History of Springfield, MA
Pages 9-36




That spirit of unrest, which has marked the progress of every age and country, and which even in our own time we contemplate with grave concern, plainly foretold long before Massa-chusetts was settled, the coming condition of the mother country. Intolerant and corrupt rulers, favoritism, and misgovernment were developing that opinion which was to be the source of constitutional liberty, the very foundation of that freedom of thought and action which have made all progress possible, and that high attainment in modern thought, the con-summation of a purpose which might not have been fully comprehended when the assertion of individual rights began. Out of that conflict of opinion which distracted England came the men who laid the foundations of New England. If results have been greater than wer the first conceptions, those pioneers caught the glimmer of that fundamental truth which has grown brighter as the years have come and gone.

The founders of New England were earnest and devout. They came fully inbued with that con-viction which was antagonistic to the dominant spirit then governing England. If they now seem to us to have been over-zealous in their opinions and narrow and contracted in their religious views, we should not overlook in our judgment of them the conditions out of which they had come, and the conflicts which had beset them before putting foot on these shores. From the standpoint of today, all Europe at that period seems but little more than half civilized. There was no freedom of thought, no right of private judgment. Power made right with the administrators of law, and to it the humbles and the highest must yield obedience. While it is true that, viewed in the light of the present, our New England an-cestors are open to the charge of bigotry and intolerance, we must not


forget that bigotry is the limitation of knowledge, and that the higher the education in everything that concerns the moral and spiritual welfare of man, the broader become the views of right and duty. Earnestness of purpose, steadfastness of conviction, were the ruling motives of the men who laid the foundations of civil and religious liberty in this country. Out of those early beginnings, came a fuller development of that fundamental principle which has, like a reflex tide, set back upon the shores of the Old World, while their example has been an inspiration to those who were striving for light in the country across the sea, as well as to us who have succeeded them.

Two and a half centuries ago Springfield did not promise much to our ancestors beyond the simplest living, and those who came here must have had their reward in the feeling of in-dependence of the conditions which had beset them in their English homes. Freedom of thought and purpose were sufficient in themselves to make the plainest life attractive. Notwithstanding the long lapse of time since the aboriginal inhabitants of this land passed the title to the soil to the people of Angle-Saxon blood, the struggles and hardships of the pioneers are not forgotten, and each year there is an increased interest in what our ancestors accomplished. The beginnings of New England must be of interest to every thoughtful person, for then and there was born the belief that man is capable of self-government. Much of that purpose which marked our early settlements has broadened as it has adapted itself to new conditions, but that spirit which came here at the beginning has made New England conspicuous among the great Commonwealths of our country.

Springfield was the first town west of Boston, Cambridge and Watertown, to be settled in in Massachusetts. A few Connecticut towns are of slightly earlier date, Wethersfield and Windsor, having been settled a little more than a year prior to Pynchon and his small company's first location on the Agawam meadows. Roger Ludlow and William Pynchon,


both patentees in the Massachusetts Bay Company, began an almost simultaneous movement towards the Connecticut, the former to Hartford a month after the arrival of Pynchon's company of eight persons in this then far-away wilderness. In the years 1634 and 1635 movements looking toward permanent settlements in the Connecticut valley had begun, but it was not until 1636 that there was anything like a concert of action to found towns so far to the westward of Boston. Hooker and his company made a toilsome journey through the wilderness to Hartford, and it is robable that Pynchon's company did the same when it came to Springfield, although they left no description of their route to the Connecticut.

The settlers' household goods probably came by sea from Boston to the mouth of the Connecticut, and thence up the river to the falls above Warehouse Point, so named from the fact that Mr. Pynchon subsequently established a place for the storage of freight. Very little in the way of description of those overland journeys between Springfield and Boston has come down to us. John Winthrop, son of the first governor of Massachusetts Bay, and afterwards himself governor of Connecticut, briefly described his journey from the Bay to visit Mr. Pynchon at a later period in Springfield. His route was from Boston to Lancaster, and thence up the valley of the Nashua River, (much of the way along the late Central Massachusetts railroad.) He traveled on horseback and was a part of three days on his way to Springfield. The journey was without incident, save an encounter with a few Indians at or near Brookfield.

The eight men who signed the agreement for the settlement of Springfield were these:

William Pynchon
Mathew Mitchell
Henry Smith
Jehu Burr
William Blake
Edmund Wood
Thomas Ufford
John Cable.

It is dated May 14, 1636, and is in the handwriting of Henry Smith and is in a good state of preservation in the office of the City Clerk.


Pynchon, in his own hand, concluded the agreement with the following words just before the signatures: "We testifie to the order above said, being al the first adventurers and sub-scribers for the plantation." Not one of the subscribers spent his life in Springfield; most of them, on the contrary, abandoned the enterprise within a few months. William Blake returned to Dorchester; Jehu Burr, the ancestor of Aaron Burr, went in a few years to Fair-field, Conn., John Cable to a Connecticut town, in or near Fairfield, while it does not appear that either Mitchell, Ufford or Wood, remained more than a few months. Pynchon went back to England in 1652, and his son-in-law, Henry Smith, the year following, where both died.

In these far-away days from the beginning of the settlement, there remain comparatively few scattered threads with which to weave the story of the pioneers; but it is not difficult to construct a picture of the scene that must have been presented to them as they approached their destination, and, emerging from the great wilderness through which they had traversed, looked down for the first time upon the wide-flowing Connecticut, the broad meadows which skirted the great forest beyond. Save a few scattered wigwams of the Indians there could have been no signs of human life. These virgin acres along the great river needed only intelligent cultivation to make them capable of supporting those who came, and those likely to join them in the near future. This entrance of Pynchon and his company brought a new era and at once opened new opportunities to those who had lately come from over the sea to found homes and rear families and train their children in the duties of good citizenship. It must have been a period of earnest endeavor, and those who settled down to the work before them must have grown strong in their determination to convert un-cultivated fields and primeval forests into a land of plenty. It was no light task to which they had come, and it must have required no small degree of heroism to grapple successfully with the difficulties before them. While some faltered and turned away, the


leadership of the founder held the settlement together, and it slowly grew into importance. Each subsequent year there came others to unite their lives and their fortunes to those who had been steadfast in their purpose to found this far-interior settlement within the juris-diction of the Massachusetts Bay Company.


Before entering upon the detailed history of the new settlement let us glance briefly at William Pynchon's home in the parish of Springfield, in the County of Essex and inquiring into some of the transactions which led to migration from Old England to New England.

Twenty-nine miles northeasterly of London is Chelmsford, the shire town of Essex. Across the little river, the Chelmer, - not unlike our own Mill river, - a mile to the northwest-ward, stands the ancient Parish Church of Springfield, England. It crowns a gentle eminence and near it are several residences of gentlemen of fortune and leisure. The view down the valley, along the Chelmer, which winds its way toward the sea, presents a lovely rural scene. The wide valley, the well-rounded outlines of distant gently sloping hills, presents in some slight degree the picture we get from the various eminences which skirt our own Connecticut. In this Parish Church William Pynchon worshiped and for a time was one of its wardens. He and another warden had charge of making the repairs of the edifice in 1624, six years before sailing for New England with Winthrop's fleet.

See The Winthrop Fleet of 1630

Under date of March 4, 1629, King James gave a grant of land from the Merrimack on the north to a line three miles south of the Charles river and extending westward "from the Atlantick and western sea and ocean on the east parte, to the south sea on the west parte," to twenty-seven persons, of whom Pynchon was one, styling themselves, "The Governor and Company of the Massachuseets Bay in New England."


As a consideration for the grant the King reserved one-fifth of all the gold and silver ores found within this domain. This was largely a commercail enterprise, and included London and other capitalists, who were styled "the adventurers," those going out to New England being called the "planters," and this is the origin of the term as early used in New England.

Meetings for organization and for perfecting arrangements for transportation and settle-ment were held several times a week for a year or more, until the 8th of April, 1630 when the ships the Arbella, the Talbot and the Jewel weighed anchor and sailed out of the harbor of Cowes for the then far distant New England. On the 12th of June they arrived at Salem wither Governor Endicott had previously gone. Governor Winthrop and his company soon settled in Boston and vicinity, Pynchon making his home in Roxbury.

See the History of Salem, Mass. by Sidney Perley

After the charter was granted perhaps the most important meetings of the company in London were those held on the 28th and 29th of August, 1629, when on the first named day the question arose as to whether the government of the Colony should be continued in England, or be transferred to New England. After considerable discussion the question was postponed until 7 o'clock of the morning of the 29th, at which time there was a full attendance, 27 members being present, including William Pynchon. Debate followed the convening of the meeting at that early hour, and a vote was finally taken "by the erection of hands, and it appeared that by general consent of the company that the government and patent should be settled in New England." This saved to the colonists home rule, and the settling of their own concerns without interference from those in England, who could know but little of the situation and of the hardships to which the immigrants would be subjected.

The price of passage for Winthrop's company was fixed in England at "five pounds for a person and 4 pounds a ton for freight. Sucking children not to be reckoned; such as


are under 4 years of age 3 for one; under 8, 2 for one; under 12, 3 for 2, and that a ship of 200 tons shall not carry above 120 passengers." It would appear by this that our ancestors in crossing the ocean more than two and a half centuries ago paid about the same amount as is now charged for steerage passengers in our ocean steamers.


In 1636 the General Court having granted the right to make settlements upon the Connecticut River, Roger Ludlow and others went to Connecticut, and William Pynchon and others to Springfield. Pynchon coming as one of the patentees of the Winthrop Colony, obtained some special privileges concerning trade with the Indians, and it was this that brought him hither, and it was the fur trade which gave him a special interest in founding Springfield. It was this feature in the settlement of New England which led the London "adventurers" to embark in the enterprise of founding settlements in America. There is no doubt that the prospects of large returns induced Pynchon to seek a home on the banks of the Connecticut (at Springfield, Mass.)

At that time there was an abundance of beaver inhabiting all the streams which flowed into the "great river," and it proved a profitable venture for Pynchon, for he and later his son shipped many thousand dollars' worth of skins to England. The open spaces along the Conn-ecticut, which became our fertile meadows, made farming comparatively easy and while Pynchon bought and sold, the others generally confined themselves to the cultivation of the earth, thus securing a living, if not great wealth.

No other single feature of our early history excites so much admiration as the capacity which the first settlers displayed at the very beginning, in construction and orderly gov-ernment. While it was but natural that they should bring with them the habits and opinions acquired before landing upon these shores, they began life in the new country on as entirely new model. In England there was law and order


based upon the principle that the few were born to govern the many. Here there was neither law nor opinion other than that which was evolved from their own inner consciousness. They did not stop to wander in the wilderness of doubt and fear, but set out with the supreme conviction that they were able to govern themselves, and that government was something in which all, even the humblest, should take part. The land in the old home, which should have been in the ownership of those who tilled it, was possessed by the few who had been the favorites of kings and courts. There were no free homesteads like those our ancestors created, and there was no equal distribution of the burdens and the benefits of government. Here, immediately after possessing the soil there began an equal distribution of responsi-bilities of government and the humblest had equal voice in public concerns. In England there were no taxes on lands, and no general registration of titles, and whatever laws, in that regard were adopted here, they had no parallel in England. As we look back to the beginning it is that genius which shaped the destiny of this country, which builded so differently and so wisely for the future, that excites our admiration, and it must ever remain as the supreme example, and the foundation for philosophic study of the men who crossed the ocean in peril and in poverty, to found a new system of government.

The common place affairs which may seem unimportant to us, who are now under different conditions, were incident to the beginning of this settlement on the Connecticut. We get here the picture of the everyday life of the founders. After this long lapse of time it opens to our view the character and the purposes, as well as the habits of those who came here at the beginning, and valiently, against great obstacles, worked out the new problems which were presented to them. While they brought with them from England the habits, and to a great extent the beliefs of their old homes, they proved that they were equal to the new duties which were presented to them under entirely new conditions.


It was no one-man power, the strong oppressing the weak, that they found dominating the new settlement. They all walked and lived and toiled on a common level, and nothing short of superior education or intellectual acquirements gave anyone advantage over another, or placed any one in the front rank in directing the affairs of this little community. It was as pure a democracy as dreamers in our own time have pictured, in which there was a gradual but constant ripening of faith in the higher duties, which have come down to the race as the view has broadened.


Two months after the agreement of the eight persons to found the settlement, William Pynchon, Henry Smith, and Jehu Burr, made an agreement with the Indians for the purchase of the lands on both sides of the Connecticut. The price paid, "eighteen fathoms of wampum, 18 coats, 18 hatchets, 18 hoes and 18 knives," was not much of a burden to the settlers. Mr. Pynchon's payment was assessed on the lands as they were subsequently granted to the settlers. The Indian deed is given below:

"Agaam, alias Agawam, This fifteenth day of July, 1636.

It is agreed between Commucke and Matanchon, ancient Indians, & in particular for & in ye name of Cattonis, the right owner of Agawam & Quana, & in the Name of his mother, Kewanusk, the Tamaham, or wife of Wenawis & Niarum, the wife of Coa, to & with William Pynchon, Henry Smith & Jehu Burr, their heirs & associates for ever, to trucke & sel al that ground & mucke of quittas or medow, accomsick, viz., on the other side of Quana; & al the ground & muck of quittas on the side of Agaam, except Cottiwackesh or ground that is now planted, for ten fatham of Wampam, Ten coates, Ten howes, Ten hatchets & Ten knifes: also the said ancient Indians with the consent of the rest & in particular wth the Consent of Menis & Wrutherna & Napompenam, do trucke & sel to William Pynchon, Henry Smith, & Jehu Burr, their successors for ever, all that


ground on the East side of Quinneticut River called Usquasok & Nayasset, reaching about four or five miles in length, from the north end of Masaksicke up to Chickuppe River, for four fathoms of Wampam, four coates, four howes, four hatchets, four knifes: Also said ancient Indians Doe wth the Consent of Machetuhood, Wenapawin, & Mohemoos, trucke & sel the ground & muckeosquittas & grounds adjoining called Masaksicke for four fatham of wampam, four Coates, four hatchets & four knifes.

And the said Pynchon hath in hand paid the said eighteen fatham of wampam, eighteen coates, 18 hatchets, 18 howes, 18 knifes to the said Commucke & Matanchan & doth further condition wth the said Indians, that they shal have and enjoy al that Cotinackeesh, or ground that is now planted; And have liberty to take Fish & Deer, ground nuts, walnuts, akornes & sasashiminesh, or kind of peas, And also if any of our Cattle spoile their corne, to pay as it is worth, & that hogs shal not goe on the side of Agawam but in adorne time: Also the said Pynchon, doth give to Wruththena two Coates over and above the Particulars expressed, & in Witness hereof the two said Indians, this present 15th day of July, 1636."

This deed was signed by the marks of Menis, Kenix, Wesai alias Nepinam, Winepawin, Cominuk, Macossak, Wenewis, Cuttonis, Wrutherna, Coa, Keckusnek and "that they understood al by Ahauon, an Indian of the Massachusetts," who came from the Bay to act as interpreter.

The witnesses to the signing of the deed by the Indians were: John Allen, Richard Everet, Thomas Horton, Faithful Thayeler, John Townes, Joseph Parsons and Ahauton.

Ahauton, Everet and Townes signed by making their marks. Allen, Thayler and Townes have no mention in subsequent records. This was the first mention of Joseph Parsons and his name does not appear again for many years.

This deed was entered in the records of the county July 8, 1679, and is in the handwriting of John Holyoke, who was then the recorder. At a court at "Northampton, March 1661/62, Joseph Parsons testified on oath that he was a witness to this bargaine between Mr. Pynchon & the Indians."


John Holyoke when he entered the deed, wrote the following underneath it:

"Memoranda - Agaam or Agawam, it is the medow on the South of Agawam River, where ye English did first build a house wch now we comonly cal ye house medow, That peice of ground is it wch ye Indians do cal Agawam & where ye English kept ye residents who first came to settle and plant at Springfield now so called: & at ye place it was (as is supposed) that this purchase was made of the Indians. Quana is that middle medow, adjoining to Agawam or house medow: Masacksick is yt ye English call the Longmeadow below Springfield. On ye East side of Quinneticut River. Usquasok is the mil river with the land adjoyning. Nayasset is the lands of the Three Corner medow & of the plains." Three Corner meadow is our present Hampden Park, and the plain refers to the lands north of it, later known as Plainfield and Brightwood.

Were it possible it would be interesting to trace the sources of the emigration from the mother country which ultimately found its way to Springfield. Most of those who came here within the first ten or fifteen years after the arrival of Pynchon from Roxbury, were young unmarried men. Of these, and a few who were married, several were from Wales or wer of Welsh descent, including Thomas Merrick, Alexander Edwards, Roger Prichard and perhaps others, but the great majority were English in birth and training, and all possessed that element in character which triumphs over obstacles. They were the yeomanry of the mother country, who held that all labor was honorable and ennobling.

It was several years after the settlement was begun before many additions were made to those first arriving here. A few came and a few went away, and it was not till 1640 that there began to be any perceptible change for the better. Less than twenty of those who came brought families. Of those who were married prior to their arrival and who brought children with them were:

William Pynchon
Henry Smith
John Cable
Samuel Hubbard
Rev. George Moxon
Henry Burt
Benjamin Cooley
Robert Ashley
John Harmon
Samuel Chapin
Samuel Wright
Richard Sikes
James Bridgman
George Colton
Rowland Stebbins
Roger Prichard
Griffith Jones
Obadiah Miller


All of these with the exception of Pynchon, Stebbins and Prichard had children born here.

Among the young men whose marriages were recorded here were the following:

Elizur Holyoke
William Warriner
Thomas Merrick
John Leonard
Alexander Edwards
Francis Ball
Thomas Cooper
Edmund Haynes
Thomas Stebbins
John Stebbins
John Pynchon
Reice Bedortha
Samuel Lawrence
John Bliss
Joseph Parsons
Benjamin Parsons
Rowland Thomas
John Lombard
George Lancton
Hugh Parsons
James Osborn
John Clark
Benjamin Munn
Thomas Miller
Richard Exell
Samuel Marshfield
John Bagg
William Brooks
Hugh Dudley
Samuel Terry
Morgan Jones
Richard Everett
John Searle
Charles Ferry
Thomas Bancroft
Thomas Day
Thomas Noble
Judah Gregory
John Mathews
Simon Beaman
Jonathan Burt
Nathaniel Burt
Samuel Ely

and possibly a few others. Neary all the above have descendants in Springfield or its vicinity at the present time. Several of these married young widows, whose husbands had died soon after their arrival. Others married the daughters of the older settlers, or found wives in some of the Connecticut towns, or in the eastern part of the colony.

Before proceeding farther it may be of interest to know what constitute the first records of the town. They extend over the first hundred years, from the foundation of the town in 1636, and include the doings of the first settlers in public meetings, the transactions of the selectmen in their official capacity, and the record of births, marriages and deaths. For many years town government included church government until early conditions and opinions were outgrown. The first two books cover nearly the first half century of the existence of Springfield, including what may be termed the legislative acts of the town, the granting of land to the settlers, and bringing all public concerns of the community into harmony with the enactments of the "Great and General Court."


The pages of the two first books are six by eight inches and bear marks of their long usage. They are more or less inkstained, and their pages have grown yellow with age, and yet considering the mutations of time and the careless hands through which they have some times passed, they are in a fair state of preservation. They are difficult to read unless one has become familiar with the names of the settlers, the idiom of the times, and the peculiarities of each recorder, easily understood in some instances and exceedingly difficult in others. When the recorder turns his h's bottom end up, makes the letter "s" in a least four different ways, and adds the peculiar custom prevalent in his day of con-tracting many words, follows an orthography of his own, and oftentimes inconsistent with himself, the task of transcription becomes slow and difficult.

The third volume is more than double the size of the two that precede it, and the three bring the record down to 1736. These records open in the handwriting of Henry Smith, under date of May 14, 1636, being the agreement of the eight persons to found the settlement. The handwritings of several of the early recorders are particularly noticeable for the elegance, and as the original pages are noted in the transcript as printed in the records which form the larger part of this volume, they can be easily found in the manuscript volumes, in the possession of the city clerk.

The entries made by the selectmen are in the handwritings of Thomas Cooper, Henry Burt, Samuel Marshfield and several others. While Deacon Samuel Chapin was for a long time one of the selectmen his hand does not appear in any of the town records. A recently discovered deed on his lands to his son Japhet Chapin, which is entirely in his hand, indicates that he had received a better education than many of the early emigrants to New England.

The records of births, marriages and deaths are in the handwriting of Henry Smith, from the beginning to 1649, when Henry Burt, by virtue of his office as Clerk of the


Writs, became the recorder for that purpose. He continued to make the entries until his death in 1662; the last entry by him was that of Susannah Swink, whose death occurred nine days before his own. After the death of Henry Burt, Thomas Cooper was chosen Clerk of the Writs, but the entries appear to have been made for some time by John Pynchon, and later by Elizur Holyoke, his son John Holyoke and Jonathan Burt, the three last as Town Clerks.


     The regularly settled ministers during the first century in Springfield, were George Moxon, Pelatiah Glover, Daniel Brewer and Robert Breck. Mr. Hosford, Thomas Tomson, Mr. Hooker, and John Haynes severally officiated for a short time, but appear to have gone away on their own desires.

Mr. Moxon's pastorate was from 1638 until his return to England in 1652. He was succeeded by Mr. Hosford, whose given name and previous residence are not stated in the records and whose stay was not long. He evidently came from Connecticut. John Pynchon made this entry in his account book: February 10, 1653 - Mr. Hosford's maintenance and bringing up his goods."

Next came, in 1655, Thomas Tomson, who remained a year or more. He was given grants of land and the homelot which afterwards went to the ownership of Widow Margaret Bliss. He went to Connecticut when he left here, and was succeeded by Mr. Hooker. At a town meeting held February 7, 1659, "there was full and unanimous acceptance of Mr. Hooker to dispense the word of God. He will not engage longer than 3 months. He agrees to stay three months for 20." It does not appear that he remained longer, although efforts were made to have him make a permanent settlement. Pelatiah Glover, son of John Glover, who was one of the Assistants of the General Court, came next, in 1660, and continued in active service until his death in 1692, and he was greatly esteemed. John Haynes filled the position after Mr. Glover's death for a few months, and he was


succeeded by Daniel Brewer, who served nearly 40 years. He was followed in 1734 by Robert Breck, who saw a half century in the pastoral office in Springfield. The dates of service of each minister so far as can be stated, are given in the following table:

George Moxon 1638 - 1652.
Mr. Hosford 1653.
Thomas Thomson 1655 - 1656.
Mr. Hooker 1656 - 3 mos.
Pelatiah Glover 1660 - 1692.
John Haynes 1693 a few mos.
Daniel Brewer 1694 - 1733.
Robert Breck 1734 - 1784.


While Springfield was without a distinctive name for four years, it being known as "the plantation," it was eight years before authority to govern was delegated to a board of Selectmen. Leading individuals were at an early date chosen to allot planting grounds and make grants of land to the inhabitants, but town affairs appear to have been discussed for a long time by the whole number in general town meetings. The Selectmen and all others when placed in charge of any affair touching the interests of others, paid regard to dealing justly with them. There could have been no greater regard for equity as between man and man. There was no disposition manifested to overreach a neighbor or any member of the community in any transaction, and differences were settled in the most equitable way. This feature of those early days stand out in bold relief, shedding honor and respect upon those plain people, to whom every descendant can turn with honest pride. The men who were chosen by the town to manage its affairs, were sometimes designated "Select Townsmen," but more generally "Selectmen."

William Pynchon, who wrote the record of the names of the first board of selectmen, laid down the rules to govern them in brief and plain language:


"They shall have power," says the record, "to order in all prudential affairs of the town, to prevent anything that they shall judge to be to the damage of the town, and to order anything they shall judge to be for the good of the town." "And the five, or any three of them, shall be given full power to hear complaints, to arbitrate controversies, to lay out highways, to make bridges, to repair highways, specially to order the making of the way over the Muxie meadow, to see to the scouring of ditches, to the killing of wolves, to training up children in some good calling, or any other thing they shall judge to be of profit to the town." The "way over Muxie meadow," refers to the road from Main street across what was then a meadow, to the Bay Path, which is now our State Street. The first mention of the "Bay Path" by that designation, in the records, was in 1647, in connection with building this road over the Muxie meadow, which was alluded to as "a horse-way," and subsequently mentioned as the "causey," or causeway. "Scouring of ditches," refers to the keeping of what has been known in later years, as the "Town Brook," clear, and to prevent an overflow of its banks.

September 4, 1646, William Pynchon whose handwriting is seen in the town records on only three or four pages, lays down the rules to the board of selectmen that year, as follows:

     "They shall reach to reconcile disagreements & disputes between neighbor & neighbor.

     They shall take care to find out some convenient way to separate oxen from cows in their daily feeding.

     They shall judge where bridges & highways are to be made of mended, how it may be done & they shall call upon the surveyors, it to be their affair.

     They shall also advise about some course about destroying of meadows, & how hogs may be kept most profit & least damage to the plantation.

     They shall have power to see that men's chimnies be kept clean, and to fine them for their neglect, the fine to be under five shillings a tyme.


     They shall haver power to higher (hire) a cow-keeper for the keeping of cows of the plantation.

     The making of all rates for the plantation shall belong to their affairs, & in general for the making of rates for the Smith.

     They shall have power to fine such persons as carry fire uncovered, providing it be under 5 shillings a tyem, & whosoever shall refuse to pay the fines shall be complained of to the magistrate who will grant his warrant to distraine for ye said fines."

"Making rates for the plantation," refers to what we now call taxes, to meet the expenses of the town. This term long since obsolete here, is still in common use in England. In the above rules we see many of the simple customs of the people of the town at the beginning. The want of fences made the cow-keeper a public necessity, and whatever was regarded as a benefit to the whole was held to be a legitimate public charge.

John Pynchon and Deacon Chapin were elected on the board of 1652, but having been appointed commissioners, magistrates, they could not serve, and Thomas Stebbins and Joseph Parsons were chosen in their places. In 1653, the town adopted, among other rules, the following:

"It is ordered, that when any shall be fairly and clearly chosen to any office & place of service, in and to the Towne, if he then refuse to accept the place or shall afterwards neglect to serve in that office to which he shall be chosen, every such person shall pay 20 shillings fine for refusal, unto the Town Treasurer, unless he had served in that office the year before, no person being compelled to serve two years together in the same office, except Selectmen, two whereof if chosen again are to stand two years together, so there may be always some of the old Selectmen who are acquainted with the Town affairs."

In 1655 the town chose Thomas Cooper, Miles Morgan, Benjamin Cooley, Robert Ashley and John Dumbleton - Selectmen. Some dissatisfaction was created and Thomas Cooper,


Robert Ashley and Benjamin Cooley promptly refused to serve. The town recorder took notice of the refusal and in his record says: "There was a choice made of five Townsmen," naming them, "and Thomas Cooper, Robert Ashley and Benjamin Cooley refused to serve in that place being fairly chosen by a vote of the town, for which refusal they are liable to the fine of 20 shillings apiece."

The records do not show that it was collected, but if the authorities were as zealous in respect to this infringement of their rules as they were in others, the probabilities are that it was. The breach in the board was filled by making choice of George Colton, Thomas Stebbins and John Stebbins.


That it may be readily seen who were the "Fathers of the Town" during the first century, the entire list of Selectmen, from the first board chosen in 1644 tothat of 1737, is here given. It may be of interest to the many descendants of those worthy men, to know when their ancestors served and who were their associates in the managements of town affairs. The government of the town was handed down from father to son through many years, as will be seen in the list which follows:

1644. Henry Smith, Thomas Cooper, Samuel Chapin, Richard Sikes, Henry Burt.
1645. No record of election. The old board held over.
1646. Henry Smith, Elizur Holyoke, Samuel Chapin, Henry Burt, Benjamin Cooley.
1647. Henry Smith, Samuel Chapin, Thomas Cooper, Henry Burt, Benjamin Cooley.
1648. Henry Smith, Samuel Chapin, Thomas Cooper, Henry Burt, Benjamin Cooley.
1649. No record of election. The old board held over.
1650. John Pynchon, Henry Smith, Samuel Chapin, Henry Burt, Thomas Cooper.
1651. John Pynchon, Samuel Chapin, George Colton, Henry Burt, Thomas Cooper.
1652. John Pynchon, Samuel Chapin, George Colton, Henry Burt, Benjamin Cooley, Thomas Stebbins, Joseph Parsons - Seven were chosen this year, but John Pynchon and Samuel Chapin, being commissioners, were "discharged from Townesmen & so ye worke rests upon ye last five.


1653. George Colton, Robert Ashley, Thomas Cooper, Benjamin Cooley, Thomas Stebbins.
1654. Thomas Cooper, George Colton, Robert Ashley, Henry Burt, Benjamin Cooley.
1655. Thomas Cooper, Miles Morgan, Benjamin Cooley, Robert Ashley, John Dumbleton - Thomas Cooper, Robert Ashley and Benjamin Cooley refusing to serve, George Colton, Thomas Stebbins and John Stebbins were chosen.
1656. Thomas Cooper, George Colton, Thomas Gilbert, Benjamin Cooley, Robert Ashley.
1657. Robert Ashley, Miles Morgan, John Dumbleton, Jonathan Burt, Thomas Gilbert.
1658. Thomas Cooper, Benjamin Cooley, Jonathan Burt, William Warriner, Robert Ashley.
1659. The day for choosing town-officers was changed from the first Tuesday in November to the first Tuesday in February. The board of 1658 held office till the election in February.
1660. Thomas Gilbert, Benjamin Parsons, John Dumbleton, Miles Morgan, John Pynchon.
1661. Elizur Holyoke, Samuel Chapin, Thomas Cooper, Benjamin Cooley, Robert Ashley.
1662. John Pynchon, Nathaniel Ely, Elizur Holyoke, George Colton, Miles Morgan.
1663. John Pynchon, Benjamin Cooley, Robert Ashley, Thomas Cooper, Samuel Marshfield.
1664. Samuel Chapin, Nathaniel Ely, George Colton, Rowland Thomas, Elizur Holyoke.
1665. John Pynchon, Benjamin Cooley, George Colton, Samuel Marshfield, Lawrence Bliss.
1667. George Colton, Nathaniel Ely, Benjamin Cooley, Rowland Thomas, Samuel Marshfield.


1668. Thomas Cooper, Miles Morgan, John Dumbleton, Benjamin Parsons, Elizur Holyoke.
1669. John Pynchon, George Colton, Nathaniel Ely, Samuel Marshfield, Lawrence Bliss.
1670. Elizur Holyoke, Thomas Cooper, Benjamin Cooley, Benjamin Parsons, Henry Chapin.
1671. John Pynchon, George Colton, Samuel Marshfield, Rowland Thomas, John Dumbleton.
1672. Nathaniel ely, Benjamin Cooley, Benjamin Parsons, Anthony Dorchester, Elizur Holyoke
1673. George Colton, Samuel Marshfield, Thomas Cooper, John Dumbleton, Henry Chapin.
1674. Nathaniel Ely, Thomas Cooper, Benjamin Parsons, John Keepe, Elizur Holyoke.
1675. George Colton, Samuel Marshfield, John Dumbleton, Henry Cahpin, Jeremy Horton.
1676. Benjamin Cooley, Jonathan Burt, John Keepe, John Hitchcock, Elizur Holyoke. Holyoke died a few days after election and Samuel Marshfield was chosen on the 23rd in his place. John Keepe was killed by the Indians near Pecowsic on the 26th of March and Anthony Dorchester was elected in his place. This was five months after Springfield was burned by the Indians.
1677. George Colton, John Dumbleton, Benjamin Parsons, Henry Chapin, John Dorchester.
1678. Samuel Marshfield, Japhet Chapin, John Hitchcock, Nathaniel Burt, John Holyoke.
1679. John Holyoke, George Colton, Benjamin Parsons, John Dumbleton, Henry Chapin.
1680. Benjamin Cooley, Samuel Marshfield, Jonathan Burt, Japhet Chapin, John Hitchcock.
1681. Daniel Denton, John Holyoke, George Colton, Benjamin Parsons, John Dumbleton.
1682. Cornet Joseph Parsons, Deacon Jonathan Burt, Thomas Day, John Hitchcock, John Holyoke.
1683. Samuel Marshfield, Benjamin Parsons, John Dumbleton, Japhet Chapin, James Warriner.


1684. Jonathan Burt, Henry Chapin, John Hitchcock, Samuel Ball, John Holyoke.
1685. George Colton, Samuel Marshfield, Benjamin Parsons, John Dumbleton, Samuel Bliss.
1686. Japhet Chapin, John Hitchcock, Samuel Ball, Thomas Stebbins, John Holyoke.
1687. Jonathan Burt, Benjamin Parsons, Henry Chapin, John Dumbleton, Luke Hitchcock.
1688. Samuel Marshfield, Japhet Chapin, John Hitchcock, Samuel Ball, John Holyoke.
1689. John Dumbleton, Jonathan Burt, Benjamin Parsons, Henry Chapin, Abel Wright - This board was chosen on the 3d Monday in May, in accordance with an Act of the General Court which changed the day for holding the annual town meetings from February to May.
1690. Japhet Chapin, John Hitchcock, James Warriner, Thomas Stebbins, John Holyoke.
1691. Jonathan Burt, Henry Chapin, John Dumbleton, Isaac Colton, John Holyoke.
1692. Japhet Chapin, Thomas Colton, Samuel Bliss, Thomas Stebbins, John Barber.
1693. John Hitchcock, Eliakim Cooley, Joseph Stebbins, Jonathan Ball, John Holyoke.
1694. Pelatiah Glover, John Dorchester, Joseph Stebbins, Nathaniel Bliss, David Morgan.
1695. Thomas Cooper, Thomas Colton, Daniel Cooley, Charles Ferry, Sr., John Holyoke.
1696. John Pynchon, Jr., James Warriner, Luke Hitchcock, Edward Stebbins, Benjamin Leonard
1697. Jonathan Burt, Henry Chapin, James Warriner, Sr., Samuel Bliss, Sr., John Warner.
1698. John Hitchcock, Benjamin Stebbins, Pelatiah Glover, Abel Wright, John Warner.
1699. Isaac Colton, John Hitchcock, Samuel Bliss, Sr., Joseph Stebbins, John Myrick.


1700. Joseph Stebbins, Edward Stebbins, Japhet Chapin, James Warriner, Sr., Thomas Colton.
1701. Henry Chapin, Pelatiah Glover, John Barber, David Morgan, Ebenezer Parsons.
1702. John Pynchon, Jr., Pelatiah Glover, John Barber, John Warner, Samuel Ely.
1703. Eliakim Cooley, Joseph Stebbins, Edward Stebbins, John Warner, Nathaniel Munn.
1704. Luke Hitchcock, Sr., James Warriner, Sr., Edward Stebbins, Benjamin Leonard, Joseph Williston.
1705. John Pynchon, Jr., Joseph Stebbins, Luke Hitchcock, Sr., Joseph Cooley, Sr., John Merrick.
1706. John Pynchon, Jr., Eliakim Cooley, Ebenezer Parsons, John Miller, Nathaniel Burt, Jr.
1707. Thomas Colton, John Merrick, Samuel Bliss, 3d., Henry Burt, John Holyoke.
1708. John Hitchcock, Sr., Edward Stebbins, John Ferry, Benjamin Leonard, John Holyoke.
1709. John Hitchcock, Sr., John Merrick, John Day, Pelatiah Bliss, John Holyoke.
1710. John Pynchon, Jr. Edward Stebbins, John Burt, Sr., Nathaniel Munn, Samuel Bliss, 3d.
1711. Joseph Cooley, Sr., Tilly Mirick, John Miller, Thomas Horton, John Holyoke.
1712. Luke Hitchcock, Sr., Joseph Stebbins, Sr., John Mirick, Samuel Bliss, 3d., John Ferry.
1713. Pelatiah Glover, Ebenezer Parsons, Nathaniel Burt, Jr., Henry Burt, John Day.
1714. Pelatiah Glover, John Mirick, Joseph Cooley, Sr., John Ferry, Thomas Terry.
1715. John Pynchon, James Mirick, Samuel Bliss, 3d., Luke Hitchcock, Pelatiah Glover.
1716. John Ferry, Sr., James Warriner, 2d., Capt. John Pynchon, Joseph Stebbins, Samuel Ely.
1717. Joseph Stebbins, John Mirick, Samuel Bliss, 3d., John Ferry, Samuel Day.
1718. John Ferry, Samuel Bliss, 3d., Henry Burt, John Worthington, Joseph Parsons -Worthington was the father of Hon. John Worthington of Revolutionary notoriety, whose loyalty to the Colonies was questioned.


1719. Samuel Day, Samuel Ely, Ebenezer Parsons, John Day, James Mirick.
1720. Luke Hitchcock, John Ferry, Samuel Bliss, 3d., Henry Burt, James Warriner, Jr.
1721. Joseph Stebbins, Joseph Cooley, Samuel Bliss, 3d., Thomas Bliss, Sr., Increase Sikes.
1722. John Mirick, John Ferry, Ephraim Colton, John Worthington, Increase Sikes.
1723. Samuel Bliss, 2d., Joseph Stebbins, Ephraim Colton, Samuel Day, John Day.
1724. John Ferry, James Warriner, Samuel Bliss, 2d, Nathaniel Sikes, Increase Sikes.
1725. Luke Hitchcock, John Ferry, Ephraim Colton, Samuel Bliss, 2d., Joseph Williston.
1726. James Warriner, John Bagg, John Hitchcock, Joseph Williston, Henry Burt.
1727. Samuel Bliss, 2d., John Ferry, Ephraim Colton, John Day, John Worthington.
1728. Samuel Bliss, Ebenezer Warriner, Ephraim Colton, John Day, John Ferry.
1729. James Warriner, John Day, Ebenezer Warriner, John Burt, Ephraim Colton.
1730. James Warriner, Ebenezer Warriner, John Burt, Thomas Colton, Thomas Stebbins.
1731. Samuel Bliss, Joseph Williston, James Warriner, Thomas Colton, Thomas Stebbins.
1732. Joseph Williston, John Worthington, Pelatiah Bliss, Thomas Stebbins, John Day.
1733. John Burt, Luke Hitchcock, 2d., John Ely, James Warriner, Ebenezer Warriner.
1734. Pelatiah Bliss, John Burt, Luke Hitchock, 2d., Ebenezer Warriner, John Ely.
1735. Pelatiah Bliss, Ebenezer Warriner, John Burt, John Ely, Luke Hitchcock, 2d.


1736. John Burt, Luke Hitchcock, 2d., William Pynchon, John Day, Benjamin Chapin.


The division of lands, which was begun in 1636, soon after the arrival of Pynchon's company, was continued yearly, as fast as newcomers arrived, or the older ones needed more land. These grants were in larger quantities after the first twenty years than they were prior to that time. Then too, there were the boys growing into manhood; they were to be provided with separate estates and came in for a share. The grants were made upon the condition that the settler should remain in the town five years. If he left be-fore that time had expired he must resign it into the town's hands. In some instances the improvements were sold to a new arrival. In each case the "chapman," or buyer must be acceptable to the authorities.

When Henry Gregory, who was the first owner of our present Court Square, submitted his "chapman," in the person of Richard Everett, the selectmen objected, and the estate passed into the hands of Thomas Stebbins, who continued to abide there until his death. Ever-ett had almost from the beginning been an inhabitant of the town, coming immediately after the arrival of William Pynchon, in whose employ he continued for some time, and what ob-jection the selectmen had to him does not appear. Not long afterward he returned to the eastern part of the Colony and finally settled in Dedham, where he was a prominent citizen and the ancestor of many who bare his family name in that part of Massachusetts.

The desire of each individual for land was made known at the annual town meetings, in the earlier days of the settlement, and the grant was made at the time of the application, "provided there bo so much there to be had." At a subsequent meeting the granting of lands was left with the selectmen, and it was decided that no grant would be made on the day of application, but it must go over to the next meeting. This evidently was with the view to give the selectmen opportunity to consider the propriety of making the grant.


While the granting of lands was for many years in the exclusive control of the selectmen, at a still later period two commissioners were chosen annually to join with them in consid-ering and making the grants. Those to whom grants were made were obliged to pay Pynchon a share of the Indian purchase, but this in no instance was a hardship, as the sum seldom exceeded more than a few shillings. The conditions of the grants were always plainly set forth. The needs, or the possibilities of highways being laid through them, were specifically stated. Frequently in the Longmeadow region there was this condition, "pro-viding that the Indians be not wronged in their pease." On the west side of the Connecticut river in 1652, there was this grant to Thomas Miller: "that vacant parsel of planting ground over the great river by the higher wigwam, provided hee bee not an occasion of troUble and disturbance to the Plantation by an unwise clashing with the Indians; if so he shall forfeit the sayd land into the Towns hands." In this way the rights of the humb-lest were protected in every instance, and any possible disturbance of the public peace -prevented.

Following the grants of land came also the disposition to let them easily slip from the possession of those who had received them; more frequently was this the case in relation to the homelots at the extreme upper and lower parts of the town. Outlying lands were frequently sold or exchanged and it soon became apparent that there would follow insecurity of titles, unless each sale or exchange was recorded. The General Court in 1648 passed a law requiring transfers of lands to be put on record, and from this our form of registra-tion sprung. Such a system was unknown in England, except as to a single class of conveyances, and event to the present time there is no compulsory registration of titles in the mother country, save only in the counties of Yorkshire and Middlesex, England. The General Court fixed the penalty of neglect to record at 20 shillings. Our authorities re-duced the fine to five shillings. The fee for registering was 2 pence for each piece.


The selectmen and the committee acting with them for making grants were confronted in 1664 by an unusual condition. Three of their own number, George Colton, Benjamin Cooley and Thomas Miller, had failed to comply with the law, not having either measured or recorded their grants within the required six months. They were not only liable to a fine, but had forfeited their grants. To overcome the conditions they acknowledged their liability to be confronted with fines, and resigned their grants into the town's hands, whereupon they, in joint action with the other members of the board, immediately proceeded to regrant the same pierces to themselves, thus making their titles good, but no mention is made relative to the fines.


The first Deputy, or Representative, sitting for Springfield was John Johnson of Roxbury, the Surveyor General, who was present at the May meeting of the General Court in 1649. The next year, 1650, Edward Holyoke, sat for Springfield. He was the father of Elizur Holyoke and was succeeded by Henry Smith and the latter by William Davis of Boston, both of whom were sons-in-law of William Pynchon. In passing it is noteworthy how often the office fell to the relations, either by blood or marriage, of Mr. Pynchon. There are for example, the third son-in-law, Elizur Holyoke; the son, John Pynchon; and four grandsons, John Holy-oke, Joseph Pynchon, John Pynchon and Benjamin Davis. In fact, office holding for many years after the settlement of Springfield was largely a family affair. John Pynchon, the first, was elected a Deputy in 1662, and after that date was elected by the Deputies as an Assistant in the Council. His last term of service was in 1701, two years before his death.

william Pynchon was chosen an Assistant in England and attended the meetings in London of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He continued to be elected to that office after his arrival in this country, up to 1650, when the publication


of his book resulted in his being summoned before the General Court and his return to England in 1652.

The Deputies were elected by the qualified voters of the various towns, and, upon assembling in Boston, proceeded to choose Assistants who constituted the upper branch of the General Court. Upon the Assistants there devolved jucicial as well as legislative functions, for they sat with the Governor and Deputy Governor as a court for the trial of causes appealed from the county magistrates and of such criminal cases as were beyond the jurisdiction of the lower courts.

In 1694 the Governor objected to Benjamin Davis, who appeared as Deputy for Springfield, on the ground of his being a non-resident. Nathaniel Bliss served in his place.

Towns not having more than 30 freemen were obliged to pay the expenses of the Deputy while serving, but he was sometimes excused from attending the October sessions. The first sessions were in May, and as the General Court was hindered in legislation it was voted in 1654: "That the Deputies of the General Court should dyet together, especially at dynner it is therefore ordered that the Deputies of the General Court, the next year ensuing, viz., 1655, shall be provided at the Ship Tavern at Boston in respect of dynner, and that they shall all accordingly dyne together, & that Lieut. Phillips, the keeper of the said tavern, shall be paid for the same by the Treasurer for the tyme being, by discounting the same in the custom of wyne, payable by the said Phillips, & that the Treasurer shall be repaid by the several towns, according to the charges of their respective deputies with the next country rate & in the same kidn of payment."

The record further says: - "An agreement made with Lieut. Phillips by the Deputies now assembled in General Court, that the Deputies of the next Court of Election shall sit in the new court chamber & be dyeted with breakfast, dynner, & supper, with wine & beer be-tween meals, with fire and beds, at the rate of three shillings per day, so many as take


all their dyet as aforesaid at the said house, but such as only dyne & not supp, to pay eighteen pence for their dynners with wine & beer betwixt meals, but by wine is intended a cupp to each man at dynner & supper & no more. Lieut. Phillips did accept of this, & agreed thereto, with this proviso, that only such as had all their dyet should have beer between meals, & also uppon extraordinary occasions he might have the use of the gret court chamber."

In some instances, Springfield paid the expenses of its Deputy directly to him, as will be seen by the town records.

Boston was reached by the Deputies traveling on horseback. Springfield, Northampton and Hadley were for many years the only towns represented from the western part of the Colony. Our town records show what was paid on account of Lieut. Thomas Cooper in 1668, in the following items:

To Timothy Cooper for his horse into the Bay 20 shillings, & his pasturing there, 10 shillings, 6 pence, this for ye Deputy, 1 10s 6d; for ye Deputyes Dyet at ye Corte in May, 1668, 3 10s 0d; for his tyme at Corte & travellinge, 1 10s 0d, - 6 10s 6d.

Timothy Cooper, who furnished the horse, was the son of the deputy, who was absent from Springfield for a little more than a month. The expense of legislation, less than $35, was not a very great burden to Springfield in those remote days. Nearly at the close of the session Lieut. Clarke of Northampton and Lieut. Cooper of Springfield, "on their request, having been long absent from their homes, are dismist the service of this Corte."

Peter Tilton of Hadley, was also given leave at the same time to return home, but Capt. Aaron Cook, the other Northampton deputy, remained until the close of the session. The three horsemen, Cooper, Clarke and Tilton, might have been seen following the trail through the woods, slowly wending their way from Boston toward the Connecticut, conscious of having faithfully discharged their public duties. It must have taken nearly three days to make the journey from Boston to their homes.

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History of Springfield
Hampden County
Created July 12, 2004
Copyright 2004