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THIS town was granted by the general court, in the year 1701, to a number of petitioners, inhabitants of Springfield.
The township as originally granted was 8 miles square, and was at first designated by the “Plantation adjoining
Springfield;" but the committee, for the sake of convenience, as stated in the records, soon gave it the name
of Brimfield. The first grants of land were made in December, 1701, to 13 persons. Very little seems to have been
done towards the settlement of the place for a considerable time, owing probably to the embarrassments occasioned
by the war with the French and Indians. In 1717, the proprietors’ committee petitioned for an extension of the
township 3 miles further east, which was granted. After this the settlement progressed rapidly. Among the early
settlers who came from Springfield are found the names of Sherman, Lombard, Pynchon, Hitchcock, Brooks, Morgan,
Burt, Charles, Collins, Keep, Scott, Stebbins, Warriner. Nichols, Graves and Bliss. The Thomson family came from
Woburn, and the Blodget and Russel families from Lexington.
The first family which settled in Brimfield was of the name of Hitchcock, in 1714 or 1715. The principal settlers
were from Springfield. The town was incorporated in 1730, and included within its original limits the towns of
Monson, Wales, and Holland. In 1722, a meeting house, 45 feet by 40, was erected, and stood more than eighty years.
The records of the church were burnt in 1748, and some early interesting facts cannot now be ascertained. Rev.
Richard Treat, the first minister, (a native of Milford, Conn.) was probably ordained in 1725; his successor, Rev.
James Bridgham, was settled in 1736; the next minister was Rev. Nehemiah Williams, who continued in the ministry
nearly twenty-two years, and died in 1796, aged 47. Rev. Clark Brown, his successor, was dismissed in 1803, agreeably
to his own request. Rev. Warren Fay, D. D., was settled here in 1808, and remained two years and eight months;
Rev. Joseph Vaill and Rev. Joseph Fuller have been the succeeding ministers. Most of the people of Brimfleld, from
its first settlement, have continued of one religious denomination.
The above is a south eastern view of the central part of the village of Brimfield, which consists of about 40 dwelling
houses, a number of stores and mechanic shops. The manufacture of boots and shoes is an important branch of business
in this place. A few rods south of the Congregational church, seen in the engra ving, was the residence of Gen.
Eaton, celebrated for his daring expedition through the deserts of Barca, in Africa. This town contains much good
land, and is finely watered by Chicopee and Quinebaug rivers. In 1837, there were 10,000 pairs of boots and 36,000
pairs of shoes manufactured in this town, the value of which was $58,650; males employed, 125; females, 50. There
were 12,780 palm leaf hats manufactured, valued at $5,112. There was 1 cotton mill, with 1,332 spindles; 230,000
yards of cloth were manufactured, valued at $19,500. Distance, 19 miles from Springfield, 25 miles south west of
Worcester, and 70 from Boston. Population, 1,518.
Gen. William Eaton spent the last years of his life in this town, where he died and was buried. He was born in
Woodstock, Conn., Feb. 23, 1764.
"At a very early period he disclosed strong indications of intellectual vigor, and of mental eccentricity.
At the age of about 16 years, without the knowledge or consent of his parents, he went from home and enlisted into
the army. This was in 1780, near the close of the revolutionary war; and young Eaton continued in the army until
the close of the war, a considerable part of the time in the humble station of a private soldier; but he attained
the rank of a sergeant. After the peace, in 1784, he commenced the study of the Latin language, and the year after
was admitted a member of Dartmouth college, where he graduated in 1790, the period of his collegiate life having
been protracted, from the circumstance of his having devoted a portion of his time to school keeping, which his
want of pecuniary resources rendered necessary.
"In October, 1791, he was chosen clerk of the house of delegates of Vermont, residing at that time in the
town of Windsor, where he had been engaged in school. keeping. In March, 1792, he was appointed a captain in the
army of the United States; and whilst in this situation, he performed various services upon the western and southern
frontiers. He continued in the army until 1797. when he was appointed consul to Tunis. He continued in this difficult
(and it may be added, perilous) situation until 1803, during which period he discharged the consular functions
with great firmness and ability. In 1801, Gen. Eaton returned to America and visited Washington, where he disclosed
the famous enterprise which he had planned to restore the ex bashaw of Tripoli, and having obtained the sanction
of government, he embarked in July of the same year, in the Argus sloop of war, with the intention of engaging
in this bold and hazardous undertaking, and arrived at Alexandria, in Egypt. on the 25th of November following.
From Alexandria he proceeded to Cairo, where he found the ex-bashaw, who approved of the enterprise, and after
having made suitable arrangemeats, and recruited about 500 men, (100 of which only were Christians,) it was determined
by Eaton and the ex-bashaw to cross the desert and seize the province and city of Derne. After a difficult and
fatiguing journey, through a dreary desert, pre. seating innumerable obstacles, they arrived within the province
of Derne, and soon attacked and captured the city, having the assistance of the Horned sloop of war. The boldness
and desperate bravery of Gen. Eaton and his little party alarmed the reigning bashaw and his barbarian subjects,
who almost thought they were something more than human beings; but the progress of Gen. Eaton was arrested by a
peace which the American Consul concluded with the bashaw. After this Gen. Eaton returned to his native country,
and was every where received with the most distinguished applause, the grateful tribute of patriotic and heroic
"Gen. Eaton was a very extraordinary character; he possessed much original genius, was bold in his conceptions,
ardent in his passions. determined in his resolutions, and indefatigably persevering in his conduct. He possessed
considerable literary acquirements, anti the style of his writings was characteristic of his mind; bold, energetic,
and decisive. His courage was equalled only by his resolution; and the boldness of his enterprises, by his ability
and perseverance to execute them."
His majesty the king of Denmark presented him with an elegant acknowledgment, in a gold box, of services he rendered
several captured Danes at Tunis, and he also received from Massachusetts the gift of 10,000 acres of land, in token
of the respect in which his talents and services were held by that state.
Epitaphs copied from the burying-yard in Brimfield.
This is erected as a faint expression of filial respect: and to mark the spot where repose the remains of GEN.
WILLIAM EATON who died June 1st, 1811, AE. 47.
In memory of Stephen Pynchon, Esq., who died Feb. 5, 1828, AE. 55.
One truth is certain, when this life is o'er
Man dies to live; and lives, to die no more.'
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.