History of Princeton, Worcester County, Massachusetts

In the following pages the author has aimed to present a brief, yet distinct statement, of the prominent events in the history of the town of Princeton. Particular attention has been directed to the various trials, toils, and hardships of the early settlers, — to the spirited resolutions and acts of the citizens in the period of the revolution, — to the difficulties that presented themselves in the organization of our federal government, as far as they had to do with the acts of the people, — to the ecclesiastical history, — and to tracing the progress of the town in its march of prosperity through the period of years which have rolled onward since the first settlement. Throughout the composition, he has confined himself almost exclusively to fads — having his eye upon the original documents — which, so far as he is capable of judging himself, have been presented with entire impartiality. The work was commenced and prosecuted with an ardent desire to benefit and interest, not only the citizens of this town, but also those of the adjoining towns, and of the State generally. It is true that this is a local history; yet the reminiscences of events that have transpired in this vicinity, anecdotes of mea who have lived here, the record of their manners and habits, all constitute & tributary stream to the general current of our country's history. "All history should be, and American history in particular must be, the history of the people. Not an account of the proceedings of a court, of the operations of a government only but of what the people have been doing in villages, and communities, and families. Here things lie at the foundation of national character and sentiments, and consequently of national events. We are carried by this means behind the scenes, or rather into the scenes, of private history, and shown what are really the secret springs of public history."

The volume we have thus drawn up, makes no pretensions to attractiveness, otherwise than the nature of the subject, and the facts exhibited, may be attractive.

Many things worthy to be perpetuated, have, no doubt, for the want of information, been omitted; accuracy, however, has been the constant aim of the author. Materials have been collected from sources as various as can be readily imagined by individuals who have not attempted a similar work, — the most of which it will not be thought necessary to specify particularly. The Town Books, Church and Society Records, and various Publications, were of course, carefully examined. Many of the facts here presented, were obtained from a History of Princeton, written some years since by Charles Theodore Russell, Esq., to whom we would here publicly acknowledge our indebtedness. We are also particularly indebted to several of the aged people whom we have consulted.

That this, our effort has many imperfections, and some slight inaccuracies, is extremely probable; yet we dismiss it, to those for whom it was compiled, with the hope that it may prove to be interesting and profitable to them.


Table of Contents

General History — Purchase of the Indians — Proprietors' Petition — Order of General Court — Division of the Twelve miles' Square of the Indian Purchase — Rutland East Wing — Watertown Farms — First Settlement — Loss of Robert Keyes' Daughter — Incorporation of the District — Dr. Harvey — First Town Meeting — First Roads 9

Character of the First Settlers — Their Ancestry — Increase of Population — Province Lands — Land granted by the General Court to the First settled Minister — Petition to be Incorporated as a Town — Act of Incorporation — Opposition of the Town to the addition of Territory — First Representative — Boundary 24

American Revolution-First expression of the town in relation to revolutionary measures — Resolutions — Committee of Correspondence — Alarm — Preparations for War — Instructions to Representative — Declaration of Rights — Bounty to the Minute Men-The citizens leave their homes for the Contest — Trouble with Rev. Mr. Fuller — Declaration of Independence — Regulation of the currency — War terminated 31

Insurrection — Distress of the People — County Convention — Instructions to Col. Sargent — Grievances — Courts suspended — Capt. Gale at the Court House — Court of Sessions interrupted — Preparations of Government — Daniel Shays — Forces of Insurgents — Insurgents occupy the CourtHouse — Consultation of the Insurgents — The Retreat — Gen. Lincoln's Army — Termination of the Rebellion — Henry Gale 52

Political History — Adoption of the National Constitution — Funeral Honors to Washington — Embargo — Petitions to President Jefferson, and to the Legislature of Massachusetts — Opposition to the War with England — Resolutions — First Town House — Benefactions of Mr. Boylston — Adoption of Amendments to the State Constitution — Part of No Town annexed — New Town House — Proposed Division of the County — Incidents in Local History 67


Introductory Remarks — First Preaching in Town — Attempts to erect a Meeting House— Committee to measure the District— Building of Meeting House — Assignment of Places in Church — Church Music — Church Covenant — Unsuccessful attempt to settle a Minister — Call to Mr Fuller — His Ordination — Covenant of Admission — First Deacons and Present to the Church - Complaints against Mr. Fuller — His Reply — Ecclesiastical Council — Mr. Fuller's Dismission — Suit against Town - Biographical Notice of Mr. Fuller 81

Unsuccessful efforts for a re-establishment of the Gospel Ministry — Settlement of Mr. Crafts — He requests a Dismission — Letter to him — Rev. Mr. Goodrich — New Meeting House — Mr. Russell's Settlement — Dedication of Meeting House — Mr. Russell's Dismission — Settlement of Mr. Murdock — First General Revival of Religion in Town— Church Covenant— Mr. Murdock's Dismission 98

Religious Divisions — Attempt to settle Rev. Mr. Clarke — Remonstrance of the Church — Church has a right to choose its own Pastor — Mr. Clarke's Reply to Call — Second effort of the Town to settle Mr. Clarke — His Reply — Petition circulated through the Town — Call of Mutual Council — Its Result — Protest of the Minority — Mr. Clarke's Covenant — Third Call of the Town to Mr. Clarke — His Reply and Settlement 113

Coll of Council by the Church- Result — Organization of the Presbyterian Church — Ruling Elders — Call to Mr. Bond — Accessions to the Church and Congregation — New Meeting House — Seizure of Property to pay Ministerial Rates — Seizure of the body — Mr. John H. Brooks carried to Jail — Suit, Samuel Brooks vs. Town — Mutual Settlement of the Controversy — Settlement of Mr. Phillips — Origin of Division — Mr. Clarke's Dismission — Biographical Notice — Proposal for a Union — First Parish, and Mr. Cowles' Settlement and Dismission 130

Farther Measures for a Union — Call of a Council - Result — Proceeding upon it — Objections — Votes of First Parish — Votes of Evangelical Society — Action of Congregational Church — Doings of the Council's Committee — Societies unite — Mr. Phillips at the House of the First Parish - His return to his former place of labor - Church Meetings 142

Attempts to effect a Reconciliation — Further examination proffered, with a plan therefor — Amendment Proposed — Objections to Amendment — Call of Exparte Council — Mr. Phillips' letter to the Council — Result of Council — Mr. Phillips' Dismission — Biographical Notice — Meetings suspended at the Meeting House of First Parish — Mr. Demond's settlement over First Parish — Disaffected ask for a Dismission — Call of Council— Result — Mr. Harding's Settlement and Dismission — Mr. Goldsmith's Settlement and Dismission — Call of Mr. Hitchcock 16O



First Public School in Town — Division of the Town into School Districts - Appropriations for Schooling — Select Schools — Munificence of John Brooks, Esq. — Native Ministers 183

Biographical Notices — Physicians— Postmasters— Public Buildings — Accommodations at the Wachusett Hotel — Streams and Ponds — Wachusett Mountain— Hills — Products 189


List of Officers chosen at Town Meeting, 1761, 197
Location of Roads, 1784, ib.
Petition of Rev. Mr. Fuller and Resolve of General Court thereupon, 198
A Document, containing an imperfect account of the number of men furnished in the Revolutionary War, at the expense of the town, 200
List of Votes for Governor since 1780, 201
Municipal Officers from 1760 to 1762, 202


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After the first settlement of Massachusetts, but a few years elapsed before the hand of industry penetrated far and fast into the uncultivated wilderness. In 1628 but eight years after the landing of the Pilgrims, Salem was settled. In 1629 Lynn was inhabited. Boston and Cambridge and Watertown were founded in 1630. The stream of emigration soon began to flow westward from its fountain. In 1635 Concord was purchased cf the Indians and a settlement commenced. In 1638 Sudbury was planted, and Marlborough was incorporated but a few years subsequent to that period. The increasing population pushed farther onward the frontier of improvement. The fertile region in the vicinity of Worcester attracted the attention of the early settlers of Massachusetts. The first settlement in the County of Worcester was made in Lancaster, in 1645. Mendon is a very ancient town, the second in age in the County. Brookfield was incorporated by an Act of the Legislature in 1660. Oxford embraces a tract of land which was a grant made to certain individuals by government in 1682.