Salem End and Oregon

The first known white settler in Ashland north and west of the Sudbury River was John Coller, who in 1687 leased a piece of land on the eastern edge of the town, as it now stands. At one time the bridge at Cutler’s Mill, the site of which is now covered by the waters of the reservoir (Number Two) was know as Coller’s Bridge. Near this spot John Coller built his house.

“A few years after Coller moved into the present Ashland area, several families, including the Bridges, Cloyeses and Nurses, driven from Salem by the witchcraft persecution, took up a tract in the newly opened town of Framingham. This section became know as Salem End, and a part of the property thus settled was set off to Ashland when the town was incorporated. These newcomers were shortly joined by many families who settled on the common land in the Oregon section of Ashland. Several of the original homesteads which were built as the result of this immigration are still to be seen.

“South of Salem End and the Oregon District, taking in land running as far as Winter Street was a large tract of wild terrain which still retains much of its original appearance. Here about 200 years ago, William Richards built himself a house on the west side of Wild Cat Hill.” [1]

“They came from Danvers, where they were involved in the strange complications and sad results of the witchcraft delusion. Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, the Wife of Francis, and mother of Benjamin, and Sarah (Towne) Cloyes, the wife of Peter, were sisters, and were among the earliest of the accused victims and sufferers. They were committed to the prison in Boston March 1, 1692. Mrs. Nurse was the mother of eight children and was an honored member of the old church in Salem. At her trial, the evidence against her was so weak that the jury twice failed to convict; but on a third return to Court, because she failed to give satisfactory answers to certain questions which they proposed, they brought her in guilty. It was afterwards shown that from deafness, she had failed to fully comprehend the proposed questions. She was executed July 19, 1692.

“The wife of Peter Clayes [Cloyes] was tried, and found guilty, and condemned to death. In August, she found means to escape, and was concealed by her friends, till the removal to Framingham, the next spring. As the witchcraft frenzy abated in the fall of 1692, probably the authorities were not anxious to recapture the fugitive.”

It should be said to his credit that Governor Danforth was largely instrumental in allaying the Witchcraft excitement, and stopping conviction by the Court. [2]

Directions – September 1975

[1] History of the Town of Ashland, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1942

[2] Temple, Josiah, History of Framingham, Massachusetts, Town of Framingham, 1887