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Early Settlement of Hinsdale, New Hampshire
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In the spring of 1673 a settlement was made at Northfield, which was attacked by the Indians in September, 1675, and soon after was abandoned to be re-settled in 1685, when a fort and grist-mill were erected. In the meantime, May 19, 1676, occurred the memorable fight below the mouth of Miller’s river, when Captain Turner, though at first victorious, was subsequently slain, with thirty-seven of his men, by King Philip and his braves. All through King William’s, Queen Anne’s and Father Ralle’s wars, this section was an unguarded frontier, constantly exposed to the depredations of the Indians. But in 1724 Fort Dummer was built, just south of the present village of Brattleboro, Vt., and about 1731 Rev. Ebenezer Hinsdell was made chaplain of the troops stationed thereat by Massachusetts.
The first settlements made in the vicinity of what is now the township of Hinsdale, however, were as follows: In the autumn of 1736, or ’37, Daniel Shattuck put up a good sized and heavily timbered log house on the brook that ran through his lot in ” Merry’s meadow,” and which now bears his name. This house he afterwards made into a fort, by building another similar structure on the opposite side of the brook, and connecting the two by a plank palisade, and surrounding the whole with a line of strong pickets. This fort was on the farm now known as the John Stearns place. The brook has since changed its course, and now runs some distance to the south of the site of the fort. In the spring of 1827 Robert Cooper built a house near the site of the old Hinsdale meeting-house. In 1741 John Evens built south of the Ashuelot, on what is now known as the Elihu Stebbins homestead. Cooper and Evans were driven off in 1745, but returned after the close of the Cape Breton war. Evans’s house was fortified in 1754, and served as a temporary refuge for the Stebbins and Stratton families then living on the opposite side of the river. In 1738 Josiah Sartwell, then living in Northfield, obtained a grant of l00 acres from the general court, which was laid out on the west bank of the Connecticut. On this, in 1740, he built what was known as Sartwell’s Fort. In 1742 Orlando Bridgman built a blockhouse on his farm, which was about half a mile south of Sartwell’s.
The coming of these families induced Rev. Mr. Hinsdell, then at Fort Dummer, to erect a block-house upon land he owned on Ash-swamp brook and to build a grist-mill on the next brook, about fifty rods below. This millsite was convenient to the settlers just now located, and would accommodate the garrison stationed at Fort Dummer. The fort buildings_ were put up probably, in the summer of 1742, and stood on the bluff back of the meadow, about sixty rods east of the river. The cellar-hole of the fort is still to be seen about twenty rods southwest of the house of Lemuel Liscom. These several block-houses, which were strictly private enterprises, and were used as .dwellings, proved of great service in, the subsequent wars.
In 1753, as previously stated, the charter of Hinsdale was granted on the 25th of September, the first town meeting was held, the records of which the following is a copy:
“At a legal meeting of the inhabitants of the township of Hinsdale, in the Province of New Hampshire, on the 25th of September, Ano Domini, 1753, Capt. Orlando Bridgman was appointed by the Charter of said Town, moderator of said meeting
“Voted, That Messrs. Daniel Shattuck, John Evens, and Lieut. Benoni Wright, be Selectmen
“Voted, That Lieut. Jonathan Belding, Ebenezer Hinsdell, Esq., Messrs. Daniel Shattuck, John Evens, and Lieut. Benoni Wright be Assessors for said town.
“Voted, That Ebenezer Hinsdell, Esq., be Clerk for said Town:
“Voted, That Capt. Orlando Bridgman be Treasurer for said Town
“Voted, That Sergt. Caleb How be Constable and Collector for said town
“Voted, That Joseph Stebbins, Jr., and Sergt. Thomas B. Taylor, be Surveyors of Highways
“Voted, That Capt. Orlando Bridgman and Peter Evens be Fence Viewers
“Voted, That Peter Evens be Tythingman for said Town
“Voted, That Aaron Cooper be field-driver
“Voted, That Daniel Shattuck, Jr., be Hog Reeve
“Voted, That the sum of X13, 6s., 8d., Silver at 6-8 per ounce, be Levied on the Ratable polls and estates of the Inhabitants and Proprietors of said Town, in order to defray the charge for Preaching for the Future, and the Assessors are hereby directed to assess the same.
“Voted, That Ebenezer Hinsdell and Josiah Willard, Esqs., Capt. Orlando Bridgman. Sergt. Caleb How, and Joseph Stebbens, Jr., be, and hereby are appointed a committee to Lott out the Public Lotts required to be laid out in Said Town by Charter
“Voted, That the Necessary Charge of Surveying Said Lands be defrayed by said Town, and the Assessors are hereby directed to Assess the same with The before mentioned r3, 6s., 8d.”
In 1767 the town had a population of 158 souls, and in 1773 it had increased to 220. The early settlers were subjected to many hardships, and lived almost constantly in dread of the Indians. Not a few Indian attacks occurred, also, of which the following, as more particularly related to Hinsdale, are quoted: On June 24, 1746, a party of twenty Indians came to Bridgman’s Fort and attacked a number of men who were at work in a meadow. William Robbins and James Barker were killed; Daniel How and John Beeman taken prisoners; M. Gilson and Patrick Ray wounded, but recovered. How killed one of the Indians before he was taken. In 1747 they burned Bridgman’s Fort, killed several persons and took others from that place. In October, Jonathan Sawtell was taken prisoner. July 3, 1747, they waylaid the mill in Hinsdale. Colonel Willard having come to the mill with a guard of twenty men, for the purpose of grinding corn, and having placed his guards, they were soon fired upon. The Colonel gave such loud and repeated orders to attack the enemy, that they fled with the greatest precipitation, leaving behind them their packs and provisions. On June 16, 1748, in crossing from Colonel Hinsdale’s to Fort Dummer, Nathan French, Joseph Richardson, and John Frost were killed; seven others were captured, one of whom. William Bickford, died of his wounds. In 1755 they attacked a party who were at work in the woods, killed John Hardiclay and John Alexander, and took Jonathan Colbby; the others escaped to the fort, and July 27 they ambushed Caleb How, Hilkiah Grout and Benjamin Gaffield as they were returning from their labor in the field.
Upon a slab over the grave of Col. Hinsdale is engraved the following inscription:
“Underneath Deposited is the Body of Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale who for his superior natural endowments, Extensive learning and usefulness not only in private life but in various important public offices he sustained, was far known and admired. After a long illness he died, Jan. 6th, 1763 in the 57th year of his age. Here also lies buried the body of Mrs. Many Beal, the mother of Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale, who was born on her return from captivity in Canada and with whom she lived a widow at the time of his death, which is thought to have been brought on her the morning after, when she died Anno Etatis 83. Her husbands were Lieut. Nehemiah Hinsdale and Mr. George Beal. By the first she had two sons, Colonel Ebenezer and John. After this whose only child Miss Abagail Hinsdale, died at Hinsdale Aug. ye roth, 1739, Anno Etatis -, was buried at Deerfield. His still surviving partner, Mrs. Abigail Hinsdale, daughter of the Rev. John Williams, of Deerfield, a worthy relect of Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale now mourning the absence of those dear deceased relatives, has caused their names and virtues to be thus recorded together.
“June and, 1864.”
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