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Monday, September 17, 2012

Small Town: Roxborough (Grafton)


"This town of ours straddles a range of hills lying between the valley of the Hudson and the valley of the Little Hoosac.  Going west from Troy, one climbs steadily and crosses the Roxborough border at an elevation of approximately one thousand feet.  The climb steepens, and at Roxborough Center the elevation is over fifteen hundred.  Just beyond the center the highway begins its descent to the Little Hoosac, and the eastern boundary is some twelve hundred feet above sea level.  The ridge drops off sharply to the north, but on the south it continues into the adjoining town.

From our house, which has an elevation of sixteen hundred feet, we look eastward across the valley to the Taconics, a thousand feet higher than we are, and beyond them we can see Greylock.  The Massachusetts line runs close to the top of the Taconics, only twelve miles away, and a little to the north it gives way to the Vermont line.

This area became the frontier in the latter third of the eighteenth century.  I have always been amazed by the rapidity with which the colonies expanded into what Frederick Turner called the Old West.  By 1645 the frontier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was twenty miles west of Boston, and at the close of King Philip's War in 1676 it had been pushed another thirty or forty miles.  (Only a little later my father's ancestor's began to establish themselves on another frontier -- down east in Maine.)  From the Connecticut Valley the settlers moved on to the Housatonic: Litchfield (1720), Sheffield (1725), Great Barrington (1730).  In King George's War, Fort Massachusetts -- just across the Taconics at the foot of Greylock -- held the Hoosac gateway, and after 1763 the Berkshire towns were established.  By the time the Revolution began, New Englanders had spilled over into York State.  Towns near Roxborough had come into existence, and Roxborough itself probably had a few squatters."

Hicks, Granville. Small Town. New York: Macmillan, 1946.


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