350th Anniversary of Quaboag Plantation
Quaboag Plantation Meeting House
Quaboag Plantation: 1660 – 1675
On May 31, 1660, a Grant made by the General Court outlined this condition that 20 families be in resident here within 3 years. Four men came from Ipswich, MA in the summer of 1660, John Warner, John Ayers, William Pritchard and one unknown man.
Quaboag Plantation was situated in one of the most scenic areas of Massachusetts Bay colony, on the banks of the river by the same name. Its grouping of buildings along the course of the village street gave the appearance of a crest upon the elevation known as Prichard’s Hill.
Along the southerly slopes of this hill, down to the river, were situated the meadow lands allotted to the inhabitants along with their home lots. Directly west of the home lots was the Great field, comprising most of the plain from Coy’s Brook to the Wekabaug Indian Village. This was also apportioned with the home lots and was reserved for cultivation of crops, under careful supervision of the town government. On the eastern flank of the village site, around and behind the Prichard estate, were rough lands which were shared in common as wood lots and grazing pastures by the planters. Beyond the common land was another smaller plain where the home lots of the later arrivals, James Travis, Judah Trumble, and the Hoveys, were located. The eastern boundary line of the village site was outlined by Hovey’s Brook (later called Willow Brook).
The central building in the village was the Meeting House around which were grouped most of the dwelling houses. The homes of James Travis, Judah Trumble, and the Hoveys were a short distance to the east. The only outlying building of which we have any knowledge was the grist mill of John Pynchon, situated on Sucker Brook, near the northern extremity of Wickaboag Pond, where may still be seen the remains of the dam and the foundation for the millhouse.
There were many factors which influenced the establishment of the Settlement at Quaboag. It seems certain that it was more than mere chance that such a choice spot should have been selected. Some of the following circumstances can be presumed to have contributed to the planting of a community in the land of the “Red Water Indians”. First, there was a definite need for a midway station for travelers between the established villages along the Connecticut River on the West, and those of Marlboro, Lancaster and the Massachusetts Bay on the east. Second, the influence of John Pynchon in promoting such a settlement for his own mercenary reasons. Third, the presence of a group of adventurers from Ipswich who were willing to leave their settled establishments to enter into a new venture, no doubt with expectation of economic gain, and improvement in their personal estates. Fourth, there was the fertility of the soil, abundance of meadow lands, a good potential village site for home lots, and the availability of water power. Last, the Quaboag tribes were receptive to the coming of the planters, at least at first.
Since the book containing the original grants and allotments was presumably destroyed at the burning of the village in August 1675, it is impossible to give exact details of acreage and arrangement of home lots, meadows and common lands. However, enough information is available from other sources to allow us to piece together a reasonably accurate picture of the plantation as it was in the 1670′s.
We discuss the paths and roads in and about the plantation in the section called Paths and Trails.