Southern view of Petersham.
purchased the soil of the Indians, for a satisfactory consideration, and took of them a deed. It had been a residence of the Indians, and was called by them Nich-e-waug, which name it bore until it was incorporated a town, in 1754.
The chief seat of the Indians appears to have been in the south part of the town, near Nichewaug Hill, whereon, as in some other parts of the town, they had planted fields of Indian corn, the traces of which were remaining when the English began a settlement there. The first settlers experienced many hardships and difficulties. In the infancy of the settlement, in 1744, a French war broke out, and the Indians, being always in the interest of the French, became hostile, and began to commit depredations in various parts of the land, which occasioned the few inhabitants great fear, and obliged them for their safety to fortify a number of houses in different parts of the town, into each of which a number of families moved, and soldiers were stationed there as a guard to the inhabitants and to reconnoiter the country.
The church was gathered in this place, and the first pastor, Rev. Aaron Whitney, was ordained, in 1738. He died in 1779, in the 41st year of his ministry, and the next year was succeeded by Rev. Solomon Reed. The next pastor, Rev. Festus Foster, was ordained in 1802; his successor was Rev. Luther Wilson, who was installed in 1819. The next pastor, Rev. George R. Noyes, was installed in 1834. Rev. William Wolcott was ordained pastor of the second church in 1830; he was succeeded by Rev. Caleb B. Tracy in 1834.
The cut is a southern view in the central part of Petersham, showing the public
buildings, &c. The natural situation of the town is very beautiful; it is
elevated, but not hilly or uneven. The center of the town lies upon the highest
land in it, which is a large, long, flat hill, upon the highest part of which
runs the principal street from north to south, and for upwards of three miles
in length affords a most commanding prospect, not only of the whole town, but
of the towns adjoining. The soil is rich and fertile, and the land bears all
kinds of grain, but it is most natural to grass and pasturage. This town is
watered by Swift river, on which are some manufactories of iron. Here are 3
churches, 2 Congregational and 1 Baptist. Population, 1,731. Distance, 29 miles