"Who was the first settler in Northborough and what's his story?"
I located an interesting biographical sketch of the designated first settler of Northborough, Massachusetts while reading Northborough History by Josiah Coleman Kent (Garden City Press, 1921). While most of the other local histories I had located up to that point only gave a nod to John Brigham's title as "first settler," I really felt that there was more to learn about him, particularly as his family may have remained in the area to eventually play a part in the Brigham Street Burial research project.
Kent's biography and his additional notes about John Brigham's mill were the most detailed I had seen to date, but missing were additional events in his life that occurred in between what I felt were still very broad strokes. The research I conducted, although not complete by any means as I need to move on to the next step of the Brigham Street project, was able to fill in some of the gaps. My guess is that some enterprising student in need of a good history project can pick up where I necessarily had to leave off.
Below are the reprints from Northborough History about John Brigham. The additional research and documentation I completed in order to fill in the timeline was done on Ancestry.com, the summary of which can be found on John Brigham's profile page on that website. A reproduction of the profile page, as a biographical timeline, without full citations but with the list of sources used, is available by request. If you have the time, check out the Ancestry pages for John's parents, Thomas and Mercy, as their stories are equally as intriguing.
Abstract of Middlesex Court Files from 1649 [to 1675]. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department. New England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston. Handwritten transcription of original records: Vol. 1 1649-1664; Vol 2. 1664-1675.
Allen, Rev. Joseph. Topographical and Historical Sketches of the Town of Northborough, with the Early History of Marlborough, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Furnished for the Worcester Magazine. Worcester: W. Lincoln & C. C. Baldwin, 1826.
Brigham, Emma Elisabeth. The History of the Brigham Family: Second Volume. Rutland, Vermont: The Tuttle Company, 1927.
Brigham, Willard Irving Tyler. The History of the Brigham Family: a Record of Several Thousand Descendants of Thomas Brigham the Emigrant, 1603-1653. New York: Grafton Press, 1907-1927.
Hudson, Charles. History of the Town of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts: From its First Settlement in 1657 to 1861 : With a Brief Sketch of the Town of Northborough, a Genealogy of the Families in Marlborough to 1800, and an Account of the Celebration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town. Boston: Press of T.R. Marvin & Son,1862.
Kent, Josiah Coleman. Northborough History. Newton, Massachusetts: Garden City Press, 1921.
Schutz, John A. Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court, 1691-1780: a Biographical Dictionary. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997.
Vital Records of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850: Volume 1. Births. Boston: The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1914.
Vital Records of Sudbury, Massachusetts to the Year 1850. Boston: The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1903.