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“Wesson Tavern: Wessonville on the Turnpike” by Glenn R. Parker

Silas Wesson had a vision to establish a village along the newly constructed Worcester Turnpike. The road was built as the major transportation route from Boston to Worcester in 1810. Wesson built a tavern with a post office and for the next fifteen years the area was known as Wessonville.

Wesson Tavern

Silas Wesson was born in Grafton in 1871 and married Sarah Rogers of Newton in 1803.  Wesson enrolled as a private in the Grafton Company, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, and rose through the ranks until 1813 when he was promoted to Captain and commander of the Grafton Militia Company. He was honorably discharged in September 1816. By 1819 he sold his Grafton real estate and moved to Westborough.

In 1818 Wesson bought a two acre tract of land, part of the late John Beeton estate (formerly Parkman’s Powder Hill Farm) for $270. The land was situated opposite Beeton’s farmhouse on the road leading to Northborough and on the north side of the Worcester Turnpike.

As the innkeeper of the Forbush Tavern in 1820, Captain Silas Wesson was appointed postmaster and established an unofficial office at the tavern. The most recent news from Boston and Worcester came through the Tavern by express rider and stagecoach and was disseminated to the rest of the community.

Colonel William Beeton, heir of the estimated 80 acre Powder Hill Farm, sold the farm to Silas Wesson for $1,000 in 1822. Wesson maintained the farm until 1832 when he sold 78.5 acres to William White (Resource: masslandrecords, 224-605-6, 209-361, 294-430).

Wesson Tavern
Wesson Tavern

About 1822, Captain Wesson built a new tavern at his existing home on the Turnpike. He then moved his tavern business and the post office from the Forbush Tavern to the new site.

The Forbush Tavern later closed and became a private residence while the Wesson Tavern experienced a brisk tavern and livery business. The area along the turnpike surrounding the tavern experienced growth of new homes built by Nathan Fisher, Joseph Lothrop, and Daniel Holbrook.

In 1824 Wesson sold the tavern-house with a barn and shed on 2 acres of land for $2,000 to the Manufacturers Insurance Company of Boston. The deed and a promissory note were held by Manufacturers Insurance Company stipulated that the $2,000 plus interest paid semiannually be completed in 5 years. However, Wesson remained the proprietor of the tavern, and for the next decade, the Wesson Tavern did a flourishing stagecoach and freight hauling business. But in 1835, the greatly anticipated opening of the Boston to Worcester Railroad that bisected Westborough center ushered in the end of the freight haulers, stagecoach, and pony express era along the Turnpike.

Although the tavern business was doing well, Wesson’s real estate ventures were failing. Wesson continued to buy and sell real estate even though he was becoming financially over-extended while land rich. Unable to pay his creditors in 1830, Wesson mortgaged the Powder Hill Farm to Stephen Adams and John Rogers. In 1832, Charles Parkman brokered the sale of the farm from the mortgage holders to William White of Roxbury for $5,000. White then dismantled the old Parkman farmhouse and built a new house on the existing foundation (Resource: masslandrecords, 241-85-86, 294-430).

In April 1833, Nathan Fisher and Joseph Lothrop filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas, which declared judgment of $2,741.75 against Silas Wesson. A writ of habeas corpus was issued to Deputy Sheriff Larkin Newton that ordered him to, “Take the body of said Wesson and commit him onto our goal” and to detain him in custody until the full amount is paid and Fisher and Lothrop, the creditors, are satisfied. “Fail not,” the order continued, “the return of this writ by the fifth Monday of August. Artemus Ward Esq, June 24 1833.” However, according to Newton’s return of service, Silas Wesson had fled Westborough and moved to Boston, never to return to Westborough (Reference: masslandrecords, 291-432).

When it was discovered that Wesson had left town in 1833, he was replaced as postmaster by his bartender Daniel Baird, who maintained the position at the Tavern until 1835. Daniel Holbrook was appointed interim postmaster until October 17 when he suddenly died, and Onslow Peters served in the position for 2 months until Charles Parkman was officially appointed postmaster. Parkman then closed the Wesson Tavern post office and relocated it to his store in the downtown area of Westborough.

In the end, it was the completion of the Boston & Worcester Railroad in 1835 that proved to be the demise of Wessonville. After Wesson moved to Boston, he began to sell off the remaining land that was not in forfeiture proceedings. By 1839, Wesson had sold all his last real estate holdings.

Wesson served as postmaster of the North Westborough office at the Forbush and Wesson Tavern from 1820 to 1833. He was a Westborough Selectman in 1817 and 1826. In 1825 he was appointed to the Committee of Overseers of the Poor. He served in Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1827. Silas Wesson died on August 15, 1864 in Weymouth at age 85 years from paralysis. Sarah Wesson died February 17, 1868 at age 87 in Weymouth, also of paralysis.

After Parkman was appointed Postmaster, he reorganized the postal service and moved the downtown post office to his store and in 1838 discontinued the North Westborough Post Office at the Wesson Tavern. Upon moving the post office to Parkman’s store in the downtown, he declared that the official name of the town would be spelled “Westborough.” The move signified the demise of the Worcester Turnpike. The Tavern closed shortly after as the Turnpike became nothing more than a rural country road as the stagecoach, pony express, and horse-drawn freight that once flourished there moved to the Boston Post Road. Despite the introduction of the electric street railway and motorized transportation on the Turnpike, commercial traffic was slow to return.

In February 1838, the deeded owner of the tavern was listed as John Henry Rogers of Marseilles in the Kingdom of France, formerly of Boston, who sold the property to George Denny of Westborough for $1,900 (Resource: masslandrecords, 291-432, 339-81).

In 1840 the tavern was transformed into a Seminary for Young Ladies established by the Westboro’ School Association. The school was made a corporation by the Acts and Resolves of the Senate and House of Representatives to be devoted exclusively to purposes of education and was approved by Governor Morton in March 1840. The former tavern became a day and boarding school for 40 young women interested in higher education beyond high school. The school prospered for 12 years, but closed in 1852.

Glenn R. Parker

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