Historical Sketch of Gill, MA
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THIS town was formerly a part of Deerfield; it was incorporated in 1793. It received its name in honor of Lieutenant Governor Moses Gill. The church records have been lost, but it is supposed that the Congregational church was organized in 1793. The first minister was Rev. John Jackson, who was settled in 1798; his successor, Rev. Jabez Munsell, was settled in 1802; the next minister, Rev. Josiah W. Canning, was settled in 1806. The township is situated on a great bend of Connecticut river, and contains much fertile land. It lies on the west side of the Connecticut, and is separated from Greenfield by Fall river. There are two churches, 1 Congregational and 1 Methodist, both situated in the small viilage in the central part of the town. Population, 809. Distance, 5 miles E. N. E. of Greenfield, 15 S. of Brattleborough, Vt., and 86 westerly from Boston.

Near the point where the boundaries of this town, Montague and Greenfield meet, there is in the Connecticut the most interesting waterfall in the state. They were formerly called Miller's falls, but of late have received the name of Turner's Falls, in commemoration of Capt. Turner, who surprised a body of Indians, in 1676, at this place, during Philip's war. A canal, three miles in length, in order to pass the falls, has been constructed in the town of Montague, on the eastern side of the river. An artificial dam has also been constructed at the falls, more than a thousand feet long, resting near the center upon two small islands. Over this dam the water descends more than thirty feet perpendicularly, and for half a mile continues descending rapidly and foaming in its course. From an elevation perhaps about fifty rods below the cataract, the observer perceives that he has a miniature resemblance of the falls of Noagara before him. The country about these is but little cultivated. On the opposite side of the river, the observer will, however, perceive a few dwellings and the head of a canal; hut a little beyond appear elevations, which are principally covered with evergreens, and terminate the landscape.

The Indians during Philip's war resorted to the falls for the purpose of taking fish, as vast quantities of shad, salmon, and other fish ascended the river during the spring season. Several hundred indians took a station on the right bank of the river, on elevated ground; a smaller party occupied the opposite bank; and another was stationed at what is now called Smead's Island. upwards of a mile below. As the English forces at Hadley and the adjacent towns were not, at this time, numerous, the Indians appeared to have considered themselves but little exposed to an attack. Two lads, Stebbins and. Gilbert, who had been taken prisoners and carried to the falls, fortunately made their escape, and gave information of the position and carelessness of the Indians. On the receipt of this intelligence, it was determined to attack them by surprise. About one hundred and sixty mounted men assembled at Hatfield, under the command of Capt. Turner of the colony troops. He was accompanied by Capt. Holyoke of Springfield, and Ensign Lyman of Northampton. Under the direction of two skilful guides, the English commenced their march for the falls, about twenty miles distant, in the evening of 17th of May.

"Passing the ruins of Deerfield, and the river at the northerly part of the meadow in that town, they were heard by a lodge of Indians, seated at what is now called Cheapside, a small distance below the place where the English forded. The Indians immediately turned out and examined the usual place of crossing, but., finding no trail, supposed the noise to proceed from moose wading the river, and returned to their lodge. Turner having passed Green river and a trackless forest of about four miles, halted on elevated ground, a small distance west of Fall river, about half a mile from the Indian camp at the falls, where his men dismounted and left their horses, tied to saplings, under a small guard. About the dawn of day the English crossed Fall river, and, climbing up an abrupt hill, went rapidly through an intervening wood, rushed upon the camp, and found the Indians in a deep sleep. without even a watch. Roused from their slumber by the sudden discharge of musketry, they fled towards the river, exclaiming, Mohawks! Mohawks! verily believing this furious enemy was upon them. Many leaped into their canoes, some in the hurry forgetting their paddles. and, attempting to cross, were shot by the English or precipitated down the cataract and drowned. Some were killed in their cabins, others were cut down under the shelving rocks of the river bank. where they had fled for shelter. One hundred Indians were left dead on the ground, one hundred and forty passed down the falls, but one of whom escaped drowning. Their whole loss, as was acknowledged afterwards, was about three hundred men, among whom were some of their principal chiefs. Turner, who at this time had lost but one of his men now returned towards his horses. By this time the Indians from the east side of the river, having joined those from Smead's Island, advanced on the left and rear of the English. Capt. Holyoke, who with part of the force formed a rear guard, often drove back the savages with great resolution. They, however, continued their attacks, being covered by a thick morass extending along the left flank of the retiring troops. By a captive which they took the English were informed that Philip was now approaching with a thousand Indians. This, with several attacks at various points, produced a panic among the men, and the main body at length fell into confusion, and separated into several parties under different leaders. Two of these parties were cut off by the Indians, and the prisoners of one party, as was afterwards ascertained, were burnt to death. Capt. Turner, at the head of the van, being enfeebled by a previous sickness, was unable to act with his usual vigor, and with much difficulty reached Green river. The enemy came up as he was crossing over, and he soon fell by a shot. Capt. Holyoke, who then commanded, continued the retreat through the meadow bordering Green river, and, crossing a pine plain and Deerfield river, entered the meadow in that town, hard pressed by the Indians, and after sustaining several furious attacks arrived at Hatfield, with the loss of thirty eight men. 'The most fatal part of the retreat lay across the present town of Greenfield, to the north of the extended swamp, lying north of the old meeting house. Capt. Turner is supposed to have fallen in Greenfield meadow, near the mouth of the brook, on which now stands Nash's mill, where his body was afterwards found by a scouting party of the English. The Indians followed Holyoke to the village, now called the Bars, at the south end of Deerfield meadow.'


FROM:
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
Geographical Descriptions.
By John Warner Barber.
Worcester
Published by Warren Lazell.
1848

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