Sterling is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA. The population was 7,808 at the 2010 census. Sterling was first settled by Europeans in 1720 and was officially incorporated in 1781. Previous to its incorporation it was “the Second Parish of Lancaster,” and was commonly called by a portion of its Indian name, Chocksett. The Nipmuc minister, Peter Jethro, worked in the area in the 1670s. The original Indian name of the area being Woonsechocksett. The land encompassing the Chocksett region was not originally included in the first land sold by the great Indian Chief Sholan to the settlers of the Lancaster grant. However, Sholan’s nephew Tahanto would eventually sell the Chocksett land to inhabitants of Lancaster in 1713.
The first white settlers arrived in Chocksett seven years later in 1720, formerly inhabitants of Lancaster proper. Among these first settlers were families such as Beman, Sawyer, Houghton, and Osgood; names reflected to this day in the names of Sterling’s oldest roads.A short time after settlement, in 1733, the residents of the Chocksett area requested its own incorporation, separate from Lancaster, due to the “great inconvenience” of a long distance to the church in Lancaster’s center. This request was denied. However, by 1780 the population of Chocksett was so numerous as to constitute a majority, and so the voters of the area voted out the existing Lancaster town officers and began to conduct town business and meetings in Chocksett.
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