Solomon Clark.

Antiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton online

. (page 6 of 26)
Online LibrarySolomon ClarkAntiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton → online text (page 6 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

wards, a man of superior intellect and worth, Pierpont, at


tlie age of eighteen, graduated at Princeton, studied law in
his native county, settled as a lawyer in Ncav Haven, Avhere
he commenced practice in 1771, and became eminent as a
jurist; entered the army as a soldier of the revolution, took
part in the proceedings of the Continental Congress, 1777-8.
His public career stretched over a period of fifty-five years,
1771-1826. At his death, filled the position of judge of U.
S. Court for Connecticut. Three sons were distinguished in
professional life; the first was elected to Congress, the second
became U. S. Senator and Governor of Connecticut, the third
was a lawyer and judge in New York City.

The eighth, a nephew of the foregoing, occupied a very
different sphere in life, Henry E. Dwight, also born on King
street, 1776, son of Major Timothy, father of nine sons and
four daughters. Most of the nine were men of culture —
authors, physicians, preachers, a member of Congress and
founder of a New York daily, one a president of Yale Col-
lege, one was a farmer. Col. Cecil of Northampton. Henry
E. Dwight, the youngest of the thirteen, a hotel-keeper at
Manlius, N. Y., 1812-17, and at Ithaca, 1817-22, described
as industrious, temperate, moral, sincere, frank, charitable,
was probably the most remarkable man, physically, ever raised
in Northampton. His height between six and seven feet,
figure erect, constitution very fine, weight three hundred and
sixty-five pounds, about the waist measured six feet and six
inches, features handsome, muscular power great, voice rich
and melodious, a superior singer, buoyancy of spirits remark-
able, abounding in anecdote, humor at times of the broadest
kind. The following is given as illustrating his physical
strength: On a certain time, while living at Ithaca, he
passed two men, hard at work, endeavoring to roll a barrel
of potash up a plank into a wagon. Having moved it a few


feet, the plank broke and the barrel fell to the ground.
Stand aside, said he. Then rolling the barrel up his legs,
he placed it, weighing over five hundred pounds, into the
wagon. Such, physically, was Henry E. D wight, the young-
est of Major Timothy's remarkable family. Born 1776, mar-
ried 1802 at West Hartford, Ct., the father of seven chil-
dren, he died 1824, forty-seven years of age.

The ninth, not inferior to any of the preceding, will fit-
tingly close this sketch. The Hon. Job Lyman, the sixth
son and youngest child of Elias, the fifth of that name, was
born 1781, at South Farms, near the Rock Ferry, -so called
formerly. Of the sons, two were prominent business men,
viz. : Justin and Elias at Plartford. Asahel, father of Mrs.
Williston, managed the homestead. Simeon went to Lon-
don, as secretary to Gen. Wm. Lyman, — afterward made
several voyages to foreign ports. One of the sisters,
Elizabeth, born 1771, married, in 1790, Capt. Malachi
James of Goshen. Numerous their descendants, including
several K"orthampton graduates and the James brothers of
Williamsburg. Job Lyman not only survived his brothers
and sisters, but exceeded by nineteen 3Tars the alloted three
score and ten. Entering Dartmouth, he graduated in the
class of 1804, Daniel Webster being one of the number.
Afterwards studied law, and on being admitted to the bar,
settled at Woodstock, Vt. Served as cashier in the Old Ver-
mont State Bank through the entire period of its existence;
afterwards for many years president of the Woodstock Bank,
acted year after year as court auditor of Windsor county and
a member of the Governor's council, sustained other promi-
nent positions both in the state and in the Congregational
Church, always and everywhere known and respected for his
unbending integrity. Spent his last years, 1850-70, in his


son's family at Burlington. Present at the Dartmouth cen-
tennial commencement, 1869, the oldest graduate in atten-
dance, of sixty-five years' standing, his age eighty-eight, his
cheerful presence attracted marked attention. At his decease,
the next year, Sept. 10th, 1870, in view of the rare excel-
lence of his character, the sweetness and gentleness of his
disposition, it might have been said of Hon. Job Lyman as
of another, **He never willingly caused a tear to flow."




Beginning in the order of their graduation, Major Joseph
Hawley stands first. After receiving his diploma at Yale, in
1742, and returning home, several reasons probably led him,
a youth of eighteen, to choose the ministry. His cousin,
Jonathan Edwards, favorably known in New England, in the
Middle States, and across the ocean, was the minister. Just
before, the whole town had been wonderfully stirred. The
same mighty influence was still at work in Connecticut, New
York, New Jersey, and farther south. Young men from
college, having the ministry in view, sought the instructions
of the Northampton j^astor. Another reason. The Hawley
family at that time, was largely associated with the ministry.
His mother, Rebekah Stoddard, was daughter of the second
minister here. Rev. Solomon S. His grandmother, the
daughter of Rev. John Warham of Windsor, a most remark-
able woman, was the wife of Mr. Mather, first minister here;
after his decease she married, in 1674, Rev. Mr. Stoddard.
His uncle. Rev. Thomas Hawley, was a Connecticut pastor.
His cousin, Dorothy Hawley, married Rev. Nathan Birdseye,
of West Haven, Conn. His aunt, another Dorothy Hawley,
a Northampton young lady, married in 1716, Rev. Samuel
Cheney, the first minister of Brookfield. With such minis-


terial antecedents and surroiindings, it is not strange that
Major Hawley's mind, early inclined toward the ministry.
How long he preached, and why he changed to the law, the
writer cannot say. The probability is he was influenced by
a consideration relating to his health. As one extensively
versed in legal science, in political history, and in the prin-
ciples of free government, as an advocate of American lib-
erty, a most weighty, forcible public speaker, he stood fore-
most among the men of his times.

The second name, less known in this immediate vicinity,
but for half a century, one of the bright lights of Connecti-
cut, Avas the Hon. Jesse Root, born in Northampton in 1736,
his father and mother natives of the town, his grandfather
among the first settlers, and one of the seven pillars of the
church formed in 1661. He w^as a man of commanding
form and features, in person somewhat resembling Washing-
ton. He graduated at Princeton college in 1756. Soon after,
he commenced the study of theology, and in due time en-
tered on the work of preaching. After pursuing it without
a formal settlement for about three years, it is said that the
circumstances of the family were such, that he was led to
engage in the study of the law; in 1763, he was admitted to
practice, settled in Hartford where, for twenty-six years, he
met with signal success in his profession. Was a colonel in
the revolutionary war. Chosen delegate to the Continental
Congress in 1778-83. Was judge of the Superior Court in
1789. Chief Justice of Connecticut from 1796 to 1807.
Best of all he Avas an eminent christian; till past the age of
fourscore, sustained by his presence the weekly prayer meet-
ing. He died in 1822, aged 85.

Born about the same time with the lu'cceding, both de-
scended from the renowned Elder John Strong, comes the


iicime of Hon. Simeon Strong, wlio left Yule the same year,
and probably the same month, Jesse Root left Princeton.
It is true, Simeon Strong was more closely identified with the
town and the institutions of Amherst. But he commenced
life in Northampton, and at the age of eight his father, the
ancestor of several graduates, and others prominent in Am-
herst and elsewhere, removed to that place. After gradua-
ting in 1756, young Strong, desirous of preaching the gospel,
commenced the study of divinity. Completing his studies,
well qualified for the sacred calling, intellectually and spirit-
ually, he preached in several pulpits and always, it is said,
with uncommon ability. Eepeatedly invited to settle, he de-
clined the most urgent invitations, on account of severe pul-
monary complaints. When assured his constitution could not
bear the burden of ministerial work, he entered on the study
of the law, was admitted to the bar in 1701, reaching at
length great eminence in his profession. In the year 1800,
received the ap2:)ointment of judge of the Supreme Court of
Massachusetts. The two, Jesse Eoot and Simeon Strong,
who commenced life near the same time, in the same town,
occupied in the year 1800 similar ]30sitions, one in Connecti-
cut, the other in Massachusetts.

The fourth person, not a native of Northampton, but for
twenty-one years, till his decease, a resident here, much re-
spected personally and relatively, is the name of Samuel Hen-
shaw. Born in Milton in 1744, in early life a mechanic by
occupation, by earnest efforts he became fitted for college,
graduated at Harvard in 1773; being then twenty-nine he
proceeded at once to the study of theology. Entering on
his much loved work, he became an acceptable and popu-
lar preacher. But his plans and expectations were early
doomed to disappointment. Failure of voice compelled him


reluctantly to leave the ministry for the legal profession.
While living in Boston he married Miss Martha Hunt, daugh-
ter of Mr. John Hunt, of Northampton, and sister of Rev.
John Hunt, pastor of the Old South Church, Boston. At
the age of 44, in 1788, the same year Major Hawley deceased,
he removed to Northampton. In 1797, received the appoint-
ment of Judge of Probate, afterwards Judge of the Court of
Common Pleas. From 1802 till 1809, was a trustee of Wil-
liams College.

These four, in their day valued members of the legal pro-
fession, and of the Christian church, occupying other posi-
tions of influence and responsibility, deserve a 23lace among
the honored of this ancient town.



First, about him personally and relatively. The oldest son
of the Northampton divine and preacher, he was born there
in 1738, where he lived till nearly fitted for college in his
fourteenth year. When fifteen, he entered Princeton college
and graduated in 1757, the year after another young man, from
Northampton, who rose to distinction as a patriot and jurist,
left the same institution. His father's sudden decease about
that time, soon after becoming president of that college, the
care of the family devolved upon him. He relinquished the
profession of law, became a merchant, and settled in Elizabeth,
N. J. When thirty-two, he moved to Stockbridge, Mass.,
where the family lived at the time he entered college, there,
for over forty years, was a leading citizen of the town, one
of the strong men of the county, intellectually and morally,
a member of the Council of the State from 1775, to 1780.
Judge of Probate for Berkshire from 1778, to 1787. Offered
a seat in Congress, if he would consent to be a candidate,
which he declined. Long a venerated officer in the Congre-
gational Church. Employed by Washington to furnish sup-
plies to the soldiers at West Point. Relatively, he was the
father of fifteen children, among them was Colonel William
Edwards, a citizen of Northampton, extensively engaged in
the tanning business, whose wife was a daughter of Benjamin
Tappan, his residence, the house more recently occupied by

Judge Samuel F. Lyman, where Smith College now stands.


One of liis daughters, Ann Maria, married in 1836, Professor
Park of Andover Theological Seminary. His four sons,
Henry, William, Alfred, Ogden, respected and respectable,
are extensively known. Another of the fifteen children of
Hon. Timothy Edwards, was the late Madani Khoda Dwight,
wife and afterwards widow of Hon. Josiah Dwight of North-
ampton. She was indeed a superior woman. Says one,
**Her majestic form, dignified, graceful manners, her weighty,
measured, gentle speech, in short her commanding person
and presence, showed her every inch a queen." She was the
mother of seventeen children. Her son, Kev. Eobert Ogden
Dwight, was a missionary of the American Board to Madura,
India, and her grandson, of the same name with his father,
is an attorney-at-law in Holyoke. There is not time to speak
of other members of this large family. It may be added
that Hon. Timothy Edwards was uncle of Mr. Cecil Dwight,
and therefore great uncle of Henry Augustus Dwight, lately
deceased in Northampton. So much, and more might
be added, personally and relatively, respecting Hon. Timothy

What he once said. One circumstance determines with
strong probability the time of its utterance, viz,: it was put
on record by a descendant, for the purpose of being preserved,
in 1817, four years after his death. Very probably, there-
fore, it is what he said, in one of his last years, recalling
scenes of boyhood, connected with his native town, over sixty
years before. The remark is this: "The three greatest men
he ever knew, (he had known a great many,) Were, his own
father. Col. Timothy Dwight, and Major Joseph Hawley.
When young he used often to hear them converse at his
father's house, (viz. : in N. It stood on King street, where
the Dwight Whitney house now stands.) The conversation
being usually of a very interesting and dignified cast, he had


a sense of awe toward them which he never felt towards any

A few particulars about each of the three in the order
here mentioned. First, "His own father." It is not strange
such a son should so speak of such a father. Others have
reiterated the same. How much has been said in praise of
Edwards, such as "the great Edwards," "the prince of the-
ologians," "no superior, perhaps no equal as a reasoner,"
"the learned divine." Says President Mark Hopkins, who
weighed each word, "Our greatest metaphysical writer."
Equally emphatic the testimony of Dr. Chalmers. After the
lapse of a century and a quarter this great and good man,
Northampton's third minister, is rising in public esteem
higher and higher. Perfectly proper, therefore, what the
honorable and venerable Timothy Edwards said, respecting
his father, "one of the three greatest men he ever knew."

How about the second, who moved in a sphere different
from Edwards, viz.: Col. Timothy Dwight? There were
three of this name living in Northampton at the same time.
President Allen says, "They all raked hay together." Thus
distinguished. Col. Timothy, the father. Major Timothy the
son. President Timothy the grandson, all eminent in their
generation. Only a little here respecting the first though
much might be said, valuable, useful and creditable, to
his name and memory. He was a lawyer of great respecta-
bility, highly esteemed for his talents, energy, decision of
character, and high moral worth. He was a Selectman,
Judge of Probate, Judge of the County Court, some of the
time Chief Justice, a Representative to the General Court,
Colonel of a regiment, designated sometimes Col. Dwight,
sometimes Surveyor Dwight and Esquire Dwight. Next to
Col. John Stoddard, in very high repute as a public man,
came Col. Timothy Dwight, who, on the death of the former


in 1748, occupied the same high place in the esteem of the
community. Born in 1694, he died in 1771, ever an open
and active friend of Mr. Edwards and his family.

The following is well authenticated. Being a man of
great physical strength, Col. Dwight once threw a stone, not
only across the Connecticut at Northampton, which was some
forty rods from the point where he stood, but thirty rods
more beyond, or 1165 feet in all.

As the last of the three, specified by Hon. Timothy Ed-
wards, is the name of Major Joseph Hawley, a native of
Northampton, among the ablest lawyers of Western Massa-
chusetts. President Dwight, a townsman and intimate ac-
quaintance, describes him as ^'one of the first men in Mass-
achusetts Bay — for a considerable period before the Revolu-
tion, an event in which few men exerted a more efficient in-
fluence. I never heard one speak with more force." In the
House of Representatives, at Boston, on points of dispute
between Great Britain and the colonies. Major Hawley's
strong, manly eloquence, gave him an ascendancy in that
body seldom equalled. It would be just to add, that he was
specially and pre-eminently great, in being willing to humble
himself, as he did before the people of his native town, and
county, and of Massachusetts, for his prominent activity in
that unhappy affair, which sought and effected the removal
of his kinsman and pastor, Mr. Edwards, from his position
as minister of that people.

In conclusion, two thoughts seem not out of place. North-
ampton, from the beginning, has been favored with a liberal
share of distinguished men. The generation now living
should not forget those of one and two centuries ago, who
here laid the foundations, for the lasting growth of the com-




The first houses of Northampton were built of logs. Those
who settled afterwards, for a number of years, adopted the
same style. These log structures, far from being superfi-
cially or hastily put together, thus admitting the cold, driv-
ing winds of winter, were made so as to furnish comfortable
quarters to the occupants. Never was the health of the
community better, than in that early period, when that prim-
itive style of architecture prevailed. In all, there were only
eleven deaths during the first eight years, averaging a frac-
tion over one each year. The exact date when a different
style appeared, cannot be given, but probably not previous to
1675. When Lt. William Clark built, about 1681, on the
site or near it, of Pres. Seelye's, in the room of his log edi-
fice, just before burnt, he erected an upright house, which
stood over one hundred and forty years, till taken down in
1826, by Judge Dewey. This style may have been hastened,
by the necessity of providing what were called block houses,
in order to protect the settlement, or rather the people, in
case of Indian assaults. Long afterwards, in the next cen-
tury, when the community had extended in all directions,
and danger, at times, threatened, these block houses, built
of logs, two stories, the lower sunk several feet into the


ground, the upper projecting on all sides, loopholed for the
use of muskets, were numerous. As means of defence
against the savages they were highly valued, and frequently
shown to be very effective. None were built or needed after
1760, the French and Indian war having terminated the year
before. The next style of architecture, perhaps the third
introduced, was the gambrel roof, having a capacity sufiB.cient
for families of the largest size. At the end of the last cen-
tury, as many as seven had been erected. All but one still
remain. That one which stood at the head of Shop Eow,
the Dr. Hunt house, was burnt in 1870.

Pass to another topic. During the first twenty-one years
of the Northampton settlement, the Indians gave them no
disturbance. Scarce an Englishman, as the settlers were
called, in any of the colonies, during that long interval, was
assaulted or hurt in the least by them. Specially favorable
this state of things, particularly to Northampton. It enabled
the new comers, at first only a handful, comparatively, to
survey and improve their situation, to form plans, and carry
them into effect, to devise ways and means for developing
their resources, to consolidate and strengthen the infant com-
munity. Moreover j^eople were attracted thither from other
and distant localities. Slowly and steadily population, of a
desirable class, increased. Valuable beyond computation those
twenty-one tranquil years. Had it been otherwise, and the
settlers, soon after their arrival, been molested by the war-
whoop of the savage, as they were at a later day, very damag-
ing would have been the effect. Though of the best mate-
rial every way, hardy and courageous, it is doubtful whether
they could have stood their ground. What transpired at
Deerfield, and at Brookfield, might, very early, have been
the fate of Northampton. The Indians, and their hostile


purposes, were restrained, by an invisible band, till a good
degree of preparation bad been made. See a marked, a
favoring Providence, so timing tbe settlement of the place,
as to enable tbe early fatbers to lay strong and enduring

It is an appropriate question, introducing a tbird particu-
lar. Wbat about tbe article of food in early times? Tbe
families, large at tbe beginning, became larger as tbe settle-
ment advanced. Tbe winters wer e lon^ and severe. Did
tbey bave enougb? Were the supplies adequate to their
wants? The answer is in the affirmative. Tbe first genera-
tion, and their children, passed through no such ordeal, try-
ing experience as befel the Plymouth colony. Game of all
kinds abounded. The rivers contained choice varieties of
fish, and more than a sufficiency. Deer on the hills,
within a few miles, were rampant. Consequently, no unu-
sual thing for venison, now a rarity and a delicacy, to grace
their tables. What the list of prices was during the first
fifty years, cannot say. No doubt lower than at tbe close of
the second fifty. Take the following as the ruling prices in
the time of the tbird generation, one hundred and twenty
years ago: Mutton, two cents per pound. Beef, a little
higher, two cents and two-thirds of a cent. Butter, marked
at a higher figure, brought six cents per pound. Connecticut
river shad, now almost a table delicacy, then stood low in
fishermen's esteem. It will sound strange to tbe present gen-
eration that, according to tbe testimony of Northampton
people, of a former day, tbey did not fish for shad, but for
salmon, which, at the period referred to, abounded in the
rivers. In drawing in their nets, fishermen retained only the
salmon, the shad were allowed their liberty. Such is the
story that has come down from a former generation. Tbe


disappearance of salmon from the rivers, brought shad into
higher repute. The price of flour was three dollars and a
half per barrel, or one cent and three-fourths of a cent per
pound. Wheat sold ordinarily at sixty-seven cents per bushel,
home production, no Western wheat in those times. As wild
animals were numerous, furs now rated at fifty or one hun-
dred dollars apiece, then brought but a few shillings. This
will give us some insight into the winter apparel or over-
coats, or robes for various uses, specially needed in those

In connection with the item of food, a few words seem
proper respecting common articles of beverage. The question
has been raised, what did the first settlers drink? Unable to
satisfy himself fully on this point, it would be an easier task
for the writer to say, what they did not drink. Tea and
coffee, they knew nothing about. These articles did not
make their appearance in the Connecticut valley, till the lat-
ter part of the third and the commencement of the fourth
generation. Both were introduced as a beverage about the
same time, coffee, perhaps, taking the precedence. In 1769,
when probably the era for tea drinking commenced, a few
pounds were sold in Northampton by one of the traders.
Coffee came the same year, a little before, a limited quantity,
and sold by the same firm. Chocolate is first mentioned in
August of 1769, one cake sold to Joseph Hawley. The same
as Major Joseph. It is possible these beverages found their
way into the community, before being introduced by traders.

Come now to the account book of Shepherd & Hunt. See
heading of this chapter. The partnership began July 7,
1769. Location of their store, the same as that of Dea. C.
B. Kingsley. They were druggists. Large importers for
those times. Their goods, shipped from England to Boston,


were forwarded from there by water to Hartford, thence up
the Connecticut river to Northampton. This had been the
route for a hundred years, between Boston and Northampton,

Online LibrarySolomon ClarkAntiquities, historicals and graduates of Northampton → online text (page 6 of 26)