Historical Notes on the town of Boylston, MA

“Historical Notes on the Town of Boylston Massachusetts,
Prepared for use in the Public Schools”
By George L. Wright

Transcribed by Jim Lavallee

Chapter 1 Situation and Physcial Aspects

1 Situation and Distance from Other Places
Boylston is situated in the easterly part of Worcester County Massachusetts about midway between Worscester and Clinton. It is 7 miles from Worcester and about 5 miles from Clinton, 4 miles north of Shrewsbury , 5 ½ or 6 miles west of Northboro, and Berlin and about 4 miles east of West Boylston

2 Boundaries
It is bounded on the north by West Bolyston, Sterling, and Clinton, on the East by Berlin and Northboro, on the south by Shrewsbury and on the west by West Boylston. The boundary line of the sity of Worcester comes within one mile of the southwest cornet of Boylston. A small corner of Shrewsbury lying between Boylston and Worcester.

3 Area
The total area of Boylston including the land that is covered by water is 12680 acres.

4 Surface
The surface is broken and uneven, but not extremely hilly. There are three swells or undulations of land in the town extending through it. One of them extends across the easterly part of the town and is a part of the highlands extending from Bolton to Shrewsbury and here with another range of hills in the southwest part of the town forms a portion of the watershed between the Nashua, Assabet, and Blackstone Rivers. The third range of hills is situated in the north part of the town and extends into West Boylston and Sterling. On this range just over the townline of Sterling ,near the Waushakum Ponds was once the Indian town and residence of Sholan the Sachem of the Nashoways.

5 Soil
On these swells of land are some of the strongest lands in the town and they are especially well adapted to pasturing and grazing purposes. In the southwest part of the town the soil is lighter and largely plain land well adapted to the cultization of the various kinds of grain and market produce. The soil in the other parts of the town is heavier and more broken. In the valley of the Nashua River and along its intervales before the construction of the Wachusett Reservoir were (JL: the word “were” is added with a carrot insert, nad then scrathced out with pencil. Not sure if this is by author) the wood some of the best and most fertile farming lands in the town. This section is now nearly all covered with water.

6 Highlands
The highlands of the town are wooded with a growth of the different kinds of oak, walnut, birch, chestnut, and pines. On the intervales of the Nashua River, the oak, walnut, maple, elm, and sycamore or buttonwood formerly grew in luxuriance (JL:?), while in the swamps may be found the elm, maple, alder (JL:?), beech, and the various kinds of evergreen trees such as hemlock, spruce, and (JL:?)

7 Scenery
The scenery from the highlands is magnificant. On the north Mount, (JL:* this is correct punctuation) Wachusett with the village of the Princeton at its base, and surrounded by the lesser highlands of Worcester and Middlesex Counties and Terminating in the Grand Monadnock and the hills and mountains of New Hampshire rooted (JL:?) here and there with pleasant villages, lakes, winding streams and hills and valleys offers a most fitting background to a charming picture of nature. From the highlands in the easterly part of town pleasing views may be had of the easterly section of Worcester County and the westerly section of Middlesex County.
From the highlands in the south part of town a fine view may be had of the State Hospital and the Green Hill Park section in Worcester, Lake Quinsigamond and the portions of the Blackstone Valley. While to the westward is seen the wodded range of country in Holden, Rutland and Paxton with Mt. Asnebumrist (JL:???) the highest elevation of land between Mt. Wachusett and Rhode Island. On a clear day the water tower at the State Hospital and the tree marking the geographicall centre of Massachusetts, may be seen above the surrounding forest.

8 Ponds
There are five natural ponds of water in the town, Sewall Pong, Spectacle Pond, Flagg’s Ponds, Spruce Pond and Mud Pond all lying in the southery part of the town and Rocky Pond in t he easterly part near the Northboro line. The largest is Rocky Pond which contains according to an official survey made in 1830, 45 acres. It received its name from the inumerable bouldersin and around it. It has been known by this name for 250 years or more as it is mentioned in the Colonial records of Massachusetts by it as early as 1677. Sewall pond is the next in size and takes its name because it was once part of land owned by Chief Justice Samuel Sewall. Spectacle Pond is the pond between the Slack (JL:?) farm and Windsor Park, Mud Pond sometimes called Newton Meadow Pond lies south of Mill Road. Spruce Pond lies near the south school road and the Flagg Ponds are bear this last named pond on the westerly side of Worcetser road.

9 Brooks
French Brook, sometimes called Mill Brook flows through the easterly and north central central (JL:as written) parts of the town into the Wachusett Reservoir. It is called French Brook because it flowed before the Reservoir was constructed for a long distance through land that was once owned by one of the settlers named Johathan French: it took the other name of Mill Brook from the fact that were several Saw mills upon the stream. It takes its rise in a spring situated on the northerly side of Stiles Hill in the easterly part of the town and not far from the residence of William H. Hastings and flows north only crossing the Nrothboro Road east of Mr. Hastings’ House; it crosees the Berlin Road below the house of Samuel C. Butterfield and the Clinton Road beyond Mrs. Ropes and enters the Wachusett Reservoir near her house. There is another spring on Stiles Hill a few tads (JL:?)southerly of the above mentioned spring which Spring Garden or us(JL:?) it is now commonly called Sewall Brook has its source this flows south westerly crossing the main Shrewsbury road near the farms of George S. Barton and Miss Jennie L. Flagg and Sewall Street or the south road to Shrewsbury near the houses of Fred C. Hall and Edward W. Dillard and thence into Sewall Pond. The curious thing about these springs is that although very near each other they are on the opposite sides of the dividing line of the watershed so that the water of French Brook the northerly stream finds its way to the Nashua River and thence into the Merrimac and finally into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport while the water coming from the southerly spring flowing into Sewall Pond finds its way into Lake Quinsigamond and then into the Blackstone River and so on until it reaches Naragansett Bay at Providence Rhode Island. There is an outlet of Rocky Pond known as the rocky Pond Brook which flows southerly into Straw Hollow where it meets another brook flowing from the northeasterly section of Shrewsbury and these brooks after uniting flow into the Assabet River at Northboro, and thence into the Concord and Merrimac Rivers and entering the Altantic Ocean at Newburyport
. There are two small brooks in the North Easterly part of the town one of which known as Hastings Brook flows into the Wachusett Reservoir the other side is called Rack Meadow (JL:?) Brook and flows into another brook in Berlin which is a tributary of the Assabet River. Malagasco or Muddy brook as it is more generally called rises easterly of the village of Boylston Centre and flows through the swamp southerly of the Congregational Chucrh. Once known by the same Indian name as the Brook although later called Pine Swamp, and crosses the Shrewsbury road about a quarter of a mile Southerly of the village and flows southwesterly + westerly (JL: as written) across Temple Street and the Worcester road until it reaches and empties into the Wachusett Reservoir near the house of Fred W. Fahlstrom.

There are two small brooks in the westerly and north westerly parts of town which flow easterly and shoutheasterly into the Wachusett Reservoir and a very short brook formed by an outlet of Spruce Pond which flows through Sewall Pond and on into Mud Pond.

10 Waterfall

Before the construction of Wachusett Reservoir there was a beautiful water fall in French Brook near the house of Mrs. Ropp (JL:?), where the brook descended into the lowlands of the Nashua River. The water dropped over the rocks by a nearly perpendicular fall of twenty five or thrirty feet, to a rocky pool below. This was known as Dinner Pail Fall from the tradition that a little school girl lost her dinner pail by its being carried over the fall. The sides of the gorge or ravine through which the brook descended were thickly covered with evergreen trees and it was a truly (JL:?) beautiful place. On the brook near the top of the falls formerly stood an old waether beaten saw and grist mill and a short distance below the falls were the picturesque ruins of a high stone wall covered with vines and surrounded by the dense green bough of hemlock trees. These ruins p.10

11 Nashua River
12 Wachusett Reservoir
13 Hills
14 Bong Hill
15 Pulpit Hill
16 Scar Hill
17 Potash Hill
18 Fitzgerald Hill
19 Howe’s Hill
20 Manufacturing of Brick
21 Snake Hill
22 Ball Hill
23 Ashan’s Hill
24 Longely Hill
25 Stiles Hill
26 Apron Hill
27 Davenport Hill
28 Money Diggers

29 Topographical Survey
30 Minerals
31 Roads
32 RailroadsElectric Railroad
33 Villages
34 Boylston Centre
35 Morningdale
36 Straw Hollow
37 Saywers Mills
38 Post Offices

39 Educational Matters
40 Agriculture and Industries
41 Healthfulness and Longevity
42 Military Matters

43 Chapter 2 Early settlement of Lancaster
44 Indians and Indian Troubles
45 Agreements for the Peace between the English and the Indians
46 Lancaster made a Town
47 Burning of Lancaster
48 Presettlement of Lancaster
49 Frontier (?) Indian Troubles
50 Capture of Thomas Sawyer
51 Story of Redemption of Thomas Sawyer
52 Indian Raid of 1707
53 Last Indian Raid 1710
54 Frontier Settlements
55 Lancaster New on Additional Grant
56 First Settlement in Boylston upon Lancastor Territory
57 Early History of Shrewsbury
58 Legislative Grants
59 Malden Farm Grant
60 Davenport Farm
61 Davenport Farm Grant
62 Capt. Richard Davenport
63 Sewall Farm Grant
64 Story of Wedding of Samuel Sewall and Hannah Hill
65 Sir William Perperell’s Connection with the Sewall Grant
66 Life of Sam Sewall.
67 Samual Sewall and the witch craft trials
68 Rocky Pond Grant
69 Story of Indian Assault upon Eames family

70 Slate Hill

I presume that many of the citizens of the town of Boylston are not familiar with some of the old names applied to different localities of the town, and probably would not he able to designate them, and so I have written this brief article with the idea of preserving the ancient names.

For instance, I had occasion a short time ago to look up the location of one of our old country roads, long since discontinued, in connection with some land boundaries. These boundaries, according to the ancient deeds, were described as "butting upon the county road over Slate Hill", and I doubt very much if there are many of the younger generation of the people of the town who can tell where this hill is. Of course, nearly all of the Boylston people can tell where Diamond Hill is situated, and why it is so called. But, we have a road near this hill, called Diamond Hill Avenue, which really should be known as Slate Hill Avenue. Leaving the present Worcester Road just below the dwelling house of Asa A. Bennett, and swinging to the left, and running nearly parallel with the present Worcester Road, and just back of the house now occupied by John N. Flagg, and so on through the woods, and down a very steep hill. and joining the present Worcester Road near the William Blackwell place, is now to be traced the old road to Worcester over SLATE HILL. This hill abounds with flat slate stones, hence its name, and tradition has it that many of the earlier tomb stones in the Old Cemetery were procured from this hill. It was also a place of resort for large flat covering stones for road culverts and sluices.

The late Leonard Brewer used to tell that when he was a boy the farmers, when drawing wood or logs down the hill in icy weather, were accustomed to use yokes of oxen, chaining one pair behind the load to hold it back while the other pair drew the load.

71 Madegascar Swamp

The swamp back of Boylston Center