Shelburne — Early Settlement

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

      The territory now occupied by Shelburne was included in a tract granted to Deerfield in 1712 (upon the petition of Rev. John Williams), which extended "nine miles west to the western woods." What is now Shelburne was called Deerfield Northwest or Deerfield Pasture, for the tract was not regarded as worth much save as a pasture. At all events, it served no other purpose to the people of Deerfield for many years, and scarcely knew a human tread save that of the red man until some time between 1752 and 1756, when Jonathan Catlin and James Ryder, of Deerfield, made the first settlements at Shelburne Falls, upon what are now known as the Severance and Allis farms.
      Catlin and Ryder, with their families, bravely faced the difficulties and troublous fears which beset them, but, driven out at last by the persistent savages, they returned, in 1756, to Deerfield. No further attempt was made at settlement until 1760, when, the Indian troubles being ended, Martin Severance and Daniel Ryder, of Deerfield, took up the farms originally occupied by Catlin and James Ryder. About that time also Robert Wilson, of Coleraine, settled in the northeast, on the place now occupied by Isaac T. Fisk; Archibald Lawson, of Deerfield, in the north, on the place now occupied by Chas. Hardy; and Samuel Wilson, north of Lawson's location.
      In 1762, Daniel Nims located on the farm now occupied by Elisha Alvord, one of his descendants. John Taylor, of Deerfield, settled near the present place of John and George Taylor, his descendants; and Ebenezer Fisk and Watson Freeman located in the northwest, not far from where Elisha Barnard now lives.
      In 1760 the families numbered five; in 1761, fourteen. Other settlers about 1762 were Samuel Hunter, John Wells, Stephen Kellogg, John Thompson, Lawrence Kemp, Samuel Fisk, John Heaton, Thomas Wells, Asa Childs, James Taft, John Allen, Samuel Pool, Oreb Taylor, Samuel Murdock, David Boyd, Moses Hawks, John Boyd, Reuben Nims, Samuel Fellows, Jr., Jeremiah Foster, Newton Ransom, and Alexander Clark.
      The early settlers experienced some fearful apprehensions touching Indian depredations, but they suffered no serious injuries. They fled frequently to the Coleraine fort for safety, and two—Martin Severance and Daniel Ryder—abandoned their farms and returned to Deerfield, as stated above, but they were back again without much delay, and soon, in common with the other settlers, learned that there was nothing to be alarmed about, except, perhaps, wild beasts, which, truth to tell, annoyed the pioneers amazingly.
      Martin Severance, above alluded to, settled in 1760, and is said to have conveyed to his new home, on a horse's back, himself, his family, and all his household goods. Severance fought in the French-and-Indian war, was taken a prisoner at Lake George, and escaped after a two years' captivity. He died in 1810, at the age of ninety-two.
      Archibald Lawson, who served also in the Indian campaign, bought 50 acres of land in "Northwest," giving 50 yards of domestic linen cloth, for which his wife hatcheled the flax and spun the yarn, and which Lawson wove, being a weaver by trade. When he bargained for his land with the land-agent at Deerfield, the latter said he would not go out to the Northwest for all the land there, and told Lawson to take his 50 acres where he found a place to suit him. Subsequently, Lawson bought land enough, at the price of a yard of cloth for an acre of land, to make 200 acres, and the farm thus acquired is now known as the Hardy farm.
      Stories of the hardships of the early settlers, of their strange and hazardous experiences, of the stirring events, and of the difficulties which beset the mothers and fathers of Shelburne, would fill volumes, but they would repeat simply the old story, which has often been told about first settlers in every new country. They faced with brave hearts the burdens, the trials, and the troubles of a frontier life, and steadily held their course,--not without, perhaps, many a gleam of comfort, and even pleasure, but mainly, it is probable, partaking of the unpalatable fruits of existence.
      In February, 1780, the settlers in Shelburne, north of the Deerfield River, were as follows: In the northwest, Joseph Whitney, Joseph Whitney, Jr., Ephraim Burrows, Samuel Fisk, Ebenezer Fisk, Levi Fisk, Ebenezer Fisk, Jr., Deacon Childs, Asa Childs, John Barnard, Daniel W. Wilder, Elijah Severance, John Wells, Elisha Hinsdale, Doctor Childs, Samuel Murdock, Samuel Hunter, Oliver Holland, William and Thomas Anderson, Archibald and John Lawson, Joseph Hosley, Stephen Long, James Heaton, David Hosley, and Samuel Wilson. In the west, Deacon and Ebenezer Allis, Jr., Martin and Martin Severance, Jr., Jonathan, Aaron, and Elisha Wood, James Shays, Widow Dodge, Ezekiel, Nathaniel, Azariah, and Samuel Dodge, Jr., John Burdick, Joseph Tubbs, and Daniel Dodge. In the centre, Moses Smith, Jared Skinner, Daniel Nims, John, Benjamin, and Reuel Allen, Lawrence Kemp, Luke Taylor, John Ransom, John Long, John Boyd, Amasa Kemp, and John Anderson. In the northeast, John and Alexander Thompson, Robert and James Wilson, Sylvanus Allen, Alexander Clark, John Stuart, Sylvanus Nash, Hugh McGill, Theodore Barnard, Aaron Skinner, Daniel Worthington, Adonijah Atherton, Benjamin Miller, and John Battis. In the east, Capt. Wells, David Wells, Jr., Newton, Jabez, Eliphalet, Calvin, and Hazael Ransom, Samuel Boyd, Abner Nims, Ebenezer Newcomb, William Newcomb, Stephen, Kellogg, David Long, William Boyd, John Taylor, Zeeb Taylor, John Taylor, Jr., Abraham Edwards, and Jason Cady. In the southeast, Moses Hawks, James, Eliphalet, and Haines Graves, Enoch, Ebenezer, Job, Gideon, and Reuben Bardwell, William Bibber, Mr. Fitch, Joshua and Samuel Knight, Benjamin Randall, and James Butler. Near Charlemont road, Deacon Samuel and Thomas Fellows, Richard Peck, David Boyd, Jeremiah Foster, Daniel and Thaddeus Merrill, Samuel Pool, John Fellows, Benjamin Nash, Parker Dole, Job Coleman, Josiah W. Severance, Thomas Drury, Reuben Nims, Caleb Thayer, Roger Haskell, Levi Kemp, John Heaton, James Taft, Simeon and Elijah Wells, Widow Bates, Hazael Jones, Abraham Blodgett.

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08 Jul 2005