Bidwell Lore – The Founding of Monterey, Part II

Welcome to week 97 of Bidwell Lore! This week we are sharing a second article by Rob Hoogs that was published in the April issue of the Monterey news. In it, he continues the story of the founding of Monterey, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. 

The Founding of Monterey, Part II
by Rob Hoogs

As we mentioned last week, on April 12, 1847, Monterey became a separate town from Tyringham and in 2022 the town celebrates its 175th anniversary.  This week we want to share a little more about the founding of the town, which began as Township No. 1. The following comes from the early history of Township No. 1 as printed in the commemorative booklet for Monterey’s 100th anniversary in 1947 (with only a few updates and corrections inserted in italics).

In 1735, the country between Westfield and Sheffield was a wild, beautiful, and unbroken wilderness. The Provincial Legislature, meeting in Boston at that time, decreed that it should be divided into four townships, which in their prosaic, practical, planning were given mere numbers, Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4. It remained for a homesick young man, the Lord Viscount Howe, traveling to war over the rough new road through the Hoosacs from Boston to Albany, to give No. 1 a name.  He called it “Tyringham” for a section of England which he loved and was never to see again, since he fell, short weeks later, in a battle with the French at Ticonderoga. [Note: This is one of several charming versions of how Tyringham got its name, but unfortunately it is not correct. Also, the town was not called Tyringham until it was incorporated in 1762.]

The Royal Hemlock Trail on the Museum property, above, was a path 18th century residents of Township No. 1 would have used.

Not until 1739 did the first permanent settlers come, when Lieutenant Isaac Garfield, Thomas Slaton, and John Chadwick brought their families, their cattle, and their household goods, such as they could carry by wagon, to the south portion of [Township No.1] Tyringham. In August of that same year, Captain John Brewer moved into the vicinity of Twelve-mile Pond [now Lake Garfield], and to fulfill the terms of the agreement by which he had received his grants, built a sawmill to be followed, shortly afterward, by a grist mill.

In return for the mill lot of seventy acres and Six Hundred Pounds in bills of public credit, Capt. John Brewer made the following agreement: “To build a good saw mill in said lot, and complete the same in the space of six months, and be obliged and his heirs or assignees to keep the same in good repair all times for the space of twenty-five years next ensuing and attend the same and saw for the Proprietors, when they shall have the occasion, at reasonable rates, and as cheap as the neighboring mills do saw, and also to build a good grist mill on the said lot and finish it within the space of two and a half years next ensuing, and his heirs and assignees to keep the same in repair for the service of the inhabitants for the space of twenty years next ensuing.”

Many of the inhabitants of both Tyringham and Monterey are descended from Capt. John Brewer. This is easy to believe, as he was the father of thirteen children, as was also his youngest son, Col. Joshua Brewer. The size of the families in those days was rather astonishing. Col. Giles Jackson, who was a prominent man in the town during the Revolution, was the happy father of an even two dozen children. [Note: Actually he had 20 children with his two wives plus five stepchildren.]

old, crumbling stone wall on the Museum property. Wall runs from lower left edge to the upper right. Art School road is visible running vertically at the right
A stone wall on the Bidwell Property built early by settlers of Monterey

It was this same Giles Jackson who was credited with drawing up the Letters of Capitulation of Gen. Burgoyne and embossing same. [Note:  Giles Jackson is properly credited with embossing (i.e. creating copies of) the document; but current opinion by the historians at the Saratoga National Park is that he did not compose it.] 

Only recently was this proved, and then through the efforts of getting a copy of Giles Jackson’s handwriting. This was obtained through Julius Miner who had in his possession a document so signed. This document was drawn up and signed by 38 citizens who swore never to take up arms by land or sea against the United American Colonies, and to, on the other hand, defend and protect by arms any hostile attempt of the fleets or armies in the service of Great Britain. Among other signers of this important document are John Chadwick, Daniel Markham, David Orton, Stephen Taylor, Eben Chadwick, Isaac Garfield, Amos Northrup, John Hale, Samuel Graves, Wm. Morgan, David Brewer, and Nathan Hale. [Note: This Nathan Hale of Tyringham is not the same person who said “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” before being hanged as a spy by the British in Manhattan on Sept. 22, 1776.   But the two were related.]

Next week we’ll share a brief entry about the above mentioned Col. Giles Jackson, an important name in Monterey history.