Gill — Noteworthy Incidents
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The first grist-mill in the town was built by Ithamar Allen, on what is now Josiah D. Canning's farm, near the "Basin." Traces of the old mill-flume are still seen in the oaken planks which composed its bed, and which are still in their original positions.
In the early days, when shad and salmon used to ascend the Connecticut River in countless numbers, one of the great fishing-grounds was at Turner's Falls. There the Indians were to be found at almost all seasons engaged in spearing fish; and later, on general election-day, in May, the whites turned their energies toward the sport with such unanimity and general jollification that the annual period was long regarded as a time of general enjoyment. Salmon and shad, which were commonly alluded to as "gill-pork," were so plentiful that people were often ashamed to be seen eating them; and many amusing stories are now told of how housewives were humiliated when discovered by visitors frying shad.
An entry upon the town records in 1803, in keeping with a general custom, set forth that "those that killed crows should be entitled to the bounty (twelve cents for old and six cents for young) by carrying the crows' heads to the selectmen to have their bills cut off."
By a town vote in 1806 it was decided to observe the first Wednesday of June in that year as a day of fasting, but in observance of what particular purpose is not shown.
The first postmaster was Benjamin Brainard; the first storekeeper, Benjamin Jacobs; the first landlord, one Squires; and the first doctor, Joel Lyons; all of whom resided near the centre.
Gill favored the cause of Shays' rebellion, and furnished men and means. Two of the four insurgents killed in Shays' attack upon the Springfield arsenal, in 1787, were Ezekiel Root and Ariel Webster, of that part of Greenfield afterward known as Gill.
Gill was conspicuously patriotic in 1814, when, in obedience to the Governor's call for troops to defend Boston, the town contributed volunteers, and was the only town in Franklin County, besides Charlemont, that did send volunteers into the service in response to the Governor's call. The names of these volunteers were Alvah Ballard, Seth Munn, Zelotes Ballard, Orra Hosley, Asahel Stanhope, Samuel Walker, Ripley Walker, Henry Tiffany, Elisha Wrisley, and Lewis Scott.
Although furnishing volunteers for the service, Gill nevertheless sent Gilbert Stacy as a delegate to the anti-war convention at Northampton in 1812.
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10 Jul 2005