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The earliest authentic accounts and records is reference to the tract to
land now forming the township of Holden, are substantially included in the
history of Worcester, the district being first called "Worcester North Half," or
"North Worcester." On 13th May. 1740, a petition signed by twenty-five
citizens of North Worcester was presented to the General Court, praying for
the place to be set off a separate town. This petition was not successful. At
the next session of the General Court, in November following, another
petition was presented; and this time the petitioners were granted an act of
The act passed the General Court, Jan. 2, and was signed by His
Excellency Governor Belcher, Jan. 9, 1741. Thus the north half of Worcester
became a distinct town by the name of Holden; so called in honor of Hon.
Samuel Holden, a London merchant and a member of parliament, who had
directed his benevolent efforts to the help of the Colonies of New England.
Since the incorporation of the town, several hundred acres have been
set off to help form the towns of Paxton and West Boylston; the first portion
being taken in 1765, and the section for West Boylston in 1808. The present
boundaries of Holden are: north-westerly by Rutland and Princeton;
northeasterly by Sterling and West Boylston; south-easterly by Worcester;
and south-westerly by Paxton and Rutland. The township contains about
The surface is well diversified with hills and valleys. Much of the soil is
light and porous, but it is very variable; and probably there is not an area of
fifty acres in the town that shows a homogeneous soil or a wholly plain
surface. Many of the smaller hills, especially in the northern part of the town,
possess a springy soil and make excellent grass farms. The products are
nearly the same as in other towns of Worcester County; and all the forest
trees common to Massachusetts are to be found within its limits. Twenty-five
years ago there was a large amount of fine wood and timber. The good
market which the growing city of Worcester afforded for this product caused
many a farmer to neglect the cultivation of his farm, and devote much of his
time to cutting and marketing wood. Although this appeared to be an easy
way of securing a few hundred dollars, yet it was not without evil results, as
is plainly seen by the decrease in the number of cattle kept, and the
diminished productiveness of the soil.
Among the prominent hills in town are the following. Malden Hill
(called by the early settlers, Mount Carmel), situated in the east part of the
town, is mostly covered with a young growth of wood; the older growth having
been cut off. A granite quarry has been worked to some extent on the easterly
side of the hill.
Pleasant Hill, in the north-easterly part, as tradition reports, was
formerly an Indian camping-ground. The soil is rich, and produces good crops
of grain and grass. Grape-vine Hill in the north-west, is especially adapted to
tillage and pasturage.
Champlain Hill, in the westerly part, was so called from the fact that
when first visited by early settlers, several acres were found upon it, already
clear of forest trees.
Pine Hill, lying partly in Paxton, and partly in Holden, was formerly
valued for its growth of pine timber.
Asnebumskit Hill, situated in the south-west part of the town, is said
to be the highest point of land in Worcester County, except Mount Wachusett.
Cultivated fields and pasture lands extend to its very summit, from which a
fine view of the surrounding country may be obtained. Iron-ore and sulphur
abound in this and Pine Hill.
Stone-house Hill, so called in consequence of a natural house or shed
formed by an immense overhanging rock, is in the south part of the town. Its
steep, rocky, and often precipitous sides render it unfit for cultivation, and
several hundred acres are covered with wood, mostly of oak and chestnut.
Stone-house was made a place of rendezvous, during the period of Shays'
Rebellion, by the "regulators."
The principal river in Holden is the Quinnepoxet. It is formed by three
branches: (1) North Quinnepoxet River, formed by streams issuing from
Quinnepoxet Pond (lying partly in Princeton and partly in Holden), and
Muscopauge Pond in Rutland. The waters of this branch furnish motivepower
for Austin's saw mill, planning and box mill, the factories at North
Woods and Quinnepoxet. It afterwards unites with the following: (2) South
Quinnepoxet, which rises in the Asnebumskit Pond in Paxton. The last
mentioned stream furnishes motive-power for the factories at Eagleville,
Jeffersonville and Lovellville, and unites with the North Quinnepoxet in
Nichols's Intervale, just below Lovellville mill. (3) Cedar Swamp Brook. This
is formed by Moss Brook, in the southerly part of the town, joined by many
springs; it passes Moss Brook mills, Chaffinville, Howe's shoddy and saw
mill, and Unionville, uniting with the Quinnepoxet in the Estabrook intervale
so called. This river, thence passing Harris's grist-mill and Spring Dale
factory, becomes a branch of the Nashua River which empties into the
Merrimac near Nashua, N.H.
From the same meadow in which the second branch of the river just
described rises, issues a small stream which flows south-easterly through the
Flagg meadows and reservoir, and becomes a tributary of the Blackstone
River. The surface of Quinnepoxet Pond is 717 feet above tide water, and its
water fall 234 feet before is crosses the line of West Boylston.
Besides the streams already mentioned, there is a small one called
Trout Brook, rising in Princeton and flowing through the north-easterly part
of Holden, which unites with the Quinnepoxet. These several streams furnish
abundant motive-power for manufacturing purposes.
Having thus glanced at the natural features of the town, let us look
briefly at its early history. There are no records that lead one to conclude that
any settlements were made in Worcester North Half previous to 1722, the
year in which Worcester was itself incorporated. The first settlement within
the limits of Holden was probably made in 1723, by Mr. Jonas Rice, a citizen
of South Worcester, who discovered limestone in the easterly part of the
town, upon what is now known as the Bullard farm. The number of
inhabitants at the time of its incorporation is not known, but judging by the
number of signers of the petition for incorporation (only twenty-five), it must
have been quite small.
The first census of the town was taken in 1765, twenty-four years after
its formation, which showed seventy-five families with 495 persons. In 1773,
there were 520 persons; and each census taken since that time shows a
gradual increase in population. In 1840, there were 1, 874; in 1860, 1,945; in
1870, 2,082; and in 1875, 2,180. A similar increase is shown in the valuation
of real and personal property.
In the early records of the town, there are constant references to
military affairs. The citizens were often called to practical exhibitions of their
patriotism and bravery in their country's service. Thus, three years after the
incorporation of the town, May 4, 1744, it voted the sum of £30 to provide
powder, bullets and flints for town stock. That the wars among the nations of
Europe affected the welfare of the American Colonies, is made painfully
evident as we examine their early history. That the people of Holden were not
exempt, and that they showed the same spirit that characterized the early
settlers of New England, is shown by papers deposited in our State archives,
where we find the names of twenty-one men who served in the French and
Indian war. And there can be no doubt that many more soldiers from Holden,
whose names are not found on the muster-rolls, were really engaged in that
war, as no pains were taken to preserve the muster-rolls of that time.
The same spirit of devotion to country has ever since been cherished.
At the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, as the notes of alarm sounded
over these hills and valleys, this town furnished a company of seventy men,
ready to leave their homes at the first call, and this at a time when the
population was only 750 souls. Twenty-five men enlisted in the regular
Continental army, under the immediate command of Washington, for three
years or during the war. Wherever troubles existed or dangers threatened,
thither marched soldiers from Holden. During the year, 1777, this town paid
from its treasury £763 0s. 12 d. to discharge its liabilities which had been
incurred to enlist soldiers. So far as is known, Thomas Heard, who fell near
Saratoga, N. Y., was the only person killed in actual service. Capt. George
Webb was the only commissioned officer in the Continental service from
Holden. He was noted as a brave, fearless, high-spirited officer. Did some
space permit, it would be interesting to trace the history of each soldier who
went from Holden to the fields of battle in Rhode Island, New York, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Two soldiers, Moses Wheeler and
Jeremiah Fuller, after intense suffering from cold and hunger, died at Valley
When eighty years had passed away, and, with the years, the noble
men and women of the Revolutionary times, then was found in their children
the same love of liberty and right that characterized them; and we find the
following recorded in Schouler's "History of Massachusetts in the Civil War,"
under the name of our town;
"Population in 1860, 1,945; in 1865, 1,846. Valuation in 1860,
$796,813; in 1865, $853,695.
"The first legal town meeting to act upon matters connected with the
war was held on the 20th of April, 1861, at which fifteen hundred dollars were
appropriated 'for the benefit of the members of the Holden Rifle Company
and their families; the same to be expended under the direction of the
selectmen.' [This was a company in the three months' service, and left fort
the seat of war, April 18th, in the second regiment that went from
Massachusetts.] A town meeting was held July 19, which voted 'to extend the
hospitalities of the town to the members of the company on their return from
the war.' One hundred dollars were appropriated for the purpose."
As the whole town turned out when this company left for the seat of
war to bid them farewell and Godspeed, so likewise did they turn out to
welcome them home.
"Holden furnished two hundred and four (204) men for the war, which
was a surplus of four above the demands. Eleven were commissioned officers.
The whole amount of money appropriated and expended by the town on
account of the war, exclusive of State aid, was $7,963.38, and a large amount
was probably contributed by private subscription. The ladies of Holden on
Sunday, April 21, 1861, instead of going to church, met in the town hall, and
worked from nine o'clock until sundown for the members of the rifle company
which had just started for the seat of war; and, from that time until the close
of the Rebellion, they labored faithfully for the benefit of the soldiers, sending
their contributions chiefly through the Sanitary and Christian Commission."
Soon after the close of the war, the Soldiers' Monument Association
was formed, its object being to procure funds to secure some suitable
monument to commemorate the fallen soldiers. The funds increased from
year to year until 1876, when they amounted to about $1,100. The town hall
was extensively remodeled that year, and made into a memorial hall by
placing tablets in the interior, bearing the name and date of death of each
soldier who gave his life for his country in the late war. The four tablets are
of white marble, with which are chiseled several beautiful designs. These
tablets are placed at the end of the hall, on either side of the platform, and
upon them are the names of thirty soldiers who perished in the war.
Although they are
"Under the sod and the dew
Waiting the judgment day,"
Yet the memory of their sacrifice and noble deeds is ever fresh in the hearts
of their comrades and fellow-citizens, and from year to year their graves are
strewn with garlands of flowers. To narrate the deeds of valor performed, the
suffering in rebel prisons, on the march and on the battle-fields, would be
only to relate the history of soldiers who went from every town and hamlet in
the Old Bay State. The names inscribed upon the tablets are as follows: -
Capt. Ira J. Kelton, George T. Bigelow, Albert Creed, John Fearing, Edward
Clark, Charles Gibbs, James W. Goodnow, James W. Haley, Lyman E. Keyes,
George W. Newell, Michael Riley, John B. Savage, Amasa A. Howe, George T.
Johnson, John K. Houghton, William C. Perry, Levi Chamberlain, Frank
Lumazette, Uriah Bassett, Henry M. Fales, George Thurston, Calvin
Hubbard, Sergt. Harlan P. Moore, Winslow B. Rogers, Alfred S. Tucker,
Henry M. Holt, H. Erskine Black, Elisha C. Davenport, John Handley,
Horace L. Truesdell.
The soldiers returning from the war formed Theron E. Hall Post 77,
G.A. R. This post holds monthly meetings in the town hall.
Although ready to sacrifice their lives for liberty and right, the citizens
of Holden have not been of a quarrelsome disposition; for, had they been,
such a history of the churches as follows could never have been written. The
first meeting-house in Holden was erected prior to the incorporation of the
town, in 1737, on the spot now occupied by the house of Maj. Isaac Damon.
The building was fifty feet long, forty feet wide, and twenty-two feet between
the joints. The house was never painted; the windows were small and set
with diamond glass in leaden sashes. March 26, 1741, the inhabitants
assembled in town meeting for the choice of officers; and two weeks later
another meeting was called to transact other town business. Six votes are
recorded as having been passed on this occasion. The first vote passed is
certainly worthy of mention: "Voted, to have the gospel preached in town;"
and the two following votes relate to the same subject. The town by
unanimous vote, July 19, 1742 invited the Rev. Joseph Davis to enter upon
the gospel ministry in town. A salary of £180 (old tenor, $154.33) was voted to
be annually paid to him, and a sum of £400 (old tenor, $343) as a settlement
The exercises of Mr. Davis's ordination were had Dec. 22, 1742, and his
connection with the church continued until January, 1773, when he was
dismissed at his own request, having served a pastorate of over thirty years.
Although a meeting-house was built in 1737, no church was formed
until the day that Mr. Davis was settled as pastor, at which time a church
was regularly organized, consisting of fourteen members, all of whom were
males. What the character of the preaching in those times was, may be
learned by the records in the proprietors' books: Dec. 29, 1736. Voted, That
provision be made for supporting an orthodox minister to preach the gospel in
the North Half for three years next to come."
After the dismissal of Mr. Davis, the church was nearly two years
without a pastor. Dec. 21, 1774, Mr. Joseph Avery, having received a call
from the church and town, was ordained as his successor. His annual salary
was fixed at £66 13s. 4d. ($222.22), and the sum of £133 6s. 8d. ($444.44) was
voted as a settlement donation. The first house of worship showing signs of
decay, it was voted, Dec. 10, 1787, to build a new house, which was erected in
1789. This house was extensively remodeled in 1827-8. An acre of land on
which this house stands was given to the town for a public common in 1789
by Hon. John Hancock. In this place, a few words may well be said for Mr.
Avery, who for so many years participated in the joys and sorrows of the
people of this town. He was a son of William Avery, South Parish, Dedham,
and was born Oct. 14, 1751. He entered Cambridge University when in his
sixteenth year, graduated with honor in 1771. In 1777, he was married to a
niece of Samuel Adams. His custom was to write his sermons, and during his
labors here, he wrote more than twenty-three hundred. He held the office of
sole pastor till Oct. 22, 1823, and that of senior pastor until his death, March
5, 1824, at the age of seventy-two years. Rev. Horatio Bardwell was installed
junior pastor, Oct. 22, 1823, and was dismissed on the day of the ordination
of Rev. William P. Paine, Oct. 24, 1833. Mr. Paine began his labors in Holden
at a time when the temperance question was much agitated, and the contest
was sharp. With what wisdom and skill he directed the ship of the church
through those troublous times can be judged by his long-continued service.
Many pages might be well devoted to the history of this good man. Mr. Paine
was born at Ashfield, Aug. 1, 1802; entered Amherst College in 1823;
graduated at Andover Theological Seminary in 1832; was settled in Holden,
Oct. 24, 1833, and was married in the following June to Miss Sarah M. Mack
of Plainfield, Mass. She was a noble Christian woman, in every way fitted to
be the wife of such a man; loved and respected by all, both old and young; a
woman who sympathized with and consoled those in sorrow and trouble,
rejoiced with the glad and happy, and the rare faculty of adapting herself to
the needs of all classes and conditions of the people, ever making those
around her happier and better. After many years of usefulness, she was
called to her reward, Oct. 3, 1868, at the age of fifty-nine years. Mr. Paine
was a man of rare qualities, one who ever kept abreast with the times,
always progressive, always interested in whatever related to the welfare of
his people, and ever endeavoring to guide them in the best paths. Soon after
his settlement in town, he was chosen chairman of the school committee, and
for over thirty-four years occupied that position. He aided much in promoting
the prosperity of the schools, both common and select. During his pastorate,
there were received into his church 462 members; he officiated at 348
weddings, attended more than 1,000 funerals, and preached more than 4,000
sermons. During his pastorate, at least eleven of the sons of Holden received
a college education (as several others had previously done), seven became
ministers of the gospel, and seven young women married ministers.* As Mr.
Paine was so long connected with the schools, he became acquainted with
nearly every child in town, and, with his genial, pleasant manners, won the
love of all the young, and seemed as a father to the generation which grew up
after he came among his people. After forty-two years, when his physical
condition would no longer permit him to labor, he asked to be released from
his position as pastor.
Among a series of resolution, passed at a meeting of the society, held
April 6, 18775, to take action in regard to his resignation, we find the
"Resolved, That in view of the circumstances under which this resignation has been
offered, it be accepted, so far as to release our Pastor from all care and responsibility, and the
Parish from all financial obligations, and that he remain Pastor Emeritus."
Thus he remained pastor until he rested from his labors, Nov. 28,
1876. Upon a plain marble shaft in Grove Cemetery is this simple inscription:
REV. WILLIAM P. PAINE, D. D.,
BORN AUG. 1ST, 1802,
DIED NOV. 28TH , 1876
At the close of Mr. Paine's ministry, during the one hundred and
thirty-three years of the history of the church, only four pastors had occupied
its desk. Since the death of Mr. Paine this church has had no settled pastor;
but the pulpit was occupied from May, 1875, until January, 1887, by Rev.
William A. Lamb, and from April 1, 1877 to the present time (1879) by Rev.
H. M. Rogers.
The fortieth anniversary of Mr. Paine's settlement was appropriately
observed Oct. 24, 1873; all former members of the church, parish or
congregation, or residents of the town, were invited to be present, and the old
church was filled to overflowing with friends of the pastor. The ceremonies
were deeply interesting, and will long be remembered by those present. The
meeting-house, which was built in 1789 and remodeled in 1827-28, was again
extensively improved in 1874, at a cost of $6,428.32, making it one of the
pleasantest and most convenient churches to be found in any country town of
Massachusetts. The house was re-dedicated with appropriate exercises, Dec.
30, 1874. The old bell which had so often summoned the people to worship
became cracked, and was replaced by a new one in 1876.
The records of the Baptist society commence June 4, 1804. This society,
being regarded as a branch of the Baptist church of Templeton, Rev. Elisha
Andrews, pastor of the Templeton Baptist church, preached once in four or
five weeks for several years, before the church was organized in Holden. This
branch became a distinct church Dec. 31, 1807, with forty-seven members, by
the name of the Baptist church of Holden. Although the church was formed in
1807, not until 1820 was there any Baptist meeting-house in town. Previous
to 1813 Rev. Thomas Marshall and Rev. Mr. Andrews preached to this people
from time to time. Rev. Thomas Marshall was ordained Sept. 15, 1813, and
preached until 1818, when Rev. John Walker was recognized as the pastor of
the church, which relation continued until April 1, 1831. Since 1831 the
following ministers of the gospel have occupied the pulpit of the Baptist
church: Rev. Appleton Belknap, from June 13, 1832 to Oct. 27, 1833; Rev.
George Waters, from Sept. 25, 1834, to March 31. 1838; Rev. Samuel Everett,
from Aug. 9, 1838, to April 19, 1839; Rev. Andrew Pollard, from Aug. 12,
1840, to March, 1843; Rev. Woodman H. Watson, from June 21, 1843, to April
Rev. J. H. Tilton, installed Nov. 17, 1847, after a successful pastorate
of five years, resigned Sept. 1, 1852. During his pastorate a parsonage was
built, and extensive repairs upon the church were made.
Rev. Andrew Dunn occupied the pulpit for about a year, from Jan. 23,
1853; Rev. T. C. Tingley from June, 1854, to Jan. 5, 1857; Rev. J. H. Tilton
(second pastorate), from March, 1857, to April 3, 1859; Rev. Lester Williams
was called to the pastorate in July, 1859, and held that relation until his
appointment to a chaplaincy in the army in 1865; Rev. John S. Haraden, from
April 3, 1865, to Sept. 1, 1868; Rev. George W. Kenney, from Feb. 5, 1869, to
July 1, 1871; Rev. John Rounds was pastor for two years from July 1, 1872, to
July 1, 1874. During his ministry the church was remodeled and refurbished,
and a new organ procured at an expense of $3,700. Rev. John K. Chase,
installed Nov. 1, 1874, resigned April 30, 1879. During his stay a bell and
clock, the latter being a gift of J. W. Howe, Esq., of Worcester, were placed in
the tower of the church, and an indebtedness of $2,000 was also canceled.
The First Congregational and the Baptist were the only churches in
Holden until 1868, when the Catholic church was built at a cost of $3,500,
and was dedicated Aug, 16, 1868. Rev. Father Thomas Griffin of Worcester
was very active in procuring means for the building of this house, and it was
mainly through his efforts that it was accomplished. In 1876 a vestry was
added to the church, and the main building was enlarged to its present
dimensions, thirty-five feet by eighty feet, with a seating capacity of about
five hundred; the entire cost of the building being about $7,000. Rev. Father
Welsh of Worcester now officiates.
When the citizens of Holden were legally incorporated as a town the
worship of God was
"First in their noble thoughts and plans,
Then the strong training of their youth,"
And the fourth vote passed after the choice of officers was "to have a writing
and reading school," and a tax was levied to raise £50 for the support of
preaching and schooling. This vote passed May 19, 1741. A century passed,
and in town meeting March 15, 1841, it was "Voted, to raise $800 for schools
the ensuing year." "Voted, that it be divided with all other funds from town of
State, as last year, by the selectmen and assessors." Each year intervening
between 1741 and 1841 witnessed a similar vote, and it would appear that it
became an established method of procedure to do as last year respecting
schools, except that the amount raised for schools gradually increased with
the population. There is a school fund of about $3,400, the avails of public
lands granted to the town by original proprietors, the interest of which ($202
annually) is appropriated to the schools. The town now supports twelve
schools for thirty weeks a year, at a cost, including funds from State and
other sources, of about $3,500 annually. There are 520 children between the
ages of five and fifteen years. While the schools in some parts of the town
have increased in number of scholars, others have diminished, until but four
or five children of school age can be found in some districts, where, thirty
years ago, were from fifty to sixty scholars. School-houses have been built
from time to time, as they were required, to take the place of those decayed,
or to accommodate the increasing number of scholars. The last school-house,
erected in 1878, was built in the neighborhood of the Bullard farm, where,
tradition reports, the first school-house in town was built, more than one
hundred and twenty years ago.
The history of manufactures of Holden may easily be traced if we take
each village separately. Unionville Factory, situated one and a half miles east
from the centre of town, was the first built. In 1800 Messrs. Eleazer Rider &
Son commenced spinning cotton-yarn at this place. These gentlemen were
among the first, if not the first, manufacturers of cotton yarn in Worcester
County. In 1822 weaving by power-looms commenced, and John Lees, the
owner of the mill at the time, manufactured cotton cloth. The factory is now
owned by Mr. C. L. Truchon, who employs twenty-seven hands, runs fifteen
hundred spindles, and uses 130,000 pounds of cotton annually in the
manufacture of cotton yarns. The factory and village remain much the same
as forty years ago.
One mile north from the centre of the town is Eagleville Factory,
owned by Milton S. Morse, and run by Mr. Gates Chapman, agent. In 1831
Mr. Samuel Clark purchased the saw and grist mills then standing, of Mr.
Caleb Kendall, and erected a small factory the same year. The mill was
burned in 1834, and was rebuilt in 1835, and has been enlarged from time to
time till it has reached its present dimensions. In 1840 it contained sixteen
hundred spindles and forty looms, and manufactured 275,000 yards of
sheeting annually. It now contains five thousand spindles, employs seventytwo
hands, uses four hundred and seventy bales of cotton, and manufactures
1,250,000 yards of prints and light sheeting yearly; which is two hundred
thousand yards more than all the mills in town manufactured in 1840. In this
village is found a hotel, store, and livery-stable.
About half a mile north of Eagleville lies the pleasant village of
Jeffersonville, formerly known as Drydenville. In 1825, a small factory,
containing one hundred and eighty spindles and eight looms, was built by
Morse, and then bought by Mr. John Jephardson, and used for the
manufacture of satinet. About the same time another factory was built by
Col. Artemas Dryden, which contained three hundred spindles and eight
looms. Previous to 1830, Col. Dryden manufactured woolen-carding machines
in this place. These mills have either been removed or greatly enlarged, until
now there are two fine mills owned by Messrs. Howe & Jefferson, who furnish
employment for over one hundred and fifty hands in the manufacture of fancy
cassimeres and heavy beavers. Mill No. 1, which was formerly the cottonmill,
contains three sets of machinery and makes heavy beavers; while mill
No. 2 contains four sets of machinery in the manufacture of fancy cassimeres.
Over five hundred thousand yards of cloth are made annually at these mills.
Jeffersonville is well situated, near the railroad; is always well kept; contains
a post-office, store and provisions market. The store alluded to was built in
1874-5, and has been occupied since May, 1875 by Mr. Gustavs Holden, who
began with a business of about $15,000 per year, which has increased to
$40,000 per annum.
On the North Quinnepoxet River, three miles from the centre of
Holden, is situated North Woods factory and village. It was built by B. T.
Southgate, for the manufacture of woolen goods, but was changed to cottons
by William Buffam, in 1827. In 1840, it contained fourteen hundred spindles
and forty looms; and turned out about two hundred and fifty thousand yards
of shirting yearly. It is now owned by the West Boylston Manufacturing
Company, contains twenty-four hundred spindles, seventy-four looms,
employs thirty-five hands, and manufactures nearly 1,000,000 yards of prints
The factory in Quinepoxetville was built by S. Damon, Esq., during the
summer of 1831. In 1840, it contained fourteen hundred spindles and forty
looms; and manufactured two hundred and fifty thousand yards of sheeting
per year. May 28, 1869, this mill was destroyed by fire; but was soon replaced
by the present fine three-story brick building. The present owner Mr. Cyrus
G. Woods of Uxbridge has made improvements in and about the factory,
and made the village much more attractive than formerly. Mr. Woods
employs sixty-five hands, runs five sets of machinery and manufactures five
hundred and ten thousand yards of different grades of satinets annually.
Lovellville factory is situated on the South Quinnepoxet, about half a
mile from Quinnepoxetville, and just above the junction of the two branches
of the Quinnepoxet River. Dea. John Lovell ran this mill for many years,
manufacturing cotton-batting and candle-wicking. Afterwards he ran a
carding-machine for custom work. This mill has often changed owners during
the last twenty years, and is now in the possession of Lovell Woolen
Company, and is run by Messrs. Klebart & Findeise, who manufacture fancy
union cassimeres to the amount of two hundred and seventy thousand yards
per year. The mill contains three sets of machinery and furnishes
employment for seventy-five or eighty hands.
A mile and a half south-east from the centre of the town, on a small
stream, is Moss Brook Mill. The mill was built by Mr. Wood, and used in the
making of shingles. After passing through many hands and being used for the
manufacture of various articles, it came into the hands of the present owner,
Mr. Charles Dawson, in 1869. Mr. Dawson has expended considerable money
in enlarging the mill, putting in an engine, erecting new buildings and
tenement houses, and improving the place, until it has become the pleasant
little village of to-day. This mill contains three sets of machinery, furnishing
employment for forty-two hands and manufactures three hundred and fotty
thousand yards of satinets yearly.
At Chaffinville is a grist-mill and a one-set mill, built about sixty years
ago, which employs nine hands and turns out about fifty thousand yards
One of the most attractive mills in Holden Spring Dale Mill was
built in 187576, by Mr. L. J. Smith of West Boylston. It is situated on the
Quinnepoxet River, a short distance from the West Boylston line. It is built of
granite quarried near the mill, contains three sets of machinery, and
manufactures about two hundred and fifty thousand yards of fancy
cassimeres annually, furnishing employment for thirty-five hands.
The total amount of cloth of the various kinds manufactured in
Holden, is about 4,170,000 yards annually, which is an increase of fourfold
within the last forty years. Over five hundred persons are furnished with
employment in the mills.
Besides those described there are in town two grist-mills, three sawmills
and two shoddy-mills.
Before any portion of the township had become the private property of
individuals, while it was still a part of Worcester, to facilitate settlements the
proprietors appointed a committee to lay out four public roads, six rods wide,
from the centre of North Worcester (now Holden), in such ways as would be
most serviceable to said "Half Part" and the adjoining towns. These roads
were laid out, and from that time roads have multiplied until there are now
about one hundred and twelve miles of highways within its limits.
Until 1872, there was no railroad passing through the town when the
Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad began operations. On this railroad is a
depot near the centre of Holden, and another at Jeffersonville; also three
"flag-stations." When the project of a new railroad was presented to the
citizens of the town, and the many advantages to be derived from it set forth,
the people became enthusiastic, and, with their usual liberality, voted in
town meeting to take $44.8000 of stock, or five per cent, of the valuation of
the town, besides much stock that was taken by private individuals. Previous
to the building of the railroad, public conveyance between Holden and
Worcester, and Rutland, Hubbardston and Barre, was the stage-coach, which
ran daily and carried the United States mail.
The effects of the great earthquake which occurred Nov. 15, 1755, the
shock of which was felt in various parts of North America, are still visible in
the easterly part of this town.
In June, 1871, a tornado passed through the town, completely
demolishing several buildings, unroofing others, throwing down chimneys,
uprooting trees, and spreading destruction in its path. A little west of the
centre of the town, where it passed through a piece of heavy timber, not a
tree was left standing in its path. No lives were lost.
Previous to the year 1837, town meetings and other public meetings
were held in the Congregational church. During the year 1837, a town hall,
sixty by thirty-eight feet, including the piazza, was built at a cost of
$3,869.58. This building was repaired, from time to time, until 1876, when it
was enlarged and generally remodeled. This was done at an expense of
$4,292.42, making it one of the pleasantest halls to be found in a country
town. The main room was made into a memorial hall, as stated elsewhere.
One room in the building was fitted up for the library of the Holden Library
Association, an active organization, formed in 1876. This association has a
small library which is well patronized.
Many clubs and associations have been formed in town, and, after
serving the purpose for which they were intended, have become extinct. The
oldest association now existing, except for the churches, is the Thief-
Detecting Society, which formed Feb. 23, 1818. For several years this society
has held but one meeting each year, and is has probably outlived its day of
The Holden Farmers' and Mechanics' Club was formed about twenty
years ago. The club holds semi-monthly meetings during the winter months,
for discussions and literary entertainments. In the autumn it usually has an
agricultural fair. The Grangers also have an organization.
Of the many men and women who have gone out from Holden to other
fields of labor, we will mention only a few. Dea. Isaac Fisk, son of Nahum
Fisk, born in 1790, married the daughter of Ethan Davis, Esq., and went as
lay-missionary to the Choctaw Indians, in 1819.
Miss Abigail P. Davis, granddaughter of the first minister of Holden,
married the Rev. William Goodell, a graduate of Dartmouth College, and
went as missionary, under the patronage of the A. B. C. F. M., to Beyroot, in
1822; afterwards they were removed to Malta, and from thence to
Miss Hannah Davis, daughter of Ethan Davis, Esq., born Feb. 26,
1805, married Rev. Aldeu Grout, and, in 1834, went to labor among the Zulu
in South Africa. Mrs. Grout lived but about a year after her arrival in Africa.
Mr. Grout returned to this country on account of wars among the Zulus, and
married Miss Charlotte Bailey daughter of James Bailey of Holden. They
returned to their field of labor in South Africa, in 1840.
Mr. Edward Bailey, son of James Bailey, married Caroline Hubbard,
daughter of Jonas Hubbard, all of Holden. They embarked at Boston for the
Sandwich Islands, Dec. 14, 1836, where for many years they engaged in
missionary labor. They still reside on the island of Maui, where his sons
control a large sugar plantation.
Miss Myra Fairbanks, daughter of Dea. Joshua Fairbanks, married
Rev. Cushing Eells, a native of Blanford, Mass., and engaged in missionary
labor among the Flathead Indians, living west of the Rocky Mountains, in
Mrs. Goddard, daughter of Mr. Asa Abbott, went as missionary to
China, under the patronage of the American Baptist Board of Missions.
Rev/ Samuel C. Damon, son of Col. Samuel Damon, was born in
Holden, Feb. 15, 1815. When the one hundredth anniversary of the
incorporation of Holden occurred, Mr. Damon delivered the address, and
afterwards wrote the "History of Holden," which was published in 1841; and
it is from this interesting volume that nearly all the foregoing facts relating
to the town during its first hundred years of existence are taken. He was
ordained to the ministry, Sept. 15, 1841, and sailed for Honolulu, Feb. 15,
1842, under the auspices of the Seaman's Friend Society, where he has
remained as seaman's chaplain. He has also been for many years editor of a
paper published at Honolulu.
Miss Isabel Davis, daughter of Jones Davis, married James F. Clark,
and went as missionary to Turkey, where they are now laboring.
Many others whose names and histories must remain for a more
complete work are equally worthy of mention, who have gone to almost
every State in the Union and all countries, to settle in new fields of labor.