Alanson Hamilton

The Honorable Alanson Hamilton, Esquire, was born November 15, 1794 in the West Parish of the town of Brookfield, Massachusetts. He was born on a farm located about a mile out of the village on the Old North Brookfield Road. He was the son of Israel and Olive Haskell Hamilton, who were married on April 13, 1790 in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

When he was fifteen his father died and the care of the farm and the family, his mother and seven children, fell upon him and his brother, Adolphus. Adolphus, two years his senior, was born on January 28, 1792 in Brookfield.

Alanson and his brothers and sisters received their schooling from the teachers who taught in the little red school house which stood on part of the site of the Old Fort Gilbert.

Industrious and frugal he began early to save. He traded in cattle, soon buying in Northern Vermont where he had relatives. For many years he drove a large herd of cattle down in the fall to winter on Quaboag meadow hay. Many of these were fattened for beef, others were kept for working oxen, and others for milk cows.

Prior to his marriage he purchased the site of the first “Old Waite Tavern” on Foster Hill, West Brookfield. It was here that he built his first home. Later he acquired the three farms between the Jedediah Foster place in the West Parish and the Rev. Micah Stone farm in the South Parish. With his out-pastures this amounted to over 1,000 acres.

The first Mrs. Hamilton was Harriet Makepeace of Ragged Hill Road, West Brookfield. She was born in 1801. They were married April 24, 1823 in West Brookfield. She died on March 4, 1824 at age 23. His second wife was Eliza Warren of New Braintree and they were married on April 25, 1826. Their marriage was recorded in Brookfield and New Braintree. Eliza was born in 1806. Three children were born to this couple. Henry A., born September 6, 1838 and died on November 11, 1838 at age 2 months and 5 days; Horace Warren, born September 19, 1827; and Harriet Makepeace, born August 4, 1835.

When the new South Parish road was built on the present route south of Foster Hill, cutting through his holdings for a distance of approximately two miles, Alanson Hamilton built a gentlemans country home so attractive for those times that it was sketched and used in the Worcester County Atlas as a model home.

A year or two prior to the opening of the Western Railroad in 1837, two tiny saplings were taken up from land staked for the road bed. Horace Warren, the Squires only son, then about ten years old, held these trees while they were planted. Appreciating the beauty and value of roadside trees, Alanson Hamilton set out an avenue of rock maples which later developed into an attractive overhanging that shaded the road.

Alanson Hamilton never sought public office. He always said, “Citizens should name whom they consider the proper man for the office”. He was elected a constable and appointed a deputy sheriff. He refused the office of high sheriff, declaring he would never conduct an execution. As Justice of the Peace and Notary Public he drew up many legal documents. He served as trial justice for many years, holding court in his house. This was where he swore in all the soldiers during the Civil War.

During the Civil War he made a standing offer to lend money to hire a substitute for any married man or one with dependants who was drafted. Because he helped relieve the distress of the women and children dependents of soldiers at the front, and for his generosity and acts of kindnesses to the local veterans of the Civil War, they named their G. A. R. Post the Alanson Hamilton Post. Thus his grave is decorated on Memorial Day the same as those of the Veterans. When his picture was hung in the Grand Army Hall, he was paid the following tribute: “Squire Hamilton was for many years respected and loved for his usefulness and generosity beyond any other man in this section”.

Alanson Hamilton was the moderator of the first Town Meeting held by the Town of West Brookfield. He was a selectman in 1848 and was one of the committee that worked on the separation of West Brookfield from Brookfield.

He was a stern judge although he often settled cases out of court. Though dignified and having a very pronounced stern judicial appearance, he had a well developed humorous side that was enriched by his wide experience and demonstrated by his ability to relate the unusual. He told stories with intense interest. This made him decidedly magnetic and the center of attention during the social hours of any assemblage in which he was included.

After the death of his wife, he spent his declining years with his son Warren who had assisted him as messenger and partner since becoming old enough. Alanson Hamilton died in West Brookfield on October 25, 1875 at age 80 and 11 months.

On April 26, 1854, H. Warren Hamilton of West Brookfield married Lorinda Barlow, daughter of David Barlow of West Brookfield. He was 26, she 23, and his occupation was farming. They were married by the Methodist minister.

In 1870, Alanson Hamilton was found on the U.S. Census living with Horace Warren Hamilton on the farm in West Brookfield. Horace Warren, age 42, farmer; Lorinda, age 38; Carrie E., age 13; Arthur, age 11; Alanson, age 75, retired farmer; 1 domestic servant, and two farm laborers. In 1880, Horace Warren Hamilton was found on the census in West Brookfield. He was listed as a farmer living with his wife, Lorinda, age 41, and his son Arthur W., age 7.

Source: A sketch of Alanson Hamilton was included in the Civil War Record Book that was presented to the Alanson Hamilton G. A. R. Post #160, by Horace Warren Hamilton of this Town. It was written by Sumner Reed and Horace Warren Hamilton.

Birth, Death and Marriage dates are from “Vital Records of Brookfield, Massachusetts to the Year 1850″. Census records from the U.S. Federal Census records for Massachusetts.