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THE territory comprising this town was granted to Capt. Ephraim Hunt, of Weymouth, as a compensation for services
rendered in the Canada expedition of 1690. It was actually conveyed to his heirs forty-six years afterwards, and
was settled by a few families in 1742. It was incorporated as a town in 1764; previous to that time it went by
the name of Huntstown, from the name of its original proprietor. Richard Ellis, a native of Ireland, was the first
permanent settler; Thomas Phillips, with his family, from Easton, was the next; Chileab Smith, from South Hadley,
was the third settler. These persons all settled in the north-eastern part of the town. Mr. Chileab Smith settled
on the farm now owned and occupied by his son Chaleab, who is 96 years of age, and in good health at this time,
The first regular church formed in this town was of the Baptist denomination. It was constituted in July, 1761,
and consisted of nine members. In the following August the Rev. Ebenezer Smith, the eldest son of Chileab Smith,
was ordained its pastor. He was succeeded in 1798 by elder Enos Smith, who deceased about two years since. The
Congregational church in this town was formed by an ecclesiastical council, Feb. 22d, 1763, and Rev. Jacob Sherwin
ordained its pastor the same year. Rev. Nehemiah Porter succeeded him in 1774, and died Feb. 29th, 1820, aged 99
years and 11 months. Rev. Alvan Sanderson was ordained colleague pastor in 1808. Rev. Thomas Shepherd succeeded
Mr. Sanderson in 1819. Rev. Mason Grosvenor, the next pastor, was installed 1833; he was succeeded by Rev. Burr
Baldwin, in 1836. In 1820 an Episcopal society was formed in this town, and they have a handsome church in the
center of the place. There is also a small society of Methodists.
Ashfield is a little over six miles square. The face of the township is uneven and hilly, better adapted for grazing
than tillage. There is, however; much good tillage land interspersed among the hills. The principal productions
are corn, potatoes, oats, and of late wheat. Some of the farmers have large dairies. In 1837, there were in this
town 8,021 marino sheep, which produced 24,063 lbs. of wool. There are four churches, 2 for Baptists, 1 Congregational,
and 1 Episcopal. The central village consists of about twenty dwelling houses, an Episcopal church, an academy,
and a number of mercantile stores. Distance, 18 miles from Greenfield, 18 from Northampton, and 105 to Boston.
Population of the town, 1,656.
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.