Frederick H. (Frederick Hills) Hitchcock.

The handbook of Amherst, Massachusetts online

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Handbook of Amherst,



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JIJN 15 1891
5rlofnttj illustrations.





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1891, by

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Typography by J. S. Gushing 8c Co., Boston. Presswork by Berwick & Snaith, Boston.


The Handbook of Amherst has been prepared in the hope of
affording its readers a comprehensive view of one of the most
attractive Httle towns of Western Massachusetts ; and it is beheved
to be the first attempt at combining in one vokmie the matters of
permanent interest to residents, strangers, and college students alike.

While the information, covering this broad field, is greatly con-
densed in order to produce a book of convenient size, no effort has
been spared to make it accurate, as well as complete in every

Other than that of being a " handbook," the volume has no pre-
tensions. With it as a guide, the visitor to Amherst can see every-
thing of any importance in the town and the surrounding country ;
and to both residents and students it should prove a valuable

Without the assistance of many of the friends of the town and its
colleges, the publication of the book in its present form would not
have been possible. The names of all those who have aided in
gathering material, and in correcting the manuscript and proofs, can-
not be mentioned, but among them were : Dr. William S. Tyler,
President M. E. Gates, President H. H. Goodell, Dr. Edward
Hitchcock, William A. Dickinson, Esq., Professor Charles Wellington,
Professor W. P, Brooks, Charles O. Parmentcr, and Rev. D. W.



Marsh. To these and many others, whose suggestions have been
most valuable, cordial acknowledgments of their kindnesses are due.
The photographs, from which the large majority of the illustrations
were made, were the work of Mr. J. L. Lovell, of Amherst. A few
were furnished by Mr. H. N. Potter, of the class of 1891 in Am-
herst College, and by the Notman Photographic Company of Boston.
A number of the illustrations of scenes outside of Amherst, that
otherwise would not have been presented here, are loaned by Wade,
Warner & Co., of Northampton, from "Picturesque Hampshire." A
picture from the "92 Olio" is also used.

Amherst, Massachusetts,
June, eighteen hundred and ninety-one.




The Hartford Revolt — Settlement of Hadley— A Glimpse at
Early Amherst — A Town at last — Wars and Rumors ok Wars.


The Be.\uty of an August Day — Characteristic Flowers and Birds

— Literature of the Valley — Its Geology — A Few Historical


Views from Holyoke — Char.ming Hadley — Tiii. " Miaikiw Cnv" —
Blood-Stained Deerfield — Other Atikactive Places.


Its Situation — Material Condition — Glimpses along the Streets
of the Vili-age — North Amiii.kst — The "City" — East Street —
South Amherst.


A Gi^vNCE AT ITS History — The College of the Present — The
Simmer School of Langu.vges — A Tour of the College Buildings

— The Greek Letter Fraternities — Their Houses.


Historical Notes — Present Conditions — The Exi-ekiment Stations

— A Gi„\NCE .\t the Buildings.



Agricultural and Physical Laboratory, 183.
Alpha Delta Phi House, The Old, 137.
Alpha Delta Phi House, The New, 139.
Amherst, Jeffrey, First Lord, 9.
Amherst House, The, 57.
Appleton Cabinet; Amherst College, 121.

Barrett Gymnasium, The, 124.
Belchertown Common, A View of, 45.
Beta Theta Pi House, The, 149.
Birthplace of Charles Dudley Warner at

Plainfield, 23.
Botanic Museum and Plant House, 185.
Bryant's Home at Cummington, 22.

Chapel and Dormitories, The ; Amherst
College, 125.

Chapel and Library, The; Agricultural
College, 167.

Chemical Laboratory, The ; Agricultural
College, 179.

Chi Phi House, The, 151.

College Church, The ; Amherst College, 115.

College Hail, 95.

Common, looking toward /Vmherst Col-
lege, The, 53.

Delta Kappa Epsilon House, The, 133.

Delta Upsilon House, The, 159.

Drill Hall, The ; Agricultural College, 163.

Elm Street in Hatfield, 38.

Ferry, A Picturesque, 32.

First Congregational Meeting-House and
Parsonage in 1788, 77.

First Congregational Church, 79.

First Victoria Regia grown without Arti-
ficial Heat, The, 43.

Fishing-Rod Factory, The, 40.

Flower Field at Pansy Park, A, 42.

Grace Episcopal Church, 61.

Grand Stand on Pratt Field, The, 129.

Glimpse of Smith College, A, 36.

Hatfield, Elm Street in, 38.

Henry T. Morgan Library, The; Amherst

College, 99.
Huntington Estate, The, 37.

Insectary, The; Agricultural College, 187.

Jeffrey, First Lord Amherst, 9.

Laboratory Building, The; Agricultural

College, 177.
Library, The Henry T. Morgan ; Amherst

College, 99.

Library, The Chapel and; Agricultural

College, 167.
Looking toward North Amherst, 39.

Main Street, Amherst, 71.

^h^p of Amherst, 49.

Mather Art Collection, The, 109.

Mill Valley, 75.

Mount Holyoke, 34.

Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, 47.

Mount Lincoln, The Tower on, 41.

Mount Pleasant House, 67.

Mount Warner, Looking toward, 17.

North Amherst Center, 83.
North College Dormitory, The ; Agricultu-
ral College, 175.
North Hadley, A Scene in, 19.
North Pleasant Street, 64.

Oak Groye School, 73.

Obseryatory, Woods Cabinet and ; Amherst

College, 136.
Ox-Bow in 1840 and 1890, from Mount

Holyoke, The, 24.

Pansy Park, A Flower Field in, 42.
Phi Delta Theta House, The, 155.
Picturesque Ferry, A, 32.
Pond in Belchertown, The, 44.
Pratt Gymnasium, The, 119.
President's House, The; Amherst Col-
lege, lOI.
Psi Upsilon House, The, 143.

Russell Church and Elmwood House in
Hadley, The, 35.

Scene in North Hadley, A, 19.
Smith College, A Glimpse of, 36.
South Amherst Center, 85.
South College Dormitory, The ; Agricultu-
ral College, 171.

Theta Delta Chi House, The, 145.

" The Terrace," 69.

Town Hall, The, 65.

Tower on ISIount Lincoln, The, 41.

Town from the College Chapel, The, 91.

View from the College Library, Amherst

College, 89.
\'iew of Belchertown Common, A, 45.

Walker Hall. in.

\\'est Street of Hadley, The, 27.

Williston Hall, 105.

Woods Cabinet and Obseryatory, 136.



AMHERST was settled from the west. It lies among
the lower foot-hills of the (ireen Mountains, east
of old Hadley, of which it long formed a part. It
took one hundred years for the tide of English immigra-
tion to get less than one hundred miles inland from the
shores of Massachusetts Bay to Amherst. The movement,
like that of the Pilgrims through Holland to Plymouth
Rock, was roundabout, — first southeastward, into the
State of Connecticut ; thence northward, along the river
to Hadley ; and finally eastward, involving the entrance
to Amherst from the west.

The original settlers, coming mainly from Hadley and
from Hatfield, then a part of Hadley, were nearly all the
descendants of the earliest Hadley settlers. Their ancestors, with few
exceptions, had come from England to Massachusetts Bay between 1631
and 1635, and finding near the shore less land and less freedom than
they wished, sent explorers, in 1633, by land and water to the Con-
necticut River. In 1635 and 1636 they moved through the wilderness
to the fertile valley, settling at Wethersfield and Hartford. There they
remained for almost a generation, until religious disinites in 1759 and
1760 led a part of the body to move to Hadley.


It is interesting to look back upon the principles which caused the
division of the Connecticut settlements. The differences at Hartford
occasioning the up-river movement sprang largely from divergent theo-
ries of government. The friends of Rev. John Hooker, known in England
as the light of the western churches, sought to obtain a larger personal
liberty denied them at Hartford. The first lecture of this good man at
Hartford sounded a note that should never be forgotten in the history
of liberty in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and it foreshadowed in a
wonderful manner the truths which lay at the basis of the Federal
government founded more than a century later.

On a Thursday, the ist of May, 1638, his text was, "Take you wise
men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make
them rulers over you " (Deut. i. 13). He laid down " Doctrine i. That
the choice of the public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's
own allowance. 2. The privilege of election which belongs to the
people, therefore, must be exercised not according to their humors, but
according to the blessed will and law of God. 3. They who have power
to appoint officers and magistrates, it is their power also to set bounds
and limitations of the power and place to which they call them." And
he gave as reasons: "i. Because the foundation of authority is laid
firsdy in the free consent of the people. 2. Because, by a free choice,
the hearts of the people will be more inclined to the laws of the persons,
and more ready to yield."

On such broad principles were the early inhabitants of the Connecticut
Valley nurtured, and such principles were especially cherished by the
parents and grandparents of the first settlers of Amherst.

Sixty-eight years intervened between the occupation of Hadley in
1659 and the setdement of Amherst, although the lands of the latter
place were more elevated, lay but four miles away, and were within the
boundaries of the town.

The history of Hadley's own " Middle Street" makes this fact not at
all surprising. It was not occupied for fifty-three years after the " West
Street," and in 1720 it had only twenty families. The lots were first
laid out by vote of the town in 1684. In 1687 most of them were given
to inhabitants of the town on condition that they build within three
years. An Indian war breaking out the following year, no one dared
live outside of the fortifications ; and the grants had to be renewed in


1690 and 1692, only to be further delayed in their settlement by the
French and Indian War until 1713.

In addition to the motive of personal safety, the wish to be near the
common meeting-house, and to perpetuate the home and village life of
England, did much to influence the people to move, when they did
move, in large rather than in small bodies. The flow of population
from England was checked about that time, thus retarding the growth
of the colonies away from the seacoast.

It is very clear that the Hadley settlers did not realize the value of
the land lying at a distance from the river. They complained in 1673
that most of their woodland was a " barren pine-plain, capable of very
little improvement," and accordingly their boundaries were widened by
the Cieneral Court so as to " run five miles up the river and five miles
down the river and six miles from their meeting-house eastward." This
grant gave them all the land now included in the town of Amherst, but
ten years after they begged for more, saying that " the inhabitants are
shut up on the east and north by a desolate and barren desert," and
" the young people are straightened for want of enlargement and remove
to remote places " rather than live in Amherst. This petition brought
them in May, 1683, an addition four miles square between Hadley and
Springfield, extending eastward from the Connecticut River. It proved
useless to them during the Indian wars, and was not even surveyed
until 1 71 5.

The following vote, passed by the town of Hadley on the 4th of
March, 1 700, may still be deciphered in the old record-book, and it
shaped for all time the positions of the main streets and the lots of
Amherst, then known as East Hadley : —

" Voted l)y the town, that three miles and one-quarter eastward from the meeting-
house, and so from the north side of Mount Holyoke unto Mill River, shall lye as
common lands forever, supposing that the line will take in the new swamp.

" Voted, that the rest of the commons, eastward, shall be laid out in three divisions,
that is to say, between the road leading to Brooklieid, and the Mill River, notwith-
standing there is liberty for the cutting of wood and timl)er so long as it lieth
unfenced ; there is likewise to be left between every division forty rods for highways,
and what will be necessary to be left for highways eastward and West through every
division, is to be left to the discretion of the measurers ; and every one to have a
proportion in the third division, and every householder to have a ^^50 allotment and
all others who are now the proper inhabitants of Hadley, 16 years old and ujnvard,
to have a ^^25 allotment in said commons."


Rendered into language that is more intelligible at the present day,
this vote meant to reserve forever as common property the tract of land
lying between Mount Holyoke on the south, and :\Iill River on the
north, and extending from the " West Street " of Hadley eastward to a
north and south line three and a quarter miles from the meeting-house,
then standing in the middle of the street. The land east of this " Inner
Commons," the present Amherst, was tu be divided into three sections
separated by highways running north and south, which are now repre-
sented by Pleasant and East streets, and these to be intersected by
cross-streets, running east and west.

Things moved slowly in those days, and it was three years later —
May, 1 703 — when the town measurers announced that the instructions
of the vote had been carried out. Portions of East Hadley were allotted
to individuals, whether they became settlers or remained in the old
street, and the same names occur in the record of this division of
land as may be found in the later division of South Hadley. The allot-
ments were not made so much for immediate settlement as to allow
the separate ownership of wood, pasture, and swamp lands, and most
of those who were given lots never intended to reside upon them. So
it was not until 1727 or 172S that the new territory began to be occu-
pied, although tradition relates that a hardy woodsman named Eoote
attempted unsuccessfully to live by fishing and trapping near what is
known as " East Street." For years that portion of the town lying just
north of the Second Congregational meeting-house had the name of
"Foote's Folly Swamp."

The three divisions of f2ast Hadley are i)lainly indicated to-day by
the two north and south roads, of which the village common and llie
East Street common are i^arts. P>oth of these highways, originally forty
rods wide, have been narrowed from time to time as the roadways
became improved, and there was less need of making detours to avoid
the hummocks and treacherous mud-holes which first rendered trav-
elling sinuous. Recent measurements made for The Handbook of
Amherst locate this west highway as lying between the stone carriage
block in front of the Amherst House on .\mity Street and the residence
of H. B. Edwards on Lessey Street. The ]iresent position of Amity
Street is nearly that of the middle one of the tliree cross-highways laid
out in the same widtli. In 1754. Iladlcx reduced the west street to
twenty rods' width, and the east street to twel\-e, and a large l)art of tlie


business of the precinct meetings for fifteen years — from 1767 to 17S2
— was to discontinue parts of these broad highways.

The first of the three divisions was bounded by the Hne, " three miles
and one-quarter from the Meeting-house," at Hadley and the west
street, now Pleasant Street ; the second tlivision lay between the west
and east streets, and the third extended a mile from the east street to
the Pelham hills. The first two were two hundred and forty rods wide,
and all stretched from the Bay road on the south to the Mill River on
the north. Ninety-seven persons received lots in either the first or the
second divisions, and all were given sections in the third for pasture

The first authentic record that the grants of land in East Hadley had
been occupied is in the vote of Hadley, January 5, 1730, to lay out an
acre of land for a cemetery for the " east inhabitants," who are known to
have numbered at that time eighteen families. The names of these
early settlers are John Ingram, Sr., John Ingram, Jr., Ebenezer Kellogg,
John Cowls, Jonathan Cowls, Samuel Boltwood, Samuel Hawley, Na-
thaniel Church, John Wells, Aaron Smith, Nathaniel Smith, Richard
Chauncey, Stei)hen Smith, John Nash, Jr., Joseph Wells, Ebenezer
Scovil, Ebenezer Ingram, Ebenezer Dickinson. Twelve of these men
came from Hadley, and the others from Hatfield.

The first step toward the separation of the two settlements was taken
in 1733, when Hadley voted that the "east inhabitants have a part of
their taxes abated upon their hiring a minister of their own," previous to
this every one being obliged to make the journey to the meeting-house
at old Hadley for Sabbath worship. The parishes were finally divided
by an act of the Cieneral Court, December 31, 1734, making East Had-
ley the " Third Precinct " of Hadley on the condition of its settling a
" learned orthodox minister," and erecting a meeting-house. The
decree of the General Court bounded the new precinct, it " Being of
the contents of two miles and three-quarters in breadth, and seven
miles in length, bounded Westerly on a tract of land reser\ed by the
town of Hadley, to lye as common forever, Southerly on Boston road.
Easterly on Equivalent lands, and Northerly on the town of Sunderland."

While the church affairs of the precinct thus became distinct from
those of the parent village, town business was still transacted in the
original settlement, and the town officers were almost entirely from that


The first minister of the Third Precinct, the Rev. David Parsons, who
was born at Maiden, began his labors in November, 1735, settling per-
manently four years later, when he was given money and land for
building a house, and was promised ^100 salary, with an increase in
proportion to the growth of the population. The meeting-house begun
in 1 738 was located upon the site of the present college Observatory,
and, although not completed until 1753, was occupied some time prior
to 1742. The history of this First Congregational Church is traced at
some length in another portion of this book. It sufifices to say here
that its development and growth were parallel with the development and
growth of the town, the paths diverging only when later religious differ-
ences resulted in the establishment of the Second Parish, and the town,
as a political body, discontinued its support of pubUc worship.

In 1739 Oliver Partridge resurveyed the town of Hadley, determining
what still remains the eastern boundary of Amherst. He followed the
provisions of the grant to Hadley in 1673, finding the point exactly six
miles east of the old meeting-house, and running by compass a north
and south line through it. The first surveyors had done their work
without a compass, but they were in reality more accurate than Partridge,
for the magnetic variation changed the line so that the lots in the
southern part of the third division were widened considerably, while
those at the north were narrowed. To offset this loss of territory, the
town allowed about six hundred acres on the Flat Hills to those who
had suffered by the relocation of the line.

The Third Precinct of Hadley sent its share of men to the Indian wars
that raged intermittently up and down the beautiful valley of the Con-
necticut between the years of 1744 and 1763. Many brave men were
sacrificed, but among those surviving, several gained the prominence and
abilitv that placed them at the front at the opening of the Revolutionary

The year i 749 finds the first indication that the settlement is alive to
the necessity of providing the rising generation with opportunities for
gaining some education. Appropriations, liberal for the times, were
made "to Hire three School Dames for three or four Months in the
Summer seson to Lame children to read." The pupils met at the
teachers' homes, for there were no school-houses until after i 764, when
four were ordered to be built, a " North, a South, a West Middle, and a
South East Middle." josiah Pierce began to teach October 27, 1765.


He was the first school-master, and spent part of the year at each of the
" Middle " school-houses. A graduate of Harvard College, he was ])aid
$5.33 a month, adding to this by keeping an evening school, and preach-
ing at the churches of the surrounding places for twenty shillings a Sun-
day. It is not at all surprising that '' he dismissed his school in disgust
March 29, 1769," as the records have it. The school-house of this
hard-working pedagogue stood upon the village common near the spot
now marked by the watering-trough. In 1 784 Amherst voted " to set
up six schools." It is interesting to notice that before Amherst College
had graduated a single student, thirty-nine Amherst boys had obtained
degrees, thirteen from Williams, ten from Dartmouth, seven from Yale,
and three from Harvard.

Owing to the incorporation of South Hadley as a district in i 753, the
name " East Hadley " was changed to the " Second Precinct of Had-
ley," and six years later, just a century after the founding of Hadley, the
" Second Precinct " was made a district. Governor Pownell, in signing
the act of incorporation, February 13, 1 759, gave it the name of Amherst,
in honor of General Jeffrey Amherst, prominent at that time as the com-
mander of the memorable expedition against Louisburg, and still later
as commander-in-chief and field marshal of the English armies. In
1776 General .\mherst was created a baron.

The new district held its first legal meeting March 19, 1759. From
that time on, the spirit of independence and thrift seemed to take a
firmer hold upon the people. They toiled diligently for the betterment
of their estates, laying aside the generous store of English money
that was to prove so useful during the hard times of the aj^proach-
ing war.

Much of the public business previously centering exclusively in the
mother settlement was transferred to Amherst, with the beneficial results
always attending an interest in home affairs. In 1758 the white popu-
lation actually outnumbered that of Hadley, and in 1776 ha

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Online LibraryFrederick H. (Frederick Hills) HitchcockThe handbook of Amherst, Massachusetts → online text (page 1 of 10)