Charlemont — Original Bounds, Titles, And Proprietors

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

      The original town was one of three townships granted by the General Court, June 27, 1735, to the town of Boston, each of which was to be six miles square, "and to be laid out in some suitable place or places in the unappropriated lands of the Province;" provided the town of Boston would, within five years from the confirmation of the plan of survey, by the General Court, "settle on each of said towns 60 families of his Majesty's good subjects, inhabitants of this Province, in as regular and defensible manner as the lands will admit of, each of said 60 families to build and finish a dwelling-house on his home-lot of the following dimensions, viz.: 18 feet square and 7 feet stud at the least; and fence and cultivate at least 5 acres of the home-lot, and be an actual resident." Five hundred acres were to be reserved for schools, 500 for the support of the ministry, and 500 for the first minister.
      A survey was accordingly made by Nathaniel Kellogg, and on the 17th of June, 1736, his plat was laid before the General Court for approval. This tract of land had a southern border of 9.93 miles, an eastern of 5.32 miles, a northern of 7.54 miles, contained 23,040 acres of land, and was bounded on all sides but the east by the unappropriated lands of the province. It was styled "Boston Township, No. 1," and on the east was "Boston Township, No. 2."
      The new town was known by various names, in addition to the foregoing, as Chickley's Town, Charley Mount, Chearley's Mont, etc., but, about 1740, the present term, Charlemont, was fixed upon,—in honor, it is said, of the earl of Charlemont.
      Instead of carrying out the provisions of the grant, the town of Boston decided, May 3, 1737, to sell "Township No. 1," and on the 14th of July following the selectmen conveyed it to John Read, Esq., for £1020, binding him to comply with the conditions of the original grant. This obligation was, in turn, transmitted by Read to John Chickley and Gershom Keyes, to whom he conveyed, Dec. 14, 1737, the whole of the township, except 1760 acres which he reserved in the northwest part of the grant. Three days later these sold to Thomas Hancock "500 acres at least" on the east line of the township.
      No other sales are recorded until Nov. 16, 1738, when Keyes made a reservation of 6000 acres for actual settlers, and sold the remainder of the unsold and unreserved township to Benjamin Wood, and, in December following, Chickley gave Keyes a power of attorney to deed the above 6000 acres to settlers.
      In his capacity as attorney Keyes sold, April 23, 1741, to Moses Rice, of Rutland, Worcester Co., 2200 acres of land, extending from a point nearly opposite the mouth of Chickley's River down the Deerfield to a point about half a mile below the present village of Charlemont, and also 50 acres on the river, a mile farther east.
      To Nathaniel Cunningham, Benjamin Clark, and Ebenezer Storer, Keyes sold 1584 acres in the northeast part of the town the same year, and on the 18th of November he sold to Phineas Stevens, of Deerfield, 500 acres, lying south of the river, in the southeast part of the town, and 500 acres on the north side of the river, directly opposite. This tract of land was sold by Stevens, Nov. 3, 1742, to Othniel Taylor, of Deerfield, for the sum of £1000, old tenor.*
      Sales of land were made by Keyes, as a proprietor and as attorney for Chickley, in 1742-43, to William Ward, David Baldwin, Nathaniel Martin, John Stearns, Benjamin Hayward, and Elisha Dyer, and on the 27th of January, 1743, he sold all his remaining interests to William Ward, as shown by the following memorandum:

      "The contents of a deed from Gershom Keyes to William Ward, dated 27th January, 1743: The one moiety or half part of a contain township called Charlemont, lying on Deerfield River, in the county of Hampshire, it being the whole I purchased of John Reed, as may appear by a deed of sale bearing date the 14th day of December, 1737, and recorded at Springfield the 3Oth day of the above December. Excepting my part of all that is sold to Mr. Thomas Hancocks, Capt. Rice, John Stearns, and to a number of other persons, as may appear by their deeds recorded at Springfield."

      About ten years later Joseph Wilder, Jr., became the proprietor of a large part of the Ward purchases and the remaining interests of John Chickley.
      With the exception of a few of these proprietors, their lands had been purchased for speculation, and as yet no steps had been taken to fulfill even the least provisions of the grant. No permanent homes had been reared, and the Indian yet held undisputed sway in the beautiful Deerfield valley. But the eve of settlement was nigh. A few months later, in the spring of 1743, came Capt. Moses Rice and his family from Rutland, Worcester Co., as Pioneer Settlers.

* The ratio of "old tenor" to legal money was as 7½ to 1.

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
15 Jul 2005