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Highlighting Historical Hampden

Incorporation

Wheeler’s Mills or Souadabscook Plantation or Wheelersborough or Olive and finally Hampden

Settlers called the township Souadabscook Plantation or Wheeler’s Mills. In 1774 under the general law for the incorporation of plantations, the growing settlement took the name Wheelersborough. On March 13, 1777 a successful petition was sent to the general court of Massachusetts requesting incorporation under that name. Anxious that they should have title to their lots, once again, the people petitioned the general court, sending a committee composed of Amos Dole, town clerk, John Crosby, and Reuben Newcomb. The response on June 8, 1790 was that those who settled before January 1, 1784, the price was very low-$6.50 for a 100 acre lot. For those who came between that date and January 1, 1794, the price was $50 for a 100 acre lot. (Hampden Historical Society 1976)

Seventeen years later on January 24, 1794 another petition was submitted to the general court requesting incorporation under the name of Olive. Only one month later another petition was sent asking that the name Olive be deleted and Hampden be inserted. Those studying Hampden history often wonder why these name changes were deemed necessary. Some local historians believe that Wheelersborough was simply considered too long a name. Whatever the reason, the area officially became Hampden on February 24, 1794, in honor of John Hampden (1594-1643). John Hampden was a distinguished member of the British Parliament who was said to have the most distinctive last name in any county in England. According to a biography of Hampden (Hansord-Miller 1976) he “was reviled as a traitor or saluted as a patriot and hero according to personal prejudice, and even today, more than three centuries after his death from wounds received at the battle of Chalgrove, opinion is hotly divided as to his merit.” Perhaps the fact that he refused to pay what he considered an illegal tax imposed by King Charles I appealed to those early residents of the town, who during the American Revolution stood against the English king, George III.