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Officials in America
THIS was an original grant made by the general court, in 1732, to John Bennet, Jeremiah Purley, and others,
as a compensation for services done by them in the Indian wars, under Capt. John White, of Lancaster. Some time
after the grant, the proprietors purchased the soil of the Indians, for a satisfactory consideration, and took
of them a deed. It had been a residence of the Indians, and was called by them Nich-e-waug, which name it bore
until it was incorporated a town, in 1754.
The chief seat of the Indians appears to have been in the south part of the town, near Nichewaug Hill, whereon,
as in some other parts of the town, they had planted fields of Indian corn, the traces of which were remaining
when the English began a settlement there. The first settlers experienced, many hardships and difficulties. In
the infancy of the seatlement in 1744, a French war broke out, and the Indians, being always in the interest of
the French, became hostile, and began to commit, depredations in various parts of the land, which occasioned the
few inhabitants great fear, and obliged them for their safety to fortify a number of houses in different parts
of the town, into each of which a number of families moved, and soldiers were stationed there as a guard to the
inhabitants and to reconnoiter the country.
The church was gathered in this place, and the first pastor, Rev. Aaron Whitney, was ordained, in 1738. He died
in 1779, in the 41st year of his ministry, and the next year was succeeded by Rev. Solomon Reed. The next pastor,
Rev. Festus Foster. was ordained, in 1802; his successor was Rev. Luther Wilson, who was installed in 1819. The
next pastor, Rev. George R. Noyes, was installed in 1834. Rev. William Wolcott was ordained pastor of the second
church in 1830; he was succeeded by Rev. Caleb B. Tracy, in 1834.
The cut is a southern view in the central part of Petersham, showing the public buildings, &c. The natural
situation of the town is very beautiful; it is elevated, but not hilly or uneven. The center of the town lies upon
the highest land in it, which is a large, long, flat hill, upon the highest part of which runs the principal street
from north to south, and for upwards of three miles in length affords a most commanding prospect, not only of the
whole town, but of the towns adjoining. The soil is rich and fertile, and the land bears all kinds of grain, but
it is most natural to grass and pasturage. This town is watered by Swift river, on which are some manufactories
of iron. Here are 3 churches, 2 Congregational and 1 Baptist. Population, 1,731. Distance, 29 miles from Worcester,
and 62 from Boston. In 1837, there were manufactured in this town 130,525 palm leaf hats; value, $25,495. There
is 1 woollen mill.
Historical Collections Relateing to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.