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Full text of "An historical address delivered at Palmer, Mass., July 5, 1852, in commemoration of centennial anniversary of the incorporation of the town"

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PALMEE, MASS., JULY 5, 1852, 


ODenteimial S^^^^^^^^^trg of tk Incorpnttion of tire f olun; 








Palmer, August 25th, lSo2. 
Dear Sir : — 

The undersigned were appointed, at a meeting of the citizens of Palmer, 
and others, on the 5th of Jul)- last, being the occasion of the Centennial Celebra- 
tion of the organization of said town, to solicit a copy of your Address, delivered 
at that time, for publication. 

We hope it may be your pleasure to gratify the citizens of this town, as well 
as numerous others, interested in the history of Palmer, by furnishing, at your 
earliest convenience, a copy of your very interesting and invaluable Historical 
Address, for the purpose aforesaid. 

Be assured. Sir, of the very high personal regard entertained for yourself and 

Rev. Thomas Wilson. FRED. T. WALLACE. 

August 27th, 1852. 
Gentlemen : — 

The Historical Address which the citizens of the placo, from their 
personal and local interest, have directed you to obtain for publication, is cheer- 
fully placed at your disposal. In complying with your request, so cordially con- 
veyed, I sincerely regret that it was not in my power, — from the brief time allow- 
ed for the preparation of a discourse of this nature, and from the pressure of im- 
perative professional duties, — to render more fitting honor to the character and 
doings of the early fathers of the town. I hope, however, that what is here done 
may rescue from utter oblivion, important and interesting facts connected with 
their history ; and that it may furnish, to the present and future inhabitants of 
Palmer, an acceptable, though slight and inadequate, memento of the deeds and 
virtues of their ancestral generations. 

With sentiments of respect and esteem I remain 

Yours, very truly, 

To Messrs. J. B. Merrick, ^ 

F. Morgan, i Committee oftJie Citizem of Palmer. 

Fred. T. Wallace, j 


The citizens of Palmer, at their annual meeting in March, 1852, appointed 
Rev. Thomas Wilson to prepare an historical account of the early settlement and 
subsequent progress of the town ; to be given as an Address, in connection with 
other services that were to be held, commemorative of the first Centennial An- 
niversary of the Incorporation of the Town of Palmer.* 

In accordance with this appointment, the following brief and unavoidably im- 
perfect sketch was prepared, and delivered before a large gathering of the citizens, 
in a grove near the To-vvn-House, on Monday, July 5th ; though the appropriate 
time for the centenary celebration would have been on the 23d of January previous. 
This filial duty would more justly have belonged to some native of the place ; or 
at least, to one whom long residence among the people, and an intimate acquain- 
tance with the aged especially, would have better qualified for the work. As it 
was assigned otherwise, however, the commission has been executed as well as 
the circumstances of the case would allow. 

The records of the original Proprietors, together with those of the town and 
the first parish ; and the journals of the Colonial and State Legislatures, in the 
archives of the Commonwealth, have been the principal sources from which the 
materials have been gathered. Valuable assistance, also, was derived from 
♦'Parker's History of Londonderry, N. H." in regard to the emigration to this 
country, from the north of Ireland, of tlie Scotch Presbyterians by whom this town 
was chiefly settled. Other sources of information have been carefully and labori- 
ously examined ; but much yet remains to be done to do full justice to the depar- 
ted worthies of the town ; and the feeling of regret is an honest one, which the 
o-leaner of these historical relics entertains, that a more skillful pen was not em- 
ployed to put these pleasant but fading reminiscences of past generations in a 
more acceptable and enduring form. 

It was somewhat appropriate, however, that one whose own birth was in that 
land whence the worthy and patriotic fathers of this town primarily originated — 
-' auld Scotia" — should be selected to pay due respect to the virtue, heroism, and 
indomitable love of civil and religious liberty, which characterized the noble dead. 
The grateful work, therefore, was engaged in with something of filial reverence 
and ancestral pride. 

''See Appendix C. 


" The Ancient of days" bas implanted in man a reverence for 
antiquity. This feeling is alike honorable in him who manifests it, 
and respectful to the object or person toward which it is shown. He 
who placed this graceful sentiment in the nature of the human race, 
allows it to be cherished in every form and degree which can harmo- 
nize with the paramount law of virtuous progress. 

Whatever is old is to man, who is himself so short-lived, invested 
with peculiar interest. To gratify his taste for the antique, he will 
sometimes, like " Old Mortality," sit down among the crumbling 
tombstones of ancient worthies, and patiently re-chisel the half oblit- 
erated inscriptions ; at other times, he will traverse the most perilous 
seas, and scale the almost inaccessible mountains, and brave even ap- 
palling dangers, to look upon some mouldering relic of by-gone ages ; 
or to feel the inspiration, flowing in upon the soul, from some scene 
famed far back in the records of time. Hallowed emotions are kin- 
dled in the heart by such contemplations. Past ages come rolling 
back as we stand in the midst of scenes thus " hoar with grey an- 
tiquity." And even though we may never visit them in person, the 
ever-ready and nimble imagination — that wierd and subtle power of 
the mind — will, at our bidding, present them in visionary but im- 
posing array. 

It is, indeed, true that the annals of this town present few, if any, 
of those stirring events which claim a prominent place on the page of 
history. No fierce battle fought upon our soil, has ever emblazoned 
its name in lines of blood. No wonderful curiosity of nature has ever 
brought hither a crowd of sight-seeing ti'avelers. No brilliant achieve- 
ment in art or arms, has ever rendered any of its sons illustrious. No 
famous production in literature, or memorable discovery in science, 


has ever claimed its paternity here. But yet, in this small and no- 
wise consjjicuous town, among the goodly fellowshiiD of sister commu- 
nities in this good old Commonwealth, events have transpired that are 
worthy to be remembered ; especially by the descendants of those 
who here lived, and loved, and died. As the centuries go by, it is 
well to recall the scenes of the past, and the actors in the busy drama 
of human life, whose remembrance is fast fading away. There has 
been exhibited on this soil, and within the bounds of this township, a 
noble endurance of privation and sufFerina; ; an heroic struggle against 
the difficulties incident to a pioneer life, such as were inevitable, but 
not less trying in the early settlements of this region ; and a devoted 
patriotism amid the sorest trials — which ought to embalm the depar- 
ted worthies in the hearts of a grateful and emulous posterity. 

Tlie principle of religious liberty was the leading central idea with 
the founders of this new and greatest of Republics. It found fitting 
exponents in the early settlers of this town. This sentiment, when 
fully roused, is stronger even than the love of civil and political free- 
dom. That exemption from control and dictation, which the con- 
science demands, and for which men feel bound, by the hopes of life 
eternal, to contend, can hardly fail to be secured by resolute souls. 
As the English Puritans fled from their comfortable homes to this 
western wilderness, not so much from the civil government as from 
the hierarchy, and the laws which enforced conformity to the estab- 
lished Episcopal Church ; so did the Scottish Covenanters — some of 
whose descendants are gathered here to-day — emigrate to escape re- 
ligious rather than political evils. 

Before entering upon a detailed account of the settlement of the 
largest and most prominent colony which virtually founded Palmer, it 
may be interesting to advert briefly to some of the circumstances in 
the " father-land," which constituted the leading cause of many of 
the settlements in New England. Even the most cursory examina- 
tion of this point will clearly show that it was firm and conscientious 
adherence to religious principle, which brought most of our ancestors 
to this distant land ; and led them to establiab an empire whose chief 
and most glorious characteristic is entire freedom in matters of divine 
worship. It was for conscience's sake that they left their native land 
and their cherished homes ; and, amid sorrow, suffering, and death, 
" sought a faith's pure shrine " upon these inhospitable shores. Re- 
lio'ious toleration was a virtue in political ethics, to the attainment of 

which the people of that age had not arrived. This principle, though 
confessedly just and wise, has been of slow growth. Hence in Eng- 
land, notwithstanding the light and influence of the ever-memorable 
Reformation, various laws were passed enjoining uniformity, not only 
in sentiment, but in the forms of religious worship ; subjecting to se- 
vere penalties, all who refused obedience. The adherents of even 
the reformed religion had not yet acquired that truly catholic spirit 
which gives to every one the " right to worship God according to the 
dictates of his own conscience." Submission to the most intolerant 
statutes was enforced with such extreme vigor, that a voluntary exile 
seemed to many the best mode of escaping from the penalties of non- 
compliance. . 

The stringencyof the laws, and the relentlessness of their execution, 
excited the strong and determined resistance of many in all ranks, 
who fearlessly withstood this encroachment upon their rights, demand- 
ing greater simplicity and purity of worship than that allowed by the 
established Church of England, hence, by way of reproach, they 
were called Puritans ; and as their sufferings, under the oppressive 
acts which so chafed and galled their spirits, tended to deter any ex- 
cept the conscientious and sincere friends of Christ, and of the purer 
worship, from uniting with them, — serving thus to sift the precious 
wheat from the worthless chaff, — the term, though otherwise intended, 
became one of honor ! It was strikingly significant of the superior 
purity, both of their religion and their lives. Their deep and in- 
wrought dislike to the arbitrary enactments of their government, in- 
duced our Pui'itan fathers to seek in this then newly discovered land 
a settlement, founded on the principles of religious toleration, as well 
as of civil liberty. It was a determination, fixed and resolute, not to 
submit to dictation in matters of faith and modes of worship which 
prompted their self-denying course. They preferred to hazard every- 
thing, to endure anything, rather than surrender this right, which 
they prized dearer than life itself, of " freedom to worship God." 
With an inextinguishable thirst for liberty in the moral as well as in 
the natural and social world, they could not bear to be thus trammel- 
ed in their religious privileges. No other motive save that of duty 
was sufficiently powerful to influence these men to abandon all that 
was endeared to them by the associations of home, and kindred, and 
country, for a hostile wilderness beyond the ocean. It was a pure 
and holy purpose which prompted them to make the sacrifices they 


ilid. They claimed " an open Bible and a free conscience." Their 
purpose was to establish "a Church without a Bishop, and a State 
without a King." They sought, therefore, a home in this far-off 
land, where they might freely enjoy all that their hearts held dear, as 
citizens of the State and members of the Church. For this they 
braved the storms of winter, and the perils of the sea ; and on the 
bleak and frozen rocks of Plymouth they raised an altar at once to 
freedom and to God ! 

It is indeed true that the Presbyterians, who primarily settled this 
:md a few other towns in New England, were different in forms of 
church government from that noble band of christians of the Congre- 
gational ordei' who constituted the Plymouth Colony ; yet in all their 
views of divine* truth and religious duty, in zeal and firmness to resist 
«ivil and ecclesiastical domination, they fully harmonized with each 
other, and were "fellow sufferers for conscience sake." 

The emigrants who chiefly settled the town of Palmer were what is 
called " Scotch-Irish," being the descendants of a colony of Protes- 
tants which emigrated from Argyleshne, in Scotland, and settled in 
the province of Ulster, in Ireland, about the year 1612. They were 
induced to go there by the fact that in the reign of James the First, 
on the suppression of a rebellion of his Catholic subjects in the north- 
ern part of Ireland, two millions of acres of land, almost the whole of 
the six upper counties, were transferred to the King, who thereupon 
became desirous of supplanting the native rebels by those who would 
be more loyal, and therefore held out strong inducements to his other 
and more reliable subjects to occupy the land. His Scotch and Eng- 
lish dependents were encouraged by liberal grants to leave their own 
homes and settle upon this forfeited tract of land, as it was expected 
that those turbulent spirits in the "Emerald Isle," who had so often 
defied the authority and arms of the British government, might by 
means of this colonization be awed and controlled. 

This will account, in some measure, for the bitter enmity which was 
manifested by the Catholics, the native Irish, toward these Protestant 
settlers, who occupied the soil from which their countrymen had been 
forcibly expelled. The great Isish rebellion which occurred thirty 
years after, in the reign of Charles I., had its origin in the animosity 
with which the Irish Catholics regarded the Protestants, and in the 
natural and burning desire they felt to wrest back their ancestral pos- 
sessions. The plot of this general massacre was fortunately discover- 


ed in Dublin, on the day before the time lixed for its execution ; but 
in the other parts of the island, and particularly in Ulster, the most 
cruel and wanton destruction of lives and property ensued. Accord- 
ing to some historians, no less than one hundred and fifty thousand 
persons perished. 

The emi^nants from across the channel, who settled on the lands of 
the expatriated Irish during the early part of the seventeenth century, 
went there chiefly from mercenary motives. They received aci;essions 
from time to time of their countrymen, who were injpelled by the like 
hope of gain. But in the latter part of that century, many fled there 
from Scotland to escape the bitter persecutions and horrid barbarities 
inflicted by the Roman Catholics upon the Covenanters, in the reign 
of James II. This bigoted and infatuated monarch exhibited a hatred 
to Protestantism, and a devotion to Papacy, the most excessive ; and 
during his whole reign strove most zealously to eradicate the one and 
establish the other. No one of the Puritan sects was so particularly 
the object of his aversion as the Presbyterians of Scotland. While he 
was viceroy of that kingdom, during the reign of his brother, he had 
persecuted them with an unrelenting severity which he was in nowise 
disposed to mitigate after he had ascended the throne. 

Those districts in which the Covenanters were most numerous were 
overrun by companies of soldiers, who practised the most wanton cru- 
elties upon all who fell into their hands. Among the leaders of these 
persecuting and blood-thirsty bands, the most noted was James Gra- 
ham, of Claverhouse ; — " a soldier," says Macauley, " of distinguish- 
ed courage and professional skill, but rapacious and profane, of violent 
temper, and of obdurate heart ; who has left a name which, wherever 
the Scottish race is settled on the face of the globe, is mentioned with 
a peculiar energy of hatred. To recapitulate all the crimes by which 
this man, and men like him, goaded the peasantry of the Western 
Lowlands into madness, would be an endless task." 

By such brutal persecution, in a land most dear to thoin, the imme- 
diate ancestors of many who settled in this jjlace were induced to flee 
to Ireland, and join their countrymen who had preceded them. But 
even there, their repose was short. Although during the time of 
Cromwell, and for a few years after his decease, the Protestants, were 
protected from the inveterate enmity of the Irish Catholics, they were 
at length called to undergo privations and sufferings almost unparal- 
leled. The pages of history can furnish but few instances of such un- 


daunted bravery, unwavering firmness, and beroie fortitude as were 
displayed by them in the midst of their fiery and protracted trials. 

Their position, in the land of their adoption, was everyway most 
uncomfortable. They were surrounded by the native Irish, who ad. 
hered with tenacity to the Church of Rome, while they regarded their 
new neighbors with embittered feelings not only as supplanters, but 
as heretics ; and though they were then subjugated to Protestant 
power, and not permitted openly to persecute as they had done, yet a 
spirit of hostility still existed, which sought every opportunity to vent 
itself in acts of revenge. Many circumstances, in addition to the 
original strong traits of character which separate the Scotch from the 
Irish, had served to inflame and strengthen the enmity existing be- 
tween them. 

JMacauley, adverting to the hostility manifested by the Irish Catho- 
lics toward the British Protestants who had settled in Ireland, says : 
" On the same soil dwelt two populations, locally intermixed, morally 
and politically sundered. The difference of religion was by no means 
the only difference, and was perhaps not even the chief difference, 
which existed between them. They sprang from different stocks. 
They spoke different languages. They had different national charac- 
ters, as strongly opposed as any two national characters in Europe. 
They were in widely different stages of civilization — there could, 
therefore, be little sympathy between them, and centuries of calami- 
ties and wrongs had generated a strong antipathy. The relation in 
which the minority stood to the majority, resembled the relation in 
which the followers of William the Conqueror stood to the Saxon 
churls, or the relation in which the followers of Cortez stood to the In- 
dians of Mexico. The appellation of Irish was then given exclusively 
to the Celts, and to those families which, though not of Celtic origin, 
had in the course of ages degenerated into Celtic manners. These peo- 
ple, probably somewhat less than a million in number, had, with few 
exceptions, adhered to the Church of Rome. Among them resided 
about two hundred thousand colonists, proud of their Saxon blood and 
of their Protestant faith. The great preponderance of numbers on one 
side, was more than compensated by a great superiority of intelligence, 
vigor, and organization on the other. The English settlers seem to 
have been, in knowledge, energy, and perseverance, rather above than 
below the average level of the population of the mother country. The 


aboriginal jieasantry, on the contrary, were in an almost savage 

It was in view of such evils and sufferings, experienced both in the 
land of their birth and adoption, that a large body of them were again 
disposed to leave their homes for another country. They were the 
more encouraged to do this, by the flattering representations which 
had come to them, of the civil and religious privileges enjoyed by the 
American colonies. In order to see whether these reports were cor- 
rect, and whether they would be justified in removing ; and also, to 
secure a place of settlement, they sent a messenger early in the year 
1718, with an address to Governor Shute, of Massachusetts, express- 
ing a strong desire to remove to New England, if they could be as- 
sured of the permanent enjoyment of their civil and religious rights. 
The desired encouragement being given, they immediately turned 
their pi'operty into money, embarked in five ships for Boston, and ar- 
rived there August 4, 1718. That portion of the emigrants who had 
been under the pastoral charge of Rev. James McGregor, in Ireland, 
wished to remain together that they might still enjoy religious ordi- 
nances under the ministry of their favorite teacher, who had accom- 
panied his flock to their new home in this western world. After 
considerable search and many privations, they finally settled upon a 
fine tract of land in New Hampshire, which they named Londonderry, 
in honor of the town in Ireland from which they had just emigrated. 
Quite a number of this body of emigrants, on arriving at Boston, saw 
fit to remain in that city, and uniting with those of their countrymen 
of their own faith whom they found there, formed the " First Presby- 
terian Church and Society," over which the Rev. John Moorhead was 
installed pastor. It was styled the " Presbyterian Church in Long 
Lane," afterwards Federal Street. 

Another portion of this company of emigrants repaired to Worces- 
ter, and there attempted to form a settlement and enjoy religious pri- 
vileges, under the ministry of one of the four jjastors who had accom- 
panied them to this country ; and although they were an industrious, 
orderly and pious community, yet in consequence of their being for- 
eigners, especially from Ireland, and introducing the Presbyterian 
mode of worship, which was before unknown in New England, the 
prejudices of the Congregational churches, the "standing order" of 
the State, were so strong and bitter toward them, that they were 
compelled to leave the place. They consequently separated, and 


were dispersed through the country. Some of these families settled 
in Palmer, others in Coleraine, some in Pelham, and a few in other 
towns in Massachusetts ; and being joined by emigrants, from time to 
time, from the old country, formed those Presbyterian societies which 
existed for many years in those several places. 

Such is a brief account of the origin of the principal colony which 
first settled within the limits of this town, about the year 1727. 
Some years previous to this, however, several families had entered 
upon the territory, and erected their humble log dwellings amid the 
primeval forest. The honor of being the first settler of Palmer, so 
far as I have been able to learn from documentary or traditional evi- 
dence, belongs to John King. He probably came here sometime 
during the year 1717. A letter from his mother, dated " Ednars- 
ton, (Eng.) April 20, 1718,"* speaks of him as being married and 
having one son, born, it is supposed, in Boston. She refers to the 
" hardships" he had experienced since he left home, and expresses 
her sorrow to hear that he " lived in such a desert place, without 
neighbors." She says also, "I shall never overcome my grief to 
think you are so far off;" but with a mother's solicitude for the spi- 
ritual welfare of her child, she adds, "I am glad to hear you live 
under the ministry of the gospel ; I pray God to give you grace to im- 
prove by it." He probably attended the church in Brimfield, as that 
town was incorporated December 24, 1731, having been granted to 
petitioners, and settled by persons from Springfield, in the year 1701. 
It therefore undoubtedly possessed such religious privileges before 
Mr. King entered upon his solitary forest home in this place. The 
spot where the rude log house was first erected by him cannot now be 
precisely determined. It was somewhere on the plain where the 
" Depot-village " now stands. Tradition says that this pioneer fami- 
ly spent the first night of their sojourn here at the spring on the hill 
side, near the old grave-yard, where their dust now slumbers. Some 
apple trees are said to have sprung up near by from seed dropped by 
them from the fruit they were eating. 

Several of Mr. King's sons, of whom he had eight, and three 
daughters, settled in the immediate vicinity of their father, along the 
north bank of the Quaboag, or Chicopee river. From them not only 
the neighborhood where they lived received its name of the " King's 
row," but the whole township is often called " Kingsfield," but more 
* See Appendix F. 


commonly "Kingstown," in the county and colony records. The more 
usual name, however, in these and in the town records, is the "El- 
bow-tract," or the "Elbows ;" a designation doubtless derived from the 
angles made by the union of the Swift and the Ware rivers with the 
Chicopee, at whose junction, as the name implies, the manufacturing 
village of "Three-Rivers" is situated. This part of the town was first 
occupied by Mr. James Shearer, who died in 1745. It was some- 
times called the " Dark-Corner," because prior to its occupancy as a 
manufacturing place, there were but three families in all that region, 
and most of the land was covered with a dense mass of the primative 
forest. The town was designated by these various appellations, until 
the name it now bears was given to it a century ago at its incorpora- 
tion as a District. Previous to that time the inhabitants had repeat- 
edly applied to the Colonial Legislature to be invested with the pow- 
ers of an incorporated town, and had sent several persons, at different 
times, to the " Great and General Court," to advance their interests 
in this respect. These early efforts were not successful ; and it was 
not till thirty-five years after its first settlement that an act of incor- 
poration was secured, and even then with one essential limitation. 

The bill was enacted on Thursday, January 23, 1752*. It con- 
ferred upon the citizens of this place, then numbering about seventy 
families, " all the powers, privileges, and immunities that the inhabi- 
tants of towns within this province are, or by law ought to be, invest- 
ed with, saving only the choice of Representative, which, it is repre- 
sented, said inhabitants are not desirous of." Perhaps one reason 
why the residents of this town were not, at that time, " desirous of" 
the invaluable j)rivilege of being represented in the Colonial Legisla- 
ture, was the fact that the granting of this power was known to be 
contrai-y to the general policy of the mother country, and, therefore, 
they asked only for what they thought could be obtained. 

Hutchinson mentions in his history that in 1757, five years after 
Palmer was raised to the dignity of a District, the Lieut. Governor of 
the Province, by the King's instructions, "was strictly charged to 
consent to no act for making a new town, unless, by a clause in it, 
there should he a restraint of this power of sending representatives.^^ 
Thus jealously did the British crown guard its supremacy in the Colo- 
nies which were even then beginning to be restive. Such a veto 
seems to have been interposed by His Majesty, to prevent an increase 
♦ See Appendix E. 


of opposition to his power in the popular branch of the Legislature, 
filled as it was with representatives from the towns which were gene- 
rally against his policy. This town, therefore, was deprived of the 
power of sending a representative at its incorporation ; and it did not 
attain this privilege till a general act was passed by the State Legisla- 
ture, soon after the Revolution, empowering all districts to exercise 
this valuable prerogative of their civil rights.* In a statute for the 
reo-ulation of towns, passed March 2-3, 1786, is the following clause : 
" And be it further enacted, that all places incorporated by the name 
of districts before the first day of January, 1777, are hereby declared 
to be towns, to every intent and purpose whatever." It was by vir- 
tue of this enactment that Palmer, like Danvers and several other 
places, was raised from the subordinate rank of a district, incapable 
of representation in the General Court, to the more honorable position 
of equality with the other towns of the Commonwealth ; entitled to all 
the privileges, and vested with all the rights, possessed by these sister 

The bill of incorporation having failed,, inadvertently, to provide 
for callino- the first meeting of the district, a special resolve of the 
Legislature was passed June 4, 1752, authorizing John Sherman, 
Esq., " upon application to him made for that purpose," to issue his 
•warrant for such a meeting, where the inhabitants might " choose and 
appoint such town officers as the law directs." In accordance with 
this provision, a warrant was issued, and the first official meeting of 
the citizens of the newly incorporated district was held ' ' at the public 
Meeting House, on Tuesday, the 30th day of June, 1752." The act 
of incorporation, as it passed the House of Representatives, contained 
also no nmiie for the new district, though the inhabitants had petition- 
ed for that of " Kingstown," by which it had previously been called. 
The i)robable reason why this natural request was not granted, was 
the fact that in the year 1726 a town in Plymouth county had already 
been incorporated by the the similar name of " Kingston." It was, 
however, no unusual thing for districts and towns to be thus name- 
less when the act of their incorporation passed the Legislature, leav- 
ing it for the Lieut. Governor, or some member of the Council, to be 
sponsor to the young offspring of the State. Such was the case with 
Palmkr. The name was given by Lieut. Governor, Spencer Phipps, 
of Mass., in honor of his relative, Thomas Palmer, Esq., who bad 
* See Appendix D. 


recently died ia Scotland.* It is somewhat singular, and no less 
appropriate, that the town should bear the name of one who was a na- 
tive of that land from which the greater part of the first settlers orio-i- 
nally came. 

But to return to the account of those who early established them- 
selves here : — the first notice in the public records that persons were 
desirous to settle on these lands is a petition to the General Court, 
from Joseph Wright, John Kilburn and others, in Hampshire Coun- 
ty, dated December, 1726. They asked for " a tract of land bound- 
ed westerly by Ware river and southerly by Chicopee river," and 
proposed "to settle there soon." The General Court appointed a 
committee to view the place ; but their report, if they made any, does 
not appear on record. The first date recorded on the town books oc- 
curs in specifying the birth of Sarah Frost, the daughter of Samuel 
and Deliverance Frost, who was born February, 1725. The first 
death on record is that of Moses King, son of John and Sarah King, 
who departed this life April 26, 1729. In recording the death of any 
one, the number of years, months and days, were very carefully giv- 
en ; and sometimes even the hours and minutes ! 

In September, 1730, John King, Samuel Nevins and others, who 
were on these lands, petitioned for a grant of six miles square, and a 
committee was appointed to consider the matter and view the land, 
but nothing was done. In June, 1731, Joseph Wright, and others 
residing at " Elbows," petitioned to have their lands confirmed to 
theiu ; and John King and others sent a similar petition. As was 
before stated, a company of the Scotch-Irish emigrants had begun to 
establish themselves here as early as 1727. They were encouraged 
to do this by grants or permits from the proprietors of Lambstown, 
(now Hardwick) who claimed an extensive tract of land in this re- 
gion, by virtue of a purchase from the Indians, December 27, 1686, 
" for the sum of twenty pounds current money of New England." 
The Colonial government, however, did not admit their title to the 
land, and accordingly fifty-six of the inhabitants, mostly Scotch-Irish, 
but some from Springfield and other New England towns, presented 
the following petition for a grant of this tract of land : — 

" To His Excellency, Jonathan Belcher, Esq., Captain General and Governor 
in Chief in and over his Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New 

♦ I am indebted to Rev. J. B. Felt, Secretary of the Congregational Library 
Association, for this interesting fact. 


England, The Honorable His Majesties Council, and House of Representatives in 
General Court assembled, May 31, 1732. 

" The petition of the subscribers dwelling and residing on a tract and parcel of 
land lying and situate between Springfield and Brookfield, Brimfield and the land 
failed the Equivalent land and Cold Spring, Humbly Sheweth :— 

" That they are sensible the said land belongs to the said Province, yet the reason 
•vvhy your petitioners entered on the said land was as follows: — 'Some from the en« 
couragement of Joshua Lamb, Esq., and Company, that the said land belonged 
to them ; and that they would give to such of your petitioners as entered thereon 
under them a good right and title to such a part thereof as they respectively con- 
tracted for. Yet notmthstanding your petitioners are now sensible that the said 
Lamb & Co. have no right to the said land, and that the same will prove greatly to 
your petitioners damage — that is to such as hold under them, unless relieved by 
Your Excellency and Honors ;— and that others of your petitioners entered on from 
necessity, not having wherewith of their own to provide. Yet nevertheless your 
petitioners are duly sensible that they deserve your discountenance. But confiding 
in the reasons offered, they humbly request your compassionate consideration , 
that they may be put under such regulation as may have a tendency to promote 
the floiu-ishing of religion, &c. 

" Therefore your petitioners most humbly pray, that your Excellency and Honors 
would take the premises into your wise consideration, and either grant them the 
said tract of land, or put them under such restrictions and regvilations as in your 
consummate wisdom shall be thought m.ost reasonable ; and your petitioners as in 
duty bound will ever pray. 

Joseph Brooks, Joseph "Wriglit, jr., 
Robert Nevins, Samuel Brooks, 

Humphrey Gardner, Robert Dunlap, 
Nicholas Blancher, Benjamin Parsons, 
William Crawford, James Lamberton,jr; 
Samuel Nevins, Timothy McElwean, 
John Gerish, William Sloan, 

Samuel Shaw, Thomas Hill, 

Alexander Tackels, Andrew Rutherford, James McElwean, 
Robert Farrell, Daniel Parsons, Matthew Brown, 

James M'Clenathan,Patrick Smith, 
James Lamberton, John Brown, 
Thos. M'Clenathan, Aaron Parsons, 
Robert Thompson, Andrew Farrand. 

■Tames Dorchester 
Joseph Wright, 
Bernard McNitt, 
Daniel Fuller, 
Andrew Mackie, 
James Shearer, 
James Stephens, 
Daniel Killam, 
David Spear, 
Thomas Little, 
Samuel Doolittle, 

John Harvey, 
John Bemon, 
Duncan Quintin, 
Isaac Magoon, 
Isaac Magoon, jr. 
Micah Tousley, 
Elijah Vose, 
Elisha Hall, 

Joseph Fleming, 

James Brakenridge, Aaron Nelson, 
Robert Harper, John Henderson, 
William Shaw, David Nevins, 

" In the House of Representatives, Nov. 24, 1732. In answer to this petition. 
Voted, that Col. John Alden, of Duxbury, and Mr. Samuel Bradford, of Plymp- 
ton, with such others as the Honorable Board shall appoint, be a Committee to re- 
pair to the land petitioned for, carefully to view the situation and circumstances 
thereof, as well as those of the petitioners ; and also the quantity and quality of 
the said land ; and to report then- opinion at the next May session, what may be 
proper for the Court to do thereon, and that the petition be referred accordingly. 
Sent up for concurrence. J. Quincy, Speaker. 

" In Council, Nov. 27, 1732. Read and concurred. Ebenezer Burrill, Esq., of 
Lynn, joined in the affair, J. Willard, Secretary. 

" Consented to, J. Belcher." 


"The Committee appointed by the General Court at their session in Nov. last, 
to repair to the land petitioned for by James Dorchester and sundry others, hav- 
ing, in pursuance of the vote of said Court, repaired to said lands, and carefully 
viewed the condition of the inhabitants thereof, as well as that of the petitioners, 
and also the quantity and quality of said lands, do Report our opinion thereon, as 
follows, viz : — 

" We find the land petitioned for to be a ti-act of land commonly called the ' El- 
bow tract,' lying near Springfield and the Equivalent Lands, containing 17,014 
acres, (viz. contents of five miles scjuare, and 1,014 acres over,) exclusive of par- 
ticular grants taken up find laid out within the same, bounded and included within 
the lines and boundaries of the adjacent land as hereafter laid down, viz : — Easter- 
ly in part upon the west line of Brookfield township ; from the North-west corner 
the said line runs South two deg. AVest to the river, called Quaboag aiias Chicopec 
river ; thence bounding on Brimfield township, as the said river runs, Easterly in 
part, and Southerly, and in part Westerly so far down said river, as to where the 
South end line of a tract of Equivalent land, called Cold-Spring township, [now 
Belchertown,] crosses or skirts the f aid river ; then bounding Northerly on the 
said line, as it keeps East by the needle of the surveying instrument, to the South- 
east corner of said tract or township, which is the mouth of Swift River ; thence 
bounding Westerly in part on the said tract or township of Equivalent land as the 
river runs, to where the South line of another tract of Equivalent land, [now 
Ware] containing 10,000 acres belonging to John Read, Esq., strikes up or runs 
■from said river ; thence bounding Northerly upon said lino as it runs East and by 
North to the South-east corner of said tract, being a heap of stones by the root of 
a great red oak tree, fallen close by one on the West side of a run of water, about 
eighteen rods Southerly of the river, called the Ware River ; thence bounding 
Westerly on the East line of said tract, as it runs North by the needle, until an 
East line there will strike the North-east corner tree of Brookfield, as by a plan 
presented herewith appears. 

"We find the greatest part of said land to be a Pine land, high hills and low 
vallies ; the hills very poor and mean, the vallies pretty good. We also find thai 
the said tract of land lies in a broken form, and is much discommoded by farms 
claimed by particular grants from this Court, which have taken up the best of the 
land. We also find that the circumstances of the petitioners and settlers are diffi- 
cult and much intricated and perplexed ; some of them having entered and settled 
without regulation, and have interfered and encroached upon other men's pitches 
and improvements ; and in many instances, two several settlers claim one and the 
same spot, under different pleas and pretences of right ; some having lots laid out, 
some partly laid out, and others only pitched, interfering one with another as afore- 
said. We would further inform this honorable court that we have taken great 
pains and care to inspect and inquire into every particular instance relating to the 
said tract of land, and find it needful, to prevent further charge and difiiculty, to 
report particularly, viz: — That we find that there are entered, and settled, and 
about settling, on the said tract of land, the number of eighty persons, the most 
whereof are families who have built houses, and made considerable improvements, 
and are now, and have constantly, for more tlian three years past, been supplied 
with a minister to preach the word of God unto them, who has been supported by a 
free contribution. We also find that about forty-eight of the above number were 
introduced and led on, or encouraged to settle and make improvements, by Joshua 
Lamb, Esq., & Co., and their Committee, who claimed the said tract of land by 


virtue of an Indian purchase ; and the most of the number had actual contracts 
from them for certain parcels thereof, and had received deeds of conveyance, and 
orders from them for laying out of their lots, and have had the most of them laid 
out accordingly. We are, therefore, humbly of the opinion that the several per- 
sons and families hereafter named, that were so admitted and settled under and by 
the said claimers, have their several and respective lots, hereafter mentioned, rati- 
fied and confirmed to them, their heirs and assigns, in such proportions and under 
such restrictions and limitations and considerations as follows and are hereafter 

Specific grants to fortj-four different persons were then made, most- 
ly of 100 acres each, and they alone were constituted Proj)rietors or 
Grantees, with power to take and divide among themselves all lands 
within the limits of the town, not otherwise appropriated. One of the 
conditions of this adjustment of their affairs was, " that such of the 
aforenamed persons or grantees, as are non-residents, and their lots 
not settled, shall forthwith settle them by their own persons, or by 
such credible wholesome inhabitants as shall be accepted by the ma- 
jor part of the resident settlers." Another of the terms was, that 
they should " lay out in some suitable and convenient places, one lot, 
not less than one hundred acres, to be to and for the first settled and 
ordained minister ; and, also, two other lots, of the same contents, 
one for the use of the ministry, and the other for a school." Thus 
early was provision made for education and religion. 
. The Committee reported further : — " We find that the following 
named persons, to the number of thirty-one, having presumed to enter 
upon the Province land, in the said tract, without any leave or order 
from this Court, or under any pretence of mistake, or admission from 
the aforesaid claimers ; yet, they having, most of them, made consid- 
erable improvement, and expended the chief of their small substance, 
and having paid their proportion to the support of the ministry among 
them ; that to remove them off would reduce them to extreme pover- 
ty. We are, therefore, humbly of the opinion that it may not be in- 
consistent with the honor of the Province, and yet a sufiieient dis- 
countenance to such presumptuous settlements, if there be granted to 
each of them a single lot, including their improvements, upon such 
conditions as are hereafter mentioned." 

A description of the grants to these persons then follows, and also 

the conditions applicable to all the settlers. These were " that all 

and each of the above-named persons or grantees, both first and last 

mentioned, (excepting the Rev, Mr. John Harvey,*) do pay into 

* Ihe first settled minister of the town. See Appendix A. 


the public treasury of this Province, the sum of five hundred pounds 
within two years ; as, also, forthwith to pay the further sum of £67, 
lis and 9p, the charge and expense of this Committee on the affair ; 
each man or grantee his equal part or proportion of said sums, accord- 
ing to the quantity of his grant or first allotment. And if any of the 
aforenamed persons or grantees, either first or last mentioned, do not 
fulfil the aforesaid conditions, within the term of time herein limited, 
their lots to be forfeited, and other ways disposed of as this Court 
shall order. And that all public charges arising for the future (until 
they be settled and invested with the powers and privileges of a 
township,) shall be raised upon their several lots, according to the 
quantity of acres ; and that all such of the aforesaid persons, or gran- 
tees, as are entitled to draw after-rights and divisions, shall pay a 
double proportion to all such charges, according to the quantity of 
their grants or first lots. And that they, the aforesaid settlers and 
grantees, do erect and build a suitable house for public worship*, and 
settle a minister within two years ; and that they be allowed to brino- in 
aBill for erecting and setting themselves ofFa township accordingly." 
This Report was presented by Ebenezer Burrill, Esq., and adopt- 
ted by the General Court, June 21st, 1733. It seems to have ad- 
justed all difficulties in the case, and from this time the aflfairs of the 
youthful settlement seem to have gone "on the even tenor of their 
way." The following record on the Proprietor's book shows the es- 
teem in which the labors of this Committee were regarded by them : — 
" At a meeting of the Proprietors of the common and undivided lands 
in the Elbow Tract, legally convened by adjournment, on the third 
of June, being Monday, 1735, — Voted, That there be granted and 
laid out to Ebenezer Burrill, Esq., Col. John Alden, and Mr. Samuel 
Bradford, who were the Honorable Committee of the General Court 
for viewing and determining the grants of this Elbow Tract, — to 
each of them an hundred acre lot, in any of the common land that was 
added to the tract since it was surveyed by the former elaimers, as a 
grateful acknowledgment of their great and good service to the settle- 
ment, in dispatching the affairs thereof by a full and particular Report, 
superseding the charge and difficulty of a Committee of regulation." 
The record also exists of the land surveyed and laid out to Esquire 
Burrill and Mr. Bradford, " in the north-end addition, so called," 
which is now probably within the limits of the town of Ware. 
* See Appendix B. 


The tax levied upon the inhabitants by the General Court, in ac- 
cordance with the conditions specified in the Report, seems to have 
pressed as a heavy burden, " too heavy to be borne " by the feeble 
and struggling colony. It may appear as a small sum to us, but it 
Vas a great amount for them to raise, amid the privations and desti- 
tutions of that early time. The currency was in Province bills, which 
were then worth in silver only one-third of their nominal value ; so 
that the whole tax of £567, lis, 9p, was equal only to about $630, 
or less than four cents an acre for the 17,014 acres which the town 
contained ; yet the people found it very difl&cult to pay even this 
pittance. They accordingly applied to the General Court for relief, 
and also appointed a Committee from their own number, to consult 
with the Hon. John Stoddard and Ebenezer Pomeroy, Esq., and 
" lay before them the state and condition of this settlement," with 
respect to this matter. The payment was delayed from time to time, 
till at last execution from the Province Treasurer was issued against 
them, and their collectors exposed to imprisonment for not meeting 
the demand of the General Government. The town immediately ad- 
dressed a petition to the Court, in Sept. 1743, ten years after the tax 
was levied, setting forth the claims of " this little, poor, infant plan- 
tation," to farther forbearance and mercy. They represented them- 
selves as being but " a poor people, on a small, mean tract of land," 
and that their taxes were " very hard, and grevious, and wholly in- 
supportable." In answer to this petition it was " ordered that the 
warrant mentioned be so far stayed as that they be obliged to pay only 
one-quarter part thereof forthwith, and the other three-quarters in 
three equal payments, viz: in the years 1744, '45, and '46." This 
probably settled the matter, and out of their deep poverty they paid 
the stipulated price of their humble homes. 

The town increased but slowly in population. The land, covered 
mostly with primeval forests, presented few attractions to any save a 
haxdy and peri^overing race of men, who could earn, from a rugged 
and somewhat sterile soil, a scanty subsistence only by severe and 
patient toil. Their early efforts and labors, like those of emigrants to 
our now distant western borders, were necessarily directed to the 
toilsome work of clearing the heavy timbered lands, and building their 
rude log-houses. There was little opportunity afforded them for the 
acquisition of property. Their dependence was almost exclusively 
placed upon what their own hands might gain from a soil never famed 


for its fertility. Whatever tlicy could raise, beyond what their own 
necessities required, had to be carried by long and expensive journies 
to Boston, in order that they might procure other articles of domestic 
consumption. Their pork, and grain, and potatoes, — the culture of 
this latter vegetable being introduced into this country by the emi- 
grants from the north of Ireland, — were there exchanged for sugar, 
and spices, and other commodities, which only the city could furnish, 
not forgetting a little tea ! — for the good dames of that period were 
undoubtedly as fond of a social chat, and a bit of scandal too, over 
" the cups that cheer but not inebriate," as are their more modern 
sisters. The women of the Scotch-Irish made much finer linen and 
thread than our New England women, which they often sold in the 
river towns. Nothing was known here about the foot-wheel for spin- 
ning flax, until these emigrants came to this country. It may be 
thought, perhaps, by the cynical that these were articles of luxury, 
for whicb- the people of that day had no great necessity. They were 
elements, however, of refinement ; for they manifested a taste which 
would naturally seek to gratify itself in other ways, and which would 
thus gradually lead to the improvement of their condition in many 
other respects. Still a spirit of patriotic prudence, and, if need be, 
of self-sacrifice was early and strongly cherished by our worthy pro- 
genitors. At the annual town meeting, held March 15, 1768, an 
article had been introduced into the warrant " to see if this District 
will agree upon, and come into some effectual measures to promote 
industry, economy and manufactures." " Whereupon," it is record- 
ed that, "in a very full meeting, the following votes passed : — 
" Whereas, the excessive use of foreign superfluities, is one great 
cause of the present distressed state of this country in general, and 
the happiness of the communities depends on industry, economy and 
good morals ; and this District, taking into serious consideration the 
great decay of trade, the scarcity of money, tlie heavy debt contracted 
in the last war,* which still remains upon the people, and the great 
difficulties to which, by these means, they are reduced : Therefore, 
Voted, imanimoushj, that this District will use their utmost endeav- 
ors, and enforce their endeavors by examples, in suppressing extrava- 
gance, idleness and vice, and promoting industry, economy and good 
manners. And, in order to prevent the unnecessary exportation of 
money, of which the continent has of late been so much drained, it is 

* The old French "War, so called. 


therefore, Voted, that this District will, by all prudent means, en- 
deavor to discountenance the use of foreign superfluities, and encour- 
age the manufactures of the whole continent in general, and of this 
Province in particular."* 

These resolutions were worthy of those who were coteraporaries and 
co-patriots with "the Boston tea party." It was such a spirit, so 
rife even in the retired rural districts, which prepared the way for the 
long and arduous, but triumphant struggle of the Revolution. It does 
not appear, from any record or tradition that has come within my reach, 
that the inhabitants of this town, in its earlier days, were ever sub- 
jected to the inroads and ravages of the Indians, by whom they were 
surrounded. Traces of the aborigines are still found in our fields. 
Their rude stone implements of husbandry, domestic utensils, and ar- 
row-heads, are occasionally turned up by the plough-share. This ap- 
pears to have been a favorite region with them. It was their fishing 
and hunting grounds. From the Quaboag ponds in Brookfield, along 
the valley of the Chicopee river, to where it empties into the Con- 
necticut, the free, hardy, stalwart sons of the forest roved at pleasure. 
Though this was never the scene of any general and sanguinary con- 
flict with them, yet the early settlers were obliged to be ever on the 
alert against a sudden surprise or open attack. Strong guard houses 
were erected in different parts of the town, to which for a time the 
men were accustomed to resort at night, leaving their femilies exposed 
and defenceless ; for it was generally found to be the aim of the sav- 
age foe to cut off the male portion of the inhabitants, well knowing 
that from them they had the most to fear. It was customary, also, 
for the first settlers here, as was the case in other parts of our exposed 
frontier settlements, to go into the fields with a gun in one hand, and 
the implements of husbandry in the other. The females left at home 
had loaded fire-arms ready, and ready arms to use them, in defence of 
themselves and their little ones ; and they kept a constant look out, 
•' all eye, all ear," in dreaded expectation of the foe. On one oc- 
casion an heroic matron,! while left alone at night with her little fam- 
ily, her husband having gone to the guard house, was startled by the 
howling of the frightened dogs who attempted to burst in the door of 
the loo- house. She feared that this boded an attack from the ruth- 
less savage, but was greatly relieved when three loud yells of a pan- 
ther, thrice repeated, told the real character of her untimely visitor. 
* Town Records, Vol. I, p. 351. f The grandmother of Capt. Timothy Ferrell. 


■' Oh, mister," said she, " I am glad to hear that it is only youV 
The present generation of ladies, whose hands seldom touch any thing 
more alarming than the needle, or the keys of a piano, and who faint 
almost at the smell of gunpowder, would be ill-suited for such times 
and scenes as tried the resolution and fortitude of the dames of yore. 
As it is a matter of interest to know the progressive growtli of any 
place, I have endeavored to collect a few such facts as would clearly 
show the progress of this town in population and wealth. The first 
movement for a census in Massachusetts, — except one ordered in 1754, 
to ascertain the number of negroes, — which is found on our legisla- 
tive records, was begun in 1763, while this Province was still a 
colony of the British government. The requisition was made by 
Parliament, and was regarded with anxious jealousy by our fathers, as 
another plan for the imposition of taxes on our Province, and the in- 
fringement of their charter rights. Being a novelty in political requi- 
sitions, it was naturally viewed with great suspicion. The first pro- 
posal of the Governor, Sir Phillip Francis, in 1763, did not receive 
from the Colonial Legislature that prompt attention which he wished. 
He again addressed the legislative body on the subject, and an order 
was passed " that the selectmen of each town and district, in this 
Province, to be chosen for the year 1764, do, as soon as conveniently 
may be, take an exact account of the number of dwelling houses, 
families and people in their respective towns and districts, including 
as well Indians civilized, negroes and mulattoes, as white people, and 
females as well as males," Thus sanctioned, the project seemed as 
though it would be successful. But as the heart of the people was 
not in it, many refused to comply with its requisitions. No doubt 
their disaffection to it wag much increased by the tidings that Parlia- 
ment had voted to tax the American Colonies. Nor was the acerbity 
of their feelings toward it at all sweetened by the " Sugar Act," 
which restricted their commerce with the West Indies. After waiting 
over a year with his patience much tried, and his fear not small lest 
the British authorities would look on him as inefficient, the Chief 
Macristrate desired that the stronger confirmations of a formal law 
with suitable penalties annexed, might be superadded. In accordance 
with this, an act was passed March 1, 1765, that compelled the select- 
men of the various towns and districts to see that the required census 
was taken, under a penalty of £50 for refusal or neglect of this duty. 
Any individual who should refuse to give a proper and true list, when 


required by the selectmen, was fined forty shillings. Thus the first 
most particular census of our Commonwealth was introduced and car- 
ried forward, in one of the stormiest periods of our political history. 
From this it appeared that the town of Palmer had in the year 1765, 
a little less than 50 years after its settlement, 74 houses, 88 families) 
123 males and 110 females under 16 years of age ; 133 males and 
140 females above 16. — making in all 506 inhabitants.* According 
to the negro census of 1755, there was but one colored person in this 
town, and he a slave 1 owned by William Scott. 

At the annual meeting held March 3, 1761, the citizens appointed 
a Committee of five " to petition His Excellency, the Governor, that 
some person be commissioned for a Justice of the Peace in this town." 
The record goes on to say, — " It was disputed whether it would be 
agreeable to His Excellency, the Governor, that we should nominate 
such a person as we thought best qualified for such a commission, and 
most likely to serve the public in the exercise of it ; and it was unan- 
imously thought that our nominating such a person would be no way 
disagreeable to him. Then, Voted, the following instructions to the 
above said Committee, viz: — That we, after due consideration, and 
deliberately debating the affair, do find that Mr. William Scott, Jr., 
is a person most likely to be of public service to this Society in the 
commission of the peace ; and we do expect you will, as soon as you 
have opportunity, make application to His Excellency, the Governor, 
in behalf of this town, that a commission of the peace might be pro- 
cured for Mr. William Scott, Jr., he being a person of considerable 
knowledge in the law, and also of a very good character. We, there- 
fore, put confidence in you, that you will take every proper method 
you can think, or imagine necessary, and so proceed from time to 
time, till you have obtained the same." Such action, by the concur- 
rent voice of the whole town, shows the importance they attached to 
the ofiice, and, the confidence they had in the man. The title, of it- 
self, then conferred distinction. It was a warrant of personal merit ; 

* By the census of 1776, at the opening of the Revolution, there were 727 in- 
habitants in this town. 

In 1790 
" 1800 
" 1810 
" 1S20 
" 1S30 
" 1840 
" 1850 

Popuhition, 809 

" 1,197 

" 3,974 

Valuation, $5,134 82 

0,749 94 

6,9-57 70 

9,092 77 

256,428 06 

" 695,519 00 

«' 1,208,435 67 


a eertifieate of undoubted excellence of character ; an evidence of in- 
tellectual and moral worth ! 

Many other matters of local interest might bo alluded to, but the of time admonishes me to hasten to a close. It would require 
a volume, rather than the limited compass of an address, to narrate all 
that might be said with profit and interef>t:, of the history of the town. 
There is one point, however, to which I must refer, fefiecting as it 
does such high honor upon the patriotic qualities of our fathers in rev- 
olutionary times. The records of this town, like those of nearly all 
the other towns of the State at that day, contain many honorable relics 
of the sterling virtues of our ancestors, and of their zealous devotion 
to the cause of civil liberty. " From the first practical attempt to 
separate the power of taxation and the right of representation, to the 
termination of the war of Independence, the various town records are 
filled with papers breathing an ardent spirit of patriotism. On their 
pages are eloquent vindications of the principles of civil liberty, able 
expositions of chartered privileges, and bold appeals against the en- 
croachments of the crown. They bring to us the thoughts and words 
of the fathers of the Revolution as vividly as they rose on t!ie minds, 
or came from the lips, of the authors of the heroic resolutions. The 
doings of each of these municipal republics form connected scries of 
noble acts and exertions, spreading through many years, and evincing 
the pure and tested virtues of the patriots of former time." 

The inhabitants of this town at the time of the Kevolution, were 
not lacking in patriotism at this trying era of our national struggle for 
independence. They were ready to peril every thing but honor, for 
the preservation of their "most invaluable rights and privileges." 
They furnished their proportion of men and means for the war, and 
nobly performed their part toward securing that independence for 
which they made a prompt and early declaration. By a singular co- 
incidence, a meeting was held in Palmer on the 17th of June, 1776, 
• — on tlie very day of the awful opening scene of the bloody drama of 
the llevolutionary War, on the heights of Bunker's Hill, — " to advise 
and instruct the Representative of this town, whether, should the 
Honorable Congress- for the safety of the Colonies declare them inde- 
pendent of Great Britain, they, the said inhabitants, will engage ivith 
their lives and fortunes to support them in the measures, agreeable 
to, and in compliance with, the resolve of the General Court." 
To the lasting honor of our patriotic forefathers, be it said, that they 


unitedly and cordially entered into the spirit of tlie call. Andwliile, 
all unknown to them, their fellow-citizens in the eastern part of this 
" good old Commonwealth," were pouring the leaden missiles of death 
upon the ranks of the hired minions of despotism ; and in behalf of 
their native or adopted land, were bravely and freely shedding their 
blood in the first battle of America's Liberty : they, with a kindred de- 
votion, were ^ving utterance to their patriotic feelings in words, whose 
sincerity they were ready to test by as patriotic deeds. It is record- 
ed on the town books that, " at a very full meeting of the inhabitants 
of Palmer, legally met at the public meeting-house, on Monday, the 
17th day of June, 1776, at one of the clock, the meeting being open- 
ed, Mr. Robert Ferrell was chosen Moderator, and then proceeded and 
Voted the following instructions to the Representative of this town, 
[Capt. David Spear], now at the General Assembly of this Colony, 
as the sentiments of this town : — That, Whereas, the Court of Great 
Britain hath, by sundry acts of Parliament, assumed the power of 
legislation for the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, without the con- 
sent of the inhabitants ; and have, likewise, eserted the assumed pow" 
er in raising a revenue in the Colonics without their consent, so that 
we cannot justly call that our own, which others may, when they 
please, take from us against our will : Hath, likewise, appointed a 
new set of ofiicers to superintend the revenue, wholly unknown in the 
Charter, who, by their commissions, are invested with powers alto- 
gether unconstitutional, and destructive to the security which we have 
a right to enjoy ; and fleets and armies hath been introduced, to sup- 
port these unconstitutional officers in collecting these unconstitutional 
revenues : Hath, also, altered the Charter of this Colony, and there- 
by overthrown the Constitution, together with many other grievous 
acts of Parliament too grievous to be borne : The peaceable inhabi- 
tants being alarmed at such repeated inroads on the Constitution, and 
gigantic strides to despotic power over the Colonies, they petitioned 
the King for redress of grievances separately, but finding that to fail, 
petitioned jointly, — begging as children to a father to be heard and 
relieved, but all to no purpose, the petitions being treated with the 
utmost contempt : The united Colonies finding that no redress could 
be bad from Great Britain, unitedly agreed to an opposition, in the 
most peaceable way they could contrive., being willing to try every 
peaceable measure that they possibly could invent, rather than break 
with Great Britain ; but Great Britain, being bent on her favorite 


scheme of enslaving the Colon'es, declared them rebels and treated 
them as such : The Colonies being driven to a state of despair, for 
the last release from them, were obliged, by the law of self-preserva- 
tion, to take up arms in their own defence, and meant to use them 
only as such ; but the dispute having arisen to so great a height that 
it is impossible for the Colonies ever to be joined with Great Britain 
again, with the least security and safety to themselves or posterity : — 

" We, therefore, the inhabitants of this town, do believe it absolute- 
ly necessary for the safety of the United Colonies, to be independent 
fi'om Great Britain, and to declare themselves an independent and 
separate State, as we can see no alternative but inevitable ruin or in- 
dependence. But as there is a General Congress of the United Col- 
onies, composed of honorable, wise and good men, wlio sit at the head 
of affairs, consulting measures which will be most for the safety and 
prosperity of the whole, having the means of intelligence and infor- 
mation in their hands, we submit the whole affair to their wise con- 
sideration and determination ; and if they shall unite in a separation 
from Great Britain, toe do unanimously determine and declare that 
we will support them with our lives and fortunes ! 

" We do direct the Representative of this town to lay these votes 
before the Honorable General Assembly of this Colony, to enable them 
to communicate our sentiments to the Honorable Continental Congress. 
(Signed) Robekt Ferkell, 3Iode7'ator. 

Robert Hunter, Clerk.'''' 

These resolutions of our patriotic fathers are worthy of all praise, 
and the liberty-loving spirit they breathe ought to be cherished by 
their posterity to the latest generation. They came from men who 
felt, from their past experience and that of their progenitors, that 

" 'Tis Liberty alone that gives the flower 
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume, 
And we are weeds without it ; all constraint, 
Except what wisdom lays on evil men, 
Is evil, and forms in them who suffer it 
A sordid mind, unfit to be the tenant 
Of man's noble frame." 

This manly and explicit avowal of wrongs received, and bold asser- 
tion of rights denied, and fearless Declaration of Independence, as it 
might justly be called, was a litting prelude, on the part of our heroic 
citizens, to that world-renowned instrument whose thrilling words, but 


seventeen days later, rang through the land ; and whose anniversary 
is hailed with jubilant greetings through the entire length and breadth 
of the freest, noblest, mightiest nation that the sun shines upon ! 

Bancroft* in giving a description of the disfranchised Scotch-Pres- 
byterians, and their share in colonizing Amei-ica, and preparing the 
way for the Revolution, says :— ^" Their training in Ireland had kept 
the spirit of Liberty, and the readiness to resist government, as fresh 
in their hearts as though they had just been listening to the preach- 
ings of Knox, or musing over the political creed of the Westminster 
Assembly. They brought to America no submissive love for Eng- 
land ■ and their experience and their religion alike bade them meet 
oppression with pi'ompt resistance. We shall find the first voice pub- 
licly raised in America to dissolve all connection with Great Britain 
came, not from the Puritans of New England, nor the Dutch of New 
York, nor the planters of Virginia, but from the Scotch-Irish and Pres- 
byterians." It was because such a spirit pervaded nearly all minds, 
and bound the people together as one, in their efforts for Liberty, that 
they were finally triumphant. Indeed, how could it be otherwise, es- 
pecially among those who had themselves, or whose immediate ances- 
tors had periled all for the sake of civil and religious freedom. Tliere 
was a devoted enthusiasm for popular rights pervading the entire com- 
munity. There was a stern unshrinking determination to oppose tyran- 
ny, exhibited by the patriots of '76, which was itself the prestige of 
victory, and which has embalmed their memory in the grateful hearts 
of a liberty-loving people. Our own spirit of independence and love 
of freedom, we derive from this pure source. And their descendants 
must sadly degenerate indeed, if they ever become unmindful of the 
daring spirit, and high resolve, and self-sacrificing devotion which fill- 
ed the souls of our heroic ancestors. They possessed an enthusiastic 
love of liberty, and an utter detestation of tyranny, that led them to 
brave death itself, rather than lose the one or submit to the other. 
It was a matter of ^Ji^inci]^^ with them. It was no mere emotion. 
It was no sentimental or romantic feeling ; no visionary or ideal thing. 
They entered upon the bloody contest, by which alone they could se- 
cure the free and full enjoyment of civil and religious rights, with a 
fearless determination and a persistent purpose that yielded to no ob- 
stacle. All that was dear to them in life was periled in the struggle ; 
yet they nobly engaged in it with unfaltering resolution. " Liberty 

* " History of the United States," Yol. 5. 


or death " was the watchword. This was the only alternative they 
proposed to themselves, and they were ready to " do or die," to se- 
cure the freedom they prized so much. That a people, who, at the 
commencement of the Revolutionary War, " had not a regular regi- 
ment of soldiers, nor a single fortified town, nor a solitary ship of 
war ; who had neither money, arms, nor military stores," — should 
maintain a seven years contest with one of the mightiest and most 
warlike nations upon the earth ; that they should conquer two com- 
plete armies, and finally obtain their independence, ought ever to be 
acknowledged as one of the wonderful wCrks of a wonder-working 

And as often as the anniversary of our nation's birth-day shall re- 
turn, may it be hailed as a precious memento of the brightest era in 
the political history of the world. May this joyful day, consecrated 
by so many and such precious associations of by-gone and eventful 
times, never dawn without awakening in the heart of every American, 
the warmest gratitude to Heaven for the priceless blessings of civil 
and religious freedom ; may its annual return ever be hailed with 
gladness for what it has secured to us, and may we transmit the pre- 
cious legacy unimpaired and improved to those who come after us ; 
may " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," be guaranteed to 
every individual of our mighty and growing Republic ; may the com- 
mon interests of humanity ever hold us compact together ; may the 
rich inheritance we have received from our patriotic fathers, never be 
squandered or perverted ; and may the sun never shine between our 
ocean boundaries upon any other than a free, happy and united 





In the Report of the Legislative Committee, made June 21, 1733, 
respecting the disputed tenure of the land, it is said that the inhabi- 
tants of the town " are now and have constantly, for more than three 
years past, been supplied with a minister to preach the word of God 
unto them, who has been supported by a free contribution." It also 
specifies that " not less than one hundred acres " of land should be 
" laid out in some suitable and convenient place," as a gift to " the 
first settled and ordained minister," and an additional lot of the same 
size for the continued "use of the ministry." No records of the 
church are found of an earlier date than 1753. Probably none were 
made previous to that time ; consequently nothing definite can be as- 
certained respecting the precise date of the organization of the church, 
or of the circumstances attending its formation. Some facts, however, 
can be gathered from the " Proprietors' Records " and the Town 
books, which are of interest, and which serve to throw some light upon 
the ministerial afiairs of the town at that early day. 

The first minister of whom mention is made, was Rev. Robert 
KiLPATRicK, who ofiiciated for them for five Sabbaths in the year 
1730. Rev. Mr. Weld followed him and supplied them for three 
months ; after whom Rev. Benjamin Dickinson preached for six 
months. These were probably "candidates," but neither of them 
seems to have given satisfaction enough to be called to settle with the 
people ; or else, it may be, they were not sufficiently interested in the 
infant colony to throw in their lot with it. 

Rev. John Harvey, a native of the north of Ireland and educated 
before he came to America, was hired to preach May 11, 1781, and 


continued thus to labor with them in the work of tlie ministry for sev- 
eral years. He was at first " hired quarterly," every inhabitant be- 
ing visited by a Committee appointed for that purpose, " to know 
whether they were willing that Mr. Harvey should stay" among 
them as their minister. The first town meeting was held in reference 
to his "continuance and support." One of the votes passed was 
that " the Rev. Mr. Harvey have liberty in the common to get fire- 
wood, timber and pine, for his own necessary use, during his abode 
amongst us." He was paid at the rate of £80 a year. "Whatever 
grain he took toward his rates," it was provided that he should have 
it at a fixed value, viz : — " Wheat, 8s; rye, 6s; Indian corn, 4s." 
After preaching more than three years in this way, a "call" was 
given to him "to continue and settle in the work of the ministry in 
this place." £100 were to be granted to him " to encourage his set- 
tlement," and £80 a year offered as the "stated salary," to be paid 
semi-annually. " Upon these terms and proposals," with the addi- 
tional stipulation that "the people should either provide his fire-wood 
yearly, or grant him a wood lot," he " consented to serve them in 
the work of the gospel ministry, according to his ability, and as God 
by his grace shall enable him, and by his Providence continue him 
therein,." Measures were therefore taken to establish him as "the 
minister of this settlement, according to the order of the gospel, and 
the laws of this Province." A vote of the town was passed that he 
should be ordained as a Presbyterian minister. The time fixed for 
the ordination was the first Wednesday in June ; and as they had as 
yet no meeting-house, — the religious services of the community hav- 
ing been held from house to house, three Sabbaths in succession at 
each place, — they selected the house of James Shearer as the scene 
of the solemn and interesting ceremony; " unless the Reverend El- 
ders, called to officiate in the work, should see cause, if the weather 
permit, to do it abroad," — i. e., in the open air. The people, how- 
ever, afterwards chose another place, under the broad canopy of 
heaven, in a field "on the east side of Cedar-Swamp brook, between 
the brook and the foot of the hill, and within eight or nine rods of 
the road laid out toward Brookfield, on the South side thereof." 

The following account of the important event is taken from the 
Proprietors' records : — " On the 5th day of June, Anno Dom. 1734, 
the Rev. Mr. John Harvey was ordained the first minister of the 
church of the Elbow settlement. The ordination was performed by 


the delegates of the -Reverend Presbytery, of Londonderry, N. H., 
upon a scaffold standing on tlie plain on the East side of the meadow, 
called Cedar-Swamp Meadow, within Mr. Harvey's lot. The E,ev. 
Mr. Thompson, of Londonderry, preached the sermon, and the Rev. 
John Moorhead, of Boston, gave the charge." One other Presbyte- 
rian minister was present, though what part he took in the services is 
not specified. They were all countrymen of Mr. Harvey's. Rev. 
Isaac Chauncey, of Hadley, assisted at the ordination, and pei-haps 
other Congregational ministers. Ample provision seem^s to have been 
made for his support, considering the circumstances of the people. In 
accordance with " a petition from the Proprietors, Settlers and Gran- 
tees of the Elbow Tract," it was ordered in Council, April 16, 1734, 
that " a tax of two pence per acre per annum for three years," should 
be levied for the purpose of "building a meeting-house, and settling 
and supporting a minister in the said plantation." On the 11th of 
November of that year, £12 were assessed upon the inhabitants for 
"supplying the Rev. Mr. Harvey with a stock of fire-wood for the 
year ensuing;" £20 were granted for the same purpose the following 
season, and £37 the year after that. The increase in amount was 
probably owing to the depreciation of the paper currency of that day. 
March 5, 1735, there was " surveyed and laid out to the Rev. John 
Harvey, as the first settled ordained minister, one hundred acres of 
land, lying on the Westerly side of Cedar Mountain." This was the 
lot which was to be given as a sort of bonus to the first pastor of that 
small and struggling band. The " ministerial lot " which was to 
descend as the inheritance of the successive ministers of the place, had 
previously been designated and allotted to him. It was on the old 
Brimfield road, about a mile east of the meeting-house. 

January 5, 1759, a memorial of James Brakenridge and others, as 
a Committee of the District of Palmer, was presented to the Legisla- 
ture, setting forth that " in the grant made them of their lands by the 
General Court in 1733, they were obliged to lay out for the use of the 
ministry, and for the use of the school, one hundred acres each ; that 
they accordingly laid out such lands in the year 1735, but they not 
being conveniently situated for the purposes intended, the inhabitants 
have piirchased a farm of 150 acres, for the use of the ministry, in a 
much better situation, which cost them more than both the other lots 
would sell for ; and they, therefore, pray that they may be enabled to 
make sale of the two lots first mentioned, and apply the produce 


toward payment for tbe lot they have purchased aforesaid." In the 
House of Representatives it was read and ordered that ' ' the prayer 
of this petition be so far granted as that the petitioners be, and they 
hereby are, authorized and impowcred to make and execute a good 
and sufficient deed, or deeds, of conveyance in the law, of the minis- 
try lot mentioned ; they purchasing lands of equal value, in tlie most 
convenient place they can, to be held for the same purpose as the land 
is that they shall dispose of." 

" Consented to by the Governor." 

Most of the inhabitants, at this time, were what was called Scotch- 
Irish ; they were an industrious and frugal people, and made good, 
honest and upright citizens. Though they were from the " Emerald 
Isle," and their ancestors had lived in Ireland for a century, they 
were as really and truly Scotch in their habits, and tastes, and char- 
acter, as the natives of that famous "land o' cakes." ' They were 
of ardent temperament, tenacious of their opinions and strong in their 
prejudices, which sometimes led them into difficulties, especially with 
their townsmen of English origin, who had come in there from Spring- 
field and other places. The latter were mostly Congregationalists of 
the Puritan stamp ; while the former were staunch Presbyterians, 
somewhat like the old Covenanters. They did not harmonize, there- 
fore, in their ecclesiastical matters, and some sharp contentions arose 
between them. 

The English disliked Mr. Harvey, and a few of the Scotch united 
with them in opposition to him. In a petition to the General Court, 
September, 1739, they made many complaints against their opponents, 
accused Mr. Harvey of drunkenness, and prayed for relief. The 
Scotch party sent a counter-petition, and said hard things of the others, 
and were especially severe upon Steward Southgate, a prominent citi- 
zen and the leader of the opposition. They admitted that Mr. Har- 
vey had been guilty of the charge brought against him, but he had 
made a public and penitent confession of his fault. The friends and 
adherents of the minister thus rancorously assailed, were greatly in 
the majority, both in numbers and influence, and successfully carried 
their point in this unhappy controversy which was but the precursor 
of other and sorer conflicts. The General Court ordered the petition 
of Steward Southgate and others to be dismissed, as it was declared 
" groundless ;" and the town afterwards repaid the defenders of Mr. 
Harvey for the expense they had incurred in the matter, amounting to 


£100. His support, however, seems to have been somewhat scanty ; 
as the disaffected members, like the similar characters in modern times, 
appear to have done what they could to " cut oflf the supplies," and 
otherwise render his stay unpleasant. He apparently had decided to 
leave at a specified time, for in a warrant for a town meeting held 
December 17, 1744, an article was inserted "to choose a Committee 
to provide a supply for the pulpit, since Mr. Harvey hath fulfilled the 
time which he determined, and hath bidden us provide for ourselves." 
But at that meeting £20, " old tenor," was added to his salary and 
he stayed. In the year 1746, a more serious diflBculty arose respect- 
ing Mr. Harvey, which ultimately led to his dismissal from the pastor- 
ship of the church. He had escorted Mrs. Agnes Little, the wife of 
Mr. Thomas Little, to and from Boston ; and a public scandal attrib- 
uted to them gi'oss and unworthy conduct on the journey. The foul 
and calumnious aspersion, which was never proved, and which even 
the husband appears not to have credited, for he remained friendly to 
Mr. Harvey, caused, however, sore contentions in the church and 
parish, which then embraced the whole town. July 8, 1746, Robert 
Hunter was delegated to "go to the Presbytery to get them to come 
up to this place, to settle our differences in the church if may be." 
He declined going ; and on November 24th of that year, Barnard 
McNitt was " sent up in his stead." What the result was of this 
appeal does not appear. April 22d, of the year following, a Commit- 
tee was appointed by the town to investigate the affair, and after- 
wards to prosecute Mr. Harvey before the civil court of the State. 
This apparently was not done, though he seems to have ceased from 
his public labors, for December 7, 1747, it is stated he had " resign- 
ed," and " Capt. Seth Shaw was delegated to go after a minister." 
The town voted, March 8, 1748, to send to the Londonderry Presby- 
tery to have them dismiss Mr. Harvey from his pastoral connection 
with the church and people ; and this was done accordingly, though 
the precise date is not recorded. It was probably early in the sum- 
mer, for July 5, of that year, they chose a Committee to supply the 
pulpit, and a receipt of that date appears on the Proprietor's Records, 
(Vol. 2d, page 275,) from Mr. Harvey, which, as a matter of curi- 
osity, is transferred verbatim et literatim. The " Clark " is proba- 
bly answerable for the spelling : — 

" Kingstown, July the 5, 1748. 
" Recaved from Mr. Barnard McNitt the full of my Reates, Sallery 


and Wood-reates, during his collection. Ney — the full due to mee 
since my coming to the Elbowes, which has been seventeen years past, 
the Elaventh day of may Last, as witness my hand this fifth of July, 
1748. Mr. John Harvey. 

" Witness preasent 

" Samuell Shaw, Juner. 
"Kecorded this fifth of July, 1748. 

" Barnard McNiTT, Proprietor'' s Clark. ''^ 

Thus closed the labors of "the first settled minister of Palmer." 
Mr. Harvey resided for a time in Peterboro', N. H., and then remov- 
ed to Blandford, in the western part of Hampden County, which was 
settled by his countrymen, and where he resided on a ftirm until his 

For more than five years after Mr. Harvey's dismission, the church 
had no pastor. A great variety of preachers casually ministered unto 
them "the bread of life;" but they were "as sheep without a 
shepherd," divided and scattered. November 2, 1748, a call was 
given to Rev. Alexander Boyd, and £600, old tenor, offered as a 
settlement, but it was declined. Rev. Dr. Lord, Rev. Messrs. James 
Morton, Mitchell, and John McKinstry, among others, minis- 
tered unto them for a time, but without uniting the people. July 29, 

1752, an invitation was given to Rev. Timothy Symes, to become 
their pastor, and a yearly salary of <£400, old tenor, was offered, ex- 
clusive of fire-wood, which the minister was to pj-ovide for himself; but 
this, also, was responded to unfavorably. About this time, too, a 
kind of preaching was enjoyed, which after all was not relished very 
much ; at least an unwillingness to pay for it was manifested, as will 
be seen from the following record : — 

" At a meeting of ye Inhabitants of this District, Legally convened 
and assembled at ye Public Meeting House in said place, August 23, 

1753, ye Meeting being opened, Andrew Butterfield was chosen 
Moderator. On the third article in ye warrant for said Meeting,, 
voted that Rev. Ebenezer Kniblows, from New London, Conn., be 
allowed foure pounds, Sixteen shillings, which is eight shillings Law- 
ful money, for each Sermon he Preached on Sabbath Days, in this 
District, except three Sermons which we con prove he preached other 
men's works. Andrew Butterfield, Moderator. 

"A true Entry, pr. Sam'll Shaw, Junr., Town Clerk." 

At length, September 14, 1753, the town, in a legal meeting, con- 
curred in a call which had already been given by the church to Rev. 
Robert Burns, to '* settle with them in the work of the gospel min- 


istry." £600, old tenor, equivalent to £80 lawful money, was prom- 
ised him as a "settlement;" and £400, old tenor, or £53, 6s, 8p, 
" lawful money as it now passeth from man to man," as annual sala- 
ry. It is difficult to ascertain correctly the value of these stipulations, 
for there was a gradual depreciation in the currency of the country 
from the standard at 4s, 6d, a dollar, as it was at first, to 6s a dollar, 
at which it was fixed in 1707. In 1750 it had fallen so low as to be 
rated at 45s. to* a dollar. According to this, the "settlement" 
would be equal to about $266, and the " salary " to $177, a meager 
sum when estimated by modern standards ; but it must be remember- 
ed that, connected with this provision in money, there was the use of 
a farm of a hundred acres, and a parsonage, and that the fire-wood 
was usually furnished gratuitously, so that the amount actually re- 
ceived by the ministers of that day, was probably greater in value to 
them than what is paid to their brethren and successors in the minis- 
terial office at the present time. The precise date of the ordination 
of Mr. Burns, who, like his predecessor, was from the north of Ireland, 
cannot be ascertained ; but as it appears from the town records that 
the bill for his preaching as a candidate was made up to November 
15, 1753, and as the Session records, under his ministry, were com- 
menced the 27th of the same month, it is probable that he was ordain- 
ed about the middle of November of that year. His ministry in 
Palmer was short ; for, three years after his settlement, a serious con- 
troversy appears to have existed between him and the church. Charges 
were subsequently brought against his moral character, which being 
but too well sustained, led to his dismission. No account is found 
on record of the time or circumstances of the separation, but from 
a statement made in the Session book. May 15, 1758, it seems that 
the church was at that time without a pastor ; and fi'om the town 
record it appears that the first lot of land, set apart for the minister's 
use, was sold in September of that year, and instead of it the farm of 
Mr. Burns was purchased. The following receipt is recorded on the 
town books, one clause of which is rather noticeable : — 

"Union, Conn., Oct. 14, 1761. 

" Then received of Elder Samuel Shaw, Jr., Treasurer of Palmer, 
the full and just sum of eight pounds, fifteen shillings and five pence, 
for the District of Palmer ; being in full of all accounts, debts, dues 
and demands from, the beginning of the world unto the date hereof, 
as witness my hand. Robert Burns. 

" Recorded by Barnard McNitt, District Clerhy 


There is no prospect here of any old claims ever being reproduced, 
for they are all most effectually cut off by the singular wording of the 
receipt. It would be needless, one would think, to go farther back 
in such matters than " the beginning of the woild !" Mr. Eurns 
afterwards went to Pennsylvania and spent the rest of his days there 
on a farm. 

The town was again destitute of a resident ministry for several 
years. During this interval Rev. xMessrs. Mitchell, Peck, Curtiss and 
Noah Benedict, and others, supplied the pulpit. At last, March 3d, 
1761, Rev. Moses Baldwin received "a call to settle in the work 
of the gospel ministry, according to the Presbyterian platform of the 
church of Scotland." £60 current money was pledged to him as a 
yearly salary, and, also, the hundred acre lot which had been reserv- 
ed for the minister, on the payment to the town of £150 ! Mr. 
Baldwin was a native of Newark, N. J. ; was educated at Princeton 
College, and was the first who received collegiate honors at that an- 
cient and honored institution in 1757. He was ordained at first as 
an Evangelist, and labored as such for a time at Southhold, Long 
Island, from whence he was invited to come to Palmer, He was in- 
stalled by the Boston Presbytery, June 17, 1761, and continued his 
connection with the church and people for the long period of half a 
century. His relation to them was dissolved at his own recjuost, and 
with their amicable consent, by the same Council that ordained bis 
successor, June 19, 1811. He died at Palmer, on Tuesday, Novem- 
ber 2, 1813, aged 81. His remains were interred on Thursday, 
when the Rev. Justus Forward, of Belchertown, delivered an appro- 
priate discourse from Zech. 1:5. " Your fathers, where are they V 
and the prophets, do they live forever?" But few incidents of his 
long and eventful life are preserved on record. Like his predecessors, 
he went through the most serious trials, but his ministry was honored 
and useful. He survived every male inhabitant, who was at the head 
of a family when he settled in the place. He was tall in stature, and 
of a dark complexion ; social in his nature, and full of good feeling, 
rendering him a genial companion, and a welcome visitor at the homes 
of his parishioners. He was a bold, animated and fervent preacher, 
full of gesticulation. His manuscript sermons show that he depended 
a good deal on the spur of the moment. Many of the sentences be- 
ing just begun, the filling out being left to the quickened intellect 
and excited feelings at the time of delivery. It is said, suh rosa, that 


he used to be a great deal more animated in the afternoon than in the 
morning ; the social habits of the people at that day permitting even 
the minister to share in the exhilarating influences of Col. Hamilton's 
hospitality, at whose tavern the "nooning" was generally spent. 
When going to Monson on an exchange with Rev. Jesse Ives of that 
place, he would call upon the families on the way and tell them he 
was going to pi-each. 

In the " Hampden Federalist," of November 18, 1813, a news- 
paper published in Springfield at that time, the following remarks oc- 
cur in an obituary notice : — " As a minister of Christ he was faithful 
and diligent in discharging the duties of his office. Few have gone 
through a greater variety of trials ; few have subsisted upon a smaller 
annual stipend, (about $250 per annum,) and few have ever mani- 
fested a greater attachment to a people, or sought more earnestly for 
their good. His greatest ambition was to please God. He gloried 
in maintaining and defending the system of faith, which was ' once 
delivered to the saints.' His doctrines were pure, for they were the 
doctrines of the gospel ; his preaching was impressive, for it was the 
preaching of the cross of Christ ; and his motives were good, for he 
sought to win souls to God. As a speaker he was above mediocrity. 
Few possessed an equal talent in gaining the attention, and interesting 
the feelings of an audience. In all his dealings with man, as well as 
in the discharge of his official duties, he was punctual and exact. As 
a husband he was affectionate, and as a parent he was watchful and 
kind. Mourning friends will regret his loss, and an affectionate peo- 
ple will sympathize with them in their affliction. ' Blessed are the 
dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that 
they may rest from their labors ; and their works do follow them.' " 

The following matters of ecclesiastical history, though not exclu- 
sively pertaining to Palmer, are of sufficient interest to be noticed in 
this connection ; for at the close of Mr. Baldwin's ministry, the church 
changed its form of government, and became Congregational. From 
its origin up to that time, it had been in the Presbyterian ranks. The 
first Presbytery in New England was constituted in Londonderry, N. 
H., April 16, 1745, and was called the " Boston Presbytery." At a 
meeting in Seabrook, N. H., May 31, 1775, a division was amicably- 
agreed upon, and three Presbyteries were formed, called respectively, 
" The Presbytery of Salem," " The Presbytery of Londonderry," and 
" The Presbytery of Palmer. ^^ The latter was constituted of Kev. 


Moses Baldwin, of Palmer ; Rev. Jolin Houston, of Bedford ; and the 
three then vacant churches of Blandford, Pelham and Coleraine. The 
three Presbyteries thus organized were formed into one body, called 
" The Synod of New England," whose first meeting was held at Lon- 
donderry, N. H., September 4, 1776. 

The next minister of Palmer was Rev. Simeon Colton. He was 
born in Longmeadow, graduated at Yale College in 180G, studied 
theology with Rev. S. Worcester, D. D , of Salem, and was ordain- 
ed June 19, 1811, by the same Council that dismissed his venerable 
predecessor. Rev. Zephaniah Swift Moore, of Leicester, preached 
the ordination sermon. The first general revival of relimon in Palmer 
occurred during the ministry of Mr. Colton. This was in the year 
1819. The number of persons added to the church while he was 
pastor, was 120, of whom 16 only were received from sister churches. 
In consequence of some dissatisfaction which arose among the people 
relative to the ministry of Mr. Colton, he was dismissed at his own 
request, November 13, 1821. He then removed to Monson, where 
he taught in the Academy for a period of nine years ; having also been 
preceptor there one year before his settlement at Palmer, and two 
years at Leicester Academy. After leaving Monson he went to 
Amherst, where he had the charge of an Academy for a few years. 
He then removed to North Carolina to assume the care of a new in- 
stitution, to be established under Presbyterian influence, in the town 
of Fayetteville. There he remained thirteen years, when, on invita- 
tion, he went to the State of Mississippi, to take charge of an institu- 
tion that had been incorporated by the name of Clinton College. This 
ifas an attempt on the part of individuals to revive a decayed and 
broken down concern. The effort was found to require larger means 
than its friends could command, and so became a failure. He re- 
turned to North Carolina and took charge of a Select School in 
Ashboro', where he now resides, and where, as he himself says, it is 
probable he will spend the remnant of his days. In 1846, he receiv- 
ed the honorary degree of D. J), from a Delaware College. As 
one has justly characterized him, — " He was a man of restless enter- 
prise in whatever he undertook, having a full share of that enthusiasm 
which has been said to be common to many who bear his respectable 
family name. Ho was an earnest, ftiithful preacher, an excellent in- 
structor, a strict disciplinarian, always patient and hopeful, prompt in 
the fulfilment of every duty, and full of the spirit of self-sacrifice, 
whatever his work might be." 


After the dismission of Mr. Colton, a series of controversies and 
contentions between the church and the society prevented their uni- 
ting in the settlement of another minister till November 9, 1825, 
when Rev. Heney H. F. Sweet was ordained as their pastor and 
teacher, having been invited by the unanimous vote both of the church 
and of the town. He was a native of Attleboro', and graduated at 
Brown University in 1822. His ordination sermon was preached by 
Rev. Jacob Ida, D. D., of Medway. Mr. Sweet was removed from 
his people by death, February 20, 1827, at the age of thirty-one. 
During his brief ministry he greatly endeared himself to his parish- 
ioners, and even now his name is fragrant among them. Truly " the 
memory of the just is blessed." Rev. Alfred Ely, of Monson, preach- 
ed his funeral sermon. He is spoken of " as a man who was unas- 
suming and kind in his manners and intercourse with others. As a 
preacher, he was interesting and impressive. He was thoroughly 
Calvinistic in his doctrinal views." A somewhat extensive revival of 
religion commenced in the place a few months previous to his death. 
The number added to the church during his short but acceptable min- 
istry, was 23 ; of whom eight were received from other churches. In 
the same year, subsequent to his death, 21 others were admitted to 
the church. 

The next pastor, Rev. Joseph K. Ware, was ordained December 
12, 1827. He was born in Conway, and gratuated at Amherst Col" 
lege in 1824. The sermon was preached by Rev. Hemau Humphrey, 
D. D. There was from the first a minority opposed to the settlement 
of Mr. "Ware, which continued through his ministry. A considerable 
number left the society ; some because of dissatisfaction, and others 
because of heavier taxes, until the residue felt themselves unable to 
raise the salary. By request of Mr. Ware, he was regularly dismiss- 
ed from his pastoral relation to the church, March 16, 1831, and has 
since been settled in Chapinsville, N. Y. 

The ecclesiastical concerns of the town remained in a low and dark 
state through the summer ensuing, the people being divided and dis- 
couraged. A largo portion of the time there was no stated preaching. 
In September, Rev. Samuel Backus, a native of Canterbury, Conn., 
and a graduate of Union College in 1811, was invited to preach, and 
continued the only supply till his Installation, January 11, 1832. 
He was first settled in Woodstock, in his native State, In conse- 
quence of some dissatisfaction, arising partly from his active efforts in 


the temperauce cause, Mr. Backus was dismissecl May 4, 1841, 
since which time he has not been a settled pastor. He now lives in 
Brooklyn, N. Y., where he has labored for a time as city missionary, 
and has also been engaged in teaching. 

The pulpit was supplied during the summer following Mr. Backus' 
dismission, by Rev. Mr. Wetherell. In September, Rev. Moses K. 
Cross, was engaged as a candidate for settlement. He was a native 
of Danvers, a graduate of Amherst College in 1838, and had studied 
theology at East Windsor, Conn., and Andovcr. He was ordained 
February 2, 1842, the sermon being preached by Rev. Milton P. Bra- 
man, D. D., of Danvers. He continued pastor of the church at the 
centre of the town until, an an:icablc and nearly equal division took 
place, April 1, 1847, on territorial grounds. The 'pastor went 
with the First Church to Thorndike Village, where they worshipped 
for a time in a hall, but soon erected a neat and pleasant sanctuary. 
Mr. Cross remained with them till March 7, 1849, when he was dis- 
missed at his own request, on account of ill health. He was after- 
wards, September 4, 1850, settled at South Deerfield. 

Rev. Levi Smith and Rev. Plinius Moody supplied the destitute 
church for a time, till on Nov. 19, 1851, Rev. Sylvester Hine was 
installed pastor. He was born in Middlebury, Conn., and graduated 
at Yale College in 1843. He received his theological education at 
East Windsor. Rev. Prof. Nahum Gale, of that Seminary, proar-hed 
his installation sermon. Previous to his settlement in Palmer, he had 
been pastor of a Congregational Church in Ticonderoga, N. Y. 

The Second Congregational Church was organized April 1, 
1847, and commenced holding religious services in a hall at the 
Depot Village, where an enterprising and growing community had 
congregated around an important station of the Western Railroad. 
They soon commenced to build a meeting-house, and on Wednesday, 
December 22, 1847, it was dedicated to the worship of God by ap- 
propriate solemnities, viz : — Invocation and reading the scriptures by 
Mr. T. Wilson, (licentiate ;j introductory prayer by Rev. C. B. Kit- 
tredge, of Monson ; sermon by Rev. E. Russell, of Springfield ; ded- 
icatory prayer and benediction by Rev. A. Ely, D. D., of Monson. 
The esercises were exceedingly interesting ; and an additional zest 
was given to them, from the fact that they occurred on a day hallowed 
by such sacrod associations to every lover of the Puritans. The ser- 


mon, on Psalm 96 : 6, " Honor and majesty are before Lim ; strengtli 
and beauty arc in his sanctuary," was characterized by that bold, 
vigorous and manly style, for which the preacher is distinguished. 
He considered in it, " Some of the Elements of Strength and Beauty 
in the Sanctuary ;" and dealt out, in no stinted measure, a sparkling 
and racy draught of original thought. Dr. Ely alluded most touch- 
ingly to the fact that it was the anniversary of that day, — endeared 
to every true descendant of the Pilgrims,- — when they landed on the 
rock of Plymouth ; and with no roof over their heads but the vaulted 
dome of the sky, and no music but the howling of the bleak December 
winds, they poured forth the gratitude of their hearts to that gracious 
Being who had brought them safely across the perilous deep, and 
landed them on that sterile shore, where at last they found a home, — 
and with it, what they prized above all else, " freedom to worship 
God." The interest of the services was enhanced by the excellent 
performances of the choir, which, under the skillful and efficient train- 
ing of Mr. Sumner, of Worcester, " discoursed most eloquent music " 
for the occasion. The house is a neat, chaste, and tasteful edifice, 
built at a cost of about $5,000, and reflects much credit upon the en- 
terprise of the infant church and society who have thus secured to 
themselves a comfortable and beautiful place of worship. May it 
prove, to them and theirs, to be " none other hut the house of God, 
and the gate of heaven I" 

To this church and society, then recently organized and furnished 
with a temple, Ptev. Thomas Wilson was called to minister. He was 
born in Paisley, Scotland, but came to this country in early life with 
his parents, and resided in Lowell. He graduated at Dartmouth 
College in 1844, studied theology one year at New Haven, and two 
years at Andover, and was ordained March 1, 1848. Rev. Lyman 
Whiting, of Lawrence, preached i^ie sermon. After a ministry of a 
little more than four years as pastor of this church, he was dismissed 
at his own request, July 1, 1852, on account of inadequate support. 
He is now settled in Westford. 


The First Baptist Church in Palmer was originally organized in 
the south part of Belchertown, under the name of the " Belchertown 
and Palmer Baptist Church," November 16, 1825. The meeting- 


house in wliicli the church worshipped, was occupied in common by 
this people and a Methodist Society. At length they erected their 
present church edifice at the village of Three-Rivers, which they oc- 
cupied in January 1833. The name of the church was then changed 
to the " Baptist Church in Three-Rivers." The number of original 
members was 24, 11 males and 13 females. Their present number 
is 111. The succession of pastors has been as follows: Rev. Messrs. 
Alviu Bennett, Henry Archibald, Tubal Wakefield, David Pease, 
John R. Bigelow, Prosper Powell, N. B. Jones, Chester Tilden, 
Joseph Hodges, Jr., Sandford Leach, Addison Parker and Levi H. 
Wakeman, who is the present incumbent of the pastoral office. 

The Second Baptist Chukcii in Palmer, is located at the Depot 
Village, and was formed by a colony from the first church. Its public 
recognition, and the installation of Rev. Samuel A. Collins, its first 
pastor, took place September 29, 1852. A commodious and beautiful 
house of worship was soon erected, which was dedicated February 22, 
1854. It cost about $5,000. 


The Methodist Episcopal Cuukcu at Three-Rivers was organized 
in 1833, under Rev. A. Taylor, consisting of ten members. Rev. 
H. Perry then ministered to them two years, and in 1837, a house of 
worship was erected, and Rev. H. Moulton appointed to the pastoral 
charge. He was followed by Rev. Wm. Gordon, who, in 1840, was 
succeeded by Rev. T. W. Gile. Up to 1841 the society divided the 
labors of the pastor with a society in Belchertown ; but in that year 
it became a station to which Rev. J. Nichols was appointed to preach 
the whole time. He remained two years, and was succeeded by Rev. 
D. L. Winslow, after whom was Rev. J. Cadwell, under whose min- 
istry the church numbered 130 members. Mr. Cadwell was followed 
in turn by Rev. Messrs. Amos Binney, Daniel Chapin, C. L. Mc- 
Curdy, J. W. Mowry and Nathaniel J. Merrill. 

On the 23d of January, 1847, a church was formed at Thorndike 
Village, by members of this church, who enjoyed at first the pastoral 
services of Rev. N. E. Cobleigh. In about a year the membership 
numbered sixty. Mr. C. was followed by Rev. Wm. M. Hubbard, 
and he by Rev. Mr. Atkins. As the adjustment of a series of diffi- 


culties passed through by the Thornd ike organization, the two societies 
(iamc together and formed one large church and congregation, sus- 
taining public worship at the Town Hall, located between the tw( 



As was the case in nearly all the towns of New England, so here, 
immediately after the settlement was commenced by the principal col- 
ony, the inhabitants turned their thoughts and care to provide for the 
preaching of the gospel, and the erection of a house of worship. 
Their particular and anxious interest in this matter formed a distin- 
guishing trait in their character. In the Legislative Committee's 
Report of 1733, before alluded to, it was enjoined upon the persons 
then residing here, "to build a meeting-house within two years." 
The Proprietors, therefore, made arrangements for building their 
church as early as August of that year, by voting money for that ob- 
ject. The size of the house determined upon was 30 by 36 feet, and 
the place first selected was "near James Lamberton's fence, by the 
pine tree marked H., standing on the north side of the path." These 
specifications, though sufficient to designate the locality at that day, 
are not definite enough to enable us to fix upon the place now. The 
people, however, were greatly divided in reference to the most suitable 
or convenient spot for the meeting-house ; and differed so widely, in 
their plans for its location, that the site was changed several times. 
At last, to make a final adjustment of the vexed question, the proprie- 
tors, at a meeting held February 10, 1735, voted " that every person, 
proprietor or grantee, shall enter with the clerk, or bring in his vote 
therein, naming a spot to set the meeting-house on ; and that the two 
spots which shall be the highest in nomination, shall be put to a lot, 
for a final determination." This vote was duly carried out, when 
" it appeared that a spott on ye knowl near Crawford's house, and a 
spott on ye east side of Cedar Swamp Brook, on ye North side of ye 


road near where Wm. Kelson's bay-stack stood, were the two spots 
highest in nomination." The papers for " the lott " were then pre- 
pared, and Rev. John Harvey, their minister, was sent for to draw 
the lot ; who, after solemn prayer, performed that service, and thus 
settled the disputed and vexatious matter. The locality thus decided 
upon by an appeal to tlie providence of God, — for even the heathen, 
as in case of Jonah's shipmates, looked upon the casting of the lot 
as a sacred thing and a direct address to heaven, — was the same as 
that on which the meeting-house stood for more than a century, and 
which formed the centre of the town. 

The people forthwith proceed to erect the house, taking suitable 
timber, by common consent, wherever they could find it ; and without 
giving any recompense to the owners of the land from which it was 
cut. The raisinff of the meeting-house, small as its dimensions ap- 
pear to us, and indifferent as we look upon such matters now, was a 
great event in those days, — quite an era in their life ! A special oc- 
casion was made of it, — a sort of holiday afFuir. The town appro- 
priated £7, " to make provision for raising the meetiug-house ;" and 
a committee was appointed " to make provision of drink and cakes 
suitable, and to order and dispose of the same at the time of the 
raising." This building, like most houses of public worship in the 
country towns at that time, had only square pews adjoining the walls, 
for the principal families ; the rest of the audience being accommodated, 
not with well cushioned seats, but with hard benches ranged close 
together in the body of the house. But even in that day of plain- 
ness and poverty, there was some taste displayed in adorning the 
preacher's desk ; for August 7, 1733, " the sum of £5, 2s, was ex- 
pended for a cusldon for the pulpit." A great oak tree used to 
stand in front of the church. The outside door of the building, like 
the rest of the houses in the parish, was fastened with a wooden latch 
on the inside, to be pulled up with a string ; or when that was gone, 
raised by a stick run through an aperture made for that purpose. The 
jomfort of a warm house in winter was a thing unknown in those 
primitive days, for stoves and furnaces had not yet been invented. 
It was so cold that during the winter months, only one sermon was 
preached on the Sabbath ; and even then they would sometimes get 
so benumbed, and stamp so hard to keep themselves warm, that the 
minister would be obliged to suspend the services and dismiss the as- 
sembly. On tedious stormy sabbaths the scanty congregation used 


to adjourn from the meeting-house to the tavern, and the preacher 
would take the Lar for his pulpit. 

As was then customary, there was a huge " sounding-board " sus- 
pended over the head of the minister, which seemed to serve no other 
purpose than to awaken sundry speculations in the minds of the 
youthful, and perhaps not too devotional part of the assembly, as to 
what the probable fate of the minister would be if it should fall ! 
There appears, also, to have been a gallery at the end of the house 
over the entrance, in which the choir sat ; and where the young men 
and maidens loved to congregate. The proprieties of the place and 
of the service were not always duly kept, then as now ; but an ex- 
pedient was resorted to, which served to allay the mirthful tendencies 
of the young and buoyant worshippers. October 1, 1750, Messrs. 
" John Webber and Matthew Hutchins," two of the worthy and se- 
date patriarchs of the place, were appointed a committee " to sit in 
the gallery amongst the young people, to inspect their carriage that 
they may not profane the Sabbath in the time of worship." 

Thouo-h there was a choir in those days, it was rather to assist the 
congregation in singing, than to do it all for them as the incongruous 
custom is now. The singing, for a long time, was conducted after 
the manner usually called " Beaconing f i. e., by the Deacon, or 
Precentor as he was sometimes styled, reading the psalm or hymn 
line by line ; and the whole assembly, so far as they were able, aided 
by the choir, singing it thus piecemeal. In the latter part of the 
year 1761, soon after the settlement of Mr. Baldwin, a Committee 
was appointed " to repair and finish the meeting-house," for which 
laudable purpose £20 were raised. An additional sum of "20 shill- 
ings " was appropriated to " Ens'n Ephraim Gates, for which he was 
to remove back and make narrower the pulpit, minister's pew, and 
stairs, with the deacon's seat, and make the pulpit lower ; all to be 
done without damage to the work, or without maJdng it look ivoise 
than it does now !'^ 

The following June, £50 more were raised to complete the needful 
work, and in September £9, Is, 6p, 3f, were added ; and the Com- 
mittee were instructed " to new shingle the roof of the house, clapboard 
anew the outside, and make new window frames in a handsome size, 
and glaze the same with glass 8x6, and renew the fore-door and sill 
that is rotten." They were, also, " to proceed to the inside, and new 
lay such places in the floor as should need it, and make new seats in 


tlie body " [of the house.] They were " to make seats in the gal- 
lery, with one row of small pews all round the Lack side of the gallery, 
in as convenient a manner as possible " The pews on the ground 
floor were assigned to the inhabitants of the town, according to the 
valuation of the real and personal estate of each " head of a family, 
paying also a small regard to age." In " finishing the meeting, 
house," the singular provision was made that " the proprietor of any 
pew, having no part of a window against it, may have liherty to male 
a windoiv against it, equal in size with the other windows of the 
house, and finish it. outside and in, handsomely and well; and also 
keep said window in repair during the whole of the time he or they 
own the pew." Whether any one availed himself of this unusual and 
very accommodating liberty, does not appear; but the meeting-house, 
thus rejuvenated, seems to have served them for another generation. 
Originally built about the year 1733, it was occupied as the only 
place of worship for sixty-five years, for at that time every family in 
the town belonged to the parish, except three who were Baptists. At 
the end of that period, a larger and more commodious house was 
erected, and the old church became a sort of town hall for the transac- 
tion of public business. Before it was thus superceded, however, it 
bad become very much dilapidated ; and verified, though in a differ- 
ent sense from what was originally intended, the description which 
the Psalmist gives of the " tabernacles of the Lord," when he says : 
" Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for 
herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, Lord of 
hosts." The " house swallows " used to be so numerous in the old 
church, that they disturbed the devotions of the assembled worshippers • 
and made so much noise with their twittering and fluttering-, that 
" Father Baldwin " could scarcely be heard, though he customarily 
spoke very loud. 

But the " old meeting-house " passed away, like those who had 
gathered within its hallowed walls for divine worship ; but who, in the 
due course of nature, went the "way of all the earth." Reared 
amid the struggles and privations of the infant colony, it faithfully 
served two generations as " a place for prayer ;" and no doubt pure 
and acceptable worship ascended from that unpretending sanctuary 
to Him who " dwelleth not in temples made with hands ;" but who 
filleth immensity with his presence, and eternity past and future with 
his being. To many we doubt not, it proved a spiritual birth-place ; 


and, as ''of Zion it shall be said, 'This and that man was born in her,' " 
so of this church ; and though itself, and its appearance, and almost 
its remembrance, has ceased to exist on earth, it will forever be iden- 
tified as the scene of the spiritual conflicts and triumphs of many a 
human but now sainted soul. It will thus be " enshrined in the 
amber of celestial reminiscence.'' The deathless memory will hold 
it in its tenacious grasp, and its form and existence will therefore 
be immortal. 



According to a vote of the town, the one hundredth anniversary of 
its incorporation, was observed by appropriate festivities at the Town 
Hall, July 5, 1852. The following account of the interesting exer- 
cises of that occasion, is taken chiefly from the " Palmer Journal," 
of July 10th, edited by Mr. Gordon M. Fisk. The day was a 
brio'ht and beautiful one ; and at an early hour the people began to 
oather at the Town House, so that by 10 o'clock, the hour appointed 
for the services, it was judged that nearly two thousand persons were 
assembled. A long procession of ladies and gentlemen was formed, 
under the direction of Dr. J. B. Thomas, as Chief Marshal; and 
escorted by the " Belchertown Brass Band," to a beautiful grove 
about a hundred rods distant, where the Address was delivered. The 
order of the Procession was as follows :— 

1st. The Belchertown Brass Band. 2d. Committee of Arrange- 
ments. 3d. President and Orator of the Day. 4th. Reader of the 
Declaration of Independence. 5th. Clergy. 6th. Invited Guests. 
7th. Citizens. 

On arriving at the grove the band played till the assembly were 
seated. The President, John Ward, Esq., then called attention to 
the Exercises, which took place in the following order : — 

I. Prayer by Rev. Samuel Backus, of Brooklyn, N. Y., and 
formerly pastor of the First Congregational Society in this Town. 

II. National Hymn.—" Let every heart rejoice and sing." 


in. Reading of the Declaration of Independence, by F. T. Wal- 
lace, Esq. 

IV. Hymn. — " When stern oppression's iron rod." 

[The singing was performed in an admirable manner by the Choir 
of the First Congregational Church.] 

V. Address by Rev. Thomas Wilson. Subject, — The History 
oftfie Town of Palmer. 

VI. Music by the Band. 

VII. Benediction, by Rev. J. W. Mowry. 

At the close of the services in the grove, the procession re-formed 
and marched to the Town House, where an excellent and bountiful 
repast had been provided under the eater-ship of Mr. Charles D. 
Foster, of tho Thorndike Hotel. At the table, Rev. Sylvester 
HiNE invoked the Divine blessing ; and the company did ample jus- 
tice to the palatable viands. 

After Dinner the President announced the reading of the Regular 
Toasts by F. T. Wallace, Esq. — all of which were responded to 
with cheers and the booming of cannon. 

1. The Day tve Celebrate. — May each returning Anniversary, of 
the birth of our National Liberties, find us happy in their enjoyment, 
and impress us with gratitude to the men of 76 by whom they were 

2. The President of the United States. — Hon. Millard Fill- 

3. The American Flag. — The sacred emblem of Liberty; the 
free sons of Columbia will never suffer it to be disgraced : 

"The Star Spangled Banner, long may it wave. 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave !" 

4. The Governor of the Commonwealth. — His Excellency. 
George S. Boutwell. 

5. The Manufactories of Palmer. — Though the times are hard, 
they are bound to "go," while Jacob and Joseph grease the wheels! 

[Referring to Jacob B. Merrick and Joseph Brown, Esqrs., 
Agents of the "Thorndike" and "Palmer" Manufacturing Com- 

6. Old Uncle Sam. — The great Uncle of all Uncles. He settles 
a dower of Liberty on all his nephews and nieces. 

7. The Union of the States. — " The palladium of our National 
Independence ; the guarantee of our National Prosperity ; and the 
pledge of our National Grlory." 



8. The Palmer Declaration of Independence, June Ylth, 1776. — 
Thougli of less consequence to the world than our National Declara- 
tion, it demonstrates to us, with proud satisfaction, that while the 
people of Palmer were then ignorant of the deliberations of Congress, 
or the sanguinary conflict that day being waged on Bunker Hill, they, 
in a public meeting, pledged their lives and fortunes under the wis- 
dom of Congress, for National Freedom. 

[This sentiment was received with three cheers. Historians may 
now make a note of the fact, that the citizens of Palmer made a 
Declaration of Independence, seventeen days before it was declared 
by the Continental Congress.] 

9. Uncle Sam''s Family. — May they be content to hold their 
thirty-Jive farms with all future additions as tenants in common. 

10. The State we live in — Old Massachusetts. — The land of our 
Pilgrim Fathers, and the spot where the first blood of the Revolution 
was shed. She stands a monument of American prosperity and Inde- 

11. The Farmers oj Palmer. — Though the township was once 
represented as a " very poor piece of land, and the hills high and 
mean," yet by their industry it has been made to yield abundantly ; 
and ikaixi fine fortly figures are evidence that they have enough and 
some to spare. 

12. The House we Dine in. — Though located between four villa- 
ges it belongs to none of them — it stands " alone in its glory." 

After the reading of the Regular Toasts, the following volunteer 
sentiments were offered and speeches made, viz : — 

By F. T. Wallace, Esq.,— 

The Clergy, of Palmer. — Faithful sentinels on the watchtowers of 

Rev. Samuel Backus, of Brooklyn, N. Y., arose, and said that he 
supposed some response to the sentiment just propounded might be 
expected from him. He was the senior clergyman present. He had 
been the minister of the town for ten years, while as yet they compos- 
ed but one religious Society. He rejoiced in the opportunity of being 
present on this interesting occasion, and felt disposed to do what he 
could for the gratification of his numerous friends now assembled. 
He remarked that though conscious of unworthiness as a minister of 
the Grospel, he had no delicacy in pronouncing the ministry itself 
worthy of high estimation. He said that in his view there was no 
arrogance in any man's exalting his profession, or his opinions. Yea, 
that he is warranted in speaking of them as the very best. For why 


should not a man in selecting his calling, choose that which in the 
circumstances is the best ? Or why should any man adopt an opinion 
which for its truthfulness, may not challenge comparison with all other 
opinions, on the same subject, which can be named ? He could, there- 
fore, boldly say that he counted the ministry worthy of all honor, 
while he could claim no honor to himself. 

Mr. B. proceeded to remark, that while this was so, he regarded 
the just influence of the ministry to be like that of women, silent and 
unperceived at the moment ; an influence, which by persuasive kind- 
ness, moulds and guides the habitudes of mind in the other sex. We 
have heard much of " woman's rights," and he would by no means 
have these rights denied or abridged. But then these are best main- 
tained by the kindly influence of the family. Let women in this way 
rule the men as absolutely as they please, and then let them leave it 
to the men to rule the world. 

Here woman may make her influence so felt as to satisfy the largest 
ambition. But let not woman think to enlarge her powers by bustling 
and speech-making, and voting and fighting ; unless like grandmother 
Ferrell, of whom we have heard to-day, the door shall be besieged by 
a panther, a wild Indian, or a rum jug; with which, musket in hand, 
she may have occasion to hold grave debate on matters of life and 
death. So should, and so does, the good minister of Jesus Christ 
form those opinions, and establish those principles of action, from 
which the world takes its»charaeter and by which its destinies are de- 
cided. It is the work of the ministry to educate the mind and the 

This is not a fitting occasion to dwell on the great and holy ends, 
for the gaining of which the gospel ministry was chiefly designed. We 
talk now of the ministry as it acts on the affairs of this world. We 
speak of it as forming the community to purity, peace, intelligence 
and happiness. Take away from civilized society, all that has been 
woven and twisted into its texture by the quiet workings of the 
christian ministry, and you take away whatever it possesses of the 
power of self-government and the enjoyment of rational liberty. 

While, therefore, Mr. President, we may be often ashamed of our- 
selves, we wish it to be known that we are never ashamed of our call- 
ing, and that we can most cordially reciprocate the sentiment that has 
been uttered- 

In connection with a volunteer sentiment from one of the Commit- 


tee, expressing the satisfaction of the assembly in the return of Mr. 
Backus to this field of his former labors, in order that he might par- 
ticipate in the festivities of this anniversary, Mr. B. made a grateful 
acknowledgement for the honor intended him. He spoke of the 
agreeable disappointment he had experienced in meeting so many well ^ 
known faces, both here and in the different sanctuaries on the day 
jjrevious, and that these countenances were so slightly changed in the 
intervening ten years. He expressed his high gratification at the 
cordial greetings and smiles of welcome with which he had invariably 
been met. He assured his hearers that he most heartily reciprocated 
their greetings, expressed his satisfaction in all their prosperity both 
temporal and spiritual, hoped they might thus, and more largely, con- 
tinue to prosper not only as living in themselves, but in their descen- 
dants till another century shall have passed away. Knowing, he said, 
that he should never again thus meet them, he affectionately bade 
them Farewell I 

By Mrs. Fkanklin Morgan, — 

The Orator of the Day. — May his name be as fresh and enduring 
as the everlasting hills that surround us. 

This called up Bev. Thomas Wilson, who said : — 

Mr. President, — It is with sensitive yet grateful feelings, that I 
rise to respond to the flattering sentiment just offered. Though en- 
deared by many sacred and touching ties to a portion of this people, — 
with whom I have labored for a time in the»precious and responsible 
work of the gospel ministry, — yet I claim no general remembrance 
save that which may arise from interest in my public labors. It is 
because the christian minister is identified with all that is good in any 
community, that he is deservedly held in such high esteem. The 
prominence given him by common courtesy, is accorded mainly by 
respect to his ofl&cial character ; however much he may also be endear- 
ed to a people by the individual traits of his own life. The ministry 
have ever exerted an important and extensive influence in this town. 
Our fathers, animated by their spirit and instructed by their ministra- 
tions, have left us a rich inheritance of political freedom, sound morals 
and evangelical relio-ion. 

There have been a succession of ten ministers in this place, of the 
Presbyterian and Congregational order. Tlie Church here was pri- 
marily Presbyterian, according to the standard and discipline of the 
Church of Scotland, and so continued till Mr. Colton's ordination in 


1811. Of the personal history of the first two ministers, Rev. John 
Harvey and Rev. Robert Burns, but very little is known. Their 
successor, Rev. Moses Baldwin, passed a ministry of half a century 
among this people. He was energetic and animated in his delivery ; 
and might well stand for the portrait of that minister, which the good 
old Scotch lady described hers to be : " An awfu' po'rful preacher; 
for he dang th' inside out o' twa Bibles an' three cushions." On 
one occasion Mr. Baldwin, who was wont to pound the pulpit cush- 
ion somewhat sledge-hammer-wise, as he brought his hand down with 
emphatic force, startled a red squirrel that had snugly esconced him- 
self within, to the no small amusement of the audience. 

Mr. Baldwin whose ministry was the longest, and Mr. Sweet whose 
ministry was the shortest, of any of the clergymen of this town, were 
the only ministers who died while residing in the place. The former 
after fifty years of toil, the latter after one year and a half of service ; 
both greatly beloved and respected by the people. " But the fathers, 
where are they? and the prophets, do they live forever ?" They have 
passed away. In the restless march of time they have been borne along 
with that onrushing phalans of death, which never retreats. They 
have long since departed from this scene of their toils and privations, 
joys and sorrows ; but their sepulchres remain with us till this day : 

" Each in his narrow cell forever laid. 
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." 

May we emulate their virtues, and cherish their memories. May we 
ever hold on to the principles of civil and religious liberty, which they 
so nobly exhibited ; and may we transmit to a grateful posterity, tho 
blessings we have so richly enjoyed. For 

" We live in deeds, not years ; in thoughts, not breaths ; 
In feelings, not in figures on a dial. 
"We should count time by heart-throbs. He lives most 
Who thinks most — feels the noblest — acts the best." 

By Gen. J. A. McElwain, of Warsaw, N. Y., — 

The inhabitants of my own native town. — May they live long, 
and inherit the virtues and integrity of their most worthy ancestors. 

By Samuel D. Backus, of Brooklyn, N. Y., — 

The memory of the departed. 

By Franklin Morgan, — 

The Seed planted by our Fathers a Oenttiry ago. — Industry has 
tended it, faith watered it, and hope watched over its growth. Be- 


hold it now a stately tree, under whose branches safely rest a thrifty, 
prosperous and happy people. 

The Four Villages of Palmer. — Like the Thirty-five States and 
Territories of our glorious Union ; though divided by local interests, 
they are always ready to show themselves the inseparable parts of one 
" stupendous whole." 
By F. T. Wallace, Esq.,— 

The Ancient Families of Palmer. — The Kings, the Ferrells, the 
Cooleys and McMasters. The honor and virtue of the old families 
are still retained, and will depart only when ' Dumplin ' takes to it- 
self wings. 

By John Ward, Esq., — 

The Descendants of the first settlers of Palmer. — May the remem- 
brance of the toils and privations of our ancestors, the fruits of which we 
at the present time enjoy with prosperity, never be erased from our 

By G. M. FiSK,— 

The Early Settlers of Palmer. — Though many of them were 
Kings, like true Scotts they were opposed to a kingdom. 

Our aged Mother Palmer. — Though in her one hundredth year, 
she is hale, hearty, and well to do in the world, and we attribute it 
somewhat to good neighbors ; such as old Squire Belchertown, the 
venerable Mr. Ware, old Mr. Wilbraham, and Madame Monson, a 
peculiarly virtuous, venerable and devoted old lady — She has done 
much for our morals. 

By A. V. Blanchard, — 

The Rev. Samuel Backus. — It is one of the most pleasant inci- 
dents of this occasion that he is here. He is welcome to our homes 
and our hearts. 

Mr. Backus responded, neatly and approp-iately. (See page 52.) 
By F. T. Wallace, Esq.,— 

The Orator of the Day. — He has endeared himself to us beyond 
expression, by placing in our hands the link which unites us with the 
past ; and our only regret on the occasion is, that though a great 
public act, it is his last to us. 

Mr. Wilson replied in a brief and apt speech ; — referring to the 
interest taken in the historic recollections of the day, and to the duty 
we owed to posterity to transmit to them what was now veritable his- 
tory concerning our " illustrious predecessors," ere it should become 
only dim and uncertain tradition. He closed by offering the follow- 
ing sentiment : — 

The Toivn of Palmer. — Though some other places may bear the 
palm in antiquarian lore and stirring incident ; yet in all that pertains 


to the welfare of any community, — to patient industry, general Ik 
ligence and sound morals, — may we ever be Palin-er. 

By Franklin Morgan, — 

Our Living Statesmen. — To-day we celebrate the memory of 
those who struck the first blow which gave our country Independence. 
Let us not forget to do honor to those great Statesmen of our own 
times, who have successfully labored to defend and uphold our glorious 
Constitution and the Union of all the States. 

By J. B. Merrick, — 

Hon. Henry Clay. — (Now no more.) His mortal remains have 
gone to the dust. His virtues are embalmed in the hearts of the 
American People. His memory will be cherished until the star- 
spangled banner shall cease to float in the breeze, and the light of 
Liberty be extinguished from the earth. 

By Dr. J. B. Thomas,— 

It is said that the Crown that Queen Victoria wears cost ten thou- 
sand pounds. God grant that no American Crown shall ever exceed 
a dollar and ten cents. 

By G. M. FisK,— 

Yankee Perseverance. — It was first illustrated in Boston Harbor, 
when a few Patriots went to take tea with the British without invita- 

By A. V. Blanchard, — 

The Ladies. — However they may differ with the men on other 
matters, they are unanimously in favor of the Union. 

Supposed to be by a rich Bachelor of Palmer, — 

To the Single Ladies of Palmer. — Though I am in no sense a 
military man, I am ready to preseiit arms. 

By Mrs. A. V. Blancuakd, — ^ 

Modern Ladies. — Though they may possess less courage and 
bravery than our ancient and venerable grandmother Ferrell, to with- 
stand the assaults of the Indian and the panther, they have improved 
upon the skill of their ancestors in the duties of the kitchen. — Mod- 
ern Men acknowledge their prowess. 

By a Guest, — 

We rejoice that among the numerous manufactories in town, the 
farmer's wants are not forgotten in an important article of cutlery. 
Gentlemen Farmers, you are reminded that it is just before haying. 

A. V. Blanchard, a manufacturer of " farmer's cutlery," re- 
sponded : — 

]Mr. President, — Although I have been engaged many years in 
the manufacture of cutting instruments, I should regret extremely to 
be instrumental in the least in causing any damage thereby to any- 


body ; but there are various instruments used for cutting, and many 
modes of doing the cutting, and there is considerable cutting done 
without instrviments. I recollect seeing, many years ago, in a picture 
book, Time represented as an old man with a scythe in his hand, and 
underneath a verse, which read, " Time cuts down all, both great and 
small;" and I have heard of Merchants who were said to have cut 
the throat of a man with a feather, but if there are any merchants 
present I think they will pardon me as I do not wish to be personal ; 
and I have heard of Lawyers who were very cutting in their argu- 
ments before a jury, especially when they expected a good fee ; I 
have also heard the ladies accused of cutting an acquaintance some- 
times ; and when I was a young man I frequently heard conversation 
about cutting out, particularly when a pretty damsel was concerned ; 
but I was taught in my early days to handle Edge Tools with care, 
and never found any difficulty when I did so ; but not to enlarge on 
the cutting process, I give you sir : 

The young Men of Palmer. — Whatever other cutting they may 
do, may they not fail to cut off all their had habits. 

By. G. M. FisK,— 

Our attentive Host. — May the good things which he has provided 
the citizens of Palmer to-day, stimulate them to encourage and Foster 

Mr. Foster answered concisely and gave : — 

The Town of Palmer. — May the sunshine of prosperity and the 
star of Liberty shed their refulgent rays upon the town for the com- 
ing century, as they have done for the century past. 

By F. T. Wallace, Esq.,-- 

The President of the Day. — May his services on this occasion 
meet with an adequate re- Ward. 

Mr. Ward responded briefly and gave : — 

Our worthy Toastmaster. — The sentiments from him come so 
direct, and with such force that I need a Wall-ace to Ward them off. 

By Samuel D. Backus, — 

The Town of Palmer. — May it celebrate its second centurial an- 
niversary, as this, with renewed youth. 

Other toasts wore offered and remarks made which are not pre- 
served, but which added to the pleasure of a scene which all who 
participated in, will hold in grateful remembrance. Throughout the 
festivity the interest was greatly enhanced by the excellent music 
from the Band. Everything connected with the Celebration passed 


off pleasantly and in good order; and, though we do not expect to be 
there to enjoy it, we hope the nest Centennial Anniversary will be 
observed in like manner ; and may it prove to those who shall then 
participate in it, as joyous as, or, if that be possible, more gladsome 
than the delightful scene through which we have just passed. Our 
blood will flow in the veins of some of them ; and we feel, therefore, 
that they will be " bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." There 
is thus a community of interests ; and we, their Ancestors, send 
down our Benediction to them, our Posterity. 

At the close of the services a Committee of three, consisting of 
Messrs. Jacob B. Merrick, Franklin Morgan and Frederick T. 
Wallace, Esqs., were appointed to request a copy of the Address 
for publication. On motion of Rev. Thomas Wilson the Celebra- 
tion was adjourned for One Hundred years ! 



The following is the Eepresentative History of Palmer from the 
adoption of the State Constitution to the present time : — 

1783 Capt. David Spear. 

1784 Capt. David Spear. 

1785 William Scott. 

1786 Capt. David Spear. 

1787 to 1794 — seven successive 
years — Capt. David Shaw. 

1794 Capt. Thomas McClenathan. 

1795 Capt. David Spear. 

1796 Lieut. David King. 

1797 Lieut. James Smith. 

1798 Isaac Warren. 

1799 Aaron Merrick. 

1800 James Smith. 

1801 James Smith. 

1802 James Smith. 

1803 to 1809 -six successive yrs. 
Aaron Merrick. 

1809 Jesse King, 

1810 Jesse King. 

1811 Jesse King. , 

1812 Alpheus Converse. 

1813 Alpheus Converse. 

1814 Alpheus Converse. 

1815 Jesse King. 

1816 Col. Amos Hamilton. 

1817 Col. Amos Hamilton. 

1818 James Stebbins, Esq. 

1819 Voted not to send. 

1820 James Stebbins, Esq. 

1821 Clark McMaster. 

1822 Clark McMaster. 

1823 Voted not to send. 

1824 John Frink. 

1825 Voted not to send. 

1826 Asa Ward. 

1727 Voted not to send. 


1828 David King. 

1829 John Sedgwick. 

1830 Cyrus Knox. 

1831 Joseph Lee. 

1832 Joseph Lee. 

1833 David King. 

1834 Kobert Hitchcock." 

1835 Cyrus Knox. 

1836 A. V. Blanchard, Emelius 

1837 Sylvester Parks, John Ward, 

1838 Abel Calkins, Marble K. 

1839 Wm. J. Blanchard, James 
Gam well. 

1840 F. Morgan, Asa Shumway. 

1841 Olney Goff. 

1842 John Ward. 

1843 Abel Calkins. 

1844 Gilbert Barker. 

1845 A. V. Blanchard. 

1846 Lambert Allen. 

1847 A. V. Blanchard. 

1848 Calvin Torrey, Esq., who re- 
signed and J. B. Merrick was 
elected for the extra session of 
that year. 

1849 J. B. Merrick. 

1850 John D. Blanchard. 

1851 Joseph Brown, 2d. 

1852 Amos C. Billings. 



"An Act for erecting the Plantation called the 'Elbows' into a District by the 
name of Palmer. 

" Whekeas, It hath been represented to this Court that the in- 
habitants of the Plantation, in the County of Hampshire, called the 
Elbows, labor under difficulties by reason of their not being incor- 
porated into a District : — 

' ' Be it Enacted, by the Lieut. Governor, Council, and House of 
Representatives, that the Plantation aforesaid be, and is hereby 
erected into a District, by the name of [Palmer,] bounding as fol- 
lows : viz.. Easterly, on the town of Western*, Northerly, partly on 
the plantation called Cold-Springf, and partly on Ware River Pre- 
cinct, called Read's farraj. Southerly and Westerly on the Hown of 
Brimfield ; and that the inhabitants thereof be and are hereby in- 
vested with all the powers, privileges and immunities, that the in- 
habitants of towns within this Province are, or by Law ought to be, 

* Now, Warren. 

t Belchertown. 

J Ware. 


invested with, saving only the choice of Representative, which it is 
represented said inhabitants are not at present desirous of. 

" Be it further enacted, That all Rates and Taxes heretofore 
assessed, or ordered to be assessed, pursuant to the Laws and Orders 
of this Court, upon the inhabitants of said Elbows plantation, shall 
be levied, collected, and fully comj)leted, agreeable to the Laws or 
Orders by which they were assessed." 

The engrossed Bill passed to be enacted Thursday, January 23d, 
1752.— [Proprietors' Record, Vol. I, p. 242.] 


Copy of a letter to John King, the first settler of Palmer, from 
his mother in England : — 

" Ednarston, April 20th, 1718. 

" Dear Son, — I received your letter April 6th, and there could 
nothing in the world be welcomer to me, except yourself. You send 
me word you are married. I pray God to bless you, and grant you 
both a happy life together. You send me word you have met with 
hardships since you left me, which is a great trouble to me ; but I 
am glad to see in your letter, that you have overcome them. But I 
think I shall never overcome my grief to think you are so far off that 
I have but little hope of ever seeing you again. But, if it is possi- 
ble, let us meet once more again, which if I had not hopes of, my 
heart would break. But since we cannot enjoy your company, I beg 
of you to miss no opportunity of letting me hear from you. 

" I am where you left me, and hope I shall be as long as I live. 
My son Jonathan and my daughter Mary are with me. I am sorry 
to hear you live in such a desert place, without neighbors. I often 
wish myself with you. Some of our neighbors here talk of going. I 
wish they may. I will encourage them what I can. And, I doubt 
not, but the Gentleman that brought the letter to me will be a good 
neighbor and friend to you. I pray God he may be. 

" Your brothers and sisters are all overjoyed to hear from you, and 

desire you to send as often as you can ; and pray send word how we 
may direct to you. You send me word you have a son, I pray Grod 
to bless him ; he is the only grandson I have. Your brother Wil- 
liam and your brother Thomas have two bravo daughters apiece. I 
pray God to bless you and your wife and child. I could wish your 
child with toe. I have sent a small token to you of ten shillings ; 
and your brothers and sisters have sent one shilling apiece to the 
child, which is fifteen shillings in all. 

" I am glad to hear you live under the ministry of the Grospel. I 
pray God to give you grace to improve by it. I bear you keep good 
fires. I often wish myself with you. The Gentleman has almost per- 
suaded your brother Jonathan to come, if I could spare him. * * 
" Your ever loving mother, 

* * * * King."