From New England Magazine
Williams College.By Leverett W. Spring
In the year of grace 1793, Williamstown was literally in the wilderness. A considerable population, it is true, had already settled there; the census of 1790 shows the number of inhabitants to have been 1769; but there were no regular means of communication between the town and the rest of the world. Roads of a rough and primitive sort-in many cases they were little more than trails-had been built to the nearest settlements. The earliest of these roads-it was the second turnpike constructed in the State-came from the east over Hoosac Mountain, and followed down the Hoosac valley to Troy and Albany. Another highway ran from Pittsfield and southern Berkshire northward through Pownal and Bennington into Vermont. But these neighboring towns were very slow in getting into any other than the most casual and accidental relations with each other. Indeed Williamstown had no post-office until 1797. Twenty years later the mails came once a week from Boston, Pittsfield, and Troy. They were generally brought by a messenger on horseback, and never by any more elaborate conveyance than a single buggy. People who wished to visit the town must provide their own transportation or take the risk of falling in with some chance traveller who could give them a passage.
A Glimpse of Main Street Williamstown.
The fact that a town is out of the world has not usually been considered a sufficient reason for selecting it as the site of a college. Yet it was the isolation of the place that brought one to Williamstown; certainly no other consideration had so much weight in the matter. Col. Ephraim Williams, the founder of this institution, became familiar with northern Berkshire and its settlers during the French and Indian wars. He was born in Newton in 1715, and spent several years of his early life as a sailor, visiting England, France, and Holland. By these travels he is said to have "acquired graceful manners and a considerable stock of useful knowledge." Abandoning a seafaring life, in 1739, he removed to Stockbridge with his father and three or four others who undertook some mission to the Indians. He purchased a considerable tract of land in that town, and soon became one of its most prominent and influential citizens. The outbreak of the Five Years War in 1744 interrupted the peaceful tenor of his life at Stockbridge. During the preceding year and in anticipation of a renewal of hostilities, a series of forts and block houses had been constructed under the direction of Col. William Williams, of Pittsfield, for the purpose of connecting the Hudson and the Connecticut by a line of fortified posts, and thus affording he scattered settlements some protection against Indian raids from the north. The most exposed and therefore the most considerable of these defences was Fort Massachusetts, situated on the bank of
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