Warwick, Massachusetts

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Warwick is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 750 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

History

Warwick was first settled in 1739 and was officially incorporated in 1763.

The land that became Warwick, Massachusetts was one of four tracts of land established by Massachusetts in 1735 to compensate the descendants of the officers and soldiers who served during the "expedition to Canada" and the Battle of Quebec in 1690[1]. The area was initially called Gardner's Canada and original proprietors were named in 1736. A 1737 owners list names the initial land owners, few of whom appear to have remained to settle the town[2] once it was incorporated in 1763.

It took another 25 years to attract sufficient numbers of settlers to support a town and its minister. In 1760, such numbers were reached and the town hired a young Reverend Lemuel Hedge. The town was formed officially, as Warwick, on 17 Feb 1763.[3] Its first officers were James Ball (town clerk); Moses Evans, Jeduthan Morse, James Ball (selectman and assessors); Amzi Doolittle (treasurer); Samuel Ball (constable); James Ball (collector).[4] As the Revolutionary War approached, the town voted unanimously in favor of independence, although the town minister preached against it. Rev. Lemuel Hedge was barred from leaving the town in July 1775.[5] He died 15 October 1777, the day British General Burgoyne surrendered his troops to the colonists in Saratoga. In 1776, Lieutenant Thomas Rich was selected to represent the town at the General Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Shortly before and after the turn of the 19th century, many of Franklin County's old families began to move into Windham County, Vermont in the generational quest for inexpensive land and frontiers to tame. Among those from Warwick was the Nathan Hastings family who settled in Windham, Vermont in 1806. They were joined in Windham by others from adjacent villages such as Royalston and that part of Orange, Massachusetts now known as the village of North Orange.

A significant event in Warwick's late 20th century history was the arrival of the Brotherhood of the Spirit Commune later known as the Renaissance Community which remained in the area through the 1960s and into the 1970s. The commune was led by the controversial mystic Michael Metelica Rapunzel. The population of Warwick was only about 450 then, and hundreds of young people came to Warwick to join the commune. There was some friction in the early days, but townspeople and commune members gradually became more cooperative. The commune left Warwick for good in the 1980s.

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