A Course in Time

Flintstone Farm circa 1920


Peter H. White


The earliest history of Dalton is more folklore than documented fact. Godfrey Greylock's "TAGHCONIC: The Romance and Beauty of the Hills" tells the legend of Wizard's Glen ( now known as the Gulf ) and Lewis A. Taft's " Profile of Old New England" tells the legend of Wahconah Falls.
Wizard's Glen, contained a Devil's Altar Stone upon which medicine men and tribal wizards supposedly offered human sacrifice to Ho-bo-mo-ko, the Spirit of Evil.
The tale of Wahconah the indian maiden tells of two young braves, Yonnongah and Nessacus' rivalry to determine whose squaw she would be. Yonnongah, a Mohawk warrior from a neighboring village, stopped to pay his respects to the sachem Decanawida . The visitor was quickly enchanted by the beauty of a young maiden, Wahconah, only 16 summers old. He asked her father's permission to marry her. The old chief viewed Yonnongah as a brave and stalwart man, and a fitting choice for his daughter. He told the brave to come back in the spring and he would have Wahconah as his squaw.
One day as Wahconah was collecting firewood, she was attacked by a bear. As she struggled to escape its claws, a young warrior appeared. He was an Algonquin named Nessacus, who was fleeing from the mighty Mohawks. With but a light fish spear, Nessacus killed the bear, though the beasts talons tore his flesh.
The young man was ill from his wounds for many days, and Wahconah nursed him tenderly with her own hands. Her beauty and friendliness captured his heart and he asked Decanawida for her hand.
But the sachem told Nessacus that although he was a brave man and had saved his daughter's life, he must keep his promise to Yonnangah.
The old chief went to the lodge of the medicine man, Mohessah, and the two men smoked many pipes as they discussed the problem of the two warriors who were in love with Wahconah.
The shaman agreed that both warriors were brave men and had just claims. One of these men claimed Wahconah on a promise, the other because he had saved her life. Thus only fate should judge the right warrior, and a contest should be held.
Wahconah, it was decided, should be placed in a canoe without paddles at the base of the falls. The canoe would then be set adrift. In the shallow water of the falls there was a small island. If the vessel bearing Wahconah passed the island to the north side, she should belong to Yonnongah. If it passed to the south side, Nessacus could claim her.
In that night's darkness, Yonnongah slipped away to the small island in the middle of the stream. He set to work dropping stones into the channel on the south side of the island, reasoning that the water would flow more swiftly to the north, and thus Wahconah would be his.
In the village, shortly after Yonnongah returned from his work, a shadowy figure hurried to the row of canoes lying on the bank of the creek. At the end of the row was an old birch canoe used by the squaws to fetch firewood. The ghostly figure dropped a bundle of furs into this canoe.
At days arrival, Yonnongah walked to the north bank of the stream, opposite the island. Nessacus waded to the south shore.
When Wahconah arrived, she begged to be permitted to use the old squaws canoe, saying she was not worthy to ride in a war canoe.
At a nod from Mohassah, two warriors picked up the squaw canoe and placed it at the base of the falls. Wahconah stepped in and settled herself on the bundle of furs. Mohassah gave the canoe a shove into the rushing waters. The craft turned and rocked as it sped toward the island. In the grip of the current, it headed toward the north bank and Yonnongah.
Then suddenly and inexplicably the canoe turned, hesitated, then shot to the center of the stream. It rapidly approached the shallows close to the island. It grounded briefly then twisted free and moved toward the south bank. Nessacus ran into the water and dragged the canoe ashore, and gave his future wife a hug.
Later that afternoon, Decanawida and Mohassah saw a canoe filled with water, lying several feet from the bank. Mohassah waded out and pulled the canoe to shore. It was the one used by Wahconah. in the bottom was a bundle of soggy furs. The medicine man picked up the skins and saw a ragged hole in the bottom of the craft. From a fold in the furs a sharp, sturdy stick fell to the ground.
" A sharp stick pushed through the bottom could guide a canoe in shallow water," he observed. Decanawida nodded in agreement, with laughter in his voice, " The Great Manitou decided the contest --- assisted by Wahconah."
The native Americans who inhabited the Berkshires belonged primarily to the Mahican nation and spoke in the Algonquin tongue. Their governmental seat was near Albany, and by 1625, the Iroquois nation was threatening the Mahicans' survival. When the Dutch began crowding into Columbia County New York and supplying arms to the rival Mohawks, the Iroquois and Mahicans formed a brittle alliance. By 1664, the Mahicans were squeezed into Southern Berkshire where they remained until moving in the mid 1800's to join the Deleware tribe on a reservation in Wisconsin.
When the white men came to western Massachusetts in the 1750's, only a small village of the Stockbridge tribe remained where now is Great Barrington.
In the 1750's, the lands in Massachusetts west of the Westfield River, were sold by deeds from John Pophnehonnuhwoh alias Konkaupot, Jacob Cheeksonkun, indian chief Benjamin Kokhkewenaunant Chief Sachem of the Mohhekunnuck River Indian or Housatunnock Tribe and others to the General Court of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

Ashuelot Equivalent

The first settlement in what is now Dalton, took place about 1755. It was then called The Ashuelot Equivalent due to the boundary dispute between New Hampshire and Massachusetts Bay.
A company in Hatfield were previously granted lands on the Ashuelot River near Hinsdale, New Hampshire.
After the boundary was established, and the Ashuelot River lands were determined to be in New Hampshire, the equivalent of lands were granted to the Hatfield company in Western Massachusetts. These lands in Massachusetts were granted in 1743, approximately ten years before the indian deeds.
One of the first settlers in the area was William Cleveland who emigrated here in 1755 from Mansfield Connecticut. He was a farmer, miller, and pioneer who was attracted by the fine water power of the falls, now Wahconah Falls. William located in what is now Windsor near Wahconah Falls where, in 1760, he built the first saw mill near the present dam of the Windsor Reservoir. In 1779 this mill was carried away by a flood.
The following year he built the first grist mill in the area near the foot of Wahconah Falls that for many years did a good business. It had a corn mill and a wheat mill, and two days in each year were set aside for the grinding of salt. The farmers would buy the coarse salt and dry it, and on the allotted days would bring it to the mill to be ground.
His son William Cleveland married Sarah Tozer in 1779, and built a log cabin on part of the land granted by the King of England to Andrew Stone on the road leading from Dalton to Windsor and for many years was the Cleveland Family Homestead and for which Cleveland Road was named.
Sometime between 1790 and 1800 a five room frame house was built where the cabin stood. That house is now the ell portion of the present dwelling. It is said that William carried on his back to Kinderhook N.Y. enough flax to buy their first cow.
Their eldest son Alvah Cleveland, married Hannah Kittredge at Hinsdale in 1804. They lived at the homestead on Cleveland Road and had two mills on the river behind the house. A wool carding mill where the wool was made into rolls for hand spinning, and a saw mill where in connection to the saw mill he made chairs and bedsteads and sold fancy chair material.
In 1825 Alvah added onto the house and built the upright portion of the present home and from that time until his death in 1837 they ran a tavern there. Old Route 9, or Cleveland Road was the main post road from Albany to Boston and the tavern was a stop for changing horses. In a letter written by Zenas Marshall Crane to his brother James Brewer Crane dated September 28, 1837, Zenas tells of Alvah's funeral.
" Yesterday poor Alvah Cleveland was buried beside the new graves of his Father & two brothers. Truly the fate of that stricken family is a hard one. Every one that saw them in the long procession that follows his remains to their last home, attested it. He, like those that preceded him in his family went with the consumption. The sister (Melissa) was not at home, and it was affected in the extreme to see the Mother, with the only son occupying the two horse carriage, alone, which took them along behind the hearse, to witness the last sad rites, which were about to be praised to the deceased. That carraige that we have so often lately seen coming to church, loaded with what is now, as it were, a departed family. Melissa returns today."
After Alvah died, the mills and farm continued with their son William K.
The mills that utilized the Falls Brook were many in the mid 1800's and could only produce at their peak in the spring months. In 1869, William K. Cleveland, Byron Weston, Crane & Co., David C. Smith, P. Mitchell, Amos Smith, Thomas Colt, and the Van Sickler Mill of Pittsfield formed the Windsor Reservoir Co. and built the Windsor dam to impound water for power.

Acquired Lands

In Early Dalton History, the northern border of the town ran from Wahconah Falls to the Gulf. At Holiday Road this northern boundary was located between the house and lower barns and is still visible by a stand alone tree line which is located between the newly planted walnut grove and the field north of it. The line ran from the point at Wahconah Falls where Dalton, Hinsdale and Windsor meet and ran on a west, southwesterly course to a point at the Gulf just north of where Dalton, Lanesborough and Pittsfield meet.
Prior to 1795 the land north of this line belonged to Windsor and was annexed to Dalton as timber for fuel and developement.
In about 1826 the Reverend Ebenezer Jennings wrote about the history of Dalton for the Berkshire Association of Congregational Ministers. It was published in a History of Berkshire County in 1829 by the Reverend David D. Field of Stockbridge.
Jennings wrote; "there was formerly a very valuable pine forest in the town but the demand for pine stuff has been so great, that this source of wealth is almost exhausted.
A great quantity of wood is yet to be found on the hills; from which a considerable gain is derived from markets out of town. Great quantities of hemlock are sawed into boards and timber and sold abroad. Spruce is much used for shingles.
One patent shingle mill furnishes a great many thousand shingles yearly for market. Hemlock bark, besides supplying two tanneries in town, is carried away in considerable quantities.
A turning lathe is now put in operation, which works up chair stuff for the New York Market. Three wood mills have lately been erected which go by horse power, and are thought to be a great improvement. One of these mills will saw as much wood for stoves in a day as four men will chop. The great advantage is in the saving of labor, and the saving of the chips, which would be in part lost in cutting wood short with an axe. Besides it is difficult to split wood four feet long. But saw the wood 16-18 inches and the blocks can be easily split. One man will tend the mill, and split the blocks as fast as they are sawed, fine enough for the stove. In general, the mills should be built in the lot, near the wood, that the body of the trees may be drawn to the mill without the trouble of loading the logs; and the tops can be cut with the axe at any length."
Ebenezer Jennings graduated from Williams College in 1802 and was the minister of the second Congregational Church from 1802 to 1834. During which time the church was at the East Main Street end of Otis Avenue in Dalton. Jennings lived in a large gambrel roofed house that he built just east of the end of Jennings Avenue.

Property Lines

In 1743 the first division of the Ashuelot Equivalent was divided into lots of varying sizes. The northeast corner of the before said original northern line was a 300 acre tract being a grant to Andrew Stone who never settled there. Stone's Grant extended west southwest from the corner of Hinsdale, Windsor and Dalton, near Wahconah Falls, to the point on the north line where now is Holiday Cottage Road. Then south on Holiday Cottage Road across old North Street, (Cleveland Road), to a point in the field approximately perpendicular to a line from where Adams Road meets Johnson Road. Then east northeast parallel with the original north line to the town of Hinsdale line. Then north on said Hinsdale line to the place of beginning.
West of Holiday Cottage Road, and south of the original north line, was lot #88, a 100 acre tract of land originally granted to Colonel Israel Williams of Hatfield. Beginning at the original north line at Holiday Cottage Road then south across old North Street to Andrew Stones southwest corner, Then west southwest parallel to the original north line to about where Orchard Road now lies. Then north across North Street and Falls Brook to the old north line. Then east north east to the place of beginning.
Colonel Israel Williams purchased nine lots and possibly only lived in Dalton with his son Deacon William Williams near Pittsfield in an area now known as Greenridge Park. At Dalton's first meeting in 1784, Deacon William Williams was appointed selectman, town clerk, treasurer and assessor.
Israel was for many years a judge in the Court of Common Pleas for Hampshire County and considered a venerable man. In 1774, he being under oath of allegiance to the British Crown, was taken by a mob to a school house and shut up in a school room. Pitch pine fires were started with the escape of smoke from the chimney blocked.
Williams eventually signed whatever papers his tormentors presented.
In a quaint poem, "McFingall", the poet John Trumball wrote;



On March 25, 1786 Israel Williams sold lot #88 to Captain Amos Smith of Connecticut for 96 pounds. Amos, his wife, Ame Chaffe and their family, built on North Street near where the oil company is located At the time of Amos' will, he had a house, garden and cider press on the north side of the road leading from Dalton to Windsor and an orchard with buildings on the south side of the road. The value of the orchard and buildings on the south side of the road was greater than the value of the dwelling house, garden and cider press on the north side.
Amos and Ame's son Abner, born in 1781 at Ashford Connecticut, purchased from his father twenty two and one half acres on April 2, 1811, and built where now the shed and office stand near the new sugarhouse on Holiday Cottage Road. The land being the northeast corner of lot #88, the lot Amos had purchased from Israel Williams.
Abner leased one third part of a wood mill from Charles Merriman on March 14,1825, and also one third part of a privilege to build a saw mill on the same lot near the wood mill. This lot was # 62 and in the area of Anthony Road north of the turn onto Reservoir Road where now is a clearing.
As Ebenezer Jennings wrote, "there were three wood mills recently erected that go by horse power." These wood mills were more for the purpose of firewood than lumber. This lease also mentions the privilege of the making of a dam or dams for mills and that Abner agrees to bring the Burchard brook (Egypt), and the brook east of the Burchard brook, to be used as feeders to the mill brook from the first of November to the first of May each and every year.
In March 1826, Abner and his wife Mary Driscoll, entered into a mortgage partnership with Warren Cleveland and his wife Tryphena of Hinsdale from The Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company for five hundred dollars. Abner and Mary mortgaged property including the 22 1/2 acres where they resided and Warren and Tryphena Cleveland mortgaged 57 acres where they lived in Hinsdale.
Abner and Mary had several children. David C. born in 1817, Abner Marshall born in 1819, Eliza born in 1822, Amos born in 1823, and James D. born in 1825.
In 1846, Abner and his sons built a saw mill on Egypt Brook near where it flows into the Falls Brook. What is now Orchard Road, crossed North Street and continued north across the Falls Brook to their mill. In 1860, the year before Abner Smith died, the Smith family's mill was completely destroyed by fire and rebuilt the same year.
David eventually built his own mill further down Falls Brook nearer where it enters the Housatonic River where he and his family had a very prosperous business.
Abner Marshall moved to Pittsfield and became a doctor.
James D. remained on the farm with his wife Rachel Gleason and their children continuing with the sawmill and was very successful. During his life James became a fine poet writing several poems of the times and places of this area.
One such poem was the `Dalton Water Works'.

Far on the Dalton Mountain Tops,

Among the ragged clefts of rocks,

Around the knolls and shady nooks,

You'll find the famous Egypt brook;

You follow down it's rocky bed,

Where clifts of rocks hang o'er your head,

There it's sparkling waters can be seen

Rolling down the dark ravine;

It rolls and tumbles down the hill,

No stagnant pools-----it's never still,

It seems to almost leap with joy,

Until it finds the reservoir;

Thence pipes are laid with greatest care,

To take the water here and there,

To mansions great and cabins small,

It now is ready for them all;

`Tis always clear, and cool, and nice,

Worth ten times the value of its price,

To use, to wash, to drink, or cook,

With water from the Egypt brook;


You need not watch your cup or pails,

for fear of lizards, snakes or snails,

Or even stop to take a look,

When you drink the water from Egypt Brook;

No more you will see them with their pails,

Crossing the lots in storm and gales,

And bending o'er the river brink,

To get water to wash, to cook, or drink.

And when the northeast winds will blow,

With rain, and hail, and drifting snow,

And cattle low, and horses neigh,

You will prize the water on that day.

And when you are ever so disposed,

To wash your carriages, put on hose,

And clean your wagons, carts and sleighs,

And use in many other ways.

You can water your gardens so complete,

And put the dust down in the street.

And give your yards so fresh a look,

All with water from the Egypt brook.

And when the weather is hot and dry,

You can throw the water to the sky,

And cool the air at any hour,

Just like a regular thunder shower.

And if you ever should require

This water to use in case of fire,

Then practice well and soon you'll learn,

To never let your buildings burn.

Thousands of people you'll find today

That honor those men that thought `twould pay,

When they think of what labor and pains they took,

To get the water from Egypt brook.

At the time of his death in 1895, James D. Smith had survived both his wife and children and on July 21, 1896 his heirs, (cousins, neices and nephews) sold his farm to Belle L. Smith, James' neice who was then managing the family's lumber business. Belle was Amos Smith's daughter, James' brother.



Haying on Flintstone Farm circa 1920



The Crane Family

In 1898, Mary Crane, the daughter of James Brewer Crane, purchased the homestead of James D. Smith which had been in the Smith family for one hundred and twelve years.
In 1899, Mary had water pipes laid from the Josiah West farm to utilize West's reservoir that had been constructed above his farm. This reservoir was used as the water supply until 1991 when an artisian well was drilled to insure a low maintenance, constant water supply.
Mary had purchased the Smith Farm for a place to bring the less fortunate children to summer in the Berkshires.

Holiday Cottage

At 1:20 P.M. on June 26, 1899 a party of children representing The Sunshine, Fidelity, and Loyalty clubs of New York City arrived at the Pittsfield Railroad Station on the N.Y., N.H. and Hartford Railroad to spend six weeks at Holiday Cottage in Dalton as the guests of Miss Mary Crane. They were met at the Pittsfield station by David J. Pratt's Livery. The children arrived at Holiday Cottage at 2:40.
Pratt's Livery had two locations, the Irving House Livery and the Upper Stable at the corner of Weston Avenue and Main Street in Dalton. Pratt's boasted; `all the latest styles of vehicles, including fine Berlin Coaches and five Glass Landaus, six and four-in-hand tally-hoes, four three and two seaters of the best kind. Single Turnouts of all descriptions. Our horses are selected for the wants of summer guests, are all good roaders and safe'.
The following year, Mary married Reverend Herbert Johnson and eventually moved to Boston.
In 1907, Mary Crane sold the Holiday Cottage and barns to her brother Frederick G. Crane containing 22 1/2 acres more or less.
Fred had been acquiring land to form what became known as the Flintstone Farm. Flintstone Farm now owned by Sam Smith, the grandson of F. G. Crane II, included what later became Maurice O'Connell's Farm on Orchard Road, the chicken farm on Wahconah Falls Road where now is the trailer park, the William West Farm at the end of Holiday Cottage Road, the Smith farm on Holiday Cottage Road and many other lots on and near North Mountain.

Holiday Farm

The farm that became the home of Frederick G. Crane III and his wife Joyce Sinclair Kinsey Crane in 1951, was known as the William B. West Farm from 1837 to 1900 and was dubbed Holiday Farm by Fred and Joyce Crane due to the combined history that included the Holiday Cottage property.
As mentioned before the original boundary between Dalton and Windsor was located between the house and lower barns of Fred and Joyce's Holiday Farm. That boundary remained until 1908 when Frederick G. Crane combined the two properties.
In 1813, Matthew Burchard mortgaged this farm to the State of Connecticut and in 1826 the state of Connecticut deeded this same land now with 'buildings thereon'.
Between 1813 and 1818 the mills of Alvah Cleveland reported good business. It is very likely that the oldest section of the house at Holiday Farm was built by Matthew Burchard about 1813 and the wood was sawed by Alvah Cleveland.
After changing hands several times, William B. West settled on this farm in 1837. On January 16, 1845 he bought the tract from the State of Connecticut on a mortgage which he held by 'dint of effort until his son Josiah matured and came to his assistance'.
William West, born about 1811, married first Julia Loveland born about 1817, with whom they had Josiah, about 1838, and William A., who was born about 1848 but died young.
In 1850 Julia's mother Polly and brother Lorenzo were living on the farm with the West's and by 1860 Lorenzo had moved.
William was a blacksmith who came to Pittsfield from Canaan NY and worked with Jason Clapp.
At the age of 21 he moved to Dalton and went into the smithing business with R. Barrett. After three years the partnership was disolved with West continuing.

Dalton's Water Supply

In 1884 Byron Weston, Zenas Crane Jr. and others saw the need for a water supply and they created the Dalton Fire District. At this point fire had destroyed seven mills and many homes. During the summer of 1884 they constructed the Dalton Water Works. They chose the crystal clear water of Egypt Brook as it would also be a drinking water supply. For their reservoir, the fire district purchased from William West's farm a tract of land on the Egypt Brook. They purchased sand for the filter beds from the Smith family and dug from the hill in the field south of the oil company.
William and his son Josiah worked their farm with the help of several farm hands, who were with him in the field putting up the seasons corn when he died on September 30, 1893. The Berkshire Eagle reported that 'During the day his strange manner of urging the workers to greater speed gave reason for belief his mind had suffered affliction, but no attention was given his case until he fell in a fit, being still at work.' William had been on his farm for 56 years and willed it to his second wife Nancy B. and son Josiah who was then 55.
Josiah continued for a short period after his fathers death but was unable to maintain the farm with any success and on August 15, 1900 Josiah West sold their farm to Willard M. Cooper and moved into town.
Willard M. Cooper was born in Windsor in November 1859 and married Carrie B. Richards who was born in 1862. Their children were Noble R., born in 1887, Philip R., born 1889 and Ruth born about 1896.
Willard was a stagedriver and with his family owned the farm from 1900 to 1908 when Frederick G. Crane bought it from them.

Flintstone Farm

In 1908 Frederick G. Crane had already purchased many of the adjoining properties for the betterment of his Flintstone Farm which was centered further east on North Street and became nationally known for its registered milking shorthorns.
The before mentioned James D. Smith's homestead, or the Holiday Cottage, boarded John and Myra Alstone and Napolian and Nellie Bourdo. John was a salesman for Flintstone Farm and Napolian was their blacksmith.
After the purchase of the Cooper Farm on October 22, 1908, William Wager and his wife Annie, German immigrants, and Edward and Lena Place boarded there with their families. Wager was F.G. Cranes gardener while Ed Place was a teamster.
At the 1924 National Cattle Show in Chicago one of the Flintstone herd, Buttercup, became a grand champion. Flintstone Model, born in 1919, was grand champion at the Eastern States Exposition from 1921 to 1926. When F.G.Crane died on March 15, 1923, Frederick G. Crane II became the owner of Flintstone Farm and eventually on November 4, 1933 sold the 65 acre Flintstone Orchard on Orchard Road to Maurice J. O'Connell of Pittsfield, and on April 3, 1934 sold the main barns and 150 acres of the Flintstone Farm to the then herdsman Donald H. Cande.
Holiday Farm, with J. Dicken Crane as the farms manager has recently undergone many improvements that were designed together by Fred and Joyce Crane with their children, Dicken, Tim, Carrie, and Mary. The renovation has included an orchard, a maple sugaring operation that features a preheating system generating distilled hot water used for sanitizing the tools and containers used in packaging the maple syrup. It also incorporates an osmosis system that is capable of extracting up to 75% of the water from the sap before it enters the preheating system.
A firewood processing plant was added in 1993 that saws the logs at adjustable lengths, splits and conveys the firewood into trucks for delivery. The firewood business makes possible an efficient way to keep the timber land thinned and healthy.
The house has undergone what appears to be its fourth renovation in its approximate 170 year history.
The descendents of James Brewer Crane have made it possible that the rich farming history of Dalton, through many years of change, will continue for many years at Holiday Farm.
Dicken, Tim, Carrie and Mary are devoted to the commitment that they shared with their parents to cultivate and preserve the resources that Holiday Farm has offered them. And that I might offer this reflection to the memory of Fred and Joyce who continue to inspire my sincerest respect.



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