Whately — Early Settlement

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

Original Bounds, Land-Owners, And Pioneers

      Until April 24, 1771, the greater portion of the present town formed the northern part of Hatfield, and much of its early history is so closely associated with that town that it is detailed in that connection, and here omitted to avoid repetition. At the date mentioned Whately was incorporated, receiving its name from Gov. Hutchinson in compliment to his friend, Thomas Whately, at that time in the employ of the British government, in London. In 1810 a small part of Deerfield was annexed to the original town of Whately, giving it the bounds before described.
      Down to 1684 the town was regarded as the commons of Hatfield, but on the 21st of October in that year the territory was divided among the inhabitants of the lower part of Hatfield, each one receiving a portion according to the valuation of his estates. As there were at that time 69 inhabitants holding ratable estates, each one of the divisions formed in the survey contained that number of lots, whose width, on the ten-rod highways, was from 4 to 52 rods. All the lands west of the river meadows were thus allotted at that early period, and subsequently confirmed to the grantees, --the last time, in 1735. As but few of the original owners came to improve their lands, their names are here omitted. The greater part of the river meadows was included in the grants made to Simon Bradstreet and Daniel Denison, in 1659, about 1500 acres in all. After the latter's death, in 1682, his land became the property of John Field, William Arms, Robert Bardwell, Daniel Warner, Samuel Field, Samuel Gunn, Joseph Field, and Andrew Warner, and was managed by them and their successors until after 1735 as joint property.
      Gov. Bradstreet died in 1697, and his land soon became the property of others. In 1719 the proprietors were Samuel Gunn, Josiah Scott, Ebenezer Bardwell, Samuel Belden, John Crafts, John Wait, Ebenezer Morton, Nathaniel Coleman, Thomas Field, Jonathan. Smith, Zachery Field, Joseph Smith, John Belden, John White, John Smith, and Jonathan Cole.
      Other early land-owners were Samuel Partridge, Eleazer Frary, Daniel White, John Graves, Samuel Graves, and Samuel Dickinson.
      The improvements the proprietors had projected were not carried out on account of Indian troubles; and the town was for many years neutral ground, roamed over by the Indians, and at best of no more service to the Hatfield proprietors than to yield an occasional load of hay. While a party were engaged, June 18, 1724, loading hay, about three miles north of Hatfield Street, they were attacked by the Indians. Benjamin Smith was killed, and Aaron Wells and Joseph Allis taken prisoners. No other incursion appears to have been made, and soon peace was so well assured that the settlements in the northern towns were firmly established, giving Hatfield a greater sense of security.
      The settlement of Whately was now projected, and, about 1736, Ebenezer Bardwell and Josiah Scott built log houses, on the Deerfield road, north of the Bartlett place; not long after, a settlement was made on the "Strait" by Benjamin Scott, David Graves, Elisha Smith, John Wait, and Joseph Belding, who built their houses close together for mutual protection. It is supposed that all these families left after the breaking out of the French-and-Indian war, in 1744. They returned to the village of Hatfield, but came back to their homes before 1750; and these were the first permanent settlers of the present town of Whately.
      Lieut. Ebenezer Bardwell sold his place to Master David Scott, the carpenter of the town, in 1752, and built a small house on the Chestnut Plains Street. The same year Joel Dickinson built at the hamlet, and Benoni Crafts a mile north. A brother of the latter, Thomas Crafts, put up a house nearer the hamlet. The position of these four families was deemed so exposed that the Hatfield selectmen moved them back to the village before snow fell, but allowed them to return in the spring. In 1754 strong picket was built around Deacon Dickinson's house and barn, which served the four families as a fort, where they could drive in their cattle and lodge themselves at night while the country was alarmed by fears of Indian depredations.
      When Thomas Crafts came from Hatfield he brought with him several hives of bees, the swarms of which have been kept in the families of his descendants ever since, and have always been housed within a short distance of the place where they were first set down.
      Both the Crafts remained in Whately, and have now many descendants living in the town. Dickinson removed to Conway, and Bardwell to Deerfield, but the latter returned to Staddle Hill, where he died in 1789, at the age of eighty-two years. One of his three sons, Ebenezer, in 1778 built the house on Claverack Street which is now occupied by Walter W. Bardwell. It is said to be the oldest building in the town. Among others who joined the Chestnut Plains settlement were Daniel Morton, in 1759, who opened the first public-house in the town, a little south of Thomas Crafts'; Oliver Morton, in 1761, building his house south of the cemetery, Oliver Graves, in 1761, on the east side of the road from Thomas Crafts; Capt. Lucius Allis, on Spruce Hill; and Capt. Salmon White, south of the hamlet, on the present White place.
      In 1749, Abraham Parker came from Groton, and settled in the locality since called "Canterbury." Eight years later he was drowned while attempting to cross the Connecticut on the ice. In 1752 his brother-in-law, Joseph Sanderson, located in the same neighborhood. In 1765, Joshua Belding settled on the river road, where Elihu Belding now lives, and the same year Nathaniel Coleman became a resident of the same neighborhood.
      In 1760, David Scott purchased Lieut. Bardwell's Chestnut Plains property, and, a short time before, Noah Wells had built a house west of the Scott place. About this time Moses, Abner, and Gideon Dickinson settled in town, and, in 1762, Deacon Simeon Wait settled in Christian Lane, and, a short time after, Deacon Nathan Graves on Chestnut Mountain, and John Wait on the "Straits."
      In the western part of the town settlement was made before 1765 by Edward Brown, Peter Train, Abraham Turner, and Adonijah Taylor. The Smith families, Elisha Belding, Samuel Carley, Henry Stiles, and others whose names appear in the following pages, became residents of Whately.
      The number of settlers in Whately in 1771, and their possessions, are clearly shown in the appended table:

Names Houses Acres
Tillage Land
Mowing Land
Daniel Morton 1 12 12 20
Oliver Graves 1 13 6 12
David Graves 1 12 3 5
Elisha Belding 1 11 2 4
John Crafts   3 10  
Joseph Crafts   3    
Israel Graves 1 4 26
Simeon Wait 1 20 13 12
Henry Stiles 1 4 6 8
Oliver Morton 1 11 25
Benj. Smith Jr.   1 9 9
Moses Crafts        
Peter Train 1 5 6 20
Edward Brown 1 4 6 20
Abraham Turner   4 16 4
Benoni Crafts 1 5 6 7
Paul Belding 2 3 6 12
Ezra Turner   2 1
Hosea Curtis       6
Joseph Kellogg        
Joseph Belding, Jr. 1 23 10 10
Nathaniel Sartle 1 12  
Thomas Sanderson 1 24 9 3
Nathaniel Coleman        
Abel Parker   20 4 10
Jonathan Smith 1 6 6 7
Elisha Frary 1 5 7 12
Lemuel Wells        
John Wait 1 22 7 2
Joseph Scott 1 14 2 5
Seth Wait 1 20 6 16
Thomas Crafts 1 8 9 8
Philip Smith 1 16 6 6
David Scott 1 11 18 12
Noah Bardwell 1 6 6 30
Paul Smith 1 4 3 20
Nathan Graves 1 8    
Widow Lois Parker 1 7 6 3
John Wait, Jr.   3    
Joshua Beldin 1 20 10 30
Benjamin Scott 1 23 7  
Benjamin Scott, Jr 1 17    
Elisha Smith 1 10 3  
Martin Graves 1 10 5 3
Salmon White 1 11 11 18
Perez Bardwell 1 8 20 8
Samuel Carley 1      
Benjamin Smith 1 11    
Thomas Allen 1 2    
William Kellog        
John Graves       30
Elihu Graves        
David Scott, Jr       6

      Four residents were not taxed: Rev. Rufus Wells, Joseph Sanderson, Sr., Joseph Belding, Sr., and Richard Chauncey.
      Pasturages in town were owned by the following non-residents:
      Elisha Allis, Nathaniel Hawks, Reuben Belding, Gideon Dickinson, Simeon Morton, Noah Coleman, Abner Dickinson, Eleazer Frary, Daniel Graves, Samuel Dickinson, Remembrance Bardwell, Eleazer Allis, Elijah Morton, Joseph Billings, Jonathan Allis, Joseph Smith, Benj. Wait, Jr., David Billings, Eliakim Field, Medad Field, Samuel Church, Noah Nash, Elijah Dickinson, Benj. Wait, Jonathan Morton, Moses Wait, Israel Williams, David, Morton, Obadiah Dickinson, Mary Smith, Elisha Wait, Moses Frary.
      The entire number of dwellings in 1771 was 40. They were occupied by 18 families, and sheltered 320 inhabitants. There was a tan-house owned by Paul Belding, a saw- and grist-mill by Reuben Belding, and saw-mill by Edward Brown.
      In 1790 there were 120 dwellings and 130 families; the inhabitants numbered 735.
      In 1850 the town had its greatest population,—1129; in 1875 there were 204 dwellings, 210 families, and a population of 958. In 1820 the total valuation of the town was $206,858, and in 1875 it was $769,361.
      The total number of deaths for the hundred years ending in 1871 was 1375,—a number greater than the population of the town has been in any one year. Of this number, 141 were between the ages of seventy and eighty years; 114 between eighty and ninety years; 23 between ninety and one hundred years; and 1, Hannah Lesure, who died in 1865, was more than one hundred and one years and four months old. Mrs. Mary Waite was ninety-nine years and nine months old, and left 150 descendants. David Scott was upward of ninety-four years old at his death. He had 11 children, 86 grand-children, 109 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great-grand-children,—in all 212.

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26 Jun 2005