Extracted and edited from “History And Antiquities of Every Town In Massachusetts” by John Warner Barber, 1848.
This town was originally included in the limits of Northampton. It was incorporated into a district in 1785, by the name of East Hampton, and in 1809 was incorporated into a town. The first minister, Rev. Payson Williston, was settled here in 1789, and resigned in 1833, and was succeeded the same year by Rev. William Bement. In 1837, there was in this town 1 woolen mill; cloth manufactured, 15,000 yards, valued at $14,000. The value of lasting buttons manufactured in 1837 was $40,000; males employed, 2; females, 125; capital invested, $12,000. Population, 793. Distance, 5 miles from Northampton, and 90 from Boston. On the borders of this town lies Mount Tom, the highest land in the valley of Connecticut, and is the head of a ridge of mountains, to which it gives the name of Mount Tom range, and which extends into the state of Connecticut, on the west bank of the river.
The first settlement in this town was at the foot of Mount Tom, at a place called Paskhomuck; this was about the year 1700. The following account of the attack of the Indians upon the settlement is from Williams’ Historical Discourse respecting Northampton. “On the 13th of May, 1704, old style, the Indians attacked the village of Paskhomuck. The inhabitants had been settled there only two or three years, the town having granted them their home lots in 1699. The Indians had been to Merrimac River, but met with no success; they then directed their course toward Westfield; but Westfield River was so high that they could not pass it. Some of the Indians had been at Northampton, in a friendly manner, the year before, and informed their companions that there was a small village at Paskhomuck, where they might get provisions, for they were almost famished, and intended, as they afterwards declared, to resign themselves up, if they could obtain no food otherwise. In the evening before the 13th of May, the Indians went upon Mount Tom, and observed the situation of the place. As the meadow was then covered with water, they supposed the village might be taken, and that no aid could come seasonably from the town, on account of the intervening flood. The village consisted only of five families: Samuel Janes’, Benoni Jones’, John Searls’, Deacon Benjamin Janes’, and Moses Hutchinson’s. A little before day-light, the Indians attacked the village. Benoni Jones’ house, which stood on the lot where Nathaniel Kentfield afterwards lived, was encompassed with pickets. The Indians procured flax and other combustibles, and set them on fire, which was communicated to the house. A young woman, named Patience Webb, was waked, and, looking out of the window, was shot through the head. The people surrendered, and all the above families were killed or taken prisoners. Some of the prisoners were afterwards rescued by the people from the town. These, commanded by Capt. Taylor, went round by Pomroy’s meadow, Wand met the Indian near the mountain, when a skirmish ensued, in which Capt. Taylor was killed. Of the five families before mentioned, the Indians killed the following persons:
Samuel Janes; and his wife and three children; Benoni Jones and
two children, and the young woman before named; John Searls, and three children; Deacon Benjamin Janes, and four children; and Moses Hutchinson, and one child. The wife of Benjamin Janes was taken to the top of Pomroy’s mountain, and was there knocked in the head and scalped. Our people found her in that situation, and, perceiving that she was still alive, brought her home, and she recovered, and lived till she was more than eighty years old. The wife of Moses Hutchinson was taken prisoner, but soon made her escape. John Searls’ wife was also taken, and severely wounded, but was afterwards rescued from the Indians. Benoni Jones’ wife, and Elisha, the son of John Searls, were taken prisoners to Canada. Ten Indians went to the lower farms, where there was then but one house, in which Captain Wright lived, at the place afterwards owned by Mr. Elias Lyman. Captain. Wright refused to surrender, and shot one of the Indians, and broke his arm. They then attempted to burn the house, by shooting spiked arrows, dipped in brimstone, upon the roof; but a young man in the house, named Thomas Stebbins, wrapping himself in a feather bed, drew water from the well, and put out the fire.” *
* “The season, at that time, was remarkably backward; for, though so late in the year, being the 24th of May, according to the present style, the trees and bushes had not budded; and the year was so far advanced before the flood subsided from the meadow, that many persons doubted whether it was expedient to plant their corn; but notwithstanding, as there was no frost till late in the season, the crop of corn proved to be uncommonly good.”
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