Genealogy in Franklin County, Massachusetts - Town of Colrain

Genealogy in Franklin County, Massachusetts
Town of Colrain

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Colrain (formerly spelled Coleraine) lies in the northwestern part of Franklin County and is bounded by Halifax on the north, Guilford on the northeast (both towns in Windham County, Vermont), Leyden on the east, Greenfield on the southeast, Shelburne on the south, Charlemont on the southwest, and Heath on the west. Colrain was organized June 30, 1761 from the plantation called Colrain. On December 2, 1779, part of Bernardston was annexed to Colrain.

In 1874, Elias Nason described the town of Colrain as follows:
often misspelled "Colrain" was probably named in honor of Gabriel Hanger, created Baron Coleraine 1761; or from Coleraine, a seaport-town, Ireland, from which country some of its early settlers came. It is in territory a large, mountainous township, in the north part of Franklin County, bordering on New Hampshire [i.e., Vermont], and having five postal villages, which, beginning at the north, bear the names of Elm Grove, Adamsville, Coleraine Centre, Griswoldville, and Shattuckville. The number of farms is 196; of dwelling-houses, 305; of inhabitants, 1,742; and the valuation is $731,042. To an observer on Christian Hill in the north, and on Catamount Hill in the south part of the town, admirable scenic views are presented. The town is well watered by Green River, separating it from Leyden on the east; and by the East and West Branch, which unite near Griswoldville, and form the North River, an affluent of the Deerfield River. The North River makes its way through a narrow defile between precipitous hills; and from the road, which runs along in some places far above the river's bed, the traveller beholds many scenes of wild and picturesque beauty. the land is well adapted to the growth of hay, oats, potatoes, and tobacco, profitable crops of which are annually raised. The number of sheep (1,091) is the largest kept by any town in the county; and the value of butter sold some years amounts to more than $20,000. The apple-tree and the sugar-maple find here a congenial soil. The air is clear and bracing, and the people are generally strong and healthful. This town has a large number of saw-mills; three cotton-mills, containing an aggregate of about 400 looms; a public-house called "The Gaines Hotel;" thirteen school-districts; a Congregational church, of which the Rev. David A. Strong is pastor; a Baptist church; and a Methodist-Episcopal church, of which the Rev. N. H. Martin is pastor.

Coleraine, originally called "Boston Township," was settled by emigrants from the north of Ireland; and their first minister, the Rev. Alexander McDowell, was ordained in 1753. The Rev. Samuel Taggard, the third minister, settled in 1777, was a member of Congress from 1804 for 14 years; and read the Bible through once every year while at the seat of government, setting thereby an example which it might be well for legislators to consider. Being on the frontier, three fortifications were erected by the early settlers to defend them from the incursions of the French and Indians. Capt. Hugh Morrison was the commander of the North (or Morrison's) Fort. In May, 1746, Matthew Clark, his wife, daughter, and two soldiers, were fired upon by the Indians. Mr. Clark was killed, and his wife and daughter wounded. Ten years later, the Indians made an incursion on the place, wounded John Henry and John Morrison, burned one dwelling-house, and killed some cattle on North River; and in 1759 they captured John McCown and wife, and put their son to death. The town was incorporated June 30, 1761. It sent 75 men into the war of the Rebellion, of whom 10 were lost.

JAMES DEANE, M.D., a naturalist, who made known his discoveries of fossil footprints in the red sandstones of the valley of the Connecticut River in 1835, was born here Feb. 24, 1801; and died in Greenfield, June 8, 1858.
(Source: Nason, Elias, 1811-1887. A gazetteer of the state of Massachusetts : with numerous illustrations on wood and steel / by Elias Nason. -- Boston : B.B. Russell, 1874. -- p. 164-165)

Online Genealogical Resources

The following resources may provide information useful in researching Colrain families.



The following resources may provide information useful in researching Colrain families.


General Information

The following resources may provide useful information on the Colrain town area.

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