Hillcrest-Estates is sited on land that was once occupied by the Magunco Indians, hence the name for the area - Magunco Hill. The Magunco were a branch of the Nipmuc, members of the Algonquin nation, and their lands were centered in MetroWest. Many allied themselves with the English settlers early on, largely as a result of the efforts of John Eliot, a preacher who focused on bringing the Christian religion to the Indians of the area. They became a so-called "praying village".
Because of their association with the English, the Magunco suffered from attacks by other tribes during a 1675-76 uprising by the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett of eastern Connecticut, southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The uprising was known as King Phillip's War. King Philip's Indian name was Metacomet. Metacomet organized the uprising to drive the English out of New England.
During the uprising, the Magunco also suffered from aggresive actions by English settlers simply because they were Indians, however much Christianized by Eliot. Once the uprising had been suppressed, many of the Magunco relocated to Natick, a town to the east that had been founded in 1651 by other "praying Indians" under the guidance and support of Eliot and the Massachusetts General Court. They retained ownership of their Magunco Hill land until 1715 when they sold it to the Trustees of the Edward Hopkins Legacy, a bequest Hopkins had made to benefit Harvard College. Through this Legacy, Harvard enabled the founding of Hopkinstown, later called Hopkinton.
The Magunco lived predominately on the Eastern slopes of the Hill, but they hunted and farmed the Western side where Hillcrest-Estates is located today. When the Indians left, the Hill was further cleared and farmed for over three hundred years. Farmers collected cigar boxes full of arrowheads, spear points, axes, and other stone tools and implements. Some are still there and remain to be found by the attentive gardener.
Frankland Road (the road that traverses the Hill immediately south of High Street and intersects Cross Street) is part of the Bay Path, the English name for an ancient Indian way that leads into central Connecticut. Some scholars believe that Viking Traders used the Bay Path on treks into the interior from the Masschusetts Bay in their search for furs, carrying trade goods with them.
Notwithstanding the accuracy of the claims about ancient Viking traders, early English settlers certainly did follow the Bay Path as they made their way into the heart of New England and the Connecticut River Valley.
As English settlers reached the area in the mid-1600's, village centers were formed which later became the towns of Hopkinton, Holliston and Framingham. The villages prospered and grew. By the mid-1800's, they were centers of commerce, industrial and/or agricultural, and political tensions appeared within a small center of commerce known as Unionville. Ashland was incorporated as a new town out of those three towns in 1846, and the village changed its name from Unionville to Ashland at the time of its incorporation by the Great and General Court of Massachusetts. The section of Ashland where Hillcrest-Estates is located, Magunco Hill, was part of Hopkinton. The neighborhood of Magunco Hill elected to join the new town of Ashland.
A major force in the formation of the town of Ashland was the railroad, which arrived in 1831 when the town was still called Unionville. The first commercial train actually arrived in 1834 and the railhead (for a short period of time the railroad actually ended in Unionville) became a proper commercial center growing out of what had been mostly a farming community. Churches were built (one of which still stands across from the Town Hall), three, four and five story buildings (large for the times and the area) went up and rail sidings were built from which the farm produce and factory goods of the town were shipped across the country (but mostly into Boston).
Driven by abundant water power, more factories were built. For a long time, shoes were the primary Ashland product. The Sudbury River, which enters Ashland at the Southborough line and exits into Framingham, was once lined with mill buildings. The magnificent granite buildings at the end of Main Street are a testament to the wealth generated during those rock solid times. Most of the factories and nearly all of the large downtown buildings were built of wood and they have long since burned or been torn down. Partially blocking the Sudbury River in the Hopkinton State Park is a remnant of a large water-power dam that was breached by the State in the early 1900's to insure free flow of the Sudbury into the downstream reservoirs.
Although not widely known, the Hopkinton State Park and Reservoir, which is a short distance down the walking trail and bridle path that wends its way through Hillcrest-Estates, is located largely in Ashland. Because the front gate of this beautiful assembly of beaches, walking and biking trails, and forest is in Hopkinton, the park was given that town's name.
Ashland's State Park and Reservoir, with its own beaches and trails, is a slightly longer walk away from Hillcrest-Estates on the Eastern side of the Hill, near downtown. These two Parks have been built around what were once water reservoirs for Boston, bodies of water which went into disuse as reservoirs when the MWRA's Quabbin Reservoir came on line in the 1940's.
Ashland is known as the birthplace of the modern electric clock. Henry E. Warren, a graduate of Northeastern University and holder of dozens of patents, invented the machine that precisely regulated the number of cycles per second of modern electric power generation plants. That invention arose out of the need for regular power cycles in order to achieve accurate time keeping. Warren's Telechron Company, born and headquartered in Ashland until the late 1980's, was a power house in the time keeping business from early in this century until the advent of digital timekeeping in the late 1980's. By then, Telechron had been acquired by Timex and the company soon succumbed to the power contained in those tiny quartz chips.
Mr. Warren's house and the large acreage associated with it were deeded to Northeastern University upon his death and are now preserved in Northeastern University's Warren Conference Center and Inn on Chestnut Street.
In addition to deeding the Warren Center to Northeastern, Mr. Warren also gave the Town the land that lies between Oregon Road and Winter Street. Those acres now comprise the Ashland Town Forest. The Forest is roughly one square mile of woods full of New England flora and fauna, and walking trails, one of which is part of the Bay Circuit Trail. The Bay Circuit Trail swings around Boston about 25 miles out and starts at Crane's Beach in the North and ends at Plymouth in the South. The caves to which the "Salem Witches" of both legend and history fled to escape their persecutors are located in the Town Forest.
Ashland is very fortunate in that about one quarter of its roughly 12 square miles is open space, owned either by the Town, Northeastern or the State's Department of Environmental Management. The open space at Hillcrest Estates fits in well with those preserved areas.
For more information about this wonderful, small town, visit www.ashlandmass.com, Ashland's Carnegie-donated library or the Ashland Historical Society at 2 Main Street, in the historic red house next to the waterfalls.
All dimensions, areas, and prices that are quoted on this site are approximate only and are subject to change by RDC without notification.
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