From Daniel T.V. Huntoon's
History of The Town of Canton, Massachusetts (1893)
ANCIENT DEEDS AND GRANTS
In 1724 two petitions were presented to the General Court,- one signed by Joseph Tucker, Timothy Jones, and Joseph Morse, and one by William Sherman, John Wentworth, William Wheeler, Samuel Hartwell, and Silas Crane in behalf of the English, that they may have liberty to purchase the lands on which they now dwell, with the tenements thereon, on reasonable terms. Another petition from the Indians, signed by Amos and Thomas Ahauton, Squamaug, and George Hunter was received. They desired that their neighbors, who had in many instances been kind to them, might have liberty to purchase the land.
The General Court looked into the matter; they appointed a committee, who went to Ponkapoag, sent for the English and Indian proprietors, examined the leases, made out a schedule of the names of the English purchasers, the quantity of land purchased by them, and the consideration offered. They found the Indians had been thoroughly cheated by their white brothers. The Indians had granted but 4,397 acres, and should have had remaining for their own use, 1,102; and yet there were but 855, This puzzled the committee, for they knew that the original grant was for 6,000, after deducting for the ponds, which were estimated at 200, and the Fenno farm, which should have been only 500 acres, as laid out by Surveyor Fisher. They found upon investigation, however, that by a late survey which the colony had ordered, the Fenno farm, had swollen to 660 acres, and that the south line of the Ponkapoag Plantation had become crooked, whereas by Mr. Fisher's survey it was a straight line, and were it rectified, would restore about fifty acres to the Indians. This, with the fact of Mr. Justice Danforth's having purchased forty or fifty acres by the allowance of the General Court for the accommodation of certain mills, would account for additional shrinkage of the Indian land.
The court finally granted the request of the petitioners ; and they were allowed to buy out the reversion of such lands as they had upon lease, or turn their estates into fee simple; and a joint committee of Council and House was ordered to approve deeds of confirmation from the Indians to the English.
Shortly afterward, several of the inhabitants of Ponkapoag or Dorchester Village presented a petition to the General Court, wherein they asserted that Amos Ahauton and other native or Indian proprietors had a good right to about 1,500 acres of land at Ponkapoag, which they had never yet leased. About 500 acres of this land was represented as being wild and uncultivated, and of no use; and the remaining 1,000 acres were represented as being amply sufficient for the needs of the Indians, in fact, more than they could ever improve, as they were decreasing in number and increasing in laziness. The petitioners further averred that if the money obtained from the sale of this land were put at interest, the income couid be far more advantageously used for their benefit than the holding of this unproductive real estate; and that the opening up of this land would very much enhance the value of property in the precinct, and be of great public advantage.
The General Court granted the prayer of the petitioners; and Dec. 10, 1725, it was ordered in council that a committee, consisting of Nathaniel Byfield, Paul Dudley, Jonathan Remington, John Quincy, and Ebenezer Stone,the same as were appointed upon the petition the year previous, be appointed for managing the Indian affairs at " Puncapaug," and be directed especially to see justice done to the Indians.
The greater part of the land was accordingly sold, and £550 was placed at interest for the benefit of the Indians. In 1747 the fund amounted to £ 636 15s. 6d. The money was placed in the hands of John Quincy as trustee. He appears to have so well managed the Indians' affairs that they desired he might be placed as guardian over them, as will appear by the following petition, dated April 13, 1726:
To the Honorable William Dummer, Esq., Lieut.-Gov'r.
The humble petition of your Honorable Humble petitioners, the native Indian proprietors of Punkapaugue plantation, in the town of
Stoughton, Humbly sheweth : That whereas some of our English neighbours are too ready to incroach upon our timber and our wood,
cutting it down to make coals, and Damnifying us greatly thereby, whereof we are necesitated to pray for the imposition and assistance
of some English person, impowered by this great General Court to take the care of us, that we may have justice done us, and that we
may be not wronged, we humbly pray that Maj John Quincy, Esq may be fully impowered and authorized by this Great & General
Court to look after us in ail Respects, whereby we may be under a better regulation than we have been of as to our wood, timber,
orchards, meadows, and upland that we have still in our hands, & that we may issue and settle any small differences between any of our
English neighbors, ail of which we leave with your honors wise consideration & humbly pray as in duty bound.
Colonel John Quincy, for whom the town of Quincy was named, was accordingly appointed the following year, and held the position until 1747, the distance to his wards then being too great for one of his age and infirmities.
I now propose to give an account of those persons who received their deeds from the Indians about the year 1725, and the situation of their farms.
(1) Thomas Spurr, Jr., described as one of the English tenants, was probably grandson of Robert, one of the original lessees. He settled in this town as early as 1717. He died Oct. 8, 1767. The land conveyed to him consisted of 421 acres, and extended from the present Canton Cemetery to Ridge Hill, thence in a westerly course back of the Bents farm, and then turning in a northwesterly direction, and running on Ponkapoag Brook, touched the northern boundary of the Ponkapoag Plantation; and running a few rods on that line, it turned at the northwesterly corner of the line, and ran southwest on the westerly line of the plantation nearly to the residence of the late Commodore Downes; thence south, passing southwest of Pecunit meadow to a point near the Gridley monument. The house was situated in what is now an open field, a few rods northwest of the house lately owned by Alfred Lewis. The cellar is still to be seen. Thomas, Jr., married, and left sons Thomas, Robert, Michael, Elijah, and a daughter Sarah, who married Ralph Shepard.
(2) The deed of Elias Monk from the Indians is not on record. It conveyed substantially the same land which he conveyed to Joseph Billings in 1726, - 120 acres.
(3) Shubael Wentworth received a deed of nine and three quarters acres and six rods. He is described as a farmer and blacksmith. His house was situated a few rods down Green Lodge Street, at Ponkapoag, on the northerly side of the road. The cellar-hole is still to be seen. The land is now a part of the Bowles estate. He is supposed to have received the name of Shubael from the Rev. Shubael Dummer, who was killed in 1692 at York, and who was his father's pastor. He married (1) Damaris Hawes, who died Dec. 8, 1739; (2) Sept. 10, 1741, Hannah, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Andrews. He was a prominent man in church matters, was at one time parish clerk, and was constable in 1735. He died March 24, 1759, seventy years old.
The Rev. Peter Thacher, of Milton, under date of May 24, 1727, writes as follows: -
"I was at a fast at Stoughton, and preached in the afternoon, being desired. I baptised two children; one was Mr. Shubal Wintworth's, ye smith; his name was James; the other was William, son to Joseph Smith."
(4) Samuel Andrews was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Andrews; he received ninety-seven acres of land on what is now Cherry Hill in Ponkapoag. It was bounded on the north by the Ponkapoag line, and on the south by the Redman farm. His father, Samuel Andrews, was a tenant of the Indians upon it. He had been a resident of Milton in 1709; but in 1711 he had erected a house at Ponkapoag, where he entertained travellers, although he is styled a housewright by occupation. He was one of the original founders of Morse's church, and had at one time behaved in "an obstreperous and disorderly manner at a church meeting;" but the church, upon his expressing sorrow, forgave him, and, says the pastor, "Through the Lords great goodness the matter was accomodated with a reconciliation." He was the first moderator of the precinct meeting held in 1716. He died before 1725.
His son Samuel married Mehitable Trot, March l6, 1727, and died June 2, 1740. In 1735 he conveyed the farm to James Andrews, who had married Abigail Crane, April 13, 1732. In 1741 he erected a new house on the premises, and in 1763 conveyed the property to James Hawkes Lewis. He died June 19, 1777, at Packeen.
(5) The deed to Robert Redman describes the same land leased to his father, with the exception that the Andrews farm is omitted, and five acres near the pond reserved for the use of the Indians. The privileges of their old orchards are especially reserved to them. The farm was said to contain one hundred and twenty-two acres, and was bounded on the north by the Andrews farm, on the east by Ponkapoag Pond, on the south by the brook of the same name, and on the west by the road.
(6) Joseph Topliff received one hundred and eight acres, situated on both sides of the Turnpike, south of the Redman farm, and bounded southeast by the Fenno land. At one time he owned one quarter of the saw-mill on Ponkapoag Brook. He was the son of Samuel and Patience Topliff, and was born April 24, 1687. He was town treasurer in 1733, and had some difficulty in his accounts; and the result was a law-suit in the following year. He lies buried in the Canton Cemetery, with the following epitaph: -
"Here lyes interred the body of Deacon Joseph Topliff who departed this life, Jan. ye 13th 1749, in ye 63d year."
(7) Elhanan Lyon's deed is not on record. The land probably came into his possession from his father, Peter Lyon, who was a lessee on the Indian land. In 1725 Elhanan was the owner of one hundred and thirty-seven acres, extending on both sides of Washington Street, from Sassamon Street to Potash meadow. It is probable that Peter himself resided here, for we find him styling himself as an inn holder at Ponkapoag in 1705 ; he was a constable for our part of the town in 1707. It may have been in the house that stood where George B. Hunt now lives, that he copied the old precinct records and practiced "setting the psalm." We can hardly believe that either as an innkeeper or officer he would have had much business where his house stood in 1698. Elhanan was born May 4, 1690; he lived at the southwesterly corner of Sassamon and Washington streets. He married, Feb. 19, 1712, Mary Redman. She must have died soon ; for on Sept. 24, 1713, he was again married to Meredith Wiatt. He died Oct. 31, 1745. He was a bricklayer by trade, and frequently appears in town affairs; but he will always be known as "the great troubler of the church," It was his business to keep it in a perpetual ferment. In 1737 begins the long quarrel with his minister, Mr. Lyon had absented himself from the Lord's Supper for more than two years. Mr. Dunbar feels obliged formally to call the attention of the church to the matter, and informs them "of the disorderly walk of our brother." A few years later Mr. Lyon circulates scandalous reports concerning his pastor, both as to his morals and doctrines, and appears before a meeting of the church and openly charges Mr. Dunbar with preaching "damnable doctrine." But the church considers it an injurious and scandalous charge, and suspends Lyon from the communion. In 1744 Mr. Dunbar gives the following account of his trouble with Elhanan Lyon :
"Having got sufficient proof that our brother, Elhanan Lyon, Senior, had charged me with writing a corrupt lie in Mr. Liscomb's and his wife's evidence, which they gave me, I did, on October second, which was my birthday, being then forty years old. enter a legal process with him, and get a warrant, for the apprehending him, from Squire Hall of Boston, who did, on October fifteenth, fully hear the case and give judgment upon it. Mr. Lyon was found guilty, and fined twenty shillings, lawful money to the King, and stands recorded, I suppose, in the Justices Court for a liar. Mr. Lyon at first appealed from judgment, but afterwards, upon the justice's advice and further thoughts, he let drop his appeal. The man was considerably smitten with the judgment, and his pretended friends left him. None stood by him to lend him any money to pay costs of court and bound for him. except his son Enoch. May God sanctify this affliction to him, and make him a more quiet and peaceable man; and blessed be God who saved me out of the Lion's mouth! May this trouble be sanctified to me, and may I be more quickened in my ministerial work, and blessed be God that in this, my trouble, 1 had such and so many proofs of the respect and affection and concern of so many of my people for me ! May they profit more than ever under my ministerial labors among them ! The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Haggaion; selah I''
On Jan. 12, 1745, the church, by vote, cast out brother Elhanan Lyon from their communion by excommunication. Mr. Lyon died Oct. 31, 1746, and Mr. Dunbar thus reviewed him :
"It was but a year ago this month since I took him into the law for reviling and slandering me, and cast him. and for which the church, some time after, excommunicated him. He always justified himself; and although I voluntarily, and without sending for, visited him, he never said one word to me about the matter. He has now gone to his doom pronounced. While he lived, he was the great troubler of this church, but he will trouble us no more. Prov. xi. 10. I think he dies as little lamented as any one in the place would have done."
(8) Deacon Benjamin Blackman was the son of John, of Dorchester, the original immigrant to New England. He was born in 1665, and came here early, signing the original church covenant in 1717. His farm consisted, in 1725, of one hundred and eighty-two acres, and he subsequently added to it by purchase. The land was situated on both sides of Washington Street, and ran from Potash meadow nearly to Ridge Hill. His house was standing in 1725, and still remains, known as the Eagle Inn. He was one of the original purchasers of the Proprietors' Lot, and lies within that sacred enclosure; his wife Jemima (Breck), sleeps beside him. He died June 12, 1749, in the eighty-fourth year of his age; his wife died Aug. 5, 1742, in the seventy-first year of her age.
In recording his death, Rev. Mr. Dunbar calls him "good old Deacon Blackman."
(9) Robert Pelton received seventy-three acres on both sides of the present Washington Street and including Ridge Hill. His house was situated on the northerly side of the road, between the Blackman blacksmith's shop and the house of the late Miss Clarissa Cobb. It was some distance from the street; but the remains of the cellar are still to be seen, and trees are yet standing which mark the site of the ancient orchard. He appears to have owned at one time sixty acres on the southeast of his home lot, and also to have purchased twenty-four acres of Deacon Benjamin Blackman. He is styled a brickmaker; and as he was the owner of half an acre of clay ground bordering on Pecunit meadow, he had a good opportunity to follow his vocation. He also owned land in the "Twelve Divisions." Pelton appears to have been a very profane man. In 1737 the church accused him of profane cursing and swearing; and the evidence having been read, Brother Pelton at first very strenuously denied the charge, but at length acknowledged that " having been provoked and put into a passion by some evil-minded persons, he had so far given way to corrupt nature as to utter and express some profane, wicked words, unbecoming a Christian and his profession," and declared that he would do no more. The church did not think this confession quite met the charge; namely, openly profane cursing and swearing; and Pelton was accordingly suspended from the communion for refusing to give glory to God by making full confession of swearing openly. He therefore was warned to appear on next Lord's Day at public worship, in order that the pastor might address a proper admonition to him ; but this admonition he seemed not to desire. Mr. Dunbar says that "he showed a very undue spirit, and in a sarcastical way thanked the church for purging the church." On the next Sunday Mr. Dunbar publicly admonished and suspended him. Five years after, he probably had been able to break himself of his evil habit, for he was then considered qualified to act as tithing-man. Robert Pelton married Rebecca Crehore, of Milton, Sept. 2, 1697, and settled in this town as early as 1713. He was buried Sept. 4, 1745.
(10) Edward Wentworth, a brother to Shubael, Charles, and John, had fifty-one and three quarters acres on the southeast side of the present Washington Street, between Ridge Hill and Meeting-house Hill. Edward was born in 1695 ; he married, Oct. 17, 1717, Kezia, daughter of Deacon Benjamin and Jemima Blackman. She died Oct. 10, 1745, aged fifty-two years. He then married Sarah Winslow. He was an innholder from 1742 to 1747, a warden of the English Church in 1764, and died Feb. 12, 1767. His house stood on the spot now known as the Jabez Cobb place.
(11) Charles Wentworth received two hundred and eighteen acres, described as bounded northeast by the land of Benjamin Blackman, west by that of Edward Wentworth and Samuel Dwelley, northwest by Robert Pelton's land, south by Edward Wiatt's, and southeast by a certain brook; this land is west of the Turnpike, and is bounded on the south by Pequtt Brook. Charles Wentworth was a prominent man in the town; sometimes moderator; selectman in 1730-32, l734-37, 1739, 1741-43. 1746. He was also famous in militia affairs, was commissioned captain in 1746, and owned slaves. He married Bethia Fenno, Dec. 15, 1713. She died April 29, 1780, aged eighty-nine, and he died July 10 in the same year, aged ninety-four. His homestead was on the Turnpike, on the present estate of Volney Kinsley.
(12) William Billings, commonly known as Ensign William, afterward lieutenant, was the son of Roger and Sarah (Paine) Billings. He was born at Milton, July 27, 1686. He married Ruth Crehore, June 17, 1719. His farm within the plantation line consisted of twenty-two acres. It was bounded northeasterly by the Ponkapoag Plantation line and on the south by the farm of William Wheeler. His house stood on an ancient road, on the brow of a hill. William Billings had a daughter Ruth, who lies buried in the cemetery in a very ancient tomb with a brick base. On the top rests a slab of slate, which records her name and the names of her parents, and says she "died August nineteenth. 1736, in the sixteenth year of her age." This was the first tomb erected in the old churchyard, and the builder was obliged to receive permission of the inhabitants in town meeting to erect it. Fifty years ago it was protected by a railing, and within the memory of the writer the bricks that supported the slab were standing. It is now a sad ruin. The storms of winter have almost erased the inscription, and the frosts have destroyed the mortar between the bricks; and in a short time, unless repaired, every vestige of it will have disappeared. Tradition asserts that Ruth, who was a beautiful girl, went to a ball with thin-soled shoes, through which indiscretion she took a violent cold which resulted in her death.
On the 17th of December, 1769, the builder of this tomb died. I learn from an ancient diary that in due time "old Lieutenant Billings was laid in his tomb."
(13) John Danforth, a non-resident, the son of the Rev. John Danforth, of Dorchester, received, March 22, 1725, a deed from the Indians of one hundred and fifty acres of land. It was situated on the easterly side of the present Dedham road, opposite the Wheeler farm. It is commonly known as the Wetherbee pasture. The original purchaser died in 1728. When Rev. Samuel Dunbar purchased it in 1761, it is described as being bounded north by Pecunit Brook, northeast by Pacquimit meadow, east and southeast by land of John Wentworth, west by land of William Billings in part, and partly by a way leading to Billings' house, northwest by the Indian or Dorchester line, and west by land of William Wheeler. From the old parson it passed into the possession of Squire Dunbar. A cellar-hole on which a house was standing in 1725 was visited by the Canton Historical Society in 1876, From the elevated portions of this land a magnificent view of the Blue Hill range and Pecunit valley is obtained.
(14) William Wheeler, one of the English tenants, received an Indian deed of land estimated at one hundred and one acres more or less. This land was situated on the west side of the Dedham road, and is that which his son William, Jr., gave to the First Congregational Church. It is described in the original deed as bounded on the north by William Billings' land, east by John Danforth's, on the southeast by the land of John Withington, on the south by that of Daniel Stone and John Vose, and on. the west by the Dorchester line. Mr. Wheeler also owned a meadow which now belongs to the First Parish. It consists of three acres, and lies east of the Danforth land and north of the meeting-house. It is famous as having once belonged to Capt. John Nelson, who figured prominently in the arrest of Governor Andros.
William Wheeler was born in 1693. He was one of the original founders of the church in 1717. His first wife was Abigail. He married, May 21, 1729, Sarah, daughter of Samuel and Phoebe Stearns. The site of his house can still be seen between the Dedham road and the half-mile trotting-track; the house was removed to Canton Corner and now forms part of the Abel Everett house. He died July 16, 1773, in the eightieth year of his age, and was buried in the Canton Cemetery.
(15) Rev. Joseph Morse, the first minister of this town, received from the Indians three, parcels of land in 1725. His homestead stood where the Catholic Cemetery now is. It was bounded northwest by the country road, westerly by land of John Wentworth, south by Pequit Brook, and east by the land of David Stone; and it contained one hundred and thirty-four acres. On the opposite side of the road he owned also ten or twelve acres, which is now embraced in the Canton Cemetery. He received fifty acres on the westerly side of the country road, bounded north by Capt. John Vose's land, east by a way called Taunton Old Way, and easterly and southerly by Pequit Brook. This land began where now stands the house of Asa Shepard. and ran on the westerly side of the present Washington Street to where the road bends in Endicott's woods. Some of this land is still owned by the descendants of the first minister.
(16) David Stone received eighty-six acres east of Rev. Mr. Morse. It is now commonly called the Tilden farm, at the present time owned by Edwin Wentworth. It is situated on the easterly shore of Reservoir Pond, and a road from Randolph Street leads directly to it. David Stone is supposed to have been a great-grandson of Gregory. He was baptized at Watertown in 1687. He probably came here with his wife Sarah as early as 1712, He was one of the founders of the church. He died May 26, 1733; his wife died Jan. 27, 1739.
(17) Samuel Dwelley appears as owning a piece of land southwest of Charles Wentworth in 1725. He married, June 24, 1725, Charity, daughter of Philip and Charity (Jordan) Liscom. She joined the church in 1730, and died Aug. 20, 1741.
(18) Edward Pitcher testifies to certain transactions at Ponkapoag Village in 1704, when he was eighteen years of age. In 1745 he interfered with the monotony of the daily life of the town by expressing his opinion of the members of the church in language more forcible than polite. He called them "a parcel of devils," and added that he "would not sit down with such a parcel of devils." He died at the house of Thomas Spurr, March 9, 1773. His wife died Oct. 12, 1769, at the house of John Spare. George Blackman made her coffin, and Isaiah Bussey tolled the bell.
(19) Edward Wiatt received ninety-seven acres, bounded on the north by the land of Charles Wentworth and Samuel Dwelley, west by the land of Edward Pitcher, south by the Indian land, and east by Pequit Brook, for which he paid £20. He married, April 15, 1718, Abigail, daughter of James and Abigail (Newton) Puffer. She was born Nov. 20, 1696. A man bearing this name was in 1690 a soldier in Capt. John Withington's company. Wiatt died before 1728.
(20) John Wentworth received two parcels of land by deed in his own name. They lay on both sides of the present Washington Street at Canton Corner. The first was on the southeasterly side and consisted of sixty-five and one half acres, and was described as being bounded on the north by the road, on the east by the land of Joseph Morse, on the south by Pequit Brook, running to the lower south side of the dam until it came to the country road; it might be described as running from the fifteenth mile-stone to Pleasant Street, back to Reservoir Pond. It is substantially the land now occupied by George Munroe Endicott.
The second tract was on the opposite side of the street. It consisted of eighty-one and one half acres, which was described as being bounded southeast by the country road, southwest by the way leading to William Billings' land, northwest by land of John Danforth, and east by Pecunit meadow in part and the meeting-house land. This farm would now be included in a line from the Canton Cemetery to the Dedham road, thence to the Wetherbee pasture and so to Pecunit meadow.
John Wentworth himself never lived on this land. The part on the southeasterly side was shortly in the possession of John Witbington, Jr., who married John Wentworth's daughter Martha.
John Wentworth, the son of the first settler, in October, 1729, brought the machinery of the church into operation to settle a secular dispute with another church-member, David Tilden. It was a controversy in regard to the boundary lines of their estates. The pastor decided against Mr. Wentworth. " I then," says he, "first awfully and solemnly admonished him, and then suspended him. I was wonderfully assisted from God." We do not know how Mr. Wentworth bore his humiliation, but the joy of the victorious party was uncontrollable, and he evinced it by partaking freely of the cup that not only cheers but inebriates, for which indiscretion he in due time came under the censure of the church. Mr. Wentworth, not satisfied with the opinion of the church, carried the matter before a jury, who decided that Mr. Tilden had not removed Mr. Wentworth's landmark.
Possibly the church was propitiated when in 1765 "our aged brother, John Wentworth, gave it £ 50". Mr. Wentworth died Jan. 6, 1772.
About 1741 John Wentworth, Jr., grandson of the first John, erected a house on the northwest side of the present Washington Street, at Canton Corner. It was a two-story house with a lean-to roof, and was within my memory occupied by Samuel Capen, and was not pulled down until about 1879.
This John, Jr., who was born Nov. 8, 1709, and died on Feb. 9, 1769, seems to have had a peculiar experience in his Jove affairs. It appears that after the death of his first wife, Mary, he became intimate in 1737 with Mercy Smith, and with the advice of the church determined to marry her; but for some reason best known to herself, one Jerusha Lyon postponed this arrangement by the following notice, which she served on one of the officers of the town :
Stoughton, March 24, 1735. To Mr. Benjamin Savels, Clerk off Town of Stoughton.
Sir, I am informed that you have published an intention of marriage betwixt John Wentworth, Jr., and Mercy Smith of this town. These are therefore to certify to you that I do forbid your proceeding in that matter;, and desire that you would take down said publishment and keep it down until the matter is determined as the law provides in such cases.
The notice seems to have stopped the marriage. In December the church was called to consult concerning Miss Smith's behavior; and it was not until Sept. 19, 1744, that she finally married Mr. Wentworth. But Jerusha was finally to triumph. Mercy died June 22, 1765, and Jerusha reigned as wife and widow of John Wentworth, Jr., in the old house at Canton Corner until her death, April 13, 1791.
(21) Capt. John Vose received from the Indians ninety acres lying on both sides of the country road. The part on the southerly side was bounded on the east by the Taunton Old Way, or a way leading to Joseph Morse's land, and is the land extending on Washington Street from the old Town House to the house of Mr. Asa Shepard; beyond this, where Washington makes a detour to the west, began Vose's line, and extended in the rear of the house formerly of J. Mason Everett to Pequit Brook on the southeast. It is described in the original deed as bounded north and west by the country road, southwest by the land of Joseph Tucker, southeast by Pequit Brook. The homestead was on the northerly side of the present Washington Street, and was bounded on the north by land of William Wheeler, east by a way now Dedham road, leading to William Biilings's, and westerly by the land of John Withington. It extended from the corner of Dedham Street, on Washington Street, to Chapman Street.
(22) John Withington, who originally belonged to Milton, appears in Canton as a member of the church in 1717. He was the son of Philip and Thankful (Pond) Withington, and was born Dec. 30, 1682. He sold his house and farm to Rev. Mr. Dunbar in 1728, and in 1733 removed to Stoughton, having purchased from Edward Esty the saw-mill on the site now occupied by French and Ward. In his later life he returned to Canton, where he lived to a good old age, with his son, and died Dec. 31, 1772. He was one of our earliest school-teachers, and his penmanship was elegant.
(23) Daniel Stone received forty acres, bounded northeast by John Withington, north by the Wheeler farm, northwest by the Indian line, southwest by Philip Goodwin, and south and southeast by James Endicott. Daniel Stone appears early in Canton, where he married Thankful Withington, Jan. 11, 1712. He is called of Dorchester. Other records show him here in 1716. He lived on the southerly side of Chapman Street, where the old well still may be seen; and the lot still is called the Stone pasture. It is asserted that he exchanged his farm with Thomas Shepard. He removed to Ponkapoag and occupied the Bemis place, and Shepard moved to his farm. Thankful, his wife, died Oct. 27, 1732 ; and he married, Nov. 23, 1758 the Widow Hannah Woodcock. He died May 2, 1762, aged eighty-four years.
(24) James Endicott is presumed to have received his deed from the Indians. Ellis Ames used to assert that he had seen the deed with a plan annexed, but no other searcher has been so fortunate. At the settlement of his estate in 1769 he owned nearly one hundred and forty acres of land.
Mr. Endicott's land extended from the hill near the Endicott homestead southward to the northern boundary of Dr. A. R. Holmes's estate on Washington Street, running westward some distance from the highway.
It is said that James Endicott erected his house on a thirty-five acre lot, which the Indians had, in 1710, given to Rev. Joseph Morse. Some amicable arrangement was made, and Mr. Endicott remained in possession. This house probably stood on the site of the present brick house on Washington Street owned by the Endicott family; it was burned Oct. 29, 1806. Mr. Endicott was licensed as an innholder in 1723 and 1725. His birth is found upon the Reading records in 1696. He married Nov. 26, 1723, Esther Clapp; she died July 11, 1750, aged forty-nine years; (2) Hannah (Tilden), widow of Elhanan Lyon, Jan. 9, 1752 ; she died May 22, 1778. He lies buried in the Canton Cemetery. The inscription on his stone says he "died October the twenty-first, 1768, in ye 72d year of his age."
(25) David Tilden received twenty acres of land, bounded on the east by John Wentworth, westerly by Taunton Old Way, and southerly by Pequit Brook. This property in 1719 was occupied by Jabez Searl, who died in 1724. After David Tilden's death it was, in 1764, occupied by David, Jr. Theophilus Lyon, a grandson of David Tilden, owned it in 1787, and sold it to Priest Howard in that year. The house was built by David Tilden and is standing.
David Tilden, a grandson of Nathaniel, the immigrant, was the first of the name in this town, and married Abigail Pitcher. He appears to have been interested in town and church matters, and swept the meeting-house. He had some difficulty with his neighbors, and was once charged with being " unduly transported " with the cup that inebriates. He and his wife are buried in the Canton Cemetery, The stones are inscribed as follows:
"In memory of Mr. David Tilden, who died July ye 3d 1756, in ye 71st year of his age."
"In memory of Abigail, widow of Mr. David Tilden, died June ye 25th 1758 in ye 71st year of her age."
(26) Samuel Hartwell, one of the English tenants, received from the Indians fifty-nine and one quarter acres of land. It was situated on the south and north side of Taunton road, so called, and bounded northwest by Pequit Brook, northeast, south, and southeast by the land of Moses and Benjamin Gill. The house which he built in 1717 is standing on Pleasant Street, and is now occupied by the Pitcher family. Hartwell purchased more land, and sold in 1735 one hundred and twenty-four acres.
He was the son of Samuel Hartwell, who lived in what is now the town of Lincoln, and was a brother of Deacon Joseph, who was also settled here. Samuel was born Nov. 12, 1693. He married Abigail Stearns. The name of Hartwell's Dam was given to the point where Pequit Brook crosses Pleasant Street as early as 1723.
(27) Moses and Benjamin Gill received one large tract of 172 acres on the east and west sides of the way called Taunton Old Way. It was bounded northerly and westerly by Pequit Brook, westerly and easterly by the land of Samuel Hartwell, and easterly by that of Nathaniel Ayers; southwest and south by Indian land in part, and by land of Joseph Esty; east and south by Hartwell's land ; east by the Indian land ; north by the property of David Stone, Joseph Esty, and Joshua Pomeroy. It is substantially the land on Pleasant Street lying between Pequit Brook and Sherman Street, on both sides of the street. They appear to have received a tract of sixty acres, which they sold in 1734 to William Sherman. They carried on a law-suit with John Wentworth and William Sherman about boundary lines. Moses died June 22, 1749, and Benjamin one week later.
(28) Ebenezer Clapp appears to have received only nine and one half acres in the Ponkapoag Plantation, although he had land which he inherited from his ancestors in the "Twelve Divisions," his father deeding him, in 1716, land in Lot No. 8, "lying beyond the land of Ponkapoag," now the Dunbar farm. He gave the name to Clapp's Hill. His land was bounded southeast by the way leading to the ironworks, southwest by the land of Benjamin Smith, northwest by Dorchester line, and northeast by the land of Philip Goodwin.
Ebenezer was the son of Ezra and Abigail (Pond) Clapp. He married (1) Nov.11, 1702, Elizabeth Dickerman, in Milton; (2) Feb. 14, 1719, Abigail Belcher. He was a prominent man in town and church affairs, but died in poverty, Aug. 27, 1761. No stone marks his grave. His widow died Jan. 5, 1780.
(29) Philip Goodwin was living, in 1729, in a house situated on the south side of Chapman Street, between the land of Daniel Stone, James Endicott, and Benjamin Smith, now owned by Joseph W. Wattles.
He was the only [Stoughton] soldier of Capt. John Withington's Canada company of 1690 that received in 1737 in his own right a portion of the town now called Ashburnham, for his services in that campaign. In 1717 he appears as part owner in "Hors Shew " Swamp ; and the church record shows that on March 16, 1718, Abigail, daughter of Philip and Elizabeth Goodwin, was baptized. In 1734 he was the owner of a mill; he sold or exchanged his house on Chapman Street in 1739, and we find him, in 1741, at the Danforth mill, grinding corn. He owned the covenant and was baptized in 1744; and Elizabeth having died Dec. 5, 1743, he married Mehitable Andrews on May 22 of the next year. She died Nov. 25, 1795; he died Dec. 24, 1759.
(30) Timothy Jones received, in 1725, twenty acres, with a house then on it, bounded on the northwest by Dorchester line, and southeast by the road leading to the ironworks.
Timothy Jones was here in 1717, and built a frame for a dam. He was one of the eight original builders of the first ironworks at the Stone Factory privilege. He was probably the grandson of Richard, of Dorchester, one of the proprietor's of the "Twelve Division" lots, who died in 1642. Timothy married, May 28, 1719, Elizabeth Eames, who died July 13, 1792, aged ninety-six. He died Sept. 17, 1761.
His house was situated near where Mr. Sumner White now lives.
(31) Joseph Smith received thirty-two acres, bounded northwest and southwest by the Ponkapoag line. It touched the Massapoag Brook at its southwestern boundary. It was bounded southeast by land of Elijah Danforth, Esq., and northeasterly by land of Timothy Jones. In 1732 Mr. Smith made an exchange with Ebenezer Mosely for land south of Dry Pond, and removed from this town [present day Stoughton].
(32) Richard Smith appears as one of the original church founders in 1717, and occupied land at the present Stone Factory the same year. He had formerly belonged to the church at Milton, where he appears to have been taxed as late as 1709. He died Feb. 10, 1728. He had a son Joseph, born Feb. 18, 1683, by his second wife, Thankful Lyon.
(33) Joseph Tucker received from the Indians fifty-three acres of land, bounded west by the road now Washington Street as it runs through South Canton, on the northeast by the land of John Vose, east by the Indian land, south by the Ponkapoag line, and on the southwest by Massapoag Brook. This land extended from the residence of the late William Shattuck to the brook south of the Massapoag House; he also owned ten acres on the west side of the road.
(34) William Sherman and John Wentworth took 270 acres; but it seems that the value of the land was not determined for some years, and that the purchasers made several applications to the General Court that this might be accurately decided upon, as they were ready to pay the purchase-money for the use of the Indians.
Upon this petition the General Court ordered that Amos Ahauton and the other Indian proprietors of Ponkapoag be and hereby are fully empowered to execute a good deed of sale of such part of the 270 acres of land within mentioned as is not orchard land, or has not been under special improvement of the Indians (containing in the whole about ten acres), to John Wentworth and William Sherman, their heirs and assigns respectively; and that John Quincy, Esq., and Mr. Oxenbridge Thacher, of the House of Representatives, and Ezekiel Lewis, Esq., of the Council, be empowered to inspect the survey, and see that the deed is agreeable thereto, which they are to certify thereon; and that thereupon the said Wentworth and Sherman do pay into the hands of John Quincy, Esq., trustee for the Indian affairs of Ponkapoag, the sum of £170, to be by him employed as the other Indians' money in his hands, the charge thereof to be defrayed by the petitioners.
The gentlemen appointed attended to the matter, sold the land for £ 180 4s., being the purchase-money, with interest added, and reported that the money had been paid, and was subject to the order of the court; and it was ordered to be put at interest for the benefit of the Indians.
An indenture was made bearing date Oct. 14, 1734, between Amos Ahauton, Thomas Ahauton, Simon George, Hezekiah Squamaug, and George Hunter, all residents in Ponkapoag, in behalf of themselves and the other Indians that were or might be interested therein, on the one part, and John Wentworth and William Sherman, both of Stoughton aforesaid, on the other part. By this deed a clear title was obtained to the land, pursuant to the Act of General Court of 1701.
In April, 1735, John Fenno, Joseph Tucker, and others represented to the General Court that there was great contention in Stoughton in regard to the land obtained from the Ponkapoag Indians; that the matter had been carried into the courts, and great expense at law had been occasioned; they therefore desired that the court would issue such orders as would settle and compose these difficulties. The court, in reply, ordered Thomas Cushing to repair to Stoughton and hear the petitioners, examine deeds, leases, and plats, and have the lands surveyed by a skilful surveyor. Cushing recommended (May, 1735) that the 270 acres be confirmed to Sherman and Wentworth and their heirs, provided that the said land did not extend farther east than "John Wentworth's Beaver Meadow," nor interfere with the "Twelve Divisions," and declared that Joseph Esty should have a right of way from his field to the road.
Moses and Benjamin Gill began in October, 1736, an action of trespass and ejectment against William Sherman for partof the land contained in Sherman's deed and plan. In the inferior court the Gills were successful in their suit, but Sherman appealed to the Superior Court at Boston; and the court in February, 1737, ordered Mr. James Blake to go to Stoughton and ascertain the authentic bounds of the land in dispute. Upon his arrival, the Gills did not show Mr. Blake any bounds; but Sherman showed him marked trees which divided the land of Gill and Esty from the Indian land.
This deed, and the plan of the land which accompanied it, were duly examined and approbated by Quincy and Thacher, and they found no error or mistake in it. The next year, April, 1736, Moses and Benjamin Gill, Joseph Esty, with others, presented a petition to the General Court, in which they asserted that William Sherman and John Wentworth had been guilty of "incroachments." The matter was referred to Hon. Thomas Cushing, Benjamin Dyre, and Samuel Danforth, Esqs., who visited Stoughton, read over the deeds and plans, and reported that they ought to "stand good and valid; " but not satisfied with the decision of the agents of the General Court, no evidence was produced either by Gill or Sherman, and Blake decided that if the trees were the bounds, the land in contest was included in Sherman's land, and so reported to the Superior Court in August, 1737; but Sherman having no proof of ownership, judgment was given for Gill. But Sherman at the next session of the court produced sufficient evidence to win his case. All this dispute apparently arose about three quarters of an acre of land.
(35) Joseph Esty received by deed thirty-seven and one half acres in three different lots. The homestead, consisting of six and three quarters acres, is the place now occupied by George F. H. Horton, on Pleasant Street. In 1712 Joseph Esty conveyed to his son, Joseph Esty, Jr., seventy acres of land on Pleasant Street, which had formerly belonged to the proprietors of Ponkapoag, and by them, with the consent of the selectmen of Dorchester, had been sold and conveyed to Joseph, Sr. He died Oct. 13, 1739.
(36) Joshua Pomeroy received sixty-one and one quarter acres of land south of Joseph Esty and north of Benjamin and Moses Gill, on Ragged Row. He was described in 1725 as one of the English tenants, and in sale of a portion of this land said it was a part of the six thousand acres that he purchased in 1725. This is the farm subsequently occupied by Aaron Wentworth, Samuel Capen, Israel Bailey, and W. W. Brooks. Joshua Pomeroy, when he joined the church, Dec. 17, 1719, was said to have been "last of Dorchester and firstly of the church of Deerfield." He married, Feb. 4, 1708, Repent Weeks, who died July 22, 1714; and (2) June 2, 1715, Mary, daughter of John and Hannah Blake, who died March 14, 1718; (3) Oct. 1, 1718, Mary Clapp, of Dedham.
(37) Thomas and Joseph Jordan received five hundred and twenty-three acres, bounded on the east by the Dorchester line, northwest by the Fenno farm, and west and south by a brook. This was on the road leading from the farms to Bear Swamp, now York Street.
Thomas and Joseph were sons of John the lessee. Thomas was born 1683, and died April 20, 1750.
(38) In addition to this large tract, Thomas Jordan received twenty acres, bounded easterly on Dorchester line in part, and partly by a brook. The other land about it was at the time of the taking of the deed, Indian land. Joseph Jordan married Abigail Pitcher, Oct. 18, 1716. He died May 6, 1755 ; she died Feb. 24, 1762.
The six thousand acres, by direction of the General Court and the hands of the duly appointed guardians of the Ponkapoag Indians, by degrees passed from the possession of the aborigines and their descendants; and in November, 1827, Thomas French, their guardian, sold the last acre.
And here we leave the landed history of the Ponkapoag Plantation. It is a subject which might be extended indefinitely. New and untrodden paths continually tempt the investigator; but a limit must be assigned, if not to the investigation, to the results of such research in print. Having traced the land titles of Canton, derived from the Indians through the first quarter of the eighteenth century, I leave to others the puzzling task of unravelling the oldtime deeds.1
1 See Appendix VII.
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