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THE PUBLISHERS TO THE READHRS.
On the commencement of the work, pow arrived to the termination of the first year of its existence, it was proposed by the publishers, so far as they should be sustained by public patronage, to furnish to each subscriber within the County of Worcester, a minute and particular account of the town of his residence. It was intended to collect and preserve those facts tending to develope the origin, progress, and present condition of our useful Institutions and social relations, and exhibit the resources and advantages bestowed on our fellow citizens, until an entire and complete history should be furnished of the divisions of a territory, from its local situation, physical, political, and moral advantages, extent, population, and the variety of its institutions, of no inconsiderable consequence among the sister sections of the Commonwealth. Influenced more by the wish to place on permanent record the relics fast fading from memory, than by the expectation of reputation to be derived from the humble toil of compiling local histories, or the humbler merit of being merely the architects of the materials of others, still less by the hope of great pecuniary reward, but relying on the aid of friends who have kindly rendered effectual assistance, and on the liberal spirit of an enlightened community, the Publishers commenced this Journal. Thus far they have proceeded, until they find that greater sacrifices would be required for the prosecution of the undertaking than it is possible for them to meet, with. out more extensive support than has been received. They are therefore compelled to suspend the work, for the present, to await more favourable circumstances for its successful conclusion.
As their motives have been generally understood and duly appreciated, they can feel little personal regret on being forced to relinquish an enterprise, necessarily attended with so much labour, expense and responsibility. H is, however, matter of sorrow that the materials for the completion of the undertaking are fast perishing. Every succeeding year renders its accomplishment more difficult. Many of the most interesting particulars exist only in fleeting traditions, in the memory of the aged and gray haired fathers of our villages, soon to be numbered with the companions of their early years, to carry with them to their graves the rich recollections of the past, there to be irrecoverably lost. Valuable and curious documents are dispersed among the families of actors in remarkable scenes : Much information is scattered through the broken masses of town and church records ; but these are almost unintelligible without the communications of the survivors of the events partially described, to furnish the connecting links. The effacing fingers of time are busy on the monuments of our ancestors and the memorials of those who bere laid the foundations and raised the solid structures of social virtue, religious and civil liberty, woral improvement, and pational prosperity, must pass into forgetfulness unless some vigorous and speedy effort be made to rescue them from oblivion.
Without consuming space in the expression of unavailing regret, the Edilors may be permitted to look back, with something of satisfaction, on those portions of the work already accomplished, for the purpose of making their grateful acknowledgments to the writers of the papers communicated through the pages of this work. The general view of the county, the notic. es of the civil and ecclesiastical history of Sterling, the list of civil officers, and the catalogue of Ministers, were prepared by Isaac Goodwin, Esq. The History of Shrewsbury has been furnished by A. H. WARD, Esq.—of Northborough, by the Rev. Mr. ALLEN,--of Leicester, by EMORY WASHBURN, Erq.-of Lancaster, by JOSEPH WILLARD, Esq.--of Paxton, by Mr. LIVER. MORE--and of West Boylston, by the Rer. Mr. Crosby. Of the merits of these performances it would not become the Publishers to speak. In the opinion of those possessing too much discernment to be deceived, and too much sincerity to bestow undeserved praise, they have exhibited minuteness of detail, fidelity in research, and historical learning not exceeded by preceding compositions of similar character.
To the Hon. EDWARD D. Baros, the Publishers have been deeply indebted for the untiring patience and politeness with which he has furnished copies of long documents from the records of his office, or entered into the examination of questions, without any pecuniary compensation.
It has been the earnest wish aod constant effort of the Publishers to present to their readers, a work of permanent value, which should not alone furnish amusement to while away the passing hour, but beneficial information for future use. Since the commencement of the second volume, in the pursuit of ito primary object, the pages of the Journal have been rigorously devoted to the communication of the mass of historical facts, by the almost entire exclusion of papers of more general interest and miscellaneous character. That which has been recorded, may seem of inconsiderable imporiance to many of our fellow citizens : but even the triples of the present age become matters of weight' with future generations. The facts of History increase in value as they grow in age: the faithful picture of our own period, reflected from its mirror, will acquire interest as time passes.
Circumstances have induced the Publishers to believe that they have over-rated the present demand for this species of information. They would not therefore contend against public taste. It is better their work should perish by a sudden death than continue through the struggles of protracted dissolation. If the Journal cannot he nourished by the liberality of the public, it must not live as the dependent on stinted charity.
To those who have generously aided by their pens or patronage in the at. tempt to obtain a full and accurate History of our territory, its population, and resources, the publishers present thanks for their liberali!y: to those who have looked on their efforts with the surly determination to see faults only they recommend more pleasant employment: to the people of the County, they wish Historians with the same earnest disposition to perpetuate the remembrances of the past and better abilities to execute their purposes than the subscribers.
SITUATION AND BOUNDARIES, LENGTH OF LINES AND THEIR COURSES.
This town is situated E. N. E. from Worcester, 52 miles from the Court House, and 37 miles from Boston by the way of the old post road. It is a post town, and the tenth in age, twentieth in population, and eighteenth in valuation in the County of Worcester ;* and is bounded, beginning at the N. W. corner, on West Boylston, one hundred and two rods, and by Boylston fifteen hundred and seventy rods and an half on the north, ten hundred and seventy two rods by Northborough and seven hundred and seventy rods by Westborough on the east, fourteen hundred and sixty four rods and an half by Grafton on the south, and nineteen hundred and fourteen rods by Worcester on the west.
The township of Shrewsbury was granted to certain persons, Nov. 2, 1717, most of whom belonged to Marlborough, and was originally laid out much larger than it now is. It began to be settled in 1717, by a few people from Marlborough, though not so soon as a few towns in its vicinity: indeed, at that time, people not deeming it a good tract of land, passed through and took up their residence elsewhere. Little other use was made of it, than to pass over it in pursuit of a settlement in some supposed better place, while repeated and destructive fires, set by people in the adjacent towns, had consumed vast tracts of wood and timber, and even the very soil itself, in some places to the hard pan, for many acres.
It is not known that the Indians ever disturbed the settlement of this town ; there being no accounts on record, or otherwise, of their having destroyed the lives or property of their more civiliz
According to the census of 1820, and its proportion of 75,000 dollars, being the State tax of Feb. 21, 1824. VOL. II.
ed, but encroaching neighbors in this quarter; or that any fear was ever here entertained on account of them. They had some years before, in that retreat, which they have ever since continued, and which has been as rapidly followed by the white men, retired to a distance too great to alarm the first settlers of Shrewsbury. It may seem remarkable, but it is believed, that the name of Indian is not to be found on the records of the town.
The town at first contained all the lands lying between the original grant of Lancaster on the north, Marlborough on the east, Sutton on the south, and Worcester on the west. So rapid was the increase of the population, that the inhabitants of the town, in ten years from the commencement of its settlement, presented the following petition to be incorporated into a town.
" To the Hon. William Dummer, Esq. the Lieut. Governor and commander in chief, the Honorable the Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives of His Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, in General Court assembled, Nov. 22, 1727.
“The petition of the inhabitants of Shrewsbury, in the County of Middlesex, humbly sheweth: that your petitioners were by this Great and Honorable Court erected into a township, and not having granted unto them the immunities and privileges of other towns within this Province, were put under the care of a committee, which committee carried on that work to great satisfaction, but have now declined acting ; so that your petitioners are under great difficulties as to paying their Minister and raising the public taxes ; and the Province Treasurer has issued forth his warrant directing the assessing of the inhabitants of the town of Shrewsbury their Province tax for this year: And for as much as your petitioners have no Selectmen or Assessors, nor are empowered to choose town officers, whereby many and great inconveniences do arise ; therefore, your petitioners most humbly pray your Honors consideration of the premises, and that your Honors would be pleased to empower the town of Shrewsbury to use and exercise the same immunities and privileges as other towns within this Province hold and enjoy, and that a day may be assigned for the choice of town officers for the year current, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c.”
DANIEL HOWE, In behalf of
the town. NAHUM WARD,
The foregoing petition having been presented, was acted upon as follows:
“In the House of Representatives, Dec. 14, 1727. Read and ordered, that the prayer of the petition be granted and that the said town of Shrewsbury is accordingly endowed with equal power, privileges, and immunities, with any other town in this Province; and that Capt. John Keyes, a principal inhabitant in the said town, be empowered and directed to notify and summon the inhabitants daly qualified for voters, to meet and assemble for the choosing of town officers, to stand until the next annual election according to law.
Wm. Dudley, Speaker. In Council, Dec. 15, 1727, read a first and second time and passed in concurrence.
J. WILLARD, Sec’y.
Consented to, WM. DUMMER. The first town meeting held here was on the 29th day of Dec. 1727. Shrewsbury originally included most of what is now Boylston, most of West Boylston, a small portion of Sterling, Westborough and Grafton. In 1741, four petitioners, viz. Ebenezer Cutler, Obediah Newton, Noah Brooks and David Read, with their farms, were taken from the town of Shrewsbury, and annexed to the town of Grafton; in 1752, William Whitney, Zachariah Eager, Jonathan Foster, Zachariah Harvey, Edward Newton, Samuel Newton, Ezekiel Newton and Daniel Wheelock, with others, at their request : and all the lands in the then north part of the town, lying on the north side of Quinepoxet river, and between the towns of Lancaster and Holden, known by the name of the Leg, were voted off by the town, and, in 1768, annexed to Lancaster; in 1762, William Nurse and others, living in the southeasterly part of the town, and so much of that part of the town, usually called the Shoe (sometimes Nurse's corner) were annexed to Westborough. March 1, 1786, the north part of the town, then constituting the 2d Parish, was incorporated into a town by the name of Boylston : and in March, 1793, Elijah Whitney and his farm were taken from this town and set to Westborough. Having thus been pared and clipped, always giving and eventually receiving nothing, the territory of the town has, since that time, remained entire, yet not without attempts to dismember some part of it.*
lo 1795, Silas Keyes, known as a skilful and correct surveyor, with a view, among other things, to ascertain the contents of the
* There has been another amputation since the above was written. Tarrant Merriam, with about 186 acres of land, has been taken from this town and annexed to Grafton.