The Nipmucks and the Settlers: Part 2

Now back to our story…(in the words of 1950’s radio).

The King of England gave Captain Eleazer Lusher a land grant of 250 acres in what is central Holliston today. Typically, land grants were then divided and sold to settlers who contracted to develop the land in a time certain. Lusher sold part of his 250 acres in central Holliston to Lieutenant Henry Adams of Medfield in 1660 – but Adams himself did not move here. Instead he built a cabin near the highest point of the hill behind our Town Hall and left his two sons Eleazer and Jasper to tend his sheep flocks here while the rest of the family remained in Medfield.

Apparently, Eleazer did not enjoy his stay and returned home and left his brother alone in this unfamiliar land (imagine this parents!). On top of the hillside is a large rock from which Jasper reportedly sent smoke signals each night to his parents to let them know he was OK. Jasper was not yet an adult, but he was indeed our first white settler in Holliston. He was here until 1675 when he returned to the family home in Medfield after his father was killed in the Indian Massacre in that community.

Jasper’s rock used to be accessible from the end of Fairlane Way – and here we have a woman posing on it probably in the 1930’s or 40’s. If anyone should know who she is, please let me know.

Land grants were being sold all around this territory. In 1662, William Sheffield purchased the area between Central and Fiske Streets, called Chabboquasett. He was a leading landowner in the area and built his own home around Fiske/Bullard Streets. The settlers just kept coming. There is an excellent account of all these people and transactions in Dorothy Rees’s Holliston history, “The Story of a New England Town.” She wrote that book in less than a year in honor of the 250th Anniversary celebration. You can find it at the Library.

As more families arrived and as more conflicts between Indians and settlers were happening, the settlers decided to build a garrison house (fort) for protection in 1675. Below is an artist’s conception based on a description in the “History of Sherborn and Holliston,” written by Rev. Abner Morse.

The fort was built along Boggastow Pond (in Millis). Thanks to today’s Internet, below is a map, which shows Boggastow Pond in Millis below Lake Winthrop in Holliston. Remember that the Nipmucks were living along the southwest boundary of Lake Winthrop.

Rev. Morse described the garrison as, “ A spacious and regular fortress. It was superior to any similar structure on the then frontier. It was 65 or 70 feet long, two stories high, all faced stone, brought over ice from a quarry one mile distant at the N.W., and laid in workmanlike manner in clay mortar. It had a double row of portholes on all sides, lined in white oak plank, and flaring inward, so as to require no one to expose himself before them, while the besieged, by taking cross-aims, could direct their fire to every point on the compass. This fortress was lighted and entered at the S. end overlooking the pond….To this place of security our ancestors for more than two generations were accustomed to flee in times of alarm, and here no small number of their children were born.”

Holliston did not become a separate town from Sherborn until 1724, and at that time, Sherborn was known as Boggastow.

I’ll get back to the earliest days again at some point, but the next blog will be about 1970 here in Holliston when politics were a lot more fun! Here’s a photo to set the mood. Let me know if you recognize anyone!

2 responses to “The Nipmucks and the Settlers: Part 2”

  1. Melissa Ford says:

    Love this blog Mary! Fun to read about Holliston . Having lived her most of my life – 60+ years, its fun and I have so many memories.
    Above picture- I think the man on the left is a young, handsome Henry Dellicker..perhaps in his days as a revered selectman. Not sure who is on the right with the barrel- Jim Poitras? maybe

    • Well, that was fast! Indeed Henry Dellicker is bedecked in the sandwich sign and Jim Poitras is in the barrel. These were the days when Holliston had active Republican and Democrat Town Committees and we actually had fun (and did funny) things! Not shown in the photo because of poor image quality were Dennis Kullgren, Dan Willis and Bob Nelson. Thanks for the kind words.

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