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HISTORY OF THE COUNTY OF WORCESTER.
BOUNDARIES.—This town is bounded on the North by Leominster, East by Lancaster, South by Boylston and West Boylston, and West by Holden and Princeton. Its Indian name was Chockseit, and it was formerly the West Parish in Lancaster until 1781, when it was incorporated by its present name.
LAND TITLES.—The territory now constituting Sterling, was derived from three original grants.
1. The Mile~So called, is a strip of land on the easterly side of the township extending the whole length of the town; it is about a mile in width, and was included in the first original grant of Nashuah townsbip, (now Lancaster) made in 1643, which was purchased of Sholan the Sachem of the Nashuoggs, and confirmed by the General Court at or about the period above named.
It was annexed to the West Parish in Lancaster, at its incorporation about the year 1744.
II. A principal part of the town is contained in the new or additional grant purchased from a nephew of Sholan in 1701 ; but on account of the Indian war, called Queen Ann's war, which broke out soon after the Indian purchase, it was not confirmed by the General Court until 1713. This grant included Leominster also, and a part of West Boylston, with a small tract of Boylston.
III. THE LEGŐSo called, was originally a part of Shrewsbury, and was granted by the General Court, Nov. 2, 1717, with the rest of that town.
This tract was annexed to Lancaster, (then including Sterling) by an act of the Legislature passed Feb. 27, 1768.* It was then three miles in length and about one and a half in breadth. About one third of it was set off from Sterling in 1808 to West Boylston. In the act setting this tract of land from Shrewsbury to Lancaster, no provision is made for the support of those paupers who bad gained a settlement there previous to the annexation.f
* See Vol. of Laws for 1768 in the Secretary's Office, page 543. All that part of Shrewsbury Leg, bounded South on Quinpepoxet river, West on Hol. den line, North on Princeton line, and East on Still water river, is hereby set to Lancaster, and the Inhabitants dwelling on said land, shall there do daties, and receive privileges as other town inhabitants.
+It received its name from its shape-Narrow gores of lands annexed to particular towns, often received this appellation. Thus we find Royalston Leg and Stow Leg.
Further notice will be to be taken of the mile and the leg in the histories of Lancaster and Shrewsbury.
The following is a Copy of the Indian deed of the New Grant.
“ The bargain with George Tahanto, and other Indians, for lands of them purchased.
“Know all men by these presents that I, George Tahanto, Indian Sagamore, for and in consideration of what money, namely, twelve pounds was formerly paid to Sholan, my Uncle, sometime Sagamore of Nashuah, for the purchase of said township and also forty-six shillings formerly paid by Insigne John Moore and John Houghton of said Nashuah to James Wiser, alias Quenepenitt, now deceased, but especially for and in consideration of eighteen pounds paid part, and the rest secured to be paid, by John Houghton and Nathaniel Wilder, their heirs, executors and assigns forever, a certain tract of land on the West side of the westward line of Nashuah township, adjoining to said line, and butts southerly for the most part on Nashuah river, bearing westerly towards Wachusett Hills, and runs northerly as far as Nashuah township, and which lands and meadows, be it more or less, to be to the said Insigne John Mooer, John Houghton and Nathaniel Wilder, their heirs and assigns, to have and to hold forever. And I, the said George Tabanto do bereby promise and engage to procure an order from the honored General Court, for their allowance and confirmation of the sale of said lands as aforesaid, and also that I will shew and mark out the bounds of said land in convenient time, not exceeding four months, and also to make such deeds and conveyances, as may be necessary for the confirmation of the premises, and also that I the said George Tahanto do by these presents fully ratify and confirm, all and every, the said township of Nashuah, alias Lancaster, to the Inhabitants and Proprietors thereof according as it was formerly granted to them or their ancestors by my Uncle Sliolan and laid out to them by Ensign Thomas Noyes and confirmed by the Hon. General Court. formance of all the abovesaid, I the said George Tahanto bave set my hand and seal this twenty-sixth day of June in the 13th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord William the third, over England &c. King, Annoque Domini 1701.
GEORGE TAHANTO, his O mark.
JOHN WONSQUON, his ) mark.
For the per
The above is a copy of the deed as it stands upon the Proprietors Records.
The following is the confirmation Annoque Regni Annæ Reginæ Duodecimo.” 6 At a great and General Court or Assembly for her Majesty's province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, begun and held at Boston, May 27, 1713.
" In Council.—The report of the Committee upon the surveys of land prayed for by Lancaster, Nov. 21 and 22, 1711.
“ Whereas we the Subscribers, viz. Jonathan Prescott, John Farnsworth and Samuel Jones, are a Committee appointed to view a tract of land, petitioned for by the Inhabitants of Lancaster, and to make report to the General Court, for their consideration, we have accordingly been upon the spot, the days above dated, and proceeded thereupon as follows : Imprimis. We began at the proper bounds of Lancaster plantation, and thence run a line upon a northwest point or thereabouts, along by the S. W. side of Masshapauge and Unkachewalwick Ponds extending said line three miles, from thence we made an angle running near upon a S. W. point, crossing a river called the North river, and so running over hills called Mannoosuck Hills, said line being about six miles in length, till it meets with the middle branch of Lancaster river, at or near a little hill on wbich the lodians had marked a tree for a corner of said land, being near five miles wide. At the Southward end bounded partly by Capt. Davenport's farm, to the S. W. corner of Lancaster old bounds. The land included within these lines is rocky and mountainous and very poorly accommodated with meadow.
JOHN FARNSWORTH. " Read and ordered that the tract of land above decribed be added and confirmed to the town of Lancaster, as a part of the township, not prejudicing any former grants. Concurred by the Representatives.
JOSEPH DUDLEY. ISAAC ADDINGTON, Sec'ry." Previous to this act of confirmation the Inhabitants of Lancaster, at a Public Town meeting, Feb. 5, 1711, voted that ail such as were inbabitants, might join in the purchase of the Indian Land, and all such as would do it, should signify the same, by subscribing their names to the following contract.
“ Know all men, that we the Subscribers being desirous to pur
chase a tract of land which lieth on the West side of Lancaster, which lands have formerly been petitioned for to the General Court, and which the Inhabitants of Lancaster are still in pursuance of, and their petition is still with the General Court for granting the same and considerable money having been paid to George Tahanto ard other Indians, towards the purchasing said Lands though not yet consummated :
“ We the Subscribers do hereby bind ourselves and our heirs to pay each one his equal share of the purchase of said lands and all charges that have or shall be expended about the same, and to run equal hazard of obtaining said land, provided, that if said land be obtained we shall each one have an equal share, and the said money to be paid before the 5th of March next, and shall subscribe hereto on or before the 15th of the present month, or else lay no claim to said land.
Signed by JOHN PRENTICE,
and 96 others." Thomas Wilder and John Houghton were appointed to manage the Petition at the General Court.
Feb. 15, 1714, a Committee was chosen to allot said land in lots of 40 acres to a share of the best land and 40 acres for a Minister, in the most convenient place, and if they find or know of a convenient place for clay ground that it be reserved for the benefit of the whole. All lots not so good in quality to be more in quantity, so as to be equal to 40 acres of the best land.
The first legal meeting of the Proprietors was called by Thomas Howe, Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, to be held in Lancaster, March 6, 1716; John Houghton was then chosen Clerk.
TO BE CONTINUED.
The most repair, that are in goodness rich." Every town in our county has liberally appropriated a portion of ground for the interment of the dead. In most cases a few acres have been enclosed with a clumsy wall, and as if to make the place in its very appearance indicate the dismal purposes for which it is designed, it is given up, like the frail bodies deposited there, to the entire government of nature.
If the sight of grave yards in most of our towns raise in us emotions of gloom and horror, they spring not less from the neglected and naked condition of the places themselves, than from the consciousness of the solemo end for which they are intended. It requires no ordinary effort of fortitude even in our old men to pass these silent mansions without shuddering from the fear of encountering some ghostly stranger. The half falling tombstones, the ridiculous, though piously intended devices inscribed on them, death's heads horribly grinding, human bones, hour-glasses, willows and all the woful emblems of our mortality, are enough in themselves to alarm the stoutest heart. The neglect and inattention paid to the management of these sacred enclosures and the dreary and gloomy appearance they make, from the bushes and weeds starting up in wild disorder, increase, if possible, the horrors of the tomb.
Nothing, it is believed, would be more consonant with good taste than to see our burial grounds ornamented with walks and beautiful shade trees. The expense of such arrangement and the keeping them under proper cultivation would be but trifling, and instead of being objects of disgust and terror as they now are, they would be the resort of the pious and good in holy time and become enduring monuments of the purest moral and religious feeling. For contemplation and indulgence in those reflections created by a walk among the cities of the silent, nothing can be conceived more appropriate than the funeral grove. While on the one hand they would become an ornament, on the other, they would be regarded as praise worthy for the exhibition of that noblest feeling of our nature, respect for the dead.
The custom of planting trees in places of interment prevails to a considerable extent in different parts of Europe. The burial grounds among the Mahommedans are frequently noticed by travellers. Many of them are under the same cultivation as gardens. Beautiful plants are made to grow on the graves and garlands of roses are hung about the tombs. It was anciently the practice, and yet continues in some of the retired villages in England, to strew the graves of recently buried persons with roses, especially those who die young. In the warmer climates the inhabitants skirt the walks in their church yards with rows of orange trees and palms and border the graves with the sweetest plants. A recent traveller in Germany, in speaking of the cemeteries about Berlin, observes, that almost every grave is a flower bed.
There is somethiog in the shade of trees that ever fits us for