History of the town of Cheshire, Berkshire County, Massachusetts

In offering to the public this simple history of a picturesque Berkshire town, the authors believe the occasion appropriate for an explanation of the circumstances that led to the undertaking.

From our earliest recollections, the study of the history, and the progress of the town, has afforded us a greater degree of pleasure than we have derived from but few other sources. The memories of childhood recall the delightful emotions we experienced when sitting in the chimney corner we listened to the thrilling tales of the early settlers as told by their immediate descendants, and a passion for a knowledge of the beginning, rise and progress of the little colony has marked the years in their passage.

In the delicious days of childhood every feature of the surrounding landscape was as familiar as household words. In the bright June days we wandered through the glens, from the hollows we plucked the violets, from the knolls the delicate blood root blossoms, and in autumn climbed the wooded hills for nuts. We knew the green islands in the river, the beds of white sand, the village streets and lanes, the yellowish spire of the ancient church where we went with our parents to worship God. Every house every person we knew them all in those olden days.

Since then, the graveyards have grown larger. It is there that we find the town of our childhood rather than in the village homes, or treading the village streets, and as a labor of love we commenced to gather the materials and trace the history from the log cabins of the settlers, and the stormy days of the long war to the present time.

We have noted the character, progress and final success of those brave men and women who came from the colony of Roger Williams to win by their labor a wilderness into smiles.

The task was not begun, nor the collection made with a view to immediate publication, but at the instigation of the Berkshire Historical Society, which had as an ultimate object the publishing of the histories of towns throughout the county.

The letter of Professor Perry, its president, given in full, explains the relation sustained toward the Society.

An increasing interest, the natural and incidental result of researches made, induced finally, the plan we have followed. Nearly every spot of note has been visited, every tale and tradition investigated, while facts have been carefully gathered for the purpose of forming an intelligent judgment and correct conclusions concerning the events of times past, and of the people who figured in those shadowy days. Possibly, more anecdotes are related than fall, usually, to the pages of history; but we tell them as they have come down told by neighbor to neighbor, by father to son, by winter fires, when the mug of cider and the basket of rosy apples passed merrily around, and repeated here because through them one may better read the characters of those who left their impress on the town. Although not free from errors and imperfections, this book will be found to contain a faithful narrative of events that have transpired, and is, we fully believe, deserving the attention of those who have a local pride, as well as of the younger people to whom the stories of our pioneer ancestors are almost lost in the hazy distance.


Table of Contents

I From 1767 to 1777 22
II From 1777 to 1787 41
III From 1787 to 1797 63
IV From 1797 to 1807 83
V From 1807 TO 1817 95
VI From 1817 to 1827 112
VII From 1827 TO 1837 126
VIII From 1837 to 1847 134
IX From 1847 to 1857 146
X From 1857 to 1867 155
XI From 1867 to 1884 169
XII Sketch of Rev, John Leland 181
Appendix 193
Index 215


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The town of Cheshire was incorporated on the 14th of March, 1793. The title of the Act indicated that its territory was made up of parts of the towns of Lanesborough, Windsor, Adams and of the District of New Asliford, the inhabitants of New Ashford not having been incorporated as a town until May 1st, 1836.