Exploration and Early Settlement of Massachusetts
- The Age of Exploration Increases Trips West
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 forced Europeans to seek new trade routes. At the same time the availability of a new type of ship (the carousel) enhanced blue water sailing and touched off European journeys to the West - some of which are known to have touched down on the New England coastline.
- The Great Migration
1630-1642 - Under increasing religious persecution, about 20,000 men, women and children from East Anglia came to what is now the Boston area. The first "fleet" was organized by John Winthrop who became governor. At the time Lenox was formed, most residents would have traced their linage to this group of early settlers. The migration came to an end with the English Civil War that ended in the beheading of Charles I.
- Early Settlements - CT River Valley
Population grew rapidly and settlers moved west along the Connecticut shore and up the fertile Connecticut River Valley. Springfield (founded 1635) was unusual in that many of the original settlers were Pynchon employees. In other towns entrepreneurs often bought up land and sold it to form the classical New England towns surrounding Church/ meeting house.
- King Phillip's War
1675-1676 King Phillip's War - Actually not a king but an Indian chief - Metacom. Significant as the last war in New England initiated by the Indians (not their European allies) and as a setback to further European settlement to the north and west. Indian attacks threatened Springfield and lead to temporary abandonment of Deerfield.
Massachusetts as a Royal Colony
- King William's War
1688-1692 - The first of four wars in which French and their Iriquois allies raided New England as a minor part of a larger European War. As with the four wars that followed, New Englanders played an active role in invasions of French territory by sea and through northern New England and New York.
- New Massachusetts Charter
The royal efforts to assert authority over Massachusetts led to a new charter in 1691 which included an appointed royal governor (Sir William Phips was the first) and a bi-carmel house similar to the government of the other royal provinces. Massachusetts had to give up Maine and New Hampshire. They later purchased back Maine but New Hampshire became an independent colony.
- King George's War
1744-1748 - Upstate New York (Saratoga was raided) and the borders of Northern New England were the focus of the North American theatre in this war. Massachusetts residents attempted unsuccessfully (without help from the regular British army) to defend Fort Massachusetts (modern day North Adams - replica of the fort shown here.)
- Seven Years War
1753-1763 - The Seven Year's War (so called because it didn't officially begin until 1758) started in North America in an incident involving George Washington (shown here in his British uniform) . The war resulted in the British winning Canada and the current mainland to the Mississippi. Part of the treaty ending the war was a directive that there would be no Colonial settlement west of the Appalachians. This edict became one of many causes of the American Revolution stemming from this war.
- Flight to Stockbridge
In fear of an Indian raid (really just an outlaw) residents from what would become Lenox north fled to the relative safety of Stockbridge. Although this incident was a false alarm, the fear of Indian raids was a major brake on development of Massachusetts west of the Berkshires.
Formation of Berkshire County and the Road to Revolution
- End of the Last French and Indian War
The Treaty of Paris granted Canada and North America East of the Mississippi to the British and prohibited English settlement West of the Appalachians.
- Sale of Lot # 8
Unincorporated lands in Berkshire County were auctioned. The roughly 23,000 acres of Lot # 8 (today's Richmond and Lenox) were initially sold to Josiah Dean for 2250 pounds but, after title disputes, were finally sold to Samuel Brown, Jr. of Stockbridge and a group of investors for an additional 650 pounds.
- Stamp Act
The Stamp Act was one of a series of attempts by the Lords of Trade to cover the costs of maintaining a standing army in North America. With a bit of tea party foreshadowing, colonists protested in writing and with merchandise (above). The act was repealed a year later and turned out to be a rehearsal for even more well organized colonial protests to follow.
- Petition to Split Lot 8
Mt. Ephraim and Yokuntown (Richmond and Lenox) petitioned the General Court to be allowed to incorporate as two towns in recognition of the mountain range running through Lot #8.
- From Lot #8 to Two Towns
The petition to split Lot 8 was accepted by the General Court. The two towns had taken the names they carry today from Charles Lennox (the second "n" got lost somewhere in transcription), the 3rd Duke of Richmond. He was admired by colonists for speaking for their point of view in the House of Lords.
- The First Meeting House
Lenox voted to appropriate funds to build a meeting house on land "sequestered" by Rev. Peter Reynolds - near the current Church on the Hill. Later town votes indicate the building was still in progress in 1770 when Rev. Samuel Monson was called to preach.
- Boston Massacre
In addition to attempting (unsuccessfully) to extract revenue from the colonists, Parliament expected the colonists to quarter the standing army they now maintained in Boston and elsewhere in the colonies. Although it's not clear who fired first, tensions had risen to the point where rock throwing civilians led quickly to shots from armed soldiers.
- Townsend Duties and the Tea Tax
Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townsend kept trying to come up with creative ways to generate revenues from the colonies. Like many in the inner circles of government, he failed to recognize the growing anger and focused protest these policies were generating. Most of the Townsend duties were repealed--except for the tax on tea.
- Intolerable Acts
In reaction to the Boston Tea Party, Parliament enacted what the colonists called "The Intolerable Acts," which included closing the port of Boston, overriding the elected chamber of the colony's government, limiting town meetings and requiring colonists to accept judges appointed by the royal governor.
- Great Barrington Court Protests
Fifteen hundred unarmed men from Berkshire County and Litchfield County, CT., rallied to shut down the county court meeting in Great Barrrington in protest of judges appointed by the unrecognized royal government.
- Lenox Signs Non-Importation Agreement
More than 100 residents of the frontier town of Lenox agreed to boycott British goods (along with towns across the colonies). The highly organized protest was effective at blocking trade, but its impact was truncated by the active fighting touched off by British raids on Lexington and Concord.
From Revolution to Republic
- Battle of Bunker Hill
Although the colonials did not gain ground, in the first major battle of the war, Bunker (Breeds) Hill is often considered an American victory because of the British lives lost and the fierce American defense. John Paterson and the Lenox minutemen manned Charleston Heights during this battle.
- Paterson Departs for Canada
After the British evacuation of Boston, Paterson was sent to reinforce Benedict Arnold's retreating army.
- Smallpox Innoculation
Benedict Arnold writes that it would be good to inoculate Gen. Patrson's troops as advised by Dr. Timothy Childs of Pittsfield. A major smallpox epidemic went on throughout the Revolution.
- Massachusetts State Constitution
The first Massachusetts state constitution was written largely by John Adams and informed the structure of the U.S. Constitution which was to be written eight years later. William Walker represented Lenox in the discussions.
- Lenox Dale Furnace
The Tucker MS reports 500 acres of the Larabee Grant (encompassing modern day Lenox Dale) being granted to Charles Goodrich of Pittsfield. The earliest date of a furnace operating is listed as 1783. At the time, the operation was apparently owned by Job Gilbert of Bistol, MA.
- Northwest Ordinance
The Continental Congress formalized settlement of the Ohio River Valley and the midwest. The ordinance proscribed land division, schools and the conditions for statehood. Many Lenox families would end up with descendants in Ohio.
- Lenox Dale Furnace Syndicataion
William Walker gathered subscriptions from 51 Lenox and Lee residents to buy out the furnace--an illustration of the early transition to manufacturing and a money-based economy.
- Shay's Rebellion Ends in Sheffield
By 1787 the rebels had failed in their assault on the arsenal at Springfield, in their attempt to shut down the courts in Great Barrington, and in a raid on Stockbridge, Major Ashley and General Patterson fought the last action against them (noted in the marker shown here) in Sheffield. Later in the year two men (who may have just been burglars) were hung in Lenox for their role in the rebellion.
Early Republic and Shiretown Era
- Second Great Awakening
A revival meeting was held this year in Lenox. It was part of a more populist religious movement that began shortly after the revolution. The direct result in Lenox was incorporation of the Methodist Church in Lenox in 1811; church at the corner of Church and Franklin dedicated 1834.
- First Depression
- Great Western Steamer Crosses Atlantic
The Great Western steamer crosses the Atlantic in under 16 days; an interesting comparison to the three-four months it would have taken at the rime of the Revolutionary War.
- Hawthorne in Lenox
After completing "The Scarlet Letter," Hawthorne moved his family to a simple (and cold) Berkshire farmhouse on Stockbridge bowl. He lived here until November 1851 and, while here, interacted with Herman Melville, Fanny Kemble, the Sedgewicks -- and wrote "The House of the Seven Gables," and "The Wonder Book".
- Lenox Dale Adds Glass Works
By the end of the 19th century the manufacturing complex in Lenox Dale would have tried to use the water power and furnace available to them to make iron (from the ore dug up under the town and Lenox Mountain), glass and paper. By the end of the 19th century, they also would have found that other areas had the power and transport ion to do all more efficiently.
- Great Barrington Electrified
William Stanley, Jr. invented the transformer and electrified downtown Great Barrington to demonstrate the safety of the transformer and the use of alternating current (AC). He made Pittsfield an Age of Electricity equivalent to today's Silicon Valley. Stanley Electric merged with Westinghouse to form General Electric.
- Income Tax
The 16th Amendment makes income tax a permanent feature of the economics of the US.
- Eastover Becomes a Sports Oriented Resort
Lenox also had the good fortune to attract a couple that saw the potential for a youthfully oriented resort in the former Fahnestock Mansion (1910) on East Street. In 1946 George Bisacca purchased the 500 acre property with a vision of a resort for singles (later families as well.) Bisacca made a significant investment in entertainment for the winter months with a rope tow and indoor swimming pool. Currently the facility (Eastover) is, under new ownership, a resort focused on holistic health.
- Site of Music Inn Purchased
Philip and Stephanie Barber purchase the estate of Countess de Heredra (Wheatleigh). The music festival included many famous jazz, folk, and popular personalities and ran until 1979.
- Festival House
Claire and Bruno Aron purchased Ventfort Hall (then called Tracy Hall) in 1950. They re-named it Festival House and, until 1961, managed it as an inn for Berkshire visitors who might not have been accepted at other lodgings. Entertainment included art instruction,
- National Preservation Act
- Restoration of The Mount Begins
From 1948 to 1976 Edith Wharton's former home, The Mount, was occupied by The Foxhollow School for Girls. Shakespeare and Company used the location starting in 1976. In 1980 Edith Wharton Restoration took on the deterioration and neglected maintenance to create the beautiful house and grounds we see today.
- GE Transformer Plant in Pittsfield Closes
Demand for the large transformers made in Pittsfield had declined for years. General Electric was by far the most important employer in the area so the plant closing brought new economic challenges to Lenox and other nearby communities.
- Ventfort Hall Restoration Begins
In a severely deteriorated condition, Ventfort Hall was threatened with demolition. Fortunately a group of dedicated volunteers bought the property and took on the challenging work of restoration which goes on today..see the before and after pictured here. Ventfort Hall is now open for year-round tours and events.
- Shakespeare and Co. Purchases Bible Speaks
Shakespeare and Company now conducts performances on two stages year round as well as providing educational opportunities for actors and students. The Company, led by Tina Packer bought the former Bible Speaks/Lenox School for Boys campus on Kemble St. in 2000 after performing, starting in 1978, at The Mount.