Colrain — Noteworthy Incidents
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
In 1753, on April 12th, the members of the settlement observed a day-of fasting and prayer, and a record relates that Mr. Abercrombie and Mr. Ashley, of Deerfield, were invited "to come and keep the fast;" but nothing is recorded to show why the fast and prayer were ordered.*
Hugh Morrison must have kept a house of entertainment very soon after the earliest settlement, for he presented a bill in 1753 "for hording the ministers and some likyure spent at the ordenation."
A bridge was built over North River in 1752, and for the "Rhumb" furnished by him on the occasion of the raising of the bridge-frame Hugh McLellan presented a bill.
Upon the beginning, in 1782, of the controversies which subsequently led to the Shays rebellion, the town voted its opinion to be that the county courts ought not to sit in the county of Hampshire on civil cases until the grievances suffered by the town should be redressed. A consultation was held with other towns, and it was agreed that such persons as should go to Northampton at the time fixed for the sessions of the courts should be provided with ammunition out of the town-stock. Material support was given by Coleraine to the Shays cause, but there were also Coleraine men in the service as government soldiers during the rebellion. Among them were Col. Hugh McLellan, Lieut.-Col. Joseph Stebbins, and William Stevens, James Stewart, James McGee, David Harroun, Jonathan McGee, William S. Williams, and Jas. Hall.
On the insurgent side, Capt. Clarke was conspicuous as one of the committee appointed to raise troops, and James White, also of Coleraine, was among those of the insurgents who were, upon the suppression of the rebellion, tried by the government and sentenced to death.**
A notable incident in the later history of Coleraine was the murder of Elmira A. Cheney by Simeon Peck, at Griswoldville, in 1867. It appears that Peck lived unhappily with his wife in the village of Griswoldville, where both were mill-operatives, and, urged by her reproaches and her declarations that she would seek a separation, he left the village, saying he would return no more. He did return, however, not many days afterward, and, upon being again repudiated by his wife after a sudden appearance before her at her home, he broke into a violent rage, and in its first outburst he attacked Miss Cheney, who was present in the apartment, with a stick of wood. After beating her insensible he pursued his wife, who had fled at the first assault, and after seriously wounding her he sought to escape. He was happily captured before he had gone far, and, Miss Cheney dying a few hours after the assault, Peck was tried for the murder, but, being adjudged insane, was lodged in an insane asylum whence being dismissed in 1872, he was again, placed on trial for the murder of Miss Cheney, and upon conviction was sentenced to the State's prison for life.
* Probably the usual annual fast.
** The death penalty was remitted, no one being executed.