Bernardston — Organization

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

      December 16, 1761, "some of the proprietors of Falltown" presented to the General Court the following petition:

"To His Excellency Francis Barnord, Esq., Captain-General, &c:

      "To the Honorable his Majesty's Council and House of Representatives: The memorial of some of the proprietors of Falltown Humbly Sheweth that whereas the proprietors of Falltown did, in the year 1741, settle a minister who was obliged to leave said town on account of ye war, and the said proprietors did the last year settle another minister, which has been very heavy upon ye said proprietors, your Memorialists therefore humbly pray that the inhabitants of said Falltown may be incorporated into a town by the name of Barnard, and be invested with all the privileges of the rest of the Towns in this province, and may be directed to raise their taxes and defray their charges as the rest of the towns do, excepting a reasonable tax upon the unimproved lands for the present; and considering the large number of proprietors in said township, their great expense in settling two ministers, and a large tract of land falling into New Hampshire, your Memorialists humbly ask that the proprietors of said Falltown may have a tract of land granted to them, to make them equal with other grantees of the government, for service done, etc.
                        "Ebenezer Shelden, Jr.
                        John Burr.
                        John Severance.
                        Daniel Dexter.
                        Elijah Shelden.
                        Jona. A. Ashley.
                        Joseph Allen.
                        Thomas Williams.

"Falltown, Dec. 16, 1761."

      In accordance with the foregoing petition, the town was incorporated March 6, 1762, and called Bernardston, honoring, as will be seen, Francis Bernard, then governor of the province. The boundaries given in the act were the province line on the north, Greenfield and Deerfield on the south, Northfield on the east, and Coleraine on the west. This tract included what is now Bernardston and Leyden, a part of Coleraine, then known as Falltown Gore, and a strip on the north about half a mile wide, afterward found to belong to Vermont. It was in 1761 that, upon a survey, the north line of Massachusetts was found to be farther south than supposed, and a strip half a mile wide, on the north side of Falls Fight township (or Bernardston), was decided to belong to New Hampshire, which then claimed what is now the State of Vermont. To compensate the proprietors for this strip of land the General Court gave them 7500 acres in what is now Florida, Mass. The original tract above noted contained 36 square miles.
      In 1779 the Falltown Gore (so called), containing 2576 acres, was set off to Coleraine, and in 1784 Leyden was set off as a district, leaving to Bernardston about 24 square miles. To this tract a few acres were added from the northeast corner of Greenfield, in 1839.
      Ebenezer Sheldon, Jr., served the warrant for the first town-meeting, which was held at the house of Lieut. Ebenezer Sheldon, May 11, 1762.

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