Memorial of Elder Ebenezer Lamson of Concord, Mass.: His ancestry and descendants 1635-1908

By Otis E Lamson, 1908, Pgs 1-11

Transcribed by Michele Valenzano

 

HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MOUNT WASHINGTON

 

 

The following descriptive sketch of the town and its history is culled from a sketch by the Rev. A. E. Todd, data compiled by O.E. Lamson, a published report of the exercises attending the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of a town government at Mount Washington, and the published work, “Picturesque Berkshire.”

 

The town of Mount Washington is the smallest in the State of Massachusetts and is in the southwestern corner of the state. The town contains some twenty-seven square miles and so rugged are the masses of hills and mountains about it that it seems, as the Irishman expressed it, “the land was so plenty they had to stack it.” The town is reached by team and Copake, New York, is the most convenient point from which to reach the town.

 

“It was first settled in 1692 by tenants of Robert Livingston. He maintained undisputed title until 1752 when the inhabitants, numbering about 200, learning they were beyond the eastern boundary of New York, from which Livingston had obtained his grant, petitioned the State of Massachusetts for town privileges and ownership of their lands. This resulted in a bitter contest for five years.”

 

March 29, 1757, a syndicate of forty proprietors bought the land from the Indians, to be divided into forty eight shares and these purchasers organized and assigned the farm lands under the laws of Massachusetts. There was a gradual increase of population until 1774 a petition for the grant of a township was successful in consideration of £250 paid to the State.

 

At the first recorded meeting of the proprietors in November, 1778, it was voted to call the place Mount Washington and thus its old Indian name of Taconic Mountain gave way to one which should bear testimony to the patriotism of its inhabitants.

 

Then followed, in 1779, the incorporation of Mount Washington as a town and the act of incorporation as it passed the House of Representatives, June 19, 1779, bears the signature of the Speaker, John Hancock.

 

The first census of the United States (1790) gives the population of the town as 328 including men, women and children. The names of the heads of families are given as follows: Jonathan Adams, Levi Barnum, John Bagley, Stephen Bump, Peleg Benjamin, Thomas Cade, John Culver, Benjamin Covey, Robert Campbell, Jona. Close, John Dibbell Jr., John Dibbell, Samuel Dibbell, Daniel Dibbell, Michael Goodpallet, William Gaines, Smith Hall, Samuel Harvey, Andrew Haxton, John Holley, David Hubbard, Thomas Jones, George King, John Kline, John Kings, esq., Fenner King, John King Jr., Benjamin Lull, Daniel Lord, William Lott, Daniel Mead, Jesse Mead, Jenny Osborne, Nathan Osborne, Edward O’Cain, Annanias Owen, Charles Owen, Harman Owen, Charles Patterson, Andrew Patterson, Hendrick Plank, Philip Ruff, Roger Rose, Benjamin Ryan, Elisabeth Robinson, Samuel Smith, Wilhelmos Scutt, Asa Sparks, Stephen Trail, Nicholas Van Giles, Robert Van Duesor, Solomon Wodden, Abijah Wildon, Peggy Wells, Israel Youngs.

 

In 1810, four years after Isaac Lamson came to the town and settled there, the population was 474, and in 1870 it had diminished to 205, and in 1907 the permanent population was 82 and the voting list of the town contained names of only seventeen farmers and one or two of their hired men who have been on the mountain for years.

 

The town is principally noted as an agricultural settlement. It was here that Henry Goodale, on the famous “Sky Farm” established the record of the world for the raising of potatoes and produced as high as 400 bushels to the acre. The town is one of the very few in the State that is free from debt and the inhabitants enjoy a low tax rate. This is due to the reason that all of the people are industrious and thrifty. During the summer they entertain at least 200 summer guests who come principally from New York. The greater number of them come to Copake, NY, and are driven to the mountain, although some come to Great Barrington and are carried fourteen miles up the mountain over one of the most picturesque drives in the State. The road passes for miles under the dome of Mount Everett, the second highest peak in the State, which towers 2,624 feet above the sea level. The town itself has long been called the “town among the clouds.”

 

There are three natural lakes in the town all fed by springs. They are not large but always full, as well in the dry season as in the spring. All three are in elevated positions, one quite high between two mountains, water soft and clear as crystal. All are surrounded by timber and decorated with the white and yellow lily.

 

Among the attractions of this mountainous township to the summer tourist my attention was called to Sage’s Ravine, Bash Bish Falls, the Look-Off and the Dome. They have been described by those whose description of their beauty and grandeur excels any weak effort of mine.

 

Henry Ward Beecher, in his “Star Papers” thus refers to the two principal attractions of the township of Mount Washington: “Sage’s Ravine is the antithesis of Bash Bish. Sage’s Ravine, not without grandeur, has its principal attractions in its beauty; Bash Bish, far from destitute of beauty, is yet most remarkable for grandeur. Both are solitary, rugged, full of rocks, cascades, grand waterfalls, and a savage rudeness tempered to beauty and softened by various and abundant mosses, lichens, flowers and vines. I would willingly make the journey once a month from New York to see either of them.”

 

THE BASH-A-BISH

 

Bash-a-Bish, a daughter of rough old Taconic,

Sleeping with winter’s cold hand on her lips,

Hears the deep murmur of far Housatonic,

Waves her white arms and to seaward she slips,

Gem of the Berkshire Hills,

Queen of a thousand rills,

Joy to the forest her gay laughter brings

Low bend the stately trees,

Hushed is the passing breeze,

Summer will come if the Bash-a-Bish sings.

 

High on the mountain side – low in the meadow,

Ever patiently seeking the sea,

Here in the sunshine, and there in the shadow,

Maker of marvelous music is she;

Fern fringed the rocky ledge,

Moss hung the misty edge,

Quiver the Junipers over the brink –

Wrapped in the fleecy shroud

White as the summer cloud

Bash-a-Bish plunges in crystal to sink.

 

Siren of solitude! Ever her singing

Follows the wanderer, distant afar,

Unbidden memory, quietly bringing

Dreams of a day that no future can mar;

Welcome her song of cheer,

Ringing so sweet and clear,

Woven fast into the web of our lives;

Heard in the glare of light

Heard in the hush of night,

Heaven’s benediction the Bash-a-Bish gives.

*    Laura Sanderson

 

THE DOME

 

By an act of the legislature which became a law June 3, 1908, Mount Everette (The Dome) has been made a state reservation. The reservation will be cared for by three commissioners to be known as the Mount Everett Reservation Commission, who will serve without compensation. The first commissioners appointed are Herbert C Joynes (for six years), A. Chalkley Collins (for four years), and Henry M White (for two years). The Berkshire Courier speaks of the reservation and the work of the commission as follows:

 

“There are several sheets of water which will give the reservation distinctive features not found on Greylock. Lake Undine covers twenty acres and is covered with pond lilies, besides offering an excellent place for boating and bathing. Two other ponds bear the name of Lee and Plantain. The latter is about the size of Lake Undine and its overflow forms the Bear Rock falls, also a point of scenic interest. The brooks from that end of the mountain pass through Sage’s Ravine.

 

“The question of roads will, of course, be a matter for early consideration by the commission, and the survey will help in determining the best routes. The first road will probably necessarily be the regular Mt. Washington highway, and one may later be made from Sheffield. There was formerly one leading up from the Glenny farm, but it has been so little used that it is hard to follow. The town of Mt. Washington covers a little more than 14,000 acres.

 

“The commission feels the enormity of the undertaking in developing all the splendid features offered for a reservation, although realizing that merely opening it up and perfecting its titles will give it a conspicuous place among the reservations of the state since nature has done so much.” – Berkshire Courier.

 

Mount Everett, or The Dome, is the second highest peak in Massachusetts. Rev. Dr. Edward Hitchcock, President of Amherst College, ascended it in 1845 and thus wrote of it and the little town in which it lies:

 

“The height of Mount Everett (The Dome) is rather more than 2,600 feet. It is surprising how little is known of this scenery in other parts of Massachusetts. I doubt whether nine out of ten of our intelligent citizens beyond Berkshire County are not ignorant of the existence of such a township within our limits, and even in the vicinity very few have ever heard of the scenery of that place which almost repays a lover of nature for a voyage across the Atlantic.”

 

For many years this mountain was called “The Peak” and it is thought that a colony of Swiss, located at its base, gave it that name. Catherine Sedgwich refers to the mountain in her story, “The Boy of Mount Righi.” When President Hitchcock visited it he gave the name Mount Everett to the disgust of many. Dr. Orville Dewey made many protests and Miss Sedgwich wrote the following lines thereupon:

 

Oh call it not Mount Everett

Forever ‘tis the Dome

Of the great temple God has reared

In this our Berkshire home:

 

And let the name the red man gave

To all this mountain range

So sacred be that other term

Shall seem an utterance strange

 

Taghconick – What that name imports

Has been but vainly guessed,

As Urim let it reverence claim

Worn on that rugged breast.

 

THE SKY FARM

 

Mount Washington became famous in another direction about 1878, when the Goodale Sisters and “Sky Farm” their mountain home, came into prominence in the literary world. These then little girls, Elaine and Dora, brought out a volume of Apple Blossoms and afterwards “Among the Wild Flowers of Berkshire,” which attracted much attention. The books were the collection of simple poems from their pens, told in a beautiful way, and made a decided innovation. Since then their pens have been prominent.

 

THE LONGING HOUR

 

Old Berkshire – her name the gentle tear drops start –

Fond nurse of my childhood, dear home of my heart;

No scene so familiar, no landscape so kind

As to blur that first picture graved deep on the mind,

When fancy ran wild with her riotous brood,

And mystery lurked in the unexplored wood,

When the rill rushed a torrent, the rock towered so high,

And the child world was bounded by mountain and sky !

 

Youth leaves us – work beckons – reluctance is vain,

And the child of the hill-top descends to the plain,

Yet, no matter how sweetly life’s voices are blent,

There are moments that stir with a vague discontent;

 

There are rare, lonely hours when he hears in his dreams

Her breeze-burdened pines and her free flowing streams;

When a blessed mirage in the distance he sees –

Her fair sloping meadows, her many-armed trees !

 

Then, Beautiful Berkshire, whatever his lot,

Its hopes, and its cares, and its joys are forgot,

And the pilgrim, the exile, whoever he be,

Turns fondly once more to his childhood and thee !

*    Elaine Goodale Eastman

 

 

Source: Memorial of Elder Ebenezer Lamson of Concord, Mass.: his ancestry and descendants 1635-1908

By Otis E Lamson, Delano, MI, Publishing unknown, 1908, Pgs 1-11. Ancestry.com