Rowe — Early Settlement
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The proprietor of Myrifield was also the first settler, coming from Sandisfield with his family about 1770. He built a house of split timbers about half a mile east of the centre of the town, the entire structure being of this material, in which he lived several years in pioneer simplicity. He had two daughters, named Abigail and Hannah, and sons named Jacob, Daniel, Reuben, John, Ezra, and Marah. In 1773, Mr. Jones built the first frame barn in town, having all the men within its bounds—six men and the carpenter—to assist in raising the building, which was a large structure. The Revolution coming on, Mr. Jones supported the patriot cause with much zeal, and himself hastened, accompanied by his sons Daniel and Reuben, to Saratoga to aid in repulsing Burgoyne. Daniel lost his life at the battle of Stillwater, but the others returned to Rowe. Rev. Jones resided in town as pastor of the church until 1780, when he removed to Whitehall, N. Y., where he died not many years after. He was a native of Bellingham, and graduated from Harvard in 1752.
Eldad Corbet came a few months after Jones, and settled near him, but did not remain very long. At a later period Deacon Archibald Thomas came from Coleraine, and settled in the northern part of the town. He was born Jan. 31, 1708, and died July 19, 1793. Elizabeth (Watson), the wife of Deacon Thomas, died Dec. 1, 1815, at the extreme age of one hundred and six years. Their son, John, was born in Rowe in 1774, and this was the first birth in town. He also became a deacon, and was universally esteemed as an upright and useful man. Joseph Thomas, a brother of Deacon Archibald, settled near him about the same time.
Three brothers—Shadrach, Gideon, and Abner Chapin—came before 1774, and settled in the eastern part of the town, where they became active citizens, and near them were the Taylors, also from Worcester County. William Taylor was an orderly sergeant in the American army, and had the command of a company in the trenches at Bunker Hill, being one of the last to leave in the retreat. He afterward became a captain, and with this rank was familiarly known until his death. His brother John accompanied the Joneses to Saratoga, and died before his return borne. A third brother was Humphrey, who did not engage in the Revolution.
In the northeastern part of Rowe settled Mathew Barr, with several sons, one of whom, Aaron, was with Sergt. William Taylor at the battle of Bunker Hill, where he was mortally wounded, and was the first man carried to Cambridge. He was struck by a cannon-shot, and died the same day.
Artemus Ward settled about the same time, near the present village. Here he built an early saw-mill on the brook, which still bears his name; and about the same period Abiah, Levi, Jedediah, and Jonathan Lamb became residents of Myrifield.
In 1774, Jonas and Aaron Gleason came from Worcester County, the latter settling in the eastern part of the town, and the former on the farm now owned by Ruel Bullard. His was the twenty-first family in town. Descendants of these families still live in Rowe.
Michael Wilson was in the town before 1776, and in 1797 Martin Wilson erected the house now occupied by Solomon Amidon at the village. John Adams was an early settler. East of the centre of the town John Wells was a prominent early settler. Col. Noah Wells was one of his sons. Of the sons of the latter, John graduated from Williams College, and became a judge of the Supreme Court.* Another son, Robert, is now a resident of the town.
Obed Foot is remembered as an early settler, and as the man who built the first two-story house in town. Nathan Howard, James Thayer, Ephraim Hill, Nathan Foster, Eli Town, Ambrose Potter, I. W. Clary, and Rufus Streeter are also named among the pioneers. Many settlers came in after the Revolution, and in 1790 the population was 443. The town had attained its zenith in 1820, when the population was 851. From that period it has decreased, having in 1875 only 92 farms and 581 inhabitants.
* See chapter on the Bar.
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01 Ju1 2005