The First Milford Settlers

Map of North Purchase Village
Map of North Purchase Village
Josiah Ball and his brother Peter bought 200 acres of land east of Lake Maspenock from William Brewer of Boston in 1732. The cost of the land was one hundred and eighty pounds of silver. At that time, the only way to reach this area was through a narrow horseback path. The selectmen of Mendon laid a three-rod wide road along the same route in the same year to allow an ox and cart to pass. This path is known today as Purchase Street in Milford. Josiah Ball eventually purchased many adjacent parcels of land and settled on them with his descendants. He was an important figure in the North Purchase Village, donating the land and financing the North Purchase School. This historic one-room schoolhouse has been preserved and can be visited today. North Purchase School built in 1832
North Purchase Village schools
Josiah Ball owned a slave whom he treated as a son. His name was Andrew Dewner, sometimes written Duno. The family history includes the following story: Shortly after Josiah and Rachael Ball had lost an infant, Josiah was in Boston doing business. He was offered a tiny African baby during this visit, which he took home on horseback. According to the family history, he took the small infant from Boston on horseback, nourishing him out of a nursing bottle at intervals. It was after midnight by the time Josiah reached his home in Milford. His wife was asleep in bed, and not wanting to wake her, he carefully laid the sleeping baby on her bed and left it there to care for his tired horse. Before he returned, little Andrew awoke crying, frightening Rachel half out of her senses. She was utterly surprised by the cries until her husband appeared, opened the window curtains, and explained the situation. All accounts say Andrew grew up a faithful and trustworthy servant and received his freedom and a beautiful white horse at twenty-one. Andrew exchanged the white horse for a slave girl in Marlboro named Rose, whom he married. Josiah gave them a little homestead comprising twelve acres of land and a small dwelling-house in Milford where Andrew and Rose lived a long life and raised a family. The Ball family history mentioned Josiah gave Andrew the land, but in a later transaction his descendants would sell the plot to a man named Luther Haven. So it seems the land was not transferred to Duno's descendants, and the Ball family sold the property later. Haven Road in Milford is named after the man who purchased it. Josiah Ball Jr. was born on April 13, 1742. He married Sarah Palmer from Upton on March 15, 1744. Josiah Ball Jr. and Sarah Ball had four daughters and two sons. The descendants of Josiah Ball were also very prominent members of early Milford society. Their land holdings included most of the houses from the Hopkinton line on Purchase Street all the way to Camp Street. Known as the "North Purchase Village" the village consisted of a Meeting House, Church, School, Stores, and even a Bowling Alley, which was a popular colonial game. North Purchase Village 1832
North Purchase Village 1832
About a mile and a half west of the North Purchase Village in Bungay was another homestead erected by a man named Joseph Cody. Joseph Cody Homestead 1760 Camp Street Milford Massachusetts
Location of 1760 Cody Farmstead- Google Earth
In 1760, Joseph Cody built a farmstead on Camp Street close to the intersection of Pine Island Road today. Joseph Cody was a sergeant in the 4th Company of Minuteman sent from Mendon on April 19th, 1775, when the alarm went out from Lexington. He was later known as Lieutenant Joseph Cody and served as Mendon's first police officer. Joseph Cody Homestead 1760 Camp Street Milford Massachusetts
Joseph Cody Homestead 1760 Camp Street Milford Massachusetts
According to Ballou's history of Milford: "Joseph Cody was from Hopkinton, the son of Isaac and Hannah Cody, born May 2, 1736. He settled in the vicinity of Bungay around 1760 on what has been in our time called the Partridge place. This family remained in town sometime after its incorporation. I think he was its first constable and was styled Lieutenant Joseph Cody. He was a carpenter, and tradition says that he seldom used any measuring implement but laid out his framing work so accurately by eye that all his joints and mortises fitted exactly when his frames were raised. He probably moved from town, perhaps to Hopkinton, not long after its incorporation. I cannot trace him further." We get more history on this property from Adin Ballou's History of Milford P.952:1760: "Aaron Partridge was born in 1774 and purchased the old Cody place in Milford on Camp Street near Bungay in 1799. William Harding - Last man to farm the old Cody Farmstead
William Harding - Last man to farm the old Cody Farmstead
The last man to farm the land here was William Harding. The farm was sold to New England Power Company and sits under high-tension wires today. The 1760 foundation is still easily found just off the side of Camp Street, but the rest of the farm has been swallowed up by the old swamp the English settlers once called Bungay. Traveling further up Camp Street we come to Reservoir Road which was land first settled by the Hunt family. Map showing location of the Huunt Wool Mill
Location of the Hunt Wool Mill - Google Earth
Daniel Hunt was born in 1743 in Holliston, Massachusetts. He was the son of Abidah Hunt and Phebe Pratt Hunt. Daniel and his wife Mary Hunt had several children, among them Pearley, Mary, Joseph, Ebenezer, Adam, Joel, and Abigail. Daniel Hunt marched to Concord, Massachusetts on the alarm of April 19, 1775. He was a Corporal in Captain Staples Chamberlin's Company of Militia from Holliston which was in Colonel Samuel Brewer's Regiment. The Hunts moved to Milford, Massachusetts in the mid-1770s. Daniel and Mary appeared in the first Federal Census, 1790, in Milford. Daniel's son, Ebenezer, would build a wool factory that stood at the point where Reservoir Road now crosses the Mill River. In a historical record created for the Town of Milford by May Gleason Bickford, a description of the old mills was presented. In it she mentioned that "The ambitious citizens of the Bungay District had visions of becoming famous in the mill business. Mills of different types were each in turn tried the last being the most successful It was run by Ebeneezer Hunt who's descendants have stood among the businessmen of our town. Woolen goods of various types were manufactured there and also a sort of imitation silk called Satinette. During the depression of 1828, they produced a shoddy good known as Bungay Hard Time which became quite popular. According to Ballou's History of Milford,"Two small manufactories of cotton and woolen goods had been started in town: one in Bungay, so called by Ebenezer Hunt as early, perhaps, as 1827 ; and the other, not long after, in the Centre, by Stephen R. and Parmenas P. Parkhurst. These had a run of several years in both places, but were doomed to extinction. Pecuniary losses, fires, etc., desolated them". Map of Bungay area 1827
Map of Bungay area 1827
In 1842 Lyman P. Lowe's factory in Bungay was listed as burned and "still desolate". Adin Ballou's History of Milford also refers to a man named John Schofield who oversaw the factory operations: "John Schofield was born Dec. 15, 1793, listed as a woolen-factory operative and overseer. Mr. Schofield came over from England at 20 years old. He was long an operative and overseer in woolen factories but later betook himself to boot making. He dwelt at Bungay at one time when the woolen manufacture was carried on there; and one, at least, of his younger children were born there. He was an ingenious, industrious, honest, and kind-hearted man in his own somewhat peculiar way." In the book Upton Massachusetts 1735-1935 P.33 we find some more detailed information: "Before the town was incorporated many homes spun and wove cloth. Mothers, daughters, and children engaged in these home arts which were necessities. So when Ebenezer Hunt set up his two sets of machinery and a dye house at the foot of the pond, he was changing the habits of many homes but giving steady employment to a considerable corps of workers, and bringing cash into circulation and benefiting the town. The yearly output was 31,200 yards of cloth valued at $15600 in 1837. The burning of the mill in 1843, ended the weaving industry in town." Location of Hunt Mills today
Location of Hunt Mills today
The foundations of the Hunt mill are still evident where Reservoir Road crosses the Mill River