Historical Sketch of Leyden, MA
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THIS town was incorporated in 1809. It was formerly a part of Coleraine, and is now divided from that town by Green river, which, passing through Greenfleld, passes into Deerfield river. There is one church in the town, which is situated in the central part, and belongs to the Baptists, the only regular denomination in the town. Agricultural pursuits is the business of the inhabitants. In 1837, there were 1,140 Saxony, 1,733 merino, and 269 other kinds of sheep in this town; Saxony wool produced, 3,320 lbs.; merino, 5,199 lbs.; other kinds, 807 lbs.; average weight of fleece, 3 lbs.; value of wool, $5,129.30; capital invested, $7,855. Population, 656. Distance, 7 miles from Greenfield, and 100 from Boston. The “Glen,” a narrow rocky pass, through which a branch of the Green river passes, is much admired for its wild and pieturesque scenery.

William Dorrell, the founder of the sect of Dorrellites, it is believed is still living in the north west corner of this town. He is a native of England, and was born in Gloucestershire, about 1750, and was the son of a farmer. He enlisted as a soldier when he was twenty years of age. He came to America and was captured with Burgoyne. He lived for a time in Petersham, where he married a woman by the name of Polly Chase; he lived afterwards in Warwick, and then removed into Leyden. He was visited by a gentleman in 1834, from whom the above, and following particulars are derived. He was found living in a poor old house, situated in a bleak place, far from any travelled road. He was six feet or more in height. He did not believe in the Bible. He said the first revelation was made to him when he was chopping wood; it was, “Render yourself an acceptable sacrifice,” or something similar. He began to have followers in the spring of 1794, and at one time twenty or more families joined him; some were from Bernardston. Dorrell held that all days were alike, and also to non resistance, and would say that no arm of flesh could hurt him. Some of his followers wore wooden shoes and tow cloth. Dorrell possessed a good deal of firmness of mind, and it is said that the organ for this was very fully developed in his cranium. He was in the habit of occasionally drinking too much; he was, however, very punctual in ful. filling all his engagements, whether drunk or sober. The sect of which he was the head, it is believed, has become extinct.


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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