Copyright
Solomon Clark.

Antiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton online

. (page 3 of 26)
Online LibrarySolomon ClarkAntiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton → online text (page 3 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ter's condition. Son Williams is satisfied that she is now in
glory, as you may see by the letter which I now send you,
which, when you have perused, I would have you let your
sister Mix read, and enclose it in a paper and send it to my
son Warham, with the news of my grandson, Steven Wil-
liams, arriving safe with some other captives, at Boston.
But I must be short least I should miss of an opportunity
to send this. I bid you farewell and subscribe myself your
sorrowful mother, Esthek Stoddard.

P. S. — I would have sent you half a thousand of pins and
a porrenger of marmalat if I had an opportunity. If any of
your town come up, and would call here, I would send it.
Give my love to son Edwards and your children.



CHAPTER III.

NOliTIIAMPTON Oiq^E HUi^DKED YEARS AGO — 1779-1870.

The ]\Iinister. The long pastorate of Rev. Solomon Wil-
liams, stretching forward not quite sixty years into the pres-
ent century, 1778-1834, commenced only a few months be-
fore. A young man of promise, an associate tutor at Yale
with one of Northampton's favored sons, he was married, ac-
cording to the town records, 1779, to Mary, the daughter of
his predecessor, Rev. John Hooker.

The Physicians. On the same year with the marriage of
the foregoing, joassed off the stage the first Samuel Mather,
born 1706, physician for fifty years; eminent in his profession,
having several sons, one of them. Dr. William, who deceased
in 1775. Another physician in full practice one hundred
years ago was Dr. Ebenezer Hunt, son of Dea. Ebenezer the
hatter and trader, who commenced his professional career pre-
vious to 1770. In those times the custom of physicians in vis-
iting their patients Avas to ride horseback; the saddle bags, sus-
pended on each side, containing medicines, presented a prom-
inent appearance. The commanding figure of the venerable
Dr. Ebenezer, thus mounted and going his professional
rounds, could not be mistaken even at a distance. In addi-
tion to medical practice, the Doctor early opened a druggist
store, running it from 1769 to the commencement of the
present century, not only doing a large impoj-ting business.



26 ANTIQUITIES AND HISTORICALS.

but trading extensively with dealers in Western Massachusetts.
The young- men received into his office, as medical students,
acted as clerks in the store. It may be added that the bus-
iness has been continued on the same spot by different ones,
Ebenezer Hunt, Jr., Mr. Winthrop Hillyer, Mr. Andrew S.
Wood, and Mr. Charles B. Kingsley, to the present time.

Passing from the medical to the legal profession, one hun-
dred years ago, the town numbered four or five lawyers. Two
quite noted. Major Joseph Hawley and Caleb Strong. The
third, Robert Breck, son of Kev. Robert B. of Springfield, set-
tled m Northampton after leaving college where, for over forty
years, he lived a lawyer, and 2^a;rt of the time clerk of the
courts, and died at the close of the century, father of Col.
John, a storekeeper in N., and grandfather of the Brecks in
Brecksville, Ohio. The fourth, Setli Hunt, Esq., brother of
Dr. Ebenezer, more commonly styled Col. Seth, who deceased
at an early age, 31, the same year of his marriage, 1779,
just one hundred years ago. He is especially memorable as
being the father of Governor Seth, born a few months after
his father's death, cared for in early life and well educated
by his uncle. Dr. Ebenezer. Gov. Seth entered the legal
profession, was a strong man intellectually, received from
Mr. Jefferson the a2)pointment of Governor of the Territory
of Alabama. He lived in Walpole, N. H., a man of enter-
prise, where, after crossing the Atlantic several times, he
died in 1846, aged Q6.

From the legal profession pass to the public school and its
teacher. One hundred years ago, Timothy D wight, after-
wards President of Yale, a young man of tAventy-seven, was
passing those five most memorable years of his life in Nortli-
ampton, laboring for the support of his widowed mother's
numerous family, superintending the farm, preaching to va-



NORTHAMPTON" ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 27

cant congregations on the Sabbatli, teaching a school for
both sexes, so extensively patronized as to reqnire two assis-
tants. This school became celebrated. It received pupils
from other towns. Jeremiah Hallock, afterward minister of
Canton, Ct., attended it. Several young men of the town
were fitted for college in it, viz., Samuel Wells Hunt, broth-
er of Madam Henshaw; Warham Mather, afterwards a physi-
cian; Nathaniel Edwards; Israel Stoddard, High Sheriff of
Berkshire, and some others. In 1779, owing to the dis-
persed condition of Yale College, in consequence of the rev-
olutionary war, a part of one of the classes came to North-
ampton, placed themselves under Mr. Dwight's care as their
teacher. Here they continued under his immediate instruc-
tion until completing their regular course of collegiate stu-
dies. In 1779, though pressed during the week with so
many cares and labors, young Dwight supplied the vacant
congregation at Westfield. But varying for a moment this
train of thought, one hundred years ago neither Northamp-
ton nor the County of Hampshire could boast of a single
newspaper establishment, printing office, post office, nor prob-
ably of a single piano. The i3rincipal, in most families the
only musical instrument, was the spinning wheel on which
young women, with scarce an exception, priding themselves
on such an accomplishment, early took lessons, the peculiar
tones and music of which resounded from nearly every dwell-
ing.

One hundred years ago, lacking a few^ months, was born
in Northampton Benjamin Woolsey Dwight, son of Timothy
the teacher and president, a physician at Catskill, N. Y.,
but, compelled by ill health to relinquish his profession, af-
terward a wholesale and importing hardware merchant. Still
later living on a farm at Clinton, N. Y., treasurer for nine-



28 ANTIQUITIES Al^D HISTORICALS.

teen years of Hamilton College, father of Benjamin Wood-
bridge Dwiglit, principal and proprietor of a high school for
boys in Brooklyn and New York City for many years. ISTow
engaged in literary labor at Clinton, N. Y. Author of the
History of the Strong family in two volumes, and also of
the History of the Dwight family in America, two volumes,
the whole four showing vast research, worth their weight in
gold, valuable to Northampton from which the author sprung,
to whom the descendants of the early settlers owe a lasting
debt of gratitude.

One hundred years ago the career of the celebrated Tappan
family, so eventful in many places, was Just commencing.
Benjamin Tappan, a minister's son of the same name, the
eldest of twelve children, among them David T., Professor
of Divinity at Harvard College, settled in Northampton on
attaining early manhood in 1769. He lived on King street,
opposite the Dwight house, for some sixty-two years. A
patriot of the revolution, in 1779, he acted on a committee
for filling U23 the companies of militia, and went himself
with others to repel the invasion of Burgoyne at Saratoga.
There is not time to go over the record of his ten children,
six sons and four daughters, prominent in their various
spheres; several of the sons peculiarly so. Benjamin, the
oldest, a lawyer, and senator in Congress from Ohio. John,
long a merchant in Boston, one of the excellent of the earth,
much like his honored father, full of kindness, the streams
of whose benevolence fertilized many a spot, far and near, in-
cluding his native town. Arthur, a merchant in New York,
philanthropic, large hearted, one of the founders of Oberlin
College. Lewis, a merchant with Arthur, afterward founded
the mercantile agency system, strong and outspoken in his
opposition to American slavery. It was an interesting gath-



KORTHAMPTON OKE HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 29

ering of the nine surviving brothers and sisters over thirty
years ago at Northampton, from six different states. The
children of the third generation nnmbered at that time over
one hnndred, among them several ministers, and at least one
in the foreign missionary field, Eev. David T. Stoddard, in
Persia.

One hundred years ago not a few were lamenting the de-
cease of that devoted, patriotic, talented, courageous, youth-
ful minister, a native of Northampton, pastor in Midway,
Ga., chaplain of a Georgia brigade, the Rev. Moses Allen,
son of Joseph, great uncle of Judge William A., and of his
sisters living on King street. Short the story. In 1777, he
became pastor of the church at Midway. The next year the
British army, having scattered his people and burned their
meeting house, took him a prisoner. After a long confine-
ment, in unhealthy quarters, on board a prison shi]) in the
harbor of Savannah, in attempting to swim ashore, he was
drowned Feb. 8, 1779. Like his brother, Rev. Thomas, first
minister of Pittsfield, he was not only brave, fearless in the
time and at the post of danger, but an earnest, efficient,
much beloved pastor and preacher, a descendant of one of the
early settlers, his mother, as the sequel will show, a rare and
remarkable woman. Owing to her peculiar connection with
the families of Northampton for half a century, going at all
seasons of the year at the call of duty, to parts of the town
near and remote, and it may be beyond the limits of the
town, the writer with others being of the fourth generation
from her, feels it proper to insert the following. It is a
question whether such an instance ever occurred, before or
since, in all New England experience. It seems incredible,
and yet it was well known before her decease and afterward,

its accuracy is attested by the records of the First church.
3



30 Aiq^TIQUITIES AND HISTORICALS.

After commending the liigli, unselfish cliaracter of this moth-
er in Israel, these records proceed to say that she assisted at
the birth of three thousand children. Hence the propriety
of the expression that one hundred years ago, in the zenith
of her career of usefulness, not a few in Northampton were
lamenting the death of that courageous, devoted minister.
Rev. Moses Allen, a promising son of i^^'ii'ents highly and
universally esteemed.

Only an additional item. One hundred years ago the third
meeting-house, seventy by forty-six, completed forty years
previous, 1739, capal)lo of accommodating eight hundred, was
standing, in which Edwards, Hooker, Williams preached; the
first, eleven years or more; the second, twenty-three; the
third, about thirty-five. Within its walls, Whitfield's voice
was heard when here in 1740. In it, moreover, those cele-
brated discourses were preached constituting Edwards' His-
tory of Redemption, heard with intense interest by the people,
and still very instructive reading. It was the church with
which many of the fathers and mothers of not a few now
living, were conversant in their early days, where from year
to year, spirited, excellent singing edified, and at times
thrilled the worshippers in connection with such tunes as
Lenox, Bridge water. Concord, New Jerusalem, Russia, and
the like. It was the meeting house from which each, in
their turn at different dates, took an affectionate leave, viz.,
Southampton, Westhampton, Easthampton, in order to estab-
lish and enjoy nearer home their own public Sabbath and
sanctuary ministrations. A memorable church edifice, never,
it is true, favored with any of the appliances of modern
times, for heating and making the house of God comfortable
and inviting, but still, honored in the experience of hundreds
of various ages, within whose walls, for over seventy years, the
people, in goodly numbers, assembled for public worship.



CHAPTER IV.

NOKTH.IMPTON TWO HUI^^'DEED YEARS AGO— 1(370.

Omitting preliminaries, tAvo hundred years ago Northamp-
ton was a frontier settlement, and so continued for the first
hundred years of its history. Westward, Williamsburg and
Pittsfield, including all intervening towns, none of them ex-
isted till eighty years after the above date. Eastward, after
leaving Hadley, the first settlement was Lancaster, far on
toward Boston. A great part of Worcester county, until the
year 1700, more than forty years after the settlement of
Northampton, was a wilderness. Lancaster, Watertown, and
Dedham, were the nearest neighljors in that direction. Two
hundred years ago, Hampshire county, then embracing all
Western Massachusetts, Hampden, Berkshire, Franklin, num-
bered only five tov/ns Springfield, Northam2:)ton, Hadley,
Westfield, Hatfield. Three others, Deerfield, Brookfield, Suf-
field, having been destroyed, enjoyed not town privileges till
afterward. The number of churches was the same, one in
each of the foregoing towns. The Westfield church, organ-
ized 1679, has now reached its second centennial.

Two hundred years ago, Northampton seems to have been
without a single professional physician. All inquiries have
failed to discover one. The pojnilation was comparatively
small; the town the healthiest in the state until the erection
of the dam across the Connecticut river at South Hadley;



32 ANTIQUITIES AKD HISTOKICALS.

the annual mortality ranged from one to eighty, ninety, and
one hundred of the inhabitants. Then, and later, ministers
sometimes acted as physicians. Thus, a young man of North-
ampton, son of the second minister, settled in Connecticut,
not only preached, and cultivated a farm, but was a physician
and lawyer; is said to have succeeded as a minister and ex-
celled as a farmer. Other young men of the town, settled
in the ministry, attended when necessary to duties connected
with some of the other professions. The remarkable account
already given, respecting Mrs. Joseph Allen, shows that wom-
en in those early days sometimes largely sup2:>lied the place
of physicians.

Two hundred years ago, the legal profession appears to
have been unrepresented here by a single professional lawyer.
Men there were, as now in most of the towns, having a re-
spectable acquaintance with the principles of common law —
men of intelligence, sound judgment, careful discrimination,
of much practical wisdom. Such were the judges of the
county court, the administrators of public justice from 1G61
and onward. It should be remembered, moreover, that the
cases submitted to them in the earlier years were usually of
a subordinate character. If the writer is not mistaken, the
first in Northampton who ap2:>roached to what would be con-
sidered a professional lawyer and advocate, was Ebenezer
Pomeroy, who acted as King's attorney in 1696 in the trial
of four Indians for the crime of murder, committed at Had-
ley. It caused great excitement in the county. See partic-
ulars in Judd's History of Hadley, page 263.

Two hundred years ago, the principal school-master in
town, who also acted in other capacities, as representative to
the General Court, one of the town commissioners, the same
as judge of the county court, was the first Joseph Hawley,



NORTHAMPTON" TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 33

father of Thomas the minister, Lieut. Joseph, and others;
grandfather of the celebrated Major Joseph. He was also
ancestor six generations back on the mother's side of the two
professors, Josiah Whitney of Harvard, and William D. Whit-
ney of Yale. As school-master, Mr. Hawley kept and sold,
for a time, the customary assortment of school books; quite
limited the variety. Those were not times of innovation and
change. The New England Primer fitted as a school book
for children, the Catechism, the Psalter, the New Testament
and the Bible. Such, two hundred years ago, were the
school Books. Arithmetic was taught, but the books were
rare. The spelling book was unknown, either in New Eng-
land or Old England. It came in very gradually as a school
book long after Mr. Hawley's day. Something here about the
catechism. It was not only a school, but a household book,
taught in the family, usually Sabbath afternoon before sun-
down. Taught also at a particular season of the year in the
meeting-house, a time-honored New England peculiarity of
that period and subsequently. See Rev. Dorus Clark, D.D.,
on ^'Eeciting the catechism publicly at Westhampton seventy-
five years ago." Applicable to many places the graphic de-
scrii)tion there drawn. In Mr. Hawley's day, and afterward,
schools recited the catechism once a week, usually Saturday
afternoon. Everybody, parents and children, knew the cate-
chism. Many could ask and answer the questions without
the book. So it continued for several generations. The
writer will venture the remark, before passing to another
topic, that many Avill read these lines who can remember
pleasant associations connected with the exercise of saying
the catechism long years in the home of their early child-
hood. In addition to the customary branches, the grammar
school teacher taught those young men of the town, having
college in view, in Latin.



34 ANTIQUITIES AND HISTOKICALS.

Two hundred years ago, only two lived in Northampton
who had graduated at college — the minister, Mr. Stoddard,
and the school teacher, Mr. Hawley. Counting Mr. Mather,
the first minister, and Mr. Eliot, his associate for a year or
more, and the whole number would be four. The first na-
tive of the town who had the honor of receiving a college
diploma, was Mr. Mather's son Warham, who became Judge
of Probate at New Haven. He graduated at Harvard, 1685,
thirty-one years from the settlement of Northampton. Dur-
ing the next thirty-one years, from 1G86 to 1717, seven left
college — five entered the ministry. Examining the next
thirty-one years, we find the number seventeen. During the
fourth period, it amounted to thirty. So it went on, in-
creasing as the years passed away. What a change in this
one item! Two hundred years ago not one native of the
town had seen the inside of a college.

Two hundred years ago, the town, struggling with Indian
hostilities, besides carrying other burdens, gave a proof of
their high appreciation of learning by contributing one hun-
dred dollars for a new college building at Cambridge, the
four other towns generously giving to the same object, thus
foreshadowing the interest of Ham])shire county in the edu-
cation of the young.

Having closed the chapter headed Northampton one hun-
dred years ago, by speaking of the third meeting-house,
where worshipped the fathers of the fourth, fifth, and some
of the sixth generation, it seems befitting in this to speak of
the second, the sanctuary of two centuries ago, where the
first, the second, and the third generations offered their
united praises and devotions. Though greatly inferior in
point of size, forty-two feet square, also in its cost and fin-
ish, nothing elaborate either outside or inside, for twenty



NORTHAMPTON TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 35

years without the appendage of a bell, the people convened
Sabbath morning by sounding a trumpet in imitation of an-
cient JeAvish practice. Yet, as a historical structure, it was
equal to any of later date. Built lGGl-2, at a time when
the people were very few and poor, and extra expenses for
home ])uildings, fences, bridges, roads, stared them in the
face, this second meeting-house stood a monument of their
liberality, hearty attachment to public religious institutions
and the worship of Jehovah.

Another item. The congregation of that day exhibited
what an array of eminent characters. Puritan men and
women, many of them from across the water, determined in
their younger years, whatever the sacrifices, to carry to the
New World the political liberty and the religious faith then
and there in great danger. Through what discipline have
they since passed! Still confronted by hardshij^s, they have
no wish to go back. Such, two centuries ago, 1G79, were
the worshippers in the second meeting house; stalwart char-
acters, ^^of whom the world was not worthy;" Elder John
Strong at the ripe age of seventy-four, Lieut. William Clark,
Henry Woodward, Thomas Root, Thomas Judd, ancestor of
the Judd race, Jonathan Hunt, afterward Dea. Jonatlian,
John King, Richard and John Lyman, Samuel Wright, Isaac
Sheldon, Samuel Allen, Medad Pomeroy, Enos Kingslcy,
Capt. Aaron Cooke, Joseph Parsons, Nathaniel Phelps, Alex-
ander Edwards, Preserved Clap, son of the distinguished
Roger, Caleb Pomeroy, representative characters, ^^ their seed
might}^ in the earth," applicable the expression in Psalm sev-
enty-second: '^ There shall be a handful of corn in the earth;
the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon."

Still another particular connected with the second meeting
house, viz: The Wednesday lectures of two hundred years



36 AKTIQUITIES AND HISTOEICALS.

ago, North ampton, Hadley, Hatfield, uniting, circulating lec-
tures held in the different towns, largely attended, people of-
ten going on foot; continued many years, before and after
the Indian wars, greatly beneficial, answering in a measure
the purpose of the Fellowship Meetings, recently introduced;
not only the three towns above uniting, but others as they
came into being, Sunderland, Deerfield, South Hadley, Am-
herst. For some years, says Judd's History of Hadley, there
were only six towns united, and the lectures were named
^'^the six weeks lectures."

One circumstance will always make the second meeting
house memorable — the fall of the front gallery, the fearful
crash, and the appalling scenes associated. The thij'd gen-
eration were on the stage — all of the first had passed away.
Mr. Edwards was the minister, that being the eleyenth year
of his ministry. The time, viz: the Sabbatli, about eleven
in the forenoon. The house probably crowded above and
below. The sermon, one of Mr. Edwards' most impressive,
had proceeded just beyond the introduction. Stillness reign-
ed in the assembly. All at once, exciting instant, almost
overpowering, consternation, as though the last day had
come, the supports giving away, the front gallery, with a
terrible noise, fell, and with it seventy persons, putting in
extreme peril the lives of seventy others. Wonderful the in-
terposition of Providence. No one of that large congrega-
tion was killed, or mortally wounded. This was the loth of
March, 1737.

Omitting to notice the harvest seasons during the more
than seventy years' continuance of the second meeting house,
1G62-1738, the last being the most extensive, raising the
membership of the church from 300 to G20, it may be added
that this memorable structure was taken down on 5th of



KOKTHAMPTON TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 37

May, 1738. While many of the sixth generation still sur-
vive who distinctly remember the third meeting house, prob-
ably no one has lived within the past sixty years having any
recollection of the second, where Avorshipped the men and
the women of the first generation.



CHAPTER V.

THE TWO PUEITAN WORTHIES AND SETTLERS OF SIXTY YEARS'
ACQUAINTANCE — ELDER JOHN STRONG — LIEUT. WILLIAM
CLARK.

One haying an ecclesiastical title, the other a military,
eminent characters of the seventeenth centnry, one near
fifty the other older, when joining their fortunes to the
infant colony at Northampton, specially serviceahle in bring-
ing it forward, developing, strengthening it. The parallel
between the two, extending over the earlier and later pe-
riods of their life holds in several particulars. First, both
were born about the same eventful period, when, in the
mother country, matters were culminating to a crisis and
some of the Puritans, breathing for religious freedom, were
seeking an asylum elsewhere. Elder John, the son of Rich-
ard Strong, connected with the middle class of English so-
ciety, first saAv the light at Taunton, early in the century,
1605. Four years later, birthplace and parentage not as-
certained, Lieut. Wm. Clark was born 1609, the same year
with the memorable Ca})t. Roger Clap, when Oliver Crom-
well, the friend of the puritans, himself one of the num-
ber, was but ten years of age.

Secondly, animated by the same principles and sympa-
thies, both took passage in the same vessel, the Mary and
John, Capt. Squebb, that sailed from Plymouth 1630. An



THE TWO PURITAN" WORTHIES. 39

important date, marking the commencement of their sixty
years' acquaintance and only ten years after the first emi-
grants on board the Mayflower sailed from Southampton
for the New World. The same year, moreover, 1630, and
only a few weeks before that company of fifteen hundred,
headed by John Winthrop, afterward governor, in a fleet
of thirteen vessels sailed from the Isle of Wight for Salem.
A favored Providence that brought the two thus together
in connection with nearly one hundred and fifty others,



Online LibrarySolomon ClarkAntiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton → online text (page 3 of 26)