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First Settlers of Springfield, Massachusetts

FIRST SETTLERS of SPRINGFIELD The trading post established by Pynchon’s group was called Agawam after the local Indian tribe. Agawam was settled in 1636. The Puritans of New England originally called the area around Springfield the "Agawam Plantation." In 1633-34 a smallpox epidemic spread death throughout the New World and the Agawam Indians did not escape. Fewer than 200 were now living in the Springfield area. The small population of peaceable Indians and the abundant supply of beaver and fertile farmland encouraged Pynchon. The grant of Longmeadow was part of a deed that covered three parcels of land: the west side of the Connecticut River, the east side from Pecousic Brook north to the Chikuppe River, and the long meadowe (Masacksic) from the Pecousic Brook south to Raspberry Brook. Masacksic means the great land or the great meadow. Four fathoms of wampum, four coats, four hatchets, four ****, and four knives constituted the purchase price of the Longmeadow portion. The agreement was signed by William Pynchon, Henry Smith, John Burr, and eleven Indians who made their marks of arrows, canoes, and feathers to signify their agreement. An agreement for the settlement of Springfield, dated 14 May 1636, was signed by William Pynchon, Matthew Mitchell, Henry Smith, Jehu Burr, William Blake, Edmund Wood, Thomas Ufford, and John Cable. These men purchased certain lands lying on both sides of the Connecticut River, paying for the same, "18 fathoms of wampum, 18 coats, 18 hatchets, 18 ****, and 18 knives." Four other men were united with them, but did not sign the agreement. Those men not signing were: Thomas Woodford; John Reader, Samuel Butterfield, and James Wood. This settlement in the wilderness was not easily accomplished. It is interesting to note that not one of the first adventurers died in Springfield. None but Pynchon left descendants here. Several of them gave up their allotments to the company. This was the case with Blake, Ufford, Mitchell, the two Woods, Reader, and Butterfield. Burr remained here two or three years, and then removed into Connecticut; Cable sold his lot to the town in 1641; Pynchon left in 1652 and his son-in-law, Henry Smith left in 1653. It is possible that most of the first adventurers were gone before John Harmon ever arrived. 1. Mathew Mitchell: remained only a few months. I could find no information on him. 2. Henry Smith: (+10) BIRTH: 1607/8 at Buckingham, Norfolk, England to ____ Smith and Frances Sanford. After Frances was widowed, she married William Pynchon in Roxbury, MA. Henry is her only mentioned child. On a list of inhabitants of Roxbury, (see Roxbury chapter), dated between 1636 and 1640, there is a Francis Smith. Women named in this list are listed as "Widow ____", but there is no widow in front of Francis’ name. Could Frances Sanford have been married to Francis Smith? MARRIAGE: Anne Pynchon, daughter of William Pynchon. DEATH: 1 Aug 1681 at Wraysbury, Buckingham, England BIOGRAPHY: Henry was a very religious and well-educated young man. He was involved in the leadership of the community of Springfield probably had enhanced opportunities as both the step-son and son-in-law to William Pynchon. Smith served as a deputy one term; selectman seven terms. The General Court of Massachusetts appointed Smith the magistrate for Springfield as the successor to William Pynchon, when the latter returned to England; however, Henry soon afterward followed his father-in-law to England. Sometime after her father’s banishment from New England, it is stated that his daughter, Anne, wife of Henry Smith, "went crazy." CHILDREN of Henry and Ann are listed in previous section under Anne Pynchon. 3. Jehu Burr: (+21) BIRTH: 1596 in England (of German descent) MARRIAGE: Elizabeth Cable, the sister of John Cable, in England 1624. DEATH: 1671 at Fairfield, CT BIOGRAPHY: It is supposed Jehu (Jehue Burre) came over in the fleet with Governor Winthrop to New England and was in Boston in 1630. On 19 Oct of that year, he applied to the general court of Massachusetts for the rights of a freeman and was admitted 18 May 1631. In 1633, he was one of a committee to oversee building a bridge over Muddy and Stone Rivers between Boston and Roxbury. In 1635, his name and that of his wife is mentioned as among the church members of Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 1635, Mr. Pynchon, Henry Smith, Jehu Burr, and others came to this place, called by the Indians, Agawam, and began to build a house on the west side of the Agawam River in the meadow. The Indians, seeing this, and being perfectly friendly, informed them that the house would be exposed to the flood, and they abandoned it and came and built a house on the east side of the river, probably on the lot afterwards owned by Mr. Pynchon. It is supposed they returned to Roxbury in the fall and returned in the spring. The Samuel Chapin Genealogy quotes on pg. 309: "That whereas Mr. William Pynchon, Jehu Burr, and Henry Smith, have constantly continued to prosecute the same, at greate charges and at greate personal adventure, therefore, it is mutually agreed, that fourty acres of meddowe, lying on the south of End brooke, under a hill side, shall belonge to the said partys free from all charges forever. That is to say twenty akers to Mr. William Pynchon, and his heyres and assigns forever, and ten akers to Jehue Burr, and ten akers to Henry Smith, and to thier heyres and assigns forever, which said forty akers is not disposed to them as any allotment of towne lands; but they are to have their accomodations in all other places notwithstanding." Jehu Burr was a carpenter by trade, but was also appointed by the General Court of Connecticut to collect taxes at Agawam which was under the jurisdiction of Connecticut. He was second wealthiest settler in 1638/9 behind William Pynchon. He served several times on juries in the early days of the colony, the last known being Jan 1639/40. He moved to Fairfield, CT in 1640 and represented that town serving as a representative of the General Court. His son, Jehu, also served many years and from the records, one cannot tell where the father left off serving and the son began. Jehu Burr was a brother-in-law to John Cable, who was his wife’s brother. Cable was one of the first adventurers to come to Springfield. Both men left about the same time to settle in Connecticut. In John Cable’s will (1682), he mentions his kinsmen, Jehu and John Burr--who were sons of this Jehu. CHILDREN: of Jehu Burr: 1. Jehu Burr b. 1625; d. 1692 md. Mary or Esther Warde; Elizabeth Pruddin 2. John 3. Daniel 4. Nathaniel 5. Elizabeth b. 1636; md. Nehemiah Olmstead; Obadiah Gilbert; Nathaniel Seeley. 4. William Blake: (+25) Born 10 Jul 1594 in England to Giles Blake and Dorothy Tweedy. He spent a short time in Springfield then returned to Dorchester where he died in 1663. One known son, George Blake. 5. Edmund Wood: remained only a few months. 6. Thomas Ufford: He came in the LION in 1632. Settled in Roxbury. Removed with Pynchon to Springfield in 1635 and within a few years to Milford. At Milford, his wife Isabel Bryan joined the church January 1644/45 and he joined on 11 February 1644/45. His wife died before him and he married 2nd Elizabeth, widow of Nicholas Theale, of Stamford. A daughter, Abigail Ufford, md. Roger Terrell and had 11 children. Thomas died 20 Aug 1660 at Milford, New Haven, CT. 7. John Cable: (+15 to -3) BIRTH: John Cable was born between 1602 and 1620--more likely earlier than later. He is a brother of Elizabeth Cable, who was the wife of Jehu Burr. MARRIAGE: He married Sarah Burr about 1638. Not sure what Sarah’s relationship is to his brother-in-law, Jehu Burr. It is possible that a brother and sister married a brother and sister. DEATH: He died at Fairfield, CT on 4 Apr 1682. BIOGRAPHY: In Feb 1638/39, John Cable was the first person chosen and sworn to execute the office of a Constable in the Agawam plantation "for a year or till another shall be chosen." The first trial by jury in Agawam was a case that involved John Cable as defendant. John Woodcoke complained against John Cable in an action of the case for wages due to him for certaine worke he did to a house that was built on Agawam side for the Plantation. The jury found for Cable. In Jan 1639, John Cable served on the jury in a slander case of Moxon vs Woodcock; he was again called to jury duty in June 1640. I do not find him in the court records after that time. He removed to Fairfield, CT. CHILDREN: 1. John Cable born 1640 2. Rebecca Cable born about 1642 8. Thomas Woodford (+2) BIRTH: 1615 at Roxbury, England MARRIAGE: 4 Mar 1635 at Roxbury, MA to Mary Blott dau of Robert (Thomas) Blott and Susannah Selbee. DEATH: 6 Mar 1667 at Northampton, MA BIOGRAPHY: Thomas appears in the Pynchon Court records on 27 Sep 1659 when Samuel Allin brought charges against John Bliss "for unjustly stealinge away the affections of Hannah Woodford his Espoused wife, Hannah Woodford." At the same time, Thomas Woodford, of Northampton, was the defendant in an action of the case for the forefeitinge of a bond, with damage to the valluye of Twelve pounds with Samuel Allen as plaintiff. In both cases, Samuel withdrew his actions before the case went before the jury but was fined 10s for each instance. He was successful in winning the hand of Hannah Woodford after all! CHILDREN: 1. Joseph b. 1636; d. 1701 md Rebecca Newell 2. Mary b. 1638; d. 1684; md. Isaac Sheldon 3. Hannah b. 1642; md. Samuel Allen 4. Thankful b. 1648;md. John Taylor 5. Sarah b. 1649; d. 1713; md. 1. Nehemiah Allen; 2. Richard Burke; 3. Judah Wright 6. Nehemiah b. 1652 No information found in the early records for: John Reeder, Samuel Butterfield, or James Wood. Another Early Settler: (witness of the deed with the Indians) Joseph Parsons: (-3) BIRTH: Christened 25 June 1620 Beaminster, Co. Dorset, England, son of William Parson and Margaret Hoskins. MARRIAGE: He md. Mary, daughter of Thomas Bliss and Margaret (Hulins), in 1646 .Joseph’s wife outlived him by 19 years, dying Jan 29, 1712. Her mother was known as Widow Bliss on Springfield records. DEATH: "Cornet Joseph Parsons was sick and died Oct. 9, 1683." Joseph Parsons had an estate valued at £1088, the second largest inventory in Hampshire County in the seventeenth century. BIOGRAPHY: Agawam was purchased from the Indians. In New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Vol 1 is an interesting notation regarding Joseph Parsons, an early settler: "Joseph appears as a witness to the deed from the Indians of the lands of (Springfield) to William Pynchon and others-Joseph Parsons did at a Court in Northampton, holden March, 1662, testifie that he was a wit-ness to a deed of the lands at Springfield, and a bargain between the Indians and Mr. Pynchon, dated 15 Jul 1636, for 18 fathoms of wampom, 18 coates, 18 hatchets, 18 ****, 18 knives." Joseph was at Springfield in 1636, where he probably remained until 1655, in which year he removed to Northampton. Joseph Parsons began as a fur trader/merchant agent of the Pynchons. On 24 Aug 1657, John Pynchon agreed with Joseph Parsons for the trade of land in Northampton up the River for the sum of twelve pounds to be paid in beaver. As soon as the town was incorporated, he was elected Townsman though he subsequently paid the town 20 shillings not to elect him to any office during the second year of its incorporation. He was the principal founder of Northampton, was extensively engaged in the fur trade, and acquired a large estate. In an agreement of 24 Aug 1657, John Pynchon gave Joseph Parsons the privilege of trading furs at Hadley and further up the Connecticut River. Pynchon promised to buy all of Parson’s furs and to supply him with trading cloth at a stated price. They resided in Northampton 1656 - 1679, in which year they returned to Springfield. Joseph Parson’s land in Springfield was between Margaret Bliss, His mother-in-law, and Jonathan Taylor. Mary (Bliss) Parsons apparently was high handed and haughty. Her speech was "forcible and she had domineering ways." When they lived in Springfield, Mary walked around at night, and exhibiting other odd behavior. She would fall down, dead in her tracks and wake up flailing around and not know where she was. (Today she probably would be diagnosed with epilepsy or sleep walking, but in those days was thought to be a witch.) After moving to Northampton, stories began to circulate about Mary from a visitor from Springfield. Before long, Mary was tried for witchcraft. After her acquittal, Joseph sued for slander the woman most responsible for spreading the rumors about his wife--that woman was Sarah Bridgeman, who was arrested, fined 10 pounds, and ordered to retract her statements. The bitterness continued to simmer between the Parsons and Bridgeman families and flared up again in 1672 when Sarah's daughter died after only two years of marriage . . . Sarah had been dead for two years when the bereaved bridegroom seized the chance to accuse Mary (Bliss) Parsons of witchcraft for a second time. Mary was in Boston prison for three years before she was brought to trial. She spoke on her own behalf and was acquitted. To her credit she lived out her life in Springfield, where the accusation originally took place. CHILDREN: of Joseph Parsons and Mary Bliss 1. Joseph md. Elizabeth Strong 2. John md. Sarah Clarke 3. Samuel 4. Ebenezer--first white child born in Northampton--killed by Indians in 1675; 5. Jonathan 6. David 7. Mary md. (1) Joseph Ashley (2) Joseph Williston 8. Hannah md. Rev. Pelatiah Glover 9. Abigail md. John Colton 10. Hester md. Joseph Smith Extract from John Harmon of Springfield and His Associates by Cheryl Harmon Bills



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