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Cultivating a Past

Cultivating a Past: Essays on the History of Hadley, Massachusetts

EDITED BY Marla R. Miller
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 384
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    Cultivating a Past
    Book Description:

    In 1659, a group of Puritan dissenters made their way north from Hartford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, to a crook in the Connecticut River that cut through some of the most fertile land in New England. Three hundred and fifty years later, a group of distinguished scholars mark the founding of that town— Hadley, Massachusetts—with a book that explores a history as rich as that soil. Edited with an introduction by Marla R. Miller, Cultivating a Past brings together fifteen essays, some previously published and others new, that tell the story of Hadley from a variety of disciplinary vantage points. Archaeologists Elizabeth Chilton, Siobhan Hart, Christopher Donta, Edward Hood, and Rita Reinke investigate relations between Native and European communities, while historians Gregory Nobles, Alice Nash, and Pulitzer Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explore the social, cultural, and political past of this New England town. Musicologist Andrea Olmstead surveys the career of composer Roger Sessions, costume specialist Lynne Bassett interprets the wardrobes of the town’s seventeenthcentury residents, Douglas Wilson investigates the connection between Hadley and the regicides William Goffe and Edward Whalley, and Martin Antonetti charts the course of a 1599 Bible alleged to have belonged Goffe. Taken together, the essays capture how men and women in this small community responded to the same challenges that have faced other New Englanders from the seventeenth century to the present. They also reveal how the town’s historical sense of itself evolved along the way, as stories of the alleged “Angel of Hadley,” of favorite sons Joseph Hooker and Clarence Hawkes, and of daughters Mary Webster and Elizabeth Porter Phelps contributed to a civic identity that celebrates strength of character.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-133-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: Pastkeeping in Another Small Place
    (pp. 1-24)
    Marla R. Miller

    In the winter of 1827, in Plainville—a neighborhood in the northeast part of Hadley, Massachusetts—a half dozen or so men gathered together to talk about reading. Good books, they felt, were hard to come by in the small village. The group formed a social library, so that “all might thereby have a much greater chance for reading than they otherwise could have.” Soon, some twenty subscribers—including members of the Cowls, Kellogg, and Hawley families, as well as Samuel Nash, John Strickland, Luther Miles, Sidney Smith, Dorus Green, Baxter Ayres, and other neighborhood men—expressed their desire to...

  6. 1 Quanquan’s Mortgage of 1663
    (pp. 25-42)
    Alice Nash

    Sometime in the fall of 1999 I sat drinking tea in the home of Dorothy Russell of Hadley, an old family friend and the locally acknowledged expert on all aspects of Hadley history. Dot, as I knew her, was pleased to hear that I had recently been hired as a faculty member in the History Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. In a sense, I was coming home to a place where I had never actually lived. The Nashes, like the Russells, go back to the original settlement of Hadley. Although I hated history in school, whenever I...

  7. 2 Before Hadley: Archaeology and Native History, 10,000 bc to 1700 ad
    (pp. 43-67)
    Siobhan M. Hart, Elizabeth S. Chilton and Christopher Donta

    Popular representations of Native Americans have played a central role in the commemorations of the founding of Hadley. A perusal of the volume commemorating Hadley’s 250th anniversary in August 1909,Old Hadley Quarter Millennial Celebration, offers several rich examples.¹ In the many speeches given over the course of the four-day celebration, Native Americans are mentioned only in the context of land transfers and violence. In fact, there is no substantive mention of Native Americans until the evening of the third day, in a speech delivered by Judge Francis M. Thompson, which recounted the violent encounters and wars among Native American...

  8. 3 The Fortification of Hadley in the Seventeenth Century
    (pp. 68-90)
    J. Edward Hood and Rita Reinke

    In 1996 the Hadley Historical Commission created a new monument and plaque to commemorate the fortification constructed in the town during the latter part of the seventeenth century. The plaque, based on nineteenth-century descriptions of the town’s “palisade,” depicts a substantial, well built, and symmetrical stockaded structure. The image conveys the sense of a community united in its response to an outside threat. The descriptions of Hadley’s fortification in local histories, such as Sylvester Judd’s 1863 History of Hadley, which combine information from original source documents, personal observations, and hearsay, also often suggest something more substantial and effective than what...

  9. 4 Web of Secrecy: Goffe, Whalley, and the Legend of Hadley
    (pp. 91-120)
    Douglas C. Wilson

    During most of the nineteenth century, one of the most popular tales of early New England was the legendary story of the Angel of Hadley, who dramatically appeared in the Massachusetts frontier village in the 1670s, during King Philip’s War. No report of the episode was published until nearly ninety years later, when it was related by Thomas Hutchinson, then lieutenant governor of the Bay Colony, in a footnote toThe History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay(1764). He wrote: “I am loath to omit an anecdote handed down through Governor Leverett’s family…. Hadley was alarmed by the...

  10. 5 The “Goffe Bible”: Succor for the Regicides?
    (pp. 121-134)
    Martin Antonetti

    In the summer of 1933 an eighty-eight-year-old woman boarded a train in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she had been living with her daughter for the previous four years, and traveled north to spend a few weeks with her son and his family in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. This had become an annual journey in recent years; it was cooler there on the shores of Lake Michigan, and she loved spending time with her grandchildren, who were then entering adolescence. As it happened, this would be the last time she saw them, since she died, peacefully in her sleep, just before Christmas that year....

  11. 6 “There shall be a wonder in Hadley!”: Mary Webster’s “Hideous Witchcraft”
    (pp. 135-153)
    Bridget M. Marshall and Brian W. Ogilvie

    During the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, more than a hundred and fifty men and women were accused and jailed, nineteen men and women were hanged, one man was pressed to death, and another four adults and one unnamed infant died in their dungeon cells awaiting trial. The story of Salem’s “witches” is well-worn territory, both in scholarly research and in popular imagination.¹ But while Salem was an extreme case, it is far from unique. Accusations of witchcraft (and trials following them) occurred routinely in seventeenth-century New England. Every town seems to have had at least one official accusation, and...

  12. 7 Hannah Barnard’s Cupboard: Female Property and Identity in Eighteenth-Century New England
    (pp. 154-190)
    Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    Hannah Barnard’s cupboard was the most engaging, if not the most elegant, object in an exhibit of Hadley chests mounted at Israel Sack in New York, at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and at Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Massachusetts, in the spring of 1993 (figure 7.1). In describing the installation at Israel Sack, curator Suzanne Flynt told a reporter for theHartford Courant: “No doubt about it. It was the dominant object of the show. I set up the other chests like so many little pews leading up to the cupboard, which sat there like a kind of throne...

  13. 8 The Sober People of Hadley: Sumptuary Legislation and Clothing in Hadley Men’s Probate Inventories, 1663–1731
    (pp. 191-210)
    Lynne Z. Bassett

    A long with their axes, plows, and cattle, the English settlers of the Connecticut River Valley brought their traditions and social values. Of great importance to the new residents was their traditional social hierarchy, for which clothing served as an important symbol. Both Massachusetts and Connecticut enacted sumptuary legislation, which had been a part of English law since Roman times, dictating what was proper and improper apparel for specific social classes. In this essay I examine clothing found in the probate inventories of men who died in Hadley, Massachusetts, during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and then discuss...

  14. 9 “We owe something more than prayers”: Elizabeth Porter Phelps’s Gift of Church Silver and Her Quest for Christian Fellowship
    (pp. 211-231)
    Karen Parsons

    Sometime in the years between 1811 and 1813, Elizabeth Porter Phelps, a wealthy Hadley townswoman, donated two communion vessels to the congregation at the Church of Christ (figure 9.1). Such gifts of silver, especially when inscribed with the donor’s name, expressed something about the giver to the community. One convention of material culture criticism ascribes the gesture primarily to the desire to demonstrate status. Since Phelps belonged to a prominent, moneyed Massachusetts family, it would be easy to see these cups as nothing other than a display of class identity. A careful examination of the context in which Phelps made...

  15. 10 Commerce and Community: A Case Study of the Rural Broommaking Business in Antebellum Massachusetts
    (pp. 232-249)
    Gregory H. Nobles

    In 1797 Levi Dickinson, a farmer in Hadley, Massachusetts, planted a few hills of a strange-looking variety of corn that was virtually useless as food and produced little more than long tassels of brush. Dickinson harvested the brush, dried it, tied it around sticks, and thus made twenty or thirty brooms, most of which he peddled to neighbors in the town. The following year he planted about half an acre of this broom corn, and the year after that a whole acre. By 1800 he and his sons were making several hundred brooms and selling them not just in Hadley...

  16. 11 In Defense of Fighting Joe
    (pp. 250-270)
    Stephen W. Sears

    Major General Joseph Hooker has long received a uniformly bad press from Civil War historians. “Fighting Joe” invariably lags toward the bottom of any ranking of the commanders of the Army of the Potomac, clumped together with John Pope and Ambrose Burnside. The old whispers that he was drunk at Chancellorsville, his one battle as army commander, are whispered anew. Alternatively, if it is allowed that in fact he was sober at Chancellorsville, it is said his fault was going teetotal upon assuming his new responsibilities; better for the army had he downed a few whiskeys when the fighting began...

  17. 12 Poles and Puritans
    (pp. 271-283)
    Peter Hardin

    Mary Sucheski of Hadley recalled her uncle’s immigration to western Massachusetts in 1888.¹ “He came from Poland with no relatives,” she said. “He didn’t know anyone. He came to Ellis Isle, and he had to go into a room. They said, ‘If someone comes to take you inside of ten days, you can leave. But if no one wants you, you have to go back.’ There were many men sitting in the room. They fed them and they had cots to sleep on. Then a man came in and started looking at all of them. He walked around the room,...

  18. 13 America’s Blind Naturalist: Clarence Hawkes and the World He Lived In
    (pp. 284-316)
    James A. Freeman

    In 1943 United Press supplied its fourteen hundred papers with an article paying tribute to Clarence Hawkes (1869–1954), proof that the blind Hadley author’s prose, poetry, and personal valor had touched the lives of uncounted people throughout the world (figure 13.1).¹ Born on a marginal farm, with little choice of vocation other than agriculture, he overcame two tragic boyhood accidents—losing part of his left leg at nine and his sight at thirteen—to become one of America’s outstanding writers of nature books. These, as well as his poems, novels, and autobiographies, were made available in Braille and translated...

  19. 14 “Like one of the trees”: Roger Sessions and Hadley
    (pp. 317-334)
    Andrea Olmstead

    Driving along the Connecticut River on Route 47 in Hadley, one is led by signs to a local historic site, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum, also known as Forty Acres. During the summer months, visitors can take a guided tour of the house, built in 1752, and the possessions of six generations of families who lived there. With its antique furniture and portraits of ancestors who entered the clergy, taught at Harvard, or fought in the Revolution, the house radiates continuity with the past. One of its best known former residents, the Reverend Frederic Dan Huntington, the Episcopalian bishop of central...

  20. 15 Preserving Mt. Holyoke
    (pp. 335-358)
    Ethan Carr

    Mt. Holyoke has been a cynosure of tourism and scenic sensibility in the Connecticut River Valley since the early nineteenth century. An early “mountain house” resort was established on its summit in the 1820s, and the existing Summit House was built in 1851.¹ The first version of the inclined railroad up to the hotel was built a few years later. By that time Mt. Holyoke was a major destination on the itinerary of American picturesque tourism, known for its views of the winding Connecticut and the intervale meadows and agricultural fields that extended along it. The views from the mountain...

  21. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 359-364)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 365-371)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 372-373)