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Officials in America
THIS town was incorporated in 1761. The town was first settled mostly by people from Sudbury, in 1754, and was
at that period called Road Town. The land is uneven, encumbered with stones, and the soil is generally of an inferior
quality. The Rev. Abraham Hill, the first Congregational minister, was settled here in 1742. Imbibing political
sentiments hostile to the American cause, Mr. Hill was alienated from his people, and was regularly dismissed,
in 1778; the church was reduced to one member. It was reorganized in 1806 with 20 members. Rev. John Taylor was
settled here, 1816; his successor was Rev. Martyn Cushman. Population, 816. Distance, 16 miles from Greenfleld,
9 from Amherst, and 78 from Boston. in 1S37, there were 22,000 palm leaf hats manufactured.
The following account of Mr. Ephraim Pratt, of this town, who lived to a very advanced age, is from the second
volume of Dr. Dwight's Travels, page 358.
"He was born at Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1687; and in one month from the date of our arrival (Wednesday,
Nov. 13th, 1803) would complete his one hundred and. sixteenth year. He was of middle stature ; firmly built; plump,
but not encumbered with flesh; less withered than multitudes at seventy; possessed of considerable strength, as
was evident from the grasp of his hand and the sound of his voice; and without any marks of extreme age. About
two months before, his sight became so impaired, that he was unable to distinguish persons. His hearing, also,
for a short time had been so imperfect, that he could not distinctly hear common conversation. His memory was still
vigorous ; his understanding sound; and his mind sprightly in its conceptions.
"The principal part of the time which I was in the house, he held me by the hand; cheerfully answered all
my questions; readily gave me an account of himself in such particulars as I wished to know; ; onserved to me that
my voice indicated that I was not less than forty five years of age, and that he must appear very old to me; adding,
however, that some men, who had not passed. their seventith year. probably looked almost, or quite, as old as himself.
The remark was certainly just; but it was the first time that I had heard persons who had. reached. the age of
seventy considered. as being young. We were informed, partly by himself and partly by his host, that he had been
a laborious man all his life ; and particularly, that he had mown grass one hundred and one years successively.
The preceding summer he had been unable to perform this labor. During this season his utmost effort was a walk
of half a mile. In this walk he stumbled over a log, and fell. Immediately afterwards he began evidently to decline,
and lost in a considerable degree both his sight and hearing. In the summer of 1802, he walked without inconvenience
two miles, and mowed a small quantity of grass.
"Throughout his life he had been uniformly temperate. Ardent spirits he rarely tasted; cider he drank at times,
hut sparingly. In the vigorous periods of life he had accustomed himself to eat flesh, but much more abstemiously
than most other persons in this country. Milk, which had always been a great part, was now the whole of his diet.
He is naturally cheerful, and humorous apparently uasusceptible of tender emotions ; and not much inclined to serious
thinking. According to an account which he gave his host, hr made a public profession of religion near seventy
years before our visit to him ; but was not supposed by him, nor by others acquainted with him, to be a religious
man. He conversed easily, and was plainly gratified with the visits and conversation of strangers. When he was
ninety-three years old, he made a bargain with his host. (who told us the story.) that he should support him during
the remainder of his life for £20.
"He was never sick but once, and then with the fever and ague. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that a
man one hundred and. sixteen years old. without religion, was a melancholy sight to me.
Three or four years before this time I saw in a newspaper an advertisement, written by a person who professed.
and appeared to be acquainted. with him and his concerns, in which it was said that his descendants, some of whom
were of the fifth generation, amounted probably to more than 1,500."
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.