Norton in Bristol County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Chartley Pond Area
In 1695, the Taunton North Purchase granted to Thomas and James Leonard land along the Stony Brook on which to establish a bloomery and to manufacture iron. They excavated bog iron along Stony Brook. Later, Chartley Pond was formed when the excavated land along Stony Brook was flooded. Major George Leonard, son of Thomas, is credited with making this iron business a success.
On the southeastern corner is the site of the old forge. Major George Leonard's mansion was located on the northeastern corner. The Devil's Footprint Rock is still located there. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, ice was harvested from the pond.
The nearby Wading River was used for fishing and hunting by Native Americans Long before the arrival of the Leonard family.
Erected 2007 by Norton Historical Commission.
Location. 41° 57.038′ N, 71° 13.638′ W. Marker is in Norton, Massachusetts, in Bristol County. Marker is on West Main Street (Massachusetts Route 123), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Norton MA 02766, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Norton Common Burial Ground (approx. 1.1 miles away); Site of First Church in Norton (approx. 2.3 miles away); Angell Park (approx. 2.3 miles away); LaSalette Seminary (approx. 2.4 miles away); Solomon Family Burial Ground (approx. 2.4 miles away); Major Thomas J. Deegan Memorial Bridge (approx. 2.5 miles away); Everett Southworth Horton (approx. 2.5 miles away); Veterans Memorial Common (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Norton.
Regarding Stony Brook. Pertaining to the Devils foot print here is the story written by Daniel V. Boudillion
The Devil was sticking his foot into things more successfully in Norton, Massachusetts, in 1716, long before mixing it up with Whitefield in Ipswich.
It all starts with a Man of God, as is usual in these cases. (The Devil doesn’t seem to care about the rabble; they get by all right on their own.) This particular Man of God was the Deacon Major Thomas Leonard, who emigrated from Wales to Plymouth, Massachusetts, prior to 1662. Deacon Leonard was a vain man and claimed descent from a noble family in England, an unfortunate conceit that was passed on to his young son, Major George Leonard, who was born in 1670.
Now George didn’t advertise this little business deal, but what did get around was the sudden and wondrous upsurge of his fortunes. Not only did he marry the beautiful Anna Tisdale in 1695 at the age of 25, but he became "very wealthy and owner of the largest landed estate in New England," according to historian Ellery Bicknell Crane. Ellery does not tell us how this was accomplished, but you and I both know it had something to do with a little piece of parchment signed in blood in the depths of the forest one dark night in George’s youth.
Young and wealthy, George Leonard built the first frame house in Norton, the country seat of his new estates and settled there with his young bride. The house became known as the Leonard Mansion as many additions and renovations occurred over the ensuing years.
Now the Devil (for that is who the Man in Black was) had granted George wealth and estates for
Did he choke on a chicken bone? History is silent on the cause of his demise. All we know from the stories that have swirled across the years is that poor George was forthwith laid out in an upstairs room of the Leonard Mansion. His wife Anna and their nine children (they’d been a busy couple) gathered downstairs in the parlor with friends and relations to mourn his untimely passing.
Amid the sobs and condolences during that long night, a horrible racket was suddenly heard from the upstairs room. The family ran upstairs and Anna burst open the door on a truly horrible sight. There in the room was the Devil himself, come to collect George. His eyes blazed red, and with a horrible laugh he tucked George’s body under his arm and jumped out the open window. The black-clad figure landed on a large boulder below, and bounded off into the night shrieking with triumph and trailing the smell of brimstone behind him. A single parchment fluttered to the floor of the room. Anna burnt it.
The next day it was noted that the boulder was marked with a
George Leonard Jr. rose to the rank of Colonel in the militia and was appointed a Judgeship in 1725. In a touch of the old taint he was dismissed from the bench in connection with the notorious Land Bank scheme, but was reinstated six years later as Chief Justice. He lived to be 83 years old.
George Jr.’s son, George Leonard III, graduated from Harvard, practiced law, and became a Chief Justice like his father. He was a member of the Provincial Assembly during the Revolutionary War, and served in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate, and was also elected to Congress. Like his father he also lived to a ripe old age, being 90 years old when he died.
This suggests that when it comes to lawyers and politicians, the Devil watches over his own. But no one was watching over the old Leonard Mansion. By 1960 it was in poor condition. The owner was unable or unwilling to shoulder the burden of its expense and requested that the Norton Fire Department burn it down for practice, which they did. The Devil took George in 1716, but he had to wait another 244 years to take the house.
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Categories. • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 4, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 537 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 4, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.