Sunderland — Early Settlement

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

      Exactly when settlements were first made cannot be stated, for the proprietors' records have been lost, but it seems a pretty well-established fact that there were settlements upon the tract previous to the opening of King Philip's war, in 1675.
      By reason of the presence of numerous swamps the place was known as "Swampfield," and this name was retained until the incorporation of Sunderland.
      There is now no clew to the names of the earliest settlers, but the fact that descendants of John Hubbard (one of the original grantees) are still living in. Sunderland indicates that Hubbard was a pioneer. A local historian concludes that the first settlement was made in 1673, on the site now occupied by Sunderland village. If so, the settlement was broken up when Philip opened hostilities in 1675; the settlers fled to Hadley, and the place formerly known as Swampfield relapsed again into a wilderness, which it continued to be during all the succeeding years of Indian warfare, until-the close of Queen Anne's war reviving the peaceful era—steps were taken in 1713 looking to a resettlement. A petition to the General Court by certain inhabitants of Hadley for this purpose resulted in the passage of the following:

      "Anno Regni Annœ Reginæ Duodecimo. At a session of the Great and General Court of Assembly for her Majesty's Province of Massachusetts Bay, held at Boston upon Monday, Feb'y 10, 1713.
      "IN COUNCIL. Upon reading the petition of John Kellogg, Isaac Hubbard, and others, praying for a resettlement of a village or plantation granted in May, 1673, northerly of Hadley, formerly called Swampfield,
      "Ordered, that forasmuch by reason of the interruption given to the settlement of the within-mentioned plantation, granted in May, 1673, by the war and troubles with the Indians, and desire of ye original petitioners and grantees, and also the committee for directing the same, since dead. The said grant for a plantation land is hereby revived, and Sam'l Partridge, John Pynchon, and Samuel Porter, Esq., are appointed and impowered a committee to receive ye challenges of all persons to the property and right of land in ye said plantation, and to enter their names with such others as shall offer to join with them in settling of a township there. The names of all to be entered with the committee within the space of twelve months from this time, giving preference to ye descendants of ye original petitioners and grantees. And the said committee are further impowered to note ye place of ye town upon small lots, so as it may be made defensible, grant land allotments, order their prudentials, and what else is necessary in establishing, receiving, and settling for the two hundred and fifty acres of land in some convenient place, to be in ye disposition of the government. Provided alwales, That forty ffamilies be settled within three years next coming, and that they procure and encourage a learned orthodox minister to settle with them. The town to be called Swampfield."

      The proprietors to whom the renewed grant was issued were 39 in number, and nearly all residents of Hadley and Hatfield; and in April, 1714, they signed an agreement making a division of the lands, providing for expenses, and agreeing further "that ye town platt be started from or near a brook above the place where the chimneys are, running southward in two Roes of Houses, with a street of eight rods wide betwixt said two Roes, and the Home Lots to be fourteen rod at front and Reer, and in length as the Platt will allow it; and forty house Lotts to be cut and Layed, the minister's lot to be one."
      The actual resettlement of Swampfield did not take place until early in 1715, and by 1716 the larger part of the 39 proprietors of the tract had become actual settlers thereon. The names of the settlers who occupied the lots in 1718 are given as follows: Samuel Graves, Jonathan Graves, Eleazer Warner, Jr., Samuel Harvey, Luke Smith, Philip Pauton, William Scott, Isaac Hubbard, Benjamin Barrett, Joseph Root, Joseph Smith, Daniel Smith, Samuel Montague, Daniel Warner, Jr., Benjamin Graves, Thomas Harvey, Jr., Samuel Billings, William Arms, Simon Cooley, Ebenezer Kellogg, Stephen Crofoot, Isaac Graves, William Allis, Samuel Smith, Richard Scott, Nathaniel Dickinson, Nathaniel Gunn, Ebenezer Marsh, Nathaniel Smith, Ebenezer Billings, Joseph Field, Joseph Clary, Isaac Hubbard, Jr., Samuel Gunn, Ebenezer Billings, Jr., Manoah Bodman, Daniel Russell, James Bridgman, Stephen Belden, Jr.
      Of these, Ebenezer Kellogg, Stephen Crofoot, Joseph Smith, Wm. Arms, Nathaniel Dickinson, Luke Smith, Daniel Warner, and Samuel Billings removed from Sunderland or died previous to 1740, and, leaving no descendants there, passed out of the town's history.
      When the resettlement was made, there was no evidence of the first settlement save here and there a ruined house. It is said that in the fireplace of one of these a basswood-tree had taken root and grown to a foot in diameter, and that an apple-tree—set out by one of the first settlers in 1673—was found large and thrifty at the second settlement, and lived until 1850.
      In 1729 an additional grant increased the town's area by a tract on the eastern border two miles wide and running the entire length of the town. This made the entire tract nine miles in length and six in width, embracing what is now Sunderland, portions of the present towns of Montague and Wendell, and the whole of the present town of Leverett.
      The earliest settlers in that portion of Sunderland now within the limits of Montague located there in 1726. Their names were Samuel Taylor, Samuel Harvey, Richard Scott, Wm. Allis, Daniel Smith, Nathaniel Gunn, Ebenezer Marsh, Josiah Alvord, Samuel and Emile Bardwell, Samuel Smead, Judah Wright, David Ballard, Nathaniel Tuttle, Thomas Newton, Simeon King, and the Root, Barrett, and Graves families.
      Among the first settlers in that portion which is now the town of Leverett were Joseph Hubbard, Joseph and Elisha Clary, Jonathan Field, Jonathan Field (2d), Moses Graves, Moses Smith, Richard Montague, Absalom Scott, Stephen and Joseph Smith; Jeremiah Nordbury, Isaac Marshall, and Solomon Gould.
      The first important road through Sunderland was the highway from Northfield to Hadley, which was probably laid out as early as 1714. In 1721 there was a road to Hunting Hills, and in 1725 one "out of the south field with the commons in some convenient place in the lower division, and to have it go out at the place commonly called the horse-path." There was also at this time a road from Dry Brook to Stony Hill. Of those who were the pioneers in the second settlement, James Bridgman, Benjamin Barrett, Thos. Hovey, and Joseph Root died in 1728, Samuel Graves in 1731, Joseph Field in 1736, Daniel Russell in 1737, Daniel Smith in 1740, Ebenezer Billings in 1745, Simon Cooley in 1746, Richard Scott in 1750, Joseph Field (2d) in 1754, Deacon Samuel Gunn in 1755, Benjamin Graves in 1756, Deacon Isaac Hubbard in 1760, Isaac Hubbard, Jr., in 1763, Manoah Bodman in 1759, Deacon Samuel Montague in 1779, Deacon Nathaniel Smith in 1799, aged ninety.

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