Simon Willard goes to the wilds of Massachusetts December 31, 2008Posted by Jenny in history, memoir, nature.
Tags: American history, Cambridge Massachusetts, Cambridge real estate, Concord Massachusetts, Puritan, Simon Willard
Simon Willard is my one “illustrious ancestor.” (Some of the others were Irish sheep stealers. There was a bag of wool on the family coat of arms.) I plan to write a series of posts about him on this blog. Here is the first.
Simon Willard was born in England in 1605, a devout Puritan who thought there was little future for himself under the Anglican imposer of orthodoxy, Archbishop William Laud. He sailed to New England in 1634 and settled in Cambridge, Mass. And so, according to an account published by one of my ancestors in 1850, he decided to “pass the perilous seas in weariness and danger, on a long voyage to a distant continent, all around and through which were dense forests, and the dreaded Indians, the gloom of nature, and the dreariness of solitude…. ”
He established himself in Cambridge, and bought a property of whom the neighbors were : “Dollard Davis, one house-lot of half a rood, more or less, Water Street, north-west; John Bridge, south-west; William Andrews, north-east; William Westwood, east.” Anyone who is familiar with current property values in Cambridge, Mass., will appreciate the worth of that property.
The very next year, Simon Willard became restless in Cambridge and decided to venture west to engage in fur-trading with the Indians. He ended in what is now Concord, Mass. The journey was arduous, according to a contemporary account: “…and with much difficulties traveling through unkonwne woods, and through watery swamps they discover the fitnesse of the place, sometimes passing through the thickets, where their hands are forced to make way for their bodies passage, and ther feete clambering over the cross trees, which when they missed they sunke into an uncertaine bottome in water, and wade up to the knees, tumbling sometimes higher and sometimes lower; wearied with this toile they at ende of this, meet with a scorching plaine, yet not so plaine, but that the ragged bushes scratch their legs fouly, even to wearing their stockings to their bare skin in two or three houres, if they be not otherwise defended with bootes or buskings their flesh will be torne…”
(To be continued)