In the year sixteen hundred thirty-seven, there landed at Salem in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers and about sixty families who had come from the counties of Yorkshire and Devonshire in old England, for the purpose of planting a colony in the wilds of the new world. The company embraced all the artisans and trades necessary to establish a first-class, self-reliant and self-sustaining community and included smiths of various kinds, weavers, carpenters, farmers and herdsmen. They were members of the church and their leader, Rev. Ezekiel Rogers who had been their pastor in the old country, was to sustain the same relation in the new. After remaining in Salem as a rallying point for about a month, they pitched upon territory near the town of Rowley in the county of Essex as the place of settlement. They began a clearing near the sea where the village of Rowley now stands, and very soon a mill was erected, the weavers commenced their labors and here and by them, was manufactured the first cloth made in New England. They called the settlement Rogersí Plantation, but a year later they changed the name to Rowley, this being the name of the old town in Yorkshire from which some of the company had come.
The territory taken up by the Rogers company included the present towns Rowley, Georgetown, Boxford and Bradford. Mr. Rogers was a man of substance and character, a non-conformist who had left his native land and settled in the wilds of New England where he hoped to enjoy religious freedom which had been denied him at his old home. He was somewhat advanced in years and twelve years after his arrival, twelve years of unceasing labor, he died. Under his fostering care, the colony grew and throve, and after he had passed to the silent land, the impulse which he had given it caused it to increase and prosper until it came to be one of the largest and thriftiest plantations in the Province.
In Mr. Rogersí company were two men bearing the names of Robert and
John Hazelton. The early records have the orthography of Hazelton, but it has undergone many changes, and has since been variously written, Haseltine, Hazeltine, Hasseltine, Hazelton, etc. In the old country the name was originally Hazelden, from hazel a tree or shrub, and den a valley; the hazel valley, or the valley where the hazels grow. In Yorkshire and also in Devonshire where the name is quite common, it has been corrupted much the same as here. Robert and John Hazelton were brothers and are said to have been herdsmen, but they were probably farmers, keeping stock being a part of their business as it has been with New England farmers ever since. Their record has come down to us as hardy, vigorous, thrifty and upright men and valuable members of the colony. They took the freemanís oath, May thirteen,
sixteen hundred and forty, thus becoming freemen and citizens on the same
In the year sixteen hundred and forty-nine, memorable to the colony
for the death of their beloved pastor and to the English speaking world
for the borders to the Merrimack river. There were natural meadows in the vicinity which furnished excellent pasturage for their increasing herds, but it required settlers near them to look after them, and protect them from wild beasts and Indians. In consideration of certain grants of land in the new territory, Robert and John Hazelton and William Wilde commenced clearings and erected dwellings upon lands bordering on the Merrimack river, and were the first settlers in the present town of Bradford. They were also the pioneers in the movement for an expansion of the improved lands of Rowley toward the west. In consideration of these grants, the Hazeltons
and Wilde were to look after the cattle belonging to the settlers while
grazing upon the natural meadows already referred to, and this fact doubtless gave rise to the tradition that has been handed down concerning these men that they were herdsmen by occupation. The first home of the Hazeltons in Bradford was on the westerly slope of the pleasant grove which stands now as then, near the site of the old town-house where the soil was rich and mellow and where the birds chanted their earliest spring notes. Here they built their first house but a few years after, they erected more substantial homes on what is called Indian Hill, where they also built the first meeting house, the ministerís house and laid out a burying place. They owned large
tracts of land including that upon which the village and academy now are,
and here they lived, multiplied and prospered and in the town of Bradford
some of the posterity still live. The descendants of these two men are very numerous and widely scattered. They early followed the march of civilization into New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, crossed over Lake Champlain into New York, and as the course of empire made its way westward, they settled in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, and to-day persons of this descent may be found in almost every state and territory of the west, southwest, and northwest. Their enterprise is shown in the fact that a dozen towns in as may states bear the name, and numerous post offices, hamlets and villages, are called Hazelton.
It is believed that nearly all the persons bearing the name of Hazelton with its varied orthography in this country, are descendants of Robert or John of Rowley and Bradford, but it is known that there have been one or more recent immigrations from the old country. Solomon Hasaltine who lived in Swansea, N. H., and was a soldier in the war for independence, is said to have been born in England. He served out several terms of enlistment and was a pensioner. He has descendants one of whom is the noted steam-boiler manufacturer of Chicago.
John Hazelton, brother of Robert, after a few years at Bradford, crossed the Merrimack and lived and died in Haverhill. His place in Bradford, which included the westerly half of the village, became the property of his son Samuel who continued to reside upon it until he died. Robert Hazelton and William Wilde settled near John, and the meadow land which the brothers jointly owned is known as "Hasseltineís Meadow" to this day. The place where they settled was first called Merrimack, and was subsequently changed to Bradford, after a town in the old country from which some of the early settlers came. At the first meeting of Merrimack people in 1668, Robert Haseltine was chosen one of the selectmen.
Robert Hazelton is supposed to have been the elder, though there is no
positive evidence that such was the fact. We know not the birth day or year of either, but in all conveyances which required joint action, the name of Robert always appeared first. In those early times respect to age was much more marked that it is now, and the fact that Robert was always given precedence in the matter of signing deeds and other documents, is almost conclusive that he was the elder brother. The marriage of Robert and Ann Hazelton (we have not her family name) was solemnized in Rowley October twenty-third, sixteen hundred thirty-nine, and the first in the plantation or town. The wife died in Bradford July twenty-sixth, sixteen hundred eight-four. He made his will October 25, 1673, and it was proved
September 29, 1674. He died August 27, 1674. He was the first to establish a ferry between Bradford and Haverhill.
The children of Robert and Ann Hazelton were born in Rowley and Bradford.