We continue the article taken from the "History of Ware, Massachusetts, 1911, by Arthur Chase. We will conclude in the next issue. I have interjected some notes of my own in the text, in brackets, signed COH.
page 47-following of Chase
Judging from the numerous traditions that have survived even to the present day, we may be sure that Jabez Olmstead was indeed a man of importance. He was probably born in Connecticut about 1690. He was a soldier in Queen Anne's war from Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1709. In 1712 he married Thankful, daughter of Thomas Barnes of Brookfield. Eleven children were born, part in Brookfield, part in Ware. A second wife, Martha, he married in later life.
In 1736, seven years after his removal from Brookfield to Ware, we find a petition of Jabez Omstead of Ware River praying for a grant of province land "in consideration for his good services in the late Wars against the French and Indians, and the Wounds he has received with the expense he has been at for the cure of them." It was ordered that 200 acres be granted him of the unappropriated lands, provided he returns a plot within twelve months for confirmation, and provided the petitioner, his heirs or assigns, " build on the premises within three years a house 18 feet square at the least, and 7 ft. stud, and break up or bring to English grass five acres, and fence the same." In 1738 Omstead prays for further time, "as through some disappointments he has not been able to lay out the same within the time limited." It was ordered +"that the time be extended 12 months from the present, and two years to fulfill the conditions of the grant." I (Chase) find no records to show that he ever located the grant.
In the Old French and Indian Wars (1744-49) Capt. Jabez Omstead was active, taking part in the expedition against Louisburg in 1745. He commanded the 10th Co. in Col. Samuel Willard's 4th Mass. Regiment. The fact that he held a commission disposes of the tradition that Jabez had Indian blood in his veins, none but white men holding commands in the Indian Wars,—at least on the British side.
That he was a "mighty hunter" is altogether probable, for much of his life was passed in the woods. It is doubtful whether he could read and write. He usually made his mark to legal documents, yet signatures purported to be his are in existence, and we know that commissioned officers ordinarily made reports under their own hand. [NOTE-The inventory of his estate lists books valued at 2 s. COH]
The following anecdote is preserved by Mr. Hyde—" On the return of the army to Boston from Louisburg, he was invited with the officers to dine with Governor Shirley. The pudding he found to be too hot; and taking it from his mouth, and laying it upon the side of his plate, he said he would keep it to light his pipe with." [NOTE - How many people can quote one of their ancestors of 250 years ago in ordinary conversation ?COH]
In 1742, Jeremiah and Israel Olmsted were signers of a petition to Gov. Shirley.
On the settlement of a minister - In 1745, a committee was appointed, consisting of Jabez Olmsted and William Blackman to discuss with Mr. Read, Esq. to see what incoredgements he will grant toward the settlement of the gospel in this place, and give his advice where the meeting house should be.
Capt. Olmsted went to Boston at the expense of the Parish, and Mr. Read recommended a location. Nor was he backward in the matter of "incoredgements", for Jabez Olmsted and others were deeded, as trustees, the most eligible portion of the tract for the church support.
THE COLONIAL WARS AND THE REVOLUTION
FRENCH AND INDIAN WARS
The Town Records contain no references whatever to the French and Indian Wars. Information concerning the part in those contests taken by our early inhabitants is laboriously culled from Muster-Rolls and other papers preserved in the Mass. Archives. Such incomplete information as those ancient papers might give is difficult to get at, for they are indexed only by the names of the men that appear upon them, not by the towns from which the men came.
The French and Indian Wars extended altogether from 1689-1763, though with several intervals of peace. They were simply the American side of a hundred years' struggle for supremacy between the English and the French nations. The first two wars were fought before any white man had made his home between the Ware and Swift Rivers; but they were fearfully disastrous to our neighbors. Brookfield was wiped out in 1693. [NOTE - Roy says this was in 1675. COH] Deerfield was destroyed in 1704. Scarcely a town in the Connecticut Valley escaped pillage, burning and murder at the hands of the savage allies of the French. The third war, commonly referred to as "The Old French and Indian War " lasted from 1744-49, breaking out after a long interval of peace. During that period Ware was a Parish and Precinct, and was of little importance either socially or politically. It does not appear to have been called upon to furnish men for the army. But Jabez Omstead took part in the famous expedition against Louisburg on Cape Briton Island at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, which Sir William Peppered of Maine, with a force of a few thousand Yankee farmers and fishermen, set out to capture. The siege lasted 49 days, and the fort capitulated June 17, 1745. Jabez Omstead had been connected with the militia from the time he could carry a gun, and in the Louisburg expedition he had the rank of Captain, commanding the 10th Co. in Col. Samuel Willard's 4th Mass. regiment. His residence is given as Brookfield on the Muster Roll, indicating that, though he had lived for fifteen years in Ware River, his military relations were still with his former home.
No Precinct Meeting is recorded for the spring of 1745, the first one for the year being called for July 6. This was held at Capt. Jabez Omstead's house, and his bill for boarding ministers was allowed.
The fourth and last of these struggles 1754-63 was by far the greatest, and from its importance is often known as "The French and Indian War." It was to decide a question of supreme importance, namely, whether the English or the French should control the American Continent. The fighting line extended from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi River, through the great valleys of the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Hudson, along the shores of Lake Champlain, and even down the Connecticut Valley as far as Greenfield. This war involved the whole of the American Colonies, and in it George Washington won his spurs.
Hampshire County was thrown into a ferment by numerous attacks upon its outposts at Dutch Hoosac (now within New York), at Stockbridge, Pittsfield and Lenox. The frontier towns of New Hampshire suffered greatly, the enemy appearing as far south as the Massachusetts line.
Col. Israel Williams of Hatfield commanded the regiment from Hampshire County, to which Ware River sent a Company of 39 men. The Muster Roll may be seen in the Mass. Archives. (Vol. 95, p. 542)
"A Muster Roll of Capt. Jacob Cummins' Company for Col. Israel Williams Ridgement that went to ye relief of Fort William Henry when Besieged by the Enemy in Aug. 1757—Marched from Ware River so called. Jacob Commins, Capt."
(A list of 38 names and ranks are then listed. Israel Olmsted, Sergt. is third on the list.)
Ware River Parish, Jany. 5th, 1758.
The roll was sworn to by the Captain before a Justice of the Peace of Worcester County on the date subscribed, Jan. 5, 1758.
The expedition was not a long one, the length of time for the greater part of the men being 15 days. The Company marched to Kenderhook, with the following exceptions: Moses Smith and Benj. Bartlett to Sheffield, Jonathan Olds to Greenwood, Judah Marsh to Blanford, Jotham Lyman, Francis Lull and John Lull to Westfield. The total pay-roll of the expedition footed £75,,2,,11.
Another old paper in the Archives is this: "1757, August 6. The following to an account of men victualled by Luke Bliss at the cost of the province, they being sent to the Relief of Fort William Henry when besieged."
A long list of men follows from Ware River and neighboring places, each charged with one meal. The paper has no further interest for us—unless for the extraordinary spelling of the names of the men.
Further information concerning those who bore a part in this war is fragmentary and incomplete, but it is clear that our townsmen bore their full share of the toils of the war.
Muster Roll dated 1756. Names of those who have served within two years last past: (include)
These and others are in Capt. Ingersoll's Company, and are taken from a list of the persons in the South Regiment in County of Hampshire under command of Col. Wm. Worthington, that have been employed in His Majesty's service within two years last past according to the return of the several captains.
A Muster-Roll of a Company of Foot in His Majesty's Service under the Command of Captain Andrew Dalrymple of Petersham in a Regiment raised by the province of the Massachusetts Bay, for the Reduction of Canada, whereof Jedidiah Preble Esq. is Colonel.
Expedition from March 30 to Nov. 30. Among the names are the following, given as from Ware River:
Daniel Knowlton, Ensign, at £3,,10 per month. Term of service 8 mo. 16 days.
Moses Omstead, Private,
For 7 most. 19 da. @ £ 1,,16 per mo.
A Return of men enlisted for His Majesty's Service for Total Reduction of Canada, 1760.
Endorsed as Ensign Tailor's return.
In the list is the name of Simeon Omstead, aged 18 years. Born at Wair River, though his residence is given as Dorchester, Canada.