p. 35
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 16:55:33 EST
The History of Harvard, Massachusetts, 1643-1732, by Henry S. Nourse,
1894. - W. J. Coulter, Printer.
Still River, Harvard.
Of the Nashaways, not a family now remained anywhere within the limits
of the old tribal hunting grounds. The warriors who rashly entered upon
the war-path in that desperate struggle for savage liberty had mostly
perhished miserably, by bullet, disease, famine or the hangman's rope;
and their squaws and children were shipped to the Bermudas, to be sold
as slaves on the sugar plantations. A few Christian converts of the
tribe dwelt at Natick and Nashoba or led the nomadic lives congenial to
Here and there a boy or girl lived, a bond-servant in some farmhouse.
The very few who had deserted their sachems in time to avoid capture with
them, or for other reasons, had escaped the Englishmen's judicial ven-
geance, found refuge with the Pennacooks in New Hampshire, or were ab-
sorbed into one of the New York clans. These survivors did not forget
the beautiful valley residence of their fathers, nor cease to desire
revenge upon those who had driven them from their heritage.
The leaders of the savage marauders from Canada, whose atrocities stain
the history of the period known as King William's War - 1688-1698, never
lacked guides intimately familiar with all the approaches to, and weak
point of defence in each frontier town; and Indian spies and scouting
parties were constantly skulking about the settlements to pick up in-
formation or waylay the unwary.
In Sir William Phips' unsuccessful expedition against Quebec in 1690,
Benjamin Willard and Joseph Atherton served, the former as lieutenant.
They were both of Still River, Harvard. Capt. Francis Nicholson, in
August, 1688, going through Groton and Lancaster, found the the inhabit-
ants "very much afraid." And the following summer in an address to the
Council they describe themselves as "being under some fears of being
surprised by ye Indians." In 1692 and 1695 bold bands of savages
committed murders in Lancaster and escaped unscathed. But the bloody
incursion of September 11, 1697 - when nineteen persons were slain, among
them Rev. John Whiting, the beloved minister of the town - emphasized the
lesson of previous raids in regard to the weakness of the garrisons upon
the west side of the river for defence against surprise from their
stealthy and elusive foes. For many years thereafter the growth of the
chiefly along the highways to the eastward, and abandoned farms first
began to trouble the tithe collectors. The official assignment of the
people of Lancaster to their several military posts, dated April 20, 1704
shows that besides the old garrison at the Still River Farm, Harvard,
another had been established east of Bare Hill, Harvard. Of the former
men of militarty age in ten households.
At the Bare Hill, Harvard
John Priest, Senior
John Priest, Junior
James Atherton, Senior
James Atherton, Junior
men of military age.
Simon Willard, commandant of the older garrison was the 2nd son of Henry
Willard, born at Nonacoicus, October 8, 1678. He was licensed as an Inn-
holder in 1705, being the earliest upon Harvard soil and died in 1706.
His children sold his estate to their uncle, Samuel Willard.
Henry Willard was the oldest brother of Simon Willard, born at Nonacoicus
April 11, 1675. His home was in the northerly part of the Still River,
Harvard settlement. John Willard was the third son of Henry Willard, Senior
born at Groton, Sept. 3, 1682. By his wife, Anne Hill, he had one son,
John Willard born in 1715, who was accidentally drowned while riding a
horse across the river; he was 24 yrs of age, and the fatal accident was
but a few days before the date appointed for his wedding. Hezekiah
Willard was the 4th son of Henry Willard, and lived on the slope of the
hill east of the Plumtree meadows.
Benjamin Bellows was from Marlborough, the son of John Bellows, born in
1677. He married in 1703 or 1704, Dorcas (Cutler), the widow of the 1st
Henry Willard. A locality upon the intervale to this day bears the name
of "Bellow's Hole" and probably perpetuates his name, as Bellow' Falls,
New Hampshire, does that of his son, Benjamin Bellows who was born at
Still Water, Harvard, May 26, 1712. Rev. Henry W. Bellows, D.D., in a
historical sketch of his ancestor, Col. Benjamin Bellows, relates a
tradition that Benjamin Bellows, the first of that
name, was "adopted by one Benjamin Moore of Lancaster and inherited his
fortune which was for the time considerable," and that this inheritance
was lost ina protracted lawsuit with an English army officer. This story
is not sustained by the recoreds.
John Moore of Lancaster deeded lands to Bellows in 1698, "in consideration
of a considerable guantity of fence made" for him; and April 13, 1700,
deeded him the rest of his Lancaster real estate for the consideration
of a life support for himself and wife. The peculiar terms of the agree-
ment have interest for the information they give of habits and prices at
the beginning of the eighteenth century and an extract from it follows.
Bellows promises to pay:
"Yearly and every year the certain sum of eight pounds unto him the said
John Moore and Judith his wife, and also either of the longest livers of
ye said John and Judith Moore in specie as followeth: In provision, in
wheate not less than two bushels at five shillings per bushell, in rye,
not less than six bushells at four shillings per bushell, twenty shillings
in butter and cheese, cheese at four pence per pound, ten shillings worth,
and ten shillings in butter at six pence per pound, or so much in money
for want of butter, one barrell of Cyder at six shillings price and
ye said Moore to find the barrell. Also fifty shillings in good and
merchantable porke and beef an equall proportion at three pence per pound
and the rest remaining to compleate ye afore mentioned specie and pay-
ments to be eight pounds, is to be in Indian corne at three shillings per
bushell; all these sorts of graine and other provisions to be good and
merchantable, and to be paid yearly."
The delivery was to be at Concord, where Moore went to reside, but he
reserved a right to half his house, garden and orchard, in case he should
desire to return to Lancaster. He died in 1703 at Lancaster, and Bellows
sold the lands in 1706, residing at Still Water, Harvard, from that time
until 1728 or 1729, when he removed to Lunenburg. He was a licensed
Inn-holder in 1705 and 1711, was constantly dealing in real estate, often
figuring in lawsuits, and at times seems to have been in financial straits.
He died in 1743 at Lunenburg.
Caleb Sawyer was a grandson of John Prescott the founder of Lancaster,
being the 5th son of Thomas Sawyer, one of the first proprietors of that
township, and Mary Prescott. Thomas Sawyer was the son of John Sawyer of
p.34 History of Harvard.
Caleb Sawyer was born at Lancaster, April 20, 1659, and married Sarah,
the daughter of Ralph Houghton, Dec 28, 1687. He received a special
grant of 30 acres from the Lancaster proprietors, as well as lands from
his father, laid out upon the east side of Bare Hill, Harvard and probably
built upon his lot shortly after the massacre of 1697. Near his home
was the "Rendezvous Tree," often mentioned in old records of lands and
highways, tantalizing us with suggestions of a romance, not detail of which
has been preserved by history or tradition. He outlived all the Harvard
pioneers, dying February 13, 1755.
The Athertons sold their homestead upon Lancaster Neck in 1702 and built
a new dwelling at the south end of Bare Hill. James and Hannah Atherton
were among the earliest comers to the Nashaway Plantation, being from
Dorchester. It is supposed that he was a younger brother of Major
Humphrey Atherton. His oldest son, James Atherton was born 1654, 3 mo.
13th day and married Abigail Hudson, June 6, 1684. The father gave his
Lancaster home to James Atherton, Jr., in 1686, and died at the age of
84 years in Sherborn, while living with his dau., Deborah Bullard, his
Will being dated Jan. 3, 1707-8. The Harvard Pioneers were James
Atherton, Jr. and his son born Feb. 27, 1684-5.
The birth of Joseph Waters in the earliest records in Lancaster, dating
April 29, 1647 - he had a wife Elizabeth and a son Joseph Waters b. April
2, 1682, who is the one named as belonging to the Still River, Harvard
garrison. He sold his Harvard lands to Isaac Hunt, a blacksmith from
Cambridge, whose wife was Mary, daughter of Henry Willard. Waters re-
moved to Groton, where he died in 1720. Hunt died in Sudbury, A.D. 1724,
leaving the Still River, Harvard, estate to his son Ebenezer Hunt, who
never came to reside upon it, and the house and land after a time fell
into the possession of Joshua Atherton.
James Houghton was the son of Ralph Houghton, the first clerk of
Lancaster. He was born about 1650, just before the coming of the family
to the Nashaway Plantation. He removed from the Neck to Still Water,
Harvard, after the massacre of 1697 with his brother-in-law, Caleb Sawyer
and built upon lands given him by his father. He had eight children. The
p.35 Harvard Pioneers
Ralph, was a soldier in the Acadian Expedition of 1710 and died in the
service. His brothers and sisters became the progenitors of many Harvard,
Joseph Hutchins married Elizabeth, dau. of Thomas Wilder. He came from
Bradford and bought of Benjamin Willard in 1700, certain lands which had
fallen to him in the division of Major Willard's estate.
James Smith bought a portion of Benjamin Willard's land, but he died in
1700, leaving a widow, Hannah and eight children, the oldest being the
James mentioned as one of the Willard garrison. The family does not again
appear in Harvard history, their estate being soon transferred to Simon
John Priest the elder dying in 1704, John Priest, Jr. and the widow
Rachel Priest came into possession of the Bare Hill, Harvard estate, the
other children being minors. John Priest ultimately built a new home,
more than a mile from the first Priest and Warner garrison, on the northern
slope of Bare Hill. His mother died in 1737 and his only son in 1738,
when he sold his homestead to John Forbush and removed to Bolton (once
a part of Lancaster) where he died in 1756.
In John Warner's garrison the "two men" were his oldest sons, Samuel and
John. A younger son, Ebenezer in due time had a family and inherited the
original Warner homestead, but survived his father only a year, dying in
1723, leaving a widow and four young children. The farms of the three
brothers wer adjoined each other.
The French and Indians under Chevalier Beaucour, in their determined
but unsuccessful assault upon Lancaster on Monday, July 31, 1704, did not
cross the Nashua and no share of the heavy losses of that anxious day fell
upon the inmates of the eastern garrisons. In fact it is doubtful if,
after the universal devastation of 1676, any considerable body of
hostilities ever entered the territory of either Bolton or Harvard.
There may have been one exception. On Wednesday, October 25, 1704,
John Davis of Groton was killed by a party of Indians, supposed to be
nearly 30 in number and the murderers were seen near Still River, Harvard
and pursued by the Lancaster and Groton men, but escaped.
To be continued - p. 36
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth