Settlement, Roads, Industry

Early Settlers

Thirty years ago there were stone columns that supported this barn standing within the cellar hole. Today they are on the ground but you can still see them if you look carefully.

There are cellar holes located on many Upton State Forest Trails. The stone walls and cellar holes of homes, barns and outbuildings are the remains of early settlement.

Cellar hole
Cellar hole located off Rabbit Run Trail (E. Arnold Photo, 2006)

New State

Until 1735 North Upton was part of Sutton and Hopkinton. Sons and daughters of Westborough families settled this area while people migrating from Rowley settled other areas of Upton. In June of 1735 parts of Mendon, Sutton, Hopkinton and Uxbridge were joined together and incorporated into the town of Upton. Because of the distance to the Upton meeting house and their ties to the Westborough minister, Reverend Ebenezer Parkman, families in North Upton did not establish close ties to the rest of town.

Some of these early North Upton families objected to paying taxes while seeing little benefit in return. They banded together attempting to secede from the Commonwealth and forming a new state. According to the late Carl Anderson this earned the area the nickname of “New State.” As Mr. Anderson told it, one day someone went to visit a family in “New State” and found the homes empty and everyone gone with no explanation. It is conjectured that they may have moved on to the Western Territories where they would have more freedom and a smaller tax burden. In the past this story has only been known through verbal history. Deed research in 2005 discovered the words “New State” as a point of reference in a local deed.

Early Roads

The “Old Nash Place”

Nash Plase on Nash Rd.“Nash Rd was a long, narrow dirt road running between Gore Rd and the former Tucker Farm on Southborough Rd.”
(Hopper, 1982)

(photo courtesy of Upton Historical Society)





In 1982 Gordon Hopper, a Milford Daily News reporter, reported that he found 16 cellar holes and identified nine home sites. He also located sawmill sites, water holes and three old dams. All of these sites were connected by a network of roads that led from Upton to Grafton, Hopkinton, Westborough and beyond. Some of these roads are incorporated into the existing trail system at Upton State Forest.

Hopkinton Springs

If you know where to look on the Hopkinton Springs Trail you can see the location of the old spring covered over with rock many years ago. Near the Upton/Hopkinton boundary marker this spring was a continual source of water for early residents that traveled from Grafton, Hopkinton, Upton and Westborough. They would bring wagons loaded with barrels, filling them to supply their needs for cooking, bathing and drinking for their families and livestock. On the return trip everyone would have to walk because the wagon would be so heavy with the barrels of water.

Early Mills

In 1983 Carol Johnson Blomquist and John Morrill developed 1735 and 1798 lot maps from research they did on early homes. The 1735 map shows the home of Benjamin Stuwart near a brook but no road. In 1798 the map shows an unnamed road intersecting with the road to Westborough at Pratt Pond. (Hopkinton Rd. and High St. did not exist.) This road (today Gore Rd) headed northeast toward Hopkinton through the properties of Jason Bathrick, A. Sadler, Ezra Whitney, Samuel Forbush, Daniel White and a section of common land. This map and records as early as 1792 indicate a mill and a nearby home on the Forbush property at Anderson Brook. As late as 1851 maps still showed Gore Rd. continuing past the mill toward Hopkinton but since 1938 it dead ends at Dean Pond.

An 1851 map shows a saw mill at this location and names the house as N. Gore.
The late Gordon Hopper reported finding evidence of three early dams in close proximity to this site.

While building Dean Pond Dam in 1938 Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees uncovered remnants of the old mill works. At that time, Fred Alexander, a long time Upton resident said that the Gore Dam washed out in 1882 ending a period of over 100 years as a productive mill site.

An early Upton census also shows a cider mill located in the area of Upton State Forest and Mr. Hopper also reported finding evidence of other early mills.

Stone Cutting

Throughout Upton State Forest you can see evidence of stone cutting on granite outcroppings as well as stone lying in the forest. You will see marks created whenStone Cutting, Courtesy of Upton Historical Societythe stone cutter placed his “feathers and wedges.” He used two tools called feathers placing them opposite each other along a line in the stone. Then he used a mallet to drive iron wedges between them at intervals. By repeatedly striking the wedges in sequence they eventually made the stone crack and break away from the ledge. Not always an exact science there were times when the stone did not break as planned so it was left where it fell. (Photo courtesy of Upton Historical Society).

The late Carl Anderson referred to an area near Middle Road Trail as “Pilkington’s Quarry”. Alexander Pilkington was one of four brothers that came from Ramsbottom, England to Upton around the beginning of the Civil War. They had evidently learned the stone cutting trade before they came here. All but Alexander passed away before 1873 but he continued the trade until his death in 1918.

The Pilkington’s cut stone for cemetery monuments, horse troughs, building foundations and mill stones. On the east side of Middle Road Trail you can see round cut stones that were intended as mill stones but either broke while being transported or cut.

District #7 School

District 7 schoolIn the early years of formal schooling required by the Commonwealth the legislature set up school districts because of the hardships of travel for students to go to a central school. Upton had nine districts. The schools in these districts were one room and were not graded meaning that regardless of age or learning level all students were taught together. (photo courtesy of Upton Historical Society)

District #7 encompassed the northeast section taking in Lackey Street., Ridge Road., part of Westborough Road and what is now the contiguous state forest area. The school was a wood frame building with two front doors probably one for the girls and one for the boys. It was located near the present day intersection of Westborough Road and Southborough Road.

Parents had to supply the textbooks and slates that were used. The school committee paid various people for wood for the stoves that were used for heat. Maintenance was sporadic depending on whether the school was used for that year. At times children in one district would attend school in the next district because there weren’t enough students to justify opening a building. Local school committee reports show several instances when the students in District #7 were combined with District #6, a one room brick schoolhouse on North Street.

Use of these district schools waned as there were fewer children using them and school committees made attempts to centralize education. I have not yet found a record that would tell me when the District #7 building was closed or if it was sold or dismantled. On an audio tape recording in the possession of Upton Historical Society the late Henry Poirier, a life long Upton resident said that it disappeared board by board.


Portable saw mills were made possible around 1821 with the development of steam saw mills powered by burning wood slabs. These mills were moved to the site being cut and employed from ten to fifteen men depending on the size of the wood lot and “back log” of timber waiting to be cut.


When these mills were moved it was like the circus coming to town with people running from their homes to watch the parade of wagons carrying the components. Four horses pulled the boiler and in mud season two horses attached to a pole pushed from behind. In swampy area oxen were used since horses would be nervous because of the poor footing.


At the site there two clearings made were made to set up the mill and to stack the lumber. Water was necessary to power the boiler so the owner studied the land setting up on the side of a hill near a water source

One local logger, Ben Wood, owned a number of parcels that are now a part of Upton State Forest. According to the late Carl Anderson when other jobs were slow Mr. Wood set up the mill off the Westborough Road between the two ends of Ridge Road. At other times the mill was set up in Upton, Mendon, Hopkinton or Westborough or as far as Hubbardston.

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