Montague town leaders discuss Turners Falls name change petitions

Franklin County

MONTAGUE, Mass. (WWLP) – There are two petitions going around in Montague about whether to change the village of Turners Falls’ name. The town told us there’s a lot of legal work that would go into potentially changing the village’s name.

Montague town officials are looking at the legality of changing the name of Turners Falls after a petition is going around to change the name of the village to “Great Falls” due to historical controversy with the village’s namesake. The petition has more than 2,500 signatures to officially change the village’s name.

“If there was to be a change the council’s recommendation would be that it would be approved by the state legislature so as to ensure there are no adverse legal consequences to the action downstream,” Montague Town Administrator, Steven Ellis said in a town meeting on Zoom.

Turners Falls is named after colonialist Captain William Turner who died during an ambush on Native Americans in what was Gill at the time. On the other side of the bridge that leads to Turners Falls is this monument dedicated to Captain William Turner where it says that he led “145 men to surprise and destroy over 300 Indians” in the spot where the monument is back in 1676.

But some town leaders are divided on how to approach the village name change debate.

“I will say I felt very strongly that to have the debate over the name of turners falls on top of the whole police, Black Lives Matter thing is more than this town should be asked to handle,” Montague Historical Commission member, Jeff Singleton said in a town Zoom meeting.

There’s also a counter-petition with more than 1,000 signatures to keep the name of the town. 22News will continue to stay on this story as it develops with the town decisions in the future.

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