Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Price Chopper Donating Fort Mass Park to North Adams



Neil Golub, Price Chopper/Market 32's executive chairman, said in a statement he was committed to ensuring the conveyance of the 1/3 acre to the city following the announcement to close the State Road market last year. 

"I am so pleased to make this gift to the City of North Adams, knowing that its Historic Commission is dedicated to working with local preservationists to maintain the site on which Fort Massachusetts once stood," said Golub.

More HERE.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Origin of Our Community

Here is the speech delivered at the Commemoration of the 270th Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Massachusetts––on August 20, 2016, at Indian Ledge in North Adams, Massachusetts––by Craig Chicoine, president of the Friends of Fort Massachusetts.




The Origin of Our Community
by C.A. Chicoine

Halfway between Williamstown and North Adams, there lies hidden and long forgotten, a vague marker on a small boulder, at the back end of a nearly vacant parking lot, commemorating Fort Massachusetts and its defenders. There is nothing there telling us what war this fort was built for. And nothing telling us what had actually taken place on this site––only that there must have been some conflict between the fort's inhabitants and, presumably, their enemy: a “scene of their struggle in the wilderness,” as the plaque indicates. But nowhere does it tell us what that struggle was.

To the left of this commemorative boulder there is a fireplace and chimney. It is what remains from the replica fort that was built there in the 1930's, by the Fort Massachusetts Historical Society. On what would be the outside of it, there is a small sign that reads, “Fort Massachusetts 1745”––shedding some light on the fort's construction date.

What the boulder's plaque commemorates is the siege that took place there during the French and Indian Wars––why we are gathered here today, in observance of the thirty brave individuals' trials and tribulations.

Every historical site has an important story to tell. The story of Fort Massachusetts is a compelling, suspenseful, and inspiring story. It speaks of hope and courage, and maintaining one's integrity in the face of adversity. It's a story of life and death and the human spirit. It is a story worth hearing.

There was much more to Fort Massachusetts than the Siege of 1746. There were ambushes, and one more attack where they successfully defended the fort and succeeded in driving off the enemy. The first English settlers in this area were the soldiers and their families, helping to clear the way for further European settlement into this region. In fact, in the spring of 1746, one of the soldiers, John Perry––a carpenter by trade, who helped construct this and other nearby forts––picked himself out a plot of land just down the road from here, in the eastern portion of Blackinton, and built a house on it for he and his wife. After the siege, it was pillaged and burned to the ground along with the fort. Some of the original proprietors of the entire township of West Hoosac––now Williamstown––were soldiers of the fort. God's Acre–the burial ground for the soldiers and their families who died while stationed there at Fort Massachusetts––was the first cemetery in the northern Berkshires.

Although it had been brought up in the early eighteen hundreds, it wasn't until 1859 that the site was properly acknowledged with the planting of a memorial tree, an elm tree, by Professor Arthur Perry of Williams College––aptly referred to as Perry's Elm. It was planted in what was the middle of the parade-ground within the original fort. In 1897, a flagstaff was raised nearby. And then, in 1933, a replica fort was built, housing the first local history museum in the area. And, in 1976, the Fort Massachusetts Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution set a boulder on the site with a bronze tablet commemorating the fort and its defenders.

Gradually, the site fell into ruin. Until, in the spring of 2012, a group of Price Chopper employees took it upon themselves to reclaim and rescue this historic site from what seemed like decades worth of trash and foliage overgrowth. They trail-blazed the way for us, the Friends of Fort Massachusetts, to carry on their endeavor, to preserve the site as a park. 

With the closing of the former Price Chopper in February of 2016, there had been some concern as to fate of the site. That is where the Friends of Fort Massachusetts come in. Our vision is to preserve the site of Fort Massachusetts as a public park––the Fort Massachusetts Memorial Park.

We must strive to preserve our historic sites, for they are some of our most tangible, authentic links to our past. There is no other historic site in the northern Berkshires more worthy of preservation than that of the site of Fort Massachusetts––the origin of our community. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On This Day -- Captivity Smead was born.



On this day, August 21, 1746, Captivity Smead was born.

Captivity was the daughter of John Smead Sr. and Mary (Allis) Smead. They, along with their older sons, John Mead Jr., and Daniel, and their younger children, Elihu, Simon, and Mary, were taken captive at Fort Massachusetts, Aug. 20, 1746. The father, John Smead, and his sons Daniel, and John Smead, Jr., were paid soldiers. The mother, Mary, and three young children were in the fort in a position of dependence. 

While on their march to Canada, on the second night of their captivity, Aug. 21st, Mrs. Smead gave birth to a daughter, who was named Captivity, and was baptized by the Rev. John Norton on the following day.

In the Reverend John Norton's book, "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking andCarrying Into Captivity", he wrote the following of that day;
A little before sunset we arrived at Van Der Verick's place, where we found some of the army, who had arrived before us, but most of them were still behind; and I had the comfort of seeing the greatest part of the prisoners come up: God having wonderfully strengthened many who were weak; the French carrying the women. There were some few that tarried behind about two miles, where Mrs. Smead was taken in travail: And some of the French made a seat for her to sit upon, and brought her to the camp, where about ten o'clock, she was graciously delivered of a daughter, and was remarkably well. The child also was well. But this night Josiah Read, being very ill, either died of his illness, or else was killed by the enemy; which, I could never certainly know, but I fear he was murdered.

And on the following day, he wrote;
Friday, 22nd This morning I baptized John Smead's child, he called its name Captivity. The French then made a frame like a bier, and laid a buck skin and bear skin upon it, and laid Mrs. Smead, with her infant, thereon ; and 80 two men at a time carried them. They also carried Moses Scott's wife and two children, and another of Smead's children. The Indians also carried in their canoes, Benjamin Simonds and John Aldrich and Perry's wife, down the river about ten miles.

While imprisoned at at Crown Point, the captives were housed in tents. The weather, however, proved to be unbearable.
Friday August 29th This morning Smead's and Scott's families were brought out of their tents into the house, that they might be more comfortable. It rained and was very cold all the day, and at night the wind was very high.

Captivity Smead, was now just one week old, and the mother had with her three other children, all young; and Mrs. Moses Scott had two young children also; no wonder these were taken out of their tents into the house, that they might be more comfortable. The south and east winds have a fair sweep over northeast point, where the windmill was and the lighthouse is, and the cry of a new-born child appeals to the humanity of man always and everywhere.


John, Jr., died a captive in Quebec the next April. 
He was taken with me at Fort Massachusetts. He was seized with the distemper in October last, and was bad for a time, and then recovered in some good measure, and after a little time relapsed, and as he did several times, till at last he fell into a consumption, of which he died. 

Daniel died also at Quebec a little more than a month later than his brother.
Died Daniel Smead, a young man. He was taken with me, and was son to John Smead. He was first taken sick in November, and by frequent relapses was worn out, and fell into a purging, by which he wasted away and died.

Mrs. Mary Smead died March 29, 1747, after an illness of eight weeks. 

Captivity died on May 17, 1747, aged nine months. 

The father, John Smead Sr., returned home from his captivity, along with his surviving children, Elihu, Simon, and Mary, on  Aug. 31, 1747. But about six weeks after his return, he was traveling from Northfield to Sunderland, when he was killed by an ambush of Indians, and scalped. 

Mary Smead was brought up by the family of Reverend Timothy Woodbridge of Hadley. She married Aaron Willard of Charlestown, NH, formerly known as Fort #4.

The fate of Elihu and Simon Smead are unknown to this writer at this time.

Below is a poem written in the Hoosac Valley News––through the generous cooperation of its proprietor, Edward A. McMillin––as a means to help raise money for the Fort Massachusetts Historical Society in an effort to purchase the site of Fort Massachusetts. The issue, which comprised of twenty-four pages, containing articles, stories, and other poems, of which five thousand copies were printed, was published on November 23, 1895.  


Captivity
by Annie W. McMillin

Fort Massachusetts! At the name
Rise pictures set in emerald frame.
A valley in a golden sheen
Of August sun, with mountains green,
With humane thought and willing hand,
On every side that guard it well,
Each peak a lofty sentinel.

A stream that thro’ the valley flows,
And many a graceful winding knows,
And the rude fort made firm and strong
By arts to which the time belong
—Nor does imagination fail
To find the hidden Mohawk Trail.

No peace did that green valley know
That August day so long ago.
In fancy the war-whoop I hear
That blanched the manliest cheek with fear,
See the unequal strife begun,
And the glorious victory won.

I see the lillied flag of France
Borne high amid a savage dance,
I see the blazing torch applied
And through the fort the flames spread wide.
And then, with moistened eyes, I see
A little captive company.

Now God be praised that here should be
No sight of barbarous cruelty,
No agony of black despair,
But hearts sustained by fervent prayer.
Full patiently the path they trod,
And their mercies still thanked God.

With humane thought and willing hand,
A litter rude the captors planned,
So bore the woman who that day
Must else have fainted on the way.
Strange in this wilderness to see
This touch of fine French chivalry.

But when they came on weary feet
Near where the Hoosac rivers meet,
A new life fluttered down to earth,
For here a little child had birth,
And new care on that hour of need,
Came on to John and Mary Smead.

But they were brave—they looked above--
And welcomed her with tenderest love--
Turned to their chaplain and thanked Heaven
That Christian baptism could be given,
Crushed down their longing to be free,
And named their child “Captivity.”

Well for that mother that there lies
A heaven in a baby’s eyes,
Well for that child that she could rest
So sweetly on a mother’s breast,
For days were hard and full of fear
And Canada was cold and drear.

For nine dark months did Mary Smead
The hard life of a captive lead.
Then twice the faithful chaplain said
The simple service o’er the dead,
Rose a new dawn celestial—free,
For her and for Captivity.

O Country dear! O Promised Land
Where Faith and Hope unchallenged stand,
Made rich not only by the flood
Poured over thee of heroes’ blood,
But often in these earliest years
By precious drops of mothers’ tears!

O never tender little child
On thy stern struggle looked and smiled,
And then went back to grow in grace
Before the Heavenly Father’s face,
But sent an added blessing down
Thy strife for liberty to crown.

And as we keep, as is but right,
Fort Massachusetts’ sunny site,
And honor, through the coming years,
All these—our history’s pioneers,
Sometimes in tender thought will we
Remember sweet Captivity.








Sources:
  • "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking and Carrying Into Captivity," by the Reverend Mr. John Norton -- Published 1870 (Originally published in 1748)
  • "Origins in Williamstown," by Arthur Latham Perry -- Published 1894
  • Willard Genealogy, Sequel to Willard Memorial Materials Gathered Chiefly by Joseph Willard and Charles Wilkes Walker. Edited and completed by Charles Henry Pope. Printed for the Willard Family Association, Boston, Mass., 1915

Saturday, August 20, 2016

On This Day -- The Siege of Fort Massachusetts: Day Two


On this day, August 20, 1746, the attack made on Fort Massachusetts the previous morning continued. At dawn, the army of 440 French soldiers and 300 of their Indian allies resumed shooting. And the fort of twenty-two soldiers continued their defense. 

We are fortunate to possess, from the pen of an eye-witness and active participant, a detailed account of the siege and capture of Fort Massachusetts, and of the captivity that followed it. The ensuing events were strikingly narrated by the Reverend John Norton, in his book, "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking and Carrying Into Captivity."

The Reverend Norton wrote of this day:

Wednesday 20. — As soon as it began to be light, the enemy shouted, and began to fire upon for a few minutes, and then ceased for a little time. The Sergeant ordered every man to his place, and sent two men up into the watch-box. The enemy came into the field of corn to the south and southeast of the fort, and fought against that side of the fort harder than they did the day before; but unto the northwest side they did not approach so near as they had the first day, yet they kept a continual fire on that side. A number went up also into the mountain north of the fort, where they could shoot over the north side of the fort into the middle of the parade. A considerable number of the enemy also kept their axes and hatchets continually at work, preparing faggots, and their stubbing hoes and spades, etc., in order to burn the fort. About eleven o'clock, Thomas Knowlton, one of our men, being in the watch-box, was shot through the head, so that some of his brains came out, yet life remained in him for some hours.
Knowlton was the only one of the defenders of the fort who was killed outright during the siege. That the body was not removed from the watch-box and buried, before the surrender of the fort and the consequent mutilation of the remains by the savages and the semi-savage Frenchmen, was owing to the appearance of life still remaining in him till the catastrophe occurred.

John Hawks would later write in his journal;
That night they surrounded the fort & kept a shout, Indians & singers & all sorts of noises, until the morning & then as soon as that daylight they renewed their attack, which continued until 12 o'clock, then an Indian called to us & told us that the General had a mind to talk with us. . . . Having but eight well men in the fort, I told the Indian that we would parley.
We continue now with Norton's narrative.
About twelve o'clock the enemy desired to parley. We agreed to it, and when we came to General Vaudreuil, he promised us good quarter if we would surrender; otherwise, he should endeavor to take us by force. The Sergeant told him he should have an answer within two hours. We came into the fort and examined the state of it. The whole of our ammunition we did not judge to be above three or four pounds of powder and not more lead; and, after prayers unto God for wisdom and direction, we considered our case, whether there was any probability of our being able to withstand the enemy, for we supposed that they would not leave us till they had made a vigorous attempt upon us, and, if they did, we knew our ammunition would be spent in a few minutes' time, and then we should be obliged to lay at their mercy. Had we all been in health, or had there been only those eight of us that were in health, I believe every man would willingly have stood it out to the last. For my part I should; but we heard that if we were taken by violence the sick, the wounded, and the women would most, if not all of them, die by the hands of the savages; therefore our officer concluded to surrender on the best terms he
could get, which were — 
I. That we should be all prisoners to the French; the General promising
that the savages should have nothing to do with any of us.
II. That the children should all live with their parents during the time of
their captivity.
III. That we should all have the privileges of being exchanged the first
opportunity that presented. 
Besides these particulars, the General promised that all the prisoners should have all Christian care and charity exercised towards them; that those who were weak and unable to travel should be carried in their journey; that we should all be allowed to keep our clothing; and that we might leave a few lines to inform our friends what was become of us.
In accordance with this last permission, Norton wrote a letter the next day, though he dated it Aug. 20, 1746, and nailed it on the west post of the well-sweep, the fort having been burned in the meantime by Vaudreuil's orders. Norton does not anywhere give the text of the letter, for the reason doubtless that he kept no copy of it; but it was found a few days afterward and carried to Deerfield, and it ran as follows : —
These are to inform you that yesterday, about nine of the clock, we were besieged by, as they say, seven hundred French and Indians. They have wounded two men and killed one Knowlton. The General De Vaudreuil desired capitulations, and we were so distressed that we complied with his terms. We are the French's prisoners, and have it under the General's hand, that every man, woman, and child shall be exchanged for French prisoners.
The good Chaplain is careful in this letter to give his authority for the statement that the besieging army consisted of "seven hundred": "as they say," that is, the French officers; his own opinion, given much later, after he had marched to Canada in company with this army was, that there were eight or nine hundred; however, documented evidence have been gathered from the contemporary French documents for believing that this was an underestimate. When the French officers saw the poverty of the fort and the paucity of its defenders, and realized that they had been held at bay for thirty hours, it was naturally enough their care to belittle their own force.
About three of the clock we admitted the General and a number of his officers into the fort. Upon which he set up his standard. The gate was not opened to the rest. The gentlemen spake comfortably to our people; and on our petition that the dead corpse might not be abused, but buried, they said that it should be buried. But the Indians, seeing that they were shut out, soon fell to pulling out the underpinning of the fort, and crept into it and opened the gates, so that the parade was quickly full. They shouted as soon as they saw the blood of the dead corpse under the watch-box; but the French kept them down for some time and did not suffer them to meddle with it. After some time the Indians seemed to be in a ruffle; and presently rushed up into the watch-box, brought down the dead corpse, carried it out of the fort, scalped it, and cut off the head and arms. A young French cut off one of the arms and flayed it, roasted the flesh, and offered some of it to Daniel Smead, one of the prisoners, to eat, but he refused it. The Frenchman dressed the skin of the arm (as we afterwards heard) and made a tobacco pouch of it. After they had plundered the fort, they set it on fire, and led us out to their camp.
After the fort was plundered, it was set on fire and the captives were led to the enemy's camp. There, the French general's interpreter called Reveredn Norton aside and asked him to speak with the captive militia men. The interpreter suggested that he should try to persuade the militia men to go with the Natives, who also wanted some of the prisioners. Reverend Norton told him this was contrary to their agreement and expressed his own concerns as to what would happen to those who were sick and wounded. Norton was assured the Natives would not abuse them for they were all prisoners of the French.

Then the interpreter spoke with Setgent Hawks and urged him to send his men with the Natives. After much discussion, the sergent would not consent to any of his men going with the Natives. The interpreter went back to the general and delivered Sergent Hawks' decision. Soon after, French officers returned and took some of the captives away. The remainder of the prisoners were distributed among the Natives. 

The twenty-nine captives were taken to Quebec to be later exchanged as prisoners of war; only fourteen, ten men and four children, lived to be traded back to the British a year later. 

The names of the thirty persons within the fort during this memorable siege will not be forgotten by posterity.

Sergeant John Hawks, Chaplain John Norton, John Aldridrich, Jonathan Bridgeman, Nathaniel Eames, Phineas Forbush, Samuel Goodman, Nathaniel Hitchcock, Thomas Knowlton, Samuel Lovatt, John Perry, Amos Pratt, Josiah Reed, Joseph Scott, Moses Scott, Stephen Scott, Jacob Shepherd, Benjamin Simonds, John Smead, John Smead, Jr., Daniel Smead, and David Warren, 

The women and children were: Mary, wife of John Smead Sr., and their children, Elihu, Simon, and Mary; Miriam, wife of Moses Scott, and their children, Ebenezer and Moses; and Rebecca, wife of John Perry. Last, but not least, an additional one, Captivity, daughter of John Smead, Sr., who was born along the way on their long journey to Canada.  









Sources: 

Friday, August 19, 2016

On This Day -- The Siege of Fort Massachusetts: Day One


On this day, August 19, 1746, an attack was made on Fort Massachusetts. Between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, an army of 440 French soldiers and 300 of their Indian allies attacked the fort. But the fort of twenty-two soldiers held their ground throughout the day and into night.

We are fortunate to possess, from the pen of an eye-witness and active participant, a detailed account of the siege and capture of Fort Massachusetts, and of the captivity that followed it. The ensuing events were strikingly narrated by the Reverend John Norton, in his book, "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking and Carrying Into Captivity."

The Reverend Norton wrote of this day:
Tuesday, 19th.-— Between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, when, through the good providence of God, we were all in the fort, twenty-two men, three women, and five children, there appeared an army of French and Indians, eight or nine hundred in number, commanded by Monsieur Rigaud de Vaudreuil, who, having surrounded the fort on every side, began with hideous acclamations to rush forward upon the fort, firing incessantly upon us on every side.
Three days earlier, Sergeant John Hawks, officer left in charge of the fort, sent a letter with Dr. Thomas Williams and fourteen soldiers to Deerfield for his commanding officer, Captain Ephraim Williams, desiring that he would speedily send up some stores to the fort, being very short on it for ammunition, and having discovered some signs of the enemy. Little did they know that the fort was already encircled by its enemies from Canada! Close by the road leading down to the ford of the Hoosac, a part of Vaudreuil's forces had secreted themselves in the brakes and bushes, and so near were they to the little detachment headed east, that they could actually have touched them with their guns; "but rather than attempt to seize them, which would have brought on a fire, and apprised the garrison of their proximity, they suffered the surgeon and his men to pass without interruption." The message did not reach Captain Williams in time.

The fort was under serious duress; eleven of the soldiers were troubled with the griping and flux, leaving only eight of the men in good health.

Remarkably cool and level-headed under the circumstances were the Sergeant and the Chaplain and the Sharpshooters, that they should calculate by inference to fire where the Indians would probably be in an instant, rather than where they actually were at the instant.
About this time we saw several of the enemy fall and rise no more; among which was the captain of the St. Francis Indians, who was one of the foremost, and called upon the rest to press on upon the fort. Sergeant Hawks got an opportunity to shoot him into the breast, which ended his days. At the beginning of the engagement, the General sent his ensign with his standard (which he, standing behind a tree about thirty rods distant from the fort, displayed), the General also walked up the hill within about forty rods of the fort, where he stood and gave his orders; but being discovered he had a shot or two fired at him; upon which he moved off; but presently after comes to his ensign, where being discovered, he received a shot in his arm, which made him retreat with his ensign to their camp.
The enemy still continued to fire almost incessantly upon us, and many of them crept up within a dozen rods of the fort. We were straitened for want of shot. Several of our men being newly come into the service, and for want of bullet moulds, had not prepared for any long engagement, and therefore the sergeant ordered some of our sick men to make bullets, another to run some shot, having shot-moulds. This put him upon taking particular notice of the ammunition, and he found it to be very short, and therefore gave orders that we should not fire any more than we thought necessary to hold the enemy back, unless when we had a very good opportunity and fair prospect of doing execution; so that we fired but little. We had sometimes very fair shot, and had success. We saw several fall, who, we are persuaded, never rose again. We might have shot at the enemy almost any time in the day, who were in open view of the fort, within fifty or sixty rods of the same, and sometimes within forty and less; the officers sometimes walking about, sword in hand, viewing of us, and others walking back and forth as they had occasion, without molestation, for we dare not spend our ammunition upon them that were at such a distance.
Sergeant Hawks then first became fully aware how short were his stores of ammunition.
Towards evening the enemy began to use their axes and hatchets. Some were thoughtful that they were preparing ladders in order to storm the fort in the night; but afterward we found our mistake, for they were preparing faggots in order to burn it. This day they wounded two of our men, viz., John Aldrich they shot through the foot, and Jonathan Bridgman with a flesh wound the back side of the hip. When the evening came on the sergeant gave orders that all the tubs, pails, and vessels of every sort, in every room, should be filled with water, and went himself to see it done; he also looked to the doors, that they were made as fast as possible. He likewise cut a passage from one room to another, that he might put the fort into as good a posture of defence as might be, in case they should attempt to storm it. He distributed the men into the several rooms. While he was thus preparing, he kept two men in the northwest mount, and some in the great house, the southeast corner of the fort, to watch the enemy and keep them back. 
I was in the mount all the evening; it was cloudy and very dark the beginning of the evening. The enemy kept a constant fire upon us, and, as I thought, approached nearer and in greater numbers than they had in the daytime. We had but little encouragement to fire upon the enemy, having but the light of their fire to direct us, yet we dared not wholly omit it, lest they should be emboldened to storm the fort. We fired buckshot at them, and have reason to hope we did some execution, for the enemy complained of our shooting buck shot at that time, which they could not have known had they not felt some of them. They continued thus to fire upon us until between eight and nine at night, then the whole army (as we supposed) surrounded the fort, and shouted, or rather yelled, with the most hideous outcries, all around the fort. This they repeated three or four times. We expected they would have followed this with a storm, but were mistaken, for they directly set their watch all around the fort; and besides their watch they sent some to creep up as near the fort as they could, to observe whether any persons attempted to make their escape, to carry tidings to New England.
The body of the army then drew back to their camps; some in the swamp west of the fort, the other part to the southeast, by the river side. We then considered what was best to be done: whether to send a post down to Deerfield or not. We looked upon it very improbable, if not morally impossible, for any men to get off undiscovered, and therefore the Sergeant would not lay his command upon any to go; but he proposed it to several, desired and encouraged them as far as he thought convenient; but there was not a man willing to venture out. So the Sergeant having placed the men in every part of the fort, he ordered all the sick and feeble men to get what rest they could, and not regard the enemy's acclamations; but to lie still all night unless he should call for them. Of those that were in health, some were ordered to keep the watch, and some lay down and endeavored to get some rest; lying down in our clothes, with our arms by us. I lay down the fore part of the night. We got little or no rest. The enemy frequently raised us by their hideous outcries, as though they were about to attack us. The latter part of the night I kept the watch.
Deerfield was the nearest town of any size to the line of forts, the home of many of the officers and men in garrison, the source of most of their commissary supply, and the only hope for reinforcements in case of exigency; accordingly, it is no wonder that the sergeant and the chaplain thought of Deerfield, when they found that the fort was thoroughly invested. Indeed, the Sergeant, in cooperation with the Surgeon, had already sent fourteen men to Deerfield to act as convoy to stores and ammunition, before he knew the fort was to be invested, though he had "discovered some signs of the enemy"; an urgent letter was at the same time sent to Captain Williams at Deerfield, that he "would speedily send up some stores to the fort"; and now the question was between sergeant and chaplain, whether in their now weakened and besieged state, other messengers should be sent after the former, — whether such messengers would be likely to "get off undiscovered," that is, to get through the close lines of the besiegers, — and, if so, whether they would be likely to fetch back succor in season to prevent, if that were possible, the surrender of the fort. The long stretches over the Hoosac Mountain were a minor element in the question, but the chief thing was the hostile camps on either side of the fort, the night watch of the French set all round the fort, and besides "they sent some to creep up as near the fort as they could, to observe whether any persons attempted to make their escape, to carry tidings to New England." It was madness, under the circumstances, to send anybody out; whoever went would by so much lessen the eight men, who alone of the twenty-two, were in tolerable health. The Sergeant, therefore, would not lay his command upon any to go; but he evidently desired that one or more should make the attempt, for he proposed it to several, and encouraged them as far as he thought convenient; but it was in every respect fortunate, that no one could be persuaded to go.

Next: The Siege of Fort Massachusetts: Day Two










Sources: 

  • "The Redeemed Captive : Being a Narrative of the Taking and Carrying Into Captivity," by the Reverend Mr. John Norton -- Published 1870 (Originally published in 1748)
  • "Origins in Williamstown," by Arthur Latham Perry -- Published 1894

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Discovered Treasure Amongst the Debris:

The Beginnings of a Park
by Jennifer Beverly, with C.A. Chicoine

In the spring of 2012, Price Chopper’s Continuous Improvement TEAM (Teammates Efforts Always Matter) focused their efforts on the neglected site of Fort Massachusetts. Jennifer Beverly, Becky Michalski, Lisa Alcombright, and Matthew Goodermote made up the TEAM. The then store manager, Patricia Pattison, was the facilitator of the group.

It started with a treasure hunt. Becky Michalski and Jennifer Beverly were hunting geocaches. And they were disheartened as to just how bad it was in there.

After discovering the placement of a GeoCache within the forested portion of the Fort Massachusetts site, the members of TEAM knew what they had to do. It was time to reclaim and rescue this historic site from what seemed like decades worth of trash and overgrown foliage.

The unforested portion of the site––where the boulder sits with its bronze tablet commemorating the fort and its defenders, given by the Fort Massachusetts Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1976––had shown signs of neglect. The shrubs that had been planted along its sides had not been manicured, and was significantly overgrown, causing moss to cover much of the stone memorial, along with the stone pillars surrounding it. And the chains linking the pillars had become thoroughly rusted. The fully grown tree, to the right of the boulder, still had its original supporting fence around it with several inches of debris built up at its base, which was decomposed into leaf mulch, and had many new trees weaving themselves in and out through the chain links. Much of the surrounding growth on the edges of the park had encroached this area as well, reducing the size of the park each year. 

Work began with the removal of the supporting fence from the tree, followed by a little grooming. 



After several attempts at manicuring the shrubs into something aesthetically pleasing, it became obvious that they were far beyond that point and would be quite bare for some time. So they cut the shrubs down towards the base with hopes that they'd regrow from their deep roots.



Becky Michalski



Jennifer Beverly

The group then shifted to the clean-up phase. After removing about a dozen bags of litter and debris, and having very little to show for it, the group decided to coordinate with the City of North Adams, and MCLA, to become a volunteer site for the city’s Spring Community Service/City Wide Clean-Up Day. With the help of seven Price Chopper teammates and their children, and ten MCLA volunteers, the group was able to remove over fifty bags of litter from the site along with many larger debris, which included, furniture, tires, computer monitors, a toilet, etc. This help was greatly appreciated by the group as they could now focus on the aesthetics of the park.



After the clean-up day, the group worked on cleaning the moss off of the stone marker and its pillars, along with giving the chains a protective layer of Rust-Oleum®  paint. 

Becky Michalski cleaning the moss off of the memorial.

A cherry blossom tree was planted behind the garden bed with the hope to accent the area as it grows, while tying it in with other areas within the city. 

Becky Michalski planting the baby weeping cherry blossom tree.

A new garden bed was created around the stone marker to emphasize its presence. 

Becky Michalski and Jennifer Beverly creating a garden bed and adding a little color.



The existing picnic table was scrubbed clean and then weatherproofed to help sustain it for many more years to come.
Lisa Alcombright weatherproofing the table.

The group then worked on creating a new shaded picnic area within the forest behind the stone marker. Lots of brush and leaves were removed as well as some partially decomposed litter. A new picnic table was purchased from Mr. Lescarbeau, who had created the other table years prior. And a new bench was added to the park for additional seating.




Over the years, many local residents had created a footpath through the forested part of the site. The group worked to clean up the path itself and line it with some fallen trees to encourage guests to stay on the path.



New signs had been added at the end of the path along within the park to try to help encourage people to stop dumping, littering, and smoking within the park to maintain its cleanliness.



The group had tried to obtain a trash receptacle to match those of the downtown. After coming up unsuccessful, they decided to design and create their own. The receptacle is built around a standard trash can with masonry bricks and mortar. Screw eyes were added to give the ability to hang signs from the trash receptacle itself to encourage guests to dispose of their trash properly.








The excess mortar was used to create a stone marker acknowledging their work.



From the very first moment that the Price Chopper management stepped forward to reclaim the park at the site of Fort Massachusetts, members of the community became involved. And positive feedback came pouring in from both local residents and tourists alike. Many chose to now utilized the park, where it had gone unnoticed prior. There was an immediate transition in the commentary for the Fort’s Geocache as well––from negative comments regarding the lack of care and amount of litter, to positive comments, praising how well maintained is was. The North Adam’s City Council, North Adams Chamber of Commerce, and the North Adams Historical Society genuinely thanked the group for their efforts to enhance a little piece of our local history.




With the closing of Price Chopper, back in February of 2016, the site of Fort Massachusetts was left to neglect once again. That is where the Friends of Fort Massachusetts come in––to preserve, commemorate, and protect the site of Fort Massachusetts as a memorial park. And they are grateful for all the work and effort the TEAM members put into the site. They trailblazed the way for Friends to carry on their endeavor, to preserve the site of Fort Massachusetts as a public park––The Fort Massachusetts Memorial Park.





[Jennifer Beverly has opened up her own shop this last July (2016), Eagle Street Artisans––a consignment-style artisan gallery, located at 27 Eagle Street, North Adams, MA., allowing local artists and artisans to display and sell their goods.]




Photos courtesy of Jennifer Beverly


[UPDATE: The following link shows many comments over the years (from 2004 to 2011) of the site's condition prior to this clean-up. (You'll have to sign up to read it -- it has been archived. But sign-up is easy) https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GCKNJ2_forgotten-fort#_=_ ]

The following are some of the comments found on their site.

10/03/2004
It's a tragedy that this historical site has depleted to just a marking plaque..here is one of the commonwealth's major historical locations and it is just casually mentioned..... – Peter



10/10/2004
Nice quick park and grab on this rainy day, only problem was I stepped in dog poop with my brand new hiking shoes!



10/10/2004
It's fortunate that the commercial development in the area hasn't totally destroyed the historic site. Moose-R-Us and I found this on our way back from a quick trip to Williamstown. Moose-R-Us wasn't watching her step, so I had to listen to some whining about some dog poop.



10/16/2004
A nice easy find just off a very busy spot. Nice parking though. Who'da thunk there was so much history in the corner of a shopping center parking lot. T/n, L/marbles.



11/15/2004
Thanks for the history lesson!
I had no idea, and never would have known if it wasn't for your cache / explanation.
It is so sad to think that all that is left in memory of such a site is a chimney and rock.
Thank you!
– Kristen & Mark



12/16/2004
Very historic site. Area should be cared for better. CITO [https://www.geocaching.com/cito/faq.aspx] is badly needed in the entire area. Rating should be downgraded to 1/1.5.
– Anniebananie



07/08/2006
Was late in the day and ran out of light. Did not check hint. This area needs a good cleanup. It is a shame.



07/24/2006
What a sad story. A place with interesting history reduced to a roadside dump. Thanks for the history lesson. I wish people would learn to clean up their crap.



07/25/2006
I had expected it to be a micro in the obvious structure. The trail was nice as these sorts of trails go. Too much trash, way too much. A broken TV!!!



07/27/2006
We did a few loops before finding this one. We also found the trash...looks like a fence may have been put up too late to help curtail this mess!



08/05/2006
Found it. What a mess! The fence was put up to hide the mess. I took a hand full of trash. SL
– RunsFromBears.



10/23/2006
Its almost funny that the cache starts at a monument to the "Wilderness" area. First we built the area up and than we trash it. Shame on us.



01/10/2007
This is an interesting spot, and we loved reading about the history of the fort here. It is too bad that it has come to this sad condition. I just don't understand people who think nothing of throwing their trash over a fence. Thanks for pointing out this little diamond in the rough. – Printess Caroline and her loyal consort



05/28/2007
It's too bad we sometimes compromise our heritage for modern convenience. At least something remains to remind us on this Memorial Day.



06/06/2007
Thanks for the history lesson too bad that the fort could not have been maintained for others to enjoy.



09/25/2007
Yes much junk in area...there was a large industrial garbage bag left there filled with junk...what, whoever it was that brought the bag & filled it couldn't have brought it to a dumpster? lol I would have if I had a truck to haul it all. I hate seeing an area completely disrespected. This would be one good place for a small beginner CITO event.


05/04/2008
Interesting history, but not a very compelling scene today. The whole area is strewn with garbage.



11/26/2008
This was a quick find but I found the lack of respect for the historic site a bit sad but I enjoyed seeing this forgotten bit of history. Thanks for the cache.
– Team Taran



04/05/2009
Amazing how that small Memorial can look so clean and just a few feet away it is a complete dump!
– Qseekers, Jericho, VT



04/16/2009
It is sad that a fort like this has been forgotten and become a trash heap.



05/11/2009
Who would of thought that a big piece of history would be taken over by a PriceChopper. The placed was trashed. Was a sad sad day to find this place. Signed log and went for a tetanus shot.



05/15/2009
I always enjoy history based caches so I was very glad to find this one but also very disappointed by the sad state of the area. The area is in need of a serious clean up! There's more trash in this little area than in the entire park of latest CITO I attended. The cache container is in bad shape too and needs to be replaced. Thanks for bringing the history of the location to my attention though!



08/17/2009
Stopped on the way between N. Adams and Williamstown. Fascinating history, too bad the fort disappeared. Also too bad the area so closely resembles the local dump - to CITO this area, you'd need a bucket loader and an industrial dumpster. TFTC and the history!
– The Tau'ri #907



09/10/2009
Sad to see history go this route, but still ... it's about the freedom to choose what to do with your own property, isn't it. Still needs generous CITO, but TFTH and the reminder of the sacrifices made so we can play.



05/06/2011
There was a recent fatal car accident near the cache so I stopped by to take a look. There is now a new metal fence to replace the wooden fence that was mowed down by the car accident. The cache is still safe and sound. [April 28, 2011, a single-car accident near the Price Chopper parking lot killed one person and sent two others to the hospital early Tuesday evening. "The car hit a cluster of trees right next to where the old Fort [Massachusetts] used to be," North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio.]





Discovered Treasure Amongst the Debris:

The Beginnings of a Park
by Jennifer Beverly, with C.A. Chicoine

In the spring of 2012, Price Chopper’s Continuous Improvement TEAM (Teammates Efforts Always Matter) focused their efforts on the neglected site of Fort Massachusetts. Jennifer Beverly, Becky Michalski, Lisa Alcombright, and Matthew Goodermote made up the TEAM. The then store manager, Patricia Pattison, was the facilitator of the group.

It started with a treasure hunt. Becky Michalski and Jennifer Beverly were hunting geocaches. And they were disheartened as to just how bad it was in there.

After discovering the placement of a GeoCache within the forested portion of the Fort Massachusetts site, the members of TEAM knew what they had to do. It was time to reclaim and rescue this historic site from what seemed like decades worth of trash and overgrown foliage.

The unforested portion of the site––where the boulder sits with its bronze tablet commemorating the fort and its defenders, given by the Fort Massachusetts Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1976––had shown signs of neglect. The shrubs that had been planted along its sides had not been manicured, and was significantly overgrown, causing moss to cover much of the stone memorial, along with the stone pillars surrounding it. And the chains linking the pillars had become thoroughly rusted. The fully grown tree, to the right of the boulder, still had its original supporting fence around it with several inches of debris built up at its base, which was decomposed into leaf mulch, and had many new trees weaving themselves in and out through the chain links. Much of the surrounding growth on the edges of the park had encroached this area as well, reducing the size of the park each year. 

Work began with the removal of the supporting fence from the tree, followed by a little grooming. 



After several attempts at manicuring the shrubs into something aesthetically pleasing, it became obvious that they were far beyond that point and would be quite bare for some time. So they cut the shrubs down towards the base with hopes that they'd regrow from their deep roots.



Becky Michalski



Jennifer Beverly

The group then shifted to the clean-up phase. After removing about a dozen bags of litter and debris, and having very little to show for it, the group decided to coordinate with the City of North Adams, and MCLA, to become a volunteer site for the city’s Spring Community Service/City Wide Clean-Up Day. With the help of seven Price Chopper teammates and their children, and ten MCLA volunteers, the group was able to remove over fifty bags of litter from the site along with many larger debris, which included, furniture, tires, computer monitors, a toilet, etc. This help was greatly appreciated by the group as they could now focus on the aesthetics of the park.



After the clean-up day, the group worked on cleaning the moss off of the stone marker and its pillars, along with giving the chains a protective layer of Rust-Oleum®  paint. 

Becky Michalski cleaning the moss off of the memorial.

A cherry blossom tree was planted behind the garden bed with the hope to accent the area as it grows, while tying it in with other areas within the city. 

Becky Michalski planting the baby weeping cherry blossom tree.

A new garden bed was created around the stone marker to emphasize its presence. 

Becky Michalski and Jennifer Beverly creating a garden bed and adding a little color.



The existing picnic table was scrubbed clean and then weatherproofed to help sustain it for many more years to come.
Lisa Alcombright weatherproofing the table.

The group then worked on creating a new shaded picnic area within the forest behind the stone marker. Lots of brush and leaves were removed as well as some partially decomposed litter. A new picnic table was purchased from Mr. Lescarbeau, who had created the other table years prior. And a new bench was added to the park for additional seating.




Over the years, many local residents had created a footpath through the forested part of the site. The group worked to clean up the path itself and line it with some fallen trees to encourage guests to stay on the path.



New signs had been added at the end of the path along within the park to try to help encourage people to stop dumping, littering, and smoking within the park to maintain its cleanliness.



The group had tried to obtain a trash receptacle to match those of the downtown. After coming up unsuccessful, they decided to design and create their own. The receptacle is built around a standard trash can with masonry bricks and mortar. Screw eyes were added to give the ability to hang signs from the trash receptacle itself to encourage guests to dispose of their trash properly.








The excess mortar was used to create a stone marker acknowledging their work.



From the very first moment that the Price Chopper management stepped forward to reclaim the park at the site of Fort Massachusetts, members of the community became involved. And positive feedback came pouring in from both local residents and tourists alike. Many chose to now utilized the park, where it had gone unnoticed prior. There was an immediate transition in the commentary for the Fort’s Geocache as well––from negative comments regarding the lack of care and amount of litter, to positive comments, praising how well maintained is was. The North Adam’s City Council, North Adams Chamber of Commerce, and the North Adams Historical Society genuinely thanked the group for their efforts to enhance a little piece of our local history.




With the closing of Price Chopper, back in February of 2016, the site of Fort Massachusetts was left to neglect once again. That is where the Friends of Fort Massachusetts come in––to preserve, commemorate, and protect the site of Fort Massachusetts as a memorial park. And they are grateful for all the work and effort the TEAM members put into the site. They trailblazed the way for Friends to carry on their endeavor, to preserve the site of Fort Massachusetts as a public park––The Fort Massachusetts Memorial Park.





[Jennifer Beverly has opened up her own shop this last July (2016), Eagle Street Artisans––a consignment-style artisan gallery, located at 27 Eagle Street, North Adams, MA., allowing local artists and artisans to display and sell their goods.]




Photos courtesy of Jennifer Beverly