Ephraim Williams's Signature
Land On the Western Frontier
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Town plot plan in the township west of Fort Massachusetts, ca. 1751

Deeds conveying land to Ephraim Williams, Jr., 1747-1755

Report of the Committee upon Ephraim Williams, Jr.'s petition for 200 acres at Fort Massachusetts, 1750/1

Numerous townships along the western frontier of the Province of Massachusetts Bay were being surveyed and settled throughout the first half of the 18th century. Many members of the Williams family emigrated from the Boston area during this period, extending the family's significant network of power and prestige to the western part of the Colony. Ephraim Sr. (1691-1754) settled in 1738 at the infant Indian mission of Stockbridge; Thomas (1718-1775), Ephraim Jr.'s brother, moved to Deerfield in 1739 to open his medical practice; Ephraim Jr. moved to Stockbridge in 1742, subsequently shifting his residence among Hatfield, Deerfield, Stockbridge, and Fort Massachusetts, situated to the east of present day Williamstown.

The Massachusetts General Court promoted the settlement of the western frontier for military and political reasons. It was hoped that the newly founded townships and fortified outposts, especially those located in the northwestern corner of the Province, would serve as a shield for towns to the south and east against the frequent raids made by enemy French and Indians. Politically, the General Court hoped as well that the settlements would help to stake out Massachusetts' disputed western border with New York, thereby halting incursions by Dutch settlers.

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Bloody Morning Scout
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