This area was originally the residence of Indians. There were several small and independent factions, called the Quaboag Indians. These groups were governed by Quacunquasit and other Sachems. They resided mostly in the west and north of Wickaboag Pond, extending from Sucker Brook far into New Braintree. This was the area of the Nipmuc Indians, a tribe occupying the territory between the Connecticut River and the easterly line of Worcester County, then extending south about 20 miles into Connecticut.
First Land Grant
On May 31, 1660, a land grant was obtained for the area six miles square. The conditions were they have twenty families in residence within three years and they have an able minister settled within the term.
It is believed that John Warner, John Ayres, William Prichard, and maybe one other person came to Quaboag in the summer of 1660. They were looking to start a new settlement with the convenience of home lots, meadow lots and planting fields.
Their most important consideration was the meadows. They were essential for making a hay crop for feeding horses and cattle during the winter months. The Indians would burn the dry grass and brush fields each year, which kept the river and brook meadows clean. In return the fields were found ready for the mower’s scythe. The natural grasses grew thick and tall, reaching the height of a man’s face. Their second consideration was the corn-land and rye-fields which were called “plain land”. The settlers set apart what was called the “Great Fields”. This was a large tract of land where settlers could have their own portion of tilled land to be worked in common enclosed by one fence. This location is what is now known as Foster Hill. It was free from woods, except for a few here and there, and had a full view of the meadows and plains.
The Deed of 1665
On November 10, 1665, the English purchased the land of Shattoocquis, who claimed to be the sole and proper owner. The price paid for the land was three hundred fathom of Wampumpeage. Wampumpeage is made from white sea shells wrought in the shape of beads and strung like beads. This is what the Indians used as money. There were 360 pieces in a fathom. According to Temple, the value at the time in English shillings and pence made the price for the land 1,500 shillings. This was paid by the petitioner who obtained the grant.
Re-grant of 1667
When the three year limit expired from the original grant, the inhabitants sent a petition to the General Court asking to be organized into a township or for an appointment of a Committee with powers to manage their own affairs at the plantation. It was granted with an appointment of Capt. John Pynchon along with members of the plantation to have power to admit inhabitants, grant land and oversee the plantation.
For the most part the English were required to fence in their home lots, meadows, and planting fields. They also fenced in their ox, horse and sheep pastures as well. Hogs ran at large in town streets; cows and young stock ranged the Commons.
The Indians and the English settlers of the plantation lived in comparative harmony until the spring of 1675.
Courtesy of the Quaboag Historical Society
For more on Quaboag Plantation: The Settlement