Gill — Early Settlement

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

      The greater portion of the tract now occupied by Gill was at one time included within the limits of Deerfield, and later was a part of the town of Greenfield, from which it was set off in 1793.
      It is supposed that the farms now occupied by G. Stacy near the river on the east, and by H. H. Howland near the river in the south, were occupied by settlers previous to the Turner's Falls fight in 1676, and the settlements thereon were undoubtedly the earliest made in what is now the town of Gill. These settlers were named respectively Howland and Stacy, but their term of abode after first settling was abruptly shortened by Indian depredations, and they returned to Deerfield. At a later date they reoccupied their farms in this town. The farms next settled were those now occupied by Mrs. Obed Severance, east of Barnard's Hill, and the old Bascom homestead, near Fall River on the northwest, upon which Mrs. E. L. Bascom now resides.
      The great-great-grandfather of Obed Severance took up a farm on Grass Hill, where, not long afterward, he was killed by Indians. About this time one Brooks and his wife came up from the southern part of Deerfield and settled near the river, on the southeast. Brooks was employed by some Deerfield people as a herdsman, and built a hut on the site now occupied by Charles Hayward's barn, on his river-farm, in the southeast. Brooks killed an Indian whom he discovered lurking near Stacy's Mountain, and then, affrighted at the probable consequences of the act, he fled with his wife to Deerfield. His escape was made none too soon, for the Indians in the vicinity, upon learning of the death of Brooks' victim, descended upon the river settlements in that region, drove off the settlers, burned their huts, and destroyed their crops.
      The early settlements by Severance, Brooks, and others, of which mention has been made in the foregoing, must have been effected during the years of the Indian troubles, for it is related that the river settlers were much harassed by Indians, and frequently fled to the forts at Northfield for safety.
      Although settlements were made previous to 1676, they were not permanent, and, from the best evidence obtainable, it appears the territory was not fairly opened by settlers until fully a century subsequent to that date.
      The first permanent settlers of whom there is any trace were David Wrisley and his four sons, who moved up from Connecticut about 1776. David Wrisley, Sr., settled near where Mr. A. L. Hosley lives, west of the centre. The old well dug by Mr. Wrisley is still used by Mr. Hosley, and is famous in that section for the purity and coldness of its water. Of David's four sons, David, Jr., settled near his father; Asahel near where Abel Thornton lives; Eleazer where the late H R. Purple lived; and Elijah northwest of Arms' Pond, on land now owned by A. E. Deane. The sons raised large families, and the name of Wrisley was at one time so common that fully one-fifth of the inhabitants of Gill either bore the name or were blood-relations to possessors of it. At this day there is not known to be a person in the town bearing the name.
      It is worthy of note that one David Wrisley built the first tavern in Saratoga, N. Y., and Charles Wrisley laid the capstone of Bunker Hill monument, both of these Wrisleys being natives of the territory now occupied by Gill.
      About 1776 the settlers upon the tract included Hosley, Childs, Combs, Sprague, Warner, Sage, Gains, Thornton, Ballard, Bates, Field, Munn, Roberts, the Wrisleys, Richards, Allen, Stoughton, Squires, Smalley, and Shattuck.
      Among the early roads laid out in 1795 was one from Woodard (now Unadilla) Brook to the Iron-Works bridge, on Fall River in the northwest; one from the Falls to Northfield; one from Mr. Wrisley's to Mr. Brooks'; and one from the house of David Wrisley (3d) to the Bernardston line.

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10 Jul 2005