Charles H. (Charles Henry) Barrows.

The history of Springfield in Massachusetts for the young; being also in some part the history of other towns and cities in the county of Hampden online

. (page 1 of 10)
Online LibraryCharles H. (Charles Henry) BarrowsThe history of Springfield in Massachusetts for the young; being also in some part the history of other towns and cities in the county of Hampden → online text (page 1 of 10)
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History of Springfield

in Massachusetts







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The Connecticut Valley Historical Society
Springfield, Massachusetts




Copyright iQOg


Connecticut Valley Historical Society

Two Comes Received

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_ CopyrltfBt Entry ^
OlA^iS Ol. ''^^C, No,






AND THE Neighboring Towns and Cities


written that they may know what is
interesting good and true in the lives
of those who have gone before them
in this part of the connecticut valley




CHAPTER I— Pages 1-20

Geological History of Springfield and Its Neighborhood. The Lay

OF THE Land and the Run of the Water.

Poem: To the Connecticut River

CHAPTER II.— Pages 21-40

The Settlement. The Smithy. The Meeting-House.

Poem: The Works of God.

CHAPTER III.— Pages 41-58
The Early Government. The Pynchon Family. Witchcraft.

CHAPTER IV.— Pages 59-70

King Philip's War and its Causes. Battles and Burnings in the

Connecticut Valley.

Poem: The Statue of the Puritan in Merrick Park.

CHAPTER v.— Pages 71-86

King Philip's War Concluded. The Burning of Springfield.

Captain Holyoke and the Falls Fight. Close of the War.

CHAPTER VI.— Pages 87-102
Settlement of Chicopee and Other Towns. The Revolution.

CHAPTER VII.— Pages 103-112
Shays' Rebellion. The Constitution. 1783-1789.

CHAPTER VIII.— Pages 113-130

Old Times and New. The Change to Modern Ways. The First

Steamboat. The Armory. Distinguished Visitors.

Poem: The Arsenal at Springfield.

CHAPTER IX.— Pages 131-144
The New City. Anti-Slavery. The Civil War.

CHAPTER X.— Pages 145-166

A Look Backwards. The Spanish War. The Twentieth Century.

Anniversary Hymn.

The Founder of Springfield.



The Site of SpRiNtiFiELD as thi;

SPRINGFIELD is located on the bank of a fine river. It
is true that the river is not deep enough for any but the
smaller craft, but in the summer many pleasure boats
skim over its surface. The city itself, as seen on the approach
from the west or south, with the broad river in the foreground,


and its buildings rising on gradually retreating terraces, all
embowered in foliage, is, indeed, as was said of an ancient
city, "beautiful for situation."

Before the days of railroads, or even of good wagon roads,
the river was of great consequence to Springfield in the way
of commerce. It was by the river that the early settlers got
their beaver skins and other goods to market, floating them
down the stream and thence by sea to Boston. In the summer
the river helps to cool the heated air. From the city to
its source, near the Canadian border it is about three
hundred and seventy miles and from the railroad bridge in
Springfield to the lighthouse at the river's mouth seventy-
one and a half miles more. The Agawam, which beyond
Mittineague is called the Westfield, is one of its principal
tributaries. While its name divides into three English words,
this is a mere accident, yet it does cut in two New Hampshire
and VeiTnont and the eastern and western portions of Massa-
chusetts and Connecticut. The Indians named the stream
and in their language Connecticut means "the long river."

This is but one of many Indian names that belong to the
locality of Springfield, some of which are in use today, like
Pecowsic, Nayasset, Chicopee and Agawam. Mittineague was
in Indian Menedgonuk, but has been worn by usage into the
smoother form. The Indian place-names which are left to us
in New England, like Wallamanumps, Massacksick, (Long-
meadow) and Massachusetts are not so musical as those in the
language of the western tribes, like Cayuga, Shiawassee and
Minnehaha; but they all have a meaning which is worth
finding out.

Besides her share in "the great river," as the English
settlers called it, Springfield has also a river almost all her own,
a little one, indeed, but just big enough to be called by that


name. Its sources are at the foot of the Wilbraham moun-
tains whence it flows by its north branch and south branch
till these meet at the Watershops pond. After tumbling over
two dams below the point of union the river loses itself in the
Connecticut, near York street. It was so useful in the earliest
times of the white settlers in grinding all the grain and sawing
all the lumber that they thought "Mill River" a good and

honorable name,
and if those
who come after
us are sensible,
by that name it
" will always be
, known. It still
turns the great
vvheel at the
vVatershops and
thus has a hand
m making the
1 ifles of the United
States army.

Next to Mill
river, the stream
that has been
most important
in the town's history, excei)t the Chicopee, or rivers that
are no longer in the limits of Springfield, was the "Town
brook." The Town brook, called in its upper part "Garden
brook," rises to the east of St. James avenue bridge and
flowing down the valley, formerly divided near the comer of
Spring and Worthington streets, one branch going north and
circling to the north of Round Hill on its way to the river,

Mill River at the Watekwuops.

From "Marco Paul at the Springfield Armory," by Jacob

Abbott, 1853.


while the other branch reached Main street, near Worthing-
ton, and flowed along the easterly side of the street, which it
crossed near York street and thence entered the river. But
the waters of the once famous " Town brook" are now diverted
into sewers, where they do a very useful, if very dirty work.
The brook as it flowed by Main street was once a clear, good
stream in which to fish. Such has been also the doom of other
pretty rural brooks that once flowed among grassy banks
from the slopes of the higher lands in now thickly settled parts
of the city. Some of them, before the days of steam, were
ponded by dams in order to create power for small factories.

One of these ponds covered the region of Avon Place.
There is a little brook which even today rises not far from the
comer of State and Walnut streets and flows, for its whole
course, unseen to the river, passing on its way just in front of
the High School. It once formed the "Card Factory" pond
and turned the wheels of a factory east of the Wesson Hospi-
tal. But in dry times the little brook was not able to do all
the work required of it; so it was helped by a huge mastiff,
who was made to walk in a treadmill and thus by the brook
and the mastiff together, was the machinery kept going, a
singular example of manufacture by dog power. Springfield
has even yet some share in the Chicopee river, which touches
its northeastern border, and to it Indian Orchard owes its

There are a number of natural ponds, mostly fed by unseen
springs. They either have an outlet under ground, or else the
water flowing in is so nicely balanced by the water passing
into the air by evaporation that they need no outlet. Where
this balance is destroyed by the lessening of the supply of
water, as by the cutting of trees, the pond diminishes in size
and incidentally peat is formed. An example may be seen


on the Wilbraham road beyond the North Branch. Goose
pond, at first called Swan pond, because of the swans that
stopped there on their spring and autumn journeys, was the
very largest pond, and stretched northward from Winchester
square. It was built over not many years ago. Two Mile

pond seems likely

.-". to meet the same

^. ..-:."...• fate. Five Mile

pond, named from
its distance from
Main street, is
divided by the rail-
road. Island pond,
so called from its
single island , a
floating bog, is nearer, but little known. Loon pond is a pretty
sheet of water and Venturer's pond is a pleasing feature of
Sixteen Acres. The Sixteen Acres mill pond is perhaps a
natural pond caused by a rock dam. In all there are ten
natural ponds. The map accompanying this chapter shows
the natural features and localities as they were in the days of
the original settlers of Springfield.

Before describing the lay of the land it is necessary to know
something of its history; how in the story of the earth's
making it came to be just what it is, its rocks and soil, its hills
and valleys. To do this takes us back, perhaps, millions of
years; for man's history is as nothing compared with that of
the rocks. Deep down below the earth's surface lies the real
floor on which all things above may be said to rest. It is
composed of the strongest and oldest of the rocks, called crys-
talline. It was by the action of earth's great fires, melting
and fusing together the original raw materials of the world,


that the crystalHne rocks were made. Look at a block of
granite and you will find it made up of several things that
could only have been got together by fire.

Although crystalline rocks lie at the bottom, the}^ have
sometimes got pushed up by the mighty forces of nature and
so have made mountains. If you climb mountains even no
higher than those surrounding Springfield, and find an exposed
surface, you will come upon the hard rocks out of which they
are built. In the valley they are not seen because of the over-
lay of later rock and soil. Underneath Hampden county lies
■a, bed of gneiss, a rock resembling granite. It is quarried in
Monson and out of its blocks the Court House and Hall of
Records have been constructed.

After this solid old floor of gneiss was laid down, some
very interesting things happened in this part of the Connecticut
Valley, the story of which only the student of geology can
fully appreciate; but something of it may be told here. There
was, first, the rising of the mountains; the easterly range
running between Wilbraham and Monson and the westerly,
through Blandford and other towns. This rising made the
present Connecticut Valley. Then the whole valley between
these mountains, extending as far north as Greenfield, sank
below the level of the ocean and of course the salt water
flowed in. On the heights of the present Wilbraham, Bland-
ford and other towns where the highlands penned the waters
in, the tide rose and fell and the sea fishes, perhaps whales
and sharks, could swim from East Longmeadow to Holyoke
and beyond. In those times sand and mud were being carried
down by the Connecticut river from the northern mountains
in a way which will be described further on, and dropped in
the bottom and on the shores of this inland sea. Reptiles and
^eat birds walked on the shore. In the end this sand hardened


and became a rock called sandstone, having sometimes im-
printed in it the footsteps of these living beings. Sometimes
too, raindrops left their marks in the sand and the raindrops
and tracks have remained to tell a very old story in after ages.
Specimens like that on this page may be seen in the Science
Museum ; but the best collection is in the museum of Amherst
College. It is this ancient sandstone, called by geologists,
triassic, which is taken from the quarries of East Longmeadow.

.^ ^


'^ J



OF THE Connecticut River.

It was while the water extended from the Wilbraham
mountains to the Blandford range that a great event happened
a few miles from Springfield, caused by tlie action of sub-
terranean fires. A great crack opened in the eartli and up
rushed a mass of melted matter which finally cooled into the
hardest kind of rock, a rock called trap. This rock formed
Mount Tom and Mount Holyoke and all the range southerly
which makes the line between West Springfield and Westfield.
Again the earth opened and the molten volcanic matter thrown
up at this time, a smaller mass than the other, formed a low


and short range of hills extending through the western part of
West Springfield and Agawam. The volcanic rock can be
seen exposed to view in the trap rock quarries; also in the
railroad cut between Tatham and Paucatuck in West Spring-
field. Out of it is made the
macadam for the streets. At
the northern part of these
breakings forth of earth's sub-
terranean fires, there was a
small volcano which probably
continued fuming after the
range of hills, whose making
was connected with it, had
been formed. The remains
of the crater of this long ex-
tinct volcano can still be seen,
not far from Titan's pier at
the foot of Mount Holyoke.
It was after this that, in
an era not so very far from
our own, perhaps, another
one of Nature's great forces,
not directly fire or water, but
connected with both in its
origin, set itself in operation

to make changes in the SUr- volcano Wokk: Map by William Orh.

face of the earth in this neighborhood, and indeed, over a large
part of North America. This was the Great Glacier, a sheet of ice
that, starting in the Arctic regions, probably Labrador, ex-
tended, in some places, half a mile thick all down the continent
to a line drawn a good deal south of Springfield. Half a mile
measures the distance from Court Square to the lower Armory



gate on State street. The glacier was, as all glaciers are,
really a great ice river; for it flowed slowly southward, bend-
ing itself to go between the mountains in its course and bear-
ing the fragments along with it. These fragments, when the

glacier finally melt-
ed, were dropped in
places far away
from their starting
point and are now
^^^^^ called boulders. In
''yz^ some places they are
lif^ thickly strewn, but
"^are not so common
\in the immediate
valley, for reasons
that we shall see.
One of them, how-
ever, now making
a memorial stone on
Benton Park, was found on the highlands near Brush Hill
in West Springfield.

The mountains, composed of the hard crystalline rocks,
like the White mountains, and of trap, like Mount Tom, stood
firm against the grinding power of the glacier, but many of
the hardened deposits of sandstone were worn down. We
cannot always tell just what damage was done to the sand-
stone by the glacier and just what by the wearing of it away
by the waters; but if you notice how high Mount Sugarloaf
stands above the meadows of South Deerfield and Sunderland,
and even how the sandstone hill at the south end of Main
street is higher than the land around it, you will see how much
bed-rock has been carried off to Connecticut which was once

Boulders Dropped by a Glacier and Water-Worn


alongside. This bed-rock, broken up fine, as it would be by
gradual water wear, makes the red earth so common in Suffield,
Hartford and other Connecticut towns. It is some of Massa-
chusetts that went down stream. At Locust street the sand-
stone is close to the surface and the sewer is cut in the solid
rock which extends southerly from a comer of the South
Main street school.

When the great glacier melted away it left a big pond
bottom stretching from j\Iiddletown in Connecticut on the
south to Holyoke on the north, easterly to the Wilbraham
and west as far as the range of hills that separates West
Springfield from Westfield. This big bottom became filled
with water and is known to geologists as the Springfield
lake. For a long time this lake remained. When you leave
Court Square for Holyoke in the street cars your course is
along the old lake bottom, the banks on either side being in
plain view, until you reach the top of the bank itself at the
Holyoke City Hall. The powerful current of the Connecticut,
entering the lake at the gap between Mount Holyoke and
Mount Tom, as also Chicopee river coming down from the
northeast, made important changes in the lake bottom. What
were they?

Away to the north were the mountains of crystalline
rocks, the White mountains and the Green mountains. Heat,
cold and frost were slowly w^earing them away. Pebbles and
sand came from them and fell into the little streams that ran
among the hills. These pebbles and sand were carried down-
ward by the streams into the great river. The river carried
them into the great Springfield lake and gradually they were
dropped on the bottom. If the current was powerful it carried
the pebbles further; if it lacked, then not so far: the sand
being lighter, would always go further than the pebbles. We


have called the large pieces of rock, pebbles; but when they
started on the southern journey they were rough edged. By
tumbling over each other in their downward course they
became rounded into pebbles. It was because this process,
was kept up for ages that the crystalline rocks underneath
Springfield are covered deep with something quite different.
Where the pebbles fell in masses they made gravel beds, the
like of which can be seen on the line of the railroad, not far
from Oak Grove cemetery.

But the history of the sand dropping is the more interest-
ing. Remember that, when the flow of water was swift and
strong, the lighter grains went on and only the heavier ones,
were dropped. When the current slackened, the heavier
grains stopped further up stream and the lighter ones in the-
spot where the larger ones were at first. So we expect to find
layers of sand of varying thicknesses, one or the other, according
as the current was swift or slow.

Sometimes the sand varies in color, as underneath Maple-
avenue in the Peabody cemetery. The children who dis-
covered this by digging holes to China called one layer of it.
"fireman's sand," for its red color. In fact Armory Hill,
extending for miles east, is covered with sand of varying sized
grains. On the brow of the hill at Union street the grains,
exposed in building are coarse and good for mortar; a little
distance east, on Walnut street, they are finer and not so good
for this purpose. After you have noticed these different kinds,
of sand, look at one of the great stone posts at the gates of the
Armory and you will find that it is composed of just such
sand, only the mass of grains is compacted into stone, the
color of which is a brown red. This post was taken out of the-
quarries of Longmeadow, where the sand droppings of a time
long before the period of the great glacier had been pressed



into stone by the great weight above them, making a stone
or rock called sandstone. Some sandstone is red and some is
brown, and it is called sedimentary, because made out of the
sediment, or settlings, of water.

Sometimes the mixture of sand and mud (the mud was
only a wet mass of grains so fine as to be almost unnoticeable)
did not harden enough to make sandstone but only got
pressed into a shelly state that was almost and yet not quite
stone. This substance is called shale and mav be seen in a
bank at the foot of Walnut ___.^^^

street. When the masses ^x^-

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Online LibraryCharles H. (Charles Henry) BarrowsThe history of Springfield in Massachusetts for the young; being also in some part the history of other towns and cities in the county of Hampden → online text (page 1 of 10)