A Piece of Belchertown History
Recently, a piece of Belchertown history, dated August 1774, arrived at the Stone House Museum. Richard Knight, a former resident, presented a framed broadside from the Honorable Harrison Gray, Esq., Treasurer and Receiver-General of His Majesty’s said Province, Massachusetts Bay. It set forth the sum to be assessed and collected from each person in town and included a poll tax on every male over 16 years of age, a tax on houses and land, horses and mares, oxen, swine, goats, sheep and Indian, Negro and Molatto (sic) servants as personal property. The broadside stated that “Hereof you may not fail as you will answer your Neglect at the Peril of the Law.”
This valuable broadside was formerly owned by Herman Knight. He was born in Belchertown on May 10,1875 in the northern section of town known as Knight’s Corner. Educated in the Pelham schools, New Salem Academy, Hyannis Normal School and special courses at Harvard University, he started his teaching career in Belchertown, teaching at East Hill and Chestnut Hill district schools for five years. Moving on to other towns, he advanced to Principal of schools in Uxbridge and Abington. He served as Superintendent of Schools in Maine and Massachusetts before returning to Belchertown in 1926 as Superintendent of Schools of Belchertown and Enfield, retiring in 1941. Mr. Knight was president of the Belchertown Historical Association for many years. His obituary in the Sentinel sums up his interest in the Association. “His membership in the Historical Association, of which he was president for so many years, mapping out tours of extreme interest, and his own collection of antiques, indicated his appreciation of the long and weary, yet interesting road that had been trod by our forbears in their upward climb. This reverence for the past, combined with his outlook on the present and his hope for the future in the rising generation, with which he was always in close touch, made one ever glad to journey with him on his happy explorations in this realm of interest and of that.
The broadside is a gift of Timothy Knight of Orient, Maine, former resident of Belchertown, son of Howard Knight and grandson of Herman Knight, and a fourth generation descendant of Aaron and Miranda (Root) Knight of Belchertown.. We are always grateful when people remember the Association as a repository for their gifts that help tell the story of the history of Belchertown. ###