History of the Town of Lanesborough
Rev. Henry B. Hooker
by Dawn Newton Quinn
In January, 1741, Samuel Jackson and 75 others, inhabitants of
Framingham, in the county of Middlesex, petitioned the General
Court to grant them a tract of wilderness land, situated on the
Housatonic river, near to an Indian town. The grant was made,
and they were authorized to survey and locate "a township,
of hte contents of six miles square, adjoining south on Indian
Town, (so called,) on the Housatonic river, or as near that place
as the land would allow," upon certain conditions mentioned
in said grant. Under this act, this township was surveyed and
located. At a meeting, held Oct. 19, 1742, the proprietors voted
to call it Ritchfield, until a name should be given to it by the
Legislature. It was afterwards called New Framingham.
The settlement was commenced about 1754 or 5, by Capt. Samuel
Martin, a Mr. Brewer, and a Mr. Steales. A party of Indians, in
the second French war, drove off these families, and Capt. Martin
was the only one who returned. A fort for the protection of the
settlement, was erected near where the house of Dea. Wolcott Hubbell
now stands. On the approach of the Indians, the settlers fled
to Pittsfield. A scout was sent after them from Massachusetts
Fort. In following tracks which were found, two Indian chiefs
were discovered, stooping down and tying on their moccasins. Each
of the scouts selected one, and both chiefs were killed on the
spot. The scout safely escaped to the fort, though closely pursued
by the Indians. A party immediately set out from the fort in search
of the bodies of the slain chiefs, who found them buried in their
Among the earliest settlers, after those which have been mentioned,
were Nathaniel Williams, Samuel Tyrrell, John, Ephraim, Elijah
and Miles Powel, (four brothers,) Lieut. Andrew Squier, James
Loomis, and Ambrose Hall. They all settled here as early as 1759.
William Bradley, James Goodrich, Thaddeus Curtis, Ebenezer Squier,
Benjamin and Joseph Farnum, settled here not far from that time.
The town was incorporated on the 20th of June, 1765, and then
included a large part of the present town of Cheshire. It is bounded
by New Ashford on the north; by Cheshire and Dalton on the east;
by Pittsfield on the south, and by Hancock on the west. The length
of the town from north to south is 6 miles; the breadth on the
south is 6 miles, and on the north 3 miles and 20 rods.
The soil is generally of an excellent quality, consisting principally
of a clay loam; and the chief attention of the inhabitants is
turned towards grazing. Little grain is raised, beside what is
needed for home consumption.
The south branch of the Hoosic rises in the southeast corner of
the town. The west branch of the Housatonic enters the town from
New Ashford, passes by the centre of the town, and runs through
the large pond, called Lanesborough pond, into Pittsfield. This
pond is partly in the latter town. It abounds with fish, such
as pickerel, perch, and trout, and affords at its outlet some
very valuable mill-sites. The principal settlements are on a street
which extends several miles along the eastern side of this branch
of the Housatonic. Here are the three houses of worship belonging
to the different religious denominations. The neighbouring meadows
are remarkably luxuriant and beautiful, while the hills beyond
them strike the eye with great pleasure. The scenery from various
points of elevations is picturesque and delightful.
Some valuable beds of iron ore have been found here, from which
considerable quantities of iron were formerly manufactured; though
but little attention has been paid to them for some years.
There are several extensive quarries of valuable marble; some
of which, in the western part of the town, were opened at an early
period; others, near New Ashford, were opened 15 or 20 years ago.
The principal are on the estates of Dea. Elijah Phelps, Abiel
Platt, Bethuel Baker, and the Hon. Judge Savage, of New York.
A large portion of the marble in the capitol at Albany, was transported
from these quarries. Great quantities are now sent on the Western
Canal into the interior of New York.
The number of inhabitants in 1810 was 1303, and in 1820, 1319.
The number of deaths for the last 25 years is 487, averaging 19
annually. The largest number in a single year was 34, and the
There are 8 schools in town, 5 stores, 4 taverns, 1 grist-mill,
4 saw mills, and 3 mills for sawing stone.
The Congregational church, consisting of 5 males and 3 females,
was organized March 28, 1764, by Rev. Messrs. Samuel Hopkins,
of Great Barrington, and Stephen West, of Stockbridge.
Before this, the Rev. Levi Hart, afterwards Dr. Hart, of Preston,
Con., and Mr. Woodbridge Little, who afterwards became a distinguished
inhabitant of Pittsfield, preached here for a short time. The
first pastor, the Rev, Daniel Collins, was ordained April 17,
1764; and the first meeting-house was erected in 1768, though
it was not entirely finished until several years after. The present
meeting-house was built in 1828, and dedicated Jan. 1, 1829.
Mr. Collins continued in the ministry until he died, Aug. 26,
1822, in the 84th year of his age; though in the latter part of
his life he had the assistance of a colleague.
He was born in Guilford, Con.; took his first degree at Yale College
in 1760, where he sustained the reputations of a good classical
scholar, and afterwards read theology with Dr. Bellamy, of Bethlehem.
Settling here when the town was new, and discharging the various
duties of pastor, in the seasons of prosperity and adversity,
for nearly half a century, he had an extended and happy influence
in forming the manners and habits of the people. Some seasons
of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, occurred under his
ministry. Sound in judgment his counsel was often sought in cases
of difficulty, by churches in the vicinity and at a distance.
He possessed good sense, dignified manners, and exemplary piety;
was affable, hospitable, and benevolent, and greatly beloved and
esteemed in all the relations of life. He was first a trustee
of the Free School, and then of the College in Williamstown.
In 1812, in consequence of infirmities, he was induced to desire
a colleague; and on the 8th of July in that year, the Rev. John
De Witt, of Catskill, N.Y., was associated with him in the pastorial
Mr. De Witt was dismissed on the 8th of Dec. 1813, and afterwards
settled in the second Reformed Dutch Church in Albany. He is now
a professor in the Theological Seminary at New Brunswick, N.J.
The Rev. Noah Sheldon was settled as colleague with Mr. Collins,
July 15, 1818, and became sole pastor upon Mr. Collins's death.
He was dismissed, by reason of ill health, May 2, 1827, and now
instructs a private school in Stockbridge, boarding the scholars
in his own family.
The Rev. Henry B. Hooker, the present pastor, was installed on
the day of Mr. Sheldon's dismission, having been previously ordained
The number of members at the formation of the church, was 8
Mr. Collins (during his whole ministry) admitted 283
Mr. Sheldon admitted, after the death of Mr. C., 14
Mr. Hooker has admitted 11
The number of members, at the commencement of the present year,
Ebenezer Buck; died 1805, aged 90.
Azariah Rood; removed to Vermont.
Nehemiah Bull; chosen 1780; died Dec. 1815, aged 77
Ebenezer Squier; chosen 1783; died 1797, aged 67.
Andrew Squier; chosen 1798; died 1824, aged 93.
Gideon Wheeler; chosen 1809; died 1822, aged 77.
Wolcott Hubbell; do. 1818.
Elijiah Phelps; do. do.
Zenas S. Clark; do. 1829.
The Episcopal church in this town, called St. Luke's church, was
initiated by the Rev. Samuel Andrews, of Wallingford, Con., Oct.
2, 1767, and the house of worship belonging to this denomination
was erected in 1783. The rev. Gideon Bostwick, of Great Barrington,
had the pastoral charge of the church, and preached to it occasionally
from June 26, 1770, until his death, June 14, 1773.
The Rev. Daniel Burhans succeeded him immediately, and continued
here until June, 1799, when he removed to Newtown, Con., where
he still officiates.
The Rev. Mr. Thacher laboured in this church from Dec. 28, 1799,
until June 18, 1801. He removed to Ballston, New York, where he
The Rev. Amos Pardee, graduate of Yale College, 1793, took the
charge of the church; Feb. 13, 1802, and continued in it until
Sept. 28, 1818, when he removed to the State of New York, where
he has since been employed in missionary labours in different
The present rector, the Rev. Aaron Humphrey, was born and educated
in the State of Maine, and took the charge of this church, March
A revival which prevailed in the north part of the County in 1826,
reached this people, and some souls were hopefully brought into
the kingdom. The present number of communicants is about 50.
The Baptist church was formed in 1818, with 12 members. About
34 have been since admitted. The number of members reported at
the last meeting of the Baptist Association, was 35.
The Baptists have enjoyed the labours of Elder Augustus C. Beach,
and of Elder Richmond Taggart.
Joel Redway was chosen deacon of this church, July 13, 1822.
Their house of worship was erected in 1828, and dedicated Feb.
Francis Guiteau; native of Bethlehem, Con.
Reuben Garlick; removed to Canada, and became an Episcopal clergyman.
Hezekiah Clark; native of Lebanon, Con.; removed to Pompey, N.Y.
Asa Burbank; native of Williamstown; graduate of Williams College
1797; died at Williamstown the previous year.
Enoch Perce; a native of Peru.
Joseph Jarvis; removed to the state of New York.
William H. Tyler; a native of New Ashford.
Samuel W. Wheeler; native of this town; removed to the State of
Chauncey Lusk; native of this town; graduate of Williams College
1795; admitted to the bar in 1800; died 1803.
Luther Washburn; native of Hardwick; removed to Pittsfield.
Calvin Hubbell, Jun.; native of this place; graduate of Williams
College 1810; admitted to the bar in 1813.
George N. Briggs; native of Adams; admitted to the bar in 1818.
Hooker, Henry B. "A History of the Town of Lanesborough."
In A History of the County of Berkshire, Massachusetts,
ed. Samuel W. Bush, 386-391. Pittsfield, MA: Samuel W. Bush, 1829.