Byxbe Led Settlers to Berkshire Township from Massachusetts

Byxbe's Home in Washington, MA, as it Looks in 2000


by Carol Lew

We live in Washington, MA, which was known as Hartwood at the time Moses Byxbe was here. In 1977 a history of the town was written, for the occasion of the town's 200th birthday. I have learned some pieces of information from it, yet some seem to contradict my own research. It's sometimes difficult to figure out the truth.
Here one can see some of the woods lining the road to Lenox, and it leads into a huge state forest. It's all woods now, but in the 1800s it was all farmland.
This photo was taken from the church lot, and you can see the dirt road, which used to bea main route to Lenox, a town we can only reach now by traveling a very indirect route.
In the 1977 book, there's a reference to a Col. Byxbe and his wife. It's likely not the same Byxbe, because earlier in the book an Aron Byxbe is listed as a soldier in the Revolutionary war. This reference was from the church record under "Cases of Dicipline" when there was a complaint by Mrs. Byxbe that a Mr. Crane tried to get into bed with her while her husband was away in New York. At the time, the Byxbe family lived in Mr. Crane's house.

It also talks about another migration to Ohio from our town. It says "As early as Sept. 10, 1810 Washington men had joined with Becket settlers in entering into an agreement for the purpose of obtaining a Township of land in the State of Ohio. They promised to pay the expenses of exploring and viewing a Township of land in New Connecticut now owned by the Honorable Caleb Strong of Northampton who owned three quarters of the land of
Township No. 4 in the sixth range of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Dillingham Clark, owner of the tavern on the Washington Mountain Road was one of the men voted agents to explore this new land. The report was so favorable that Dillingham Clark Esquire was appointed to apply to Caleb Strong (a seven term Governor of Mass.) for the purchase of said Township.
The purchase of the land was completed by the spring of 1811, and the Becket and Washington families packed up all their possessions and moved westward."
In the late 1700s, the land in our town was divided into lots. Our present 2 3/4 acres was on lot 22, very near lot 23 fronting the main road. Houses and properties seem to have changed hands lots of times. There was a sawmill in the area in early years (I've seen it mentioned in deeds), and our house was in the center of town. It sits at the corner of an intersection; the main road and the road leading to Lenox (which is now only a dirt road/path impossible to travel by car because beavers have flooded it in several places). Across the Lenox road was a church that was built in the 3rd quarter of the 18th century. (It actually may have been built across the street and then moved in 1780 to this location.) It was struck by lightening, rebuilt and then struck by lightening again in the late 1890s and torn down. Across the main road from it was a carriage barn that held the horses of church-goers. There was another old house directly across the street from our house, and next to that the town hall (built in the 1800s). The cemetery was located at the town hall, not the church, supposedly because the ground was too wet in the church ground and the bodies weren't staying where they belonged! And just down the road in the other direction is what's left of the town pound, a small rock wall enclosure that held straying animals in the early years.

We're on top of a mountain 2000 ft above sea level. Lots of weather here. I've heard reports from folks who've been here a long time that when they were kids they once sledded down drifts out of the second story window of this house. I've seen pictures of a truck completely covered with snow. I have a flower farm in the back field of our house. The ground is very wet and has lots of rocks. It could have been the same field (and was certainly the same weather) that made early Washingtonians decided that farming in Washington wasn't such a good idea. I read somewhere that one year back in the late 1700s or early 1800s there was a killing frost every month of the year in this area.... even July and August. That certainly would have discouraged any farmer.

Our house was known to be a tavern in the early 1800s, run by someone by the name of Jasper Morgan. I've seen references to the tavern at that time.... town meetings were sometimes held at the tavern (I guess because town officials could be warmed inside and out in the wintertime at the tavern). I've seen references to Dillingham Clark owning a tavern in this vicinity, but my deed research doesn't find him as one of the owners of this house.

The historical integrity our our house was maintained throughout the years. It still has wide plank floors upstairs, an original staircase, original doors, and the walls are mostly beadboard, which were added in the late 1800s when a fellow famous in the area owned it- his name was Whitney. It had a hand dug well and hand pump and wood heat until the 1980s. And an interesting history through the 1970s.

Sent to Polly Horn by Carol Lew - July 9, 2000

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