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Cultivating a Past

Essays on the History of Hadley, Massachusetts

edited by Marla R. Miller

Publication Year: 2009

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 seventeenth-century 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.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I thank Clark Dougan at the University of Massachusetts Press for his ever cheerful support of local history, and also the anonymous readers whose valuable suggestions greatly strengthened the book. Doug Wilson passed away before the collection reached completion, but in some...

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Introduction: Pastkeeping in Another Small Place

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pp. 1-24

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...

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1. Quanquan’s Mortgage of 1663

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pp. 25-42

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...

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2. Before Hadley: Archaeology and Native History, 10,000 BC to 1700 AD

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pp. 43-67

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...

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3. The Fortification of Hadley in the Seventeenth Century

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pp. 68-90

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...

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4. Web of Secrecy: Goffe, Whalley, and the Legend of Hadley

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pp. 91-120

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...

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5. The “Goffe Bible”: Succor for the Regicides?

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pp. 121-134

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...

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6. “There shall be a wonder in Hadley!”: Mary Webster’s “Hideous Witchcraft”

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pp. 135-153

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...

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7. Hannah Barnard’s Cupboard: Female Property and Identity in Eighteenth-Century New England

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pp. 154-190

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...

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8. The Sober People of Hadley: Sumptuary Legislation and Clothing in Hadley Men’s Probate Inventories, 1663–1731

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pp. 191-210

Along 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...

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9. “We owe something more than prayers”: Elizabeth Porter Phelps’s Gift of Church Silver and Her Quest for Christian Fellowship

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pp. 211-231

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...

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10. Commerce and Community: A Case Study of the Rural Broommaking Business in Antebellum Massachusetts

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pp. 232-249

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...

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11. In Defense of Fighting Joe

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pp. 250-270

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...

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12. Poles and Puritans

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pp. 271-283

Puritan dissenters from Hartford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, settled Hadley in 1659. On a peninsula jutting into the Connecticut River, they found a protected haven. The river offered a natural barrier on three sides against unexpected visitors, and the fields that farmers cleared along it became known...

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13. America’s Blind Naturalist: Clarence Hawkes and the World He Lived In

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pp. 284-316

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...

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14. “Like one of the trees”: Roger Sessions and Hadley

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pp. 317-334

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...

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15. Preserving Mt. Holyoke

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pp. 335-358

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...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 359-364


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pp. 365-371

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761335
E-ISBN-10: 1613761333
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558497009
Print-ISBN-10: 1558497005

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 46 illus.
Publication Year: 2009