Fort Massachusetts was located in what was once called East Hoosac; now the city of North Adams, Massachusetts. The site is in the area bounded by Route 2/State Road, Demond Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, and Roberts Drive––in the back portion of the former Price Chopper Supermarket parking lot.
The Westernmost Bastion in the Line of Forts
The fort was built during King George's War (1744–1748), in 1745, against the French and their Indian allies. It was also built to prevent Dutch settlers in New York from encroaching upon Massachusetts territory from the west. Fort Massachusetts was the westernmost in a northern line of colonial forts extending from the Connecticut River, over the Hoosac Mountain, to this western frontier. And it remained active throughout much of the French and Indian War (1754–1763), until 1759, when it was decommissioned following the Battle of Quebec.
The outcome of the French and Indian War established British control of North America, and gave birth to the British Empire. And it also triggered the movement towards independence for the British colonists in America.
Origin of Our Community
Among the first English settlers in this area were the soldiers and their families from Fort Massachusetts. In fact, in the spring of 1746, one of the soldiers, John Perry––a carpenter by trade from Falltown (now Bernardston), and who helped construct this and other nearby forts––picked himself out a plot of land nearby, in the eastern portion of the present village of Blackinton, on the north bank of the river, fenced it in and built a house on it for he and his wife.
The soldiers at Fort Massachusetts had all been brought up on farms and were all looking forward, on their discharge from military service, to farm life on lands of their own. As an inducement to buyers and settlers, the committee of the General Court of Massachusetts granted 200 acres of land to Captain Ephraim Williams, Junior, in East Hoosac––now North Adams––on condition that he reserve ten acres of the meadow around Fort Massachusetts for the use of that fort, and also build a grist-mill and a saw-mill on one of the branches of the Hoosac River near their junction for the use of the settlers in the two townships of East Hoosac and West Hoosac. Some of the original proprietors of the entire township of West Hoosac––now Williamstown––were soldiers of the fort, with the land there being more conducive to farming.
Fort Massachusetts helped to clear the way for further European settlement into this region.
River Gods, Indian Ledge, captivity, cannibalism, griping and flux, bloody skirmishes, fleeing from the tomahawk and scalping-knife, hideous war-whoops, and the perpetual dread of a midnight surprise and massacre.
Every historical site has an important story to tell. The story of Fort Massachusetts is a compelling, suspenseful, and inspiring story. It speaks of hope and courage, and maintaining one's integrity in the face of adversity. It's a story of life and death and the human spirit. It is a story worth hearing.
Fort Massachusetts Memorial Park
I feel that the most feasible approach to preserving the site of Fort Massachusetts is through having it memorialized as a park. After the installation of the bronze tablet by the Fort Massachusetts Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1976––commemorating the fort and its defenders––the employees of the former Price Chopper created a small park in the portion of the site where that monument sits. And they've done a fine job at maintaining that small portion. Hopefully, one day we'd like to improve upon and utilize that quarter-acre site; shuttered behind a fence and tree overgrowth. And create an aesthetically pleasing area, while also providing information about the history of Fort Massachusetts through information boards, and events.
What You Can Do to Help
We must strive to preserve our historic sites, for they are some of our most tangible, authentic links to our past. And when it comes to Fort Massachusetts, that is our primary goal––to draw public awareness to this historic site and educate the visitor about the history of Fort Massachusetts and the impact it had on the development of our community.
As Friends of Fort Massachusetts, we have created this website as a means to help educate the visitor and, through the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our blog), spread word of the history of this forgotten historical site.
Golub Properties Inc. has owned the property since 1960, and have taken every effort to help preserve the memory of Fort Massachusetts over the years. With the closing of the former Price Chopper, in February of 2016, there had been some concern as to fate of the site. In the summer of 2016, their CEO, Neil Golub, had assured me that he has every intention of preserving this site.
Tell your friends about us! Spread word about this forgotten, and neglected, historic site. Follow us through our social media outlets to stay up-to-date on our events, volunteering opportunities, and for any action that may be needed from you to help preserve this hallowed ground––the origin of our community.