Negotiating Purchase of Lot 8

Lot 8 Put Up for Sale in 1762

Although the French and Indian Wars would not officially end until 1763,  things had turned sufficiently favorable for the English that, by June 1762, the Royal government  in Boston was anxious to get the wild new county of Berkshire settled.  In June 1762  the General Court put Lot #8 (which would later be split into Richmond and Lenox) up for sale.  It was not destined to be a smooth or easy process.

First Bidder Josiah Dean

A response came quickly from Josiah Dean* of Canaan (unfortunately the records currently available don’t say if that was Canaan, NY or CT.) bid 2350 pounds as of June 11, 1762 and paid a 20 pound bond to assure performance of all requirements. (A Josiah Dean of Canaan, NY went on to become a leader in the Revolutionary War.)

* With Asa Douglas, Timothy Holobeard, John Ashley, Ellijah Williams, Aaron Sheldon, and John Chadwick

Negotiations with the Indians

Meanwhile, the Indians complained that the 1000 pounds they had already received from the General Court did  not represent appropriate compensation for their property.  The General Court took the amount up first to 1500 pounds then to 1700 pounds.  Another 650 pounds was to be delivered on actually relinquishing the land.  The record is a bit unclear on this point, but the extra 650 may have been thrown in by Samuel Brown, Jr. to tip the deal in his direction.

Samuel Brown, Jr. of Stockbridge lead a bid (as agent for a group**) against the Dean bid and offered a bond of 650 pounds (not sure if same or different than the 650 referenced above) toward purchase as of Feb. 17, 1763.  Among other things, Samuel Brown, Jr. claimed his group had already paid the Indians for the property.  Samuel Brown, Jr. was the son of one of the English families allowed to settle in Stockbridge.  His father had been among the English of Stockbridge involved in one of many fast stepping land deals that reduced the Indian holdings.  Father and son had both occupied many town offices in Stockbridge and Samuel Brown, Jr. appears in numerous other land and proprietor records.

**Proprietors  as of first and second round of grants – the Brown Group (according to Colonial Registry of Deeds)

Daniel Allen, Moses Ashley, Jacob Bacon, Issac Brown, Jonathan Bull, Christopher Cartwright, Samuel Churchill, Titus Curtis, Israel Dewey, Israel Dewey, Jr., Solomon Glezen, Charles Goodrich, Samuel Goodrich, Eleanor Gunn, Jonathan Hough, Timothy Treat, Ashbel Treat, John Ingersoll, Daniel Jones, Elijah Jones, Josiah Jones, Josiah Jones, Jr., Joseph Lee, Edward Martindale, Elisha Martindale, Gershom Martindale, Stephen Nash, Stephen Nash, Jr. Moses Nash, Asa Noble, David Pixley, David Pixley, Jr. Abraham Root, Abel Rowe, Ezra Whittlesey

Samuel Brown Group Won Bidding for Lot 8

But the award of the bid to Brown may have been partly due to second thoughts on the part of the Dean group.  Perhaps after making the bid, Dean and some of his party came to Lot# 8 to check out their woody, hilly purchase and found another problem.  According to the report in the Registry of Deeds,

Asa Douglas of Canaan, agent of Josiah Dean, some of the grantees began improvement and brought action of trespass against the Indians for refusing to move.  ‘divers persons in possession of the township lying between Stockbridge and Pittsfield under a pretended title from the Stockbridge Indians and as the affair of their removal at this present time may be attended with difficulty and inasmuch as the said Josiah Dean hath agreed to release into the Province the sale of the said township.'”

Dean was given 2000 acres elsewhere – and got his 20 pound deposit back.

Lot 8 Split Into Mt. Ephraim and Yokuntown

On February 26, 1767, the proprietors of Mt. Ephraim and Yokuntown were given permission to split the town along the mountains that made it difficult to administer Lot 8 as one town.  The easterly part was given the name Lenox.  It was supposed to be “Lennox” in honor of the Duke of Richmond but somewhere along the line a spelling error became permanent and it has been Lenox ever since.

George Tucker Manuscript, History of Lenox

Colonial Records and Proprietary Plans, Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds

Lenox Massachusetts Shire Town, by David Wood, Published by the Town, 1969

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