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250th anniversary celebration of the town of Northfield, Mass., June 22, 23 and 24, 1923 online

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250th Anniversary Celebration


Town of Northfield, Mass.

June 22, 23 and 24, 1923



WftS MADE IN 1673.


BUILT IH i885;RE8UILT IN 1722.



Historical Sketch

By El.mku ¥. Howakd.


Before the exploration by white men, and the settlement of the
town of Northlield, the territory was occupied by a tribe of In-
dians called the Squakheags, a name meaning "A spearing place
for salmon."

jMany evidences of this occupation have been discovered, prov-
ing that nearly every bluff along the river with an adjacent brook
was the site of an Indian village. Among such sites the one west
of Bennett's INIeadow Bridge is noted as the home of King Philip
from February to April, 16TG.

Little is known of the antecedent history of this tribe, but it
is known that they were attacked by the Mohawks in 16G3, who
in turn were unsuccessfully attacked by the Squakheags in 1669.

At about this time the white men appeared, and were welcomed
as possible allies against the ]\Iohawks. A sale of land was nego-
tiated with the Indians, who probably failed to understand its full
significance, and they continued to occupy their villages on the
land thus sold.

Relations with the white men were friendly except during
periods of temporary hostility and when incited to war by the
enemies of the English.


The first steps towards the settlement of Squakheag were taken
in 1670. A party from Northampton, including Joseph Parsons,
Sr., William Janes, George Alexander and Micah IMudge, ex-
amined the location and found the Indians anxious to sell. These
men, with Caleb Pomeroy, made the purchase in 1671. The origi-
nal purchase contained about 10,500 acres. The sum paid is


unknown, but an additional payment was made in 1(386, as the
Indians were dissatisfied with the original price, and a clear and
satisfactory title was given. A second purchase was made in 1673
on the west bank of the Connecticut, containing 3000 acres. These
two tracts comprised the town during the first settlement.

The first settlers arrived in the spring of 1673, and with them
came Elder Janes. A religious service was held under an oak
tree, standing until 1869. A stockade was built, houses were
commenced, and crops planted. There were sixteen families and
eighty to ninety persons in this group of settlers.

The site of this stockade and the location of the oak tree are
properly marked. They are near the south end of ]\Iain Street.

The first settlement was short-lived. In 1675 the Indians be-
came hostile, and after attacks on Brookfield in August, and on
Deerfield in September, Northfield was ravaged and the settlers
were compelled to abandon the territory.

The heroic efforts made by Captain Beers of Hadley to save
Northfield from the savages were unavailing. An ambuscade
threw his company into confusion and proved fatal to himself.
The place of the battle on "Beers Plain" and the traditional grave
of the leader are commemorated by suitable markers.

Additional forces from Hadley soon reached Northfield and
guarded the remaining settlers to safety, and Northfield was aban-



;,o AND HIS MEN c/5

SEPT. 4. 1675.


After seven years, in Kisv?, steps were taken to resettle the
town, and a petition was presented to the (Jeneral Ctnirt, who aj)-
pointed a new committee to oversee the settlement. In Kis;} rules
for tlie settlement were ai^reed upon, and in Uis 1 streets were laid
out. and perhaps some crops planted. In the s])rin^ of K'xS.j
twenty families arrixed. Additional land was .^ranted on the
south, extending the houndary to Four Mile lirook. The lands
were apportioned to the settlers, such apportionment extenrling he-
yond the mouth of the .Vshuelot River, thus including ])ortions of
the present towns of Hinsdale and \\'inche>ter. Xew Hampshire,
and \^ernon, V^ermont.

The first town meeting was held ^March 18, ]f).S(). A second
fort was built on the Pentecost Place, now known as Spring Mis-
sionary Colony, and a well dug wdiich still remains. The site of
the fort is now^ indicated by a marker.

In 1G8T another purchase was made from the Indians, "in con-
sideration of the stun of forty-five pounds in trade."

In 1(388, as prosperity seemed within their grasp, the settlers
were again subjected to Indian attacks and savage atrocities.

This w^as in part at least because the enmities betw^een France
and England were transferred to their colonies, the Indians being
incited to this attack by the French.

Northfield w^as the most northern town in this valley, and so
was the outpost most exposed to attack. Hopeless of successful
defense, the County Court ordered the settlers on June 2o, 1690,
"to transport their corn and live stock to Springfield within six to
eight days." This ended the second attempt at settlement.


Not until peace came between the Mother Countries did the per-
manent settlement of Xorthheld occur. Thus an interim of
twenty-four years passed. In IT 14 the General Court for the
third time granted permission for the settlement, appointed a new
committee to oversee the settlement, named the town "Northfield,"
and fixed certain conditions to be fulfilled by this town in "Hamp-
shire County," Franklin County not being organized until nearly
one hundred years later.


About twenty men came forward either in their own right, or
in a right by inheritance or purchase, to become settlers, and in
the next few years the old landmarks were re-established, the
highways relaid, and a minister, the Rev. James Whitmore, fresh
from Yale College, was engaged at a salary of ''twenty-live
pounds, a house and subsistence for himself and a horse."

On March 17, 1717, the settlers first elected town officers, sub-
ject to the approval of the Committee appointed by the General
Court to oversee the settlement of the town. Rev. Benjamin
Doolittle was engaged as minister, the contract with ]\Ir. Whit-
more having expired, and in the year following a church was built
and he was called to be the pastor. The people agreed to give him
''for his encouragement" a house, fifty acres of meadow and
swamp land, ten acres of pasture land, one hundred pounds in
money, payable within three years, and fifty-five pounds annually
for the first five years, and seventy-five pounds thereafter, and a
yearly supply of wood.

The Rev. Benjamin Doolittle was also a regularly educated
physician, and, as time passed, his medical work interfered some-
what with his ministerial duties.

On April 11, 1732, the townspeople voted farms of equal size,
about 700 acres in all, to the three members of the committee as
compensation for their services in settling the town. These farms
have since been called "Northfield Farms."

A survey of the town made at this time fixed the following
boundaries : On the east side of the Connecticut, twelve miles
north from Four Mile Brook. On the west side, eight miles north
from Bennett's Brook. These boundaries included considerable
portions of what are now Gill, Mass. ; Vernon, Vt. ; and Winches-
ter and Hinsdale, N. H. This survey was confirmed by the Gen-
eral Court on June 21, 1733, after considerable hesitation.

On June 15, 1723, the "General Assembly for the Province of
Massachusetts Bay, held at Boston," granted the petition of the
proprietors and inhabitants of Northfield for the incorporation of
their town, and the Committee which had managed it hitherto
under appointment by the General Court was discharged.

While the trials of the early settlers and their dangers from
Indian attack were not removed, never after this was the town in


danger of bciiii^ cihandoned. And when, in K'il, l-ovx Dnnnner
was erected in the southern part of what is n(jw l!rattle])oro,
Xorthtield was no longer subject to (hrect attack Iw the Jnchans.
For tifty years she had stood on the northern border witli only
enemies in the vast region to the north reaching to Canada.


The purpose of this sketch is to give an outhne of tlie settle-
ments of Northtield only. Her growth during the one hundred
and fifty years after incorporation followed the lines taken by
other rural towns where agricultural interests predominate.

The first fifty years were stirring, dramatic, tragic. They
abounded in all that makes history appealing and men heroic. The
adventure into the wilderness, the struggle with natural conditions,
the fight with savages, the constant fear of attack, the incessant
need for caution and preparation for defense — all these conditions
were present, and played their part in the development of charac-
ter among the early settlers and their descendants. But these con-
ditions were present in other towns, and played the same part in
them. In this Northfield was not distinctive. It is the last fifty
years that have made Northfield noted. Her early sons were
heroic, as all pioneers must be, and they contributed their quota
to the story of self-sacrifice by which the land w^as won, and, like
others of similar heroism, they have lost much of their individual-
ity, like common soldiers on the battlefield who do their duty,
make their sacrifices, and pass on.


The last fifty years have, through her greatest son, made North-
field known throughout the world as few, if any, small towns in
this country are known. Through him a contribution has been
made to the world, not alone by his personality and his preach-
ing, but by the enduring institutions he founded.

They still speak for him, and those to whom they are commit-
ted continue the great work that he conceived and inaugurated.

(The above historical sketch is compiled from ''All About Northfield.")

The Significant Colonial History
of Northfield

13 V Tkaxk L. Dulev


The town of Northfield, Mass., was for almost seventy years
the outpost of the Puritan colonists of western and northern New
England, exposed to the full hrunt of Indian attacks, which were
so severe that twice the settlers of Northfield were forced to
abandon their new homes and take refuge lower down the Con-
necticut Valley. Settled first in IGT;^ the town was re-settled in
1682 and i:i4.

A study of the dates of settlement of the first towns to be
settled in the Connecticut X'alley has great interest for one, par-
ticularly in the long lapse of time between the settlement of North-
field and its first neighbor on the north, Charlestown, N. H.

Following are given the dates of settlement :

1633— Hartford. Conn.
1633 — \\'indsor, Conn.
1634— W'ethersfield, Conn.
1635 — Saybrook, Conn.
1636 — Springfield, Mass.
1638 — Chicopee, Mass.
1645 — Lyme, Conn.
1645 — Northampton, Alass.
1650 — Middletown, Conn.
1659— Hadley
1660— Westfield
1662 — Haddam, Conn.
1670— Hatfield
16T1— Deerfield





90 — Northfield (second
settlement )

—Northfield (third and
permanent settlement )

—Charlestown, N. H.
— Westmoreland, N. H.
— Westminster, N. H.
— W'alpole, N. H.
— Bellows Falls, Yt.
—Guilford, Vt.
— Brattleboro, Vt.
— Putnev, \'t.





The nearest neighbor on ilie cast at the time of the first settle-
ment was Groton, settled in Ki.jr), eighteen years earlier than
Northhelcl, and Groton remained her nearest neighbor on the
east nntil the settlement of Athol in \V-'>'), iwenty-one years after
Northtield's third settlement. Xorthlield's nearest neighbor on
the west was Troy, N. Y., settled fourteen years earlier, in UJoJ),
and Troy remained such until the settlement of 1 loosick I^'alls in
1688, which took place during the period of the second occupation
of Northfield, lG8-2-l)0. No other towns on the east were settled
until twenty-three years after the settlement of Northfield, and
none on the west until tive vears before the third settlement.

On the north sixty-seven years passed before she had her first
neighbor in Charlestown. settled in 1T40. and that over a quarter
of a century after her third and permanent settlement. Why such
a long lapse of time? The answer is found in the activities of
King Philip and events connected with King William's War, the
American area of the \A'ar of the League of Augsburg, fought by
France against England, Holland, Austria and Spain, and ended
by the Treaty of Ryswick, 16!)T ; also in events connected with
Queen Anne's W^ar, the American area of the \\'ar of the Si)anish
Succession, fought by France, Bavaria and Spain against Eng-
land, Holland, Portugal, Austria, Prussia and Savoy, and ended
by the Treaty of Utrecht, 1T13.

In other words the claim is boldly made that Northfield was the
spear-point of the English settlements in the Connecticut \'alley
from 1073 until 1690, wnth a break of seven years, against French


and Indian power stretching southward down the valley from
Quebec. From 1690, when the second settlement was abandoned
on order of the General Court, signed June 25, 1690, until 1714,
Deerfield was that spear-point. During this period of twenty-four
years the question as to whether the Connecticut Valley and New
England, and in fact as to whether this whole continent was to be
French or English, was being decided on the battlefields of Europe
by the Duke of Marlborough and William of Orange, command-
ing armies in whose ranks fought cousins and kinsmen of the
settlers living from Saybrook at the mouth of the river up as far
as Northfield, and also by the kinsmen of those Dutch who had
settled the Hudson Valley from Manhattan to Albany and Troy.
The issue, on continental lines, was finally decided by General
Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham in 1757.

So this old valley town may take pride in her two hundred and
fifty years of history.

Northfield Square about 1890



GE X I-:R AL C( ) M M I TTKI-:.

Elected by the 'J'own.

Dr. and Mrs. Xornian P. Wood

]\Ir. and Mrs. Ambert G. bloody

^Ir. and Mrs. Thomas R. Callender

Mr. and ^Irs. Frank H. ^lontague

Dr. W^ood. Chairman

^Ir. Callender. Recording Secretary

^Irs. Wood, Corresponding Secretary

IMr. ]\Iontague, Treasurer

Appointed by General Conmiittee.

Mr. Alfred H. ^lattoon

Mrs. Charles H. Webster

Airs. Fred B. Caldwell

]\Iiss Annie Campbell

'Mr. Joseph Cembalisty


Airs. F. FI. Alontague Air. Joseph W. Field


Air. Frank L. Duley

Airs. F. 13. Caldwell I

Air. Elmer F. Howard ;

Air. Charles E. Bittinger '

15 i


]\Ir. Ambert G. IMoody IMrs. Leonard R. Smith

Mrs. George Foreman i\Irs. Anna B. Phelps

I^Irs. Christina C. Stockbridge Miss Sallie ]\Iinot


]\Ir. John Broderick Mr. Thomas H. Parker

;Mr. JNIyron Bunnell Mr. George W. Carr


Airs. Charles C. Stearns Mr. Joseph Bittinger

:\Ir. Walter Parker


Miss Bernice Webster Aliss i\Iabel ]\Ierriman


JMr. Joseph W. Field

Airs. C. H. Webster

Mr. Philip Porter

Mrs. Samuel E. Walker


Mr. Frank W. Kellogg Mr. Edward M. Alorgan
Mr. Fred A. Irish Mr. Charles A. Parker

Mr. Ralph O. Leach Mr. Thomas H. Parker

Mr. Philip Porter ]\Ir. Ralph Holton


Dr. and Airs. Arthur N. Thompson
Airs. Fred Z. Allen Airs. Charles E. Williams


Airs. F. H. Alontague Airs. Newton W. Keet

Airs. Alartha Gillett


iM<()i"i:KriKs fo.M M ri'ii:i-:

j\Ir. J. \\\ Field Mr. Frank Kendrick

]Mr. C. A. Parker Mr. James On in Ian

]\ir. Lester A. Polhemus Mr. JM-ed W . i)(jane


Mrs. A. G. ]\Ioody Mrs. A. N. Thompson

Miss Sallie Minot Mr. Fred A. Holton

]\Irs. G. Foreman Mr. Fred H. Docjlitile

Mr. Ernest C. Fiekl


Uv. F. \\'. Doane Mr. Thomas A. Gabb


Air. F. A. Holton Mr. F. H. Doolittle


Air. Philip Porter Spencer Brothers


Hinsdale,, N. H.

Mrs. Abbie H. Robertson Aliss Eva C. Robertson

Ellen C. \\\ Kimball Mr. Harold S. Garfield

Air. Prentis \\\ Taylor

Vernon, \t.

Air. H. Everett Powers Airs. Rena \'aughan

Air. Alfred H. Evans

Gill, Alass.

Prof. W'ilHam S. Yeager



Dr. Richard G. Holton Mrs. F. H. Montague

Mr. A. H. Mattoon Mr. Clarence M. Steadier

Mrs. Harry M. Haskell Mr. George W. Carr

Miss jNIary MacDonald


Mrs. Fred B. Caldwell

Mrs. Ambert G. Moody

Mrs. Norman P. Wood

Mr. Ambert G. Moody

Mr. Thomas R. Callender

Northfield High School — Alexander Memorial Hall, north half of first floor
At right, residence of Dr. N. P. Wood, Chairman of Anniversary Committee


Anniversary Programme


Com MEM ORATORY Si:rvice.

At the tablet marking the site of the first settlement of the
Town in 1(373, located just north of the home of Mr. Jidward M.
jNIorgan, Main Street. Address by the Rev. Francis W. Pattison.



By the Greenfield Military Band, Mr. Charles M. Bickford,
director, at The Northfield.

Historical Pageant.
On the lawns of The Northfield Hotel.

Historical h:xiiir.iT.
Dickinson ^lemorial Library ; ^1 usic by Northfield Orchestra.
Director, J. \V. Field.

Friendship Gatherings.

1. At the home of :\liss Sallie :\Iinot ; receiving with :

:Mrs. Charles E. Williams
Mrs. Joseph W. Field
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Field
Rev. and Mrs. Francis W. Pattison
Mr. and Mrs. Everett J. liest

2. At the home of Mr. and Mrs. George L. Foreman ; receiving
with :

My. and Mrs. Fred A. Holton
Mr. and Mrs. Henry C. Holton
Mrs. Minnie Holton Callender
Hon. Herbert C. Parsons
]\Iiss Louise Parsons

3. At D. L. ]\Ioody Birthplace ; receiving :

Mrs. A. Percy Fitt

Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Doolittle

Rev. and Mrs. R. Edward Griffith

Rev. Fr. P. E. Carey

Miss Ethel M. Moody

Mrs. Elmer F. Howard


Historical Exhibit.
In Dickinson Memorial Library.

Outdoor Sports and Ball Game.

John Broderick, chairman.
High School grounds.


Old Home Gathering and Basket Picnic.
Fligh School grounds.

Anniversary Address.

Given by the Honorable B. Loring Young, Speaker of the
Massachusetts House of Representatives ; High School grounds.

Music by School Children, under the direction of Prof. L J.



\\.\\\) C'()N( i:kr.

l)y (Irccnficld Military r.aiid ; at Tlu' XorlhtiiM. Mr. Cliark-s
]\I. Bickford, director.

i liSTORKAL P.\r;i:.\.\'T.
On The Xcrthlk'ld Hotel lawns.


High School (ironnds.

Union Rlcligioi's Skkvick.

Sermon hy the Rev. Horace F. Holton, D. I)., pastor of the
Porter Congregational Church of Brockton, ]\Iass.


High School Grounds.

Historical Address.

By Hon. Herbert C. Parsons of Boston, Deputy Commissioner
and Secretary of Commission on Probation for ^lassachusetts.
Music by School Children.
Five-minute addresses by former pastors of Xorthtield.


First Settlement Ser\ ice.

Dr. N". P. \\\)od, presiding.

PR.AYER. Rev. H. F. Randolph, 13.D., \\'ashington. ]1. C.

Song. Just simply trust. Male Quartette, ^Messrs. Philip Porter,

Stanley Hesselton, Walter H. W'aite, Leon R. Alexander
Address of Welcome. ]Mr. Fred A. Holton. Chairman of Board

of Selectmen.
Song. Home, sweet home. ]Mrs. ]Mazie Hastings Slade, Wollas-
ton, Mass.




Introduction. Dr. N. P. WOdd.
Addukss. Rev. iM-ancis Wayland rattiscjii.
Song. Long, lono- ago. Airs. Sla<Ic.
Bknkdic TioN. Rev. Alhert M()l)l)s.

Addrkss of Wklcomk.
Mr. F. A. Holton.

It is my pleasure on behalf of the officers of the Town to wel-
come you all here to our celebration. We are always glad to see
our friends back in Northheld, but we are especially glad to have
you here at this anniversary time.

We are going to make it our principal business for the next few-
days to make everyone happy. The Committee have arranged a
program that will be interesting and entertaining. We are going
to hear addresses and see exhibits and so on, but one of the
pleasantest features is to be the renewing of our friendships with
the people who have come back home to stay for a few days.

\\'e will try to show you by our acts that our welcome is not one
of empty words, but from the heart. W'e bid you a hearty wel-
come and present you not only with the keys of our town but also
with those of our homes.

Dr. N. P. Wood.

We have assembled here to-day to call to remembrance (by
special observance) the coming here of that little band of pioneers,
our forefathers, tw^o hundred and tifty years ago.

Their coming was one of those epoch-making events in the
history of this beautiful valley which was at once the fruit of the
past and the seed of the future.

We can see now that they were almost unconsciously point-
ing the way for a larger freedom and civilization.

The time in which they lived was indeed a time of intense tran-
sition, and it is especially fitting and proper that we gather here
to-day to do honor to their memories.


The fruitage of that event of two hundred and fifty years ago,
only fifty-three years after the Mayflower reached Plymouth, has
been an important influence in the life of New England in shaping
its institutions and in developing its civilization.

It may be argued that the coming of our forefathers to North-
field was not an important historical event in the history of our
state and nation in the sense that battles, sieges, and senates are
important. But it was important in that it helped to elucidate the
condition of society and the struggle for civilization of that time.
He who would understand the progress of our national growth
and civilization must not confine his observation to congresses and
solemn days.

He must see ordinary men in their ordinary business and their
ordinary pleasures. He must mingle with the crowd and know of
the ordinary struggles of humanity. An attractive writer of his-
tory is one who has imagination, who enlivens his dry and dignified
facts with the rich colorings from romance, ballad and chronicle.

He would consider no small beginning, no anecdote, no familiar
saying as too insignificant for his notice.

Macaulay tells us that in Lincoln Cathedral there is a beauti-
fully painted window which was made by an apprentice out of a
piece of glass which had been rejected by his master. It is so far
superior to every other in the church that according to tradition
the vanquished artist killed himself from mortification. So the
facts of history carved on quarried granite or natural boulder, if
all the circumstances connected with them' are carefully searched,
may be made the corner stone upon which a builder of historical
romance can construct volumes like Standish of StaudisJi or

A Miles Standish or a Black Knight may not be found, but
heroes and heroines will not be wanting if only the legitimate im-
agination is active in its use of undoubted historical data.

I must not take more time, however inviting the theme. The
committee having this occasion in charge had fully expected to
have for the principal speaker of the hour a real son of Northfield,
Dr. Richard M. Smith of Boston, but in this we are disappointed
for /arious and sufticient reasons. However, we have secured one
to fill the gap who has been a resident of Northfield for a number


of years and is well ac(|uaintc"(l with her traditions and people. He
lacks one important essential however, namely, a Xorthheld pedi-
gree. We expect he will atone for this deficiency in the (juality of
his address. 1 take pleasure in presenting Rev. h^rancis \V. Patti-

/P)^ ■i^.\:}'^'^.^ .


. ^^^^A^y f^/'T^^




Hunt's Tavern of stage-coach days. From 1829 to 1843 it was the

Northfield Academy of Useful Knowledge. It is

now known as "The Beehive"

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Online LibraryMass Northfield250th anniversary celebration of the town of Northfield, Mass., June 22, 23 and 24, 1923 → online text (page 1 of 7)