Bidwell Lore – The Disposition of Joab Benney’s Land

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 140! This week in our Agrippa Hull series we will talk about the disposition of Joab Benney’s land to help you understand the world that Agrippa Hull was a part of in 18th century Stockbridge.

Portrait of Agrippa Hull, unknown artist, unknown date. Acc# 47.002. Courtesy of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives. Painted from an 1845 daguerreotype taken by Anson Clark in West Stockbridge, also in the collection of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives.

The Disposition of Joab Benney’s Land
Rick Wilcox, 2022

This week we are going to backtrack a little bit and talk again about the Indian Proprietors. The Proprietors met, according to adjournment, on May 15, 1780, and passed votes on the following:

(viz.) First Voted that Joab Benney have Liberty to Dispose of his thirty acre Grant of land, his paying the proprietors what shall be adjudged worth in natural state by Mr. John Sergeant & Timothy Edwards  [1] Esq.
2ly Voted that Mr. John Sergeant [2]be appointed to Settle with Joab about pay and Reserve the same and Dispose of the money as the proprietors shall order
-3ly Voted that Mr. Sergeant pay (out of the money he shall reserve of Joab Benney) [3] to Mr. Ehilu Parsons a Twelve Schilling note which the said Parsons has against Abraham Naumaumpehouh whenever he shall Received said money
-4ly Voted and Granted to Catharine the wife of Kusk the fifty acre lot formerly Granted to John Peethoup and Taken up by him on which the said Catharine now lives –
–5ly Voted Dispose of all the Common or undivided  Land in Mudy Brook Swamp in the South part of the Town to pay the Publick Debts
– 6ly Voted and Chose Joseph Sanquusquot, Jehoiakim Mtohhsin Hendrick Ampaumut and Jehoiakim Naunaumpetonk A Committee to Survey the afore said Swamp and Petition the General Court for Liberty to sell the Same, and also to look into the Publick Debts of the Proprietors and Report a State of the Same to the Next meeting,) with Power to Sell said land & give Deeds of the Same to such Persons as Shall purchase said Land
– 7ly Voted and Granted to David Neephoonhook son of David Neephoonhook Late of Stockbridge a strip of Land lying Between the Land that Lately belonged Jehoiakim Naunaumpetonk and the Soldier Lot [4] so called be the same more or less
– 8ly Voted and Granted to John Baldwin, Thomas Baldwin John Philips John Waupohnos Abraham Nohehose Isaac Wenaumpee Jacob Wenanmpee Ebenezer Maunaupeet and Aaron Nimham Three acres of Land Each to be taken up in the Common or undivided Land on Monument Mountain [5]
– 9 Voted to adjourn this Meeting to the first Monday of August Next
– The Proprietors met according to adjournment on the first Monday of August it being the 7 Day of said month and Voted to adjourn said meeting to Monday the 28th Day of August Instant at Two of the Clock in the afternoon at the House of Joseph Shequosquot [6]

Moving forward a decade, on May 29, 1790, Jahleel Woodbridge, acting as executor for the will of Joab Benney, began to sell off Benney’s land. Elizur Deming, who was one of Benney’s neighbors to the south bordering on the Great Barrington town line, purchased half of the Benney property. To follow is some of the language from the deed:

{Jahleel Woodbridge to Elizur Deming} TO ALL PEOPLE to whom these Presents shall come Greeting Know Ye that Joab Benney late of Stockbridge deceased did by his last Will & Testament constitute & appoint Jahleel Woodbridge Esq. of Stockbridge in the County of Berkshire & Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executor of his last said Will – with full power & authority to sell & convey so much of his the said Joab’s Real Estate as would be sufficient to discharge his Just Debts – NOW THEREFORE I the said Jahleel Woodbridge for and in consideration of the just sum of thirty pounds lawful money to me in hand before the Delivery hereof by Elizur Deming of Great Barrington in the county and commonwealth aforesaid have given granted bargained & sold & do by these Presents give grant bargain sell alien & fully freely & absolutely convey & confirm unto him the said Elizur his heirs and assigns forever One half of the Farm or lot of land on which the said Joab lived at the time of his Decease Viz. The South half of said farm to be equally divided so as to take half the width at the west end & half the width at the east end said farm is bounded west on the County road leading from Stockbridge to Great Barrington east on the Brook called Konkapot Brook – South & North on land improved by Anna Bingham the whole of said farm supposed to contain fifty Acres — [7]

In 1791, a second plot of land belonging to Benney was sold. The language of that deed follows:

 {Jahleel Woodbridge to Oliver  Partridge} TO ALL PEOPLE to whom these Presents shall come Greeting Know ye that Joab Binney late of Stockbridge Deceased did in his last will and testament constitute & appoint Jahleel Woodbridge of Stockbridge in the County of Berkshire & Commonwealth of Massachusetts Esqr. Executor of his will & did authorize & impower him the said Jahleel Woodbridge to sell & dispose of so much of the said Joab’s real estate as would be sufficient to pay & discharge his just debts & especially a lot of land lying in the south westerly part of Stockbridge aforesaid granted to him by the Indian Proprietors containing Thirty acres Know Ye therefore That I the said Jahleel Woodbridge aforesaid For and in consideration of Twenty Pounds Current Money of the Commonwealth aforesaid to me in hand before the ensealing hereof by Oliver Partridge of Stockbridge aforesaid Physician –
the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge & am fully satisfied contented & paid Have given granted bargained sold aliened released conveyed & confirmed & by these Presents do freely & absolutely give grant bargain sell alien release convey & confirm unto him the said Oliver Partridge his heirs a& assign Forever – A Certain lot of land lying in the southwesterly Part of Stockbridge aforesaid north of an 100 acre lot laid out to Tim Woodbridge Esqr. & is the same land that was granted to Joab aforesaid by the Indian Proprietors & surveyed to him Sept 1771 as follows Viz. Beginning at a white oak tree in the north line of said Timothy’s lot – thence North 75 degrees West seventy two rods in said line to an old [illegible] thence North 21 degrees West sixty eight rods to a stake & thence North 29 degrees 45 minutes East seventy two rods to an Hemlock tree – thence south 2 degrees East one hundred rods to the first boundary – And is now bounded south by Anna Bingham’s land West & North by land owned by Primus & Edwards – Negros – And East by land owned by Partridge. [8]

At this point, dear reader, you might say I have traveled down the proverbial rabbit hole. However, I hope that the journey, so far, gives enough backstory so that you have a sense of the world that shaped Agrippa Hull. As Agrippa Hull turned 18, the Revolutionary War was gearing up. Agrippa served from May 1777 to July 1783.  Six years and two months was most unusual as most men volunteered for short periods of time, when fighting took a back seat to the needs of their farm and family. Tradition has that Agrippa did not care for his step-father and the army seemed like a better choice.

Next week we will begin sharing the story of Agrippa’s time in the Revolutionary War and his relationship with Major General John Paterson.

1. Eldest son of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards.
2. Son of the Rev. John Sergeant.
3. Although Benney had been granted the thirty acres, colonial law required he return it, or the profits obtained from a sale of the land, to the tribe.
4. South side of Glendale Middle Road just west of 1 Glendale Middle Road.
5. Monument Mountain runs north to the Housatonic River in Stockbridge, ending roughly where the railroad bridge crosses the river.
6. Commonly spelled Shauquethqueat, his home lot was north side of Glendale Middle Road just west of Butler Road. Joseph was one of the sons of King Benjamin Kohkewenaunant.
7. The Brook is now Konkapot Brook. Anna Bingham, owner of Bingham’s Tavern, had started to acquire a number of plots of land in Stockbridge. By 1790, there were very few Mohicans still living in town.
8. The Indian Proprietor’s Records indicate that the 30 acres had been returned to them in 1780.

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