Mason Arnold Green.

Springfield, 1636-1886 : history of town and city : including an account of the quarter-millennial celebration at Springfield, Mass., May 25 and 26, 1886 online

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Online LibraryMason Arnold GreenSpringfield, 1636-1886 : history of town and city : including an account of the quarter-millennial celebration at Springfield, Mass., May 25 and 26, 1886 → online text (page 1 of 57)
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An Account of the Quarter-Millennial Celebration

At Springfield, Mass., May 25 and 26, 1886

Issued by the Authority and Direction of the City «)F Springfield

C. A. NICHOLS & CO., Publishers





Co f^y right, iSSS


^lorktofll antJ Clnirchill


Two years ago to-day all Springfield celebrated the two
hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the first town-meeting.
The committee of fifty, charged with the details of the festivi-
ties, who had assigned to the writer the task of preparing the
forinal record of the event, also requested him to " collect facts
as to the early history of Springfield, and the genealogy of the
families of the first settlers, which shall, with the address, and
speeches at the banquet, be published in book form." For some
months this plan was pursued, but it was found that one vol-
ume would not meet the demands, if the usual plan of a local
history were followed. Springfield is not a town. It has been
an important and indeed controlling factor in the development
of Western Massachusetts. There never has been a continuous
narrative of the town and city. Several chapters in its career
have never been investigated by au}^ writer. To cover these
breaks and give the history of the people of Springfield, and at
the same time leave space for genealogies and the anniversary
speeches, would be impracticable in one volume, and would
require several years' research. The historian has, therefore,
taken the liberty, after conferring Avith the publication com-
mittee, to depart from his instructions, and to leave the prep-
aration of the genealogies, the drafts of streets, and the
complete lists of office-holders, and much tabular data to some
future Avriter. In all probability the three hundredth anniver-


sary will be observed with patriotic enthusiasm. If the his-
torian of that occasion will supply these features and carry
the narrative down the extra fifty years, he will have material
enough to make a second volume, which, with the corrections
that may be needed in this, will furnish our people with a
history more elaborate than that of any city or town in the

There is, indeed, much in these pages of a genealogical and
biographical nature, and many old landmarks are identified ;
but this material is only used as incidental to the story. It is
the history of the people that is here told. A list of the
men who have aided the writer during the past two years
would be too long to give here. But special acknowledgment
should be made to Dr. Thomas R. Pynchon, of Hartford, for
his many services in collecting facts. Maj. Edward Ingersoll,
James E. Russell, Robert O. jNIorris, Judge William S. Shurt-
leff, James Wells, Dr. William Rice, James Kirkham, Dr. F. E.
Oliver, of Boston, and scores of others have given their services
in recalling the past and furnishing records ; and Judge Henry
Morris, before his illness, gave the use of his historical library
and manuscripts at all times. The names of the soldiers of
the civil Avar and the lists of dead, wounded, and missing were
furnished by James L. Bowen. The index was prepared by
Dr. William Rice.

The publication committee appointed by the committee of
fifty were : Edward H. Lathrop, chairman ; Judge William S.
Shurtleff, Lewis J. Powers, James D. Gill, and Milton Bradley.
This committee placed the whole matter of publishing the
history into the hands of C. A. Nichols, of this city, who, it
will be seen., has spared neither time nor money in this


It is a fact worthy of note that the local patriotism which
the jNIay celebration stimulated has not died down since then.
During the past tAvo years more money has been given for
public improvements, more attention paid to the appearance of
parks and thoroughfares, and more concern taken in the organ-
izations that supplement the work of good government here
than for many years before the celebration. Thus the quarter-
millennial, which was a tribute to the past, was a pledge also
for the future in all things that improve and better our City of
Homes. This is our Springfield, — first, a stake in the wilder-
ness, then a town, then the mother of towns, then a city, and,
with the continuing favor of Providence, the mother of cities.


Springfield, Mav 25, 1888.

The Springfield Church, England.


When King Charles had dissolved his third Parliament with the
avowed purpose of ruling without it, and had made the ritualistic
Laud Bishop of Loudon, thus at once putting his heel upon the
statute lil^erties of England and the bleeding heart of Puritanism,
there lived in an Essexshire hamlet a warden of the established
church. He was thirty-nine years of age, of gentle birth, acute, res-
tive, and singularly self-assertive. He had seen some of the stoutest
men of the realm break into tears when the king had cut off free speech
in the Commons ; he had seen ritualism, like an iron collar, clasped
upon the neck of the Church, while a young jewelled courtier, the
Duke of Buckingham, dangled the reputation of sober England at
his waistcoat. A colonial enterprise, pushed by some Lincolnshire
gentlemen, had been noised abroad, and the warden joined his


fortunes with them, and so became one of the original incorporators
mentioned in the royal charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company
in America. This was William Pynchon, of Springfield, Essex,

The P3^nchons seem to have had a sturdy qualit}^ that grows in the
fastnesses of Wales, nor were they strangers to the graces of the gentry
and the pride of family. Sir William Dugdale in his "Baronage"
says that Endo, "with one Pinco his sworn brother in war," came
to England with William at the time of the Norman Conquest, and
they received, among other returns, for their services, the hamlet of
Thorpet in Kirby, Lincolnshire, — " Endo to hold his proportion im-
mediately of the king, and Pinco his of St. Cuthbert of Durham."
In 1167 Hugh, the son of " Pinco or Pincheun," w^as returned by the
Bishop of Durham as " holding of him" seven knights' fees in Lincoln
shire. A reference in the records of that da}^ to "Hugh fils Pinch-
onis " furnishes us the earliest close approach to the spelling of the
name as we have it. Walter de Beke married the daughter of " Hugh
Fitz Pincheun," who held the lands in Lincolnshire for some ^^ears.

We learn from the History of the town of Horton, in Yorkshire,
that a daughter of Thomas Chichele, Northamptonshire, married a
William Pynchon, who is spoken of as the ancestor of the Essex
Pynchons. This Chichele was a relative of Sir Robert Chichele,
Lord ]\Iayor of London in 1411. The-Horton historian speaks of the
first William Pynchon as an "opulent butcher," from whom "de-
scended a line of important personages whose issue gave off Baronets
and Squires of high degree." Coming down somewhat later, it is
known that Nicholas Pynchon, who became High Sheriff of Lon-
don in 1533, went from Wales to Sussex in the early part of the
sixteenth centur}^ and bought an estate in the ancient cathedral town
of Chichester. He removed to Essexshire in 1520, where his son,
John, married Jane Empson, the daughter of Sir Richard Empson,
one of the ministers of King Henry VII. who lost their heads for
unprofessional conduct. John's son, William, died at Writtle in 1592 ;


and his son, in turn, was the AYilliam Pynchon, of Springfield, Essex-
shire, England, who became the founder of Springtield, Massachu-
setts, United States of America.

The coat of arms of the Pynchon family was : " Per bend argent
and sable, three roundles within a bordure engrailed, counter-
changed." Although William Pynchon was a man of broad and
aggressive thought, he was remarkably complex in character. He
loved both money and adventure ; he also loved the gospel in its
purity ; he hated political corruption, and, at the same time, he dis-
trusted that phase of Puritanism which drifted away from royalty.
AVhat was the real motive that led him to leave the quiet walks of his
Essexshire estate and to sail for the New World we will leave others
to conjecture after reading his history.

After Charles Stuart had risen from his bed, where he had fallen in
unkingly tears on hearing of the assassination of Buckingham, he
resolved to continue the fight for the divine right of kings by adopting
two equally memorable policies. The ver}^ month in which the king
dissolved the Parliament which had bolted its door against the royal
messenger, he signed the famous Massachusetts Bay charter. No
one can tell who was more relieved at the signing of the charter, —
King or Puritan. The eagerness of his Majesty to be well rid of his
Puritan subjects explains the liberal terms upon which the Massa-
chusetts wilderness was set over to P^ndicott, Cradock, Pynchon, and
their associates. The}^ and their heirs and assigns forever received
from the king in the territor}^ of Massachusetts Bay " all landes and
groundes, place and places, soyles, woodes and wood groundes,
havens, portes, rivers, waters, mynes, mineralls, jurisdiceones,
rights, royalties, liberties, freedomes, immunities, priviledges, fran-
chises, preheminences, hereditament, and commodities whatsoever,"
to be held "in free and comon Socage and not in Capite nor by
knight service." The main consideration was a payment of one-fifth
part of the gold and silver ore " which from tyme to tyme and at all
tymes hereafter, shalbe there gotten, had or obteyned for all ser-


vices, exaccors, aad demandes whatsoever." It was granted that
the officers should be chosen out of the freemen of the company ; that
it should be " one bodie politique and corporate," with right forever
to appoint its own officers, including a General Court having judicial
and legislative functions granted for all time. The only check upon
the action of the court was the provision that no law should be con-
trary to the statute laws of England ; but the governor not being a
royal appointee (after the provisional one named in the charter), and
the laws not being submitted for roj'al sanction, the act of incorpo-
ration served as a practical warrant of local autonomy.

Every person joining the corporation was required to take the
freeman's oath, swearing " by the greate & dreadful name of the
everlyving God" to " mainetaine & preserve all the libertyes &
privileges " of the colou}^ ; nor did the colon}- in turn doubt its right
to exclude freemen who developed heretical opinions. John and
Samuel Brown, who had got into trouble by using the " Book of
Comon Prayer," were summarily sent back to England from Salem,
and it was arranged that the dispute should be put out to arbitration.
The Browns nominated Mr. Pynchon, among others, to this board,
and in the end, it is believed, they were paid a small sum for their
financial losses in America.

It little concerns us here to follow the transfer of the charter
from England to Massachusetts Bay in the early spring of 1630,
except to note that Mr. Pynchon's importance in this enterprise is
evident from the first. He was not only an incorporator, but was
named by the king a provisional assistant pending the regular or-
ganization under the charter. He was present at the meeting in
England in May, 1629, when he paid his "adventure money" to
Harwood, the treasurer, and in October of that year he was placed
on the committee to carry out the vote of the company to transfer
the historic charter to America. The fleet of four vessels which
sailed in April, 1630, bearing the charter with the seal of England
attached thereto by strings of braided silk, also bore Mr. Pynchon


and his feeble wife with four childreu, Ann, Mary (afterward Mrs.
Holj^oke), John, and Margaret (afterward Mrs. Davis). The new-
comers generally took their families with them. If the king gave
all, the departing Puritans accepted all, and risked all. Pynchon
seems to have left a son in England, who subsequently went to the
Barbadoes. Mr. P3mchon and his family were aboard the "Jewell,"
owned by Mr. Newell, one of the patentees. They reached Salem
in the New World on the loth of June, 1630, having been thirty-
seven da^^s on the voyage from the Isle of Wight. ]Mr. P^mchon first
settled at Dorchester. His wife died at Charlestown soon after her
arrival. Not being satisfied with the outlook, Mr. Pynchon started
a new plantation upon the rocks of Boston Neck. It was " Eocks-
bury " indeed. He aided in establishing a church there, and was
also active in public affairs. He attended the first General Court at
Charlestown, and was made treasurer of the colony. Curiously
enough the court fined Pynchon and two other assistants " a noble
apiece " for being tardy. He was compelled to cross the river, and
probably had an excuse for being late.

It is quite likely that Mr. Pynchon made plans at once for an ex-
tensive beaver trade, and some little commerce by sea. The General
Court authorized him at one time to receive from England certain
goods sent by Dr. Wilson as a gift to the plantation, which naturally
implies Avharfage facilities. Certainly the Pynchons, in later years,
owned a wharf at Boston. Mr. P^^nchon secured a license to trade
in beaver skins with the Indians, and in 1635 £5 of the £25 fee was
remitted. The trade was disappointing ; nor was the outlook en-
couraging for the town of Roxbury. One John Pratt probably ex-
pressed the feelings of many when he wrote back to England
lamenting the barrenness of the soil. When the Bay authorities
heard of it, Pratt was forced to make a public retraction, giving the
climate and soil a certificate of good character. Mr. Pynchon had
been one of the court chosen to examine and accept Pratt's retrac-
tion, and one can fancy the shrewd face of this " gentleman of


learuiug aud religion " relax as he signed his name to the acceptance
of the retraction in which Pratt said, nnder the counter pressures of
truth and necessity : "As for the barrenes of the sandy grounds I
spake of them then as I conceaved ; but nowe, by experience of
myne owne, I finde that such ground as before I accounted barren,
yet, being manured & husbanded, doeth bring forth more fruit than
I did expect."

The poor condition of the so-called soil at Roxbury, from which
even proper husbandry could not, under the circumstances, bring
encouragement to the tiller, led to a dispute about taxes levied upon
the several towns by the General Court, and indeed, in 1635, Mr.
Pynchon actually refused to pay his part of the assessment, as he
" alleaged that towne was not equally rated with others." For this
resistance he was fined £5. The most curious instance of discipline
connected with Mr. Pynchon's name at the Bay rose out of the
beaver trade. The laws as to giving fire-arms to the Indians were
naturally strict ; but the Indians being good hunters, the temptation
to lend them arms for a day or wxek, with perhaps an Englishman
to accompany them, was great indeed. ]Mr. P^mchon and ]Mr.
Mayhew, in the spring of 1634, applied to the Court of Assistants for
a special permit to employ Indian hunters, which was granted ; but
on May 14 the General Court expressed its disapproval in this stiff
manner : " It is agreed that there shal be X£ fine sett upon y^ Court
of Assistants & Mr. ]Mayhew, for breach of an order of Court against
employeing Indeans to slioote with peeces, the one halfe to be payde
l)y ]\Ir. Pynchon & Mr. Mayhew, offending therein, the other halfe
by the Court of Assistants then in being, whoegave leave thereunto."

A theological cloud was gathering over the Boston and Salem
churches. The Ann Hutchinson and Roger Williams schism was
destined soon to distract the colony,, and Mr. Pynchon could not but
have seen the advantage of a still deeper taste of the wilderness.
His resolve to settle in the Connecticut Valley marks the beginning
of the history of Springfield.

CHAPTER I. — (1G35-1G37.)

The Roxbury Settlers. — Causes of their Migration to the Connecticut Valley. —
The Probable Route from Roxbury to Springfield. — The " Old Connecticut
Path," and the " Old Bay Path."— The First House. —The Dress of the
Springfield Pioneers, — Buying Indian Lands. — The First Owners of-House
Lots. — The Pequot War. — William Pynchon a Trader. — Rev. George
]Moxon. — The Town Meeting and the English Vestry Meeting. — Owner-
ship of Lands in Common.

CHAPTER II. - (1638-1639.)

William Pynchon and the Indian. — Capt. Mason, of Connecticut. — Pynchon
and Mason contrasted. — Origin, of the Charges against Mr. Pynchon. —
Corn Contracts with the Indians and the Connecticut. — Capt. Mason visits
Agawam (Springfield). — Heated Dispute between Mason and Pynchon. —
Mason's Hasty Return to Connecticut. — Mr. Pynchon summoned to Hart-
ford, and charged with speculating in Corn. — His Trial and Conviction. —
Starving Condition of the Agawam Inhabitants. — Capt. Mason author-
ized to trade with the Massachusetts Indians. — Mr. William Pynchon's
" Apology."

CHAPTER III. — (1638-1639.)

The Connecticut Jurisdiction over Agawam. — The Massachusetts Boundary
I^ine. — Rev. Thomas Hooker's Spirited Letter. — House built for Mr.
Moxon. — Allotments of Land. — Agawam's Act of Secession. — Sundry
Town Laws. — Strangers excluded. — Wages of Laborers regulated. — The
ToAvn Brook. — Woodcock ^'s. Cable. — Ancient Lawsuits. — A Jury of Six.
— Mr. Moxon in Court.

CHAPTER IV. — (1640-1643.)

Revival of the Charges against William Pynchon. —His Trial before the Windsor
Church. — Connecticut claims Woronoco (Westfield). — Massachusetts


protests. — The Arrival of Elizur Ilolyoke, Samuel Chapin, and Others. —
Goody Gregory fined for Profanity. — Fire Ladders. — -John Hobell and
]Miss Burt ordered to be flogged. — Second Division of Planting-Grounds.

— Marriage of ]Mary Pynchon.

CHAPTER v. — (1644-l(>4o.)

The First Board of Selectmen. — Centralization. — Mr. Moxon's Ministry. — The
First Meeting-House. — A Long Sermon. — A Tax-List. — Fencing House-
Lots. — The " Longe MeddoAve." — Refusal to make Fences. — Planting-
Grounds on the AYest Side. — Social Caste. — Marriages of Hugh Parsons
and of John Pynchon.

CHAPTER VL — (1645-1650.)

Connecticut imposes a River Tariff. — Purchase of Saybrook Fort. — William
Pynchon refuses to pay the Duty. — The Commissioners of the United Col-
onies sustain Connecticut. — Springfield's Case in Detail. — Massachusetts
imposes Retaliatory Duties. —^Connecticut removes the River Duties on
Springfield Goods. — Floods and Local Incidents. — Taxes. — Miles Morgan.

— The Freeman's Oath. — Trouble as to Swine. — Town Orders.- — Pyn-
chon's Court.

CHAPTER VII. — (1648-1652.)

Witchcraft. — Mysterious Lights seen at Night. — Mrs. Bedortha. — Hugh Par-
sons's Threat. — Mrs. Parsons condemned for Slander. — Mary Parsons
bewitched. — Parsons arrested. — Mrs. Parsons accuses herself of Child-
Murder. — Taken to Boston. — Mrs. Parsons sentenced to be hanged. —
Death before the Day of Execution. — Pecowsic. — John Pynchon's Growing
Importance. — Church Expenses. — William Pynchon's Heretical Book con-
demned by the General Court. — Mr. Norton's Reply. — The Doctrine of
the Atonement. — The Protest of Sir Henry Vane and the Reply of the
General Court. — Pynchon, Moxon, and Smith return to England.

CHAPTER VIII. - (1653-1675.)

Springfield in the Hands of Young Men. — The Discipline more rigid. — Appor-
tionments of Land. — Power of the Selectmen. — Quabaug. — The Vacant
Pulpit. — Various Candidates. — Rev. Mr. Glover settled. — How the Meet-
ing-House was " dignified." — Hampshire County. — Business of the County
Courts. — Numerous Offences against Private Morals. — The Cause. — ■
Tything-Men. — Death of Mary Holyoke. — Death of William Pynchon in
England. — The Pvnchon Fort on Main Street.

CHAPTER IX. — (1674-1676.)

The Indian Situation. — Puritan View of the Savage. — The Agawams. — Eng-
lish Laws for the Natives. — Indian Mortgage Deeds. — An Appeal to


Boston. — The Origin of Slavery in New England. — Perfecting Title to
the Land. — King Philip's War. — The Attack upon Brookfield. — Lieuten-
ant Cooper sent forward from Springfield. — Beers, Lathrop, Mosely, and
Treat march to the Rescue of the Connecticut Valley Towns. — The Swamp
Fight. — Death of Beers. — Bloody Brook. — Pynchon> Protest to the
Commissioners. — The I ndian F ort at Springfield. — The Town burned by
King Philip. — Pynchon's Hasty Ride from Hadley. — Death of Cooper and
Miller. — Captain Appleton in Command. — Trouble about Military Author-
ity. — Winter. — ^J)eath of Elizur Holyoke and Selectman Keep. — The
Fight at Turner's Falls. — Heroism of Samuel Holyoke. — JKing Philip's

CHAPTER X. — (1677-1703.)

Waste Places rebuilt. — Deacon Chapin. — Chicopee. — Fishing Privileges. —
The Second Meeting-House. — Troubje about Mr. Glover's House and Lot.

— Schools. — Taxes. — Law Breakers, — The Freemen of 1678. — The
,^ilA£cord Tree." — King William's AVar. — Pynchon's Attempts to protect

the To\\-nsT" — Sir Edmund Andros in Springfield. — Massacre at Brookfield.

— Captain Colton"s Heroism. — Pynchon's Letter to Stoughton. — Death of
Mr. Glover. — Suflield. — Enfield. — The Boundary Question. — Brimfield.

— West Springfield. — Its Struggle for a Separate IMinister. — Pynchon's
Place in the Commonwealth. — His Business Connections. — Beaver Trade
with England. — Pynchon's Death.

CHAPTER XI. — (1703-1735.)

Queen Anne's War. — The West Side Meeting-House. — Longmeadow. — Rev.
Stephen Williams. — The Commons. — Visit of Judge Sewall. — Mr.
Brewer's Salary. — Parish Matters. — Mr. Brewer's Death. — The State of
Society. — The Half-Way Covenant. — A Decline in Morals. — Full List of
Tax-payers. — The Church Membership. — Freemanship. — Condition of
the Churches. — Call of Rev. Robert B reck. — Charges of Heresy. — Breck's
Repl^'-j^JClje First Parish divided into Breck and Anti-Breck Factions. —
Meeting of the Hampshire County Association of Ministers at Springfield. —
An Exciting Session.

CHAPTER XII. — (1735-1761.)

The Breck Controversy continued. — Jonathan Edwards^s Position. — The Ordi-

'"nnaTTon Council meets at Springfield. — Br'eck's Confession of Faith. — His

Arrest and Acquittal. — An Appeal to the General Court. — Breck finally

settled over the First Church. — Whitefield. — Great Revivals. — Changes in

Church Rules. — Increased Church-Membership. — Springfield Mountains.

— Chicopee. — The Third Meeting-House. — Schools. — Loss of Life at
Louisburg. — T> B—H-Qbbs_ Figh t. — Crown Point. — Agawam. — Death of
Col. William Pynchon and of Dea. Henry Burt.


CHAPTER XIII. — (1761-1783.)

Col. John AVortliington. — Josiah Dwight. — Benjamin Day. — Prominent Doc-
tors. — The Small-pox. — -JFTnrioj^ng- pf Sb^^xx^ — The Wait Monument. —
Parish Matters. — Jedediah Bliss. — Springfield Mountains. — Stony Hill. —
West Springfield attempts to rule the ToAvn. — Is set off as a Separate
Town. — John Worthington's Tory Sentiment. — Other Springfield Tories.

— Town Officers for 1775. — Lexington. — Springfield Minute-Men.-— Letter
from_a_Springfield Soldier. — Revolutionary Soldiers from Springfield. —
Moses Bliss. — The Pynchon Family again. — Town Acts and Resolves. —
The March to Ticonderoga. — More Revolutionary Soldiers. — The State
Constitution. — John Worthington in Growing Favor. — Financial Distress.

— Depreciation of Currency. — An Inter-State Convention at Springfield. —
Fluctuations in Values. — Warrants of Distress.

CHAPTER XIV. — (1783-1787.)

The Debtor_J^ in MassRchnsetts. — Rev. Samuel Ely. — Springfield Jail

Online LibraryMason Arnold GreenSpringfield, 1636-1886 : history of town and city : including an account of the quarter-millennial celebration at Springfield, Mass., May 25 and 26, 1886 → online text (page 1 of 57)