2.01 Manchaug Pond & Waters Farm

Welcome to Waters Farm & Manchaug Pond

Waters Farm and Manchaug Pond provide a spectacular gateway to The Last Green Valley traversed by the Old Connecticut Path from West Sutton, MA to Tolland, CT.

Waters Farm, a hilltop homestead built in 1757 by Stephen Waters, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in Sutton, Massachusetts overlooking beautiful Manchaug Pond.  With stunning views of the lake, barns, outbuildings, and pristine farmland, Waters Farm offers visitors a rare glimpse of 19th century New England farm life at its best. Waters Farm is 120 acres of watershed land given to the Town of Sutton by Dorothea Waters Moran in 1974.
View of Manchaug Pond from Waters Farm (click on picture to enlarge).
Wouldn't you love to have this view from your front door step?

Waters Farm, Manchaug Pond and the surrounding area in West Sutton have an important place in the story of the Old Connecticut Path. The Nipmuck people gathered on the shore of Manchaug Pond. They lived on the fertile lands that became Waters Farm and West Sutton. The earliest English travelers along the Old Connecticut Path passed through this area, traded with the natives, and paused to rest on the shores on Manchaug Pond.

View the video to visit Waters farm and Manchaug Pond as it is today. The Waters family who lived here for 6 generations graciously donated this land as a preserve for future generations to enjoy. See the spectacular views and explore the quiet places that are found here. Learn about the Nipmuck people who lived here, the Praying Village established here by Reverend John Eliot, the devastation that resulted from the King Philip War, and the land speculation and English settlement on the Nipmuck lands after that war. See the traces left by the early English settlers as they marked their land, built their homes and worked the land. Click on the picture (left) or the link to view the video Waters Farm & Manchaug Pond.

The Old Connecticut Path & West Sutton History

Sutton resident and historian Fred Humes provides a record of the history of West Sutton that includes the early history of the Nipmuck people who lived on the lands surrounding Manchaug Pond. Using early records of travel along the Old Connecticut Path, Humes concluded that the Path traveled through West Sutton and that the Praying Village established by Reverend John Eliot was located at the north end of Manchaug Pond.

The shore of Manchaug Pond was a meeting place for the Nipmuck people and other travelers along the Old Connecticut Path. The shoreline has been dramatically altered by the construction of the dam on the Mumford River that greatly enlarged the pond. The map of Sutton from 1831 shows the shore as it was prior to construction of the dam. The map shows the meeting place of the Nipmuck people that was flooded over by the enlarged pond. Relics of the Nipmuck people camping on the shore including stone arrowheads, utensils and tools have been found among the rocks of Manchaug Pond when pond water level is drawn down for the winter.

While there are several possible routes for the Old Connecticut Path to reach the shore of the Manchaug Pond, one route is displayed coming downhill on Lackey Road from the hill to the east, crossing the meeting place of the Nipmucks, and heading uphill to enter the Douglas Woods. Drivers who fail to STOP at the bottom of Lackey Road would find themselves floating (briefly) in Manchaug Pond. The area of Manchaug Pond seen in the picture would have been part of a larger meadow bordering on the smaller pond prior to construction of the dam. Waters Farm sits atop the hill in the distance. The large meadow on the shore of Manchaug Pond would provide an ideal resting point along the Old Connecticut Path. Plentiful fish from the pond and game from the woods would complement the corn and beans raised by the Nipmuck people on the rich farm land above the pond to provide ample food for groups traveling along the paths that converged at Manchaug Pond.

The Manchaug Praying Village & King Philip's War
Reverend John Eliot, known as the "Apostle to the Indians", established a chain of Praying Towns and Praying Villages between 1640-1675 where Nipmuck people who accepted Christianity gathered. The record of travels to these places located along the Old Connecticut Path provides markers that help establish the route today. The Path traveled from Boston/Cambridge in the east along a well established route of villages and pond side camps. The route passed Whitehall Pond in Hopkinton, over Jack Straw Hill and Faye Mountain in Westborough to reach the Praying Town of Hassanamesit in Grafton. The Path crossed the Nipnet (Backstone) River heading southwest to the Manchaug Praying Village on the shore of Manchaug Pond in West Sutton. The village was midway between Hassanamesit in Grafton and the Praying Village of Chaubunagungmaug at Webster Lake. Looking at the map, it is easy to see that travel on foot along the Old Connecticut Path offered rest stops at Nipmuck villages and camps spaced a days journey apart. Accounts of travel along the Path at time record that route was easy with food and shelter available at villages all along the way. In those early years, the Nipmuck people were friendly and extended their hospitality to travelers.

In 1675, war broke out in Massachusetts between the Native people lead by Metacom, also known as King Philip, and the English settlers.
The King Philip's War was a bitter and bloody conflict between the Algonquian speaking Indian tribes and the English settlers of the New England colonies, which took place from June 1675 to August 1676 ending in victory for the colonists. More than half of New England's 90 towns were assaulted by Native Indians. During King Philips war almost one out of every twenty people in the region, both whites and Indians, are killed. Over 600 colonists and 3,000 Indians were killed during King Philip's War and Indian captives were sold into slavery.

King Philip’s War resulted in the destruction of families and communities, Native and colonist alike, throughout New England.  It took decades for the colonists to recover from the loss of life, the property damage and the huge military expenditures.

The war was especially devastating for Native People.  A scorched earth strategy brought total war to the Native settlements. Villages were burned and crops were destroyed pushing the Natives to starvation. Entire families were sold into slavery abroad; others were forced to become servants locally. The Christian Praying Villages and Towns were not spared. The Manchaug Praying Village here in West Sutton was destroyed leaving no trace. The Natives, who were not killed or sold into slavery, were driven from their homelands and fled to join tribes outside the area never to return.

English Settlement

Following the King Philip's War, the land of the Nipmuck people was empty. The growing population of English settlers along the Massachusetts Bay was hungry for land to establish their homesteads.

In 1681, Joseph Dudley and William Stoughton petitioned the Massachusetts assembly to conduct a survey of the Nipmuck lands to identify places best suited for settlement. Dudley and Stoughton were the ultimate "insiders" in colonial government affairs. It was said that they had such a level of influence and power that if they wanted something done, it got done. If they did not want something to happen, it was effectively blocked. So, their commission to survey the Nipmuck lands from which the natives had been forcefully expelled during the King Philip's war conferred tremendous advantage to Dudley and Stoughton for land speculation and development.

As a result of their survey of the French River valley down to the Quinebaug River, Dudley & Stoughton had opportunity to be the first to purchase prime real estate in the Oxford area. To establish their claim to the lands, Dudley and Stoughton encouraged the Huguenots to settle in Oxford in 1686. They carved a roadway from their fort just off the Old Connecticut Path to Woodstock so that they could provide mutual aid for protection. This became the Oxford-Woodstock Road that would become one the preferred routes that came to replace the Old Connecticut Path. Although the Huguenot settlement was short-lived, they set the stage for permanent settlement in the valley. Stoughton and Dudley were able to sell their lands at inflated prices to settlers who were hungry for farm land. They were enriched by the opportunities that their position of influence conferred and selection of the best lands located along what came to be the main route west (i.e. Oxford-Woodstock Road).

Joseph Dudley and William Stoughton also received payment for the survey they initiated from the colonial government. They each received 1,000 acres of land of their own choosing as reward for their survey. From all the land available, they picked two tracts of land located along the Old Connecticut Path in West Sutton and Oxford.
Dudley and Stoughton chose the land that has been the homeland of the Nipmuck people who lived on the shore of Manchaug Pond and were members of the Manchaug Praying Village. The "Manchaug Farm", as they called it, was prime real estate. The fertile land, clear streams and ponds provided a gateway through which all westward travel passed. As land speculators and developers, Dudley and Stoughton knew what they were doing. Their land along the Old Connecticut Path sat at the junction of multiple trails. These included the Oxford-Providence path, the Mendon path, the Oxford-Woodstock road, and paths north to Worcester. In the early 1800's, the Central Turnpike was constructed to improve travel from Boston to Hartford on a route that paralleled the Old Connecticut Path and passed through the "Manchaug Farms" in West Sutton.

Richard Waters relocated to Sutton from Salem in the early 1700's. He purchased 667 acres of land from the family of William Stoughton.  His grandson, Stephen Waters, built the Main House in 1757 on what is now called Waters Farm. The Waters family lived here for 6 generations. In 1974, the farm was donated to the Town of Sutton for preservation and the enjoyment of future generations. Waters Farm is open for visitors. Paths lead from the from down to Manchaug Pond. The main house and farm buildings provide a glimpse into life in the late 18th-early 19th centuries. The Waters farm Association sponsors "Waters Farm Day" in late September each year. This special day offers a variety of activities and demonstrations for all ages. For a tour of Waters farm, click on the link Visit Waters Farm.

Visit the Waters Farm website for more information about the history of the farm and events. http://www.watersfarm.com/

Post Script on Joseph Dudley & William Stoughton

Joseph Dudley and William Stoughton were the ultimate insiders in early colonial Massachusetts government and development. Each has a Massachusetts town named for their family. This is one reflection of their influence on their times. While researching the Old Connecticut Path and the lands in Sutton, the role of then Governor Joseph Dudley in the founding of the town offered another insight to Puritan pride. The grant to establish Sutton was held up for several years until Governor Dudley intervened. While it is not known for sure what the origin of the town's name is, there is a possibility that Governor Dudley's family received the honor of having a second town named for them. How could this be possible? There is the town of Dudley further down the Old Connecticut Path on the border of Thompson & Woodstock, Connecticut. Governor Dudley recorded in his genealogy that he was a descendant of the Sutton-Dudley family of England. His Sutton ancestors came over from Normandy with William the Conqueror and were landed gentry. While no specific claim can be found, Governor Dudley's support for the town's grant could have been influenced by an offer to name the new town in honor of his Sutton family. Vanity be thy name. 

Resources for more information:

West Sutton in the Early Days by John Fred Humes. Provides the history of the area on the Old Connecticut Path where the Manchaug praying village was located.

The Sutton Historical Society reported on "Secrets of the Douglas Woods" that includes Native artifacts found at Manchaug Pond. A copy may be viewed at the link below:
Secrets of the Douglas Woods

Sutton Historical Society. Sutton Historical Society web page

Visit the Manchaug Pond Association offers more information about the pond. http://www.manchaugpond.org/Welcome.html

For more information about the Nipmuc people and Sutton, visit the website http://www.suttonmass.org/nipmuc/

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