by J. A. Buxton
Chapter II - Settlement in Quaboag
|Chapter II – Settlement in Quaboag|
On May 31, 1660, the General Court granted certain men of the town of Ipswich six square miles or so of land in the Quaboag territory. The founders of this settlement were John Warner, John Ayres, William Prichard, Richard Coy, and about six other men. They were given this land on the provision that there be twenty families residing there within three years, and providing that they have a minister. If the settlers failed to follow these provisions, the General Court grant would be void and of no effect.
When the men and their families reached Quaboag territory, they had to decide where they would build the town. In choosing this site, they had to take certain things into consideration. First, they wanted conveniency of meadows, and second, they wanted conveniency of corn-lands and rye-fields, termed “plain land.”
After looking around, them, they finally settled on what is now called Foster Hill. Why did they settle there? Crops couldn’t be relied on the first season—setting up stock was a necessity. Food was needed for the animals, and the tall grasses in the meadows around the hill met the need. The hill itself was of rich, heavy lands, which were good for English grasses and maize. The level plain below and to the west was light and sandy, just right for the grains and vegetables that the settlers would have to plant.
Each family was given home lots, meadow lots, and planting land lots. Each home lot contained twenty acres, each meadow lot had twenty acres in it, and the planting land of each family contained from eight to ten acres.
In 1665, not depending completely on the General Court grant, the men bought the land from the Indians. The price of the land was three hundred fathoms of wampumpeage; that was strung white seashells, worth then about seventy-five pounds in English money.
In November of that year, the Indians gave the settlers a deed to the land. In it, there is a very certain vagueness about the boundary lines. It is evident that the compass was not used in the survey. They used a chain to measure distances, and some prominent object was selected as a starting and turning point. The chief concern was to get the full quantity named in the grant.
After the three years’ limit, named in the General Court grant, had expired, a petition was sent to the General Court in which the men asked to be recognized as a township and also to have permission to enlarge the town six miles in each direction. The petition was turned down.
In 1673, another petition was sent in to the General Court. In it was stated the disability of the people to carry on its public business properly because the town recorder, Captain John Pynchon, lived thirty miles away in Springfield. The endorsement on the original petition granted the liberty and privileges of a township to the settlement of Quaboag. It also stated that the name of the township would be that of Brookfield.
Brookfield, as laid out and incorporated in 1673, contained an area of six square miles, but, in a later survey by Timothy Dwight and confirmed by General Court, it was eight square miles, having added one mile on each side.