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Westborough History

Need history quick?  Go here.  Or maybe you're looking for the "original" westborough_history.htm article from the original Westborough.com web site?  If not, please read the following at your leisure.

Welcome!  Westborough has a rich history, wonderfully complemented by a commitment in the present to preserve, protect, and share it.

Please explore this section of the website to learn more about the people and groups in town who dedicate their time and efforts in the noble stewardship of our precious historical trust.

[Note: this section is soon to start undergoing renovation in April 2010]

About Westborough, and its History
Please see Wikipedia  for a comprehensive article on Westborough Massachusetts, which includes a section on our history.

Groups in Town
We have two main groups in town interested in history, the municipal Historical Commission (an official town board), and the civic organization of the Westborough Historical Society.

What to Find Here
This part of Westborouhg.com is a "blog" listing of history-related articles that are occasionally posted.  You're also welcome to explore the Westborough History sub-menu on the left, read the blog articles below, or perhaps visit the categories list into which our resources and information are organized. 


 

Written by Webmaster   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 10:28

A Union Soldiers’ Camp Comes to Westborough

The daily life of a Union soldier springs alive in the encampment of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company F reenactors on Saturday, September 24 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Westborough High School.  This Civil War Living History Day, sponsored by the Westborough Historical Society and Westborough Historical Commission, is free and open to all ages, rain or shine.

The day’s activities include drills, musket firing demonstrations, uniform and gear displays, open air cooking, dramatic readings and exhibits. Special drill instruction for children will also be offered.  Visitors are encouraged to stroll around the camp and engage the re-enactors in conversation.

Individual “dog” tents to shelter the Union soldiers line the make-shift main street. Tents are outfitted with a camp bed, lantern, mess kits, weapons and a few beloved personal items.  The aroma of baked beans and coffee rises from the open cook fire.  The soldiers tell tales of the battles they’ve survived as they clean their weapons and check their gear. A summons to drill brings a flurry of activity as each man grabs his musket and rushes into formation.

One of the program highlights is a 12:30 p.m. concert of Civil War-era songs by local songwriter, singer and guitarist Luanne Crosby. She will reach back to her folk roots and play a selection of songs from and about the Civil War era. During the Civil War period, some of the most popular songs were sung by North and South alike, according to Crosby. Many were sentimental, while many more were patriotic and spoke of love for country and willingness to die for the cause. Crosby will sing such songs as “Aura Lee,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “Two Brothers,” “The Cruel War,” and more.

“Many of the melodies are familiar, even if the background of the composition is unknown,” says Crosby.  “In this way, music becomes a historical reference that is part of all of us, even if we are not conscious that it’s taken its place within our hearts.”  Crosby has performed at the last several Arts In Common events, as well as the Rotary’s 2011 Spring Festival.  Performing at events such as these, she says, provides a way to support the kinds of community connections she believes are so important to an engaged society.  To learn more about Crosby, her music, her three CDs and Personal Performances, visit luannecrosby.com.

The 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and its Company K played a key role in Westborough’s military history.  In a wave of patriotism after the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, 101 men from Westborough, Southborough, Upton, Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, and Northborough formed the Westborough Rifle Company.  These volunteers, 56 from Westborough, were mustered into service as Company K of the 13th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

In July 1861 the 13th Massachusetts Infantry, a three-year regiment, marched from Boston to join forces with the Union Army in the “War of the Rebellion.”  Ultimately 1439 men from Massachusetts would join the ranks of the 13th Massachusetts, a three-year regiment known for its bravery.  They fought in such battles as 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. In all, 161 brave men, including 25 from Westborough, sacrificed  their lives for the Union cause.  For more information on the historical 13th Massachusetts Infantry and Company K, visit  www.13thmass.org

Major Mark Slayton commands the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company F.  His lifelong interest in the Civil War resulted in his becoming a Civil War re-enactor in 1995, after visiting a local Civil War encampment. “Having one great and two great, great grandfathers who served in Infantry regiments during the war, this seemed to be a fitting way to carry on their legacy,” says Slayton. “What I didn’t realize then was that reenacting would become a way of life for me. American history is such an important part of who we all are today, and I believe that it’s important that we keep our history alive. As with the other members of the 13th Mass, I enjoy portraying a Civil War Soldier and demonstrating what life was like for the common soldier in camp and on the field. “

The 13th Massachusetts Infantry Reenactors is a group of dedicated Civil War historians who portray soldiers and civilians of the 1860s. They participate in reenactments, living history encampments, parades and dedication ceremonies. For more information on the 13th Mass Reenactors, visit: www.13thmass.com

This Living History Day provides a vivid, personal connection to the Civil War. The Westborough Historical Society and Historical Commission present this event to the community as a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Add a comment
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 10:33
 
 
Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 20 March 2010 14:25

[The following is text from the 'about Westborough' page on the old Westborough.com web site, originally located at http://www.westborough.com/westborough_history.htm and saved here for archival purposes.  Please visit the Westborough History section of this web site to explore our current offerings.  Thank you! -- webmaster]

"THE HUNDREDTH TOWN "  By Kristina Nilson Allen

Before recorded time, Westborough had become known as a crossroads. As early as 7,000 B.C., prehistoric people in dugout canoes followed the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers to their headwaters in search of quartzite for tools and weapons. During the Late Woodland Period (1200-1600 A.D.), seasonal migrations brought Nipmuc Indians to hunt and fish near Cedar Swamp and Lake Hoccomocco. Using Fay Mountain as a landmark, Indians crisscrossed Westborough on well worn paths: the old Connecticut Path leading west from Massachusetts Bay; the Narragansett Trail leading south, and the trail (along the present Milk Street) leading to Canada.

The early English explorer John Oldham followed these trails through Westborough in 1633, and settlers in search of fertile farmlands followed not long after. By the late 1600s, a few families had settled near Lake Chauncy, in the "west borough" of Marlborough.

On November 18, 1717, Westborough was incorporated as the hundredth town in Massachusetts, populated by twenty-seven families. Soon large farms were carved out, mills built long the Assabet River and Jack Straw Brook, and taverns flourished. Westborough's first minister, Reverend Ebenezer Parkman, shepherded the growing town of colonists through the years toward independence from England. Forty-six minutemen from Westborough fought bravely under Captain Edmund Brigham in the Revolutionary War.

In 1810 the route from Boston to Worcester was straightened and improved into an official turnpike (the present Route 9), and along its Westborough route, the Wesson Tavern Common, Forbush Tavern and Nathan Fisher's store prospered. The center of commerce shifted downtown in 1824 with the arrival of the steam train through Westborough's center. The railroad brought a new era to the town industry: over the next century, local factories shipped boots and shoes, straw hats, sleighs, textiles, bicycles, and eventually abrasive products, across the nation. Westborough dairies supplied cities with milk and local greenhouses shipped out carnations, while the eight orchards found ready markets for their produce.

The industrial progress of the entire country is indebted to Westborough's most famous native son Eli Whitney Jr. Born in 1765, Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1795 after graduating from Yale, and in 1798 he introduced mass production to the United States at his Whitney Arms Company in New Haven, Connecticut. Whitney's legacy is apparent in the modern industries located within the town's borders: Astra Pharmaceuticals, Dover Electric, Proteon, the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center, and the world headquarters of Data General.

Westborough continues in its role as a major crossroads of New England: the Massachusetts Turnpike, Route 9 and Route 495 transect the town and have attracted major corporate, industrial and residential development. The "Hundredth Town" in Massachusetts, reflecting its proud heritage, continues to grow and prosper.

Books about Westborough

Cornfield Meet, By Glenn R. Parker Edited by Jan Curley Towne
A history of Trolleys in Westborough  Available at the Westborough Historical Society

On the Beaten Path, By Kristina Nilson Allen  (1984)
Hardcover Sherwin/Dodge,Printers * Not yet available on Amazon.com

The Diary of Ebenezer Parkman 1703-1782 : 1719-1755
by Francis G. Walett (Editor)
Hardcover (September 1974)
Amer Antiquarian Society; ISBN: 0912296046

People of the Fresh Water Lake : A Prehistory of Westborough, Massachusetts (American University Studies. Series Xi, Anthropology and Sociology, Vol)
by Curtis Hoffman
Hardcover (March 1991)
Peter Lang Publishing; ISBN: 0820412031

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Last Updated on Saturday, 20 March 2010 14:46
 
   
Written by Webmaster   
Thursday, 18 March 2010 22:10

From: The History of Westborough, Massachusetts. Part I, The Early History, by Heman Packard DeForest.  1891.

The late Horace Maynard, of Tennessee, who was a Westborough boy, made use, in his college days, of the old Indian traditions about this latter spot to weave a very pretty legend of the tiny lakelet, — a tale of love and stratagem and revenge.

There is a chief and a rival; a dusky maiden beloved of both, but soon to be wedded by the chief. There is a little skiff upon the lake paddled by the maid; a dark figure plunging into the water, and swimming silently under the surface till he can pull the unsuspecting bride down to her death, so mysteriously that they who spy it from the shore attribute it to the evil Hobomoc himself.

Then, as a year is finished, comes a warning to the murderer, mysterious and awful; the second year, another; the third, a vengeance, weird and terrible, sweeps him to his watery doom beneath the dark surface of this mouth of hell. And thereafter when any of the tribe crossed the spot he dropped a stone into its depths, until the cairn rose above the surface.

READ MORE BELOW for a detailed story of The Legend of the Hobomak, by Harriette Merrifield Forbes.

 THE HUNDREDTH TOWN
GLIMPSES OF LIVE IN WESTBOROUGH.
1717-1817.
BY

HARRIETTE MERRIFIELD FORBES
(1889)


The legend of this pond was written by Hon. Horace Maynard for the "Horae Collegianae," published by the undergraduates of Amherst, in 1838. He says it was told to him "by an old Indian, the last of his tribe." This was probably old Andrew Brown, of whom more hereafter. With some omissions, it is as follows : —

A LEGEND OF THE HOBOMAK.

"It is, truly, a most singular place. Surrounded on three sides by heavy, deep-shaded woods, that, as they recede from the shore, tower to the summits of the high hills by which it is encircled, it presents a dreary, cavernous aspect, dismally relieved by the low, palpitating quagmire bordering the fourth side. It is seldom visited, except by the fisherman in his skiff, or the truant school-boy, to gather the lilies that fringe the margin; and seldom by them except in broad daylight, the most foolhardy being scarcely venturesome enough to tread by night the muggy paths that wind through its tangled underwood and murky bogs. A Sabbath stillness reigns there almost unbroken. The angler holds converse with his fellows at the other end of the boat in the softest whispers; the century-living crow croaks dull and husky from the pine in yonder cove; even the querulous jay in that clump of alders softens her shrew-like note. Occasionally, perhaps, a mink or an otter rises to the surface, takes a hasty survey of the upper regions, flaps his strong tail, and sinks back to his slimy habitation; but saving a few such equivocal sounds, the Genius of Silence holds uninterrupted sway. Such is the Hoccomocco, as it is called by the hinds in the neighborhood; and the town surveyor himself has not ventured, in his' Survey of the Town,' so far to violate the vulgar prejudice, as to give it its proper designation of Hobomak. This, as is well known, was the Indian appellation of the Evil Spirit.

"Tradition affirms that Captain Kidd concealed a large portion of his ill-gotten booty somewhere along the inhospitable shores of the Hobomak, and so vigilantly has it been guarded by the infernal powers, that not a soul has caught a glimpse of it since. Not that no attempt has been made to recover it from such infamous stockholders, and give it a more honorable investment. Many a deep-sunk pit would you find along the desolate shores of the pond, dug, about the charmed hour of midnight, by two ignorant day-laborers, while a third stood guard, holding a drawn sword and gun charged with a silver bullet, and a fourth marched close to the limit of the magic circle, reading most reverently from a big family Bible which he carried perpendicularly before him; thus, by weapons carnal and weapons spiritual, bidding defiance to the Spirit of Darkness. But, with all their midnight financiering, the gold pieces were never observed to twinkle particularly bright through the interstices of their silk purses.

TRACES OF THE INDIAN

I

"'And this is my wedding-night,' said the beautiful Iano, as she stood contemplating her lithe and graceful form, mirrored in the glassy rivulet which forms the outlet of the Hobomak. Her beads and wampum were most daintily entwined about her neck and arms; her hair hung negligently on her shoulders, confined only by a fillet of wild-flowers; a neatly wrought moccasin concealed a wanton little foot and ankle; and a mantle of bear-skin completed her attire. She was the belle of her tribe, and, like all belles, an incorrigible coquette. All the young warriors had in turn sued for her hand, and all had been rejected except the chief, Sassacus. He had remained a long time unsusceptible to her charms; or, if he had been moved, his emotions were kept locked up within his own breast. Even when he had inwardly resolved to wed the proud and volatile creature, he refrained from communicating his sentiments, but adopted a course of policy which has succeeded in bringing many a flirt into the arms of her lover since those times. Somebody has said, -- caustically enough, to be sure, — that if the suitor would cease to pursue his mistress, she would turn and give chase to him. Whether this be truth, or a mere epigram intended for effect, our regard for the sex will not allow us to decide; such, certainly, was the experience of Sassacus. He stood aloof from the fair one till she began to pine in secret for his love. Often would she watch him as he sat in council, or joined in the wild measures of the war-dance. She fed upon his looks till he became her soul's ideal of beauty, —- such stead-fast limbs, such a massive chest, such a noble gait, such a lofty, commanding brow! All her arts of fascination had failed; and a sigh of mingled vexation and despair would escape from the very bottom of her heart, as she saw him from day to day sporting with the other and less beautiful maidens of the tribe.

"The keen-eyed chief let none of these things escape his notice; and when he had sufficiently humbled the proud spirit of the girl, he changed his demeanor. By a few trifling presents and an occasional flattering word he kindled a feeble spark of hope in the breast of the fair despondent, but, at the same time, without allowing her to presume on his affection. In this way he inveigled her completely into his power, and extorted a full confession of love, before he had given her the least proof of his own attachment. He now began to play the lover in real earnest. Having stipulated with the parents of the maid for the price of her ransom, and all the other preliminaries being duly settled, he made preparation for the marriage festival. Iano had reached the very pinnacle of happiness. Her step was the lightest among the maidens as they tripped it through the glades of the forest; her canoe danced gayest as they glided cheerily over the water. She longed for the hour when the priest should bind herself and her lover in the mystic girdle. And what betrothed damsel will not sympathize? Thus she stood by the brook meditating her approaching happiness, now readjusting her ornaments, and studying the effect; now patting the water with her tiny foot, and watching the ripples as they circled out of sight, till the sun had dropped behind the hills, and night had begun to fling her gray shadows over the earth. In the ecstasy of her joy her disposition for frolic returned. She had never ventured to play her pranks upon the stern Sassacus, but the temptation was too great to be resisted; she could not give up her maiden freedom without one more act of enjoyment. 'The young men are assembling,' she continued, soliloquizing; 'I hear them laugh. I'll give them the slip for one night.'

II.

"The wedding-party had indeed assembled. The warriors were there, each with all the scalps and wolf-locks he and his ancestors had ever taken from the foe or secured in the chase. These trophies marked their rank more truly than the purest heraldic emblazonry; and, reckoned b}' this rule, Sassacus was found abundantly deserving the post of chief. He was the bravest of his nation; no arrow was more certain in its flight, whether winged at man or beast; and no tomahawk cleft its victim with a more deadly aim than his. On this occasion he was decked with unusual splendor. The string of fish-bones — the insignia of royalty — depended from his neck; a triangular breast-plate, wrought from the fangs of the catamount, adorned his front; shells of small turtles dangled from his ears; a circlet, into which were fastened the tails of rattlesnakes, entwined his brow, making music as he walked; a tuft of eagle feathers crowned his head; while over his left shoulder was carelessly thrown a robe of wolf-skins, fringed with human scalps, a few of which were still green from the head of the fallen Pequot. Thus arrayed, he took his seat at the sacred fire, and on either side of him his warriors, according to rank. The seat at his right hand was vacant.

" 'Where is Wequoash?' inquired he, glancing his eye over the company. As no one could answer him, all remained silent. He then propounded the question to each one in turn, and, by way of reply, he got an abundance of conjecture and much information touching the precious whereabouts of the missing; but, as far as any valuable, or in the least available, intelligence was concerned, his inquiries ended just where they began. The person in question was the second in rank to Sassacus, and his rival in war. For a long time he had been the avowed, and, as he supposed, the accepted lover of the fair Iano. The wreath that decked her brow his hand had woven; the fur robes that covered her lovely form were the spoils of his bow. In secret, indeed, she had cherished his hopes, intending to accept him at last should she fail in attracting Sassacus, though in public she had always treated him with the same cold indifference which marked her conduct towards the rest of her admirers. Thus fed, his passion increased in strength and violence, till it was too late to check its growth or to transfer it to another object. . . . In his anguish he had vowed eternal hate, and now awaited with his native indifference a favorable opportunity to wreck his purposed vengeance. By rank he was expected to be present at the marriage and to assist at the customary sacrifices, and the ardor with which he had superintended the preparations made his absence appear strange and unaccountable.

III.

" On the north shore of the Hobomak is a plain stretching away to the distance of several miles, skirted on the western side by a high range of hills, whose declivities, lined as they are with jutting masses of rock and a few scattering old trees, are, even at this day, sufficiently solemn and gloomy." The most prominent of this range is Boston Hill, so called, because it was supposed to be as thickly populated with rattlesnakes as Boston with people. "Here and there yawns a cavern whose frightful depths few have courage or inclination to penetrate, so are left to be the abode of serpents and toads, and all such creatures as flee the face of man. Among these dismal haunts Wequoash, desirous to appear at the wedding signalized by some recent achievement, had been searching all day for the lurking-place of a panther which for a long time had infested the neighborhood. After an active and patient search, he found a crevice between two overhanging rocks that opened wider and deeper than the rest, and plunged into it without hesitation. On reaching the bottom he descried a narrow passage which branched off in a lateral direction under the base of the hill. Along this he crept upon his hands and knees for several hundred feet, till at length it terminated in a spacious cavern, the size of which, perfectly dark as it was, he found it difficult to determine. In this perplexity he gave a shrill cry, to try the effect of the reverberations. A low, faint echo died along the distant walls, followed by the hoarse growl of a wild beast. The experienced ear of the Indian instantly told him that he had hit upon the object of his search, and, directing a glance to another part of the vault, he discovered the eyes of the animal glaring like meteors in the midst of the surrounding darkness.

"Wequoash quickly saw that he was discovered. He could perceive the gleaming eyes gradually making towards him, till, crouching within a few feet, the animal appeared on the point of making the fatal spring. It was a moment requiring all the nerve for which he was distinguished even among his own stout-hearted race. He had left his bow behind him, not supposing that he should require its service in the bosom of the hills; and his tomahawk, hanging at his side, was his only weapon of attack or defense. To move from his position, in a place with which he was wholly unacquainted, would be attended with great hazard, and to retreat through the narrow aperture by which he had entered would expose him to the attack of his foe at still greater disadvantage. Amidst these perplexities the cool-headed Indian formed his plan of action as deliberately as if the merest trifle had been staked upon the issue. Seizing his hatchet from his belt, he hulled it with an instinctive aim, and bounded from the floor of the cave. In his descent he fell prostrate upon the body of the beast. The deadly missile had cleft his skull, and, by vaulting from his position, the hunter avoided the fatal spring which the creature sometimes makes upon its enemies, in the agonies of death. With much effort he drew his booty to the mouth of the cavern, and, throwing it over his shoulder, commenced his return, night having long since fallen.

IV

"The volatile Iano could not resist the temptation to play the truant to her betrothed, and to disappoint, for one night at least, the assembled youth of the tribe. At the farther extremity of the Hobomak was a huge old willow, mantled by an enormous wild grape-vine whose branches depended so as to form a beautiful natural arbor. Thither she was fond of retiring with one or two of her companions, and they, in honor of her, had named it Iano's bower. In this charmed retreat she determined to pass the night, even at the risk of forever alienating her lover. So, unmooring her canoe, she stepped into the toppling thing, and darted from the shore. Away, away it flew dancing over the water, so light as scarcely to leave a ripple on the tranquil surface. Before she had reached the middle, the harvest-moon arose and threw its full-orbed light directly upon her. Hearing the sound of a light, stealthy footstep, and fearing that she should be discovered, she turned her canoe towards the nearest shore, and took refuge under the shadows of the overhanging trees.

"Wequoash was hastening homeward with his game, anxious lest he should be too late to participate in the cheer of the festival; for it ill assorted with his ideas of manliness, as well as with his dark system of policy, to appear wanting in merriment and good-nature on an occasion so joyous to his rival and so humiliating to himself. As he neared the shore of the pond he descried a canoe skimming gracefully over the water, the moonbeams glancing from the paddle as it rose in light and even strokes, which the rower would now and then suspend, and look cautiously about her as if suspecting danger.

" 'It is the canoe of the False-hearted,' said he to himself; 'no other of our girls can dip her oars so lightly.' She was alone, and he could wish for no more favorable opportunity to accomplish the pent-up purpose of his breast. The demon of vengeance had seized fast hold upon him, and every other consideration was forgotten. Seeing her approach the shore, he cast off his hunting-dress, dropped into the water a little before the bark, and swam softly beneath the surface till he was within a few feet of it. Just then the vigilant fugitive let fall her paddle, and applied her ear close to the water that she might detect more readily the footsteps of her pursuers, little dreaming that so deadly a foe lurked at the very bow of her skiff. To seize her by her floating tresses and drag her down required but little effort. A thrilling shriek of agony, a few frantic struggles, and all was over. She sunk like lead when released from the powerful grasp of the warrior. The canoe he dragged to a little distance, threw into it a large stone, which secured it firmly at the bottom, thus obliterating every trace of his victim. He regained the shore, resumed his dress, bore away his game to a place of concealment, and, plunging into the forest, quickly was out of sight.

V.

"The maidens who had been appointed to escort the bride into the presence of her lord sent one of their number with a message that Iano had disappeared a little before sunset, and could nowhere be found. A suspicion flashed across every mind that her disappearance was some way connected with the absence of Wequoash. All knew the strength of his former attachment and suspected the depth of his disappointment, and they were well assured that his haughty and irascible spirit would never brook an injury. Seizing their hatchets and bows, Sassacus and his young men sprang off into the woods to discover, if possible, the delinquent bride. Long and diligent was their search; every glade and dell was explored, but all to no purpose. Her canoe was gone, and no traces of it or of her could be found. Silent and dejected, they returned to the scene of their festivity; all but Sassacus. He came not. For hours they awaited him, indulging a feeble hope that he had been more successful; but even this, faint as it was, was dashed by the approach of the chief, wearing a look of despair. He had seen his bride unmoor her skiff, and, guessing her intention, had run along the shore, keeping parallel with the course, intending to surprise the fair fugitive by seizing her in his arms just as she should spring to the land. She had eluded his sight by rowing under the cover of the woods on the opposite shore, and he began to fear she had given him the slip, after all his vigilance, when a narrow opening in the trees let in the moonbeams upon her, enough to project the outline of her form. All at once he saw her drop her oar, bend her ear to the water in the act of listening, then sink heavily beneath the wave. He remembered the heartless sacrifice, and his native superstition overcame him. His bride had perished by the unseen power of the Evil Spirit.

"After two days had elapsed, Wequoash had appeared in the village bearing the body of the panther. He was received by the aged and the children, the women and the warriors, with yells of delight; for his burden explained the cause of his absence, and, as usually happens when men find they have been indulging in groundless suspicions, their regard for him rose to a higher pitch than before. On learning the miserable fate of Iano, he was smitten with deep apparent grief; he smote his breast, and uttered the most frantic exclamations, like one distracted. Recovering at length, he applied himself with unwearied assiduity to console the unhappy Sassacus, and by degrees the chief became more and more cheerful, till he appeared to have quite forgotten his sorrow. His gladness was but temporary, for heaviness and depression of spirits again stole over him, which terminated soon after with his life. Wequoash had now obtained complete revenge; his rival and his false-hearted mistress were both sleeping in the arms of death, and no one suspected his agency in destroying them. He assumed the command of the tribe, and having mourned a decent interval over the dead body of his predecessor, he sought to obliterate his memory from the minds of the people by leading them out to battle against the brave Narragansetts. Since, among savages, personal prowess is the only basis of distinction, his bravery and address in war soon rendered him a universal favorite.

VI.

"The thirteenth moon had just begun to wane when Wequoash, returning one evening from a hunting expedition, seated himself upon a fallen tree near the shore of the Hobomak, and not far from the spot where, the year before, he had taken such vengeance upon the solitary maiden. . . . As he sat thus in troubled contemplation, a flame appeared streaming from the water just over the place where the bones of the maiden slept, and casting upon everything around a blue mephitic light, of all, the most fearful. Presently a canoe arose, and floated straight towards him, as if animated by an invisible agency. Urged by an irresistible influence, he entered it, and was wafted directly to the strange illumination, which gradually resolved into a form like the form of the murdered Iano, only the expression was more sad and pensive. The spirit gazed intently upon him for a long time, unable as he was to resist the fascination; then, uttering a piercing shriek, melted away from his sight. He fell in a state of insensibility; on recovering, he found himself lying by the fallen tree, suffering from extreme exhaustion, and with much difficulty crept home before morning.

"Another revolution of the seasons brought another similar night. The lightnings gleamed vividly in the far-off horizon; the fireflies flitted over the morass; stillness reigned; the blue flame arose; the skiff came to the shore; the chieftain was again impelled to embark; the sorrowful form of the dead again appeared before him, and, exclaiming 'Only once more,' again vanished into the abyss of waters.

"Deep melancholy now pervaded the mind of Wequoash. For days he would roam the forest without food, and shunning the faces of his fellow-men. . . . In this manner the year wore away, and the fatal night returned. This time he assembled the tribe by the shore, and, in a long and pathetic harangue, disclosed to them how that it was by his hand the canoe of Iano had sunk; how that he had poisoned the sorrowing Sassacus under the pretence of administering exhilarating draughts. He then recounted his interviews with the unavenged spirit of the injured girl, and darkly alluded to the fate that there awaited him. Petrified with fear, they saw him enter the approaching canoe, and move passively to the mysterious flame. A form arose, but it was not the form of Iano. Her gentle spirit could not come for vengeance. It was the form of Sassacus, dark, terrific, confounding. 'This is my hour,' it said. Wequoash drew his robe closer about him, and folded his arms in token of resignation. A black cloud hovered over him; a vivid flash, a stunning thunder-peal, a few big rain-drops, —- all was over; thick darkness succeeded; the chieftain was seen no more.

"The season was afterwards celebrated by the tribe for many generations, and a song was composed, which the maidens sung at their marriage festivals, -— a mournful thing, descriptive of the character and fortunes of the rival chiefs and the too-much-loved Iano. Whenever they crossed the Hobomak, they each carried a stone and sunk it at the fatal spot, till at length the pile rose above the water. It has since fallen away by the action of the waves, but even now it may be seen when the surface is perfectly tranquil. A mysterious dread still attaches to it, and if the fisherman chance to strike it with his oar, he hurries away as from a place to be avoided."

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Last Updated on Saturday, 20 March 2010 12:05
 
   
Written by Webmaster   
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 00:00

Below are the history-related articles recently published by GateHouse Media, the owner of Westborough News and WickedLocal.com.

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Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 25 July 2009 00:00

Come stop by the Sibley House and browse for treasures new and old at the Westborough Historical Society's Yard Sale!

Place: 13 Parkman Street. (click for Google map)Sibley House (taken summer 08)

Time: 9 AM - 1 PM.

 

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Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2009 23:53