Monson, Massachusetts

Early Settlement

Monson was originally included within the limits of the town of Brimfield; and in the history of that town will be found many facts relating to the early settlement of what is now the town of Monson.

The settlement, in 1657,1 of Richard Fellows, in the north part of the town, near the junction of Chicopee Brook with Chicopee River, and the establishment by him of a tavern at that place for a short time, is often stated as the first settlement of Monson. This was, however, nearly fifty years prior to the permanent settlement, as his stay was but temporary. The petition of Fellows was as follows:

"That the General Court at Boston grant him Two Hundred Acres of upland & Meadow to be laid to George Colton & Benj. Cooley, on Chicopee River, to be Rate free under the following condition: Build a House suitable to entertain travellers, man & beast, with lodging and food, with Beer, Wine, & strong liquors, provided they Build within one Year & Maintain & Entertain travellers for Seven Years."

It was granted Oct. 23, 1657. Fellows established his tavern, but finally abandoned it from fear of the Indians, whose depredations caused him much uneasiness and alarm. He buried some of his farming-tools, which were found many years after in plowing a field by Capt. James Merrick, much injured by rust.

Although the conditions of the grant, in point of continuance, were not complied with, yet Fellows2 held and sold the land. It afterward passed into the possession of Gov. Hutchinson's family, from whom the Woods family, of Monson, obtained it, and occupied it for many years.

Between sixty and seventy years ago the remains of an Indian were found upon the land. He was apparently buried in a sitting position, accompanied by his gun and a bottle of rum, in true aboriginal style. The rum had lost its flavor, and the gun was much injured by rust. He appeared to have been a man of extraordinary stature, and from the manner of his burial is supposed to have been a chief.

The first permanent settler to locate in Monson was Robert Olds,3 one of the original Brimfield proprietors. He was born at Windsor, Conn., Oct. 9, 1670, and was the son of Robert and Susannah Hanford Olds. He went to Monson from Springfield about the year 1715, and occupied the land afterward owned by Royal Merrick.

About one-ninth of the proprietors of Brimfield settled in the west part of the township. Soon after Robert Olds, came Ezra and Samuel King, Benjamin Munn, John Keep, John Atchinson, Mark Ferry, Daniel Killam, Obadiah Cooley, and Samuel Kilborn.

Ezra King had a house and grist-mill on Elbow Brook, and a house on King's Hill, south of the Grout school-house. Samuel King lived near Ezra, on the Sylvanus King place. His son Samuel was the first clerk of the district of Monson. Sylvanus King is a grandson of the original Samuel.

Benjamin Munn lived at the northern extremity of King's Hill, on the premises now occupied by Edson Walker. His sons, Reuben and Jeremy Munn, lived near each other in the same neighborhood, and were farmers. Reuben was an early clerk of the district, and was also a colonel in the militia. He engaged in the suppression of Shays' rebellion. He was grandfather to the wife of Joseph L. Reynolds.

John Keep located on the westerly side of King's Hill, on the Daniel Carpenter place, about a mile east of the village. John Atchenson located on King's Hill, south of Ezra King's house-lot. Daniel Killam located on Chicopee Brook, but the exact location remains in doubt.

1 See history of Brimfield.
2 This name is sometimes written Fellis. Others claim that the name should be Weller.
3 In the Windsor records this name is variously spelled, Old, Olds, and Ould.

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This page was last updated on 13 Feb 2006