Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Joseph Moore House

The Joseph Moore House today.

The Joseph Moore House in the late 1890's

In 1751, Joseph Moore purchased a plot of land in Southwick, which was located in an area on the outskirts of Westfield, Massachusetts. Soon, he built a home for his wife, Mary, and their eleven children. Upon the death of Joseph after the American Revolution, the home was passed down to his son, Roger Moore (1752-1838), who lived there his entire life. Due to numerous boundary changes, Roger Moore managed to live in two colonies; the two states of Massachusetts and Connecticut; Hampden, Hampshire and Hartford counties; as well as the four towns of Westfield, Southwick, Simsbury and Granby, all without ever moving out of the home his father had built!

After the settlement of the Springfield/Hartford region, a large population influx in the area created a concern over non-established boundary lines. As a result, the Bay State hired two surveyors to run the southern boundary line of Massachusetts. Upon completion of the survey, it was found that they had fixed the line too far south and at one point by almost 7 miles. Given its geographical location, the Joseph Moore House would find itself embroiled in the boundary dispute between Massachusetts and Connecticut. The two states spent 162 years arguing over their shared boundary line, which included appeals to England, numerous denied proposals, as well as some compromises.

The home is situated in the southern third of the town at 86 College Highway, in an area referred to as the “Jog” or the “Southwick Jog”. When Joseph Moore purchased the land and built his home, it was located in Westfield, Massachusetts. The settlers in this area became weary of traveling each Sunday to Westfield for service and petitioned to separate from Westfield and become their own town. In 1770, the Town of Southwick was established, which included the Joseph Moore House. Then in 1774, the residents of the southern portion of Southwick successfully petitioned to become a part of Connecticut. This reduced the size of Southwick by one-third. As a result, the Joseph Moore House was now in Simsbury, Connecticut. Given Massachusetts’ preoccupation with the growing tensions between itself and Britain, its loss of control over southern Southwick received little contention. In 1786, Simsbury sliced off its Salmon Brook area to create the town of Granby. The “Jog” was included in this separation, making the Joseph Moore House now a part of Granby, Connecticut.

After the Revolutionary War had ended, Massachusetts and Connecticut resumed their battle over the rightful ownership of the “Jog”. Connecticut stood firm on its rightful jurisdiction since the area clearly lay below the Massachusetts borderline, and emphasized the inhabitants’ desire to be a part of their state. Massachusetts was quick to remind Connecticut that in 1749, it had allowed them the jurisdiction over Suffield, Enfield and Woodstock even though it was in violation of the 1713 compromise which claimed that land belonged to Massachusetts. In 1801, Massachusetts made a proposal to divide the disputed area at the Congamond Lakes into two. Connecticut would get the portion to the east of the lakes, while Massachusetts would get the portion west of the lakes. Connecticut refused, but in 1804, they finally agreed, which returned the “Jog” to Massachusetts jurisdiction, where it has remained to this day.

Ownership of the Joseph Moore House was transferred to the Southwick Historical Society in 1990. It is currently being converted into a museum by the Society and is expected to open to the general public by the summer of 2010. For more information regarding the museum opening, please email the Southwick Historical Society:

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